Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Envy Burns

Envy is almost always at the center of problems: problems among siblings, problems among employees, problems among church members. We tend to look around and see God blessing our neighbor only to have the very next thought be something like, “Why am I not blessed like that?” Then, the really crippling thought, “He doesn’t deserve such blessing.” Then, the fatal thought, “I am going to expose the fact that he does not deserve that blessing.”

You may not let yourself think these thoughts so clearly. After all, you are a Christian. You probably disguise your wicked thoughts and dress them up in some form of righteous zeal to make them decent in good company. Your envy probably looks like better theology, a better understanding of the covenant, a more knowing maturity, or even a high-minded tolerance of such simple and sinful creatures.

Please do not fool yourself. If you are anything but blessed by God’s blessing of others, then you are fighting the temptation to envy or you have already succumbed to the sin. God does not have to consult you before He blesses other people. Let Him determine who is worthy of His blessing and then bless God for it. Any other response comes from a heart that needs to be on its knees in confession.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lent Suggestions

Lent has begun as of Wednesday. In many church traditions, Lent is an important part of the church year, leading up to Holy Week, the dark evening of Good Friday and finally the glory of Easter. It has not been our tradition to practice a great deal of religious observance of Lent. But it is certainly good for us to think about and prepare for our High Feast Day and Season of Easter. A couple of reminders are in order.

First, the spiritual disciplines are always helpful. Prayer, Bible Reading, and Worship are at the foundation of faithful Christian living. We ought to be practicing our discipline on a regular basis. Perhaps this Lenten season is a good time to develop some better habits along these lines. Be faithful and diligent in prayer. Read your Bible on a regular basis, preferably daily. Prepare for corporate Worship and attend expecting God to meet you there in the liturgy, in the sermon, in the Meal and in His saints.

Second, if you choose to purge something from your life as a means of discipline, it would be helpful if the thing you purged was actually sinful and not just delicious. Of course, it is possible to partake of delicious things in a sinful way.

Here are some suggestions of some things to do for Lent.
1. Read the entire New Testament- There are 40 days in Lent. If you read 7 chapters per day, you will read the entire New Testament during Lent. You can easily read 7 chapters in 30 minutes. That would make for a much better informed body at Providence Church and would be a great blessing to each of you.

2. Memorize a passage of Scripture with your family. Just read a few verses after dinner until you all have it down. Pick a passage that is a giant from Scripture. Heb. 11, 1. Cor 15, Rom. 8, John 1, etc.

3. Sundays are not part of Lent. Sunday is always a feast day, not a fast day. So, if you are abstaining from something, maybe something delicious, during Lent, then you should probably partake of that thing on Sunday. (unless that thing is sinful, of course-in which case, STOP all the time!)

4. Look forward to Easter. It is good to do self-examination from time to time. But I would suggest that you do so closely and seriously and especially BRIEFLY. The longer you rummage around down there in the deep recesses of your heart, the more likely you are to get discouraged. But Christ came to strengthen the weak knees and the arms that hang down. So, be honest in confession and repentance and then look away from yourself and to Christ for forgiveness and new life.

Lenten Poem

Lenten Observance

The first day of lent came and went
And all good men should flee from sin
And come to Jesus and repent.
But should the day be a season?
And if so, have you a reason?
Jesus died and rose again.
And rising thus, we live in Him.
To die with Him is all His pain
To live with Him is all our gain.
And in this season of repentance
Let us live in this new sentence.
"Redeemed, justified, and free!"
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee.

But what ought we to do for Lent?
Should we not give up some thing?
What has a hold upon your heart?
To which muse would you sing?
Would it be to love divine?
Or, is it mostly the stuff of "Mine!?
If to love you bow your knees,
Then in Christ is joy and peace.
But if "Mine!" is the god you seek
Wash in Christ from that foul reek.
And then to love in love proclaim
"Set free from death and sin and shame!"
And with the host of saints around
Rejoice in Christ our Lord, and crown.