A People for God’s Own Possession

When I survey the nature of the world around me, I am overcome with a sense of awe. The complex nature of the creation should instill a deep sense of humility in our hearts. I fully empathize with the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 8:3-4 when I ponder the provisions of God for a lowly creature like me.

What is man that God considers him, let alone that He made him “a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5). The buildup of this passage continues as we learn that man was intended to sit at the pinnacle of God’s creation.

The reason for this may be found in the creation account as we learn the identifying mark that places man above the whole earth. In Genesis 1:26-27, we learn that man was made to reflect the image of God. This distinction is the sole reason man was given dominion over the rest of the earth.

However, man soon became dissatisfied with their position atop the created world, and they sought to be on par with the one who created them. Pride truly does go before destruction (Prov. 16:18). The result was a fall into sin that would bring death upon all subsequent generations. But the wonders of the goodness of God would not be thwarted by such as this.

No, from before time began, God already had a plan to restore man to his position of honor and fellowship with Him. This was at tremendous cost to Himself. Yes even in the process of doling out the curse on the sinful ones and the tempter, God foretold of a plan that would redeem the penitent to Him and destroy the one who was responsible for the fall (Gen. 3:15).

In Titus 2:11-14, we learn that the grace of God indeed appeared to all men with the power to transform our lives and enable us to become what we were always intended to be, “a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.” The rest is up to us!

Take it to the Lord in Prayer

Praying : Little boy praying with the Bible in hand

Have you ever prayed in pure anger towards those who are dead set against the things of God? Few, if any of us would dream of doing that. However, many of us harbor those very feelings. What about when we are tempted by greed or lust or other sinful passions? Do we trust that we can express those things to God? If not, why not? Well, it is God we are talking to, and it is true we must be reverent in our prayers.

However, one primary purpose of prayer is to receive the strength and refining that the power of God offers. If we truly believe that God is the great physician of our souls, should we not express what our ailments really are as we would to a medical doctor when seeking their care for our physical maladies?

A careful look at the Psalms will help us a great deal in overcoming our fear of taking it all to the Lord in prayer. We need to remember we have a Great High Priest in the presence of God making intercessions for us on the basis of His thorough understanding of our weaknesses (Heb. 4:14-16; 7:25).

We must also understand “the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought” (1 Chron. 28:9). If this is the case, then why should we not pour out our hearts and allow the Lord to grant “rest for our souls” (Matt. 11:28-30)?

The Psalms offer some prime examples of people doing just that. Because God knows the heart, and because He alone bears the remedies, we should take everything to God in prayer. As we read the Psalms, we learn that these inspired Scriptures contain everything from praises, to thanksgivings, to laments, to curses, yet God saw fit to inspire the collection of these prayers and psalms for our learning (Rom. 15:4).

Whatever ails you, take it to the Lord in prayer. Praying like a perfect person will do nothing but perpetuate our imperfections, and besides, the Lord already knows what is in man (John 2:25).

Priorities

Surprise. There is bickering in Washington and fear on both Wall Street and main street. What is all the fuss about, you ask. Remember in 2011 when Washington needed to raise its limit for deficit spending in order to pay the debts it already held? Well there were certain mandatory budget cuts built into the agreement to raise the debt ceiling.

Now we are on the eve of those cuts taking effect, and there is much talk about the impact this will have on our economy. This kind of crisis just seems to be a part of the new America, and most everyone is fed up with the whole situation.

The sad thing is that there is a great deal of hatefulness between people on opposing sides of the issue. Some say we need to spend more, and others say we need to spend less. Some say we need to tax more while others say we need to tax less. All of these things have led to varying degrees of tension in the lives of Americans. The trouble is when this kind of thing affects the attitudes and actions of the children of God.

Because I am an American, I am also affected by these things. I do not like turmoil in my country or any other for that matter. However, as a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20), these matters should not be allowed to shake the foundation of our hope and joy!

Truly we have a steady hope, in spite of hard times in the “almighty” USA. We must remember that the kingdom we are a part of is one that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28).

If we truly internalize this truth, we will go about producing the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) because we will recognize that the only solution with lasting value is the fervent spread of the precious gospel of Jesus Christ.

When my politics get in the way of my Christian walk, it is time to rearrange my priorities! We must not injure the cause of Christ for the cause of our party or our wallet!

A Hole in My Soul

Christian philosopher, Blaise Pascal made a profound statement concerning people’s yearnings. He said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the creator, made known through Jesus.”

We need not think Pascal discovered this alone. No this was set forth in the tenth century B.C. by King Solomon of Israel. In Ecclesiastes 3:11, Solomon wrote that God had “put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

This hole in our soul is responsible for every drive we have in our lives. The fact is that no man is able to avoid the yearning to fill this hole in our soul. The important thing is to discover the means of successfully filling this hole. This is especially important as we know people have tried every kind of wicked pleasure, pain, drug, and mystical concept under the sun in an attempt to fill up this enormous hole placed in the heart of mankind.

When we consider this in that light, it is easy to think that God was cruel in creating this situation in the hearts of men. However, when we consider His reasons as set forth in the Scriptures, we learn that it is all for our own good.

The reason set forth in Acts 17:27 for God setting the boundaries of men is so that they “should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him.” When we pair this up with Hebrews 11:6, we realize that God rewards those who seek Him. As is always the case, every ordinance that God gives His people is for our own good always (Deut. 6:24).

With all of this in mind, we proceed to Solomon’s great conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12:13 that to fear God and keep His commands is the whole of man. In essence, this is the only means of filling the hole in our souls.

Are We There Yet?

If you have been on a lengthy trip with children, you likely became very familiar with this question. It is natural for children to get antsy on long journeys. Sometimes we get wearied with their anxiety about reaching our destination, but we should ask ourselves if we ever get antsy as Christians.

It is no secret that the road to heaven is no short trip for most of us. Oh sure some go on to their reward rather quickly, but I dare say there are few who are really in a hurry to get there. It is not so much that we are in a hurry to arrive as it is that we simply get tired of travelling. It is during these times that we must be careful how we fill our time in travel.

Many times parents will pack travel games to keep the kids occupied, and that is a good idea for transporting children long distances in the car. However, I fear that sometimes we think it is acceptable to give the children of God “toys” to distract them from the long road to heaven.

“Are we there yet” is undoubtedly a product of boredom, but should that be the case for the Christian traveler? Boredom may be at the root of every innovation that has been introduced to “liven up” Christian life and worship, but what does this say about our attitude toward God? Is His grace not sufficient for us?

When Paul wrote to the Colossians that they were to do all in the name (with the authority) of the Lord Jesus (Col. 317), no space was left for human innovations to liven things up when we get bored with doing it God’s way. On the contrary, he told them that they were to be “giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

When Christianity becomes wearisome, perhaps we should shift our focus from how long the road is to how quickly we are willing to desert Him who called us by the grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6). Are we bored with God?

Nothing but Mammals, or are We?

Most of us are well aware that another political debate is raging in America over the issue of guns. Have no fear; this article is not about guns, but it is pertinent to the discussion.

No doubt, anyone with any degree of human affection is deeply affected by recent events in Newtown Connecticut, among other multiplying atrocities, and all agree that we must strive to thwart this thirst for violence. However, many of us are looking in the wrong place for solutions.

Indeed the issue is much deeper than guns. America is suffering from heart disease. As with any disease, if we hope to find a cure, we must identify its source.

I would like to pose two contributing factors that must be addressed. Proverbs 23:7 begins with the statement that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This statement strikes at the heart of our problem.

The biblical picture of humanity is one of God given intrinsic value. Mankind was created to sit at the top of creation (Gen. 1:28) because we are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). The rest of the Bible tells God’s plan to make man more like Him and ultimately proclaim His excellencies (1 Pet. 2:9). Part of that plan includes absolute respect for human life. Why then are we so ready to kill one another today? Take away the desire to kill and weapons become harmless.

First, I submit that our current plight is the direct result of distorting the worldviews of several generations to the point that much of society is convinced that we are nothing but mammals. Second, the sanctity of life means very little as is evidenced by the legal killing of millions of helpless babies.

Animals tear each other to shreds daily, and no one thinks twice because it is natural. Why then do we act so surprised when the people that our culture has worked so hard to convince they are mere animals begin to act like the animals we have made them out to be?

World Hunger

Having grown up in America, it is difficult for me to imagine the hunger that is so prevalent in our world. Worldwide statistics for 2010 recorded 925 million people classified as undernourished. This was 13.6% or roughly 1 in 7 who did not receive enough nutrients to live healthy lives. http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

This article set forth two types of malnutrition. The first is the lack of sufficient proteins and calories to properly function while the second is that of a deficiency of micronutrients caused typically by poor food choices.

What’s worse is that the world produces enough food for everyone, but some simply do not know how to sustain themselves, and some suffer from the greed of others.

It is even harder to imagine that there are others who refuse to eat what they have readily available. Why would anyone refuse to nourish their own body? It truly is perplexing, but I want to draw a spiritual parallel.

In John 6:35, Jesus told His followers, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will never hunger” (NASB). Of course Jesus spoke of spiritual nourishment. Jesus is still the bread of life!

In 1 Peter 2:2, the apostle urges those who have tasted the kindness of the Lord to desire the sincere milk of the word like newborn babies. Friend, you do not have to force feed a hungry baby. Why then is it so difficult to get the Lord’s people to eat?

Others who seek the bread of life are not eating the right food. It is important to get the proper diet. It is the milk of “the word.” It is the word of Christ that is to richly dwell within us (Col. 3:16). Nothing else will suffice.

Sadly, there are even more out there who have yet to be offered the bread of life to them. Let us eat to the full so we can share the bread of life with others. Like the food the world produces, God has given all we need for a proper diet (2 Pet. 1:3).

That Was Just a Dream

It does not take a great deal of investigation to recognize the plethora of issues that face us in the world in which we live. We have social issues that plague us everyday, such as hunger, debt, violence, homelessness, fatherless children, abusive relationships, theft, greed, drug addiction, divorce, poor work relationships, parents who do not care and children who respond in kind, to name a few. If we ponder these things for too long, we will find ourselves in the throes of depression.

In Philippians 4:8, the apostle Paul gave a command for us to think on things in total opposition to the list just described. Paul named the things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, and excellent as the kinds of things we must dwell or meditate on. This passage has led me to do just that, and the results of the exercise were beautiful.

I pondered a world with no unwanted children, no need for angry gun control debates, no terror threat levels to consider, no need for a welfare state because every person looked out for their neighbor, no place for programs such as MADD because there were no drunks crashing people’s lives, no domestic violence centers because there was no domestic violence, no one angry at others for refusing to work because no one would do such, no one without a place to call home, no one taking what was not their own, no one lying to one another, no drug addiction because there were neither any who felt the need to use nor were any willing to produce drugs, no ruthless dictators because every person saw the intrinsic value of every other, and as for the rest of our typical issues, they too had completely disappeared.

For those who hold a contemptuous view of Christianity, the world you just read about is a world with a population that is 100% genuine Christian.