It is hard to measure the value of an opportunity. What is it that makes an opportunity valuable? Is it the number of people involved? Is the the sum of the results obtained? Is it the way one feels when the opportunity has come and gone? Is it a great opportunity because I say it is? Is it great because people say it is?
When I say I have an opportunity which of these measures am I using to judge that opportunity? Can I really judge the value of an opportunity? I believe I can.
I have come to believe that Jesus in me is the measure of every opportunity. That fact that Jesus is willing to be with me whatever my opportunity is makes the opportunity great. If the opportunity were of little value, why would He go with me all the time? His presence in me and with me defines every moment I live as a great opportunity to live Him.
This is what I have come to believe. It is not yet what I have come to feel. Sometimes what I believe and what I feel take a while to meet.
I know and believe that every moment with Christ in me makes even being alone a great opportunity. I know and believe that speaking to one person is a great opportunity. I know and I believe. Sometimes I even know and believe and feel this! That is spiritual progress.
I recently had an opportunity to spend 4 days in northern Brazil. It was a great opportunity. I knew it was. I believed it was. I even felt it was. Then I boarded the flight home and spent 9 hours getting home by myself on airplanes. Just Jesus and me on planes and in airports for 9 hours. It was a great opportunity. I knew it was. I believed it was. I just didn't feel it was. I just wanted to get through it quickly.
It is the mark of a truly mature saint when they can just be with Jesus and think that is a great opportunity. I will get there! I will know it, believe it and feel it!
Matthew 28:20b I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:14-16
In our moment by moment spiritual life we have three possible states of being. We are either walking in the Spirit, walking in the flesh or we are in the middle between the two.
To walk in the Spirit is to be entirely focused on and receptive to the inspiration that comes to us internally from God in Christ through the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit is the only way we can absolutely enjoy victory over the flesh. This is described as being in a state of intense, inner spiritual influence or being “hot.”
To walk in the flesh is to be entirely focused on and receptive to the inspiration that comes from spiritual forces that do not wish us well and receptive to the desires for satisfaction found in whatever our own minds, emotions and will put before us. This is described as being in a state of intense spiritual influence that does not come from God or being “cold”.
To walk in the middle of these two states as if we cannot decide between either is to be entirely focused on and receptive to neither. This makes us useless for either. This is described as being in a state of indecision or being “lukewarm.”
At any moment we are in one of these three states. Unfortunately most believers are in the middle or lukewarm. God demands by his reaction (vomiting!) we be either/or and never in the middle.
We must be able to discern which state is ours moment by moment. We must choose which one is to be our way of life. God in Christ has made this choice ours to make and make it we must.
If we find ourselves in the cold or middle state spiritually, the quickest way to return to walking in the Spirit is to know well the works of the Spirit, to know well the works of our flesh and to know well the works of our indecision. When the works of the flesh or indecision appear we must reject them (not fight them), submit to God and focus on our continuous spiritual, inner union with Jesus.
To enjoy this return to faith, focus and inspiration in Christ’s Spirit, use a phrase like “Jesus, I am entirely yours!” or “Jesus, you are welcome in my life!” No matter how many times a day you must use this phrase or another like it, do not stop in the middle! Choose again and again.
James 1: 5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Moment by moment. Hot or cold. Either or. Choose now and choose again and again. Walking in the Spirit will become your continuous choice over time.
One of the most frustrating things for me in the human experience is to see exemptions being given to some people who see themselves as above the rest of humanity. Many people see themselves as exempt from the laws that govern others.
The more exemptions given in a culture the weaker the social structure becomes. I have seen this fact in action and it is ugly. Chaos is not far away when exemptions are the norm.
To see this process in action, just go to the nearest airport and watch how people begin to exempt themselves from everything from where they park, how long they stay in a no parking zone, how long they are willing to stay in line without looking for a way out and how frustrated they become being treated like everyone else. If an airport is too far away, just go to a poplular restaurant and pay attention. For a once in a lifetime illustration visit the halls of any government just after a law is passed.
As soon as laws are passed in any country the exemption process kicks in for the people who think they are above the rest. Slowly but surely what is law for all becomes exemption for some. Exemptions sow the seeds of future revolution.
The good news is that God's Kingdom allows no exemptions. It is a Kingdom of univeral love and grace but no exemptions. The difference is amazing. Just a taste of love and grace instead of exemptions is liberating.
Recently I was once again very frustrated by the culture of exemptions that one sees where we live. I was complaining loudly about the driving habits of the exempt and my wife Pam calmly said "No one gets a pass on glorifying God."
What a relief to my soul! As a sinner, I don't want people punished. I just want to believe that the culture of exemptions will someday die and be replaced by a culture better than law with exemptions.
Romans 3:23 tells us we all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
There are no exemptions in this verse. All means all. No matter what happens God will not play the exemption game with me or anyone else when it comes to our personal responsibility of living in such a way that we each continuously reveal God's glory which is continous love. Since none of us lives continuous love we all fall short of God's glory.
Once again, there are no exemptions allowed in God's Kingdom.
There has been, however, a universal payment for our failing to glorify God. This payment is called grace in Christ and it is for all. Seek no exemption in God's Kingdom. Seek and find grace. Now, once you find it, stay there and forget exemptions! Become a servant like Jesus. He never sought an exemption on loving anyone! Thank God!
When Pam reminded me that no one gets an exemption on glorifying God, I immediately calmed down and had hope. Now, if I can just remember to live in God's grace in Christ as I am in traffic this week with so many seeking exemptions!
He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
Jesus tells us that people must stay with the direction they have chosen. He tells us to choose a direction and stay with it. Is He encouraging sinners to stay sinners? Why would He say this?
It is because God sees direction more than He sees individual actions. This is why Jesus’ first words to His disciples were “Follow Me” instead of “Do this.” The choice of direction once made will have tremendous future consequences on every action. Jesus wants us to choose our direction and own it as ours.
Imagine two people walking side by side down a path. It appears at the moment they are headed to the same destination. But what if the reality is they are walking with a slight, imperceptible difference in direction? Over time the imperceptible difference of this moment will become a vast gulf fixed between the two. This is what God sees as he looks at our lives. He sees the direction. He sees the end of the direction not the result of an action.
In spiritual circles we want to debate individual actions. God wants to talk about direction that will determine actions.
In the business world great leaders see directional trends and adjust. Weaker leaders see daily results and panic. Adjusting to trends means the business will stay with its market. Adjusting to daily results will mean losing touch all together.
In raising kids great parents see directional trends. Weaker parents scream and yell at daily behaviors. Adjusting to each and every error a child makes will drive both child and parent crazy. Adjusting to the trends in a child’s behavior is helping them to choose the right direction.
Take a look at your direction. This is what God sees. You may make periodic changes in a behavior, but the direction you have chosen will overcome the momentary stumble along the way. Evil people can do good things occasionally but not as a trend. Good people can do bad things occasionally but not as a trend. Direction overcomes momentary lapses every time.
Choose your direction wisely. It is taking you somewhere. Is that really where you want to go?