Exclusive Club for Christians

I dreamed last night about an Exclusive Club for Christians. Like most dreams it was kind of vague and incomplete but it left me with some clear impressions and some questions.

Wouldn’t such a club be unAmerican and discriminatory? Can we discriminate on the basis of religion? A couple of answers come to mind. Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship. God discriminates. In fact, this is the only distinction that makes a difference. He doesn’t discriminate between Jew or gentile; slave or free; male or female. But He does discriminate between those who are born again followers or his Son and those who are not. It’s a very significant discrimination: eternal life with Him or not.

But wouldn’t it be difficult to qualify members for this club? Who is a Christian? Isn’t that a very private matter? It’s true that we know much about our family and friends, even our Facebook friends. We know about their relationship status, favorite foods, music and art; but often we don’t know if they are followers of Our Lord are not. Why not? It’s the only question that matters. We should know this about every person in our lives: Are they Christian or not? The answer to that question should determine the nature of our relationship toward them and nothing else should matter: not their sex, their color, their status in life. If they are Christians we should be supporting and encouraging them; if not we should be witnessing to them.

But am I not just talking about the Church? Isn’t the Church the Exclusive Club for Christians? Take a look and you decide. Do we require members to be Christians? We make have “requirements” but is this the central password for admittance? “Christ is my Savior and Lord.” Do we even know for each of our “members” whether they are followers of the Lord. If the Church is the Exclusive Club for Christians is our agenda to carry out the will of Our Lord or is it to feel better or get energized to “make it” through another week? Is our church need centered or Lord centered.

It was just a dream; but it sure got me thinking.

Be blessed.

Nick

Prayer in the Father’s Honor

. . . that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God —Luke 1:35

When we are born again, the Lord of the Universe is born into our flesh. If the Son of God has been born into my human flesh, then am I allowing His holy innocence, simplicity, and oneness with the Father the opportunity to exhibit itself in me? God’s Son is born into me through the direct act of God; then I as His child must exercise the right of a child— the right of always being face to face with my Father through prayer. Do I find myself continually saying in amazement to the commonsense part of my life, “Why did you want me to turn here or to go over there? ’Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ ” ( Luke 2:49  ). Whatever our circumstances may be, that holy, innocent, and eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.
Be blessed.
Nick

Prayer in the Father’s House

. . . they found Him in the temple . . . . And He said to them, ’. . . Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ —Luke 2:46, 49

A child about the business of His Father. It’s an amazing picture of Jesus in the Temple. Even more amazing in our times when it seems even adults are not about their Father’s business. Christ told us that we are to be as children. Am I a holy, innocent child of God as a result of my identification with my Lord and Savior? Do I look at my life as being in my Father’s house? Is the Son of God living in His Father’s house within me?
Am I continually in touch with the reality of God, or do I pray only when things have gone wrong? I must be about My Father’s business”— and I must learn to live every moment of my life in my Father’s house.
Think about your own circumstances. Are you so closely identified with the Lord’s life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to Him and realizing that everything comes from His hands? Is the eternal Child in you living in His Father’s house? Is the grace of His ministering life being worked out through you in your home, your business, and in your circle of friends? Have you been wondering why you are going through certain circumstances? In fact, it is not that you have to go through them. It is because of your relationship with the Son of God who comes, through the providential will of His Father, into your life. You must allow Him to have His way with you, staying in perfect oneness with Him.
The life of your Lord is to become your vital, simple life, and the way He worked and lived among people while here on earth must be the way He works and lives in you.

The Cross in Prayer

In that day you will ask in My name . . . —John 16:26

Communication is an absolute requirement in any relationship. It is more than a need for an exchange of information. Participants in a relationship need to communicate because they need to KNOW each other, so that they may be one with each other.
The Cross of Christ represents the result of our communication with  Him, absolute identification with the Lord Jesus Christ— and there is nothing in which this identification is more real to us than in prayer, our communication.
“Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” ( Matthew 6:8  ). Then why should we ask? The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with Him. The cross is the symbol of our oneness with Him.
Pray consistently that we may be one with Him, Our Lord and Savior.
Be blessed.
Nick

The Bewildering Call of God

’. . . and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.’ . . . But they understood none of these things . . . —Luke 18:31, 34

At Men’s Prayer this morning we lifted up a variety of life situations: joblessness, sickness, family troubles. This led us to a discussion of the value of tough times. That it is in these times that we meet God and grow into what He calls us to be. 
God called Jesus Christ to what seemed absolute disaster. And Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death, leading every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. His life was an absolute failure from every standpoint except God’s. But what seemed to be failure from man’s standpoint was a triumph from God’s standpoint, because God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose.
It’s important as we consider the “difficult” situations we face, to consider how God might be viewing these matters. Is He looking forward to triumph as we learn to trust in Him and to consider ourselves less than we have before? Is He looking to be glorified as He is noted as the only reason we are able to come through the trials? His call to us is bewildering but it is simply to be a completely trusting friend of His. It is a call we can only recognize as we are children of His our nature changed to something resembling His. His purposes to be worked out in our lives
.
As we walk out His purposes without question, our faith and trust grows and our need to question His motives and purposes evaporate and blessed peace comes.
Nick

The Brave Friendship of God

He took the twelve aside . . . —Luke 18:31

Jesus’ plan to grow His church is to grow it one Christian at a time as we share what He has done for us. We are told that’s the plan. There is no plan B. We are the “A” Team. That seems a bit radical. What was God thinking? I wouldn’t trust us with the plan of salvation. Man in general and, me in particular, are unsuited to saving the world. 
There is nothing good in me and I have no value. Ask my wife. 
That is exactly why He chose you. As long as you think that you are of value to Him He cannot choose you, because you have purposes of your own to serve. It is not a matter of our equipment, but a matter of our poverty; not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a matter of natural virtues, of strength of character, of knowledge, or of experience— all of that is of no avail in this concern. The only thing of value is being taken into the compelling purpose of God and being made His friends (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-31  ). 
God’s friendship is with people who know their poverty. He can accomplish nothing with the person who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not here for our own purpose at all— we are here for the purpose of God, and the two are not the same. 
The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship.
There is no Plan B, so get moving with Plan A.
Nick

Compelling Purpose of God

He . . . said to them, ’Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem . . —Luke 18:31

Jerusalem, in the life of our Lord, represents the place where He reached the culmination of His Father’s will. Jesus said, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” ( John 5:30 ). Seeking to do “the will of the Father” was the one dominating concern throughout our Lord’s life. And whatever He encountered along the way, whether joy or sorrow, success or failure, He was never deterred from that purpose. “. . . He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem . . .” ( Luke 9:51  ).
Regretfully my focus is not so great. I am easily distracted. I sit in my chair for a moment of rest and the next thing I know the day is wasted. Or I pick up something as a bit of recreation, and the same thing happens. Or a word from another wounds or distracts and my purpose is foiled for the day. Even worse, I suspect that I distract others, taking their focus for God’s purpose for them.
Jesus accomplished His mission in three short years. What have I done in the last three years? What will I do in the next three? Will I be any closer to accomplishing God’s purpose for me.
Focus, set your face on Jerusalem and
Be blessed.
Nick

Teaching of Adversity

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world —John 16:33

It is not usual to be cheerful in tribulation. When the world sees a Christian who is cheerful in adversity, they have questions. The answer is: Jesus has overcome the world. What is there in the world that needs to be overcome? Fear, death, and the grave. The world offers a loveless self-centered life. Jesus offers a life of power, love and fulfillment. But it’s not “magic.”
God does not give us overcoming life— He gives us life as we overcome.  If we remember that Jesus in the clouds, we know that growth is in the clouds, in adversity. We develop our spiritual muscles as we strain in adversity. We build our faith as we realize that Jesus (not us) has already won the victory. A saint can “be of good cheer” even when seemingly defeated by adversities, because victory is absurdly impossible to everyone, except God.