Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Beautiful Dwelling

"We heard Him [Jesus] say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands, (Mark 14:58)." "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)."

As Christians saved by grace, our bodies become the dwelling place of God. By living in the "beauty of holiness" (Psalm 29:2), our hearts will grow in faith, humility, justice, mercy, and love. Even as the Temple, God's dwelling place in the Old Testament, was physically beautiful, so should our hearts be beautiful spiritually in our devotion to Him. (To read of the Temple's structure, see Exodus 36:8-39:43.)

"He hath made every thing beautiful in his time... (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God loves beauty. He created the world, people, and life to be enjoyably beautiful. Once sin entered the world, earth began to darken and become corrupt. Yet even under the curse, beauty and design can still be seen in God's creation. We are created in God's image and we can reflect God's glory by living for Him. Our motives are most important. God wants our hearts foremost, and if our hearts are devoted, orderly, and lovely, our physical lives will demonstrate the same.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 commands,"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Every thing God has for us to do can be done to its best. We can dress decently. We can show compassion towards coworkers. We can take the time to help an elderly couple mow their lawn on the way home from work. We can take interest in our family members' struggles and joys. We can walk the extra mile. Why? Because if we truly love the Lord, we will love others more than ourselves and our own interests. As the verse above says, we will never have the chance to live these things again. In reality, genuine happiness comes not from attaining our own pleasures, but these of others. Our second highest calling in life should be to point others to a better way: Jesus Christ. The very best way to do this is to make our love relationship with God as top priority. God may not have given you many material things, but your heart and all that surrounds it can be beautiful by adorning it with God's grace and holiness.

How inviting does your life look to others? Would they trust you with their burdens? Are you trusting the Lord with yours? Is your heart a pleasant dwelling place for the Lord?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Life Unfolded

In the past month my family has moved from Pennsylvania to the Black Hills of South Dakota. After having lived in PA all my life, this was quite a change. But in leaving friends and the familiar, I have learned some very important lessons in trusting the Lord. I thought that high school graduation was going to be the main highlight of this year, but God had more in store. I can only pray for grace to live it to the fullest. What do you do when your life is a hotel of feelings? Read the Bible. This post contains some of my reflections from His Word.

Life Unfolded
Matthew 2

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, (verse 1)

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (v. 12)

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. (v. 13)

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men... (v. 16)

And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, 'He shall be called a Nazarene'. (v. 23)"

Life is made up of days. It happened that Jesus was born "in the days of Herod the king". This was not a historic matter of chance, but a purposed unfolding of God's plan. Herod was determined to snuff out the life of Jesus. He was a political terror. (We have those today too, don't we?) But there is no chance with God, only will and grace. Jesus' parents were warned of God to change routes. God never expects us to do that which He has not commanded. God's will is not something we must uncover; it is a sure thing we must have our eyes opened to. Take and digest that life will have unplanned situations. Our expectations must always be answerable to God. Accept the "unknown way" before you must plan to take it. Joseph and Mary went another way home and Jesus' family stayed in Egypt until Herod died. W a i t i n g. Great lengths of life are lived in waiting, many times in an undesirable position. These days are not pointless, but fraught with meaning to learn and grow. Changes continued to arise, but God's plan for Jesus' youth was perfectly fulfilled by the obstacles that appeared to be blocking the way. As Christians we are called to be someone, and we become that one not by where we finish --but by how we got there.

Human Desire & Heavenly Compassion

Matthew chapter twenty details three different parties that desired something of the Lord. Unlike the rich young ruler of the previous chapter, these people did not ask, "What good thing shall I do...". Jesus asked of them. "And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, 'What will ye that I shall do unto you?" (Matt. 20:32). Life is not about what we can do for Him. It is about what He has done and will do for us and His Father.

The first party was hired to labor a full day for a days wage. Overjoyed to have work, they set out to the vineyard. When seeing the other workers' pay they expected much more; for they had labored longer. Their joy was lost. The master paid them what they all had earlier agreed on. We should not compare our circumstances with others, expect more than God wills, or think that our work deserves more than He rewards. The vineyard master was just in paying them what they had agreed to work for.

The second party was the family of James and John, two of Jesus' disciples. They desired to sit on either side of the Almighty's Throne in eternity. Did they fully know what they were requesting? They were bold in asking, but prideful in their motives. It was for their own glory, not the furtherance of God's Kingdom. Not even the Son of God could grant them this position in God's authority.

The final party knew exactly what they desired. They had the faith to ask and the grace to receive. They were physically blind and wanted to see. Their desire was natural. In being blind they humbly realized God's authority over them and their lives' purposes. Although perhaps difficult to understand, these blind men did not deserve their sight --it was of Jesus' compassion alone that they received what they desired.

We all have desires. Before we take them to the Lord we should evaluate them in the light of truth. What is the root of your desire? Dig deep. Are they only self-centered? While we have many carnal desires, God Himself creates desires in people too. The Lord is standing still. He is calling you, asking, what do you desire? Even though reigning above armies of angels, He lovingly continues to serve us. We should not be afraid to ask, only do know why you ask. The Lord understands human desire. "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt," (Matt. 26:39). Lastly, if your desire was fulfilled, would it have drawn to following the Lord more closely than before? "So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him," (Matt. 20:34). We should take our desire to Him, only not if it is apart from His glory.

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundant above all that which we ask or think, according to the power which worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20;21).