Sunday, April 8, 2012

Come and See!

Our ladies Bible study group has been working its way through the book of Mark, and this Easter morning, I am thinking about faith.  Faith is the act of going to God with expectation.  The four friends took their lame companion to Jesus and lowered him through the roof because they expected Jesus to heal him.  Jairus went knowing Jesus could heal his daughter.  The hemorrhaging woman reached out and touched, believing He would make her well.  Then Jesus went to Nazareth and taught in the synagogue.  There was amazement, but without crowds, clambering people, mobs of distraction.  "And He could do no miracles there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.  And He wondered at their unbelief"  (Mark 6:5-6).

On Easter morning, I often think of Mary.  "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.... But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stopped and looked into the tomb..." (John 20:1,11).  Mary went to Jesus with every expectation of finding Him.

This morning, as I consider struggles and disappointment and my need, am I willing to go to Jesus?  To leave behind excuses and justifications and simply go?  Do I believe, truly believe, that He is who He says He is?

"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Radio Show: Following Jesus

The radio announcer was talking with Michael Card about Jesus' death and asked the audience, "What does the idea of taking up your cross and following Jesus mean to you where you are today?" (Yes, Chris Fabry likes words.)  I fumbled with my phone, but didn't dare dial as I exited the interstate.  Compared to the 71-year-old woman's ups and downs, my personal examples felt silly.  However, these examples came to mind immediately, and I know there is no inconsequential choice.  If I'd called in, this is what I would have said:

Today, dying to myself meant not eating the frosted cherry pop-tart.  I wanted it.  Really wanted it, but I have been convicted of consuming more calories than I need.  Disobedience, following my wants and desires, would have been eating the pop tart.  Obedience, following Jesus, meant choosing a low-calorie alternative.

Today, dying to myself meant placing a call to the nursing home.  "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble..."  (James 1:27).  I've been unable to connect with this friend lately.  Disobedience would be indulging in story-world via an audiobook or netflix.  Obedience meant putting my friend's preferences before my own.

Today, I am reminded that dying to self is not all about loss, for God's rule of sowing and reaping applies at all times.  "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7).  When I do that which is right and good and pleasing to God in faith, I am rewarded with like consequences.  I feel good, my heart is filled with joy and peace, my faith is assured and doubt is diminished. 

As I choose to follow Christ in obedience, in suffering, in dying to self, I am encouraged that God provides for each and every need, that I might glory in Him and glorify Him!  As a result of the radio program and meditating on Jesus' sacrifice, I pray that death to myself would be more than martyrdom; that it would be the supernatural outpouring of gratitude and devotion.  It is Jesus Christ, beaten,  brutally killed, bearing the wrath of Almighty God in my place, who rose to victory over sin and the grave!  It is because of this that I can joyfully endure trial, temptation, loss (Hebrews 12:1-3, James 1:2-4).

"But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.   So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.   And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.   As it is written:
'He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.'

"Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,  while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.  For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God,   while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.   Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!