In recent times, in Christianity, much has been made of apologetics, or the ability to give a defense for, an account of, the facts which constitute our faith. To be sure... there are many "facts" to be accounted for in establishing the reasons for one's hope in Jesus Christ. There exist manuscript evidence, archaeological evidence, prophetic evidence, personal eyewitness evidence, etc. Christ-followers are, indeed, charged to equip themselves to be ready to give a reason for the hope in, and faith upon, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (1 Peter 3:15).
But let it be stated, as equal truth, that along with the facts of faith, simple surrendering trust is also required. The facts of the Christian faith have always been, and will always be, scrutinized and vetted. Rightfully so. I believe they stand firm. But at the end of the day, and at the end of our days, we will all stand before God in judgment. We will be queried as to why we would be brought forth into the Kingdom of God. The ONLY correct response, according to all the factual evidences accumulated, is faith in Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). For without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
The facts are plenty. The doubts also abound. Genuine faith boils down to each individual's decision to trust and obey. Not a blind, ignorant faith with no foundation, but even with all the facts and arguments against faith combined ...we are left with a choice; a decision to "let go and let God" as it's been said.
Faith in Christ will cost you, at its onset, the freedom to run your own show and rule over your own life. There is a better, more joyful, plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Facts alone won't save you or I. Only faith in the resurrected, living, Christ will do. Here's to making sure the horse pulls the cart.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
A year, or so, ago my youngest son erected a cross; made from wooden planks from a broken part of our fence. It was constructed by a few nails and some white paint. The paint has since faded, and the nails holding the cross together have turned loose or broken. All that remains is a scarred single plank, surely not recognizable as the symbol it once was.
With the once beautiful representation of, and now brokenness of, Adam's cross ....and as we celebrate Christ' glorious, profound, unimaginable resurrection I am reminded of this simple reality. The cross will not carry you nor I. It is not sufficient to do so. It is ill-equipped to do so. ONLY Christ can carry us.
The cross won't carry you
The cross is broken. A man-made device, intended for destruction, the cross is only as powerful as it's creator makes it. It proved itself to be fallible, temporary. And while man constructed the cross ....it could not exist short of the very elements by which its ultimate Creator designed them. What man intended for evil ....God meant for good! (Gen. 50:20) Just as Joseph, in the Genesis story, stated in relation to the evil his brothers intended against him ....he knew that God had another use for his situation.
Your struggles won't carry you
You are broken. Whatever things we conquer and struggle through in this life, death ultimately comes, defeating any victories we manage. We have all sinned against God Himself, and have fallen short of His glory and His standard (Rom. 3:23). There is no good we can do which will defeat the ultimate response to our fallen nature .....death.
Only Christ', Himself, and His sacrifice will carry you
Christ "became" broken, for our sake and our inability to establish any real good for ourselves. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our sins (Isaiah 53:5).
Living life ,for whatever opportunity it can bring, is fruitless and pointless. The only eternal good we can do is surrendering to Christ, who can carry you, and who did carry your sins. A broken tree, a broken body, a living Savior for our brokenness. He "is" alive! Hallelujah, He is alive!
Sunday, April 1, 2012
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,2 saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me.3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once."4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,5 "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?"11 And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."-Matt 21:1-11 ESV
1. Be Ready for Obedience
Our Lord will ask only that you do anything according to, and in alignment with, His sovereign will. If you feel the Lord is "calling" you to do something, ask yourself... "Does this align with God's revealed Word?" Once His truth is confirmed we need to respond quickly to His will, and do so boldly. Jesus asked two of His disciples to swipe a couple of donkeys! They "knew" their Lord would not ask anything outside of His own will. They trusted Him, in obedience. When I was called to Kenya in 2009 I already knew it was His will to go into all the world with the gospel. Therefore, the answer to my going came swiftly. Even as a new Believer... I knew, when my oldest was ill as a young child, that I should pray and ask the Lord for healing.
2. Study to Show Yourself Approved
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
We can only know the Lord's will as it aligns with, or is revealed directly, in His Word. Jesus request of the two disciples was to fulfill a destiny set forth 450 - 500 years earlier.
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth."-Zechariah 9:9
The only possible responses were obedience or disobedience.
As Christians, we need to know our aim, and our goal. If we make up our own as we go through life ....this is not true Christianity; however "good" the thing may be. We must know God's revealed Word to us, and align with it, not contradict it. We must know the "whole" of His word. This provides "context" for our thoughts and actions.
3. Careful That Our Praising Does Not Become Cursing
We must count the cost of authentic Christianity. Our identity in Christ doesn't stem from our exactness in keeping His law. His law is good, and just from Him! However, as fallen people, redeemed only by His grace, do not miss the forest because of the trees. Humbly recognize His graceful life, death, and resurrection ...all for our own benefit. Then, let that grace produce good works.
"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."-Hebrews 13:20, 21
The same crowds which shouted "And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" ...were later those who shouted... "Crucify Him!". From the same mouths come both blessing and cursing.
"but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water."-James 3:8-12
James 1:19-25 instructs to be "quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;" and to be "doers", not only hearers, of the word. His word promises.... "But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."