Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I am a member of Christ's Body (1 Corinthians 12:27)

All of us play a vital role in the Body of Christ.  You may not think you do, but God knows you do.  When you are operating in your giftedness by His power for His kingdom, the world (and the Church) is a better place!  When you don't, all of us are diminished in some way.

When I look at the Body of Christ, I am reminded by the apostle Paul that we are like a human body, with Christ being the Head.  Those who have a passion for prayer are like the knees.  Those who care for the wounded, hurting and needy are the heart.  Those who serve behind the scenes are the hands.  Those who take the gospel to unreached peoples are the feet.  And so on.

So what part of the Body of Christ does Freedom in Christ Ministries correspond to?  I see us as like the digestive system of the Body of Christ.  We enable the Body to process spiritual food so all the cells can be healthy, and we also help the Body eliminate waste.  Doesn't sound all that glamorous, I know, but have you ever experienced a time when your digestive system wasn't working too well?  Not healthy, and certainly not fun.

And without pressing this analogy too far, I can honestly say that in my observation, there are sure a lot of bloated, constipated Christians out there!

Sadly, many of God's people do not see themselves as playing a significant role at all in Christ's kingdom.  "Oh, I'm just the dirt under the little toenail of the Body of Christ," they lament.  Oh no you're not!  Whatever gifts and talents the Lord has given you, He has ordained them and chosen you to function as an integral part of the Body of Christ.

If you are unsure of how you fit in (and you do fit in, by the way, if you are in Christ!), ask the Lord to show you.  Take the opportunities to serve that He brings your way.  Watch for the ways God blesses the works of your hands or the words of your mouth.  Pay attention to what brings you deep down, godly joy.  Take note when other brothers and sisters in Christ commend you for something you do for Christ.

And if you already know your place in the Body of Christ, go for it with the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit!  We're all the glad beneficiaries.

I am a member of Christ's Body, and so are essential part of Christ's Body...if you are in Christ today!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I am bought with a price; I belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19,20)

Everybody has a deep need to belong.  I remember how devastated I was when I got cut from the high school baseball team in 10th grade because I had mouthed off to the coach.  Not smart.  I had been part of the varsity squad in junior high school (9th grade), and I figured I was a shoe-in for at least the jv in high school.  Being part of that baseball team was my sure ticket to respect, dignity, identity and friendship...or so I thought.   I remember the head coach's words to this day:  "We have 17 guys trying out for pitcher and you don't need to worry about coming back tomorrow."  And that was it.  It was over.  I had made it very easy for him to reduce his squad by one.

I couldn't quite bring myself to totally exit stage left, so I became one of the assistant managers.  I would have been better off just leaving, because at that school at that time, managers were viewed as the lowest creatures on the feeding chain.  Kind of like slaves.  We did what we were told and were not shown any respect.  I had hoped that at least being connected to the team would give me a sense of belonging.  It didn't.  All it did was make me feel more like an outsider and foster resentment toward what could have been mine...being actually on the team...but wasn't to be...either that year or in the years to come.

Whether it is being part of a team, a club, a band, a work crew, a gang, a group of friends, or a close-knit family, we are social creatures by nature and all have a deep need to belong.  Isolation from meaningful relationships is a killer and can drive people to hostility, bitterness, rage, insanity and even death.

That's why I am so grateful for our rescuing Father who sent His precious Son to pay the bloody price of a cruel death on the cross so that we could belong to Him and to His family.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for that sacrifice made on my behalf, and on yours as well.  People may reject us and probably will.  But in Christ, God never will.

He bought us.  We are His.  We belong to God.

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."   (1 Peter 1:18,19)

Monday, April 11, 2011

I am united with the Lord and one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17)

I can still remember that moment nearly 22 years ago when Shirley Grace Koch walked down the aisle toward me.  God knew I surely needed a lot of grace and He gave her to me as my wife on August 12, 1989!  At that point, Shirley Grace Koch ceased to exist.  She became Shirley Grace Miller.  And at that point, Richard Edward Miller, the bachelor, ceased to exist.  After that ceremony and after the honeymoon, we were legally married before God and men.  We became one flesh.

On that hot summer afternoon in Lawrenceville, Georgia, we were husband and wife and were as much husband and wife as we would ever be.  But what began on that day, we will spend the rest of our lives learning to live out.

At the moment you and I received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, crying out to Him for forgiveness and trusting Him to save us and surrendering our will into His hands, we were united with the Lord and were made one spirit with Him.  Jesus became our Bridegroom.  We became eternally joined to Him in our spirit.  And we will spend the rest of our lives learning to live out this incredible union with Him.

Unlike an earthly marriage, where both parties need to grow to know and love each other more deeply, in our relationship with Christ, He already knows and loves us perfectly.  Regardless of how we may think He feels about us, His love is perfect and will never change.  But we do not know Him, love Him or even trust Him perfectly.  That is a growing process that He tenderly yet unwaveringly leads us into.

Do you not know that you are joined in spirit to Christ?  You are one with Him!  As the Head is joined to the body, and the body to the Head, you are joined to Christ.  As the Vine is connected to the branches and the branches to the Vine, you are connected to the Vine, Jesus.  Won't you move in a little closer to Him this day?  Won't you freely open yourself up to your perfect Bridegroom to love on you, provide for you, guide you and protect you?  Do you remember the day you said "I do" to Jesus?  Maybe you need to be reminded of that moment and how much He meant to you at that time.  He hasn't changed in His love for you.  You still mean the world to Him.