June 3, 2013
“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23)
THE SEVENTH STEP: Evaluate and surrender your natural and spiritual gifts.
Once you get a good evaluation of your gift inventory, a principle application to the will of God for your life is to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your abilities. John the Baptist is a good example of a man who implemented this application. John knew who he was and he knew who he was not. He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness… ” That was who, what, and where John was to be. He knew it was foolish to try to be more than he was called to be. He also knew that life was too precious to be anything less than that voice crying in the wilderness.
I have known parishioners who experienced needless pain because they would not accept the limits of their limitations. However, when we are evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ, most of us will suffer agonizing shortfall because we did not accept the responsibility for our abilities. Like the unprofitable servant in The Parable of the Talents, some of us believe we are not gifted and we bury our talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
Your natural gifts are the result of your genetic heritage. Your spiritual gifts come with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). How are you utilizing them for God’s Kingdom?
May 29, 2013
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
STEP NUMBER FIVE: Be completely open and unbiased about what the will of God for your life might be.
A well paid consultant told me that much of the time when he earns large fees, his clients do not want his consultation. They simply want him to affirm what they have already decided to do. The will of God is often just out of our reach because we have our agendas in place when we come to God seeking His will. If our minds are set like concrete before we converse with God regarding His will for our lives, we are not really seeking His will when we pray or open His Word. We are actually asking God to bless our will, our agenda, and the way we have decided to go.
We must have the faith to believe the verse quoted above. It is tragically possible for you to miss the will of God for your life because you do not have the faith to believe that God can make you a new creation in Christ. Your extraordinary potential as a new creation in Christ is one reason why you must be completely open and unbiased as to what the will of God for you may be. Seeking God with your mind already made up could rob you of the will of God for a life that is good, perfect and the only life acceptable to your God. God loves you too much to let you live a life that is only a fragment of the life He has planned for you.
May 20, 2013
“If any man wills to do, he will know.” (John 7:17)
STEP NUMBER TWO: Be willing to do the will of God.
When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them to say, “Your will be done.” When Jesus modeled this, He sweat drops of blood as He prayed, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” (Matthew 6:10; 26:39; Luke 22:42-44) Jesus gives us a principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. This principle also applies when we are seeking to know the will of God in the marketplace.
The principle is simply this: If any man wills to do, he will know.
The Living Bible paraphrases Psalm 139: 16 to say God had every day of David’s life scheduled before David existed. David writes there that God is with him in such a way that it is impossible for David to escape God’s personal interest in every move he makes. This intimacy with God is obviously not only the experience of David, but can and should be the experience of every child of God.
According to Jesus and Paul, knowing the will of God for our lives does not have to be complex. God does not deliberately obscure His will. The complexity is not in the will of God, but in your will and my will. As Paul tells us how we can know “the good, acceptable and perfect will of God,” he begins his prescription for knowing God’s will by telling us to throw up our hands and offer an unconditional surrender of our wills to the will of God (Romans 12: 1-2). Our unconditional surrender to God will significantly un-complicate our quest to know the will of God.
April 2, 2013
“I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
This past weekend many heard the Good News that Jesus died and rose again for our sins that we might live forever in resurrection power with Him. Have you ever heard of the Gospel in reverse? The verse I quoted above sounds like a funeral dirge because it begins with Paul’s announcement that he is crucified with Christ.
But, actually in this verse Paul exclaims three times that he lives! He lives by faith in the Son of God. He lives because Christ lives in him, and he lives because he is crucified with Christ. To summarize and paraphrase, in this verse Paul is declaring the Good News that Christ died so he might live and now it’s his turn. Paul must die so Christ might live His life through Paul.
When our holidays roll around we hear that it should be Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter every day of the year. If you want to have a perpetual Easter, realize that what was true of the Apostle Paul can be true for you and me.
Jesus consistently challenged His followers to take up their cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9: 23). In addition to the literal meaning this could have had in that culture, by application to take up your cross daily means to “crucify” all the personal hopes, ambitions and plans you had for your life asking Him to have His will for your life.
Christ died that you might live. Now it’s your turn.
March 29, 2013
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV)
A mother of small twin daughters realized her bone marrow transplants were not going to work. In beautiful handwriting she wrote out The Living Bible Paraphrase of three chapters written by Paul about resurrection. When she gave them to me she asked me to explain them at her memorial service simply so her daughters would understand them.
The first was the great resurrection chapter of the Bible, the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians. The other two were the fourth and fifth chapters of Second Corinthians. I call these last two chapters: “Applied Resurrection.”
The first application of the resurrection of Christ is that just as Jesus was buried and raised from the dead, we are buried in the hope of our own resurrection. If that is not going to happen we should be pitied because we suffered for Christ in this life.
If you want to have a personal Easter I challenge you to read these three chapters slowly and devotionally in a good translation or paraphrase you can understand like The Living Bible Paraphrase or The Message.
C.S. Lewis told us the clergy are people who have been set aside to remind us that we are creatures who are going to live forever. They are also to teach us that life is a school in which we are to learn eternal values.
Applied Resurrection teaches us that though our outward man is perishing, it is possible for our inward man to be renewed every day while we’re learning to appreciate the difference between the visible and the invisible, the temporal and eternal values.
May your Easter be a time of reflection on eternal resurrection values.
March 5, 2013
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11: 6)
The truth is when I first came to faith and to the ministry I was struggling to know God. Providentially I had several spiritual heavyweights who mentored me to God. They shook things down for me into three basic and absolute propositions that made sense to me then and still do today.
Their first proposition was that God is there. I have not struggled with that proposition. I began by reflecting on the many, many ways God responds to the very many prayers I pray to Him there.
Their second proposition was that God is real. I found that when I related myself to God He responded by relating Himself to me. That inspired me to believe that He was not only there, He was very real when I related to Him and made personal contact with His divine presence.
When I found myself sharing with God the intimate dimensions of my personal, private and even secret life He responded to those prayers. I realized that I had come to believe in a personal God. That was the third proposition of my mentors: God is personal.
They wanted me to believe in and come to know a God who knew the numbers of hairs on my head. By the grace and providence of God I have come to know that personal God. I can believe Him when He tells me He has a plan for my life which when followed will make me a unique person distinct from every other living person.
Will you believe in the God who is there, real and personal?
February 19, 2013
“… but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better…” (Luke 10: 42)
Every time we meet Mary, the sister of Martha, she is at the feet of Jesus. The verse above describes her at the feet of Jesus hearing His Word. Martha is frustrated because Mary is attending the Bible study while she herself is doing all the serving. Jesus sides with Mary because she has chosen the number one priority that day.
In the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John the brother of these two sisters has died. When the Lord arrives too late to save their brother both these sisters greet Him with the same words: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” However, when Mary spoke those words we read that she prostrated herself at his feet showing that she accepted His will.
In the next chapter of the Gospel of John a banquet is described at which their resurrected brother is the guest of honor. Mary was there worshiping Jesus at His feet. She anointed His feet with perfume that was worth a year’s wages. What would it mean if you worshiped Jesus with your annual income?
This Mary is a great example for all of us as she is at His feet hearing His Word, accepting His will, and worshiping Him. If we will not merely read our Bible but hear His personal word to us at His feet when we do, we will find His will for our lives. If we continue to follow Mary’s example we will be at His feet accepting His will.
And those who follow the example of Mary will find themselves worshiping Him forever with costly worship at His feet.
February 12, 2013
“‘So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’” (Luke 10:36)
I heard a businessman say, “There are two things to be gained in every business deal: money and experience. When you do business always get the money and give that other person the experience!”
According to the way the parable of Jesus ended with the verse above, when a devout disciple of Jesus is involved in a business deal, should they always get the money and give the other person the experience?
Jesus taught this parable in response to the question: “Who is my neighbor?” In His answer Jesus presented three philosophies of neighbor. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours will be mine just as soon as I can take it.” That was the philosophy of the thieves in this story. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours” was the philosophy of the religious people Jesus profiled here. Jesus’ philosophy of neighbor, however, was showcased by the Samaritan in this way: “What’s yours is yours and what’s mine is yours any time you need it.”
How should that philosophy of neighbor impact the way we do a business deal as committed followers of Jesus Christ? The way we answer that question should make us think about our entire philosophy of life and not just our philosophy about how we do business.
What is your vision statement and what are your mission objectives in life? Is your vision statement to get rich and are your mission objectives all the ways you can think making money?
What is your philosophy of neighbor? Is your own personal vision statement in alignment with the philosophy of neighbor Jesus taught us?