Air1 Radio Features – October 2014
Where Is Jesus Going With Us?
Do you ever hear someone speak and wonder, “Where is he going with this?” The disciples had that exact same thought about Jesus as He was about to leave them to be crucified. Jesus said, “…none of you asks me, where are you going? But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage…” Their hearts were so filled with sorrow over what was about to happen they had lost sight of exactly where Jesus was going with the events that were taking place. Do we really want to know what God has in mind, or are we more committed to obsessing over the sorrow we don’t understand. When we see where God is taking us, we will always realize it is for our good.
The God of Extremes
C. S. Lewis wrote, “The most striking thing about our Lord is the union of great ferocity with extreme tenderness.” (From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III) The Bible says, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God…” (Romans 11:22a, NIV) Lewis then quotes a great philosopher, ‘I do not admire the extreme of one virtue unless you show me at the same time the extreme of the opposite virtue. One shows one’s greatness not by being at an extremity but by being simultaneously at two extremities and filling all the space between.’” If God is simultaneously embracing two extremes, so should I. I can be at peace and yet be warring. I can trust God and yet not know where He’s taking me. By embracing the extremes of God I give Him greater latitude in my life to be who He really is.
Boredom Is Self-Inflicted
Boredom is a self-inflicted wound. The God who designs galaxies and hand-crafts every molecule is never bored, so how could obeying His will lead to boredom? Impossible! Boredom comes from venturing away from God’s script into Earth’s shallow substitutes that cost nothing—leaving us empty and unfulfilled. Life’s greatest adventures have each been divinely shaped into one-of-a-kind destinies that require two faith dimensions to be experienced: Trust and Courage. The moment we question the brilliance of God’s will in our lives we begin to unravel it’s full potential. But when we believe in His ability to give us His best, and then boldly pursue His plan for us, we enter into the sweet spot of life’s greatest joy: it is to know God and to experience life from His sublime perspective.
Two Kinds of Faith
We each need two kinds of faith: “Right Now Faith” and “Not Yet Faith.” “Right Now Faith” steps up when there seems to be no steps. We walk in faith even though we don’t fully know where we are going. The Bible says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8, ESV) Thinking we know where God is leading us is mere presumption. Trusting He knows requires the most faith. “Not Yet Faith” means patiently waiting and peacefully resting, fully confident that God will contact us with new instructions at the first and best opportunity. If we desperately want God’s will more than anything else, it is impossible to miss it.
God, the Original, Original
God is the original, original! Everything He’s ever done has been trail blazed—a whole new beginning, a completely fresh start. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when He asks us to step into the unknown. When we find false comfort in the familiar we ultimately feel short-changed, deprived of the unexpected, missing the wonderful surprises of God. That’s why fear is the most prevalent seduction. The devil wants to consign us to the same boring reality he faces. Having rejected God’s first and best all he has left is the monotonous consequence of a unbelieving life. God, on the other hand, is creating something unprecedented for you today. Fully surrender to His will and you’ll never be bored again. “Jesus, take me somewhere I’ve never been!”
When Jesus cursed the fig tree in Mark 11, it was an example of God’s mercy. The tree was a picture of “false advertising,” having leaves, but no figs. It wasn’t normal or healthy. That type of fig tree didn’t usually have leaves without also having figs. The tree was cursed because it professed to have fruit, but did not. The tree was “living a lie.” We can’t know the truth if we live a lie. We will each be judged for the fruit in our lives not for our leaves. In all of the works in the ministry of Jesus, this is the only “destructive” miracle. Jesus here most perfectly shows us the nature of God. He is willing to kill “counterfeit life” in us in order to keep us from killing our future. The question is, “Are we?”
Roots That Bear Fruit
Right after Jesus cursed the fig tree that had leaves but no fruit He went into the temple and overturned the tables of the money exchangers. Every Jewish male had to pay a yearly temple tax. An amount equaling about two days pay. It had to be paid in the currency of the Temple, and the money exchangers would charge outrageous rates. They did all this in the outer courts of the Temple, the only area where Gentiles could come and pray. Therefore, this place of prayer was made into a swap meet for thieves. Are you willing to let Jesus turn over the hypocritical parts of your heart? The priests in the Temple had leaves, but no fruit. They were thieves with leaves but their root had no fruit. “Jesus, let our roots go deep into You, that we may bear fruit that lasts forever.”
Our commitment to God is always a demonstration of our faith. When Jesus said, “Have faith in God…” that you may see mountains move, it meant in the original language, “Have God’s faith!” (Mark 11:22-23) Mountains symbolize insurmountable problems that only God can move. Jesus was saying, “As we believe, God can overcome any obstacle.” We must remember that Jesus was promising this to His disciples, not the multitudes. It was a commitment to those who were committed to Him. In life “we reap what we sow.” “No deposit” means, “No return on our investment.” God-sized mountains require God-sized faith and God-sized commitment! So we must never forget He is freely offering this kind of faith to each of us, every moment of every day. Having God’s faith always brings God’s victory.
The Forgiven Heart
It’s been said, “There is no revenge so sweet as forgiveness.” (American Humorist, Josh Billings) Our forgiving others opens the door for God to forgive us. The hardness in our heart shuts God out. If we have hard, unforgiving hearts, it calls into question if we have ever received or appreciated God’s forgiveness. The forgiven heart longs to forgive others. The forgiven heart relinquishes its right to punish others. The forgiven heart will no longer hold that person responsible for what they did. Jesus said, “…when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25) “Jesus, I forgive those who have hurt me. I release them from all responsibility. Even now I fully receive your forgiveness for me.”
As a Man Thinks
Proverbs says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) This verse speaks to each of us as the gatekeepers of our thoughts. I may not be able to stop a bird from flying over my head, but I can keep it from making a nest in my hair. The New Testament adds, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians10:4-5, NIV) The thoughts I allow to permeate my mind shape my true inner person. Therefore, I must wash my thoughts with God’s Word and put on the mind of Christ, for who I am in private is who I am.
The Best Season of Your Life
How do you know you are trusting God? When the best season of your life is the one you’re presently in. Not because of circumstances, but because of your perspective. Every meal God serves us should be a Thanksgiving Dinner. Every irritation is an invitation to go to the next level. It’s God’s perfect invitation to go deeper into trusting Him. Irritations are divine opportunities, not stumbling blocks or roadblocks. If we obsess over the pain and displeasure inherently associated with the struggles of life, we will miss the entire point. The real enemy is never the things happening around us, it is our poor response. By the grace of God, we each have a complete capacity to respond well. There are no setbacks in God, only veiled doorways to our destiny.