Tuesday, November 30, 2010


"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"--Matthew 4.8-10
This has always been an interesting temptation to me. The devil tempts Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world, which, by right of Jesus being the second person of the Holy Trinity, God in the flesh, belonged to him anyway. So, what was the temptation?
By coming to earth in the flesh, the Son of God (Jesus) had chosen to put aside his glory for a time. He had freely chosen to humble himself by being carried in a woman's womb, be born of a poor family, and live in a backwards corner of the world, dominated by a foreign power. He chose to walk dusty roads, to suffer through daily trying to teach 12 slow pupils. Jesus chose to reach out to dirty lepers, notorious sinner prostitutes, corrupt tax collectors, and even one he knew would betray him. Finally, he chose to endure a terribly degrading and excruciatingly painful torture at the hands of false religious leaders and the Crucifixion on a cross. So, when the devil tempted Jesus with all the kingdoms of the earth, the temptation was not for the kingdoms themselves (they would eventually belong to him anyway). The temptation was to have them NOW, without having to go through all the trials that culminated in taking the sins of the world on himself on the cross.
A wise Christian writer once said, "Haste is ever the sin of Adam." In other words, one of our biggest temptation as humans to try to have the glory without the cost (the crown without the cross). We want to avoid pain at all costs.
The strange thing about the human experience, though, is that there are some lessons we can only learn through life's hard crucible Some lessons we can only learn in the dark valleys. The sunny mountain top is where we all want to be, but it seems that the place we grow the most is on the hard climb.
Are you going through something today? Know that Christ walks with you! And that through it, you have the opportunity to depend on Jesus in a way you never have before.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


"Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weakling say, "I am a warrior."--Joel 3.10
Last week, I was reminded that I am NOT superman. An illness reminded me that I am just as fragile as every other human being. But it was also a reminder to me that "when I am weak, then I am strong." (2Corinthians 12.10)
In the world, people are considered strong who never falter. In the world, we admire warriors who show nothing but strength and courage. But because we have a Savior who showed his strength in the weakness of the cross that means that all of us who falter sometimes, all of us who stumble, all of us who fall have hope. Jesus came precisely because we are frail and fragile and weak. It is in acknowledging our weakness (not denying it) that we find the strength of Christ's justifying and sanctifying grace. It is in acknowledging our weakness that Christ finds us with His Extravagant, Justifying, Sanctifying Grace. That's the message of the Scripture above from Joel. All of us weaklings, all of us fragile people can say with the power of the grace of God, "I AM A WARRIOR."
Do you feel weak or fragile today because of life's trials? Have you been reminded too often in your life that you are weak? Then take heart! That is a perfect angle to see the incredible grace of God who loves us so extravagantly that He went to a cross to win our redemption, to win a future with hope for us all.
One of my favorite lines from a praise chorus is: "And now, let the weak say I am strong!"
Not in our own strength, but in the strength of the Lord!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


"Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question."--Luke 20.27
The Sadducees were a group of religious elite in Jerusalem in Jesus' day. One of the main differences between them and the other main group of religious leaders in Jesus' day (the Pharisees) was that they did not believe in a Resurrection of the dead. They were wealthy and influential people in Jewish society. Their belief was that if one was living right with God, then they would be rewarded in this life. Therefore, in their minds, there was no need of a resurrection and reward after death. They thought God would reward people in this life and then they would just sort of go to this peaceful, restful sleep after death.
I've never met a Sadducee in modern America. But I have met some people who say there is no life after death. They seem to have a similar outlook to the Sadducees. "Work hard in this life, eat, drink, and be merry and enjoy the fruit of your labors for tomorrow you may die!" Wait a minute! I've even met some Christians who proclaim this life philosophy!
The promise and assurance of Resurrection, of a glorious and eternal life after death is one of the most foundational beliefs of the Christian faith. And yet, I wonder how often even we Christians live what one writer called a sort of "practical atheism." What I mean is how often do even we Christians live as if there is no Resurrection?
This life can be full of incredible God moments, moments when we sense and experience the wonderful gifts of God in many and varied ways. But there must be more than this! Even those wonderful God moments can seem fleeting at best. There must be a time beyond time, a life beyond this life. There must be a place where we can truly experience the fullness of God's presence, uninterrupted by the effect of sin, which means by its very definition, separation from God. And because there is, then it puts a period on all our suffering and trials. Because there is, the "night of weeping" will not last forever but will ultimately yield itself to the NEW DAY that is eternity!
May you live in the fullness of the Resurrection today! May you see signs of it in your life today! May the Promise and Assurance of Resurrection and Eternal Life with God overwhelm you with Hope this Day!