Sunday, December 7, 2014

To the Land I Will Show You

The Lord said to Abram:
Go out from your land,
your relatives,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
Genesis 12:1

My wife and I are at an interesting crossroads. God has shown us recently that He wants us to move from where we are, as in leave the area. The thing is, He hasn't told us where we are going yet. This is not entirely unfamiliar territory. Six years ago, right around this time of year, God made it abundantly clear that I was to leave a job I had been at for less than a year. After applying to 80 different positions, a recruiter contacted me for a job I wasn't even looking for. We ended up moving 500 miles from "home", away from all that had been familiar for nearly 14 years.

This time is a little different. The skills I have in the field I want to work are in high demand right now. I literally could have my pick of any job I could want right now, so long as I am willing to go where the job is. Knowing that, my wife and I had decided on a few key areas that we wanted to look in, and I was turning down many requests from recruiters to consider positions outside of our ideal locations. That all changed for me this morning.

As I described my situation to a friend of mine at church, he likened my story to that of Abram as God called him out of his homeland to go where He would lead him. And like me, Abram didn't know where he was going either. But unlike my situation, God told Abram to move, and he got up and went. His every step was literally directed by God until he settled in the place God had for him. There was no bargaining with God, no "I will go but not there" kinds of conversations. Verses 1-3 of Genesis 12 has the command from God to go, and verse 4 says "So Abram went, as the Lord had told him." 

The weight of this was tremendous as I read these words this morning. In an attitude so subtle that I just simply did not see it, I had told God, "I will go as you lead, just so long as it is to a place that will be in my comfort zone." But over and over again He kept repeating His words to Abram in my mind: "Go out from your land ... the the land that *I* will show you."

I was convicted to the point of tears, and I asked God for forgiveness for my unwillingness to completely surrender to His leading. And as God often does to drive a point home, the last song in the church service today, which I heard after this revelation from Him, was "I Will Follow" by Chris Tomlin:

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow you

Whom you love, I'll love
How you serve, I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you

As Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, "If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." As followers of Jesus Christ, we don't have the luxury nor the right to say to Him, "I will go where You lead me, so long as it is not there." Rather, we must have the attitude that whatever we want for ourselves is completely secondary and subservient to the will of our Father in heaven. Being right in the middle of where God wants you is always the best place to be, even if you can't see that from where you are right now.

What that means for me and my job situation is two fold: One, I don't intend to apply for any other jobs from here on out unless they first invite me to apply. Two, I won't discount any invitation to consider a job simply because of where it is located. God led me and my family to where I am now through a recruiter that invited me to apply for a job I didn't know was there. I expect that He will make our path clear this time around through similar means. 

In the meantime, we are preparing to leave. We don't know when, and we don't know where, but when He says, "Go there", I want to be ready to say, "Yes, Lord." As my friend from church reminded me this morning, it's not about the job; it's about what God intends to do in me and through me where He leads me.

But I count my life of no value to myself,
so that I may finish my course and the ministry
I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
Acts 20:24

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Not just for eternity

3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Sometimes it is easy to forget that "eternal life" is not just for eternity. Here in Peter's second letter, he makes a profound statement about the nature of our life here on this earth: we "share in the divine nature". If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. Literally, there is divinity inside of you. Through the mystery of salvation, we have been invited into the triune nature of God. 

It boggles my mind to think that we "share" in God's diving nature. What does that mean, really? This does not make us God, obviously, for there is only one God. Isaiah 43:10 makes that abundantly clear. So what is Peter saying here? 

The Greek word being translated here is koinonos (Strongs 2844). It means one who shares in or partners with someone in something. The ESV translates this as "partakers of the divine nature." Peter used this same word in 1 Peter 5:1 to describe himself as "a participant in the glory about to be revealed." I believe what Peter is talking about is the fellowship and relationship we now have with God through the Holy Spirit by the blood of Jesus Christ. We know God because He invited us to share in Himself.

As a child, I really hated the process of being chosen for teams on the playground. I was always one of the last few picked. As anyone else who experienced the same will tell you, it felt more like they were stuck with me rather than being invited to join their team. Some unwritten rule of 8-year old society told the choosers that they had to pick everyone that wanted to play. That's likely the only reason I was ever invited to play. It was a horrible feeling.

God not only invited you into fellowship with Himself, He also paid a price we can never fully understand to extend that invitation. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, know that you are valuable to God because of the precious blood of Jesus that was shed to establish fellowship with you.

But as I alluded to at the beginning, this doesn't just result in "eternal" life the way most of us think of eternity, that is, after we die. This section of verse 3-4 tells us that through this partaking of divinity, we have "everything required for life and godliness" so that we can escape "the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires." That's here and now. You have eternal life right now. That is an amazing thought.

As you go through this week and face all the consequences of a world filled with "evil desires", I encourage you to remember that you have everything required for life and godliness, right here, right now. That doesn't mean that you will never fall. However, it does mean that we are no longer slaves to sin. As Romans 8:1-2 says, we have been set free from sin and death. What a "very great and precious promise!"

This is eternal life:
that they may know You, the only true God,
and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.
John 17:3