Sunday, July 30, 2017

Contentment

"...in whatever situation I am to be content" (Phil. 4:11).

"Nothing is better than to walk in the Word and the work of God and so to fashion one's heart that it is quiet and satisfied with the present state of affairs....  The true despisers of the world are the people who accept what God sends them, gratefully use all things when they have them, and gladly do without them if God takes them away."

Martin Luther

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Little Children

"Little children, let no one deceive you" (1 John 3:7).

Seven times in his first epistle, the apostle John uses the term of endearment "little children."  He was probably in his eighties when he wrote 1 John.  He was a true spiritual father to the Christians in Asia Minor, and he IS the same to us.

You will find "little children" in 2:1, 2:12, 2:28, 3:7, 3:18, 4:4, and 5:21.

One of the reasons John uses the term is that someone else once called him, along with ten other men, "little children."  See John 13:33.

John knew the love that Christ had for him.  And that love couldn't help but turn into a love for others.  In John's case, it was a pastoral love for the members of the church.

Step one is to know the love that Christ has for you.  Step two is to let that love turn into a love for others in your life.  Who will it be?  You will know.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Easy Yoke and Light Burden

"For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:30).

Let's talk oxymorons.  What exactly is an oxymoron?  Professor Warren Blumenfeld, an authority on the subject, defined it as "contradictory expressions that make absolute sense."  Think of it as a pocket-sized paradox.  But better and more fun to give examples:

clearly misunderstood
devout atheist
freezer burn
ill health
jumbo shrimp
old news
only choice
plastic silverware
bittersweet
open-ended
decaf coffee

Send me your favorite oxymoron and I'll add it to the list!

But now Jesus speaks oxymoronically when He says, "My yoke is easy, and My burden light."  Because a yoke is anything but easy.  It is a hard thing: "an iron yoke on your neck" (Deut. 28:48), "the yoke of my transgressions" (Lam. 1:14), "a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1).  And because a burden is by definition heavy.  Chances are you're carrying one right now.

Easy yoke, light burden.  Add them to the list.  More importantly, what do they mean?  I didn't really know until recently.

I've come to believe that the best place to interpret and understand the Word is inside of a nursing home or hospital, ministering to those in ill health.  So on a nursing home visit a few years ago, and at the bedside of a 99-year-old woman named Dorothy, I read aloud these words of Jesus.  Immediately I felt I understood them clearly.

It's simple.  "Dorothy," I exclaimed softly, "I know what these things are!  His yoke is the forgiveness of sins.  Yes!  And the burden is His love!  You and I have to live under that easy yoke, and carry that light burden wherever we go!"

The best, most blessed oxymorons!  Who wouldn't gladly live under this yoke and happily carry this burden?

All that remains is for you to hear the gentle-hearted Savior speaking these oxymorons to you.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

John's First and Last Loves

The Gospel of John has more occurrences of the word "love" than Matthew, Mark, and Luke put together.  "Love" is used in one form or another over fifty times.  For a devotion, a person could read through the Gospel of John and carefully mark each time the word "love" is used.  But simply looking at the first and last times offers an important lesson.

The first time is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

The last time is John 21:20: "Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them...."

The lesson is this: God loves the whole world and all people to the point of freely sacrificing His only Son.  But this cosmic, worldwide love is at the same time a personal love felt deeply by the one who believes in Jesus.

Make the Gospel of John your own.  Believe that "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) knows, loves, and forgives you personally.