Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#23



What difference does it make
a man walking on water?
        or making wine?
        or feeding 5000?

Any more the difference it makes
a woman clinging to a child
        or loving an unloveable man
        or folding thousands of pieces of laundry?

Any more the difference it makes
of any person walking in integrity
        standing against oppression
        or acting in mercy and kindness.

If you are willing to observe closely,
the meaning of each may impact
the definition of who you are
        and what you will be.

Small Bites - Philippians 4:8 - Righteous

Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable,
right and pure, lovely, admirable.
If something is excellent or praiseworthy,
think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Think about right things.  Literally, think about righteous things; those things that are upright and virtuous, innocent and faultless.  Good luck with that!  Except for Jesus, who is a worthy person to think about?  Do I have any chance of seeing righteousness on this earth before me?  Who would be someone whose way of thinking, feeling and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God?

Luckily, the Bible gives some examples of people who were deemed righteous:  Joseph, Jesus' earthly Dad; John the Baptist; Elizabeth and Zachariah; Simeon; Joseph of Aramethia; Corneluis (that pagan); Abel; Lot.  And, of course, Jesus.  All of these were called righteous in their day.  If that could be true 2000 years ago, I would assume I could find a few righteous people worthy of my attention today.

How would I know them?  Again, the Bible saves the day and gives the evidence of righteous people.  As I read this list, I discover that I have known these people.
  • People whose lives stand out in God's kingdom. (Not exemplary in the world, but exemplary among the people of God.)
  • Those who obey the law and will of God.
  • Employers who are just and fair to their employees.
  • People whose prayers have great impact.
  • When I welcome them and join in their activity, I can share their blessings and rewards.
Now I can name these people.  My Grandmother, who just about held all those results.  A boss I had that treated us fairly and justly.  My prayer warriors who have lifted me out of the muck and the mire.  Those with whom I have shared ministry projects and reaped the blessing of fulfillment and purpose.  My husband who does not deviate from doing the right thing, ever.

I actually like to also note those in history who lived exemplary lives:  missionaries, moms and dads, preachers.  They have noteworthy stories which speak about their relationship with Jesus Christ.  Maybe I can grow to be like them, too.

[Matthew 13:43; Romans 2:13; Colossians 4:1; James 5:16; 1 Peter 3:12; Matthew 10:41]


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#19

To Know

To see You as You really are,
to bear the burden heavy.
To display it so that You are seen
and that I can be made ready.
To not deny the Truth
nor quench the Spirit’s flow.
To say I walked the path You set
along the honest row.

Small Bites - Philippians 4:8 - Honorable

Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable
right and pure, and lovely and admirable.
If something is excellent or  praiseworthy, 
think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

I have learned that our current definitions of words originating in biblical-context are often akilter from what was meant by the original language. Especially, with honor, because we have disposed "honor" on less-than-noble things. We have given it our culture's meaning.  In the biblical context, honor was bestowed upon that which was noble, honest or reverent, whether of character of the person or deed.  The honorable person was held in high regard and had a good reputation, one worthy of noting publicly.  Truly,  "honorable mention" was the ultimate award.

There are three areas where we can see examples in the Bible for assessing true honor.

Look at Jesus and those who bear the name Christian 
with honor, giving Christ his fair due.

James 2:7 "...Jesus Christ, whose name you bear, is a noble name."

In this discussion, James wants his hearers to understand that, though they have lost standing in their culture for identifying with Jesus, that identity with him is actually an honor.  It was important in a shame and honor culture to know where personal identification came from and to cling to it, for the Greek culture could use shame quite effectively to keep people in line.

How are we kept "in line" with the wider culture, causing us to forget what a right definition for what is honorable?  How are those who bear that honorable name of Jesus Christ minimized and marginalized, and even shamed?

Look at the lives of faithful people.

In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. He explains that "good soil" represents honest, good-hearted people (character) who hear God's message and cling to it and continually produce a harvest of good deeds (resulting behaviors.)  Honorable is used within the context of this visible demonstration and growth of the goodness of what God plants in someone.  Honor is tied to public evidence; a display of the good works of God.

How do you know when you are in the company of honorable people?  Not by what they tell you, but by what you see them consistently do.  Study them - put them on the screen and see how they lived their lives. 

Seek God and His definition for that which is honorable.

God honors not what the world expects and counts as wise, but he goes to those unfound places and to the seemingly "lowly" people to reveal honor. (1Corinthians 1:26-30)  Honor looses its potency in the glare of "famosity," as my niece once called it.  Where honor is on display, it seems to present itself best out of the least and lowly, out of the meek and mild.  Its integrity is seen best in a sea of discredit.  Its consistency is demonstrated best in the midst of hardship and loss.  Its humble reverence stands in start contrast to self-aggrandizement.

You can be sure you will find honor only in the place it is most needed - when there is a culture of dishonor, or when the pressure of culture rises to mold us in a different direction, by a different definition.  Honor creates a legacy for a person that lasts into the future and not for the flash of the moment.  I am sure you can name the person in your life whose memory immediately comes when "honorable" is mentioned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#20

You showed me more
than I knew existed.
You showed me less
so I wouldn’t get twisted.
I wanted heaven, but chose hell.
It soured my vision until I could tell
no longer the Truth from everyday fact.
And I value the day and the hour You knew
that I would lay aside all but You.
And it took a simple and deliberate act
for me to see heaven—not in place or pleasure—

but rather in being simply, surely, Your treasure.

Small Bites: Philippians 4:8 - Truth

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  
Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable.  
Think about things which are excellent and worthy of praise.
Philippians 4:8

In an age of relativism, authors often question truth.  What truth?  Whose truth?  Changing truth?  How many facts did we once hold dear that fade away?  Paul directs us to give our attention to ultimate Truth.  The lesson here is simple:  It is God's Truth based on reality - that which he reveals is True about Himself.  Revelation.  Demonstrated. All other truth passes or dims in light of His Truth.

What is the Truth about God?

The New Testament reveals the ways and results of this God-Truth:
  • When people discover it, they can't wait to tell it.
  • The purpose of telling it is to expand belief in God himself.
  • That God's Truth can be verified, including the verification of His faithfulness toward those who believe.
  • Truth is a light that will shine into a dark world. (and not add to the darkness).

So, I stay my thoughts on those people and things 
which present God in His truest light, 
that which reveals the most about Him.


Who has shown me God, for real?  Who has demonstrated the Truth of His qualities and presence in the world and in me?  I can name and describe what they have done to show me God, for real.  The people who have loved me long. The people who point out the good possibilities in me, often which I cannot see myself.  The people who have been patient.  Those who have held me accountable. Those who desire God's best for me.  And those who demonstrate the character of God for a hurting world.  Those who have drawn me closer to the Word of God for the Truth for my life. 

What Truth about God is in you?
Who will you tell?

The world's truths will morph, will come and go.  God's Truth about His nature and His complicity in expanding that Truth into the world stays the same throughout the ages.  It is the only hope we have.  The only thing from which we can have peace (Philippians 4:9) in a tumultuous world.

[References:  John 3:33; John 5:31-38; John 19:35; Romans 3:1-4; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 1 John 2:8]