We All Worship Something

Romans 1:25 is a really interesting verse. The New Living Translation says, “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself…”  

That’s an indication that they had worshiped God but decided to take something else [“they traded”]  to worship. The word “traded” suggests that they couldn’t have had both. {Matthew 6:24) They had to give up one for the other. We are either worshipping God or we are worshiping something else. We must trade one for the other. Because worship is how we respond to the thing we value the most. There can be nothing above that thing or equal to it.

The thing we spend we spend most of our time thinking about, doing, giving the most attention to, putting all our energy into? That’s what we worship!

What are you worshiping? What things are you putting before God?

Who Is In Control?

Surrender: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another
Control: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command

Let’s be honest; most of us like to be in control. We stress out when things seem out of our control. Growing up with two brothers, control was a big issue, whether it was who would ride “shotgun” in the car or would we watch cartoons or American Bandstand. It feels nice to call the shots, drive the car, hold the mic, dominate the remote, and plan out a detour-free itinerary for our lives.

Control becomes a major issue when we refuse to surrender control of our lives to God.  I’m like, “Hey God, I know you created the world, and exist outside of time, and are unquestionably wiser than anyone could imagine, but I just want to give you a heads up. You’re going the wrong way!”

Jesus prayed, “Your will be done,” right before His crucifixion; and our hearts, words, and lives should continue His prayer.

We cannot micromanage God, but we can trust Him. We can yield to His guidance, knowing He only leads us in the right direction.

We all get to choose. The options are confidence in our own partial understanding or surrender to the one who holds the map.

Like It or Not…

The most often asked question that a pastor is asked is “How can I find God’s will for my life?”  I have found that the majority of people who say they want to know God’s will, want to know so they can decide if they will obey it or not. It is very unlikely that God will reveal His will to people who have that mind-set.

We sing this chorus in many of our churches:

‘ll say yes, Lord, yes
To your will and to your way
I’ll say yes, Lord, yes
I will trust you and obey
When your Spirit speaks to me
With my whole heart I’ll agree
And my answer will be yes, Lord, yes

It does not say, “If I agree with it, I’ll say yes.” To know God’s will, we must be willing to obey BEFORE His will is revealed to us.

“Whether we like it or not, we will obey all that the Lord our God says.”  Jeremiah 42:6

365 Prayers

Several years ago, I found a book that had a unique, but Biblical,  approach on praying. In every area of life there are people who shape our world. These people have a great deal of influence in their fields: political, science, music, entertainment, medicine, finance, sports, education, etc. These are people who wield power. 

The book is based on 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”  The book gives you 365 people to pray for each day of the year. Each page includes a brief biography and suggestions how to pray for that person. 

Throughout the Bible we see how God used heathen rulers to accomplish His will. In most cases they were not even aware they were being used by God. The Lord can control a king’s mind as easily as he controls a river. He can direct it as he pleases. Proverbs 21:1 (ICB) 

You do not need a book to tell you who to pray for. Listen to the news. Read a news paper. Allow the Holy Spirit to direct you. But pray!

Obey

A little boy was having a problem obeying his mother, so she told him to sit down. He refused to obey. In her most authoritative voice, she told him to “Sit down!” The boy obeyed but replied, “I might be sitting down, but I am standing up on the inside!” Obedience? Hardly.

Sometimes I wonder if some Christ-followers have that kind obedience. But partial obedience is no obedience. Sometimes God asks us to do something that, in our humanness, if we do not understand or cannot see the logic, we hesitate to obey.

As I thought on this, I was amazed at the number of times in Scripture that God asked people to do some things that did not make sense. God doesn’t always give us the details of his commands.

Jericho. God simply told Joshua to have the people to march silently around Jericho …followed the commands of God that the walls of Jericho fell down Joshua 6:20 Marching around a city and blowing trumpets aren’t found in any military book but Joshua obeyed and the walls fell.

Peter. Jesus invites Peter to walk on water. Science says we cannot not walk on water but Peter obeyed and he walked on water.

Ananias. Acts 9 Saul (Later named Paul) was on his way to Jerusalem to persecute the Church when God intervened and asked a devout Jew to go and find Saul. Ananias reminded God that Saul was the enemy of the church. It would be like God tellings us to go minister to ISIS. But Ananias obeyed and gave him God’s message and Paul became the greatest missionary the world has seen.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is quoted as saying, “One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.”

“Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace.” -Thomas Kampis.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

loveTomorrow is Valentines Day. A day in which millions will proclaim  their love. America is in love of “being in love.” Songs are written about love. Movies are produced about love. Poets and song writers write about this thing we call love. But do we really understand what love truly is?

In 1984, Tina Turner recorded the hit song “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” Good question! But what is true love?

First, in its truest sense, love is not an emotion at all but rather an action and an attitude. The Righteous Brothers sang the hit song You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling which defines how most people see love. To them love is an feeling that must be maintained. But John 3:16 tells us it was love that motivated God to give us His Son. Biblically speaking, you can love someone without having a certain emotion.

Secondly, true love is not self-centered. Most people get married for the wrong reason. People get married with the idea (often unconcisouly) that this person is going to make me happy and meet all my needs. But true love is centered in others. God’s love was other-centered. 

Love is always concerned about what is best for the other person. God’s love was extended to people so that they would not perish though it cost Him His Son. Loving someone means doing what is in their best interest which is often not the easiest thing.

What’s got to do with it? Everything! Living is rooted it love.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Christianity is the only religion with love at its core. John 13:35 , 1 Cor. 16:14

Mirror, Mirror

phwjs-ftvr-8622-0220Plastic surgery, patient enhancement, or cosmetic surgery has become a 11-billion dollar industry in America. Once only affordable to the rich and famous, cosmetic surgery is no available to many income families. But what is behind this phenomenal growth? While I realize there is a legitimate need for reconstructive surgery; the vast number of surgeries are due to the fact that people just want to change their appearance. When Ms America contestants were asked if they were happy with their appearance; 90% replied no!

While a small number of surgeries are performed due to health issues, the vast majority and motivated by dissatisfaction. It is amazing the extremes so people will go to changed their appearance. Michael Jackson went through all that painful surgery and skin bleaching because he couldn’t stand looking like his dad. One woman spent $25,000 to look life Jennifer Lawrence. Herbert Chavez has had 16 years of cosmetic surgery just to look like Superman.

People do not realize that their physical appearance was ordained by God. “This is what the Lord says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb,…Isaiah 44:2 ““Before I created you in the womb I knew you;…” “Before I created you in the womb I knew you;…Jeremiah 1:5 God created you with the nose you were born with. God choose your ears (Big or small). You may be big boned or skinny as a rail but God decided. So be content with your physical appearance because God puts greater value on inner beauty.

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful.” 1 Peter 3:3