If You ask Me…

In my last blog, I spoke of two different views on life: a worldview and a Biblical view. Whichever view you choose it will dictate the decisions you make and how you live your life. In today’s culture, most people view truth as relative.  That is what is true for me is not necessarily true for you. But the truth is NOT relative. Take, for example, Jesus said that He was the only way to the Father [Heaven.] John 14:5-7 Many people do not accept that. They feel there are many ways to heaven and their way is just as viable as yours. 

So often we look to “experts” to determine what is true or false. I once had a person ask me a question concerning a relational issue they were facing. They asked what I thought about the issue and I said,“Well, the Bible says...” They cut me short with, “There you go again always bringing up what the Bible has to say!” I asked for your opinion!”  If you ask me my opinion on what color to paint your living; no problem, I will give you my opinion. But if you ask me a question that Bible addresses; I’ll tell what Scripture says!

The Bible was given to us, not as a law book, but more as a manual for living. When we violate a Biblical Principle (knowingly or unknowingly) there are consequences. So it pays us to study God’s Word. Jesus says both knowing and applying the Word creates the foundation for our lives: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24

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Christmas Transformation

The Nativity StarJesus is the only human who ever chose to be born, so why did he come? Volumes of books have been written in an attempt to answer that question but I wish to limit my thoughts to one idea.

Jesus came to restore man’s fallen, broken relationship with God. Man willfully chose to disobey  God’s clear command Genesis 3  and in doing so, separated himself from God. Jesus’ ultimate purpose was to restore that relationship. From the first Adam we inherited death or our sin nature, and separation from God, but Christ came to reverse that and restore us to the state where we are no longer overcome by sin.

Jesus did not come to make us a better verison of ourselves. He did not come to make us nice people. He came to make us new. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”  2 Corinthians 5:17 

The Scriptures are filled with examples of a new life in Christ:     

  • Zacchaeus – a crooked tax collector = life changed Luke 19:5-9
  • Saul, a persecutor of the church,  becomes a promoter of the church Acts 9
  • Jacob was a deceiver but God so changed him Genesis 35:10

Your Legacy

Image result for legacyWe all know that no one gets out of this earthly life alive. (And just as each person is destined to die… Hebrews 9:27) Yet many come to the end of life and have not prepared a will. A will is “a legal document that indicates how the person wants his or her estate (money and property) to be distributed after their death.
Some legacies can be…

1. Thoughtful and kind. The legendary comedian, Jack Benny, stipulated in his will that his wife Mary was to receive a single red rose, symbolic of love & devotion, on the day following the anniversary of his passing away and that the practice would continue until the death of his spouse.

2. Some wills are cruel. Jerry Lewis, another legendary comedian, certainly got the last laugh when it came to his strained relationship with his children. According to his Last Will and Testament, the funnyman emphatically cut out all six children he had with his first wife Patti Palmer — meaning they would inherit nothing.

One of the definitions of a “legacy” “is anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor:” I am very concerned of the legacy I leave for my children, grandchildren, and some day great-grandchildren. I will not leave them great wealth or huge tracts of land but the legacy I wish to leave behind is that they know God intimately and have experienced His presence in their lives.

As a young believer, I was taught some very valuable spiritual “disciplines.” Prayer, Giving, Faithfulness, Fasting, Reading God’s Word just to name a few.  Practising these “disciplines” did not produces salvation but they will help me grow in my walk with Christ. I was taught the most important thing in life was knowing and serving God. 

The more I observe the church, the more I see the erosion of deeply held truths and convictions. I am afraid that Judges 2:7 “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work which the Lord had done for Israel.” While the memory of God’s greatness and the work he did for Israel was alive, the people maintained their devotion to God. But verse 10 says that after the death of Joshua and those who had seen God’s mighty acts, “there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” And the result of this ignorance is given in verse 11, “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…”

I want my grandchildren (and great grandchildren) to grow up knowing, loving, and serving God.

 

Are You Different?

One of the strongest hindrances to the Christian life is peer pressure. No one wants to be different than those around us.  Teens have to wear a certain brand of clothes. Why? Because “everyone” at school wears that brand. People will ask when invited to a party/dinner what is “everyone” wearing? Why? We don’t want to stand out in the crowd. Peer pressure sometimes causes people to do things that go against their beliefs or values; just to be accepted. 

Even people in Old Testament times faced the ‘herd mentality.’ The nation of Israel didn’t want to be different, so they asked Samuel to give them a leader. … Now we want a king to be our leader, just like all the other nations. (Emphasis added.) God warned them they were about to make a big mistake but they insisted. The Bible repeatedly gives us scripture warning us not to give into peer pressure.

  • Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world…”
  • Psalm 1:1 “… do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners or join in with mockers.
  • 2 Chronicles 13:7 Then a whole gang of scoundrels joined him, defying Solomon’s son Rehoboam when he was young and inexperienced and could not stand up to them
  • Galatians 2:13 As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Jesus didn’t call us to blend in, but to stand out—just like He did.

Which World Are You Living In?

Image result for Solar SystemMost of us inhabit at least two worlds. For example, we live in one world of home and family and another of work. We have other “worlds” too, like the burger joint where we grab a quick lunch before we move on to our next world.

Even in the first century, the apostle Peter understood this concept. He makes frequent references to “this world” and “the eternal,” explaining that the way we respond to events in this life produces lasting effects in the eternal world so that what happens here influences us there.

This shouldn’t be surprising. We know, for example, that a nutritious breakfast in the morning affects the way we approach the rest of our day. And we understand that despite our efforts to keep the worries of work from following us home, our family members can usually sense when we are preoccupied with our jobs. So it shouldn’t seem strange that the way we live in the physical world affects our experience of the spiritual world.

Does that eternal, spiritual world seem distant to you? Or does Scripture’s portrayal of this profound reality motivate you to endure what otherwise might be too difficult for you to bear?

If you’ve been discouraged lately by opposition or setbacks in this life, give thought to the inheritance waiting for you.

Holy Emotions

Your emotions travel 80,000 times faster than your thoughts travel. Isn’t that amazing? This explains why when something bad happens, we are not able to immediately remember what to do or who to call. On the other hand, when something wonderful happens and we are wrapped up in the thrill of emotional exhilaration, at that moment, we do not have the ability to decide what to do next. All reasonable and practical thinking arrives in our nerve center long after the emotion has expressed.

The tremendous speed of our emotional responses to life helps to explain why even Christians often tend to operate out of feelings rather than out of principle. If you continually respond to life on an emotional level, you will always say things to are embarrassing, act in ways that are unbecoming and never be the person God intended you to be.

There is little in life that is of more importance than securing control of heart issues. When the Bible uses the word “heart”, it refers to the center of your mind, will, and emotions. Your hearts determines how you will act in any situation. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Heart

The problem is with the heart itself: it does not want to be guarded. It desires to express itself. The Bible never says we are allowed to express everything that is in our heart – it simply says to guard it.

The Gap

Most Christ-followers would like to have a better prayer life. Try this with me. Think about where your prayer, physical, financial, or family life is. Now, think about where you want it to be.  What is in between? If you are normal, there’s the infamous gap! [Not the store!] It’s the same gap that occurs when the exterior doesn’t match the interior. The gap between knowing the truth and implementing the change.  It’s the gap between discipline and regret.

Proverbs 25:28 NLT says A person without self-control (discipline) is like a city with broken-down walls.  No matter the area you need to change, you must make a choice and this choice calls for discipline. Where are the gaps in your life? What discipline is the Holy Spirit leading you to commit to in order to make the change?

You must choose between discipline and regret.