Archive

Archive for August, 2016

Speak Up for the Unheard

August 31st, 2016

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. (Proverbs 31:9)

The impact of the rule of God in life is respect and appreciation for all people. We must especially speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

The passage above was written by King Lemuel but based upon words that his mother taught him. Many scholars suspect that Lemuel, which means “One devoted to God,” was another name for Solomon. If so, the words come from Bathsheba his mother.

Whether that was the case or not, we can imagine what insights and burdens her heart must have carried. She had no ambitions to be the queen mother. She had been married to a good man, Uriah the Hittite, whom David had betrayed and murdered. It is unclear what role she had in her own “seduction,” or whether she had any choice at all, or felt as though she had no choice. Whatever happened between them, and only God knows, Bathsheba herself was never blamed in scripture. Nathan the prophet confronted David, not Bathsheba.

So God had put on her heart the importance of the king hearing those who cannot speak up, and protecting those who are destitute. And as we are members of God’s royal family by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to do the same.

It is common for people to look up to those wealthier than them, more powerful than them. We are attracted to the handsome, clever, successful people of life. And we ignore or turn our heads from the needy, the neglected, the rejected, and the destitute. God calls us to think otherwise and to act otherwise.

There is nothing wrong with having friends, or admiring those who are successful, but we cannot leave our thoughts there alone. We must let the compassion of Christ dwell in our hearts to the point that we seek to help the needy among the world’s people.

Those who are neediest among us are not always easy to help. They are not always kind, nor are they always innocent. Usually the nearer the bottom layer of human society we come, the more conflicts and miseries and scarred-emotional thinking we find. But they are still human beings made in the image of God, and the blood of Christ was shed for them no less than it was shed for the wealthy, beautiful, and successful in the world.

The Kingdom of God in eternity will have no destitute among its citizens, and we are to give a witness today to the reality of God’s rule in our hearts then we should make genuine efforts to establish justice, and to protect the rights of the neglected and forgotten.

But we might also start with those whom we know, those around us. Who, among your colleagues at work, among your neighborhood, within your circle of friends, or within your family, are the sad, weak, helpless, and rejected. How would Christ treat them? Look around you. There are people whom you can encourage today.

kingdom of God , , ,

Wars and Rumors of Wars

August 30th, 2016

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. (Matthew 24:6)

Conflict on earth will continue until Christ returns. Many have tried to establish themselves as rulers of the entire world, and they have all failed. And those in history who built large empires saw those empires fall apart and disintegrate in a short time. Even if there could be such a thing as a one-world government, there would still be in-fighting, nasty and ruthless competitiveness between different people. Wars and rumors of wars would still persist.

In churches, too, there have been conflicts, such as in Corinth where one said, “I am of Paul,” and another said, “I am of Apollos,” and another said, “I am of Peter,” and still others, the “super spiritual” among them, or the “superficially spiritual” among them, said, “I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 1:12). If churches can be marked by nasty infighting and competitiveness then any institution on earth can be.

The problem is our sinful nature. Pastor James wrote:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 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 4:1-3)

We need new hearts, and new perspectives. We need humility and kindness, and this only comes by the power of the Holy Spirit through the gospel of Christ. We need to surrender our hearts to Him if we will have peace within us and peace among us.

The notion of the Kingdom of God means not just that God reigns in individual Christian hearts. A kingdom always means more than just one person. The Kingdom of God that is coming and that is currently within our hearts by His Spirit, means that we are to act differently toward one another. It is not enough to be right. We must also be kind, humble, caring, and sensitive. We must be peacemakers among the brothers.

Too often there is a partisan spirit among Bible-believing Christians, and we are quick to separate from one another for all sorts of reasons that are not as biblical as we imagine. It is in the humbling of ourselves before one another, in the effort to understand the other person, that the Kingdom of God becomes a reality among us.*

It is interesting that to the church in Corinth there was so much taught about separation from the world and inclusion in the Christian family. They had mixed the two up and had excluded fellow Christians from the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:18-22), but had accepted immorality in the church from “so-called” Christians (1 Cor. 5:1-2). We must learn to judge these matters rightly: humbly loving all people while still identifying sin as sin.

It starts in the heart. A surrendered heart to the Holy Spirit is the same as seeking the Kingdom of God in our lives, or living according to the Lordship of Christ. But then we must also live this out with one another. Have you learned to forgive another Christian for the sake of Christ? Have you learned to humble yourself and listen to another Christian for the sake of the oneness of the Church? Christ said that the greatest must be the servant of all, or “slave of all” (Mark 10:44). There is no way to apply this passage without it meaning that at some point in our Christian life and in our church life we are willing to submit to the will of others for the sake of the glory of God.

There will be conflicts between people on this earth until Christ returns, but there can also be divine communities and changed lives, where Christians relate to one another in humility of heart, forgiving one another, serving one another, and living in peace with one another. This was the miracle of the early church, and God still does these things today in the world. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

__________________________________________________________

* I am not saying there is no cause worth separating from others, for certainly there is. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 states that we should come out and be separate from the world. 1 Corinthians 5-6 also deal with the issue of separating from so-called Christians over moral issues. Galatians 1:6-9 teaches us the necessity of faithfulness to the gospel, even to the point of rejecting others. There are limits to how far we can go in accepting one another.

Daily Devotions, kingdom of God , , , ,