Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Preparing for Tomorrow Today

The preparation of today makes us ready for tomorrow. Without the work of today, the events of today won't matter when tomorrow comes.   

2-3 Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you're in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. 
(I Thessalonians 1:2-3 The Message)

When others look at your life, do they see evidence of your faith?  Do they see us laboring in love, or resisting every move we make?  Do they see us patient in our waiting, or chafing in anticipation?

Paul calls to mind three things about the believers at Thessalonica for which he thanks God.  These things are not arbitrary.  In fact, they speak volumes about the work which has begun in their lives.

First, their have evidence of their faith.  In James 2, Paul reminds us of the important fact of faith and actions working together - our actions making our faith complete.  In other words, we are expected to reveal Christ in our actions. He calls to mind the actions of Abraham, taking Isaac to the altar in response to God's request to offer him as a sacrifice.  

I don't believe for a moment God actually expected to see Isaac be burned alive on the altar!  He wanted to see if Abraham loved God for the gifts, or because he was God!  Sometimes our lives do very little to reveal our intense love and trust in God.  They are shallow because we don't really learn to rely upon God for the evidence of faith his transforming power will produce when we allow it to consume us.  As Abraham took the step toward the altar, son in hand, he was showing God just how much serving him mattered - it was all or nothing.  My pastor uses the saying "all in".  I have to ask - do our actions reveal we are "all in" with God?

Second, he points to their labor of love.  I wonder what our daily work would look like if we were actually laboring for Christ?  What difference would it make if we taught those students as though it were for Christ and not for a pay check; drove those big rigs as ambassadors of Christ and not as long-distance drivers; or if we washed those dishes as evidence of our love for Christ's blessing of a family instead as a means to an end of our day?  

Last, he focuses on their patience in waiting.  We often fall down here, don't we?  Waiting is tough work.  Exhibiting patience when we don't see the immediate evidence of what we are hoping for - even tougher!  Yet, in the waiting, much is being accomplished.  Just consider what it would be like if we received newborns in a pod instead of experiencing the long nine months of forming and transforming which occurs within the womb.  In the waiting, we move from our focus on self to the focus on another.  There is something accomplished in the waiting - but the difference is made in what we do with the wait!

Just some thoughts to ponder today.  Evidence of faith - is it the first thing someone sees when they look at us?  Labors of love - is the love of Christ foremost in our actions?  Patience in waiting - today is the preparation for tomorrow - what are we doing with today?

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