It is All Yours
It is All Yours
The Chelsea Flower Show may well be the most famous flower show in the world. It attracts visitors from all continents.
There are four grades of award presented, Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver and Bronze. As well as awards for gardens and flowers, the Knightianaward is for exhibits of vegetables.
I once heard a man being interviewed about the fact that he was retiring after winning the gold medal for his vegetables for ten years in a row. Asked for the secret of his success, he said, ‘I aim for perfection. But I settle for excellence.’
‘Aim for perfection’ (2 Corinthians 13:11), writes the apostle Paul. This is very different from ‘perfectionism’. Perfectionism is a personality trait characterised by striving for flawlessness. It leads to setting excessively high performance standards. Perfectionists are overly critical of themselves and constantly concerned about what others think of them. It leads to a fear of failure and making mistakes. It can lead to depression, anxiety and missed opportunities.
God’s people have always been called to aim high (while avoiding the dangers of perfectionism). God gave to his people in the Old Testament a wonderful vision of their potential inheritance. It is all yours in Christ Jesus.
Aim to be full of joyProverbs 8:22-31
Jesus wants you to be full of joy. He wants you to experience complete joy. He said, ‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete’ (John 15:11).
The description of personified Wisdom in today’s passage is echoed in the way the New Testament talks about Jesus. Jesus ‘was with God in the beginning’ (John 1:2) (compare Proverbs 8:23,30).
Wisdom is seen to be full of joy: ‘Day after day I was there, with my joyfulapplause, always enjoying his company, delighted with the world of things and creatures, happily celebrating the human family’ (Proverbs 8:30b–31, MSG).
This joy is overflowing – ‘filled with delight’ (v.30). It is constant – ‘day after day’ (v.30). Where does this joy come from?
First, it comes from God’s presence (‘in his presence’, v.30). Second, it comes from relationships with other people (‘the human family’, v.31, MSG). Third, it comes from God’s creation (‘world of things and creatures’, v.31, MSG). God has given us all good things richly to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). It is all yours in Christ Jesus.
The joy that Jesus experienced in his relationship with God the Father strengthened him in his life on earth. Fix your ‘eyes on Jesus… who for the joy set before him endured the cross’ (Hebrews 12:2–3). Jesus teaches us to aim high with our own lives, never just ‘making do’ but enduring hardships and always seeking the joy of God’s presence.
Lord, thank you that you want your joy to be in me and my joy to be complete. May I never settle for anything less.
Aim to be full of loveLuke 9:10-27
Jesus is the supreme example of love. Even the secular world often recognises this. TIME Magazine said this: ‘Jesus: the most persistent symbol of purity, selflessness and love in the history of western humanity.’
Jesus loves you. He cares about your physical needs. Rather than sending the crowd away hungry to find food for themselves, he gets his disciples to feed them – miraculously.
We come back again to the feeding of the five thousand – the only miracle (apart from the resurrection) recorded in all four Gospels. We are reminded of how much Jesus can do with the very little that we offer him, and of the fact that Jesus involves us in his miracles. This is a huge privilege and it is all yours in and through Jesus.
The disciples begin to understand who Jesus really is when he asks: ‘“Who do you say I am?” and Peter answers, “The Christ of God.”’ (v.20). Jesus begins to explain to them about his death (the greatest act of love in history) and resurrection. He challenges his disciples to aim high. He calls you to aim at three things, which together comprise love for others and love for Jesus.
- No sin
Sin is the opposite of love. In the middle of the word SIN is the letter ‘I’. Jesus says, ‘Those who would come after me must deny themselves’ (v.23). God may ask you to make different sacrifices in your life, but the only thing we are all required to give up is sin.
Every day the challenge of love requires little acts of self-denial.
- No self
Jesus says, ‘Those who would come after me must... take up their cross daily and follow me, for those who want to save their lives will lose them, but those who lose their lives for me will save them’ (vv.23–24).
Effectively, Jesus invites us to ‘come... and die’. The cross today is a symbol of hope. However, then it was a symbol of pain, shame, disgrace and ultimately death.
Jesus said that if you live a life of selfish ambition – even if you are the most successful person of all time and ‘gain the whole world’ (v.25) – it will do you no good at all. The way to find life in all its fullness is to abandon your life to the love of Jesus and of others. Take up your cross daily and follow him (v.23).
Being willing to give up your life is the ultimate act of love. This is the example that Jesus set first. He calls you and me to follow his example: ‘cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying’ (v.23, AMP).
- No secrecy
Jesus says, ‘All who are ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels’ (v.26).
If you love Jesus don’t be ashamed of him. Sometimes even taking his name on our lips is a challenge. Don’t be ashamed of his teaching (his ‘words’). If you want Jesus to be proud of you, you must be proud of him. If you love people you will want everyone to know about Jesus.
Speaking for myself, I know how often I fall short in these areas. But the fact that our lives fall very far short of perfection should not stop us aiming high.
Lord, help me to aim high. Help me today to deny myself and take up my cross and follow you. May I never be ashamed of you or your words but rather boldly declare the good news of your death and resurrection for us.
Aim to be full of the SpiritNumbers 33:1-34:29
You have an amazing inheritance. It is all yours in Jesus. This passage describes the inheritance that God assigned to his people (34:29). Although they set out ‘boldly’ (33:3), they had wandered around in the desert for forty years (v.38). They never fully enjoyed their inheritance.
Paul, preaching in the book of Acts, explains that God gave the land to his people as their inheritance (Acts 13:17–20). He goes on, ‘We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus’ (vv.32–33). This is now your inheritance.
God’s promise to give his people the land of Canaan was always about more than simply good real estate. It was a promise of flourishing, as God’s people enjoyed relationship with God, under the security of God’s protection, in God’s promised place. This points forward to the New Testament concept of the ‘kingdom of God’, the sphere of God’s presence and rule. It is this that is fulfilled in Jesus, and it is yours now.
In Christ, your inheritance is ‘the promised eternal inheritance’ (Hebrews 9:15). It is ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4).
Not only do you have this inheritance to look forward to in the future but you can experience something of this inheritance right now: ‘Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance’ (Ephesians 1:13–14).
The Greek word for deposit (arabone) is a word that means ‘down payment’. In other words, you experience here and now a foretaste of that inheritance through the Holy Spirit. As you live in the Spirit, your life will be changed to produce the fruit of ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22). Don’t settle for second best; aim to be full of the Holy Spirit. Receive your inheritance.
Lord, help us in the Spirit to be ruthless with sin so that we do not allow anything to become ‘barbs in [our] eyes and thorns in [our] sides’ (Numbers 33:55). Help me to aim high, to receive my inheritance and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Israelites were constantly on the move. I am taking this passage totally out of context but it makes me think of Focus, our yearly camping church holiday where we have over 7000 people coming together. The good thing is that once we arrive at Somerley Estate in July and have pitched our tents, we don’t have to move on immediately. ‘Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess’ (v.53) [or, in our case, only for 6 days]. ‘Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, to a smaller group a smaller one’ (v.54). We have many church plants coming; each will have its own area. If the people of God could live in tents for forty years, we should be able to manage a week. Come on! It is going to be AMAZING.
Verse of the Day
‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23).
TIME, Monday June 21, 1971, ‘The Alternative Jesus: Psychedelic Christ’ © Time inc.
Stoeber, Joachim; Childs, Julian H. (2010). "The Assessment of Self-Oriented and Socially Prescribed Perfectionism: Subscales Make a Difference"(PDF). Journal of Personality Assessment. 92 (6): 577–585.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.