Day 30, "To the End of the Age"
Well, this is it. Last day of our 30-Day Journey with David and Kim. I hope that it has provided encouragement and inspiration to those who have been involved. I know that it opened my eyes to some things that I had not considered before.
With this final lesson, David and Kim end with the Great Commission. Jesus essentially lays out his plan for each of us with regards for evangelizing the world. He has the full authority to do this, and we need to remember that we have been commanded to do these things by the person who has ALL authority. Regardless of what other rules people put in our way, we have been commanded by God to proclaim his Kingdom.
But it doesn't end with proclamation or even baptism. Once a person accepts their place in the Kingdom of God they continue to grow by learning and obeying. Jesus ended his instruction with "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." You may recall as a child when the fore department paid a visit to your school and taught you how to stop drop and roll if you caught on fire. It's not just enough to be taught what to do, you have to put it into practice. You have to obey. It does you no good if you catch on fire and think about what it means to stop, drop and roll or the theological significance behind those words. You have to obey the instruction for it to do you any good.
Our actions do not save us, at least not with regard to our eternal salvation, but they are evidence that we truly believe what Jesus said. Without obedience, we are like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. He likely knew that it was better to build on the rock, but he decided to do things his own way instead and as a result he suffered calamity. If we know the teachings of God, but do not OBEY them, our foolishness will have eternal consequences. Fortunate for us, we have the Spirit to encourage and guide us as we learn to obey.
Mike @ DCC
Day 27, "The Heart of a Giver"
I definitely can't condemn Driftwood in any way concerning its giving. Our church has shown me time and time again just how generous the people can be. Even so, I am sure that there are some who feel like they should give, but for some reason or another simply don't. Maybe they feel like they can't. Like the devotion pointed out, it's not about how much we give but rather the condition of our heart in the process.
I kinda compare it to when Leslie and I go out to eat sometimes. If we go somewhere that requires a tip for the waiter/waitress we usually leave about a 20% tip give or take depending on the service. Sometimes, however, for no real reason we just feel generous and leave and extra big tip (Big in our mind anyway). I don't say this to brag, but the feeling we get when we do that is a great one because we wanted to bless that person with what is, in the grand scheme of things, really a pretty small gift. Leslie and I receive joy for doing that. So I wonder... what if every now and then, instead of getting out the checkbook and writing the standard check for X amount of dollars we wrote a check that was just more than typical because we WANTED to do something more to bless the church?
Again, Driftwood has shown me time and time again its generosity. Generosity that I have often been the beneficiary of. But every now and then maybe we ought to give something extra not because the church or our own conscience demands it but because we just want to bless God with a cheerful, giving heart.
Mike @ DCC
Day 25, "Who is in the Storm with You?"
Nelson Mandela once said: "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." We all want to be brave. None of us desires to be a coward. We don’t want to be the one shaking in the corner, fearing what is to come. We want to be the one that stands tall in the face of adversity. We want to be brave.
But what makes us brave? What makes us able to stand up to the difficulties ahead of us? The disciples were terrified when they were in the middle of the storm. Why couldn’t they be brave? Jesus ultimately makes it a matter of faith. And really, the same could be said of any situation that requires bravery. You don’t act bravely if you fear that there is no way to overcome the obstacles ahead. You are brave when you face those obstacles, having faith that you will get through them. I’m reminded of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were threatened with the fiery furnace.
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
They were brave because they had faith. Without faith, these men would have never stood up to the king in this way. They would have only worried for their lives. That’s what the disciples were doing, worrying for their lives. But Jesus told them to be brave, to have faith. I think it’s fair to say that even Jesus experienced fear when he was approaching his arrest. He was not looking forward to the cross, and the pain awaiting him probably had him terrified. But he trusted in the Father’s plan and went through with it. He had faith.
We will all face times in our lives when we experience fear. It says much about us how we respond to that fear. Will we shy away from troubles or face them head on, confident in the one who is right here with us.
…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Mike @ DCC
Day 20, "Signs of His Pleasure"
I am glad David and Kim put this devotion in their book. Over the course of reading it we may have started to develop an entirely negative view of the horizontal, but that's not entirely accurate. We still have to do the horizontal things, at least some of them, but need to do so with our mind on the vertical implications.
We could talk about baptism all day, and there would be many different voices heard even within our own congregation I am sure! But the devotion this morning isn't a theological treatise on the nature, power, and implications of baptism. David points out that we should look for signs of God's pleasure when we do that which pleases him. I agree, but I also want to balance that view with a warning.
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’?8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’?9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We areunworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
My point is that we should not expect and special recognition for doing what we have already been commanded to do. Living in accordance with the teachings of Jesus isn't something something that we get extra credit for, it's what he requires of us. On the other hand, our God is a loving Father, and good parent doesn't like to spoil their kids when they do something good, even if they had to be told to do it? Look for signs of God's approval, but also be content knowing that your Father in Heaven is pleased with your obedience.
Day 18, "Praying What God Wants to Answer"
Often times, I think that when we pray something like this, we say our prayer and think our responsibility ends there. Right after Jesus commanded his disciples to pray for the Lord to send out workers for the harvest, do you know what happened next? Jesus sent out the twelve into the towns of Israel in order to prepare the way. They were to preach and to heal, going about with the full authority that Jesus gave them.
When we pray something, especially something that we know is in line with the will of God, we better be prepared to be the answer to that prayer. If we pray for God to provide the homeless with shelter on a cold winter night, we better be prepared to find some way to provide that shelter for them ourselves if they show up on our doorstep. If we pray for the hungry to be filled, we better be prepared to give out food. When we pray for God's will to be done, we ought to be prepared to be the instruments of God in fulfilling that very prayer.
Mike @ DCC
Day 14, "Where Shall We Buy Bread?"
An alternative view to that presented by David is that the crowd wanted to make Jesus king not because they were thinking about their next meal, but because they had recognized that he could very well be the Messiah and the Messiah was, in the eyes of many, suppose to be an authoritative figurehead who would overthrow the reigning empire and reestablish the throne of David. The Messiah was supposed to be a military and political savior. That's not why Jesus came, and it wouldn't have been in anyone's best interest for a Jewish Revolution to start right then and there. That would happen soon enough and result in Jerusalem being burned to the ground. Jesus wasn't looking for a temporary, horizontal kingdom. He was looking to the future for an eternal, vertical kingdom.
Regardless of their exact motivation for wanting to make Jesus king, they desire was driven by horizontal wants and needs. All too often I think we look at our savior the same way. God, I need this. God, please do that. We often seek God out of selfish wants and desires. I think we would do well to remember the "Your will be done" portion of the Lord's prayer. God has plans that are so much bigger than whatever needs we think we have.
Mike @ DCC
Day 12, "Search Me, Oh God!"
"If you are like us, we can both recall times in our lives when we have done or said "good things" not because of the call of Christ, but to be liked or well thought of."
This is exactly the kind of situation I found myself in as junior in high-school at a CIY event at Anderson University. I grew up a Christian raised by Christians who were raised by Christians that grew up in Christian homes (and so on and so forth). It was that night I realized that I wasn't sure if I had been living a Christian life because it was what I really believed or because it was expected of me. Most of my young life I was trying to live up to expectations, and most of the time I did so. But now I had to make a decision. Was this MY faith of was it my parents' faith. Reflecting on that question, as any serious teenager would, I realized that it really was my own faith and from that point on I was going to have to live that way. I couldn't just keep up a good appearance of being a Christian, I had to actually be one.
Some of us are masters of keeping up a good appearance. But we can be selfish even in our generosity. While those around us may not be able to search our hearts and motives, the Lord above sees through it all and will judge us not only for what is said and done but for the conditions of our hearts as well.
Mike @ DCC
Day 10, "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand"
The title for this devotion is peculiar. We have all heard the song, "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less", but what does it mean? In the hymn, the rock is the person of Jesus Christ whom our faith must be built upon. Those not believing in Christ are those on the sand, and sinking sand no less! I think we often take the meaning behind good and well-intended songs and transfer that meaning back onto scripture. So when we think of the teaching of the wise man building on the rock and the foolish man building on the sand, we think the wise man believes in Jesus and the foolish man doesn't. The reality is, however, that the wise man was the one who put Jesus teachings into action while the other just sat listned to the instruction but never acted on it. Much like a church-goer who comes and listens to sermons every week but never puts the teachings into action.
This isn't the only song where this has happened, though it may be one of the more subtle ones. Plenty of people think Jesus never cried as a baby because of the song "Away in a Manger." We need to be careful not to let good and well-intended songs misguide our theology and beliefs.
I'm reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus ended the story he didn't just say "Now what have you learned?" He told them, "Go and do likewise."
Mike @ DCC
Day 8, "When the Journey Becomes the Destination"
Let's face it, we fall to temptation easy enough when there is no greater good to be accomplished by it. Most of the time when we sin it's for entirely selfish reasons with no real consideration for the big picture. How much harder is it not to sin when that sin seems justified?
One of the first illustrations I thought of was Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor. For Robin Hood, the end (providing for the poor and hungry) justified the means (stealing from the corrupt and oppressive rich). You could say that the rich deserved it, and I would agree that they did, but that doesn't change the fact that stealing ins sinful regardless of who you are stealing from. God shows great concern for the widows, orphans, downtrodden and the poor, so the temptation to steal resources in order to help them would seem justified.
Had Jesus bowed to Satan and become the king of this world at that moment, the entire world may have avoided 2000 years of suffering, war, famine and pain. If any sin ever seemed justified, that would be it. But the end didn't justify the means. Instead, we all would have been worse off in the big picture because salvation would not be available through the almost perfect blood of Jesus.
Mike @ DCC
Day 6, "Living on the Living Word"
Fasting is not a discipline that particularly appeals to me or my stomach, but that doesn't mean that I should ignore the spiritual benefits of fasting and simply disregard it as a thing of the past. Fasting isn't merely dieting dressed up in spiritual jargon. The intent is to force us to think vertically, keeping God and His purposes in mind even while our body keeps trying to bring us back to the horizontal.
It's not that eating is bad or unholy. God made us in a way that our bodies require food. In fact, a number of miracles in the Bible were related to food. Fasting, however, should help us devote time to God that would normally be spent taking care of our horizontal needs.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Our Father knows that we have needs, and will not be angry at us for meeting those needs (Of course, we should also keep in mind the difference between "Needs" and "Wants"). However, our greater desire should be for our Father's Kingdom, and one way we display that desire is through fasting and prayer. We can meet our horizontal needs without chasing after them. Paul often used a race metaphor in his letters. We can't finish the race if we are chasing the wrong things. Prayer and fasting help us stay on the right track.
Mike @ DCC