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Showing posts from December, 2010

The Light Has Come

Feel the passion and conviction of John's words as he begins his letter:

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and appeared to us…this is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." —1 John 1:1, 2, 5, NIV.

This introduction is similar to the beginning of John's Gospel when he wrote: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning…In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not understood it" —John 1:1-3, NIV

These references to light and life echo the words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist who, …

Losses

I haven't done the research but I suspect that the second letter Paul wrote to Timothy contains the most references to losses of all of the letters that the apostle wrote. Perhaps it's just because the book is only four chapters long. Perhaps Paul is having one of those "down" days. Whatever prompted this not-so-encouraging list of losses, Paul named names in his brief letter to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy:

Phygelus and Hermogenes (among others) who deserted Paul in Asia (2 Timothy 1:15)
Hymenaeus and Philetus, who tasted the truth and then corrupted it (2 Timothy 2:17, 18)
Demas, who went back into the world (2 Timothy 4:10)
Alexander, who opposed Paul's message and did a lot of damage (2 Timothy 4:14)

At the beginning of chapter 3 and early in chapter 4, Paul mentions other nameless losses to the ministry—those who had corrupted the Gospel or persecuted the believers.

It's easy to focus on the losses in ministry. Unhappily they are many. I suppose…

Leaving Something Behind

In my last move I inherited a couple of suitcases full of old family photos, old anniversary and birthday cards and a few bits and pieces of paper with handwritten notes from my mother. The pictures are often what prompt that "I wish there was someone to ask about …" statement. Many of us look back and wish we had more information on certain people and certain events from our past. Perhaps it is this desire that has prompted many people to encourage the elderly members of their families to write down their stories while they still can. These stories can then be passed down to the next generation.

Peter had similar concerns as he sat down to write the Book of 2 Peter. He knew his time was short and he wanted to be sure that he left something behind after he was gone. He writes: "So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the te…

Incarnational Thinking

A lot of time and effort is expended by mission agencies to train their candidates on how to bridge the culture gap and live incarnationally in the country to which they are being sent. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary statesman of centuries past. was among the first to live and look like the people he sought to win to Christ in China. Incarnational thinking is modeled after Jesus Christ who took on flesh to become one of us; to look like us, to live like us.

Sort of.

In one area Christ was never like the people he chose to look and live like. He never sinned. In that he did not model us.

So as I read this morning's passage in 1 Peter I took notice of the number of times Peter called his readers "strangers" while he was busily exhorting them not to be the same as the people around them, but to be different. He begins his letter: "To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. . ." –1 Peter 1:1…

Christmas in Hebrews

Tucked away in the heart of an "Easter" kind of message about sacrifices and salvation comes this little Christmas gem:

"Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings your were not pleased. Then I said, Here I am–it is written about me in the scroll–I have come to do your will, O God'" –Hebrews 10:5-7, NIV.

The writer imagines the heavenly conversation; Jesus assuring his Father that their wills were in perfect harmony, that he was about to take on a baby's soft and vulnerable skin to set aside the old system of continual and ineffectual sacrifices in favour of what is described just a few words later as: "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" –Hebrews 10:10, NIV.

God prepared the body of that child. Jesus put aside the rights and privileges of the Son of Go…

The Desire of My Heart

My prayer for all of you out there in cyberspace who might read this post:

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" –Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV.

It's all there:
1. The saving faith that comes from him and brings us unto a personal and intimate relationship with him expressed in "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."

2. The growth and permanence of that relationship expressed in "rooted and established in love."

3. The power that buries "me" to embrace him as I discover the truth of "how wide and long and high and dee…

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Paul…

As Paul was finishing up his letter to the Roman church he made a request of the believers in that city. He asked them to: "Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem might be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed" —Romans 15:31, 32, NIV.

As I was reading the last few chapters of Acts this morning I was reminded once again as to how God answered Paul's prayers and those of the believers in Rome. Paul had been warned not to go to Jerusalem, apparently by those who were moved by the Spirit of God to deliver that warning (Acts 21:4b). When the apostle got to Jerusalem he delivered to those in need, the charitable donations he had been entrusted to him by the Gentile believers. Then, he immediately went to the temple. Some Jews, opposed to his message, aroused the crowd and Paul was rescued, then arrested, by the Roman constabulary. He ended up goi…

It's Not What You Can Do, It's What You Need to Do

It's funny how the mind works.

I just finished reading through the Book of Romans in my devotions. This morning I got "stuck" on this little phrase: "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ" —Romans 13:14, NIV. I wondered what being "clothed" in Christ would look like. Of course, the context of this verse gives us a list of some of the "nasties" that we should avoid such as: orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension and jealousy. Since I'm not having any issues with any of those (well, maybe a little jealousy from time to time!), I wondered what else "clothed in Christ" might look like in my context.

Ministry never ends. There is always more that can be done than there is time or ability to accomplish. That has weighed heavily on my mind lately so as I thought about this phrase from Romans I initially began to think about all that Christ accomplished during his earthly ministry. When I do that,…

Under Renovation

I can hear the sounds of a saw next door. The renovations to the church are moving ahead quickly. In the meantime we "put up" with having to use only the north wing of the church for services while the main sanctuary and the south wing are being torn apart and then put back together. We'd hoped to get finished with the construction and the repainting by Christmas. It might not happen because renovating oftentimes takes more time that originally planned.

But what about the Christmas Eve program? We might still be somewhere in "rough draft" mode by the 24th of December. I apparently echoed someone's remarks when I said that if Christ wasn't above being born in a stable I guessed that we shouldn't be too bothered about having our Christmas Eve service in a less than perfect auditorium.

Less-than-what-it-should-be is sometimes an issue for us. That works in the spiritual realm as well since we are always "less than what we should be." The goo…