Thursday, October 31, 2013

INTENTIONAL DISABILITY


How do we deal with our own spiritual malaise? The choice is to be changed or to believe a lie saying ‘others are worse than I’ or ‘I’m not as bad as I once was.’  Corruption must be remedied if we are to thrive.



Jesus is given to extremes. He exaggerates a point to shock people awake. This is the prophet-like nature of God where words become swords that wound and sever.

We do a great disservice to ourselves when we try to explain away or nullify the shocking statements. God’s Word is supposed to cut deep. For example:

Mark 9:
43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44]  45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where
“‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Matthew Henry, a most capable wordsmith said,

Pluck out the eye, cut off the hand and foot, mortify the darling lust, kill it, crucify it, starve it… make no provision for it. Let the idols that have been delectable things, be cast away as detestable things; keep at a distance from that which is a temptation, though ever so pleasing. It is necessary that the part that is gangrened should be taken off for the preservation of the whole. The part that is incurably wounded must be cut off, lest the parts that are sound be corrupted. We must put ourselves to pain, that we may not bring ourselves to ruin; self must be denied, that it may not be destroyed.[i]

‘It tastes awful and it works.’ That’s how Buckley’s advertises its cough syrup. But Jesus is not talking about comforting yourself when you have a cough. He is talking about extreme measures to deal with life threatening behaviour.

I will not likely seek God’s correction in my life unless I believe that His salvation is preferable to my death wish. It’s not the fear of hell that causes me to change. It is God’s kindness that gives me hope of overcoming. Still, I need to hear the whole message. Hell is a foreboding consequence that will not go away because I ignore it.

Amputating a gangrenous hand or foot is extreme, but sometimes it is the saving action that prevents a person’s death. If indeed my soul is at risk of being eternally corrupted, then call me ‘Stumpy’. I prefer God’s kindness to His wrath. If I enter God’s presence disabled and walking with a crutch, it is preferable to allowing corruption to take my soul into the pit beyond recovery.





[i] Matthew Henry Commentary

Monday, October 28, 2013

WALKING THE PLANK WITH A MILLSTONE NECKLACE


Just as infection and disease can ravage and destroy a body, spiritual corruption is consequential. Suffering and death inevitably follow corruption.


In Jesus’ mission to introduce the Kingdom of God, he had much to say about spiritual corruption. Sin is not a private problem, but a plague that spreads through the community.


Jesus had harsh words for those who pollute and harm others. 



Mark 9:
42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 


Everyone from my generation who read books or watched movies about pirates knew that enemies were bound and sent at sword tip to walk the plank until they fell into the ocean and drowned. Jesus’ words here imply that same effect.

We often quote this verse in response to child abuse. We want to comfort victims by inferring that Jesus must hate their abusers and want the death penalty as payback. Taken in isolation, this verse gives us a platform for hatred against abusers. But is that what Jesus was saying?

It is ‘those who believe in Jesus’ that are called little ones. Jesus was horribly abused and executed on a cross. He bore this injustice without retaliation or calling upon his followers to rise up. Jesus often warned people that following His path would lead to their suffering alongside him.

A proper understanding of Jesus’ justice looks to God as the executioner of vengeance. Jesus’ words here are not directed at victims as much as to those who oppress and bring injustice upon God’s little ones. Do not presume to always be the ‘little one’. All are capable of spiritual brutality upon the weak.

Each of us must examine our lives for spiritual disease knowing that it is consequential. We could end up walking the plank with a millstone necklace.



Friday, October 25, 2013

IS THE REMEDY WORSE THAN THE DISEASE?


If there is something wrong with you, is it better to treat the problem or let it steal your life away? If you are concerned for your well-being, you might be inclined to agree. Sometimes we doubt that a cure will be desirable or effective. 


Francis Bacon said, ‘The remedy is worse than the disease.’ [i] I have known cancer patients who made the decision to stop treatment because they believe the remaining time can be spent better with the disease than the suffering that comes with treatment.  

We often have a ‘wait and see’ attitude to the things that are problematic. Maybe a solution will come along or the problem will go away. Maybe it is not serious and we can learn to live with it.

Henri Frederic-Amiel said,

What we call little things are merely the causes of great things; they are the beginning, the embryo, and it is the point of departure that, generally speaking, decides the whole future of an existence. One single black speck may be the beginning of gangrene, of a storm, of a revolution.[ii]

What do we do when we step on a nail? We go to the clinic and get a tetanus shot. The danger of infection can lead to painful complications. The prick of the needle is preferable to the disease. My diabetic friends know the danger of infection that can lead to gangrene.

Gangrene is a condition that occurs when body tissue dies. It is caused by a loss of blood supply due to an underlying illness, injury, and/or infection. Fingers, toes, and limbs are most often affected, but gangrene can also occur inside the body, damaging organs and muscles. There are different types of gangrene and all require immediate medical attention.[iii]

When gangrene sets in, treatment sometimes includes amputation of fingers, toes or limbs that have become necrotic (dead tissue).




[ii] Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821–1881), Swiss philosopher, poet. Journal Intime, entry for Mar. 16, 1868 (1882), trans. by Mrs. Humphry Ward (1892).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

RELIGIOUS PROFESSION OR RENEWING CONFESSION


Do you have a 
religious profession or a renewing confession?

Charles Spurgeon indicates that these foolish virgins were not reprobates; they were members of the church. 

The comparisons between the foolish and the wise indicate that they were so much alike that only the bridegroom could tell the difference between them.  Spurgeon even goes so far as to state that their lamps may have even burned at one time.  Yet, Spurgeon notes, “yet they were not of it, nor in it, for they had no oil in their vessels with their lamps, no grace, no indwelling of the Holy Ghost.” Spurgeon clearly indicates that these virgins were not born-again.[i]

You cannot borrow the life of God from another person.  You must have your own supply of godliness and readiness.

Let’s not neglect the presence of God in our lives.  Let’s not grieve God’s Spirit by holding bad attitudes and acting out contrary to God’s ways. Jesus will recognize you in His Kingdom because you have light.  He will say to those who are still in darkness, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are.”

Dr. Jack Crabtree said:

God requires one and only one thing of us: He wants us to want the coming of His Kingdom more than we want anything else in this life. It’s little to ask, and it’s a lot to ask. But it’s the only thing He asks. At the end of this age, when nothing of this world remains, if He finds that we want–from the core of our being–the Kingdom He intends to establish, then citizenship in that Kingdom is ours.
But if He finds our eyes, our desires, and our affections fixed on the stuff that is passing away, then we are unworthy of His Kingdom, and His words to us will be, “I do not know you.”[ii]

Today, you can renew your supply. We can have light for night travels.

Prayer


Lord, I examine the contents of my heart. Have I let the reserve of first love for you run dry? Have I quenched your Holy Spirit and resisted the grace that you desire to pour into me daily? I receive the gift of your Son Jesus as the light of the world. Fill me with the light of Jesus and transform the darkness of my path. Fill me with your Spirit as I live with great expectation, longing for the Day of your appearing. May I waken from my slumber at the sound of your voice and go with you to the wedding feast.
Amen


Saturday, October 19, 2013

PATIENCE GIRLS




Ten virgins... bridesmaids of an ancient time waiting through the night to celebrate a marriage. Five with enough oil to keep the lamps trimmed and burning. Five who were not prepared. Ready or not, they all had to wait.


The foolish ones probably expected the Bridegroom to appear quickly and so they had no reserve of oil to keep their lamp burning through the time of waiting.  Life in God’s Kingdom involves seasons of waiting and preparation. 

The wise ones knew that the timing would be uncertain and so they were ready to wait and watch.  How long can you sit still and wait on God’s timing?  After you have waited on God, are you prepared to leap to your feet and respond to His bidding?


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

SLOW BURNING FLAME OF HOLINESS


We are called to live holy lives.  To be holy is to be specially prepared for service to God.  Have you taken seriously the need to be set apart from the world in order to fulfill your purpose in God? 

There are professing believers who lack the oil of holiness.  There is no light coming from their attitudes or behaviour.  They prefer to live the same as they always did, without recognizing the importance of the One they are waiting for.

In the parable of Ten Virgins, The five wise ones placed a high priority on being ready for the call.  Are you ready and fuelled up if Christ calls on you to come near to Him?  The foolish virgins followed the crowd, but they were not equipped for their mission.


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