Okay, so it may not be an old adage, but too many people live by it. And why do some of us go shopping when times get tough? To make ourselves feel better, to have a sense that we are still in control. The problem is we are not in control of our lives. The outcome is in God’s hands.
There is a story of a man who was stranded on an isolated island. He was alone on this island for many years so he made himself shelter and did the best he could. Eventually the island was discovered and the man was rescued. Before they left, the man decided to give a tour of his island.
He showed the people his hut, proudly saying, “This is the home I built with my own two hands.”
Two weeks from today Iowa Republicans will caucus and choose their presidential candidate for November 2012. As Christians, we are to be good citizens and should vote for the candidate that best aligns with our Biblical worldview. With that being said, we Christians must remember that while we live in America and are citizens by birth, we are actually citizens of heaven by rebirth in Christ. If we will look to the future coming of our Lord Jesus Christ I believe our perspectives on all aspects of life would be radically transformed. This is what the Apostle Paul tried to teach the Philippian Church:
“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:17-21)
One of the quickest ways to cripple your walk with Christ is to take your mind off of Him. If Jesus is not you’re all and all, then you probably think of Him very little if at all. Well that’s all well and good Bro Dave but how do I keep my mind on Christ?
I’ll use my lovely bride Karen as an example. When we were courting long distance, she in Alabama and me in Germany, we used to write each other continuously. Her letters to me made me feel so loved and I couldn’t take my mind off of her (she still has me like that!). In fact, the Holy Spirit became jealous and reminded me Who was first in my life.
Have you ever met a Christian who seemed to not want to be forgiven? I’m not talking about the sinner, unsaved. I’m talking about the repentant, redeemed by the blood of Christ. It’s almost as though he or she preferred to stay under the heavy yoke of guilt instead of the Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden (Matthew 11:30).
If ever there was a Christian who could claim the “woe is me I’m unworthy” mantle it was the Apostle Paul. Paul had every reason to believe he should not be forgiven. (Side note: no one should be forgiven; that’s why it’s called grace!)
“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 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; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11)
I think many times the Holy Spirit would like to say that to us, albeit in a heavenly way. Whether it be our bragging of why we think we’re going to heaven or if we as Christians try to portray ourselves as something we really aren’t.
Why do you serve in your church? Or perhaps a better question is: why don’t you serve in your church? Paul gave us the example of Christian service in his spiritual son Timothy and today we look at his dear brother Epaphroditus:
Jesus Christ gave us the ultimate example of servanthood when He washed His disciples’ feet. They were aghast at the thought of their Messiah washing their feet. It was the job of a faceless and nameless servant to wash a guest’s feet. Why did Christ leave us this example? Christ even said it would not be something they would comprehend for awhile:
“Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, are You washing my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’” (John 13:6-7)
In February 2007, The Barna Group did a fascinating study titled “American Lifestyles Mix Compassion and Self-Oriented Behavior” which revealed mixed traits of Americans that showed a “willingness to sacrifice and impulses toward self-oriented behaviors.” We as a nation, according to this study, display a strange dichotomy of beliefs and behaviors.
I have seen this mix in the church as well. It is a struggle, at least in my own life, to walk the talk as well as talk the walk. I could probably blame a number of reasons on my inconsistent Christian life, but as Karen and I were talking about with friends yesterday at lunch, my own flesh can be all the enemy I need. I too often grumble and mumble about things I should be praising God for, because they are blessings in my life. Paul warned against grumbling and mumbling:
Some Christians are saved and satisfied. They have eternity’s golden ticket, they are invited to the wedding feast, and yet its almost as though they do not plan to eat of it. Many Christians should be on the solid food of Scripture and yet they still require the milk of immaturity. Why is this? They have yet to be obedient to the call of their salvation:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)