Monday, March 21, 2011

Two Are Better Than One

I was blessed incredibly this evening with being able to spend some time talking and praying with a good friend of mine. He is one of those people who I know I can depend on if I ever needed something. If I was to start to stray from the Lord, I know that he would be there to do whatever it takes to draw me back to the Lord. He is an encourager... a true faithful friend. I value him and people like him more than any earthly possession. Christ is the ultimate Friend. He authored faithfulness. He defines love. He is the shepherd the seeks the lost sheep. He is One with the Father in His grip on us that will never let go. I am thankful for Him most of all. I am thankful for the imperfect pictures of Him that He has given me in the form of godly friends. They help me see a little bit more of what Christ is like. As we were talking this evening, I was thinking about Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
I am so blessed to be striving to please the Lord along with other godly young men who strengthen me with their prayers and encourage me with words of truth and wisdom--young men that aren't afraid to speak His truth to me when they know it may be painful. I need more of these men in my life... we need more of these men in our churches.

God, help me to be a faithful friend. Help me to do so without partiality. I am so tempted to do good to those that will do good to me and only to those, but help me to see the big picture so that I truly love You and love others. You have called us to serve one another with our love. Help me to do that to whomever You put in my path no matter how lovable they are... not because I may gain something from it, but for Your glory in their hearts.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Make Certain About His Calling

I generally read a chapter or two or three in the morning and the same in the evening... kind of depending on the point at which I feel "fed". It generally ends up being more reading when I am weakest because I don't feel like I really getting it like I should be and so I figure the little bit that I am getting will add up as I read more. So thankful for the Spirit working in my heart when I am weak. The last few days have been kind of the opposite to some extent... I have been stuck on 2 Peter 1. Every aspect of it is absolutely brilliant! I have been reading it several times throughout the day for the last few days and I get more out of it each time. I highly recommend that you read the whole thing, but I am just going to go ahead and put verses 2-15 here.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
His grace and peace become multiplied to us when we have a true knowledge of Christ... specifically in knowing that He has given us absolutely everything we need to life godly lives. He has given us this amazing blessing so that we could flee from sin and be diligent in our faith (and not in the general term for faith... the James... faith without works is dead type of faith)... producing the fruit of the Spirit. Love must be at the center of our actions. The two greatest commandments are fixed on loving God and loving others. I just love that promise in verse 8... if these qualities are yours and are increasing (we must always be moving forward), we will never be useless or unfruitful! It doesn't make any sense to live any other way... it would be like we forgot that He rescued us from sin! Oh how I need these reminders daily... I am by nature so short-sighted and in desperate need of His continual work in my heart to cause me to move forward in knowing Him, believing Him, and obeying Him. In pressing on in these areas, we obtain confidence in His choosing of us for His purposes... and not only that, when we are doing these things, we will not stumble!

I love the passion of Peters message here... he is reminding them of these things hoping that even after he dies, they will remember these things and live no long for themselves but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

It is such a blessing knowing that it is not ultimately us doing the work.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
I look forward to the day when that work is complete, but He is doing that work in me now. Let's press on to know the Lord!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Supplier of Your Needs

Life has been so busy here between work and Awana. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is busy! We are getting ready to leave for Chicago here in a few days. I can hardly wait. I get to drive a few hours tomorrow for work. I kind of jump at the opportunity to drive (even if gas is exceedingly expensive at the moment) because it makes for such great times of fellowship with Him. That is the one big thing I miss about college... the commute time. I do like the shortness of my commute to work. It's a huge blessing... but it is harder to find that quality time with Him. New time of life... new patterns. Anyway, I was thinking and praying through Philippians 4 today and thinking about how often I have missed the context of verse 19. Paul is assuring the Philippians that God will supply all their needs. While it is true that He supplies all of our needs I think we ought to look at the context to get the full impact of the passage.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
One thing that jumped out at me was that even Paul says that he was "suffering need"? Yet, he can do all things [suffer hardship] through Christ who strengthens him. We like to pull that verse out and use it for our latest challenge. Perhaps a big test coming up, or a big basketball game. While I don't think it is wrong to use it that way necessarily, this is much more on the serious level. This is a man that is suffering for the sake of Christ saying that he can live with the suffering because Christ enables him to.

This promise that God will supply all their needs is coming right after they have given abundantly to Paul for the sake of Christ. It's called "a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God". When was the last time that you gave sacrificially? I know for myself, it doesn't happen that often. God has more than supplied my needs. These were people that gave out of trust in God. Paul reassures them with the confidence that God will supply their needs... not just because God gives rain to the good and evil, but because God supplies the needs of those that give graciously in obedience to Him. It glorifies Him to provide for our needs. Why are we not dependent on Him? Perhaps it is because we haven't been obedient!

My goal is not to make us feel bad about giving or the lack thereof, but simply to challenge the way that we look at these verses. It's so easy to pick a verse from here or there to cram into our world of need for encouragement and yet the true encouragement comes when we are obedient to His ways and we see Him come through and strengthen us to be obedient when it is hard... or provide for us when we don't see how we are going to make it. I grab verses and hold onto them for encouragement all the time... and I'm not discouraging that... but lets not miss the need for sacrificial obedience. We are called to be "a living sacrifice". I challenge you to think of what that looks like for your day tomorrow. Write it on a sticky note... post it on your facebook wall... do whatever it takes to remind yourself throughout the day that you are a living sacrifice. It is He who strengthens us... it is He who supplies all our needs. It is sheer joy to live as a sacrifice to Him. Let's do it--one day... one moment at a time.