Transparent Waiting

Transparency of heart is when the thoughts and feelings of our heart are apparent to all who watch us in action. For the follower of Jesus Christ, one of the marks of a transparent heart is a deep desire to do the will of God — to live a holy and godly life. It is not self-centeredness, but “Christ-centeredness.”

In the apostle Peter’s day, those who wanted to live a self-centered life would scoff at the idea that we are waiting for Christ, our King, to return. They wanted to live their selfish lives as if there was no King, no Judge and no day of judgment.

Sadly, their selfish way of life was deceiving some of Peter’s listeners. So Peter is forced to reaffirm that Christ is not going to be a “no-show.” His return is timed perfectly to match God’s patience. And God is patient because he wants as many people as possible to repent and be saved.

We don’t know what that timing is. But come he will. Swiftly and unexpectedly. And on that day, everything around us will be destroyed. Our entire material world will be laid bare.

As we wait for our King’s return, we are to live as people who know that the King is alive. We know this because we daily witness the living King’s work in our own hearts. Being transparent people, our actions allow people to see through to our hearts. And to see Jesus living in our hearts.

Meanwhile, we look forward to the glorious return of our King. And we wait for it expectantly — we speed its coming, as Peter says — when we live holy and godly lives. Living with a transparent heart is, in other words, the very best preparation for the return of our King.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:9-12a, NIV).

Jesus, my King, as I wait for your return, help me to live transparently, with holiness and godliness. Forgive me for the times when my sinful heart takes over. Wash me clean again in your blood, shed on the cross for me. I want to give you glory every day as I anticipate your coming.

Our Bible reading for Sunday, November 29, is Daniel 4:19 – 5:16, 2 Peter 3:1-18 and Psalm 135:13-21.

Header image based on "Greta Oto (wings open)" by Alias 0591, CC By 2.0

Truth Will Rise

There’s an old African saying that goes, “The truth is like a reed. You can plunge it deep into the river, but it will always rise back to the surface.”

Paul says something similar to the young pastor Timothy when he writes to encourage him to watch his life closely. We may think we are doing a good job of hiding our sins, Paul cautions, but they probably aren’t nearly as hidden as we think they are. And even when they are concealed for the present, he warns, they will eventually be brought to light.

The good news is that this characteristic of the truth works two ways. The truth about our sins will be brought to light. But so will the truth about our good deeds.

Sometimes it’s easy to see a person’s good deeds. But at other times, they are not so readily evident. Paul assures Timothy that the faithful, good things he is doing to serve his people will eventually become apparent. Good deeds may be hidden for a while, he asserts, but they will not remain hidden forever.

There’s both a caution and a confidence-boost in these words.

The caution is for us when we think we can keep our secret sins hidden. This may lull us into thinking that we can keep on sinning without remorse and we don’t really need to repent and struggle to overcome our sins. Paul urges us to think ahead to that day when our secret sins are not so secret anymore.

On the other hand, there’s a confidence-boost for us, too. No one may seem to be noticing our sincere desire to do what is right, or seeing our gospel-motivated work for the glory of God.

We may not even want or need that recognition — after all, our goal as Christians is simply to thank our Savior for his grace and forgiveness. Nevertheless, Paul wants us to know that even when our good deeds are not immediately obvious, they will at some point be recognized.

Its just like the old African saying states: The truth will always rise.

So be cautious. And be confident.

“The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever” (1 Timothy 5:24-25, NIV).

Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. Forgive me for my many sins. I am also a believer who sincerely desires to do what is right in your sight. Grant me grace and power to align my life to your holy will. Help me to take both warning and comfort from knowing that the truth always rises to the surface. Assist me to guard my heart and watch my life closely.

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, October 20, is Jeremiah 43:1 – 45:5, 1 Timothy 5:1 – 6:2 and Psalm 119:65-72.

Header image based on "reeds" by Naomi, CC By 2.0

Handing Out Awards Like Hotcakes

We have a God who loves to hand out awards. And because he is as gracious as he is generous, these awards are lavish — and completely undeserved.

After all, God created us in the first place. He gave us our hands, feet, eyes, ears, minds and hearts. Every good and perfect gift, James says, comes down from the Father of heavenly lights.

Then God redeemed us from our empty way of life under slavery to sin. He bought us back from a certain and eternal death — freeing us from sin, guilt and shame. And he did it at great cost to himself. He sacrificed his one and only Son, Jesus, to make that redemption become real.

God also gifted us with our talents, abilities, and various personalities. He shaped and molded us into the individual we are today, both through nature and nurture. Our inner “wiring” all belongs to him.

By grace, God has saved us for eternity. Even more shocking, he is building a personal home for each of us in the life that follows this life. He gives us this heavenly home for free. No mortgage payments. No savings account needed in this life. What provides this gift to us is the grace of God. No more. No less.

And finally, God promises to bless us in heaven when we use the bodies he’s given us, express the freedom he’s won for us, apply the gifts he’s chosen for us, all while living in the hope of eternal life that he’s made available to us.

And where do you think the motivation and energy we need to do this comes from? You got it. Like everything else, it comes from him. By grace.

God is that guy. He’s indiscriminate and unrelenting in his grace and generosity. So much so that the outside observer looks on and wonders if God is not way too generous.

But please understand God’s heart. All of this is because what God really wants for us is to share in his happiness.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21, NIV).

Lord, thank you for your amazing generosity and grace which we get to personally experience each day. Thank you for wanting us to share in your happiness.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, February 7, is Job 40:3 – 42:17, Matthew 25:14-46 and Psalm 18:43-50.

Header image based on "Trophies" by Paulus, CC by 2.0