Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Following Christ

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

Following Christ's example means to serve. To put the needs of others ahead of your own. To pour yourself out on their behalf, in the same way that Jesus poured His life out for our sake. To give up your privileges and benefits for others. Jesus did this too! He gave up all the privileges of the throne of Heaven to become the poorest man on earth. Why? "He became poor so that, through his poverty, you might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). To follow Christ's example then, is to give too much; to give more than people think you should. To give of your very life.

Being Christ-like means forgoing that lavish vacation to feed the hungry. It means downgrading your house or car to help fund Bible translation. It means being willing to sacrifice social status to talk to co-workers and friends about the gospel. To be like Christ, you must give sacrificially: to your church, to missions, to widows, to orphans... It means humbling yourself, lowering yourself, as low as is necessary to really make a difference in the lives of others. It means doing more than just giving money; you have to get your hands dirty meeting real physical and spiritual needs in the lives of those around you. 

Oh, how few of us actually live like Jesus did. I don't. Instead, I live in fear that I will take my faith too far, give away too much and suffer because of it. How absurd! Shockingly, the extreme that I fear is exactly what Jesus is calling me to. Give away too much! Live like Jesus did. There is nothing more costly, but nothing more worth it. Give your life away.

For further reading...
  • Luke 14:25-33- Count the cost. "Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples."

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Prayer that Saved Salvation

They went to a place called Gethsemane and... [Jesus] fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 14:32, 35-36

Far too many of us think we know better than God. In our prayers, we tell God what He ought to do. In our thoughts, we accuse God for not doing what He ought to have done already. Yet, look at Jesus' prayer hours before His death. He isn't shy about asking for exactly what He wants, but even the divine Son chooses to submit Himself to the Father's will. 

What an example there is for us in this prayer! Let's look at each of the three statements He prayed.

Everything is possible for you. 

God the Father could have stopped the crucifixion, for "everything is possible for God." But where would that leave us? 

Take this cup from me. 

Jesus makes His request plain. He asks the Father to help Him avoid drinking the cup of God's wrath. In other words, He asks God to help Him avoid this painful death. Now, we know that when the divine voice speaks, Heaven moves. So I can't help but wonder... as Jesus says this prayer on Earth is there a flurry of activity in heaven? Do angelic armies begin to muster?
Make no mistake: the salvation of mankind hangs in the balance at this point in His prayer for surely there is no other way that men can be saved but by the blood of Christ. If Jesus' trip to the cross is aborted than our salvation is lost. All of Heaven and Earth hold their breath to hear the end of this prayer.

Yet not what I will, but what you will.

We all owe our salvation to this very simple fact, the perfect Son of God doesn't insist before His Eternal Father on getting His own way. And in this moment all the angel armies of Heaven fix their eyes on the Father and are commanded to stand down. This one prayer saved salvation. Jesus had passed yet another test, one of His very last, on His way to the cross. He chose to trust the Father's will over His own. Shouldn't you do the same?!
Are you willing to surrender to God's will for your life? Are you willing to trust Him even when it hurts? Even when you think your plan is better? It takes faith to pray and ask God for what you want, but it takes greater faith to ask for what you want while living surrendered to His will. Pray like Jesus did.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Look Up!

At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
Daniel 4:34

The great King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon stood atop the world in the sixth century B.C. But when he became too full of thoughts of himself and his own glory, God disgraced him. He took his mind from him and He humbled him and caused Nebuchadnezzar to live like an animal in the field. How fitting it is that his sanity should return the moment he lifted his eyes up off the grass, beyond himself, and up toward heaven. 

There are many times in my life when casting my gaze on heaven seems like the only sane act in this crazy world. Like Nebuchadnezzar, I sometimes find myself with my head down eating the grass of daily existence. Caught up in the mundane and never-ending routines that take up so much of our time and that the great teacher of Ecclesiastes called "meaningless." It is only as I lift my eyes toward heaven that sanity and meaning are given to the things that drive me crazy. 

Sometimes I look up to laugh at the insanity of our world. Sometimes to cry. At other times I look up in worship and at others to plead for help. But always the Lord lifts my gaze up toward Himself. As long as my eyes rest on heaven, my troubles don't seem big enough to crush me, nor do my successes shine bright enough to distract me. 

So cast your eyes on the Lord today! Look to Him and plead, pray, mourn, laugh, or worship. Look to Him in whatever way is fitting for you and your circumstances, only be careful to never lower your gaze. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

An Open Door in Heaven

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
Mark 10:51

Imagine how you would feel if Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Elon Musk asked you that question. How would it feel to not only speak to someone that powerful but to get an open invitation to ask them for whatever you wanted? What would you ask for?

Consider this! We are invited to make requests of One who is infinitely more powerful and wise! Through Jesus, God opens a door in Heaven for us to enter directly into His throne room to petition Him for our needs. He invites us and even commands us to pray! It's as if Jesus Himself greets the believer every morning with the question he utters to Blind Bartimaeus in this passage: "What do you want me to do for you?"

Just think of that. Every minute of every day the believer has an open door to ask Jesus for anything she needs or wants. 

Do you? Do you ask Him for help paying your bills? Do you ask for wisdom to make decisions? When you are overworked and overwhelmed, do you pray and ask where you should start? Do you pray for your kids? Do you pray for your health? Do you pray? 

Don't take this great privilege for granted and don't you dare ignore it. Right now Jesus stands before you asking, "What do you want me to do for you, child?" Take Him up on His offer. Take a few minutes to pray!