Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Finding Real Life in Christ

"He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:39)."

In the allegorical sense, to lose your life means to give up all self-interest and to live for Jesus' interest. If you will die to self for Christ, then and only then will you find real life. Our life’s true meaning and purpose, the soul’s true longing and satisfaction is found in our Lord Jesus Christ alone. Everything we do in this life for self will be lost. Everything. Through faith in Christ, we have died to sin and death, we’ve died to the old life here in this fallen world and in this fallen body. Just like Christ, we are alive to God now. In and through Christ, we are now seated with God in the eternal realm. Our old nature is dead to this life (crucified, Rom. 6-8) and our spirit is alive to God’s Eternal Kingdom. Everything I do in this short time left here on earth is either for His sake or mine. The body has literally been sentenced to death. The phrase “dead man walkin’” applies to each of us. So, I can either work for a dead man and ultimately receive the wages of a dead man, or I can work for the Eternal King and have treasures stored up in Heaven! What a waste my life has been! O, what I have wasted, Lord. Everything done outside of Christ’s will is self will and amounts to nothing. It will burn; it’s useless, meaningless. Paul said as much:

I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and be found in Him...  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (see Philippians. 3:7-11).

I am dead to this life because I am united with Christ in His death. I am alive to God because I am united to Christ in His life to God (Rom. 6). Christian, do you know that in Christ you are dead to this world, to sin and to death? Do you know that all we do for ourselves we will lose? All that we do in the flesh, in accordance to the old nature that seeks for self-interest and self-ambition, is literally going to burn and count for nothing. Anything we do outside of our New Life in Christ works against what He is going to accomplish in our lives one way or another, now or later, thanks to His unfathomable grace and never ending mercy showered on us through Jesus!

Live for self and lose it all and die over and over and over, and end up with no eternal treasure or reward. Or, live for Christ’s will, purpose and pleasure alone, and find your life hidden in His, and truly live for the first time and forever in the glory of God. I would rather die to self once and for all, Lord, than spend one more second drowning in my own selfish interest again and again!

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:11-15). -Paul

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up... Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3). -Peter

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christ Is Our Life

Stay focused on Jesus and what the Lord has for you today. Do that everyday. Make Him the thing that today is about- everyday. Make today about knowing Him more, hearing from Him and knowing His will for you today as clearly as you can. Make today about doing what He wants you to do, thinking what He wants to put in your mind and feeling His great love and assurance and comfort. Make everyday about Him first and foremost.

This is what each day is about no matter what is happening and where we are. That’s it. Just knowing Him, hearing Him and following Him. Anything else is like running in circles, walking in place or falling through a bottomless pit.

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).

No matter where we are, the Lord is working on our behalf. Without a doubt, everything happening is by His authority alone. Without a doubt, God is good and everything happening the way it is happening will turn out for good for those who love Him. It is not wrong. It is not worse. This is what you need, what I need. The work that the Lord is doing is of an eternal value. It has it’s temporal benefits at times, but many times the natural circumstances are not appetizing to the flesh. But, it is an eternal work that God is accomplishing, and many times it is as foreign and distant to us as a place and people in a distant land that we’ve never seen or heard of. But, His love is real and His work is only good, all the time, and eternal in it’s nature. It is spiritual because, the Bible says, God is Spirit (not flesh).

It is time to let go. No matter what, we will be here until the day the Lord, our God, our Father, allows. He has not abandoned us but loves us enough to discipline us and see our change through to the end. It is time to let go of everything and just hold on to Jesus. Cling to Jesus alone. Let go of your hardships, the things you are missing and your difficulties. Let them all go and just keep your eyes on Jesus. Make Him EVERYTHING to you. Make Him the center of your life.

Jesus is the only way to be fulfilled truly, liberated completely and loved eternally. We are called to drop everything and follow Him. He is calling you and has been calling you and you are missing, to a certain extent, what He has for you and what He wants for you TODAY, right where you are, right there with who you are with.

You want release! It’s not outside those bars, it’s in Jesus. The grass is always greener, but the Lord has you right where you are on purpose. You want to love and be loved. It’s not in another person and it won’t be discovered in you. It’s in Jesus alone; anywhere, anytime. When you don’t have Jesus, you can be the richest, most famous beauty the world has ever known and be miserable, in a hell of your own making. When you have Jesus and you have let all else fade away, you are the most truly, deeply satisfied creature ever to exist- no matter your current habitation or situation! Let your heart go to Jesus! Let it be freed by the power of Jesus and let the world around you fade away. That won’t lead to loving less, but more! As much as Jesus can love through you, which will grow every day. It won’t make you less meaningful in the world but more, as the Lord Jesus begins to live His love through you to accomplish His eternal plans. In Christ, we have died to sin, the law and the world.

For I through the law [of God] died to the law that I might live to God [the law condemns us rightfully, but that should lead us to the only One who can redeem- God and His mercy]. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God [for a works based righteousness]; for if righteousness comes through the [keeping of the] law, then Christ died in vain [we are not made right with God, justified/saved, by our good works but by faith in Christ and what He did on the cross alone] (Gal. 2:19-21).

Notice, Paul says that he died through the law to the law, that he has been crucified with Christ, and that He no longer lives. He also said that he died to the law that he would now live to God, that it is no longer he who lives but Christ in him and that the life he now lives is the life of trusting in and obeying in every way and at all times the One who loved him and gave Himself for him. This is not for apostles only. This is the Christian life. There is no other. There is no life outside of Jesus.

For I know that this [Paul’s imprisonment because of preaching Christ] will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body [life], whether by life or by death [living or dying]. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh [alive here with you] is more needful for you (Phil. 1:19-24).

Jesus died so that we could die to sin. He rose so that we could be alive to God. He is seated at the right hand of God so that we could enter into the presence of God beyond the veil, seated in the Heavenlies with Him.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).

...the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- (1 John 1:2)

To live is Christ and to die is better. Whatever we are doing in this life, no matter our circumstances, God is on His throne and in control. He has not forgotten you or misplaced you. He is working out eternal purposes for you. Our whole life is to become Him living in and through us, until we go to be with God, glorified in bliss with Him and each other forever. Whether by my life or my death, or my suffering Paul would add, let Christ be magnified! This is the heart of Jesus working through Paul. This was Jesus’ attitude toward the Father, which is our example. And at the close of Paul’s life, allowing God to have His full way with him, Paul too is an example to us for how we are to live.

The Lord is agonizing for Christ to be formed in you more fully. He wants you to know Him more completely. Be with your Creator today. Be with Jesus in all your nows and todays, and you will see amazing things and wondrous works beyond measure and description, in this life and in the eternal life to come.