Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

I Press On

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One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press
on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

Once you have accepted Christ as your Savior, that is just the beginning of seeking God.  Paul seems to have had a consuming passion to get to know Jesus better and better, and to push on to win a prize on the day of Jesus’ return.

  1. We must keep pressing on to forget what lies behind.  Some people are chained to their past.  They might be 50 years old, but they talk about their childhood as if it were yesterday.  This is especially true if there are issues with bitterness or unresolved issues.  Some people can’t forgive themselves and that keeps them looking behind.  In 2 Timothy 2:8 Paul urges, “Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead.”  Looking at Jesus keeps our eyes focused on what is ahead, leaving our past to Him.
  2. We must keep pressing on to get to know Jesus.  In Philippians 3:8 Paul wrote that he counted everything as loss, all of his great achievements, “because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  Colossians 2:3 tells us that all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ.  That means that if I want to know things and to have wisdom, I should get to know Jesus better.  It is like coming to the end of the Internet–you won’t get there.  His treasures are inexhaustible!  And Jeremiah 33:3 promises, “Call onto Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.”
  3. We must keep pressing on to what is ahead–the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  There are rewards for running hard after Jesus, as opposed to just living a ho hum Christian life.  Paul continually refers to “the day of Christ,” and that was  his motivation for risking life and limb to tell others about Jesus.  He “had his eyes on the prize.”  Here is 2 Timothy 4:7-8 as an example: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  There is reserved for me, in the future, the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me; and not to me only, but to all those who have loved His appearing.”
  4. We must keep pressing on to finish well.  I have known people with grand plans.  They launch them with a flurry and a shout, but then die out when they hit a snag or when their enthusiasm wanes.  The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s really not how we start that matters, but how we finish.  In Colossians 1:29 Paul wrote that he proclaimed Christ with “all of His energy that powerfully worked in him.”  We need to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to live our lives well and to do the things that life demands.  Ask God for His strength and energy each day.

 


Things are Different Now

things are different nowNow this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  Ephesians 4:17

You can replace the word “Gentile” with non Christian.  In other words, once we become Christians we are commanded not to live like we used to.  We are also commanded not to live like the non Christians around us.  It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command.  There is an old Gospel song, called “Things are different now,” by Stanton Gavit, that goes like this:

Things are different now, something happened to me. Since I gave my heart to Jesus Things are different now, I was changed it must be, when I gave my heart to Him…

Paul describes what the mindset of someone who doesn’t know who Jesus is: darkened in their understanding, separated from God, hard hearted, calloused, given over to sensuality, and greedy to practice every kind of impurity.  Non Christians do the things they do because they don’t know Jesus.

But we have been changed by the Spirit and taught to live differently.  If you haven’t been taught before, you are being taught now.  Your life must change.  You can’t keep cheating, lying, sleeping with someone you are not married to, being selfish and treating others badly.  That’s not who we are.  Those are choices you need to make.  You need to be renewed in the spirit of your mind to live out that new life.  The Holy Spirit renews us as we call on Him, plus as we spend time in the Bible our minds are changed from thinking like a non Christian to thinking like a Jesus follower.

Part of the reason Christians don’t act any differently than those who don’t know Jesus is simply because they aren’t spending disciplined time each day in the Bible.  Plus, they may not have surrendered to the right that God has to interfere with your life.  If you call Jesus ‘Lord,’ then that means you are giving Him the license to mess with all of your values and priorities.  He will rearrange them, but only with your permission.

As Ephesians 4 continues, Paul tells what a new life looks like–don’t lie, but speak truth; be angry, but don’t sin; don’t steal, but work; don’t say worthless things, but build others up; don’t grieve the Holy Spirit; finally, don’t be filled with bitterness, but be tenderhearted and forgiving.

Are things different now that you know Jesus?  Are you being renewed in the spirit of your mind because you have given God the right to be your interior redecorator?  Are you spending quality time with Him in the Bible?  If not, what needs to change today?

Even as someone who has been a Christian for a long time, I still need the renewing work of the Holy Spirit and the Bible in my life.  Left to myself I am snarky, selfish and prone to take short cuts.  I know when I have gotten away from the God I love and need to get back to His feet.  Others can probably see it quicker than I can.  Don’t leave home without Him!

*Photo from “The Loyalist Advantage”


The Word became flesh, for you and me

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And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  John got to see and touch Jesus and become close friends with Him.  For the three years or more that John was with Jesus, he realized that Jesus is ‘the Word.’  Jesus’ words were the truth of God and that in His coming, working, teaching, dying and rising, Jesus was the final and decisive message of God.  In Revelation 19:13, John describes Jesus’ glorious return: “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is ‘The Word of God.’”  

And we have seen His glory.  John and the other disciples saw His glory in His miracles,  as John 2:11 reports that Jesus’ miracles revealed His glory.  But they didn’t always get it.  Jesus chided them for being blind and dull.   2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”  

But 2 Corinthians 4:6 announces that God said, ‘Let light shine of darkness,’ to give our hearts the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  Satan blinds our eyes to keep people from seeing God’s glory and God opens them.  For now we don’t get to behold Jesus’ glory with our eyes.  We get to read about it and by faith wait for the day that His glory will be revealed to us and in us.  

Paul wrote about that in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing the the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  And then in 2 Corinthians 4:17 he writes, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

Full of grace and truth.  Do you notice that grace is first?  That’s a good rule to follow–interact with people with grace out front.  That means we love and forgive and shower people with things they don’t deserve, just like God does for us.  But we can’t just be all love and no truth.  Jesus described Himself in John 14:6 as “the way, the truth, and the life.”  God’s words are  absolute truth, called out to an age where no one wants to admit that there is a right and wrong and an authority that is outside of themselves.  

This is the heart of the Christmas message: that God became man, lived among us, exhibited His grace and spoke truth so that we can have eternal life.


Do Nothing and Do Everything

In Philippians 2, Paul has two contrasting imperatives, or commands, tucked into his writings.  They’ve shouted at me lately.  They are, as the title says Do Nothing  and Do Everything.


1.  Do Nothing.  In verse 3-4, Paul writes “Do nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only after your own interests, but after the interests of others.”

That means we shouldn’t think that we could do that something better than someone else or that we really know better than them.  We shouldn’t have that mindset.  We shouldn’t just seek our own agendas each day, but others.  And we ought not do things for the credit or be upset when we think we don’t get the credit we deserve.  It’s not for show, like a talent show.  That’s a fruit of the flesh, a performance mentality.  Instead, we’re to look to please Jesus and leave it at that.

Later on in verses 19-21, Paul writes of Timothy that he didn’t have anyone else to send to check on the Philippians because “I have no one else who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.  For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

Would someone write that of us?  Would we be so busy tending to our own interests that we don’t leave a margin of time and money to look out after the needs of others?  If we’re looking out for Kingdom interests, then we will be able to sort out which ones are truly important to invest our time in. So when others are hurting, sick, alone and struggling, it is our business.

2.  Do Everything.  In Philippians 2:14-16 Paul admonishes them further, saying “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.”

Perhaps he could have added criticizing to that list, which is a twin sister of complaining.  When we eliminate complaining, arguing and criticizing from our weapons of choice when things don’t go the way we want them to, then we really stand out as someone different.  Are there people who you like to see coming your way because they refresh your soul?  They listen without interrupting, they find uplifting things to talk about and they ask how you’re doing, remembering the things that are important to you and inquire about them.  In contrast, are there people that come toward you in the grocery aisle and you find yourself subconsciously avoiding them?  Perhaps it’s because they’re always negative, tearing others down and talking about themselves, unaware of what’s going on around them?

I certainly don’t want to be in the Debbie downer category for social skills’ sake, but also for Jesus’ sake.  If I do everything without complaining and arguing, then I’m living out Jesus in me, at work in me, transforming me from who I’m inclined to be to who He’s making me to be.

So, let’s do nothing and then….do everything