Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Childlike Faith (3/30/04)

Matthew 18:1-4 reads "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

We are to come to him with childlike faith. But what does that mean? Perhaps all of the following and maybe even more:

1. Verse 4 says to be humble like a child - no pretenses that come with age. So this topic requires us to pray for humility.

2. There are many references in the bible to the followers of Jesus as children of God. God is our Father. Just like a baby trusts in their parents, we are to trust in this perfect parent we have. Yet, if you're at all like me, you occasionally have doubts. Mark 9:17-29 talks of a man who brings his son to Jesus to be healed. When Jesus recognizes that the man has wavering faith, the man replies "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief". So this week we are praying that our faith and trust continues to become more sure.

3. When we are "born again" we are to literally be just that - born again. We are to shed the old ways and learn brand new ways. We aren't just supposed to take in this new revelation and assimilate it with all of our past knowledge. We are to learn all over again - in the world but not of the world. Our God has great mysteries he wants to reveal to us. Matthew 11:25 says "At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."

So this Wednesday, we are praying that our faith be childlike. That our faith is humble, certain, and built upon Jesus (not colored by our worldly knowledge).

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Our relationship with Jesus (3/23/04)

You're having guests over to your house - people you don't know very well. What's the first thing on your mind? If you're anything like me, the answer might be something like "Quick!! We need to straighten this place up!!" We want everything looking nice to make a good first impression. By the time we're done it doesn't look anything like a house where 3 kids live. Heaven forbid the guests start thinking we actually "dwell" in the house :)

Now think about when really close friends come over. People who perhaps come to your house several times a week. No longer do you worry. You've already become comfortable with them and don't mind them seeing how you really live.

Now think about your relationship with Jesus. Many Christians keep Jesus in the first category. However, he really wants to be our closest friend. He already knows the dirty rooms in the house, the pieces that are falling apart that should be rebuilt from scratch, the dark, dingy corners that you're trying to cleverly hide from plain view. Shouldn't we treat him like that special friend who knows us so well? He knows things about your "house" that you don't even know.

So this Wednesday, we are praying for our relationship with Christ. That it becomes deeper, more open, and more authentic. While we're at it, let's pray for the relationships of all our brothers and sisters as well.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The armor (3/9/04)

Ephesians 6:10-20 talks about putting on the armor of God:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

This Wednesday we are praying that we continue to learn how to put on this armor.

As Christians, we have a tendency to look at these verses and think we need to get ourselves on guard. Perhaps even isolate ourselves from the big bad evil world. The problem with this is that this same big bad evil stuff is also inside each of us. We can't run away from ourselves. We need to look upward instead of inward as we put verses like this into practice.

Take a close look at the attributes of the armor in the verses. It doesn't take long to realize Jesus is the armor. He is truth... He is righteousness... He is the gospel of peace… and so on. When we are putting on the armor, we are putting on Jesus. All of the characteristics of Jesus. Said another way - to put on the armor, we must be a disciple. We can't "stand firm" on our own but we can with Him. We can't walk unharmed through the temptations of the world alone but with Him, we are insulated. In short - Less of us, more of Him.

Pray that we learn to rely on him in ALL things.

Romans 8:31b - If God is for us, who can be against us?

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,