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Who Gives Kudos:


   [08 Apr 2014 | Tuesday]

Spiritual Paradoxes, 1of2

~ The Upside Down Spiritual World ~


Those who understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ realize that spiritual values are quite opposite of the our natural values. Values are reversed. Consider some salvation paradoxes.


Weakness Is Strength  ~  God’s strength can be displayed through us when we realize our own human weakness. “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). 


Lost Is Found  ~  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works’” (Matthew 16:24-27). The Apostle Paul lost his life for Christ, renouncing everything including his pride, and suffered in order to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  In the process he found true meaning and purpose.  This passage contains a second paradox:


Death Is Life  ~  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it’” (Matthew 16:24-25). “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins live for righteousness—by whose stripes we are healed” (1 Peter 2:24). It is only through death of our personal desires that we gain true life. Jesus Christ Himself gave His life in loving self-sacrifice for us. The Apostle Paul died to his own desires in order to please Christ, renouncing everything including his pride and suffered in order to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  In the process he found the abundant life which is only in Jesus Christ.  


Leading Is Serving  ~  The way of the Master. Jesus said, “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). Jesus gave us the example by His own life, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Self-seeking is really self-losing!


First Is Last  ~  “But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:30).So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16a).


Loss Is Gain  ~  Martyred missionary Jim Elliot is famous for his journal notation, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” More than likely this was his paraphrase of John 12:25 (he knew the Word so well that it may well have been a subconscious paraphrase). “Whoever loves his life loses it,” [so he gives what he cannot keep] “and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” [to gain what he cannot lose].


Down Is Up  ~  In summary, the way up to heaven includes holding down pride and self-confidence and realizing that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-10). 


Humility Is Exaltation  ~  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). Christians are exalted in God’s eyes when they possess true humility.


In But Not Of  ~  These paradoxes are all related to this basic concept. Jesus said, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:14-15). 


consider these additional thoughts: 


“The greatest use of life is to spend it on something that outlasts it” (unknown author).


“At the root of all the miseries of mankind is a miscalculation of the value of things” (Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790).


“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” (Goethe, 1749-1832).


“I’d rather lose in a cause that will ultimately succeed, than succeed in one that will ultimately fail” (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865).


“There are two things that characterize the teachings of our Lord. Number one is this: the worth, the infinite, heavenly, eternal worth of the soul.  And the second one: the transitory, temporal, ephemeral, ultimate worthlessness of everything else” (W.A. Criswell, 1909-2002).


Finally, one of my favorites is, “Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate” (unknown author). 


“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).


Are you rich? Eternally rich? What change in your current priorities are appropriate?


~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW


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