Archive for April, 2014
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
We set goals and are introduced to disappointment. We have hopes, dreams, and aspirations only to see them shattered and crushed in defeat and disheartenment. Yet, it is in these repeated experiences of our powerlessness that we discover the faithful provision and sufficiency of our heavenly Father.
“Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13).
Each day is spent in passionate pursuit of something. Our focus, energy, time, and resources are directed toward that which we have deemed of greatest importance. For most, this means doing what gains the favorable opinions of man. What is more freeing, however, and enables one to better prioritize life, is when our greatest concern is a favorable judgment by God. It’s the difference between “beefing up” a resumé for this life and building relationships for the life to come.
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it (1 Corinthians 3:10).
As followers of Christ we acknowledge that we are products of God’s grace. This truth heightens the awareness of all that God has entrusted to us. Random encounters become providential intersections, time becomes moments of eternal significance, grace received is now grace given. We are, in a sense, the subcontractors of what God is seeking build.
“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).
Today’s verse captures, perhaps, like none other the comprehensive nature of the life lived in Christ Jesus. It is a calling that speaks to the totality of our being and not just part. The life that is daily being crucified develops an ever-growing awareness of the emptiness of the things of this life, and embraces the lifelong process of dispossession—letting go and giving up—so that His possession of us might be our only consuming passion.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).
The word “hate” is so hard and biting that we are startled to hear it from the lips of our Lord, especially in association with members of our own family. It’s actually a translation from an Aramaic term that means “to love less.” It has to do with the competitions of life that vie for our loyalty and allegiance. Disciples understand that Jesus will be second to nothing and no one.
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).
The productivity of physical training is greatly enhanced by utilizing a broad spectrum of exercises, of varying difficulty and duration. Spiritual training, however, is a one-dimensional exercise, focused upon carrying a cross. Worship, bible study, and prayer are effective tools in helping us to maintain that focus. Cross carrying isn’t a one-time thing but an all-time thing. It can be a grind; it can be heavy; it can be inconvenient. Yet, one cannot enter into spiritual training without it.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The world has never lacked in its interest of all things spiritual, but it is an ethereal, baseless, subjective kind of spirituality. Few, on the other hand, are interested in a spirituality rooted in a cross and the burden of carrying that cross. The apostle Paul considers as spiritual only those who have been so apprehended by the cross that their lives have been radically transformed. Any form of spirituality apart from the cross is but an exaltation of self.
“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:8).
Spiritual immaturity is characterized by an infatuation with human personalities (v.4). For these the presence or absence of a particular individual determines whether or not the person will remain committed to the work of the Kingdom. In contrast, the spiritually mature understand that human personalities come and go and, thus, it in no way impacts their level of commitment to or participation in Kingdom work. Theirs is God-focused life that recognizes we are but instruments through which God accomplishes his work as we avail ourselves to him.
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage; but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).
Those who are diligent in faith lead proactive lives. Who they are in Christ Jesus predicates every facet of their life. In contrast, most people approach life reacting to the ever-changing circumstances around them. Thus, each day is a directionless pursuit with no clear destination or purpose in sight. The diligence of a proactive life is far more productive than the impoverished responses of a reactionary life.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1).
Of the two Greek words translated as “new”, John utilized the one that means “new in kind”; something that never before existed. So new, unique, and different is John’s vision that it seems to defy description; that the best way to do so was utilizing negative statements to communicate what heaven is not–a place where there are no more tears, no death, no mourning, no crying, or pain (Rev. 21:4). Each no is God’s yes to eternal life.