Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Winning Strategy for the New Year

I saw this picture a few days ago and, because I happen to be going through a phase of attention that is fixed on all things related to chess, it caught my eye.
The pieces stand in contrast to the background, but it was the slogan that caught my attention. We live in a very strange time as a society and a culture here on this planet. We are consumed with self and image and yet we are looking around to find someone, something or some set of circumstances with which to hang blame as to why we are unable to be the persons that we strive to be.
I read a passage in Romans that I want to share with you and then come back to this picture that is posted above because there is a mindset that here that needs to be examined.
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." ~ Romans 14:5-11
Paul is speaking about the individual here and he makes some very powerful points. We were not meant to live as an island. God places us where He pleases and He does so at His purpose and for His pleasure. We tend to look at our surroundings and complain because of the people that we share those surroundings with and we "find" reasons as to why we do not belong among the people and in the places that we dislike.
Jonah did this, and he judged the people as  worthy to suffer the fate that awaited a choice of their independence from God's word to them. 
Habakkuk wrestled with God's decision to punish His peoples disobedience by delivering them into the capture of even more disobedient people.
We judge quickly and we tend to do it quickly and often without thinking. So Paul admonishes us to look inward and follows on the heels of this with the final sentence.
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."  ~ Romans 14:12

That statement as a whole is very interesting because it essentially says, "Instead of being consumed with self and blaming others for your lack, look inward and judge the mentalities that you have as a person and understand, the ground was made level at the cross. What did you do with the new nature, indwelling Spirit of God, forgiveness and every other benefit that was given to you at the cross?

At the cross, you were given not just a new future but you were  given a brand new past as well!!!

I read this passage in Romans and I looked at this simple picture and the not so simple statement that was implied.
"After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box."

I enjoy playing chess and I am fascinated by the individuality of the pieces on the board. They each have talents and abilities, strengths and weaknesses and depending on the one moving the pieces, beautiful outcomes can take place!

But the quote is true because no matter the strength of the piece on the board, at the end of the game, they all go back into the same box.

I thought of a story in Matthew's gospel that made me think and in turn, changed my perception of this matter of giving account for ourselves to God.

"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." ~ Matthew 25:14-30
I have always had this story presented to me as a call to use my talents for God, but if this is speaking about talents as in singing, art, basket weaving or whatever the case may be, then this implies if I do not sing or paint or make baskets for Jesus, then I will be thrown into hell.
Let me give you some thoughts about this story to consider that take a slightly different route.
Man was given "Life" by God.
The first man in the story refused to do anything with the "life" and offered it back at the end. It would be the man who is offered "life" by God and refused it only to live his vapor of life out and die without Christ.
The second and third were given "life" as well. They accepted it and turned around and gave it out to the best of their abilities. The "Life" that they gave out doubled in proportion to their ability to disperse it. The kingdom expanded!
Not everyone will sing a song that moves an audience of thousands with their life, but everyone can sing a song. Even if the only audience you have calls you mom or dad.
Not everyone can speak words that will go across the planet and influence hearts by sharing "Life" that they have been given, but everyone can speak to their neighbor and share the "life" that they have been given. God throws the message alot further than we can .
Different pieces on the board being what they are able to be to the best of their abilities and allowing the Master to move and direct them as He will. This is the plan!
You can stay mired in the fact that your reach is not as far as another persons or judge another person as lazy because your reach is further than theirs, or you can understand that it is about what you do with what you have been given?
You can blame others for why you did not move as you were supposed to in this life, or you can determine that you have been given everything you need from God at salvation, to be fashioned as He intends you to be. Either Romans 8:28 is true or it is a lie.
Stop looking around at others and take a good look in the mirror because in the end, it was what you did with what you had that counts. How innefective would a chess piece be if it refused to move because it was not able to offer the abilities of another piece on the board?
Here are three things to remind yourself each day that will impact your skill and ability to play in the game of life.

1. I have been gifted with everything that I need to play the game I was made to play.
2. I will not let another person's opinion determine my value to The Master, as He alone has already decided my value and my place on the board.
3. I have been placed here to make a difference and will be able to say at the game's end that I did my best to be who He has made me to be.
Step up to the board and  walk in the understanding that God makes no mistakes and there is nothing keeping us back from attaining what He has called us to perform except our own understanding of who we truly are in Christ. He is LIFE!!!

Move in confidence today that He has placed you exactly where you are for His purpose to be worked out in you.

Climbing with you,

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