For Jesus has been counted as worthy of more glory than Moses — as much more glory as a builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.

Hebrews 3: 3

This concept of the relationship between builder and the house that was constructed is not a true statement in much of our world today, and this reality concerns me. When we look at a house, we seldom ask about the builder. We marvel at the finished product instead. We may be taken in by the craftmanship that is expressed in the many details or by the fine finishes that have been applied to the cabinetry, but we are not so concerned about the nature, character, and experience of the person whose hands made those objects that we are admiring. Likewise, people are often fully focused upon the importance of our own roles in our world so that we don’t have any attention left to give to others, and we get so engaged with gaining in stature and with growing our own reputations that we don’t grasp the need to spend even more time in deep contemplation of the One who made us and who supplies the creative intelligence and the skill that we use to achieve those personal goals.

No matter who I am or what it is that I have accomplished in my lifetime, I did not invent myself and I certainly didn’t develop my internal qualities out of thin air. There was a creative hand behind that existence. There is a master builder who has a plan that He is following that has led to the orderly nature of this universe and that has produced the wonderous creatures that all people turn out to be. We humans are truly remarkable. We are capable of intricate thoughts, complex calculations, creativity in many spheres of endeavor, and physical feats that excite and amaze. We also express a very broad range of emotions and are capable of demonstrating great compassion and far-reaching care for those in need in our world. All of these qualities are characteristics of the Creator who devised the shape and the form of the lives that we would live. Each good and positive thing that is entered into and accomplished by humanity traces its source back to the love that was imparted to us by the hand of God during His formative work at the beginning of existence.

Jesus was present in all of those creative endeavors. His workmanship is a part of the totality of creative masterwork that is expressed in all that exists in the universe. He pre-existed any and all of the angels, and He certainly came before all of the inhabitants of this world. Thus, even the most faithful and effective of all people who have followed God’s will and calling for their lives is but a pale reflection of the greatness and the glory that is found in Jesus. He is not mere creature, but Jesus is the Creator. He is much more than follower of the Father’s will, although He surely did that without exception, He was a party to the development of the plan that has been implemented as a reflection of that infinite and divine will. So, everything that is loving, good, caring, and truly beautiful in the universe is the product of the creative will that Jesus has poured out into the world. Additionally, the hope of redemption for the broken elements in our world that we can hold as a promise from heaven is made real and is empowered by Jesus as He works in and through people who surrender our lives to His use in the perfecting of that great builder’s mission.  

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For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12: 4, 5

There is something strangely wonderful in the wide range of type, form, and personality that is found among people on this earth. We are truly a diverse collection; yet, all of the variability of humanity, according to God’s Word, constitutes something equating to the image of God. None of us are that image in ourselves; so, all of us together take us closer to the full picture. We humans make up many if not most of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that when completed would grant the viewer the full view of the majesty and the glory that is the Lord. Yet, each of us has been established by that same Creator God as a singular example of His handiwork, and we have all been formed in a manner such that we provide this world and especially Christ’s body, the church, with all of the human resource that it needs to fulfill its calling.

To me, this says that the individuality of the people around me is something that I need to consider from the perspective of the gift that God has given to the church. It also means that even the quirkiness and the peculiarity of some individuals is designed by God to have purpose and reason in His well-developed plan for the function of His community of faith. In this divinely inspired economy, each and every person has a purpose to fulfill, everyone has something to contribute to the whole, and all of us when working together constitute something close to a fully fleshed out organism. Thus, we can look at our neighbor and get to know that person well in the simple hope of knowing not only that person but of also knowing God more fully in the process. As we grow closer to those around us in the church, we should also develop a deeper and a fuller comprehension of God’s mission and calling for us and for the body that we participate within.

In Christ, these diverse and often seemingly disparate people who we dwell with and travel through life in close proximity to are, in fact, so closely related to us as to be a part of the same functioning entity, body, as we are ourselves. Just as Christ brings each of us close to God, so too Christ bridges the gulf that the brokenness of this world has carved between people. We need each other in order to live fully within Christ’s will for us and for His church. This is a need that exists at the deepest levels of our souls and in the most basic and fundamental of aspects of our functionality as Christ’s body in this world. As we care about and for each other and also as we open up our own needs to the ministry of others, we are growing in our knowledge and understanding of the way that God loves and cares for all of His creation. When we love each other and receive the love of those same others within the church, we are demonstrating the love that Christ has for everyone on earth to the rest of the world, and this outpouring of love and care is the calling and the function of Christ’s holy church.   

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 29: 2

 

Sometimes I am forgetful, and at other times I seem to have my eyes closed tightly, for there are too many days that go by where I don’t appreciate the Lord for even a small portion of who He is and for what He does. Days like these may be the ones where I am way too self-focused, or they might be times when I am caught up in the importance of my own influence and impact on the universe. When this is true, I am suffering from a lack of accurate perspective, and the quality of my life is diminished because of this.

 

Everywhere that there is true beauty, and all of the splendors of this world are the handiwork of the Lord. He is the master painter, the skilled architect, and the perfect designer of the environment that sustains life, delights my senses, and that feeds my soul. It is up to me to open my eyes and to allow my heart to soak in all that God has placed before me during each day. His love is expressed in the colors of flowers, in the fragrance of the wind, in the vitality of a hummingbird, in the warmth of a smile, and in the comfort of a friend.

 

O Lord, let me be aware of You, of Your presence, and of Your loving grace. I pray that I will be like the multitudes that surround Your throne in Heaven with my heart lifted up in continual appreciation and praise of You, my God and Creator. Let my eyes never stop seeing You as I travel through my day. Guide my thoughts and direct my actions so that my life will be a living expression of Your glory and righteousness.

 

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.

Colossians 2: 6

 

There is an extraordinary degree of futility in making a decision to believe in Jesus and not also deciding to follow Him. The initial act of faith works to create the relationship with God; thus, it provides for the destination for the soul, but life in the present can be left in an unresolved state. For me, it was never hard to believe in Jesus. He has almost always been truly real and completely believable. However, having the faith and the trust that I need to follow Him has been a different story.

 

Christ came into this world to impact lives. Jesus made it quite clear that He was not on a mission of political or even social change. His mission was to defeat sin’s grip on humanity and to bring people back to their Creator God. Then He stays with them to give them the Lord’s direction for their lives. We can have a political and a social impact; however, it is more important that we should have a life impact on others. This is where we are called upon by Christ to follow Him. This is why we must seek out the Holy Spirit’s filling and guidance on a continual basis. It is by the Spirit that we are led to follow God’s will for our lives, and it is in the Spirit that we have the Lord’s strength, vision, and the encouragement that we need to follow Him regardless of all that gets in the way.

 

For me and for you following Jesus, walking in Him, is a continual choice. There are moments and days when it seems so easy, and there are others when I just don’t do it. Still, the most important decision is the next one that I make, for that is the moment when I can determine to move forward with Christ. The next situation that I encounter or the next person that I meet will be impacted by me. I pray that I will choose to let that impression be one that is filled with the truth, concern, and love of Christ.

 

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19: 7

 

The human soul seems to have a longing for a touchstone that is true and trustworthy. We go through life with the uncertainties that it throws our way, and our hearts start to race in the anxious anticipation of the next thing that is going to arise that will trip us up, disrupt our progress, or confuse our plans for living successfully. When these unsettling events come my way, I start to doubt my own sense of direction and my ability to create intelligent plans for myself. It is all very unnerving.

 

My biggest problem is that, when things are seemingly going well, I tend to get too confident in my own abilities and start to trust in my skills, charm, ability, and intelligence; thus, I don’t take the time to consider what God has to say. However, life experience has shown me that it is His input, direction, and guidance that I need at all times. If this were uniquely my problem, that would be one issue, but I read of people in the Bible who suffered from much the same problem, and stories like these are a part of my daily life, too. We tend to be an independent breed of people, and God actually created us that way. He wants us to operate with the sort of freedom and initiative that comes from a heart that has been released from captivity to sin. The great Creator God enjoys the sort of creativity that we bring to solving the challenges of life.

 

What I and most people need is a fundamental realization that seeking God’s truth and wisdom, listening intently to His voice, and allowing His Spirit to guide my thinking and my actions is not constraining. Rather, these intimately relational actions on my part bring me closer to God and to a place of understanding of His will. He then guides me into the core of my own creativity, for that is one of the primary markers of my God-likeness. Then my heart and my mind are released from their dark cell of doubt and I am able to grant myself permission to walk boldly through life in obedience to God’s will.

 

The saying is trustworthy, for if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him.

2 Timothy 2: 11

 

There are things that are really hard to give up. Some fall under that heading that we call “guilty pleasures”. These include such things as certain television programs, candy and ice cream, and buttered pop corn. Actions like smoking and driving too fast can actually cause harm. Other tenacious aspects of who we seem to be are more sinister. These might involve an addiction to pornography, habitual lying, out of control anger, and other forms of attitude and behavior that are rooted in sinful reliance on our selves as opposed to engaging in radical trust in and dependence upon Christ. All people are born into this world separated from God and His truth and darkened in our understanding of actual righteous living. These sinful aspects of our lives that continue on after we come to know God are the remnants of our birthright.

 

An even more challenging sort of change involves the attitudes that we hold toward our world and the people in it. Christ came into this world to bring an alienated humanity back into intimate relationship with our Creator, God. This salvation and reconciliation are for everyone. There are no exclusions, no exceptions, and there is absolutely no greater and lesser order to this acceptance of people by God. Most of us struggle with this idea. Even if we can readily say that we think that Christ came, suffered, died, and was raised for all, we simply don’t actually believe that this is true. There are always some people, either individuals or groups, who we do not like or trust. It is human nature to consider those who are different and who believe differently as being suspect. We tend to find that it is much easier to extend grace and reach out in loving embrace to people who we do not fear and who look, speak, and think essentially like us. Yet, Christ did all of these things for all of the people He encountered. God’s love, mercy, grace, and redemption are offered to each and every person on this earth.

 

Whatever it is that each of us is dealing with by way of unrighteous thought and action, big things and small, the foundation for change is ours to persue. First off, we need to desire that change. Truth is God’s catalyst for change. His Word contains the narrative account of the way that our Lord desires for us to think and to live. Emersion in it is the starting place and the ongoing road to discovery of who God is and who He calls us to be. Time in God’s Word needs to be accompanied with prayer and meditation. These are times of speaking our hearts to God and of listening to His voice. Study of the word and prayer are inseparable, and these are times when the Holy Spirit speaks God’s deep truths into our hearts and minds. Additionally, God desires for us to live in community. Although real transformative work in us is done by God, He often uses the agency of His body, the church and its people, to support, counsel, and bring accountability to that journey. God has called us to join Christ in death, the death of our birth-life of wastefulness and sin, and into the newness of freedom that comes in following our Savior through every step of the day.

 

 

So, faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10: 17

 

Our news is filled with voices, or at least with the words of people whose opinions have a great impact on the world where we live. The expressions of these opinionated voices are followed by an unimaginable volume of others who weigh in on what the original speakers had to say and on what it means. Our society lacks for neither the expression of life-altering edict or for the flood of response to it. Wading into this stream of thoughts and ideas is something that we can’t keep ourselves from doing. It is actually important to engage with the big issues of our times and to have an opinion on them ourselves. Yet, it is very easy to get sucked under by the powerful current that this stream generates. We can lose sight of who we are and of why we were granted minds that can think and hearts that contain passion.

 

In all of the words that come our way, there are only a few that contain absolute truth. Among the vast array of voices that are speaking at any given time, only one provides life-giving answers. So, when we attempt to respond to what we hear from the basis of our own intelligence and frame our arguments out of national pride, historic understanding of governance, or a general sense of doing what is right; we will inevitably fall short of stating the whole truth as it is set out in the Word of God. Solutions for what is sick, corrupt, and demented in our society will not be achieved by having the loudest voice in the room. Our world, especially its leaders, needs only one thing in order to travel its course in a righteous arch. That is faith in the one and the only Creator God of this universe.

 

As Paul tells us, faith comes through hearing. This is the deep soaking in of the truth that flows out of the mouth of its source. This hearing is not resident in the ears or even in the neuro-pathways that lead to our brains. The hearing on view is something that happens in and with the totality of our beings. When we are confronted with the sort of anti-God thinking and the decisions that come out of it in our world, our first response needs to come out of God’s spoken and time-tested Word of Truth. The first action that we engage in should be prayer and meditation on that word. The voice that we desperately require in these times is that of God, Himself, whose Spirit will reveal to us the righteous words to utter in response to the evil that surrounds us. The times that we are in are seriously dark and ever darkening. Living well in them requires that we have faith. We must trust in the everlasting and unalterable victory of Christ over the satanic evil of this world. Additionally, we each need to answer God’s call to speak up with a voice that is filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ.