Monday, January 24, 2011

Jesus shows up

What happens when we let our emotions run unchecked and away from our faith?

In John 18:15-27, Peter will betray Jesus, but he also had opportunities to not and stand for the faith. Yet, as he stood warming himself, to stand up for Jesus but instead, he denied Him again! Are you not one of His followers? Even a relative of the man Peter stabbed confronted him, and yet, Peter protested I am not! At that point, just as Jesus had prophesied, the rooster crowed!

We all—at some point, more often than not, sooner than later—will stumble, make bad choices, and/or fail. The question is where are we going with our faith and due diligence of His teachings? We must seek to please God and submit our will to Him; by so doing, we will become humble, trusting, and obedient toward God and others (Ex. 32:19-20; 30-34; Num 12:1-3; Psalm 37:11; Matt. 5: 3-12; 11:29).

The great, principle comfort in our distress is that Jesus shows up; He is with us and for us because of His love.
The principle of love, which is the essence of the Gospel, must be our mark so it is our impact; because we are influenced by His love, we will contemplate (think deeply) upon it and become empowered and stimulated by it, so it flows even when we are not thinking of it or are as Peter was when the rooster crowed—stressed, hurt, or confused. The point of this passage is the point of the Gospel. If we live out our Christian lives with the great commitment of love and faith with diligence, then we can succeed in life, ministry, and service to our Lord. If love and faith are not our marks, then we will be worthless and of no value. Nothing we want to do or attempt to do could amount to anything of value without love. What we think is important and purposeful is not, unless it is joined to our growing faith empowered by His love. All we do must be in the cart that is pulled by the horse of our faith, with the reins of hope, and most of all love as the wheels, all because of Christ's love. Keep in mind that most people, including Christians, have a skewed idea of love. We get our ideas from TV and movies; we believe these flawed ideas based on our feelings and how people have treated us. As a result, we do not see the unmerited love called grace that we have already received from our Lord.

What do you need to do to reach out to Christ and let Him grasp you so you do not see just the sea of problems and the ocean of deluge overtaking the ship of your faith and composure in Him?

How can you be better at focusing on Christ? What do you need to do to be better with humility and keeping your focus on God’s plan?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Ultimate Battle

Have you fully appreciated or understood what Jesus has done on your behalf? What does it take for you to yield your personal rights and expectations over to God?

Jesus in John 18, “knowing all” was not surprised; His being fully God and having absolute knowledge, control, and power, humbled and submitted Himself to the plan of redemption. Even though at any time He could easily have escaped His pain, He did not, which was for our gain (John 10:14-18).

The ultimate battle in life is not with armies and/or lawyers; it is not politics or our exertions. Rather, it is with our will—what we want versus what God has and desires for us. This passage is not about enduring suffering; it is about following God’s will regardless of suffering, grief, or any other kind of life strain. This means we surrender our will to His. This means we are focused upon building our lives on God’s precepts, not ours. The only way to be a real, authentic follower of our Lord Jesus Christ is to deny what we want and pursue what He wants. This means that knowing who we are and how we are, both to God and also to others around us, is essential. We must never be the stumbling stone, trying to meddle with God’s plans for ourselves or others. We must conduct ourselves with utmost integrity, be that person of faith who points to His example. Jesus does not force us to submit and surrender; He models it for us to follow (Psalm 15; John 3:29-30; Gal. 5:24).

We can either say God, your will be done or He will say I will let your will be done; and then we live with the consequences! Real, spiritual improvement comes from surrendering our will—not opposing or imposing upon His will. The will of God is about learning about Him, following His decrees, and building fruit and character. In seeking that, we can make good decisions and weed out false teachers. Seeking to place Jesus first and foremost so to follow only Him, and thus love, trust, and obey Christ is a mindset and lifestyle (Matt. 6:33; Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:17; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:18; 1 Tim. 2:4; 1 Pet. 2:13-15; 4:19).

How and why can your spiritual improvement only come from surrendering your will—not opposing or imposing upon God’s will? How can you be better at learning about Christ, following His decrees, and building fruit and character?

Monday, January 03, 2011

How is your Love Factor?

Are you Loved? Does your church love? Do you love? God loves us!

Love confirms the legitimacy of Jesus! Love confirms the faithfulness of Jesus' followers! Our love sheds the spotlight upon God as we are His visible, living light. Whoever loves much, does much! How much God so loved you… your spouse…your co-workers…your family…how much He so loves your church family! When you love much, you will do so much more in your life and in others' lives as well. Real, true Love will verify the authenticity of Jesus' followers. This is also a template for the importance and value of friendships. This is the model we are to use to show God’s love to the world! True love desires to seek and apply what God has to say with satisfaction back to Him, and gives us real meaning in life. It will enable us to trust in our Lord and receive His call and principles and in so doing, appreciate our fellow Christians and of course, our family and others around us. Love is taking the initiative to build up and meet the needs of others without expecting anything in return. And, when we have the wrong idea and definition of love, it will adversely impose on all areas in our life. This is also a template on the importance and value of friendships (Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27; John 13:31-35; 15:12-13, 17; 1 Cor. 13:3; Rom. 12:10; 13:8; 14:13; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9; 2 Thess. 1:3; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 3:22; 4:8; 23; 4:7, 11-12; 2 John 1: 5)!

God knows you! We are to have a faith that is not just academic or intellectual knowledge of God, but our appreciation, trust, affection, obedience, and commitment in, for, and to Him. In addition, this is referring to our fellowship with God who created us for Himself, instruments of praise and worship to know and model His love. We are content and our souls in “rest “when we honor our Lord and live for Him. The great claim of Christianity is our ability to not just know God who first seeks to know us, but have a personal relationship with Him. This is what only the great Prophets of old had, but not all of the time—only on occasion; because of Christ, we have permanence with Him! God's purpose is to get us into His kingdom, to be identified in Him and not in ourselves or the world. Because of Christ, we have joyful abundance now, personal favor of God with real fellowship with Him, a purpose and meaning for our daily lives, and eternal life to come (Jer. 9:24; John 3:1-16; 15:5; Gal. 6:14).

Our greatest blessing; we are made and destined to eternity in heaven, but while we are here on this earth, we must do all we can to serve Him with joy and gratitude (Mark 14:36; Eph 2:7; 1 John 3:2)!

Thus, We must never misrepresent God’s Truth or lead people to another truth, because our intimate relationship with Him must point to a way of faith and faithfulness to His sovereign, loving rule (Psalm 25:5; 43:3; John 5:8; 14:6; 15:15; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:1-8; 2 Tim. 2:15; James 1:18)

Oh the things we can do if only we acknowledge that God’s love is real and we can be real too!

However, the very notion that our product (Biblical Christianity) needs an overhaul is ludicrous. We do not have to make the gospel more relevant to modern ears; we just need to be more loving. There is nothing more relevant than how to be cleansed from sin and how to find life beyond the grave, but we have to be in unity. We must be careful that as we seek to promote the church, we promote the true church and not a watered down, cheap imitation or just show our infighting and hate to outsiders, instead of love and unity. Many today are removing offensive doctrines in order to make the Gospel more attractive, while others insist on being unloving, thinking this will attract people. Not! This will lead people into idolatry! We have to know and proclaim that God’s love is amazing! When we consider how we are and who He is, we see that we do not deserve His love, yet we receive it anyway. We do not earn it or achieve it in any way or merit it whatsoever, yet it is there for our taking because of what Christ has done in our behalf.

Remember, love confirms the authenticity of Jesus and us as His followers!