Being Obscure Just Like Jesus

I am processing something right now. I suppose its implications have the potential of turning everything ‘upside down’ for me at least. Some scientists have postulated that our planet is due for a complete magnetic switchover. This is when north becomes south, and vice versa. My issues at this moment are not quite that cosmic, but nevertheless my own world is being ‘rocked.’

There are seven billion people now alive on this planet. They wouldn’t know me from any other person. Sometimes I wonder if many of my issues come from not seeing this, and putting far too much emphasis on my own self-esteem. It seems it is an intoxication of success. We become self-deluded. We think it’s about our effort, our giftedness, what we do with the opportunities God gives us. We desire to attain and ascend. Finding an eminence among our peers (or trying anyway). Pride drives us, even among believers.

3 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”

Jesus was not driven like we seem to be. We truly think we need to be assertive, (at least the Christian version of it.)  Jesus’ message and teaching were all about emptying Himself of being God, and becoming a servant of servants. And this is the salient factor we so blithely fail to consider. Jesus wore a foot-washers towel, not a tiara. 

6 “Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Can we avoid doing this? Does our discipleship include emptying ourself of self daily? Can I find a peace and fulfillment by becoming an unknown (except to God?)

“Humility is perfect quietness of heart, It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.”   

Andrew Murray

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(All verses are from Philippians 2, NLT.)

 

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There is Nothing

“Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers,  nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39, NCV

Paul has an incredible confidence in the words of these two verses.  He is in a place where he has an exceptionally deep certitude in a profoundly deeper God.  In the history of the Crusades, men would fanatically charge into battle. Not only did they carry their sword and shield, many carried holy relics.  They believed that a special magic covered them, keeping away all harm and every evil.

But this is not how we are to understand and embrace these promises. They aren’t magical.  When soldiers put a copy of the New Testament in his breast pocket he will be quite disappointed when the bullet just whizzes right through.  He will end up dead. Honestly, there is nothing magical about our Bibles, but they are spiritual. And mixed with faith they are powerful.

The promises in Romans 8 are not bulletproof.  But they are certainly trustworthy to all who believe them.  Paul declares, with no hesitation, exactly what has happened through our faith.  In the strongest sense possible he works through a catalog of things which, (in the past especially) which are all very strong and intensely powerful.

“…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world…” 8:39

This pretty much covers everything (including IRS audits, and jury duty.)  Nothing can move me from His love.  It seems to me that this very love very aggressively penetrates everything.  Love seems to be the way He works with humankind. He loves people.

As believers who struggle deeply, we would do well to think about these two verses (vv 38-39.)  Perhaps even commit them to memory.  They have carried the faith of generations. As we trust in these we will find “no magic.”  But they are truly spirit, and they are life. These promises are wonderful, and the One who makes them is true.  Your confidence in these two verses alone will make you ‘invincible.’

“God’s way is perfect.
    All the Lord’s promises prove true.
    He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.”

Psalm 18:30, NLT

 

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Washed, and Waiting

In the past, some of you were like that, but you were washed clean. You were made holy, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

 1 Corinthians 6:11, NCV

But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently.

Romans 8:25, NCV

Washing and waiting. These two words together form an idea of formation. To be washed implies need. Our world is a filthy place, we must get clean. Often. When my son has spent his morning playing, he needs to be washed. (I sometimes wonder if he intentionally just finds a mud puddle and rolls in it.) To be spiritually cleansed is something God insists on.

Waiting. It’s funny, but waiting is an active thing. Hope is a component of waiting, without a hope we simply loiter. We wander and drift into a life of futility. And if you don’t hope deeply, you can’t wait truly.

Very often, those of us who are damaged and flawed will slide into a despair and a despondency. Depression can often be satanic, the enemy is trying to remove any hope we may have.  The dark prince lusts for your soul. A Christian with his hope removed is immediately shackled and led into the night.

To be washed, and to wait. These two ideas should be yoked together like oxen. They provide strength, and assist us to be fruitful. If we’re not washed, and we are not really waiting, we wander aimlessly. Humans do have a responsibility to be washed, and waiting. We mustn’t lose this team.

“….you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”

Proverbs 14:4

 

 

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How Close Can I Get?

“Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” 

Psalm 34:5

Thirty-two years ago I became a believer in Jesus.  There were a number of things that connected with me.  One of those most influential of those was believers who radiated a presence of our Lord Jesus.  This was as meaningful to me as any dazzling apologetics or astute Bible study.

These Christians seemed to “glow in the dark.”  They “shined” with Him, and were ‘exhibit A’ of the reality of Christ in the real life of the believer.  I couldn’t shake their peace and their transparency.  Witnessing their countenances, I knew that Jesus was real and that He could transform us in a profound way.

In Psalm 34, there is an indication that believers should be radiant.  We cheapen the Gospel when we turn our “dimmer switch” down.  I live in Alaska, and the winters here are gray in the most incredible ways.  I once tried to count the different hues of gray.  I counted at least 20, but I’m sure that there was more.  Walking later I came across a child’s sled, it was “neon orange”, and it was incredibly bright and very obvious.

We are called to be ‘fluorescent.’  We are to shine like stars in the night sky.  We stand out to all who are honest enough to observe.  I think of Moses when he descended Mt. Sinai.  He had been in God’s presence, and his face glowed.  Moses attempted to hide this phenomenon by wearing a veil on his face.  Those who move close to Him will be altered.

Christians who draw close to the Lord today, become ‘fluorescent believers.’  God’s glory descends on them.  They receive this touch, without seeking it directly.  The fellowship they have with “the Light” impacts them, and they are changed on a fundamental level.

“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” 

Daniel 12:3, NLT

We really shouldn’t be surprised when this process takes place.  (Perhaps we should be more amazed when it doesn’t happen.)  It’s critical for us to note this–being a Christian is a supernatural activity.  It’s not just changing your mind about certain facts or presuppositions.  It just so happens that my favorite activity as a 6 year old boy was sticking nails into wall outlets.  I loved the jolt. The resulting shock would hurl me across the room (as you can imagine.)  I guess I loved smelling the ozone. (God preserved me even after several experiences.)

Contacting the Holy Spirit is a profound thing.  His voltage  just lights us up.  We are changed as we connect with Him.  Supernaturally.

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 

2 Cor. 3:18

 We really should make the decision to seek the Lord more intentionally.  As we do that, we are given a key that will open up Jesus’ presence to us, in ways we only have begun to really understand.  Reflecting His glory is our real purpose.

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