Thursday, November 29, 2012

So Long, Mediocrity!

Recently, I wrote a post about living large. I mentioned in that post that every where I turned, I was being confronted with motivation toward something called 'supernatural living'. This is what I want. I don't want a mediocre, run of the mill life. I want a greater life.

As our fall Bible study wound down at my church, I began looking around for something to fill the time between now and our spring studies. I came across Melissa Taylor's online Bible study of the book "Greater" by Pastor Steven Furtick. I had never done an online study of this kind before but I decided to give it a try. I believe this study will be the next step for me in learning what supernatural or greater living can be.

The book by Pastor Furtick begins with John 14:12. "I tell you for certain that if you have faith in Me, you will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father." (CEV) This is Jesus talking. How can we possibly do greater things than He did while He was on this earth? He raised people from the dead, for Pete's sake! How do you do greater than that?!

I am far from understanding the entire concept and I am sure this will be a growth process for me in the months and years to come, but I am ready to learn what Jesus was talking about. Ready to move on toward the greater life He has for me.

There are a few things I DO understand so far:

When Jesus said He was returning to the Father, it was so the Holy Spirit could come. This is the same Spirit of God that lives in me! In order to live a supernatural or greater life, I have to give Him free reign. It is not me doing greater things than Jesus did, it is Jesus and His Spirit working though me.

This is not a life that I will live. This is a life that Jesus will live through me. In John 15, Jesus gave the example of the vine and the branches. If Jesus is the true vine (and He is), and my branch is attached to Him, it is His life that is flowing though me.

Now, I have an orange tree in my back yard. Right now it is loaded down with ripe oranges. I have not noted the branches running to and fro from one program to the next trying to find the most effective way to bear the most fruit. They just hang there - absorbing the life from the trunk - and do what comes naturally. Bear fruit. I just need to hang on to Him and let Him do what comes naturally.

I also need to retool my thinking of what constitutes fruit. I believe in our success driven society where everything is measured in numbers, we tend to measure our fruit by the number of people we have actually led to Christ. DO NOT misunderstand me. I firmly believe we should be sharing the gospel at every opportunity. But since salvation is not up to us, this seems like a faulty measure of our fruit bearing efforts.

God gives us a definition of fruit in Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law." (NIV). If I am letting this greater life of Christ flow through me, this is what my life will look like. This is the fruit I will bear, and as I do I will attract others.

You know what I want to do every time I see that orange tree in my back yard? Go pick one and eat it! That tree doesn't have to call me over - I am attracted by the beautiful fruit it displays. I can hardly resist it! If my life bears attractive fruit, it should stimulate curiosity from others. People will want to know what is different about me. They will want to "taste and see that the Lord is good". (Ps. 34:8)

Lastly, we need to think about what Jesus thinks is greater, not what the world thinks is greater. Perhaps being a world renowned author and speaker to thousands is not in my future. That does not mean I am not doing great things for God. Perhaps for Him, my place is something smaller but equally important in His kingdom. Success in God's culture does not necessarily line up with what we think of as success in the world's culture.

I am looking forward over the next few weeks and months to learning what God has to show me and getting started on this journey to a greater life.

Journey along?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shine On!

Several months ago, as we were moving headlong into the election season, I published a post highlighting Daniel's prayer for the nation of Israel. On this day after the election, my reflection turns to the second half of Daniel 9 - the answer to his prayer.

In verse 20, Daniel says, "I was still confessing my sins and those of all Israel to the LORD my God, and I was praying for the good of His holy mountain, when Gabriel suddenly came flying in...". Can you even imagine! If I were in the middle of a prayer and Gabriel decided to drop by, I don't think a vision would be necessary! I would just die right there! What particularly catches my attention here is that Daniel was STILL confessing. He was making sure every last sin was accounted for. Not only for himself, but for the nation of Israel, too. We have much to ask forgiveness for and this nation is not going to change without the continual confession of God's people. No political candidate is our saviour. Only Jesus is our Saviour and only He will turn the heart of this nation around.

As Gabriel begins to talk to Daniel, he describes a vision of the future. I will not get into minute details of that here because it can be very confusing. What I will tell you is that he gave Daniel a timeline for future events in Israel's history that can be calculated down to the exact day. He told Daniel there would be a certain number of years from the decree to rebuild the temple until the Messiah was presented. From the day Artaxerxes issued the decree until the day that Jesus road into Jerusalem on the donkey was EXACTLY that number of years. Not one day more. Not one day less.

What implication can this possibly have for you and I? On the day after a difficult election, when many are confused and concerned, we can KNOW this:
  1. God is in control of history. All through Scripture we see example after example of God using pagan kings to accomplish His purpose. We can take heart in knowing that no matter who thinks they are in control, God is using them to accomplish His purpose and plan in history.
  2. God's promises are dependable. All of the past prophecy in Scripture has been fulfilled 100%. This can only lead us to the conclusion that all future prophecy will be fulfilled, too. We know the end of the story!
  3. God's timing is precise. God has a plan and there is a precise time schedule for that plan. We do not know all of the exact events and where they land on God's calendar, but He has given us signs to watch for in His Word. We can know that we are currently exactly where He has placed us for this time. Who knows? Maybe like Esther, you and I are here 'for such a time as this'.
  4. Jesus is the undeniable King of Kings and Lord of Lords. No one else could have fulfilled this prophecy as Gabriel described it. Jesus is the only one who fit the bill. He is the Messiah and He is coming back for His bride!
Are these dark days? Maybe. If your candidate lost, you might see them that way. If your candidate won, maybe not. Either way, Christians are called to be salt and light and as Dr. Lewis said in his blog this morning, "the darker the night, the brighter the light shines!"  Shine on!