Monday, October 31, 2011

Looking forward to His coming

Several days ago, I was reading a blog and found this quote:

“To wait is not merely to remain impassive. It is to expect—to look for with patience, and also with submission. It is to long for, but not impatiently; to look for, but not to fret at the delay; to watch for, but not restlessly; to feel that if He does not come we will acquiesce, and yet to refuse to let the mind acquiesce in the feeling that He will not come.”
-Andrew Davidson

Doesn't that summarize 2 Peter 3 beautifully? 

2 Peter 3:8-14--But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you.

Reading that quote made 2 Peter 3 come alive for me...that's what we're supposed to be doing!  Our time on earth isn't supposed to be passively waiting--we need to look forward to it, diligently prepare for it, hasten His coming.  Isn't that an exciting thought?  The King of the universe is going to come again, and we get to see Him! 

P.S.  I never read anything else by Andrew Davidson, so I'm not sure if I agree with everything he's written...but I really liked that quote!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

For HIS name sake

October is our church's missions emphasis month and we have different missionaries come in and share their work with us. Also, the pastor (who happens to be my dad :)) always gives a series of messages about evangelism and witnessing. Last week, we covered the topic of the reason for evangelism. Why do we (or why should we) evangelize? There are many good answers to this question. We want people to get saved. We want to obey the Word of God. We want to have the thrilling experience of a missions trip. There is nothing wrong with any of these answers. In fact, they are good things to want. But, if those reasons are the ultimate reasons, we have missed the whole purpose of witnessing and evangelism. If all we look for is results, mere obedience, and adventure, we miss it.

The ultimate reason for mission and sharing the good news (and all of life) is for God's name to be glorified. It's all for His name sake. To spread His name through out the whole earth that He might be glorified and lifted up. That's the ultimate reason for evangelism.

As I thought through the message, I started to apply that truth to other parts of life. What is the reason, the supreme reason, why I do what I do in all of life? Because most of my time right now is spent studying for the Bible Bee, I especially asked, "Why am I studying for the National Bible Bee?" There are many, many possible reasons. I get to memorize hundreds of Bible verses. I get to do an in-depth study in the Bible. I increase in my knowledge of the Bible in general. I get to meet AMAZING friends :). I get to compete in an intense, thrilling competition. I have a chance to win lots of money.

....And the list could go on. None of those reasons are bad in and of themselves (some of them could be very self-focused, but they're not bad things to want in and of themselves). But none of those reasons should be ultimate. What?! You mean that studying the Bible and memorizing Scripture is not the ultimate reason? No, it's not. If our ultimate goal in participating in the Bible Bee is to know Scripture, then we've missed it.

The ultimate goal in all our of lives should be to glorify and exalt the Lord. The supreme reason to participate in the Bible Bee is for His name's sake. For the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. When we realize this, we get it. We get the purpose for all of life.

We all agree with this. We all know that life's purpose is for His name's sake. But do we live it? I'm really speaking to myself here. This week, I've been very convicted of shallow purposes that I have been living for. So many times, I do the Bible Bee. I study. And recite. And study and recite. And I loose sight of what really matters and get caught up in temporary things. I study because I want to know Scripture. That's great. But if that's my end goal, I haven't accomplished anything. I need to know Scripture for His name's sake. So that I can exalt and glorify His name through out all the earth. That's what really matters.

"For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.'" Romans 9:17

Monday, October 24, 2011


This is a continuation of last week's post

When someone asks you what your favorite subject in school is or what your hobby is, what do you usually say? For me, I generally answer that I really like math and that I’m a pianist. I enjoy both a lot and sometimes take just a little bit of pride in them. And anytime the word "pride" describes my attitude, you can be sure that trouble will soon come after. As Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." Think about it for a second–when you fall off a chair, it hurts a little, but it’s not that bad. If you fell off a mountain, that would be a different story. A fall from pride is the same. When you have a little pride and God taps you off your pedestal, it hurts a little. When your pride "reaches to the heavens," it’s killing. You end up needing to shut the door of your room and pray that God will perform some serious heart surgery on you! 

Inevitably, that fall will come. It either looks like the "C" on my calculus test or that awful memory blank at the concerto competition (you know–the one where you start a scale on page 5 and when you come down you realize that you somehow ended on page 25 and have no idea how you got there). I get so angry at myself when I fail! When I mess up really badly in one of my "strong" points, I want to give up in everything. After all, if I’m bad at what I’m good at, what does that mean about what I know I struggle with? It’s the whole identity theft problem all over again: I’m trying to live in an identity that doesn’t belong to me. But, as frustrating and embarrassing as those failures can be, they are a great time for me to take a step back and examine my heart. When you trust in your own abilities, you’re going to fail. People aren’t perfect. We can’t live our entire lives with a perfect record of anything. But, when you admit your imperfections to God and trust Him to make His strength perfect in you, then God can use you to do His work. It’s only when we recognize that our strengths are our weaknesses that He is able to take our weakness and make it His strength. If we could do something–anything–perfectly, we would become proud. When we mess up, it reminds us how imperfect we much we need One who is perfect.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me, October and November tend to be the hardest months for me...with all the time spent studying Bible Bee, I feel like I’m spread a little thin over the rest of my work! It’s so easy to want to give up since I get discouraged and think I can’t do it all. Guess what–I’m right! I can’t do it all! But, by God’s grace, I can. Maybe we can’t do everything we want to do, but God will give us the strength to everything He has planned for us to do. Soli Deo Gloria!

2 Corinthians 12:9–And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

James 4:10–Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

1 Peter 5:10–But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Identity Theft

Several days ago, I took the PSAT. It’s only offered once a year, and it only counts towards a scholarship when you take it as a junior in highschool. Needless to say, I was nervous. That scholarship would help so much! And it looks so good on an application to say you’re a National Merit Scholar...

That made me start thinking about who I am. How do you define yourself? Do you let test scores and competitions define who you are? It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of winning and being known for how great you can do something...that competitive spirit wants to be #1 in everything so that the world–or at least your friends–will know just how great you are. But that is not what life is about! It’s about how great God is! All those trophies, scholarships, and titles you win won’t make a bit of difference when you stand before God after you die. When God asks you why He should let you go to Heaven, are you going to list off all your accomplishments? No way! The only way we can go to Heaven is by realizing that all our "accomplishments" are nothing at all! They are, as Paul says in Philippians 3, rubbish. They are something to be thrown away. Defining ourselves by anything temporal is useless. It doesn’t matter if it’s a test score, a piano competition, or even winning Bible Bee–none of that is going to matter at all for eternity.

So where do you find identity if not in what you’ve done in this world? Our identity is in Christ. We boast only Christ’s righteousness. We don’t have any righteousness on our own; imputed righteousness is all we can brag about. Seriously, when you think about it, bragging about what we can do is pretty wimpy sounding. When you view all our mighty works compared to what the Creator and Savior of the world has done, nothing we do is great. Boasting that Christ has taken our sin upon Himself to us His righteousness is all we can say. Galatians 6:14–But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

No test score or competition really matters. All that stuff is going to fade away. "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever." (1 Peter 1:24-25) Don’t let your identity in Christ be stolen by a false identity in something else. Every other "identity" we have is fake, and when we stand before the Lord, all those false identities will be stripped away. The only identity that matters is that of Christ.

Monday, October 3, 2011

True love

Have you noticed that when you’re memorizing a passage that you had learned before, you tend to skim over it more quickly? My family first memorized Romans 12 many years ago, so when I got to the verses from that chapter, I studied it really quickly. But then, a few days ago, I noticed something that I hadn’t read carefully before.

Let love be without hypocrisy (Romans 12:9)


Agape anypokritos.

Agape love is something that we’ve studied already; it’s God’s unconditional love toward us–the love that He commands us to exhibit toward each other in 1 Peter 4:8 described in 1 Corinthians 13. Anypokritos, though, is a word we have not studied for Bible Bee. It means "unfeigned, undesigned, sincere." Ouch–is it even possible to love completely sincerely? I can’t seem to do anything for other people without at least some amount of concern for myself! But God tells us–He commands us–to love one another fervently with a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22). Pure, sincere, undesigned, unfeigned, Christians, we have no choice but to love one another!

1 John 4:7-13–Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.