Ephesians 1:11-14 (MSG)
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
I have a horrible memory. Recollection of names, dates and places seem to be a difficult challenge. Some of this lack of recall, I believe to be God-Inspired as there are things in my life that I do not want to remember. I absolutely loathe the question, “Do you remember me?” If a person walks up to me and poses it, I break out in a cold sweat. There are those it is obvious want me to remember them as they look longingly at me hoping to make a connection. I probably won’t until you help me along a bit. There are others who will say, “Aren’t you so-and-so” who I know must be marveling at the change in me which means they are probably from a time in my life that I do not want to remember. I am an ordinary person just like you living an ordinary life. The only thing about my life that is extraordinary is Jesus Christ. I got the message, but now how do I get the message out to the world?
Christ defines who I am. He is what I am living for. He is my overall purpose. He is working everything out in me and working on everyone else around me. The Christ in me is worth having. He is worth knowing, loving, and serving. How do I let others know? How can I do so without cracking open my chest and pouring out the contents of my heart? On the outside, I just like you or any other daughter, sister, wife and mother. But inside of me is the Power of God working its way out. I want others to know Christ, so how do I preach this message with my life?
I preface this by saying that I used to think we “preached” the Message by sharing the Gospel with others. We had to know every verse. Have all the answers? Answer every call for help. We had to do, do, do for the Kingdom of God. I used to look at my life from the outside looking in and try to make it what others should see to identify with Jesus. I am different now. The trials of the last several years have refined me. Refinement is a painful yet worthwhile process. Some people may even think you are a little bit crazy especially when you are still happily in love with Jesus. I look at my life from the inside out now. I have to examine my heart and put it on display for all the world to see. Because it is that very place that the Lord begins to evaluate my message.
2 Corinthians 8:10-15 (MSG)
So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, nothing left over to the one with the most, nothing lacking to the one with the least.
Our heart must regulate our hands. If you read nothing else today, read and understand what the Lord is saying to you in this valuable piece of knowledge. As you apply it to your life, it will become wisdom that will change your relationship with Jesus Christ completely. Each time I have rededicated my life to Christ, it was always with a string of rash promises that became my stumbling blocks along the way. Anything that I do to try to complete my life FOR Christ is in direct opposition to His Grace that is the only thing that makes my life worth living. My heart has been and will always be the primary focus of God’s Love. Why? It motivates my attitude and actions every single day. To preach the Message entrusted to me, it must always be something that comes from my heart and not a feeble attempt to act like I know Christ.
I Corinthians 9:19-23 (MSG)
Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
When Saul became Paul and dedicated his life to Jesus Christ, he voluntarily became a servant. He had everything to lose when he decided that Jesus was the Messiah and defied his own culture. He shared the message with everyone who would give him audience BUT he “didn’t take on their way of life”. He kept his “bearings in Christ.” He tried to experience life from the eyes of each person living that way. Paul says, “I have become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead” others to a God-saved life. He lived his life as the Message not just talking about it. He wanted to be the message.
There is a lot of talk about the Lord. People think they know God. Christians think that just because they “do” they know Him. Sadly, many will fall short one day never knowing they missed the mark until it is too late to do anything about it. Even more depressing is that they will have dedicated their whole life to religion thinking they had a relationship that was nonexistent. I don’t want that to be me.
Matthew 7:21-23 (MSG)
“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’”
Jesus made a bold statement in “what is required is serious obedience.” I shudder that I might become so engrossed in doing all the right things that religion dictates that I forget to be the one who is obedient. What is obedience if it is not following all the dos and don’ts set forth in God’s Word? “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Jesus added that loving our neighbor as much as we love us rounds out God’s Expectation of our life. Loving the Lord passionately and completely is all that He requires. It is the bond that takes all of our feeble efforts to please Him and makes them worthwhile! We think saying and doing the right things will motivate God but that only works with people. God looks directly at our heart and examines our motives in each word and deed we do. If it is based on our love for Him and nothing more or less – it passes the test of obedience no matter the outcome. Theology blown. Doctrine destroyed. Heart broken. It is all about love. Every action, attitude, word and deed must be wrapped in the Love of Christ for us and others.
Matthew 26:9-13 (MSG)
When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.” When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”
How many times do we do our best to live like Christians? Speak the Word of God. Do all the right things? How many times have we “done” all the things but not gotten the message across? We must first get the message to share the true meaning of His Love. Faith, hope and love last forever. They are the only eternal things in this world. They all revolve around Jesus Christ. When the woman came to Jesus and poured the expense oil on Him, it was because she understood grace. She was not a good girl. She did not do everything right. If you dig a little deeper into her past, you might just discover that she gave her “all” for that oil. It represented her security in this life. It was her livelihood. It was her all. She poured it on the feet of Jesus and the “church” was appalled. This woman blessed the heart of Jesus because her heart was in the absolute right position. There was nothing wasted in that moment but everything gained. She may have given up everything she had in this world, but she gained forever with Him. Jesus said, “You can be sure that wherever in the whole world he Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.” I get the message. Do you?
2 Corinthians 4:7 (MSG)
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.