It’s doubtful that we’ve all become cowboys, astronauts, and racecar drivers. We learn to adapt. We change our minds. We face setbacks.
All of this thinking, however, is on a physical level. No matter how high we climb the ladder our view is seriously impeded until we begin to see life through spiritual eyes. Only when we get off the ladder and begin to ascend the mountain of God does the view ever change. Only when we ascend the mountain does our perspective change.
The Psalmist exclaims to God, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13).
The Apostle Paul pens, “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
And in Ephesians 2:10 he affirms, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Regardless of vocation. Regardless of situation. Regardless of circumstance. Regardless of victory or defeat. To begin to see every moment of life as God-ordained. Christ-centered. Spirit-filled. And Kingdom-embracing.
God meets His people not at the top of the ladder, but upon the mountain (Hebrews 12:22).
Too often we assess our value as to where we are on the ladder (physical), rather than how we are living up to our calling as believers (spiritual).
When we get off the ladder and begin to climb the mountain of God it is then that we not only begin to become acutely aware of our calling in life, but it is then, and only then, that we begin to achieve the very things that our Father has created us and purposed us to do.
Glory to God!
Sometimes life gets in the way and what is urgent gets in the way of that which is important. The lines between what is urgent and what is important are often blurred. A deadline that must be met. A project that is past due. A meeting that needs to be attended. A person that requires your attention. Are these urgent or important? It very often might be that they are indeed both.
Our priorities are easily revealed. And it’s not as if the urgent mustn’t sometimes temporarily outweigh the important. But the amount of time and attention we give to any particular person or practice tends to grant us insight into that which comprises our priorities.
We may say that our family is a priority to us, but if what our children see in us is that we are capable of granting all sorts of time and energy toward other people and other endeavors, and little time toward them, what does it communicate to them in regard to where they rate on our scale of priorities? We may say (and even believe) that we love our spouse more than any other person on the face of the planet, but if we spend more time on the golf course or more energy at the office than we’d ever think about affording to them, what is communicated to them as to how intentional we are in validating the relationship that we share? And what about God? Where does He fit in? We say that God is first in our lives? Is He really? How much focus is centered upon God during the course of your week? Take church attendance out of the picture. What attention does He receive?
Somehow we’ve found it extremely easy to con ourselves into believing that right theology equals right relationship. The truth is, if our theology was right, we would find it all together impossible to think this way.
John Stott in his work, “The Living Church,” describes how on his calendar he would mark the letter “Q” on one specific day each month (Stott passed away in 2011). The “Q” stood for “quiet.” Once a month, on a day that he had designated and planned long beforehand, he would go to a quiet place. Away from the office. Away from the busyness of life. Away from interruptions. And he would spend 10 to 12 hours that day, by himself, “quiet,” with God. One day a month with no agenda, other than “quiet” time with God. Prayer. Study. Closeness. Intimacy with God. What does that say about Stott’s priorities? What does it say about his desire to be with the Father?
What if you were to plan a “Q” day each month? Or a “Q” hour each week? Or “Q” time each day?
What would it say about your priorities? How might it impact your walk with the Lord?
Glory to God!
Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”
Micah 7:19, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Jeremiah 31:34, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
God reveals relationship in vivid metaphor. Sin removed as far as the east is removed from the west. The stark contrast of scarlet and snow. Sins plummeting to the depths of the sea. An all-powerful, all-knowing God choosing to forget, and remember our sins no more.
The imagery of forgiveness.
Our Father forgives. He heals. He restores. He delivers. He rescues.
Through divine prerogative and divine covenant and divine eyes He sees us not for our sin, not for our shame, not for our rebellion, but for who we are through Jesus.
Galatians 3:27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
He sees us through Jesus.
Glory to God!
“Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. When He was accused by the chief priests and the elders, He gave no answer. Then Pilate asked Him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor” (Matthew 27:11-14).
Pilate is amazed. He’s dumbfounded. His gears are seriously jamming. Jesus won’t defend Himself against His accusers. He answers Pilate when he asks, “Are you the king of the Jews?” But he won’t answer those who oppose Him. And Pilate doesn’t get it. He can’t fathom why in the world Jesus doesn’t answer them. But that’s precisely why. Because His Kingdom is not of this world. And so He refuses to answer.
Jesus doesn’t answer because He is in complete control. Of Himself. Of the situation. It may seem as if things are spiraling out of control, but they are far from it. God is sovereign. Jesus doesn’t answer because “as a sheep before his shearers is silent he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus is fulfilling the plan of God, the purposes of God, in every way. And He knows it. Though His actions He’s fulfilling prophesy. Intentionally. Jesus doesn’t answer because His critics wouldn’t listen even if He did. Would it change their minds? Their hearts? No. And so He doesn’t answer.
One more crucial reason that I believe Jesus doesn’t answer is because He knows who He is as He stands before the Father. He is complete. He is whole. He is without blemish. Without defect. Without fault. And ultimately, it matters not what the critics think of Him; of who they believe Him to be. What matters is that He fulfills the will of the Father in His life. Beyond that, does anything else really matter?
Who we are in the Father’s eyes matters more than everything else. When it is all said and done, it’s really all that matters.
Glory to God!
Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse of Scripture that speaks to the hearts of many (it is Tiersa’s absolute favorite verse of Scripture). “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
However I wonder how familiar we are with verse 13? “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Perhaps we recognize the words. But are we aware of the context in which they are found?
They are words spoken by God through the prophet, communicated to His people as they find themselves living in a world contrary to their calling.
Seeking God. Pursuing God. Searching for God. In a world that is unfair, consumed with self, and spinning out of control. Does that sound anything like our calling today?
“You will find me,” God declares, “when you seek me. When you actively look for me. When you search for me. With all of your heart and with all of your soul. With everything that you are. Then, and only then, will you find me.”
Are we seeking God? In our lives. In our worship. In our hearts. In our motives. In our families. Are we seeking Him? Do we long for Him? With all our hearts? With all our souls?
Did you ever play hide and seek as a child? Sure you did. Sometimes you were the one hiding. Sometimes you were the one seeking. But what about now? Do you ever find yourself doing the same thing? Do you find yourself seeking God one moment and hiding from Him the next?
Our calling is greater than that.
Glory to God!
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Ten words. That changed everything.
In an instant, everything changed. It was all in God’s divine plan. All in His divine providence. All founded in His divine initiative.
Decades later (and especially a century later), the incarnation would be at the center of debate. There were many who questioned the validity of the Word becoming flesh. It wasn’t entirely Christ’s deity that was under scrutiny. It wasn’t solely His humanity that was doubted. It was the mental gymnastics required to accept that He was both. Divine and human. Simultaneously. Upon initial consideration, can we blame them? We have the benefit of 2000 years of theology. But the reality that Christ was 100% God and 100% human, you have to admit, is a doctrine that must be based solely upon faith. Because it makes no earthly sense.
But He was. Christ was with God in the beginning (John 1:1). And then He became (John 1:14). He became, He took on flesh, and He lived and walked and ministered among us. The incarnation is intended to blow our minds. And it should! That God was willing, that Christ was willing, to “take on the nature of a servant” and be made “in human likeness” and to become “obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:1-11) should amaze us! It is certainly designed to.
And the amazement of the incarnation must not end there. Because the wonder of it all is that Christ is “incarnate” in us (if we can use that terminology). God is revealed “in the flesh” when His people live out our calling as those who belong to Him.
“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Verse 27 comes at the conclusion of an entire section of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church which centers upon the incarnation of God in Jesus. He then transitions to the incarnation of Christ, in us!
That a holy God would, through His perfect Son, reside within an unholy and imperfect people should amaze us! It is certainly designed to. Our reality as those who have been sanctified by the Spirit purposes you and I to reveal His deity in our humanity. In our divine and human nature(s). Christ is us, the hope of glory.
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Ten words. That changed everything. Ten words. That change us still.
Glory to God!
“It’s not so much who killed them but what killed them. And when we move from the who to the what, in a very real way we begin to see that we are all in this together.” – MLK after the murders of Freedom Riders: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi and then after the beating death of Princeton Seminary student James Reeb in Alabama.
Please be in prayer for Charleston, SC.
Glory to God!
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:16b-18).
There’s a lot that has brought the Apostle John to this point in his first letter. There are those who feel as if they have the market cornered on God and who readily belittle others who they consider as “less spiritual.” John writes to encourage those who are taking criticism and who are truly seeking to have high view of God and humble view of themselves.
The theme of “love” is a thread that runs throughout John’s literature. John assures that the very nature of God is love. The Apostle affirms that love is not only the foundation of our relationship with the Father, but is foundational in our relationship with others. With both those whom we agree and those we do not.
Everything of course is encompassed within Jesus’ beautiful message: “God so loved…” (John 3:16).
But here in 1 John, the Apostle moves from “love” to “fear.” “There is no fear in love.” “Perfect love drives out fear.” The connection to love (and context of John’s message) is enveloped in relationship. Relationship with God. And relationship with others. And what I believe our Father through His servant John hopes to communicate with us in this is that for those who are in a right relationship with God fear is not a part of the equation. The perfect love of God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus drives it away. However, if we were to be honest, we each, very often, have our fears. And even though John is speaking of eternity and how there is no fear (“condemnation” to use Paul’s word – cf. Romans 8:1) for those who are in Christ Jesus, I wonder what might be weighing on your heart and mind right now?
I wonder: What is it that you’re afraid of? What is it that is causing you concern right now? What is it that is weighing you down? What is it that is keeping you up at night? What is it that is dividing your attention? What are your fears?
Because the message of Jesus can be summed up in these words: “You are not alone.”
Jon Walker in his book, Costly Grace, writes: “Fear whispers in our ear that we face danger alone, that God is unaware of our plight and that Jesus is unavailable in our time of need” (p217).
You are not alone. You can trust God. You can trust our Father. You can trust Him.
You are not alone.
Glory to God!