Sunday, December 26, 2010

Life and Peace

To most of us, I suppose, life and peace are the two most precious things, for without them the love of friends and family, the pleasures of God’s world, the possessions we have been given, cannot be enjoyed. Life, in the spiritual sense, is given in exchange for selfishness. Peace also is given when we stop doing only what we please. It never seems possible that life and peace will be ours if we let go ----the enemy sees to that, relentlessly trying to persuade us how necessary it is to hang onto our rights, to keep control. Have we ever, even once in our lives, found deep and lasting peace by that method?

God draws us always away from “Egypt,” land of bondage, of self-will, and idolatry, to what He calls “a place of rest.”

“You shall not act as we act here today,” Moses told Israel, “each of us doing what he pleases, for till now you have not reached the place of rest” (Deut. 12:8).

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Unconditional Self-Abandonment

The glory of the Resurrection followed the shame of the Crucifixion. Christ abandoned Himself, became subject to death, went to Gehenna, for love of us. Therefore He was raised in power, death could not hold Him, and He opened Paradise for us. We can enter only as He entered – the road to glory is always the road of self-abandonment. When we see this as a mere theory we are not even close to living as Christians. It is in the opportunities of every day, with real people (i.e., real sinners) that we (sinners, too) are called to His companionship: “Give up your rights, abandon yourself, follow me – follow me to the place where death cannot possibly hold you, where animosities and offenses are vanquished, and Life springs victorious.”

What do we long for above all else? Is it not Life? Jesus came so that we could have it – but the only life He can give us is resurrection life. That kind comes as the result of unconditional self-abandonment.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Rejection of Sacrifice

Obedience to God very often appears to us, at first glance, to mean sacrifice. We shrink from it. Sacrifice always involves death, and we reject death. But the divine paradox, the one we find running throughout all of Scripture, is that this sacrifice ---the offering of ourselves in obedience to God--- always means life. It is life, nothing less than life, that God offers us, so when we disobey, what we are actually doing is choosing death.

“The Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God; it will be for our own good at all times, and he will continue to preserve our lives” (Deut 6:24).

We balk at something our conscience tells us we must do--- “I don’t see how that could be for my ‘good’” ---but God does not discuss with us the how or the why. He simply makes clear what it is we must do. Then we must take His word for it that it will mean life to us. Every day He sets two things before us –life and death. Every day we choose sacrifice, which leads to life, or selfishness, the rejection of sacrifice, which leads to death. We can count on it, for we have the Word of the Lord that it is so.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bearing Others' Burdens

Moses was appointed to carry the load of spiritual responsibility for God’s chosen people. It was a heavy burden, and one for which he needed the help of God and of other men, but he sinned as the Israelites did and was denied the privilege of going into the Promised Land. One who is given the task of leadership must be prepared to be identified with those he leads, even to suffer punishment with them. Moses pled with God for permission to cross over and see the rich land promised to them, “but because of you,” he said to Israel, “the Lord brushed me aside and would not listen.” He answered, “Say no more about this…. Give Joshua his commission, encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across” (Deut. 3:27-28). Moses was a truly meek man---not by any means weak, but strong in God’s strength. He was not offended. He accepted the verdict, and obeyed. It took a real man to commission, encourage, and strengthen another to do the job he had so longed to bring to completion.