Monthly Archives: December 2014

Lose the “Wait” in 2015!

Blind Faith (No. 1, 2015)
Weekly Devotional for January 1, 2015
Lose the “Wait” in 2015!

“Lose weight” is the perennial #1 New Year’s resolution. The
typical weight proposed to lose is around 15 pounds. Have you, too, resolved
to become less of yourself in the coming year? The sad facts reported on a
recent morning TV news magazine show are that only about 28% of those making
resolutions for the New Year will be involved in any activity directed at
meeting their goal 6 weeks after January 1. Only around 15% of people
resolving to shed pounds will actually lose about 5 pounds – then most
probably gain them back! Some few will attain the slimmer profile they seek,
and they are to be encouraged, applauded, . and envied.

If most of us are not likely to lose weight in the coming year,
maybe we can resolve to do what sounds similar and instead lose the wait in
2015! While the Bible enjoins us to wait patiently in hope with faithful
assurance that God’s grace will sustain us, too often we become
lackadaisical while we wait. We read, “The LORD is good to those who wait
for him, to the soul that seeks him. {26} It is good that one should wait
quietly for the salvation of the LORD,” (Lamentations 3:25-26 NRSV) and
allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep in the quiet of waiting. Sometimes we
rouse enough to protest that what looks like shirking our calling to work in
God’s vineyard is instead waiting upon the Lord. Then we languidly roll over
and go back to sleep. Far too many of us are spiritual “couch potatoes!” It
is high time to lose some wait! Here are some suggestions for a wait-loss
regimen for 2015:

. Lose the wait on committing yourself to Christ. Most often we are
absorbed in our own details of daily life and plans for dealing with our
dreams and anxieties. We haughtily assume that God will wait on us to get
our lives in order until we feel like making a faithful response to his love
and grace. But who are we for the Creator and Redeemer to wait on us to sort
out our whims? God’s appeal has always been urgent lest we miss out on the
abundant life available to us through faith. Joshua urged the wandering
people about to enter the Promised Land first to commit themselves
faithfully to God: “choose today whom you will serve.. As for me and my
family, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 NLT) Paul explained to his
audience in Corinth that God has graciously sent Jesus to reconcile us to
himself and to spread his peace throughout the world through the urgent
actions of all who live faithfully with Christ. Then he presses for our
response: “God says, ‘At the right time I heard your prayers. On the day of
salvation I helped you.’ I tell you that the ‘right time’ is now, and the
‘day of salvation’ is now.” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NCV) The urgent call is for
us not to idle away our days, but thee to get on with the life we can be
living in faith. Lose the wait!

. Lose the wait on truly living like a follower of Jesus. Nominal
Christians are everywhere. Many identify themselves as believers, but their
daily conduct demonstrates scant if any difference from people who make no
claim whatsoever to personal faith in God. No wonder non-believers scoff at
the apparent insignificance of accepting Christ. Can others tell that you
are a Christian by observing your daily habits? Paul cataloged self-serving,
indulgent behaviors common in public life outside of personal commitment to
faith in Christ. He called for followers of Jesus to stop living in such
ways that hurt others and damaged their own lives. Instead, he insisted,
“Now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and
dirty language. {9} Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your
old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. {10} In its place you have clothed
yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you
learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.
(Colossians 3:8-10 NLT) This is the immediate application of what Jesus
commanded as the way to live: “You should be a light for other people. Live
so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in
heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NCV) Living a discernibly different lifestyle as a
follower of Jesus is not something to put off to another day. We get bogged
down in old habits or meandering from what we know to be God’s ways for us
to act. The call to consistent demonstration of the difference Jesus makes
in how we live is compelling: “Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd
of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows
us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us
run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT)
Truly living by faith in Jesus is not a matter of turning over a new leaf in
our conduct whenever we get around to it. We are to live Christ-like lives
now. Lose the wait!

. Lose the wait on tangible demonstration of the love of Jesus. This
may be the more positive side of the previous wait loss suggestion. Basking
in the love God has shown to us through sending Jesus to save us from our
sin is far too passive. Jesus’ imperative for all of his followers is: “Love
each other. You must love each other as I have loved you.” (John 13:34 NCV)
Jesus gave food and drink, healing, forgiveness, and abundant life because
he loved us all. We are not only to receive that love but to imitate Jesus
by our loving actions toward others. Jesus’ half-brother, James, put it in
practical terms: “Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you
have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t
save anyone. {15} Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or
clothing, {16} and you say, ‘Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and
eat well’ — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What
good does that do? {17} So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith.
Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all–it is dead
and useless.” (James 2:14-17 NLT) Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats
indicates that we have ample opportunities to put Jesus’ kind of love into
practice: “People will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or alone and away from home or without clothes or sick or in prison? When
did we see these things and not help you?’ {45} Then the King will answer,
‘I tell you the truth, anything you refused to do for even the least of my
people here, you refused to do for me.'” (Matthew 25:44-45 NCV) People in
dire need of tangible applications of God’s love are all around us every
day. We are called to love them today. Lose the wait!

Losing wait and losing weight share two essential steps for
fulfilling the resolution to do either: 1) Eat the right foods faithfully.
You know what that means at the literal table or drive-through to achieve
weight loss. Jesus gave the key to spiritual wait loss: “I am the bread that
gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes
in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NCV) But correct diets seldom get
the job done alone. The second step is crucial. 2) Exercise! Inaction
guarantees missing the goal. The Bible’s wisdom applies in both arenas:
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” (Ecclesiastes
9:10 NIV) A total-being workout is crucial to vibrant living: “‘”You must
love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your
strength, and all your mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”‘ {28}
‘Right!’ Jesus told him. ‘Do this and you will live!'” (Luke 10:27-28 NLT)

Lose the wait in 2015! It will increase your energy, help make
you more responsive to others, extend your life, and fill you with God’s
blessings. Try it and see! Make it your #1 resolution for 2015.

J. Edward Culpepper