Skip to content

Archive

Tag: life

When I first glanced at this photo, my initial reaction was unbelief. To my surprise, it is very real.  It is the Kinnaur Road in India, and it is known as one of the deadliest roads in the world.  It is 459 km in length, or approximately 285 miles.  It is easy to see from this photo why the road is so dangerous! It is an extremely narrow road that requires great skill in navigating.  To label this road as treacherous may be an understatement; and yet, it reminded me of this passage:
Matt. 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
The Greek word for narrow is thlibo, which is translated as trouble, afflict, or suffer tribulation.  Think about that for a moment. Christ was telling His disciples that the road to life is affliction or tribulation, and there would be few that find it.
Now, imagine that you are in India, and the only way to get to your destination is the Kinnaur Road.  You may want to avoid it; you may try to see if there is an alternate route.  You may just decide that it’s not worth the risk and not go at all.  The problem is, if you don’t take the route, you won’t get to your destination.  This is what Christ was telling His disciples, and ultimately telling us: we can choose to avoid taking the route of suffering and affliction, but we won’t get to our destination.
Every time we avoid suffering, we are attempting to take a detour to the kingdom. It may seem easy to take the detour in this life, and the more detours we take, the easier it becomes.  The truth is, however, the more detours we take, the further we are removed from our destiny.  Then, one day, we will have to face the harsh truth that in the life to come, there is no detour.  There is only one road to life – the narrow road.

Luke 16:24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

When we think of the story of the rich man and Lazarus, we tend to focus on the stark contrast between the two men; Lazarus being poor, and the man being rich.  Lazarus goes into the bosom of Abraham, and the rich man is in hell.  Sometimes, however, we can be so busy focusing on one aspect of the story that we miss an even more profound teaching by our Lord Jesus.
Notice, in this passage, that the rich man calls up to Abraham, and asks Abraham to have pity on him. There would be nothing too unusual about that, since in the story he is in torment and is asking Abraham for relief.  It is what he says next, however, that is so striking: “send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”  Let’s consider this for a moment.  The rich man is asking Abraham to have pity upon him, but then he asks Abraham to “send Lazarus.”  It is as if the rich man sees Lazarus as nothing more than a poor servant!  And this brings us to an important principle:

Whatever mindset you leave this life with, is the mindset you will have in the life to come.  

Let that sink in for a moment.  If you have a selfish mindset in this life, that is the mindset you will take in the life to come.  If you have a prideful mindset, that is the mindset you will take in the life to come.  If you are filled with hatred, hatred you will carry into the life to come.  Contrast the story of the rich man and Lazarus to the story of the thief on the cross.  Notice what he says to the Lord Jesus before he dies:
Luke 23:42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Notice his mindset.  This man recognized he deserved his punishment, but in humility appealed to the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus showed him mercy.

What is your state of mind right now?  None of us knows how many days we have left remaining in this life.  There is an urgency to change your mindset now, while you have the opportunity.  This is truly what it means to repent – to change your mindset.  If you are selfish, now is the time to become selfless.  If you are harboring unforgiveness, now is the time to forgive.  Are you greedy?  Begin giving today.  In other words, change your mindset TODAY.  

 

Yesterday, we quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book “Life Together.”  Bonhoeffer also showed how such alienation and isolation from the body will result in a critical spirit and accusations against the body of Christ:

“When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament.  But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God.  Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief.  Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren.”

The deceiver is clever.  Just as the serpent was able to persuade Eve, so the enemy will persuade a man by luring him away from the body.  Once that man is separated, the thoughts then begin to run rampant.  Suddenly, as an outsider, the man “sees things” he hadn’t seen before.  This, indeed, is true, for how he is viewing the body from a different perspective.  He is viewing the body as an outsider.  This, however, is not what Christ intended.  Christ called no person out of the world to be an outsider, or loner.  Christ called us out of the world and into a community.  As Paul wrote “God sets the members in the body, every one of them, as it pleases him.”  God does not set us where we desire to be set; he sets us where it pleases him.  For a person to complain and accuse the body is akin to that person telling God that God did not know what he was doing when he placed that person in the body.  The person may as well tell God “my way is a better way!”  God indeed is building his perfect church, the bride of Christ, from imperfect people. What we, as kingdom citizens must do, is conform to God’s perfect, eternal image, rather than expect that God will conform to our imperfect, temporal, jaded image.

Today, we quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book “Life Together.”  He warns us against becoming isolated:

“Sin demands to have a man by himself.  It withdraws him from the community.  The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.”

It is so easy for us to be alone.  In isolation, our thoughts can run rampant.  In isolation, we are always correct, for what correction is needed in isolation?  This is precisely what sin does – draw us away from the body and into self.  How does sin work? First, sin tugs at those desires that lay dormant within us.  Once awakened, those desires draw us away from the body.  But it doesn’t end there.  Once we have fully immersed ourselves in our desire, we come to ourselves to realize what we have done.  Then, guilt sets in.  Guilt then convinces us we can’t go back to the body, for what will the body think of us?  The shame continues to keep us isolated from the body.  And since we are isolated from the body, where else can we go but to return to the sin we desired?  The truth is, we cannot overcome the desires on our own; indeed, they are greater and mightier than we are.  This is why we need the body.  We are weakened in isolation; we are strengthened in community.

roachesRom. 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Have you ever rented an apartment where you discovered you had unwanted roommates?  I did.  I remember in college I rented an efficiency for the first time.  My sister helped me to move in, and when she opened the cabinet beneath the sink, she exclaimed “I see you have friends living with you.”
Being quite naive at the time, I asked her what she meant.  She then showed me the dead roach.  Needless to say, my stay there was filled with insecticides, traps, and bombs.  But no matter how hard I tried to eradicate my efficiency of those creatures, they would always seem to return.
They were everywhere!
I was reminded of this experience as I read the above passage.  There is an unwanted housemate in each of us.  Paul said that in our body, which is a temple of the Lord, sin resides.  That unwanted housemate has taken up residence in our minds.  At times, it seems that when I rid my mind of one of those insects, another six or seven seem to appear!  Even when I set off a bomb to kill them all, they seem to reappear with a vengeance.   The truth is, we will be warring against this unwanted housemate for the remainder of our lives.  We must awaken each morning prepared to fight against this housemate throughout the day, for he will appear in many ways to distract us, to discourage us, to defeat us.  We must also recognize that we are not in this battle alone; indeed, we are individual members of a mighty army.  We must be sure to equip ourselves with not only the armor to protect us, but the weapons that we are to use to defeat this enemy.  This fight must be part of our daily regimen.  We must become aware of its devices.  We are now soldiers in an army that must be prepared to fight 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Every time we evict that unwanted roommate from our premises, he is searching the premises looking for a way back in.  May we endeavor to be diligent in our fight to keep our temple clean.

Empty-Tomb-Picture-07This weekend, many will be celebrating the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  They will dress in their best outfits and join many in listening  to the annual message of how the sepulcher was empty when the stone was rolled away.  They will hear an inspiring message of hope and joy while being seated in the midst of perhaps one of the most popular services of the year.  Extra chairs will be set out in order to accommodate the extra attendees for this week’s service.  When the service is concluded, many will likely stay and enjoy a fellowship meal with other members and guests, or enjoy a special meal with friends and family.  Then, they will plan on celebrating the event again next year.
Is that what the resurrection has become?  An annual event for us to celebrate once a year?  In the kingdom of God, this resurrection is something we are to be thankful for daily, with our renewed lives being the proof that we were raised with Christ from the dead.  Yes, we too were dead – dead in sins and trespasses, dead to the things of God, and dead to Christ Jesus himself.  It is when we understand that the Jesus who was crucified, dead and buried, was the one that God made Lord and Christ that we begin to see the marvel and splendor of his eternal kingdom.  This is something to be celebrated not annually, but daily.  And how much more should we rejoice and be thankful that while we were yet estranged from the promises of God, God in his mercy and loving kindness revealed the gospel to us, that we might be able to hear it and live!
We are to walk in the resurrected life daily – “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”  This truth does not happen once.  It occurs each day that the Lord God gives us the breath of life to be living epistles of his resurrection power.  It happens every time you submit to the rule of Christ in an area of your life where you once ruled.  For the saints of God, the resurrection isn’t celebrated once a year; it is celebrated daily by living resurrected lives.

in_the_beginning“In the beginning, God created.”  These are the first five words in the book of Genesis.  Perhaps you have seen these words dozens of times.  You have probably memorized them.  And, more than likely, each time you look at those words, your frame of reference when reading those words is time.  We tend to think of the phrase “in the beginning” as a point in time when a process starts.  That is quite natural, since we exist in a temporal world where we measure time.  But the words “in the beginning” have another meaning.  It also means, in order of priority, the first, chief, principal, or choice part.  In other words, in terms of priority, the first thing we should remember is that God created.  The chief thing to remember is that God created.  In everything, we must remember God created.  In times of lack, we must remember God created provision.  In times of temptation, God created a way of escape.  Everything that God creates has eternal implications; even the best creations of man are merely temporal.  Today, focus on that which is eternal.  Today, remember in every situation you encounter, God created.

thoughts-have-power_p1622004Phil. 4:Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. (Amplified version)

What do you think about on a daily basis?  What preoccupies your mind?  For many people, today is the first day of a work week.  Their thought may be “oh boy, the start of another week.”  Others may be thinking about bills that have to be paid.  Perhaps you are focused on a big event, such as a wedding or a graduation.  Still others may be thinking about the controversy surrounding this year’s Presidential election.  The real questions, however, are what guides or influences your thoughts?  What do you spend most of your time thinking about? Paul sets a standard for what should be the essence of our thinking.  “But, it isn’t practical to believe that I can think about these things all the time.  I have to live in the real world.”  How can I be a light in a dark world, if my thinking is like the world?  How am I going to be different if my thinking, my acting, and my doing is the same as everyone else in the world?  Are we not called to be a peculiar people?  If we think about these things continually, eventually these thoughts will influence our actions.  This type of thinking is the result of a renewed mind.

Last week, we saw the video of the backwards bike.  The instructor informed us that it took him many hours to learn how to ride the bike, because his mind and his thinking had become rigid from being so accustomed to riding a traditional bike.  He had to unlearn how to ride the traditional bike, then train his mind to ride the backwards bike.  It is the same in the kingdom of God.  We have to unlearn how we did things in the world, and train our minds to do things the kingdom way.  Learning to think this way takes hours of work, accompanied by the actual practice of doing things according to the new way of thinking.

How do you begin?  You begin in prayer.  “Ask, and it shall be given.”  Ultimately, our thinking should have its roots in the one foundation that cannot be shaken, and that is the kingdom of God.  Like the leaven in the parable spoken by Jesus Christ, thinking about this kingdom continually will eventually permeate every area of your life.  This thinking will change the way you look at your job, your finances, your relationships, your health, and every other area of your life that you allow to be influenced by this way of thinking.  When do you begin?  Begin this new way of thinking today.

backwards bicycleRight now, you may be thinking “what does a backwards bicycle have to do with the kingdom of God?”  Before I proceed any further, please watch the following video: http://www.sciencedump.com/content/i-bet-even-you-cant-ride-backwards-bicycle

This little video illustrates precisely why the Lord Jesus said that the road to life is narrow, and there will be few that find it.  Did you see his first point, that knowledge does not equal understanding?  Intellectually and academically, he knew how the bike worked; but when it came time to actually RIDING the bike (application), it was much harder to do.  Certainly, it is easy to recite a passage from the Bible, such as do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, but the question is can I DO it?  I am reminded at this moment of a passage where Paul stated that knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.  In other words, knowledge without application produces pride, but application of that knowledge strengthens and builds up.
Another profound observation was made by one of the dear brothers in the fellowship.  He noticed that while it took the man eight months to learn to ride the backwards bicycle, it took only a few minutes for him to revert back to riding the normal bicycle.  This was another powerful illustration to show how easy it is for us to revert back to our fleshly ways, unless we make the conscious decision DAILY to die of our old ways.  Think about that for a moment – eight months to develop a new habit, only minutes to revert back to the old way.  This is why we must renew our thinking and recognize that we are interdependent – in other words, we need one another to continue on this path toward the kingdom of God.  Remember, that road is a hard one, and there will be few that actually find it and successfully travel that road.
It’s time for us learn how to ride that backwards bicycle.

Eph. 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

As we approach what is for us this Thanksgiving holiday, let us be mindful of the fact that we should be thankful first and foremost that God had mercy on our lives and allowed us to hear the good news of his kingdom.  Just as Israel did nothing that could ever be deemed worthy of earning the distinction of being declared holy, there is nothing we could do to ever earn the privilege of hearing the gospel.  We heard it simply because of the grace of a sovereign God.  But just as he had mercy on our lives, so too should we have mercy on the lives of others.  Be merciful toward others on purpose, and may the Lord bless you and your family during this time.

Beginning Monday, November 30, Ron Mosby will be on Periscope broadcasting A Daily Glimpse.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @mosbyknowsme and on Periscope: A Daily Glimpse – mosbyknowsme.

Finally, Ron will be conducting a discussion and book signing at the Triple Moon Coffee Company, 1100 Central Ave., Middletown, OH 45044 on Saturday, December 5, 2015, from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.  If you have friends or family in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas,  let them know so they can come out and discuss the kingdom of God and have an opportunity to buy a copy of A Glimpse of the Kingdom.

May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.