September 29, 2011
“…wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?…” (Matthew 2: 1-2)
When we begin reading the Old Testament we find ourselves facing the question: “Where are you?” When we begin reading the New Testament we read that wise men asked the question: “Where is He?” The Old Testament shows us where we are and when it does, the New Testament makes sense to us because we are looking for the same Savior those wise men were seeking.
Where is He? If we want to find Him we should look where the love is, because if we live in the love that He is we will live in Him, and He will live in us. As we seek for clues to His reality we are given another answer by the Apostle John:
“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship…” (1 John 1: 5-7).
The aged apostle tells us that God is light and if we want to fellowship with Him He will not come live with us in our darkness. No, we must join Him where He lives in the light. Then we have fellowship with Him and a unique fellowship with all those who are in fellowship with Him.
The light of which John writes is truth – the truth this world saw and heard when the Light became flesh and lived with us full of truth and the grace to live that truth. So, if you want to know where He is, look where the light is. Then become a conduit of that light.
September 25, 2011
“Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)
In this profound passage from the Gospel of Matthew we hear Jesus say that two commandments are the essence of the whole Bible. Jesus was the greatest Teacher this world has ever heard or will ever hear. He astonished the theologians of His day especially by how He took the complex and made it so very simple.
With great wisdom and insight someone has written:
“I sought my soul but my soul I could not see.
I sought my God but my God eluded me.
I met my neighbor and I found all three.”
When people use a gesture as they speak of God they often raise both arms above their head. If we understand these two commandments that express the essence of the entire Bible we would be more likely to spread our arms horizontally when we speak of God.
In my opinion, the most dynamic truth in the Bible is that we can know God and that God knows us. If you want to know God, my sense is that you will not find Him by climbing an ivory tower or by withdrawing from this world of people and become a monastic.
I believe it is not either/or but both/and. You can seek Him and find Him in solitude but not without becoming a conduit of the love He has for the people of this world – all the people of this world. Seek to know Him in both these directions.
September 22, 2011
“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…” ..(Hebrews 11:6)
Do you know God? I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God? Do you want to know God? In the fragment of the verse quoted above we find a prescription that can help you know God.
The prescription is that we must believe that He is, and we must believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. My passion to know God led me to confess: “I believe that He is.” But what is He and where is He?
A very helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of the Apostle John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16). After studying the quality of love God is, the prescription above led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is He likely to be doing His love thing?”
At that time I was a social worker. Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this: “God, I have an idea that You are loving where people are hurting. That’s where I’m going, so when I get there pass this love You are through me and address their pain.”
As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and He touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.
If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between His love and the pain of hurting people.
September 13, 2011
“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Children …are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.” (Psalm 127: 3 -4)
In our culture today it is obvious that we do not have the values of God in many areas of the way we live. In this magnificent little psalm Solomon declares that children are a gift from God – we should be filled with joy when we realize we are going to be parents. Although millions of people do agree with God on this value, there are many millions who do not. That is painfully obvious as many, many millions of children are aborted every year simply because they are not wanted.
In this beautiful psalm Solomon gives us an inspired metaphor. He writes that children are like arrows and their parents are like bows from which they are thrust out into life. This means that being parents is a solemn and serious responsibility. The way some young people are thrust into life makes me think of the poet who wrote: “I shot an arrow into the air; it fell to earth I know not where.”
As David faced the giant Goliath, he said magnificent and wonderful things. The king was watching from the top of a hill. The king asked his general “Whose son is that young man?” When David reported to the king with Goliath’s head, the king asked the same question. It is as if he was saying to David “You are a beautiful arrow, but I want to meet the bow from which you were thrust into life.”
If you are a parental ‘bow,’ rejoice and trust God to make you more than the best bow you can be.
September 7, 2011
“And a great windstorm arose…but He said to them, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’…and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4: 35-40)
If you read the story recorded in the verses referenced above you will see that Jesus directed the apostles to get into their boat and cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. On this sea crossing a great storm fell upon them. They woke Him with the question, “Don’t you even care that we (including Him) are all going to drown?” After turning the great storm into a great calm He asked them the great question, “How is it that you have no faith?”
Jesus had been teaching them that He was the King of the Kingdom of God and they were subjects in that Kingdom. Did they really think all of this was going to come to an end at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee? One translation renders His great question “Do you not even yet believe in me?” Another puts it “When are you going to get some faith?”
Before we are too hard on the apostles, let’s apply the essential truth of this story personally. Jesus has promised us that He will take us to the other side of this life to the next dimension called heaven. While we are on that journey if a great storm falls upon us, do we believe that storm declares all His promises to be null and void? Or do we have a quality of faith that can turn that great storm into a great calm?
This story teaches us that storms in our life are a classroom in which God wants to strengthen, grow and authenticate our faith.