Beneath the praise hides a malaise

perseveranceA young family moved in recently near my office. At times, I can hear them yelling, even screaming, at each other and at the two small children, to whom especially my heart goes out. It reminds me that without the Lord, people have little idea how to act in wisdom for happiness, though they search frantically for it. Those who do have some measure of happiness are often influenced by Christian principles, whether they admit it or not.

• The world is a sad and sorry place, without God. People may wax eloquent about how wonderful the world is and how great life is, but usually beneath the praise hide a malaise, a frustration, and, yes, a desperation to possess the dream. Christians must never forget that their neighbors and coworkers aren’t usually the happy folk they pretend to be.

• Down in southern Brazil, some 245 people were killed, most by smoke inhalation, in a nightclub fire, at a special celebration for university graduates in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Horrible tragedy, as was the ACU student killed and the five injured on their way Friday night to a dance hall in Abilene.

Although such as these make headlines, I regularly see news of people shot or dead from drugs at such places. This is the world’s idea of fun. Sadly, some Christians have bought into it. I don’t intend to heap insults on the dead, but the world’s version of happiness is too often a dangerous thing.

• One reason we can’t evangelize the world is because we’ve not yet gotten out of it.

• When you want to change your actions, where do you start? In the mind, of course. And to change the mind, the only true power is God’s, to give us, as Paul said, the mind of Christ, 1Co 2.16. When you have that, you can be sure your life will be like his as well.

• Scripture is laced with excuses of those who failed to do God’s will: Adam and Eve, Cain, Moses, how many others? In Moses’ case, excuses on top of excuses riled the holy ire, because he was weaseling out of the divine call. Our powers of self-justification are among the most finely honed skills.

The Jews attempted to justify themselves by works of merit. Today, such “legalism” isn’t so much the problem as our attempt to justify ourselves by exculpatory words.

• Are there not times, and perhaps they often dog our steps, when spiritual drought sets in and little enough results appear, compared to the effort put forth? Such times require repeated readings of such verses as 1Co 15.58: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (NLT). Such truths as these must ring in our ears:

I cannot see the harvest—
My sight is hid in darkness—
What fruit my works will bear,
Or how my faith will fare;
But suns and stars are weak,
Beside the truth I speak;
No word or work is vain
When done in God’s domain.
JRMatheny

• Perseverance is a hard virtue, so the readers of Revelation might tell us. I suppose it is the test of whether we walk by faith rather than by sight. The ups and downs of our service to God have no direct correlation to the involvement of heaven or the giving of the increase. Such a lesson not a few have yet to learn. Are we among their number?

• I wonder why Psa 14.5 includes the word “generation.” Is there some significance? Many versions leave off rendering the word at all. Others translate it as “company.” Here’s Young’s Literal Translation, for those who like it: “There they have feared a fear, For God [is] in the generation of the righteous.” Any ideas? I’m a-searching. Tell me if you find something.

• Back to perseverance. When we are certain that God is in the midst of his righteous people, as the verse above states, we can appeal to him for help and feel certain that he hears and answers. If it’s not a case of our needing to repent, we can be certain we are doing more than talking to a wall. God will do great things. If we believe. Must it be such a big “if”?

#christian-peace, #corollaries, #joy-in-christ, #worldliness