Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Living Radically For Christ Pt. 1

What does it mean to live a radical life for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Where will it take us? What will we have to give up? What does our Savior authoritatively teach us in how to become one of His disciples? The text is Luke 14 and I will hopefully answer those questions with humility of spirit, because this passage was convicting to me when I read it, and when I listened to a sermon on this particular passage. So bear with me when I try to unpack this passage.

Luke 14:25-33
Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.

In this passage, we have three conditions that Jesus lays out for discipleship and we have two parabolic illustrations that warn us about making a careless decision to follow Christ. However, in this first part, I will thoroughly unpack the first condition of discipleship that Jesus clearly lays straight out for us. The first condition is found in verse 26. If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Ok, I know what some of you are already thinking. Hatred to my own parents, hatred to my own family, hatred to my own children, hatred to my own brothers and sisters. I thought that Jesus told us to love them. Isn't hate the exact opposite of love? Yes, in some sense of the actual truth, those answers are totally correct, but the danger here is watering down what Jesus is trying to say. What I mean is that, with this particular passage, some people try to fudge a little bit by saying, "Is Jesus truly teaching us to literally hate our brother, hate our mother, hate our father, hate our children. Come on, the Bible tells us to honor our parents and love our family. The Bible doesn't tell us to hate them." So because of that, we don't give a second thought to this passage. We turn our blind eye towards this passage and hope that it will go away; even when Jesus is clearly telling us how to be one of His disciples. So, what is Jesus really trying to exposit here?

The Greek word for hate is miseo. This word takes on two different extensions. The first one is to despise or to utterly hate something or someone, and the second extension takes on an entirely different form. The second extension is to love less. The second form makes more sense than the first form in the context of this particular passage, but what or who are we too love more than our parents, brothers, sisters, children. I know you can easily get this answer. Our first and foremost desire should be to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength (Matthew 22:37). Our love towards our parents, brothers, and sisters should be hatred compared to our love for God. That is what Jesus is trying to teach us. Our love for God and for His Word should far exceed any possible iota of love toward our parents. That doesn't mean we discontinue honoring our parents or obeying them. Just the opposite. If we truly love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will want to obey His commandments, we will want to trust Him daily, and we will want to desire a relationship with Him. With that said, loving and honoring God, first and foremost above all things, will deepen our affections and love for our parents, which in result begins and ends with the first and greatest commandment. Our chief end should be to love the Lord with everything that we have and that is just the beginning of living a radical life for the cause of Christ. End Part 1

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Power of Prayer

Have you ever had a prayer request answered? It may have not been a huge or amazing request but something simple. Or maybe it was a big request and yet God fully answered it showing His amazing power.

Yesterday our neighbors and good friends were having an open house in honor of their four oldest children. As the day was approaching, they were working hard to get everything cleaned up around the house and buying food and everything else needed to make a party go well. However, the weather forecast was calling for rain all day. Everyone (our family and theirs) started praying. Saturday morning came. It was raining and stormy all morning. The open house started at 2:00. 1:00. It was so dark and raining so hard you could hardly see out the windows. 1:30, still pouring rain. We looked at the radar and there was still a ton of rain headed straight in our direction. Said it would rain until at least 5:00. 2:00. The rain stopped and the sky cleared up. Not one drop of rain fell for the rest of the afternoon and evening. And try to tell me that wasn't God.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

"…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

Don't underestimate the power of prayer!