Christianity 201

September 24, 2016

Knowing Which Way to Fall

Today we’re again paying a return visit to Steven C. Mills of Steve’s Bible Meditations. (CEB refers to the Common English Bible, a newer translation that I also use frequently.) Click the title below to read this at source.

Failing Forward – Philippians 3:10-11

“The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11, CEB).

I often take my kids to the skating rink to roller skate. Since they are still learning to skate, I tell them to keep their heads in front of their skates. Then, if they fall, they will fall forward and can catch themselves on their hands and knees and can get back up and continue skating. If they fall backward on their head or back, they risk hurting themselves and not wanting to skate anymore.

I’ve spent much of my career trying to understand how people learn. And one thing I’ve learned about learning is that some of the best learning occurs from failing. For example, it’s easier to learn how to skate when you know how to fall.

Failure holds a lot of opportunity for success! We call it practice. Practice is when we repeat failure until it becomes success.

Being a follower of Jesus and living a Christian life takes practice. We call this practice discipleship. Philippians 3:10-11 is the Apostle Paul’s definition of discipleship.

To become more like Christ, we must participate in His sufferings. Because, the power of resurrection is activated by participation in suffering.

In other words, Christ’s power in our lives can best be demonstrated when we are powerless–when we fail. When you lose control of your life, then Jesus can take control of your life!

That’s failing forward–in Christ.

When suffering, tragedy or failure come your way–and they will–fail forward.

Let your participation in the sufferings of Christ He experienced as a human being move you to grasp onto the the power of His resurrection so that you can achieve the ultimate goal–everlasting life in the presence of God.

All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18, CEB)

 

January 19, 2016

The Sufferings of Christ: Witnessed by an Angelic Host

CEB, I Timothy 3:16 Without question, the mystery of godliness is great: he was revealed as a human, declared righteous by the Spirit, seen by angels, preached throughout the nations, believed in around the world, and taken up in glory.
(emphasis added)

The title I gave today’s devotional is just a small part of all that is contained here, but I wanted to draw attention to an aspect of the story that struck me as I was reading this and may affect you as it did me.

Today’s devotional is from BibleUniverse.com and is part four of a larger series.

The Sufferings of Christ, Pt. #4 – Christ’s Submission

And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Matthew 26:39

How cruel for the disciples to permit sleep to close their eyes and slumber to chain their senses, while their divine Lord was enduring such inexpressible mental anguish. If they had remained watching, they would not have lost their faith as they beheld the Son of God dying upon the cross. This important night-watch should have been signalized by noble mental struggles and prayers, which would have brought them strength to witness the unspeakable agony of the Son of God. It would have prepared them, as they should behold his sufferings upon the cross, to understand something of the nature of the overpowering anguish which He endured in the garden of Gethsemane. And they would have been better able to recall the words he had spoken to them in reference to his sufferings, death, and resurrection, and amid the doom of that terrible, trying hour, some rays of hope would have lit up the darkness, and sustained their faith.

He had told them before that these things would take place; but they did not understand him. The scene of Christ’s sufferings was to be a fiery ordeal to his disciples, hence the necessity of watchfulness and prayer. Their faith needed to be sustained by an unseen strength, as they should experience the triumph of the powers of darkness. We can have but faint conceptions of the inexpressible anguish of God’s dear Son in Gethsemane as he realized the separation from his Father in consequence of bearing man’s sin. He became sin for the fallen race. The sense of the withdrawal of his Father’s love pressed from his anguished soul these words: “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Then with entire submission to his Father’s will he adds, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

The divine Son of God was fainting, dying. The Father sent a messenger from his presence to strengthen the divine Sufferer, and brace him to tread his blood-stained path. Could mortals view the amazement and sorrow of the angels as they watched in silent grief the Father separating his beams of light, love and glory, from his Son, they would better understand how offensive is sin in his sight. The sword of Justice was now to awake against this dear Son. He was betrayed by a kiss into the hands of his enemies, and hurried to the judgment hall of an earthly court, there to be derided, and condemned to death, by sinful mortals. There the glorious Son of God was “wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” He bore insult, mockery, and shameful abuse, until his “visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.”

Who can comprehend the love here displayed? The angelic host beheld with wonder and with grief Him who had been the majesty of Heaven, and who had worn the crown of glory, now wearing the crown of thorns, a bleeding victim in the rage of an infuriated mob, fired to insane madness by the wrath of Satan. Behold the patient sufferer! Upon his head is the thorny crown. His life-blood flows from every lacerated vein. All this in consequence of sin! Nothing could have induced Christ to leave his honor and majesty in Heaven, and come to a sinful world, to be neglected, despised, and rejected, by those he came to save, and finally to suffer upon the cross, but eternal, redeeming love, which will ever remain a mystery.