Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Monday, November 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make straight your paths."
This passage really humbled me this morning as God has revealed more and more how self-sufficient I strive to be. It is so sad how sometimes when I am busiest and most in need of God's aid, I strive to be more independent and reliant on my own strength? Sometimes I feel like I will be crushed by the weight of all that needs to be done, and still I fail to pray and trust in His power. This passage was God's way of reminding me that this is His church. It is His ministry. And if I would but surrender to Him and allow Him to use me as His instrument, I would see how much better He can do it than I.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
A while back, I had a fun little debate posted on my blog about whether Coke or Pepsi is superior. I remembered this earlier today and it got me thinking. People generally have a tendency to go with what feels good or seems right in their hearts. Decisions are not based on objective reasoning. Instead, you often hear encouragement to “go with your gut” or do “whatever seems best.” But how do you know your gut can be trusted? How do you know whether what seems best to you really is best? These strategies only prove themselves to be reliable if we actually possess the ability to make these determinations on our own. Certainly with some decisions the consequences are not all that significant (e.g. “Which flavor ice cream should I order?” Or “Should I go to the mall today?”). However, it is scary when people use this criteria as the basis behind life’s bigger choices.
The fact is, the Bible teaches that the heart is ultimately deceptive. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Romans 1:21 speaks of sins effect on the mind, namely that sin causes futility in thinking and foolish darkened hearts. Although feelings and emotions can often be helpful, they can also be very misleading and so must not be the final determiner of truth. I don’t think any true believer would argue that truth is ultimately within them. Obviously, Christians fight for the objective truth of God’s Word from passages like John 17:17. However, many Christians violate their view of authority practically, and they manifest this through their reasoning in decision making. Instead of banking on objective, faithful, biblical principles, the thought that determines choices is, “What do I feel is best?”
Our circumstances and experiences obviously are going to influence how we feel. We like to talk about “getting up on the wrong side of the bed” or “just knowing that it is going to be a good day.” It is difficult to find joy when life is tough and it is easy to feel down when trouble comes our way. We must remember, though, that while circumstances are significant, they ultimately do not make us what we are. Our circumstances are not to govern our emotions. Instead, by the Spirit’s working in our lives, we are to exercise temperance and control our emotions and desires regardless of our circumstances. This is why Scripture calls us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4). This is why Paul and Silas could sing even while in prison (Acts 16:25). This is why even the thought of death cannot steal our joy (Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 15:55).
Truth matters. Without God’s truth anchoring our hearts, we are likely to follow the inclinations of our hearts. But our hearts are fickle, limited, and deceitful. How much better is it to base our decisions upon principles that have been established by God and have stood the test of time? It is foolishness to forsake God’s truth and exchange it for anything else. What does this have to do with Pepsi or Coke being best? It just means that whatever the decision, it ought to be made based on objective truths and not just on an emotional bias or appeal. All factors considered, Coke is the obvious choice.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I particularly appreciated that Paul writes in vs. 12, "so it is with Christ." He does not say, "...so it is with the church," or even "...so it is with the body of Christ." He makes the point that the church is the physical representation of Christ on earth. When the members come together to serve in the church, they are fulfilling their role as part of Christ's body. In other words, to be committed to the church is to show one's commitment to Christ Himself.
Paul writes in vs. 13 that the church is made one by God's Spirit in whom we have been baptized by Christ (cf. Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 2:33). By being baptized in the Spirit, we are made one body in Christ. It does not matter whether we are Jew or Gentile, slaves or free; if we are in Christ, we are one body. Paul is clear to indicate that all the believers at Corinth had received this baptism. It was not a second work of grace in their lives but came as a result of their salvation. When they were saved, they were baptized in the Spirit and made part of the body of Christ. This is a profound statement. In a real sense, church membership came as part of the package when they became Christian!
Not only have we been immersed in the Spirit, but Paul concludes that we have been made to drink of that Spirit as well. By this, Paul is referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Not only do we have the external support of the body of Christ having been baptized in the Spirit, but we also have the Spirit's internal influence as well! Certainly this is great cause for rejoicing for the believer. We who were completely void of the Spirit before coming to know Christ now have the Spirit's influence around us and within us. It bears witness to the fact that when God saves an individual, He does not withhold His blessing (cf. Luke 11:13).
The following passages in 1 Corinthians 12 go into the practical outworkings of this unity and are very applicable for the church, so I can't wait to get into those passages in the coming messages.