Friday, December 12, 2014

Someone called...

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

God didn’t rescue you to give you a job description.  You haven’t been saved to be a pastor or missionary.  You’re not redeemed to be a worship leader or a church treasurer.  His plan for you isn’t to be a doctor or a fisherman.  At least not primarily.  So many of us find our identity in our job.  Many conversations start out like this, “nice to meet you, so what do you do?”  Our value, our worth, our position in life is directly tied to our professions.  Church folks like to talk out the more ‘spiritual’ professions as callings.  Don’t get me wrong, I think God did make us a certain way and leads us into certain paths that involve those things above.  He’s made some good at speaking, so sends them out to speak.  He’s made some good with numbers so send them out to earn or take care of money.  But he’s just as likely to use the thing we’re least skilled at to show himself to people.  So we better not get too wrapped up in our ‘calling’.  Maybe it’s time to back that train up a little and remember the one who calls us and what he calls us.  

The greek word used there for call (kaleo) means to be called aloud to, invited into and given the name of the one calling. What an amazing thing God does with us who once were wandering in the darkness of the world.  He calls out in the darkness, invites us into his kingdom and gives us his name as sons and daughters.  That word kaleo is the same word the angel uses when she comes to tell Mary what’s about to happen.  He says, ‘you’re going to have a baby, call him Jesus (which happens to mean Jehovah is Salvation) and he will be called Son of the Most High God’.  Because of what Jesus did at the cross, God now calls us by the same name when he rescues us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved son.  We get the same inheritance.  Romans 8:14-17 gives us this amazing spiritual reality that when Jesus gives us his Spirit we know that we are sons and daughters and cry out to our Abba father in heaven.  We become co-heirs with Christ.  Employees are not heir, children are heirs.

In Romans 8:30 Paul says, he predestined us, (that is he thought us up with intentions of us being his children before time began), then he called us and justified us and glorified us.  I love that everything in there is about what he did and not what I have to do.  I didn’t invent myself, I can’t join his family except he’s grafted me in, I certainly am incapable of justifying myself and glorifying, well everything else pales in comparison to his glory so only he can dish out anything worth while.  That word glorify is a huge one, it means to give worth and dignity, make excellent, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendour, give praise, give honour.  Imagine, the creator of the universe, the one who made us in his image put all the things that he is and deserves on us because of Jesus. 

Mind = Kabooooom!

So maybe you know what you’re ‘calling’ is, but just for a moment, take it off.  Lay it aside and rest.  If you’re like me, you’ve been trying really hard to carry something that seems heavy but Jesus wants you to take his yoke for a minute.  Just for a minute he wants you to take of your Sunday suit and tie, or your uniform or your Carhartts and he’s wants to clothe you in splendour.  He wants you to come back to the call.  In Romans 13:14, Paul says to “clothe yourself in Christ”.  I’ve heard so many people talk about ‘pressing into’ Jesus, like some kind of wrestling match or rugby scrum to get to whatever Jesus has for us, but Paul actually tells us to ‘sink into Jesus’.  Not like a fight to get there but the trust game where you close your eyes and fall backward into his arms knowing he will catch you.  Or like snuggling into a big fluffy house coat to relax.  The next time your kids come to you in their cozy fleece pj’s and you’re there in your lazy boy in your adult onesie (don’t pretend you don’t have one or want one) let that image hit you that that’s how you’re Abba father in heaven sees you because he’s calls you his son or daughter.

He has plans for you, he has a purpose, he has a future.  But you’ll never see it for what it is, you’ll never see him for who he is and you’ll never know who you are unless you hear the call, ‘this is my beloved son or daughter in who i’m well pleased’.  So before you you get out to go about your calling you better make sure you’ve put on a good base layer and clothed yourself in Jesus first.  It’s cold in Cape Breton, you won’t make it through unless you’re dressed right.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hurry, Open it, you'll never guess what's in there!!!

1 Corinthians 12 tells us about these gifts God wants to give us as a manifestation of his life that now dwells in us.  For some reason, lots of church folks seem to be afraid of these gifts.  Probably because no one has told them God’s not angry at them (or worse they have been explicitly told he is angry).  But he’s not, and he has only good and perfect gifts to give us.  Now, I know that some of us want those gifts to be health or wealth or power, which he does sometimes give, but Paul is pretty clear that he wants to give us these gifts; wisdom, knowledge, faith, miracles, healing, distinguishing spirits, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of those tongues.  It says to “each one is given a manifestation”.  That means you, and me, and every other one who believes in Jesus.  These are for the common good and they’re measures out according to his will.  That great! It’s means the pressure isn’t on us.  We don’t have to pretend or make it up or try really hard.  We just have let God give us whatever he wants to give us.  

Paul elsewhere says we should desire the gifts earnestly.  When I was a kid I would always snoop out the Christmas gifts my mom got me, I couldn’t wait.  I know, I know, it was wrong, but I think I was pretty good at pretending I was surprised on Christmas morning even though in some cases I had taken the toy out of the box, played with it, and put it back.  (my mom might disagree on my pretending abilities although she’s never called me out on it).  One year she bought my cousins old Sega Genesis from him to give me.  No kidding I actually took it out and set it up and played it for a whole day while she was at work.  I was so eager to get that gift that I couldn’t wait a week to try it out.

So why is it that no one told me that Jesus had these gifts he wanted to give me right after I met him.  And why do I usually forget to tell others.  Why do we keep them hidden under the bed like we’re waiting for this special day to break them out.  It’s weird.  It seems like somehow we have to earn these gifts, like when we meet Jesus we’re just interns and we don’t have full access to all the benefits until we’ve made it through the probation period.  Well, what if this person doesn’t decided he’s going to stay with the company, we can’t just start him out with access to health plan.  Lets teach him some theology first, maybe get him doing a little hands on service at the soup kitchen.  Maybe after he gets a few of these memory verse down about God’s wrath and he’s scared enough of his maker, we’ll tell him about the gifts.  We don’t want to unleash too much zeal and hope all at once.  

Not only weird, untrue.

We are adopted as sons and daughters and full citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven, here and now.  And everyday is Christmas in the Kingdom.  There’s no waiting for special ceremonies.  Jesus sacrifice was the last act that ended all the religious requirements and law, all fulfilled by him for us.  Theres no test to pass.  Jesus was tested and found perfect and has covered us in his righteousness.  There are no magic words. The one who spoke everything into existence now speaks before the throne on your behalf.  The one who breathed life into your empty soul, has breathed his own life into you by the spirit and now breathes the life of the kingdom out of you through the gifts he’s measured out for you.  

I have a lot of friends who can’t wait for Christmas, some of them have been getting ready and decorating since November but I don’t want to wait, not for these gifts.  I want to see the life giving, life changing activity of the Kingdom of heaven daily, not just once a year.

So, I hope I didn’t ruin Christmas for you by telling you what’s in the box, but it’s ok, your father in Heaven said you could open it early.