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Posts Tagged ‘invitation’

Simple Choices

March 27th, 2015

“If anyone would come after Me, he must . . follow Me.” Mark 8:34 NIV.

Religion is complicated; spirituality is simple.

My thoughts and comments today are about “simple choices.”

A healthy, robust spiritual life is possible for you. Certainly, that requires intention, attention, and priority. Spiritual life is not for the casual soul; it is achieved purposefully. Spirituality is not as difficult as some people often make it out to be. Some assume, or have been wrongly taught, that spiritual life is about religious rules, regulations to learn, duties to perform, strict laws to obey, or religious protocols to be observed.

Religion is complicated; spirituality is simple. The prophet, Isaiah, described the simplicity of spirituality for the sincere seeker, “Whoever walks the road [called the Highway of Holiness], although a fool, shall not go astray.” Isaiah 35:8. It is not about your intelligence; it is about your obedience.

In the New Testament, people frequently asked to be Jesus’ disciple. On other occasions, Jesus invited people to be His disciples. Either way the choice remained theirs to make, just like your invitation to be His disciple is always yours to accept or decline. Following Jesus’ baptism by John, Jesus began calling for men to be His disciples. Some readily did so; others reluctantly declined.

Jesus’ invitation was simple; still is. “’Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said.” Read Mark 1:16-20 NIV. Their response to His invitation was immediate. “At once they left their nets and followed Him.” In Jesus’ company, less and less of your old life compares with the new life you receive. Read Psalm 16:11/2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. Godly choices aren’t simple to make; they are simple when made.

Jesus wrapped profound and eternal truth in everyday stories, comparing one’s discovery of the Kingdom with a man finding buried treasure in a field and a merchant finding an incomparable pearl, and both selling all they had to possess what they once never imagined could be theirs. Read Matthew 13:44-46 NIV. When you follow Jesus, He gives you a life beyond all you could previously imagine or hope to obtain. See Romans 15:5-6 NIV. Jesus alone is the answer to every question and fulfillment of each desire.

If you are following Jesus, your life can be an example and encouragement to others who want to follow Him, as Paul encouraged the Christians at Corinth, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV. Seeing a practical model of someone who is faithfully following Jesus helps tremendously. I am thankful for every Godly friend and spiritual mentor – Kenny, Campbell, Des, Don, Andrew, Rick, too many more to name really – who provided me with living examples and personal encouragement of being a Christ-follower. I continue to learn how to follow Jesus by watching them follow Him.

Jesus wrapped profound and eternal truth in everyday stories, comparing one’s discovery of the Kingdom with a man finding buried treasure in a field and a merchant finding an incomparable pearl, and both selling all they had to possess what they once never imagined could be theirs. Read Matthew 13:44-46 NIV. When you follow Jesus, He gives you a life beyond all you could previously imagine or hope to obtain. Jesus alone is the answer to every question and the fulfillment of every desire.

Yes, there are sacrifices to make; there are things to abandon; there are new loyalties and a cross to embrace. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the Gospel will save it.” Read Mark 8:34-38 NIV.

If you are following Jesus with a whole heart, He has much more ahead for you than what you ever leave behind. At the heart of spiritual life is your response to Jesus’ simple invitation to follow Him. “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Read Matthew 6:31-33 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6 NIV.

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Created to Contribute

February 16th, 2010

“Be fruitful and increase . .” Genesis 1:28 NIV

“Every day you are a partner with God for increase.”

My thoughts today are about “created to contribute.”

Is it interesting to you that the Creator’s first instruction to his creation was, “be fruitful and increase”? I mean, wouldn’t you think He might have directed them to explore all that He had made, and marvel at His endeavors? Or might the Creator, who did all of this for them, have invited Adam and Eve to sit back and enjoy His bounty? What amazing generosity that man would be invited to participate in the ongoing development of what God had created – to continue the miracle God placed in every seed, contributing to that fruitfulness and increase.

I think there is a glimpse into a father’s heart in His words about fruitfulness and increase. God wants those He created and loves to experience and enjoy a growing abundance, and to feel the satisfying reward of seeing the fruit of one’s own labor with God’s blessing upon it. This is not a dreaded, laborious work assignment; God’s words are an invitation to a partnership with Him. God does not run a sweatshop and you are not a minimum wage earner, endlessly doing some repetitive and meaningless task. Every day you are a partner with God, as one who “grows with the increase that is from God.” Colossians 2:19 NKJV. I cannot think of another kind that I would want, other than what is from the hand of God! James 1:17 NKJV.

Life is best when you feel productive, when what you are doing is working for the good of yourself and others. You are created for contributing, and enjoying the reward that comes from your efforts. People birth ideas, envisioning what others failed to dream; people refine and perfect products and processes for greater productivity and profitability; people build companies great and small to serve and meet needs; people feel others’ hurts and develop better ways to cure and care for them. They are contributing – fruitful and increasing.

There is a qualifying distinctive that I would draw. The fruitfulness that has God’s blessings results in improvement and enrichment in the lives of others, rather than the singular increase of wealth and possessions for individuals or investors alone. When you truly partner with God, you embrace the “corporate culture” of the Kingdom of God, which embodies selflessness, serving, and sacrifice. When you look into your heart, is your motive about personal increase extensively for your own benefit, or fruitfulness for His purposes? We are all kingdom builders; whose kingdom are you building, yours or His? Read John 15:1-8/16 NIV.

The Bible is clear: “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything. The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. People curse those who hold their grain for higher prices, but bless the one who sells to them in their time of need. If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you! Trust in your money and down you go. But the Godly will flourish like leaves in spring . . the Godly are like trees that bear life-giving fruit.” Proverbs 11:24-28/30 NLT. Consider Deuteronomy 8:6-19 NIV.

My prayer for you today is a blessed and bountiful return on your efforts in God’s service.

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