Monthly Archives: June 2019

Second Chance: James 2

James 2:5-7 & 12-14. [NIV]

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?…12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

It’s only a few days until the celebration of our nation’s freedom. We’re in another time of turmoil about freedom now, but this time it’s not our own.  This time we’re confronted by the object lesson of current events demanding we consider who deserves to be free, what freedom demands of them and how much we’re willing to invest of what God has given us so they can be free?  We are dependent on the mercy of God triumphing over the judgment of men as we struggle to find answers to those questions.  Many others fought in 1776 for the freedom we celebrate this week but here’s God’s challenge for us to consider now.

“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

Our challenge is to have mercy for the reality of physical need not judge the integrity of their desire to be free of tyranny and oppression.  Our nation was built by many other people who were judged ineligible and exiled from their home, but by the mercy of God’s grace they were given a second chance to invest their lives and resources “in order to form a more perfect Union.”  Were they perfect?  Of course not! 

This is the truth of freedom then…and it’s still the truth of freedom now. God will hold us accountable for our actions “because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.”  It makes no earthly sense that “mercy triumphs over judgment” but it makes no heavenly sense that we have exploited the poor and honored “the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong.”  

Lord help us!  Help us this July 4th of 2019 to “speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.”  Lord make us so “rich in faith” that we can honestly promise we’ll invest our blessings in others seeking freedom and in your truth that “mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Second Chance: Hebrews 2

FYI: No chapter 2 in Philemon
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Hebrews 2:5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified: What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? 7 You made them [for a little while] a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor 8 and put everything under their [Or his] feet.” In putting everything under them,[Or him] God left nothing that is not subject to them.[Or him] Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.[Or him] 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 

§§§

The first thing that caught my attention in Hebrews 2 was the [footnoted] path that challenged me look at “them” with the alternate [him.]  That was intriguing because I believe the Old Testament is a foreshadow comparing the glory and dominion God intended for man, then, to our example for life now, Jesus.  This was more than that for me.  God began our world with a plan to establish an identity of “glory and honor” between the divine beginnings of man and His own.


• Genesis 1:26 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[Or the earth] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
• Later David wrote about man in relationship to God: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?  You made them [for a little while] a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their [Or his] feet.”
• Then Paul writes “In putting everything under them,[Or him] God left nothing that is not subject to them.[Or him].  Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them [Or him].  But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

Did you catch that identity between “man” and “Jesus?”  Both were made “[for a little while] a little lower than the angels…both crowned with glory and honor and everything under their [Or his] feet” or “subject to them.[Or him].”  Clearly a strong identity but not quite a “likeness.”  G.K. Chesterton wrote “one thing is certain – man is not what he was meant to be.” 

• Jesus came into our world with the unmistakable identity of “man.”  He was born a baby!  The Son of God lived his identity with man, lost his identity because of man but was resurrected to reveal another unmistakable identity to man – the image of God!  That’s the revelation that turns our identity with Him into “likeness” and changes “for a little while” into an eternity of shared “glory and honor” with “them” [him].

Second Chance: Titus 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Titus 2 [NIV]
– 1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 

§§§

My words today are Paul’s words from Titus 2.  They are “quoted truth” and details that matter.  They emphasize renewal is a personal blessing but God has a Kingdom purpose for it.   Paul reminds people of any age or status in life that personal renewal is “so” much greater than personal benefit.

“These, then, are the things you should teach… while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
so that no one will malign the word of God.
so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”

Second Chance: 2 Timothy 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken 

2 Timothy 2 [NIV]
1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others…4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this…25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…

§§§

Renewal is the application of “the grace that is in Christ Jesus” that fills the void sins once occupied in us.  What makes renewal real is Jesus’ grace, and our confidence in it.  That’s the only thing that can overcome our limitations.  

Paul knew it was God who’d entrusted him AND his limitations, to be a witness for Him.  He had first-hand experience of the power of Jesus to change even the most undeserving opponent, despite their limitations.  Isn’t that an interesting thought?  God knows how to teach us to use what we wish he would just take away.  

This is my grand finale for all of us today.  I want our confidence to be in God’s power and the grace of Jesus to help us reveal He is the strength we count on despite our obvious limitations.   Then we can we be His reliable witnesses “qualified to teach others… in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…”  I guess it’s the “takes one to know one” method of witness….and on a personal note, if God can “gently” instruct and continue to change a woman who once said…I’ve changed enough…He can change anyone.  

Second Chance: 1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 2 [NIV]
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

§§§

There’s only one highlight for me from this chapter: Paul’s instruction on the need for renewal with “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving…for all people” so they “may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” We are called to be holy, not innocent.  That’s what renewal is all about.  There’s a Biblical lesson for us today from that first Garden long ago.  Today our  “innocence” is really only ignorance of what God desires and whichever word you choose, it’s surely the same unplanted seed of holiness that’s been leftover for us to deal with. 

“The seed is the Word of God…”• Luke 11b  and ”…A man reaps what he sows.”
• Galatians 6:7b.  
The conscious and purposeful practice of sowing seeds we gather from the Word is how we move beyond the innocence of  ignorance.   We reap godliness and holiness in our relationship with the “one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for ALL people.” 

Second Chance: 2 Thessalonians 2

2 Thessalonians 2
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

[NCV] 9 The Man of Evil will come by the power of Satan. He will have great power, and he will do many different false miracles, signs, and wonders.

[MSG] 15-17 So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.

§§§

This chapter is heavy with emphasis on the power of sin to create instability in all of creation and humanity in particular.  The work of “the man of evil” isn’t much of a secret for us anymore.  Our challenge is capturing this truth: God is still at work in the midst of the instability.

That made me think of this illustration.

The Illustration reminds me of a camera tripod.  The tripod has those three legs that reach out beyond the solid center post to provide the stability necessary to support the weight that central post holds.  

That Godly tripod supports the full weight of truth: the camera of God’s word.  We are His photographers.  That’s the combination that makes it possible for us to “take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high,” stabilized and able to capture Paul’s vision for our lives: “May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.

Second Chance: 1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2 [TLB]
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken 

8 “We loved you dearly—so dearly that we gave you not only God’s message, but our own lives too…11 We talked to you as a father to his own children—don’t you remember?—pleading with you, encouraging you and even demanding 12 that your daily lives should not embarrass God but bring joy to him who invited you into his Kingdom to share his glory.”

13 “And we never stop thanking God for this: that when we preached to you, you didn’t think of the words we spoke as being just our own, but you accepted what we said as the very Word of God—which, of course, it was—and it changed your lives when you believed it.”

§§§

Thank God for those who speak on God’s behalf.  Thank God for renewal.  Remember that first Word you heard that broke through to your heart?  I do.  It wasn’t a flowery testimony about the saving grace of God or the penetrating conviction of sin in my life.   I remember because it was embarrassment that God used to open the door to my renewal.  [read that story here]

Embarrassment is certainly less comfortable than the encouragement of grace and less obvious than the demand for repentance but I’m living proof renewal can begin in a most unexpected way.  There’s so much more to the purpose of renewal than knowing the right answer.  Have you ever considered “that your daily lives should not embarrass God but bring joy to him who invited you into his Kingdom to share his glory[?]”  If you haven’t thought about your invitation into His Kingdom for a while, it’s time to remember: God has a very personal stake in your renewal.  

There’s no greater gift for God than a heart that remembers the embarrassment of riches He’s pouring into your daily life.  Renewal is God’s personal, long-term investment plan for you…so you’ll be “equipped to share his glory.”