Archive for October, 2010

26
Oct
10

i love it when a plan comes together

One of my favorite quotes occurred at the end of every episode of the popular television series The A-Team. George Peppard’s character, Colonel Hannibal Smith, with a cigar clinched between his teeth and an impish grin on his face, would look around at his team and triumphantly exclaim, “I love it when a plan comes together!”

Of course the irony of this statement was that “the plan” was always a loose-knit strategy that evolved over the course of the episode usually involving a lot of dumb luck and intuitive behavior (i.e., flying by the seat of their pants) on the part of Smith and his fellow team members. Admittedly, this is not the best strategy for living, but it was fun, albeit inane, entertainment.

As followers of Jesus we are called to live more strategically than that. The Scripture tells us that we are to desire wisdom, attain wisdom and put that wisdom into practice in our lives continually if we want to live in a way that is pleasing to God.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that there are a lot of things in life that are simply beyond our control. The Bible is clear that God is the one who directs the steps of his people (Psalm 37:23) and, at times, the way he leads us seemingly makes no sense. It is in those times, if we remain faithful, that we learn what Paul meant when he wrote, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28) – Paul’s way of saying: “I love it when a plan comes together!”

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19
Oct
10

reward

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” What does that mean to you? Do you really believe it?

The word “rewarder” literally means “paymaster”. When was the last time you worried every time payday came around whether you were going to be remunerated for your labor or not? I know there are some who have worked for companies who have had financial problems from time to time but, for the most part, getting a check on payday is a part of our routine.

The implication of Hebrews 11:6 is that when we live by faith we can expect God to do great things on our behalf. The first part of the verse tells us that faith pleases God. Faith gets God’s attention and procures his favor upon our lives. The Scripture says that, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) Later, in the same chapter (v. 21), Paul gives us an idea of what that looked like when he said that Abraham was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised”, and so Abraham acted with confidence in regard to God’s instruction.

It is important to note that obedience is the evidence of genuine faith. That’s what James meant when he explained that “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) Diligently seeking God means putting him first in our lives and making his priorities ours. Jesus was adamant when he told his listeners that if they would make the Kingdom (i.e., God’s way of doing things) their priority, God would supply everything they had need of (Matthew 6:33). That’s why the writer of Hebrews could be so bold in his earlier statement about God being pleased with and rewarding those who live by faith.

12
Oct
10

this is the day

Do you hear it? You know what I’m talking about, don’t pretend like you don’t. You won’t be able to get the tune out of your head for the rest of the day. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, these are words to a song we used to sing in the church twenty years ago. In fact, the church where I was on staff as the student ministries pastor sang it every Sunday morning to begin the worship service. In reality though, the song is older than that. One of the song writers of the Old Testament wrote it thousands of years ago. (Now THERE is an old song!) We find it in Psalm 118:24: “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Although a very simple concept, the implications of the theology contained in this Psalm are quite profound.

First, God, who is good, and subsequently delights in giving his children every good gift (James 1:17, 2 Peter 1:3), is the sole architect of your day. That means that everything you encounter today has been evaluated according to the providential and loving will of God and determined to be good for you (Romans 8:28) and, most importantly, for the advancement of God’s glory!

Which leads to the second implication. As a result of, what should be, our complete trust in God (some days I have to work on this harder than others), we can live our lives with fearless confidence (Isaiah 41:10), overwhelming joy (1 Peter 1:8) and incomprehensible peace (Philippians 4:7). As Isaiah emphatically declares it: “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD!” (Isaiah 54:17)

So enjoy your day because it is a gift from God!

05
Oct
10

walking by faith

Have you heard about the History Channel’s new show for the fall, IRT Deadliest Roads? The History Channel website describes it this way. “Three of North America’s toughest truck drivers are crossing borders and tackling some of the most extreme roads in one of the world’s most unforgiving environments: the Himalayas. Navigating the highways of India–some of the deadliest on the planet–will test everything the drivers have learned in more than 40 years of combined experience. They’ll be forced to adapt to road and driver conditions they’ve never before encountered. Whether it’s driving along 1,000-foot-high cliffs, dodging avalanches, failing to communicate in a language they don’t understand, facing hostile temperatures or simply driving on the other side of the road, nerves will be tested and lives will be put on the line this season on IRT Deadliest Roads.”

Please, sign me up! My kids love to tell the story about when we went on vacation to Arizona and I wouldn’t get near the railing to look at the Grand Canyon. I actually stood back in the parking lot and said, “I can see it just fine from right here.”

How often our spiritual walk – what Paul calls “walking by faith” (2 Cor 5:7) – can look like a very treacherous road that is about to give way from beneath us. Circumstances seem to be deteriorating all around us and our only option is to keep moving ahead. Sometimes it seems as if we are a character in one of those cartoons where the ground is literally crumbling out from beneath us as we are running as hard as we can to get to a secure place. David must have been feeling like that when he wrote: “But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.” (Psalm 73:2) Was that the end for David? Absolutely not! He goes on in verses 23 and 24 to declare: “Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.”