Do you desire to know God?

Perhaps one great way to start off this new year is to ask ourselves whether or not we are desiring to know more of God. This works for everyone from the seeker who is still uncertain about things to the Christian who has believed since childhood and everyone in between. God is endless. Therefore the journey to know Him should never end.

Where do we even begin to answer that question? Is it whether or not we go to church? Maybe how often we read the Bible? Or even how many Christian books we read? Could it be the number of devotions we do? All of those things alone do not necessarily point to someone who is desiring to know God. There is a vast difference between knowing about God and knowing God.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The one faithful indicator that we want to know God is how connected we are with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the spiritual breath of God. It is what brings us into new life. It is the way our life and His can overlap. When Jesus spoke about abiding in Him in John chapter 15, He was alluding to the connecting force of the Spirit.

Let’s think about it on a personal level. I can know about my wife. We can talk regularly. Same with my kids. We can live under the same roof and spend our passing moments together. But even in all of that, I can still not really know them. Unless I invest quality time in knowing them, and asking the hard questions, and seeking to know their hopes and dreams, their fears and failures, and their struggles and successes, I won’t ever truly know them.

“”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The same is true with God. I can know lots of facts about God and still not know Him. I can do lots of things for God and still not know God. The passage out of Matthew 7 is one of the hardest hitting in the entire Bible. In my opinion of course. But it’s exactly what I’m talking about. These people called Jesus Lord and even did things in His name, but they had no idea who He really was. Their faith was superficial. It wasn’t about Jesus at all. It was all about themselves.

If our pursuit of God is really only about us knowing facts about Him and doing good things then it serves no more than to promote a godly image of ourselves and soothe our religious appetites. The true marker of desiring God is wanting to be with Him. Like actually connected with Him. In everything. That means allowing our individual identity to fade away and be replaced by the overlapping nature that comes with having His Holy Spirit reside in us. It means living empowered, living in hope, living in joy, living in peace, and being transformed continually. If we aren’t changing and becoming more like Jesus then we aren’t truly desiring God.

Am I content with knowing little about God? Because the only way to know God is through his Spirit, and if I don’t desire more of the spirit and being in contact with the spirit and living my life abiding in spirit then I don’t desire to know more about God. How about you?

Peace in Christ loved ones!

The Proverbs Messiah

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The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

Proverbs 8:23 KJV

The entire first proverb focuses on the persona of wisdom. From the very beginning of the story in the Bible, God has been wanting us to choose His wisdom instead of seeking to gain it for ourselves. Adam and Eve were the first to fail in that choice by laying hold of the fruit in order to gain wisdom for themselves, apart from God. The results were devastating. Proverbs one reinforces that notion once again. Contained within the choice of God’s wisdom as compared to worldly wisdom, is also the choice of following Jesus or rejecting Him. You see, God’s wisdom is not just a concept. Jesus is God’s wisdom.

…but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:24 NIV

The Messiah is so much more than a person. He’s the embodiment of God’s wisdom. The way He lives…the way He loves…the choices He makes…everything about Him…contains the wisdom of God. We can reject the Messiah and try to lay hold of wisdom ourselves, but it will destroy us in the end. Or we can choose Jesus, and follow in His example, and that way is life. Need further evidence of the connection?

By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place…

Proverbs 3:19 NIV

Here, wisdom is the source of God’s creative genius. No surprise there. But couple this passage with one out of the first chapter in Colossians and the meaning explodes with importance.

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Colossians 1:15-16 ESV

Jesus created everything. God’s wisdom is the way to life because it is the source of life and so is Jesus our Messiah.

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Colossians 3:4 NKJV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

There should be no stress when celebrating Jesus

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Time and time again, I hear people talking about the stress of the Christmas season. I don’t understand. Aren’t we celebrating the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us in the person of Jesus? What is stressful about that? Could it be all the things that people do that have nothing to do with Jesus is what makes this time of year stressful? To keep our eyes of the Savior should alleviate all stress and anxiety. Celebrating the birth of the Messiah has nothing to do with black Friday deals, credit card debt, Santa Claus, putting up trees, and having the perfect party or family gathering with all the right food. If we would only give up the things that don’t celebrate Jesus, we would find so much freedom.

Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.

Psalm 100:2 NLT

The Problem with Abundance

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Every time I see devotions and books about abundance, I get a little wary. Especially with the acceptance of the prosperity gospel (which is no gospel at all) by so many. I’ve heard many messages that demonstrate a misunderstanding of Jesus’ proclamation in John chapter 10 that He came to give us abundant life. So mix that idea with their goals of gaining wealth and health. All you have to do is look at the life of Jesus and His teachings to know that the life of a disciple of Christ is not a life focused on the material or yourself whatsoever. That’s not too say God won’t bless people with financial provision, careers, healing, etc…God loves His children and knows what they need and when. But some of us can’t handle money. Some of us need to walk through valleys in life. Some of us need to struggle to learn dependence on God. He knows the faithful stewards and He knows how to mold His children.

I’ve come to realize, in my short 37 years of life, that there is a simple equation that can be applied universally across humanity. Abundance produces apathy which results in atrophy. I’m not using the word abundance in a spiritual sense but in a physical sense. When Jesus said He came to give us abundant life, He was referring to a spiritual reality, not materialism. Life experiences have taught me the pitfalls of physical abundance. So have my studies of history, and more specifically, the Bible.

“Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God, by not keeping his commandments and his ordinances and his statutes, which I command you this day: lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’

Deuteronomy 8:11-17 RSV

Before Israel entered the promised land, God warned them not to forget Him once they had the “good life”. What did they do? They forgot Him. Quickly too. It only took one generation. So did the future kings of Saul and Solomon. Once prosperity hit, they were corrupted. When our sense of need for God dissipates our devotion naturally follows. Abundance generally produces a desire for more abundance. People don’t want to lose what they have. The more they have, the more effort and worry they’ll put into maintaining it. The more we do that, the less mental capacity we have for God. The more time we strive to maintain a way of life, the less time we have to spend with God. The more we have, the more prideful we can become. Pride makes no room for God. Apathy creeps in. The more apathetic we become, the more our faith atrophies. The longer this process continues, the more dangerous the outcome. For Israel, and their kings, it took tragedy and destruction to get them back on track. My story isn’t too far from that. I have had to lose in order to win in life. Even now, I feel a pull during the “good times” where nothing is going wrong and financially we’re well off. That pull is towards comfort and away from convictions. I can easily lose sight of what matters most during those times. It’s easier to not fall on our knees in prayer when we feel like we’re keeping ourselves standing tall.

Learning these lessons has really changed the way I pray. I don’t pray for anyone to be wealthy, especially myself. The opposite of poverty is enough, not wealth. All we need is enough. All we should ever want is what God knows is best for us. He knows what we can handle. If we’re not generous in our poverty, there’s no way we’ll be generous in prosperity. If we’re not faithful with our time in hard times, why would we be in good times? God is so good. And good things are going to happen to us. But we can’t let the good times and the good things derail our faith. That happens when our love for prosperity outweighs our love for the Giver. No matter our present circumstances, our need for Him never changes.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

Jesus said GO, not stay

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He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Mark 16:15 NIV

So many of us are spending our lives staying put, waiting on something or someone, working away through the drudgery of life. When we live that way, we are ignoring the life mission that our Savior has given us. Our life mission is to be on mission, wherever we are, and whenever there is an opportunity. Jesus tells His followers to go, not to stay. That warrants the question: what does it mean to ‘go’? Well, I would say that depends on several things. What are your passions? Are you using them to make Jesus known? Where do you work? Is the gospel proclaimed there? Who is in your sphere of influence? Do they know Jesus? What’s your financial situation? How can your possessions and/or money be put to use to further the mission of Christ? Where are the hurting and needy in your community? How can you come to their aid?

Going means knowing the needs of those around us and doing what we can to fill those needs. The world needs Jesus. The world needs genuine love. The world needs a truth that is unwavering and doesn’t bend to cultural pressures. The world needs to value life and human dignity. We can, and should be bringing those things to our home, our work, our schools, our community, and beyond our shores. Whatever we do, we cannot waste this life we’ve been given by staying where we are, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Stagnation always leads to regression. The call to “go” beckons us to move forward…to progress. Jesus didn’t say, “wait until I call you.” We’ve already been called. Let’s make Him and His love known. The world awaits us.

…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

Acts 1:8 NASB

The Gifts we Give

So much of this time of year is devoted to spending money on gifts for everyone. But how many people have stopped to think about why? Is it fun to give gifts? One hundred percent yes! It’s one of my favorite ways to show I care for someone. But why do people choose a celebration that is supposed to be about Jesus to make it about everyone else? Think about it. The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion. What?!?

Let’s not forget that it was Jesus who received gifts upon His birth. It wasn’t humanity, but the Savior of humanity that was honored. As we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, throughout this fall and winter season, let’s keep it about our Messiah. The last thing kids need is to be showered with presents. Materialism is an enemy of the soul. What our kids need is to love Jesus. What our family members need is to love Jesus. That’s the greatest gift. Think about what one person can do for the cause of Christ with $700 rather than buying stuff that has zero eternal significance. Or what one nation could do with a half a trillion dollars. Americans could provide clean drinking water to the entire world in one holiday season. Just one. We could provide a billion kids with a free education in impoverished nations. Those are causes worthy of honoring our Savior.

Celebrating the birth of Christ is celebrating the greatest gift, which has already been given. God became flesh and dwelt among us. We already received the gift. It’s our turn to give the gifts back to Him and to raise up our children to love and honor Him with their lives. I love giving things to my kids. I really do. And I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t get gifts. But why, for a celebration that is supposed to be all about Jesus, do we make it about anything other than Jesus? Let’s give the gifts of love, self-sacrifice, and service to those in need. Let’s devote our heart to Jesus as our gift to Him. He gave all of Himself to us. Now it’s our turn.

Peace in Christ, our Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, and Almighty God!

The Gifts we Give

So much of this time of year is devoted to spending money on gifts for everyone. But how many people have stopped to think about why? Is it fun to give gifts? One hundred percent yes! It’s one of my favorite ways to show I care for someone. But why do people choose a celebration that is supposed to be about Jesus to make it about everyone else? Think about it. The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion. What?!?

Let’s not forget that it was Jesus who received gifts upon His birth. It wasn’t humanity, but the Savior of humanity that was honored. As we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, throughout this fall and winter season, let’s keep it about our Messiah. The last thing kids need is to be showered with presents. Materialism is an enemy of the soul. What our kids need is to love Jesus. What our family members need is to love Jesus. That’s the greatest gift. Think about what one person can do for the cause of Christ with $700 rather than buying stuff that has zero eternal significance. Or what one nation could do with a half a trillion dollars. Americans could provide clean drinking water to the entire world in one holiday season. Just one. You could provide a billion kids with a free education in impoverished nations. Those are causes worthy of honoring our Savior.

Celebrating the birth of Christ is celebrating the greatest gift, which has already been given. God became flesh and dwelt among us. We already received the gift. It’s our turn to give the gifts back to Him and to raise up our children to love and honor Him with their lives. I love giving things to my kids. I really do. And I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t get gifts. But why, for a celebration that is supposed to be all about Jesus, do we make it about anything other than Jesus? Let’s give the gifts of love, self-sacrifice, and service to those in need. Let’s devote our heart to Jesus as our gift to Him. He gave all of Himself to us. Now it’s our turn.

Peace in Christ, our Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, and Almighty God!