Monday, November 29, 2010

Customized Cross and Customized Prosperity

Customized Cross and Customized Prosperity

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

These are Jesus’ words concerning God’s provision and Christian prosperity. We should listen carefully to these words. They answer some questions Christians around the world are asking.

Just how rich should great faith make us? Should there be a direct link between what we have in our bank account and the quality of our faith? Should Christians pursue growing wealth as a sign of growing faith?

Around the world among evangelical Christians there is an intense interest in making faith work for making one’s financial life better. Entire denominations are built on the idea that faith is the path to great prosperity.

As with everything any church promotes as the way, the truth and the life, all such ideas need to pass the Jesus test. The Jesus test is: Is that how it worked for Jesus? If it did not, it is not the right view of how it will be for us.
Jesus is the final test of all teaching. Jesus’ life and the life of His first disciples, the Apostles, show us the way, the truth and the life in action concerning prosperity.

Looking closely at Jesus and at the Apostles it is impossible to see faith being used as a tool to avoid pain or accumulate riches. Looking at Jesus and the Apostles it is clear that their faith was for the delivery and sustaining of God’s love.
Faith does impact one’s prosperity. Faith allows us to have our prosperity customized to fit our customized cross.

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27

The cross we carry is not Jesus’ cross. His was customized just for Him. The cross we carry is our customized cross. Our cross is the exact amount of Divine love we are expected to deliver into this world as the result of seeking first the Kingdom.

When we deliver God’s love, God pays the bills. He customizes our prosperity to fit our task of carrying our customized cross. Just as no two crosses are identical, no two financial realities will be identical.

Jesus’ prosperity was a perfect, customized fit for His mission to die for the sins of the world. Jesus was exactly as rich as He needed to be. Clearly Jesus’ cross carrying needed little or no material support!
The Apostle’s prosperity was a perfect, customized fit for their mission to be the foundation of the New Testament Church. The Apostles were as rich as they needed to be. Again, they had little, but they had what they needed.
Our prosperity will be perfectly customized for us, too, when we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness by carrying our customized crosses.

There is no “one size fits all” prosperity formula in the New Testament. As we live by faith, we will have the prosperity we need and ask for to deliver customized love to those God has chosen for us to love.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7

Customized is always a perfect fit.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't Block My View

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Living on the ninth floor of an apartment building here in São José dos Campos, Brazil, Pam and I have a beautiful view of the nearby mountains. In fact, one of the main reasons over five years ago I agreed to live in an apartment and deal with the elevator was the view.

Well, here in Brazil’s booming economy, views don’t last. There are dozens of buildings in construction around us and over 140 high-rise buildings are in the permitting process in our city right now. Many of these new buildings are blocking my view and more are coming. Every day my elevator ride, which I still dislike, is taking me to less view, not more.

I know this is hardly a complaint that merits any tears, but it does illustrate a reality about life. The only view no one can take away from us is our personal view of Jesus. When we build our life in a place with a view of visible things, we always run the risk of having someone block our view. When we keep our eyes on Jesus who abides in us we have an constantly improving view guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who lives in us to make Jesus more clear and beautiful every day.

I guess I could move to another building so I could keep my view. The problem is that the view I rented 5 years ago now costs about 3 times what I paid back then. That’s right. Views in this world are always for sale. In this world, men have made a great view a commodity. When a great earthly view is suddenly in limited supply, men raise the prices.

Thank God my inner view of Jesus is not for rent or for sale. It is received by grace and every disciple can have a perfect view every day. Enjoy your personal, inner view of Jesus. Only taking your attention off of Jesus and valuing outer, visible things more will block your view of His beauty.

“…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Cor. 4:18

Bud McCord
Abide International

Abide International is an organization dedicated to helping Christ-followers worldwide
understand and experience true satisfaction in Jesus as a moment by moment reality.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A New Way of Seeing

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. II Corin. 5:16

The young wife sitting in front of me tearfully told the story of her husband’s infidelity two years earlier. The pain poured from her as she repeatedly said: “My life ended that day.” “My life is ruined.” “My life cannot be fixed.”
What do you say to a Christian who thinks their life ended, is ruined and cannot be fixed? With tears in your eyes you gently tell them their life has not ended, is not ruined and does not need to be fixed. You lovingly tell them that their life is Jesus and He is perfectly alive, unchanged and at work right now. You firmly and lovingly tell them “Your life is perfect. The state of your world is another matter and we need to immediately address your world, not your life.”

Seeing our world as our life is seeing according to the flesh. Seeing your world as your life is like looking at Jesus and not being able to see that He is God with us. Jesus is God with us, whether we see it or not. As believers, our life is Christ whether we see it or not. When our world comes crashing down we must not see our life crashing with it. Jesus does not crash.

When we see ourselves, another person or another’s behavior toward us as our life, we commit a deadly spiritual mistake. We have placed our faith in imperfection and that makes us vulnerable to thinking our problems are life issues instead of a world issues.

Attaching our life to the behavior of others and their weaknesses is to live a lie. Lies always are revealed as useless and when they are revealed as useless we feel used. Believing the lie that my world is my life can make me think my life is over, ruined and broken beyond repair. The creates depression and anger.

Here are few very dangerous worldly thoughts….
1. My friends are my life.
2. My body’s current health is my life.
3. My child is my life.
4. My husband or wife is my life.
5. My ministry to others is my life.
6. My work is my life.
Here are the right thoughts…..
1. For to me to live is Christ.
2. It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.
3. Jesus is perfect, therefore, my life is perfect.
4. In the world I will suffer troubles.
5. My world right now may be a mess, but there is life in me that can overcome it.

The young pastor’s wife left my office repeating with me these words…
“Jesus is my life. My world crashed horribly two years ago, but thank God I am alive in Christ to face this disaster and overcome it because my life can handle it.”
This way of seeing is not easy for us, but we must learn this new way of seeing if we are to deal with the world as it really is.
By the way, how is your life? How is your world? Can you see the difference?

II Corin. 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Safe Place

Our inner life can become our refuge.
Let this thought sink in for a moment. Now say to yourself “My inner life with Christ can become a place of peace and stability in this troubled world.”
If this statement is true, then it would follow that the care of our inner life should be our first priority. Thomas Kelly described such an inward life like this…
“There is a way of life so hid with Christ in God that in the midst of the day’s business one is inwardly lifting up brief prayers, short ejaculations of praise, subdued whispers of adoration and of tender love to the Beyond that is within.” A Testament to Devotion pg. 98
It is in our inner life that we do the works Jesus called “First Love” in Revelation 2. I believe that is what Thomas Kelly was describing in the quotation above.
It is in our inner life that we receive the inspiration directly from the Source of Source, the Fountain of Fountains. This is the oneness Jesus described in John 17.
It is in our inner life that we meet with God and experience the righteousness, peace and joy that is the kingdom of God.
“…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
Jesus is our example of how we are to live. He lived from his inner union with His Father and with the Holy Spirit.
When the storms of life hit we must have a refuge. May the safest place we know be our inner life where God meets us with His love.
It is in our inner life that our faith in Christ overcomes the world.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Loyalty or Love?

Loyalty or Love?

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. John 13:1

In John 13 Jesus washes His disciples feet because he loved them from beginning to the end. Peter does not understand that Jesus' only motivation in washing their feet was love. Peter really did not yet understand the power of love is greater than the power of human loyalty.

It appears that Peter thinks that letting Jesus wash his feet is some sort of test of submission and loyalty. He gets this so wrong that he eventually offers to let Jesus wash his hands and his head as well. It is as if he is saying "I am completely loyal! Wash away!"

Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!"
Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" John 13:8-9

As his confusion about what Jesus wanted deepens Peter insists that he would be so loyal to Jesus that he would be willing to die for Jesus that very day. He thinks Jesus wants his loyalty. Jesus wanted Peter to receive His love so Peter could love. Jesus tells Peter that he will not be loyal and he would deny Him three times before the night ends. So much for human loyalty!

Loyalty is not what Jesus wants from us. He wants us to receive His love. His love is what will inspire us to love. Jesus wants us to receive His love and release it to others whether they are loyal or not. That is what Jesus did for Peter and the others when he washed their feet. He was loving them out of His Father's love for them.

I have been around Christian organizations that make a bigger deal about loyalty than they do about love. I have also demanded people be loyal to me as if being loyal to me proved they were loyal to Jesus. I know what I was after when I demanded their loyalty was for a good purpose. What Christian organizations are after when loyalty is made the goal is also something good.

By asking for loyalty I was seeking a guarantee from others to quiet my fears that they would fail me and our holy task. Over time I discovered that what I really needed to quiet my fears and complete the holy task is Jesus' love for me and for them and not their promised loyalty to me and our holy task.

Only God supplied and inspired love in Jesus will quiet fears and complete the holy, loving task we are called to complete. Helping people be loved by Jesus more and more is the only way we can find the kind of lasting relationships we dream of having.

Christian organizations would do better to make a great deal about how much Jesus loves us all and how He calls us to love others like He did. They would do better to let Jesus love them deeply and then love as Jesus loves. This kind of love creates loyal connections and efforts that last. It is great love received from Jesus that produces great loyalty and unity. Human loyalty does not produce or sustain love. Peter tried to make that formula work and failed miserably.

It was great love from Jesus that restored Peter after he denied Jesus three times. Loyalty did not send Jesus to find Peter and restore him. It was great love.

If you have any hope for experiencing true loyalty from others, pray that they will receive Jesus' love moment by moment. When they receive His love they will wash your feet even if you fail them.