Monday, August 03, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Where’s the Hope?
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
WOW! It feels like forever since I’ve been able to sit down and write a devotional. It’s actually been only 13 days, but that’s a long time for me. I feel empty. It’s been quite a summer for me and Denise. Even the vacations have felt like work. I guess that’s my fault because I keep checking my emails on my Blackberry. Next week when I go with my brother and his wife for three days to a resort up north, I am going to try to never look at it. It’s not that I don’t like you, or want to know what’s going on, but I need to just totally break away.
The last devotional I wrote was based on 1 Peter 3:15, and dealt with the subject of witnessing. The response to that devotional has been terrific. Because of my schedule I have not been able to follow up with those of you who requested more information about starting an evangelistic outreach ministry at our church. If your initial response was of the Lord, then the desire to be involved in this ministry will still be there. Please contact me.
One thing has been on my mind a lot since July 23rd when I wrote that. It is the first phrase in that verse about setting Jesus Christ apart as Lord of our lives. It even impacted my sermon yesterday as I preached on Genesis 12 and God’s call of Abraham. Let me tell you how the two connected in my mind.
God has called us to Himself. But God’s call to salvation and service is not based on our merits. Abraham had been raised in a family that worshiped idols (Joshua 24:2). Yet God called him to become the father of a great nation through which would come the Messiah some day. Abraham had not earned any favor from God. God’s call is always an act of grace.
Along with God’s call to salvation and service, He also provides us with faith to accept the call. Faith is also a gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). But faith without activity is no faith at all. So, as with Abraham, God calls us to demonstrate our faith by action. He called Abraham, and then told him to leave his country, his culture, and his family, and go to an unknown place of service. In order to do that, Abraham had to surrender the lordship of his life to God. He didn’t do it completely right away, but he did make a start. Eventually, after all the hindrances were removed, he was called the friend of God. He is the only man or woman in the Bible to be so named.
As I observe the average Christian in America today, I am troubled by the minimal amount of evidence I see that Jesus is Lord of our lives. I see commitment to Christ tempered and even controlled by our dependence upon culture and family. We have decided to love the idea of a future in heaven, but we choose to live as residents of this world until then, dependent upon it more than on Christ. We strive for financial security. We long for social acceptance. We crave cultural connections. We do not live as pilgrims in the world, but rather as partners with the world.
There’s a fabulous description of this in the book of Hebrews, where the author relates to us the life of faith that was lived by Abraham. He says, By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
The call of God requires separation from the things of this world. It demands trust in Christ and not in country or culture. Everything about our lives here on this earth is to be considered temporary and dispensable. We have been called to follow Christ by faith, with our eyes fixed on the finish line of heaven and the place He has prepared for us.
How sad it is to see so many Christians calling Christ their Savior but reserving the right of lordship of their lives for themselves. They’re too busy with their own pursuits to serve in the nursery, or teach in children’s ministry, or get involved in a small group Bible study. Commitment to Christ comes well down on the priority list of things to do. Self-fulfillment overwhelms self-sacrifice. Serving Jesus takes a back seat to serving self. Is it any wonder that the world cannot see any hope in us?
Then world needs hope. Those who have set apart Christ as Lord of their lives are the carriers of hope. Their faith in Christ is lived out in the activity of serving Jesus for the glory of God. They care more about the Gospel than they do their own good. They are the ones being asked by the unsaved what makes them so special. They are the true witnesses for Jesus.
Are you one? Are you being asked about the hope you have in Christ? If not, check your throne room. Maybe you’re sitting on the throne more often than you realize. Set apart Christ as Lord, and start acting like it.