Monday, August 31, 2009

Why do we suffer?

One reason we suffer is so that God's power might be displayed in our lives (2Cor 4:7). What does that tell us about the value and worth of God's power being displayed?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Prayer for Victor Lee

Father, I come before you on behalf of my brother Victor Lee. Lord you know his need, his pain, his fear and I know you are his hope. As he faces this cancer and surgery tomorrow I pray your supernatural power be upon him to sustain his hope, his joy, his physical strength and most of all his faith...and upon his family, oh Lord especially his family. Lord be their mighty fortress and strong tower, a very present help in this time of great need. I ask that you heal him, miraculously and profoundly heal him and make your name known greatly throughout our region by what you do in and through Victor. But Father, the greatest thing I can ask for Victor (and his family) is that through this trial he will come to know you in a deeper and more authentic way than he has known you ever before. Lord let him experience the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ that he may know the power of His resurrection in a profoundly real way that his joy may be deep and abundant and You may be more clearly seen as the source of all joy! Lord, through this fiery ordeal give Victor a mature, seasoned, sober and unshakable confidence in You. May he run to you, cling to you, gaze upon you yearning to experience more of you because in the flesh he (as are we all) is wasting away but in the inner man is being renewed day by day into the image of his Creator! Oh Lord show the world the victory of Christ in Victor so that Victor's name will be a fitting reminder of the overwhelming victory we have in You! Amen

The Fragrance of Christ

The Lord probed me deeply during this morning's devotion time. Pauls speaks in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 of being a fragrance of Christ to God and the fragrance of Christ everywhere he goes - a fragrance of death to those who are perishing but the fragrance of life to those who are chosen for eternal life and are being saved. Wow, the fragrance of Christ to God! Paul says specifically, "and through us [He] diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place for we are to God the fragrance of Christ..." (vs 14-15). Later in vs 16 he exclaims, "and who is sufficient for these things"! The answer of course is nobody is sufficient! Only Christ through His transforming power and grace in our lives can make us a fragrant aroma unto God. And by that fragrance we bring honor and glory to Him as we go about in every place living and speaking in a Christ honoring way. That's what I want to be...a fragrant aroma of Christ to God! Oh Lord, please work in me in such a way that I become and remain a fragrance of Christ to you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday John Calvin

A little late I admit since John Calvin's 500th birthday was July 10 of this year 2009. But, it is still profitable for Christians especially to reflect again on Calvin's contribution to recovering the Gospel for the Church and refocusing the Church on the glory of God.

Calvin's main focus was the centrality of the glory and majesty of God. We all will do well to maintain or take up that same focus for it is the singular focus of scripture itself and I do believe God Himself! Here is a good Calvin quote to response to a Catholic Cardinal in the early days of his reforming work, Calvin rebuked the Cardinal's focus on eternal life and salvation (not bad topics right...?) as being man-centered in nature and not properly exalting of Christ's glory:

"Your zeal for heavenly life is a zeal which keeps a man entirely devoted to himself, and does not, even by one expression, arouse him to sanctify (hallow, glorify) the name of God". Later in the same letter of response Calvin explains to the Cardinal that what he and we all should do is, "set before man, as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God".

Calvin gave his life to exalting the majesty and glory of God. A wonderful result from a few minutes of remembering John Calvin would be a posthumous challenge by the great reformer to rethink our "prime motive for existence". Are we living to glorify God? Will we die to glorify Him?

A Heavenly Perspective

What is "a heavenly perspective"? Is it living life with your head in the clouds? Is it living life with your mind so preoccupied with the afterlife that you don't engage in this world? Most people probably think of the old saying, "he's so heavenly minded that he's no earthly good". Well maybe that is how some people are...but that's not the biblical teaching about having a heavenly perspective!

According to scripture we are to have a heavenly perspective and that is described in various ways throughout the Bible. We are told to "look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always" (1Chronicles 16:11), to sing to Him, glory in Him, seek Him, look to Him, remember Him (Ps 105). We are told to "set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Col 3:2). I could go on but the point is clear. The Bible COMMANDS that we have a heavenly perspective. So does that mean that we are to disengage our minds from this world and forget about earthly things? I believe the answer is no...but my opinion means little. What does scripture teach?

The 1st Chronicles passage above helps us see the proper relationship between having a heavenly perspective and an earthly engagement when we realize that it is set in the context of David establishing His rule over the nation of Israel. David was bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem and associating himself with Yahweh as his (David's) rule over the consolidated kingdom was taking shape. In no way did David or anyone else take the exhortation to look to the Lord and to seek His face to mean do not engage in their earthly duties and tasks. In fact, a large part of the context of that passage is an exhortation to thank God for what He was doing and had done IN THE EARTH for the glory of His name.

The Psalms passage referenced above is similar. We are told to give thanks and call on Him, sing to Him, sing praise to Him, glory in His name, seek Him and rejoice in Him, seek His face, remember His wonders. Wow! With all that focus on God maybe there is no time for earthly tasks! On the contrary. The entire context of that Psalm is "His wonderful acts" (vs 2) and "the wonders He has done" (vs5) the earthly lives of His people! It is from encountering the living God in the midst of our very earthly lives that we are brought to a place of joyful worship. We rejoice and worship Him and focus on Him because of His greatness and glory as revealed in our earthly context. Then, when others around us see these things and our response of praise and joy, they will see God for the infinitely valuable treasure that He is. By that we "make known among the nations what He has done" (vs 1) which is another very "earthly" task.

In Colossians 3 we see maybe the ultimate biblical explanation of this issue. Paul tells his readers to set their hearts AND minds not on things below on the earth but on heaven where Christ is - i.e. focus on Christ and His glory (vs 1-2). He even goes so far to say, "put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature" (vs 5). But later in the passage we see how he defines that focus and what putting to death things of our earthly nature means. He says to, "put off your old self with its practices and...put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator" (vs 9-11). Then in vs 12-13 he describes a LIFE STYLE that is very "earthly focused" but in the image of its creator Christ. In other words, living with a heavenly perspective is living our earthly life in a way that reflects positively on Christ and exalts His name as people observe our way of life. Paul goes on to get very specific about our earthly relationships between husband and wife, child and parent, slave and master and how they will be affected by living with our hearts and minds set on Christ.

To conclude then, having a heavenly perspective is NOT disengaging from the world but rather engaging the world with a wholehearted focus on and love toward the One who created the world. This single minded focus and wholehearted love toward Christ will then guide, shape, define, and transform all your earthly relationships in such a way that others will see His beauty and glory, and the nations will hear of His wonders!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bored with God?

It is a heart issue. Fight it by doing Deut 6:1-9