Friday, August 26, 2016

Work Heartily

“Idleness is worst. Idleness alone is without hope: work earnestly at anything, you will by degrees learn to work at almost all things.” -- Thomas Carlisle –

Many people treat work as an evil, as something to be avoided. Leisure and entertainment seem to be the goals of modern life. We work only enough to fund our leisure, instead of relaxing enough to return to our work refreshed.

God wants us to have leisure. The idea of a day off came from God (Dt. 5:12-15), not from the labor unions. But God also expects us to work. He set the example by working six out of the first seven days. Then he planted a garden (Gen. 2:8). He placed Adam in the garden and gave him a task to do there (Gen. 2:15).

It is work, not leisure, that gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction – or at least could give us a sense of satisfaction if we would be diligent at our tasks.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV). David Murray commented on this, "…we work as if He was our employer, our manager, our boss. We wash dishes as if He was going to eat from them. We unblock drains as if it was His home. We don’t work primarily for money (that’s a job), for promotions (that’s a career), or for a way to fill the time (that’s an occupation), but for the Lord (that’s a vocation)."

Are you dissatisfied with life? Could it be that you are failing to take up your daily tasks with a sense of serving the Lord in them? Whatever our task, let us work at it heartily, let us do it to his glory.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By Water and Blood

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood (1 John 5:6, ESV).

This verse is known as one of the most difficult in the New Testament. Profound scholars have struggled with it and failed to come to a satisfactory conclusion. But, despite its admitted difficulties, there is comfort in it for us.

Evidently, gnostic false teachers were troubling the church. They seem to have claimed that an ordinary human being named “Jesus" had been possessed by the Spirit of God at his baptism. They went on to claim that the Spirit left Jesus before he died on the cross. According to their teaching, the Jesus who lived 30 years at Nazareth and who died on the cross was just an ordinary man. The Jesus who gave the teachings and performed signs was supernatural, but that was not exactly the Jesus who died, according to them.

John disagrees. John taught that Jesus Christ, from his baptism in water to the shedding of his blood, was one person, one Lord, one Savior. He might also mean something additional (John likes double entendre). He might also mean that Jesus Christ comes to us at our baptism and continues to come to us as we remember him in the Lord’s Supper. John’s teaching is the teaching we can rely upon.

Our sins are great, but our Savior is greater. Satan, our accuser, is great, but our Advocate is greater. The One who died for us was not a mere man. He was fully God as well as fully man. He is therefore able to save to the uttermost (Heb 7:25). Let us trust fully in him.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
(Romans 8:31-32,ESV)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fundamentals of Rock Climbing

I do not know anything about rock climbing, but I am told that Louis Zamperini did. And he once said, “I’ve met so-called trained climbers who almost kill themselves through lack of basic knowledge.” When I saw that statement it resonated with me right away.

I do not know anything about rock climbing, but I know that if you change “trained climbers” to “Christians” and take out the word “almost” you have a true statement, too true.

There are certain fundamentals of the Christian life that many Christians seem to have forgotten (if they ever knew them). These are simple, basic truths that we never grow past.

1. We need each other. Jesus did not die for us as individuals. He died for the church (Acts 20:28).
2. We need daily prayer, daily exposure to God’s word and frequent fellowship with other Christians. Acts 2:42 is a text we all ought to know and live by.
3. We are in danger. Satan is out to get us. We must not be toying with sin (1 Peter 5:8). We must not imagine that we can fellowship with the world and remain unstained. Evil companions corrupt (1 Cor 15:33). If you sleep with the dogs you will end up with fleas.
4. We are incapable of saving ourselves; we must continually cling to Christ (Eph 2:1-10; Jos 22:5).

It does not matter how long we have been Christians, these (and other) fundamentals remain true. Let us never forget them. Let us live by them.

Forgetting the fundamentals of rock climbing will kill only the body. Forgetting the fundamentals of Christian living will really hurt you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Past and Present

In 1843 Thomas Carlyle published Past and Present. The goal of the book was to show that basic ethical principles are unchanging, that what made a man admirable in the 12th century would make a man admirable in the 19th century. We are now in the 21st century, but the point Carlyle was making is still valid.

Carlyle believed in God, but was not well read in the scriptures or in theology. He made his argument in a different way. One of the main characters in the book was an old abbot who was ordered by King Richard (Coeur-de-Lion) to hand over a child of whom the abbot was guardian. According to Carlyle, Abbot Samson replied that the king had the power to seize the child by force. The abbot could not resist, but neither would he hand the child over willingly. He would endure what was forced upon him, but he would not become a party to wrongdoing by surrendering the child.

That principle is older than Carlyle, it is older than Abbot Samson, it is the stand for which the first readers of Hebrews were commended, “…you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb 10:34, ESV). It is the principle Paul expresses when he says that we must not “take part in the sins of others” (1 Tim 5:22).

In many ways, evil rules us today, and the upcoming election is unlikely to change that. Things may be taken from us by force, but let us make sure that it is by force. Let us never become willing participants in the evils with which this country abounds. Our goods and our money may be seized and used for wrongdoing; but let us be sure that it is not willingly given. Let us be sure that we never become participants in or supporters of evil. In voting this Fall, let us remember that he who gives consent to what he knows to be evil is often more guilty in God’s sight than the one who carries out the evil deed (Rom 1:32). There are many evils we may not be able to stop; but let us be sure we do not become participants in evil.