Friday, September 22, 2006

We Believe Jesus is Coming Back

We believe that Jesus is coming again, at a time unknown, to judge the world according to the Word.

When the Terminator said, “I’ll be back,” he was threatening, though the threat was veiled. A few minutes later, he drove a vehicle through the doors of the building he had left moments earlier. In Independence Day, former Air Force pilot Russel Casse flew his plane into the belly of the Mother Ship of the aliens whom he said had kidnapped him years before. As he flew in to their destruction and his own, he said, “Hello, boys. I’m back!”

As the disciples stood gazing into heaven trying to catch one more glimpse of the ascending Jesus, two men dressed in white affirmed just as they had seen him go, he would come back. To some, the return of Jesus may be threatening. For some, the return of Jesus will be a complete surprise and his return will involve destruction. But for the apostles, and for us, the return of Jesus is the most glorious event we will ever witness. For us the return of Jesus is about resurrection, immortality, worship, and salvation.

One of these days
I'm gonna see the hands that took the nails for me
One of these days
I'm gonna hold the keys to the mansion built for me
One of these days
I'm gonna walk the streets of gold that were paved for me
One of these days
I'm gonna see my Savior face to face
One of these days

(FFH, “One of these Days”)

He is coming. Don’t allow the delay to cause you to doubt. There are good reasons for waiting (2 Peter 3:3-10). The time of his return is unknown, be ready today and tomorrow. The purpose of his coming is not to bear sin, like his earlier coming. This time he is coming to bring salvation to those waiting for him (Heb 9:28). If you want to be ready, you’ve got to know his word. His word, he proclaimed, will be the standard of judgment when he returns (John 12:47-50).

Come, Lord Jesus. That’s Life at Work!

Monday, September 18, 2006

If I Lost Everything

Lindsay Lohan was in Heathrow Airport and discovered that her handbag with jewelry and asthma medicine in it disappeared.  Apparently, it was recovered later, and according to some reports, the jewelry which was worth a million dollars was still in the bag with the medicine.  Imagine her happiness at the return of her bag.

If I lost everything I had right now, I would feel devastated.  But then, if somehow everything that I lost was returned to me, I would be incredibly happy.  Since that is true, why can’t I be happy with what I’ve got?  Why would I have to lose it, and then get it back, to be content with what I possess?

At a time in his life when his possessions were few, Paul wrote to some friends who had wanted to help him earlier, but had been unable.  When they were able to help him, he thanked them and taught them:

“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:10-13).

Don’t live in jealousy or lust for what you don’t have.  If you lost everything you owned, you would be happy if you got it back.  So be happy with what you have today.  That’s Life at Work!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Life at Work

We believe our responsibility to God can be summed up: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

When I hear Martina McBride sing Love’s the Only House, I’m reminded in a contemporary way of this important foundational belief. She sings:

“You drive three miles from all this prosperity
Down across the river and you see a ghetto there
An' We got children walking around with guns
And they got knives and drugs and pain to spare
And here I am in my clean, white shirt, With a little money in my pocket and a nice warm home
And we got teenagers walking around in a culture of darkness Living together alone...all ll I could say is
Love’s the only house big enough for all the pain in the world.
Yea, love’s the only house big enough for all the pain.

And I can't explain it, and I can't understand

But I'll come down and get my hands dirty and together we'll make a stand.”

Loving God with all of who you are and loving your neighbor as yourself are the greatest commands (Matt 22:34-40)! There is a difference between reducing the demands and summing them up. To reduce is to speak as if other commands are unimportant as long as you do the significant. To sum them up is to state them in a concise way. That’s what Jesus did.

Loving God sums up the commands regarding our response to him. John’s readers needed to remember “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…” (1 John 5:3). The Romans needed to how love sums up our commands regarding others, so Paul wrote to them, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:8-10).

When you practice lovingkindness with others you fulfill the law. Sometimes that may mean carrying their burden, or being merciful, or doing for them what you would want done for yourself. Consider what you are doing and ask yourself if it is the way of love. That’s Life at Work!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

No Peer Pressure

A 104 year old lady celebrating her birthday was being interviewed by a TV reporter for local airing. He asked her, “What’s the best thing about being one hundred and four?”

This was an easy question. “No peer pressure,” she replied.

I suppose she’s right, but the rest of us youngsters do experience peer pressure even in adulthood. That’s why it is vital that we keep reminding ourselves of the principle of passages like these:

“He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

“I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts” (Psalms 119:63)

As I walk with those who avoid immorality, alcohol and drug abuse, godless chatter, and dishonesty, I create in my life greater strength and motivation to avoid them, too. As I befriend those who respect their marriages and spouses, who think more about others than they do themselves, who speak in ways that build up instead of tear down, I will conform to that kind of goodness. That’s Life at Work!

Friday, September 08, 2006

We Believe that Salvation is by Grace through Faith

We believe that salvation is by grace through faith.  Continued trust in Jesus, demonstrated by Spirit-led life, is a must for the Christian.

We are saved by grace.  The vehicle through which grace saves us is faith.  That’s true at the moment sins are forgiven, and that continues to be true as I live out my post-baptism walk with Christ.

If then, my faith is gone, the vehicle through which God’s grace saves me, is gone.  In this way, the salvation that was once mine has been forfeited along with my faith.  In scripture, this happened with some of the formerly faithful in Galatia.  Paul had preached the gospel, they had responded in faith, been saved by God’s grace; and then, they believed “another gospel.”  When their faith in Jesus was gone, having been replaced by trust in their own efforts, Paul told them the horrible consequence:

“Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.  You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 2:2-4).

It is also true that since faith is the basis of my discipleship, if I turn from the way of righteousness to walk the path of sin, I am no longer a person of faith.  That’s why Peter could write:

“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.  It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.  Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud’” (2 Peter 2:20-22).

My faith causes me to look to Jesus for my salvation.  My faith causes me to walk according to the Spirit.  If I look elsewhere for my salvation or turn back to the works of the sinful nature I do so because of a lack of faith.  If salvation is by grace through faith, then when that faith is gone, so is salvation by grace.

I demonstrated my faith when I repented of my sins and was baptized for the forgiveness of my sins.  I demonstrate my faith still as I keep in step with the Spirit and look to Jesus for forgiveness when I fail.  That’s Life at Work!