Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Verses

In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul says that he learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I believe that one technique he used to learn such peace is described in the previous verses:
Philippians 4:4-7;
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We can't understand it, but if we thank God for all of the things happening in our life (good and bad) then we will experience His peace.

This is a wonderful promise -- and quite a challenge!

What are some other examples of verses about how to become more content?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The temptation of justice

Sometimes I think that Christians take it upon themselves to try to deliver people from their sinful lifestyles. In many cases well meaning people are campaigning passionately to eliminate certain sinful or immoral practices through education, legislation or litigation.

I fear that often times these efforts may overshadow or contaminate the message of the Gospel. Should Christians be identified based on their entanglement in the affairs of this world, or should they be identified based on the peace provided by God's promise of eternal justice?

In truth, God is the one who saves. He is the one who convicts. He is the one who changes hearts. Our job should be to be a testimony to that miracle. In order to be effective in that testimony, we need to submit totally to God, and to truly live by faith.
Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - —this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The Lord tells us "Do not resist an evil person.", "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.", "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". (See Matthew 5:38-48)

If an unsaved man is committing a sin, and I rebuke him for it, and he repents. His life in this world may be better, as he will not have to deal with the consequences of that particular sin. But his fallen heart will continue to lead him to other sins. He will remain unsaved.

If I testify to God's miracle, but I am still living with my hope invested in the justice systems of this world, my testimony has no impact. I am testifying to the truth of a hypothetical.

If, on the other hand, I live life as a living sacrifice to the Lord, then when I testify to the sinner about the miracle that God has done within me, it is real. A stranger will be able to see the peace that is within me. He will be able recognize my love. He has the opportunity to meet the God that can cleanse him forever.

It is quite a challenge to remember each day, each hour, and each encounter; it is my responsibility to deny myself, take up my cross to follow him. (Matthew 16:24) My worldly self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with. (Romans 6:6) I am alive in Christ, and it should show.

The only way to truly help liberate those around me is to allow Christ to shine through me.

I plan to continue to exercise the civil authority that God vested me with to affect change within my culture. (My vote and my freedom of speech) Is it healthy to do so? Or is that entanglement with worldly concerns a liability to the only truth that matters?