Friday, 10 January 2014

Endless Energy & Boundless Strength

But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! Ephesians 1:17-18 The Message

Most often the letters of the Apostle Paul express an appreciation for the support that he has received from the family of believers as he does beginning in verse 15.  But what struck me about this particular petition is Paul’s strong desire that the followers of Christ be able to grasp the immensity of the glorious way of life He has planned for them and recognize the extravagance of God’s work in His creation.  Finally Paul prays for endless energy and boundless strength for those who put their trust in Him.

I realize that I fall woefully short when I begin to ponder the immensity of the glorious way of life God has in store for me and all born again believers.  I can’t begin to truly fathom the extravagance of God’s work in creation.  At my age you can forget endless unless its trips to the doctor and boundless strength sounds like an oxymoron.

What difference does it make?  Isn’t it enough that I profess to love Jesus; that I desire to do His will; and to bring glory to Him, particularly as it pertains to how I relate to my wife?  No it is not sufficient to profess and desire.  Professing versus truly believing to my core; desiring versus being committed to whole heartedly doing are worlds apart.  Yet if I could truly grasp the immensity of what is in store for me, if I could truly have the slightest inkling of how extravagant God’s work is then my response to daily life and my family would be profoundly changed - as it should be. 

In Ephesians 3:16-18 Paul offers yet another prayer for his supporters ending with “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”

The more that you and I can begin to really understand, as best as our finite minds will allow, the width, length and depth of God’s love for us the better able we will be to serve Him, to love Him with all our soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Oh, by the way, your spouse is your   closest neighbor!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Do You Have Godly Wisdom?

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.  James 3:17-18 The Message

James 3 verses 17 and 18 provide us with a check list that helps us to answer the question, “do I have Godly wisdom?”  The adjectives are listed in priority.  Some translations use pure and peaceable for the first two traits.  If a holy life is characterized by getting along with others it would stand to reason that when it pertains to the one that I have covenanted to love and cherish the term means a whole lot more than just “getting along with”.  I recognize that for some married couples just getting along would be an upgrade.  A Godly marriage is not merely characterized by getting along but truly loving our partner as much as we love ourselves.  According to the passage this is where wisdom begins.

Peaceable is described as gentle and reasonable.  Would my partner describe me as gentle and reasonable?  Gentle meaning mild and kind or would she say that there are too many times when I am critical, abrasive and uncaring in my approach to her?  As for reasonable am I more often than not rational and sensible and/or do I expect or demand more than is possible?

Am I overflowing with mercy and blessings, i.e. passionate and forbearing?  Would my wife describe me as a blessing?  Am I moody (hot and cold)?  Verse 18 ends with the caveat that if want to have a healthy and robust “community” (which I translate as marriage) I must treat my wife with dignity and honor.

This is one of many Biblical passages that can make me feel uncomfortable.  Jesus was a no nonsense kind of a guy.  He did not back down, water down or dumb down His message to make people feel comfortable and neither does the totality of God’s Word.

We are continually challenged to grow, to change, and to become more like the Son.  Home is a good place to start.

Monday, 6 January 2014

A Vision for a New Year

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  Matthew 6:34 The Message

It is true that we are not to worry about tomorrow for it will do no good.  It is also true that it is foolish to make plans for the future.  The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21) suggests that God is not too impressed with the plans we make, particularly if our plans disregard His plans for our life.

Yet I don’t think God wants us to just sit on our hands, hoping something will come along.

It seems to me that having a vision for the year might be a good place to start.  A vision that starts with a prayer asking God to enable you to use the gifting and talents that He has given you, to in some way put them to use to serve the Kingdom.

The vision should be different than the meaningless resolutions that many of us make at the start of a New Year but rather a set of goals that would draw you closer to God by year end.  A good place to start might be the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40).We are called to love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind.  With this as a vision you need only ask yourself, as you are about to make a decision, does what I’m about to do demonstrate a love for God.  If it doesn’t fit with your vision, don’t do it. 

In the same verses we are called to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.  If that is you vision you need only ask yourself at the end of each day, did I demonstrate the love of God to at least one person today?  IF you are married that neighbor includes your spouse.

The vision might be how you handle your finances.  If your vision is to handle them in accordance with Scripture then learn what Scripture has to say about money and again ask yourself at the end of each day, “did I handle my finances in accord with God’s Word?”

God's vision for your life?
Perhaps you have an addiction of some sort.  A vision might be to have victory over your addiction by the end of the year.  (Don’t wait until November to start).  You will only have victory with the help of the Holy Spirit.

A broader vision might be to adopt 1Corinthians 10:31 “…whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”  Again at the end of each day ask yourself whether or not everything you did glorified God.