Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Living Radically For Christ Pt. 4

I was at Downtown Disney last night hanging out with some friends from my Bible Study group, and we filed into one of the Disneyland Resort hotels called the Grand Californian Hotel. We found a spot to sit right next to a fireplace in the Grand Californian Hotel. As others in the group were talking around me, I could not help, but stare intently at the fire burning passionately in the fireplace. This fire enraptured a simple prayer within my heart at the moment. Lord, set my heart on fire. Set it ablaze in order to further Your kingdom and Your glory. That others may see You in me and give You all the praise. Amen. How does God set our heart on fire? Let's dive into the passage.

Luke 14:28-33 says, "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a 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.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand. And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."

Now, in this passage, Jesus sets before us two distinct pictures of potential disciples needing to "count the costs" of following Him, before wholeheartedly setting out on a tribulation filled journey where the fierce, fiery wrath of the evil one will come knocking on their door nearly every second. These illustrations are meant to instill in us a burning question. Do you want to live a life ablaze, on fire for our Lord Jesus Christ? Do you? Because, if you do want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, you will be persecuted, like no other, on every side (2 Tim. 3:12). We are not exempt from persecution on this earth when we believe in faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved from an eternity in hell, but persecution comes along with the package of being a follower of Christ. Why? John 15:18-19 properly leads us to the answer, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

The world hates you. Persecution will come, because the world literally hates you. The world cannot even stand us since we believe morality is objective. Morality is based upon the true facts found in Scripture. While, on the other hand, the world believes in moral relativism. Each person can decide what he or she thinks is right for him or her. Yeah folks, if it is ok, in your own personal belief system, to murder the President of the US, go for it. No one is stopping you. You have your own personal right to accomplish that task, because you believe it with all your heart. Nowadays, you hear these stories all the time. My own alien god told me to rape 40 women or else I would go to hell. What so called "alien god" would make you choose to do a heinous action like that? But, sadly, moral relativism is accepted in our culture, and practically everything else this world throws at us. Since this is the reality and we are on the other side of the bench, we will be hated, insulted, slandered, cursed at, screamed at, you name it. Persecution is a reality when you are a Warrior in God's kingdom.

However, you will not be left alone when trouble, trials, and tribulation come upon you like bullets being fired from a machine gun. Jesus says in Matthew 28:20b, "And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age." In Romans 8, Paul tells us that if God is for us, who can be against us. The ultimate reality of following Jesus wholeheartedly is that He is right by your side through the pain, He is with you through the trials, and He will never leave you. Persecution can bring any human being, even the strongest person, into a deep state of depression. Without God striving with us, we would be in a hopeless predicament. But, thankfully, we know of someone, who is able to strive with us through the course of life. Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin." Jesus Christ knows what it is like to experience the full onslaught of temptation and persecution. Satan was, in every respect, doing everything he possibly could to cause Jesus to stumble multiple times, but Christ overcame the power of the enemy. He overcame the power of persecution despite the world's hatred of Him. He, my friends, is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Trust in Him wholly and solely believe in Him as your Lord. He will protect you.

If you are a true believer, you have already chosen and purposed in your heart to follow after Him wholeheartedly. I urge you to faithfully continue persevering in the faith and to constantly remember the blood that was poured out on your behalf. Christ's sufferings will strengthen you through your own sufferings. Never forget the Cross of Christ. If you have not trusted Him, you are in the hopeless throng of millions, who probably believe in moral relativism. I urge you to bend the knee before it is too late. Christ came to save you and to give His life for you. Don't wait: today is the day of salvation. Count the costs and find hope in Christ alone. In my next post, we will look at the last condition of true discipleship that Christ lays out for us in the Luke 14 passage and I will finish answering the question of how God sets our heart on fire.


May Amelia said...

Wow, really good post!
I have noticed that when I come back from something extremely God-honoring and life-changing like missions trips, Worldview Academy, even Bible study, etc., that is when I feel the most persecuted. Strange, right? ;) There are three separate times that I have been both spiritually and physically attacked by Satan. All three times were right after I did something that strengthened my relationship with Jesus. I don't believe you can call that a coincidence!

Lilac Bud Gal said...

That is so true... We do have to remember that we will be persecuted, but if we are living for the right reasons, then the persecution is worth going through because of what awaits us at the end. It is such a comfort to know that He will not put us through anything we cannot bear, yet when we have come to our limit, He gives us new strength.
Yet, sometimes I think we are unworthy to suffer for Him... Just like the disciple who wouldn't hang on a cross right side up. He wanted to be hung up side down because he felt unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus.
Thanks for sharing, and I can't wait until the next post...

In Christ's Service,

♥Bleah♥Briann♥ said...

This is a really awesome "series" thanks for sharing! :D


Joshua said...

Of course that was not a coincidence by any stretch of the imagination. Satan will use anything and everything to keep you away from God, and the best times for him to attack are usually right after a person has a spiritual "high" of some kind with Christ. He wants to destroy your relationship with Christ. As a matter of fact, my next post, Living Radically For Christ, is going to be on Satan. Because he is one other factor a potential disciple must "count the cost" for in order to figure out whether or not he/she will persevere in the faith. Anyways, your experience is strange, but definitely spot on. ;) By the way, this question is completely random, but do you believe the certain so called "miraculous" gifts of the Spirit have ceased in this day and age or not? Thanks. :)

You are so right. :) You may like my post that I wrote on Divine Romance. Of course, we are so unworthy, but he still loves us anyways. He yearns to have a saving relationship with us. Thanks for the comment. :)

I am glad you have enjoyed the series thus far, and I pray that God would stir up a fire within you to live for Him. We all need that. Thanks for the comment. :)

May Amelia said...

You pose an interesting question to which I do not know the answer. I haven't studied the spiritual gifts all that much but here is what I have found:

Spiritual gifts
-speaking and serving (1 Peter 4:11)
-wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)
-prophesying, serving, teaching, exhorting, contributing, leading, acts of mercy (Romans 12:6-8)

Those are the gifts that I have found. There are more, but these are the ones found in the main passages.

Now, your question is if the gifts of the Spirit have ceased? My knee-jerk reaction is to say no. I believe they are still distributed. However, if you were to ask if people are still as good about discovering or paying attention to them and actually using them, then I would say no.

Can people have more than one spiritual gift? I know a lady who has the gifts of healing, tongues, and interpretation. Personally, I think I have the gifts of teaching and discernment.

Another vastly interesting passage is in 1 Corinthians 12: 27-31. It says in verse 28 that "God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues." Then in verse 31 it concludes with "But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way." The higher gifts are apostles, prophets, etc. and it says to desire them. Are we born with spiritual gifts, do we develop them over time, or does God give them to us when we need them? Can we have all of the spiritual gifts?

Over in 1 Corinth. chapter 14, verse 4-5 it says, "The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is great than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets so that the church may be built up."

Now, jump over to verse 22-23. "Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds."

From those passages, one can conclude that the gift of prophecy is greater than the gift of tongues unless someone interprets what the person in tongues said because prophecy builds up the church whereas tongues build up the individual.

I remember a sermon from my old pastor in which he said that everyone should evangelize. He said that "10% of Christians are doing 100% of the evangelism 100% of the time," (or something like that) and that those 10% have the gift of evangelism where talking about Jesus just comes naturally to them. However, I don't think you need the gift of evangelism to talk to people about God.

So, to again answer your original question, I don't think spiritual gifts have ceased to have been given to present-day Christians. I believe that all spiritual gifts are still distributed, though I personally have never ran into someone who has the gift of prophecy or at least actively uses it. I've heard of some, but have never met them.

Ok that was probably more info than you cared to know. ;) My friends think I should be a politician because I dance around the question and don't necessarily answer it directly, but for me, knowing outside information sets up the background so I CAN answer it! =]

Anyways, Happy New Year!

PS Someone once told me that if you don't know what your spiritual gift is, don't let that hinder you from still serving in the kingdom of God. He will reveal that knowledge to you in due time.

May Amelia said...

Ok, something strange is going on and I'm not sure what it is, but I tried to post a response but it said the URL was too large. So, I went to post it on my blog but it still said the same thing, but it published it! If you get 10 different responses, I'm very sorry. :) I tried doing it different ways but I'm not sure any of them worked. Anywho, my response to your question can be found under:

Joshua said...

I replied to your comment on your blog. :)

In Christ,
Joshua :)