there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust

Acts 24:14-15 (ESV)

14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

Paul is speaking here as he stands before Governor Felix at Caesarea.

He’s effectively on trial for preaching the truth.

For sharing his “hope in God” of a bodily resurrection.

Denying this fact will not make it untrue.

Disbelieving in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, does not make them any less real.

At the end of our days here on earth, we will stand before God and have to make a reckoning of our lives.

The just and the unjust alike will be resurrected. But only those “made righteous” through Christ will receive “eternal life” (Romans 5:19ff).

For many this is a hard pill to swallow.

They seek to reason why, if He truly is a loving God, He should act differently.

However, His actions are just and fair.

And it’s not for us to question why. But instead to be thankful that He provided a solution to our unjustness, namely Jesus.

Kim+

prayer : thank you that you are a just God, “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalms 103:8)

action : profess the “hope” I have “in God”

you were washed

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

It’s easy to read this passage and point the finger at “wrongdoers” (another translation for the “unrighteous”).

Yet, as Paul so clearly points out at the end, some of the listeners were once exactly like those he describes.

In fact, the only thing that “makes” them righteous is the blood-of-Christ as it washes them clean.

Better that we should spend a lot less time condemning the practices of others and more time “repenting” of our own sins (Luke 1:3).

We don’t condone sinful behaviour. But neither are we to “judge” it. That’s God’s responsibility (Matthew 7:1ff).

What we should be doing is “loving our neighbour” in genuine and practical ways (Luke 10:36).

For like Jesus, we should “desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13 – quoting Hosea 6:6).

Kim+

prayer : forgive my unrepentant heart: my pride, my greed, my lust

action : share the grace of God through merciful actions

fan into flame

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV)

I love the imagery here. The raw energy behind the elemental strength of fire. It’s eagerness to spread quickly from a tiny spark into a huge conflagration.

This is perhaps the reason I want to start this new blog. So I can fan into flame the gift God has graciously given me.

It’s too easy to hide behind a mask. To pretend to be someone or something we’re not. Or simply denying who we really are.

Afraid of what people might say. What they might do. How they might treat us.

Rejection. Persecution.

But I’m a Christian and there’s no reason to be ashamed of the gospel.

It has the power to heal. To redeem and restore. To renew and regenerate.

To save lives.

Kim+

prayer : that I would be bold in proclaiming my faith

action : “love” others through the gift God has granted to me

all one in Christ

“…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28 (ESV)

Continuing the theme of unity is this passage that talks of there being no distinction between Christians of differing backgrounds.

Thus, there is no reason to claim superiority based upon gender, or race, or heritage etc.

We’re all heirs of Christ. We’re all equal in God’s eyes.

For some people, perhaps many, this is hard to accept.

The self-righteous totally miss the point: that it’s through God’s grace, specifically the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, that we are saved.

Not through anything we may do “so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 6:2).

This is reassuring as it’s beyond our means anyway. Our efforts, no matter how well intentioned, are pitifully inadequate.

Thank God we can rely upon Him and His gracious goodness.

Kim+

prayer : thank you for the gift of faith

action : share this gift with others

How Christ Enables the Church to Upbuild Itself in Love

Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high
he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in *deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:4-16 (ESV)

Through the reading of scripture over the past week or two I have learned that God uses all His people to build up His church.

And this has become even clearer by listening to John Piper in his sermon, “How Christ Enables the Church to Upbuild Itself in Love“.

The main point I take away from this particular talk is the importance of small groups. Groups of believers meeting regularly to talk; to listen; to read God’s word; to pray for one another.

Essentially, they perform the invaluable function of support and encouragement to one another. And thereby enable the growth the church as their faith is strengthened.

These groups are meant to complement regular weekly meetings such as Sunday worship services. But they’re not supposed to replace them.

Ideally, we should attend both. And in so doing, find opportunities to love each other in practical ways.

Kim+

prayer : that small groups in our church would be a great source of learning and encouragement

action : attend a small group regularly – every week where possible

speaking the truth in love

“speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV)

Flowing on from the past few verses we see Christ is the head of the “body”: the church.

He is the perfect example upon whom we are to model our behaviour.

How? By speaking the truth in love. That is, by sharing the gospel.

Why? Because, like Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16).

And by being open and honest and willing to suffer for my faith I will be “building the body up in love”.

But we all need to do our bit as “each part” needs to “work properly”.

Thankfully we have Gods grace and the support and encouragement of fellow believers.

Kim+

prayer : that I will faithfully speak the truth in love

action : continue to update this blog at least 3x per week

so that we may no longer be children

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Ephesians 4:13-14 (ESV)

I have children. And I’ve watched them grow from tiny, helpless babes, through infancy as they discover the world, into teenagers.

They “mature” as their knowledge and understanding grows. Taking on more responsibility. Whether at school, getting a job, or at church.

It’s a progression.

From milk, to solids, to more unusual and sophisticated foods and flavours.

It takes time. It can’t be rushed. But eventually it happens. And it needs to happen.

Sadly, with this growth comes a better understanding of how the world and human nature operates.

Sure, there are often great acts of courage and generosity displayed by many.

Yet more common is the desire to have more and more and more. And this comes at the cost to others.

Corruption is rife. Greed is prevalent. Governments often spend more time debasing their opposition than actually performing their elected role.

Marketers bend and manipulate the truth to get their share of your wallet. Probably selling a product or service you don’t even need anyway.

Yet it’s nothing new. Deceitfulness has been around since Adam and Eve.

What we need to do is recognise it and guard against it. Praying that we remain firm. Trusting in an almighty God who thankfully does not change.

Kim+

prayer : that I would remain faithful in a world hell-bent on swaying my opinion

action : listen to at least one John Piper sermon every week