Last week, a fellow Christian challenged me to become more aware of God's appearances in my life.
Reflecting on my previous couple of days, I worked diligently to barrel through my list of tasks, eager to cross each one off of my list. I realized how quick I was to dismiss the ways in which the Lord was speaking to me in favor of furthering my own agenda. As I write this newsletter, I see where God had been (and still is) working in my life.
He's working through all of you.
Matthew 19:29 says, "Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life."
Although I have lost much during my nineteen years of being Christian, I have gained more brothers and sisters in Christ than I ever could have imagined. When I reached out to you asking if you would like to subscribe to this letter, the support was overwhelming. Your presence in my life is proof that God knows and provides for our needs before we even know we need them.
God is always working in your life. Sometimes He is using the people He has placed there to accomplish His purposes.
Where do you see God at work in your life?If this newsletter has encouraged or challenged you in some way, would you consider inviting someone to subscribe? Enter your email address in the sidebar of the home page.
“He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’
And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”’
Watching A.D. The Bible Continues, I was struck at the power of prayer in the poignant scene where the disciples are praying and the Spirit comes upon them with the spirit of tongues. After that scene, I came to a stunning revelation:
I don't pray enough.
If I fully understood the power prayer has to change not only my life but also the lives of others, i would never stop praying. However, as most of us do, the busyness of life tears us away from the opportunity to commune with God on a daily, and momentarily basis. As Peter and the Apostles prayed, He was changed by it too. The one timid Peter now possessed the power to heal the sick, drive out demons and preach the good news. After all, with the Spirit on his side, who would want to not share that with everyone?
However, I often reduce it to a perfunctory prayer during grace or at the end of the day before my eyes get too weary to stay open. Yet, the Spirit is the way we can feel the closest to Jesus and be filled with His spirit to e able to perform those same miracles the apostles did. The apostles didn’t waste the opportunity and neither should we.
If Jesus were to walk by my side as he did to the Apostles after His resurrection, would He see? Would He see someone who relied on Him for everything, or someone who was trying to rely on Her own strength?
How about you? What would Jesus see if He were to come back right now and appear at your side? Would you be on your knees, or trying to stand on your own two feet?
I, for one, strive not to waste any more opportunities to change my life of others by choosing not to pray.
“‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.”‘ Mark10:21 Imagine for a moment you are stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work. You can see the exit just a few miles away, but you simply can’t get there. You know what to do and where to go, you just have to take the necessary steps to get to your destination.
The rich young ruler knew what to do, too. I find it hard to believe that Jesus’ words came as a surprise to him. Knowing the Scriptures since he was a young boy means he must have had a knowledge of Scripture for quite some time. Since the Old testament is packed with verses regarding giving to the needy and feeding the poor, the rich man must have understood that one of the characteristics of God was sacrifice.
So why couldn’t he commit do doing it?
One word stood in his way: Go.
It’s easy to go through the motions of the faith by reading the Word, praying and going to church. But its the application of the Word to our daily lives that poses the biggest challenge. The rich man had the steps and knew where to go. He just wouldn’t allow himself to get there.
Challenge: Where are you? Are you going through the motions of faith? Are you stuck in traffic, knowing where you need to go but not able to get there? In what way(s) can local church body help you get there?
“‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.”‘ Mark10:21.
When I think of the word lack, I think about something I don’t have, something I’m missing. In this verse, the lack that Jesus refers to is sacrifice. The rich man could do all the easy stuff, but when it came time to place his total dependence on Christ and allow him to provide for his daily needs, he couldn’t do it. He wore his wealth like a security blanket, wrapping himself in the warmth of his own independence and ability to pay his own way in life.
Disciples must be willing to sacrifice everything to follow Jesus. I find it interesting that he already demonstrated this requirement of sacrifice by calling Simon, Andrew, John and James. They,upon hearing Jesus’ call to follow Him, “at once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18). These four disciples had just as much to lose as the rich young man. All four had fathers who trained them to be fishermen from when they were children so they could make a living for themselves when they grew older. By getting up, they were leaving behind the only trade they knew for a chance to place their trust in someone who promised to provide for them physically and spiritually.
Those four disciples sacrificed the security of wealth for a chance to put their trust in the Lord. The rich young man didn’t. Which disciple are you?
Challenge: What role does wealth place in your life? Do you cling to your wealth, or would you give it up for a chance to trust in the Lord’s provision?
“Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him…”Mark 10:19.
Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the rich young ruler seem a bit prideful up until this point? He asked Jesus what he has to do to become His disciple. When Jesus answers him, he responds with a flippant “I already know that.” Talk about boldness! The rich young ruler probably thought he could order Jesus around like he did with many of his servants that catered to his every whim. But does Jesus respond with a “Do you know who you are talking to?” response? He models God’s mercy and grace with a compassionate, heartfelt reply.
I think Jesus still honored the fact that this young man understood who Jesus was (at least in a superficial way) and acknowledged him as Lord. Jesus still allowed him to become His disciple, if he was willing to sacrifice the one idol that stood between him and Jesus: money.
Many times throughout my years of a Christian, I’ve become frustrated with people who, in my estimation, should “get it” when it comes to discipleship. There are moments when I just want to shake certain people and ask “Why aren’t you more mature?” In my arrogance, however, I’ve missed the point that being a disciple means more than just knowing the Word of God, it’s also applying it. Extending compassion to someone who isn’t where I am at spiritually is a good place to start.
Challenge: In what ways have you failed to exemplify Christ through a lack of compassion? Is there someone God has placed in you life in which you need to extend more compassion?
“You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”– Mark 10:17-18
As Christians, we know there is a great cost to being a disciple. It’s easy to keep the commandments that we find we struggle with the least. In the rich young ruler’s life, he found it easy to honor his mother and father, not to steal or lie. It was easy for him because because his wealth and status in the community permitted him to have every luxury at his fingertips. So often we wear our righteousness as a badge, that somehow if people see us keeping the basic tenets of the faith they will know we are Chrisitans. Discipleship is not only about doing the easy things, but doing the more difficult things as well.
Challenge: What area of your life do you struggle with the most? If Jesus asked you how you were doing in that area of struggle, what would you say?
“‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Why do you call me good? no one is good except God alone.”‘ Mark 10:17
Jesus spent His time on earth imitating what He learned from his father. One of the major lessons He learned was the importance of humility. It wasn’t enough He chose to strip Himself of every power He had earned simply for being God’s son, but He chose to not receive the credit for any of the miracles He performed from any of the people He helped. Jesus, a disciple of His Father, deflected the glory from Himself and placed it on the One to whom it belonged. True disciples don’t use their influence to stroke their egos or feed their insecurities. They use their influence to give glory to their Teacher.
Challenge: When you minister to others, do you do so out of selfless compassion or out of selfish ambition? What ways can you deflect the glory from yourself and onto God?
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