Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Quiet Life

My father made a living by driving bus. He received no great commendations, was never on tv, and his income was quite modest. Often, he would wake at 4 or 5 in the morning, read his devotions, and head off to work. He went about his work humbly, and without complaint.

Paul writes to the Thessalonians, "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business, and work with your hands" (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

It is a freeing thing to know that a janitor sweeping the floors at an insane asylum, for the glory of God, may be a very pleasing sight to the Creator.

Having our chains cut from this world, frees us from the pull of seeking to be made much of by way of great wealth or notoriety.

Our new desires seek to make known the One who cut those chains and bought our freedom.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Life Aimed at Eternity II

A rich young man approached Jesus. He had a big question.

"Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

Jesus knew this man's heart.

"Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

"All these I have kept. What do I still lack," the rich man replied.

He wasn't getting it. But, Jesus knew how to get at the heart of the issue.

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

The man - dejected - went on his way.

John MacArthur says it well: "This young man's most serious spiritual defect was his reluctance to confess his own utter spiritual bankruptcy". Jesus tried to show the man his self-righteousness and that his merits would not commend him to God. But, he wasn't seeing it. His treasure was in his money and hope, in himself.

Shortly after this episode, Jesus turned to His disciples and declared how hard it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, he compared the difficulty to a camel trying to get through an eye of a needle. The disciples couldn't believe it.

This rich man (and many others like him) find their greatest treasure in possessions and in their own self-righteousness. People like this are not bankrupt. They are self-reliant. Ironically, these are not the people Jesus came to save.

Lives aimed at eternity, see their bankrupt life, realize they have nothing to give God, and throw themselves at the Cross of Christ. They find their greatest treasure not in having great wealth and being propped up by it, but in Christ alone - who holds them up before the Father and says, "this one is sick - he is mine, on account of My purifying blood."

Like the apostles and others who have taken up their cross, they see the selling of possessions as a joyful giving up of something they cannot keep for something they cannot lose*.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Life Aimed at Eternity

If we take a closer look at the lives of Jesus' apostles, we will learn how to live for eternity.

Why do 13 men (including Paul) live in such a way that all they care about is Christ (1 Cor. 2:2) and are willing to go to great lengths to promote His name (Acts 14:19, Acts 16:22, 2 Cor 11:25, Acts 12:2)?

For one, all men had all been in the presence of Christ. While the 12 hand-picked apostles were given the privilege of being in Christ's company for three years and saw Christ at work, Paul experienced Christ in a radical, life-changing event on the road to Damascus (Acts 22). These men knew the Lord, what He came to do, and realized they needed to tell others about Him.

When you see something beautiful, you usually don't keep it to yourself. You tell others about it. These men could not shut-up. They had to tell others, no matter the cost. Their lives were aimed heavenward.

What freedom it is to live in such a way that ones life aligns itself with one focus: on that which is most valuable. No longer will the fleeting pursuit of riches mean much. Nor, will man's praise. This life will have enormous Christ-enthralled vision and purpose and will be able to do radical, self-forgetting, God-glorifying feats.

These 13 men got it and ignited into flames. Lord, help us to do the same!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Truth Leads to Freedom

Jesus said, "If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples; And you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).

It is no surprise, that what the world thought was loving - a philosophy of relativism - has actually led to a worldwide slaughter on freedom. This way of thinking requires shunning of absolutes. When this happens, no one is really free. Only truth can expose the dark and shine a pathway to freedom.

Several years ago, I was confronted by a co-worker. In so many words, he told me that I needed to get my act together on some work-related issues, if I wanted to become the best I could be. It was hard to hear - but after the "pride wounds" had some time to heal, I remember feeling a sense of freedom. Ironically, this hard, cold truth - which at first came across as penetrating and cutting - was a means by which I obtained freedom and was no longer in "bondage".

Jesus was truth. Everywhere He went, He shined. Exposing the dark and making truth glow. As a result of His message of Truth, He was able to lead people to freedom and, as a result, fill them with life-igniting hope.

O Lord, help us to become beacons of truth. Help us to see that the value of truth outweighs our value of acceptance and pride. Help us to accept truth when it comes our way - even if it's hard to swallow. And may we see that covering up truth will only lead to slavery - not freedom.