hands to the plow

Imagine standing in front of wooded land.  The underbrush is thick where a path has yet to be made.  Imagine a foreman handing you a fine, wooden shovel, and saying, “Alright, you know what to do.  Get to work!”  What is this work that he’s talking about?

Just a day earlier you saw an ad in the newspaper looking for workers to come out to the nearby wildlife refuge and make hiking and scenic trails throughout the park.  You yourself love to visit that park and figured that helping out with the new trails would be a great way to “give back.”  But now that you’ve seen the work at hand–the very hard, grueling, back-breaking work that will cost a sacrifice rather than pay you with immediate pleasures–, what do you do?

***

“As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

To another he said, “Follow me.”

But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.  But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:57-62

from: http://yesteryearsnews.wordpress.com/category/prairie-life/

When asked who he was–if he was Elijah, the Prophet, or even the Christ–John the Baptist responded, “I am the voice of one crying out, ‘In the wilderness make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:19-23, Isaiah 40:3)….

Are we making straight the way of the Lord?  Are we working, even toiling for the spreading of his glory and fame?  And if Jesus came up to you and me today and said, “Here’s the cost of being my disciple and the work and sacrifice that’s at hand…  Come and follow me.”  What would we say to him?  Would we drop everything… EVERYTHING…to follow him?  Would we glance back at all that we thought before were gifts of blessings and favor?  Or would the promise of his presence and a life spent for him be of surpassing worth, enough to spur our feet forward and to set our hands to the plow?

fully known

Isn’t it amazing how the memory works?  I was sitting outside this morning for coffee and Bible study, and it felt as though fall was already in the air.  Now for those of you that do not live in Mississippi or have never been here and experienced the heat and humidity… let me tell you… a cool morning in August is RARE!  But all of a sudden, I found myself going back to my freshman year of college and that feeling of  walking to class on sidewalks covered with colorful leaves.  I remembered that exciting and scary place of self-discovery, desiring to find myself in that new place among those new people.

And that’s when it hit me this morning: even then in the midst of trying to get to know myself fully, I was already fully known…

1 Corinthians 13.12

Isn’t the thought of being fully known so incredible?  Imagine someone knowing and understanding all of your thoughts, motives, desires, actions, strengths, weaknesses, dreams, ambitions, struggles, insecurities, pet peeves, joys, accomplishments, secrets.  Let’s go even further though… someone that knows every freckle on your skin, every hair on your head, every cell in your body, every fiber of your being…

That someone is God.

If you are reading this post now and are skeptical about what I have just written, my questions for you are, “Why not?” and “How not?”  Even after the seeking and searching to find yourself, know that there is hope.  Amidst the uncertainty, there is certainty; there is a blessed assurance.  There is an Almighty God that gave us our abilities and proved our worth through the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you’re a believer reading this post, my questions for you are also, “Why not?” and “How not?”  Why not live even more freely through faith and trust in the forgiveness that we have received through Jesus.  Why not eagerly confess our sins and share our truest emotions with God?  After all, He already knows them anyways!  It’s just an exercise of trust and a measure taken in order to fall deeper and deeper in love with Him.  With this all in mind, how could we not draw closer to the God that has called us sons and daughters in His kingdom?

 

Proverbs 16:20-21 says,

“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,

and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.”

Consider God’s word this morning.  Discover good, and receive his blessing through trusting him!  He knows us fully because HE is the one that designed every bit of who we are.  Isn’t the sweetness of His words persuasive?

Today I will leave you with these questions to think about… If we truly believe and trust that God has forgiven us because of Jesus dying for our sins, then why not confess all of our sins to our just and merciful Father?  Why try to find our identity in anything other than the One that already knows exactly who we are and who He has called us to be?

Eternal outlook in a temporal world

With so much focus on our pursuit of it, life seems complex.  After all, there are a multitude of choices to be made along the way and consequences (good or bad) that follow.  Health and illness, career paths, dreams, heartbreaks, opportunities: those are just a few of the variables we encounter over the weeks, months and years.  But in the minutes that make up each 24 hour day, it’s easy to find ourselves in the “daily grind.”

But what if life is much simpler than we thought?  That doesn’t mean it’s any easier, but what if understanding God’s purpose for our lives while on earth is much less complicated than we’ve made it out to be?

That has been my thought/question while recently reading in the book of Revelation.  In Revelation, there’s a very humbling picture of the end times.  There are many parts of the book that I don’t understand, but what I do know is this: God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a holy and just god that truly will condemn the wicked and come to save those that have been eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:28).

What does it mean to be “eagerly waiting for him”?  What should that look like in our daily lives?  Let’s look at a picture of that from Revelation 19…

Revelation 19.6-8,11

How did the body of believers wait eagerly for the Lord?  They prepared themselves as His Bride!  Then with His arrival, they rejoiced and praised God!  I bet everything else of their previous lives–whatever pains or struggles or costs for living selflessly and radically for God while on earth–was swept away from their minds as they gazed upon the majesty and glory of the Lover of their souls.

Have you been saved by grace through faith, which is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8), then rest in the assurance that your Bridegroom is coming for you!  Go out into your workplace or classroom, neighborhood, city, state, country and world to teach others of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) and the assurance of the hope that you have in Him (1 Peter 3:15).  In doing so, you’ll be preparing yourself as the Bride of Christ, dressed in the fine linen of righteous deeds done for the spread of His glory.

So maybe this blog post didn’t make your life simpler by giving you an exact answer on a big decision to be made or a specific situation that you find yourself in.  On the other hand though, I hope it will serve to remind all of us of the eternal outlook and perspective we must maintain while living in this temporal world.

Praying your day is filled with SONshine,

sarah

EXTRA READING:

  • Matthew 28: 16-20
  • Ephesians 5
  • 2 Timothy 4:1-5
  • 2 Peter 3

Ellie Holcomb – “Anchor of Hope”

…read and listen…

Hebrews 6:

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.  And this we will do if God permits.

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.  For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated receives a blessing from God.  But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.  For God is not so unjust to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.  And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.  For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.  We have this as a sure and steadfast ANCHOR of the soul, a HOPE that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where JESUS has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

HEBREWS 6 (ESV)

Giving up the good to be closer to what’s better

psalm 73.23-25

If you desire to be a follower of Christ, then go ahead and expect it: you will be put to the test of sacrifice.  You will be forced to choose between your will and God’s will, between your idea of what’s right and what God says is necessary.  In those moments, hear Him ask, “Do you trust me to provide for your needs?  Do you really believe that I want is what is best for you?  Am I really your heart’s only desire?”

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?  Or what shall a man give in return for his life?'”

Matthew 16:24-26

Today we have a skewed vision of what it means to be “blessed” or “fortunate,” so when times of sacrifice come, we don’t always see them as steps in the purification of our desires and discipline of our faith.  Because of God’s word though, I just have to believe that true faith is shown through trusting God no matter what the cost. We must trust Him so much that we are willing to give up even the most precious or promised thing that we believe He’s given to us even for the sake of furthering His kingdom.  For Abraham, it was his son.  For Job, it was all of his possessions and family.  For Jonah, it was going to Ninevah, even after trying to escape that call of God.

In my lifetime I’ve never been faced with imprisonment for the sake of Christ like Paul.  I’ve never been thrown into a lion’s den like Daniel.  I’ve never walked willingly into a fiery furnace like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, saying, “God is able to deliver us from the flames, but even if he doesn’t and we die today, to Him be the glory!” (Daniel 3:16-18).

If God is calling you to make a sacrifice, don’t try to escape Him.  True love of God is shown through obedience to Him and to His Word.  If we truly trust in His goodness, then remember that it’s for our benefit to lay down our lives and all of our earthly desires in order to follow Him.

And in making such a sacrifice of what we call “good”, we will actually preserve what is better: our relationship with God, the creator of every good and perfect thing (James 1:17).

Praying your days is filled with SONshine,

Sarah. signature