We know that Jesus is our anchor, but that is a metaphor about assurance that only works when there is a storm, or port – the idea that we need to firmly stay put and Jesus holds us in place amidst the tossing seas. Anchors keep ships in one place. And that is a helpful image at times, but if it is the only nautical metaphor we employ for Jesus it gives us the impression that the Christian life is meant to be static and safe.
Ships are made to sail, though. The Spirit is like the wind, going where He will and our job is to learn how to sail. Not play it safe in a cozy cove somewhere. Another helpful metaphor for Jesus, in terms of ships, is ballast. Ballast is weight used to keep a ship steady and upright in the water. Anything can be used as ballast, whatever is in the hold of a ship must be evenly distributed to keep the ship sailing properly; ballast keeps a ship stable.
Imagine a modern freighter where all the containers of Camry’s are on the port side and all the containers of Duracell batteries are on the starboard side. That ship would list and roll. In wooden ships they carried over 3,000 gallons of water and after three months at sea, the weight shifts, so the barrels, the resources, the ballast needs shifting.
When you get the ballast wrong what happens is either the ship is tossed about like a cork in a hurricane or the ship can’t sail properly – it’s sluggish and unresponsive to the rudder or it lists to one side and no amount of wind can get the ship up to top speed. Continue reading “Sailing with Jesus in the Hold”
1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love.” John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.” Col. 3:14 “…put on love…”
Are you known in your circle of friends and relations as a Christian? Do the people at the supermarket where you shop and the club where you work out and the people on your commute look at you and know that you are a Christian?
Should they? In the OT the people of God were known as the people of God because of their dress (tassels, beard curls, the cloth and cut of their robes, etc.) They were also known by their behavior and by their speech.
How are the NT believers known as the people of God if all of the clothing and purity laws have been fulfilled in Jesus?
The Apostles instruct us to be clothed in love; to put on love like you put on a robe. Jesus said love would be the identifying marker of Christians. That love would be our livery.
What is a livery?
It’s not simply a uniform. It’s more than that. It is clothing but it’s a sign of covenant; of fidelity and family. Continue reading “Love is Our Livery”
Matthew 14:28-29 “And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”
Jesus doesn’t command Peter to walk on water. He commands Peter to “come.” To obey the command Peter must walk on water. But Peter doesn’t hesitate. Peter knows that Jesus provides the necessary ability to obey His commands no matter how impossible they seem.
All of God’s commands involve doing things that are impossible for us to do – in ourselves. What makes God’s commands look so easy sometimes are the circumstances. Tithing is easy when you have your budget under control. Loving your neighbor is easy when they are acting lovely. Respecting your husband is a cinch those few times he’s actually acting respectable.
But how hard is tithing when what’s going out is more than what’s coming in? How hard is respecting your husband when he won’t get off the couch? But often. We have the command from God, there He is. Right there, just a few yards off the port side and all we have to do is walk over to Him….right across the top of water. That’s all. Continue reading “Go and Walk on Water”
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:2-3
If James says there is a wrong way to pray, a wrong way to ask, then it follows that there is a right way to ask, a right way to pray.
God’s reception of and interaction with prayer is conditional. One condition to God not hearing your prayers is envy.
Envy affects fellowship with the body and fellowship with God. Envy causes you to murder, fight and quarrel – even if you only do so in the hypocritical confines of your own heart. Envy causes you to demand things from God that are self-serving and self-glorifying.
You cannot be an envious, ungrateful, quarrelsome and covetousness person and expect God to listen to you. He will not. Envy is a discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions or qualities. It’s not just wanting what someone else has but envy leads to negative feelings about the person and your own circumstances. Bitterness. Ingratitude. Inordinate longings. Strife. Quarrels and fights. Envy unsettles relationships and it unsettles prayer. Envy creates negative feelings about the person who has what you are coveting. It’s hard to prefer another or to think well of others when you hate them for what your coveting. Envy grabs hold of our desire for a better spouse, better job, more money, less belly fat, better cars, jobs, friends, families, homes and jobs and inspires a host of unholy thoughts and actions in response.
Continue reading “The Wrong Way to Pray”
Our great privilege is our greatest danger.
“As the average man breathes the air and basks in the sunshine without ever a thought that it is God in his goodness who makes his sun to rise on him, though he is evil, and sends rain to him, though he is unjust; so you may come to handle even the furniture of the sanctuary with never a thought above the gross earthly materials of which it is made. The words which tell you of God’s terrible majesty or of his glorious goodness may come to be mere words to you—Hebrew and Greek words, with etymologies, and inflections, and connections in sentences. The reasonings which establish to you the mysteries of his saving activities may come to be to you mere logical paradigms, with premises and conclusions, fitly framed, no doubt, and triumphantly cogent, but with no further significance to you than their formal logical conclusiveness. God’s stately steppings in his redemptive processes may become to you a mere series of facts of history, curiously interplaying to the production of social and religious conditions, and pointing mayhap to an issue which we may shrewdly conjecture: but much like other facts occurring in time and space, which may come to your notice. It is your great danger. But it is your great danger, only because it is your great privilege.”
Benjamin B. Warfield, “The Religious Life of Theological Students,” from an address given by Warfield at the Autumn Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary, October 4, 1911, public domain.
Proverbs 11:12 “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”
The one who sees the circumstances and character of his neighbor as fodder for criticism, instead of prayer, lacks sense. To be wise is to see as Christ sees. To minimize the worth of your neighbor; to belittle them, is to say something profound about yourself, not something meaningful about your neighbor. Self-righteousness, arrogance and unwarranted spiritual pride are all tied up in the belittling of neighbors.
A proper judgment of your neighbor – understanding that your neighbor is created in God’s image, is a being in the process of sanctification, is a blessing to be received, served, built up, thought well of – is true wisdom. Continue reading “Using Your Eyes Correctly”
1 John 1:9 reads “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The word ‘confess’ literally means to “speak the same thing.” To confess your sin is to call your sin what God calls it. We so often like to add adjectives and qualifiers to our sins. We rationalize our sins. We cover our disobedience with leaves and hide from God behind trees of self-justification like Adam in the Garden.
But physically hiding from God in a well-manicured garden is as ineffective as hiding our sins behind well-manicured excuses. We convince ourselves that we only told a white lie or a half-truth. We convince ourselves that we’re OK so long as we look but don’t touch.
We have “respectable” or “character-flaw” sins. The “everybody does it,” sins. The “I just am the way I am,” sins. We tell ourselves that we don’t gossip, we just “share” our concerns with anyone who will listen. We don’t covet; we saddle ourselves with thousands of dollars of debt to acquire the stuff we want. We excuse our anger and belittle others, we brow beat our wives and lord over people calling it ‘tough’ love. We despise others and feel justified in despising them because of how terribly they have sinned or how foolishly they’ve acted. We convince ourselves that our jobs, hobbies and entertainments aren’t idols. And yet we’re too ‘busy’ to play with our kids, to pursue our wives or clean the house. We’re so busy we don’t have time to read our bibles, to pray, to sing, to fellowship or serve the community. Continue reading “Say the Same Thing”