Month: January 2018

Desperate for Calm?

May your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me (Psalm 40:11b-12a)

peace in storm pale

There are always troubles of one kind or another just from living in this fallen world of ours.  Each day these difficulties can bug and trouble me if I let them, even when I am much less exposed to troubles than many, many other people.  One recent example was when I felt frustrated that something that wasn’t working correctly on an internet site login—only to realize that the silly problem would be automatically resolved by simply logging in one day later –there was no rush– why did I fret?

The Psalmist had a good experience of the Father’s protection. But he lived before the coming of Jesus. We, however, have the huge benefit of being able to enter into and dwell in the Son’s presence. Because we can, we have an amazing, special way to experience supernatural calm.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phillippians 4:7) 

The Bible encourages us to have mature scriptural wisdom. I love studying the Bible; I have many verses in memory; I have a mental understanding of many concepts — but that can only go so far. For despite what I think I know, I am puzzled when I do not get answers to prayer right away or see why God is doing or allowing something.

It’s times like this when I desperately need God’s peace!

And there’s something beyond our knowledge even greater than God’s peace—it’s Christ’s love.

Paul prays that Christians  May have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)

When we are in the middle of a storm and everything is hitting the fan, I agree with Paul—I pray that you and I be filled with Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge!

Judge Not?? [Part 2]


The Apostle Paul issues a rebuke because a guy is sleeping with his stepmother. He says:

I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. (1 Corinthians 5:3b)

And then we read what Paul says in Colossians 3:5:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

We might say “What gives Paul the right to judge like this? Is he on a holier-than-thou high horse, superior to everyone?”

Well, first off, he is aware that he, too, is a sinner:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus 
came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Taking being a sinner seriously would surely act as a constraint on Paul being self-righteous. Since Paul knows he is the chief of sinners, he is not quick to judge, but…. he does judge.

How does Paul judge?

Look at this verse from the Amplified version which captures Paul’s heart 
Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you 
who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] 
should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of 
superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, 
lest you should be tempted also. (Galatians 6: 1)

Why does Paul judge?

Paul desires anyone who falls into sin to turn and grow to be more like Jesus. See the result:

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Takeaway for us:

  • Before we rebuke we need to examine our own heart
  • We rebuke in order to see someone increasingly filled with the love of Christ.

Judge Not?? [Part 1]


In recent years, the doctrine of “non-judgmentalism” is becoming more and more popular.

Non-judgmentalism means that you are not allowed to declare something wrong.  If you do declare something wrong, then you are guilty of being “judgmental”. To attempt to prove this, part of what Jesus said is trotted out: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”.

So, if, as a Christian, you make any sort of moral judgment, the non-judgmentalist says “So you claim to be a Christian? Jesus did not judge. Who are you to judge?”

But let’s respond by considering Jesus’ whole quote.

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.    For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

So, Jesus is not issuing a blanket order against judging, but rather is emphasizing having the right attitude when we do judge.

See how Jesus deals with a woman caught in adultery. As her accusers are preparing to stone her to death, Jesus says “You who are without sin, cast the first stone.” (John 8:7b) His intervention prevents the woman from being stoned to death.

But Jesus’ final words to the woman are often overlooked:

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)

So, Jesus did not tell her: “Who am I to judge?” He is judging, but his attitude is much more “I am grieved that you are doing this” …. than “Ha, Gotcha!”

Think of the mercy of Jesus showed when, instead of condemning us, he died on the cross for us. In the light of this price Christ paid for us, how could we dare to judge with a harsh attitude? Doesn’t Jesus make us merciful people?

Do we render our judgment tempered with mercy? Or prefer to risk judgment without mercy? It’s the very attitude we judge with that will be applied back to us

A “Gotcha” will be repaid with a “Gotcha”. A merciful attitude when correcting someone will be repaid with the same mercy.

Bite the Bullet


Today I’m giving two translations of a well-known verse. One translation makes our lives look like the bullet-biting picture above. The other one gives us hope.

The verse is Philippians 2:4. First, the translation that makes life very hard for us, from the New International Version:

 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Here is what’s so discouraging about this translation: It looks like we are not ever allowed to ever take some time for rest or something we simply enjoy doing; that would be selfish. We must be 100% dedicated to the service of others 24/7. We must bite the bullet.

The NIV translation is especially harmful for someone with a sensitive conscience. Reading it recently, I felt all beat up since I surely don’t measure up to it. How could I ever please Jesus? So, using the interlinear Bible1, I researched what the verse said in the original.  The meaning is quite different!

The King James Version captures the original Greek meaning perfectly.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Of more recent translations, the New American Standard translation is spot on too: do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

So, I saw the Lord is not saying for me to never think of myself, but to think of myself in the right way.

All day long, Christ is present in us, via his Spirit.  Both when we’re giving ourselves to help others and when we are enjoying personal downtime, we can still enjoy the presence of the Lord. For myself, that means the Lord is present even when spending an evening out listening to music at a jazz club.

Wonderfully, the desperate feeling that we must bite the bullet and hammer ourselves down or Jesus won’t like us starts to disappear!

Instead, since Jesus has given us a clean slate, then in all that we do, we know that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19b)