Misplaced Trust

“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – he remains faithful forever.” (Psalm 146: 3-6 NIV)

As our nation prepares to inaugurate a new president today, my thoughts turn once again this morning to Psalm 146. Those wise words of the psalmist penned so many centuries ago have stood the test of time. They remind us that no matter how powerful and charismatic and no matter how convincing their rhetoric, trusting in man is a misplaced trust. 

That is why I continue to abhor mixing religion and politics. Inevitably it takes our focus off of the only One who can truly save. As followers of Christ, when we overly involve ourselves in political endeavors, we risk the impact of our central message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

As Christ’s ambassadors, we have been commissioned to spread a powerful message – a message too important and too life-changing to allow political involvement to threaten the impact of our witness. Our Lord is still “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)  If more of us would lend the same enthusiasm and energy to spreading that message as we bring to spreading our political messages, the collective impact on future generations just might astound us all.

Only hearts changed by the Gospel will bring about the change that God seeks. May we focus on that message. May we be faithful to that Commission. Make we seek to make that Kingdom great and to make that Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

“The church works best as a separate force, a conscience to society that keeps itself at arm’s length from the state. The closer it gets, the less effectively it can challenge the surrounding culture and the more perilously it risks losing its central message.” – Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace

Until He Comes

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (2 Peter 3:10-12 NIV)

As a teacher, I was always intrigued by the level of interest even new believers exhibit in end-time prophecy. We want to understand the signs of Christ’s return. When will it happen? Will we be raptured before the great tribulation preceding it? While many may argue otherwise, the Bible does not unequivocally resolve those questions. Jesus himself said, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36 NIV)

As one who has studied and taught prophecy from the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, 2 Peter, and Revelation, I contend that the most important question for us to consider regarding Christ’s return is imbedded in 2 Peter 3:11 – Until he comes, what kind of people ought we to be? The Bible fully provides the answers to that question.

As the Body of Christ, called to be salt and light to the world around us, our time is surely better spent focusing on the answers to that question and acting accordingly rather than arguing with one another over disputable matters of eschatology or other theological issues that divide us.

What the world sees in our character made visible in our actions is our greatest witness. It opens doors of opportunity for testifying about the source of our hope. (1 Peter 3:15) And, as Peter suggests in 2 Peter 3:12, it just might hasten the day of our Lord’s return.

“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 1:7-8 NIV)

The Mysterious Work of God

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5 NIV)

Every time I come to Ecclesiastes in my daily Bible reading, I am struck by its often depressing and fatalistic tone. God gave Solomon great wisdom with which he identified and recorded truths and insights about human nature and the world in which we we live that were far beyond people’s understanding at that time.

Since Solomon’s day, scientists and philosophers have discovered and continue to unveil many additional wonderfully complex truths about God’s creation and the ways of man. That reality was fully on display last year when a vaccine was developed in record time to attack an unprecedented pandemic that has uprooted our world and changed our lives in ways unimaginable at the start of 2020.

But we will never fully comprehend the work of God. Attempts to do so are destined for frustration. To accept that reality and trust those unknowable mysteries of life to an infinitely wise, loving, and sovereign God leads to a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:17) – a peace that Solomon unfortunately had difficulty finding in his later years when he wrote Ecclesiastes. In 11:8 he writes, “However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many. Everything to come is meaningless.”

How grateful I am to know that everything to come is far from meaningless. In truth, it is “an eternal glory that far outweighs” any tribulations and uncertainties we will ever encounter in this life. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

      “Whatever may be the mysteries of life and death, there is one mystery which the cross of Christ reveals to us, and that is the infinite and absolute goodness of God. Let all the rest remain a mystery so long as the mystery of the cross of Christ gives us faith for all the rest.” – Charles Kingsley

A New Years Reflection

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

This seemed an appropriate verse to mark the end of a year that was full of trouble that seemed far from “light and momentary” for most of us. Who could have imagined the economic, political, and social havoc that a viral speck would wreak on our world when 2020 began?

I am grateful this morning for those who continue to fight on the frontlines in the battle against this pandemic that continues to rage as we enter a new year. I am also grateful for the vaccines that have given us hope for an end to it. But I am most grateful this morning for the eternal hope that I have in Christ Jesus “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1:4) This is the living hope that will sustain us through whatever trials 2021 might bring.

As the sun sets on another year, my prayer for you is the one offered by Paul in his letter to the Colossians. May God “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” May you “live a life worthy of the Lord” and may you “please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Col. 1:9-12 NIV)

If my posts in some small way assist you in that, may all glory be given to God, without whom I could write nothing of consequence.

Happy New Year to you all.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

The Word Became Flesh

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14 NIV)

As Christmas draws near each year, I instinctively find myself drawn to John’s account of the Gospel. From his unique perspective as the self-described “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), John understood better than anyone that the true meaning of Christmas reached far beyond the spectacle of the night Christ was born as detailed in the Gospel of Luke.

That precious babe lying in the manger was God incarnate – God in the flesh. During his short public ministry, with John by his side absorbing every word he spoke, Jesus showed us the Father and spoke to us the very words of God with a clarity and purity unmatched in all of Scripture.

Only through John do we hear Jesus tell Phillip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. … The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  (John 14:10-11 NIV)

That is the unparalleled message of Christmas – that Jesus came to show us our Heavenly Father – a message so uniquely and profoundly articulated by John with those memorable and poetic words, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

I pray this Christmas you will ponder those words, treasure them in your heart, and reflect upon their implication for your life. Almighty God is now Immanuel, God with us. He walked with John in the flesh 2,000 years ago and to those of us who have welcomed him, he dwells within us still in the person of the Holy Spirit.

May you experience that reality and the power of His presence this Christmas as never before.

“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” – C.S. Lewis