Pinterest has created the impression that everything you do must be perfect. The problem isn’t that weddings shouldn’t look nice or that every craft and recipe you attempt shouldn’t be Food Network worthy, but this facade of perfection can make you feel inferior if you don’t attain that standard.
It is not wrong to have nice stuff or do your best on every pallet board craft, but it is easy to develop a mindset where you put all your worth in what you have and what you do. The Bible talks about this: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV).
Earthly treasures don’t last forever, and sometimes they can be taken from us quickly. If all our identity or purpose is wrapped up in those things, then we will quickly lose purpose and feel defeated.
Like Micah. I wrote about his natural desire to worship (which we share) last week.
After he set up his own house of worship with his own idols, carved images, and priests, he thought God would bless him (Judges 17:13). But the Danites came through his area and took his Levite priest, ephod, household gods, carved image, and metal image (Judges 18:14). After Micah confronted the Danites, this really sad verse appears: “Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home” (Judges 18:26, ESV).
Micah’s kingdom could not stand.
Neither can yours.
All that will last beyond our years on earth is our legacy, whether good or bad, and the things we did that had an eternal impact. The people we ministered to and witnessed to, the ministries we supported that continue after our time on earth. The earthly pursuits won’t matter when you stand before God one day. After all, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36, ESV)
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By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
If Jesus already came and we know that God is with us right now through the Holy Spirit, then how can we still sing this song with any meaning?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel–this prayer should change your perspective during the Christmas season. It represents Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
The mood at the time of the birth of Christ
We know this song was written long after the birth of Christ, but let’s apply the lyrics to that time to see why we can understand the mood.
What we call the “Intertestamental Period,” between Malachi and Matthew was roughly 400 years. There is no record of God speaking during that time. Much was changing in the political landscape and impacting the Israelites. The first divine revelation since the intertestamental period came through an angel, Gabriel, who told Zechariah, a priest, that he would have a son. Zechariah’s son, John (the Baptist), was the forerunner to the Messiah who would come.
Imagine being in that time period: Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping. Four hundred years without hearing from God. Changes in government. Different rulers, some of whom leave you alone and others who don’t. You’d be longing for the Messiah.
Now we are back to the same question: how can we still sing this song? Let me argue that:
We should still have the same mood.
Romans 8:22-25 is a great passage to show us that we should still be longing, aching, yearning, and hoping, even though the Messiah has come and He has accomplished the work of redemption that has secured our salvation for all eternity.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
God cursed the ground as a result of sin entering the world (Gen 3:17-18). All creation has been groaning in pains of childbirth, waiting for the joy that would come.
We can understand the pains of childbirth. It hurts, but a woman perseveres because a great joy is coming. In the same way, the whole creation is subjected to pains like childbirth. The verse before tells us the great joy coming for the physical creation: v.21– it is set free from this bondage and decay it is subjected to.
23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
One commentator describes the firstfruits of the Spirit as “Spirit as a foretaste of the future” (Conybeare & Howson, The Life & Epistle of St. Paul).
It is likely a reference to the Holy Spirit, who is a guarantee of our faith and that which is yet to come, like Paul mentions in 2 Cor. 5:5. We have the firstfruits of the Spirit—there is more to come.
[we] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Here is the “now/not yet” of our salvation. Though we have Christ and our salvation is secure (NOW), inwardly we still groan for something more that is to come (NOT YET).
Do you realize that what you are experiencing right now as a believer in Christ is not all that you’ll ever experience with Him? There is much more to come. You have the salvation of Christ and all its blessings right now in your life. But you still have the not yet waiting for you!
This verse says we eagerly await our adoption—this is interesting because just earlier in this chapter (14-17), Paul writes of our adoption as God’s children in the past tense.
You are adopted by God in the sense that you are saved and you are His child (NOW). But verse 23 refers to the full culmination of our adoption, which is the glorification of our bodies (NOT YET).
We groan inwardly as we live in the now because we know that right now is not the end.
24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Hope is a key theme in this passage, appearing 5 times just in verses 24-25.
We hope for what we do not see because we have not obtained that glorious inheritance yet. What we have right now is finished, fully sufficient. We were saved. It’s done.We are saved. And it changes your life right now, giving you purpose.
Now, when we sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” we are not just thinking about the birth of Jesus. We are thinking about His coming again, about the time we will experience His full glory, which we have not yet seen. Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
We are still in a sinful, fallen world and experiencing its effects.
Death takes away.
Disease leads to misery.
Calamity still strikes.
In Sutherland Springs, TX, they are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
In Las Vegas, NV, they are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
We are still waiting for “…the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7).
We are still waiting for final deliverance “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
We are still waiting “for the hope of righteousness” (Galatians 5:5).
We are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping. So yes, we still sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel. God, be with us. Finally, eternally, in glory.Post Views: 1,125
By Ryan Strother — 12 months ago
You need to make sure that you are not an enemy of the cross. There are dire consequences.
Let me explain from Philippians 3:18-21. This passage teaches us the difference between enemies of God (or the cross) and citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
Some walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. They have enmity with, are in opposition to the cross of Christ–not just that they don’t like it or just refuse to accept the message of the cross, but enemies conveys that they are actively opposing the message of the cross.
What is the message of the cross? It is at least:
- the shed blood of Jesus Christ;
- the forgiveness of our sin;
- the breaking of the bondage to sin;
- the release from eternal torment and damnation apart from Christ;
- the fullness of life on this earth, filled with hope and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
And yet, some live in opposition to this! Philippians 3:19 describes the enemy of the cross.
Their end is destruction.
This makes sense because the cross represents the release from eternal torment. If you live as an enemy to the cross of Christ, then you are heading down a road to destruction.
Instead of destruction, though, Jesus made a better way: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)
Their god is their belly and they glory in their shame.
Belly is a way to refer to appetites/desires of a person. Those who live as enemies of the cross are letting their desires take the place of God. “They glory in their shame” can be understood in at least a couple ways:
They glory or boast in things they should be ashamed of.
We see this today:
- The high school student bragging about girls he slept with;
- The drunkard celebrating his activities from the past weekend;
- People not only engaged in sinful behavior but parading it around.
They improperly boasted in glorious things
Some commentators think this passage refers to those who claimed to be associated with God but truly were not. They lived under the law and found their worth there.
Some Bible translations say “their glory is their shame.” The understanding is that they were boasting in things like circumcision and dietary laws they followed—things that would have been to their glory as the people of God—but because of how they spoke about it or because of their pride, they were actually shaming themselves.
Their minds are set on earthly things.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? The enemy of the cross doesn’t have an eternal perspective, so they can only set their minds on earthly things. Life is all about their desires, and the current situation becomes life or death to them because they have no other framework from which to evaluate it.
This is the life of an enemy of the cross. Does it describe you? If so, the good news that God has graciously allowed you to be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. The next post will describe how that status affects your life.Post Views: 679
By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.”
― Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam
“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
― Philippians 2:3-4
Pride is a topic in secular and Christian literature, but we find that the Bible is full of examples of pride and instructs us best in how to combat pride. Pride is at the root of any sin you will commit because ultimately you are acting on what you want more than what God desires and commanded.
We will use Judges 9 to identify key characteristics of pride in the life of Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons. Hopefully it will serve as a litmus test for your life and help you search your own heart to rid it of pride.
Today we will examine one characteristic of pride from Abimelech’s life: Pride Connives and Manipulates. Next week, we will see that pride disregards other people.
Abimelech was unique among all of Gideon’s sons because only he was born to a concubine who was from Shechem. The rest of Gideon’s 70 sons were born to wives who were from Ophrah.
Shechem was a city in the land of Israel, right on the border of the the land alloted to Ephraim and Manasseh, and chapter 9 records Abimelech’s wicked plan to become the king of Shechem.
His conniving begins by going to his mother’s relatives in Shechem. He manipulated them by creating a power struggle that might not have really existed between himself and his brothers. He told his relatives to tell the leaders of Shechem that Abimelech should be their leader, and he even adds what is so common in manipulation: guilt. The guilt trip comes through these words: “remember I am your bone and your flesh” (Judges 9:2).
The relatives were convinced and participated in Abimelech’s corruption by giving him money from the house of Baal-berith, a place of idol worship! The amount they gave (70 pieces of silver) seems to indicate that the leaders of Shechem knew what Abimelech was going to do. They basically gave him one piece of silver per brother, whom Abimelech planned on exterminating.
Abimelech then hires “worthless and reckless fellows” (v.4) to follow him. I imagine if you are worthless and reckless that you’ll follow anyone to do anything. This was basically a hit squad who went with Abimelech to Ophrah to kill his brothers–seventy men on one stone.
His selfishness throughout this plan reminds me of something I read about Ronald Reagan. When he was governor of California, Reagan made a speech in Mexico City. About that occasion, Reagan said, “After I had finished speaking, I sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause, and I was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed me spoke in Spanish — which I didn’t understand — and he was being applauded about every paragraph. To hide my embarrassment, I started clapping before everyone else and longer than anyone else until our ambassador leaned over and said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He’s interpreting your speech.‘”
Sometimes we applaud ourselves the quickest and longest. Abimelech was an arrogant man with a wicked plan. He manipulated the leaders of the town to equip him to carry out that plan, and then those leaders made him king.
My kingdom come, my will be done was Abimelech’s attitude, and he didn’t care what it took to accomplish his plan. Pride connives and manipulates, and next week we’ll see how pride disregards other people.Post Views: 800