Something to think about.
What Does it Look Like?
37 Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.“ Matthew 22:37
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He answered with this verse. There is no hidden meaning it is not a parable it is a direct answer to a direct question. What does loving God look like? How do you express your love for God and how is it evident to those around you. Love is not something that is kept in secret. It is something you want to tell everyone about or at least make it evident.
Think of all the ways you express love to your spouse your children, parents, siblings, friends. How do you show love to you God? It occurs to me that our love for God should be evident in the way we live. It is not about other people. Loving your neighbor is important, as the Bible says but loving God is on another level.
God is the one that created you, gave you life, you exist because he thought you up. He loved you before you love Him. He created you for the singular purpose of loving you. His desire is for you to spend eternity with Him. He wants to care for you, protect you and supply your needs. Whats more He can do all of that. He only wants to provide you with the best life you can live. Everything that is wonderful and glorious He wants for your life. Everything excellent and blissful is what He wants for you, and He has the capacity to supply it. He is not like us where we want the best for those we love but lack the resources to supply those needs.
What have you invested to reciprocate that love? What time, effort’ money or service have you done or are doing to show God you love Him? If you love Him how do you express it? We were created to love Him. That is our purpose. In this purpose resides the meaning of your life. We spend all of our lives looking and desiring to be loved and all the while it has been right there in front of us. Show God your love for Him, and you will find what you have searched for. It is said that God will meet us at the point of our need, our need is to love God.
Something to think about
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
This famous and inspiring verse is used and quoted many times and rightly so, as it paints a picture of perseverance and steadfastness we all need to employ in our lives. As I get older, I find I have not really forgotten some of the things of the past.
Forgetting things of the past is not as easy as putting them away in some long-lost abyss in the mind. Or covering them up with new more pleasurable memories and enjoyable activities. It actually requires that you bring them to the fore of your consciousness and deal with them. It means not to turn your back on the hurt and pain of a memory or occurrence. It actually means to bring it with full intent to your immediate and single-minded attention and laying it before God and saying, God here it is help me to forgive and forget. It is not a time to place blame assign guilt or in some way push it off on someone else. It is time to bring that hurt before God and ask, heal me and release me. It is time for you to come naked before the Lord and ask for his redemptive power to work in your life.
He is the only one that can release you from the past which will allow you to push forward toward the prize. When you bring your hurts, painful memories, failures, disappointments before God and permit Him to be God, you will experience a personal freedom that can not be obtained by human means. You don’t have to wait for years to deal with the issues that are chains around your neck. You can deal with them with God at the time of the hurt, and He will heal you. Yes, there will be a time of healing but once completed you will be able to move forward toward the goal.
What denies you the future victory in your journey of life is not what assails you from the outside nearly as much as what binds you from the inside. The fears that are causing you to shrink back from what God has called you to do are the obstacles that keep you from the prize He has made available to you. You do not need to conquer your fear you need to be healed from whatever caused the fear. By bring your life before God He can heal you, then you can forget those things which are behind and press forward toward the goal He has set for you. Forgetting things of the past requires you to bring those things before God your healer and allowing Him to do what He does.
Something to think about.
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 (ESV)
Sometimes you have to read between the lines. After God completes His creation, He stands backs takes it all in and declares “it was very good.” For most of us today we miss the full implication of what this means. We move immediately from one sentence to the next without really appreciating the first sentence.
I make custom furniture for a living, and the businessman in me is continually thinking about how can I do this better how can I do it faster how can I make my business more efficient. I’ve been making furniture for a long time so much of it is first nature to me, meaning I don’t have to spend to much time thinking about how, it is almost automatic. I always inspect my work with a critical eye trying to find ways to improve the product. However, every once in a while I complete a piece I look at it and realize it is good. Not that the others aren’t but this piece turned out as perfect as I could get it and in those moments I want to celebrate that achievement.
When I read “and behold, it was very good” in my mind’s eye I see a celebration of untethered proportions. I mean all of creation is standing cheering marveling at the greatness of God. All of existence is in awe of what he has done. Everything that existed before creation is celebrating with and for God at this moment. This is a stop the press moment. This is the moment of the unveiling of a magnificent achievement, and all existence is in one accord celebrating with God His wondrous creation.
When was the last time you stop became still and looked at what God has done in your life? Have you had that stop the press moment? When you stand still looked at your life and come to the realization it is very good? That moment in which you appreciate how God has changed your life and your life is good it is better than its ever been. The outlook is better today than it was yesterday and not because of the economy, health, job or love but because the God of the universe has become part of your life and in Him exists all that is good. In him, you have known and will know joy unspeakable and full of glory. With Him comes the victory that cannot be obtained in any other way.
Have you come to understand what I am writing with the complete knowledge that the world can’t comprehend what I am saying. Because they live in a defeated, hopeless, pointless world and the language that I speak can only be understood by those who know God. Yes, it is English but if you don’t know. Him you can’t know what is good. They can’t know what you know because to know what you know you must have the spirit of God in you. There does not exist a translator for His Spirit. The spirit of God in you is what will bring you to the liberty of God where the goodness of God exists.
If you have never had that moment, I implore you to stop look at your life, and you will marvel and celebrate and with unfettered restraint. You will thank God for all he has done in your life. In Psalms it says,
10 “Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 (ESV)
If you become still and realize He is God you will know He is very good.
Something to think about.
In The World Part Two
14 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. 15 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
“You should keep them from the evil, this is an interesting statement or request. Jesus is asking God to protect us. To keep us from being defeated by the devil. You have to ask yourself why He would make such a request? Why do we need to be protected?
He is asking out of experience. He was hated, abused, ridiculed and had experienced the hate we would know. The reason he makes this request is that he knows if we follow him we will suffer. He knows that the world will reject us as they rejected him. So he asked for our protection, not that we will be protected to the point where we are unaffected. He asked that we are protected while we’re being hated and ostracized. Jesus was hated because he challenged the status quo. He introduced a new covenant. And he asks us his followers to maintain the same Covenant. By doing so, he became an irritant to the powers-that-be. If we are to follow him and do what he did, we will be hated and opposed as he was.
If you are a Christian, you will be an irritant because you are in opposition to the status quo. We want to be accepted. We want our beliefs and our actions to be received by society without conflict. We want everything that we do to be recognized and welcomed. But we forget how we were before we became Christians. We were anti-Jesus Christ. We had no interest in Christian values, faith, belief or authority. We were self-centered and only interested in our own desires. We believed we were entitled to do whatever we chose.
We would like Christianity to be a very neat conflict-free existence where we could live peaceably, favorably and orderly. The peace, favor, and order we receive comes from God. It is foolish for us to think that we will have peace in this world. We are at odds with this world. We are at odds with sin. Our opposition to sin puts us at odds with society. We must realize that though we are in the world, we don’t belong to this world. As such we will always be in opposition to the secular world. That is why Jesus Christ prayed that we would be protected. Because we will always be in conflict with the world.
Though he was rejected, hated abused and humiliated He overcame the world. Through His victory, we will also overcome the world. As joint heirs with Jesus Christ we have the assurance of our resurrection through Him.
Something to think about.
In This World Part One
14 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. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
We have heard it said, we Christians should be in the world but not of the world. This is an abbreviated quote of the verses above. They are paraphrasing what Jesus said “they are not of the world,” referring to Christians, Jesus is saying we belong to a different realm of existence.
I would like to focus on the lesser know verse 15. Here Jesus is praying, God do not remove them but protect them. We the body of believers have taken the “not of this world” to far. I noticed as I have become heavily involved in my church that I continually hangout and associated with people from the church. Which because of my involvement is a natural byproduct of how I spend my time. In a sense, I am living “not of this world.” Which caused me to re-examine this verse and its intention.
As you become more involved in an activity, you tend to associate with others that are also involved in the same activity. If you like alcohol, you tend to associate with others that like alcohol. If you like running, you tend to associate with other runners. How does your, or my involvement in church activities accomplish being in the world but “not of the world?”
Your involvement in the church does not remove you from the responsibility of the “great commission.” Good works do not exempt you from “why”you are still here. We are to be in the world. Jesus prayed that we remain here not that we be removed. He prays for our protection, not for our exclusion. What Jesus is saying to us is we are to be in contact with the world because if we are not, how can we share the Gospel. We are to be the mouthpiece of God, not the silent political irritant that we have become. Jesus prays for our protection. Why would he pray for our protection if all we do is associate with other like-minded individuals? The only reason for protection is if you are an irritant to someone. If we only associate with each other, then the evil one would have no reason to disturb us. He would leave us to our own interest. As long as we don’t step outside of our boundaries, we would be safe. As long as we remain within the confines of our religious activity do we even need this verse? If all we do is minister to people within the church are we really doing anything?
We must interact with the world. It will be messy. We must shake off the comfort of complacency. We need to be in the world.
Something to think about.
The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” Like 8 38-39
The mantra of our society is to get an and education then go conquer the world. It is interesting Jesus tells this man whom He had liberated, go home and tell them what God has done for you. Education is imporatnt. The disciples spent three years with Jesus learning from Him. Most of which was in preparation for what was to come. However, there is a time and place when experience trumps education. This is one of those times.
Jesus tells the formerly demon-possessed man no I don’t want you to hang around me, go tell others of what I have done. We have expended much too much energy, resources, and intellect in preparing people to share the gospel and not enough resources teaching people to live the gospel. Jesus did not tell the formerly demon possessed man to go and study under the tutelage of a leading authority. He told Him by virtue of what God has done in your life you are empowered to share God with others.
It wasn’t seminars, conferences, academic process or intellectual prowess, which qualified this individual to share Jesus it was his experience. It was the liberation of spiritual bondage that trained Him to share the healing he received at the hands of Jesus.
All of the highly skilled professionals involved in the propagation of Christianity are not the ones that are going to change the world for Christ. If that were possible, it would have been done. I dare say it was never the intent of Christ for that to occur. It was not the intent of Christ for the church to be the salvation of the world. At least not the church as we define it today. A centralized, organized corporate entity with the sole purpose of evangelization. Understand I belong to such a church I support my church both financially and physically. But my church was not what God intended for the propagation of the gospel. Yes, it has its place in the overall plan of God, it has an integral part in that plan. My church as any other church is and should be an oasis where the battered and beaten warriors of God come to be rejuvenated, fed, healed and sent back into the world to fight the war God intended us to fight. The Church was designed to be a fortress where the weary come to find rest and protection. A place to be educated in how to best fight the war we are inevitably involved in. The church as an entity is not there to evangelize, it is there to feed, edify and educate.
The burden of the gospel falls on the rest of us to do as the liberated demon possessed man was instructed. Go home tell them what God has done in your life. The office of the evangelist is not intended for the anomaly. It was never intended for the astonishing orator it was intended for you and me. To go home and tell our neighbors and friends what God has done in our lives. Everyone is looking for evidence of the living God, and you are that evidence. You are that miracle. You are the new creation that can only happen when God is in you. You as the formerly demon-possessed man are qualified to share the gospel of Christ by virtue of what he has done in your life. If you share your story the Church God intended will change the world.
Something to think about.
We Are Not Exempt
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. 2 In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Tragedies will come, and no one is exempt. Even the most righteous among us will face trials in life. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because no one is exempt from the sin in the world. We live in a sin-infested existence, and because we do at times, the result of that sin will overcome us.
We may pray and fast and study and be righteous but you will still face situations in your life that will be overwhelming. What we can do is pray, fast, study, and “seek after the kingdom of God” and it will prepare us to deal with the overwhelming situations we will face. What we as Christians know is that Jesus overcame the trials of His life and He will be with us to help us in ours. Let us not become despondent or defeated in our trials, but let’s receive the peace of God in these situations by seeking Him. Knowing that regardless of the outcome we will have the victory, He has intended for us.
We will face tribulations in our lives. How we handle them determines the outcome. If we work with God, we will go through them successfully and peaceably. If not the tribulation will go through us and we will be the remains after it has finished with us. The more intense the trials the fewer the remains. You can face a tribulation with God and be whole, or you can meet it alone and become pieces of your former self.
Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” It means that we can overcome the tribulations of life if we unite ourselves with Him. It means that the tribulations regardless of how horrible they are not sufficient to destroy you if you are in Him. It means we can come out the other side of the tribulation, not unchanged but undefeated. Even if you lose everything, you still have the assurance of His victory in your life.
Jesus said, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Our celebration is in the knowledge and the reality that as long as we are in Him, we will share in His ultimate victory.
Something to think about.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (KJV)
Part of this verse talks about the desire of the Devil to destroy lives. OH!!! We are not supposed to acknowledge his existence less we become the laughing-stock of contemporary society. Within and without the church, we are not supposed to mention his existence. Supposedly because we lack concrete proof or we will look like a religious extremist. Some have regulated the Devil to the realm of myths. He has become an impotent folklore a boogie man of nonexistence.
In our churches we seldom hear him mentioned and if so just in passing. He is ignored or marginalized within the church. Within the church, it has become taboo to address him head-on. Some say we should not give him undo recognition. That he is powerless against us and recognizing him only creates his unwanted influence. We have taken the position if we ignore him he will go away. The church as a whole has become reticent to address him for fear of ridicule from a society which proclaims he does not exist.
A society which is facing more than a few crises. From the continual murder of unborn children. To the staggering amount of fatherless children to government corruption to unending wars. A world gripped by fanatical extremism, sex slavery, mass murders, serial rapist, serial murders, starvation, and disease. Everywhere you turn there is a stripping away from what makes us human. We are shocked and horrified by the unending ability of the imagination of man to perpetuate evil upon each other. Without a reasonable explanation, we experience these things and attribute it to anything other than to the father of lies the Devil himself.
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The devil is so successful at this he has removed himself from the equation. The absolute insidiousness of it is we don’t even believe he exists. Since we no longer allow him to be a part of our vocabulary all of the causes of the crises we face must then be man-made. We within us without apparent reason live the evil that is perpetrated on our fellow man. We are inherently evil. The Devil’s success is in convincing us he does not exist. Even though the evidence of his existence can be found in the destroyed lives of our brothers, sister, and throughout society. The world is destroying itself, and the only explanation we are given is we are the sole cause. Wake up!!
Something to think about.
Equal to God
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
I imagine that every Christian has either read or heard this verse. Its meaning is straightforward. God saves you through His unmerited favor. You can’t be saved by your own doing. But yet there are still those who feel there must be something I can do to facilitate or assist in my salvation. Salvation can’t be that simple.
If you find a need to work for your salvation, you must answer this question. How can I earn my salvation? The concept of earning is that you do something of value to receive something of equal or greater value. Working with the idea of “earning” you must do something that is of sufficient worth to pay for your sin. The standard of payment is the complete eradication of sin. You have to do something equal to the cost of your sin in order to remove every vestige of the sin. Covering it up is not acceptable. You must remove even the memory of it. You have to, in essence, make it as it never happened. Forgiveness of sin is not enough you must make complete payment for your sin. You must make it as if never happened. You must restore the situation to its perfect state. When you work for your salvation, this is the goal, the restoration of perfection.
Biblically God accomplished the restoration of man by becoming man Himself. Then He died on the cross and shed His blood so that through His blood man’s sin was wholly paid for. He restored perfection to man by the complete removal of sin. The cost of sin was so high that only He could make the payment for us that we might become perfect in Him. God, Himself is the only one capable of making the payment. His proof of payment is then exhibited in the resurrection.
For those of you who are determined that you must work your way into heaven all you have to do is make payment for your sin. What you have to do is very simple and clearly stated you must become equal to God. Since God was the only one capable of making the payment for sin; it follows that if you are going to work your way into heaven, you must also make a qualifying payment. The requirements are simple you must be sinless, perfect. You must have the currency of blood, perfect clean sinless blood, you must die and then you must resurrect yourself. In short, you must become equal to God.