Friday, August 31, 2012
"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
Read all of Ephesians 2
These two verse from Ephesians 2 are important. They anchor a number of essential truths that affect how we're supposed to think about ourselves, the Church, and the Scriptures.
1. Ourselves. The Book of Ephesians is written to essentially a "Gentile" church. Most of the members were not of Hebrew or Jewish descent. They are no longer "strangers and foreigners" but "fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." In other words, they are not second class citizens, but are fully on par with other members. While this might not sound like that big a deal, it really is. It identifies believers (regardless of race) as belonging to God... as those who have been bought and paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The Church. The Church is composed of individual believers who become inter-related with each other..."fellow citizens and members of God's household" or family. Pretty remarkable. These words describe the core of our identity. We really, truly, and genuinely become co-heirs with each other through the Gospel of grace in Christ.
3. The Scriptures. Here's the zinger. 1 and 2 are amazing, but don't yet distinguish those who assume they are the Church from those who actually are. 3. The Scriptures are the only foundation on which the Church is built. "The Foundation of the apostles and prophets" is the objective standard of the Word of God, such that our relationship to them determines our relationship to God.
Not everything that calls itself the Church is. Only those who hold to the Scriptures and its message are true. Paul affirms this in Ephesians 4:4f "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism...." And with earnestness in Galatians 1:8 when he says, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed."
So be like the Bereans in Acts 17 and search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so. :)
Thursday, August 23, 2012
"Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious.
Say to God, 'How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You. All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; they shall sing praises to Your name.'”
Read all of Psalm 66
In many places throughout the Psalms we're told to sing, praise, bow down and worship the LORD, and even to shout, glory and tremble before Him. We were created for no less, and such we should do.
In distinction from these general or broader exhortations, These first verses of Psalm 66 are quite particular. They not only provide an exhortation to us as God's people to shout and sing to the Lord, and to make His praise glorious, they also provide some of the content of what we should say. I don't know that this is a really big deal, but it seems to me that if we're told to do or say something like this, we should probably do it. I think it's sort of like the Lord's Prayer. It's not the only prayer we should pray, but certainly it is a prayer that we should pray fairly frequently (daily?).
There are only a few other places where we are told explicitly what to say. If my count is right, I think it's only four times in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 40:16, here, Psalm 70:4, and Psalm 96:10). Each of these urge us to recognize God's great power and glory and to vocalize our recognition it.
I suppose this raises a pretty valid question, when was the last time you've said these (or similar) things to God? By yourself in prayer? In the assembly of public worship with your brethren? And if you've not, it's time you should.
As I think about this... maybe the Conclusion to the Lord's Prayer insures that we think and address these things properly:
"For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power and the Glory Forever. AMEN."
Friday, August 10, 2012
"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
Read all of Luke 12
This is one of those verses that no matter how many times you read it, it's almost too amazing to grasp.
Note, first: God is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing). This is pretty amazing too. How can God know everything about everything? Not sure, but these are some of the words Jesus spoke, so they must be true. (How could Jesus have been a good teacher or a great man and not be telling the truth?) This is part of why we as humans have a hard time comprehending the greatness of God. It is completely beyond us, or as Job 36 says: "How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out."
OK, so how much does God know? Two particulars are noted: 1. He knows all the insignificant sparrows (little birds) on the planet. 2. He knows the number of hairs on your head. In other words, God has exhaustive knowledge.
What's the point? Well, it's a logical relationship of the lesser to the greater. If God knows those little details, don't you suppose he also knows and understands everything bigger? The doubts, struggles, fears and questions that you have? Of course he does. AND (here's the kicker) He cares for you.
Seems to me that if you have struggles, He's the One to whom you should go. :)