Tag Archives: life

Tempted to worship Idols!

American_idols_2By Syd McCrorey

The TV show “American Idol” has experienced some decline in popularity recently.  According to some media news reports, ratings for the show are down 25% per cent in 2014. (http://shar.es/TWTQ8)

Yet idols are alive and well.  We all have a tendency to have idols in our hearts.  Something or someone we depend on, cling to for life.

Martin Luther says: Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.

Until a couple of years ago, I could never figure out why the last verse in the book of I John closes with “My little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I john 5:21).  It seems like John is completely changing the subject with his last sentence about idols.  What do idols have to do with anything John talks about in his letter?

Then, with help, I looked a little closer.  Before John’s last sentence are many statements about how life is only found in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life… We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

What is an idol?  Anything you are depending on to give you life and happiness. Depend  only on Jesus Christ for life. He is the one true God.  Nothing else. Isn’t it amazing how many things we easily cling to for life?  Whatever our heart says we must have in order to enjoy life is our idol.  It could be more money, success, or getting our own way in relationships.  Maybe discouragement happens because something we think we must have for life isn’t happening.

Martin Luther is right:  Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.

Little children, guard yourselves from idols.  What idols are alive and well in your heart?

Boast about Weaknesses? Why?

The apostle Paul’s story and advice to us is so contrary to our culture.  In our culture, we hate weakness.  We do every we can to avoid weaknesses, hide them, pretend we don’t have  them, and work hard to make them better.

Paul said:

And He [God]has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (I Cor 12:9)

Paul had complained to the Lord about his “thorn in the flesh”.   Apparently, some kind of physical, emotional, or relational weakness.  He begged God three times to take this weakness away from him.  God said, “NO”!  He went on to say in effect, “I am going to give you my grace instead”.

When Paul heard that… He started bragging.  He went around bragging about his weaknesses.  Instead or resenting them, he bragged about them

Why??

Because weaknesses was an opportunity to pour out his grace on Paul.  It was an opportunity to experience the power of God in ministering to people.

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Here is a challenge for us:  Whenever you are insulted… be content.  Boast about it.  When ever you are facing difficulties… be content, boast about it.  Why?  Jesus Christ will draw close to you and give you supernatural power to love others in the midst of your weakness. That is why you are here, to love others in the power of God.

Changed by the Holy-Love God

Holy_loveStarted reading a good book: “God in the Whirlwind; How the Holy-Love of God Reorients Our World”, by David F. Wells.

American and church culture in the west is declining largely because we want a God who is close, personal, supportive, comforting and ignore the God who is Holy, Authoritative, Soverign, and above his creation. God is Holy-Love. Not just love, also Holy. John 3:16 teaches us about God’s love; John 3:36 teaches us about God’s wrath. Wrath and love in one Divine being!

According to Wells, ignoring God’s “otherness”, holiness leads to an entilement attitude toward God. We think of Him as “cheerleader who only wants our sucess. He is a booster, and inspiring coach, a source of endless prosperity for us. He would never intefere with us in our pursuit of the good life. He is the never ending fountain of these blessings”.

Reading about God as Holy-Love, I’ve had a few moments of being “stunned into silence” as Larry Crabb calls it. God is soverign over my situation who am I to approach God only as my “heavenly buddy” who will fix me up and make my life better. God has a right to do whatever he wants to do with me. Just ask Job. No wonder Peter wrote: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God” (I Peter 5).

Hope: God Rules Over All

 

god-rules

 Isaiah 46:9, 10 ESV

Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

How wonderful there is a God in heaven! A personal God who cares and loves.  A God so wonderful, there is no one like him.  We try to find other gods, other gods to satisfy us, make life work well for us.  But there is no other God.  This God accomplishes his purposes.

Whatever He plans, it will happen.  He knows what will happen.  He makes it happen.  Whatever happens it accomplishes his purpose.

One of his purposes is to glorify himself for our own joy and happiness.  How wonderful that every good thing that has come into my life has come because of the sovereignty and mercy of God.

Hope: Obsessed with Exalting Christ

 

I-Want-More-Of-Jesus

Philippians 1:20, 21:

“… according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Like many of us Paul was in prison.  He was no longer free to travel and visit churches.  Confined to one place.  Our prisons are prisons of a different kind, but we all have circumstances that seem to limit and hinder what we would really love to do.

How does Paul handle his difficult, disappointing circumstances? He remembers his true, number one passion:  exalting, lifting up, and getting to know God’s son Jesus Christ.  You can do that anywhere… In prison, in poverty, in sickness, in loneliness.

What a difference it makes when our number one passion is exalting Christ rather than a number one passion of getting out of prison (i.e. improving our circumstances).

Oh to say with Paul:   “For me to live is Christ”.   That is our only hope for finding the inner strength to face the realities of life.   Christ as our first passion fills us with the joy of anticipation of being with Christ, “which is very much better” (Phil. 1:23).

Father, forgive me for making better circumstances my number one passion, instead of a passion to know and exalt  your son Jesus Christ.

 

Living between the Cross and the Ressurection

Cross of ChristBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (I Peter 1:3)

This morning, still in bed and half asleep, I was meditating on I Peter 1.  Peter’s letter is very precious to me as God is using it to breathe a taste of hope and joy in my soul even in difficult times. (Christians experience both joy and grief living in this world-I Pt 1:7).

In my mind I see Jesus disciples standing around the cross watching their dear friend Jesus Christ die.  He was the promised Messiah.  The Messiah was going to give them A BETTER LIFE ON EARTH.  He was bringing in the promised kingdom.

Standing before the cross, their dreams shattered.  Instead of a reigning Messiah, Jesus was a dead Messiah.    Grief, confusion, and despair flooded their souls.

Three days  later, the great and merciful God raised Jesus from the dead((I Pet. 1:3). The disciples thought, “Maybe there is hope after all!  Maybe the BETTER LIFE ON EARTH will happen now”! (Acts 1:6)

It was not to be.  Yes, new hope,  joy, and direction returned but the suffering continued. The disciples are beaten, jailed, stoned, and live in constant danger.   So much for a BETTER LIFE ON EARTH!

Their story reminds us that the BETTER LIFE ON EARTH, a life free from pain and uncertainty, is not ours to have until Jesus returns the second time.  Then we will inherit a perfect and safe world(I Pet. 1:4). Only then.

The disciples lived for three days in confusion and hurt  between the cross and the resurrection.  We must live for many days between the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ.  Difficult days, painful days.  They are also days of hope.  Days of joyfully anticipating the second unveiling of Jesus Christ.

When I give up my demand that God make my life go better now, willing to wait for Jesus to return,  then a taste  hope and joy returns to my soul.

Hope… Believing in an Awesome Future

FH-logoTo those of you in a painful, difficult place in life God has some very good news.  If you believe that good news you will have moments of tasting joy and hope.  Here is the good news for you…. God is ready to unveil and make visible his Son Jesus Christ and His salvation.

Do you believe that? Do you think about it very often?  Six times in his letter Peter talks about this unveiling, uncovering, making visible the glory of His Son and His salvation.

1Pe 1:5 … who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1Pe 1:7 … so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

1Pe 1:12 … It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things into which angels long to look.

1Pe 1:13 … Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1Pe 4:13 … but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

1Pe 5:1 … Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed

It seems to me the Holy Spirit is saying that faith in the Father’s future promise of revealing and making visible Jesus Christ enables us to have a taste of joy and hope even in the midst of terrible suffering.

 

Only for a Little While!

sands-of-time1

When I was a little boy I remember my father quoting a Bible verse from the book of James:

“Yet you do not know what your life will   be  like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that  appears for  a little while and then vanishes away.”  James 4:14

 

The verse reminds me of a newly rediscovered verse in I Peter that says something similar:

“In this[eternal life] you greatly rejoice , even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.”  1Pe 1:6

We could mention another one:

“After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”   1Pe 5:10

I used to hear “a little while” in James as a reminder that life is short. Therefore make sure you accomplish the most important things in life. You don’t have forever to get them done. The pressure is on!

Now that I am older, I see the phrase “a little while” is also a great encouragement to us.  Suffering and disappointments are only for “a little while.”  They will not last forever.  Soon, very soon, your suffering will end and you will be with Jesus Christ the king forever!

Suffering in some way? It is only for “a little while.”

Living Hope or a Dead Hope?

living hope better1Pe 1:3:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Today’s Foxnews headline on the web says… “Urkrainian Protesters Battle Police after dozens die in bloodiest day of uprising.”

Unless you are in the Ukraine you probably can’t  imagine what it is like living in that much danger and uncertainty.  Is there any hope?  What does the gospel of Jesus Christ say to those who live in constant danger of violence, suffering, and death?

Peter’s  heart is erupting in praise about how awesome God is, how wonderful He is.  He is overcome with emotion over the goodness and mercy of God.  Even in the midst of terrible suffering, violence, and danger in the world Peter is declairing God is worthy of worship.

WHY?

Because out of God’s merciful heart, God sent his Son into our violent, dangerous, evil world.  Jesus Christ personally experienced suffering, violence and mistreatment.  He experienced the pain of a slow, violent death.

Then…

God the Father raised His son Jesus from the dead!  The Father breathed new life into his Son’s dead body.  Three days after he died! Three days after being put into the ground …  his heart started beating, his blood started flowing, his lungs started taking in air, the brain cells started firing and Jesus woke up and walked away from his tomb!

Now…

You have a living hope. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you too will be raised from the dead.   You too will live after you die.   Even if that death is a painful, fearful, and slow death.  You will live.  Live forever in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  A kingdom of resurrected believers with new, perfect bodies.  This is an eternal kingdom of peace, prosperity, and safety.

This is our Living Hope (certain hope).  All other hopes are dead hopes.  It is a dead hope to think that suffering, violence, and death will end before Christ returns.  It is a dead hope to think that we can arrange for our own prosperous and safe existence in this world.

What a wonderful God we have!

 

 

Greetings of Love from the Trinity

god_is_love1Pe 1:1-2:

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  who are chosen  according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

Peter writes to a group of suffering Christians.  Christians who are disappointed with life in this world. He writes his letter to them to give them hope.  Hope to keep going. Hope to not  quit. Hope that you can sometimes taste joy in the Lord in spite of the suffering.

He starts this letter by reminding them of who their God is.  God is one God eternally existing in three distinct persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.   This Trinity of persons loves you in your suffering.  This Trinity of persons are all intimately involved with your salvation.  Let’s imagine what these verses would sound like if the Trinity would speak directly to his people and you individually.

God the  FATHER… “I choose you!  I choose you to be my people! And I choose you to belong to my people.  I  knew you before you were born. Knowing all about you, knowing all about your sin, I choose you.”

God the HOLY SPIRIT… “I cleaned you up.  I showed you your sin, revealed Jesus to you as your only hope, and then I set you apart from the world as clean, forgiven, and  holy before the Father.”

God the Son...  “I suffered for you! I suffered so much that my blood poured out of my veins from the cross and  fell to the ground.  I took my blood, by the Holy Spirit, and sprinkled your soul with it.  Your soul became clean.  The dirt of your sin was washed away.  Now you are clean, sanctified, made holy, set apart to live in my kingdom forever.”

Suffering Christian…. Here is your hope…  The Triune God has poured himself out for you. You are loved. “May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure”.