"...I have this vague idea that we've mixed up the idea of "front line" ministry and I wonder if, just possibly, the prayer warriors are really the ones at the front line and those who "go" somewhere physically merely reap the visible fruit of those prayers. How we need the power and presence of God to go before us, and to pervade every inch of the place and the people we are going to.
At a wedding this past weekend, I was privileged to hear an audio recording of a traveling evangelist friend of the bride’s family who was unable to attend. As the second photographer at the event, it was hard to take in everything that was said because I found myself busy looking for great shots, perfect angles, and nice lighting. However, one thing stood out;
The book of John, chapter two, verse five gives us the most important advice ever spoken to mankind. It was given by the mother of Jesus; “…whatsoever he says unto you, do it
These words sank into my soul. How vital to the Christian life. We may wonder about the “how-to” of this advice, but it’s very simple, very plain, and yet very profound. It doesn’t matter if nothing seems to be going right, or if we don’t understand. It doesn’t matter if life feels unfair or if there’s no money in the bank. It really is not a problem for God if we’re sick or in emotional pain. Whatever Jesus tells us to do, we must do it…period.
His call may seem hard at times…no doubt it will be. Just do it. He will never ask for something you cannot give. He will never require what He is not able to perform through you. Whatsoever he says to do, do it.
We cannot embrace the resurrected Christ without embracing His cross. We cannot have His glory without His sacrifices. We cannot become heirs of His inheritance without first bowing ourselves and yielding to His losses. If we want all of Him, we must receive the unlovely part of “all” as well as the glory. Death came before glorification. Those who identify themselves in Christ most clearly are those who race to the cross because in the wounds there is healing.
I take O cross thy shadow for my abiding place; I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face. Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss, my sinful self, my only shame, my glory all the cross
Andrew Murray wrote that the death and life of Christ are inseparable. How real is Christianity without sacrifice? For it is sacrifice that made Christianity exist at all. Dear believer, look into your heart today. Have you felt loss and been privileged to call it gain? For this is what Jesus did. Counting His life worth nothing in comparison to the lives of fallen sinful mankind, He laid it down willingly and invites us – or rather commands us – to follow in His steps for the sake of a lost and dying world.
No, you cannot call yourself His follower, nor say you abide in Him until you “love that old cross, where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. Cherish the old rugged cross, til at last your trophies you lay down. Cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it some day for a crown.” It is the only object for which Christ will give us a crown instead.
Silence on God’s part does not mean He is neutral about a situation. It also does not mean that He is in favor of what I may hope the will of God will turn out to be. Silence means that God wishes me to draw closer to Him than to what I want or what I am wondering about. It means He desires me to lay aside everything…even what I so earnestly am seeking direction on…and listen only to the reality that He IS. Waiting on God is not to be idle time, but a space set apart for us to be hidden in the secret place of the Most High. Here, we deny ourselves the right to know which way to walk and instead choose with all our might to rest (when it is hard) in being content not to know, but simply to love Jesus Christ because He is the greatest Lover of all. Think on these things.
…all that is in God Almighty is mine and in me just as far as I am able and willing to apprehend Him and all that belongs to Him.” Dr. Henry Wilson
This is truth for you and I to live by, as ones chosen by God, given the Great Commission, thrust into a work – willingly, yes – but nevertheless, impossible to carry out apart from His power…a power granted according to the extent of our obedience. Thus, obedience, no matter how hard, must be a commitment we hold fast to.
Frightening to think, but true enough, that we choose the amount of power we hold in a sense. To the degree that we seek God, we find Him. All that He is, and all that He has becomes rightfully ours. Oh…let us never grow complacent in searching after Him as hidden treasure – He is just that! And as surely as His love is and He is, also His power in us will be.
We must be willing to seek in the desert, the place of famine, the treacherous places, the ocean depths…to climb so high and descend so low in our pursuit of Him, and then we will find Him, and really, at last, we will discover the beautiful truth: He found us. God is always the initiator in our relationships. His love defines this irreversible truth.
We will step out then in confidence, with God on our side. But as surely as we have sought Him, we must continue with Him. His power is ours only as long as He is ours – our joy, our life, our all. Seek Him, be empowered for Kingdom living.
I just can’t take it anymore.
The bombardment of emotions wars against man’s own soul. From morning until night, the world, the flesh and the devil pull and tug and yank and tear until nothing but a frazzled disaster of a human being remains. If we are called to bear the mark of that solid, immovable faith that Peter exercised in a moment of Spirit-filled exuberance, how are we to maintain it? The disciple himself was hurled headlong into a gaping pit of emotional frays only days (or was it moments?) later!
As the chapter of stark contrasts comes to a close, Jesus turns to his confused disciples with a calmness that arrests their attention. I see them, in my mind, leaning forward, daring to hope that there is a lasting answer to their question: “Lord, how can we walk in faith and not be overcome by what seems so right to our human instinct? What’s the key?”
What could possibly have guarded Peter’s mind that day as all his dreams were seemingly dashed by talk of death – and the death of the Son of the Living God, no less?! What could have halted his runaway emotions that were nothing short of a lie from satan himself? He had, after all, full access to the keys of the kingdom of heaven! He didn’t have to listen to full-blown lies…or half-truths.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever shall save his life will lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall save it. or what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mt. 16:23-26
It was simple, yet profound truth. Have you heard it before? Did you read the verses above? Or did you skim them…because you know them already by heart? Dear believer, you may quote them backwards and forwards. But do you live them? These words are the seal of guarantee on faith such as Peter’s words revealed. They are salvation from the hasty mistake he uttered when his faith failed. And they are the sure path to completeness in your own life:
- Deny the emotional feelings that dictate what is right, comfortable, desirable, etc. God’s ways are above our ways – fathomless, understood only when obeyed by faith.
- Face the reality of God’s will and embrace it as reality instead of trying to change or reverse it. The crosses we are called to bear must be born in faith, not replaced by our own ideas of right and wrong.
- Totally abandon your earthly values for Christ’s sake. Is your life important to you? Pursue Christ until His glory is worth more to you than 10,000 of your lives combined into one.
Do you believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God? A young woman ached to know this Christ as her own, but as she saw the sacrifices of believers around her, she said to herself that she could never make them. What she did not realize was that she was already sacrificing far more precious things, for no cause and with no friend to walk by her side.
To stand on the rock, Faith, is indeed a difficult place. Storms come…but never so dangerously as on the sand. For, those who bank their lives on reason sink into the mire, rarely to be seen in their right mind again.
Don’t sacrifice a glorious eternity. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and your faith will make you whole.
I wondered for years why Peter’s famous proclamation of faith and his hasty rebuke regarding Jesus’ coming death were in the same chapter of the Bible. Did they somehow correlate with one another? One moment Jesus is calling Peter the foundation of the coming church and the next, he is telling him, “Get thee behind me satan!” Why so stark of a contrast?
I believe that in Matthew 16, Jesus laid out for the Christian the calling of genuine, hard-core faith, and contrasted this reality with the consequences of trusting one’s own emotions as the source of truth. Peter’s first statement, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” defied common sense. It took a bold step towards the supernatural. However, when Peter rebuked Jesus as He talked of His coming crucifixion, his words were based strictly on his own emotional desires. We have to imagine that Peter was thinking, “He can’t die! Not after all this! He came to rescue us, and now He’s leaving?”
Rationalization never leaves room for faith. As a matter o’ fact, rationalization chokes faith to its death.
I remember vividly seasons of rationalization in my own life. Crisis’ of faith that brought me to the end where I had to choose to look up or down. As a believer, if we do not stand on the rock called Faith, there is only one other place we can stand:
“…thou art an offense to me!” Mt. 16:23
Faithlessness makes us an offense to the Savior who was offended for our sakes. Why? Because in a lack of faith, the heart of man demonstrates a care for the things his own mind can explain over the things that can only be understood by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is never anything that has stood in the way of eternal life more quickly than mental reasoning. And so, I challenge you to ask yourself today, are your feet grounded on the rock, Faith?
Do you believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Mt. 16:19
At the end of the last post, we left Peter standing before Jesus. Did he know the impact of the words he had just spoken, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”? Did he realize the blessing it would invoke on his life and all other Christian lives who chose to follow in his footsteps?
Biblical philosophers have argued for centuries about this little verse and they will continue to do so. But as I read these words, there was one, pure truth that warmed my heart and I know it is true: Friends, we are not at the mercy of satan and his host of evil ones. Praise the Lord!
To those of us who believe on the precious Name above all names, is given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. This means free access. When Peter proclaimed the truth in pure, unadulterated faith, Jesus announced with radiant joy that such a simple act had indeed opened up a real, glorious eternity to Peter. In fact, the very keys to the door were now his. Faith will fling us into realms we have never known. On that day, two became one. Peter’s faith collided with the eternal desire of the heart of God. The Holy of Holies that had once been erected as a stone fortress indwelt Peter because of his belief. He had access – 24/7 access. He owned faith and therefore, faith owned him.
Dear believer, have you owned faith? Because when you do – not just because mom or dad or pastor or neighbor or girlfriend do – you are no longer torn between life and death, obedience and disobedience, good and evil. You are arrested by holiness. You are empowered to open your mouth against evil – your words are backed up by the Final Word – by Jesus Christ.
Do you believe He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?
“Upon this rock, I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Mt. 16:18
In bold, unreserved faith, Peter proclaims, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And perhaps one of the greatest promises in all of history is laid upon him by the very One he has abandoned himself to: “I will build my church on the boulder-like faith you have proven by your words. Even hell will not be able to overcome this kind of trust in Me.”
Peter was called a “rock” because of his faith. His words laid the foundation for generations of believers after himself. He was not a super hero…actually, he has been looked upon as a rather shaky disciple at times by the Christian world. And perhaps before the beginning of time, God predestined Peter to speak these words so that you and I could know that we too – despite all our failures and weaknesses – are called to make the same monumental statement that will give us power over death and hell.
Do you believe that He is the Christ?
“God does not have to come and tell me what I must do for Him, He brings me into a relationship with Himself wherein I hear His call and understand what He wants me to do, and I do it out of sheer love to Him. To serve God is a the deliberate love gift of the nature that has heard the call of God.” Oswald Chambers (taken from So Send I You)
Constrained by Love to be ambassadors
“…He died for all men…Therefore, we must not judge men by our standard, but rather be ambassadors of Christ to them” (paraphrase of II Cor. 5:14-15).
In part II of “Constrained”, we noted the fact that love – His love – holds us together! It compels, while supplying the strength to go on. Not only that, but His love (constraining love) demonstrates victory over death, indicating that we should not live selfish, me-centered lives of personal gain and judgmentalism towards others. Instead, we should live as ambassadors of Him, for Him. This is the third point we will be focusing on today.
So, what is an ambassador?
An ambassador is one who is officially recognized, authorized as a representative and sent out (commissioned). He or she is carefully observed, specifically chosen, and highly esteemed, appointed to carry out a great responsibility.
This is us! We are called by Constraining Love to be ambassadors of the Gospel: to see people as receivers of the truth we proclaim because of our Commissioner. It is Christ alone who compels and enables us to embrace others with a God-sized perspective simply because we are held together by His love.
Therefore, because we fear God (“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ: that every one may receive [give account] the things done in His body…whether it be good, or bad [II Cor. 5:10])”, we win men, answering to God for our actions. Love is the Christian’s power. Christ’s love constrains us and if we allow ourselves to be contained in such a way, then this very love can perfect us in its perfection! “But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected (I Jn. 2:5)”.
Therefore, receive not the grace of God in vain: constraining love holds us together when we choose the Lordship of Christ – when we die daily and live only to Grace and to God, letting Him DO, while we LEAN. “For we walk by faith, not by sight (see II Cor. 5:7)”.
Faith leads us to be held by the “chains” of love which, in turn, bind us together, supplying the strength to be Christ’s ambassador, that we might win men, answering to God.
“When people say they have had a call to foreign service, or to any particular sphere of work, they mean that their relationship to God has enabled them to realize what they can do for God. Their natural fitting for service and the call of God is identified as one in them.” Oswald Chambers (taken from )Allow His love to constrain you! ~Tiffany M. and Hannah S. Original 4/6/12 Updated 3/15/13