Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Facing Rejection with Resolve

Rejected. It’s a term we sometimes hear basketball commentators use when a guy driving to the basket gets pushed back, regardless of whether a foul is involved, misses the shot, and sometimes eats a little bit of the floor. And his pride.

But rejection in real life is far more painful.

Maybe a few of you faced a deep rejection recently. Each of us has faced rejection at some point.

  • Perhaps it was a boyfriend or girlfriend who left you feeling completely jilted
  • It may have been a wife or husband who deserted you and their covenant with you
  • Maybe it was an employer who let you go in a company downsizing, and even though you know it wasn’t personal, it sure feels like it

These rejections—or what feels like rejection—are common to almost all of us. We can relate to them. We wonder if God knows what we feel like. But did you know that Jesus faced rejection? Actually, He still faces rejection by millions of people…people He created.

Luke 4.14-30 gives a specific account of Jesus being rejected. We see that Jesus faced what must be among the toughest types of rejection—being scorned by your own folks.

What happened to Jesus could not happen in the same way to us. We’ve never been rejected as the Messiah. But to a degree, many of us experience a type of what happens in this part of Jesus’ story.

  • Outsiders accept us sometimes because they know less about us—they don’t know all the details, including our past
  • However, insiders, or our closest personal friends and family members, will sometimes not be able to overlook our past, and so they cannot see the potential for good in us

Again, while this is not the same thing that happened to Jesus in Luke chapter 4 (for starters, He had no sinful past to overcome!), the general principle—that those who know you best question you the most—is still at play. They simply knew Him as the town carpenter who lived a respectable, humble life. To them, making a messianic claim would have to be substantiated by action in their midst. They would want proof.

He was almost accepted. But then He told them that soon they would expect a show (or sideshow) of miracles and healings. He was calling them out, showing their true hearts. It points out a few realities:

Present praise is no guarantee of future followers.
National notoriety does not always make a hometown hero.
External excitement is no sign of internal investment.

The fact that Jesus was being praised (v. 15), gaining notoriety (v. 14), and stirring excitement (v. 22) was not enough for people to place a genuine heart faith and trust in Him as the Messiah. His own people, those who knew Him best, ran Him out of town, and even tried to kill Him. Almost unbelievable. But Jesus was able to stay on mission because He was living in the power of the Spirit (v. 14), and He was resolved (see Luke 9.51).

Having lived in Raleigh for several years, I know the region was honored to have two of the American Idol winners hail from the area, and each has received near-hero status. People have gone bonkers for Clay Aiken and Scotty McCreery. After winning these competitions, they received instant celebrity status.

Some folks in Nazareth wanted a rock star like that. But Jesus knew they needed a Savior, a Rescuer.

You need Him, too. And you can live with His resolve.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bible Reading Encouragement

On Sunday, my wife and I began a Bible reading strategy that I thought might be helpful to you as well. As a pastor, I find it relatively easy to stay on course when studying a paragraph of Scripture for a sermon or working through a Bible book as I teach or write, but consistency in reading outside of specific study is sometimes not easy. I really appreciate when the ease of technology puts together the best of the Internet’s abilities to do something that can actually help you grow in character.

Of course, with any Bible reading plan, if the only reason you are doing it is to say you’ve done it, or to check off boxes on a reading plan, it won’t change your life. But if you’re sincerely looking for a way to aid you in your reading, keep you on track, and even help to hold you accountable to a real-life person, this can be a super assistant, and may even be beneficial in your Godward progress.

YouVersion.comIt’s a free tool from YouVersion.com, which offers a series of Bible reading plans. You can simply read any paper and ink Bible and check off the day’s scheduled reading, or you can have the Bible delivered to you in a variety of ways. You can have YouVersion send you a daily email with the first part of your reading embedded, so that you’re encouraged to start there and then click through to the site where you can complete your reading and check off the day’s plan. Or you can simply go to your main login page, where the plan automatically (if you stay signed in) pulls up where you’re supposed to start for the day. If you’re on your smartphone a lot, YouVersion has free apps available (iPhone, Android, others) that will let you read on your mobile device, and then whatever your read on mobile will sync with the full Web version so that you don’t have to keep checking in both places.

The service helps keep you on track, gives the ability to share Scripture on Twitter and Facebook, and it uses real friends, if you wish, to help hold you accountable. If you opt in to accountability, it will send reading progress reports via email to whoever you assign as an accountability partner. So my wife and I will be helping each other in this way. We chose the same reading plan, in part so that we can talk about what we’ve read together.

I look forward to coming back to the blog and posting how this has been a blessing in our walk with God—and even in our marriage.