Good morning. It’s Wednesday, March 21, 2012. Just had my first sip of coffee. I’m alive and awake!
Today is the next to last weigh in for the “Biggest Loser” challenge. If the pattern holds true between what I weigh at home and what I will weigh on the scale at work, I will have lost 10.989% since this competition began. I will have to wait until Friday to see what the other two in front of me did. I’ve lost six more pounds since last Wednesday, and am over 11% at home since January 15.
I had a great workout last night, and Stephanie had a good session with her trainer, who praised her for her progress. That’s the best thing in the world for her! And we continue to be very proud of Stephanie and what she has accomplished in the last two months.
Father, I pray that you show me something today that will inspire/convict me to live facing Jesus Christ today.
My Utmost For His Highest
I have been crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20
Paul doesn’t say “I have determined to imitate Jesus Christ,” or “I will endeavor to follow Him.” Paul, in effect, says, “I have been identified with Him in His death.” The great need for us, spiritually, is to “sign the death warrant of the disposition of sin.” I must give up “my claim to my right to myself.” Chambers says that when we come to this decision, what was done by Christ for us on the cross is done in us. However, when we give up that claim to our rights to ourselves, individuality remains (we are not a bunch of Christian robots who all act exactly the same). The “ruling disposition” is radically altered, though.
The result being that “the life I now live in the flesh,” right now, not the life I’m hoping for or praying for, but right now…this life which men can observe, “I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). I do not live by Paul’s faith in Christ, or anyone else’s. I live by the faith that Jesus Christ has imparted to me. It’s not even really my faith. At this point, however, Chambers’s writing depends on the translation rendered by the KJV, which says, “I live by the faith of the Son of God,” as if to say that the faith that I am depending on is the same faith that Jesus Christ had. This is not born out, however, by other translations, which simply say “I live by faith in the Son of God.” This may or may not be a significant difference. Personally, I think it’s just a case of semantics. I live by faith. I live by faith in the Son of God. (Well…sometimes I do.) This faith is a gift from God, and is not my own. It was never my faith. So in that respect, it could be said that I “live by the faith of the Son of God.”
The main point of today’s reading, however, was not the character or origin of the faith. It is the identification with Christ’s death. Am I looking at Christ as simply an inspiration to follow, or have I identified with his death? Am I crucified with him?
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matthew 10:29
When we make confessions using written confessions, such as The Apostles’ Creed, we are saying more than the mere words say. For example, when we confess God as our Father, “we are not saying merely that we have been counted as His children, although that is true. We are also saying that the Father loves us far deeper than any earthly father could and longs to bless us with every good gift (Matt. 7:7-11; James 1:16-18).” So when we say that he created heaven and earth, it means more than just saying that he “created everything out of nothing.” It also means that, since he created the universe, said universe depends on God for its very ongoing existence. And, as indicated in question 27 of the Heidelberg Catechism, we also mean that “all creation remains under His control.”
This control reaches farther than we typically think, even into realms that we might think insignificant. Jesus teaches this point in the verse quoted above. The application for us is this: “If God is concerned with even the insignificant sparrow, how much more is He concerned with us, His image-bearers?”
We’ve heard the phrase “God is in the details.” What does this mean? Our Creator “reigns fully over every detail.” The fact is, “nothing ever occurs outside of God’s decree and providential rule.” Now…does this mean that we can just go out and act without any thought? Nay! I believe (along with the writers of Tabletalk) that it means we should take even that much more care about how we act and the things that we do! We need not be “paranoid and legalistic” and attempt to make sure every waking moment is filled with “kingdom work.” But we should be careful that we don’t waste the time that the Lord has granted us.
And here is where this hits home. I’ve been thinking lately about how much time I waste playing silly Facebook games. Now, granted, most of the time when I’m playing them, we are also sitting on the couch, watching TV. But there is still something more useful that I could be doing than mindless farming, castle-building, or even Bejeweled Blitzing. Does this mean I quit these things altogether? I don’t know…and perhaps this is God’s answer to my prayer earlier. Perhaps this is the inspiration/conviction I needed today. How much time am I wasting?
The Bible Panorama
Luke 1:21–38; Josh. 7–9
After telling us about the pregnancy of Elizabeth with who will be John the Baptist, Luke then describes the angel visitation to Mary, to announce the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus. Luke is very clear that Mary was a virgin, and this is a most important point of the birth of Jesus. After the angel’s description, Mary has a simple question…how is this going to happen? The angel answers in verse 35. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God.” After she is told about her cousin Elizabeth, Mary simply answers, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Now, there is some serious faith!!
In Joshua 7, Israel, high on their miraculous victory over Jericho, turns to the little town of Ai. (For the record, I pronounce this “Ah-ee,” NOT “Ay-eye.” I cringe every time I hear a preacher pronounce it that way.) But Israel is, embarrassingly, routed by this tiny town. When Joshua falls on his face before the Lord, he is told, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned…” It is eventually discovered that Achan, when going through Jericho, had some seen some stuff and said, “Ooh! Shiny!” and kept it for himself. The problem is, all the stuff in Jericho was supposed to have been destroyed. The stuff is gathered from Achan’s tent, and Achan, his family, and everything he owned was taken out and stoned to death and burned. The thing is…this whole embarrassing event could have been avoided if Joshua had bothered to consult with the Lord BEFORE heading down to attack this little town of Ai.
Chapter 8 records the eventual fall of Ai, as Israel does it right this time. In fact, the Lord instructs Joshua in the classic ploy of ambushing the town by dividing the army, attacking, pretending to run away, and then sending the rest of the army in to burn the town. At the end of the chapter, the covenant is renewed as Joshua writes a new copy of the “law of Moses.”
In chapter 9, some local people, seeing all of this conquering that is going on, dress in rags, worn out shoes, and carry crusty old bread, and pretend to be from a far off country. With this deception, they con Joshua and Israel into making a peace pact with them. Once again, the mistake was that they did not consult the Lord before making this agreement. Once made, however, they could not back out of the agreement, so these people were made into slaves for Israel, which, frankly, they didn’t mind. I guess they figured it’s better to be a slave of a conquering nation than to be killed by them.
Father, I pray, this morning, for a spirit of identification, not just imitation. I don’t want to just “be more like Jesus.” I pray that, by your Spirit, I might identify with the death of Christ and consider myself “crucified with Christ.” Give me full understanding of what this means. May I be able to live my life as one crucified in Christ. May I be able to completely and utterly give up my claim to any right to myself. This is difficult for me, Lord, as I would think it would be for anyone. But I believe it is what you want. I will honestly say, at this point, that I don’t know how to fully accomplish this, and I believe it can only be done through the power of your Spirit. I don’t want to be seen as “uber-spiritual.” I don’t want to be one who becomes “so heavenly-minded that he’s no earthly good.” But I desire to be fully yours and none of my own. You must increase and I must decrease. Your desires must be the desires of my heart. I pray for delight. Let me delight in you and only you. And let this be worked out so that I can live my life fully by faith in Jesus Christ.
Convict me further, Lord. Show me where I need to step back from certain time-wasting activities. Show me things that I need to be doing in order to accomplish your will for my life. I pray for your guidance, inspiration, and conviction. I believe that nothing occurs outside of your providence and control. I believe that you fully control the details of this universe, even down to the activities of sparrows. I pray that my spirit will be in agreement with your Spirit in all things.
I continue to pray for our niece, Jennifer. She is having a rough time right now, and I pray for some peace in her life, and that you would provide some means for her to get on with things. I pray that she might be able to finish her schooling and get the job that she is seeking. She has had a difficult time getting her life going, Lord, and I pray for some relief for her. Give her confidence and show her your magnificent, overflowing grace!
I pray fort his day. Christi has a sudden opportunity this afternoon. I pray that things will work out for the best for us through this. Of course, whatever your will is, that is the best for us. I just pray for your will in all of this. Not our will, but yours, be done. I pray that this day at work will be better for me and my company. I lift up the place I work, that you would make our efforts successful today, and that we would be able to accomplish our goals with no issues or problems. Prosper the company I work for, that I might prosper along with it. I also pray for the final week of this weight-loss contest I’m in. I pray that I might win it, not simply for the money involved, but so that my health will be positively affected.
I pray that Stephanie will have a good day with her teacher today, and that she will get more work accomplished. We are praying for her success at graduating this June.
God is in the details. He reigns, he rules, he controls everything. May we live accordingly today!
Grace and peace, friends.