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Inspiring Others

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After His well-known encounter with the Samaritan woman at a well, Jesus’s disciples offer Him some food.

But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about. [...] My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:32-34)

Do we eat only rarely, or do we eat often? Is eating arduous, or is it refreshing? Do we need to eat, or is it optional? Think about what Jesus is really saying about how He views His Father. It changes our approach to law. Law is supposed to be like eating for us. It is for Jesus.

Jesus later says,

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” (John 6:48-50)

This is the foundation of how we inspire people toward a Godly life. It starts with Jesus as our example. I took a fresh read through John recently and was just shocked at how often Jesus talks to His Father and about His Father. He sounds like a broken record. His eyes are utterly glued to His Father. He thinks about Him often. He enjoys remembering who His Father is. It just gushes out of His mouth like a mac fan’s excitement over the next iPhone. Jesus is our example.

The next brick in the foundation of how we inspire is that Jesus is our power. I was also shocked at how often Jesus tells us to drink Him and eat Him. Painting the picture with Israel’s wanderings in the desert, Jesus tells us that He is what sustains us. What does it mean to eat Jesus’s flesh? It means to behold, taste, and enjoy His work for us on the cross as His body was broken instead of ours, as He bore the torment of the Father’s disgust toward sin instead of us. Jesus must be our “manna.” We eat and enjoy Him like food. Jesus gives us power to enjoy the Father by being our true provision from the Father.

Jesus is our rescue from sin’s captivity and our continual rescue through the wilderness of trial. We rely entirely on this rescue as our foundation. More practically, we build on this foundation by pointing others to something real about God. Are they stubborn? Join Hebrews with all the seriousness of the gospel to show them a God who cannot be trifled with, and let the Word do the heavy lifting for you. Are they afraid? Join Romans in all the compassion of the gospel to show them a God who is powerful and is for them. Let theWord melt their fears.

Our refrain must sound something like, “God is that good, He is worth it!”

Posted by Matt Norman with

Inspiration

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Love of family inspires many an addict to get clean. Protection of freedom inspires men and women to risk their lives for those they’ve never met. Longing for greatness inspires athletes to accomplish feats that seem impossible. Desire for control inspires people to keep their composure amid scenes so ugly as genocide. Inspiration comes in many forms, fueling wondrous things.

But only one person willingly left heaven itself to endure perpetual isolation and mockery that was finished off with a slaughter that caused his greatest love to turn away from him in disgust, answering for unspeakable crimes he did not commit. You and I are called to be like this Jesus, who puts the rest of human accomplishments to shame. So suddenly, our bright worldly inspirations begin to fade by comparison. As we live and as we counsel, we’re heading in a direction so impossible that our traditional inspirations just aren’t going to be enough.

We live in a self-focused, therapeutic culture. You and I are by nature self-focused, therapeutic people. It’s not culture bleeding in. It’s our own human natures bleeding out. We walk into biblical counsel from a world of lesser inspirations: Picture yourself on that pedestal. Tell yourself, “I’m in control this moment. I am a strong person.” Interpret your anxiety as caring. Re-write your story to a more positive story. What would your future self say if they saw you do this? You could lose your family. You could lose your job. Pull yourself up, and get your act together. Other people have it worse. You’re being ridiculous. Everything’s just going to work out. Sometimes these thoughts are conscious. Sometimes we just default to them without thinking about it.

Let’s be honest. These inspirations are enough for human endeavors. They actually work, or they wouldn’t be practiced. If our goal is merely human, we needn’t look any further. So does that indict our goals as counselors at times? It think so. Our bull’s eye is not cleaner looking people with easier circumstances who are happier and more in control of things. Our bull’s eye is people who are utterly enamored with God and consider God Himself to literally be better than anything else in existence. This is a superhuman goal, and our former inspirations will not cut it.

It’s important to ask ourselves, “What inspires Jesus’s superhuman life?” We could look to a favorite scripture of mine in Hebrews 12:2 that tells us He was fixated on the joy set before Him (the Father). Or we could look at how often He lifts up and pours over His Father like a broken record, both publically and privately. Seemingly every word and action exposes Jesus’s delight in the Father.

There’s more to unpack and expound next week, but for now, let’s just land on this statement: If truly seeing the glory of God is not enough to inspire a changed heart, nothing ever will be.

Posted by Matt Norman with

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