Essentials

Every task in life has its own essentials—

  • Fundamentals to be mastered,
  • Languages to understand, and
  • Disciplines to maintain.

Today we consider the essentials of life itself—

  • The fundamentals of living a life that matters,
  • The languages of life, and
  • The daily disciplines that keep life livable.

There are not that many absolute essentials to life, but there are a few, vital factors that make life meaningful and enjoyable.

Three Essentials
Among his many detailed instructions essential to a full life in Christ, Paul elevates three essentials to the top of the list:

  • Faith,
  • Hope, and
  • Love.

The brilliance of Paul’s analysis is apparent:

  • Faith—we will believe something that gives meaning and shape to life;
  • Hope—we will function in those beliefs because they provide expectations from life that motivate us to keep going; and
  • Love—we are not alone and the best way to connect with people and with our Creator is to purposely develop and express affection and real concern for others.

Faith is an Essential.
Faith presents itself in a number of guises, among them: world view, philosophy, and theology. Faith may even masquerade as science or cynicism or sarcasm, but it is all faith. At the core of any belief system is a set of assumptions, things that must be believed without proof. Faith provides the context in which we choose to live life.

A secular faith provides us with this poverty-stricken context for life:

  • I am an accident of an uncaring universe.
  • I have no purpose beyond my own choices.
  • I am an animal controlled by instinct, driven by the will to survive and procreate.
  • I am accountable to no one except my fellow man.
  • I have no eternal destiny; this life is all there is.
  • There is no judge or judgment day beyond human existence.

Each religion provides its own context for life. Let us consider the context the Christian life provides:

  • I was created by God and He has an eternal purpose for me; my life matters.
  • Made in the image of God, I am a trinity: body, soul, and spirit.
  • I have a free will and a deep desire to know, love, and serve God.
  • Jesus took the judgment of my sins at the cross and I will stand before Him one day to receive His judgment of my deeds as a believer.
  • I will live forever to serve and worship the Lord Jesus.
  • This life is preparation for the next.

The proper faith leads to hope and love.
With this faith, we can stride into each day with confidence that God is faithful. The theme song of the Old Testament is, “The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.” Faith gives us hope. With this faith and hope, we can approach others through genuine love. We need not fear what man can do to us—God is for us! We can love those who love us and those who hate us. We can love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love for God empowers us to love our neighbor as much as we do our self.

Whatever details of your life you encounter today, if you carry with you these essentials, when the night falls and it is time to sleep, you will look back on a day lived to its fullest.

Scriptures:
Psalm 107:1 NKJV
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Mark 12:30-31
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Matthew 5:43-45 3
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
Colossians 1:3-6
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach me the fundamentals! Help me to never forget the essentials. I will rehearse the faith in prayer and scripture confession. I will exercise my days in the firm hope of Your promises and Your character. I will love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength while loving others as myself. These three essentials will empower the life I live before You and before the world. Lord, these aspirations are beyond my human ability. Holy Spirit, You dwell within me to empower me to do what I cannot do in the natural. Help me live this essential, spiritual life. For Your glory! Amen.

Song:
Faith Is the Victory
Words: John Henry Yates; Music: Ira D. Sankey

1. Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers rise
And press the battle ere the night Shall veil the glowing skies;
Against the foe in vales below Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know, That overcomes the world.

Refrain:
Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, That overcomes the world.

2. His banner over us is love, Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints before With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath, Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death Is still our shining shield.

Refrain

3. On every hand the foe we find Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind, And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head, With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread, And echo with our shout.

Refrain

4. To him that overcomes the foe, White raiment shall be giv’n;
Before the angels he shall know His name confessed in heav’n;
Then onward from the hills of light, Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night, In Jesus’ conqu’ring name.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

2 thoughts on “October 18, 2017: “Essentials”

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