Friday, April 20, 2012

Get to work! By the grace of God



God is Sovereign. He is in total control. In His sovereign plan He has ordained that man do the good works He has planned for him to do. Man must trust in God’s Sovereignty as he does the work he is responsible to do. He must come under the authority of God’s Word and under God’s grace. Then he is truly free to do the works God has called him to do. The man who thinks he doesn’t need to depend on God is blinded by pride. He thinks he is strong enough and doing great works on his own without Christ, but he is truly weak. It is when we recognize we are weak and needy people who need to depend on Christ that we are truly strong. In fact as Elisabeth Elliot says, you must be dependent on Christ to truly be His disciple.

Elisabeth Elliot says in her book Discipline: The Glad Surrender, “Jesus, in response to the will of the Father, demonstrated what it means to be fully human when He took upon Himself the form of a man and in so doing voluntarily and gladly chose both dependence and obedience. Humanity for us, as for Christ, means both dependence and obedience. The unwillingness on the part of men and women to acknowledge their helpless dependence is a violation of our “creatureliness.” The unwillingness to be obedient is a violation of our humanity. Both are declarations of independence and, whether physical or moral, are essentially atheistic. In both, the answer to the call is no. … Discipline is the wholehearted yes to the call of God. When I know myself called, summoned, addressed, taken possession of, known, acted upon, I have heard the Master. I put myself gladly, fully, and forever at His disposal, and to whatever He says my answer is yes.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul, who had so much to boast about, saw the need to recognize his weakness compared to Christ and his need for the power of Christ to rest upon him. We too are weak and must have the power of Christ to rest upon us in order to do any good work. So, cling to Christ, abide in His Word, rest under His grace and do the work He has called you to do as you depend on His strength and power to do it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Defining Success




How do you define success? In the world’s standards, climbing the ladder to make more money, have more prestige, power and fame; is success. But as a Christian, Christ’s standards are just the opposite. He tells us to die to ourselves, lose your self for Christ, let others be first and you last. To be great in the kingdom of God is to do His commandments.
Matt 5:19-20
19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
NKJV
            Without the sacrifice of Christ, I would be pursuing my own glorification, but because Of Christ, I have been transformed and now I am pursuing God’s glory.
            C. J. Mahaney puts it well in his book, Humility True Greatness
“Consider your own life for just a moment. Where would you be today if He had not ransomed you, if He hadn’t liberated you? I’ll tell you where. You would be self- sufficient, seeking to cultivate self-confidence for the purpose of self-glorification.”
“But what has happened to you? If you’ve been genuinely converted, you’ve been forgiven and transformed. And though for now there remains in you a temptation and tendency to sin, a fundamental and radical change has occurred so that you have the desire to serve others and to see God glorified. We know the inner call to lay down our lives for one another because He laid down His life for us. What a powerful death! The cross ransoms, the cross liberates, the cross transforms! True greatness is attained only by emulating the Savior’s example-and made possible only by the Savior’s sacrifice.”

            If I follow the world’s standards, then success is all about me, me, me! Continually pointing to me! God’s standard for success is pointing to Jesus. It is no longer about me, but it is all about Christ.
            Look at Paul. He had all the worldly success anyone could ask for in his day. (Phil 3:2-7) but he said that the things that were gain to him, he now counts as loss for Christ. He says that to live is Christ and to die is gain!

Philipians 3:7-9
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

            What is success? Success is a woman who gives up her life to raise her children, instead of raising herself up to ‘be something’ in the eyes of the world. Success is dying to herself while she supports and serves her husband and children. Success is giving up riches so you can give to the poor ad needy. Success is giving up comforts and an easy lifestyle to preach Christ to those who have never heard. Success is losing one’s life for the sake of the gospel. Success is going through cancer without complaining and continuing to praise the Lord and worship Him and glorify Him until the end of one’s life. Success is when a Father lays down his life for his family, choosing to use his time to spend with his family to teach them to love and treasure Christ, to love His word and to know the power of the resurrection rather than to have more money, more prestige and more power. Success is laying down your life, your time and your money for the sake of the unborn.  Success is living to serve others even when no one knows that you are sacrificing except the One who died and sacrificed for you so you could sacrifice for others.
Success is when your treasure is in Christ and you live your life to glorify God and enjoy Him. A wasted life is one in which you pursue your own ambitions and take whatever you can to make yourself look good. Your treasure is your career, your things, your prestige and your life. Only what is done for Christ will last. As Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Proverbs 1:19
19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.

            Where is your treasure? If Jesus is your treasure and you’re  pursuing Him, you will be willing to die and lay down your own ambitions for Christ. Pursue righteousness and holiness without which no one will see God. Proverbs. 4 tells us that wisdom is the principal thing;therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting get understanding.  It says to keep your heart with all diligence. Proverbs. 2 tells us they were on the path of righteousness but left it, never to return nor to regain the paths of life. Jesus defines success in Mark 10.

Mark 10:41-45
 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

As C.J.Mahaney says in his book Humility True Greatness,”greatness doesn’t equal success, or talent, or ability, or power, or applause. It equals servanthood. And it equals humility.”

Praise God that we have hope to attain true greatness by the grace of God through the death and resurrection Of Christ.