Tag Archives: Christian Living

One Tool

The biggest Swiss Army knife would never fit in your pocket.  It is 9″ wide and weighs 2 pounds.  It has 141 different tools folded up in it, including a hook dis-gorger and a snap shackle.  If you bought it, you might have more room in your pocket though, because it lists for $2100.  I suppose this thing is a joke, but before it went to seed, the idea of having one tool with which you could do most things was attractive.

Paul lists a bunch of new behaviors for followers of Jesus to put into practice:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.   –  (Colossians 3:12-14a (NIV)) 
That’s quite a list – a nice list, to be sure – but a lot to remember.  And, even at that, it is not comprehensive; it doesn’t include everything for us with which to “clothe ourselves”.   However, there is a “Swiss Army Knife” of attitudes for Christians, one tool for most circumstances.  Here’s the rest of what Paul wrote:

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  –  (Colossians 3:14b)

If you understand that love is an act of will with which I put away my self-interest to minister to what you need, all of the attitudes listed in the first passage really are bound together under the one tool called love.  Better yet, you will discover that “Love” fits in your pocket.  It’s not free however; it costs you, maybe even more than $2100 in some circumstances.  But it is a great tool, worth much more than the biggest Swiss Army Knife.

Risking Faith

If Christ lives in us (See: Don’t Miss This!) and His life changes us to be in harmony with God, then what are we supposed to do?  What is our responsibility in this new life?  How can we make sure we don’t mess it up?

Like this:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – (Colossians 2:6-7)

We received Christ Jesus as Lord by faith; we live our lives in Him in the same way: by faith.  If you test this out, you’ll see quickly how it works.  Jesus’ life in us moves us to do things that seem upside down to us.  Such as, “Love your enemies,” or, “Forgive completely as God has forgiven you.”  Daring to follow His lead in these ways truly takes faith, faith that His way is really better.  Next time you risk forgiveness, you do so by faith.

The more we use faith, the stronger it becomes.  As trees grow roots, they increase their ability to be nourished while also gaining strength to withstand heavy winds.  Same thing in following Jesus.  Our roots grow and we become “rooted and strong.”  We more easily are “nourished and strengthened” by His Spirit. Trees grow larger as they are rooted.   Likewise, we are “built up in Him.”

When you learn to ski, it takes faith to put your weight on the downhill ski.  It seems counterintuitive.  And yet, when you risk it, suddenly you  swoop through a turn, kicking up powder.  Then what?  You pump a fist in the air and shout, right?  Same thing when you test out faith  and power through a couple of turns with Jesus.  You see how it works and want to shout with amazement.  You “overflow with thankfulness!

Don’t stress about this, enjoy it.  It starts with faith and continues with faith.  Risk it.

Using a Four-Letter Word

Jesus began to shock His disciples with a four-letter word.  They hadn’t heard Him use it before, but once Peter declared he knew Jesus was the Son of God and the Christ, then Jesus began to startle them and offend them with that word.  Look for it:

” From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21)

Talking about the word, “must.”  Jesus demonstrated a perfect life, one that is only possible with a perfect connection with The Sovereign God.  By that connection Jesus performed many signs and miracles. He said His words were the words of God, because, as He said it, “The Father lives in Me” (John 14:9-10).  But one of the most amazing manifestations of that connection with God was that Jesus knew the “must” for His life.  He knew what God had decreed must happen.  He knew it and He surrendered to it.

“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”” (Matthew 16:22-23)

When Peter understood Jesus’ identity, Jesus said he was blessed, because God had revealed it to him (See: Better Proof).  But when he failed to understand what Jesus must go through, by the decree of God, substituting his own ideas and desires, Jesus turned on him!  

What is your “must?”  Don’t know?  Me neither.   But God does.  As we surrender to Him, there may be times when He shows us what we “must” do.  But even when He does not, the benefit and power of living in readiness to accept God’s “must” for our lives is taught throughout Scripture.

David wrote:

“Lord, you have assigned me my portion (how God provides for him) and my cup (how God asks him to suffer) …” (Psalm 16:5a – with my explanations)

James said:

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)

Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done.”  In other words, “Lord, I acknowledge that the “must” You have assigned for my life is good, and I submit.”  

Must – a shocking, tough, four-letter word that we “must” learn to use more…

 

 

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Better Proof

If you really want proof for Jesus, there is a way.  Jesus refused to give miraculous, tangible proof of His identity to the religious experts (See: Proof).  But He led His disciples to a better proof, a proof you can check out for yourself.  It began like this:

” When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”” (Matthew 16:13-14)

Going to the region of Caesarea Philippi was no accident.  It was 25 miles out of their way, north of Israel – a hotbed of paganism and humanism.  Formerly known as Paneas, for Pan, the god of fertility, the city was renamed for Caesar and Philip, Roman leaders who wanted to be worshiped as gods, themselves.  This place epitomized what Jesus had criticized in human attitudes (See the explanation of “a wicked and adulterous generation” in: Proof).  Jesus took them to that place and asked them, “Who do PEOPLE say the Son of Man (Jesus) is?”  What do people say?  What to “they say?”  It would be like taking us to the most humanistic, atheistic, politically correct university campus and asking us to take a survey about “Who is Jesus?”  And the disciples responded with a variety of superstitious things the people were saying, as if to say, “Who knows?”

But then He asked:

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 16:15-17)

There is a lot of noise out there, a lot of opinions and a lot of shouting.  Jesus asked His disciples to shut all that off and consider what God the Father was revealing to them, personally, from inside their own hearts.  In effect, He said, “You will never know Who I Am by listening to what “they say.”  You will never find proof by listening to others – even the others who are telling you the truth!  Proof will come to you personally, from God.  He will reveal to you Who I Am.  You will know.  And you will be blessed.

Do you want to know Who Jesus really is?  Do you want proof that will really convince you once and for all?  Stop listening to what “they say.”  There is way too much confusion and ignorance dressed up as wisdom in this world.  Instead, ask God to show you Who Jesus is.  Ask Him with all sincerity, expecting to receive an answer.  Keep asking, watching and listening.  He will show you and you will have a better proof.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.