Sunday, November 23, 2014

I am Dead

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."  Colossians 3:2-3

I am dead.

There's no way to sugar-coat that.  It's not mystical.  It's not figurative.  It's real.

I am dead.

In Galatians 2:20, Paul says that we have been crucified with Christ.  Romans 6:6 states it similarly.  The message is spread throughout the Bible, in both the New Testament and the Old, yet we take it so lightly.  Simply by looking at the language of scripture, it's plain to see that this fact is far more than just an idea.  It's a reality.

To be crucified is not a light thing.  We are each told to pick up our cross (Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23), but in the days of the Roman empire, this action meant the end.  When a man picked up his cross, his friends and family would never see him again.  There was no chance of return.  His fate was sealed.

I am dead.

I have been crucified with Christ.  Nathan Tasker no longer exists; he died at the age of fourteen.  My friends and family will never see me again.  There is no chance of return.  My fate is sealed.

But that's not all.  I died, but I was replaced with a new man (Colossians 3:9-10).  This new man is not Nathan Tasker, however.  My identity is found in Christ (Galatians 2:20).  So if I have truly died, how can I continue in my old ways (Romans 6:1-2)?  How can I use Nathan Tasker - that man who lived from 1996 to 2010, who is now just a part of history - as a pattern to follow?  That's not me.  Christ is who I am, completely.

There is no partial crucifixion.  There is no partial surrender.  There is no partial death.  If you have truly been crucified with Christ, there is no turning back.  It's over.  Everything earthly about you must be put to death - murdered (Colossians 3:5).  You are of Christ, and now the life that you live - every moment, every situation - has to be lived for Christ.

I am dead.

And I die every day.  I am nowhere close to matching the perfect holiness of my Creator; I may never be.  Every day is an opportunity to crucify everything earthly about me: my old habits, my old desires, my old thoughts.  If I want to call myself a follower of Christ, I have no choice but to follow Him in crucifixion.  There is no middle ground.

I am dead.  Are you?

Monday, November 10, 2014

This is the Day

"This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it."  (Psalm 118:24)

Have you ever taken a moment to think about this verse - I mean, really think about it?  Most of us think we know exactly what this verse means.  We should rejoice, because God allowed us to live!  It's a new day!

This passage certainly is pretty straightforward.  Even so, many of us still fail to realize what "This is the day that the Lord has made" really means in its entirety.  What does it mean for God to make a day?  It's definitely not merely a "You made my day" kind of thing.  It's much more.

When God created the earth, He said it was good (Genesis 1:31).  He created everything for a reason.  And even since the Fall, God still creates things with a purpose.  So when we say that this is the day that the Lord has made, it means that He planned it.  He orchestrated it.

Because we live in the here-and-now, we tend to think that some days don't have much of a purpose.  Well, here's another day at work.  Another day of school.  Another day of life.  But God is eternal.  He's the beginning, the end, and everything in between.  He doesn't make anything meaningless.  So if God made this day, then He has something very special in mind for it.  That's not just poetic; it's literal.

God didn't create a day that is meaningless.  He made this day - this hour - this moment - to change something in your life.  Sometimes, though, we can diminish the plan God has for a day.  We can choose not to live in the Spirit, and so completely miss out on what God was going to do in and through us that day.  What God does in and through us is greatly dependent on how closely we walk with Him.

Maybe God wants to inspire a person through something you do or say.  Perhaps He desires to use this day to bring someone into a relationship with Him by using you.  He could yearn to use today to reveal to you a profound aspect of His character that you hadn't experienced.  Or, He might use this day to prepare you for something even greater tomorrow.  But this will never become a reality if you don't align your life to His will day by day.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Leaving a Legacy

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.  (Hebrews 11:5)

To leave a legacy is an incredible thing.  It takes one simple, corruptible, finite life and uses it to affect generation upon generation afterward.  Just about everyone will leave some kind of legacy, whether good or bad, even if it's just to their children or a small group closest to them.  It's the legacy of those who have impacted humanity for centuries that is truly great.

Enoch was of the seventh line from Adam.  Not much is said about him, actually.  His entire life if summed up in about four verses (Genesis 5:21-24).  Yet much of his legacy is found in verse 24: "Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him."  He's one of the only two individuals in scripture to not die (the other being Elijah; see 2 Kings 2:9-12).

But it wasn't the fact that "God took him" that gave him a legacy.  It was what he did: "Enoch walked with God."  What does it mean to walk with God?  To walk with God is to keep His commands.  It's to love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  It's to stay in constant communication with Him.

But that's not very big, is it?  I mean, Noah built an ark, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, Elijah stopped the rain.  What made Enoch's stroll with the Lord so special?  You see, leaving a legacy doesn't mean doing something incredibly huge to be a spectacle to all.  Sometimes the greatest legacy requires simply faithfully walking with our Heavenly Father day after day.  But I'll tell you what: that can be one of the hardest things you could ever do.

Andrew was a disciple of Jesus whose primary focus was to bring other people to meet the Messiah.  He brought his brother Simon, who became Peter.  He brought the boy with five loaves and two fish.  He wasn't in the limelight, but he did what God wanted him to do.  Both Andrew and Enoch built a legacy, but it wasn't through being in the forefront.  It was through humble service.

What will be your legacy?  Will you do something big for God?  Will you build a life worth remembering, or will you waste it on what doesn't matter?  The greatness of your legacy depends on the faithfulness of your walk with God.