A Square Peg

square peg in a round hole

The majority of people that founded and formed our country were either God-fearing or God-leaning. However, it has been a long time since America began. Our society has undergone profound changes. Still, the truth is that Christians have never fit into any society. For God’s people to be considered immoral and dangerous to society is not new.

A Square Peg in a Round Hole

Christians have always been the square peg in this round world. Jesus was called the devil (Matthew 12:24). Matthew warned us that if they called the master the devil, they would call us worse things (Matthew 10:25). The Jews said, “Well, we’ve heard about this sect, Christianity, and it is spoken against everywhere.” (Acts 28:22). Peter said we would be called evildoers (1 Peter 2:12).

It should be apparent to everyone willing to look into the matter, that Jesus and His Church were never meant to fit into this world. The reason is not that Christianity is somehow wrong, somehow malformed, defective, or insincere. No, the fault is not the square peg, but the failure is with the round hole.

The Fault is With the World

The fault for Christ’s Church not fitting into the world is that the world is in a fallen state. This world has collapsed. It is malformed and, therefore, unable to receive God’s holiness, His righteousness, His salvation. His Son.

Therefore, be confident that we are not unloving, uncaring, or insensitive when we speak the truth of God. It would shock us if we, as ambassadors of Jesus, witnessed humanity shouting, “Amen!” to God’s Word. Each truth of God confronts humanity with their separation from God. We are, as God’s Word says, the smell of death. (2 Corinthians 2:16)

Defective Christians

The truth is that we are defective Christians if we do fit into this world. If we can pass through each day perceived as regular people, as upstanding members of our community, then we have failed Jesus. Why? Because Jesus said:

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. I they kept my word, they will also keep yours. – John 15:20

What we need to say to our neighbors, to our family, to our friends, is not unloving, unkind, or untrue. God’s truth is like a surgeon’s knife. We know the truth, the Spirit of Truth lives within us, so we need to speak it. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Truth is the only hope for people bound by sin.

Christianity is not Immoral

It’s not harmful or unloving or immoral to say, “God’s commands are necessary, useful and healthy for us, they are not harmful. Consequently, they are not immoral. It doesn’t matter what the world says. What matters is God’s truth.

What we say and how we live matters more to those around us than it does to us. We have received Jesus. We have been saved by grace through faith. We are secure in Christ, not so our worldly neighbors. It is for their sake that we speak God’s truth, suffer injustices, endure mistreatments, and are called immoral. These are but mere annoyances to us, but they proclaim to others that there’s something we have that makes it worth enduring these attacks that could easily be avoided. Through our rejection, others can see Jesus.

Photo credit: rosipaw on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

FYI: A deeper article about this topic can be found on desiringGod.

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/fight-for-sight/

The Ubiquity of His Grace

I’ve written a lot about grace, but today I would like us to look at an additional facet in God’s diadem of grace. This aspect of God is the ubiquity of His grace.

A simple definition of grace is unmerited favor, and that meaning is sufficient for this devotional. We don’t need to dig deeper. For now, let’s consider two words: unmerited and favor.

Nothing Without Grace

If you’ve ever worked for a large company, then you’ve probably sat through job reviews. Your supervisor probably talked about your contribution to the success of the company, and then you were told you would receive an x% increase in your pay based on merit. That meant you deserved your raise because you earned your raise. Likewise, if you were in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, then you’re familiar with merit badges that you deserve for your specific accomplishments.

In our English language, “favor” means many things. I may have injured my right leg so, when walking, I “favor” my right leg, meaning I’m treating it with care. I may do someone a favor by helping them without receiving full payment for my effort. And, we can substitute the word “prefer” with “favor,” as I favor t-shirts to button-downs.

Right now, wherever you are, you are living within God’s grace. Why? Because you can receive nothing from God without it being given by God’s grace, unearned and given because God’s favor is with you. If God ever did anything for you because you earned it, then God would be sharing His glory with you; God doesn’t do that (Isaiah 42:8). 

Our walk with Jesus begins within His grace for “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17). Let that sink in.

Promises

As believes we harvest God’s promises from God’s Word. Does that mean that we are earning God’s grace? Hardly. We are told to study God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15). As we study, we find God’s promises. We receive answers from God’s promises through faith, by His grace.

Here’s a promise from God for Christians: For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14 ) You may ask, “How is Romans 6:14 a promise?” Since grace is unmerited favor, it doesn’t matter what your condition or circumstances are, you still have God’s favor. If by faith, you turn your sin over to God, then this sin will lose its mastery over you. It may take time and effort on your part to recover from the ravages of that sin, but that sin will no longer be your master.

Throne of Grace

In closing our quick survey of the ubiquity of God’s grace, consider this verse from Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We find God’s grace in God’s throne in heaven. We see God’s grace as part of the very nature of Jesus. And we know that everything God has ever done for anyone has come by the grace of God.

Isn’t God good!

Photo by Evi Odioko on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/say-grace/

King David

View of king from behind

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, LORD, my strength. (Psalms 18:1)

There is a big lesson in this small introduction to Psalms 18. Even when King Saul was personally trying to murder David (1 Samuel 19:1), notice in Psalm 18:1 that Saul was not listed as his enemy. In fact, King David begins this Psalm by saying, “I love you, Lord, my strength.” David turns his heart to God. How wonderful that is.

King David was pragmatic in his statement that the Lord had delivered him from the hand of Saul. He knew the score with Saul. Still, David didn’t count Saul as an enemy. David was guarded when it came to dealing with Saul because, by God’s command, the prophet Samuel had anointed Saul as the king of Israel and Judah.

Made My Way Blameless

David went on to write in Psalms 18:30-32:

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?— the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.

David could not have said, truthfully, “and made my way blameless” unless he had treated Saul respectfully, even when God had already determined that Saul would lose his throne. 

What’s the takeaway from the introduction to Psalms 18? It’s that as followers of Jesus, we need to guard our thoughts. Whether it’s about politics, the refs for the Super Bowl or sister so-and-so’s shoes needing polished, we should be pragmatic but also understand where the line is between our business and God’s business.

Photo by Paweł Furman on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/show-me-your-scars/

Nikhedonia

horse race

Today, February 4, 2020, is World Cancer Day. Internationally, today is a day set apart to globally recognize the need for a cure for cancer. In 2018, an estimated 18 million people had cancer and 10 million died from it.

On a personal note, I know my wife’s family is riddled with cancers, most recovered, but some lost to this devastating disease. I lost my mother to cancer. It’s challenging to grasp how many children, adolescents, adults, and senior citizens are fighting cancer right now.

For all who have cancer and for all the loved ones affected by this disease, allow me to point you to Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). 

Jesus Understands

When we read our Bibles, we often focus on the miracles which Jesus performed during His earthly ministry, and that’s good. It’s also vital for us to know that Jesus understands our difficulties and our hurt. John 16:33 records these words of Jesus:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Jesus never promised us that our lives would be healthy, safe, and free from sadness in this world, but He has told His followers to “take heart” to be encouraged because He has overcome the world!

Nikhedonia

Nikhedonia is a little-used word in the English language. It means the feeling of excitement or elation that comes from anticipating sure success. So, today, I pray that you feel Nikhedonia, feel it because success for all believes in Jesus is certain. Through the authority of Jesus Christ, we will be victorious!

Photo by Dallas Reedy on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/victory/

There he is!

child playing superhero

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.” (Matthew 24:23) Jesus said this when asked about the end times. Whether we are close to the end times or not, there is still abundant wisdom in the words of our Lord, right now, today. For today, people are running after false Christs.

False Christs

I used to enjoy SciFi stories but have you noticed that modern SciFi books and movies are always about dystopian societies filled with despair, deceit, and death? Then a “savior” comes, a hero that rises above the chaos and injustice, a hero that defeats the villains and restores order for the remnants that survived. 

Or, instead of SciFi, consider sports. Super Bowl Sunday has been elevated to a holiday more significant than Easter, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July, all rolled into one. The NFL could easily have been the inspiration for the Hunger Games. Think about it. Teams fighting teams with exceptional athletes elevated above mere humanity, all fighting to be the one standing when the dust settles.

I could go on. We do this with so many political candidates and elected politicians as if they wore suits of armor, jousted, and fought with swords all for the sake of the poor and oppressed. We place our hope in crafted personalities to save us.

False Christs

Well, I’ve got Good News. Don’t escape into SciFi, don’t live vicariously through sports, don’t place your hope for peace in politicians. They will all fail us. They have no superhuman abilities. They are as powerless and weak as any child of Adam, for all false Christs are poor imitations of Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed, the Son of God.

Jesus is the only Savior. He died and rose from His grave. Christ paid the price for our sins and now sits at the right hand of the Father, mediating for His own. Jesus is what we all long for in our hearts. He fills the void we try to fill by running to false religions, seeking deceptive wealth, immersing ourselves in worlds created by the minds of mortal men, all of which are deceptions (Matthew 24:24).

Our Hope

Jesus will return; however, He is accessible right now. He’s a prayer away. He provides the only real way to salvation. And for His believers, we receive the Holy Spirit as God’s seal (Ephesians 1:13) certifying our salvation, paid for by the blood of the true Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, who will return at the Father’s appointed time (Matthew 24:36).

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/just-the-way-jesus-is/

Standing in the Face of Anger

angry bear

When we lived in Oregon, there was this one time when I taught from the book of Acts, chapter seven about Stephan, the Church’s first martyr. Nearly the entire adult Sunday school class was ready to lynch me because I said that Stephen didn’t back down but contended for the faith. “No,” they were saying, “Christians are to seek peace.” 

Sometimes we find ourselves in similarly tricky situations when we are talking to people that are twisting the Bible to align with their world-view instead of the truth that the Bible plainly states. Apostle Paul had a similar problem.

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. (Acts 14:19)

It’s surreal, but there are people that become unhinged when confronted with Biblical truths. When this happens, I feel the way the good folks in Oregon felt. I want to “fix it” but there is nothing for me to fix. Especially during the times we live in, we must remain strong and be bold for the Gospel of Jesus. – For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

Photo by Andre Tan on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/intense-fervent-and-unwavering/

Compassion To Jesus

young man giving money to old man on the street

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)

 In reading Matthew 10:42, the Jews would have understood “these little ones” as referring to scholars of a rabbi. So, in the context in which Jesus is speaking, Jesus was referring to His twelve Apostles. However, we gain a deeper understanding once we get to Matthew 25:40, where Jesus states, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 

From Matthew 25:40, we learn that Christ looks upon acts of kindness done to even the weakest godly people and will reward us as if we had done them to Jesus. Though our love and compassion must not be limited only to believers, yet it must be chiefly shown to those of the household of faith.

I find it fascinating that Jesus tells us to be sure to act compassionately to everyone but especially to our brothers and sisters for Jesus lives in them. God’s relationship to humanity is different for His children than for those that remain lost. It is worth all of our sacrifices, both big and small, which we make for others from our love of God. He does not ignore or dismiss our actions. I thank God for that.

Photo credit: Chris Yarzab on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/come-down-that-we-may-build-up/

You Follow Me

footsteps in snow

Very early in our marriage, my wife told me that she’d follow me anywhere. Neither of us knew at that time how much her promise would be tested. Since that time, we have moved from the Mid-West to the East-coast to the West-coast and from America to Eastern Europe and back again.

Amazingly, each place to which we moved my wife built a “nest” to provide safety for our children and comfort for me. And in each location, my wife thrived. She has a deep relationship with Jesus and hears the Holy Spirit’s directions, so God blesses the work of her hands.

Today, my wife and I met with my sister. We reminisced and had a wonderful time. As we were heading home, I started thinking about, “I’ll follow you anywhere.” I pray that I will always say this to Jesus.

We find a great example of following in the twentieth chapter of the book of John. After Christ’s resurrection, Jesus restored Peter to his “office” as an Apostle. Then we read in John 21:20-22 (emphasis added): Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) following them…When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!

We mustn’t measure our calling by how God is using other Christians. This concern is such an easy trap in which to fall. It makes no difference if God chooses a believer and gives them a great ministry or sends them to another country or marvelously prospers them. What matters is our obedience to our calling. Jesus says to each one of us, “You follow me!”

Photo by Bartosz Gorlewicz on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/draw-near/

You are welcome

elderly woman

I was listening to a devotional this week when I heard the speaker say, “We perceive the stranger as a danger, but God is the God of welcome. The guest is a gift.” 

If ever there was a “welcoming” declaration from God Almighty, it is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

We see in this famous passage of Scripture that God is emphatically welcoming. God throws His welcome mat out and says, “Whoever believes in My Son, Jesus” is welcome in my home. 

God’s hospitality is beyond comprehension, so let me scale this back to something we can grasp. Imagine if Bill Gates tweeted, “Anyone can have a copy of Microsoft Windows for free. And if you do get a copy of Microsoft Windows, then you are welcome to come to live with me in my house forever!” Whoa. We would say Bill Gates was crazy, but we wouldn’t say that about God. That’s because God is the God of welcome!

When we read John 3:16, why would anyone **not** repent and be saved? And, as believers, we represent Jesus to everyone that sees us. How can we not be welcoming to them when our Father has shown us that He is the God of welcome.

Photo by Philippe Leone on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/hospitality/

Find Out What Is Hiding

boy playing hide and seek

Recently I shaved off nearly all of my beard. It had been at least a decade since I was mostly clean-shaven. It freaked out my wife. Now it’s growing back, but it was fun to see her reaction. She couldn’t look at me for two days!

One thing I discovered when I shaved was that I had a blackhead on my cheek. It had been hiding under my beard, utterly invisible to me and everyone that saw me, nevertheless it was there. 

It was quickly exhumed before I finished shaving. But that got me wondering about things in our lives that we don’t see and neither do others; they are still there. 

God Shows Us What Is Hiding

Often, things that need to be removed from our hearts and minds are shown to us through God’s Word. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10

Being a devout Christian doesn’t insulate us from God’s correction. He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Have you ever heard or read a passage of Scripture that caused a spike of fear to arise in you? It may have been so small that you quickly extinguished it with logic. Still, it had shown itself in your soul. 

The truth is that God’s Word is alive and directly confronts us about things we may not even be aware of as unrighteousness. The Holy Spirit calls us on to greater mercy, greater righteousness, greater holiness. When we feel even the smallest tug on our hearts, we can be sure the Holy Spirit is working within us, calling us to a more intimate relationship with God and preparing us for higher assignments from Jesus.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/the-law-of-discipleship/

%d bloggers like this: