Life has a way of getting complicated, doesn’t it? Babies eat, sleep, cry and not necessarily in that order! They are not typically perplexed with the weather, world politics or worry. Maturity allows us to take up new concerns, to move from self-centered to God-centred living (providing we have been regenerated by the Spirit of God.)
Jesus pressed His followers to a “child-like” simplicity. When the disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (an ongoing question they appear preoccupied with on too many occasions), Jesus answered ”Unless you change/repent and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest….”(Matthew 18:1-9)
There is a huge difference between being “childish” and “child-like.” John Newton penned the following hymn on this important theme….
“Quiet, Lord, my froward heart; Make me teachable and mild;
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It is striking how often Jesus’ apostles warn the church about false teachers and divisive persons. In the Pastoral Epistles Paul calls Titus and Timothy to beware of false teachers in Crete and Ephesus, respectively. But it’s not just these two pastors who are to address falsehood, the entire New Testament calls out the darkness resident in the church. Because of the cosmic conflict between Christ’s church and Satan’s hordes, false doctrine and false living are regular threats to Christ’s kingdom.
Since many churches face such internal and internecine threats, we need to steel our minds with God’s Word so that we might boldly address the darkness around us.
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A number of years ago, my dear Aunt Alice, who is a gifted poet in her own right, shared a poem which has come back to me again this week. It was noted as “Anonymous” in an Appendix of a book entitled “The Zig Zag Path” written by William Raymond Kinzie. It certainly reflects the unpredictable turns and challenges faced through life by those whom God is leading. As another semester concludes and my wife and I attend 2 Graduations this week at schools that share a portion of common history, and as we say farewell to students who move into a new chapter of their lives, I thought this would be edifying and appropriate.
I dedicate it as well to those whos current life situation is following a zig-zag path!
We climbed the height by the zig-zag path
And wondered why–until
We understood it was made zig-zag
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“And as he was setting our on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'” And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:17-18).
Knowing the difference between good and evil is fundamental to being made in the image of God. When God created Adam and Eve, he put them in a garden filled with delights and with a solitary tree that would instruct them how to know good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Likewise, knowing the difference between good and evil is essential to maturation and becoming a responsible adult. Isaiah 7:15, uses the idea to describe the difference between young children who do not know the difference between good and evil, and then those children who mature and begin to understand that difference.
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In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, the Apostle Paul reflects on ‘the hardships‘ he suffered during a stage of his life. He writes – “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
Last year on this same day, April 23rd, the phone rang in my office. I am not always the first one to pick up the receiver, but this time I was. It was my daughter Jane informing me through tears that Andrew, whom she was planning to marry on April 25, 2014 had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Andrew had been battling severe headaches that medication would not relieve and he had been struggling to concentrate in his…
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Performing in the flesh is shorthand for doing work unto the Lord in your own strength, by your own wisdom, and with your own will power. In short, it is service without spiritual grace, and Satan loves to seduce you with it. Such Spirit-less service may be outwardly beautiful, relationally effective, or even successful, but because it is done without faith, it displeases God (Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6) and bears no lasting fruit. Sadly because our hearts are deceitful we may even call such unbelieving service good, when God does not. For that reason, it is always right to return to the Word and ask: What does God say?
What service does God find pleasing? What counterfeit performances originate in unbelief? And how can we tell the difference?
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