Earlier this month, my daily devotional (My Upmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers) camped out for several days on "Keys to the Missionary". Each day covered a different element of life. God used each day's lesson to pull back another laying to understanding my Christian life and God's intentions for me.
These lessons will most likely form the basis structure of the "What is a Disciple?" section of this website. Here were my "take aways":
October 14 - The Key to the Missionary's Work
The key to my work is "the authority of Jesus Christ, not the needs of the lost."
Don't focus on the needs of the lost? At first this confused me and seemed wrong. How can I not focus on the needs of the lost. Isn't this the whole reason Jesus has not yet returned ... the lost need to be focused on.
As I read and God worked on my heart, I came to realize my focus is always to be on God and never on anything else. "In everything you do put God first, and He will direct you and bless your efforts with success. Proverbs 3:6. How quickly we humans make idols out of everything! Even our efforts to tell others about Jesus can become an idol. Oswald was not saying ignore the lost and their needs, he was saying the needs of the lost should not be our FOCUS.
I am to live as a witness to Jesus. I am to abide in Him and have His words to abide in me. (John 15:7) The key to my discipleship is to bow my knee to the authority of Jesus Christ ... I am to live as a witness to Jesus and abide in Him while His words abide in me. Oswald goes on to point out that, "Where we are placed is then a matter of indifference to us, because God sovereignly engineers our goings."
Jeepers creepers! Where God places me geographically and/or situationally should be a matter of indifference to me! Where a live, what city I am in, what my house or apartment looks like, my form of transportation, my clothes, my .... fill in the blank .... really does not matter. Al that truly matter is I have learned to focus only on God and abide in Him and have His words abide in me ... and he will work out the rest.
My life is not about living in a certain place on this planet or doing a certain thing or being in a certain situation. Sitting in a Roman prison, the Apostle Paul said "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12 NIV) What is the secret Paul had learned?
Let's me step back and take a broader look at Paul's geographical location and his situation. Please keep in mind I am NOT some theological scholar ... I am just documenting my observations and thoughts from my own tiny fallen, finite, fallible human perspective. So be sure to filter my words through that lens. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. And my conclusions and insights are for my own process of working out my salvation .... and just might be totally wrong. Always do your own diligence in reading God's Word and asking Him to reveal to you what He is saying and what he wants you to understand. That said ... here we go ... these are my "take aways" to try to understand what God is saying to me (He might have something totally different to say to you).
In Philippians 4 .... writing from a prison ... Paul he says:
Verse 1: "stand firm in the Lord in this way"
Verse 4: "Rejoice in the Lord always"
Verse 5: "Let your gentleness be evident to all."
Verse 6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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."
Verse 8: "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
Verse 9: "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
Verse 11-13: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
As I work my way through this, I am to stand firm in the Lord by rejoicing always, showing gentleness not anxiety, praying and giving thanks, having thoughts focus on what is excellent and praiseworthy, and putting what God teaches me into practice. In standing firm in the Lord in these ways, the peace of God will be with me, my heart and mind will be guarded, and I can weather the ups and downs of this temporal life on earth through Him who gives me strength.
Experiencing God's peace regardless of my geographical location and/ or circumstances - that is what I desire. I can have this my having God as my sole FOCUS.
As far as my location and circumstances, for me it is summed in in John 15:7: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." Now, before I all shout Hallelujah and write out my Christmas List for God to fulfill - He will will do this IF I am abiding in Him and His words are abiding in me. Rest assured that this little detail completely changes my wish list. What I might ask of God when I am totally on the same page with Him, will be very different from what I might ask when I am focused elsewhere ... like on myself or my circumstance or my degree of comfort and happiness. Where is my focus to be? "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18
I could continue on for pages and pages .... but let's try to wrap up. Bottom line of what I think God wants me to learn from the October 14th devotional is that my focus in life is to bow my knee to Jesus Christ and focus my heart only on Him ... this is my "job" as a Christian.
"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind."
- Ecclesiastes 12:13