This is love in the making. The love of God is not created— it is His nature. When we receive the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, He unites us with God so that His love is demonstrated in us. The goal of the indwelling Holy Spirit is not just to unite us with God, but to do it in such a way that we will be one with the Father in exactly the same way Jesus was. And what kind of oneness did Jesus Christ have with the Father? He had such a oneness with the Father that He was obedient when His Father sent Him down here to be poured out for us. And He says to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
Peter now realizes that he does love Him, due to the revelation that came with the Lord’s piercing question. The Lord’s next point is— “Pour yourself out. Don’t testify about how much you love Me and don’t talk about the wonderful revelation you have had, just ‘Feed My sheep.’ ” Jesus has some extraordinarily peculiar sheep: some that are unkempt and dirty, some that are awkward or pushy, and some that have gone astray! But it is impossible to exhaust God’s love, and it is impossible to exhaust my love if it flows from the Spirit of God within me. The love of God pays no attention to my prejudices caused by my natural individuality. If I love my Lord, I have no business being guided by natural emotions— I have to feed His sheep. We will not be delivered or released from His commission to us. Beware of counterfeiting the love of God by following your own natural human emotions, sympathies, or understandings. That will only serve to revile and abuse the true love of God.
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 1:11
An advertising blitz for a credit card company once featured two humorous television commercials. One featured Vikings who were defeated by credit card’s low interest rates. The other series of ads poked fun at the apparent difficulty of cashing in on the “other company’s” frequent flier miles. Every one of the commercials ended with the same catchy tagline: “What’s in your wallet?”
It’s an interesting question. The stuff in our wallet represents financial security, purchase power, and prosperity. The question “What’s in your wallet?” is a clever way of planting doubt in our minds about whether or not we have the right stuff to get all the satisfaction we are looking for in life. It prompts us to wonder if we are getting all that we think we deserve. Is there more out there that we don’t yet have? Do we have what it takes to be successful? Of course, the intent of the ad campaign is to make us think that only this particular card will make us satisfied, secure, and significant. And if we don’t feel secure about having the right things in our wallet, perhaps we need to reevaluate its contents. But those who have traveled life’s road for a while will tell you that it’s not really the stuff in your wallet that finally brings the happiness you’re looking for.
Thankfully, God has an announcement of His own about where to find satisfaction, security, and significance! In Ephesians 1:3-14, the apostle Paul can hardly contain himself as he lists the incredible resources that our Father has placed at the disposal of His children. When we turn to Christ by faith, we’re given forgiveness—the joy of a clean conscience before God. We’re entrusted with His wisdom—inside information on how to live life without the downside of our ongoing dead-end experiments. We’re given access to His mercy and grace to find help in the time of need, worship to lift our spirits above the din of ordinary living, and prayer to put us in touch with the One who cares for us and loves us without condition. We find all of this and more in our spiritual wallet!
What are you trusting to bring you joy and satisfaction? What do you depend on to give you a sense of security and safety? Where do you turn for significance? Are you focused on a wallet that’s growing with the “right” credit cards, a thick stack of cash, and the right business cards? Ironically, a full wallet can be carried on a body with an empty heart.
Live for the incredible spiritual wealth and riches offered to you by our loving heavenly Father, who, according to James, delights in giving good gifts to His children. Your physical wallet may be almost empty, but, if your heart is full of all that Jesus offers, you’ve got all the right stuff to defeat the Vikings that plague your life and to experience true joy and satisfaction.
|MARCH 3, 2015
How Do I Choose?
“…See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut…” Revelation 3:8a (NIV)
Life is full of tough decisions.
How do I know if he/she is “the one”? Which college should I go to? What should I major in? Which job should I take? Which church should we attend? Should I change careers? Now that the kids are grown, should we downsize? Is now the right time to retire?
People hate making decisions. Mostly because we’re terrified of making the wrong one.
Choosing thrills us. Choosing scares us. Choosing comes from the core of who we are. When we truly choose, we have no one to blame and nowhere to hide. And that can be downright terrifying.
My wife, Nancy, and I were at a restaurant once, and the waiter responded to every choice we made by saying, “Brilliant,” “Perfect” or “Excellent decision.” This happened so steadily throughout the meal that I finally asked him if he ever told anyone they made a lousy choice. He told us that the restaurant managers had discovered diners are so afraid of choosing the wrong thing, they actually print a list of “affirmation words” that the wait staff is required to say in response to everyone’s order.
Think about that. Even a question as simple as, “Soup or salad?” renders us so vulnerable that restaurants have to turn their wait staff into therapists!
In a way, we do the same thing with God. Terrified of making a bad decision, we lay all of our choices at God’s feet and ask Him, “What is Your will for my life?”
But, what if God’s will for us is that we develop the wisdom and discernment to make our own decisions in light of His Word, and the faith and confidence to know He will be there guiding us regardless of which path we choose?
Doesn’t that sound freeing?
God wants us to learn how to choose well. That may be why, when we look at the Bible, there is no chapter devoted to ’How to know God’s will for your life.” Paul doesn’t write about “6 Steps to Determine If He’s the One” or “5 Ways to Discern God’s Best Career Path for You.”
What we do see are statements like this: “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you” (James 1:5, NRSV).
Or “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” (Philippians 1:9-10a, NIV, 1984).
So the next time you face a difficult decision, instead of asking God what His will is for your life, begin by asking for wisdom. And don’t live in fear of making the wrong decision. Even if you walk through the wrong door, as long as you walk through it with the right heart, God’s will will be done.
Remember, God’s will for your life is not about whom, or if, you should marry, which job you should accept, or which neighborhood you should live in. God’s will for your life is that you become a magnificent person in His image, somebody with the character of Jesus. And nothing can stand in the way of that.
Dear God, we know that You are the God of the open door. Every moment of every day is an opportunity for us to grow and serve and make a positive impact on others. Because of Your love, we don’t have to be afraid of failure, nor do we have to live under the tyranny of always making the perfect choice. We pray You will give us the courage and wisdom to walk through whatever doors You open before us. And we pray that through our actions, Your will will be done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (ESV)
Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (ESV)
From: Through the Bible
Numbers 11:14, 16-17 (NIV) 14I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me…
16The LORD said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.
There is only one man that is meant to be the leader that all look to, Jesus of Nazareth. God brought Moses to the place where he recognized that carrying the burden of all the people was not meant for an under-shepherd. Jesus is the Great Shepherd, and He employs many under-shepherds. Even when we cast it upon the Lord, it can just get to be too much for us to deal with. We were meant to share the load with our brothers and sisters in the faith. As we gather with them, God places His Spirit upon them (now within them) so they can be His instruments. They help God ordained leadership carry the burden of the people.
When we try to carry it alone, we find ourselves facing depression as was Moses. He asked the Lord to put him to death. All the complaining just became overwhelming. But when we stand together with a team filled with the Spirit, we share the load and build one another up. Each finds his place of ministry and we work together as God intended.
Jethro had given Moses this advice earlier, but what was lacking? The elders needed the Spirit to truly be able to carry Moses’ burden for the people. A worker can do physical activities and make decisions, but a Spirit filled worker helps to carry the burden for the people.
Meditation: Do I rely on the Spirit to help me carry the load in the fellowship I attend?
Matthew 14:31-33 (NIV) 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Jesus sent the disciples ahead while He went up into the mountain to pray. They rowed against a wind that kept them from getting across the lake. During the few remaining hours before dawn, Jesus came to them walking on the water. Jews considered the depths of the lake the Abyss. Seeing a man walking on the water frightened them, but Jesus told them who He was and that they need not fear. (Job 9:8)
Peter asked to come to Jesus on the water. Jesus invited him to come. That first step off the boat was quite a step of faith. Remember, the wind is blowing and the waves are rolling by. Do you step on the top of wave, or jump to a low point? Peter actually took a few steps but then got his eyes off Jesus and onto the waves and started to sink. He cried out to the Lord, and the Lord grabbed his hand and rebuked his doubt. As soon as they were both in the boat, the wind died down and the disciples began to worship.
Every storm in life is a test to see if we will walk through by faith or doubt. Sinking into that lake was the last thing Peter wanted to experience, yet the distraction of the physical caused him to experience what he dreaded most. Even then, in the midst of doubt, you can call out to the Lord and immediately His hand is there. We rarely walk straight across our storms without being distracted. Why do we doubt? Why don’t we have more faith in what the Lord can do? It depends on where our vision is fixed. To what are we giving the most attention? It helps to realize that the Lord has allowed the storm so that our faith might be increased. Whether we pass or fail, when we end up in the boat together and the wind dies down, we end up worshipping Him. We see His might and ability a little more clearly and worship Him for who He is. “Truly you are the Son of God!”
Consider: Difficulty is often the path to spiritual growth.