Monday Psalm for February 7, 2011

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
   From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
   who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
   he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
   the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
   he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
   your going out and your coming in
   from this time forth and forevermore. – Psalm 121 (ESV)

Just a reminder as we begin another week, filled with all the busyness of life and work and family… When problems come, when stress sets in, when troubles beset you, keep in mind that what want you see is not necessarily a clear picture of what is going on.  Instead of focusing on life’s trials, remember that we are called to live by faith, not by sight (Galatians 3:10-12, Hebrews 10:38).  The Lord God is our keeper, our protector, our sustainer.  After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, ESV).  Trust in, rely in, rest in the Lord this week (and always).  He will keep you forevermore.

If you know someone who would be blessed by this message (or any of Chris’ other messages), please feel free to share this.  Please also tell your family and friends about the website:  Thank you and have a blessed week!

The Importance of Why

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” – Matthew 17:1-8 (ESV)

Busy busy busy… so much to do, so little time… if only there were two of me… Sometimes we get so busy, so focused on the task at hand, that we lose sight of the bigger picture.  For those of us who are task oriented people, it can be very easy to slip into “gotta get it done mode,” forgetting the importance of why.

The scene at the Transfiguration of Jesus is hard to picture.  Try to imagine it, if you can.  Before the eyes of Peter, James and John, Jesus was transformed (the Greek word for “transfiguration,” μεταμορφόω, is where we get our word “metamorphosis”).  They saw Him as God Incarnate, a foretelling of the Risen Christ to come, His face radiant in majesty and glory!  Not only that, Jesus was talking with Moses and Elijah, who had been dead for thousands of years.  (There is much significance in this, but in the interest of brevity, we’ll discuss that another time.)

What would your initial reaction be to such a scene?  Would you be stunned in disbelief?  Would you not believe your eyes?  Peter had faith.  He has professed to Jesus that he knows Christ is the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16).  Indeed, Peter had great faith.  So much so that His initial reaction was a great desire to serve – which is wonderful.  (Don’t misunderstand what I am about to say.  More of us should be so quick to leap to service!)  “Let me make tents for you guys to stay in!”  Hindsight being 20/20, it is easy to look at this episode and see that Peter missed the true significance of what he was witnessing.  But part of the reason Peter missed it was his mindset.

The lesson to be gleaned here is one of having the right heart behind service.  Now, again, I am not here to accuse Peter of anything the rest of us aren’t guilty of.  To implicate Peter of anything would be hypocritical.  But I believe one of Peter’s problems was the same one Martha had. 

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me."  But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." – Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

Martha was so busy doing her thing to please Jesus that she missed the importance of simply being in God’s presence, soaking in His teaching, worshipping and focusing on God.  Martha and Peter had the best of intentions.  But what God desires most out of us is not busyness just for the sake of being busy for God.  We need first to have our hearts right, and means being focused on Jesus Christ above all else. 

Notice the reaction of Peter, James and John when God spoke in Matthew 17:5-8.  They fell on their faces in terrified awe.  They realized Who they were standing before.  Verse 5 basically tells us that God shut Peter up and got his attention.  Their focus was definitely focused squarely on God at this point.  And when Jesus told them to “rise and have no fear,” what did they see?  “No one but Jesus alone.”  Notice the emphasis: Jesus and Jesus only.  It is when we see Christ and Him alone that we are ready to be equipped.  It is far more important to understand “why” we do what we do than to just look for “what.”

The stress of the busyness of the world melts away when we take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus.  Take time today to worship Him, in prayer, in song, in study… whatever works best for you.  Prepare your heart first.  He will lead your hands and feet.

Ask Any Boy Scout

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 1 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV)

Ask any Boy Scout who has been camping and he’ll tell you: just because a fire isn’t aflame doesn’t mean it is completely out.  Buried deep beneath the ashes and burnt timber you may just find hot embers, glowing red and ready to flame up again.  All that campfire fire needs is some fresh kindling and a good stirring.

The same is true with our souls.  How is your spiritual walk these days?  Has life thrown a wet blanket over your soul and left you feeling damp and cold?  Remember this: if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, that means the Holy Spirit lives within you.  And the Spirit is a fire that cannot be extinguished.

Today, if you are feeling a little spiritually stale, I want to encourage you to stir those coals until they burst into flame.  No need to struggle through life alone.  “God gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control.”  Let His fire burn deep and strong within you, burning away the chaff from your life.  Remember all the Lord has done – and continues to do – for you.  And celebrate God, not merely for what He has done for you, but for Who He Is – the Great I AM, the Creator and Sustainer Who is great beyond our comprehension!