Thursday, June 25, 2009

What is in a name?


I met recently with a missionary from Germany. As we talked, he informed me of something in which I have long been interested . . .the meaning of my last name.

In German, there is word that closely resembles my last name. There are two dots above the "U" and the word is spelled Ube. As we go back in the family tree, we find that many in Germany had this as their surname, but added the "en" in the following generation. Ube was also a popular first name.

The meaning: one who practices

So, I have had some interesting thoughts on this. Is it because we never get it right that we need to practice? Or is it because we have it right that we get to practice?

Some Scriptures I found on the subject are instructive and the manner in which I want to live my life.

Psalm 106:3
How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times!

Hebrews 5:14
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

2 Peter 1:10
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

1 John 2:29
If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

1 John 3:7 - 10 7Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
8the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
9No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

ich ├╝be die Bibel

Cornerstone

Here is another actual cornerstone. Most of these are decorative today, rather than structurally useful. However, the point is still made - all of life needs to revolve around something. Make sure it is the best in Christ.

Of all of the images I found online, this one is the best. It really depicts the nature of Christ and the wall.It is interesting that in this depiction, the instrument of death is used. But Christ is a living stone, and we, who were dead in sin, have been made alive through the cross of death, that we might be fitted into the wall as living stones. I love the intertwining of word pictures.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cornerstones

Cornerstones. Everyone has them. Some are good, some are dangerous. Here are some I was thinking about in the past few days.

Personal happiness. Some people measure all of their life choices and values by what will make them happy. Careers are chosen, spouses are chosen, entertainment is chosen, solely on the basis of what will make them happy. Jesus spoke of happiness in the sermon on the mount and included some things that would normally not be put on the list: poor in spirit, mourning, gentle, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaker, persecuted for His name sake. This list will not ever make the popular media depiction of what makes a person happy, yet Jesus uses that Greek word "blessed" which has the meaning of true happiness.

Personal ability. We tend to do things we know we can do. We do not want to do things that are new or out of our experience level. I was reminded of this again this year as my Junior class researched and reported on missionaries of the past. They went to places that were new, without all of the training and preparation that we give missioinaries today - no language school, no extensive deputation, no travel fund or retirement package or health care program - they just went. And many of them suffered loss of possessions, loss of potential gain, loss of family ties, loss of health and loss of children and spouse - all for the sake of preaching Christ. They did not have the personal ability to conquer. Some gave their very lives because they did not have the ability to protect themselves. And yet, great things were accomplished through their sacrifice, even when they did not have the ablilty to do that which they did.

I will be thinking of some cornerstones in the next few days. Feel free to respond with some ideas of your own.

AVU

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Treasuring Christ

Treasuring Christ
1 Peter 2
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking,
2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby: 3If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
In this passage, Peter uses several word pictures to display for us tremendous truths regarding Christ, our relationship to Him and how to live out that relationship.



First, let us look at the direction of this passage in an overview.
Peter addresses a group of people who are in desperate circumstances. They are scattered throughout Asia because of their faith. They were being persecuted by the Roman Emperor Nero. Many of their friends and relatives had been put to death. These to whom Peter was writing were running for their lives. They were living as aliens, or temporary residents in their current locations.

Because of this difficult life situation, Peter speaks to them of some very comforting and solid spiritual truths. In chapter 1, he assures them of their faith in God. They have been chosen by God; they have been given a living hope; they have a secured inheritance of eternal life; and they have the promise that their present suffering will produce eternal spiritual reward.

He then speaks to them about the character of God. He reminds them that God is holy, pure, set apart from sin, and therefore, they should be also. There are at least three reasons for this: since they have been born again, they belong to Christ and not to themselves. The second reason is that life is temporary, something which his readers knew all too well. The third is that the enduring Word of God is the only thing that will last, therefore it is imperative to live by it.

OUR SPIRITUAL CALLING DEMANDS SPIRITUIAL LIVING

Spiritual desires – vs. 1-3

Spiritual values – vs. 4

Spiritual house – vs. 5-8

Spiritual calling – vs. 9-10

Spiritual desires –
In light of the fact that only the Word of God will endure, Peter speaks of the desire of the believer.
1. To desire the enduring word, certain things need to be set aside.
a. Malice – wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws; a vicious nature bent on the harm of others.
b. Guile – deceit, to decoy
c. Hypocrisies - the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more laudable beliefs than is the case. The call for consistency.
d. Envy - the envious person cannot be satisfied with what he has and will always crave for more. His evil desires and pleasures are insatiable, and he cannot abide any other person’s having something that he himself does not have or having more of something than he himself has.
e. Evil speaking – defamation of character

These attitudes and practices are to be laid aside. A definite choice, done now. His message is to stop what you are doing.

He assumes that these are prevalent sins that all believers must deal with.

Two questions: did I prepare to receive God’s Word?
The heart must be prepared in order for the word of God to be received. In preparation for the Word today, what did you do yesterday to get ready? Did you spend your time in personal pursuit of pleasure? Did you spend any time alone with God?

Are my relationships with others such that I the evil desires have been put away.

2. To desire the Word of God, a certain urgency must be displayed.
a. Like a newborn baby
b. Untainted, without anything else mixed in
c. Based on the grace (kindness) of God Psalm 34:8:
O taste and see that the Lord is good.
Jerry Bridges: "It is impossible to practice godliness without a constant, consistent and balanced intake of the Word of God in our lives." I submit that the opposite is also true, i.e. it is impossible to process the Word if godliness is not practiced.

Spiritual Values

Peter makes crystal clear that treasuring Christ is God’s response to Christ and therefore should be ours.
Peter is pondering and applying several Old Testament texts that point to Christ as a stone. Isaiah 28:16 (“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation”) and Psalm 118:22 (“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”).
Look with me at verse 4: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.” Note carefully the word “precious.” Then look at verse 6, Again Peter gets our attention with the word “precious.” Very simply and very amazingly think of the implications that God almighty with infinite knowledge and infinite wisdom and infinitely perfect capacities to see and savor what is infinitely valuable and beautiful—this God values Jesus Christ as precious. This is simply another way of saying he treasures Christ. Treasuring means feeling the preciousness of what you value or what you prize.
if God, who sees all things as they truly are and feels all things as they truly are, treasures Christ, so should we. In fact it is clear that God treasures Christ above all other things. There is nothing more valuable in the universe than Christ, because he is God and he is the manifestation of God precisely so that we might see him and savor him—that is, treasure him. (Piper)

Second, this text makes clear that treasuring Christ is more, not less, than knowing Christ is precious. It is feeling it and acting on it. (Piper)

When we value Christ, we value those whom He loves. Therefore, it would make no sense to have malice, envy, evil speaking against any of them.
To not properly value Christ is to stumble over Him.
The Jewish leaders did that in Jesus’ day.
The Christians of our day do that when we do not see as important the values and commands of Christ.
To stumble over Christ has disastrous consequences.
1. it can lead to no salvation.
2. It can lead to disobedience.
3. it can lead to disjointed living.


Spiritual House
Foundation: the apostles and prophets of Eph 2:20
Cornerstone: Jesus Christ of Eph 2:20, 1 Peter 2:
Living Stones: each individual believer I Peter 2: 6-7
Holy Priesthood: offers up spiritual sacrifices.

The Cornerstone: That from which everything is measured.
The prophets wrote predicting Him; the apostles wrote looking back on Him.
The Willamette Stone was a small stone obelisk originally located in the western hills of Portland, Oregon in the United States. It marked the intersection and origin of the Willamette Meridian and Willamette Baseline, which defined the grid system of sections and townships (six miles square) from which all real property in the states of Oregon and Washington has been measured following the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. The fact is that all real estate property is measured from this one point. The application is that Christ is the measurement of all which is spiritual in our lives.

The most important value has been placed on the cornerstone. He has precious blood (1:19); He is precious ( 2:4,6,7); our faith is precious (2P 1:1); God’s promises are precious (2P 1:4)

Building the foundation of your house is one of the most important tasks while building your house. If the foundation is not properly laid then the entire edifice will be unstable. ( a contractor's website )
I Corinthians 3

Therefore, with Christ as my Cornerstone, when I find a principle to apply, I do so willingly. When I find a sin to avoid, I do so willingly. When I find a spiritual value, I adopt it willingly. Christ is my Cornerstone.

Spiritual Calling
What it means is this (and more): the supreme trait of the new Christian race is treasuring Christ.

1. We are called to be unique ( To stand out in the world is to fit in with God )
2. We are called to declare God’s truth
3. We are called to offer spiritual sacrifices (verse 5)

Philippians 2:17
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
Philippians 4:18
But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:15
15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
16But to do good and to communicate (share ) forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

As we consider the four truths from this passage, let us put them in relationship with each other.
1. A spiritual foundation for life is centered in Christ Jesus. Take care how you build on it.
2. Spiritual values are centered in Christ Jesus. What you value determines the direction of your life.
3. Spiritual values determine spiritual desires. Your desires will always be in line with your values.
4. Spiritual desires will build spiritual relationships with people. Don’t start with trying to clean up your relationships. Clean up your values and desires, and you will have the power to clean up your relationships.

Are you centered on the Cornerstone? Each one of us has one. Is it Christ?