Saturday, March 30, 2013

While We Were Yet Sinners

     He was tortured.  He was beaten, whipped, bruised, spat upon, and countless other things.  Who knows what those who abused Him were thinking as they killed him?  Yet the Lord Jesus asked His Father to forgive them "for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).  Not only did He ask that they be forgiven, but He was paying for that forgiveness at that very moment.  As He hung on the cross bleeding, nails pounded into His wrist and thorns thrust in His head, He was accepting the punishment for their sins.  For the first time, the Father turned His face away from the Son (Matthew 27:46).  And He did it all for them.  He did it all for us.

     In Romans 5:8, it says "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Think of the time you hurt Christ the most.  Even in the very moment of our worst sin, Christ was looking upon us.  But He didn't hate us.  He loved us.  When we slapped Him in the face with our sin, Jesus said of us, I'm going to die for them.  Yes, they've run from Me.  Yes, they've tortured Me with their sin.  Yes, they've beaten Me over and over and over again.  But I want them.  I love them.  They're My beloved children.  I will die for them.

     Even in writing this post, there are so many more aspects of Christ's life, death, and resurrection that I want to tell you.  It's the most important part of the Bible!  All of God's Word is centered around it.  It was prophesied from Genesis to Isaiah and even the Psalms.  The very story of God's love is climaxed with this moment.  Perhaps I'll share some of these things in future posts.

     Until then, if you happen to read this before Easter is over, remember this moment for the rest of your day.  Treasure Jesus's amazing love for you.  If you read this after Easter, realize that only the world celebrates Christ's resurrection on this day alone.  As Christians, we celebrate His love for us every day!  Let your life be centered around Jesus's love and sacrifice, because He not only died - but He lives.  And He's watching your life unfold.  Let it be for Him.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Church of Tomorrow

     "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12, ESV

     The scripture above is a very popular verse that was part of a letter from Paul to the young Christian Timothy.  I especially love both letters of Timothy because they are a message from Paul, a champion in the faith and early church, to a young, growing Christian like you and me.  But instead of a dumbed-down, simplistic message, Paul told it to Timothy straight.  He didn't have to drop to Timothy's level; he spoke to him like the Christian brother that he was.  

     I've seen many churches emphasize this verse, telling youth that they are special - that they are the "church of tomorrow."  While this is true, I believe we put way too much emphasis on the first part of the verse and ignore the second part.  Honestly, if the youth of today are truly the "church of tomorrow".... we're doomed. Our culture has already lifted youth onto a pedestal that pushes parent, church, and even government authorities down to a point that youth now dominate society.  We focus so much on not letting anyone look down on our age that we forget that we are an example to every other Christian - whether young or old.  

     However, there's a reason why Paul put our example as believers directly after telling Timothy to let no one despise his youth.  It's because it's not just the responsibility of an adult to not look down on youth.  It's our responsibility too.  It's our responsibility to step up to the call to be more than youth and to be the example.  We need to be the example by edifying one another (Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29), behaving like a true Christian (Ephesians 5:8), walking in love (Ephesians 5:2) and in faith (see Hebrews 11), and in our purity (Matthew 5:8, 2 Timothy 2:22).  This is how we are to be an example.

     Yes, we are the church of tomorrow.  But more importantly, we are the church of today.  What are you doing now that makes you a good example to others?  Are you encouraging other teens to grow in faith, or are you just part of the crowd?  We have a whole generation to reach.  Let's be the example - in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Walk Worthy of Your Calling

     In the last post, I wrote about finding God's will for our lives.  This week the Lord has been showing me more about this topic, so I want to add a new focus to it in this post.  The verse that has probably been most meaningful to me in my studies this week has been Ephesians 4:1:
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,"
     My last post focused on the calling that the Lord has laid upon our hearts, and I was blessed to hear of all that the Lord has been calling some of you to do.  Ephesians 4:1 mentions our callings, but it takes it a step further by telling us to walk worthy of them.

     So what does it mean to walk worthy of our calling?  It certainly doesn't mean we deserve it.  Nothing we do can ever make us deserving of what Christ gives us.  He has blessed us more than words can explain (Ephesians 3:20) - much less what we could ever deserve!  We can never be worthy, but we strive every day to become worthy.  In all of His life on earth, Jesus never commanded us to do something that we could simply do on our own.  We need Him for everything.

     How do we walk worthy of our calling, then?  Paul answers this in the following verses of Ephesians 4:

"with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
     Too many times we think that being "worthy" involves more doing.  Sure, the Lord wants us to do things for Him, but this does not come first.  "For by grace you have been saved, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)   What comes first is not works but instead humility, kindness, patience, unity, and peace - certainly not things we can do by ourselves.

     Submitting our "works" to God and allowing Him to change our hearts is hard, but it is the only way we can walk worthy of our calling.  When we arrive in heaven, we will be judged for what we have done and will be rewarded accordingly.  While our works (or lack of) will not void our salvation, what a sad day it will be if our list of works for Christ fit on a napkin.  Let's build a library of accomplishments - a library built on a foundation of humility.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Understanding God's Incredible Will

     Has the Lord ever put something on your heart?  A ministry?  A task?  Or simply a random act of kindness?  Many times we ask God things like "Show me Your will for me" or "Reveal to me my calling."  It's amazing when He shows us these things.  It's our assignment from Christ.  

     Sometimes, though, we misunderstand our calling.  We want God to give us something new, something exciting - something we'll love to do.  Many times, however, we don't get this.  As a man from my church shared in our men's Bible study today, sometimes God wants us to do what we're already doing - He just wants us to do it more.  We can bounce back and forth with our own "callings" from Christ, but sometimes He just wants us to obey Him and to do what he's already asked us to do.  

     I've jumped from one thing to another, trying to somehow please God through my works, but if it's not what He's asked from me, there's not really much of a point.  It's just works.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast," Ephesians 2:8-9 explains.  It's not about what we can do for God, it's what He can do through us.  We just have to be humble and have faith in Him.

     The first part of God's will for our lives is that we obey His word: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome," (1 John 5:3).  If we're not operating in line with His own words, how can we expect to please him?  Once we know we are obeying His commands, we can begin to ask for Him to reveal to us His will for our work in His kingdom.  If, for some reason, you do not see God revealing it to you, check to see if He has already called you to something, but you've not seen it.  

     Sometimes the Lord has already revealed His will to us.  He has given us our assignment, and it is up to us to do it.  He may be whispering to you, "You're already doing your calling. Just do it more.  Let Me take control and guide you where I wish."  His will is always incredibly amazing.  Has God given you a calling?  Leave a comment!  I would love to hear how God is working in your life.