Our True Vocation (Proverbs 1:1–7)
Everybody has a vocation to some form of life work. But behind that and deeper than that, everybody has a vocation to be a person, to be fully and deeply a human being, to be Christlike. And the second thing is more important than the first. It is more important to be a great person than a great teacher, butcher or candlestick maker.
Taken from NIV Ragamuffin Bible
Is Christ Worth It?
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26–27)
Jesus is unashamed and unafraid of telling us up front the “worst” — the painful cost of being a Christian: hating family (v. 26), carrying a cross (v. 27), renouncing possessions (v. 33). There is no small print in the covenant of grace. It is all big, and bold. No cheap grace! Very costly! Come, and be my disciple.
But Satan hides his worst and shows only his best. All that really matters in the deal with Satan is in small print on the back page.
On the front page in big, bold letters are the words, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4), and “All these things I will give to you, if you fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9). But on the back page in small print — so small you can only read it with the magnifying glass of the Bible — it says: “And after the fleeting pleasures, you will suffer with me forever in hell.”
Why is Jesus willing to show us his “worst” as well as his best, while Satan will only show us his best? Matthew Henry answers, “Satan shows the best, but hides the worst, because his best will not [counterbalance] his worst; but Christ’s will abundantly.”
The call of Jesus is not just a call to suffering and self–denial; it is first a call to a banquet. This is the point of the parable in Luke 14:16–24. Jesus also promises a glorious resurrection where all the losses of this life will be repaid (Luke 14:14). He also tells us that he will help us endure the hardships (Luke 22:32). He also tells us he will give us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). He promises that even if we are killed for the kingdom, “not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:18).
Which means that when we sit down to calculate the cost of following Jesus — when we weigh the “worst” and the “best” — he is worth it. Abundantly worth it (see Romans 8:18).
Not so with Satan. Stolen bread is sweet, but afterward the mouth is full of gravel (see Proverbs 20:17).
When Jacob learns that Joseph is alive, he moves from Canaan to Egypt with his entire family.
On the Road Again
So Jacob set out for Egypt with all his possessions. And when he came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac. During the night God spoke to him in a vision. “Jacob! Jacob!” he called.
“Here I am,” Jacob replied.
“I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.”
God told Jacob to leave his home and travel to a strange and faraway land. But God reassured him by promising to go with him and take care of him.
God reminded Jacob of the covenant promise he had made to Abraham: He would be the father of a great nation (Genesis 15:1-6). While in Egypt, the Israelites did become a great nation, and Jacob’s descendants eventually returned to Canaan. Jacob himself never returned to Canaan, but God promised that his descendants would return. That Jacob would die in Egypt with Joseph at his side was God’s promise to Jacob that he would never know the pain of being lonely again. The book of Exodus recounts the story of Israel’s slavery in Egypt for 400 years (fulfilling God’s words to Abram in Genesis 15:13-16), and the book of Joshua gives an exciting account of the Israelites entering and conquering Canaan, the Promised Land.
God made several promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he fulfilled them all, even though these men wavered in their faith from time to time and did not always live as they should. Fortunately, God’s actions in the world will be fulfilled with or without our cooperation. He has plans and will accomplish them—and God always keeps his promises.
Thank God for his love and guidance and ask him for faith to trust him more and for strength to do his will.
Streams in the Desert – May 24
Sarah bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him (Gen. 21:2).
The counsel of the Lord standS forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). But we must be prepared to wait God’s time. God has His set times. It is not for us to know them; indeed, we cannot know them; we must wait for them.
If God had told Abraham in Haran that he must wait for thirty years until he pressed the promised child to his bosom, his heart would have failed him. So, in gracious love, the length of the weary years was hidden, and only as they were nearly spent, and there were only a few more months to wait, God told him that “according to the time of life, Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:14). The set time came at last; and then the laughter that filled the patriarch’s home made the aged pair forget the long and weary vigil.
Take heart, waiting one, thou wait for One who cannot disappoint thee; and who will not be five minutes behind the appointed moment: ere long “your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”
Ah, happy soul, when God makes thee laugh! Then sorrow and crying shall flee away forever, as darkness before the dawn.
It is not for us who are passengers, to meddle with the chart and with the compass. Let that all-skilled Pilot alone with His own work.
“Some things cannot be done in a day. God does not make a sunset glory in a moment, but for days may be massing the mist out of which He builds His palaces beautiful in the west.”
Some glorious morn–but when? Ah, who shall say?
The steepest mountain will become a plain,
And the parched land be satisfied with rain.
The gates of brass all broken; iron bars,
Transfigured, form a ladder to the stars.
Rough places plain, and crooked ways all straight,
For him who with a patient heart can wait.
These things shall be on God’s appointed day:
It may not be tomorrow–yet it may.