Good morning my friends. Another Monday morning awaits us; another work week lay before us. Has anything changed from last Monday? Are we different at all? Have our circumstances changed? Did yesterday's time with the Church have any impact at all? Are we any brighter today; more joyful, stronger believing? I hope so because we are suppose to be changing every day, little by little, being transformed into the character of Jesus. If there is no progress then there is a problem in the relationship and none of us want to go there. Where would any of us be today if it wasn't for Jesus?
Have you ever wondered how the Apostle Paul was able to do any of the things he did? We have to admit he had quite the spectacular life, although I doubt many of us could have lived it. He does not appear to have had any home at all, or at least he never visited it. He was a constant target, evicted from almost every town he visited and where he wasn't evicted they tried to kill him. Jailed in an instant just because of how people reacted to him. Many times facing financial difficulty. Yet, he always managed to get out of bed every morning and most of those mornings were faced with great joy and anticipation. What kept him going?
And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Timothy 1:11-12)
Now there is a thought for you: have you ever felt ashamed? I don't mean of Jesus but of your circumstances? Paul was an academic, a highly educated man, a thinker. He belonged in a classroom, teaching. However, he was also a warrior at heart as we can see in the way he persecuted the Church before encountering Jesus as well as the way he worked for Jesus after that encounter. Being found in jail was a degrading thing, a thing of which to be ashamed. No respectable citizen should be found in jail. But Paul felt no shame at all because he knew he was there as a result of his service to Jesus. Is there anything you are suffering because of your service to Jesus?
I am a very capable person. I could hold any job any where and do fantastic at it. I am not speaking from a sense of pride but of fact; fact that I have learned about myself over the years. I am a hard worker and I enjoy doing every job to the best of my ability and I have the ability to do an incredible job. I should be bringing in a good salary at my age, with a nice house and lots of possessions. However, that is not where Jesus has brought me as he uses my weaknesses instead of my strengths to bring himself glory. I live in a moderate rented home, with a used vehicle. My furniture is all second hand and falling apart, My children are dressed in handouts from other people. My food budget is basic and my house is poorly decorated. It may not be jail but it could still be a source of shame. It is a source of shame for some people who have been called to the same thing but it shouldn't be. I face these circumstances with joy because Jesus is glorifying himself through my weakness. I can say with Paul: I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed!
That is the secret to everything in your life, knowing Jesus. It is not good enough to know of Jesus. You can't live off of other people's experience and testimony. Other people's experience will not carry you through your circumstances. Other people's testimonies will not give you strength to get out of bed. Other people's relationship with Jesus will not cover your shame. I can carry what I carry because I know Jesus personally and I know the Father's plan. I know what this is all about and why I face the things I face. I know he loves me but I also know he has invited me to play a part in his plan to rescue as many of the lost as possible. If my lack is used for his glory in the same way that Paul's jail time was used then I will gladly accept my lack. Knowing Jesus is the source of all joy and strength. Paul wrote that it is all that mattered to him:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)
If you try to live for Jesus without knowing him it will kill you. If you try to serve him without knowing him it will kill you. If you try to live your circumstances for his glory without knowing him it will end in shame, and it will kill you. You can't do anything in the Kingdom without first entering into a full and wonderful relationship with Jesus. You need to meet him and get to know him and then you will understand how many of us can do what we do, and face what we face, with great joy and anticipation. The worse thing you can do is mimic those with genuine relationships or to conform to their behaviour. It has nothing to do with conformity and everything to do with transformation.
If you are attempting to face this week in the name of Jesus without know Jesus then stop it. Use this week instead to seek his face. Cry out to him your desire to meet him, to know him, to fall in love with him. Stop being a fake and become the genuine thing. It is more than just for strength for today and tomorrow, it is for the glory to come. You have eternity to be thinking about. You are not getting through that door unless he knows you, so take the time now and seek him with all your heart. I am not ashamed because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day