2013 has been a year of blessing for MorningStar. In the midst of the everyday challenges that we faced throughout the year we also saw the grace and power of God on display. As we close out the year, we want to reflect, rejoice, and look ahead to prepare for God’s continuing work in the new year. We find encouragement and hope in this message as we focus on the truth that God is the rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.
Paul begins his breakdown of the spiritual armor of a follower of Christ with the belt of truth. This piece of equipment was essential to a Roman soldier’s victory in battle and is even more essential for a follower of Christ’s spiritual victory over the enemy. Its basic function is to hold everything together.
The Bible says a lot about money and generosity. In 2 Corinthians Paul provides us with some solid principles related to how we are to give and what results. What we learn is that when we are conduits of God’s resources, gladly giving away generously, we will always have enough for us and abundance for others.
The Apostle Paul’s life and ministry is a testimony to remaining faithful to the purpose God has given us with every breath until our last. His example provides us with a model of the things upon which to focus our attention in order to faithfully live out God’s call every day of our lives.
God’s relentless pursuit of relationship with humanity continues and expands as the early church scatters and one of the greatest persecutors of the church becomes one of the greatest missionaries for the gospel.
I was in seventh grade when the second movie in the “Rambo” series released. With some reluctance my mother and father gave in to my pleadings and took me to see the movie on the big screen. As a thirteen year old boy I was completely taken in by the character, John Rambo and his Hollywood hero persona. What seventh grade boy wouldn’t be awestruck by a guy who can pack himself with mud and blend in to a tree trunk while the enemy walks right past him? During the car ride home from the theater I made a decision. I wanted to be Rambo. So, as my parents innocently carried on a conversation in the front seat about parent stuff I was transforming into the seventh grade version of John Rambo in the back seat. I grabbed my headband, I can’t remember where in the world it came from, and with all the drama I could muster I strapped it to my forehead. As my Father pulled the car into the driveway, I was preparing for my covert exodus from the rear of the vehicle. Dad pulled the car to a stop, turned off the ignition and headlights and I sprung into action. With one cat like move I opened the door, dove out of the back seat and immediately executed a perfect barrel roll into the bushes that laced the front of our house. After reorienting myself to my surroundings I turned my attention back to the car where my Mother was sitting with her jaw agape as she looked at the bushes where I was poorly concealed. I can only imagine the thoughts going through her mind as she wondered what in the world has just happened and why her son was acting like a maniac, but like a well seasoned mother she simply took it all in and for the next two weeks tolerated my obsession with being Rambo. For those next two weeks I trekked through the woods all around our house blazing trails, running from bad guys, and living off the land, complete with my miniature version of Rambo’s survival knife. I wanted the real deal but no amount of pleading would convince my Mom that I would be safe running through the woods with a knife the size of my thigh strapped to the side of my pants. For those two weeks I was John Rambo. The apostle Paul had a similar desire when it came to his relationship with Christ. In the book of Philippians we read about the personal testimony of Paul and what he believed to be his purpose for living. In this section of Scripture Paul boldly proclaims that he desires to know Christ. This knowledge Paul is referring to is not just a book knowledge it is a daily experiential knowledge which leads Paul to live a life that conforms to the person and character of Jesus Christ. So in essence, Paul was saying the same thing about Christ in his life that I, as a seventh grade boy, was saying about Rambo in my life. Obviously the desire to emulate Christ is far greater than emulating Rambo, but the principle is the same. Emulating Christ doesn’t include headbands and barrel rolls, at least not typically. It’s been many years since that seventh grade summer and I have matured in quite a few ways. I no longer desire to be John Rambo. That desire quickly faded after those initial two weeks, but I do desire to emulate someone else in my life. Like Paul, I desire to know Christ, not just to know His works and teachings but to know Him, like I know my wife or my best friend. The highest compliment I could possibly receive from someone would be for them to say that I am living in a way that reflects the character of Christ. So rather than trekking through the woods, running from fabricated enemies, and living off the land with my miniature survival knife I trek through the storms of this life, battling invisible enemies, and living off the daily bread God provides always with my Sword of the Spirit in hand. All because I want to know Christ, how about you?