Saturday, April 28, 2007

Coming to Life

“Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him
to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed.
Then he cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, have you brought
tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?”
Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and
the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.
(1 Kings 17:17-22)

“Elijah says, ‘Give me the boy,’ but he doesn’t keep the problem to himself, because it would crush him and overpower him. Instead he prays. He turns to the one person who can help and prays that God will move in that situation. He prays, ‘Oh, Lord, let this boy’s life return to him.’

Now there had never been a resurrection in scripture up to this point. This is the first one. Elijah is praying, ‘Lord, I want you to do what I’ve never seen you do, what no one has ever seen you do. I want you to do the impossible.” (Clive Calver)

What impossible thing might we ask God to do in our lives today?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Real Resurrection

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)

There are those outside of (and even within) the Church who deny the resurrection on the basis of scientific or historic probability. There are others who believe alternatives to the resurrection (such as re-incarnation) based on philosophies foreign to our faith.

In the face of this, we need to stand firm in our faith that the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened and that His resurrection makes our life purposeful – now and forever.

Presbyterian professor, Elizabeth Achtemeier, once wrote –

“Not to know and trust Christ risen from the dead means finally not to be human, for it means really that there is nothing and no one beyond this world to whom we owe our being. If God did not have the power to conquer the grave, then he had no power to create in the beginning, for surely a God defeated by death could not make the wonders we find in this universe, much less the amazing creatures we call human beings.”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blessed to Bless

[God said to Abraham], “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2)
God chose Abraham not to put others down, but to help lift them up. This is true for the spiritual descendants of Abraham as well. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in Jesus Christ, who came not to condemn the world, but to save it.

In the Spirit of Christ, we too are chosen not to selfishly enjoy benefits, but to sacrificially serve others. John Calvin put it this way –

“All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors”

God has blessed us to be a blessing to others.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Killing with Kindness

“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)

This Proverb may seem to contradict what Jesus teaches us about loving our enemies. It seems to suggest that our motivation for serving our enemies is to get back at them.

But when you think about it, this is not necessarily the case. You can love someone without liking them. Love can be expressed through service, meeting a need regardless of how you feel about the person.

Still, it can be fun to, as a friend of my father’s says, “Kill your enemies with kindness.” I like what Oscar Wilde once said –

"Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Genuine Courage

[Jesus prayed], “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, he knew what lie ahead. He knew about the betrayal, the abandonment, the mocking, the beating, the hanging and death on the cross. Naturally, he did not want to face it. Who would?

But Jesus knew that His purpose on earth was to sacrifice his life for us. He had the courage to let go of his human desires and accept the divine plan. G.K. Chesterton defines such courage in this way --

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spiritual Leadership

Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come? (Ecclesiastes 8:7)

It’s good to have goals to strive for – whether it be for our personal lives, our families, our career, our church, etc… Without clear goals, we are bound to flounder just doing “one thing after another.”

But there is a difference between having goals and trying to fix the future. In an effort to contain and control what happens in our lives, we often try to manage the change that comes rather than just going where God leads us.

Erwin McManus, a very vibrant Christian leader, writes this –

"Too many times as leaders we feel pressure to
tell people things we don't know. In other words, we make them up.
Spiritual leadership is not the ability to define everything the future
holds. It is the willingness to move forward when all we know is

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Godly Grief

Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. ( 2 Corinthians 7:10)

Grief (or regret) can be good. It can produce in us the desire to change, to turn away from paths of destruction. Regret can also be damaging, when it causes us to merely stew about things beyond our control and do nothing to change our behavior.

John Piper draws two distinctions between “godly” and “worldly” regret –
“Worldly regret is when you feel sorry for something you did because it starts to backfire on you and leads to humiliation or punishment. Godly regret grieves that God's name has come into disrepute. The focus of godly regret is God. Godly regret is owing to God's Word putting its finger on sin in our lives Worldly regret is owing not to God's Word but to the attitudes of men whose praise we don't want to lose.”

When you regret what you’ve done or failed to do, let God turn this regret into repentance that leads to Life in Christ.