Aslan’s Meditations: (11/11) Neither Barren nor Unfruitful

It’s hard to believe we are concluding our series in 2 Peter 1:5-8, yet here we are in part 11 – the last part of our series.

I want to say thank you so much for taking this journey with me, and for all your encouraging notes along the way. It was truly a blessing to write this and I hope you learned as much from reading it as I did writing it.

We’re going to take a break for a week or two, and then AslansLily is going to take us into a new series looking at Jesus as the great I AM – so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your feedback on this series and Aslan’s Meditations in general, so you can submit any feedback you have HERE.

And without further ado, here is the last installment of our series!

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence: add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To wrap up, let’s take a quick overview of what we’ve covered in this series.

imageIn Part 1, we began by saying that all these virtues are not a list of things for us to do, rather they are an outpouring of our love and a response to God’s amazing gift of salvation and grace.

That by God’s divine power He has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness – through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises!

In Part 2, we looked at how faith is our solid foundation – that if we do not have faith, it’s impossible to please God. Without faith in the One who has created us and sustains us, if we have all these other virtues, they mean nothing because there is no grounds for them. It’s easy to fight when things are all unicorns and rainbows and mountaintops, but faith is what keeps you strong when you can’t see – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)

Moving into part 3, we took a step back at an important word in this passage: diligence. We saw how it contrasted with perseverance, and that Paul didn’t say this was going to be an easy journey. It’s going to take careful, persistent, daily surrender to Christ – not just something we do half-heartedly or do out of present emotion at church. It’s something we have to continually keep pushing ourselves to do – because in the end the reward will be wonderful.

imageNext, in part 4, we looked at the very broad, yet penetrating value of “virtue”, where we saw the kinds of things that can get in our way of all of these things. Faith is our foundation, but where do we go from there? Often we don’t realize the things that hinder us from God because they are a mask that we’re wearing, distorting everything and preventing us from learning and growing. It put into perspective living because of God, not trying to do good things for Him – but again, living my life as a response to His grace.

In part 5, we built on the previous lesson about having the right mask over our face by talking about what we should know in the word “knowledge.” We are ambassadors for Christ, and we have the joyous, beautiful, amazing privilege of representing God to the world. We can know all the answers, know all the verses, be able to answer every question, but unless we personally know Christ, everything is worthless. This goes back again to not living for Christ but living because of Him.

imageWhen we reached part 6, we talked about self-control and how we need to be careful what we do with the knowledge that we have – that we don’t abuse it or try to use it for our own benefit or glory. We also saw how self-control – through Christ’s strength – can help us to overcome temptations because we have a greater goal in mind.

In part 7, we looked at perseverance and endurance. We saw how they were similar, and how they were different, but most of all how after all those virtues – we’re probably getting a little tired! And perseverance is what we need to press on. Sometimes it means just forsaking all and running. Sometimes it means ignoring the pain. Other times it means stopping, thinking, and praying. Other times it means letting God clean our hearts – often a painful process. But we know that we can press on because our God is fighting for us. We also saw how just enduring for the sake of enduring was not what we needed to do – but to press on.

imageIn part 8, we talked about how being godly wasn’t just not being ungodly, but rather taking meaningful steps to do what is right. It’s not just making sure we don’t do bad things, but making sure were doing the right things. So often we think we’re okay because we don’t smoke, do drugs, or drink – but we don’t realize that doing all those things is just as bad as not doing what God wants us to do.

imageA few weeks ago in part 9, we looked at brotherly kindness, and what it means to love others with a love that’s not just specific to certain types of people – but with a family-like love that loves others despite their faults: the way Jesus loved.

imageLast week in part 10, we saw how at the end of it all – we need love. Because without it we are nothing. I was really challenged by a message I heard the other day that – we should not be praying for Jesus to teach us to love; rather we need to pray that the very person of Jesus would come into us and our lives would be an outpouring of His love. We can’t love on our own, because we are fallen human beings. But through Christ’s love, as we so beautifully saw this past week during Easter, surpasses all, and through Him we can love others.

And today, here we are at the end of the series. Let’s look at the last verse of this passage:

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren, nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh! To think! To be neither barren, nor unfruitful. So often I feel as if my life is empty, like I’m not doing anything for God – but God has placed me on this earth for a specific and special purpose.

It sounds super cliche to say that God has a purpose for your life.

But think about the power of that again. God has a purpose for your life.

It’s not just arbitrary. You’re not living this life for no reason or no aim – God has something very specific for you. But until we’re willing to seek Him fully, to give of ourselves to Him, all the things we cling to – our fruit will be worthless.

I have absolutely nothing – I mean nothing – of value or worth to do, make, say, or proclaim outside of what Christ has done for me. I am no one, but through Christ I am someone precious that He loves.

By myself,  I will be barren and unfruitful. My life will be nothing. It is only through Christ, in Christ, and because of Christ that I can further His kingdom – for His glory, and His alone.

Think about all the times the kids in Narnia tried to do things on their own. The times they tried to further themselves, their looks, their status, their own plans. What happened? They couldn’t see what Aslan had in store for them, but when they failed to trust in his plan, things went wrong. Yet in surrendering their own desires to the knowledge that Aslan had something better in store, they were able to do so much more.

image1 Timothy 1:17 – Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Fonte: http://www.aslanscountry.com/2011/04/aslans-meditations-neither-barren-nor-unfruitful/

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Aslan’s Meditations: (10/11) Loooooove

I hope you haven’t forgotten about our series in 2 Peter 1:5-8! We’ve had a nice little break while I’ve been out of town, and I’m most pleased to be back again for part 10!

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We’re beginning to wrap up the series now – in our second to last installment on LOVE.image

Uh-oh, you say. LOVE. That’s a touchy one, isn’t it?

The word love is thrown around so much in our culture. We love certain types of food, clothing, music, games, movies. We love people, places, things, ideas. Sometimes we don’t, but we say it anyway. It’s passionate, deep, and driving.

“All you need is love.”

I personally really hate that statement, because I don’t think it’s entirely true. But I can understand where people are coming from, so we’ll get started.

While I can’t claim to know everything about love, I’d like to look specifically at love as we see it in 1 Corinthians 13. Especially as Easter draws near, we can look at love as it is modeled perfectly in the life of Jesus and His sacrifice.

imageI often think I have to model Christianity. I mean, hey – look at all those Christians who look good, sound smart, AND follow Christ. Can’t I do that, too? But I found that that started to suddenly shift my focus. I started to worry a lot more about how I looked to other people, what I sounded like, and what people were going to think of me – instead of placing my focus on Christ.

1 Corinthians 13 starts out to say – though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

I can sound good, but if I don’t have love for Christ and for others, the words I speak are really just clangs and clashes.

And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains – but have not love, I am nothing.

I could know everything – earlier in the series we talked about knowledge. How it’s important to know what we believe. But have you ever wondered what it was like to know everything? What if I understood every mystery, every question, every problem there was to know? This verse says if I didn’t have love, I’d be nothing. Imagine! To know everything in the world, to be the epitome of knowledge – yet be regarded as nothing without love.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Sacrificial giving is one of the most benevolent things a person can do. Giving of yourself, your talents, and your abilities to serve others is not something to be taken lightly – but we could sacrifice our whole lives to others – and if it’s not for love, it was all in vain.

So clearly my endeavors to be a Christian and look good too – don’t quite work. I can’t have my cake and eat it too. At least – not when my goal is to look good. We’ve got to start with the basics.

Then – what is love? We’ll keep on going in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love suffers long, and is kind. Love does not envy, love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Woah, that’s a load of truth right there. Have you ever stuck your name in there in place of the word love?

Hannah suffers long, and is kind. Hannah does not envy, Hannah does not boast.

Kinda puts it in a different perspective, doesn’t it? Do I really do all those things?

“Suffers long.” The usual word to replace that one in other translations is “patient” but in reality that’s just what it means – suffering for a long time. Love is willing to bear the pain and the agony, knowing there’s something greater at work.

“Does not seek its own.” That in and of itself is a load right there. To never seek my own – but to only seek Christ. To never try to parade myself as looking good, but only to parade Christ. To proclaim Christ.

“Thinks no evil.” Oh, how often have sinful thoughts crossed my mind! We are called to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor 10:5) Can you imagine if our every thought and action was captive to the obedience of Christ? How wonderful that would be?

Now go back and look at this passage – we’re so incapable, aren’t we? I can’t even begin to count the times I have done exactly the opposite of what these words tell us. But now, read it again, and think about Christ, and what He’s done.

Love suffers long, and is kind. Love does not envy, love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

imageJesus – the King of the universe, the one who deserves glory, fame, honor, respect, and exaltation! He did not parade Himself, He didn’t seek His own. He was the perfect picture of love – and because He loves perfectly and purely, He gave His life for we who could never love.

We are impatient. Unkind. We want others to think well of us, we want to look good. We want to *feel* satisfaction, we want to see. Our sinful natures delight in temporal satisfaction. Things we can see and touch immediately.

imageHave you ever thought of the craziness of Christ’s love? What about the fact that GOD DIED. Okay, so maybe I’m being dramatic here, but really – that the Lord of all the universe came down to die.

Not only that, but He died for the ones who were completely incapable of anything.

Because He loved us.

Oh, how sweet and powerful that truth is!

Its so cliché sometimes – I mean, you’ve heard it repeated probably more than 10 million times in Sunday school, right? We so often take it for granted.

But the God who loved perfectly loves us who cannot even fathom love.

And our response? We are called to give our lives – what more can we give but that? Jesus says whoever loses his life for His sake will find it.

Love is sacrificial – and it’s a choice. It’s not always a feeling, and it’s not always something we can see the direct results of.

But we love – because He first loved us. We can love others even when they’re scumbags. Even when they don’t love us back – because we know that the God of the Universe and the Lord over all loves US.

It’s hard to love people who don’t love back. To suffer through pain and give up ourselves. But what loss is that for the gain of being satisfied by Christ? He can’t satisfy us till we understand that we cannot satisfy ourselves.

So much that we do is in response to something that has happened. We eat because we’re hungry, we drive because we have to go somewhere. We work because we need to earn money, and we sleep because we need it.

We love others because Christ loved us.

imageIn response. How many of us would get married and live as if we were single? Or have kids and live as if we didn’t? Or win a million dollars and not do anything with it?

The fact is – Jesus sacrifice is far more beautiful, exciting, and wonderful than anything that could ever happen to us on this earth. Our love is a response to that – the way we live because of God.

imageWe see love in Narnia – clearly in Aslan. Edmund betrayed the ones he

loved – and Aslan died to save him. But what you see is a change in Edmund – how He lives in response. You also see it in Eustace – his life was drastically changed. Aslan may have had to rip and tear at him, but he did it out of love because he knew that was the only way to change him.

It reminds me of the song by tenth avenue north called “any other way.”

It’s not enough – it’s not enough, just to say that you’re okay.
I need your hurt, I need your pain – it’s not love any other way.

Love isn’t love unless there’s some sacrifice to it. The kind of pain and suffering Jesus went through was necessary for us to be redeemed. And sometimes He has to hurt us in order to teach us – but He does it because He loves us and He’s got a perfect plan and story all in place.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly – but then we shall see face to face.

We can’t always see what God is doing, or perhaps why exactly we should love someone – but we know that one day Christ will wipe away our every tear and we will see Him face to face.

So is all you need love? If you’re looking at 1 Corinthians from a strictly technical point of view, yes. But as Christians we know it’s not love we need -  it’s Christ. It’s not enough just to say we  need to “just love” – but rather that we need to give ourselves for the only one who can satisfy us – Christ.

My challenge to you this week, especially as we move closer to Easter, is to look at your life and your actions. Do they reflect Christ, and are they proclaiming Him? You don’t necessarily have to speak the Gospel in order to proclaim the Gospel. Love is an action – it’s your willed choice to press on because you know that your eternal home is secure.

Aslan’s Meditations: (9/11) Brothers. Gotta love ‘em.

Welcome to part 9 in our series from 2 Peter 1:5-8! It’s hard to believe we are already nearing the end.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today we’ll be looking at brotherly kindness. First off, what is it?

We’ll take a little detour and look at the type of words these are.

Brotherly is an adjective – a word to express an attribute or describe something.

Kindness is a noun – so brotherly is the adjective modifying that noun.

Bored yet? Don’t worry, I’m done with the grammar lesson.

The reason I wanted to do that was because *my* initial reactions to “brotherly kindness” were things like “being kind to your brothers” and things like that. But because “brotherly” actually modifies “kindness,” the kindness we are to have is not necessarily to our brothers but the same kind as to our brothers.

imageBefore I go any further, I should probably clarify that “brothers” doesn’t just mean boys. It applies to sisters as well. :)

Now obviously if you argue with your brothers and don’t get along this isn’t a good kind of kindness to show to people.

But we (hopefully) also love our siblings. I know that I would die any day for my two brothers – I love them and I would do anything for them.

So wait, we’re supposed to love our friends and family like we love our brothers?

Well, sort of.

When we say “brotherly” it has a deeper sense to it – as opposed to “friendly,” “nicely,” or another related word.

Brothers and sisters are very different from friends. You know them in a way you don’t know your friends because you’ve grown up with them.

imageThe word brotherly says “I know so much about you. I know you when you’re feeling great and I know you when you’re in pain. I know you when you’re in a nasty mood and I know you when you’re not. I know when you’ve hurt people and when you’ve loved. And I still love you.”

1 Timothy 5 says that we are to treat men and women as brothers and sisters – with all purity.

The purpose of brotherly kindness is not just an exhortation to treat others nicely – but to treat them with purity and love.

Maybe you’re single – or maybe you’re married. If you’re single, we are asked to treat everyone as brothers and sisters. If you’re married, you treat everyone as brothers and sisters too – except your spouse.

The next logical question is…why? Why do we need to treat others with purity – as brothers and sisters?

The answer is so we can be sanctified for Christ’s purpose. God wants us to love others sincerely. We have so many friends, acquaintances, and with facebook – not-so-acquaintances. :P But God wants us to have deeper, sincere relationships – to encourage others and point them to Christ.

2 weeks ago, we talked about godliness, and how it wasn’t just not being ungodly, but seeking Christ. And when we seek Christ, we find that seeking Him leads us to love others. We can’t seek Christ without doing what He commands us to do, and He wants us to love our family and friends – sincerely.

imageThere are a lot of siblings in the Chronicles of Narnia. There’s the Pevensie children and Eustace, Shasta/Cor and Corin, and even though they’re not related, Shasta and Aravis; Polly and Digory; Jill and Eustace.

The Pevensies clearly have an unbreakable bond – and how does that translate to how they treat others? While I found this aspect of it ruined in the movies, it’s much more prominent in the books.

In the movies, Peter and Susan (in my opinion) don’t treat others with that same kind of brotherly kindness. Peter and Caspian fight, Susan and Caspian flirt. We could go into long discussions about whether it fit in the movie or not, but my purpose in bringing it up is not to bash the movie but to show that in the book, their characters didn’t act that way. Peter and Caspian got along quite well, and treated each other like brothers rather than rivals.

imageEdmund learns to love his siblings throughout the course of LWW. Even though he’ not really the huggy-type of person, you see a deep sense of love and care for his siblings as his character progresses – that translates to how he treats others.

Eustace obviously has no brotherly kindness to either his cousins nor those around him. But you see that as he grows, he grows to love his cousins, and it translates to those around him.

We see this in Jill & Eustace and Shasta & Aravis. While they’re not related, they love each other with a kind of unbreakable bond that – while they annoy each other and know each other’s quirks – they both have a mission; a goal they’re trying to reach for that unites them.

imageWhenever we are concerned about our own desires: Edmund’s self-fulfilling desires in LWW, Peter’s desire to be king and Susan’s desire for a steadier, self-fulfilling life in PC, Eustace’s beliefs and refusals, Lucy’s desire for beauty, and Edmund’s desire to be king in VDT, and Jill and Eustace’s desire to be warm and fed in SC. These are all conflicts within the characters that distract from the goal.

When we are focused on a person – whether ourselves or someone else – instead of the goal of knowing Christ – it breaks down these relationships.

imageEdmund and Caspian became much better friends when Edmund realized that he could not be king. Jill and Eustace became closer when they kept their focus on finding Prince Rilian. When they focused on Harfang, they were cranky, upset at each other, and forgot the whole point of what they were there to do.

It’s hard to choose to accept others and love them when they’re getting on our nerves. But when we’re willing to place Christ’s desires over ours, we’ll find that the fulfillment and satisfaction is far beyond words.

We have to place Christ as our priority, and then place loving others above ourselves.

imagePhilippians says Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but with lowliness of mind let each esteem others as better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.

 

 

 

Fonte: http://www.aslanscountry.com/2011/03/aslans-meditations-brothers-gotta-love-em/

Aslan’s Meditations: (8/11) Not Just Ungodly

Godliness. That’s a toughie, isn’t it? It’s broad, up in the air, and, like, way too hard to achieve.

That’s what’s next up in line in our series from 2 Peter 1:5-8.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To be honest, while I was thinking about writing about godliness this week, I didn’t really know what it meant. It was…well…broad, up in the air, and, like, way too hard to achieve.

Some synonyms for “godly” (courtesy of my computer’s automatic thesaurus) are ‘religious,’ ‘devout,’ ‘holy,’ ‘pious,’ and ‘saintly.’

Boy if that doesn’t scream out “We live by works!” I don’t know what does. I certainly don’t think that’s what Paul is getting at here.

Let’s get a little broader picture by looking at the word ungodly. My thesaurus says ‘blasphemous,’ ‘profane,’ ‘disrespectful,’ ‘sinful,’ and ‘wicked.’

Okay, so that makes me feel a bit better. I mean, I don’t use profanity, disrespect God, or any of that stuff.

It kind of gives one the holier-than-thou sort of mentality. As Christians, we’re often so consumed with the idea of being a Christian and acting like a Christian that we forget the reason we are a Christian. Godliness isn’t being holy, pious, self-righteous and religious. It’s not about not being ungodly, either.

Let’s take a look at Webster’s New World dictionary, which simply says: devoted to God.

And from the back of my Bible it says: devotion to God; living according to God’s standards.

Read Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.

So often we stop right there, feeling pretty good about ourselves. It’s easy not to be ungodly; to be a good person, love as much as you can, try to be happy, not do drugs, stay pure till marriage….all of that bad stuff. I’m a pretty good Christian, right?

Keep reading.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

THAT’s godliness, right there.

Delight in God. Do we really delight in our Lord? It’s easy to fall into the mundane I’m-a-Christian sort of walk. But we are supposed to delight in God. Do I delight in my Heavenly Father the same way I delight in the things of this world? The people around me?

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who are easily amused. I like things that flick, that sparkle, that bounce, that pop. :P Little things can make my day.

Does God make my day like that? That’s what delighting in Him is. Just living with that sheer joy of knowing that God is greater, bigger, stronger, and He’s your friend.

I want to go back to that definition mentioned earlier: living according to God’s standards.

This isn’t so hard to comprehend, really. We tend to go – yet again – into the mindset of just doing good. I mean, God’s standards are, like, doing good things, helping people, doing what’s right, not sinning…all that stuff. Right?

But it’s not just living according to God’s standards. It’s not living according to my standards.

Oswald Chambers writes,

To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things.

Remember when we talked about masks – the idols that blur our vision from what Christ wants us to see? Godliness isn’t just about not being ungodly – it’s forsaking our own idea of godliness for God’s idea of godliness. Living according to God’s standards means that my standards must become His.

So…why is godliness after perseverance? Why isn’t it sooner on the list?

Go back to that word devotion. Synonyms for that word are attachment, loyalty, dedication, attentiveness, commitment.

Early in the beginning of our Christian walk, when we’re doing all this diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge thing – that’s our initial commitment. We commit our lives to Christ, but then, suddenly, it’s not all the unicorns and rainbows we might have thought it was going to be. Life is rough, and God wants us to be purified for His glory. So He puts us through a lot of painful, tough things – teaching us to persevere. But through the perseverance, what holds true?

Our devotion to Christ. Our loyalty, our commitment.

Another one of those awesome synonyms for devotion is religious zeal.

Now that’s got a ring to it that we didn’t hear before. Zeal. Enthusiasm. Passion. Craze.

Delight.

See, we often think that just being good is enough. That just doing what’s right and not doing what’s wrong is enough to please God.

No.

God wants us running, full speed, unhindered, into His arms. Not just trotting along, but running. Full on. Not just forsaking all we have, but giving all that we have.

This is what it means to be godly.

imageLuke 14:28-30, 33-35 – For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘this man began to build and was not able to finish.’…so likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out.

That sure is a mouthful. Let’s take this verse apart.

Verses 28-29:

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?

When we start projects, we look at the material we’re going to need, and plan out how much time it will take and how we will use the materials. When going on a trip, we list out what we need to bring, how long it will take, and how we are going to get there.

Jesus says that we need to look at the cost of following Him. He doesn’t want to scare people from being a Christian, but He wants you to know that it requires you to give up all you have – so that He can satisfy you completely.

Verse 30: lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘this man began to build and was not able to finish.’

Are we lukewarm Christians? We’ve built for ourselves a generation of Christians who are only halfheartedly following Christ. They don’t really care about what they believe and the implications it has on our lives. And what is the result? How does the world see us?

Do you know what the one word is that most non-Christians use to describe Christians?

Hypocrites.

Hypocrites!

Is that a life of godliness, of devotion to God? Have we really counted the cost of following Christ and gone through with it?

Verse 33: so likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep – to gain what he cannot lose. (Jim Elliot)

Like I mentioned above, being godly isn’t just about not being ungodly. It’s about taking specific steps in devotion and love for Christ.

Verse 34: Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?

Godliness is good. Being godly is a great thing. But when we become so self-righteous and self-centered just because we’re not ungodly, Jesus says later in that verse that it is not fit for the dunghill.

Eww.

Jesus talks later in the Gospels that if we are lukewarm He will spit you out of His mouth.

Are we being lukewarm Christians? Not ungodly…but not really very godly either?

imageThe most  godly character that first comes to mind from the Narnia series is Reepicheep. Have you ever admired the devotion of that little guy? Not only has he given up his world, the pleasures of the world, and the safety of a nice little mouse hole, but he lives his life specifically using his talents and abilities to know and serve Aslan. His heart’s desire is what? To go to Aslan’s Country. To be with Aslan Himself.

But to reach that place, what does He do? He orders every aspect of His life to Aslan’s standards. Devotion. Godliness.

We worship the God who created the universe. The same God who parted the Red Sea, who provided for Elijah, who healed the blind and who raised Jesus from the dead – He is the one we strive after; and the one who gives us strength.

My challenge to you this week is to be flavored salt. Not just decent salt, but flavored salt. Never be satisfied with just not being ungodly, but strive for godliness – with all perseverance.

Fonte: http://www.aslanscountry.com/2011/03/aslans-meditations-not-just-ungodly/

Aslan’s Meditations: (7/11) Run With Endurance

A few weeks ago, I talked about diligence – and I contrasted it with perseverance. We saw how diligence was forming a lifestyle: taking small, daily, seemingly insignificant steps that make us who we are. Perseverance, on the other hand, was something different, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today in Part 7 of our series: Building on the Rock; from 2 Peter 1:5-8 (boy, that sounded organized and professional, didn’t it? Haha…) Previous entries are HERE.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it positively amazing how God has orchestrated so many details of my life to teach me the very things I’ve been writing about. Not only that, but the things He is teaching me are always specific to what I’m writing about that week. We serve an amazing God, do we not?

Oswald Chambers describes perseverance really well.

Perseverance is more than [just] endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. (emphasis added)

More than endurance.

Have you ever had those types of days where you just don’t really care, and it’s all you can do to hang on, to endure the rest of the mundane, grueling things of the day before the day is over?

That feeling where you just don’t want to face life anymore.

My Mondays are like that a lot. (Mondays tend to be that way for a lot of people, I’ve found… :P ) It’s all you can do to stay awake, somewhat focused, and just stay alive through the day.

But perseverance gives more than just what is needed.

I don’t need much to get through a Monday. I can make it through without focusing on my classes, without giving my energy and participation, just to make it through the day.

But that’s less than my best, and it’s less than what God has called me to do – because when I do that, I can’t interact with people, encourage others, or learn anything God is teaching me – or my teachers, for that matter!

God calls us to persevere. Give it all you’ve got, because you’re doing it for the One who will sustain, uphold, and give you strength.

Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling.

If you’re able to, I’d like you to watch this video by Francis Chan. He’s the author of the book Crazy Love (which I highly recommend) and he illustrates this point perfectly.

Video embedding is giving me a hard time, so click HERE for the video.

Do you see what he’s saying here? We hold on to that beam, we give less than our best, just to survive, just to endure it – but how can we expect God to reward less than our best?

I personally used to be a gymnast for a long time before this crazy thing called life happened and I didn’t have time anymore. I was pretty good at it, too, while it lasted. I loved it – working hard for hours to achieve a certain skill, that satisfying *smack* when you hit the floor in a solid finish, the powdery chalk all in the air, swinging multiple feet above the ground, spinning around…*smack*

But the event I almost loathed with a passion was beam. Why? Because I was afraid of it. You’d think as a gymnast I’d have learned not to be, but I hated it. The thing is like less than 4 inches wide, and it doesn’t take more than landing an inch or so off center and *smack* – except this time it’s not a very satisfying one.

At one point, I was at a gymnastics meet, and I was absolutely in terror over a certain skill I had recently been working on – and failing at – which I had to perform at the meet. I was so worried about not falling off (you lose a lot of points if you do that) that all my form, poise, and elegance went completely out the window.

But at the end, of course, I landed, smiled at the judges, and gave a nice finish. What were my rankings? Really low.

What does this have to do with perseverance?

I was holding onto the beam, like Francis Chan was illustrating. I wouldn’t give all I was capable of because I was afraid of falling. I was just enduring it, trying to make it through the routine – instead of persevering.

One of my coaches would always say “just go for it. I wouldn’t say you could do it if I didn’t know you could.”

Do we trust Christ, when He says “go for it?” Do we trust that He has equipped us with all the skills, potential, and strength necessary to accomplish what He wants?

Oswald Chambers writes, The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God.

See, unlike my gymnastics meet, where my coach, my friends, my family, and others were watching me – sometimes the only one watching us is God. There’s no one to encourage us, no one to tell us to press on. Sometimes we’re not even sure God is watching. But this…this becomes the ultimate test of our perseverance.

Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered.

In those times, when you just want to get through the day, when it seems like no one is watching you; it is then that Christ is closest to us. It is those tiny moments that make a difference in our lives. The conscious choice to keep going.

Our hero will never be conquered.

imageHave you ever meditated on the power that the God we serve is unconquerable? Sometimes I fear I see God as just a little higher than me, but almost human. It stems from the fact that so often I see God as unreachable that I neglect to remember He is personal. But He’s also the God of the universe, Creator of all, Lord of the heavens, and He is undefeatable.

Unlike me.

Because on my own, I’ll give in to the temptation, the depression, the fears. But because my God is greater, I can rest in the confidence that He will bring me through.

Never lose heart. Never back down. We serve a God who is so much greater, bigger, and stronger than anything and everything we could ever imagine.

God is always greater than my depiction of Him.

Revelation 3:10 – because you have kept my command to persevere, I will also keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Notice that it is something God commands us to do. Persevere.

I’m often really afraid of just plugging on through. Because it’s not exactly a glamorous thing, you know? People don’t really praise you for that. They only see the end result; and they don’t see you when you’re fighting it. But it’s when you’re fighting, when you’re struggling to persevere, that makes all the difference.

imageIt reminds me of Puddleglum, in the Silver Chair.  He’s not all that glamorous of a figure, and not many people know him or care about him. He’s stuck in his ways, his outlook, but there’s something about him that keeps on pressing. He’s got this unwavering faith in Aslan that even when the signs, their circumstances, the events around them make no sense at all, when his brain is being clouded with ideas the Lady of the Green Kirtle puts in their heads, he plows through. He holds on, because even though He doesn’t feel Aslan there or see Aslan there, He knows Aslan is there.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I so love the last part of this verse – Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Remember this post? About faith, our foundation? This passage gives us confidence that He will perfect us when we look to Him!

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you – for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Fonte: http://www.aslanscountry.com/2011/03/aslans-meditations-run-with-endurance/

Aslan’s Meditations: (6/11) Self-Control

Welcome to part 6 in our series from 2 Peter 1:5-8. I deeply apologize for not posting anything last week – I ended up being gone most of the weekend. Previous entries are HERE.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today we’re going to be looking at the virtue of self-control. I find it extremely fitting that it’s right after knowledge.

I just returned from a speech and debate tournament – and these tournaments are interesting things. You work for weeks and weeks, late night after late night, to prepare for them. Gaining all this knowledge. All these skills – which are all put to the test at the culmination of the tournament.

And sometimes God blesses me with successes, and sometimes He wants me to learn from my failures.

The past two tournaments I’ve been at have neither been huge successes nor huge failures for me. I’ve won a couple awards in a few things, but I also haven’t placed as high as I’d like to in other things.

But this is where I’ve found self-control coming in. Learning to control all the knowledge and things I’ve learned – not getting cocky about what I’ve won, and not getting discouraged about what I’ve lost. It takes a ridiculous amount of balance.

The interesting thing about self-control is that word self. Meaning it’s something that you have to work for.  I’ve always had my parents around me, helping me to make decisions, guiding me. But as I’m getting older, they’re letting me do more things by myself. And I have to use discretion and care when I do things myself. Because it’s myself.

The number of things we have to use self-control in are absolutely endless – and it’s different for different people. Things like speech & debate tournaments, computer/internet time, eating chocolate, eating anything that’s good, really; reading books, spending time with friends – it can be a myriad of things.

But let’s go back at that word self. It’s something that takes discipline – because you have to do it yourself.

It’s one of those…nasty sort of things you have to discipline yourself to do. Because not very many people know about it – it’s a battle you fight yourself. The choices we make in control of the things Satan tempts us to do are not things that other people typically know about. We don’t yell “look, people! I’m fighting this temptation! And I’m winning – applaud me!”

We’d like to, though, wouldn’t we? We’d like people to know that we’re victorious, that we have self-control and can triumph over things. When we fail – well, we’d rather they not know about that.

But people don’t notice either aspect. It’s something you battle inside yourself – yet, it makes such a huge, huge impact on the way you live the rest of your life.

It may seem as if nobody knows you struggle with control in certain areas. And maybe they don’t need to know. The beautiful thing is that God knows – and the same God who raised Jesus from the dead, who healed the blind man, who created the world – is on your side.

imageIt reminds me a lot of Dark Island – where everyone was tempted in various ways. Nobody could hear what the other one heard, and no one’s battle was quite the same. Yet each of them had choices – to give into what they heard or to stand in self-control against it. And nobody but themselves knew what was going on.

But Aslan was there – in spirit – and gave them strength. And in the same way Christ will give us strength when we cry out to Him.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

I also find it comforting to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with self-control. I give in. But I’m not alone. I mean – sin can be enticing sometimes; and even if it’s not blatantly sin, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. You know, the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing?

But this is where we can ask others to keep us accountable. To mentor us. It may be called self-control, but God certainly doesn’t intend for us to live our lives all by ourselves.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

It’s comforting to know that Nothing – absolutely nothing – in this life that comes our way will be more than we can bear. But the thing is – we cannot bear any of it without Christ.

My challenge to you this week is to look at the little things that keep you from Christ.

Romans 6:21 says What fruit did you have then in the things which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

imageWhen faced with a challenge – a temptation or something you struggle with – take a step back and look at it. Ask yourself “Will I be ashamed of this later? Will I regret my reaction?” Learning to have self-control is not something that happens over night. It’s tiny – sometimes seemingly unfruitful – steps made in obedience to Christ.

God doesn’t call us to do giant things that the world will praise. He calls  us to take small steps of obedience with the little things He’s given right in front of us – to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Fonte: http://www.aslanscountry.com/2011/03/aslans-meditations-self-control/

Aslan’s Meditations (5/11): Conhecer a Cristo

Autora: Hannah Dokupil

Bem vindos a parte 5 da nossa série Construindo Sobre a Rocha, baseada em 2 Pedro 1:5-8.

Para ver os artigos anteriores, clique aqui.

 

Por isso mesmo façam todo o [esforço] possível para juntar a bondade à que vocês têm. À bondade [virtude] juntem o conhecimento e ao conhecimento, o domínio próprio. Ao domínio próprio juntem a perseverança e à perseverança, a devoção a Deus. A essa devoção juntem a amizade cristã e à amizade cristã juntem o amor. Pois são essas as qualidades que vocês precisam ter. Se vocês as tiverem e fizerem com que elas aumentem, serão cada vez mais ativos e produzirão muita coisa boa como resultado do conhecimento que vocês têm do nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo.

O artigo dessa semana é mais curto, focado na palavra conhecimento. É realmente impressionante como Deus tem trabalhado coisas diferentes na minha vida como no artigo dessa semana.

Essa semana tive a oportunidade de viajar para fora do estado para competição de discursos e debates que durou quase a semana inteira.

Discursos e competições de debates são coisas estranhas. Você passa a maior parte da semana se preparando para isso – reescrevendo casos para debates, reescrevendo (ou rascunhando, mesmo) discursos, decorando discursos, e dormindo menos que as pessoas sãs. Então você é levado para dentro da algazarra de dezenas de pessoas com terno e gravata, palestras, debates, e menos tempo para dormir do que na semana anterior.

São o tipo de coisa que te colocam em interessantes estados de humor – hiper cansada, mas absolutamente maravilhada. Mas ao final de cada torneio, estou sempre em uma espécie de reverência com o quanto Deus tem trabalhado durante a semana. Neste torneio, no entanto, eu não fiz tão bem quanto eu esperava. Eu queria colocar em debate, e eu queria ficar entre os três melhores, e eu não consegui.

Mas uma coisa que me surpreendeu grandemente foi o significado do que eu estou aprendendo.  Ou seja – o conhecimento.

Como provavelmente acontece com qualquer coisa que você estude, às vezes é difícil ver “o todo” daquilo que você está estudando. …

Não fazer tão bem quanto tinha planejado me ensinou várias coisas. Primeiro, me ensinou que eu preciso trabalhar mais. Que, se eu quero mais, preciso trabalhar mais. Mas também me ensinou o valor do que estou estudando. Porque eu estou estudando isso. Eu não estou praticando discursos e escrevendo casos para debates para ganhar uma competição. Estou fazendo isso para anunciar o evangelho.

Eu não sei como colocar em palavras o poder e a maravilha do que Deus falou comigo essa semana – que em tudo que faço, meu objetivo é um só. Pregar a Cristo. Que eu possa pregar a Cristo dando uma palestra sobre a palavra recompensa. Que eu possa pregar a Cristo enquanto debato sobre a legitimidade de um governo.

Ele deve crescer, e eu, diminuir.

Assim, o que conhecimento tem a ver com isso, e porque vem depois de virtude?

Semana passada falamos sobre virtude, e como ela se torna a máscara através da qual vemos o mundo. Mas depois aprendemos a ver o mundo através dos olhos de Deus.

1 Pedro 3:15 diz: “Tenham no coração de vocês respeito por Cristo e o tratem como Senhor. Estejam sempre prontos para responder a qualquer pessoa que pedir que expliquem a esperança que vocês têm.’”

Veja. É algo para se ver o mundo de uma certa maneira. Para orientar a sua vida de uma forma que seja agradável a Deus. Mas depois disso, Deus nos chama para uma outra etapa. Para conhecer. Para estudar sua palavra, para saber no que você acredita e porque acredita, e então, anunciar isso.

Romanos 1:16 “Eu não me envergonho do evangelho…”

Leia de novo.

Porque não me envergonho.

Para mim, isso está dizendo para mim que em todos aspectos da minha vida, eu vivo para proclamar meu Salvador.

Mas eu não posso anunciar o que eu não sei – e eu não posso colocar uma máscara para olhar o mundo através dos olhos de que eu não conheço.

É por isso que o conhecimento vem depois na lista.

2 Timóteo 2:15 “Faça todo o possível para conseguir a completa aprovação de Deus, como um trabalhador que não se envergonha do seu trabalho, mas ensina corretamente a verdade do evangelho.”

Eu cresci em um lar cristão, e eu tenho estudo a Bíblia e seus versículos desde que me lembro. E muitas vezes eu me pego pensando “sou como um bom cristão. Olhem todos esses versos que conheço. Olhe o quanto eu sei sobre Jesus”.

O que?

A Bíblia proclama uma e outra vez que Deus, o Seu conhecimento e poder é infinito, insondável e inacessível. Ele é poderoso de maneira que não posso compreender.

No entanto, ele nos chama para sermos santos. Para seguí-lo, conhecê-lo.

Esta semana o artigo foi um pouco menor que nas outras, mas espero que ele o desafie a conhecer mais a Cristo.  Olhe para as coisas que você faz na sua vida e como pode anunciar a Cristo neles.

Conhecer a Cristo e viver para Ele não é necessariamente estar nas ruas conversando com pessoas sobre Cristo (a menos que seja chamado para isso, é claro). Viver Cristo é viver o conhecimento do que Cristo fez por você.

Os personagens de Nárnia – Edmundo, Lúcia, Caspian, Eustáquio, Ripchip, etc. Já reparou como esses personagens orientaram suas vidas de acordo com o que sabiam sobre Aslan. Eles vivem dessa forma. Seus conhecimentos de Aslan caracteriza como suas vidas parecem.

Será que Cristo caracteriza o que sua vida parece?

Fonte: http://www.aslanscountry.com/2011/02/aslans-meditations-know-christ/