Sunday, December 12, 2010

His True Destiny

Several years ago while shopping an after-Christmas sale, I stumbled onto a priceless treasure. I was digging through a huge bin of marked down T-shirts when I saw a navy blue one peeking out from near the bottom of the pile. Since blue has always been my color of choice, I decided this shirt was worth going after. After several minutes of elbowing my way through a sea of shirts, the one that caught my eye was finally within my reach. As I picked it up, I turned it over and looked at the front.

To my surprise, the design on this T-shirt was that of the manger scene. Little baby Jesus was fast asleep in his small cradle, with Mary tenderly seated as his side. As beautiful as this was, more beautiful yet, were the six words printed boldly in white above the picture.

His Destiny was to change Ours

Here was the true meaning of Christmas spelled out for all to see and yet up until now, this T-shirt had slipped by totally unnoticed and completely unseen, buried at the bottom of a clearance bin! As I stood there, surrounded by a crowd of noisy, energetic shoppers, I felt a hush come over my soul.

Day in and day out we elbow our way through life in an effort to reach our goals, get ahead, succeed, and find true happiness. Digging through the bin of life, we proudly grab these surface level bargains, settling for the leftovers of this world, all the while missing out on our true destiny. We go to church and accept the surface level truth of Christ’s birth, yet never realize that the very essence of Christ and the purpose of his arrival as a tiny baby may still remain buried under piles of ill-fitting religion and theology. How we need to dig deeper, to search more, to grasp the almost incomprehensible ……His destiny was to change ours!

Yes, Christ came to earth as a baby to ultimately die on the cross, making a way of forgiveness, atonement and salvation for us. There is no denying this life-giving truth. Our final and ultimate destiny is to be with him in Heaven through out all eternity. But what about here? What about now?

One of my favorite verses is John 10:10. If ever a verse described the destiny of Jesus as it relates to ours, this is it. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Life eternal is most definitely part of the abundant part, but our destiny doesn’t begin once our time on this earth is over. NO! Our destiny changes the moment we turn our life over to Christ.

Our can’ts become cans.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13


Our defeats become victories.

We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Romans 8:37


Our trials become treasures.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


Our desires become reality.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4

I’m so glad I caught a glimpse of blue peeking out from the bottom of that bin of marked down T-shirts. Yet no happiness in the world will ever begin to match the joy I now feel since I caught a glimpse of my true destiny in Christ.

When it comes to shopping, you will still find me searching through clearance bins in hopes of finding a bargain, but thanks be to God, you will never, ever find me digging through the bargain bins of life or poking through the discounted racks of religion and theology. I have discovered my true destiny and I’m not settling for anything less than God’s best for me! I am not going to wait until I die to truly start to live. I am going to live the abundant life now! I am going to reach out with every bit of my heart, mind and soul and grab onto the treasure I have in Christ. I am going to start living out my Christ-given destiny. How about you?

And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all of your heart.Jeremiah 29:13


Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Never..... or It's Now!

I will never forget that moment. Sitting in a staff meeting one morning, a colleague read a short devotional based on a passage found in Mark 10. Then, he led us in a short prayer. On any other day, after the prayer, the Pastor would have dove right into our work assignments for the day and the issues at hand. Not this day. The prayer finished and we were met with silence; a silence that lingered, creating an uneasiness in the room. After several moments, the Pastor, looking at no one in particular, yet speaking directly to everyone seated at the table asked, "What do you want Jesus to do for you?" Again, silence. Minutes ticked by as we each allowed this question to penetrate our heart. "What do I want Jesus to do for me?"

Mark 10:46-52, NLT

46 Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”

So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” 50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

“My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”

52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.


Right now, I ask this same question of you; the same question Jesus asked Bartimeaus..."What do you want me to do for you?"

I often wonder what it would have been like to have lived during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry. As He went from town to town and village to village, people young and old crowded around to hear His words and to witness His healing touch. If I had been there, I think, I too would have been among the crowd. I, too, would have followed Jesus.

I wonder, though, would I have had the courage, the boldness or the faith to cry out to Him with my own need. Sadly, I don't think I would have. I would have wanted to, to be sure......but, I think I would have let the opinions of the crowd and my own poor self-image keep me at a distant.

"Who am I to think I can interrupt Jesus while He is ministering to those who need him?"

"Why should I take up Jesus' time when there are so many more who needed Him more than I do?"

"Why would Jesus want to heal me?"

Yes, I would have wanted to run to Him, but...

As I have studied this passage of scripture, my eyes have been opened to see my own spiritual blindness....my own spiritual need. As I have looked deep into my heart, I now realize I am in greater need than the blind beggar, Bartimaues. When Jesus drew near, He had the courage and the faith to cry out to Him. But me....I often stay silent. I have the faith....but I don't ask. Every single moment of my life Jesus is here, and I just let Him pass me by.

Oh, for the courage of Bartimaeus. He didn't allow anything or anyone (not even himself ) to keep him from drawing near Jesus and experiencing His touch. He boldy cried out and in faith, received.

Bartimaeus did nothing to make himself worthy of receiving this miracle from God. When he ran to Jesus, he was just an ordinary human being in need....just like you and me. He knew all he needed could be found in Jesus. I think he also knew that Jesus invites us to come as we are. After all, aren't we powerless to come any other way?

You see, Jesus doesn't see us the same way we see ourself. Yes, he sees the real, ugly sinful person that we are, but He sees us through His eyes of love. He sees us as His child. He sees us as someone worth giving His own life for. He sees our need....but looks beyond it to see the ONE in need. He simply wants us to come...to not let anything or anyone, not even ourself, keep us from experiencing His love and receiving His touch.

Today, Jesus is passing by. All it takes is one touch to change your life forever. Are you willing to risk everything and run to Him, or are you content to let Him simply pass you by.

It's never.........or it's NOW!

Friday, December 3, 2010

God Knows Where You Are

Have you ever wondered if you have fallen off God's radar? Life was merrily rolling along and then all of a sudden you found yourself

in a prison,

out to pasture,

thrown in a tomb.

Joseph.

David.

Lazarus.

You.

Me.

No matter where you are. No matter how silent you find this place to be. Rest assured. God knows where you are. He has not forgotten you. You are not out of His sight. In fact, chances are, where you are is right in the center of God's will.

When only a youth, God gave Joseph a glimpse of where he would one day be. Prison wasn't it. In fact, his journey to prison was nothing Joseph could ever have imagined. From a pit, to slavery, to prison. Where was God in this? Right beside Joseph, that's where. Waiting for the perfect, God-ordained time to take Joseph's hand and lead him from the prison right into the palace.

David was out in the pasture tending sheep when Samuel came calling with a call from the Lord. His family may have overlooked him. His own father may not have thought him worth calling for. But God hadn't forgotten about him. In fact, David was the reason Samuel had come. He was God's man and soon everyone knew it. The shepherd soon became King.

And then there was Lazarus. Sick, dead and buried, but far from being forgotten. Jesus came and not a minute too soon. He was right on time and Lazarus received a call of his own. At the words of Christ, life came into his body and he came forth, out into the light of God's resurrection power.

So, what about me? What about you? Maybe where you are is far from where you ever thought you would be. Looking around your life, you, yourself, have doubts as to where you even are. Don't worry. God knows where you are. In His perfect timing and in His perfect way, He will come calling.

He sees you in the prison. He is with you in the lonely pasture. And yes, even in the dead places of your life, the places where you can no longer see a sign of life, He is there.

Stay faithful to your calling. Stay faithful to your God. Keep trusting Him in these dark, barren places of your life. He is with you. He is working behind the scenes and one day, it WILL happen.

The door will open. The call will come. The dead will spring forth with life.

As Joseph stood before his brothers, the very ones who had sold him into slavery, he proclaimed this truth.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20, NLT.

God's purpose was revealed.

David, who had been faithful to keep a watchful eye upon his father's sheep, was now the one being gazed upon as Samuel anointed him to tend the sheep of Israel.

Then he asked Jesse, "Is this it? Are there no more sons?" "Well, yes, there's the runt. But he's out tending the sheep." Samuel ordered Jesse, "Go get him. We're not moving from this spot until he's here." Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health— bright-eyed, good-looking. God said, "Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one." Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life. 1 Samuel 16:11-13, The Message

God's purpose was revealed.

Lazarus, dead, and buried, and lifeless for four days, walked right out of the tomb and back into the lives of everyone watching; a living testimony of God's power to bring whatever is dead back to life.

Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. John 11:43-45, NLT

Lazarus walked in newness of life and once again, God's purpose was revealed.

The God of Joseph, David and Lazarus is our God, too. When it seems God has forgotten us or life has taken a wrong turn, we simply need to remember this: God HAS a purpose.

Where you are is not a mistake. The place you find yourself is not off God's radar. If you will but surrender to God's call on your life, everything you are currently going through can be used by God to prepare you for your final destination. Soon, in God's perfect timing and in His perfect way, He will come calling. Soon, His purpose will be revealed in your life, too!