In my last post I shared with readers how God had spoken to me during the Aleph Tav Conference that I attended a few weeks ago. It was at the conference that I saw a picture of Jesus like I had not seen before. Based on the words of Paul in Philippians 2:5-11, Pastor James McMenis talked about the incarnation, humiliation, exaltation and adoration of Christ. My salvation became more real and precious to me each night of Aleph Tav 2017.
Since the conference I have been praying about what my focus needs to be in 2018. I have been asking myself the question I ask my students every time I teach my philosophy of education class at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. At the end the week-long class I have the students write a paper that is simply titled, So What? I want to learn from the students how, if any, the class has impacted their lives. So I have been asking myself this question. So What?
I found my answer to this question and what I want to focus on in 2018 by reading what Paul wrote in the rest of the second chapter of Philippians. Philippians 2:12-13 reads:
Wherefore, my brethren…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
My focus for 2018 is to diligently work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I know that some have taken this passage to try and prove that salvation is based on one’s good works but that is not what this verse is talking about.
As a biology major in college, I marveled at the magnificent design of the human body’s circulatory system. We all know that man’s physical heart is the center of this system. The heart is located in the center of the body and is responsible to pump life-giving blood throughout one’s body.
It is critical that blood gets to every extremity of the body. Improper or blocked circulation can lead to a member of the body losing its function and could even cause death. The same is true for us spiritually. My salvation took place in my heart. It brought me new life in Christ. I am told that everything was made new when I became a Christian.
However, that new life needs to be circulated throughout my life. It must be worked out from my spiritual heart to every part of my being just like physical blood must be worked out from my physical heart to every part of my body.
Because I have seen afresh the incarnation, humiliation, exaltation and adoration of Jesus, this understanding of my salvation must be evident in every aspect of my life. As I reflect on what Christ did for me when He left the glory of Heaven and became a man who suffered throughout His life and finally gave His life for me, it is supposed to change everything about me. So I am asking myself some key questions at the start of 2018. As I work out my salvation, how will it affect:
- the things I set my eyes on?
- the things I listen to?
- my thoughts?
- the words I say?
- the attitudes I display?
- my view of others?
- what I do with my life?
- my parenting?
- my marriage?
- the use of my time, talent and treasure?
I can go on and on listing how my life needs to reflect not only the work God did in my heart when I became a Christian as a 9 year-old boy but also the fresh work He did in my life during the Aleph Tav Conference. This must be my focus throughout this year and any other years He sees fit to give me here on earth.
Most of us are aware of the importance of having a good diet and proper exercise in order to remain healthy. If we eat the wrong foods and sit around and not get some exercise, our arteries can be affected. A poor diet and no physical exercise can cause arteries to become restricted or even blocked. This does not allow blood to get to the parts of the body that need it to survive. If this goes undetected, it may even lead to death.
The same is true for our spiritual lives. Nothing much will happen in 2018 if I just “say” I need to work out the work that God has done in my life. This is going to require a proper diet and a good exercise plan in order for good circulation to take place. I have made a commitment to read through the Bible again in 2018. If I don’t feed regularly on God’s Word, I won’t have the needed knowledge and wisdom to keep the work that God has done and wants to do in my heart flowing through all aspects of my life and ministry. The same is true for the other spiritual disciplines that need to be a daily part of my life throughout this year.
I am thankful for what God did in my life at Aleph Tav 2017. However, I don’t want what happened at this event to be just something I attended and have a few nice memories about. I want it to continue shaping my life and my ministry. I am excited about what God is going to do in the days ahead. Are you?