I will be having cataract surgery on the 10th and 17th of February. I asked some of my friends to do the Daily Devotions for the next two weeks.
I appreciate your willingness to help me. You were chosen because you have played an important part in my growth, knowledge of God’s word, encouragement, or faithfulness in service over the 38 years I have been in Alaska. Please continue to minister and help others.
Set it Aside
Fear not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. – Isaiah 41:10
We all do better when we see more clearly. Yesterday, I noted how God sent Jesus – the Great Light – to show the world the way of life. His light makes our vision possible. Without it, we stumble in darkness, often living in a deep self-deception that we can know what is true, reliable, and useful apart from God.
Our human nature is at fault. Born to sin and to separation from God, we need our Redeemer to transform us from people living the nature we are born to, into people living in a very unnatural way – God’s Way.
This usually doesn’t happen in an instant. Paul, having lived one of the most impactful justifying experiences of anyone, still wrote of his continuing journey towards sanctification. As followers of Christ, we strive continually to get better, and we should never believe we’ve finally reached that point when God is finished making us a better person – at least not in this life.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 3:18
This is important. Christ calls us to live above our human nature. His power makes it possible for us to do this, and His Spirit shows us how. But our humanity gets in the way.
David McClelland (1917-1998) was a psychologist on the faculty at Harvard University when he developed a model of human motivation. McClelland contended that three dominant needs – for achievement, for power, and for affiliation – underpin human motivation. While his model explains a lot of human behavior, it falls short of a universal theory of human behavior. And any serious reader of the Book of Genesis could have easily told Professor McClelland about the motivations behind the things we do. Look at Joseph.
Joseph had quite a high opinion of himself; so much so that he irritated his brothers beyond endurance. They conspired to kill him, but relented and “merely” sold him to slavers. I wonder how Joseph’s experiences felt to him. Was he afraid?
We humans respond powerfully to any threat that one of those things Professor McClelland cites might be lost. Fear is one of those things that can literally overcome us to the point we can no longer think or act with reason. At the very least, fear is a challenge to living faithfully.
That’s why God reminds us SO MANY times in scripture, “Do not fear,” usually followed by the reason we should not fear, “for I am with you.”
Joseph must have reminded himself over and over again that, “God is with me, I don’t need to be afraid.” This simple statement of faith helped him become the man God intended. A slave in Egypt, Joseph set aside his understandable bitterness, resentment and anger. He lived above his nature and accepted whatever God put before him. In this obedience, Joseph became the man who saved his people from terrible famine, becoming the patriarch God ordained.
Contrast this with one of the saddest stories of Jesus’ earthly ministry. There was a rich young man who earnestly wanted to follow God. He kept the law and prayed obediently. He came to Jesus wanting to know how to find the way to eternal life. With love, Jesus told him to sell all he had and to, “Come and follow me.” But the rich man went away sorrowful because he had much to “lose.”
My heart breaks for him, yet I can see so much of myself and my friends in him. He was afraid to lose power over those things Professor McClelland says are such powerful motivators. Standing face-to-face with Jesus, he chose the same things so many of us choose every day on the path of sanctification. He chose to retain control over the things that mattered to him. He did not surrender them because he was afraid.
Joseph set aside his fear and abandoned the notion that he would attain achievement, power, and affiliation on his own. Stripped of everything he had relied on, he relied instead on God. In doing so he found his life.
Let us, who have not been stripped of everything, also find our life in the Lord. Let us set aside our fear, for God is with us.
Chuck Foster, CEO, Wasilla Area Seniors, Inc