In Ephesians 5:17, the Apostle Paul says, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” In this, Paul refers to the “macro” of understanding His will but there are pieces of recognizing the “micro” of God’s will for our individual lives.
Good morning! Christians contribute to His Kingdom with a love that holds in hope. God’s love holds His people. This tri-fold expression that Paul gives is that which is all about holding on in hope. We must remind ourselves that this hope is not as we normally use as a verb: I hope this will happen. This is desire coupled with uncertainty. This is a noun use of the word: We have a hope of what is to come. This is desire coupled with certainty. Paul spoke of this in Romans 8:18-21 says:
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
The world is a mess. Yet, the world will not always be this way. The reason the world is the way it is, is that the curse of sin that taken hold. Adam and Eve ushered in that curse of sin when they turned away from the word of God and listened to the word of Satan, the enemy of all things godly. He has deceived the minds of all into thinking that the world is a good place and that the only sin is not doing what you want to do.
Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman told of a distinguished minister, Dr. Howard, from Australia who preached very strongly on the subject of sin. After the service, one of the church officers came to counsel with him in the study. “Dr. Howard,” he said, “we don’t want you to talk as openly as you do about man’s guilt and corruption, because if our boys and girls hear you discussing that subject they will more easily become sinners. Call it a mistake if you will, but do not speak so plainly about sin. The minister took down a small bottle and showing it to the visitor said,
You see that label? It says strychnine — and underneath in bold, red letters the word ‘Poison!’ Do you know, man, what you are asking me to do? You are suggesting that I change the label. Suppose I do, and paste over it the words, ‘Essence of Peppermint’; don’t you see what might happen? Someone would use it, not knowing the danger involved, and would certainly die. So it is, too, with the matter of sin. The milder you make your label, the more dangerous you make your poison!
The more we understand the poison this world has taken, the more we rejoice in the hope. The more patient we are. And the more we shall pray to the one who shall redeem us out of this world. I came across this quote from Martin Luther, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer. To have prayed well is to have studied well.” Some say, “I don’t need to study much. That seems to take away from the Spirit.” God calls us to study and study much and study well. Pastors are called to partake in prayer and the ministry of the Word as an example for those under our charge. Some of the greatest joys I have is praying to God to help me understand His Word, then studying His Word and studying others who have studied—and this fuels my preaching and praying even more.
Good morning! In our culture, as in most cultures, humility is a sign of weakness. Being humble is the equivalent of milquetoast, ho-hum. If you were to pick a cartoon character, we would likely think of Eeyore. But that’s not the case in God’s economy. Humility and meekness are strengths. The opposite of humility is pride—pride is destructive because of its reliance on self to find answers and solve problems. Pride is the source of all idolatry—for pride sets up one’s own self as god. You are the center of the universe—the world admires this, until you get in the way of someone else’s universe.
Yet, our life is fragile. We do all we can to avoid this simple principle of life, but it’s true. No matter how well we eat, no matter how much we exercise, no matter how many vitamins or pills we take, we find out in a hurry that life is fragile.
We are fragile physically. Everytime we watch a football game, we see that these specimens flying at each other on the field can do some damage. No one is immune! Not a quarter goes by where someone isn’t limping, isn’t having their ‘bell rung,’ or any other physical issue. The mildest car accident can cause an injury to the neck or back that can linger for years. Some are struggling with physical illnesses. We don’t need any reminders of the fragility of our physical bodies.
We can be fragile emotionally. We hear men and women who return from combat with post traumatic stress disorder who struggle to adapt to civilian life. We hear of teenagers who take their lives because their parents divorced or their boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with them. We hear of those who fall into addictions to escape either their situations or themselves (either sexual or substance addictions).
We can be fragile spiritually. Every one of us is looking for meaning and purpose in life. This is a spiritual issue. Everyone of us at one point has asked themselves, “Why am I here? Where do I belong? Where is life taking me?” This brings an understanding of how finite our lives are, but also can be beneficial! We realize that this is not all there is, but we also begin to see where the true treasure lies—and that treasure does not come from us.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, we read:
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
The Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
Recognizing our humility due to Christ’s strength is of great strength to us!
Christ expects His people to make the time that He has given them count. We are Kingdom people living in a world that is either apathetic toward or against all that this Kingdom stands for. What is sad is that Kingdom people have grown apathetic.
Psalm 139:16: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” God has numbered our days. Given that we are not God, we do not know how many days we have. So let’s make them count.
David Livingston, the British missionary, was asked about the wisdom of going on mission to Africa when it was so dangerous. He replied, “I am immortal until my work is accomplished.” One might believe this would cause Livingstone (and others) to be reckless. Not so! This caused him to be wise for the cause of Christ!
What you will notice is the presence of the Trinity in this passage. Be filled with the Spirit in verse 18; and in verse 20, giving thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; then submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. The Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) do not waste one moment in fulfilling their work. There is no frivolous activity–everything they did, they did in full wisdom to the glory of God and the good of His creation.
Living wisely means walking in the light and the love of the Triune God.
I was a Music Minister/Worship Leader for 10 years in the 1990s going into the 2000s before God called me into the preaching/pastoring ministry. And wow–do folks have opinions on these things. Well, here are some things to consider.
The most practicable remedy is to find volunteer laborers who will not need maintenance from the people. This admirable remedy is already largely used, but not so largely as it might be. We have among us numbers of brethren engaged in handicrafts and professions who are endowed with gifts at least sufficient for the gathering of moderate congregations; and some of them display ability equal if not superior to the average of stipendiary pastors. It is an exceedingly great gain to the community when these brethren addict themselves to the ministry of the saints.
Good morning! God calls us to be merciful as He is merciful. How is that possible, since we are fallible, frail, and faulty imagebearers?
Let’s read the full paragraph:
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Jesus Christ, Luke 6:32-36
In our flesh, we love those like us, lend to those who are friends and who will repay us–yet, Christ calls us to love our enemies sacrificially, knowing that our reward will come not necessarily in the “here” but in the hereafter.
God extended mercy to us when we didn’t deserve it. Now, we as imagebearers and covenant bearers of Christ behave as Christ on earth–which is what the church is, the body of Christ.
It’s not just Christ in you but Christ through you. Don’t be a reservoir–be a conduit of His grace and mercy to others.
Outward murder begins with inward anger from a lack of upward worship.
As Jesus builds on the previous paragraph, He shows them how their righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees knew God’s law better than anyone and gave the impression that they obeyed the law better than anyone. Yet, Jesus did to them what He does to all of us–expose our true motives. Were they obeying to make much of themselves or to make much of God and His Son Jesus? Time would bear out in their treatment of Jesus that they leveraged God’s law and their position to make much of themselves.
Good morning! The Apostle Paul calls us to think on the things of the Spirit.
Christ embodies each of these perfectly. If ever anyone walked the earth with the qualities, it was Christ. And as we think on Christ more and more, the more we will think on the qualities that he has that are listed here—and the more we will think and practice on them.
We must remember, Christ is in us. Colossians 1:27 talks of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He is our hope in all we have. He is in us. He in enough. But that’s not the last list: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
Learned, received, heard, seen. What do we mean here? It’s a perfect progression. We learn the truths of Scripture and, ultimately, about the person and work of Jesus in and through us. But it’s not enough just to learn, but to receive it—that is, to embrace it, surrender to it. “Heard” means the continual listening of the word either from the pulpit in the main gathering, or in discipleship and conversation. “Seen” means that you are seeing Christ exemplified in Paul and those around him.
We won’t connect with something that doesn’t directly minister to us—but maybe God is calling you to (1) be reminded of things as a safeguard for you –remember 3:1, but also (2) to remember that Jesus himself did not come to be served but to serve, and God is calling you to serve as well. It’s not about you. Say that with me: “Church is not about me!”
Matthew Henry once said, “Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give anything for it but truth.” You see, friends, we fight for truth. But if truth of God’s Word is not a part of the contention, then we strive in humility to stay level-headed and look to restore. We go to our prince of peace in prayer, supplication and thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:8-9 talks of thinking and practicing aspects of the Christian life.
Matthew R. Perry, Ph.D., is Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO.
Good morning! How wonderful to know that God will cover all of our sins based on the atoning work of Christ. This motif originates from the understanding of the Ark of the Covenant mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
The ark contained two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed upon them. Its located was eventually placed in the Holy of Holies. Along with the tablets were a golden pot of manna (food that God provided in the wilderness–see Exodus 16) and Aaron’s almost rod (Numbers 17). The ark possessed a lid that laid on top called the mercy seat. Here was a visible symbol of God’s divine presence. Here also was where God was to be seated and to give mercy to His people when the blood of the atoning sacrifice was sprinkled there. Thus, this is where we get this covenant understanding of our sins being covered by His blood.
Jesus’ blood from His sacrifice covers our sins as a propitiation, in which the wrath and penalty of our sin was removed and put upon Himself. Jesus is also the Great High Priest who offers the sacrifice and provides that priestly intercession. Romans 3:24-25 gives the needed insight for our New Testament perspective:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
The Apostle Paul, Romans 3:21-26
Are you relying on the mercy of God to cover your sins? This is the only way to find forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. It’s only through Christ.
Matthew Perry, Ph.D. is Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO