Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pithometer / pith’-ō-mē-tər / (n) : an instrument for assessing pithy remarks. Today’s remark: “You're so heavenly-minded that you're no earthly good.”

I've never been accused of being too heavenly-minded, ...and that's a shame. 

Don't get me wrong. I don't say that because I don't want to be any earthly good. It's just that I simply don't believe that it'd be a bad thing if I was more heavenly-minded, or that being more earthly-minded would make me any more relevant in this world.

Sure, being earthly-minded can help us to be better aware of the needs all around us and of how we can respond to those needs in order to help others. But there's another way of being earthly-minded that's probably more common and certainly more dangerous that can leave us paralyzed with self-analysis and crippled with guilt.

In the Apostle Paul's letter to the Colossians, Paul addressed earthly-mindedness when he referred to a performance-based "Do this! Do not do this!" approach to life (Colossians 2:21), and he warned the Colossians that it would rob them of their reward of a rich life in Christ (Col. 2:16-19). I feel continually vulnerable to this way of thinking as I regularly worry about whether I'm doing "well enough" at life. The accusations of the devil seem constant, leaving me unsatisfied with whatever I may or may not be doing at any given time and always wondering if I'm meeting some earthly standards at being any earthly good. This earthly-minded focus on myself and on my internal performance ratings inevitably robs me of the joy that God wants us to experience as we live for Him in this world. So much for earthly-mindedness being helpful!

Paul's advice? He recommended that those who want to be any "earthly good" need to be so heavenly-minded that we see ourselves as residents of heaven! Paul wanted his readers to die to the kind of earthly-mindedness that focused on the do's and don'ts of personal performance so that they could then live with a more fully heavenly perspective. Paul wrote: "Therefore, if you have died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to... the commandments and doctrines of men?" (Col. 2:20).

Paul actually writes, " though [you were] living in the world..." as though he thought we weren't! It's as if he doesn't believe we live on this planet, but live in heaven already. Talk about being heavenly-minded! Paul's attitude was that it's earthly-mindedness that we need to be on guard against, and that it's heavenly-mindedness that will make us useful in this world. Paul goes on to say that we need to "seek those things which are above, where Christ is" and to "set our mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1-2). "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). Only then will we be able to grow in the godly Christian character Paul goes on to describe and to be the heavenly salt and light we're called to be in this world.

When my mind is fixed on Jesus in heavenly places, and on all He has accomplished for us as the exalted King of kings -- meaning I'm spending time seeking Him in prayer and in His Word every day -- I'll be much more effective at expressing His goodness to others! And I'll be a much more cheerful person as I ignore the earth-bound, self-oriented, performance-based, guilt-ridden legalism that seeks to devour my joy and rob me of the heavenly-mindedness that God wants me sharing with everyone around me.

© 2015 by Ken Peters

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Getting in on the Glory!

Picture a ramshackle gold rush town full of down-on-their-luck prospectors, and there's you, sitting alone at the saloon, depressed at the little you have to show for all your efforts. Inwardly, you're kicking yourself for being such a fool who would think that little ol' you would be one of the few who would strike it rich. Then all of a sudden, in a burst of whoopin' and hollerin', in comes the guy who started it all -- the man who long ago found the first vein of gold in these hills -- and now he's shouting something about a new deposit and about there being enough for everyone! And he walks straight over to you, plops himself onto a stool next to you and says, "Hey! How 'bout I grant you a share of my riches?" You're speechless. You stare back at him. He laughs and says, "I'm serious! Out of all the riches of my claim, I want you to have a share!"

Now fast-forward to today, and picture you or me sitting alone on a couch brooding over a stew of self-recriminating thoughts, and getting discouraged at some character flaw or some circumstance that we feel defeated by. Then all of a sudden, the door flies open with a burst of light and in walks the resurrected Jesus! And He walks right over to you, plops Himself onto the couch next to you and with a big grin says, "Hey! How 'bout I grant that you, according to the riches of My glory, be strengthened with power from the Holy Spirit living in you, so that I can keep you rooted and grounded in My love? Hey?! How about that?! I grant that you should have some of the riches of My glory!"

That's Ephesians 3:16. God wants to grant wonderful things to us from the great wealth of His glory! It's like if I had a billion dollars, and said that according to the riches in my bank account, I want to grant you a few things, then you'd be correct in understanding that you just got in on the riches of my bank account. And God wants to remind us that according to the riches of His glory, He wants to grant us the strength and grounding that comes when Christ dwells in our hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17). That means we're getting in on the riches of His glory!

That encourages me. It excites me. It's meant to get us up off that couch -- or out of that saloon -- and celebrating in the streets! God is sharing the claim He made at Golgotha with me! New life is mine! I have strength from God because of His Spirit living in me! I'm rooted and grounded in Jesus, never to be uprooted by anything or anyone ever again (Eph. 3:16-17)! And now I can actually begin to comprehend -- with all the saints -- what is the width and length and depth and height of the amazing love of Jesus, which is beyond complete understanding (Eph. 3:18-19)! 

There's no greater gift that could be given to us! As God grants us gifts from His infinite glory, we are "filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:19)! Let that lift us from any temptation to feel down on our luck!

© 2015 by Ken Peters

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Covenant Drama

As a young boy, I was always fascinated with the painting of the Last Supper that was hung on a wall at the First Baptist Church of Royal Oak. I remember that I used to sometimes stand and stare at it for quite a while. There were so many expressions, so many gestures, and then there was that terrible Judas selfishly clutching his money bag. I was very concerned about that. The whole scene seemed so dramatic. And so it was.

But later in life, as I read the story in the Gospels, it seemed dramatic for a different reason. Amidst all those expressions and gestures, Jesus said something earth-shattering as he served the Passover meal: "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood" (Luke 22:20). A new covenant? What did that mean to his Jewish disciples 1,300 long years after the old Mosaic covenant had been established by God at Mount Sinai? A "new covenant" with God meant that something dramatic was happening before their very eyes!

Jeremiah had spoken of this day over 600 years earlier when he wrote, "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah" (Jeremiah 31:31). What does this "new covenant" with God mean? I invite you to quickly read through this list of some of the many treasures God intends for us to enjoy in this "new covenant" each and every day! It will encourage your spirit.
  1. God makes us His people and puts His words in our hearts (Jer. 31:33; 1 Pet. 2:9).
  2. We are born again, as new creations (John 3:3; 2 Cor. 5:17).
  3. God reveals His mysteries to us, hidden from ages past (Col.1:26).
  4. God is for us (Romans 8:31)!
  5. God forgives all our sins, and declares us to be holy, blameless and beyond reproach (Eph. 1:7-8; Heb. 9:14-15; Col. 1:22).
  6. We can enjoy God's abundant grace (Rom. 5:15, 17, 20-21; Eph. 2:7)
  7. God fills us with His love so that we can love others with His love (1 John 4:7-12).
  8. God fills us with His joy (John 15:11).
  9. God fills us with His peace (John 14:27; Phil. 4:7).
  10. God gives us heavenly wisdom (James 1:5; 3:17).
  11. We have direct access to God rather than through a mediator (Heb. 4:14-16).
  12. God invites us to ask of Him in Jesus' name like never before (John 16:23-24).
  13. Nothing can separate us from God (Romans 8:35).
  14. Jesus becomes our friend as He becomes our Lord (John 15:15).
  15. God's Holy Spirit lives in us to comfort, guide and strengthen us (John 14:26; Acts 1:8; Gal. 5:16, 22-23).
  16. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).
  17. We are children of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:15-17).
  18. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
  19. We're given everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
  20. God sanctifies us by helping us to grow mature (2 Thess. 2:13).
  21. God gives each of us spiritual gifts for works of service (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:7).
  22. God prepares good works for us to do for Him (Eph. 2:10).
  23. We are included on a mission of eternal significance (Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:21; Acts 1:8).
  24. We become God's partners in His work (1 Cor. 3:9).
  25. We will live with Jesus for eternity (John 14:1-4)!
We're meant to enjoy every promise on that list every day. And that is just the beginning of all that we can enjoy in God's new covenant with us!

© 2015 by Ken Peters