Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 3 June 2019

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge.  2 Timothy 4:1 (NIV).

One of my favorite movies is “Independence Day.”   The original; not so much the sequel.   In the first movie, Will Smith gives Jeff Goldblum a cigar before they attack the alien mother ship.   “This is important,” Will says.  “This is our victory dance.”   Goldblum sort of shrugs it off and they get about their business of saving the planet.

“This is important.”  Will Smith was paraphrasing the Apostle Paul in verse 1.   Paul’s formal language invoked the presence of Christ Jesus, complete with the reminder of Christ’ eternal vocation and prophecy.   It’s an attention-getter.
“Listen up, Timothy.   This is important.”

One day we will each stand in the physical presence of the Lord Jesus.   We will stand before Him and we will plainly see Him without the veil of sin covering our eyes.   We will see Him as He is in glory and splendor and awe-inspiring power.

Pay attention; this is important.  (At least) Three things are easily predictable about that moment.  One, Jesus will be all powerful.   Two, we’ll each know that and be awe-struck by it.   And, three, what we believed about Him in this life will matter because it’ll determine how we’ll feel in that moment.   For the believer, it’ll be the summation of life, the moment of deepest faith, knowing without a human doubt that all your faith was true.   It’ll be the moment we long for, wait for.  We don’t and won’t fear it, but we’ll likely be overwhelmed by it, feeling the depths of our souls filled for the first time we can remember by being in the presence of the One who makes them complete.  It’ll be the ultimate victory dance.

And if you don’t believe in Jesus?   You’ll likely feel a different kind of overwhelming.   It will be a moment of unimaginable dread.  I wish it wasn’t true but it is.   God and Christ Jesus, who offer you Their Holy Spirit now to fill you with His peace, will judge the living and the dead.   In the climax of human history, God will judge each of us according to what we believed about Him.   Did we put our faith in Him and let Him use us for the glory of the Kingdom?   Or did we reject Him, believing we could do better ourselves.  Did we focus our hearts on the Creator or the created?  In that last judgment, God Himself will be saving the universe He created.  He will be restoring all things to their Edenic perfection.

If you don’t put your faith in Jesus here, when that moment comes, you’ll be judged.

This is important.

For further reading:  Acts 10:42, 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:1-2.

Lord, I hear You because it’s important.   Fill me with Your love and peace so I can share them.

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Practical Proverbial, from 2 Thessalonians, 10 August 2018

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (NIV).

Why should we hold onto teachings of a bunch of old, dead, white guys?

That’s a refrain you hear a lot in our popular culture these days.   Mostly it concerns the US Constitution, written over 200 years ago by (now) old, dead, white guys; as if being old or Caucasian alone would either qualify or disqualify someone as reputable.  It’s a stupid argument, really, that we should ignore something because the authors aren’t alive anymore or because they were of a certain race.   It’s foolish.

Yet that same argument is used to justify ignoring the teachings of the Bible.   After all, they’re much older than the Constitution.   And the men who wrote them were men (sexism!) and if not white they were at least Mediterranean and Semitic in nature (racists!).   The purveyors of foolishness would have people believe that being male, white, Semitic, or aged should disqualify things they say.   Perhaps that would qualify much of Hollywood and the leaders of popular culture as well…but I digress.

Instead, here’s a chance to ignore all of what those around us would say and stand up for Jesus.  There’s an old hymn that says just that:   stand up, stand up for Jesus.   Stand up today.  Stand up for what you believe instead of being talked down by the vapid arguments of people with other agendas.   More importantly than standing up, though, stand firm.  Be firm and resolute in saying “I believe.”  Every day is a new opportunity to be your own Martin Luther and say “here I stand” by basing your stand in your belief in Christ.

That isn’t easy, especially when the small minds of popular culture have a loud voice.   When academia, media, and even corporate culture are standing against you.   When it’s easier to give in.   When so many evangelicals make standing up for Jesus a difficult, unpopular, and corny thing.  Our world is hostile to this faith; 2 Thessalonians spends much of its verbiage talking about how faith will be challenged at the end of all things.   Of how the world will do what it’s doing to believers, many of whom overseas are being physically martyred for standing up for Jesus.

Stand anyway.

Stand firm in knowing that who you’re standing for, what you believe, and the Savior who makes it possible is standing beside you.   He is with you in Spirit and inside you.   The strength to stand is the strength of God’s Spirit coursing through your veins.  You may be basing your faith on the words of old, dead, white guys, yet those words are given from God Almighty Himself:  He who has no age, eternal life, no race, and is never foolish.

For further reading:  1 Corinthians 16:13, 2 Thessalonians 2:16.

Lord, I stand for You, for Your love, Your peace, Your strength, Your kingdom.