12/31/09

Trembling in 2010!!!

Another New Year tomorrow and, believe it or not, we have already completed the first decade of the 21st Century. Wow! Where did it go? Tonight some will sing Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight or soon thereafter. It’s nostalgic, traditional, whatever. But just as Billy Crystal (as Harry) asked Sally while hearing Auld Lang Syne in the background (in the movie When Harry Met Sally), “What does this mean? All my life I ask myself what this means and I still don’t know,” so most can’t explain it, or they have some ambiguous idea. Perhaps Paul clarifies it for the Christian when he writes, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) Whether or not there is any inkling of connection, this is a truth that ought to permeate the mind and heart of the believer as he or she enters the New Year. Certainly, when we bring together all of Scripture, Paul isn’t saying we are to forget ALL things, since we are consistently encouraged to remember what God has done in the past in ours and others lives through Christ. But there are always those dragging snares (sins) in our life that cry out for change and a new beginning; things we need to cut off and put behind us, covered by the blood of Christ, “and go on to maturity.”

Where to begin? Start with a strong reminder that the FEAR of the Lord is the BEGINNING of knowledge, and that fools despise wisdom and discipline. It is a lesson we can learn from the Magi, who eschewed King Herod’s status, power, and intention to return to him with the location of the new born King of the Jews. Instead they feared God over Herod and worshiped and feared the Babe whom they sought to find and did. Then they took a whole new direction “home”! And so can you in 2010.

“God-fearing” is not a term we hear very often to describe believers today. Yet the Bible is saturated with the command: “Fear God and keep His commandments.” The understanding of the “love” of God has been so eroded in our day that there is a fatal failure to grasp that the fear of God is a significant aspect of what loving God really means (Deuteronomy 10:12). And this is not just an Old Testament concept. It is a WHOLE Bible concept. Read Chapter 12 of Hebrews which concludes with, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God ACCEPTABLY with reverence and awe (fear), for our God is a consuming fire.” Yet this generation and age may well be described with the phrase, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This is true not only for deniers and mockers of God, but even for many who profess to know or believe in Him. It is true for those who are “treading water” or even “drowning” in their “Christian” life.

Practicing the fear of God shakes apathy and spiritual lethargy to the core, which is THE prescription for those who are “dithering” with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. There will be no change, no new beginning, no going on to maturity apart from grabbing hold of what it means to fear Him. One needs to know what it means to TREMBLE (I Chron. 16:30, Jer. 5:22, Isa. 66:2, Phil. 2:12) if he or she truly desires change in the right direction. This is not a negative or errant emotion of our soul. It is true to reality and it is life-saving in the midst of death!

“My God how wonderful Thou art, Thy majesty how bright! How beautiful Thy mercy seat, in depths of burning light!”

“O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears; and worship Thee with trembling hope, and penitential tears.”

Strength for the Day.

12/28/09

The Narrow Way or a Cultural Christian?

Commentary on Matthew 7:13-14
Jesus' image of the narrow way should have made sense to his hearers (v. 13). Greek, Roman and Jewish writers often employed the image of the two paths in life, and those particularly concerned with the future judgment especially employed the image of the two ways, the narrow one leading to life and the broad one to destruction.
Some people's assurance of salvation is a delusion (Mt 7:13-14). To enter the narrow gate of the kingdom we must knock, that is, request that God make us citizens of his kingdom (vv. 7-8). The difficulty of Jesus' way includes embracing by repentance both persecution (5:10-12) and the ethics of the kingdom taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
Most Jewish people in Jesus' day were religious; respecting God and keeping his commandments were an important part of their culture. These would be the many people of whom Jesus' hearers would think when they heard him. Yet Jesus, like a few contemporaries who were particularly scrupulous, declared that most people were lost. Jesus intends his words to jar us from complacency, to consider the genuineness of our commitment to him.
One wonders how many members in our churches today assume that they are saved when in fact they treat Jesus' teachings lightly-people who give no thought to their temper, their mental chastity, their integrity and so forth during the week (compare 5:21-48), then pretend to be religious or even spiritually gifted in church. Do we have the courage to communicate Jesus' message as clearly as he meant it to be conveyed, to warn ourselves and others that it is possible for people to assume they are saved and yet be damned? Some texts in the Bible provide assurance to suffering Christians that the kingdom is theirs; this text challenges "cultural Christians," those following only Christian tradition rather than Christ himself, to realize that they need conversion.
Bible Gateway

12/10/09

Drinking from my Saucer


"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make
the best of everything that they have.....

I've never made a fortune, and it's probably too late now.
But I don't worry about that much, I'm happy anyhow
And as I go along life's way,
I'm reaping better than I sowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer,
'Cause my cup has overflowed.

Haven't got a lot of riches,
and sometimes the going's tough
But I've got loving ones all around me,
and that makes me rich enough.
I thank GOD for his BLESSINGS

and the mercies HE's bestowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer,
'Cause my cup has overflowed.

I remember times when things went wrong,
My faith wore somewhat thin..
But all at once the dark clouds broke,
and the sun peeped through again.

So LORD, help me not to gripe,
about the tough rows I have hoed.
I'm drinking from my saucer,
'Cause my cup has overflowed.

If GOD gives me strength and courage,
When the way grows steep and rough.
I'll not ask for other blessings,
I'm already BLESSED enough.

And may I never be too busy,
to help others bear their loads..
Then I'll keep drinking from my saucer,
'Cause my cup has overflowed.