I can remember back to the early days of being married to my wife Becca. At that time, we had dated for nearly four and a half years and, as one would expect, we had spent a lot of time together—including many dates to the movie theater. Add that to the fact that two of my first jobs were at a Regal theater and a Blockbuster Video, and there was a time I was caught up on every good movie there was to see. But then came our first Christmas as a married couple and Becca insisted it was time she introduced me to one of the classics of all classics: It’s a Wonderful Life. Fast forward to today, and this definitive Jimmy Stewart film is one of my all-time favorites. And every year we pop that movie into the Blu-ray player, it is just as inspiring and tear-jerking as the first time I watched it. That same first Christmas together, Becca introduced me to Irving Berlin’s classic White Christmas. It too was fun and enjoyable. Unfortunately, in what was also one of my early new husband blunders, when the next year rolled around and she pulled White Christmas out, again, I regrettably asked, “But haven’t we already watched that one?”
That is a little like our Christian faith, isn’t it? The Christian life is not a consistent mountaintop experience. It can be repetitive and, at times, might even be described as blasé. I doubt even those the closest to God live without desert experiences. But there is so much promised to us in a relationship with God! We will not be able to live in the unhindered fullness of Christ yet, in this broken world, but what is offered in God’s Word, by the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross is nowhere near blasé, and is in fact a life overflowing with joy, even in the hardest times.
Hear these words from Paul in Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV): “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Two things should jump off the page at you in these verses: One, our adoption as God’s own sons and daughters, and two, the fact that we are not only NOT slaves, but HEIRS. We are ROYALTY! And as I got a chance to share with you in this week’s message, not only are we royalty, but given a desire on our part to dig down deep into our relationship with Jesus Christ, and we also have what Luke so profoundly describes as a consuming fire that “burns within” our hearts.
If you have asked Jesus to be your Savior and King, do you realize you are an adopted son or daughter and heir? Have you experienced this fire burning within your soul as you walk through life? It’s not a feeling of ecstasy or an out-of-body experience. It does not require you to shut off your mind and blindly walk, hoping your feelings will catch up. It is a full awareness of your place in your Father’s kingdom and a burning joy in the knowledge that your sins have been removed from you as far as the East is from the West (Ps. 103:12).
And so, I ask again: Do you walk in that burning joy? If not, why? What is keeping you from it?
As we see on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), Jesus does that for His followers when they join the conversation, open the scriptures to look for Him in them, and spend purposeful time with Him.
But here is another reality we must consider. Today, without our anchor in the Bible, we can be easily tossed and turned at the mercy of wherever modern culture wants to blow us. Our feet simply will not find solid ground. And thus, it becomes imperative we look to God for direction. Or, as it says in Proverbs 3:6 (NASB), “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Anything less than this, and like the Israelites and so many of us can experience regularly, we find ourselves walking in circles in the long-spanning desert times of our lives.
This idea of no longer being slaves but rather heirs can truly transform us from the inside out. Because where we might have once been lost and forgotten, we are now found and elevated through our resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And where we certainly do not deserve what God offers to us, it is what Paul is getting at when he writes this in Romans 8:14-17 (ESV):
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”
With Jesus Christ as our risen King, our inheritance is guaranteed! IF we choose to give Jesus His rightful place in our lives and participate with Him in relationship.
And so the question I turn to you is this: Now what?
What will you choose?
If you have never asked Jesus to be your Lord, find someone to ask about it. All of us at Harvest would love to chat about it. And if you have asked Him in, but life with Him is no different than life was without Him, ask yourself if you truly do long for that burning joy when you hear your Savior’s name … so much so that you can recognize Him in the “breaking of the bread”? Because I will tell you from experience, it is worth walking with Him.
Just like with It’s a Wonderful Life, I would never have known what a life-touching movie that was, had I not given it a chance, and it certainly never gets old. (And for the record, I have come to really enjoy White Christmas as well).
Your choice about whether to walk with Jesus or not has never been more vital. Choose wisely, and in my parting words to you, allow that “burning fire,” ignited by the Good News of Jesus, to begin something new in you today.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF …
- How much do you know about Jesus? And how much more do you want to know about Him?
- What is it that is consuming you right now? And how is that keeping you from knowing more about what God has for you?
- How will you re-center your life to join Jesus on the road and invite Him in?