Monday, March 23, 2009

Matt: 26:32

Early on this week, I was reading in the book of Mathew where Jesus and His disciples are in the Garden of Gethsemane. The context is they have just finished the “last supper” and when they first arrive, Jesus has the bulk of the disciples “sit”. Then He takes Peter, James and John and continues to walk. Now remember, the other time, that we know of, when Jesus took His three close friends away from the rest of the group? It was when He was TRANSFORMED right before their very eyes. So, they have to be getting excited with anticipation. They must be EXPECTING something! Right?
Next the Bible says, “…and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.” Now, the Bible doesn’t say, but my guess is Jesus didn’t get “sorrowful and troubled” very often, especially while walking with these three. I would hope that when I saw Jesus full of sorrow, my senses and my awareness of what was going on would be heightened. Wouldn’t it?
Now, listen to what Jesus says next, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Okay, if my blood is not pumping with anxiety before He said this, it is now! His soul is overwhelmed to the point of DEATH! Not, only that, but he has asked me to keep watch. That will be easy! Right?
Do you remember what happens next? They fall asleep THREE times! Your closest friend and GOD has asked you to KEEP WATCH and you fall asleep? No way I would do that! Actually, truth is, we all would do that. As sad as it is, we all DO that. How many GREAT things has God done in our lives, and yet we go on, expecting, but then “fall asleep” Or even worse, we don’t expect great things at all.
Even when Peter, James and John KNEW of His sorrow, they fell asleep. How often does our heart not break, when His heart is already broken?
As a team, let’s check our heart for two things: 1. Are we coming to God EXPECTING Him to do great things this summer? 2. Are there things that we know break His heart that we have fallen asleep to?
Think about it….

In Him, For Him
Eric

Monday, March 9, 2009

1Corinthians chapter 12: A Beautiful Display of Humility

2 Corinthians 12:1-10
I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. Though if I wish to boast, I shall not be a fool, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

People always debate over what the "thorn" was in Paul's life, but I dont see that being a key to understanding this passage. This passage is a beautiful picture of a man who understood who it is that accomplishes great things in our lives.

If you look back, Paul begins "boasting" in chapter ten and yet throughout those few chapters you can tell it is a struggle for him to talk about what has been accomplished through his ministry. Then you get to chapeter 12 and Paul finally decides to tell us about a vision God gave him. It's not til after hearing about his revelation that we hear about this "thorn", but again, I dont think identifying the thorn is important. I think Paul's response to it is though.

Paul responds by "pleading" with God to take it. The dictionary defines "plead" as "to appeal ernastly or to beg". Paul BEGGED God three times to take it away from him. Yet God chose not to. Instead He tells Paul that His grace is sufficient for him and that HIS power is made perfect in weakness.

How many times have you ask God to either give you something or take something away and He didnt do it? How did you respond? Were you upset? Confused?

I noted three things about Paul's response:
1. He stopped asking once God gave Him a answer.
2. He NEVER complained about it. Only asked Him to take it away
3. He not only accepted it, but went to the other extreme and began to boast about, knowing God's power was perfected in his weakness.

Think about it...

In Him, for Him
Eric

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Aim to be GREAT (email to CORE)

In Mark 10 starting with verse 35, we read a interesting story about James and John. Honestly, one I never really enjoyed because they seem SO arrogant. It’s the story about James and John approaching Jesus and asking Him if they could sit at His right and His left when they all get to Heaven. Doesn’t that rub you guys the wrong way? However, in C.J. Mahaney’s book, “Humility: True Greatness” he points out something in Jesus’ response that I never noticed previous times I read it.

Christ’s Response:

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Mark 10: 42-45

C.J.’s Response:

“ What I find especially fascinating and instructive in His next words is that Jesus does not categorically criticize or forbid the desire and ambition to be great. Instead, He clearly redirects that ambition, redefines it, and purifies it:” pg.43

In other words, the desire to be great is not wrong, it’s all about how we go about it. I believe God wants us to desire our team of CORE leaders to be great. He desires our counselors to be great, and He longs for our IMPACT to be great. We simply need to remember what true greatness looks like and why it is we aim to be great. We aim to be great because He was first GREAT for us. He gave His life for us when we least deserved it and BECAUSE of that love we seek to honor His name by being great. We do THAT by being SERVANTS. It completely goes against all the world teaches but that is simply because the world is wrong. Think about it.

In Him, For Him
Eric