I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him. Many blessings are given to those who trust the Lord and have no confidence in those who are proud or who trust in idols. Psalm 40:1-4
But .... you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:8-14
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Being a new person with a new life because of Jesus Christ is part of what we are exploring this week. There are three words that help us with the amazing change God has for us in our transitioning from our old life to our new life in Christ. They are: surrender, identity, and vocation. Surrender has to do with our commitment to Christ who is in charge of producing the "new person" and "new life" he has in store for us. Identity is all that we are in Christ as he makes us into a new person with a new life. Vocation is our calling (central purpose for why we are here) to the life-long pursuit of letting the new person we are becoming and the new life that is unfolding have an impact on the people and world around us.
Take some time and go through the passages above and find things that have to do with surrender (commitment and trust), identity (releasing the old and embracing the new), and vocation (calling and purpose). Here is an example of each: Surrender - "Many blessings are given to those who trust the Lord." Identity - "Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy." Vocation - "Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him." If you have the time make a list of things you find for each of three words. It would be great to rewrite the things you find in your own words. But at least, take one item you find for each of the three words and meditate on it for a while. Talk to God in prayer about each one and ask him to take the things you have discovered and learned and use them in your heart and life today.
We really do have a heavenly destiny orchestrated by God who faithfully and diligently is at work aligning us with his glorious heavenly kingdom. Like the first two servants in our Matthew 25 story from last week, our lives will help with the advancement of God’s heavenly kingdom and we will someday enter into the joy of our Master as good and faithful servants. We said yesterday that in the third servant we see what the kingdom of heaven is not like. The kingdom of heaven is not like what his listeners are used to. Jesus wants his listeners to see that the kingdom of heaven stands in contrast to and in confrontation of conventional life on earth and the troubling religious system of the day that did more to draw its adherents away from God than it did to bring them closer to him. Jesus is a threat to conventional life on earth and to the troubling religious system of the day. What Jesus has to say about the third servant serves as an indictment against those in his audience whose response to the treasure of Jesus and his heavenly kingdom is one of complete dismissal. They are like the third servant who buried his master’s treasure.
Unlike those who dismissed Jesus and his heavenly kingdom, those in the audience who became true followers of Jesus dismissed, rather, conventional life on earth and the troubling religious system of the day in favor of a lifetime of embracing and serving the true kingdom of God. So then, we are those who don’t dismiss the treasure of Jesus and his heavenly kingdom and have become true followers of Jesus who help with the advancement of his heavenly kingdom. We will hear him say someday, “enter into the joy of your Master as good and faithful servants.” We will not hear those words of dire consequence, “Now, throw that good-for-nothing servant far away from me into the outer darkness, where there will be great misery and anguish!” These words are reserved for those who dismiss altogether the treasure of Jesus and his glorious heavenly kingdom (we will learn much more about these words throughout the rest of the week).
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, thank you for the work of grace you are doing in my life. I am grateful for your patience and gentleness with me. Fill my heart with hope and confidence that you are at work in my life and will never let go of me or give up on me. Cleanse me, renew me, fill me, and use me. May you be honored and glorified in my life today. Thank you for drawing me to yourself and helping me become your true follower. You and your heavenly kingdom are the only treasure for me. I choose to press on in faithfully serving you and the advancement of your glorious kingdom. Amen!
Posted on Tue, March 26, 2019
by Ken Hart