Friday, January 11, 2013

Representative of Jesus Christ

This past week, we began a new session of Bible Study at my church. I opened up our time together with this talk. This post was written to be spoken, so please overlook all grammatical errors. I wish I was a better writer grammatically but I'm horrible with grammar and thank goodness for computers because my spelling is more horrendous than my grammar. I've never been a rule follower and at times I think it's because I can't remember all the rules. 

"Welcome, we are so glad you are here, My name is Liz Blalock, I’m the Bible Study coordinator at ..... A little bit about me, I’m a wife and the mom of four beautiful girls, ages ranging from 10-2. As a mom, raising four girls in this culture, one of the hardest things for me to teach them is they are NOT what they DO. What they do doesn’t define who they are. 
I would bet if I asked you to tell me about yourself, you would first tell me your name and then you would tell me what you do. To use my oldest daughter as an example, she would tell you, 'I’m a basketball player.' My other little one might describe herself as being a gymnast.  My middle little girl might respond, 'I’m an artist'. 
So what about you, How would you describe yourself? Take for example how I described myself to you when I introduced myself, 'I’m Liz Blalock, Bible Study Coordinator and a wife and a mother of 4 girls.' Which you probably thought was a normal introduction.  What if I responded, 'Welcome, I’m Liz Blalock, Servant of Jesus' or 'I’m Liz Blalock, representative of Jesus Christ.' You would look at me funny and in your mind think....and....what? Tell me about yourself. What do you do? Let’s take a look at how the Apostles described themselves in the Bible".

Paul: A  Servant of Jesus Christ called to be an apostle, (the original greek word for apostle, literally translated means messenger or representative), A Servant of Jesus Christ by the will of God, Paul, an apostle sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ.
Paul, A prisoner of Christ Jesus.
James, “A servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ
Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ. Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.
John: I love this one by the way...The elder which the Greek word literally translated means ancestrial, elderly man
Jude: A bond-servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.

The Apostles had a different perspective. They described themselves not based on what they did but on whose they were! Their identity was in Christ and His performance for them. They knew what it meant to abide in Him. They knew the working of His mighty power in them as they surrendered to His will for their lives and served. Everything, they did, they did for the praise and glory of Jesus . They served out of the abundance they've been given. It was Christ's love for them that compelled their obedience to Him.

The prevailing message of our culture is, "It’s all about you and it’s all up to you." If there was one message I heard over and over again this Christmas season it was, "It’s all about you", "You deserve this and I’ve got what’ll make you happy.” During the same season we are celebrating, the Son who was born to die, we are fighting against the prevailing culture whose message is, it’s all about Me.The New Years message is almost the same, In fact if I had to coin a slogan that represents the New Year, it would be, "A New Year, A New You". 
But sadly, many of us read the Bible the same way. We read it thinking, it’s all about me. Tell me how to improve, tell me what to do, how am I measuring up, am I making it and as you read the Bible you will come to the resounding answer of NO! The Bible isn’t about you, it’s about JESUS and you're not making it.  
When I read His Word and grow in the knowledge of who He is and his infinite holiness, I have an increasing awareness of who I am not, and my own sinfulness. This is the transforming work of the Gospel. It was never about me and my performance, and this is good news. "Consciousness of one's own sinfulness and assurance of forgiveness are the foundation of our love for God." - Jerry Bridges, The Transforming Power of the Gospel

This is my prayer for you as we begin this new semester of Bible Study. This prayer is found in Ephesians 1. "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given not only in the present age but also in the one to come." Ephesians 1:17:20

My challenge to you, Is that you will allow His Word to read you and to take you to places you might not want to go. What do I mean by this? 

When we read His Word, our flesh will rage war with His Spirit inside of us. We will be challenged, we will mourn over our sin, we will be called daily to repent which is a complete turn from relying on self to fully relying on God as He opens our eyes to the areas within us He desires to change and set us free from, We will depend entirely on Him as we venture deeper and deeper into His grace, our only hope for salvation. 

We will cry out to Him, depend entirely on Him, lay our unbelief before Him and ask Him to help us in our unbelief, that everything we need, we already have in Christ. 

We must daily place all our faith in Him who is the true Author and Perfecter of our faith. Laying our burdens and daily sins at the foot of the cross and leaving them there. He is our daily bread. 

I want to end with something I wrote in 2009 about the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God...
Most of us don't like our flesh to be prodded by the sword of the Spirit and our eyes to be opened to the sin that resides below the surface. It has been in my times of discontentment and restlessness that God has prodded me with His Holy Word and has opened my eyes to the sin that resides in my heart, the sin of self reliance and indifference. Sin exposed for the sole purpose of repentance and restoration. What do you do when God gently prods you? If you are like me, you walk around feeling guilty and ashamed. You rationalize the consequences of the hidden sin, which by the way, is never really hidden. You do all of this instead of doing the one thing you should do which is rejoice and repent. Rejoicing that He doesn't leave us as we are but calls us out to be set apart for His glory. When God prods us, it is a gentle nudging in the right direction. This nudging requires movement on our part away from the things of this world. Things which may bring temporary comfort but viewed from a different perspective would be deemed a distraction.
I have been thinking about my eternal home a lot lately. My desire to make a difference for His glory. The idea that my life, this side of eternity, is described by God as a vapor and a mist in comparison to my time spent in eternity with HIm. Without Jesus and trusting in and relying on His grace and not on my own merit and goodness, my good works are in vain and wretched holding no real eternal significance. May He always prod me to keep me on the path He has prepared for me. May He guard my heart against apathy and self reliance until He comes to take me home.

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