Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Message of Perseverance

Too much teaching today is focused on how to escape suffering. It leaves people unprepared to persevere. And that leads people away from God. I am not a good shepherd of the Great Shepherd if I do not prepare people to persevere. The perseverance message will never be as popular as a false peace and worldly prosperity message. But it is God’s message.

Let me prove that as simply as I can. Think of the Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Jesus’ seven letters to the seven churches are for all of us. And each letter promises the blessings of God only to those who persevere through suffering, not to those trying to avoid, deny, escape, or ignore suffering. The message of perseverance is just as valid today as it was then. This is a first century message to a twenty first century people. 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, July 21, 2023

A Picture You’ll Never Forget

Have you ever wondered why a bride’s dress has a long train? Well, the tradition started being used in weddings in medieval times. But that practice harkens back to 700 years before Jesus, to a vision that Isaiah had. A vision of Jesus in heaven, sitting on his throne, as the King of kings and Lord of lords, at the end of all time, and for all eternity. Isaiah 6:1 says – In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

When kings of that time would hold court, they would wear robes with long trains because they were spectacular, and difficult to maneuver and work in. Wearing a long train meant, “I am the important one here. I don’t work. I am a person of honor and dignity. Others must serve me and wait upon me.” Essentially, the same is said when a bride wears a dress with a long train today.

When the king of one country conquered the king of another country, the conquering king would have some part of that other king’s robe sewn onto his own robe. The more enemies he conquered, the longer the train of his robe became. Isaiah saw a picture of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords. He has conquered every enemy. Sin, death, and hell were no match for our conquering King. Isaiah’s vision was also a prophecy that the Messiah would provide a way to have our sins forgiven and live forever with him.

Isaiah 61:10 says – I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. This prophecy was a picture of God’s people coming back into Jerusalem after being in Babylonian captivity. But this is also a picture of our future as Christians.

Jesus took the punishment you deserve. He paid for your sin. You only need to ask for his forgiveness. Then you can see all your troubles in a new light. The light of Christ. You can know our conquering King has made himself ready for his bride. Rather than just focus on the bad, you can look forward to the ultimate good. Our King is in control of all. He can free you from your worry and anxiety and give you peace in these troubled times.

On this earth, all is not well. But all is well in God’s kingdom. That is why we pray, “Thy kingdom, come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” All is well in the kingdom. King Jesus is coming back. And Jesus, the bridegroom of the Church, has given the victory to his bride. And she will wear the royal robe of honor, that train that fills the temple, as his betrothed beloved. At the marriage supper of Jesus and his bride, the Church. Now that is a picture worth celebrating, and remembering.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Sunday, July 16, 2023

What Do You Do When You Fail?

2 Corinthians 4:7 says – But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 

We are jars of clay. That means we are vulnerable, and easily broken. But inside our vulnerable, broken selves is the power of God. But that power isn’t in us to show off our own power. That power is in us to show off the powerful grace of God.   

Here is a test that will tell you whether or not you really grasp grace: what do you do when you fail? When you mess up? If you mess up and you run away from the Lord to try to clean yourself up and then come back, you don’t really understand grace, and what God has done for you in Christ. But if you mess up and you run to him, that’s evidence of grace.

Ed Welch said, “Everybody thinks sanctification looks like strength. Really what it looks like is weakness.” That’s the truth. Growing in grace might look to many like it’s failure. Sanctification looks like darkness and difficulty and pain and suffering. Show me someone who messes up but then runs to the Lord and cries and lays that before the Lord, pleads forgiveness, rests in that forgiveness, and gets up and continues to walk, and I’ll show you someone who understands grace. Show me someone who messes up, and they pull way back for a season until they can either forget about what they’ve done or at least get some kind of control around it, and I’ll show you somebody who doesn’t yet understand grace. They are acting as their own savior – they are living like I can clean myself up.

But friends, we are jars of clay, and God is the one who allows us to be broken open and spilled out. That way we stay spiritually needy. And spiritual neediness is the foundation for all godly change. For that power in our jars to be made manifest to the glory of God. 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, July 07, 2023

You are an Example

You are an example to others. Everyone is a role model of some sort, whether they want to be or not. People are watching and learning from your example. Even if you’re absent. Think about that. Children learn by watching adults. And by watching other children their age and a little older. And just as children learn what you live, younger believers are learning how they should live by watching how you live, and what you do. Or don’t do.

Now, you may not want to be an example. Or you may not think you’re much of an example. And you may want to escape being an example. But you might as well embrace being an example. Because when you became a Christian, you became an example. You cannot escape it. And you cannot evade it, because absence and avoidance are still an example.

This isn’t about perfection; it is about direction. And even when you’ve taken steps back, you can be an example of how to take steps forward. Praise God, I don’t want to discourage you today, I want to encourage you today.

You are an example to others. And people learn from your example. What kind of values you have. What kind of goals you have. What kind of things you allow or don’t allow. What you do with your time. What you do with your money. What you do when things aren’t going right for you. People may not even realize that they are learning from others. But they are. 

Of course, there are all sorts of Christians on a spectrum of good and not as good examples. But you can improve. We should not only strive to be good role models, but strive to help others see and follow good role models. The New Testament teaches us to follow those who are teaching and living right (Philippians 3:17). You are leading people; where are you leading them?

What kind of example are you? Do people know that you know your Bible? Can they come to you for wisdom? You may be young in the faith, but are you growing? And if people follow you, will they grow? And when trials come, when things don’t go the way you wanted, when you’re tired and frustrated, when you suffer affliction, what do people see? Do you exhibit faith, perseverance, and joy in the Holy Spirit?

If not, why not? And what now?

Well, you can learn, you can grow, you can improve. And you can turn to God in repentance and faith. So that, even when you’re not really doing so well, you can show yourself to be a good example of how to get better. People need to see good examples of what repentance really looks like. To know how to get back up after falling down.

I pray that you and I will be faithful examples. And let’s put legs to our prayers. Whether it is in the world, on the job, at the school, or with the church, people are watching you. So, what you must do is watch Jesus. And as you do, you’ll walk with him. And you’ll be a good example. Amen. 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©