Categories
Uncategorized

Good Stuff

Most people who reach my age have a lot of stuff. It’s not that we are hoarders, necessarily, but our “this-and-that” accumulation has gradually morphed far beyond our needs, and a sizeable portion of our wants, for that matter. Many of us have a growing yen to right-size our earthly possessions to what is important as we run the bell lap of life. I think there’s a reason for this: as this life fades behind us and the nearing Kingdom increasingly consumes our field of vision, we realize that much of what we’ve treasured from an earthly perspective is different than what God esteems, and that a godly character is infinitely more valuable and impactful than one’s wealth and possessions. We do well, then, to understand what God values and to align our entire beings to His desires.

Wisdom. Wisdom, wrote Solomon, “is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.”1 For wisdom protects us and watches over us,2 and through wisdom we gain understanding and direction, well-being and honor, and counsel and justice.3 Aren’t these what we want above all else? Pray for wisdom.

Commands. God’s laws moved David’s heart to song: “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold”;4 it is “sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”5 For God’s laws lead us in “the way that is good and right,”6 the way of love for God and for each other. In His mercy, He has put His Spirit in us to move us to follow His decrees and to be careful to keep His laws.7 Walk in His Spirit.

Integrity. Observed Solomon, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”8 We may marvel at worldly accomplishments, wealth, or fame, but isn’t it true that we esteem most highly those of noble character—character that reflects God’s presence? May your good name reflect His.

Faith. Life-giving faith is the complete abandonment of self-righteousness and the total reliance on the righteousness of Christ, for life itself is found only in Him. No wonder Peter declared faith to be “of greater worth than gold,” for it will “result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”9 Trust Him.

These are treasures that last, treasures built up in Heaven. They glorify God who glorifies us. This is good stuff.

Father, send Your Spirit to us to convince us of what is truly important to You and therefore to us. Grant us the grace and wisdom to submit everything to You for Your glory and our good. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Proverbs 3:14-15
2 Proverbs 4:6
3 Proverbs 8:12–21
4 Psalm 119:72
5 Psalm 19:7-10
6 1 Samuel 12:23
7 Ezekiel 36:27
8 Proverbs 22:1
9 1 Peter 1:7

Categories
Uncategorized

Faith in the Son

Over the past eight months, we have been gathering in this space to behold faith. We have learned much at the feet of many. The author of the Hebrews epistle defined faith for us as “the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen,”1 and James reminded us that “faith without deeds is dead.”2 Jesus explained that even the smallest amount of faith is enough,3 and yet it grows.4 Peter appraised our faith as “of greater worth than gold,”4 and Paul gives us a glimpse as to why: the righteousness we receive from God arises from our faith in Christ.5 It is only by entrusting ourselves entirely to Jesus that we are declared righteous before God—made guiltless and eternally welcome in His presence. But why faith? What is it about faith that pleases God so much? Perhaps we can scratch the surface . . .

Faith in Christ realigns a wayward people with what is objectively true. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”6

Faith in Christ draws us relationally to the Father who sent Him. “Since we have a great priest [Jesus] over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.”7

Faith in Christ acknowledges our sinful condition without Him—“not having a righteousness of [our] own that comes from the law.”8

Faith in Christ admits we cannot seize righteousness by our own merits as if to obligate God; we can only receive them as gifts of His grace. “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”9

Faith in Christ proclaims the divine character of God. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”10

Faith in Christ recognizes that He is uniquely able to save us. “Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”11

Faith in Christ unites with Him. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”12

Faith in Christ is the giving of ourselves to Him in whom life itself exists. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”13

Faith in Christ is faith in the Son whom the Father loves. “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.”14

Father, thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You also for the gift of faith. By the power of Your Spirit, I believe. Amen.

1 Hebrews 11:1 NASB
2 James 2:26
3 Matthew 17:20
4 Matthew 13:31-32
5 Philippians 3:9
6 John 8:31-32
7 Hebrews 10:21-22
8 Philippians 3:9
9 Romans 3:25
10 1 John 4:19
11 Hebrews 7:25
12 Galatians 2:20
13 1 John 5:11-12
14 John 3:35-36

Categories
Uncategorized

Step into Hope

One of my favorite leadership/management books is “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.” When in their research the authors asked corporate leaders around the world what they studied more in business school—strategy or execution—the immediate and overwhelming response was, “Strategy!” But when these same executives were asked which of the two they struggled with more, they answered with a resounding, “Execution!” The book, then, does a wonderful job addressing the crucial yet largely neglected topic of executing a plan in pursuit of a vision.

Biblical hope carries visionary overtones: it is not merely a wish, nor does it harbor doubt, rather it is the confident expectation of good, regardless of circumstance. Though based in what we cannot see, hope in Christ is nevertheless “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”1 Alive in Him and by His grace, we eagerly and boldly live this life with spiritual eyes set on “the hope of salvation,”2 “the hope of the resurrection from the dead,”3 “the hope of eternal life,”4 and of the “hope of glory.”5 And we know that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”6

Faith, then, is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see.7 It has an action or “execution” connotation to it, for after defining faith, the writer of Hebrews walks us, his readers, through a “Hall of Faith”—men and women who acted on what they could not see yet knew to be true. We read of Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses and others, who “saw [the things promised] and welcomed them from a distance.”8 Through faith, they “conquered kingdoms, administered justice . . .  became powerful in battle . . . received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.”9 What did these and others in this Biblical “Who’s Who” of doers share in common? They stepped into their hope through actions of faith. Of these standard-bearers of belief, the writer of letter to the Hebrews said simply, “The world was not worthy of them.”10

Then like so many who have gone before us, may we also be “remembered for [our] work produced by faith, [our] labor prompted by love, and [our] endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.11

Father, You have poured out your love into our hearts through the sure and certain hope we find in Christ Jesus. Inspire us in Your love and strengthen us in this hope, that we would in faith carry out the good works You have planned for us today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

1 Hebrews 6:19 ESV
2 1 Thessalonians 5:8
3 Acts 23:6
4 Titus 3:7
5 Colossians 1:17
6 Romans 5:5 NASB
7 Hebrews 11:1
8 Hebrews 11:13
9 Hebrews 11:33-35
10 Hebrews 11:38
11 1 Thessalonians 1:3