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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

The Harvest Is Coming

The harvest is getting close.

I do not know this because I am an agriculture expert or a 4H grad who can look at the corn and soybeans and know NOW is the time for the harvest.

So, how do I know the harvest is near?

The farmers are busy prepping and readying their equipment for the harvest.  All day long I can hear combines and collection bins being moved from the barn to the field.

The harvest is at hand.

Farmers know that an equipment failure which results from not being prepared can lead to the loss of a whole crop or significantly reduce the value of the harvest.

The same is true in the spiritual realm of your life.  Even Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons … be ready!”

In Matthew 25, the five who were unprepared regretted their decision.  The five who were prepared rejoiced.  There will come the time when it is too late to be right with God.

Are you prepared for God’s harvest?

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Give to God what is God’s

Matthew 22:21

Thomas Kempis puts a unique twist on this phrase which is from Jesus.

Kempis’ twist is: Give to God what is God’s and ascribe to yourself what is yours.” (1)

What do you have that is God’s? 

Perhaps, asking the question in the negative is more illustrative and to the point: “What do I have that is not God’s?”

On one hand, everything I have is God’s because it comes from what God has provided me.  There is nothing I have which I can truly claim is mine.  But I must ask, “Does God really want all the junk in my basement?”

No!  God does not need nor does He desire all my junk.  What he wants is my heart, your heart.

God wants our first love, if He has that, He has all of us.  If He does not have our first love, there is nothing we can give Him of value.

Jesus’ original response to the inquiring and savvy Pharisee who hoped to get Jesus arrested by the Roman guards was: “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” 

Jesus made clear that God neither needed nor desired our worldly stuff. 

God wants what He deserves. 

God wants the one and only thing we have which is of value to Him.

God wants our grateful and humble hearts, our first love.

Does he have yours?  If not, go read Revelation 2:4.

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(1) Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1996), 83.

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“Do you seek great things for yourself?”

Jeremiah 45:5

 

There is a difference between striving for greatness and striving for great things for yourself.

 

The difference is divined when the heart is examined.  

 

Jesus achieved greatness because He did not seek great things for Himself.  

 

Have you read Philippians 2:6-11?

Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men … He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

 

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (1)

 

People who seek great things for themselves are always promoting themselves.

 

People who succeed in striving for greatness empty themselves and become servants.

 

Great things perish.  

 

Greatness is remembered without effort.

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(1) The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Philippians 2:6–11.

 

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If I asked a million people from across the world this question, 

“What do you want the most in your life?” 

I am certain these would be the four top responses:

Joy, peace, abundant life, and contentment

 

Whether rich or poor, well or ill, single or married, able or disabled, all people seek these four things.  

 

Perhaps this is why our forefathers wrote into the US Declaration of Independence, these words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all … are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

Through out much of our lives we remain anxious for the things of the earth that we need for survival, security, and comfort.  We routinely ask ourselves these questions:

Can we afford to get married?

Can we afford to have kids?

Can I pay this week’s bills?

Do I have enough saved for retirement?

Even the rich worry about hanging onto their worldly wealth.

 

Eventually we learn that the things of the earth will not provide us with joy, peace, abundant life, or contentment.

 

The Bible promises that if we seek God first we will have these things added to our life:

Your joy will be complete.  (John 15:11)

You will have peace which passes all understanding.  (Philippians 4:7)

You will have an abundant life.  (John 10:10)

You will find contentment in all things.  (Phil 4:11)

 

This is why Thomas Kempis tells us:

“He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure. 

The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor.” (1)

 

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(1) Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1996), 75.

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… He was not worried about claiming His rights …

Philippians 2:6

 

Jack Webb was a no nonsense TV detective on Dragnet.  I do not remember a single episode from the series (I was too young), but I do remember these words:

“You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to consult an attorney.”

 

These words form the core of what is know as your Miranda Rights, which since 1966 every police officer must recite before interrogating anyone.

 

Personal Rights have become an overarching issue in American society.  We talk about civil rights, the right to life, consumer rights, gun rights, the right to free speech, the right to the free exercise of religion etc.  

 

The Bill of Rights, which forms the first 10 Amendments of the  US Constitution were written to protect the natural rights of liberty and personal freedom in America.  

 

If someone seeks to limit or take away our rights, we become feisty and angry.  We might go so far as to hire a lawyer, file a lawsuit, and contact the media.   

 

What rights are you willing to give up for the benefit of others?  Before you answer, reconsider Philippians 2:6.

 

Jesus gave up His rights as God, comfortably enthroned in heaven with the freedom to demand that we worship, serve, and obey Him!

 

Why did Jesus give up His rights? 

… to live and die for the forgiveness of your sins.

 

What did Jesus gain in giving up His rights?

… rejection, ridicule, humiliation, whipping, suffering, and a public crucifixion.

 

Jesus knew what He was getting Himself into when He gave up His rights, but this did not stop Him.  Absolutely not.  In John 15:13 Jesus said: 

“There is no greater love than to give up your life for the ones you love!” 

 

And Paul tells us to think like Jesus.

 

I wonder what our world would be like, if we all thought and lived like Jesus?

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… have the mind of Christ …

Philippians 2:5

 

Your mind is as valuable to God as your heart because you make decisions about how you will actually live with your mind.  

 

While your heart determines how it want to live, it is your mind which sends impulses and messages to all the parts of your body, generating action.  

 

We know many people who say, “They would love to ….”, but at the end of the day, they act differently.

 

In Romans 12:2, Paul encourages us, “To be transformed by the renewal of our minds so we might do what pleases God.”

 

If you read further in Philippians 2, particularly verses 6-8, you will see how Jesus’ mind worked.  His only thought was to suffer because He loved us.  A perfect melding of the mind and the heart.

 

The mind of Christ is developed through 5 particular activities: worship, prayer, Bible Study, Christian fellowship, and compassionate care.

 

Many Christians fail to develop the mind of Christ because they are self-absorbed and focused on so many different activities.  

 

We frequently hear and say, ”If you put your mind to it, you can ….”!  

 

Individuals have mastered physics, business management, shooting free throws, home decorating, how to make friends, and auto mechanics by simply putting their mind to it.

 

Yet, many of the same people will tell me that developing the mind of Christ is too much work.  Phooey! 

 

Developing the mind of Christ is no harder than developing any other skill-set or body of knowledge.

 

The heart that desires to develop the mind of Christ can, if it puts it mind to it.

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The Crucible of Love

 

Love is easy when it blesses.  

 

But what happens to you when love lacks benefit, becomes a cross to bear, or a curse upon you?

 

Oswald Chambers asks a question which causes me to pause: 

Have you come to the place where God can withdraw His blessings and it does not affect your trust in Him? (1)

 

I would be lying if I claimed that a withdrawal of God’s blessing would not affect my trust in Him.  

 

This is why I cling to these verses:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God is with me; His rod and His staff, they comfort me.

 

Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (2)

 

In those times when doubt has crept into my heart and mind these verses remind me that God never withdraws His blessing from me.  

 

I may perceive God has withdrawn His blessing, but He does not.  

 

God sends His blessings in comforts and in difficulties, in joy and in sorrow, in praise and in discipline, in gain and in loss. 

 

Knowing this sustains me when His love is greater than a warm fuzzy for the day.

 

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 23:4, Romans 8:39, and Hebrews 4:16.

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