Life-Giving Rebuke: an Oxymoron?

www.bible.com/1713/pro.15.31.csb

What?

What did this verse just say? Did this verse say that rebuke can give you life? If you’re like me, you hate to be called out and challenged in your facts. It’s embarrassing and humiliating to find out you are wrong. And not just wrong in your opinion, but in your carefully research facts. That’s when my adrenaline starts to pump and I get defensive, feeling trapped and desperate, trying to save scraps of my dignity. I really hate rebuke.

That’s why this verse is very important for me, because I have been wrong, and I needed to be called out on it. But this verse speaks of life-giving rebuke. It is a rare variety. Not many are willing to give it, willing instead to tear down and destroy rather than build up and encourage. It seems most critical discussion has no desire to work together to a solution, but to endlessly lambast and denigrate until one side gives up and goes home.

I hope I’ve learned something from the rebuke I’ve received. I have tried to discern constructive from destructive and learn to take good advice and improve. I still learn, and still fight the urge to become defensive. And sometimes I let my passive-aggressive side show a little bit. But I hope I’m better than I was.

Because if you want to be seated with the wise, you have to learn to take your licks. If you want to hang out with those that know, you have to be willing to learn.

That’s all I’ve got today. I hope you have a great Saturday. God’s blessing on you today and your work in the Lord.

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It’s About What You Know

www.bible.com/1713/2pe.1.3.csb

Everything that you need for life and godliness comes from the knowledge you’ve acquired regarding your calling from the Lord. So in this manner, your needs for life and your needs for godliness are met insofar as you have knowledge of God. You cannot exceed your own knowledge of God to meet your needs. Your knowledge must precede the meeting of your needs. I know, it sounds complicated.

Thankfully, it is not merely your own knowledge that is the supply, but it is God’s divine power that does the heavy lifting. But just as you weren’t saved without knowledge of Jesus Christ, so your ongoing needs cannot be let without knowing about your need for them. Your true life, your eternal life and its character of godliness are met and fed by God’s own power, but you need to know that you need them, ask for them, and He will help you grow to maturity. We work before Him with fear and trembling. He works His good work in us to His own good pleasure.

God will not work in you without your knowledge of consent. In this sense, God is the perfect gentleman. So for us, we are not passive recipients of God’s power. We are and must be actively working every day to grow in our knowledge of Him so that we may open the channel so to speak, to widen the stream of His power, to increase the bandwidth so that He is revealed in us.

So that’s why I spend time in this blog every day, and I hope this is why you take the time to read. May God bless you as you seek Him.

Perfection

www.bible.com/1713/mat.5.48.csb

Do you know what perfection is? Can you define it? Would you be able to recognize it? Could you achieve it? Ugh.

When Jesus makes this statement in the Sermon on the Mount, it would have shaken and challenged them as it still does today. However, as I’ve studied this passage, the word translated ”perfection” might be better translated as ”maturity” or ”complete.” It might be more achievable to be mature or complete as God is because it would be impossible for us to achieve the perfection of God.

But again, this returns me to the initial question. Could you recognize perfection? Do you know what perfection looks like?

When I think of perfection, it is, everything is where it’s supposed to be. There is an order and design. There is beauty and awe in perfection. It is often something we recognize intuitively. We don’t have to be taught what it is because even small children can be in awe of perfection, and only more so as they understand the effort required to achieve it.

In the same way, we notice imperfections, flaws and details that don’t look right. So where does this come from? I put to you that this is part of our design. We were built to recognize such thing s because our Father and Designer is divinely perfect. We are built with His sensibility for perfection. So when Jesus challenges us to be “perfect” as God is perfect we are understandably overwhelmed. It is too much. It is beyond us. We are automatically inclined to disagree with Jesus on this point, or out this off to the super-Christians or the Saints. We can’t be perfect.

But we can. If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, been baptized into water for the cleansing our souls by His blood, we are justified before God in our faith and receive the grace and forgiveness for our sins. We are perfect before Him. We are perfectly sinless. We are perfectly loved. We are perfectly justified. It’s an awesome moment. I say moment because we are still human. We will not receive a permanent sinlessness until the moment we die and our struggle with sin is over.

We have this hope in us, that each day we strive to obey this command from our Lord, He too is working in us to help us achieve it. Praised be the Name of the Lord.

Keeping in the Love of God

www.bible.com/1713/jud.1.20-21.csb

That’s the real trick, isn’t it? Because if we can master that one, then the rest is easy. Funny how Jude tells us that the key this whole thing is keeping in the love of God. That sounds like that’s something in our power to do, as if we must be doing something in order to stay within the love of God.

Christianity is no passive effort. It is a faith that must remain active, be active, and be proactive. Note the things that Jude suggests we are to be doing: building yourselves up in faith, and pray in the Holy Spirit. Building up can be anything that involves doctrine and instruction, as well as the practical exercise of that faith, living out the principles of Jesus life and work, stepping out in faith in all areas of life. This is trusting the Lord for the outcome, putting in our best efforts as unto the Lord.

Praying in the Spirit, or even, according to the Spirit of God, means that we pray in the confidence of His work, His power and ability. But we also pray according to His will, For while His power is limitless, He determines those things He will do, not us.

Why go through all of this? As Jude offers, it is for the mercy expected from Jesus to invite us to eternal life with Him. And it will be worth it. All the suffering we endure for the Name in this world will be worth the glory and mercy we will experience then.

So let us live day to day in the love of God, seeking His will, speaking to Him, strengthening our relationship with Him so that one day we will see Him face to face. God bless you in your walk today!

Be a Do-Gooder

www.bible.com/72/1th.5.15.hcsb

Ugh. I really don’t like that word. A “Do-Gooder” just seems bland and cliched. In he same vein, a “goody two-shoes” comes to mind, which I found out last week was an actual person, and now used as a paragon of virtue, an example for others to emulate and point to. Be again, it smacks of cliche and unreality. Real people have bad days, difficult times where they slip. A real human being has real human problems, which seem so unlike the stellar phrases above.

And yet here is this text stating back at us. Do good. Always seek to do good, and do not repay evil for evil. If I may, I understand this to be an instruction to us, do good rather then evil, especially when evil is expected. I am human. Because I am human, I more often am prone to react in anger when threatened or wronged. This comes with a choice. I can choose to react violently and “fly off the handle” or I can choose not to, and do something else. I used to not have that choice. Because before I started to follow Christ and received His Spirit into my life, I didn’t have that check on my temper. But now, however brief a time I experience it, it is there, and my renewed conscience comes back into play, so that I am now conflicted. I want to react in evil, hurting the one who hurt me. I know better. And that has made all the difference. This verse reinforces that which I know to be true, but I still need to hear it. I hope it has helped you today too.

God bless!

Lead On

www.bible.com/72/psa.143.10.hcsb

A simple plea of the Psalmist today for the Lord to rescue him. The Psalmist says he wishes to learn the ways of God and be led by the Spirit onto easy ground, because he’s been in some tough places. The Psalmist wants to live for the Lord, but life has really gotten in the way and he Psalmist pleads for rescue so that he can live for the Lord. Sound familiar?

I don’t know what you are going through today, but I’m sure you can empathize with the writer here. I could live for the Lord if He would just lighten the burden a little, give me a little breathing room. Some days are like that. I am too busy just trying to get through it that I forget that I have a loving God who is watching out for me. Sometimes it feels like He abandons us altogether. It feels like it. It’s like the parent who lets go of the bike so that his child can ride on his own. He is never far, but He lets you try it for a while. We never get tougher if we are always coddled. We need seasons in the crucible so that the dross can be burned away. We don’t like them, but they are designed to focus our attention on Him. God is seasoning us with stress and conflict, so that we will learn not to depend on our own wisdom, but His leading.

We know we need that. We just don’t like the process it takes to get there. No one does. No one enjoys boot camp, but it is a necessary process to take soft civvies and turn them into soldiers. We need the training if we are going to be effective servants. We know this is true, even though we cry out in the midst of it. But know that God is the way through it. Let Him lead.

God bless you today. Remember the struggle is not forever. You will get through this.

Now What?

bible.com/72/2co.7.1.hcsb

After a person has come through the waters of baptism and become part of a church, the pressure is off, right? I mean, the whole “come to Jesus” part is the hard part, after living years “like the world” and doing what you please, I mean really, finally becoming a Christian, finally deciding to “put your faith in Jesus” surely is the end of the line, right? Not if this verse has anything to say about it. This verse goes on to say something about sanctification, the process over time that we as Christians gradually become more Christ-like. Rather than go for a static spirituality, Christians are instructed to grow in their faith, to practice their new spiritual gifts and be engaged in their Christian community: to love one another “as I have loved you.” There is no point at which you can say “I have arrived” in Christianity. There is no end-point to which you can say, “I’ve done enough” and rest on your laurels. Christians are ever-growing, ever-reaching for Christlikeness. Becoming a Christian isn’t a goalpost. It’s the kickoff.