“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.” (Matthew 10:24) Ever meditate on that one? So many times, we cry out to God to lighten our load, or make our lives easier or take the pain away.
And yet, our Savior and King, Jesus, wept, cried, was beaten, denied, then died! And He was without sin! Do we think we are above Him in this regard?
Jesus never blew past those who were mocking Him; nor did He just hang around those who loved Him. Nothing…no, nothing ever diverted Jesus from following His appointed task—to die for us. Are you following your appointed task in that manner?
Jesus led the way for us, not to death, but in the death of His flesh; we are led to life–here and now and for eternity. What a word picture for us–live so your fleshy nature is D-E-A-D and let your God nature rise up and give you L-I-F-E. What a God we serve! Endure the fire—it’s producing pure gold!
Do you trust God for every detail of your life? Do you know that not all is helter skelter with God, but it all fits into a pattern for good for those who love Him? We need to stop with the analyzing and buckle down with the focusing on God, not the details. Focus more on trusting Him and thanking Him (not for the problem, but for Him and His direction).
Even when you mess up royally, God will cover you with His grace and recycle the situation from bad to good. Just don’t frame up what you think He will do or not do, nor what you think should be done…that’s a recipe for disappointment.
Psalm 40:2 (AMP) hits the nail on the head in this regard, “He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay [froth and slime], and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings.”
The Rock is much better than the pit! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
“Dive in”, “Let’s roll”, “Move it, move it, move it.” These sayings are not too familiar to some, but for a bunch of us workaholics, they are the songs of the day to which we dance until we drop! There is a remedy though…STOP, WAIT and LISTEN to the Lord before you dive into anything. It truly takes all the faith and trust a workaholic has to stop and sit quietly in the presence of the Lord, especially when the calendar of appointments and its partner, the “to do” list, are screaming in your ear.
But putting aside all that is waiting to be done and refusing to worry about those “lists” in order to sit in the presence of the Lord is exactly what your workload needs, even if that seems impossible to do. Your time soaking in God’s holy presence is the only thing that will adequately strengthen and prepare you to face your giants. By choosing to put all aside for a few moments with the Lord—waiting before working—is a huge signal to your spiritual enemies, too. It tells them you are camped out with the King of Kings and that you are not fighting these battles alone.
Keep Satan at arm’s length by starting your day with Jesus. Sit and enjoy the Lord’s presence, journal anything He may share with your heart and be prepared to “hit the road running” like never before. Remember, schedule your first appointment of the day with Jesus and all the rest will just fall in line. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
“Oh, just a little won’t hurt.” Do you find yourself saying that? Ask a recovering drug addict or alcoholic if that’s true or not. Just a little will hurt because they will be right back in their mess again.
Well, like it or not, we are all addicted to sin. It is the disease that entered into humankind with Adam’s disobedience. We crave what we are not supposed to have…and God says our minds are enmity (hostile) to Him! (Genesis 3:15, Luke 23:12, Ephesians 2:15-16).
And don’t think you are strong enough by yourself, either. You must maintain a right relationship with God and a knowledge of where you are with Him. Joab withstood a big test and remained faithful to David when tested to go after adventure with Absalom. But later on we see that he turned after the craven Adonijah (1 Kings 2:28).
After successfully getting through a big crisis, be on the alert, Satan will be glad to oblige you with “just a little” of something to pull you away from God. Stay focused on Jesus—He is your “point man” in battle. He’s “been there and done that” and knows where He’s going. Follow nothing else.
If you have remained true to God in a great crisis and trial, don’t let your guard down. Keep alert and aware; always remembering that unguarded strength is double weakness. The characters in the Bible always fell on their strong points…not their weak ones. Your only safety net is to be kept by the power of God and not your own! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Peace or problems…the choice is ever looming. Our thoughts often make us feel anxious and alone. The choice just mentioned is made easy, though, when you bring your problems into His presence and you receive His peace.
It’s when your mind wanders off away from Him that you end up like the child at the mall who wanders off from a parent…sheer panic! That’s when you have forgotten His promise that nothing can separate you from Him and His watchful eye. So drag that thought away from the problem solving into the problem “droppin'" – right into the hands of God. Some problems will just melt away in His presence; others may linger but just end up as background noise when you are in His presence.
The choice is up to you…practice staying in the problem or in the presence of God. To help us remember, look at Exodus 33:14 when the Lord said, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” Hmm—we not only have His presence, we have His promise! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
In reading Philip Yancey’s devotional, Grace Notes, I noted that he made an interesting observation. Yancey quoted the poet W. H. Auden who said that humans are distinct in that we are the only animals who work, laugh and pray. He went on to comment about Christians in those three areas. I wholeheartedly concur with him!
At work, Christians unabashedly excel. Who could forget the work ethic of our founding fathers? Oh yeah, I forgot, there’s a whole generation who doesn’t know about them because in our public schools they are often not even taught about our forefathers anymore, never mind the ethical code…but I digress!
As Christians, we often take the work ethic so seriously it consumes us. Our churches are often run like corporations. We squeeze our quiet times into our calendar schedule and many pastors maintain a hectic pace rivaling some mega business executive. For many Christians, work has become their allowable addiction!
Prayer on the other hand, is somehow turning into another “to do” on the list, another “work” item. It’s the “list” that has to be brought to the Lord! We talk and we ask, but do we ever just listen? Do we bask in His presence engulfed in His glory? The biographies of great Christians are always threaded with the model of prayer…a never-ending conversation of speaking and listening that is enjoyed because it is a love relationship between them and God.
The final item in Auden’s observation is laughter. Hmm—in this, sometimes Christians lag behind (I thank God that my family and friends don’t suffer from lack of humor and laughter!). But Christianity is often perceived by others as being dry and stoic—not because it is, but because many Christians portray it that way!
What is that all about! Being saved, redeemed, able, in the righteousness of Jesus to communicate with God, the death sentence of eternal damnation is removed…and we are “stoic”! Heck, because of all that, we should be known for laughter, gaiety and freedom! Ethical excellence should not mean exclusion from joy and levity. Granted, these are serious times but we need not take ourselves so seriously.
I more picture Jesus enjoying His work because prayer and laughter were with Him in abundance. C’mon, people…let’s laugh and pray a little more. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Ever notice how in life, ambitions change as you grow? And that’s a good thing because many young children want to be the “garbage man” when they grow up, but we surely need some neurosurgeons in there too!
But, in the Lord, it’s different. Right at the outset of your walk with Christ, you know the goal–the Kingdom of God! You start your life in Christ and you end it in Christ. Because you already know the destination, your goal then, as a Christian, is to do the will of God. He takes it from there. You will go through many different growing “seasons” with God, but the goal is always the same–obedience. With that obedience, the end-point is a guarantee!
Jesus went through all His earthly “seasons” in obedience to God, even to His death on the cross. He was willing to obey God, even to that drastic extent. And He could do that because He knew and trusted God to have the utmost wisdom in His plans. The restoration of humankind was accomplished in that obedience, and we thank You Lord.
We most likely will never suffer a physical crucifixion as Jesus did; our crucifixion comes in the form of daily dying to self…and that hurts! But when you do, you rise up as a new creature and it’s out with the old and in with the new. He guarantees you will really like the “new you”. By the way, so will everybody else! Endure the fire—it’s producing pure gold!
Are you feeling lonely, no one loves you, separated from all who could warm your heart and life? That's a very real sense, and ever on the increase because of the relentless destruction of the American family. Many men have abdicated their roles as provider and builder of the home and left in pursuit of the sensual pleasures of sex, alcohol and drugs, or the filling of the ego with worldly gain.
Many women, also, have abdicated their roles as nurturer and teacher and no longer care that, "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." They, too, have been captivated by these sensual, worldly pleasures and carnal gains. That leaves so few who are fighting the battle of life to maintain the family and its values. But no matter where you stand, know that your solace is in God, not in "stuff". The old devil wants you angry with God and not able to seek for or receive His love. Reject that thought!
God loves you, no matter what, but you need to be one of His family members to receive His inheritance. Give your heart to Jesus and let Him love you through your pain and loneliness. Ephesians 3:16-19 tells us, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Endure the fire—it’s producing pure gold!
"Oh, if only my credit card was paid off". "Oh, if only I had a bigger house". "Oh, if only I had a better car". "Oh, if only I could retire early". Ever sing any of those songs? Well, while you're dreaming away, the sand is dropping in your life's hourglass. You are wasting precious time because dreaming and wishing cannot make you content. So when the Lord says to be content in any and every situation (Philippians 4:12), He obviously isn't talking about dreaming.
Your deepest joy, which is what every human desires and longs for, can only be fulfilled in God's presence. What you need is spiritual power within which is everlasting; not the fleeting vapor of momentary earthly pleasures.
If your joy is dependent on the circumstances around you, you're doomed to a yo-yo type existence; up and down, up and down. Get a solid life in Christ instead. He is steadfast, never moving, and the giver of vibrant joy and security no matter what your circumstances. Endure the fire…it's producing pure gold!
We are to be "in the world, not of it". Jesus wasn't talking about some science-fiction dual universe here. He didn’t indicate He wanted His followers to be reclusive off in a cave somewhere, nor to be an ascetic, eating locusts and honey.
No, Jesus didn't cut Himself off from the world; it's just that inwardly He was disconnected all the time. Not in a daze, not distant, but always concentrating on the spiritual life within Him. We surely need to practice that with diligence.
Jesus wasn't a religious nut and we shouldn't be, either. He was so ordinary that the religious leaders of the day called Him a glutton and wine drinker! That doesn't mean for you to go run out to an all-you-can-eat buffet then have a beer! Rather, let the Spirit of God manifest its robust holiness through you. The disconnect from the world is not external but internal; in that way you will learn to be interested only in what God is interested in and can easily wade through the muck down here on the journey to your eternal home.
Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path". Endure the fire…it's producing pure gold!