Wednesday, October 1, 2008

devotional 011008

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is another beautiful day in my area. I thank God for giving me a quiet office to meditate and reflect. I honestly feel that one of Satan’s schemes to paralyze Christians from becoming light and salt of the world is to starve their minds from healthy spiritual food. God’s agenda is to shape our character to become Christ like each day. Everything that God allows to happen to us (good and bad) is to form our character to be Christ-like. If we fail to reflect on our encountering in life, it will take longer time for us to acquire what God intends for us to become. Just as someone says, “if you say someone is a thinker, he likes you. But if you really make him think, he hates you.” When Christians are too busy to think and to read devotional materials (to make you think and reflect), they fail to recognize the work of God in their lives and in their world. Once we Christians are driven (on auto-pilot mode) to pursue what the world is after, then we fade away from being the light and salt of the world as Christ intended for us to be. This is something I want you to THINK about even though you may not appreciate at all…
Paul ended his second letter to the Corinthians with this high note: “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss” (13:11-12 ASV). There are so much we can learn from these two simple statements. I have looked at different translations of this passage. I finally preferred American Standard Version that may better communicate what Paul was trying to say here.
Paul seems to use a ‘cause and effect’ statement in verse 11. That means if you acquire these characters…then the love of God and peace will be with you (even though he did not use the word ‘if’). Love and peace of God are His promises for all His followers. We don’t earn His love and peace. But we can fully experience or enjoy this promise of His love and peace within us, if we practice the following disciplines:
1) Rejoice – to celebrate His goodness in whatever circumstances that you are in. The will of God is meant for us to be joyful instead of putting a long face in life. Rejoice does not mean Christians do not have suffering or difficult boss. Christians should take ‘rejoice’ as a spiritual disciplines just like fasting. Fasting is to refrain from our habit to depend on food to give us fulfillment in life. Rejoice is to refrain from our habit to depend on circumstances to give us happiness in life.
2) Be made complete – to receive the work of God in shaping us toward perfection. We don’t try to be Christ-liked by our direct effort. We don’t force ourselves to conform to certain lifestyle like the Pharisees. We let the life of Christ grows in us.
3) Be like-minded – Again, by human nature we tend to distinct ourselves from others. Conflict is a norm in any given community. You should not be surprised that any office or community has conflict and politics. Only when we share a common focus of our mindset to be Christ-like, then we may become like-minded.
4) Live in peace – I believe the peace that Paul talked about was not without conflict or avoidance of conflict. Peace always accompanies with blessings. And it has to be built upon the truth and righteousness of God. But to live in peace does involve putting off our selfish attitude or interests. By human nature, we can’t bless our enemy or people who give us hard time. But this is exactly what Paul urged us to do – “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
5) Holy kiss – genuine affections for one another that glorify God and edify others. We do live in a distorted culture that carries a demeaning concept about love. Again, if we are not careful (don’t think and reflect), we will act like the world tells you to act in the name of love. To me, a classic example of the problem of ‘holy kiss’ was what Judas did to Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas turned an affectionate expression of genuine love into a sign of betrayal. Judas totally violated the meaning of kiss. It became an evil kiss but not a holy kiss.
May God help us to live by His strength and love each day, in order to become the kind of Christian and church that He intends for us to be…
Love you in Christ,Lawrence

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