Joshua Hedger: In Philippians 1:22-26, we have the Apostle Paul’s dialogue, if you will, with himself. In this back and forth of thought, he wrestles with a major life decision. His decision is this, “If I had the choice to live or to die, which would I choose?” Now perhaps that questions strikes concern into you for Paul’s mental stability, but it gives us an incredible glance at the treasure of his heart because Paul will continue on to say, “I would choose death because it’s much better for me. When I die, I get Jesus!” Paul so treasured Jesus that he’d rather die, lose all that this world has for him, and therefore gain Jesus! He truly thinks that death would be a better choice for him. But what follows this is what I want to focus on for the next few paragraphs. Paul follows up his realization of what would be best for him by saying what would
Sam Storms: A lot of people struggle with John 15:1-11 and our Lord’s teaching on the vine and the branches. This week I’ve been looking at the question of the relationship between professed faith in Christ and consistent obedience to his commands. This passage speaks directly to the issue. Let’s look closely at it. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart
Burk Parsons: It seems that every new year, we are caught up in a whirlwind of well-intentioned resolutions. With premeditated bursts of enthusiasm, those closest to us begin to take part in peculiar, and sometimes public activities that even cause neighborhood children to look puzzled. We find ourselves bearing witness to surprising edicts and seemingly self-conscious new year’s manifestos whereupon we are summoned to behold what sweeping changes may come—resolutions for impending dispositions, impossible diets, and impenetrable fortresses of discipline. The skeptical observer may inquire: “Is all this fervor really necessary?” Moreover, the cynical reader may ask: “Is it even appropriate to make resolutions? After all, shouldn’t we at all times and all seasons seek to live wisely, obediently, and biblically?” Some may even go so far as to argue that resolutions themselves are not biblical based on the fact that the Word of God itself provides us with a complete and authoritative compilation of God’s resolutions for His people. To manufacture
Dan Allender, in To Be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future: Most people understand understand calling as God’s calling us to a specific job. Indeed, God called adolescent Jeremiah to preach of his coming judgment. And God called Paul (then named Saul) to serve the very people that he, blinded by zeal, had been trying to destroy. God calls us to certain tasks and jobs, but he doesn’t do so because we are uniquely suited to do them. He calls us to the task of job because we are weak, broken, and ill-equipped for the task. I don’t believe anyone is called to a job or a profession. My calling in life is not to be a writer, therapist, speaker, teacher, trainer, or administrator. My calling is to walk through any door God gives me in order to reveal his glory. If I am a graduate-school president, it’s for a season, but my life lasts for eternity. If I am
Chris Castaldo: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a Protestant pastor, was one of Germany’s leading scholars of the twentieth century. He courageously returned from Union Seminary in New York to oppose Adolf Hitler. His great desire was for Christians to follow Christ whatever the cost. It was a cost he knew only too well: he was arrested, imprisoned, and executed (just days before the end of the Second World War) for his opposition to the Nazi regime. In his most famous work, The Cost of Discipleship (1937), he urged Christians to throw off everything that hindered their wholehearted allegiance to Christ, including the accumulation of wealth. Jesus does not forbid the possession of property in itself. He was man, he ate and drank like his disciples, and thereby sanctified the good things of life. These necessities, which are consumed in use and which meet the legitimate requirements of the body, are to be used by the disciple with thankfulness . . .