Lesson 11 -- fourth quarter 2007
November 11, 2007
© Copyright 2007
And I said, "Behold, here I am."
Sounds like pretty terrific stuff, doesn't it! But what if we consider the implications of such an exchange? When I respond to God with the presentation of myself, I am putting myself fully at His disposal. Fully, holding nothing back! Just as Joseph did, whether in pit or prison or privilege or power. No further understanding of God and His ways is required, only faith and obedience and a surrendered will. In the final analysis, nothing really matters any more but doing the expressed will of God.
The problem is, often there are other elements that resist this kind of all-out submission to the Lord. This need not be a bad sign or a source of discouragement. Rather, it can be a time of reaffirming our commitment to God above all else (even our own self-centered egotistical self-interest).
Consider some items that frequently conflict with my acceptance of God's will in my life.
My Plans. After I invest so much time, effort and energy into the development of a plan, I very strongly resist shelving or ditching that plan. My plan may be of the noblest sort, but if God's will bypasses that plan...then so must I. Whether the plan is significant (career, education, travel, for examples) or mundane (a purchase, a diversion or whatever), I must turn away from it if I would follow after God. Can I do that? And do it with a ready heart and a cheerful mind?
My Hopes. Oh, how I have hoped for some things! Perhaps it was a mission assignment or a teaching job or a certain friendship. Maybe I had my eye on a specific church office or special summer activity. Whatever it was, this hope occupied a lot of my thinking and a lot of my dreaming. To have that hope dashed seemed too big a hurdle to even be likely. And just as I came to the point of seeing that hope become reality...God called me to something else. What a choice!
My Self. In a way, herein lies the crux of the whole matter, right? I suspect that if I were always objective enough, I would see that all my choices involving the will of God boil down to this essence: God or me? I imagine we would rather think that is an over-simplification. But let's face this squarely -- except for my own self, nothing in my life is big enough or bold enough to challenge God! Can I so surrender to God and His will that even self bends before Him? Yes. But will I?
The Cost. Really, that's what each of the previous three items are about, right? All along the way, Joseph had to weigh the cost of doing right. I'm guessing he also weighed the cost of not doing God's will. There is a cost either way, you know. I might fear the cost of following God, but the cost of turning away from Him is far more fearsome!
"But how does all this pertain to today's lesson? It's supposed to be about Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dreams and about Pharaoh elevating Joseph to high authority!" Hmmm. Do you suppose Joseph had to struggle at all with those four areas long before he stood before (and then alongside) Pharaoh? And afterward as well? Sure! So there you are. This all very much pertains to today's lesson. No one can be God's spokesman until he is fully surrendered to God.
A disciple is one who loves the Master. Love moves the disciple. While he is conscious of duty, responsibility and requirement, these do not drive him. Because love does. This love far exceeds his love for others, even those otherwise dearest and most precious to him. This love even goes way beyond his love for himself and all that he would naturally value in himself and in his life. This love isn't some mere human emotion or sentiment. This love is a commitment to obedience to and self-sacrifice for the Master. So . . .
A disciple is one who lives for the Master. The disciple's love compels him to serve his Master. Cost is no longer an issue because he has already surrendered his all to the Master. You see, the disciple has chosen to be a servant. A disciple is not to be confused with modern-day servants whom we commonly know as employees. A disciple could more accurately be compared to the slaves of years gone by. The focus of his life is the Master. The purpose of his life is the Master. His delight and desire is the will of the Master. Therefore . . .
A disciple is one who lives like the Master. Compelled by love and addicted to service, the disciple naturally lives like his Master. His values, his motives, his thoughts, his speech, his actions -- these all not only glow in the reflection of the Master, they spring forth directly from Him. Staying in touch with his Master through prayer and meditation on His Word, the disciple daily grows in his likeness to the Master. No wonder . . .
A disciple is one who loves other disciples. The Master Himself made sure we would get this point straight and unambiguously: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). The Master left no room in His kingdom for disconnected, independent discipleship. In fact, He prayed to His Father thus: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21).
I was anxious to get married. Anxious enough to give up the security and familiarity of my parental home. Anxious enough to make some deep, far-reaching promises. Anxious enough to give up certain social liberties and take on some formidable financial obligations. And I didn't consider any of it a burden. I didn't have to do any of this, I wanted to.
Just how anxious am I to follow Jesus? Would to God that I be anxious enough to follow Jesus that I want to be a disciple as described in the preceding section. How about you?
Jesus once asked a short but probing question, "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:37). I doubt any of us would say, "Sure, I'll spend eternity in hell just so I can do what I like in this life." But so many people willingly indulge in those things that not only jeopardize their souls for eternity but also warp and shrivel their souls in this life.
Think of every aspect of your life as doing business for your soul. Make sure you get the best deal! What are giving in exchange for your soul?
|Share This Page|
Thoughts for the Week: Archive | RSS Feed | Sponsor adding more | Put it on your site!