Lesson 9 -- third quarter 2008
July 27, 2008
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Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus Christ was born of a woman some two thousand years ago, but He has always been the Son of the Father. Being perfect God, He became perfect man. Because of Him, that perfection becomes available to me, enabling me to live a life that's pleasing both to the Father and to the Son. His divine power works in me to the praise of His glory!
Savior. I once was lost in sin with no hope and no way of recovery on my own. But in Jesus I have experienced salvation full and free. I had nothing to commend me to God, but He loved me anyhow, through Jesus creating in me a new heart and a renewed spirit. He has delivered me from the wages of sin and has bestowed on me the free gift of God. I am redeemed by the blood of the lamb!
Lord. I used to think I was my own boss, not knowing that I served Satan and sin. Now Jesus reigns in my life as my sole Master, having freed me from my bondage to sin, to Satan, and to myself. Where He leads, I will follow. Where He sends, I will go. What He says, I will do. I will live my life according to His. I yield to Him the members of my body as instruments of righteousness. I will seek first His kingdom and righteousness. Fully surrendered to Him (and growing in that surrender), I will be true to Him.
Shepherd. He gave His life for me and I accepted His sacrifice. That makes me His sheep! That means He knows me! I will pay attention to no other voice. I will trust in Him and not be afraid, because He is with me and restores my soul. He will withhold from me no good thing, so I shall not want. When I wander, He will seek me and lead me back to the paths of righteousness where I belong. With this Shepherd, goodness and mercy shall surely follow me all the days of my life!
The Almighty. Jesus is absolute sovereign. Before Him shall every knee bow. As King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He will someday sit on the throne of final judgment. All power has been given to Him everywhere. Being omnipotent, He freely sends us forth to do His work on the earth, assuring us that He and His unlimited power accompany and enable us. With the Almighty, why shall I fear what anyone can do to me?
Creator. He made everything. Everywhere I see demonstrations of His creativity -- animals that tunnel around under the ground; snakes that come out of eggs; little seeds that become huge trees producing millions more little seeds; ducks that fly, walk, paddle, and dive; people that invent the most amazing things. With gravity He keeps the power of centrifugal force from flinging us this spinning planet. He keeps the atmosphere spinning with the earth so that we don't get blown all over the place. Every day is a common experience of the grandiose -- because Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. All things were created by Him and for Him. Even yet, He is busy creating new creatures in Him, designed for good works that abound to His praise and glory. And the day is coming when He will create a new heaven and a new earth.
Who is Jesus to you?
Following Jesus requires that I quit following myself. But we must not confuse mere self-denial with following Jesus. Self-denial can easily become a substitute for following Jesus. We are called to deny self and follow Jesus. Whoever would be His disciple can do so only by surrendering completely to His will. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).
How ironic that we humans can strive so hard to attain personal purpose and fulfillment while avoiding the very path that would lead us to that goal. We don't want to waste our lives on purposeless emptiness, yet we tend to flinch from applying the only principle that will most assuredly make our lives worthwhile. Anyone wishing to make his life worthwhile will achieve that goal only by giving up his life for Jesus and His work. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35).
When Jesus says "whosoever," He means everyone and He makes no exceptions.
Denying ourselves and taking up our cross can seem like such a waste of life, potential, and opportunity. Sometimes it seems more like a loss. And in such cases we may find ourselves yielding to the desire to prevent such a loss by opting to indulge our selves.
The only way to make the most of life and its potential and opportunity is to follow Jesus. He will give us an abundant life. But He will do so only if we deny ourselves and take up our cross. In other words, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25).
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