Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Building Up




…equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.  Ephesians 4:12 NIV

Our  Western society is very big on the individual. People are encouraged to find their personal fulfillment and to strive for their dreams.  The Bible has a very different perspective. We are part of the body of Christ and, as such, intertwined with the lives of other believers. We share each other’s sorrows and rejoice with each other’s happiness. Christianity is a religion based on relationships and is fundamentally a group experience. Our primary relationship is with God but we are also called to love others.  In fact, John says that the authentic Christian must be proven by his love for the brothers.
I have come across people who want to be solitary Christians. They like many of the teachings of Jesus but they don’t particularly like people. Jesus, however, was all about people. He reached out to every kind of person: prostitutes, tax collectors, fishermen, leaders of the Synagogue. He loved people that society thought of as “bad” and he loved people that society thought of as “good”.  There wasn’t anybody that Jesus turned away.  Jesus really cares about people and if we want to be Christians, we have to care about people, too. Not just in a theoretical or arms’ length way, but in a close, personal way even if it is challenging. Our purpose is to build up the body of Christ, not to build our own little kingdom.

Sudden Illness




Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV

A few days ago I heard that a young man that I know was suddenly seriously ill. Although I rarely see this man these days, when he was a boy I saw him regularly and always enjoyed spending time with him.  It was upsetting to hear of his illness. His friends and family, and church family are praying for him and he is getting proper medical care. Still one never knows the outcome of illnesses.  As Christians we are not guaranteed physical healings.

We are, however, guaranteed a Saviour who walks with us through our difficult times. Family and friends can hold on to the promises of God. This young man is surrounded by those who love him, and, in his innermost being, he is being held in God’s love. Whatever the outcome of this illness, nothing can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. I really hope that he makes a full recovery. I would love to be able to celebrate that with his family. I pray that he and his family will feel closer to God because of this trial and that their assurance of his love will be strong. I hope they can keep an eternal perspective and know that in the end no matter what, all is well.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Telescope




As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. Genesis 8:22 NIV

Like breathing, the seasons go in and out.  The whole earth is living and breathing through our lives. I always feel so reassured by this verse. It’s like the pulse of God is sustaining all life. I see this verse also as a metaphor for the seasons of our lives, as individuals, as families, as communities, as countries. I will go through cold times, dark night times, and times when the seeds lie buried in the ground, but always the day will return, the warmth will come back and new growth will happen.

I like to read history because it helps me to see the big patterns in the world.  I see the swings back and forth from war to peace, from depressions to prosperity. I see God’s hand sometimes allowing hard times but then when rebellious people turn away from destructive sins, I see his blessings flow. It’s easy to get caught in thought bubbles and only be aware of our immediate circumstances.  God has given us history, including the Bible, so we can learn from it.  He gives us a telescope so we can see the long view.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Impress Them




These commandments…Impress them on your children.  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV

As a parent, I have a serious responsibility to be a parent to my children.  I am not to relegate this duty to others such as teachers or care givers. While my children will be influenced and cared for by others, I need to be cognizant of my unique role as a parent. I won’t be a perfect parent but I want to be involved in my children’s lives even when they are adults, willing to walk with them through the tough times and the happy times. Sometimes they won’t want to hear me talk about God, but I can still show his love to them.

Children do not raise themselves.  They need instruction and guidance. They don’t naturally know what is right or prudent.  One of the great gifts that God gives us through his Bible is wisdom.  He tells us how to avoid many mistakes and pitfalls. By sharing these truths with our children, we can help to save them from heartbreak and disastrous lives. We need to be strong in the middle of the ungodly lies that swirl around us and demonstrate to our children that it is possible to stand against evil.  In every way, we need to teach them : talking to them, reading the Bible with them, singing with them, praying with them, bringing them to church. All these things will help them to find the narrow way. Not all children will accept the teaching but as parents we need to do our best to impress it on them.

Joseph




When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  Matthew 1:24 NIV

Joseph was a very special man. He had real faith which is shown by his obedience to God in a very challenging situation. He was willing to put up with the inevitable social fallout of marrying Mary. He was protective and respectful to her. Wise, kind, courageous, loving, godly; how many men can claim those characteristics? We don’t know a lot about Joseph but we know what’s important. How blessed were Mary and his children to have a husband and father like that.

Often the Bible tells us about people who lived quiet, simple lives and it reminds us that a god-loving person is always of high worth. So much so that they are named in Scripture and remembered for  millennia. I hope my sons will demonstrate some of the qualities of Joseph and be a real blessing to their family and friends. How much money they earn or what jobs they have is not significant, but a heart like Joseph really matters.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Grasping Hand




“Sell everything you have and give to the poor…then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NIV

The rich man in this story had piety but he didn’t understand what true goodness is.  He followed most of the commandments but he failed to obey the most important one : You shall have no other gods before me. His love of money, comfort, prestige all outweighed his love of God. He was proud of his upright life but it was worthless because it was not based on a love for God and a desire to obey him. Jesus knew exactly what was going on in this man’s heart and he didn’t waste any time by suggesting half-measures. God has to be the most important person in a Christian’s life, no exceptions made for law-abiding citizens.

I don’t think Jesus was suggesting that the man give all his money away and become destitute, but Jesus wanted this man to be freed of his attachment to his things and money. Jesus saw greed in this man’s heart and he wanted that gone.  One of the best ways to overcome greed in my heart is to give money or time or possessions away . It is especially powerful if I don’t have any surplus at the time. Jesus never wants me to be bound by the lies of sin including greed. He wants us to be free in the Father’s provision.