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Daily Thought - "anna In Memoriam – Lessons From A Life Belonging To Christ"

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. – Philippians 2: 1-4 (NLT)

    It was a year ago that someone I loved went home to be with the Lord. We go through this life so capriciously sometimes. Never truly appreciating the wonderful people God has given us until they are no longer there. We can say that her time was too short but the truth is that all of our time is short. The Bible describes life on this earth as nothing more than a vapor. One of the greatest tricks the devil pulls is convincing us that we always have tomorrow. We have tomorrow to appreciate people. We have tomorrow to say that we love them. Then tomorrow comes and we don’t.

    That is how it was with Anna. Always assuming we had tomorrow until tomorrow had passed. Surely there are lessons to learn in her death. First is that the struggles we face in this walk with God are very real and the church has to stop burying their wounded. The original design of the Acts Church was a community that shared everything; including pain and suffering. Unfortunately today we have too many who are quick to slap a Scripture over someone’s head instead of taking the time to be a friend – to be a Christian. We ask “how are you doing” but fail to really mean it too often. We can talk in platitudes of Christ without a movement of His Spirit. Secondly, the spiritual war we are in is very real. The church has to stop using worldly definitions and seeking worldly solutions to what are spiritual attacks. We either believe that prayer and divine deliverance are ours or we do not. The devil is real; whether we choose to make a caricature out of him or not. His minions are real. What the Bible says is real. We need to strap on our armor and get to work and defend what we love. Lastly, from her passing we need to learn to appreciate people more than the pursuit of things. Houses can be built and rebuilt. Money can always be made again. New jobs can be found and possessions can always be replaced. But when you get that call and realize the finality of human life you realize how much time you wasted not appreciating what God has given you. Every life is precious. We fight politically for such a concept but often ignore the very precious lives God has given us to walk this walk with. Let us never take them for granted. Let us never fail to love in deeds and in words.

    More importantly though – I prefer to learn from Anna’s life. I spent a few days reflecting on what Scriptures to use for this devotional and God led me eventually to the above verses from Philippians. You see beloved, there are supposed to be benefits in character from belonging to Christ. Working backwards in the Scriptures we see one of the benefits of a life that belongs to Christ is selflessness. Anna was always selfless. Anna was not out to impress anyone. She always wanted to make an impression for Jesus but never for Anna. She was always unassuming in that way. She always considered others as better and placed the interests of others before her own. Her family always came first. Her church and friends always came second. Anna always came last because she knew that God was going to take care of Anna. That is so difficult in a selfish world that reinforces and rewards looking out for number one. She lived out what the Lord requires:

    No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6: 8 (NLT)

    Doing what is right is how we deal with ourselves in obedience to God. Loving mercy is how we deal with others. Walking humbly is how we deal with God. Anna always tried her best to do what the Lord required. I learned from her life that my Christianity is not about me. It must always be about others. Continuing in the key verses we see that a life belonging to Christ loves other Christians and strives to find common ground not selfish division. That was how Anna lived her life. I never heard her say a bad word about anyone. She was always trying to find the good in everyone. Always bringing people back to God. In the midst of a civil war with our church she was a voice of reason, trying desperately to see all sides. Too often nowadays we are striving to find what drives us apart. We focus on our differences. The key verse here actually says that is makes God happy to see His children agreeing “wholeheartedly.” There is a certain sincerity implied here that is sometimes lacking in Christian circles. We talk the good game of unity or we use it to prop up false teaching, but often we are paying lip service. Anna was always about heart service. I learned from her life that disagreement need not be disagreeable and to try and seek the good in everyone.

    Lastly in the key verses we see there are four direct results we should expect when we belong to Jesus Christ. First, our hearts are supposed to be tender and compassionate. Note here though that Paul is asking this as a question, indicating that not all who walk with Christ necessarily experience the changes in their life that God intends. We see uncompassionate Christians every single day and it should not be so. Jesus said the world would know us by our love. But the world and even the church can harden a heart over the years. What is supposed to be tender can be stony. We need to ask God to continuously break up the ground in our hearts. When we think about the overwhelming compassion Jesus has shown towards us in our sinful state by dying a criminal’s death on the cross – how can we fail to then be compassionate towards others? Secondly, we need to cultivate the fellowship we are supposed to have with the Holy Spirit. The most misunderstood member of the triune God; the Holy Spirit of God Himself dwells inside of us. This is the same Spirit that has defeated death itself and raised Christ from the grave. Yet when things go wrong in our lives we can seek the answers from this world and the advice from people who do not know any better than we do. God’s Spirit lives inside of us! One of the greatest and least leveraged benefits of belonging to Christ is the ability to fellowship directly with His Spirit! Thirdly, we are supposed to feel a certain level of comfort from His love. Romans 8:28 assures us that He is working all things out for our good yet when we face trials and tribulations we can act as if they are bigger than God. We take no solace and comfort in the fact that the creator of the entire universe loves us. I find that mind-boggling. That He loved us so much that while we were still living in complete rebellion to Him, He was willing to sacrifice His one and only Son to take the punishment we deserved, so that we could again have fellowship with God and enjoy eternal life.

    This brings us to the final point. Is there any encouragement from belonging to Jesus Christ? Dear Lord, how could there not be? Yet so often we see miserable Christians. People who focus on their problems instead of their problem solver. I am not suggesting that any of this is easy – only that it is true. Some of these areas we might be better at than others. Anna had a tremendously tender heart but was not always encouraged within herself. Sometimes she lost sight of the comfort of His love. But her life has taught me so much more than her passing could ever take from me. There is supposed to be a discernable difference for us who belong to Jesus Christ. Our life is supposed to take on a selfless nature – always putting the needs of others first. We should always be seeking to be peacemakers within the body of Christ – seeking the good in everyone not division. Lastly, there should be tangible results in our character from belonging to Christ. Not that we would have mastered all of them or even any of them but rather that we are on the right path towards them. The right path towards the compassion of the heart of God. The right path towards a closer fellowship with the Spirit of the living God inside of us. The right path towards seeking and finding our comfort in His love. The love that sent Jesus to die in our place on Calvary’s hill.

    More importantly, that this all adds up to something. That in a world that is cold and unforgiving, we can find encouragement in who we are in Christ. That in a world that Jesus Himself said would have tribulation, we can find encouragement in who we are in Christ. That is what Anna’s life taught me. Her life encouraged me because of who God was inside of her. A year later seems like yesterday to those who loved her. The pain of loss remains very real. But I choose to not focus on her passing and instead be encouraged by her living.

    Say hi to Jesus for me Schmoopy.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – December 6, 2012

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