Saturday, April 21, 2007

Certain Faith

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

Some people try to prove the existence of God based on science. Some try to prove the validity of the Resurrection of Christ based on history. As important as it is to present to the world a “reasonable faith”, there is no way we can offer proof that is beyond the shadow of a doubt. Doubt is part of our make-up as limited, flawed creatures.

But God helps us move beyond our doubts. Philosopher Blaise Pascal, who was anything but an orthodox Christian, nevertheless hit on a truth when he wrote –

“Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Walk in the Lord

I will strengthen them in the LORD and in his name they will walk,” declares the LORD. (Zechariah 10:12)

Christians are called to “walk the talk” and “talk the walk”. We need to have integrity – a consistency of character – if we are to be faithful in representing Christ to the world.

Too often, I fall far short of this ideal. I rely so much on my own strength to accomplish things in pastoral ministry that I have little energy left to devote to being the spiritual head of my household. More than anything, I need the balance we gain when we walk steadily in the name of the Lord.

Nathaniel Hardy wrote –

"Spiritual rest maketh no man idle, spiritual walking maketh no man weary."

When we walk the Lord, we get the rest we need, and gain the strength to follow him wherever he leads us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

False Flattery vs. Genuine Praise

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. (Psalm 78:35-37)

One time I was given an award for community service. At first, I felt both honored and humbled. But when I met with the team that selected me, I gained an increasing sense that they were falsely flattering me. I felt very uncomfortable. Later, I learned the presentation banquet was essentially a fund raiser for their ministry. They were hoping I would draw people not just to support me, but to further their cause.

When we give someone positive feedback, we need to examine our motivations. Are we flattery them for our own benefit, or are we praising God for what God is doing through their lives? A man named Wendell Phillips once said –

"Many know how to flatter, few know how to praise."

We need to let go of false flattery and develop the discipline of praise for God in the lives of God’s people.

Monday, April 16, 2007

True Contentment

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12)

In my ministry, I have come to know many people who lived through the Great Depression. Some who lived with very little now cling to their possessions, afraid to wind up where they were before. Many others, however, have learned the lesson of “contentment”, trusting that God provides even in hard times – not just with daily bread, but with the bread of heaven – Jesus Christ.

Someone once said –

“Nothing will content him who is not content with a little.”

Contentment is a fruit of faith in Christ. When we know the Lord, we can be satisfied with what we have (or don’t have) in this world.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Practicing What We Preach

[Jesus said,] “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’ ”
(Matthew 15:7-11)

Integrity is an essential character trait of a true Christian. Our actions need to be in line with our speech and our speech needs to be in line with our faith in Christ. St. Francis put it this way –

“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”

We can’t get very far trying to encourage someone to walk with Christ unless they can see that we are walking with him ourselves.