Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Friendship is a Special Blessing

Friendship is one of the greatest joys life has to offer.  Ecclesiastes 4 extols the many benefits of friendship:

9Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

That’s right.  Higher productivity, help up when we fall, warmth from the cold and strength against adversaries are all benefits of God’s amazing gift of friendship.  But what makes a great friendship?  Looks, habits, or proximity? Amos hits the nail on the head when he asks:

Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)

Clearly a true eternal friendship is built upon the shared identity of two people who are progressing in their walk with Jesus Christ.  Perhaps that is why Paul equates faith and love for the saints in Ephesians 1:15.  Take a moment today and express your gratitude for the friends who draw you closer to Christ.

...As Christ Forgave You

Ephesians 4:32 gives direction for the body of Christ.

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

 “be” translates the Greek word ginomai and is in the Present tense, middle voice, and imperative mood.  Present tense means that this is for right now.  Middle voice means that the subject is intensely involved in the action and the imperative mood means that this is not optional.

Three things are commanded here:

   To be kind – This is too be benevolent in attitude and action
   To be tenderhearted – the saint in fellowship with Christ will be compassionate
   Forgiving one another – In the Church there will be offenses given – some on purpose and some    unintentionally.  

Believers are not perfect and the instruction here is to be in the regular habit of forgiveness.  A standard is put forth:

“As God in Christ forgave you.”

God’s forgiveness in Christ is perfect and complete.  He took our sins (past, present and future) upon Himself and has permanently, positionally forgiven us at His own expense.

This kind of love is only available to believers from the source – this is not contrived.  We are to abide in Christ and see his kindness, his tenderheartedness and His forgiveness flow forth in our lives.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Growing Faith

Famed evangelist D.L. Moody once said: “I prayed for faith and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” I had up to this time closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.”

This may sound like a mystical miracle, but the process is simple.  Faith is trust or belief in something.  Faith can be placed in a person, an object or an idea.  God has given us the ability to choose where we will place our faith.  It is easy to trust in an old friend because you know his faithfulness.  It is in the Word of God that we see why God is worthy of our trust and our faith grows naturally.  We see God’s character, His plan, and His power and our natural inclination to trust Him increases. 

If you would see your faith to grow,
It’s to the Bible you must go!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gospel Greatness

When sharing our faith we are tempted to constantly seek out cutting edge methods.  The Bible gives insight.  The city of Corinth was famous.  They were wealthy, morally degenerate, and valued progress.  In Corinth, we would surely be tempted to accommodate: only the most polished presentation would ever work here.  Yet Paul writes:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

“excellence of speech” and “wisdom” describe two important Greek values.   First, “Rhetoric”, or, how to say things in a way that is persuasive or even manipulative.  Second, Philosophy – which was the development of new ideas…

Paul rejected these cultural values and came with only the message of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

We need not worry ourselves with making cutting edge Gospel presentations…we simply bear witness to Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Eve's Prophetic Words

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
Genesis 3:15

On the heels of the fall of man God gives the promise of a coming Savior.  Genesis 3:15 identifies this coming Savior as the Seed of the woman – not of a man.
Adam and Eve seemed to anticipate that God was planning to fulfill this promise right away and says of her first son Cain:

"I have acquired a man from the LORD.” Genesis 4:1
Our translation tradition includes adding a word NOT found in the inspired Hebrew text.
Eve’s statement is more literally translated:

“I have acquired a man: the LORD.”

The word translated LORD is the tetragrammaton – the covenant name of God. And it tells us something about Adam and Eve’s expectation as the original recipients of the Messianic promise.  They expected that the Savior was coming.  That he would be born of the woman.
And that He would be, in fact, God in the flesh.

Adam and Eve were mistaken in thinking Cain was the promised Savior…but they were exactly right about the nature of the Savior…fully human, fully divine, clearly seen from the very first chapters of the word of God.  

Eternal Life

The phrase is “eternal life” is used frequently in the Bible and has great significance.
The Greek phrase is  ζωὴν αἰώνιον

Zoe is the word translated “life” and emphasizes spiritual life rather than biological life.

Aionion is translated eternal and has a very important nuance.  In Greek, this word does not simply mean “lasts forever.”  It means something that has no beginning or end.  Something that exists outside of a normal relationship to time.  This is critical for every believer to understand – if God had wanted us to know that He offers spiritual life – a connection with Him – He could have said that.  If He was offering us a second chance at the type of life we already have biologically, He could have said that, but what Jesus Christ came to give is everlasting, undefeatable, indestructible, unending, irrevocable, permanent, eternal life.  

Consider that reality when you read the word of Jesus in John 6:47:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, He who believes in Me has everlasting life.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Fear - the Good and the Bad

Now and then we may like a good scare, but most of the time fear is a most unpleasant sensation.
The idea of fear has two senses in both Old and New Testaments – The Hebrew yare’ and the greek phobos both carry positive and negative connotations for fear.

In the negative sense, fear is a sensation of panic, fright or alarm.  Whether it is fear of people or coming events it is this fear that God commands us not to have…and the second sense in which “fear” is used in the Bible is why.  Fear can also mean a reverent respect for someone or something.  When we look at the Grand Canyon, when we an accomplished person, or when we listen to great music we may experience this kind of “fear.”  When we understand who God is and all that He has done for us this kind of fear is the result. 

Putting these two usages of the word “fear” together we can see how Fear of the Lord gives wisdom and drives away the fear of people, the fear of circumstances, the fear of pain and even the fear of things that go bump in the night. 

The one who truly fears God will never fear anything else.