May 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
1 John is written to a community of believers who were divided over the question of Jesus’ humanity. The issue at stake was whether Jesus came in the flesh (4:2-3). This is the context for the encouragement in 1 John 5:9-13 to remain faithful to the confession about Christ. The key word in this passage is testimony (from the Greek word marturia or “witness”). It starts with God’s testimony, not ours. First of all, God has testify concerning God’s Son (5:10). But what is the proof that God’s testimony concerning his Son is true? In other words, how do we know the earthly Jesus is indeed the Son of God who became flesh? The proof for whether this is true will be found in the hearts of believers (5:10). We carry that proof in our bodies. Every time we embody God’s love and mercy, they will find the evidence that Jesus is God incarnated who is still alive through the power of the Spirit.
May 16, 2012 § 1 Comment
The Book of Psalms starts in a fascinating way. It is as if the key to unlocking the depth of all 150 poems and songs in this book is given right at the beginning. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of the sinners or sit in the seat of the mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). The hymnal of ancient Israel opens with a poem about lifestyle. The goal of worship is a changed life. The alternatives for every single person is quite clear: do you walk in the counsel of the wicked or do you delight in the law of the Lord? Of course, it is easy to think that at least I’m not deliberately choosing for the counsel of the wicked. The problem though is that the wicked seduce us with its wisdom in very subtle ways. As someone once wrote, “The devil doesn’t jump out in a red suit, breathing fire, and wielding a blazing pitchfork. No, the devil dresses up like an angel of light, promising you the moon.” Neither is it as easy as it sounds to delight in the law. We live in a society that says, “Don’t break the law”, but to actually delight in God’s law is to love a disciplined lifestyle in which I continuously learn to focus on God as first priority in my life. Which choice will you and I really make today?
May 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
Jesus prays in John 17, “Father… glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (17:1). In the Gospel of John, glory has to do with how God reveals himself to human beings. God’s presence is hidden until God chooses to reveal himself, and glory refers to the power of how and when this revelation takes place. This happens through Jesus Christ. Jesus glorifies the Father by revealing God to human beings, and Jesus is glorified by the Father through the power given to Jesus to reveal God to human beings (17:2-5). However, Jesus’ prayer goes further than asking for the glory of the Father and Son. Jesus also prays for his disciples (17:6-19) and for all believers (17:20-26). He asks for the Father’s protection of them “so that they may be one as we are one” (17:11). What this means become even clearer a few verses further on when Jesus declares, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (17:22). Jesus passed on the glory of the Father and the Son so that we can be glorified through the power of his Spirit. Since we became part of the glory of God, The Holy Spirit can also reveal God to others through us. May you and I live this day conscious of the fact that God wants to reveal himself to others through us.
May 14, 2012 § 1 Comment
Someone once called Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 “the first recorded faith crisis of the Early Church.” How to deal with the Judas embarrassment? It draws a picture of a group of Jesus followers gathering in the Upper Room who are suddenly dumped in a situation of discernment. Their leader ascended into heaven and they now have to learn what it means to wait on his return. It is time to discern how to take up their responsibility of continuous leadership (1:20). It is important to notice how this moment of discernment happens in an environment of constant prayer – “They all joined together constantly in prayer…” (1:14). Within this posture of prayer, the criteria became clear: someone has to continue the apostolic ministry through witnessing of Jesus’ resurrection (1:22-25). With the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), this became the ministry of all of us. Let us spend time in prayer today so that the Lord can also show to me and you how He wants us to witness to others today about his living reality among us.
May 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
1 John 4:7-21 makes sure that the dominant theme of the preceding chapters on God’s love is affirmed as the basic Christian message. In this passage, the mutuality of love is emphasized. We know God’s love comes first, but we should also realize that God’s love ought to be witnessed in love for one another. The two cannot be separated. God’s love for us is completed only when that love is lived out in relationship with others. Brian Peterson writes, “There are ways in which singing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’ can become heretical in its self-focus. God’s love reaches its intended goal only when it creates a community of continuing love, when it becomes ‘God’s love among us.'” We can only distinguish God’s love from our love for each other, but never separate it. Will others be able to recognize God’s love in relationship with you and I today?
May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
From a 1997 Walter Brueggemann prayer based on Psalm 22:25-31:
Holy God, to whom we turn in our trouble, and from whom we receive life and well-being even in the face of death; We gladly and without reservation assert: You are the one who gives life; You are the one who hears our prayers; You are the one who turns our jungles of threat into peaceable zones of life; You are the one who has kept us since birth, who stands by us in our failure and shame; who moves against our anxiety to make us free. You are the one who does not hide your face when we call. So we praise you. We worship you. We adore you. We yield our life over to you in glad thanksgiving. As an act of praise, we submit our sick and our dead to you; As an act of praise, we submit more and more of our own life to you; As an act of praise we notice your poor, and pledge our energy on their behalf; As an act of praise we say “yes” to you and to your rule over us. We say, “yes, yes,” Amen and Amen.
May 1, 2012 § 1 Comment
John 15:1-8 encourages us to be confident of the Lord’s presence with us every day. It contains God’s promise that He will never abandon us, but provides us with abundant life every single day of our lives. His salvation is not a distant or heavenly hope, but something we can live into right here and now. Dependent on Old Testament images of God’s people as God’s vineyard (for example, Psalm 80, Isaiah 5, Ezekiel 15), this passage gives a perspective on faith defined as abiding in Him. Abiding points to the reality of participating in the life of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is an intimate relationship that provides us with a dwelling place (home) during our everyday routines. Literally abiding means “to continue in a place.” May you and I continue our life journey today with a fresh awareness of God’s presence with us.