Then What? Day 10

1 John 1:3-4

…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

I’ve never thought about how inclusive this statement is or how natural.

“I’m telling you what I’ve seen and heard so you can come too. You will never believe who I have become friends with… you’ve just got to get in on this! It is so great – unbelievable – really. I’m still in awe. You will simply love Jesus. And He will love you! I’ve told him all about you, He can hardly wait! Me too! I can hardly wait.  Okay, I’ll take a breath. 🙂 ”

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Then What? Day 9

Matthew 26:36-46

“Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Challenge Take some time to be honest before the LORD and tell him what it is that you don’t want to surrender.

In the Garden Jesus knew what God the Father was asking of him…of what He was asking of Himself, really. He knew, being fully human what physical and emotional pain he must endure. He also knew he would need to experience what it would be to be separated from His Father. Interestingly, exactly the position of fallen mankind – he would have to go there. It is no wonder the struggle was so real He actually sweated blood.

Some days what we might call “surrender” is not that tough. Someone needs something we own, our heart is open, we give knowing it pleases God and in some way will further his kingdom. Maybe we will even have to “do without” but it only takes seconds to decide – we are joyful to hand it over. In fact, many things that would seem to others as some big surrender are actually things where God has changed our thinking and drawn us toward.

Some days I am called to “surrender” what I prefer not. It could be a tangible thing but more often it is something in me – my attitude, my anger, my control, my fear, my viewpoint, my way, my sin. Change is not easy or pleasant and certainly is never just a onetime thing. This is the exchange – bit by bit letting go of the old and being transformed into the image of Christ.

The general and vast prayer of surrendering all that I am to God is a worthy concept but for many it is the equivalent of jumping off a cliff into the abyss. The problem, I think, is the unknown.

A better prayer for me is the known.

Father, thank you for your promise that the work you have begun in me will be brought to completion. I can in no way fail because it is not me who must accomplish the work. You are diligently transforming me into the image of your Son. Help me to embrace the daily bits and repetitions of surrender that will do this work in me. And allow me to revel in the changes you make that I joyfully notice but never struggled to gain. Amen.

Then What? Day 8

Hebrews 12:1

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith… Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Always the teacher, I love Bianca’s words.

“Today’s IF: Equip is brought to you by the letter C:

  • Daily Commit to God – I want to be on mission for you.
  • Daily Confess – God I need you. There is sin and weight in my life I need you to take from me.
  • Daily Connect– Bring people into your life who are willing to walk on this journey with you.”

Nothing mysterious. No heavy soul searching required. Just three simple actions to be taken DAILY. When you can’t get out of the gate, you begin here.

Truly, Lord, this is the desire of my heart – to be on mission for you. Whatever that looks like today, I’m ready.

Right now the biggest weight I know seems like procrastination. It masquerades as “preparation” but really, I could be preparing forever. There are plenty of things for which I am already prepared or don’t need any preparation, so today I lay that weight down.

I am grateful for the people you have already given me for support and encouragement. But I realize that in choosing Matthew, Jesus opened a door of new connections – to the ones who needed Him most. Father, as I step out on mission, show me the person with whom I will find encouragement and partnership for this leg of the race.

Amen.

Then What? Day 7

Luke 5:31-32

[Jesus called Levi (Matthew) to follow him. Levi gave a reception and invited his tax collector friends. The Pharisees grumbled.]

And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus was on mission. He was clear about His intentions. He knew what He was about. This is the same call for the church (individual and corporate). We are a city on a hill so that those who have not encountered Jesus have that opportunity. Jesus chose Matthew and Matthew opened a door of connections for Jesus.

Maybe if I want an open door to being on mission, it might start with one connection. Lord, help me “notice” who that person might be.

Then What? Day 6

Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

This verse is the punchline from the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus the Tax Collector.

Jesus was passing through Jericho and Zacchaeus wanted to see him. Being short he climbed a tree to watch Jesus pass by. Jesus saw him, called him down and invited himself to lunch. Almost immediately Zacchaeus was converted.

Of course the “people” muttered about Jesus hanging with sinners. They judged Zacchaeus by his chosen profession and how he treated them. Tax collectors were traitors and thieves- preying on their own people.

Here’s my take away.

  1. Zacchaeus was an unlikely candidate but this did not influence Jesus.
  2. Jesus was seeking anyone who was ready. Jesus told Zach to “come down immediately” and then He seized the moment. Zach was ready.
  3. When Zach responded to the Gospel, his life was changed. There was evidence.

I’m inclined to believe there are people who are ready to receive the Gospel. Thinking there are people who “want to hear” is kind of foreign to American Christians who expect opposition at every turn. It makes us fearful witnesses. But what if we were just messengers on assignment to a particular person who wanted to hear? How would that change my approach?

Lord, I don’t know another person’s heart. I don’t know who is just waiting for the messenger but if you will show me I’ll give the message.

Right now, the message itself is kind of under construction in my own mind but I am clear on this:

As eternal beings we will live forever, either with God or without Him. Sin has separated mankind from God and made every person incapable of restoring their own relationship with him. Jesus came to make a way for us to be set right with God and to empower us, through the Holy Spirit, to live in unbroken fellowship with the Father, now and for eternity.

How does one cross the line of separation – from what we call death to life? It is apparently a choice of believing or faith. Faith placed in Jesus: that He is God, that His work on the cross overcame the sin that has separated each of us from God…believe that He is who He said He is…the Way, the Truth and the Life and the only door back to fellowship with the Father.

He’ll take it from there.

 

 

Then What? Days 4-5

Day 5

Philippians 2:3-16

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Day 4

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

One Body with Many Members For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

One local body, one city-wide body, one state-wide body, one country-wide body, one global body – all made possible because of ONE SPIRIT.

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Since I moved to here – what 34 years ago? – I have found it right up my alley to be a joiner. If the door was open, I was in and after not very long I was volunteering to lead. I was welcomed because God had prepared those groups for me to join, to find my place and to play my part.

I haven’t changed but the places have. “Thanks but your services are no longer needed.” I feel like I’ve been fired.

I’m thinking of the admonition to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. I am reminded God is at work in me for His good pleasure – not so much MY good pleasure. And I have my part too…work it out!

In addition I would be lying if I didn’t admit He has already been pushing me toward an answer. He has called me to purposeful prayer. I keep thinking in my head the direction will just come if I wait Him out. How dumb is that? Don’t answer that…I already know the answer.

Then What? Days 1-3

Day 1

Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Day 2

Hebrews 3:13
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Day 3

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Thoughts on Then What?

As one who desires the community found in the Body of Christ, I have long loved these verses. I have had and continue to desire a place to live these out. It turns out these opportunities have significantly dwindled in this season of my life. I am trying to adjust – find my new footing. I know God is at work.

In years of ministry, God has always spoken to me in a particular way. Not anything that makes me “special” or something like that. It’s just that when I know God is directing me it seems to come in patterns that I recognize. It is likely He is accommodating my human limitations (which He knows all too well.) I see patterns – or I should say – when I see patterns – I feel more confident about the message.

Here is my latest pattern: I am comfortable in my beliefs. God brings up a topic that is unsettling. I am forced to re-examine.

Generally I am not looking for some personal study that suddenly consumes my thinking and my free time. But I can’t seem to live with the uncertainty that has thrown off my equilibrium. Once I get over the irritation for having to be in this mess, God begins. There is finger-pointing, forgiveness, reminding, exhorting, patience, encouragement and Presence.

For now, I am not the disciple maker. I am the disciple.

Day 19 – Jesus I AM- Matthew 5:14-16

19 I AM“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

I didn’t go out thinking “be a light” –it was just dinner and book club with a gathering of friends.

They are great people – fun, raucous at times, educated, intelligent, good parents, caring, volunteers – just great women. They run circles around me in a 100 different ways – basically, I got nothing on them. Of this gathering maybe one other person is a believer. It’s a secular group though many of these women go to various churches and post spiritual and uplifting things on Facebook. None of them are shy. In fact sometimes I might be more comfortable if they were a tiny bit more reserved on some topics. But they are not.

One of the gals was missing – the other believer- “S”. (Come to think of it she is the quietist of the bunch.) It was the first anniversary of her teenage son’s tragic death in an auto accident. Everyone was genuinely sympathetic as they spoke about it but the buzz never waned – one voice over another, like we were on some limited schedule to get everything told.

Then the leader spoke up to get us started and said the most unexpected thing. “I think we should say a prayer for “S”.” And then she asked me to pray. When I agreed, they spontaneously all held hands. The room got quiet and I prayed.

This was my question: why, of all the competent women in the room, did she ask me to pray? For the most part these people know very little of my personal life. I met most through PTA.

Here’s all I can figure. Jesus said “You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.”

We are the light because Jesus is the Light.  If you don’t hide out from the world, He shines.

Day 18 – Jesus I AM- Isaiah 9:2-6

18 I AMThe people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The word that comes to mind is HOPE.

May I live in the reality of what Jesus has done and what will ultimately be seen by all.

“Our Father, may Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…on earth as it is in heaven.”