Looking to Jesus: His Resurrection

April 14, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

 
(Reprint from April 2019)
 
Over the couple of weeks before Easter, we put the cross in the context of Jesus’ life, ministry, and teaching, as well as       contemplating its meaning through the picture of the Lord’s Super. Now we celebrate His resurrection.

 

  • Resurrection’s Provision – The resurrection provides the completion of the cross’ work, a future resurrection for those in Christ, and an eternal inheritance for us. When we say Jesus died on a cross for our sin, we must follow it with, “and rose from the dead.” It is a package. The confidence of Christian faith is not in a crucified-only savior but in a crucified and risen savior.  And, coming to Jesus lets us share in His resurrection victory and promises.

 

  • Resurrection’s Call – The resurrection calls us to new life in Jesus – not just future life but a move from spiritual deadness to spiritual life. We also are called to a new mindset of Godly priorities and pursuits, as well as a Godly lifestyle that answers to being God’s people.

 

  • Resurrection’s Power – We might wonder how to live uprightly, and the Bible speaks of God’s resurrection power enabling us to do just that. Now, that is power for serving and for growing in Christ, not power for achieving fleshly goals. It is power for God’s purpose and glory in and through our lives.

 

As we reflect on the cross of Jesus’ sacrifice and the empty tomb of His victory, we are invited to receive it and rejoice in it. And, I believe there is a call to live in resurrection’s power so lost people see lives that are actually changed instead of just hearing us claim we are right with God because of what we believe, whether or not is changes us. Lord, grant us this power.

 



Hand-in-Hand With God

March 10, 2020

Psalm 37:23-31  There are times when walking well is harder than others – we are very young,  getting older, weakened in some way, or the ground is treacherous. Do you recall, as a child, having a caring adult walking with you and holding you by the hand? Or, maybe you can think of times when you walked with a child or grandchild holding them by the hand so they wouldn’t fall if they stumbled. These verses speak to us about three major areas of concern – dignity, permanence, and approval. There is the dignity of not falling hard figuratively speaking, the permanence of the Lord’s provision, and God’s approval in Christ. We are invited to walk with God in His present provision and toward His perfect future along a path of Godly righteousness in Jesus. As I think about walking the path of righteousness with God, I think of four types of people. There is the person who is walking with God and has experienced the steadying work of His grace in your life under His provision and care. You know times when, if not for His grace, things would have been much worse. There is the person who is in Christ, but you are considering pulling your hand back from the Lord’s close fellowship because of the draw of what the world offers. There is the person who is in Christ but has pulled your hand back and is trying to do it on your own because you have been hurt or disappointed in your walk or have strayed into sin. Then, there is the person not in Christ but considering the possibility of walking with God. Each of us is invited to place our hand in God’s through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus so we can walk in His provision, toward His promise, in His path.

 



Trust God and Take the Long View

March 10, 2020

 
Psalm 37:1-40  What do you make of it when wicked people prosper and those with no use for God seem to have it better than those in Christ? Does their success and your struggle get you worked up?
  • Delight in Lord and Stay Calm (vv. 1-8) – Sometimes, the wicked get ahead because they play the world’s game by its rules. However, we are called to enjoy the Lord and His provision as we cultivate faithfulness to Him. The ways of the wicked might be successful, but they are temporary, so don’t fret, envy, or get angry.
  • Knowing End of the Wicked (vv. 9-15) – What opposition are you going through that you need to know your anger and fretting will only lead to evil and not achieve God’s purpose? Do you need the perspective of eventual peace for those in Christ as opposed to the end of the wicked?
  • Walking Toward Your Permanent Inheritance (vv. 16-22) – Having little as a righteous person is a real possibility, particularly when it takes being wicked get ahead, but that is still better. You may know this place of having little but enjoying God’s provision. How does it guard you from evil and compromise to trust God’s provision and sustaining grace?
  • On a Sure Path (vv. 23-31) – There is a type of person who delights in the Lord, walking in the Lord’s way in Jesus, so the Lord delights in that person’s way. Even this person will have stumbles, but the Lord keeps it from being catastrophic.
  • Taking Refuge in the Lord (vv. 32-40) – Sometimes, wicked people plot destruction against God’s people, and Satan definitely works against them, but God is their refuge. The call is to walk in the Lord’s way and find in Him the care and confidence to walk around or through whatever comes.

 



The Flesh and the Spirit

February 25, 2020

2 Corinthians 4:18  The New Testament contrasts flesh and spirit. The flesh can mean tangible things, our humanity, or the sinful nature / that which is opposed to God. The spirit / spiritual can mean simply non-material realities, our spirit, Godliness, or the Holy Spirit and His work.

 

  • Seen vs. Unseen (i.e. 2 Cor. 4:16-17) – Practical needs, the world’s values and priorities, and our sinful desires make loud demands. However, we are to set our eyes on God’s glory, the Gospel, and God’s purposes.
  • Opposed to God vs. Honoring God (i.e. Rom. 8:5-14 & Gal. 5:16-25) – There is, on one hand, that which is good and God-honoring and, on the other, that which is evil and opposed to God. Our call is to honor God, and God’s Spirit is how we do that.
  • Efforts to Honor God (i.e. Gal. 5:16, Rom. 8:5-14, John 14:16-17, Col. 1:9, 2 Cor. 10:4) – If we are born again, we will want to honor God, and the Holy Spirit helps us. Our responsibility is to cultivate dependence on Him and to live in Him so that He produces Christ-likeness in us.
  • Coming to God (i.e. John 3: 5-8 & 6:63) – In John 3, Jesus spoke of the need to be born again by the Spirit. In John 6, Jesus spoke of ongoing faith in Himself and feeding on Him in a spiritual sense.

 

We can serve the flesh or pursue the things of God. We can follow the desires of the sinful flesh or crucify it and let the Holy Spirit enliven us for Godliness. We can try to serve the Lord in our weakness and come up short or rely on His enabling. Those who are not in Christ can do the best they know in the flesh and come up short or be born again by God’s Spirit through repentance and faith in Jesus.

 



Two Great Levelers

February 25, 2020

Psalm 49:1-20  What really matters in life? How might God speak to our priorities and pursuits, and how might that adjust things. In the first four verses, the Psalmist basically says, “Listen up, no matter who you are, because I have some wisdom you need to hear.”

 

  • The First Great Leveler (vv. 5-12) – What I hear in the Psalmist’s words is, however significant or accomplished or wealthy people think they are and however untouchable they seem, there is a great leveler all face – death. You may have seen those whose main pursuit is wealth of whatever form – you may have been that person. But, what happens when death strips each of us of everything, and how does that influence our perspective?
  • The Perspective (vv. 13-20) – We are reminded there are folks with a view of self, life, others, and God that says, “I am sufficient,” and there are those who listen to that and try to feel sufficient themselves. But, the Psalmist reminds us of the peril of wealth (I believe applying to any form of wealth) without understanding.
  • The Second Great Leveler (the Cross) – If we had room here, we could explore Luke 12:5-21 and Luke 18:9-14, which caution us against putting all our emphasis on wealth and on trusting in our own “wealth” of religious goodness respectively. We could look at 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17, as well as Jesus question as to what it profit someone to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul.

 

Among the questions of life, there are the issues of life priorities, values, and central pursuits. There is the issue of our relationship to God and the great levelers of death that strips us of all we have and achieve and the cross that invites us to God in Christ on level ground with everyone else.

 



Two Great Levelers

February 11, 2020

Psalm 49:1-20  What really matters in life? How might God speak to our priorities and pursuits, and how might that adjust things. In the first four verses, the Psalmist basically says, “Listen up, no matter who you are, because I have some wisdom you need to hear.”

  • The First Great Leveler (vv. 5-12) – What I hear in the Psalmist’s words is, however significant or accomplished or wealthy people think they are and however untouchable they seem, there is a great leveler all face – death. You may have seen those whose main pursuit is wealth of whatever form – you may have been that person. But, what happens when death strips each of us of everything, and how does that influence our perspective?
  • The Perspective (vv. 13-20) – We are reminded there are folks with a view of self, life, others, and God that says, “I am sufficient,” and there are those who listen to that and try to feel sufficient themselves. But, the Psalmist reminds us of the peril of wealth (I believe applying to any form of wealth) without understanding.
  • The Second Great Leveler (the Cross) – If we had room here, we could explore Luke 12:5-21 and Luke 18:9-14, which caution us against putting all our emphasis on wealth and on trusting in our own “wealth” of religious goodness respectively. We could look at 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17, as well as Jesus question as to what it profit someone to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul.

Among the questions of life, there are the issues of life priorities, values, and central pursuits. There is the issue of our relationship to God and the great levelers of death that strips us of all we have and achieve and the cross that invites us to God in Christ on level ground with everyone else.

 



Even When I Am Old

February 11, 2020

Psalm 71:1-24  What is God’s purpose for your life? What challenges affect your sense of purpose and ability to carry it out? How might you draw on the Lord in the face of that situation?

  • Turning to God in Trying Times (1-4) – The Psalmist calls out to the Lord in the face of opposition that threatens to undo him. You might need the same kind of approach as challenges threaten your purpose.
  • The Context of Ongoing Walk (5-12) – Notice the Psalmist does not keep God on the shelf until trouble, but this call is from an ongoing walk, and he is committed to continue praising and worshipping the Lord. Your walk with the Lord may be short or long, but the habit of praise, worship, and right relationship prepares us for times of challenge.
  • Confidence, Commitment, and Concern (13-18) – Basically, I we hear, “Lord, in spite of difficulty, my hope in you remains, and praise of you and to you will continue and will increase. In spite of circumstances and difficulties, I will worship. Lord, I have a purpose and role – just because I am old, don’t abandon your use of me or support of me until I finish the race and  future generations know you.” May this truly be our heart!
  • Putting it in Perspective (19-20) – The Psalmist’s example calls us to be honest about life challenges, yet remain grounded in who God is and the “other side” of trials.
  • Praise on the Other Side (21-24) – We could call out today with the Psalmist for God’s guarding in our struggles and pledge our praise as He delivers us and allows us to continue serving Him.

You may be facing challenge, discouragement, or distraction that is working against praise of God and His purpose for you. May He be your strength and deliverer!

 



Who Am I?

January 21, 2020

 
Psalm 8:1-10  Does anything ever stir you to awe and wonder, and do you ever notice evidence of God’s majesty and glory? Do you ever wonder what our place is in all of this and relative to God?
  • Declaring God’s Majestic Glory (v. 1) – Remember the name is not the label but refers to all that God is, and we hear the Psalmist basically say, from everything down here to everything up there in the heavens, your glory and majesty shine forth!”
  • Observing God’s Order of Things (v. 2) – We go on to hear the Psalmist point out how different things work with God than in the world – the praise of God from those without power or position who acknowledge who He is. In fact, Jesus said that simple, trusting faith is necessary to come into the Kingdom.
  • The Question and Call (vv. 3-8) – Reflect on these verses and how the Psalmist points out humans’ smallness and place under God and yet our God-intended place of honor and responsibility. However, we have marred the image of God in us and we need Jesus to restore it. Thankfully, He has come to fulfill God’s intent and bring us into God’s purpose in restoration and redemption.
  • Simple Sweeping Declaration (v. 10) – The Psalmist has come full circle, not understanding the glory and intention of God but receiving it.

How have you seen the glory and majesty of God? Have you marveled at it, and what does it stir in you? Have you wondered about your place and the place of humanity in all this we are part of? Have you wondered about the expression of God’s glory in and through us and the call on us to show that glory? Would you ask Jesus to help us see and reflect His glory?

 



Let Fools Become Wise

January 21, 2020

 
Psalm 14:1-7  If I mention wisdom, what comes to mind? What is the mindset of the wise person? What about the fool (Biblically-speaking – We need to distinguish between the Bible’s use of “fool” and the derisive human use of the term.)?
  • The Fool’s Declaration (1) – As we hear, we find denial of God leading to corruption and vileness. Also, realize there is the denial of God from a belief standpoint, but there also is the denial of God in practical actions by those who acknowledge Him in their words.
  • Humanity’s Corruption (2-4) – God is searching for those who seek Him, but He keeps finding corrupt people whose lives have jumped the track and left the path – the path of wisdom, Godliness, and fellowship with God. In John 3:19-21, Jesus makes a similar observation about humanity’s condition. It is easy to see the corruption, and Scripture makes it plain that none of us is good enough for God. So, we either can deny Him or come to Him with that problem.
  • The Foolish and the Wise (5-6) – Notice, there is to be enough of God’s presence among the righteous that fools who deny God are faced with His reality and experience dread because of it.
  • The Lord’s Salvation (7) – The Psalmist conveys, “Those who deny God, have gotten off the path, and who are vile sure make things difficult. Oh, that the Lord would do something about all this.” Could we join in that prayer, looking forward to the Lord’s salvation, and could we pray that the fools who deny God would come into His wisdom? Because, we know that, before Christ, we also were among them, denying God, until we came to repentance.

 



Rejoice and Sing a New Song

January 07, 2020
 
   Psalm 33:1-22  Do you ever feel like shouting or singing – when and about what? Does thinking about God ever stir a song in your heart and make you want to sing and shout?
 

· The Call to Joyful Song (1-3) – We hear the Psalmist call us to sing and shout with joyful thanks and praise. You might have had times of being stirred in this way by God’s greatness, or you may need that experience.

· The Lord’s Word (4-9) – Basically, we hear the Psalmist say, “Here is why we are singing and why I am calling you to praise. God’s active Word that gets things done is right and true, and what that Word accomplishes is always faithful. Look around and see the evidence of His creative Word – and respond in reverence and fear of the Lord.

· The Lord’s Plans and People (10-12) – We get the idea that, whatever people are up to, God’s ultimate purpose will prevail, and it is a blessing to be part of His people walking in His purpose and redemption.

· The Lord’s Knowledge (13-15) – We move forward to the Lord’s ultimate vantage point and knowledge and reign, and we are called to rejoice in His knowledge – He is not distant and unaware.

· The Lord’s Saving and Sustaining Work (16-19) – There are things people trust in, but those who are God’s people hope in Him and He saves and sustains. Do you need His saving and sustaining work and would you praise Him for it?

· Rejoicing in Hope (20-22) – Basically, we hear, “Lord, of all the places we might anchor or trust, it’s you, and that results in joy. Lord, as we are grounded in you, let us walk in your unfailing love.” Would you seek the Lord in that sort of way today?