O Soul, your constraints and disadvantages are exactly those circumstances that God desires to use for his purpose and glory. His strength in your weakness. The unbound Word in your imprisonment. His comfort in your troubles. For every negative circumstance or situation, as man counts it, God has a positive response, according to his will. This is the way he works. Glory, therefore, in his plan.
Tremendous thought today from Ed M., based on Malachi 3.13. In his full page of meditations, he says,
The reluctant say that it is “futile” to serve Him. There is no “gain” in keeping His commands, Malachi 3:14,15. These people believe religion ought to pay big dividends now. It ought to bring great rewards immediately. The general feeling is that folks surely will not serve God for nothing, Job 1:9. In spite of that sentiment, the faithful may live a lifetime without seeing a reward, Hebrews 11:13.
Focus question: When it seems there’s no advantage to faith, what am I thinking?
True crime fascinates me, and this is a comparison that often comes to mind: to become a successful content creator you have to use Facebook, and using Facebook, especially if you’re a Christian and/or a conservative, is sort of like going to a mafia loan shark for $10,000. They’re happy to give it to you, just like Facebook will gladly give you the opportunity for your content to go viral on their massive platform. But then, if it does, they own you. You have to conform to their rules and their worldview, and jump through every hoop they put in front of you, if you want to remain a successful content creator. It’s just like a loan from a local mob guy: sure, now you’ve got $10,000 in your hand, but you’re going to pay a high price in return. You’re going to have to alter whatever needs to be altered — even your worldview — to accommodate Facebook. If you miss a payment or step out of line, you’re going to get a beating. And if they ever decide you’re too much trouble, they’ll just shoot you. Facebook has the power to kill publishers, and they do, not only based on publishing techniques, but based on worldview. Just think about that.
Last night as I bedded down, I read three chapters of the Bible, one of them 3 John. Imagine my pleasant surprise to read this morning Ed M.’s devotional thought for June 3 on 3 John 6. Every saint ought to read this one-page meditation. (I recommend the entire yearly work.) Among other things, he wrote,
Christian obligation. Gaius gave travel assistance to some fellow believers (though they were “strangers” to him), III John 5. These itinerant preachers had mentioned his goodness while visiting John, III John 3. So the venerable apostle asks Gaius for another favor. “Send them on their way” in a manner that God would approve, III John 6. These traveling evangelists were worthy of such help because “it was for the sake of the Name that they went out,” III John 7. Christians have an obligation to underwrite the work of those who minister the word, I Corinthians 9:7-12a.
Why cannot every church help every missionary who seeks support, with some amount, at least? (The reason why not: they’re spending their monies elsewhere, mostly on themselves.)
Focus question: Am I going, letting go, or helping to go?
Textual note: NLT translates “brothers” as “traveling teachers,” vv. 3, 5, 10. Quite interpretative, but they were indeed traveling evangelists, what we today call missionaries.
Ed M. gets behind a prophet’s eyeballs with Habakkuk 2.6 as his main text today.
The prophet was at a critical juncture. He staggered at the prospect of continual cruelty. How long, he sighed, will the interminable plundering of ruthless men go on? They seem to do their mischief with impunity, Habakkuk 2:6. Does God care?
What questions do ask in the face of long-term injustice? What answers do you find? What does this say about God?
O Soul, few books stay in print for more than a decade. Some reference works, perhaps, or something considered as a classic of literature. The monuments of men may last longer, but they too will come tumbling down at some point. The accomplishments of this world are soon forgotten or surpassed. The gospel, however, has eternal effect. It deserves your best effort. Insert it into every activity, in order to redeem and give meaning to all you do. What the world does lasts but a moment. You may perform the same action as the pagan, but with the gospel in your toolbox, the results are far superior. So write, build, work, speak always with its power behind you.
People who say they love literal versions that translate word for word (one word in their language to always translate one word in the original) seem to have no problem with the translation of diakonos as “deacon” in some places and “servant” in others. Why is that? Love for positions and titles?
Oh, and the word “minister,” too. Ouch!
“I can’t overemphasize the value of a pure life. A curiosity about evil weakens our spiritual life.” —Charles R. Swindoll
It’s a hard life! Hard for the rich to be saved! Ed. M’s devotional lists three errors of those with “full wallets and empty hearts.” Then he says,
The elite are prone to oppress the poor, Amos 2:6,7. They plot against those who are innocent, who cannot resist their devious schemes, James 5:6. Wealth has always been a cruel master (though few of the wealthy recognize the danger). Everyone should pray for deliverance from the sin of greed. The consequences of self-indulgence are certain. Therefore, take note. Beware! The day of judgment is coming.
Focus question: How well or poorly do you use money? Are you rich toward God? Are you selfish with your possessions?