Where is He leading me?

Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place.

Psalm 43:3 HCSB

As believers in Jesus, we pray a lot for wisdom and for guidance. Hopefully we realize that it will always lead us towards God. The direction He wants us to take in life is the place of light and truth that He possess. It’s holy ground. God is both with us and waiting in the place He wants us to go. In whatever guidance we’re looking for we must always seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Many of our questions can be answered by starting there. Seeking a new career? Wanting to know whether or not to ask someone to marry you? Contemplating moving and starting over somewhere new? Should I buy that? Should I give to that? Ask yourself, which of your options will lead you in the pursuit of righteousness? And, could lead others towards righteousness. God’s light will always guide you to the greatest service, to the deepest love, to the purest living, and to highest character.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 5:8-10 NIV

Short-changing God

theversesproject.com

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.

Psalm 96:8 KJV

This seems like a tall order. First, how do we give glory unto the Lord? Second, how could we possibly hope to give Him all He deserves? Isn’t this the purpose of our very existence? We are made in His image, to bear His name, and to honor Him by the manner of our lives. But how does that look? I think the Bible answers that for us.

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Isaiah 25:1 ESV

Whatever we do, one thing that is paramount is worship. Our praise for God should intertwine the activities we do throughout the day, from the redundant, to the exciting and new. His children should elevate God above and beyond in within all things they do. Praise should be a constant, both privately and publicly. We cannot hesitate to shout His goodness from the mountaintops and tell the world of the great things He’s done for us for others.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 ESV

God deserves our service. He deserves our energies and our resources. Not only should our lips shout the glories of God, but our actions should display them. In our love, we show God. In our character, we show God. In the way we lay our lives down for our neighbors, we show God.

Truth is, God deserves far more than we could ever give. But that should never stop us from devoting each waking moment to sing His praises and to put His love on display. Have a blessed day brothers and sister!

What Kind of Abomination are you?

desirejesus.com

That might seem like an odd question. It assumes the position that everyone is an abomination. Which is exactly the point I wish to make. Every single one of us is an abomination to someone. I know that sounds bleak, but it’s none the less true. According to the dictionary, an abomination is something or someone who causes disgust, hatred, or aversion. I am not saying that we are all hated and awful people. This is not a rant about humanity. The truth is, the life you choose to live will inevitably cause others to want to avoid you or disgust you. The only exception to this are those who are fake. They blend into crowds. They mold themselves to fit who they are with. They never stand for anything because to do so will result in someone being offended. For the rest of us, whatever we choose to stand for will place us in opposition to someone else.

An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

Proverbs 29:27 ESV

Even the godly, and maybe especially the godly, are detested by some in society. As culture degrades, those who hold true to moral certainties and biblical truths, are seen as enemies of the majority. Think about all of those who hold to the value of every human being, born and unborn. They are labeled as sexist and disciminatory towards women’s rights. People who promote and cherish the way people are born are charged for discriminating against people who want to change their gender. Even promoting the sanctity of marriage between one man and one women is seen as so appalling and hateful and homophobic. Many in society will say that to claim Jesus as Lord and Savior and the only way to heaven is intolerant and closed-minded. To challenge the notion of moral relativism will make you a bigot in the eyes of some. The life of a godly person is a conviction for those who are not. Even for the person who does not behave “holier than thou”. To make the choice to try and live a holy life and pursue Jesus will make you an abomination to many. But what kind of an abomination do you want to be? Do you want to be detestable to the ungodly or to the godly.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you

John 15:18 ESV

Jesus Himself warned His followers that it would mean the world would shun them. The world’s standards are not God’s standards. Holiness and righteousness are foreign and rejected by most. So if we truly follow Jesus, there will be people who do not want anything to do with us, or worse, hate us. It’s happening in the United States, and it is certainly happening around the world.

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

Luke 6:22 ESV

Take heart brothers and sisters. To be like Jesus is to be counter cultural. To be like Jesus is to challenge the norms and the popular beliefs. To be like Jesus is to be different. And the world struggles with different. But that should not keep us from being heavenly minded and pursuing godliness. While you may get ostracized by some, you’ll win the hearts of others to the Lord. Our love will be an abomination. Our grace and truth will be despised. Our forgiveness and mercy will be hated. But the world needs us to be an abomination. For the light of Jesus shines in the darkness!

Be strong my fellow Christians! Shalom and may the peace of Christ be in your hearts.

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 ESV

Turn up the Light

Oswald Chambers once wrote that, “When becoming Christ’s my individuality remains, but my primary motivation for living and the nature that rules me are radically changed. I have the same human body, but the old satanic right to myself has been destroyed.”

Far earlier the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

And finally, the great pastor Charles Spurgeon is noted saying, “Christ first, me last, nothing but love in between.”

Devotion in the Christian’s life certainly plays out in different ways, but one common element should be evident in us all: that we are His, wholeheartedly, and our lives should show it. The Lord promised to make us springs of living water that overflow to those around us. He said the world would know us by our love. He said we are the light of the world. Lord Jesus, turn up the light in us. Give us undivided hearts and undivided lives. Be alive in us like never before.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

God overrides your insecurities

In the book of Exodus, God chooses to reveal Himself to an exile shepherd named Moses. In glorious splendor, God speaks to him as an unconsuming flame. The task God would call him to seemed insurmountable. For everyone reading the story, it would seem near impossible. Go to the most powerful ruler in the world and tell him to release his largest labor force. No one can blame Moses for how he responds. Several times he makes excuse after excuse as to why he’s not capable of the calling. And you know what? So do we.

Christ commissioned us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Many of us won’t even talk to our neighbors or coworkers about Jesus. Many of us won’t take the unknown path that God may be leading us in because we don’t feel like we’re able to. We make excuses all day long. We aren’t gifted enough. We don’t have the resources. Now isn’t the time. We aren’t worthy. Truth is, we’ve all said or thought things like these one time or another.

God didn’t let Moses off the hook, and He won’t let us off either. We’ve all been made for a purpose, and He’ll continue to guide us into that until we take our last breath. Some will make excuses the rest of their lives and never fulfill the meaning they were born. Some will enter into it late in life. Others will be prodigal sons and come home after living a life apart from God. Then there’s those who hear the call and walk straight into it. That’s who I want to be, but I’m afraid I haven’t for a good portion of my life.

No matter who you are, God can overcome your insecurities. No excuse we make is a valid one when it comes to following Jesus. If we don’t have the resources, God will provide them. If we aren’t gifted enough, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. If we aren’t worthy (which none of us are), God’s grace abounds all the more.

Moses was used to do incredible things. But he sure tried to get out of it. I’ll bet he’s glad God didn’t let him off the hook so easy. I’m glad he keeps giving me opportunities to. How about you? When the burning bush calls to you, will you respond?

Wasting Gifts

God is good. His goodness can be seen everywhere we look. And he’s given so much to everyone of us. What’s your response to those good gifts?

Let’s start with time as our first gift. How do we use our time? Sure, we’re all guilty of wasting some of it. Vegging out on movies or tv shows here and there. Watching sports, scrolling on the phone, etc…But is the majority of it used for good and productive means? What does that even look like? It should reflect service in some way. Do things to help and benefit others. Giving back to society, providing for a family, spending quality time with those we love, and helping those in need. Most of all, we should have quality time worked in everyday where we are in prayer, devotions, study, and worship. Yes, those can and should be intertwined into all our daily activities, but there’s something to say for getting away to a quiet place with the Lord regularly. Time is precious, and we have no way of knowing how much of it we have. So we need to treat it like the treasure it is.

Now let’s look at another huge gift: salvation. Maybe I should phrase this as access to salvation, because some reading this may not have tasted the goodness of God’s salvation in Christ’s atoning work. Some are still carrying the burdens of sin, worry, depression, anger, and addiction, among other things. The salvation that Christ made available is alive and powerful. It’s freedom, in this life and the next. It’s a new life. A new way of doing life. A new outlook. A restoration back to our original purpose. If God didn’t give us a single good grace in life, He still would have given us more than we deserve in the salvation of the Son. But so many have spoken the words, called on the name of Jesus, and are still not walking in that freedom and newness. We waste our salvation by not walking in that salvation. We waste it by not sharing it, both by telling others and by proclaiming it through our actions. Salvation is something that is meant to be shared, not kept to ourselves. We are, after all, the lights of the world when we choose Him.

A third gift is placement. You’ve been given people, family, friends, teachers, students, community members, neighbors, and even strangers. You’ve been placed where you are and when you are for a reason. The people in our lives aren’t always easy but that in itself can be a gift. We are all molded by the people around us and it’s up to us whether that molding is making us more or less like Jesus. Sometimes it’s the hardest people and the hardest situations that can make us the most like Him. We also have the opportunity to pour into those people (yes even the difficult ones). Jesus said to love those who hate us and bless those who persecute us. We waste our placement in this world by allowing others to sour us or harden us and by refusing to lay down our lives for others or by seeking ways to be served by others. We can’t take those in our lives for granted.

A forth gift is the world itself. There is so much beauty all around us. In the mountains and plains, deserts and lush forests, there’s so much for us to enjoy. Do you slow down enough to take it in? We waste the gift of nature when we neglect opportunities to take care of it. We waste it when we don’t slow down and just let it pass us by. We waste it when we don’t praise God for all the ways nature provides for us. For the rain, the snow, the breeze, the sunshine. It’s all part of God’s common graces.

Lastly, let’s get more personal. We all have gifts, as in things we are predisposed to and passionate about. For me, it’s writing, drawing, teaching, and certain outdoor activities. How about you dear reader? You are gifted. You have passion. You are creative. So create. Follow your passions. Develop your talents. And do so in a way to point others to the one who gave you that talent. Talent is wasted when it has the aim of self promotion. It’s best spent when it is spent in His honor. Spend your gifts bettering society, bringing beauty, sharing truth, and revealing God’s glory.

When we stop and think about it, we really have been given so much. And these things only scratch the surface of God’s gifts. How dare any of us live as ungrateful. We all probably need to be much more intentional about not wasting these amazing gifts. I know I do. Pray for me and I’ll pray for you.

As always, peace in Christ’s brothers and sisters.

What do you cherish most?

I heard a great message a while back by Max Lucado about what we cherish in this lifetime. The message posed some pretty challenging questions like “What are you the most grateful for?” or “what do you thank God for the most?” and “what do you invest most of your time in?” These are all excellent questions and immediately got me thinking. Then an illustration was given to really bring the message home. Max said, “Take a sticky note and put it on all the things that you value, but only put them on the things that will be burned up in the end. What remains should be the answers to the questions asked at the beginning.”

So then I thought, what in my life can really be impacted by eternity? Eternity does not consist of my job, my car, or my house (and everything in it); eternity consists of the hearts of my family members, the heart of my wife, the hearts of my kids, the hearts of my friends, the hearts of strangers, and of course, my own heart. These are what I should cherish, praise God for, keep watch over, be the most grateful for, and invest the far majority of my time with.

Job put it very well when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart” (Job 1:21).

Money Can Buy
A bed but not sleep
Books but not knowledge
Food but not appetite
Finery but not beauty
A house but not a home
Medicine but not health
Luxuries but not comfort
Pleasures but not happiness
Religion but not salvation.
-unknown

Jesus replied: “‘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.”

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters!

The Lesson of the Garden

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.

Hebrews 12:4 (NASB)

For the Hebrews being addressed in this context, persecution was a daily reminder that they were going against the grain of culture. Choosing Jesus meant denying the way of the world around them. It meant living a life set apart. That is difficult, especially when we lose sight of Jesus Himself.

In addressing His disciples in the garden, the night he was to surrender for His execution, Jesus told them to remain in prayer with Him for their flesh was too weak to stand against what was coming. Temptation was around the corner and if they weren’t spiritually connected, then they would succumb to it. As we know, all the disciples did succumb to it. They fled in fear. They denied Jesus. They were weak and faltered because of it. And so have I.

Keep watching and praying, so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41 (NASB)

Sin seeks to corrupt and pollute. But most of all, sin seeks to separate further those who are already separated. What I mean by that is, if we are not spiritually in tuned, then sin will seep in through the cracks of separation and drive a further wedge. For the disciples, they allowed exhaustion and pride to lead to complacency, which gave way to falling away. It’s no different for us. If our physical life gets in the way of our spiritual life, then it’s only a matter of time before we too crack under temptation.

For those being addressed in the book of Hebrews it was a matter of bending to the pressures of those around them. Choosing the easy path rather than the holy path. Fear is the main driving force whether in the case of the disciples, those in Hebrews, or you and me. We fear not having enough, not being enough, not doing enough, and not being accepted enough. And before we know it, we’ve strayed from the path. We’ve compromised our time, our relationships, and our very hearts for things that mattered little, or even nothing at all.

My brothers and sisters, don’t allow complacency to set it. Don’t be distracted or drawn away from your first love. Are you drained and weary? Are you hungering for more and don’t even know why? Are you on the verge of compromise? Please stop and take stock of your heart. It isn’t too late to be refilled with those things that are lacking. Joy and peace are right around the corner. Hope and healing can happen in an instance.

Most of the disciples returned to Jesus and lived amazing lives of faith. They changed the world. They resisted sin to the point of shedding of blood. They paid the ultimate sacrifice for holiness. Are you willing to do that? Am I? Perhaps we should start with the small things first. Praying first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and all day long in between. We need to retreat to a quiet place often to allow God to restore our souls. And day after day, we need to make the individual choices to not compromise who we are in Christ or the mission we’ve been called to. Resist brothers and sisters. At all costs, resist.

Keep watching and praying brothers and sisters.

Wake Up!

So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus *said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. But I knew that You always hear Me; nevertheless, because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Out came the man who had died, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:38-44 (NASB)

You’ll notice when reading the verses leading up to this portion in John that Jesus was overcome by emotion. I think we can conclude that Christ also weeps over the dead soul that is yet to be awakened. That Christ weeps over the sinful acts of His children. That Christ feels greatly for those who are in the tomb or return to it. But the question is, do we? Do act as those who looked on to the tomb of Lazarus with such grief over the unsaved soul? So we plead with Christ for those who are dead just as Martha did for her brother? In the book of Ephesians chapter five we see Paul revealing to us how we’re supposed to walk as Christians. We’re told to walk in love, light, and wisdom. Isn’t it safe to say that if we aren’t living that way than Christ is weeping over us? Isn’t it safe to say that this is what Christ died for? In verse 14 of this chapter Paul makes a statement which parallels what Christ has called out to Lazarus.

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:14

Christ weeps for you and me just as He wept for Lazarus. But even so He cries out “watch this!” Jesus says I’m going to show you all something that will astonish you. You will see the Glory of God. When Christ stood outside my spiritual tomb He shouted the same words…”Brook, come forth!” Rise to life because you are mine. Awake from the dead and I will shine on you and others will see the glory of God through your transformed life. Not only did Christ call us out of a spiritual slumber but He also said, “Unbind him/her and let him/her go.” We weren’t saved to remain in our burial clothes. We have been raised to so much more. We’ve been raised to freedom and a new life, and a new hope.

Living with Salvation in Mind

Put on salvation as your helmet…

Ephesians 6:17 (NLT)

Would we live our lives differently if we were under the constant knowledge that we are saved and have new life with Christ? Would our struggles be as difficult? Would pain be as severe? Would the little things we worry about fade to the background? Would we be anxious, stressed, angry, or worried like we all get if we lived from a place of redemption, forgiveness, joy, hope, and peace? I have noticed in my own life that when I reflect on the gift God has given me and the person Christ is making me into the trials of this life somehow become much easier to go through. I know I am forgiven, I know I am remade; I know this life is temporary, and I know that God is in control of my entire life. Man, what great joy and contentment there is in knowing these things!

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 (NLT)

I hope you find peace in the One who saved you.