Thursday, May 7, 2009

Devotional 070509

Dear brother and sister,
Good morning. Since my trip went by so quickly with overwhelming exposures of new things and experiences, I didn’t have time to sink in at all until I went through the pictures I took yesterday. It was indeed so rich an experience! I am sure you will hear about it in my devotional sharing in the next couples of days if not weeks. Those memories are precious when they stir our passions for Christ from time to time. After all, this is what meditation means to accomplish; not just to muse on what had happened in the past, but to allow the past encourage and transform our lives in the present.

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?" (Luke 14:28)Our Lord refers not to a cost we have to count, but to a cost which He has counted. The cost was those thirty years in Nazareth, those three years of popularity, scandal and hatred, the deep unfathomable agony in Gethsemane, and the onslaught at Calvary - the pivot upon which the whole of Time and Eternity turns. Jesus Christ has counted the cost. Men are not going to laugh at Him at last and say - "This man began to build, and was not able to finish."

The conditions of discipleship lay down by Our Lord in Luke 14: 26, 27 and 33 mean that the men and women He is going to use in His mighty building enterprises are those in whom He has done everything. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple...Any of you who do not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Our Lord implies that the only men and women He will use in His building enterprises are those who love Him personally, passionately and devotedly beyond any of the closest ties on earth. The conditions are stern, but they are glorious.

All that we build is going to be inspected by God. Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own? These are days of tremendous enterprises, days when we are trying to work for God, and therein is the snare. Profoundly speaking, we can never work for God. Jesus takes us over for His enterprises, His building schemes entirely, and no soul has any right to claim where he shall be put.

As I listened to the prayer of two Turkish pastors through an interpreter, they both ended with a similar saying, “for the glory of Christ.” It captures my attention as they mentioned this phrase. How often do we seek the glory of Christ in whatever we do and pray for in everyday of our lives? But as these Turkish believers counting their cost to follow Christ, they focus on the Glory of Christ. As Paul said to the Romans, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (8:18). I guessed when believers are fascinated by human glory or busily seeking their temporal glory and success in life, we will not pay attention to the glory of Christ. On a contrary, when believers are risking everything to become Christians, they do it with one thing in mind: the Glory of Christ.

Let’s encourage each other to seek the glory of Christ even though we do not need to forsake everything like the way early Church or Christians in Muslim world have to consider. The more we concentrate on the glory of Christ, the more we are delivered from the bondage of this materialistic world. It surprised me how sophisticated and beautiful the city of Ephesus was when I visited the ruins. I am sure believers at Paul’s time faced similar temptations for materialistic glory as we do today. That’s why he encouraged the Ephesians, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24).

I imagined what Paul might be thinking as he stood at the door way of the magnificent library of Ephesus. People came to this glorious building to seek knowledge from their great philosophers and teachers, but how many came to seek the eternal wisdom of Christ?Don’t be fooled by this world. “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is” (Eph 5:15-17). Hope the words of Paul reminds you how to make your day count!

Love you for the glory of Christ,

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