Thursday, February 25, 2010

but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
— Hebrews 3:13, New Kings James Version

We used to wake to a Mt Hood sunrise nearly every morning off our front deck as we would look out across the Columbia River in Oregon. The sky was a deep deep purple with a few splashes of clouds on the horizon, and as the sun rose and cast its rays onto the clouds, there was a sense of what it almost could be like when the Lord returns in all His glory. I found this photograph this past week.

This was just one of the thousands of days we witnessed, but it caused me to contemplate the message given by the writer of Hebrews about the importance of "today". Poets write of yesterdays lost, and tomorrow’s hopes and expectations, but here we are faced with today, and the choices we will make. Like the sunrise behind Mt. Hood, will our lives reflect the beauty and love of Jesus to those around us, or will we be drawn to sin in our own lives?

Every day is new to us to do and to will. If there is any lesson that we can take from this passage, it is that today, we can have a determined will to do that which is good and loving and of God's leading.

Can we do no less "today"?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The VIP is the other guy!

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:3-4, New American Standard

The VIP is the other guy!

"...if there is any encouragement in Christ..." Paul says so that we can be clear that this is how we are to live. As a Christian, the other person is the 'Very Important Person.'

Paul often goes to great lengths as the Lord directs him in his writings to the issue of compassion and love. If we are in Christ, we are a people fully dedicated, fully given to love and compassion. THAT IS THE MIND OF CHRIST. And the only reason any of us would not act this way is because we are not actively engaged in our Lord's written word, the Bible. We may read it and carefully study it, but if we are not living it out, we are not becoming practically what we are to be in Christ Jesus. Shouldn't we be living the way Jesus has shown us???? Shouldn't we be laying our lives down for one another? Shouldn't we be seeing tremendous fruit in the church and in our lives as we see Christ lived out in us as we go about doing the 'good works' he commands of us?

Too many of us in the Christian Church have an attitude of 'me first.' It is an attitude seen in the lack of compassion for people in desperate need; in the judgments and condemnations toward those struggling and those found in sin; and in the unwillingness to touch those who are outcast or diseased. Instead, our calling is to be walking humbly of mind before the Lord, walking as our Lord walked.

If these words produce guilt and accusation, then let it lead to repentance and a deeper love for Christ by following in His footsteps. One thing we Christians can always count on is our Lord's mercies. They are new for us every morning. Let guilt be for the one who knows what good he should do and doesn't do it.

In Matthew 21, Jesus tells the story of a father who had 2 sons. And he called them to himself and asked them to go work in the vineyard. And one son said, "No, I will not go." But he felt regret and then went and did as his father asked. The second son said, "Yes, I will go." But then he did not do as his father asked of him. And Jesus asked the Chief Priests and elders, "Which of the 2 sons did the will of his father?" And they answered Jesus, "The first."

Today, you and I have a choice to make with our lives. Either we can go on as we see fit, doing the things we want to do; or we can do as our Father has asked of us:

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

The mind of Christ is for others first and always. His love reaches out to all and His people are to go and do likelwise.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What do you have in your hand?

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Colossians 1: 9-12

What do you have in your hand?

I first learned this lesson from the Lord when I was stranded in Bolivia in 1985. My plane tickets said I had to return to the United States in 2 days with my adopted daughter, but the courts would not give me the necessary documents for us to leave. When I called the airlines to see about rescheduling the tickets, they informed me I would be required to pay an additional $1800 to $2000 to reticket the itinerary for the both of us. When I called my church to ask about a loan till I could get back stateside, they refused. My extended stay was going to significantly add to my expenses, not to mention the new airfare charges and I was all out of money. I was in a panic.

In prayer, I asked the Lord for His help, and all He told my wife and I was, 'What do you have in your hand?' All I had in my hand were the return plane tickets scheduled for the fast approaching weekend.

When our backs are against the wall, when we find ourselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place, our choices narrow. Do we take the easy way, or do we walk in a manner worthy of the Lord? Little did I realize at the time that the Lord was about to use this situation to show me something about Himself I would have to live by many many many more times as we adopted more children. The essence of the lesson: Paul's prayer for the Colossians was not to ask for what they didn't have, but pray that they would be filled with everything that they did have: God Himself and the inheritance He gives us. I knew I had the calling and direction from the Lord to do what I was there to do. I knew the Lord wanted me to walk forward asking Him for whatever I needed. And I knew I had two plane tickets I could not use. Yet!

This is not a lesson solely about the Lord's provision. To be sure many people do not embrace the Lord's direction and work because they feel they do not have in hand what they think they will need. In Luke 10, Jesus sends the seventy out to prepare the way for Him instructing them not to take any provision for the journey. And they return rejoicing at the wondrous things that happened and the authority He had given them to act in His name.

But in my situation, things didn't get better. More than a week after I was supposed to have returned home we were still battling with the child protective agency and the courts to gain their approvals. They were continuing to ignore me or give me the necessary documents. Finally in near complete exasperation I returned to my room one afternoon and shouted at God in anger. Why had you [God] sent me on this mission of futility? Why had you [God] lead me to adopt this child and then now not give us the needed help in our time of trouble? Why Lord?!!? As I cried in anger and desperation in my room that afternoon, the Lord came to me and He comforted me. And He told me that it wasn't my work, but His work. He would take care of all that concerned me in His time.

True Christian growth comes by living in the reality of what I do have! I had become intent on finishing this adoption successfully so I could return home triumphantly. But I had completely forgotten that it WAS the Lord's work. And I was the Lords! It didn't matter that my plans were frustrated. It only mattered that I walk in Him, pleasing to Him, joyously giving thanks to Him. That afternoon changed everything. For the first time in my life, I knew I was HIS - though I had been a Christian for more than 2 decades at that point. I left my room that afternoon knowing that God loved me!

What did I have in my hand? Christ had given me an inheritance that filled me with 'spiritual wisdom and understanding' so that I could walk in a manner worthy of my Lord.

And my situation changed as well. That very afternoon when I returned to the courts, they gave me instructions to come back the next day (after ignoring me for over 2 weeks) and they would give me the necessary documents. A week later, after seeing many more miracles and obtaining all other agency documents, my daughter and I arrived at the airport. The check-in agent commented that our tickets were for two weeks prior, so she called her supervisor over who gave her the approval for us to use the tickets that day.

What do we have in our hands? If we are the Lords, we have Him! He is our portion! He is our inheritance! And lest we ever forget, He loves you and me and shows us that in our darkest hour.

When we "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects," we walk in true freedom to give all that we have because in Christ Jesus we already have everything we need!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The important things of life...

The internet has become both a great boon to us and a great peril. We can talk and communicate with loved ones half a world away in seconds, listen to faith messages and sermons, do research on matters that concern us and shop for things we want or need. But it is also easy access to all kinds of unspeakable evil. Pornography is big business, ethics and integrity are thrown out the window as anonymity prevails in business and transactions and rather than having real friends who are there for you and you for them, we have social networks with friends who often choose lies over loyalty and love.

This blog is set up only to discuss matters concerning the Daily Chews that are sent out by email. The Daily Chews are Bible scriptural passages, often accompanied with commentary. The Bible is a rich tapestry for us to look at and enjoy, for it tells us of God's great love for us and His Son Jesus Christ. It is a place where anyone can come, enjoy and be encouraged in the Word of God.

While the truth of various passages remains unchangable, God often uses the same passage to speak differently into each of our lives.

And that is what this blog is all about. To give us all free expression to the Bible and how God has used it to show us something about Himself. In the free give and take of a community forum, there will be disagreements and great differences. Let us approach each post with an attitude of humility and love as Jesus demonstrated.

In the end, it is ALL ABOUT JESUS! As John the Baptist said, 'He must increase, and I must decrease.' May our lives be open to His moving.

Kevin Haislip