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Living Life For The Glory Of God

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Running head: FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living All Of Life For The Glory Of God

Eric Meyer

John Brown University

Christian Foundations - BBL 8033B

Dr. Bill Burnett

August 14th


! Living All Of Life For The Glory Of God

Our lives Are so filled with noise; how can the word of God possibly get through to His children?  Once He has our attention, then what are we supposed to do to build the relationship?  Those two questions are very close to the center of the problems that so many Christians experience with their faith.  Even the most faithful still have issues relating with God.  Eugene Peterson who wrote The Message translation of the Bible gives an apt description of the challenges we face, “It was not enough that I announce the Gospel, explain it, or whip up enthusiasm for it.  I wanted it lived – lived in detail, lived on the streets and on the job, lived in bedrooms and kitchens, lived through cancer and divorce, lived with children and in marriage.  Along the way I found out that this meant living it myself, which turned out to be a far more formidable assignment.  I realized that this was going to take some time.  I settled in for the long haul.” (Peterson, 1980, p. 201)           

This paper is an attempt to describe how I can live my life for the glory of God.  I have no illusions about the challenges ahead, but every race needs a starting line, and this can be the starting line for my marathon race for the glory of God.

I. GOD’S LOVE

There is a wonderful reminder of God’s love written by Paul in his letter to the church in Rome.  In 8:38 he says, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  From this wonderful starting point, I can take comfort in the fact that when I make mistakes, God’s love will still be with me. 

There is another verse that brings great comfort.  In John 16:33 Jesus tells us, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  The aspect that brings me comfort is the fact that Jesus tells me I can have peace.  I do not need to fear because Jesus has overcome the tribulations of this world.  Not even death can cause anxiety because Jesus proved to us that death is only the starting point for our eternal life in His kingdom.

The key is that Jesus does not want me to keep this information to myself.  Now that He broke through the noise of my life, got my attention, and dragged me out of the mess of a life I hade created for myself, He insists that I help Him penetrate the noise that keeps His message from reaching others.  One of the ways that I am doing this is through the Steven Ministry program.  I work with a care receiver every week, and receive monthly support and additional training from the other Stephen Ministers in my church.  The real grounding message in our ministry is that God does all of the work.  All I can do is care.  God works the cure.

II. GRACE

            In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches us how to pray.  I think it is easy to see where Jesus puts the emphasis in this prayer.  He gives us an outline of our entire relationship with God, and then immediately says, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” I strikes me that forgiveness is the one point that Jesus reemphasis in this prayer.  If grace is so important to God, then it has to be important to me. 

In the book The Reasons For God, Timothy Keller says, “All life changing love towards people with serious needs is a substitutional sacrifice.  If you become personally involved with them, in some way, their weaknesses flow toward you as your strengths flow towards them.” (Keller, 2008, p. 194)  Keller tells us that all people are broken, and are going to hurt us.  We need to be the stronger person, and offer forgiveness; in doing so, we strengthen the relationship, and also glorify God.  How challenging this can be, especially in a competitive work environment!  It is even difficult at home.  Last night, my kids overwhelmed me at dinner, and I ended up yelling at them, sending one to her room, and pretty much destroying the nice family dinner I had anticipated. Apologizing at breakfast this morning was required, but still not that easy to do.  It does feel good though, when we agree to forgive each other.

III.  MERCY

            Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines mercy as compassion for the miserable.  That definition hits home for me because like so many others, I needed to hit emotional bottom before I was ready to listen (desperately by the way) to Jesus.  Space is too limited for my testimony here, but I have written it elsewhere.  I decided to write it down so that I could refine it for use in teaching others about the mercy that God showed to me.  It also serves as a reminder that there can be no limit to the mercy that I extend to others.  Jesus insists I extend the grace.  In Luke 17:3-4, Jesus teaches, “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

IV.  KINDNESS

            In Titus 3:8, Paul tells us that, “those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds.”  I have several friends at church who are the epitome of this verse.  They go out of their way to be kind to everyone who they meet.  One lady named Gerry greets everyone who enters church with a hug.  Visitors get the same greeting, and she memorizes their names immediately.  I can’t describe how that act of kindness touched my wife and I the second week we met Gerry.  The fact that she had taken the time to memorize the names of people who may or may not ever come back to the church is one of the reasons we decided to join this particular church.  Another couple participates in every activity they can as a show of support for the rest of the congregation.  Because these acts of kindness come from the heart, these people are a joy to be around, so they are constantly surrounded by friends.

            The opposite attitude is to be filled with anger and hatred.  I have a grandma who is a sad example.  She is just plain nasty to almost everyone, so very few people will spend time with her.  She is immensely lonely, which exacerbates her anger towards the world at large.  2 Sam. 13:1-32 uses the story of Amnon and Tamar to describe how humans naturally end up hating those people they injure.  I want to do everything possible to be surrounded by good friends up until the day I pass from this life.  Having a heart conformed to Christ, allowing me to be naturally kind will help me to achieve that goal.

V.  PATIENCE

                      “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:33-34)  One of my favorite bands is a group named Queen.  They wrote a song that includes the lyrics, “It ain't much I'm asking if you want the truth - Here's to the future, for the dreams of youth - I want it all, I want it all I want it all, and I want
it now!”  How that summarizes the thoughts of so many of us!  I want what those around me have, my success in life is determined by my possessions and who I know.  Unfortunately, this desire to possess things breeds nothing but anxiety. 

                      I was on the roller coaster of life that is corporate America for almost 2 decades.  I lived a life driven by Keeping Up With The Jones’, and it lead to severe anxiety issues.  God grabbed me out of that muck, and showed me a much more pleasant way to live.  The workload is not any different, days still start at 5am, and are filled with many activities, but I am doing those activities in conjunction with God. 

                      When I made the decision to leave the secular world to pursue a career in ministry, my Dad was less than pleased.  There was quite a bit of pressure to stay where I was, and build up my nest egg for retirement.  Fortunately, he supports me now, though he still really does not understand what I am doing with my life.  What is funny about the situation is that I learned last week my former employer is probably going to be sold to a competitor, meaning my sales office will be redundant to the new company.  For me this is a perfect example of the Matt. 6:34 verse.

  I fish in Alaska almost every summer, and dream of the joys of being a charter boat captain, spending each day surrounded by natural beauty.  I think most people spend their lives dreaming of a better life instead of patiently working for and with God.  A.B. Bruce says it this way, “A life on the ocean wave, a life in the mountains or clouds, may be fine to dream of and sing of; but the only life out of which genuine heroism and poetry comes, is that which is spent on this solid prosaic earth in the lowly good work of doing good.” (Bruce, 1894)

Eugene Peterson defines the patience we need by saying, “There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.”(Peterson, 1980, p. 16) Every day I need to remind myself that the transformation from sinner to saint is a process that will last my entire earthly life.

VI. RIGHTNEOUSNESS

                      Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your  throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You.  How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!”  God gives us a model to follow throughout the scriptures, and in the life of Jesus.  He wants us not to just observe His righteousness, but to become conformed to Him.  In John 21:22 Jesus says, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”  In my first job as a teenager I complained to my Dad that I was working harder than the other employees, and it was not fair.  I figured I’d just match their pace if they would not match mine.  Wow, did he ever verbally slap me around!  That was a great lesson in righteousness.  In everything we do, we need to remember that we have to do the absolute best we can because we are doing it for and with God.  We are not to question the fairness of life, worry about what tasks others are given, what salaries others at work receive, etc. 

            I know so many people who can not make it through the day without a word of support from their managers.  They lack self confidence to the point that they can not feel good about what they do unless someone else notices and comments.  A life centered on God builds self confidence.  People who have reached that comfort level can’t keep it to themselves though.  God requires them to teach others about the peace that God gives them because of a dedication to conforming to His righteousness. 

VII. JUSTICE/FAIRNESS

            “Jesus’ death was necessary if God was going to take justice seriously and still love us.  This same concern should mark all of our relationships.  We should never acquiesce to injustice” (Keller, 2008, p. 197) God takes His own rules so seriously that not even He can break them.  This should give us complete confidence in following Him, because we know His rules will not change, and that He will be completely fair. 

            From a management perspective, I see this aspect of God commanding us to treat our employees equally.  Misbehavior needs to be reprimanded without favoritism, and compensation needs to be awarded because of merit.  CEO compensation is a glaring example here.  Just because the CEO has the ear of the board of directors, and can write in compensation packages that are given even if performance is poor, they simply should not do so unless all employees will receive similar compensation.  Management has to hold themselves to the same standards to which they hold their employees; not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because God did.

            The same is true at Home.  Parents need to model their behavior on God so that their children will by default model their behavior on God.  One of the misbehaviors that comes easily for me is to get angry and yell at my children.  When I heard them yelling in exactly the same manner at each other, I realized how completely they model my behavior.  When Jesus said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 7:12) it was not just good advice, it was how He lived.

VIII.  HOLINESS/PURITY

            In Jesus, God has given us the perfect model of purity.  We are to follow and obey Him in order to be conformed to Him.  A disciple is a person in the process of being conformed to Christ, one who is aspiring to the purity that is inherent in God.  Bill Hull writes, “Most of us want to reap the harvest of a discipline while living a life of relative sloth.  We want all the benefits of humility and growth without being humble or working to grow.” (Hull, 2006) 

            Our church hired a consultant to teach a discipleship model last year.  The gentleman’s name is Mike Breen, and he is an excellent example of someone well on the way to being conformed to Christ.  He taught the necessity of conforming ourselves through spiritual disciplines in order to feel and hear God.  Mike taught through example.  He worked with numerous small groups, digging into our faith lives, and helping us to understand where we were erecting barriers to God.  If the following experience had just happened to me, I would be able to write it off as coincidence, but it happened to many of us in the small group setting.  Mike could see into our lives.  He knew things about us that only God could have told him.  He got deep to the core of emotional problems that we were too embarrassed to mention, but he knew about. 

            Mike displayed the evidence that God wants to be with us, to have conversations with us, to be much more than just a name in a book; but a Father who will guide us with unlimited love.  He taught us that this relationship depends on our purity.  We need to practice the spiritual disciplines actively.  I want more than anything to have the kind of relationship with God that Mike has, and know that I need to work diligently at my side of the conversation.

IX.  GOOD

            I have resolved to do my best to help people understand that God does not want bad things to happen to them.  That is a question that is asked continuously, and used as an argument to deny God.  “I can’t believe in a god that…” is a frequently heard statement.  The truth of the matter is that it does not matter what one believes about God.  A person needs to search for God to understand His personality traits.  We have to know God, not believe in Him.  My youngest kids still believe in Santa Clause, but that does not make him real.  By defining the kind of god in which we are willing to believe, all we do is create our own god.  Quite the opposite direction one needs to take to find peace in tragedy. 

            Oswald Chambers writes, “The typical view of the Christian life is that it means being delivered from all adversity. But it actually means being delivered in adversity, which is something very different.” And he also says, “God does not give us overcoming life—He gives us life as we overcome. The strain of life is what builds our strength. If there is no strain, there will be no strength.” (Chambers, 1935, p. Aug. 2)  A friend of mine has spent the past 50 years carving wood.  He is a magnificent artist who uses the natural characteristics of the wood to help define how he will carve a piece.  He told me that he was fortunate to be able to buy a barn full of various hardwood pieces many years ago.  The wood is very old, and harvested from naturally occurring trees.  He says it is nothing like the wood that comes from plantations because those trees do not face the trails of a tree in the wild.  The wood from those wild trees shows the scars and defects of a life filled with strain.  That strain has given the wood tremendous character, which he massages to bring out spectacular beauty.

            God is so good to us.  He gives us boundaries, pushes us to the limits, places strain on us, and gives the resistance that develops strength and character.  When the trials of life come, as they are certain to do, I have to remember that these challenges can be overcome, and I will be stronger for them because God is with me in the challenge. 

X.  TRUTH/TRUTHFUL

            One of my favorite Bible sections is Ephesians 6:10-13, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”  Given that the word of God is true, I take the passage from Ephesians to mean I need to study the word.  God wants me to strengthen my mind by filling it with His truth.  For quite some time I thought that God would give me His armor.  I now understand that it is my job to put on the armor.  As a method of putting on the armor, I have started to make flash cards to aid in my memorization.  I look at it like the training of the knights during the middle ages.  They started training with just a few pieces of armor.  Over the length of their apprenticeship they strengthened their bodies until they could fight in 80 pounds of armor as if they were naked. 

            God went to thousands of years of effort to give us His truth.  He intends that we spread the news.  Rebecca Pippert writes, “But the principal channel for conveying God’s truth is proclaiming the gospel….Therefore we need to have a basic understanding of the Christian message so that when we do feel led to give it we can.” (Pippert, 1999, p. 156)  Scripture memorization is just one tool in teaching God’s truth.  Understanding the Gospel, knowing how to teach it, and when to teach it are essential.  We also have to be close enough to God to know what He wants us to do and say.  My current path in life looks to be ministry, possibly ordination.  I have quite a bit to learn!

XI.  FAITHFUL

            “Remember, Jesus taught that faith meant to follow Him (see Luke 9:23-25).  Anything less is something else – a wish, a desire, a good intention.  But it is not faith, because faith means to follow.” (Hull, 2006, p. 28)  As I explained in the tenth section, Jesus expects us to teach His Word.  In order to do that we have to get past our fears, and faithfully do what Jesus asks.  I enjoy this description from Eugene Peterson because it shows how someone who has had a spectacular career in theology and ministry has felt the challenges I face as a beginner, “This world is no friend to grace.  A person who makes a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior does not find a crowd immediately forming to applaud the decision or old friends spontaneously gathering around to offer congratulations and council.  Ordinarily there is nothing directly hostile, but an accumulation of puzzled disapproval and agnostic indifference constitutes, nevertheless, surprisingly formidable opposition.” (Peterson, 1980, p. 1)  It is like being a life insurance salesman right out of college.  Your friends assume all you want to do is “sell” them.  I’ve found that the more I practice discussing the Gospel with people who are devout Christians, the easier it becomes with people outside of my faith.  The story described in class about asking a waitress if there is anything happing in their live for which they could use a prayer is such an example.  It was not easy to get up the courage to do so the first time I tried, so I asked while having lunch with a Christian friend as a supporter.  It was a joy to see the smile on the waiter’s face!  Though he did not want a prayer, he went out of his way to have a pleasant personal conversation.  Practice will make the faithful living of the Gospel seem effortless.

XII.  INFINITE REGARDING SPACE-OMNIPRESENCE-IMMENSITY

            There is a Pearls Before Swine comic strip where Goat asks Rat why he has an umbrella.  Rat replies that he has been told by a reliable authority that God sees everything that we do.  Goat replies, “and your hoping He likes umbrellas?”  Rat says, “I’m trying to block His view.” (Pastis, 2008, p. 144)  That is a pretty apt description of the world at large.  We know we sin, and hope God won’t notice.  Maybe our “umbrella” will be enough to block His view.  People sin under the umbrella when they cheat on a spouse and hope the spouse won’t find out.  How about the school board treasurer who steals money from the district?  Did the money fund managers who are worth tens of millions of dollars think they could lie their way through the collapse of a hedge fund?  How much more money do they need?  I have a son who rented movies at 2am from On-Demand thinking know one would know.  He did not realize the movies show up on the bill.  Every day we can find countless examples in the news of people doing something for which they think they won’t get caught.  Movies make heroes out of criminal masterminds, yet in real life the criminals seem to get caught eventually.  Even if they don’t, do they really think their behavior can be explained away when God asks for an explanation? 

            Dietrich Bonhoeffer looked at the above issues through the lens of Matthew 7:13.  He says, “The disciples are few in number, and always will be few.  This saying of Jesus forestalls all exaggerated hopes of success.  Never let a disciple of Jesus pin his hopes on large numbers.” (Bonhoeffer, 1959, p. 190)  Though we have to be realistic about the depth of sin in the world, our efforts make a huge difference to the ones who hear the message and take it to heart.

XIII.  INFINITE REGARDING TIME – ETERNAL

            The world, though, is protean: each generation has the world to deal with in a new form.  World is an atmosphere, a mood.  It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the world’s temperature as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water.  There is a sense, a feeling, that things are not right, that the environment is not whole, but just what it is eludes analysis.” (Peterson, 1980, p. 1)  Sin is like staph bacteria, it adapts to the antibiotics so that the treatment soon becomes ineffective.  Trends for worship come and go, but the one thing Christians can always count on, the antibiotic that will always be effective, is God’s word.  In 1 Tim. 6:11-12 Paul instructs us to, “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. We are to “take hold of eternal life.”  Wow, what a promise, what a challenge! 

            The fact that God is eternal and that His word does not change is a foundation for hope.  The Kingdom is eternal, but it is here now.  It gives us reason to preach the gospel, to live a Christian life that our friends don’t understand, to challenge Christians who simply want to be entertained on Sundays, to strive to get people to build relationships with God that extend beyond Sunday morning.  George Ladd says, “Finally, the Kingdom demands an eternal decision.  The decision for or against the Kingdom of God in the present determines a man’s future destiny….The Age to Come has entered This Age.  The life of tomorrow is offered to us in the here and now.  Heaven, if you please, has kissed the earth.  What do we do?  One thing.  The Kingdom of Heaven has come near.  Repent!” (Ladd, 1959, p. 106)  Father, please forgive me for I have sinned.

XIV.  INFINITE REGARDING KNOWLEDGE – OMNISCIENCE      

            We don’t have a clue what God is planning.  That is a hard lesson to learn.  All we can do is make every effort to conform ourselves to Christ.  “If we are in fellowship and oneness with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, then we will no longer strive to find out what His purposes are. As we grow in the Christian life, it becomes simpler to us, because we are less inclined to say, “I wonder why God allowed this or that?”(Chambers, 1935, p. Aug. 5)  God knows every possible event that will ever happen, and is working out His purposes.  We can either be part of the cure, or part of the disease.  He has already defined our victorious life with Him, and has promised that He has overcome the world (John 16:33).  This fact has to be incorporated into my daily life.  It is assurance that no matter what the challenge, Jesus knows what I need, knows how I can affect the lives of others, and I desperately want to be on His team.  Christopher Maricle summarizes this thought beautifully, “…when it comes to focusing on God’s will, is our inclination to plan when and how we will act on God’s will: “I will work at the soup kitchen on Thursdays” or “I will go to church every Sunday.”  We see God’s will as something we fit in between washing the laundry and grocery shopping.  We create the illusion that doing the will of God is separate from the other tasks of life, but this is not so.  Doing the will of God is not just one more chore among the many tasks of life.  It is the task of life.” (Maricle, 2007, p. 92)

XV.  INFINITE REGARDING POWER – OMNIPOTENCE

            Yes, God has unlimited power.  However there may be one thing even He can not do.  He can not make us love Him.  I think this is the reason for the in-depth training He gave his first disciples, and the necessity of the cross.  John Stott wrote, “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross.  In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it.” (Keller, 2008, p. 195)  God could entertain, amaze, mystify, and possibly convince people He exists through miracles.  However, the history of His revelations through miracles shows a very disappointing conversion rate.  God knows that the only way to convince people of His amazing love, and teach us to return that love is through the long, slow process of changing deep seated belief.  He needs to change our hearts.  The sermon recorded in Matthew 5-7 details how Jesus wants us to love with a deep unconscious love.  He does not want us to simply change our outward behavior, an open umbrella that we hope hides our true motivations.

            God has very patiently used His power to direct the course of human events.  I am sure that if I step aside, and ignore His offer, He will use others to do my job.  Just like any employee, none of us are irreplaceable on this mission.  However, unlike any boss in the secular world, Jesus loves us beyond description, will personally mentor us, direct us, and teach us.  Jesus did not spend so much time planning our salvation in order for us to spend an hour every weekend being entertained.  He expects results.  He wants us to go and make disciples; to make the committed effort to put in the time necessary to change a heart.  “When will we learn the lesson of Christ not to be satisfied merely with the firstfruits of those who are sent out to witness?  Disciples must be brought to maturity.  There can be no substitute for total victory, and our field is the world.  We have not been called to hold the fort, but to storm the heights.” (Coleman, 1963, p. 87) 

XVI.  SOVERIEGNTY

            God can only be described in human language, but I am not sure we have the words to convey His supremacy.  In regards to our scientific knowledge of how He designed the universe, we are still as children.  In regards to managing society’s ills, we haven’t a clue.  Large chunks of our advanced societies still think vaccinations cause more harm than good, and we are barely getting those vaccines to people who desperately need them around the world.  As far as the vast majority of the world is concerned, a cardboard box would make a nice house.  As Douglas Adams said somewhere in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, most of the world still thinks digital watches are pretty neat, and that book was written at least 25 years ago.

            God made us for His purposes, and we have decided that we are alive simply for the pursuit of pleasure.  He who dies with the most toys wins is the mentality that drives western society.  “As Christians we are not here for our own purpose at all—we are here for the purpose of God, and the two are not the same. We do not know what God’s compelling purpose is, but whatever happens, we must maintain our relationship with Him.” (Chambers, 1935, p. Aug. 4)

            I used to think about the tasks in life that I simply would not do.  Becoming a minister was certainly one of those tasks.  Another was the thought of doing overseas mission work.  I could go on and on, but the point is that God seems to have an interesting sense of humor.  He tends to move me in directions where He can use me regardless of my initial thoughts.  Obviously, I’m studying for a ministry degree, and God granted me a beautiful son from Russia who has opened my eyes to the need for and joys of overseas mission work.  I used to think all environmentalists were tree hugging extremists.  Now I know that God did not just make us for His purpose, but He made our environment for His purpose as well.  It glorifies Him when we enjoy the beauty He has created.

            God is the boss, and Americans need to get that idea through their pride filled hearts if we are going to participate in the Kingdom.  We are so amazingly blessed, our poorest live better than most of the rest of the world, yet we simply consume without giving back.  All of that consumption has not made for a happier society.  Americans consume self help books to the tune of billions in sales a year, yet they miss the one answer to their pleas for help.  God is waiting for our submission.

XVII.  INDEPENDENCE – SELF EXISTENCE

            God is complete.  He certainly does not need us for companionship, as He already is complete in the Trinity.  He also is surrounded by a large contingent of angels.  However, He chose to make us in His image.  He wants, with the deepest devotional love, to be with us.  In order to convey this message, He taught us by example, taking on human form to teach how to experience His Kingdom now and into eternity. 

One of the primary examples is that the Christian life is one of community.  Other than in times of prayer, Jesus was always surrounded by a support team, people who He loved, and loved Him back.  He sent His disciples out in pairs for their training missions, and even made sure His mother would not be left alone as His last act from the cross (John 19:26-27).  “God never meant for us to face the trials of life alone.  In community, God brings His resources together for the benefit of His people.” (Hull, 2006, p. 196) 

If we take this example to heart, it means taking Christian community to those who do not ask for it, or those who desperately need it.  We can serve as a mentor to a child, visit the homebound, volunteer to tutor, volunteer at the Boys & Girls clubs, and the list could go on for quite some time.  The joy of knowing Jesus should fill our heart to overflowing so that taking His message to people who desperately need to hear it simply becomes second nature.  Bill Hull says, “…discipleship occurs when a transformed person radiates Christ to those around her.  It happens when people so deeply experience God’s love that they can do nothing other than affect those around them.” (Hull, 2006, p. 28) 

XVIII.  IMMUTABILITY

Because God never changes, we can have complete trust in Him.  We know that He never breaks his promises, and that the work we do for Him will bring us joy.  Paul expresses these ideas in his second letter to Timothy chapter 6 verses 17-19.  We could take worse advice than to teach, “Those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”  One can hear the love in Paul’s voice when he says, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.” (2 Tim. 6:20,21)  Paul has spent many decades in a close relationship with God.  He knows the God only speaks the truth, and desperately wants to keep Timothy and us from falling into Satan’s lies.

The Gospel is a fantastic story!  It takes time to tell well.  As disciples, we need to dedicate the time to discovering what those around us who seek Christ really need; understand what comes between them and a relationship with Jesus, then take the time necessary to teach them the truth.

CONCLUSION

          My wife is a cleaner.  She has a tendency to put things away while thinking about other issue.  I’ve learned that if I leave something lying out, I’ll spend hours trying to find it again because Brenda “cleaned” it and does not remember where she put it.  I know her.  I know how she operates.  I hope to get to know God at that level of intimacy.

                 That level of belief is what seems to separate the Christian interested in cheap grace from a true disciple.  The disciple’s journey is a process of getting to know Jesus the way that He knows the disciple.  There is a huge gap between saying, “I believe in God” and saying, “I know God.”

          While we certainly won’t reach the level of knowledge that we desire during this lifetime, we can definitely build a relationship with Him that allows us to feel His presence in our daily lives.  Knowing God, and teaching others how to know Him as well begins by knowing how the above Godly attributes can be seen in every aspect of my life.

         

           

 


! References

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Barnett, P. (2005). The Birth of Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Bonhoeffer, D. (1959). The cost of Discipleship. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Bruce, A. B. (1894). The training of the twelve. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel.

Chambers, O. (1935). My Utmost for His Highest. Grand Rapids, MI: Barbour Publishing.

Coleman, R. E. (1963). The master plan of evangelism. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.

Hull, R. W. (2006). The complete book of discipleship. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Keller, T. (2008). The reasons for God. New York, NY: Penguin.

Ladd, G. E. (1959). The gospel of the kingdom. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Maricle, C. (2007). The Jesus priorities. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books.

Pastis, S. (2008). The crass menagarie. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Peterson, E. H. (1980). A long obedience in the same direction. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Pippert, R. M. (1999). Out of the Saltshaker. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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