January 31, 2012
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…?” (1Corinthians 6:19)
All over this world there have been, there are now, and there always will be temples in which people worship their god. The Old Testament believers had the Tent of Worship which was followed by the Temple of Solomon where they worshiped the true and living God. However, in the New Testament there is a concept that was revolutionary and is not fully understood or appreciated by the people of God today: that the body of a believer is the Temple of God.
When we understand the Gospel of the New Testament we realize two vital truths: there is something to believe and Someone to receive. We are informed that the risen, living Christ is patiently standing at the door of our life and He is knocking on that door. We’re promised that if we will hear His voice and open that door He will come into our life and have a relationship with us (Revelation 3: 19-20). The Apostle Paul is telling us that when we experience that miracle our body becomes the Temple of God.
This presents a great challenge to all believers who have received the living Christ into their life in the form of the Holy Spirit. Wherever we go we take that temple with us. We might say that we are “A Temple on Wheels.” Everywhere we go and every time we find ourselves associating with people the beautiful reality that we are the Temple of God should bring a divine presence to all those relationships.
How should the reality that we are a Temple of God impact all our relationships?
January 27, 2012
“For if I make you sorrowful then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2Corinthians 2: 2)
In this verse the Apostle Paul is telling us that relationships are a two-way street. Whatever we send down that street comes back up that street. Paul could have learned this from Jesus when he spent three years with Him in the desert of Arabia (Galatians 1: 15-20).
Jesus taught this same truth when He used a marketplace metaphor. In the marketplace if another vendor bought produce from you and you suspected his bushel measurement was inaccurate, you could ask him to go get his bushel measurement when you sold to him. In this way Jesus was teaching that whatever measure we use in giving to people they will use that same standard in giving back to us (Matthew 7 1-5).
By application, Paul and Jesus were teaching that in our marriage and family if we make people unhappy we will find ourselves living with unhappy people who were made unhappy by us. I knew a wise pastor who did a lot of marriage counseling. He wrote a little poem that had this line in it: “You can’t control the weather or rainy days but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you.”
If you can surround yourself with unhappy people because you make them unhappy consider how much better it would be if you made those same people happy. Another wise pastor said that with Jesus the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.
The bottom line is do we want to be surrounded by happy or unhappy people? What are we sending down the two-way street of our relationships?
January 24, 2012
“The farmer’s workers went to him and said,‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ ‘An enemy has done this while men slept!’ the farmer exclaimed. ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest.” (Matthew 13: 27-30)
The question “Where did evil come from?” has baffled spiritual and ethical leaders since people began to think and ask questions. People who read the Bible ask this question – in this parable Jesus implies two answers.
In almost six decades as a pastor people have often told me there are hypocrites in the church. They told me this as if they thought it never would have occurred to me, but actually it was no surprise to me and it would be no surprise to Jesus. In this parable He told us His church would be a mixed bag.
He also instructed us that we are not to weed the garden because we cannot tell the difference between the two. We are to let both grow together until the harvest when He will separate the wheat from the weeds.
His two answers to that old question about where evil came from are: “an enemy has done this” and “while men slept.” Edmund Burke told us that all we have to do for evil to triumph is to do nothing. Jesus told us all we have to do is sleep.
The truly important though less obvious questions raised by this parable are: “Are we wheat or are we weeds?” What are we contributing to the harvest? Are we producing more wheat or more weeds? Are we asleep? Are we doing nothing?”
January 20, 2012
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.” (John 15:16 NIV)
Jesus had been with the apostles for three years when He spoke these words. It was as if these men had been in a three-year seminary with Jesus with no days off – no weekends, holidays or summers. It was just Jesus 24/7. He was now about to be arrested and suffer all the things Mel Gibson so graphically portrayed in his film about the Passion of Jesus Christ.
These words must have fallen like a bombshell on these men. They had all made choices. But He now informed them that He had made the choices. He had chosen them. They had not chosen Him. He chose them for a purpose. That purpose was that they were to be fruitful. They were to bring forth fruit that lasts.
That is the definition of what we call a legacy or legacy giving. A legacy is fruit that lasts long after we have gone home to be with God for all eternity.
By application, we do not choose Jesus and take Him into our plans. He chooses us that He might take us into His plans. It is not all about us – it’s all about Him. Jesus adds the commentary that when we understand this, God will start answering our prayers.
Mother Teresa told us that the only safe, sure, wise, and lasting investment is what we give to God. Have you produced fruit for Christ that will last beyond your lifetime? Wouldn’t you like to leave a legacy of lasting eternal values?
January 13, 2012
“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Picture your priorities as a target with a bull’s eye surrounded by a dozen circles. As you think and pray about your priorities, what would you call the bull’s eye of your priority target? Once you have determined that, how would you label the dozen circles that surround your bull’s eye?
Great men of God like Paul could reduce their priorities down to one thing. Paul’s one thing was to forget what is behind and strain forward to win the prize at the end of the race. That prize was what God was calling him to do.
Can we reduce the forty eleven things that are spreading us thin down to one thing? If we were to do so what would that one thing be? Sometimes there is great wisdom in forgetting the things that are behind. Then there are times when there is even greater wisdom in determining our one thing type of goal for the future. How do we do that?
One way is to consider what we might call the “eternal values.” None of the things we are going to leave behind when God calls us home are worth living for while we are here. Jesus told us: “… This is… life, that they may know You … and Jesus Christ …” (John 17:3).
Would knowing God and Christ be an eternally focused bull’s eye for our priority target this year? Think of how that priority focus will dramatically affect the dozen circles that surround it when our life becomes an expression of the life of God and the risen living Christ.
January 9, 2012
“… The Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” (John 1: 19-22 NLT)
According to the Bible there is somebody God wants us to be, there is some place we are to be, and there is something we are to be. We will therefore never be fulfilled or happy until we have the right answers to questions like “Who are you? What are you?” and “Where are you?”
God confronts us with these questions because He loves us and wants us to be fulfilled and happy. The priests and religious leaders asked John: “What do you have to say about yourself?” Perhaps a better way to ask the question would be to ask you what God has to say about yourself. Then that question should be followed by the question: “Do you and God agree on what you say about yourself?”
It would be foolish to want and try to be more than God wants us to be. But, life is too precious to be less than who and what and where God wants and has equipped us to be. Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest man ever born of woman. I’m convinced that was because John the Baptist had the right answers to these questions.
You can also have the right answers to these great questions. I challenge you to pursue God until He finds you and shows you who and what and where He wants you to be. This the best way to have a truly happy New Year.
January 4, 2012
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
In this profound Psalm Moses gives us a wise perspective with which to begin a new year. He writes of the brevity of our life span. He states that God gives us seventy or eighty years of life. Then he suggests a solemn prayer that God might teach us to number our days and gain a heart filled with wisdom.
A missionary was speaking to a primitive group of people. Because some of the listeners had traveled for days or more than a week to hear him speak, when he concluded a message they would ask him to continue speaking. After many hours had passed they asked him through the interpreter if he was wearing his god on his wrist because each time they asked him to continue he looked at his watch as if seeking permission. We should not value time to the point that it is our god, but the thesis of Moses in this Psalm is that we should value time because we do not have very much of it.
With great fairness God gives everyone the common currency of 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week and 8,760 hours a year. Since life is a short trip we should value that common currency and ask Him for the wisdom to know how to spend that time by the year, the month, the week, the day, the hour and the minute.
We wear timepieces because we value life. Let’s ask God to give us the wisdom to know how He wants us to spend the time He gives us in 2012.