Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Have you ever imagined what God has planned for your life? Probably, like most of us, you've been plugging away, one day at a time, just trying to get by. But this is what God says about your future; "No one's ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it - what God has arranged for those who love him". (I Corinthians 2:9 Msg) Wow! Did you catch that? No one's ever seen, heard or imagined what God has arranged for those that love him. That means that for all that love God, he has promised a future and a hope. There is a key to this promise and it has to do with those who love him. The problem is, many want the promises of God without the obedience. Jesus stated that if we loved him then we would do his will, (John 14:23). Loving him and doing his will go hand in hand, you can't have one without the other. Another thing about this promise is that it's about his plan for our life. This may mean that it may not coincide with what we had planned. And frankly speaking, what we have planned maybe very limiting to what he has planned. One of the things that I am learning, (note that I said "am learning") that walking in the things that he has planned takes risk. Think about it for a moment. If we can't imagine what he has planned how then could it even come into our heads to do it? If it is truly beyond our reach, then it will take faith and a walk of obedience to get there. To do that means that we've got to go where we've never gone before. Sadly many, and this is for Christians, like the comfortable life of what's normal, predictable, and safe. As a people, we don't like risks and we often don't like new. But Jesus is calling us all into a life of obedience and if we are going to be followers of him, then we must go to where he is beckoning us to go. Risky? Sure it is, but is there another way? Remember this, Jesus said, "According to your faith will it be done to you", (Matt 9:29). You will only go as far as your faith will allow you to go. Think about it.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I’m not a happy camper this morning. First of all, it’s 7AM and it’s still dark outside and I’d much prefer the sunshine even if it is suppose to rain today. But more importantly, I’m not happy because my devotions have kicked my backside to a jarring reality that I didn’t really want to hear. Let me say right here that following Jesus isn’t about doing what makes you feel good. On the contrary, if you’re really going to follow him it will mean sacrifice and a battle of your will against his. That’s part of the issue this morning; I’ve been reminded that it isn’t about me and what I want to do or what I desire. It’s always been about his will for me. Just as Jesus endured the cross, so too do I need to remember that what I’m going through at the moment is about something greater than just my discomfort and irritation. We’re taught from a very early age to seek our own. Be what we want to be, go where we want to go, be with whom we want to be with, reach for the stars and be everything you can be. In the end your propose dies with you, your value and worth are but a passing vapor. Don’t believe me? Walk through a nursing home and see the people who used to be somebody. It’s a sad reality that this is what awaits many in their dwindling years. Think about this. Seeds have to be buried to grow, caterpillars need to be confined before they can fly, and grain must be crushed before it is useful. Now put that in the context with our own life and we bulk, or at least I do. But I do believe that life is about a purpose and to get to that purpose I might have to go through some difficulties, many of which I probably will not like. In case you’re wondering, I’ve not always believed this way. In fact I explored many avenues before I ended up here. What convinced me? First, I knew that no matter how hard I tried to be a good person, I didn’t always succeed, and that was frustrating. Every direction I looked into said to try harder except one. Jesus said, I died so that you might have life, let me do through you the things you can’t do. Simple isn’t it. Think about it.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Jesus loves you is a great thought but how often do we see it tangibly played out? We can know it in our heads, but practically speaking, do we really believe it? I try to live each day with the awareness that Jesus does love me and that he has promised to give me wisdom and guidance through his Holy Spirit. Such was the case the other day when my wife and I were traveling. We had stopped for gas and after getting back on the Interstate with my truck pulling a 30’ fifth wheel camper, I noticed that the battery gauge seemed to indicate that it was discharging. Now I can tell you that my first thought was that I didn’t want to breakdown on the Interstate pulling a fifth wheel, but where do I go? What exit should I take considering that most of the gas stations are not repair shops? After all, breaking down with the truck is one thing, breaking down with the truck and fifth wheel is a completely different matter. So as we drove, we prayed, Jesus show us which exit to take. As we exited the Interstate, we looked for a repair shop but couldn’t see anything. Suddenly I noticed a sign on a side hill, “Jesus Loves You”, and at the bottom of that hill was an auto parts store. Halleluiah, since I probably could fix the problem myself, this was just what I needed. It turned out that this was the only auto parts store for miles and they had everything I needed. The problem? Turned out to be the battery cable going to the starter had grounded out against the frame. The only thing I needed, which I didn’t have, was a jack and jack stand so that I could get under the truck. Two hours later we were back on the road and on to our destination. Here’s the point. I believe that God will direct our steps if we ask and believe. That means a walk of faith. Is it easy? No, not always as I have found that God works according to his timetable and not ours. That means it will always be at the right time but we must be patient and wait for it. For most of us, we don’t want to wait, so we try to do things our way. Although our way may get results, it is never as good as his and may only mean we’ll have to go around the mountain again. Think about it.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
The funny thing about life is that you don’t have to agree with everyone to get along, or at least it used to be that way. I say that because there was a time you could disagree with someone and be accepted. Today, depending upon what you disagree on, you could be labeled a bigot, intolerant, behind the times, and a host of other terms that I won’t go into here. It’s sad really because it all seems to come back to the point of being right, or at least right in one’s own eyes. I have a friend that used to wear a tee shirt that stated, “You Can Go To Hell If You Want To”. It was quite a bold and in your face statement and I’m sure it probably offended some people. But the point is, you can go to hell if you want to because your choices make it so. I choose to believe or not believe and what I choose to believe is more often about what I want, rather than what is right or true. In other words, what I desire can have more of an influence upon my decisions than truth. Paul said it this way, “I want to do what’s right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate”, (Romans 7:15). I’ve also heard it described as having two wolves inside us that are fighting with each other and the one that we feed will win over the one that we don’t. We all have heard the expression, “Do what makes you feel good”, but is that good advice? Are we really feeding a destructive choice that although may make us feel good for the moment; will have eventual long lasting negative impact? That’s part of the problem, agreement with others is more often based upon our own likes and dislikes, what makes us feel good, rather than what’s right or true. Jesus made the statement that he was the way and the truth, (John 14:6). You may not agree with that statement, and freewill gives you every right not to, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is what Jesus spoke. If I accept what he said is true, then I also have to conclude that my way isn’t going to work any more and that I need to follow his way. Perhaps I should just ask; how’s your way working for you? Think about it.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I don’t know of anyone that wants to be wrong, but I’m not always sure if everyone wants to be right. What do I mean? I seems that some are not so much concerned with what’s true, but rather about what they believe to be true. Being right seems to be based more upon opinion than fact. If you don’t believe me, read some of the comments that people make about situations in the news. But I’m not writing this so much about other people, but rather about what God wants. Does he want us to be right? Funny thing, I used to think that God wanted me to be right. Right on the Scriptures, right on doctrine, and right on about anything else too. The trouble was I became so right that I did a lot of things wrong. Like the Sadducees and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, I was good at knowing what was right and I could argue the law with the best of them. But I was a poor example as a follower of Christ when it came to mercy and grace. I put more emphasis upon being right then having a relationship with Jesus. In fact I thought that I was having a relationship because I was acting as a defender of faith and true doctrine. Today I believe that I was wrong. I think that when we want to be right it isn’t about anything more than our own self-esteem and pride. Being right gives us a sense of purpose and wellbeing. When I’m right, I’m somebody. When I’m right, I can stand tall and everyone else has to look up to me, because somehow being right makes me superior. To all of that I say, get over yourself. To answer the question, “Does God want you to be right,” is no, he wants you to be faithful, and faithfulness and being right are not the same things. Faithfulness may mean loving someone who is so wrong that they stink, and doesn’t need another person condemning them. Perhaps a great example of this is the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, (John 4). The Sadducee and Pharisee can see everything wrong with the woman and the fact that Jesus was even talking to her was wrong in their eyes. But God saw an individual who needed grace and mercy. Be right or be faithful, you decide. Think about it.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
It is always interesting how people interpret what they hear. Believe it or not, everything gets filtered through our experiences, and each may have a different understanding of an event. But can these actually be trusted? Is it realistic to believe that the past is a predictor of the future? Personally, I don't believe that it has to be. There is a saying that states, “What we live with we learn, what we learn we practice, and what we practice we become.” Although I believe this to be true, I've also learned that it isn't just about what we live with, but more about what we believe about what we live with. My belief about life, the things that have happened to me, events, etc. will all shape my future. So you see, that's the problem. What I live with may have more to do with my perception of what I live with, then the actual reality. Why is it that some, who grow up in seemingly good homes turn out bad while some who grow up in bad homes grow up good? The starting point of anyone's belief system will ultimately be in the influence by which everything else will be interpreted. So if I start with God, I will interpret my life and its many events in the context of his word. I will look at myself, and my life, through what he has already said about me and not what others have said. I will base my responses and actions upon his word, and although I may not do this perfectly, it will still be the path that I follow. Is it realistic to believe what he says when the world says not to? I believe that it is because he has already stated that he cannot lie, so if he's said it, it’s true. This is what faith is all about, believing what is unseen, and trusting his word, (Hebrews 11). In the end, the person of faith is going to live their life not on their experiences but rather upon the word of God. The result of this will be new experiences that will prove his faithfulness and the encouragement to move forward with hope and assurance. Think about it.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Reality is a funny thing, because one person’s reality is not another’s, nor is one’s reality necessarily based on truth, but rather their perception of truth. In life we have what I call perceived reality. Perceived reality is that reality that I hold to be true and real, but in fact may only be my perception. We gather our reality through our senses. What I see, hear and touch becomes true because my experience says that it’s true. But in fact, it may not be. For example, as a child, I may have interpreted comments from teachers and parents that I’m stupid. This belief becomes my reality and I believe it as true. I then interpret life through this belief. Sadly, what I believe may not be true but that doesn’t change the way I feel. Time and time again I meet people who have belief systems that are detrimental to their emotional well being. They believe things, not because they are necessarily true, but because they perceive them to be true. Comments like, “I know what you’re thinking”, “I know what that look means”, and other such comments come out of interpretation based on previous experiences. We then project this past experience into our present situation. We have learned to interpret comments and body language by past experiences and because if it was true then, it must be true now. Perhaps the biggest problem with perceived reality is that if it is true to the person, you can’t just talk them into a different reality. Too often we attempt to dismiss their reality by telling them what our perception of reality is. For example, a child comes home from school saying that they’re stupid. We often will try to tell the child all the reasons why they’re not, but we never address what happened that has caused the child to believe this untruth. So instead of helping, we actually reinforce what they believe because we are telling them that what they believe about themselves can’t be trusted and that we know better then they do. Jesus said that we can know the truth and that the truth will set us free, (John 8:31-32). Truth will set us free but we must learn to test what we believe to see if it’s really real. Think about it.