Friday, February 25, 2011

My Ideas Vs. God's

I've got my own ideas on serving the Lord. I figure if I serve on church committees, visit shut-ins, worship with the church on Sundays, feed the homeless, and do a fairly good job of taking care of my family, that I've probably done pretty well in serving him. If I teach some kind of class at church, even better! My ministry, my "using my gifts," is really important to me. What has God really called me to do? I wonder. Am I serving where and how he would have me to? Maybe I should consider taking on a new responsibility... it just seems like maybe I should be doing more...

Yikes! What if I found out that my ideas about serving the Lord weren't his ideas at all! (And if I really pay close attention to his word, I might find that out.) I've been teaching a class of women, but have I been striving to "love my husband and children" (Titus 2:3-5) as he would have me to? (Gotta study his word to find out what that really looks like!) Or, maybe I've been busy helping and serving in practical ways at church, running here and there to meet needs and devoting hours to various programs and functions, but have neglected sitting daily at the Master's feet with an open Bible to learn from him! (This was the "activity" that actually earned Jesus' praise and commendation in Luke 10:38-42.)

Just some things to chew on. We are busy women, but we are first and foremost disciples of the Lord Jesus. "Disciple" means "student." We're students of Christ; and yet how much time do we devote, like Mary, to sitting at his feet, Bibles opened to hear him speak, learning of him so that we can really know what our priorities in ministry should be? We can certainly go and do, hither and yonder; but never, never should we go and do in ways that undermine or harm our first priorities, our true ministries. This requires care, thoughtfulness, study and submission to God's word as his revealed will for us.

I've got my own ideas on serving the Lord... but I need to give those up, take Jesus' yoke upon me, and learn of him. His ideas are best.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Jesus Christ Has Come In The Flesh"

What does John mean in 1 John 4:2-3-- "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God"? Does John mean that if someone can simply quote those words, then we can know that they are of God; that by virtue of their being able to quote them, we can then know that the words they continue to speak are from God, and that we can trust what they say? Actually, that's not what John means. He means something much more wonderful than that!

In John's Gospel, in John 20:30-31, after recounting three of Jesus' appearances to various disciples in various places after his resurrection from the dead, John says this: "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." We become convinced that Jesus died and was raised back to life by this written testimony of his disciples, the apostles, that Jesus appeared to them after he rose. The confession of Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of God", is the Spirit-revealed knowledge that he died and came back to life, that he appeared to the apostles, alive, and that he still lives. It's the confession that all he claimed to be and all he claimed he would and will yet do, is true.

Such a confession, born of the faith of believing that the testimony of the apostles is true, is our life from the dead. John goes on to say of the apostolic testimony: "We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6).

So, the "every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" is the same person as "whoever knows God listens to us". A true teacher (for 1 John 4:2-3 is about true and false prophets and teachers) is one who confesses what the apostles confess, who listens to the apostle's teaching, agreeing with and submitting to it as the very word of God. That teacher's confession will agree with the whole testimony of the apostle's written, recorded testimony of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and with all that it means. That's what the confession of 1 John 4:2-3 is--more than rote words, it is simply shorthand for a radical, life-altering, supernaturally revealed and given faith!