We have a wonderful opportunity to know the exquisite richness and beauty of God’s word and to share its bounty with others. To approach it without acknowledging Him reduces it to meaningless history or storytelling. To read and study it without honoring the Author’s intent risks burdening yourself and others with the shackles of legalism or moralism. It becomes irrelevant as soon as we dismiss the context God has determined for each passage and each word. We attempt to usurp His authorship when we insert ourselves into the text as the hero, stealing glory from God, who alone deserves praise.
This article first appeared at Servants of Grace on May 17, 2021, as part of the series, “Fighting Biblical Illiteracy Through Study and Discipleship”.
It’s all a matter of perspective. Instead of feeling like we need to protect ourselves from the world we feel has been so cruel and harsh to us, what if we used a different approach to the troubles of life? What if we begin at the end, with what the Lord is trying to accomplish in us—for us to become more like him, tenderhearted, humble, and patient ? And what if we consider what we are experiencing as a preparation for that? As a peeling of the skin, the tough, knobby layers dropping away, and the person underneath being just what He has intended for us to be all along.
With him, we are crucified to this world. He didn’t die to make the world like paradise. He died to separate us for paradise, that better Eden.
(This post first appeared at Servants of Grace as part of the Hebrews devotional series.)
Despite the growing societal disdain for “evangelicals” as a loosely identified political class in America, evangelism (which, by default, is practiced by evangelicals) is a thing. A believer embraces the evangel, the good news, the gospel. To the one who believes, it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), by which we are saved, if we hold fast to it (1 Corinthians 15:2), a truth embedded in the Scriptures which gives eternal life to those who come in truth (John 5:39-40).
Most of the time, life’s reveals come to me in retrospect. “Oh, now I see why that had to happen that way!” But after many years of repeating that to myself over and over, now, in some moments, the images slide together in focus, and I comprehend that—Aha!—God is at this very moment providentially moving about in the world, through human action, to bring about his will for his glory and my good. I don’t know what he has planned as the outcome, but there are things he is doing today that are instrumental in accomplishing it.
So many cling to the culture’s fleeting valuations of power and influence when, to the King of the Universe, nothing is more beautiful or worthy than the glowing, affliction–ravaged face of his bride. More than a master sculptor chipping away at a hunk of concrete to create a masterpiece—that is power over the medium. This is love. Jesus tenderly prepares us for the heavenly wedding feast, converting the mud slung in reproach into a sanctifying beauty treatment that softens the heart and fortifies the soul. His glorious light shines through.
The passage of the ship through the harbor isn’t guaranteed to be turbulence-free, but it is guaranteed to be safe for all who hold on to hope. (This post originally appeared on September 1, 2020, at Servants of Grace, as part of the website’s Hebrews series.)
The world cannot dislodge our footing in Christ. He is steadfast and so are his promises, more than anything we could find from this present vapid and groundless age. He has said he will complete the work he has begun in us.
This is the divine recipe for the bride’s beauty treatment: otherworldly love that compelled a King to sacrifice himself on her behalf.
Spiritual exercise for Christians leads to discipline, knowledge, faith and devotion, but what if you’re in a slump? How can I know I won’t end up a has-been spiritual athlete, you may wonder. When you’re struggling in your training program, give yourself The Talk.