Thursday, November 26, 2015

Chosen!

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.


There are many verses throughout the Bible that would lead us to believe that we as Christians did not of our own volition alone choose Christ. We did not “find God” as some would put it, at least not completely on our own, no he found us, and chose us long before we were even conceived. Now the implications of this can be confusing and hard to absorb once the real depth of that is somewhat understood but again we find evidence for this in both Old and New Testaments alike.
 In the Gospel of Luke as the Lord begins to gather his disciples he stands teaching on the shore of Lake Gennesaret(Sea of Galilee)  about to step into the boat of Simon (Peter). Jesus certainly did not randomly select Peter’s boat to be the one he would step into of course, he knew exactly where he was walking to as he approached the shoreline of that lake. The Lord was specific and deliberate in his choosing of each of the twelve disciples for they would each serve in their own specific way to glorify the Father. We read in the Gospel of John after a particularly difficult teaching many whom were Jesus’ disciples turned away from him, but not the twelve, he says in John 6:70 “Have I not chosen you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”
The Lord was not surprised to turn and see the twelve still standing there beside him and the Lord already knew which one would betray him, the Lord undoubtedly had this knowledge as he chose Judas to follow him. So we can see that God had predestined the twelve, but is that all? Are the rest of us just left to chance, our fate resting only in what decision we may or may not make about God? Well not according to the Apostle Paul who among other verses, wrote in
He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Then again here we have another passage that is among even more like verses from the Old Testament, this one in particular stuck out to me.
Isaiah 46:10
 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, my purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure;

My purpose in taking us through all this is to highlight the incredibly intimate and personal nature of the God we of the faith we call Christianity worship. I think we can lose sight of this in our day to day activities. If you are a Christian reading this, or just a curious agnostic or nonbeliever you should realize and know that even this small moment in time has been preordained by the Master and Creator of the Universe, and the moments to come after. He has or is drawing you closer to himself, he has chosen you specifically. Not just the group of people that you may or belong to, but you alone, you specifically. He has selected you to be a member of his family, to be his child, and not just that but he made you to one day be drawn to him, and purposed you for this. This should be amazingly deep and profoundly convicting for us to come to grips with. Deep because to try and fully understand its implications are too mystifying for our finite minds to grasp entirely, convicting because coming to and trying to live in the knowledge that you’ve been adopted into the eternal family of God the Father should force us into a sense of purpose and meaning. After all we do not see Jesus choosing the twelve and then the twelve going home and moving on with their lives; he had some things in mind for them to do. He no doubt has some ideas for us as well. Actually throughout the Old and New Testaments it would be near impossible for us to find anyone that was called into the family of God that was not used for the glorification of God in some way.
So were we chosen to merely sit in a pew every week, volunteer at Church occasionally, pay our tithing, and live out the remaining six days of the week being much like the world of non-believers we live in? It would be hard for us to read just about any book of the Bible and hold that view. If the only difference in us and the non-believer is where we sit on Sunday don’t we need to then ask ourselves if we really believe what we claim to believe?
Beliefs guide our thoughts, thoughts guide our actions and our actions become what we are known by, not only to ourselves and the Lord but to the people around us. Being chosen should also not feel like a weight to bear, it shouldn’t well up in us an overpowering and ever present sense of guilt, or obligation. I would say that if we are unmotivated to be active in our faith, active being reading the Word, praying, and some form of evangelizing, or if we are active but only out of guilt or obligation there is something very critical and important missing in our walk. Quite possibly the most important thing in a Christian’s life, a relationship, he chose us first and foremost to be in relationship with him. Can we honestly and confidently say we are? A very wise and faith filled lady in a Bible study I belong to said something one week that made me stop and really reexamine my relationship with Christ, she said “I know who Bill Clinton is, I know a lot of facts about his life, some things he has said, and situations he has been in, but if I were to walk up to Bill Clinton and put my hand out he, of course, would not know me.”
We should, above all else, be seeking him, focused on him. This means having an open dialog as well as daily quiet secluded time in prayer. We should be always sharing with him; telling him our daily struggles, asking him for his strength and peace, and sometimes telling him why we just really don’t like the way things are right now. But also thanking him no matter what the situation realizing that we are in his plan, apart of his story, and knowing that many times there are others around us that would be grateful for our difficulties. It means reading and rereading his Living Word.
David tells us in Psalm 119:11 “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Jesus tells Satin in Matthew4:4 “It is written; man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The Lord gave us this wonderful text of his that we may know at least a portion of his heart and mind. The more we read his book, and seek his presence through prayer, the more is revealed to us, not only about him but about ourselves and the truly hopeless state we were in before he drew us to him. Also so we may know his heart and mind for us his people. But even then he hasn’t called us to sit at home and read and do nothing else, he hasn’t called us to himself just for our own betterment, no, he wants and expects us to bear fruit. Bearing fruit comes through an ever deepening relationship with him, its not just works but first a profound change on the inside. It is a rearranging of heart and mind that will then begin to change the way you see your life, your world, and yourself. When we are seeking to be in relationship with him the works we are doing in his name will not feel like a burden, no on the contrary it will feel like fulfilling a need to pour out a bit of the tremendous love, peace and grace that is being poured in.
The men and women of the New Testament, whether they were Apostles, or just disciples like you and I, they joyfully walked directly into very dangerous situations. They testified to the truth even when doing so may have meant a beating, imprisonment, or death. Why? Because they understood that they were chosen by the one and only God that came to the earth and defeated any physical death that could be dealt to them. They understood that this world we live in now is not the only place we will live and more so it is not the most important. They were living for the Kingdom they would inherit. We find in the Book of Acts Peter and the Apostles standing in front of the Sanhedrin declaring- Acts 5:29 “we must obey God rather than human beings!”
Knowing the Sanhedrin might have them stoned or flogged they spoke the Gospel and refused to be silent about it. They didn’t do this out of a sense of obligation because that wouldn’t have been enough to motivate such a dangerously rebellious statement, no, they did it because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they understood what Christ had done and what he was asking them to do, they understood from what they had been saved and to where they would be going. They couldn’t possibly keep from proclaiming the Gospel!
We see men and women so fundamentally changed from what they once were they cannot help but be different than those around them. They are so full of gratitude for the salvation that’s been received they want others to have it! They’ve been released from their worries and given the understanding that they can rest in the will of the Lord. They’ve had the oppression of their past thrown off through the forgiveness Christ offers. The chains of sin have been broken and they see that they have been set free from the slavery it held over them.
Although there are places in the world still persecuting our Christian brothers and sisters we safe and pampered Christians here in the States are likely not going to face any circumstances like the early Church in our lifetimes. We do not have the fear of beatings or death for our proclamation of faith in Christ, but that’s not required for great faith.
We have been predestined; we have been purposed, and specifically chosen for citizenship in the Kingdom. We may not be called to be missionaries or Preachers as many of the first Church were but this doesn’t mean we can’t make an impact. I think sometimes we take on the perspective of spectators in Christianity. We go to Church expecting only to get something. We are the Church, just as the first Christians were. They didn’t even have a building to call the Church.
Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Wherever you are people should see something different about you, we affect the people around us, if we are a working part of the body of Christ that affect should be Christ-like.

If we are in proper relationship people will see our lack of worry, our abundant joy, and the purpose with which we live our lives, and they will wonder what is different, they may even ask, and that is our opportunity to be a witness of the transformational love of Christ. Let’s be citizens of the Kingdom living not for this present world but for the one yet to come. Lets ask ourselves what we can add to our Church not just what our Church should be giving. Not because we feel we have to but because we feel so full of the love of Christ we can’t keep from doing something to pour some of that love out on others. Let’s fill our hearts and minds with scripture so we may be better guided in our own lives and in helping others. We are a people that have been chosen lets be that.