But then….

ps 108 109 god is there2Beloved, are you praising God or are you struggling? Psalm 108-109 show us the opposing sides of life’s coin. Together they teach this principle: in all of life we must be God centered and focused.

How often do we quote Psalm 23 and invoke its beauty and add that to our repertoire of prayers as we begin our day. We fall in love with Jesus as we “sing and praise with our whole heart. [vs 1] We encourage ourselves with vs 2 “I will wake up at dawn.” We evoke the words of vs 4 “your lovingkindness is great above the heavens.”  BUT then… life interrupts and we are faced with those intimidating circumstances. What then? The imprecatory Psalm 109 is one of the strongest and it flies in the face of what we say is so unChristlike. But, there are valuable lessons to be gleaned from Psalm 109 and it is this:  Heart preparation is key to all of life; whether life is sunny times or stormy.

God has left these psalms to teach us how to face all of life. We are to praise Him for His majesty and his lovingkindness. But we are also to seek his face when things go awry and life is so very very hard. Psalm 108 begins “I am determined” and Psalm 109 ends with “I will greatly praise the Lord.” Take heart Beloved; God loves us with an everlasting love in the sunny times and in the stormy times.

Photo: David Hanlon Dreamstime.com + added thoughts

Why do I do What I do?

The world at la1cor 8 its all about God4arge asks: What’s in it for me? Doesn’t this sound somewhat self-centered?  I know that I find my motivation is less than worthy …and if I am honest it is most of the time. Paul takes me front and center and then begins to probe. Just as he asked the Corinthians to look beneath the façade of their work both in and outside the church, so he does to me as I sit reading his letter to them. He is really asking me to stop and ask myself this question: What is this the reason you serve Christ? WHY do you do what you do?  This question began to open my eyes and mind. All of us need to be asking why do I share the gospel message?

It is as if Paul is standing before us. Here are his reasons point by point for sharing the gospel message in vs 19 to 22.

He wants to gain more people for the kingdom and free them from the wrath of God. He has the secret; “the gospel is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” [Rom 1] He is humbled that Jesus Christ blessed him with the gospel message as a free gift.  Lastly, he wants to stand before Christ one day and hear “well done thou good and faithful servant.” He looks forward to receiving an imperishable crown from His hand for his service..  And it is because of these reasons that he would do whatever it took to win them for Jesus.

So what is my problem? I think I will go and get motivated.

God’s Laundry Service

1cor 6 god laundry service2Each week we drag garments that have been worn and soiled to the washer. These soiled garments are an illustration of who were before Christ’s cleansing entered us. Just as soap washes our garments, Christ’s blood washed us from the ravages of sin. The indwelling Holy Spirit rubs the stains of the old life out as He begins the process of sanctification. He is regenerating us to be a fit vessel for God’s use. The dryer and the iron accomplish their work so that we are without spot or wrinkle “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  [1Cor 6]

Garments have tags to remind us of the sins of ignoring the warning signs. Wrong soap, wrong temperature, disastrous results. God has his own tags and they are found in His word. Beware of being self-deceived. Beware of pride which says I can live anyway I like for God does not see; God does not care; it won’t happen to me. Beware of the stain of immorality; it stains the inner man permanently.

Drop into God’s laundromat—His service is free. You can leave your garments of filthy rags and he will return yours with the garments of righteousness so that you may glorify him.

Thoughts from 1Cor 6

Serving Along Sanctification Highway

1cor 4 sanctification3aThe Corinthian church needed an ‘overhaul’ of their priorities and who better than the father of this church, Paul the Apostle. He encourages the Corinthians to imitate him as he follows Christ, the ultimate example of servant-hood as he washed the feet of the disciples.

No man is an island but we journey towards the celestial city as a Body. it is when we have reached our destination that God will reveal what is hidden and as well as the motives of the heart which we are unable to do.  Until then along the highway of life both in and outside the church we are to be servants and stewards of the doctrines that the church upholds.We must offer these gifts in humility not judgment.

Rather than spinning our wheels looking for whom we can judge or elevating one person above another–seek to imitate Christ. Instead of seeking to one-up-man-ship begin to ask how we might help others along Sanctification Highway. We journey not alone but as pilgrims traversing together. Our compatriots have been blessed with every perfect gift from above, for God  is the Father of lights and with him there is no shadow of turning. Thus may we view the leadership over us and the members of our Body as gifts from God. Praise God for those in leadership and pray for them. Pray for those with whom you fellowship. Look and find the gifts they have to enrich your life. Look beyond yourself and follow the model of Jesus as you serve in the Body of Christ for it is God’s will that we be sanctified – set apart for His use.

To Whom or to What Do I Conform?

romans 12 inside out2In today’s world we see the youth conforming to their culture in dress, word and actions. Mid-life adults are conforming to the ways of their culture which includes their employment and their social structure. In light of all of this we come to Romans 12 and Paul earnestly implores us to not be a conformer. What is he saying to all of us?

Paul appeals to the believer to take a step outside their comfort zone and walk the Via Delorosa with Christ for as he offered himself willingly so should we. This is not a command but an appeal: present ourselves as a gift offering; not as a dead sacrifice with the blood poured out but rather as alive so that we might be of service in His kingdom here until He calls us home. This is how we offer ourselves back to Him in thankfulness and gratitude. In addition to we are to be holy, set apart, devoted and consecrated for we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit. And this Beloved is pleasing to God. The effect of the burnt offering was to atone but Paul is earnestly imploring us to be a living sacrifice consumed not by fire but by the love of God, totally transformed from what we were to what He would have us to become.

So practically how do we accomplish this—this sacrifice, non-conformity to our culture and the ways of the world  and how are we transformed so that we are only conforming to God’s ways? It all begins here Beloved: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” [Mt 5]We must make a choice and that choice determines if we follow the world or we follow Christ. What will it be?