Whose Gain?

Kay’s glimpse into the obvious: Jesus’ motives were never mixed.  He never did anything for personal gain, only serving others for their gain.

Mark 10:45 NIV  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

As obvious as this seems, a recent application brought into focus how minimal my understanding really was, giving you another opportunity to learn from my mistakes, rather than your own.

As I tried to apply a marketing suggestion made at the recent writers’ conference, something inside was unsettled.  I would be doing something different from the norm for me, but I knew that wasn’t the issue.  Something about it just wasn’t right, or was something about me wrong?

The recommendation was to get involved with organizations that are pertinent to the subject of your book, these being places that would help its sales.  (Potential publishers really like the idea of books selling, for some reason. 🙂 )  During class, I began to think of places that fit this need for me, and included them on one of the many lists I made while there.

Only as I sat still with the Lord, praying about how to get involved with a particular group, did I see the problem.  It was I.  This wasn’t about getting involved because the Lord directed me to, or even because I had a burning desire to help.  I was considering this time-consuming activity only as a means to an end – to make contacts for publishing my as-yet unwritten book.  Yuk!  Yuk!  And, yuk again!  My motive was wrong, no matter how many would have been served.

When the Lord revealed to me the simple and obvious statements shared at the beginning of this post, the discomfort left and the pressure was eliminated – immediately.  Daddy didn’t tell me to do this now.  If He does later, my focus will be to serve for others’ gain – just like Jesus – trusting Him to take care of all my needs.

I think I need to apply this to everything else I do, as well.  Will you join me?

Those Moments

Ever had one of those moments when it’s clear the Lord has been working in you all along, changing you, without your being aware of it?  I experienced one of those moments during the last day of my first-ever writers’ conference.

The event began for me with an overload of insecurity and inadequacy as I compared myself to others speaking so confidently about their books and their publishing issues – and this was just in line at check-in!  It required a major talk between myself and Holy Spirit en route to my room.  I declared that I am not in competition with these people, though we may seek the same publishing opportunities at some point.  God has called and anointed me to write, even as He has called them, and He’s given each of us at least one story to tell.  Not only that, He called me to this very writers’ conference, so insecurity and inadequacy could have no further say in the matter!  My perspective began to line up with my Daddy’s.

As the contest winners were announced on the final evening, I was completely at ease.  After all, I had not even entered the writing contest.  One of my tablemates had, however, so I was eager to hear her name called, and disappointed when it wasn’t.  I noticed that I was genuinely excited for each of the winners, though I only knew some from brief conversations, and others not at all.  It was the fullness of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice . . .”  I truly rejoiced with nothing held back (and hope it will remain that way when I have entered!)  But this was only a precursor to THE moment I mentioned earlier.

During our final morning together, I saw what God has been nurturing in me all along.  As conversations took place around me, as I observed the people, as I learned of publishing opportunities some had just received, I had such a desire for each one to be published and to share what God has given them for others.  I was experiencing God’s desires for them!

1 John 4:7 AMP  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him].

It’s nothing less than the power of His love at work in me.  It’s been working all along, and will continue working toward greater degrees of fruitfulness, but it’s as if I arrived at a precipice where I see what He’s done thus far.  Here, I see the people He has created more like He sees them, and I can’t help but love and want the best for them, for that’s His heart.

I haven’t arrived at the top of this mountain, by any means, but I have been brought to a greater revelation of the Spirit working in me than I’ve been before.  Through the power of His love and His Word, I am being conformed to His thoughts, His attitudes, His perspective, and His amazing love.  Because of this, I am encouraged to continue onward and upward as Holy Spirit draws my gaze from this view to see the next climb awaiting me, with more of those moments at its precipice.

What Backup Plan?

As I worked on the previous post, two separate messages were emerging; so, before you read this post, I encourage you to read The Plan, to get the bigger picture.

Summarizing what transpired in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus was crucified:  Our Jesus agonized through unimaginable struggle as He faced the coming day.  He prayed not once, but three times, that if there were any other way, Father would take the responsibility from Him.  Though He thought He had settled it the first two times, saying, “Yet, not as I will, but as You will,”1 the doubts returned.  That’s why He said, “the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”2 After the third time, and being in such agony as to sweat drops of blood3, He broke through the barrier, choosing to carry on in the path Father had set out for Him since before the foundation of the world.

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Jesus had chosen not to continue?   He knew He was the plan – the only way – for people to be reconciled to our Father4.  Surely, you might ask, there is no way He would have done anything else, is there?  Jesus could have chosen not to go through with it.  Even if He had backed out, wouldn’t God have come up with another plan?  God could have made another plan, but He wouldn’t have.  As amazing as it sounds, God had no backup plan.  Remember that Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, but by Me.”4 That was the plan of redemption for all mankind – the only plan – and it was His perfect plan.

Our religious minds say Jesus wouldn’t have done anything but follow through to the end, simply because He was God.  Think about what Paul said in Philippians 2:6-8:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

Jesus was made in human likeness – not just with skin and bones, but with a soul (mind, will, and emotions).  That means He had a free will, just like us.  He had to draw upon the power of Holy Spirit – the same One Who lives in us – to choose to become obedient to death.  That’s how He defeated the temptation to turn away from the torture of spirit, soul, and body He faced.  He did it as a human with free will, like us, so that He could be the perfect, sinless, eternal sacrifice for our sins.

Hebrews 4:15 NIV  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.

The amazing revelation to me in all this is that God – Almighty, Creator, Omnipotent One – really did take a chance with this single plan He made.  It is almost unbelievable to say this, but He put all His eggs in one basket by letting Jesus have a free will – one that could have willed other than Father’s plan of redemption.  Daddy loved us so much that He made the plan to keep us from being forever separated from Him5; yet, within the intricacies of that plan, there was the possibility of something going wrong – with no backup plan, no “in case”.  It was absolutely required that Jesus have a free will so He would have no advantage over us in being able to resist temptation – yet would show us the way to live and be the way to eternal life because of how He used His free will – to do the will of Father.

Daddy knew, before creation, that Jesus had everything He needed to overcome the final temptation in the garden that night – the Word and the Spirit.  As much as He loved us, He left our final outcome to the free will of the Son of Man.  Daddy entrusted Jesus with our very lives, and trusted Holy Spirit to lead and guide Him along the path of life as man.  In dying, Jesus chose life for us.  In returning to our Father, He gave His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in Daddy’s path for us.  God had no backup plan, but His love and wisdom prevailed!  Glory to God forever!

Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

1 Matthew 26:42

2 Matthew 26:41

3 Luke 22:44

4 John 14:6

5 John 3:16