Apostle Paul

A House Not Made With Hands

I read in the news yesterday that 1 in 5 people in the US has lost a loved one to Covid. Other countries may be more or less, but the pandemic has brought home the reality that we are not long for this world. Then what? What perspective shall we have?

For those in Christ, Paul’s words yield a firm answer.

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)

Take a moment to reflect on this passage and consider these questions:

  • Do I feel Paul’s words are true? Why or why not?
  • Where is my hope?
  • What groaning do I sense in my life?
  • How does this passage influence my life today?

Maranatha (Come Lord!)

Antidotes for Anxiety

We live in an anxious time. The media sells fear and anger which increases our anxiety. How do we cope? Are there antidotes to anxiety?

The Apostle Paul was in a prison in Rome when he wrote the small letter to Jesus’ followers in Philippi. He faced an uncertain future. He could have been executed by Nero at any time. He had no freedom of movement, no control over his circumstances and no assurances about the future from a human perspective. You would think he would be filled with anxiety but he was not. Take a minute to read this passage from Paul.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9)

​Here are some questions to ponder:

  • What causes anxiety in my life?
  • How have I historically handled anxiety?
  • What antidotes to anxiety do I glean from this passage?
  • What is the Lord saying to me from this passage?

Maranatha (Come Lord!)

Beware

In our day many ministry leaders speak, in Paul’s words, to tickle ears. These come in many forms like the “prosperity gospel,” the “justice gospel,” the “racial gospel,” and many other culturally and fleshly appealing messages. Beware when you hear things that are acceptable and appeal to the world’s values and messaging.

As James says, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4 ). James did speak strong words that say to each of us, “beware.”

Paul says it this way to his mentee, Timothy.

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the ​dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

Note: a myth could be any false narrative that does not align with the King of Kings Who is the Judge.

Take a moment to reflect on Paul’s words.

  1. As a hearer, what does Paul warn about?
  2. As a teacher, what admonition does Paul give?
  3. Why are these questions important?
  4. What is the Lord saying to you from this?

Beware of ear ticklers.

Maranatha

Close to Stumbling

Have you ever been envious of someone who seems to always be on top no matter who they run over, or who are arrogant or wealthy? The Psalmist was and, as a result, he almost stumbled.

“But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Ps 73:2-3)

The Psalmist pondered this incongruity compared to some of his own experience. His perspective was of this world. (Ps. 73:4-16). He almost stumbled. This persisted until he looked at the Lord, Almighty. The ​Psalmist says, “Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end.” (Ps. 73:17)

This gave him an eternal perspective. He writes, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:25-26)

The Apostle Paul says it this way, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

So are you tempted to stumble? Take a moment to reflect on Who is the ultimate authority and what He has done for you.

Maranatha