Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Milk Over Meat: The Mature Christian's Love

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:2
I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.  Indeed, even now you are not yet able,

Insights:  The second characteristic that defines a mature Christian who eats meat is LOVE.  1 John 4:8b tells us “God is love.”  Matthew 22:34-40 tells this history, “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  When we only drink milk we find that our very nature is at stake.  In other words, God’s nature, His very essence, is love.  If we are born again and have that saving relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, then we also have His very nature living inside of us.  We are now alive and free to be His image bearers and His image is that of LOVE.  The problem is that it is not always easy or convenient to love people.  There are some people in this world that are just not very lovable.  In fact you would rather curl up with a pit viper than you would some of these people.  Yet, in spite of our earthly, human, emotions and feelings, we are commanded to love these people.  Why is such a command given?  There are three primary reasons.  1.  Because it is one of the tools God uses to purge your old sinful nature.  Theologically speaking we call this the process of sanctification.  2.  Because we are being sanctified, we begin to bear the image of God more fully in this world and this world desperately needs to be loved.  3.  When we are image bearers we are pointing lost people to the very God that can save them.  The first place we live out this practice of love is in the local church.  The lost world knows the reputation of a church.  They know if that church is known for its love or for its fights.  So, if we are fussing and not living at peace with our siblings, we are not bearing the image of God and as a result becoming a detriment for the lost to become saved.  Oh, Father, forgive us when we do not love.

  1. Is your life characterized by the fussing of little children?
  2. What steps can you take to live at peace with your siblings? 
Prayer: Father, You ARE love.  I am Your child, and therefore, an image bearer of You.  Purge my life of self and let me display Your love to all mankind.  Amen.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Milk Over Meat: The Mature Christian's Diet

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:2
I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.  Indeed, even now you are not yet able,

Insights:  We saw the contrast between infants and men in verse one.  Paul continues this contrasting by moving to what infants and men eat.  Infants drink milk because their bodies are not capable of digesting solid food properly.  Mature people, however, eat solid foods.  Over the next three days we will mention three characteristics that define mature people.  The first is our diets.  In Hebrews 5:10-14 we are told that milk represents what Jesus DID on earth, while meat concerns what He is DOING now in heaven.  In other words, the milk is the facts we know about Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Facts like: He was born of a virgin.  He performed miracles.  He died on a cross.  He rose from the dead.  These facts are the elementary realities of our faith.  The work Jesus is doing presently in heaven, however, is the meat of our faith.  This work is the relational work Jesus does as our High Priest who represents us before God our Father in the heavenly realm.  As we grow in the grace of Christ the peace He provides grows deeper and more profound.   The joy we experience becomes richer and sweeter as we mature in Christ.  The boldness and confidence of our faith is expanded and stretched as we learn to trust Jesus more.  So, how do we mature in this solid food?  There are many ways we mature, but one primary way.  That way is having a daily quite time with Jesus.  Open the Bible and prayerfully work through the Scriptures and ask Jesus to apply His word to your life.  You will be challenged with the relational truths and it will compel you to respond more boldly.  If you are not in the habit of systematically reading through the Scriptures, let me challenge you to start reading through the Gospel of John and ask Jesus to grow your faith.  I would also challenge you to journal your findings with the Lord.  Allow it to be a tool you can go back to and read, observe, and evaluate your spiritual growth.  Beloved, let God be glorified in your life as you mature.

  1. What kind of “food” are you eating?
  2. Why do we often times have a propensity for “junk food”?
Prayer: Father, You know what I truly need in my life.  Help me to surrender to Your will regarding the “food” I consume and let my life be healthy for You.  Amen.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Infants Over Men

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:1
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.

Insights:  In chapter two Paul has been laying out the distinction between those lost and those saved, those condemned to hell and those destined for heaven.  When Paul moves into chapter three, however, he is writing to just the later group.  Notice, he says, “And I, BRETHREN, could not speak to YOU. . . .”  Over these next three verses Paul is making a distinction between carnal Christians and spiritual Christians.  John Short wrote, “. . . the charge has been leveled against the church that there is not enough difference between those who are members and the average man-in-the-street with whom one can do business, whose character is trustworthy, but who makes no profession of faith . . . .”  Short’s words are the heart of this verse.  Yes, it is true; these individuals to whom Paul is writing are saved.  The ability to grow is present because the Holy Spirit dwells within them, but they have no desire to grow; and therefore, lack the spiritual discernment to live a life that looks different from those poor lost souls around them.  Their maturity level in Jesus is still that of a child.  For a moment, think about the physical development and desires of a child.  With who is the sole person the infant child is concerned?  The answer is itself!  In other words, when the child is hungry, he cries until someone feeds him.  When he has a dirty diaper, he cries until someone changes him.  When he is sleepy, he is cranky and cries until he falls asleep.  Everything about his world is himself and his wants and his needs.  The mother on the other hand, sacrifices a great deal for the child.  When he cries in the early hours of the morning, the mother does not role over and say, “I am too tired, I am not going to get up and feed this child.”  Rather, exhausted, the mother gets up and goes and feeds the child.  Now, image this same child is now twenty years old.  If he is still wearing diapers and crying for someone to feed him, we would know there was something wrong with that man.  And yet, we as Christ-followers have so fallen from growth in Jesus that we do not question when the church is full of “twenty-year-old” Christians who are still babies in Jesus.  Beloved, we must grow up and mature in Christ.

  1. How old are you physically in Jesus?
  2. How old are you emotionally and intellectually in Jesus?
  3. Do your physical years of knowing Jesus match your maturity level?
Prayer: O Lord, do whatever is necessary to mature me in my faith.  Grow me as Your child and nurture me the way You see fit.  Let my love for You increase and my faith in You abound. Amen.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Resources for an Abandoned Life

Scripture: Luke 14:25-33
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.  So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Insights: Here are a few sentences of review for the week.  Jesus requires the first position of priority in our lives.  Out of that position we serve sacrificially for Him.  Before we begin our service, we need to truly count the cost and determine if we are willing to pay it.  Finally, the cost required is absolute abandonment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Whatever He requires of us is worth the satisfaction we find in Him.  He brings a joy to our lives which far surpass any cost incurred on our behalf.  Serve Him boldly, Beloved of the Lord. 

As we close this week out I want to give you some resources which might help you become a better disciple of Jesus.  These are not listed in any specific order.
  1.          Gregory Frizzell, Returning to Holiness: A Personal and Churchwide Journey to Revival, ISBN: 0-9665424-7-9
  2.      John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of A Christian Hedonist, ISBN: 1-59052-119-6
  3.        Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, ISBN: 0-684-81500-1
  4.        David McCasland, Oswald Chambers-Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost For His Highest, ISBN: 1-57293-050-0
I encourage you to read these and any other resources that speak to the heart of sacrifice and abandonment for God.  Biographies of godly men and women are great resources as well.

  1. What steps are you taking to grow in your love for the Lord?
  2. Does your life reflect an overflow of such priority, sacrifice, costliness and abandon to Jesus?
Prayer: O Lord, I so desire to serve You.  Continue to purge my life of its old sinful nature and let me reflect Your glory and grace before a world which so desperately needs You.  Amen.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Absolute Abandonment God Requires

Scripture: Luke 14:33
So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Insights: Today’s verse is just like verse 26.  Just as Jesus did not mean for us to hate our mother, father, brother, sister, etc., He also does not mean we are to all go and sell our homes and possessions.  Yet, just like verse 26 gives the implication that one must have Jesus in the proper priority position, this verse gives the implication that one must be willing to absolutely abandon everything for Jesus.  Presently my wife and I are going through our attic to determine what items need to be put in the yard sale we will be participating in for our Argentina Mission Trip (as a way of a commercial it will be Saturday, March 3rd in downtown Uriah.  Please come and buy our items in order to support our trip).  The reason I mention our sorting project is because we ought to be willing to give up every item we have for the sake of the gospel.  And yet as we have journeyed through this process, how many items or trinkets have caught our heart and we unwillingly relinquished them?  The answer is: far more items than I thought would be the case.  Absolute abandonment goes far more than just mere possessions.  It also moves into the realm of employment, hobbies, television/internet, relationships and a myriad of other items.  As a way of example, have you ever fasted from technology?  You would be amazed at how dependent you are on the internet, iPads, cell phones, television and the like.  Jesus, however, is telling us in this verse that if we are not willing to abandon those items, we cannot be His disciples. We would probably quickly say, “I am willing in order to be Jesus’ disciple,” but would we really?  Do our lives truly reflect a life of abandonment to Jesus?  Let me close today’s devotional with a quote from WarrenWiersbe, “To some, Jesus says, ‘You cannot be My disciples!’  Why?  Because they will not forsake all for Him, bear shame and reproach for Him, and let their love for Him control them.  And they are the losers.  Will you be His disciple?”

  1. Are you truly willing to abandon all for Jesus?
  2. Or do you have some restrictions for Him in regard to your obedience?
 Prayer: Lord Jesus, You abandoned everything to save me.  Teach my heart to live a life of that kind of reckless abandon for You.  Amen.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Costly Comparison God Requires

Scripture: Luke 14:28-32
For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

Insights: After asking His audience to put Him in the first position of priority in their lives, Jesus then told them to be willing to sacrifice all for Him.  Now, He tells them to make certain they want to live such a life.  He gives them two illustrations to prove His point of counting the cost of discipleship.  The first is a construction illustration and we have all seen buildings that have been started and not finished and stay in that condition for years and years.  The second is a military illustration.  I would hope our military analysis every aspect and contingency before engaging an enemy.  I also hope that before deciding to advance with such a plan they determine the potential success rate of the operation.  The point Jesus is making is that to serve Him there is potential danger.  He does not promise us a life of roses with no thorns.  In fact, He promises us hostility from the world.  He promises us persecution and ridicule.  He promises us work.  Gregory Frizzell’s words begin to ring true at this point.  He wrote, “We are all saved to serve, not sit. . . . Let us now resolve to become givers and servers far more than sitters and takers.  May we all commit to serve our Lord with diligence and gladness of heart He deserves.  To do anything less is profound ingratitude and disobedience.”  To not count the cost of service is a profound ingratitude to Jesus, especially in light of the cross of Calvary.  Jesus literally gave His life to save us from our sins and for us to respond with, “I am just going to sit here and not serve,” is profound ingratitude.  Beloved, arise, count the cost and serve well!

  1. Do you often start projects and then fail to complete them?
  2. What would it cost you to fully surrender to the Lord Jesus?
Prayer: Father, to live a life of complete surrender would be very costly and very much worth the cost.  There is no way for me to know the future requirements You will have of me, but Lord, I settle the issue today as to whether or not I will serve You.  The answer is, Yes!  Amen.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Sacrificial Service God Requires

Scripture: Luke 14:27
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple

Insights: Gregory Frizzell wrote, “Rather than asking, ‘How can I serve this church,’ it is all about how can I be served.  Unfortunately, so many modern saints look for a church exactly the way they would a health club—they want one with the least cost and most benefits!  Often when the least thing becomes disagreeable, people immediately shop for another church.”  Frizzell is absolutely correct in his assessment of many western “believers” and it is in complete opposition to today’s verse.  Jesus’ audience would have known immediately that Jesus was calling them to be willing to die for their relationship with Him.  In so many ways we have dumbed down the seriousness of this verse by attributing our cross to being things of displeasure.  In other words, so and such is just my cross to bear.  This job is just my cross to bear.  The fact that I don’t have cable or satellite is my cross to bear.  These kinds of attitude cheapen the grace by which we were redeemed.  Our attitude ought to be that of the Apostle Paul when he wrote Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”  Before Christ Jesus entered into our lives and born us again (bad English, but good theology), we were DEAD.  Once His divine mercy was dispensed in us we became ALIVE.  So, now that we are alive in Jesus, we are living sacrifices.  The very next word Paul uses brings us to the heart of Jesus’ words here in verse 27—HOLY.  Holiness implies two concepts.  1.  We are separated FROM the world.  2.  We are separated FOR the work of service.  Jesus is calling us to put to death our sinful nature and to live sacrificially for Him.  Earlier in Romans Paul wrote, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (8:13).”  We can see that Jesus is calling us to a faith that is far greater than just mere church health club shopping.  He is calling for our death to sin and for our life in service.  Back in Romans 12:1 we were also told that if we live this kind of life, it is pleasing to God.  It also told us this kind of life is our worship to God.  Beloved, worship Him well.

  1. What sacrifice(s) is/are being required of you by God?
  2. How well are you worshipping God through this sacrifice?
Prayer: Lord, You are my Lord and You sacrificed Your very life for me.  I desire to worship You by being a living sacrifice.  Prompt my heart throughout the day as to how I can be pleasing to You.  Amen.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Priority Position God Requires

Scripture: Luke 14:25-26
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

Insights: In chapter 13 the Scriptures tell us that Jesus is now heading toward Jerusalem and we know it is for the express purpose of giving His life for ours.  He is going to make payment for our sin problem.  From that moment in 13 until today’s verses Jesus is going into villages and cities along the way teaching and healing.  Then in verse 16-24 of chapter 14 Jesus tells the parable of the banquet.  The purpose of that parable is to let everyone know that salvation is for ALL people, Jew and Gentile alike.  Jesus was at a banquet when He told that parable and as He was leaving the large crowd, which had most likely been waiting and had heard the parable, began to follow Him.  Jesus “turned” and faced them.  In other words, He stopped and turned around and looked at them.  He then proceeds with the verses we will investigate this week.  It is important to remember the context of what Jesus has just finished teaching: the Gospel is for EVERYONE.  Now, however, right out of the shoots, Jesus says in modern day vernacular, “If you are going to be My disciple, I MUST come first.  I occupy the priority position in your life.”  Is Jesus telling us that because He has become our first love that we are to actually hate everyone else?  Obviously not.  In fact, when we put Jesus in the proper priority position of first place, our ability to love everyone else is greatly enhanced.  The problem, however, is a great number of western “Christians” have lost their first love.  Family, friends, and frivolity have taken the priority position in our lives and we give Jesus the leftovers.  If it is convent and nothing better comes along, then we will give Jesus some time.  According to this passage, one cannot be His disciple if that is his or her attitude.  So, Beloved, let us surrender everyone and everything to Jesus and let’s put Him first in the priority position of our lives.

  1. Is there anything in your life battling for the first place in place of God?
  2. Are you willing to repent of such a contest and turn with your whole heart to God?
Prayer: Father, forgive me for the times I place other people, things, events, and the like before You.  I desire you to be my all in all.  Fill me with Your grace that I may adore You and You alone.  Amen.