Friday, October 14, 2011

What a Difference Christ Makes -- Qué Diferencia Hace Cristo

This morning my Bible reading plan had me in Numbers 18. Verse 7 jumped out at me, especially the last sentence:

But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary must be put to death.

What a difference Christ makes in our approach to God! Before, anyone besides the priests or Levites who came near the dwelling place of God had to be put to death. But now, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are the dwelling place of the Lord. We are the temple. The very jars of clay that once would have been destroyed for coming too close to God's presence, are now the bearers of God's presence to the world.

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Before opening mouth, engage brain

Proverbs 29:20
Do you see a man who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Some people have an opinion about everything, and they make sure you know what it is. Even if they haven't studied the issue or taken time to consider all the options, they're quick to get their word in (I won't say "speak their mind" because that would imply they actually think about what they say). This has become more noticeable in this age of immediate feedback and instant communication, where it's so easy to comment on a FaceBook status, tweet something on Twitter, or fire off an e-mail before we've had time to even process the full meaning of what we're reacting to.

When asked what you think about something, don't feel pressured to respond right away. Some people feel that if they can't give an answer on the spot, they will be perceived as uninformed or unintelligent. But you actually look more foolish when you blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, instead of taking time to formulate an informed opinion.

Sometimes, our first thought is a great zinger or one-liner. And we want to get it out there before we forget it. But after we let it fly, we realize how biting and hurtful it was, and wish we could take it back. But the damage is done, especially online. Even if we go back and delete our comment, it may have already been seen by dozens, or even hundreds, of people. We might can erase it from FaceBook, but the damage to our reputation has already occurred.

So don't be so quick to speak. Slow down. Investigate. Evaluate. Then speak with measured words, making sure you are saying what you mean to say.

Don't react -- respond thoughtfully.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Points of Light / Puntos de Luz

This morning, part of my Bible reading had me in Philippians chapter 2. Even though I had spent a few months earlier this year memorizing Philippians, today this one verse really caught my attention.

Philippians 2:15 --
so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

No one wants to go outside at night and look up at black emptiness. The thing that draws people outdoors at night isn’t the darkness of the night sky, but the shining points of light breaking through that darkness. The countless stars shining down make us realize how big and great the God who created the universe is.

Is my light shining? Am I standing out in contrast to the darkness of the world? Is there light in my life that makes people think about the greatness of God? Or am I so well-adjusted to the culture around me that I fit into it without even thinking (Romans 12:2, The Message)?

Esta mañana, parte de mi lectura bíblica me tenía en Filipenses capítulo 2. Aunque había pasado unos meses este año memorizando el libro de Filipenses, hoy este versículo me llamó la atención.

Filipenses 2:15 –
para que sean intachables y puros, hijos de Dios sin culpa en medio de una generación torcida y depravada. En ella ustedes brillan como estrellas en el firmamento,

Nadie quiere salir afuera en la noche para mirar hacia arriba a un vacío negro. Lo que llama la gente afuera en la noche no es la oscuridad del cielo nocturno, sino los brillantes puntos de luz que rompen esa oscuridad. Las estrellas inumerables enviando su luz hacia abajo nos hacen reconocer lo grande y maravilloso que es el Dios quien creó el universo.

¿Está brillando mi luz? ¿Estoy marcando un contraste con la oscuridad del mundo? ¿Hay luz en mi vida que hace la gente pensar en la grandeza de Dios? ¿O estoy tan ajustado a la cultura alrededor que encajo en ella sin pensarlo (Romanos 12:2, The Message)?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Angels or impostors?

Back in January, I was at a multi-church “Holy Convocation.” The guest preacher was a pastor from California. I don’t remember his name or the name of the church he pastors.

In the Friday evening service, he told a story about one time when he was in the Philippines. He was taking a cab to the Manila airport to fly back to the U.S. The taxi driver asked if he was by chance a pastor, and he said yes. The driver told the minister he had been praying all day for God to send a pastor to ride in his cab, because his daughter was very ill in the hospital and he wanted someone to pray for her. He asked if the pastor had a few minutes to spare to stop by the hospital on the way to the airport and pray for his child.

The pastor agreed, and they drove to the hospital. I don’t recall if the pastor said the man took him to the girl’s room, or just told him the room number and waited in the cab. But the pastor went in and prayed for the girl, who may have been in a coma (I don’t recall, it has been almost 3 months since I heard this story). In any event, after he prayed for her, she got better (awoke from the coma, or her vitals went to normal, or the fever left and she said she felt OK – I don’t recall).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Whose image is on it? ¿De quién es la imagen?

Luke 20:20-25

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”  25 “Caesar’s,” they replied.  He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

In the Sunday School class I attend, we’ve been working our way through the Gospel of Luke. This well-known passage was part of what we covered this week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

God's lavish grace

Last night at church, we started a group study of Ephesians. We covered chapter 1 last night. As we were reading the text and discussing it, the follownig passage got my attention:

 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

The one thing I really noticed here was God's generosity toward us. God's grace has been freely given to us in Christ. We experience redemption, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God's grace, that He lavished on us.

God is not stingy. He's not waiting for us to perform at a certain level before He'll talk to us. We don't have to earn the right to come before Him -- as if we could ever be good enough on our own to do that. He freely extends the offer of salvation, and he completely wipes the slate clean when we respond in faith to Christ's sacrifice for us.

Oh what a Savior!