Choose Jesus’ way

Jesus talks of how we choose to receive His word. An emphasis on visible results has pushed us towards –

The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.

Results are easy! We can count green shoots of decisions and boast of fruitfulness. But easy come brings easy go –

But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

Noticing the failure trailing this approach, many abandoned the focus on decisions for a journey into the Christian life. This sounds good, but the thorny issues of life are not dealt with in repentance. So –

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

Protecting ourselves and others from Jesus’ cross is producing a fruitless faith. There is however another choice –

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Mat 13:18-23 (NIV 1984)

Jesus is clear about what this choice involves–

…  unless an ear of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

Let’s choose Jesus’ way!

Where is your God?

Why do the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Psalm 115:2

This is a question that is being asked of the Church. The question raises key issues. Firstly: What is it about the way we reflect Jesus that keeps this culture from seeing Him in us? Secondly: What is it about the world that it is so blind people cannot see Jesus in us? I believe that the next verses point to the answer for both questions.

Our God is in heaven, He does whatever pleases Him. Psalm 115:3

Our God is in heaven, so He cannot be seen by a culture that despises faith, declaring: Seeing is believing.

‘He does whatever pleases Him’, as against whatever pleases us. We struggle with this because our culture thinks of God as someone with a job description – to help us enjoy life. We make ourselves the centre and ask, Why believe in a God who does not do as I please?

But their idols are silver and gold made by the hands of men. They have … eyes, but they cannot see. Those who make them will be like them and so will all who trust in them. Psalm 115:4-8

We protect our selfish view by creating our own gods to make us happy and so blanking Him or blinding ourselves in pretence that He is the god we want him to be.

We have a culture that blinds itself looking at a delusional Church. No wonder we are asked, ‘Where is your God?’

 

Driven

When I am driven by a task I find myself clinging to the false hope that this next attempt will succeed. When it fails I jump immediately to the next attempt. There is no time for reflection and grappling with the big picture.

All this time there is someone watching over my shoulder who has all authority in heaven and earth. If I would only let go of my death grip ‘fix it mode’ and allow myself to be still in His presence. I might discover that His perspective and plans make the need for my drivenness evaporate.

As it is, we are even driven to ‘advance the Kingdom of God’! We are so convinced that we hold the keys, and just need to work out how to use them. In this we fail to respect Jesus. He is a person with dignity, not a tool to be used.

The final sentence of the great commission is,

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)

His intent is that life and ministry are opportunities to work together with Him, not things He pushes our way to get on with by ourselves. Let us let go of the drive to achieve and work with Jesus in this rich life He has with us, for He says,

‘take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for … my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ (Matt 11:28-30)

 

 

Surrender to the Light of a Child

The oppression of our self-focused, secular rooted religion is crushing us. We need the freedom only Christ can bring. As Isaiah says,

Isaiah 9:4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.

It is not the Lord’s servant but Christ Himself who shatters the yoke. Spiritual battle, and ministry strategy need wisdom and strategic thinking.  The one who gains the victory however is a child!

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And He will be called, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

We need to surrender our strategies and entrust ourselves to this child. For those who consider themselves wise, this is humbling. Children’s answers can sound so naïve.

What the child brings, however is a completely new dimension.

Isaiah 9:2 On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

Our land is in the shadow of death where godliness is being replaced by secular thinking. Among many Christians the secular world’s values, such as being ‘nice,’ are embraced as if they were Christian ones.

We are desperate for His light to dawn. This wave of secular beliefs and values engulfs us, and drowns out God’s Word. Lord Jesus, please come, please give me grace to humble myself and receive You and your light.

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