Monday, September 25, 2006

Giving to Get

Guilty. Convicted. Pardoned.

A few years ago, God gave me a sneak preview of his plan for my life. It was puzzling at the time. But, I began giving and doing for the sake of this vision.

Prayer a passion of mine. I desire to teach others to pray because of the experiences I’ve had. However, at the Moms in Touch Rally this weekend, God showed me how my heart is often giving so that I can get to be the speaker God told me I would one day be. Ouch.

This morning I read Luke 22:19-20. Jesus is having the Passover meal with his disciples “and he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”

Then I looked at Leviticus 17:11-12. “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.’”

Why were the Israelites not to drink the blood of the animal but we are to drink from the cup which represents the blood of Christ? I’ll give you my thoughts.

The animal was certainly a sacrifice. It was to be without blemish and valuable. It was a sign of surrender to God. It was giving to get forgiveness.

Jesus brought us a new covenant. The old covenant showed what God has for us and how to get it – forgiveness through surrender. The new covenant added how to give out of what we have been given.

Jesus had everything. There was nothing for him to get. His body was broken and distributed to those who accept the new covenant – total surrender for the purpose of giving to others.

Jesus poured out his life source – the Holy Spirit. The only thing I can compare with this is donating blood. Many people give blood without getting much in return. But how many would be willing to empty out their life source so that others – including enemies - could have life?

If my life source is wholey from Christ, then there is nothing greater to gain. I can give for the sole purpose of giving.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.”
Luke 12:48

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?”
Romans 12:1

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Can't Sleep

Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight
Proverbs 3:5-6

I rarely have trouble sleeping. When I wake up stressed over a project or life issue, I begin to doubt myself. Why did I volunteer for this? I don’t know what I’m doing! This is not going to turn out as I envisioned. How do I get this stuff done along with all the other stuff I feel like you’ve really called me to do, God? I am not gifted in event planning. Ok, maybe this was a mistake. Maybe this wasn’t your idea. So now what?

That’s what was on my mind at 5:00am this morning. At 5:20 I opened email. A friend had forwarded a piece with the above verses. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

This is not the first time God has sent flesh to get a message to me. The real kicker is those thoughts – be still, trust God – were also going through my mind as I lay restless in bed. But I was more focused on the negative thoughts.

Do you ever do that? You sense God trying to affirm and comfort but you prefer to struggle with the doubts. It’s pretty much a life long thing for me. Years ago, that character trait in me took me away from God completely. A miracle brought me back to him.

He was always there but I refused to listen to his still small voice. Refused is probably not the best word. It was more like aggressively debated it. Even that sounds nicer than the memory of my emotions during that period of my life. Now, my times of doubt don’t last as long because I know what it feels like to trust him. And that is exactly where I want to be.

Here area some other favorite verses that are coming to mind as I still my mind to listen to him

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

I can sleep because He will be exalted regardless of what I do. And that is really the purpose of life.

May the peace of Christ be with you today whether you face tasks of choice or life issues beyond your control.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Great Expectations

“The chief priests and the scribes were looking for some way to kill Jesus. However, they were afraid of the people.  Then Satan entered Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles.”  Luke 22:2-3 (GWT)

Have you ever wondered why high profile Christians get involved in stuff that hurts the reputation of the Church – the Body of Christ?

Or maybe it’s not a high profile Christian. Maybe it’s just someone you look to for your faith.

Let’s think about that. There are plenty of unbelievers (those who don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah, the only way to a relationship with God) doing wretched stuff, right? And, many of those unbelievers would like to destroy the influence of the Church so that they can live the way they want without being challenged. They are afraid of the Body of Christ. If they weren’t afraid, they wouldn’t care about things like Christian prayer in public schools.

Now, there have been attempts to destroy the Church since Jesus was born. Remember Herod’s attempt to kill him. (Matthew 2:13-16) That didn’t work. But Judas was an insider. That made a difference. And you can look at any church today that has had a split and see that the biggest damage comes from within the church, not outside.

So why did God impress on me to blog about this? Honestly, I’m not sure. But I think the more important verse is Luke 21:34 where Jesus has been talking about his return.

"But be on your guard. Don't let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap.” Luke 21:34 (MSG)

Are we really expecting Christ to return at any moment? Sometimes it seems that busyness of ministry has dulled our expectation.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Pressed, Persecuted and Perplexed

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Have you ever felt that way? It can be easy to get wrapped up in our circumstances. Sometimes it’s just the day to day stuff that gets pressed against a perplexing event. I’ve read the verses above to be reminded that nothing can destroy me because of God.

But today I read more in this section of scripture. Verse 10 says “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

Do you see it? Verses 8 and 9 are not talking about unusual circumstances. Paul seems to be saying “look, this is the way it is or at least it should be.”

Do I always carry around in my body the death of Jesus? Uh, I don’t think so. It is those times when I feel pressed, perplexed, persecuted or struck down by stuff in this world that I cry out to Jesus, “Lord, help me here.”

It has been said that a person’s true character is revealed under pressure. What I heard from God today is that he expects His character to be revealed every day of my life.

Jesus was born in a barn. His family fled to a foreign country to avoid those seeking to kill him even as an infant. We don’t know much about his childhood but we do know that every day for about 3 ½ years he was pressed on every side and persecuted by those with great influence and authority. There are indications that he was perplexed by the disbelief and the actions of mankind. And, he eventually was struck down but certainly not destroyed.

I whimper over a few days, maybe a few weeks of tough circumstances that often have no eternal value and are completely about comfort in this life.

I want to offer my body to Christ every moment of the day. I hesitate to type this next thought. Do I really mean it? I want to be hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in my body.

Why would I say such a crazy thing? Because I don’t want anyone to be confused about God’s incomparable power. There are many good causes to suffer for in this world. Christ didn’t suffer for what is seen. He suffered so that we could experience the unseen.

What’s pressing on you today?

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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