Receivers Instead of Achievers


A paradox is defined as something that sounds contradictory but is actually true. We find such a paradox in the first letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. There he told them to make it their ambition, to be zealous and to strive eagerly - but let’s not complete that sentence just yet...

When I see a phrase that calls me to STRIVE or to be AMBITIOUS, I instantly think of the culture of the world we live in, and conclude that I need to "strive" to be a “mover-and-a-shaker,” or have "ambitions" to become an influencer or motivator; a heart charger who yearns for impact in this world. That is what I would expect would follow a call to "strive" or "be ambitious."

Paul, however, had no such conclusion to that phrase. Instead, he said that we should strive to be quiet; that we should be ambitious to mind our own business and take care of our own work. Pretty strange command, isn’t it? Not really though, when you think about it. We are made by God as human beings, called on the first full day of our existence in Genesis 2 to REST! Oh, we went out to work on the 8th day, but we worked from a position of rest. We labored, but not to achieve, because we had already been given everything by God. WONDERFUL!

Man sinned, however, and we bought the lie that we should eat from the tree of right and wrong, and in that instant we went from a human being who received all that they needed from the hand of God, to become human doings, achieving for themselves. This became our new normal, our default mode – to perform. To do.

The glory of the New Covenant placed us back into relationship with God and provided the potential for us to once again become receivers instead of achievers. To rest instead of LABOR. To simply be significant in Christ instead of trying to achieve significance. This is not easy for anyone, because we have been conditioned to achieve instead of receive. That is why the author of Hebrews said, “Labor to enter into the rest.” In other words, it is hard work to rest. And that is why Paul here in Thessalonians said that we should make it our ambition to lead quiet lives.

We have been made some kind of special in God’s eyes. It is time for us to really believe that and let it dramatically influence the way we live.

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The One Who Brings Us Through This World


Let’s take a look at Genesis 22. One writer said that this is one of the high points in the Bible, a mountaintop passage. Another called it “The great climax of the faith life of Abraham.” I would call it, The Supreme Test and the Supreme Victory. This passage dramatizes, maybe better than any passage in the entire Bible, what the life of faith is all about. 

The life of faith is like living in a laboratory if you will, where God is perpetually tested and continually demonstrated to be reliable and true. In fact, Hebrews 11, that great heroes of the faith chapter, almost reads like a laboratory report; "By faith, Moses led the people out of Egypt," "By faith, the walls of Jericho came down." It's saying over and over and over again to us; we can put our hand in God’s hand and journey with Him because He is a trustworthy God. He is reliable. He will provide. We need to understand that my friends because we live in a dark and desperate world, but God breaks into that world with the light of His love and strength, and He offers Himself to us as the only one who can bring us through this world victoriously!

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Kissed Into Existence

I believe we could say that He "kissed us" into existence.

I believe we could say that He "kissed us" into existence.

Let's talk about a "kiss"... or better yet, define a kiss.

Two mouths coming together to exchange tongues and salivic fluid. Isn't that an exciting definition? Doesn't really make someone want to kiss --- does it?

I found a better definition in the dictionary:

Two lips meeting together as a way of expressing love, affection, and devotion. Hmmm.... I like that a lot better.

Why all this talk about a kiss? Let's think about this for a moment. 

When God created in the book of Genesis, the text says, He spoke and it was so. All it took was a spoken word, and there were all kinds of life on this planet.

But when it came to man, God did not create by speaking. The Bible tells us that He breathed His breath into man and man became alive. In other words, I believe we could say that He "kissed us" into existence.

From the very beginning of our creation, God was communicating that He loves us,
has affection for us, is devoted to us, and is crazy in love with us.

I believe He kissed us into existence so that we would never doubt that love that He has for us. "For God so loves the world..."

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It Can Be Hard to Wait...

I am so excited to share with you today.

In the book of Genesis, it records how God came to Abraham, and promised him an heir through his own seed with his bride Sarah, and through that seed would come descendants numbering like the stars in the heavens. In addition, God promised that through his seed ALL the families of the earth would be blessed! Abraham was 75 years old when God made that amazing promise to him. Even more amazing, Sarah was 65 years old. What an exciting promise to an old, childless couple!

As the years went by, though, no child arrived, and God continued through those years to reaffirm His promise. Abraham and Sarah had to wait and wait and wait! "WAIT" is for me one of the worst four-letter words found among humanity! It is hard to wait, especially when the promise of something so good and wonderful is delayed. 

As time progressed, Abraham and Sarah decided to take matters into their own hands. First, they offered to God that their servant Eleazer might be considered the heir. Then, at Sarah's request, Abraham had sexual relations with Hagar to produce Ishmael, whom they offered to God to be the heir. God, of course, said "No" to their suggestions of help and continued throughout the years to affirm His promise that He would provide an heir through them, until one day He did provide when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90, and way past the onset of menopause! 

The amazing thing I find in this account is the commentary found on it in Romans 4:18-20, where God says of Abraham, that "against hope believed; he was not weak in faith; and never doubted but was strong in faith!" Are you kidding me? He NEVER doubted? What about Eleazer? What about Hagar and Ishmael? Makes me question, "God, do you even read the Bible that you wrote?" How are we to explain this, that God says Abraham never doubted, when clearly he did?

The answer I believe is very simple. The Bible tells us that whatever is not of faith, is sin. So Abraham's lapses in faith were sin. However, through his seed that was going to be born, Jesus, God removed all of Abraham's sins and cast them as far as the east is from the west, to be remembered by God no more... in other words, when God looks at Abraham He truly does not see ANY lapses of faith; nor ANY sinful choices, He sees only righteousness, for God has chosen to not remember such failures. 

And now the glory... It is the same for you and me. We have had many lapses of faith, many sinful choices that we regret and find hard to forget. The glory is that God has taken those things infinitely away from us, and chooses to remember them no more... So completely has He done this, that when He looks at us today, He sees only righteousness. WOW! Glory to God!