Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This Is Not All There Is

Reality does not consist only of that which we can see, hear, taste, smell, or feel physically.   There is another world--a spiritual world that we can only see by faith.  But it is there and it is really more real than what we can experience with our five senses.   Everyone has a little inkling of this world(which we will call, "eternity").  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has placed eternity in our hearts.  We all have a sense that there is more to this world. One of the great proofs of the existence of the God of the Bible is that almost every society values things that one cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or touch.  Qualities such as love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience and godliness are admired and sought after by people from every generation and nation.  We know them to be God-like qualities that come to us as fruit of the Spirit.

One day the disciples were walking in the Temple area with Jesus and pointing out the magnificent buildings.  Jesus said, "Yes look at these great buildings.  But they will be completely demolished.  Not one stone will be left on top of another."(Mark 13:2)   One day all of humankind's accomplishments will be gone.  Only what
is spiritual will remain.  Our world is temporary.  God's kingdom is forever. 

In Jesus, Eternity entered into this temporal, sinful world.  As he healed the sick, set free the demon-possessed and forgave sins Eternity Himself demonstrated that His world is more powerful and real than the one we experience in our bodies.  Ultimately He yielded to all that drags us down by dying on our behalf.  He took the sting of death and rose triumphantly to open up the other world to all who would place their trust in Him.    When you connect with Christ you plug in to another world--eternity and it changes you forever.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Will of God

The one question I get asked(and ask myself sometimes) is; "what is God's will for me?).  The specifics can be murky at times for sure, but, in general, the answer lies in Mathew's Gospel, chapter 25.  In this discourse by Jesus, just before His crucifixion, we find a simple path to how we are to spend our lives.

The discussion really begins with chapter 24 when the disciples ask the question the signs of the end of the world.  Jesus makes it clear that He will come again and that we will be held accountable for doing His will when He comes.  Jesus is ruling now and will, some day, rule for all to see.  In this kingdom we are to be His faithful servants now and forever.  Faithfulness in the current rule of Christ will assure more duties in the next.  Being faithful involves making certain investments.

The act should be an investment in God Himself, (Matt. 25:1-13:  The parable of the 10 bridesmaids) In looking at these parables we learn that there is usually  only one main point.  The foolish bridesmaids were not prepared for the coming of the groom and so they missed the wedding celebration.  The wise bridesmaids kept their lamps filled with oil and were ready when the groom came.  This parable tells us that we should maintain our relationship with Christ--investing our time in Him and things about Him.  There are two very telling thoughts in this story:  The foolish girls ran out of oil which indicates their lack of interest in the groom and stands for our not remaining filled with the Holy Spirit.  Secondly, in verse 12, the groom tells the foolish bridesmaids that he does not know them.  Getting to heaven is not about some glorious future event (though there will be one).  It is more about enjoying the Person of heaven now by investing in knowing Him and being filled with His Spirit so we can serve Him.

The act should also be an investment of our time and talent for God.(Matt. 25:14-30 The parable of the three servants)  In this parable three different servants are given certain amounts of money.  The first two make wise investments doubling their money while the third hides his money.  When the Master returns he rewards the ones who invested and throws the do-nothing into the outer darkness.  The lesson is clear.  God wants us to invest our time and talents in His kingdom.  Being a disciple of Christ starts with a Spirit-filled relationship with Jesus which results in our dedicating all that we have to serving him.  It is better to try and fail at something for God than to not try at all.  We all have different talents and abilities but we all serve the same mighty God who will multiply what we do for him in obedience and in the Spirit's power.  This is a Christ-centered activity that ultimately is helping others.

The act should be an investment in people.(Matt. 25:31-46: The parable of the last judgement)  This parable talks about the separation of sheep and goats at the last judgement.  The sheep are rewarded with the inheritance of the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.(vs.34)  They are blessed because when they took care of the needs of people, especially the poor, they were ultimately doing it to Jesus.  The goats were sent into the eternal fire prepared for the devil because they did not look after the needs of people.  Our investment in God soon leads us to an investment in people.  Using our talents and time for him involves serving others.  And when we do that, we are doing it as unto Christ. 

This parable, taken by itself, can lead to a works-righteousness belief.  But it must be connected to the other two.  A social gospel alone is no gospel at all.  The good news is that in accepting God's free offer of a relationship with Him, filled with His presence and power, we can serve Him by serving others.  First we commit to Christ; then we commit to serving Him; which results in serving others. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Let the Church Be the Church!

I have had the privilege of teaching a Wednesday night class at a local Church on the book of Ephesians.  I have learned a lot (as one usually does when teaching) about this letter by the Apostle Paul dealing with the Church.  It is so easy to take promises from the Bible as personal--and most of them are.  But Ephesians is for us more than it is for me,  There is not question that God wants to do amazing things in my life and in your but He is going to accomplish most of what He does through humans with the church.

We are described in Ephesians as a body, a building and a bride.  These are great metaphors but really more than that.   We are (not are like) a body--the body of Christ.   As such we need to work with each other under the headship of Christ.  We are building--the temple of the Lord.  We are God's house--living stones that need to be shaped to fit together with Jesus being the Cornerstone.  We are the bride of Christ.  We must all be committed to allowing Jesus to cherish us and sanctify us that He may present to Himself the church, holy and blameless, in all her glory without spot or wrinkle.