One post can’t do justice to even a small slice of my spiritual journey. But here are some points I’ve been pondering that might encourage you as you look toward the new year.

PRAYER. It seems to be a fair, if anecdotal, assessment that Brazilians are more interested in prayer than Bible study, and Americans are more interested in Bible study than prayer. I’ve tried to learn more for, and practice better, my prayer life. Continue reading

Discipleship

According to the predominant religious models, the religious life is thought of in contemplative terms. To be spiritual is to flee from the world. Literally. To the monastery.

As he went along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him. And he got up and followed him.
Mark 2:14 NET

Jesus walked up and down the country, teaching and serving. And calling. Levi got up and followed him. To follow Jesus, one has to move. Teach. Serve. Do, like the Master, the will of the Father.

Life in Christ isn’t an escape from the world, but engaging oneself in the battle for souls in need of salvation.

To people whose religion had become an exercise in perfectionism and, therefore, a competition with others (which always generates conflicts and fights), Paul shows the exercise of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NET

The law prohibits, but it cannot produce.

The works of the flesh are obvious, but the fruit of the Spirit does not protest in the public square.

The works of the flesh are various, but the fruit of the Spirit is one.

The fruit of the Spirit is produced in the midst of the works of the flesh, not in a vacuum or far from the world. Because of this, there is always a “but.”

The fruit of the Spirit is received from God (love, joy, peace), transforms our treatment of our neighbor (patience, kindness, goodness), and reaches the self (faithfulness, gentleness, self-control).

The fruit of the Spirit serves everyone, all the time.

“Then astonishment seized them all, and they glorified God. They were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen incredible things today.’”
Luke 5:26 NET

When Jesus forgave the sins of the paralitic man, he was criticized. But when the crowd saw Jesus cure the man, and the man walking and carrying his stretcher, the witnesses glorified God and exclaimed that they had seen something extraordinary.

Afterwards, Jesus calls Levi to follow him, and criticisms rain down on him again, No praises.

The verse above concludes the passage about the paralytic, but do you reckon that Luke isn’t wishing that the reader would make a similar exclamation about Levi’s calling?

For what is more incredible: forgiving sins, reclaiming a soul, inspiring a fat cat to leave his riches in order to follow the Lord, or restoring a man’s body? Is it not the former?

Today, things haven’t changed much. We are impressed with the material, while the spiritual passes unnoticed. Or criticized.

What impresses you?

Prayer for November, 2010:

We invite the brotherhood to dedicate the month of November to the following petition:

May we dedicate ourselves to developing the spirit rather than giving in to the flesh; to decency and not sensuality. (see Romans 13:13-14)

May our missionary petition be:

That our life in Christ may underline the truth of our message of proclamation. (see 1 Peter 2:11-12)

How to use these prayers Continue reading

I was reading Joseph Chase’s blog, and came across the old hymn of invitation to the sinner, “Is thy heart right with God?“, both words and music written in 1899 by Elisha A. Hoffman.

With the tune in my head, I wrote this for the Christian.

At first, I varied the second and last lines of the stanzas, but it didn’t feel right, especially with the first line of the chorus repeating one of those, so I went back to the original pattern.

IS YOUR HEART STRONG IN GOD?

by J. Randal Matheny Continue reading

You know that when you were pagans you were often led astray by speechless idols, however you were led. 1 Corinthians 12:2 NET

What is spirituality? This was a critical question in Corinth. Paul establishes the criterion: spiritual is he who hears God’s revelation through the Holy Spirit when he speaks about Jesus (v. 3). Continue reading

Translation of yesterday’s meditation for Portuguese speakers, for your edification.

But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
2 Samuel 24:24 ESV

Continue reading