On ruts and routines

Christianity cannot be practiced mindlessly. It is not a habit to be formed, forgotten, and inattentively fulfilled – like washing your hands. Rather, serving God by living as a Christian is a purposeful life lived intently.

Routines are helpful in maintaining a godly lifestyle. Cambridge defines routine as “a usual or fixed way of doing things.”

Scripture hints at the value of purposeful routines by showing us the extraordinary daily life of Jesus. Continue reading “On ruts and routines”

Man sitting on ground looking at mountains and lake

‘In his right mind’

“And they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the ‘legion;’ and they became frightened” (Mark 5:15).

Sometimes you just can’t win. The demoniac from Gerasea (or Genneserat, see Matthew 14:34) had lived for some time in the tombs, isolated from normal society because of his bizarre behavior (Mark 5:2-5). He was rejected and feared by the villagers about him. But when Jesus cast the demons out of the man, restoring him to his right mind, the people were even more frightened. Actually their fright at this time was directed towards Jesus rather than the former demoniac, but it was this man’s now normal behavior, at least in part, that caused their reaction. Continue reading “‘In his right mind’”

Conformity or cooperation?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV).

Conformity has a bad connotation in the modern mind. It is portrayed as being forced into an artificial mold that society (or government) has adopted as the correct way of thinking and behaving for its members. One popular expression denoting the concept is the demand to “stay in one’s designated lane.” There are many who understandably rebel at any requirement which seems to result in their having to be like everyone else, even to that of driving on their side of the road. Continue reading “Conformity or cooperation?”

Speaking to Felix about righteousness

As Jesus said Paul would “carry [his] name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel” Acts 9.15, the apostle preached righteousness to Felix, the Roman governor.

The subject of righteousness makes up part of the gospel and should be proclaimed today. See these points from the text of Acts 24.

1. Righteous and unrighteous will be resurrected

As Paul answered the false charges against him, he noted the great truth shared between him and his accusers. Continue reading “Speaking to Felix about righteousness”

No righteousness at all

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

Jesus said that a person couldn’t enter the kingdom unless their righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees. One might be inclined to ask: What, exactly, was the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? And how can we exceed it?

To answer the first question in a word: self-righteousness. Continue reading “No righteousness at all”

Do right

The world isn’t much concerned with doing right. It prefers to do what feels good. People look for immediate gratification rather than adhere to a standard and enjoy the fruit of righteousness. Opinions then become an individual’s guide and the arbitrator of what is good and right. This explains a major part of the mess the world is in.

Those who have decided to be right about what God’s message is, and to get right with God, can then be certain of doing right. They then have the possibility of doing right.

Being right and getting right are the framework within which any doing must possess in order for us to do right. That means that two people can perform the same actions, and one will be doing right and the other will be doing wrong. Continue reading “Do right”

Seeking first his reign and righteousness

Have you ever had your worldview rocked? Have you ever been confronted with truth so clear and obvious that you either had to lie to yourself or change your thinking? Those who heard Jesus were presented with that very choice, lie or change.

In the monumental discourse which covers Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus challenges the worldview of each person.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:3-5).

From beginning to end, Jesus challenges their worldview and corrects their misinterpretations of God’s law. He places side by side godliness and worldliness, with both implicit and explicit calls to choose.

Continue reading “Seeking first his reign and righteousness”

Get right with God

Jesus pronounced a blessing upon the obedient: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” Luke 11.28. On the other side, he warned, “The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day” John 12.48. Disobedience to the gospel brings condemnation, 2 Thessalonians 1.8. Christians are described as “those who obey the words of this book” Revelation 22.9.

So after we find the right information, after we have resolved to be right in terms of what the truth is, we can proceed to the next step: getting right with God. We get right with God only because he makes us right with himself. It’s a divine task, not a human one. At the same time, there is a path we must follow, which God himself has established, in order for that change of status to occur. (This is a short series that starts here.) Continue reading “Get right with God”

The last word on righteousness

It is altogether fitting that the last word on righteousness comes from the last chapter of the last book of the Bible. The old apostle John, last of his tribe, writes what are probably his last words to a cowed and persecuted church.

As he wraps up the series of apocalyptic visions showing the grand victory of Christ and his followers, he makes what at first glance appears to be a strange statement. Continue reading “The last word on righteousness”