Archive for February, 2008

A Time to Sit

Friday, February 29th, 2008

“And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. . . .” (Luke 10:39–40)

When the Lord walked this earth, He had no place to call home (see Matthew 8:20).  But there was something He liked about a home in Bethany where a man named Lazarus lived with his two sisters, Mary and Martha.  Maybe Martha was a great cook.  Perhaps they were wonderful hosts.

Mary and Martha were quite different from each other.  Mary was the quiet, contemplative type.  Martha was the grab-the-bull-by-the-horns, assertive type.

One day, Jesus came to their home.  Martha thought it would be a good idea to make Him a meal.  She went into the kitchen and started working.  Meanwhile, Mary thought it would be a great opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear what He had to say.  As Mary was sitting there, taking it all in, Martha was working frantically in the kitchen, growing more frustrated because Mary was not helping her.

Finally, she could not contain herself any longer.  She came out of the kitchen, and looking down at Mary and Jesus, said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40).

Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (vv. 41–42).

Sometimes we can do the same thing.  We can get so worked up.  Like Martha, we sometimes offer activity instead of adoration, work instead of worship, and perspiration instead of inspiration.  There is a time to sit and there is a time to move.

A Work in Progress

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

I am an artist.  I like to draw and design.  Sometimes when I am sketching, someone will come along, look over my shoulder, and see only a certain shape or form.  They only see what is visible for the time being.  But I am still working.

“What is it going to be?” the person asks.

“Just wait.”

“I think you should do it this way. . . .”

“Just let me do it,” I say.  “Why don’t you let me alone until I’m finished, and then I will gladly show it to you.”

Every artist loves to display his work.  But when I am working on my art, I know it is a work in progress.  When I am done, then I am happy to show it to others.

You, too, are a work in progress.  God is doing a work in your life.  When it is done, He will show you.  If it is not done yet, be patient.  God sees the end from the beginning.  We can’t see what it is, but God can.  That is important to remember.

As God told the exiled nation of Israel, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

For Israel, it meant they would be in Babylon for a while, but ultimately, God would get them out.  For us, what it means specifically to us on a day-to-day basis, time will tell.  Whatever it is, it is good, because God is in control of it.

The Truth about the Devil

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” John 12:31

Martin Luther had it right when he wrote the words of the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”: “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe–his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”

If you are a Christian, then you need to know that you have an adversary out there. He wants to trip you up. He wants to drag you down.

We should never underestimate the devil. He is a sly and skillful adversary. He has had many years of experience dealing with humanity. That’s why there are some important things we need to remember about the devil–things that the devil doesn’t want us to know.

We need to understand that satan is nowhere near to being the equal of God. God is omnipotent, which means that He is all-powerful. God is omniscient, which means that He is all-knowing. God is omnipresent, which means that He is present everywhere.

In sharp and direct contrast, we need to know that the devil does not reflect any of these divine attributes. Although he is very powerful, satan is not omnipotent. Nor is satan omniscient. He can’t know everything you are thinking. His knowledge is limited. Finally, he is not omnipresent. While God can be everywhere at the same time, satan only can be in one place at one time.

Most important of all, we need to know that the devil was soundly defeated at the Cross. There he lost his stranglehold on the life of the human race. As a Christian, you have been set free by the power of Jesus Christ.

Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life. If he cannot succeed in robbing you of eternal life, he will do everything in his power to deprive you of the joy, influence, and rewards that come from serving God in this life. Since satan cannot be in more than one place at a time, he has delegated much of his work to demons who discourage distract, and deceive through a variety of means. Contrary to what some suggest, there is no magic phrase or mantra we can say that will bind satan. But God has not left us without a divine strategy for dealing with our enemy. When huge pain comes into your life-like divorce, or the loss of a precious family member, or the dream of wholeness shattered-it is good to have a few things settled with God ahead of time.

While death is a decided fact, Death is also a defeated foe. We are able to laugh in the face of Death if we know the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to tell you, friend, Death may buzz around you and frighten you, but our elder brother, the Lord Jesus, bears that sting. Jesus took the sting out of Death, and He has given us a hope that is steadfast and sure.

What Do You Think?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

When Jesus walked this earth, He blew the cover off the religious elite of the day: the Pharisees who smugly thought that if they did not commit certain sins, they were okay.  But somehow, they had rationalized that they could do these things in their minds and it was not sinful.  Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).  They didn’t like that a whole lot.

What was Jesus pointing out to these men, and to us as well?  He was emphasizing again and again the importance of our minds, our hearts, and our attitudes.  That’s because sin is not merely a matter of actions and deeds.  It is something within the heart and the mind that leads to the action.

Sin deceives you into thinking that because you have not committed the act, you’re okay.  In reality, if you keep thinking about it, it may be only a matter of time until that thought becomes an action.  Even if it doesn’t, that thought is still spiritually destructive.  So you need to go out of your way as a Christian to protect your mind and your thoughts.  Satan recognizes the value of first getting a foothold in the realm of your thoughts and imaginations, because he knows this will prepare the way for that thought to eventually become an action.

As it has been said, “Sow a thought, reap an act.  Sow an act, reap a habit.  Sow a habit, reap a character.  Sow a character, reap a destiny.”  It all starts with a thought.

Prone to Wander

Monday, February 25th, 2008

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)

When he was little, my son had a habit of wandering.  One day, we were in a hotel and came to an elevator.  He ran ahead to push the button.  I told him, “If the elevator comes, wait until Dad gets there.”  Just as I arrived at the elevator, the doors closed, and he was inside.  He was gone.

I frantically pushed the button for the other elevator, and waited for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally, the doors opened and I jumped in.  I went down to the lobby.  He wasn’t there.  I ran back to the elevator, pushed every button for every floor, and as the doors opened, I would scream out his name. 

I didn’t care about decorum.  I wanted to find my son.  And I found him, about three floors up, wandering around. 

But you know what?  After that experience, he didn’t wander anymore.  He got separated from his dad, and it was scary for him.  He learned how important it was to stay close to me.

As Christians, we should want to stay as close to our Heavenly Father as possible.  The devil is a powerful adversary, and we are no match for him in our own strength.  We don’t want to venture out in this life on our own abilities and suffer spiritual defeat.  I have a healthy respect for the devil’s ability.  Thus, I want to stay as close to the Lord as possible.  I want to be strong in Him.

If ever there was a time to be walking closely with the Lord, it is now.  This is not the time to be playing games with God.  This is not the time to wander away.