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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bring it on!



13-15My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God's Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he's listening. And if we're confident that he's listening, we know that what we've asked for is as good as ours.
(I John 5:13-15 The Message)

If every chapter of our lives was opened with the words, "My purpose in writing this chapter in your lives is...", we'd feel a whole lot better about what is going on at the moment!  The truth is, we don't know the end from the beginning, so we enter each new chapter of our lives with just a little bit of fear, a tiny bit of doubt, and/or an overwhelming amount of both!  Here in our passage, the writer does us the favor of laying it out plainly - I am writing this truth to you because it has the power to set you straight in your opinion about how much you matter to God!  When we commit our hearts to him, believing that Jesus is God's Son, our end result will be eternal life in Christ Jesus.  This very fact leads us to a place of "boldness" in approaching God with what our heart is burdened with.

Let's take this apart a little.  The first thing I would like us to see is that "belief" is more than a head knowledge that Jesus exists, that he is the Son of God - it is a heart knowledge that influences our behavior.  When we "believe in" Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are saying we will "adhere to" his commandments - his teachings, the examples he gave us in his walk on this earth, the promises he made to his followers.  When we "believe in" Jesus, we are making both a heart and head commitment to "trust in" him - his strength, his love, his grace, his peace that passes our limited understanding - all of it.  When we "believe in" we are really saying we are in a place where we are ready to RELY UPON that one we believe in.  

That very "believing" attitude is what brings us to the next point our writer is laying out is that this "belief in" will bring us to a place where we are totally "settled in" our minds, hearts, and emotions as to who it is we are serving, what it is we are engaged in, and what the end result of our service will be.  The idea is that we will have "absolute" knowledge - not just some ethereal knowledge (pie in the sky kind of stuff) - but total awareness that God is real, his promises are assured, and his commitment to keep us in his care is totally in force in our lives.  Our writer is directing us to remember that when we commit to Christ, we ALREADY have eternal life - we don't work to get eternal life - it is already an assured thing.

That "confidence" that is produced by knowing we have committed it all to Christ and that he has committed it all to us brings us to a place of "privileged boldness" in his presence.  I just came home from a week in Virginia - exploring the historical sites of our founding fathers.  The thing that impressed me was the commitment of the men and women who came to this country with the hopes of being free.  That is kind of how it is with us as we "leave" our country of birth (sin) and establish ourselves in our new country of rebirth (salvation).  We leave behind the old, allowing the new to be established within us, and in time, the new becomes the way of life we pursue with a confidence that we have made the right steps.  We have a "privileged boldness" in our new life.

That "boldness" is based on the fact that "in Christ" we are assured that when we make any request of God that is in agreement with his plan for our lives, he listens to us and hears us.  Now think about that a little.  He listens AND he hears.  We have a tendency in our society to just listen, without ever hearing the message being conveyed.  We are inundated with all kinds of messages each day - some worthy of really hearing, others not so much.  All that comes to God, he listens to AND he hears.  No message brought to him (prayer, seeking heart, need expressed) is ever NOT heard.  It is heard, the meaning hidden within the request is known, and he works to help us through the answer we receive.  We sometimes think he doesn't hear because we don't get the answer we hoped for, but remember, even a "no" or a "not now" answer is an answer!

The thing that we most often "trip up on" is in our not even asking God for what it is that burdens our hearts, trips us up repeatedly, or is just a desire of our hearts.  We somehow don't take the effort, time, or "risk" of asking because we don't have a confidence to ask, don't think it is worthy to bring to God, etc.  To that I can only say that we need to read back a couple of lines in our passage - we have a "privileged boldness" in Christ Jesus.  Bring it!  God will "sort through" what may not be to our benefit at this moment - like when we ask him to help us win the lottery!  He will "sort through" what seems to be a muddled mess of emotions - getting at the heart of what it is we are really experiencing at that moment.  Our part is to take full advantage of our "privileged boldness" to just bring it all to him.  God stands ready to hear from us - his words to us today is to simply "Bring it on!"