Is Christ’s Gospel Full Of Abundant Life Or Not?

“Since a saint’s gloom reflects unkindness on God Himself, how can we recommend His satisfying love if it does not satisfy us? The world thinks the Christian life is depressing anyway, a dry meal where very little wine of joy is tasted. Why will you confirm their deception, Christian? Why should they have your example as evidence against Jesus and His Word, which promises peace and joy to everyone who comes to this table?

“God forbid that your behavior, which should hold forth ‘the word of life’ and demonstrate the reality of it in the eyes of the world, ever disagree or throw doubt on His Word (Philippians 2:16). …

“When unbelievers see Christians sad as they hold the cup of salvation in their hands, they suspect that the wine is not so good as preachers say it is. … Christian, do not give unbelievers reason to imagine, by seeing you limping through the race, that they must forfeit happiness if they become Christians and spend the rest of their lives in a house of mourning, with a team of losers.

“Is Christ’s Gospel full of abundant life or not?” —William Gurnall, in The Christian In Complete Armor (emphasis mine)

The Joy Of Understanding

Then Ezra read from the Book of the Law in the open square… (Nehemiah 8).

I love the simplicity of this! No sermon; just a straightforward reading of God’s Word. And look at how everyone responded…

  • “The ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law”
  • There was a respect for the Word of God and the God of the Word—“When he opened it all the people stood up…[then] they bowed their heads and worship the Lord with their faces to the ground”
  • The religious leaders “helped the people to understand the Law”
  • “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them understand the reading”

The result—“And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions [to those in need] and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

A mark of a godly leader is one who helps people make sense of God’s Word.

And when the people understand the Word, they are more likely to joyfully put it into practice.

This is Part 10 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Ready For God … No Matter What

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Ready For God—No Matter What

     The greatest need of the missionary is to be ready to face Jesus Christ at any and every turn…. The great battle all along is not so much against sin, as against being so absorbed in work that we are not ready to face Jesus Christ. … This attitude of being ready to face Him means more and more disentanglement from so-called religious work, and more and more intense spiritual reality in so-called secular work. The whole meaning of the Christian life from Our Lord’s standpoint is to be ready for Him. … 

     Jesus appears in the most illogical connections, where we least expect Him…. When we are rightly related to God, life is full of spontaneous joyful uncertainty and expectancy—we do not know what God is going to do next; and He packs our life with surprises all the time. …  

     Readiness implies a right relationship to God and a knowledge of where we are at present. We are so busy telling God where we should like to go. Most of us are waiting for some great opportunity, something that is sensational, then we cry—“Here am I; send me.” … But readiness for God and for His work means that we are ready to do the tiniest thing or the great big thing, it makes no difference. … 

     Remember there is no such thing as prominent service and obscure service; it is all the same with God. 

From So Send I You (emphasis mine)

I fear that many Christians have the idea that “missionary work” or “ministry work” is a separate calling from their “real work.” But according to both the biblical examples and these thoughts from Oswald Chambers, ALL work can be spiritual / missionary / ministry work if we are simply ready for God to use us.

What about you? Are you ready to be surprised by God? Are you ready to be His ministry whenever and wherever He wants to use you?

Saturday In The Psalms—Overcoming Overwhelming Problems

…whom shall I fear? … of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

Not just enemies are confronting David, but entire armies of wicked people had him surrounded! War and trouble are on every side, trying to overwhelm David.

Yet David is not just not afraid, he is filled with joy!

Why? He has heard God, even in the midst of the evil turmoil, say, “Seek My face.” And David responded, “Yes, Lord, I will seek Your face!” In fact, David declared there was nothing more fortifying for him than to be in God’s presence, gazing on God’s beauty and majesty, and learning more of God’s ways.

In this place David has peace, joy, protection, salvation, courage. In this place David’s overwhelming problems are overcome by God.

David’s conclusion is one for all who are experiencing overwhelming problems—

Wait on the Lord;
be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

How To Experience More Of Christ’s Joy

“Many people are selective about which parts of themselves they bring to Me in prayer. Some hesitate to approach Me about traits they consider shameful or embarrassing. Others are so used to living with painful feelings—loneliness, fear, guilt, shame—that it never occurs to them to ask for help in dealing with those things. Still others get so preoccupied with their struggles that they forget I’m even here. This is not My way for you, beloved.

There are hurting parts of you that I desire to heal. Some of them have been with you so long that you consider them facets of your identity. You carry them with you wherever you go, barely aware of their impact on your life. I want to help you learn to walk in freedom. However, you are so addicted to certain painful patterns that it will take time to break free from them. Only repeatedly exposing them to My loving presence will bring you long-term healing. As you grow increasingly free, you’ll be released to experience My joy in greater and greater measure!” —Jesus (in Sarah Young’s Jesus Always)

One-And-Done? Ongoing? Later?

If I were to ask five different Christians to give me a definition of sanctification, I just might get five different definitions!

Part of this comes from incorrect either-or thinking. However, Jesus seems to tell us that sanctification requires a both-and thinking.

In Christ’s prayer for His followers in John 17, He uses the word sanctified three times (see verses 17-19). Although He is using the same Greek word each time, He uses a different “flavor” of the word to make it really clear what He means.

First of all, the Greek word for sanctified means the process of being made into a saint. So sometimes I like to say the word this way: SAINT-ified.

Check out Christ’s prayer. First He says, “I sanctify Myself,” and then He says, “that they too may be truly sanctified.” Same Greek word, but each time is slightly tweaked.

Jesus uses a “flavor” of Greek which means sanctification is something that He has done completely and totally on His own once and for all. In other words, Christians are completely and totally sanctified at the very moment they surrender their life to Him.

But when He talks about His followers, the “flavor” of Greek means sanctification is something that is an ongoing process. In other words, we are being SAINT-ified.

So which is it? Sanctified once, or sanctified through an ongoing process?

It’s not either-or. It’s both-and!

Think about a married couple. From the moment the pastor says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” they are married. It is done; fully completed. There is nothing the bride or groom can do to become more married.

However, the groom can begin to look at the marriage through his bride’s eyes. Then he can serve her in a way that helps her feel more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within the marriage. Neither of them becomes more married, but they can get more enjoyment within the marriage.

The same thing for Christians. At the moment we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior we are saved from the penalty of our sins. We can’t be more saved. But through the process of SANIT-ificiation we can experience more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within our relationship with Jesus.

My paraphrase of 1 Peter 1:15-16—But just as He who called you has paid for your once-for-all saint-ification, so keep on being saint-ified in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

What about you? Are you satisfied with just being saved, or are you striving for a joy-filled, more fulfilling, increasingly satisfied relationship with Jesus Christ? It can truly be a wonderful both-and relationship!

Poetry Saturday—Hymn XXXV

In Thy presence we are happy,
In Thy presence we’re secure;
In Thy presence all afflictions
We can easily endure;
In Thy presence we can conquer,
We can suffer, we can die;
Wandering from Thee, we are feeble;
Let Thy love, Lord, keep us nigh. —Williams Pantycelyn
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