The mystery of God

Ecclesiastes 11:5  As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

We must be careful in this day and age where we have seemingly limitless information available to us that we don’t think we know everything.  It’s really pretty easy to get all up in our own heads, thinking that the knowledge we’ve collected over the years about God somehow makes us experts on Him.  For those who do a lot of Bible study, the danger can be even more likely to occur.

The problem with thinking that we have God all figured out is that we lose our awe of Him.  We lose sight of the fact that it’s God who created even the most intricate details of life, some we have yet to discover.  There are universes upon universes and we only know a tiny fraction about our own.  How can we think we have it all figured out?

The thing is, we finite humans will never be capable of knowing all that makes God who He is.  We’ll never be able to figure out all that He’s made.  There’s so much left for us to discover, and yet, we’ll still only be touching the surface.  God is more than we can understand.  He’s more than we can imagine.  He’s beyond our abilities.  We need to do is acknowledge that some things remain a mystery and revere God all the more because of it.

Honor Your Parents

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 15:4  God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

The ten commandments can be split into two separate sections, the first involves commands that tell us how to relate to God and the second section tells us the ground rules on how to treat our fellow man.

The first command that pertains to our relationships with people is the one that tells us how to treat our parents. We are to show honor to them, that means not only respect and submission, but also to take care of a person, to nurture and sustain them.

It isn’t any surprise that God wants us to treat our parents with the highest regard, after all he told us to love our enemies and those that persecute us. So then even if you think that your parents don’t deserve it, you are not off the hook, we have to love our enemies so how much better should we teat our parents. No matter how old we get to be or how independent we become, we are still obligated to love and respect them and to take care of their needs when they cannot.

Lord help me to love my parents and care for them as they grow older. Thank you for Christian parents.

 

Guided by Love to Unity

What sort of Christian, what sort of Disciple do we want to be? How do we want our faith and our hope in Christ to be expressed? How do we want it seen by the world around us, reflected from the deeper places in our hearts and our souls?

Those should be, when we stop to think about it, relatively easy questions to answer, shouldn’t they? After all, the Word of God, simple and beautiful by its very nature, is uncomplicated when it offers us the understanding we need to dwell in the knowledge of what it means to be one of Christ’s Disciples, to follow in the footsteps and the path of our blessed Savior. (1 Corinthians 1:11) Of all the commands that came before, the instructions and the laws that wove around the most ancient of covenants, His was unadorned by ritual and ceremony, by pomp and procedure. Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, (Matthew 28:16-20) showing them the path of faith and hope through a love that edifies, strengthens and nourishes those around us in the miracle that is His blessings. (John 13:34-35)

This is why He Himself, a poor carpenter from Galilee, born in the most meager of estates in Bethlehem, was viewed as so much of a threat. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from or where you had been, you were welcomed to Him. Yes, what God wanted, what God expected was important, but, in a wisdom that so often seems to elude the comprehension of men, He knew there was no rules that meant more to God than that we love Him, and that we love our one another with the full strength and full conviction of our hearts and our souls, our spirits and our minds. (Matthew 22:37-41) This was the blessing we could be by which all abundant life shined as a beacon to the world around us.

So often though we get tend to get bogged down by doctrine and the fights that it brings, we get so hung up on one or two passages in Scripture that we tend to let that define our faith more than anything else. We let ourselves become known for the things we are against as we let it serve as a wall surrounding us that keeps others out, rather than letting our faith and love serve as a door to let them in.

Now, to be clear, a proper understanding of Scripture should never be debased, nor should it be shied away from. The Word of God is meant to be studied, to be learned from, as it offers a path through its instruction to a righteous life. (2 Timothy 3:16) Yet nowhere in the Bible does it say “He who believes and is baptized, believing in all the right doctrine shall be saved.” Why? Because God transcends us in His wisdom and His hope for us even as He knows we aren’t going to completely understand or grasp it, telling us to dwell in unity with one another and turn from those who would tear us apart, who would destroy the fabric of harmony and peace between us. (Romans 16:17-18)

After all, in the end, it’s only God Himself who judges the hearts, the words and the deeds, the lifestyles and the choices of those souls that enter His Kingdom, not us. The path, if we believe the words of our blessed Savior, the Good Shepherd who guides and protects us, it is not a path that is paved through strictest adherence that abides in law, it is the path that has been paved by Him (John 14:6) in His tender mercy, His loving care, and His healing touch.

You can do more as a Disciple in the humble works of faith with a kindness to others, seeking to be a blessing in the world around you than you could ever do by hiding, locked away in a fortress of law and doctrine, shunning the world harshly for the offenses that it causes you. In that you have the capacity, through the power of the Spirit, to do more with the gift of grace that God has given you if you let yourself. It’s just a question of if you’ll let yourself, knowing that God will use you for more if your heart is truly open to love, hope and charity, and the wonders they can bring.

So again, what sort of Disciple do you want to be? What sort of blessings do you want to bring through your faith? It can be a blessing blossoming with the radiance of the truest beauty that springs forth from your soul, it’s just a matter of setting aside your pride and letting the Spirit nurture it to that point. After all, it is this love, this hope, in the principles of Christ’s blessed example that makes Scripture relevant, passing from age to age even to the present one.

Deny Yourself

The Commands of Jesus Series

Luke 9:22-25  “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” He said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day He will be raised from the dead.”

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.  24  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?

The most prevalent false doctrines that the world embraces is selfishness and greed. The world’s motivation is to get everything that it can get at any cost, but that is the problem, they have been deceived and they haven’t seen what the price tag is on what they are buying into.We have before us the most extreme example of a person that lived for others, Jesus was not selfish, he suffered for the sake of others, he was wrongfully rejected when he could have been the most popular guy in town, he was killed instead of being judgmental and punishing the people all around him that he had the right to condemn.

Here is the reality of the situation, even if you get every piece of wealth that the world has to offer, every treasure that there is but if you didn’t follow Jesus then you have lost it all.

I need to remember what the price tag was for my eternal destiny, I have been bought at a very high price, the debt of my sin has been paid and I need to show my gratitude for Jesus sacrifice by living each day for him.

Lord, help me to fight against the world’s economic policy, the stakes are too high, I need to give up my life for Christ sake so that I will be saved. Lord help us to never forget how great a sacrifice that you made for us.

A Question of Beauty


Looking in the mirror it’s hard sometimes not to see our flaws and imperfections as they stare back at us. Maybe it’s a little bit of the world around us with its ever changing standards, not so subtly pushing us towards its own perceptions of beauty. It imposes itself on us, flooding us with images and ideas of what it means to be pretty or handsome. It tries to take and mold those who do not fit those standards, trying to make and re-make them in its own image until finally, in a sense of deeper conformity, it pushes people to meet with that image.

Yet the truth is, for as much as that may be the case, it has more to do with us than it does anything else. After all, we are the ones looking and seeing, wanting to somehow be different than we are, using whatever these standards are as a measure of ourselves to try and change, to want to change, somehow thinking there’s something wrong with us.

You see, what we need to remember is that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) in the image of our Heavenly Father. (Genesis 1:26) Still, even amidst that, each of us are as unique and as special as the love that God has for us, formed by the wonders of His touch and with the gifts that He intended for us. That’s what makes us truly special, it’s what makes the truest beauty, and the most wondrous of elegance.

It is the image that we see when we look in our hearts, when we look at our deeds, not necessarily the one that we see when we look in the mirror. After all, that can be deceiving and can be trapped in vanity. It can be fleeting, soon to disappear as it washes away with the tides of time. (Proverbs 30:21) It can hide a heart that is cold and hurtful.

That isn’t to say that all who are by the standards around us considered beautiful, are that way. There is no question that they can, and do have a radiance that shines from within their hearts. That though is their most real and sincere beauty and they realize it too, knowing that when everything else in the world starts to fade that’s what they have to count on.

It’s that it’s important to remember that the truest standard of beauty that we can have, the most stunning of grace that can take hold of us is judged by the love in our hearts, the hope in our spirits, and the wonders we make use of in our souls. It lies in how we look at the world, at those who are in need around us and strive to help them, how we edify and uplift our fellow man making their lives just a little bit better. It’s the sense of charity and faith that guides us to imitate our Blessed Savior in the healing power of His touch, seeking to be more to those around us.

Sometimes this is hard for us to remember when we are bombarded with images of the perfect smile, the perfect body, the perfect hair, or whatever else it may be. We think life will just be that much easier, we will be able to get whatever it is that we want or feel that we need if we are a little thinner or a little better looking, if we have a little more hair on our head or whatever else it may be. Yet, in the end, when these things fade, we either end up struggling with the fact that they are slipping away from us, or we have the love and the hope in our hearts that guided us to be better people, to be stronger and more courageous of people.

Rather than trying to obtain beauty, be beautiful with a light that shines forth from your heart. Rather than seeing flaws or imperfections, see a person who has a chance to do more and be more with themselves today, knowing the gifts your Heavenly Father gave you, and using them to change the world around you rather than trying to change yourself for the world. You’re only as beautiful as you let yourself be, the question becomes how beautiful do you want to be?

God judges not by the physical appearance but by the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) What will He see when He looks in yours? Will it be the beauty of your love blooming? Or will it be a preoccupation with being exactly as you perceive you need to look?

Find your beauty within, and bring it out through love, hope, faith and charity. When you do, everything else will make sense in the wonders that it hold.

Don’t Cast Your Pearls To The Pigs

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 7:6 “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Proverbs 9:7 Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.

Jude 1:10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction.

“I get no respect” the famous line from Rodney Dangerfield could easily be used by God. Some people love to make fun of Christians and show complete disrespect for the gospel message, Jesus referred to these people as pigs. The pigs are a good word picture for the Jewish audience that Jesus was speaking to since they knew that the pigs were ceremonially unclean and they were repulsive to the Jews.

It is difficult to understand somebody being so bad off that we are excused from trying to persuade them to understand the gospel. Most of the Pharisees probably fit into this category of people since they were so self righteous and stubborn that they could not see the value of Jesus message. Most people do not fit into this category and I endeavor to share the good news with almost everybody without excuse.

Matthew 10:14 If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

Thank you Lord for your gift of salvation, help me to feel the urgency to share the good news more with those that I meet.

God is Always There, Are You?

I have to admit that I find it hard some days but then I really have nobody to blame but myself. I just, well, I let it slip away and honestly I don’t know why. It’s not like I have a terrifically good reason as to why or what for.

It’s no excuse but sometimes, despite our best intentions, it’s just hard, isn’t it? I mean we want to take the time out of every day to dedicate ourselves and re-dedicate ourselves to God, to study our Bible, to pray a little more fervently and to just commit ourselves to the love and the hope that our blessed Savior has to offer. The thing is though that sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work out that way and before we know it the time is short before it just disappears.

I guess, perhaps, a part of me finds it too easy. Maybe, in the back of my mind, a part of me knows that God, He’s always going to be there, waiting for me. It makes it easy to neglect Him, to put Him aside when I have other things I want to do or need to do, figuring I can always come back to him later when I have more time.

As disciples, given to Christ, we’re all a little guilty of that now and then. We step away, knowing we can always step back when we need to, like the Prodigal Son, who goes on his own way, only to return home in his hour of deepest need to find his loving father waiting there for him. (Luke 11:15-32) Even if our story or what calls us back isn’t nearly as dramatic as his, it’s still a little bit funny how often we can find it so simple to be like him, doing as we will just because we can.

Yet, the simple truth is that though God will always be waiting for us, though He will always come searching for us as a Shepherd searches for his lost sheep, (Matthew 18:12-14) the longer we let it go, the longer we let ourselves slip or the further we let ourselves wander, the harder we find it to come back to Him. After all, one of the analogies often used in the Word of God to describe our life of faith relates to trees and to crops. The problem is that, if it is not nurtured, it does not grow, if it is not cared for, it withers, eventually dying that slow death that comes from going too long without being tended to.

Our faith, our hope in Christ, it needs to grows daily, it needs to grow with the careful love and the tender affections of hearts that are given to the Lord in the wonders that it brings, remembering that it offers to us all that we need to grow and to live and to find peace. (James 1:5, 2 Timothy 3:16) It is, after all, a blessed hope to all those who trust in it, and look to the Lord as their strength in a world where our endurance is tried day by day, by and by, giving freely and wondrously to us in all God’s love. It teaches us how to love our fellow man, how to live during those deeper crisis’ to our spirit, how to abide with courage in our times of deepest need and longing.

Challenge yourself today to spend a little more time with God, even if you think you have a good relationship with Him, even if you spend some time growing with Him and in Him each day. Spend a little more time learning at the feet of Christ and meditating on the lessons of that He offers to grow in the blessings of the Spirit. Even if you take a little time out of each of your days to do that already, take a even a few minutes more, reminding yourself there is always something else to learn.

Challenge yourself today to imitate Christ a little stronger, a little more. Show a little extra love to those in need, to those who struggle and search, and be a bit more in the lives of those around you. Change the world one life at a time, one day at a time by offering that healing power of the Spirit that mends the wounded spirit and the broken heart. Draw nearer to God by drawing nearer to those around you, by being more in their lives. You’ll be amazed the good that it can and will do.

Don’t stray or wait too long, and never think to yourself you are doing enough, figuring God will always be there. He may but you may not. Take the time, and never let it slip away from you, because, unto you, rich blessings and wondrous hope waits, for every step you make in faith, for every step you make nearer to your Lord.

Salvation belongs to the Lord

Jonah 2:8  Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.

Where are you looking to find hope in this lost world?  If you’re looking for hope to come from the government, or from financial security, or even the prospect of world peace, you’re going to be disappointed.

There’s no hope to be found in the things this world has to offer.  That may sound depressing, but there is good news.  Salvation is found in God alone.  Maybe you’ll never find hope where you’re searching, but God is holding out His hand for you to grab onto, offering you hope that you could never know without Him.  He’s for you and He wants to give you that hope.

Even though we waste a lot of our time looking in all the wrong places, only to be disappointed time and time again, it’s good to know that there is hope after all. It’s good to know that we have a loving Father who cares for us and provides for us a way to forgiveness and reconciliation.  It’s good to know that the Son, who is the radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3) and who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17) stands between us and the Father to serve as our mediator.  It’s good to know that the Savior who rose from the dead will also raise us up when the time comes (1 Corinthians 15:16).

If you haven’t put your hope in Jesus, look to Him today.  He’s all you need in this life, and the next.

 

 

Pay Your Taxes

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 22:17-22  Now tell us what You think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

18  But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” He said. “Why are you trying to trap Me?  19   Here, show Me the coin used for the tax.”

When they handed Him a Roman coin,  20  He asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”  21  “Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” He said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”  22  His reply amazed them, and they went away.

Everybody hates paying taxes, we all probably think, “those guys don’t have a clue how to spend our money wisely so why should I give them more of it.”

These religious leaders were posing as legitimate Christ followers that wanted to know what Jesus teaching is on supporting the civil government, but there has never been a disguise that could outwit Jesus, he knew what there purpose was in asking the question.

Out of this quick discussion comes two rules that a Christ follower is to live by:

Give to Caesar what he is entitled to have.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to fight against the civil government, doesn’t the Bible teach us that those that are in authority have been put there by God.

Romans 13:1-2  Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.  2  So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 

Give to God what he is entitled to have.

Isn’t it strange that most people are afraid to cheat on their federal income taxes but they don’t worry at all about cheating God out of the tithe.

Malachi 3:8-10  “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated Me! “But you ask, ‘What do You mean? When did we ever cheat You?’ “You have cheated Me of the tithes and offerings due to Me.  9  You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating Me.  10  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in My Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put Me to the test!

Thank you Lord for opening the windows of heaven and blessing me, you are faithful to those that trust you in every area of life, I pray that I will always be obedient to give back to you in my tithes and my talents.

Crops and Weeds


Sometimes the decisions that lay before the disciple, they aren’t easy or simple when it comes right down to it. Searching for answers, searching for some greater enlightenment, for a path that is free of temptations, that is free of challenges or outside influences that can adversely affect us, we find that there are these pearls of truth that we find, but they are mixed together with things that are corrupt, things that are impure and that pose a threat to us.

Honestly, it’s not really that hard to find, even if you’re not really looking for it. After all, stumbling blocks, they can be anywhere and everywhere, even in the places we once thought that we were the safest as we try to live in this world and yet not of it. (Romans 12:2)

Even as we contemplate that we can get riled up about it, can’t we? We find that the more we look the more we see things that just shouldn’t be there. The more that we see things that don’t belong, the more we tend to find ourselves angry about it, the more we tend to get worked up about it, thinking to ourselves that something needs to be changed. It’s here that we tend then not to define ourselves by our adherence to what is right, what is a good and moral way for us to live, or the love that we are meant to show to others. Rather we express ourselves in terms of what we oppose because, let’s face it, it is easier that way.

The problem is, for as right as the opposition might be, or for as just as we may believe our cause is, an important question is never really asked even as we make our stand. It is the fundamental and core question that is centered around the Christian life that we are to live as the disciples of our blessed Savior given as in the form of that Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16-20) How does this win souls for Christ? How does this fulfill the mandate of His grand command for us?

There is a parable told by Christ in the Gospel of Matthew. (Matthew 13:24-30) It’s a story of these workers in the field who, when they awaken one day, find that, as they slept, the enemy of their master went into the crops and planted weeds amidst it. Seeing this they go to their master and they ask him if they should pull them up, if they should uproot them. The master’s reply is simple, “While you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”

Invariably there was a threat either way. Weeds, when they take hold, have the threat of strangling the life from a crop. They’re weeds because they move in and they take over, pushing and killing if they have the chance to. The master of the fields, as would any who had crops to care for, had to know this. Yet these were not just the weeds that pulled up easily, they sank in deep, they took hold deep. To uproot them meant to threaten at least a part of the crops, much more than would be at risk if they just let the weeds grow. So, for whatever the risk may be, he let them grow.

There are times when, despite everything that might be happening around us, this is a lesson we have to take to heart. Yes there are perhaps weeds growing around us, and they, without a doubt, pose a certain risk. Yet, in trying to stop them, from trying to rid the fields of them, we end up making it impossible for the crops to grow, or we end up uprooting before they have the chance to sprout. We make the harvest of souls that much weaker because we just cannot bear to see something that we view as wrong and we don’t think of the consequences of those actions, losing souls rather than winning them for Christ.

Look at your life, examine your faith and take a moment to find what it is that defines it even in a world that you feel is filled with weeds. How do you respond? How do you react? Take a moment to consider how you live and the way you react to those who believe something different than you or who have a differing point of view. Do you express yourself by what you are opposed to or by what you are meant to be in Christ? Do you seek to uproot the weeds at whatever cost their might be or do you worry about the crops and about what it might be that you will uproot with them?

Christ came in love, and it is love that He demands from His disciples, a precious love given in hope. (John 13:34-35) Show that even when it isn’t easy or simple, when the world as you see it is black and white but everything around you seems to be shades of grey. You can do more through the Spirit in patience and love than you could ever hope to by trying to remold it in what you perceive to be a perfect image, giving it time for God Himself, the author and the finisher of all things, to make it right in His time.

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known