The Christian life is obsessed with Jesus. There is no other name. There is no other gospel. There is no other authority. There is no other way. It is Jesus, all the time Jesus. Beware of people, churches, ministries, websites, artists that take any of the precious and holy glory that belongs to Jesus. The effectiveness of any ministry can be graded and assessed on how much or how little attention and credit is given to the name of Jesus above all other names. Are churches concerned about losing members to other churches? Yes. Why? If the person is better fit at another church in a different environment rejoice that they are being called to know Jesus more at all. Are non-profits and private ministries competing with other non-profits and private ministries? Why? The purpose of reaching out to people in the first place is to provide a bridge between them and Jesus. Rejoice that they have found the truth in Jesus anywhere even if that means that they found it somewhere else. Are conferences and denominations competing with the popularity and growth of other conferences and denominations? Yes. Why? Jesus isn’t about one conference or denomination. The gospel he brought into this world is about him. Anything created in this world is temporary except the relationship between Jesus and the believer. It is of no importance how that person came to believe in Jesus with whom or where. All of those points are secondary and irrelevant. Do they know Jesus? Are they getting to know Jesus? Pray that people know Jesus. God will provide for you. He is not taking anything from you. God will provide for your ministry. God will provide for your church. There might be seasons where there is less. Expect that. Welcome that. However, God will always provide exactly what you need. Too much praise for a particular ministry is too little praise for Jesus Christ. We are to hold ministries loosely with our grip on Jesus growing ever tighter with every passing day. Beware of people that tell you that you have to come to them to know Jesus. Beware of people that claim to have THE way. Beware of people that claim that they have an anointing that others lack. Get know Jesus. Experience his grace in your life. Trust in Jesus. Be anointed by the blessed anointing of becoming a beloved child of the living God in the name of Jesus. This is all you need and all you will ever need. Forsake worldly loyalties for an everlasting devotion to your savior, Jesus Christ.
Patience. We must be patient. We must be willing to be made patient. The Lord’s will and plan require us to wait. Not in agony but in faith and confidence that time in between steps is never wasted. Our Lord is always at work in us as long as we are always in pursuit of him. However, knowing him and obeying him requires patience. Waiting on the Lord’s return cannot become an idol. Now should we remain idle. We have work to do now. We have a purpose where we are right now. We are not then. We are now. To ignore the leading of the Lord today is to forsake his command to follow him patiently one day at a time. We all want to know. We all have questions we want answered? What will the end look like? When will it happen? Who will do what? But are these to be our daily concerns? No. Patience. We must wait patiently for the Lord to reveal his plan according to his timing. We are allowed to wonder and be curious about the end. However, in taking this good news of Jesus to the world we are not to guess about the end. We are not to hypothesize. We are not to imagine and create. The end will come and when it does all people in all nations will know precisely what is happening. Until then, tell them about Jesus. Tell them about how God has accomplished things in your life outside of your planning and timing. Your new life in Jesus did not take a conventional route nor did it come when you thought it would. Knowing this to be true, how we can we then approach the end in such a linear and predictable manner? The prophets wrote about the Messiah Jesus hundreds of years before their words were approved and verified by the life of Jesus. They were mocked and cast out. But they were right. God’s word never fails. It will outlast the entire creation we see today. God has never been proven to be wrong and nothing foretold about Jesus and by Jesus has ever failed or ever will. The promise of the end is God’s word and therefore it will happen. But we know little more than that. Why claim to? Be patient and wait with the rest of us. There is peace to be found in allowing God to be in control of such things. It is his grace that we have not been given the burden of knowing too much. Rejoice that he has protected us from seeing too much. Preach the good news and never hide the fact that time is short. How much? We do not know. But we know that every day matters, every person matters and God will accomplish what he said. Until then, wait, preach, pray and wait.
It is ok to be young in your faith. It is ok to not have all the answers. It is ok to take small baby steps before you run. In fact, this is wonderfully healthy and good. Pray, on the other hand, that the Lord keep you from running before you are able and before it is safe to do so. This Christian faith has no concern with how quickly you learn and how far you’ve gone. The primary concern of Christianity is, do you know Jesus and are you continuing to know him more? A good conversation with a lifetime friend is not assessed on how many topics were covered and how quickly the conversation was brought to a close. No. Never confuse quantity for quality. In Christ you are born again. You are starting over. This can be an attack on our pride but what is more important, your pride or your life? Would you rather know that your pride is in tact or would you rather know that your life has been saved? Don’t fear correction and don’t fear failure. You will fail. You won’t get everything right the first time. Or the second time. And so on. But that’s not the point, is it? The point is that daily you are laying your life down for the sake of Jesus. The point is that daily you are admitting that you are helplessly incapable while God is eternally able. You are a child of God. You are a disciple of Jesus. You are a born again Christian. Where do we find the idea that we have it altogether, we know all the steps and it’s time for us to instruct those around us? Child, Disciple, Newborn. All of these denote beginnings, submission, humility, helplessness, neediness and trust. We trust in Jesus because without him we have no one to provide for us. We are lost and have not direction without him. We are dead and have no hope of living without the death he died. Pray for a heart that desires to know basics and never stop praying. Over time you will grow and the walk will become more. Likewise your knowledge and understanding of who God is will develop and change. You will need more. You will know more. You will find that God continues to give you more. But the message of the Cross is simple and not to be left and abandoned for the sake of advancement. The message of the Cross is not there to be appreciated but then undervalued and unappreciated in the presence of more interesting and more complex subjects. The message of the Cross is basic and it will remain so for eternity. Our sin, however, is complex and complicated and only by the power of the Cross will we understand why we so often resist the simplicity of the Cross.
Read James 1:1-18
Our aversion to pain, loss and sorrow creates in us a fear of suffering. We view suffering as a step back and not forward. We encounter suffering and we wish that it hadn’t interrupted our progress. We experience suffering and we second-guess our actions playing back in our minds any possible scenario where we might have avoided the suffering altogether. The lesson we often take away from a period of suffering is how we ought to avoid such an experience in the future. In some ways, our entire lives are built upon that premise. Avoid suffering, find happiness. Avoid suffering, find success. But do we really believe this? Have we truly convinced ourselves that a life void of suffering is the best for us. Not the most enjoyable, but the best for us. In fact, suffering refines us in a way that nothing else can. It reveals who you truly are. It reveals what this world truly is. And it reveals where are help truly comes from. Without suffering we live a numb existence. The question is not, how can we avoid suffering? The question is, how could we truly live without suffering? This world is full of suffering and although God did not create suffering and call it good, he remains sovereign over this world that contains so much of it. This world has suffering but praise be to the name of Jesus that he has overcome this world. Don’t run from suffering. Don’t fear suffering. Don’t clamor for ways to avoid the suffering. Embrace suffering and welcome the way God ordains and anoints it to reveal miracles in your life. Allow our heavenly Father to give you good gifts and to be with you. He is. And he does. There is nothing beyond his reach and outside of his sovereignty. Are you experiencing suffering at this very moment? I’m sorry and I pray that you are surrounded by Christ-like comforters and not miserable comforters who feel the need to teach you out of your suffering. However, I’m not sorry you’re experiencing suffering. Why? Because this means God is still so passionately involved in your life. He is teaching you. He is growing you. He is reaching out to you. He is calling for you. He is loving you. You are not numb, praise God! You feel. And this means that you are able to feel the embrace of your Father as you reach out to him in return. The Kingdom of Heaven in this world is supernatural and miraculous. Absent of suffering there is no need for an emergency call of supernatural rescue and salvation. In the presence of suffering we can be saved, we can be rescued, we can participate in the Kingdom of Heaven covering us with power and miraculous transformation and revelation. God is good and all he creates is good. Let him take your suffering and make it good.