Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Christmas Challenge: Day One

I’m sharing this primarily with anyone in mind who is planning to not include Jesus the Christ in your celebration of Christ-mas. This includes those who may give lip-service to Jesus as a tradition, or legend, or historical figure, but do not include him in their lives to the extent one ought to include our Creator and Redeemer.

My Christmas challenge is this: what do you have in your Christmas celebration, and your life in general, that is a greater expression of “good news of great joy”[1] than what Jesus the Christ did for us through his coming into the world, laying down his life in love, and securing an eternal victory over sin and death?

In these days leading up to Christmas 2017, I plan to share various expressions of the joy that is given to all those who receive the gift God continues to offer us through his Son. I hope to give ample evidence that the joy in Jesus Christ is deeper, more enduring, more soul-satisfying, and more life-giving, than anything that anyone could include in their lives without him.

I also hope to show that this isn’t only about what we prefer for Christmas traditions and celebrations. It is a matter of life and death, something Jesus the Christ came to deal with once and for all. I simply hope that someone out there in cyberspace will realize their need for this gift, and once and for all receive it for their own eternal joy.

Please share this around. Many people have not heard this “good news of great joy” and do not understand “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God”[2] as expressed through the gift of his Son.[3] Let’s do our utmost to let the whole world know that Jesus Christ has come, and he continues to give joy to all who come to him.

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Luke 2:10
[2] Romans 11:33
[3] John 3:16

Thursday, November 23, 2017

To Pursue or Peruse Our Freedom in Christ

I often find myself typing some expression relating to pursuing our freedom in Christ. From my early days of confusion regarding the things that hold professing believers in bondage, to my present understanding of what it means to walk in the freedom for which Jesus has set us free,[1] my typing skills have not terribly improved. I’m a fast typist who relies heavily on the spellcheck features of my computer!

Because of my regular typing infractions, I regularly make the mistake of typing “peruse” when I’m aiming to spell “pursue”. Perhaps it is my sark[2] subtly trying to sabotage my efforts to get serious about the things of God. Whatever the case, there is a significant difference in the two words even though the spelling is so similar.

To peruse something is to give thought to the matter. This may involve reading up on a topic that interests us, or, in our technological age, watching videos online to gain a greater understanding of an issue, or how to do some new skill. As long as we are only perusing a subject, nothing is happening. We may gain information, but a commitment to perusing does nothing more than keep us busy gathering tidbits of knowledge.[3]

On the other hand, pursuing something means to go after it with the intention of having it. We pursue goals in the hopes of attaining them; we pursue relationships in the expectation of having people in our lives; we pursue career goals with the desire to have the lifestyle that corresponds to our income. In every pursuit, we want to arrive at the desired destination.

When it comes to freedom in Christ (which means the freedom to live in constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit of the Living God rejoicing in his unending ministry of conforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ from one degree of glory to another[4]), perusing such a freedom simply keeps us busy thinking about what it is. On the other hand, pursuing such freedom keeps us busy taking steps to have it, and to grow in it.

God’s word tells men especially to lead the way in pursuing freedom in Christ. He says, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”[5] Pursuing the full rights of our freedom in Christ also means we are heading in the opposite direction from all that is sinful.[6]

God’s Book adds a synonymous expression, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”[7] Again, to pursue the righteousness of faith, we must head in the opposite direction from the sarky passions of youth (which won’t go away if we refuse to grow up in Christ!).

As though in an echo of glorious and challenging truth, God’s word also declares,

“Whoever desires to love life    and see good days,let him keep his tongue from evil    and his lips from speaking deceit;let him turn away from evil and do good;    let him seek peace and pursue it.”[8]

We may not be able to help it that our first introduction to the revelation of Jesus Christ requires us to do an initial perusal of his claims. However, once we see that his claims are validated with every imaginable kind of testimony beyond anything the world can deny, it becomes time when our perusing turns into pursuing.

And not that you have perused these thoughts, I trust you will join with other followers of Jesus Christ and pursue the righteousness of faith with a joyful and thankful heart.

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Galatians 5:1
[2] “Sark” is a transliteration of the Greek word “sarx” that is translated as “flesh” in our English Bibles. It refers to that disposition within us that wants to do everything independent of God and so, even when we think we are living as good Christians, our flesh keeps doing things we do not want to do, and failing to do the things we wish we could do in Christ. Paul explains this very clearly in Romans 7:1-25, with the glorious contrast of life in the Spirit in Romans 8:1-39.
[3] I use “knowledge” synonymously with “information”, not as though all the things people think they know is knowledge of what is true.
[4] II Corinthians 3:18
[5] I Timothy 6:11
[6] The “these things” Paul refers to includes the love of money and desiring to be rich as stated in I Timothy 6:9-10. It obviously includes anything that is in conflict with the righteousness of faith as clearly spelled out in the whole counsel of God.
[7] II Timothy 2:22
[8] I Peter 3:10-11