April 17

April 17 marks the anniversary of when I gave my life to Christ. I was sitting towards the back of a Saturday night service at Northpoint Church, by myself. The pastor used the beatitudes to talk about the nature of Christ and I was astounded by the MAGNIFICENCE of Jesus.

At the end of the service, the pastor had us close our eyes and raise our hands if we wanted to commit our lives to Christ. He addressed each person individually (“Thank you–I see that hand.”) I remember deciding to raise my hand and open my heart and life to Jesus.

I have spent most of my life believing Jesus could never want me and that I was an embarrassment to God. That night the beatitudes showed me differently: Jesus’ heart is SO good, and His heart is for us, not against us (see John 3:17). If your guilt or shame or general disappointment in yourself holds you back from opening your heart to God, do what I did and surrender your burden to His waiting hands. He really will carry it for you and cast it down at the foot of the cross. And in exchange, He will give you the beauty of His love in a way you will never have imagined possible.

These past years since my commitment, God has taken me on such a journey as I never imagined. I have had the greatest joys and some deep sorrows, too. But the most unimaginably, incredibly beautiful part has been learning more and more about the character of Christ.

He is SO beautiful . .

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Published in: on April 19, 2014 at 6:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Individual, yet not irreplaceable

What names come to your mind when you think of Christians who have changed the world through their lives?

In the Bible, Paul, Peter, John, James, Stephen, Timothy, Silas, Titus, Barnabas, Jude and James the half-brothers of Christ, Lydia, Dorcas, etc.

From history, Aquinas, Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Amy Carmichael, C.S. Lewis, Lottie Moon, George Mueller, Dwight L. Moody, Mother Teresa, Ignatius, Irenaeus, William Tyndale, George Whitfield, Origen, Polycarp, Eusebius, Francis Schaeffer, etc.

From today, Rebecca St. James, Ken Ham, Ravi Zacharias, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Charles Stanley, Billy Graham, George Washington Carver, Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Franklin Graham, Alex Kendrick, Tony Dungy, Alan Keyes, Dr. Ben Carson, etc.

But all of them would tell you, that it has not been they who have changed the world through their lives, but Christ in them.  Each one of them are individuals of priceless worth.  But none of them is irreplaceable in their work.

If Martin Luther had not obeyed God to stand up against the corrupt church of his day . . would the Reformation have never happened?  Of course not.  Martin Luther became God’s reformer because he obeyed God, not because he was the only one who could do the job.

If Eric Liddell had not gone to China, would no one have?  Certainly not.  Eric Liddell became God’s missionary because he obeyed God, not because he was the only one who could do the job.

You and I are priceless individuals to God.  He gave His Son to redeem each one of us who would come to Him for forgiveness and salvation.

But you and I are not irreplaceable to God’s work.  Saul lost his kingship because of his irreverence for God; David replaced him.  In fact, if you read 1 and 2 Kings & 1 and 2 Chronicles, you will find a history of God replacing kings who would not use their authority to draw the world to God.

Judas was one of Christ’s twelve closest disciples.  But when he betrayed Jesus, he was replaced by Matthias.

God wants each of us in His Kingdom.  He wants each of us to do His will.

But if we refuse to obey Him, He will find someone else.

As believers, we know the name of George Mueller because he followed God.  But do you know whose names we don’t know?  The names of the others who were called to help the orphans of England and didn’t.

People who don’t obey God might be famous in this life for some reason or other, but they will never be known in God’s Kingdom.  Their achievements won’t be remembered, and their names probably won’t even be recognized.  Everything they ever thought they did well will fade into the meaninglessness that death without God brings.  Only God is good, and without Him, all else is evil and empty.

But I don’t want to focus on those who don’t believe in Jesus here.  Instead, I want to focus on the tragedy of what happens when we who believe in Jesus do not follow His will for our lives.

Our lives are wasted.  And what we could have done for Him is done by another.  We will be like Paul describes,

If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15, ESV)

Do you want to enter Heaven like somebody escaping from a fire?  Do you want to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (see Matthew 25:23) to the person behind you and in front of you, but not to you?

Do you want to meet the person in Heaven who did the work that you were supposed to do?  Do you want to come to the table of God with ash on your face and smelting clothes?

I don’t.  God has done so much for me.  I know I have failed Him more times than I can count, and I know that other believers have had to step up to do my job so many times.  But by God’s grace, I want that to happen less and less in my life!  I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be useful for God like Onesimus was (see Philemon 1:11).

God deserves more than a few spare minutes here and there.  He deserves more than all my time except for a few spare minutes.  God deserves all my time, period.  God deserves all my heart, all my mind, all my strength, all my soul, period.  (See Mark 12:30.)  God deserves all my love, all my work, all my devotion, all my sweat, all my tears.  Always.

All of us are priceless individuals before God.  But only Jesus is irreplaceable.

We learn from Scripture that our worship could be replaced by rocks (Luke 19:40).  Any other person on earth could do your job for God if God gets ahold of his or her heart.  It’s humbling, but it’s also amazing.

Do you realize that this means that, though we could be substituted for rocks, though anyone else could serve God as we can, God still wants us–you, me, not just humanity universally, but you and me personally?

We don’t have to make it in the history books, or on TV, or in the bookstores, or on the internet.  None of that will be worth a potato chip in Heaven if it wasn’t done for Jesus.  But all believers everywhere–me, you, all of us–should be straining to hear from God a job that we might do for Him.  We should be like a runner at the starting line, all our will set on racing for Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 9:24).

Then the work of God within us will be in God’s history book, too.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT)