Thursday, September 15, 2011

#3 - Growin' Glorifyin' God

The POWER LIST of Jesus' maturing begins in Luke 2:40 and then continues to the end of the chapter. The impatient attitudes that you and I so often have to wrestle with, prompts us to skip to the last verse and somehow expect to see the rainbow of answers we seek; those answers so badly needed to minister to the youth in our neighborhood, or maybe even under our own roof.

I WILL WARN YOU! This is not the right time to skip anything. God has inspired Luke, the physician and writer of the gospel book that bears his name, to write these words that have been protected by God, down through the ages. Don't skip, just search and savor and store and share.

Verse 40 begins with “And the child grew...” Now that doesn't sound like much. But do you see that it is at the beginning of the list (to the chapter end). “Law of First Mention,” suggests we should pay particular attention to “grew.” This little four-letter word has the powerful job of drawing our attention to the fact that Jesus went through a maturing cycle that most every young person does. He wasn't the divine son of God that was plopped right into the Jewish community.

Now I don't know if Jesus ever had a tooth ache, a skinned knee, or some bullies that taunted him. Actually I don't want to know. My response is to simply know that Jesus was exposed to all the evil that most every teen has... yet he did not sin. Notice why these 'skinned knee' details are omitted. God doesn't want us to be sidetracked with little details, and not relish the next attribute. Are you ready for this?

The next attribute of Jesus is described with four words, not just a four-letter word. “waxed strong in spirit.” When I see the word 'waxed' I think of strengthening, of preserving, of sealing something that is valuable to me. I really drink in the importance of dealing with the 'spirit', listed here. I am to preserve my strong spiritual character, as I mature and become more Christ-like.

“Filled with wisdom” is the next in our Power List. Notice it doesn't say 'knowledge' or 'data' or 'facts'. It specifically says 'wisdom'. That's the ability to properly and lovingly use that knowledge. Was Jesus satisfied with just the average amount of wisdom? You know, just enough to get by? Wow! Look at that word, “FILLED”. Discuss with those youth you minister to, to describe what that “FILLED” really means. How did Jesus get FILLED? How do we get FILLED? How are we different when we're FILLED?

The fourth factor in Jesus' maturing is maybe the best. “and the grace of God was upon him.” This is another one of those attributes that doesn't give any details. It's like the “grew” that we started with. God's grace doesn't have a part number, or a manufacturing blueprint. It's a gift we don't earn (and don't deserve either.) God's grace is tailored to just exactly what our all knowing God is sure we need. His grace for us today may be different that it was for us last Thursday, or when we were trying to find the words to tell that teen about His bountiful love.

The important thing to desire each and every day, is God's grace and that it be upon us, in a way that magnifies Him, strengthens church folks, and empowers us to reach out to discouraged hearts around us. God's grace helps us look past the unusual appearances and unexpected actions we, at first, don't feel comfortable around. Reach out with compassion, but first reach up with expectation and trust.

Next time, we'll take a good look at some of Jesus' schooling. You'll hardly believe what happened!