Friday, April 5, 2024

Challenge For The Day

 Spiritual fitness requires us to exercise our "NO" muscle.  We can only say "YES!" to God if we learn to say "NO," at appropriate times, to ourselves and others.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Get. A. Head.

 A theme that runs through our culture is that of getting ahead.  We are told to attend to our school work and study hard so that we can get ahead.  Many work long hours in order to get ahead in their career of choice.  Athletes train hard in order to get ahead of the competition.  And truth be told, I like the feeling of getting ahead on my week’s housework.  But at the same time, there is often compromise: if we can’t get ahead, at least we can feel okay if we keep up.

 As broken, fallen creatures, it isn’t so easy to feel good or even okay about ourselves.  Even in our most pretentious moments, we know deep down that we are not as good as we try to look.  That’s what this getting ahead or keeping up thing is about: feeling good about ourselves.  It is important to recognize that as we look to get ahead or keep up, we are—consciously or unconsciously—comparing ourselves to others.  If we are getting ahead, we are winning!  And if we are keeping up, we are at least not losing….  But comparing ourselves to others in order to boost our ego means that we are putting our emotional well-being into the hands of others.  And since those others are also looking to get ahead/keep up to feel good or okay about themselves, they are hardly trustworthy with our all-too-fragile emotional stability.

 

I would like to suggest that we trade in a getting ahead mindset for a getting a head mindset: to use what we know from Scripture to determine how to think about ourselves.  Please consider what we learn from the following passages:

 

Genesis 1:26; 2:7; 2:18, 22-25—God has made us in His image in the most personal way, with His own breath, for relationship with Him and others, and for significant work.

 

Matthew 1:20-21--God sent His own Son to save His people from their sins, the very sins that make it hard for us to feel good about ourselves.  

 

Romans 5:8—God loves us and values us so much that He died to cover our sins even as we were in our helpless, sinful, and least attractive state.

 

Ephesians 2:10—God has created us for significant work, planned personally by Him.

 

Matthew 20:20-28—While status in the world is about position and power, status in God’s eyes is about love and service.

 

Luke 22:24-26—Competition has no place in determining our position before God almighty.

 

Philippians 1:6 and Colossians 2:10—The Lord has promised to complete the work of sanctification that He has begun in us; and that work is so certain that it can be proclaimed as completed!

 

Romans 8:16-17—We are children of God and heirs of His kingdom.  

 

John 8:12-14—Jesus—God Incarnate!—was unrecognized and rejected by others, most particularly the religious professionals of His day.

 

 

 

Revelation 22:1-5—Believers can look forward to the day when they will see God face to face, worshipping Him and reigning with Him for all eternity.

 

As I consider what we have in Christ—our identity, value, and future—it is hard to imagine why we would bother to try to find these things in a counterfeit.  But our sin nature, and with it our desire to do life independent of God, remains with us.  We must make the choice, moment by moment, day by day, to look entirely to Christ for all that we are and are becoming.

 

And then as we find our identity and value in Christ, as Christ found His identity and value in His Father, we will be able to enter into genuine, intimate relationship, to love and be loved.