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With all the fullness of God

Ephesians 3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

We’re blessed, as children of God, with knowledge of the love that Jesus Christ embodied in His self-sacrificial work on the cross. It’s unlike any other love that we can know here on this earth, in this life where everything is so limited. The love of a parent, a spouse, or a child can never even compare to the love of God

His love is beyond our knowledge, yet the desire Paul had for the Ephesians was that they could appreciate this love that surpasses human understanding. He wanted this that they might be filled with all the fullness of God. The same can be said for us today. Were we to fully know the love of Jesus Christ, we would be filled with all of the fullness of God.

Many attributes are discussed when it comes to God. He is mighty, He is all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present. The list goes on and on. But to really know God is to know His love. To know Him is to be known (and loved) by Him.

Christ Following

Matthew 4:19 “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!”

There are a lot of distractions in the world but for the Christ follower that wants to be obedient, the number one focus should be on making disciples, it’s what Jesus spent his time doing everyday. He started his ministry with the call to the first disciples and he ended his ministry by telling his disciples to go make some more disciples.

Jesus told his potential disciples up front what we was going to do with them but I don’t think that they really understood and I am pretty sure that they didn’t realize the process as it was going on. Jesus subtly brought them along one tiny step at a time, just the same as he has done with me, he knew that there would be a process and that I wouldn’t suddenly become a mature, faithful follower right away.

Jesus spent three years in close daily contact with this group of men, showing them the new way of life and the new way of thinking, he did so through his teaching but most important he did it through his lifestyle.

Disciples don’t get made by themselves, I need to be intentional and make it a part of my lifestyle, I need to be about building relationships that God can use.

Help me Lord to step out and intentionally work at making disciples, I want to live so that my walk is consistent with my talk, so that you will get the glory.

Who’s In Charge

1 Peter 2:13-14 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has tempted us by questioning authority, he lied about God and Adam and Eve began to wonder about God’s intentions and whether the rules that he gave them were fair.

God’s commandments have been questioned every moment of every day ever since that day and we can see the consequences all around us but we still want to live life our way.

Accepting authority and being submissive is required of every child of God, it is necessary in our relationship with God and in every other relationship that we have. From family to the work place and in government, there is an order that God designed to help us live together in harmony.

We see the idea of submission demonstrated in the Trinity, all of them working together in unison, each of them fulfilling a role and each of them bringing glory to the other and doing what is beneficial to the whole.

✔ Jesus sought to bring glory to God the Father. (John 15:10)
✔ Jesus willingly died for us. (John 10:17-18)
✔ The Holy Spirit gives Jesus glory. (John 16:13-15)
✔ God the Father gave glory back to Jesus. (John 8:54, 17:24)

Too bad we do not get to enjoy this oneness and cooperative spirit from the people that we relate to but that doesn’t get us off the hook. We need to be submissive and give ourselves to helping others and building them up. (Philippians 2:3-8)

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What’s In Your Wallet

Matthew 6:19-21  “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

1 Timothy 6:17-19  Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.  Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.  By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

Accumulating wealth is a great idea, go for as much of it as you can get, in fact let’s be greedy about it. Just be sure that you are talking about the treasure that you are storing away in heaven.

Just you use your earthly wealth correctly it will help you accumulate more heavenly wealth. The best use for our earthly wealth is to use it to help people in need and use it to help spread the gospel message around the world.

I must not be proud of how well I can provide for my needs or place my trust in my earthly wealth, instead I need to be generous and willing to help those that are in need that I have the ability to help.

Help me Lord to remember that my money belongs to you, help me to know how to use it for your purpose.

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Fix It

Matthew 5:23-24  “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,  leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.  19  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Sometimes it seems so much easier to not fix a relationship than to face the issues and become right with that person, but God doesn’t care for the easy way of doing things, he went through a lot of great effort to make relationships right.

Through Jesus we have been shown the great lengths that God would go to in order to fix a relationship. He could have taken the easy way out and just wrote us off and let us self destruct.

The master of relationship repair made us right with him and we should be willing to go out of our way to fix the broken relationships that we have in our life. We are his representatives to the rest of the world so they will come to know the God of fixed relationships. He isn’t impersonal, he is relational, and he wants us to be the same.

Thank you Lord for making the relationship right between you and I. Help me to be busy showing people that relationships matter, especially the relationship with you that is possible only because of Jesus.

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Measuring Greatness

Luke 9:23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:46-48 Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”

We live in a world that is “measured.” Most of us know our age, how many hours a week we work and how many miles it is to get there. Who doesn’t like to know how much they are getting for our money?

One of our favorite things to measure is how well we compare to the other people around us. Look at the average Facebook profile and you will see plenty of evidence that some people think very much about themselves. Their kids are great, their vacations are amazing and they have the most incredible time everywhere they go.

Jesus rewrote the book on how to measure greatness. Disciples of Jesus are supposed to be denying self and following a man that didn’t build himself up, or accumulate any wealth and he didn’t act like a big deal even though he was.

We seek to build up ourselves and please ourselves with the conveniences and toys that are available in this rich country we live in. It doesn’t take long to realize that it is difficult to carry all those things around and still have the strength to carry our cross as well.

Help me Lord to reject the urge to build up myself. I need to follow your example and serve others.

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How Generous Will You Be?

The “wise” choice is to be generous.

Luke 10:34-35  Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.

35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

I wrote a post about the parable of the good Samaritan, and I thought of something that I had never seen before in the story. Everybody usually focuses on the victim, the Samaritan or the guys that pass him by without any offer of kindness. While I was working on the post it occurred to me that I have never heard anyone talk about the innkeeper.

It dawned on me that the innkeeper has been given an opportunity, the Samaritan has begun a good work and he has asked the Jewish innkeeper to complete the rehab on the injured man and after promising to repay him for his expenses, the Samaritan leaves. We don’t know what the innkeeper did but we do know that he has options, he can take care of the Jew that was beaten or he can take the money from the Samaritan and do nothing.

If he decides to care for the man, the innkeeper could:

  • Keep a running tab of every single expense, he could be honest but legalistic about everything that it cost him.
  • Be a thief and inflate the bill, he could make it look like the guy received the best care and that he was living in luxury.
  • Be like the Samaritan man and practice generosity as well.

The innkeeper could have looked out for himself and padded his own pockets as his reward for being bothered with this guy or he could be as kind as the good Samaritan was and help without any restrictions.

This Christmas we need to be very careful that we live generously. Not generously to the people around us that already have too much stuff, we need to see the needs that are around us and look for ways to meet them, we need to see the world through the eyes of Christ.

God wants me to be honest and to be generous in love and mercy, I need to be aware of the opportunities that come my way everyday, and even more so as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

God Wants A Relationship With You

The Bible is God’s love story to us.

 

Psalms 16:8-11  I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken,
for He is right beside me.  9  No wonder my heart is glad, and I
rejoice. My body rests in safety.  10  For You will not leave my soul
among the dead or allow Your holy one to rot in the grave.  11  You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the
pleasures of living with You forever.

Since the beginning of time God has been pursuing relationships, it started in the garden with Adam and Eve we see God enjoying the sacrifice of Abel and the righteous attempt to correct his brother Cain.

It seems that God spent time everyday in the garden with Adam and Eve up until the day that they rebelled against God. Adam and Eve attempted to cover-up their sin but the relationship was different now, they had forfeited eternal life in the garden, their decision changed everything but God didn’t regret making man instead he continued to pursue our heart.

When trouble comes our way we think that God’s opinion of us has changed, we can easily think that our circumstances are a reflection of how much God loves us. We need to look at some of the people that God loved in the Bible, God obviously loved Job, he even bragged about how good he was but he didn’t keep him from experiencing trouble.

Psalms 23:6 Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live
in the house of the LORD forever.

The twenty-third Psalm is a beautiful picture of God’s loving care and provision for man. The good shepherd provides what is best for us, guides us along the path and protects us from danger. We can be a guest in God’s house, he prepares a feast for us and he fills our cup to overflowing but the best part is that the guest at God’s house don’t have to leave.

God did everything to guarantee that I can have a relationship with him, I need to take him up on his offer found in John 3:16, Jesus tells us that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Thank God!

We can’t thank God enough for his kindness.

Luke 17:11-19 As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Modern medicine has an effective treatment for leprosy but back in ancient civilizations it was greatly feared and those that were affected had to isolate themselves from society.

Jesus used many different methods to heal people, sometimes he would just speak and it was gone but in this situation he told the guys to go see the priest and while they were on the way they were actually healed.

Jesus told them to go see the priest before the healing took place, the Old Testament law said that they were to go to the priest after they were healed. It was the priest job to verify the healing and offer an animal sacrifice but since there wasn’t a known cure the priest didn’t have very many people coming to the temple for that reason. (Leviticus 14:1-32)

Out of ten that needed to be healed, there was only one that returned to Jesus and this one happened to be a Samaritan, the people that the Jews despised. The crowd must have groaned when Jesus pointed that fact out to them.

Ninety percent of the men healed that day did not acknowledge that God had blessed them and changed their lives. That statistic probably stands true for us as well, we do not acknowledge God’s love and compassion for all of the blessings that we have been given.

Psalm 95:6-9 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today! The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did.

How often do we remember to stop and run to Jesus feet? God has healed me and provided for every need that I have ever had, he has blessed me a lot more than I have ever said “thank you.” I need to remember that I was made to worship him and I have more than enough reasons to do so.

Thank you Lord for all of your blessing. From salvation from my sins to the awesome planet that you chose to create for my pleasure to the daily provisions that you have provided, there isn’t any way to adequately say thank you.

How Good Is Your Fruit?

It is difficult to hide rotten fruit.

Luke 3:7-14  He then said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!
9 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 “What then should we do?” the crowds were asking him. 11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”

John had a very practical message for the new converts, he told them that they would need to live a different lifestyle, there would need to be a change of behavior that would prove that their conversion experience was authentic. At the same time John didn’t want to get them dragged down with a bunch of legalism. John gave them a short practical list of  “how-to” tips:

  • be generous (Luke 3:10-11)
  • be fair (Luke 3:12-13)
  • don’t steal (Luke 3:14)

Take note that the correct process is new convert first and then new lifestyle second. Jesus doesn’t expect us to become experts at living to please him overnight.

You should understand that all of us are producing fruit, it is just a matter of whether the fruit is good or not, Jesus says we can’t produce both. (Luke 6:41-45) We can try and cover up the truth about ourselves but when the produce is rotten then the whole world will figure it out.

I need to protect my heart so that the things that I say and do will be a testimony to the change that Jesus has made in my life. I need to live out Matthew 5:16 so that the world will see good fruit and be drawn closer to Jesus.

Thank you Lord for giving me a new life, I want to produce good fruit as a testimony of your goodness.