Friday, July 03, 2015

The Gravity of Judgment

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” —2 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)

What comes to mind when you think of Washington, D.C.? Do you think of the great monuments like the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, or the Washington Monument? For many of us, images of these places have been embedded in our memories since elementary school.

The first thing Paul saw as he entered the city of Corinth were monuments of Roman government. In the city center, the Roman governor would sit and decide cases and dispense judgment. (Think about the scene in John 19:13 where Pontius Pilate pronounced judgment at the “The Stone Pavement.”) This judgment seat was referred to in Greek as the bema.

In ancient Corinth, judgment was at the very center of public life. Everyone could see what was going on, and Paul makes it clear: Every human will appear before Christ to give an account for himself or herself. The Corinthians clearly understood the gravity of the bema of Christ.

That is sobering to think about. At least it should be. It is easy to become overly casual in our attitude toward God. While it is true that we are justified by faith alone, there are still expectations of how believers in Christ should live. We are expected to grow in our faith, become mature followers of Jesus, and have an impact for Him in the world. And, as believers, we will one day stand before Jesus and give an account for how we’ve met—or not met—these expectations.

While this truth should give you pause, it should also energize you. This is good news! You’ll be rewarded for the things you did for Jesus. And everyone will see it. This should give you hope and motivate you to tackle more projects and impact more lives for the sake of the gospel.

If you are in a place in your journey where you need to get back on track with your walk with Jesus, do it now. Acknowledge it to Him in prayer, as well as to someone else in your Christian community. Be restored to Him, and start doing the kinds of things you’ll be rewarded for.

One day everyone will see how wise and just our God is. On that day you’ll be validated for those things you’ve done through faith in Jesus, whether they were big sacrifices or small deeds of kindness. That’s a promise.

This Daily Devotional was originally published at www.CalvaryFTL.org/DailyDevo 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Longing for Summer Slow News

I miss the dog days of summer when there was very little news beyond the weather. This summer has been crazy. We’ve had church shootings, threats of terror attacks, a high-visibility pastoral moral failing, and a landmark Supreme Court ruling that some call equality while others say it is the redefinition and devaluation of the holy sacrament of marriage.

This weekend we celebrate 4th of July and our nation is on high alert for terror attacks. Three recent attacks across Europe and the Middle East make this warning more credible than ever.

On top of real news, Obama haters are resurrecting Clinton era conspiracy theories of a liberal president in his lame duck term making a last ditch effort to hang on to power by finding an excuse to launch a massive military campaign to establish martial law. In Clinton’s day, the Y2K bug was the excuse. Today Walmart closings and a cryptic plan called Jade Helm will transfer our sovereign power to the United Nations.

Alarmist bloggers paint a picture of dooms day, especially for people of faith. Fear mongers have the church in the middle of a bad Nicolas Cage plotline, but their narrative is self-indulgent and claims continue to go unsubstantiated. I would love to see documentation or, at least, some verifiable, anecdotal substation rather than soap box story telling.

As far as freedoms being eroded, I think we are already there with the Patriot Act, the unlimited reach of the NSA, and the Snowden affair. Not to mention high-tech espionage sponsored by foreign governments and criminal gangs. The infrastructure for limiting our freedoms has been in place for at least four decades, and as technology improves, so does the ability and reach of the surveillance state I’ve grown up in.

If you’re a follower of Jesus and you’re reading this, we’re not as bad off as believers have been in the past. Nor are we suffering the way brothers and sisters in faith are this minute in numerous places around the globe where being a public Christian earns consequences ranging from detention to death. We need to make ourselves much more aware of church history and ancient heritage. When we look at what the first century church had to endure under Roman rule and temple politics, we are still much better off.

As people of faith, we are to always expect, in every generation and under any world-political system, to find ourselves out of sync with the systems and culture of the world. It has always been so with the historic church of Jesus Christ. The church is most impotent when in step with culture or in collusion with government.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Price of Working for God

While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the LORD gave him this second message: (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭33‬:‭1‬ NLT)

Jeremiah obeyed God even though it meant having the wrong politics. It was very unpatriotic to seek and use a public platform to tell people to submit to a foreign king as his blood-thirsty, pagan hordes massed on the border to launch and invasion. "It's God's will that you submit to the brutal, pagan king of a foreign nation," was Jeremiah's message to his people. "Go with them peacefully."

What if God did that here in the U.S.? What nation would it be? Mexico? Russia? China? ISIS?

No U.S. president or military commander would give you the time of day if God told you to tell them to submit. I can't think of a single friend who would tell confirm for me that I was hearing from God. We're the most godly, free, used-by-God nation that ever existed. How could God judge us by using a nation less God-fearing than us? Could it happen? Would God's prophets be treated the way Jeremiah was by Americans that call themselves Christians? Would the author of God's message be recognized?

I wonder.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Über Christ Followers – Part 5 – John Chinelly

Originally posted November 7, 2005

I can't believe this post is almost ten years old.

Pastor John Chinelly has been a mentor in my life since 1994. Not only has he mentored me, together with his wife, Connie, they've mentored and poured their lives into thousands of couples. That is no exaggeration. Thousands of families have been changed by and benefitted from the ministry of this one, faithful couple.

I'm asking you to join me in prayer for this couple and their extended family as Connie faces serious health issues. 


Über

Men of major influence and persuasion are seldom grand in stature or appearance. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “I came to you in weakness--timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom.”(1 Cor. 2:3-5) 

Pastor John Chinelly’s ministry in my life illustrates this perfectly. John taught me my most valuable lessons when I was young in ministry: the man of God is compassionate; the man of God is a wise manager; the man of God is a mentor.

John imparted something simple: God created me with one (1) mouth and two (2) ears.

“Slow down.”

“Shut up.”

“And listen.”

John never actually used those words, but that’s what he taught me. The man of God must slow down and listen. I can’t assume that I know where some one is going in a conversation. Quick-fix answers rarely repair a crisis and are not helpful to the hurting. The man of God shouldn’t be that impressed with himself.

God’s minister listens and prays and points people to the Word of God. Men can’t fix men. Only God has solutions to help men get through this life. Only God has the answers men need to hear. A man of compassion understands that the insight he possesses comes from God given wisdom.

John taught me that God’s minister manages his time wisely. It’s God’s time. Time is a resource that is given by God as a gift to accomplish all that God has called the men to do.

Pastor John taught me that a mentor supports the mentored. Pastor John has always been in my corner. That’s a man I can learn from.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It's Good News!

“I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know.”—Psalm 40:9 (NKJV)

“You have a grandson!” I was so pleased to tell my father this news when my son was born. At the time, my dad had three granddaughters—all beautiful and deeply loved and spoiled, but no boys yet. I made that announcement 26 years ago this week, but I remember it as if it were this week.

I didn’t have to sell this news. I didn’t have to qualify it as news. I didn’t have to say, “Are you sitting down? You better sit down for this.” No way! What I needed to say was, “Make sure you have enough room to jump up and down for joy! Your name is going to live on for another generation!”

There is nothing better than good news. The psalmist tells us that good news delights the hearer. It gives the hearer pleasure. It gives hope for the future. It causes people to break out in prayer and praises. David didn’t hold back. He wrote in a flamboyant style everything he can think of about God’s faithfulness, righteousness, and salvation. He doesn’t do this only for his own personal devotional life, although that’s where it starts. He writes this all down so he can give it to his worship leader who, in turn, leads God’s people in thought-provoking, energetic praises. The words that David intentionally wrote turned into timeless songs of good news, the kind that get stuck on a continuous loop in your head.

Friend, that’s the kind of effect the Word of God is supposed to have on us. As Christians, we ought to be known as people who have the good news continually flowing from our lips with a fervor that cannot be contained. In Ephesians 6:19 (NKJV) , Paul prays, “That utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.” This is an awesome verse for you to pray.

Make sure you’re familiar with God’s Word so you can always be ready to deliver it when God’s Spirit brings it to your remembrance. The world is hope-starved. When you have the Word of God flowing through you, you become the message of hope God is determined to saturate the world with.

This Daily Devotional was originally published at www.CalvaryFTL.org/DailyDevo

Monday, June 22, 2015

Empathy

Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound. (Proverbs 25:20 NLT)

When speaking with people, we need to learn their rhythms. This verse is another way of say"he's like a bull in a china shop" (something that has been said of me often). 

em·pa·thy
ˈempəTHē/
noun
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

This is what we need to learn to represent God to man and man to God. If, as a follower of Jesus, I'm an ambassador, a priest, if you will, this is my job. I need to have two things up and running in my life:
1. I need to be in step with the Holy Spirit. 
2. I need to have empathy for those I come in contact with.  

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Perspective


“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done. Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said. The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.” –2 Timothy 4:14-18 NLT

There is so much packed into this verse that relates to our struggle as men. Half of it we choose to ignore or conveniently forget. Let's break it down.
  • there is someone out to cause you harm
  • he's fighting against you
  • you feel abandoned and alone
  • it's the Lord that gives you strength
  • He rescues you
  • He delivers
  • He brings you to safety
All that wisdom and truth in four quick verses. All that perspective.

The common thread is that without God, you're in harm's way and you find yourself abandoned. If you stop there, you're helpless. You have no strategy for overcoming your struggle. You stay lonely.

But when you realize that you're incomplete to accomplish the task by yourself, now there's something to work with. Now you have perspective. Now you can see. You not trying to save yourself gives God something to work with.

Quit trying to work through this thing all by your lonesome self. Jesus is poised to do something truly amazing with your life. Get some perspective and get out of His way.