2020 – More than just a new year

There is so much happening that I cannot focus on what I want to say.  When I think of something I am sure that it will be good.  OK – here we go.

We are living in a new era, in unprecedented times and that means “opportunity”. The opportunity to do something new or to start something new that no one has ever done before.  Now they have to follow in your footsteps.  Coronavirus (COVID-19) has come and not one person knows how long it will stay.  In order for us to find a vaccine things have to happen so that we can move forward in that direction. That means if people have to die from the virus then let it happen so we can get the statistics and find a way to stop this from spreading.  If we have to continually fail at coming up with a vaccine then we are that much closer to succeeding to that end.

We hear constantly, “Peoples lives are going to be changed”, “This is going to change the way we do things”, or “We will get through this together”, etc….  That is all fine and dandy but those statements are all futuristic.  They all have a bent toward the future but it has not been written.  There is one thing that we do know – “History HAS already been written and will never change but it can have an effect on the future.”  

Now that we have laid the groundwork, how about Christianity?  What does this say about the work of Jesus and the mission He had to complete?  It begins with His birth and then His life and teaching and it continues with the crucifixion(His death on the cross)and the Resurrection.  So He is alive and His work is not over.  Let me explain this – the mission that Jesus came to fulfill is complete.  When He died on the cross and rose from the dead, this was the commencement of a new type of forgiveness and the restoration of  man from death by sin.  Once Jesus Christ is accepted into someones heart they are no longer shackled to the hold that sin has on them.  He opened the gates that were locked and gaurded by angels with firey swords.  The gates to Paradise are now open to those who have taken that leap of “faith” and made Jesus their Lord and King.  That is why He sent the Paraclete.  It is His job to contiue to teach the meaning of Jesus’ work and to transform hearts and corral His children for life in Paradise.  Eternal life with Jesus Christ(2Chronicles 16:9) “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout thee earth, to strenghten those who’s heart are fully committed to Him.” If it were not for those two events then Christianity would be a joke and have no meaning.  

So what about the future?  For the Christian, it is certain.  We know how it ends and where we are going.  So the events here are inconsequential?  No!  They are signs of what we need to do to be prepared when He comes again.  Things like ‘who has not accepted Jesus Christ, who needs to hear the good news about Jesus – EVERYONE, what is the Christian world view’ only to name a few.

My Lord God,

 

                 I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know 

myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not

mean that I am actually doing so.  But, I believe that the desire to

please You does in fact please You.  I do hope I have that desire in

all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from

                 that desire.  I do know that if I do this You will lead me by the right

                 road, though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore, I will trust You

                 always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I

                 will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me

to face my perils alone.

                                                                                   Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”

Awe and Wonder

What does it mean to fear God?  That is the question of the century and there have been all kinds of answers.  Now, I am going to throw my hat into the ring.

To fear God is to hold Him in awe and respect Him for who He is.  Who is He?  There are many answers to that question as well and mine is the One true Living Creator that spoke creation into existence.  Imagine, the power of God and the spoken Word.   

Some people want Him to be their friend.  He wants us to be His friend.  There is a slight juxtaposition that can be overlooked if one does not listen to that carefully. Some people want Him to be their friend.  He wants us to be His friend.  If we want Him to be our friend, that would mean we take Him out of His position to come down to our world to be with us and be there for us when we need Him.  ‘When we need Him’.    What a waste of power. It is as if we take out our phone and dial Him up and tell Him that we need Him.  Calling Him down to our world, full of its sin and impurities and imperfections.   God cannot come face to face with sin.   It is not His time yet for it has not come.  He is perfection and He calls us to be like Him.  “Perfect”.  He already came down once and He overcame!

 

Jesus, on the other hand, wants us to be His friend.  From His position He is calling us up to a higher standard, to a higher calling then just paycheck to paycheck.  He wants the best for us and all we have to do is accept His free gift of grace and believe in Him.

So, you want Him to be your friend?  Sure – go ahead.   You want Him to walk with you on the beach, barefoot in the sand?  Fine!  Just be careful because you are treading on dangerous territory.  To walk alongside Him is to put Him on par with you or the converse ‘you on par with Him’.  To do so is saying the you can see Him eye to eye more clearly for who He is.  To see Him face to face.  To walk side by side with Him is tantamount to idolatry.  It takes the conviction out of His words and there is no reason to change.  There is no reason to change because we both see things the same – eye to eye.  There is  no one on par with Him.  He is second to none.  Look what happened to Archangel Lucifer.

To pay homage to the Almighty and most reverent  King is to fall on your knees for we are His subordinates not His equal.  In mid evil times, when a king would cross the path of a knight or a knight would come upon a king, the knight would genuflect, put his right hand on top of his left hand on top of his right knee and say “Sire, my Lord and my King, what doth thou ask of me”.

Does He want us to be His friend or do we want Him to be our friend?

I will tell you one thing for sure!  He wants a relationship, not a casual acquaintance.

 

Restore And Repair

This world was created for relationships.  First there was God, who existed before time.  Christians would say and have you believe that is an absolute truth, which it is. Then God became lonely so after He created everything and saw that it was good, He created man.  Then He saw that man should have a partner rather be alone.  So there you have the first relationship – God and man.  Then there is the second relationship – man and woman.  Then there is a third relationship which usually is not referenced but that of the serpent (Satan) and woman.  

So there you have it! That is how it all started.  The first “foursome” so to speak but that was the first dynamic.  That was never God’s intention or part of the plan but that is how  we got to this point.  God is a god of relationships.  Later we learn about another relationship.  The Trinity.  God the Father; Jesus Christ His only Son; The  Holy Spirit.  A powerful dynamic.

God is the only One who can restore relationships and repair lives.  We need people in our lives that are there for us that we can depend on and will hold us accountable to change.  We need “mighty men” of God in our lives who will support us, worship with us and hold us up so that we can continue on our journey with God to Paradise.  We are instructed to be leaders, leaders that God puts in place.  Some are looked up to as role models.  Then when they sin or do not extend their forgiveness to someone then they are no longer “leaders of the pack”.  They lose their following and are disgraced.  

How powerful is forgiveness and undeserved grace?  Well, forgiveness restores what sin has taken away.  God is the mastermind of all things – even reconciliation and restoration.  We are all guilty of sin but the blood of a spotless lamb was shed on the cross for our salvation.  For that reason alone worshipping and praising God are vital to the life of a Christian.  Worship and praise restore our faith in God.  For example, David is a man after God’s own heart.  Situations do not cause us to sin – we do!  We make the decision.

Finally, repentance restores our relationship with God.

I Am Important

All people have a longing for two things – comfort and relevancy.  God gave David fame(relevancy) and security(comfort).  On the otherhand, Saul sought both elements of this equation but he went about it wrong.  He thought he was relevant as the king of Israel and he longed for comfort.  In his search and inability to find what he wanted, instead of going to the Lord he became angry.  The anger increased over time to the point of wanting to kill David and looking to others.  His kingship was ripped from him and given to someone else.

It is said that it takes only seven seconds to make a first impression.  When you focus on what God has given you and His provision, on His blessings and your knowledge of Him, what impression are you leaving with  the One who matters? Look at David;  he turned to God for direction and what He should do.  His first thought was to consult with God.  Saul, on the otherhand, did not focus on the gifts God had given him.  Rather, it went to what he needed to do to keep the kingdom. He feared the fame and recognition that David was getting from the people. David had praised God and asked for His help in killing Goliath.  Fear gripped Saul’s heart and thoughts only to turn him to anger and isolation.  God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.

“Talent is God given, be humble    Fame is man given, be greatful    Conceit is self-given, be careful.” (John R. Wooden – former coach of UCLA)

The consequence of fear is hate.  It is the expectation that something is out there that will stop you and overcome you and is better then you giving one doubt.  Fear will destroy normal brain activity.  How do you cast out fear?  Truth!  Truith will refocus the mind and heart.  Only God’s truth and love will cast out fear.  God wants us to surrender our lives to Him.

Predict – Foresight

The note on the door said, “Due to unforseen circumstances the American Psychic Association will not be meeting tonight.”

Foresight.  Predict.  What do the two words have in common?  For starters, they both refer to the future.  In my mind, predict has to do with the fortelling of a future event, while foresight is a thoughtful regard for the future and making provisions for it.  In otherwords, prudently thinking ahead (like playing chess); having the forethought or the foresight to plan accordingly.  Having a premonition and acting or preparing appropriately.  There are ministries that are setup to peer into the future and make predictions for it.

True prophesy is a function of God’s character and sovereignty.  God gives people the words to say or inspires them with those words.  Just like God did for the Levites, God promises to the believers an inheritance.

Is there anything that the world can offer that will live forever?  The answer is unequivocally “no”.  Jn14:27″( Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.)”  A baby is born and a person dies,  A new product is developed and because of technology, a new and improved product makes the other obsolete. New medicines are created and the old ones are put to the side or taken out of the mainstream of life.  There is peace and then because of  cultural differences, lines of thought, the role of government, etc… war breaks out.  Then there is peace and then there is war and the cycle continues.  History proves all of this to be true.

We learn many things from history especially if we want to learn and continue to make forward progress.  History is like a shadow that is always behind and never gets ahead of us.  It is always following us around.  History is a fact and the future is not known.  We can only surmise what it will be.  History does not change but it can change us.  We can put it another way.  We cannot change history but history can change us.  

God understands history and the future.  He is part of history and He is in the future.  More importantly, God is here, now.  The many promises in the Bible are being fulfilled.  His promises are personal and for His purpose.  So how do God’s promises define our purpose?  The Living God is the only god that inserts Himself in time and purpose.  This allows Him to be omnipresent.  His promises are faithful and true.  They are irrevocable.  Furthermore, the Living God’s promises never fail.

So, if you want to know the future just look to God and talk to Him.  He will take you on a journey into the future.  A future with Him.

Maturity – Growing Spiritually

Have you ever seen or heard of someone coming to faith on a dare? Some live life by doing things this way and in this manner.  A way of thinking is developed and you fall into a pattern of complacency.  Everything works well so why change it. Then a decision is made that has eternal consequences.  You decide to let Jesus Christ be the king in your life, let Him sit on the throne and accept Him.  The person who made the decision is doing what they call “coming to faith”.  Out of all the options available they decide that coming to faith will have the most impact.  In their life and the life of others around them.  This is a process.  A process of breaking the chains of an old life on a daily basis, a moment by moment basis and creating a new life.

This is spiritual maturity but what does that mean?  It means a decision has been made that is radical, will bring joy and heartache and will upset the applecart. Things will change and give a whole new meaning to life.  Whether it is better or worse depends on the decisions that are made.  How this equates into something understandable from the results on a graph is not simple.  It turns out to be the distance between God’s call and the ability to answer that call thru grace.  It is a process. Spiritual maturity is not the same as spiritual perfection

God does not judge us on age.  He does not say that you need to be at this level or this stage in the journey with Jesus Christ.  It is His desire that we be spiritually mature.  This maturity is how we explain the consequences of sin.  The biggest driver of sin is pride and obedience.  It is clear that two attributes which are a result or an off-shoot of this way of life – being spiritually mature and obedient – are actions and attitudes.   

God tries to help us to reach that point of spiritual maturity but do we accept that help?  Do I accept that help?  God sent His Son to die on the cross and shed His blood for all mankind – for all mankind to see.  So what is the driving force in my life?  What is the driving force in your life?  Is it out there on the cross for all to see or is it tucked away inside in some special place that no one can see or get to?

God makes us free at the cross!  We all need the church for the support of others and the support from others!  Then we can reach true spiritual maturity.

Most powerful tool today

GREAT   IS   THY   FAITHFULNESS!

Prayer – the one tool that we as believers have and is more powerful than any modern day weapon that we have today.  So, how is your prayer life?  Are you a prayer warrior?  A question for thought and reflection.

God answers the prayers of the faithful(2 Chronicles 6:19) -“Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication. O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee…” 2 Chronicles 16:9-“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen the hearts of those who are fully committed to Him.”

The best way to get to know God and who He is through prayer and His suffering. The pain that He feels when we sin.  A simple prayer like “O’ Lord, I pray that I may come to know you, and be in your presence.  As a father myself, that I feel the pain you go through when we, your children, sin and we have to be disciplined.  To understand the pain you felt when Your Only Son, died on the cross, and shed His blood to free me from the shackles of my sin”.

Do I feel the presence of God in the battles of life?  The Lord God of Israel commanded prayer.  He thought it so important that He even gave us a prayer and taught us how to pray.  God is sovereign over all things.  Even though we sin He will still go before us and lead us.  When we pray to God, He will allow us to conquer according to His Word.  We must be consistent in our prayer to God.  

God is trustworthy and true.  It is through the Holy Spirit that we are delivered.   God remains faithful to the believer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obedience Costs

The cost of obedience can be very high.  The cost of disobedience can be even higher.  There are rewards for obedience and punishment for disobedience.  It is what we learn when we drown ourselves in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament.  

Abraham is one of the great examples of this virtue.  It is a spiritual discipline that must learned.  Obedience is not a talent or a skill or an art.  It must be learned.  We learn this in our journey with God, as a believer.  As a believer,  it is something that the Spirit teaches us along the way.  So we learn it over time. Obedience is part of the santification process.  This is a life long process in which we are shaped by God. God changes the heart and sanctifies us for His purpose and does a heart transformation in us.  Here is the question – do I recognize that God has changed my heart?  Do you recognize that God has changed your heart?

God santifies us for the sake of His name.  So why do I forget the awesome power and character of the One True Living God so easily?  This is an excellent question to end on but there is one more thing.

God’s santification is a call to obedience!  Am I to self-absorbed to hear it?  To obey is better then sacrifice.  

Status Quo

Standards – why do they exist?

They are put in place for the sole purpose of not getting complacent.  They are put in place so that we have something to shoot for and be productive.  What about going beyond the standard and reaching for more.  Above and beyond!

There are all kinds of standards.  Employee handbooks, KPI’s, what is expected of us on the job, etc…  What about God’s standards?  What are they and where do we find them?  The Ten Commandments, the Beattitudes and others.

The Bible.

God wants us to trust Him alone (EX: 32).  He wants us to remember what He has done for us and look forward to Him (Joshua: 24).  He accepts our requests for forgiveness all the time.  

Repentance requires change of heart mind and behavior.    He judges those who reject or repent equally.