Monday, November 23, 2009

...with all your heart

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus' words are still true...the most important commandment we can follow to please God is to love Him--with everything we've got! Love Him more than anything--more than family, more than self, more than country, job, hobby...

How do we DO that?

Several people made demonstrations of their intent to do just that yesterday @ a couple of cases, they were parents who were committing themselves to raising thier kids to know God. In about 15 cases, it was an older kid or adult stepping forward to be baptized, showing both ttheir appreciation to God (for sending Jesus to pay for thier sins and give new LIFE), and thier commitment to God--to follow Him with their lives!

Baptism is a huge step, because in doing it, wer'e saying (as KCCers heard yesterday) "I'm ALL IN!" No more 'dipping my toes'--I'm going for it, and giving my LIFE to God, through Christ, as led by His Holy Spirit!

It is abandoment... surrender...commitment...obedience.

...and its in THAT way that we show LOVE for God.

I'm sure God loves it when we express our love for Him in song, and in prayer--assuming that it's coming from a sincere heart.

...but I'm equally sure that he REJOICES when those who say they love Him actually show it by thier actions!

Paul wrote, "...I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2).

Offering our bodies to God--in baptism, and in everyday life--is one of the clearest ways we can show Him that we love Him...and it can show up in everything we do!

Today, whether you were baptized or not, if you are a follower of Jesus, live out 'the spirit of baptism' in your life--by giving yourself completely to God.

THAT'S how you can show Him your love.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Hard Road

Ever wonder why God won't help us to grow by moving us from one "sunny day" to the next?

Sure would be nice!

I remember, early in my life as a follower of Jesus, actually praying something like "Lord, I get it--you want me to trust you. I can we move on?".

Augustine is rumored to have said "Lord, give me patience...and I'd like it now!"

Sometimes the Hard Road is necessary. Sometimes difficulty is necessary.

James says "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."(James 1:2-4).

"Troubles" and "Great Joy" don't naturally go together...but sometimes that's precisely the time that God 'shows up' the most!

Why does God choose to allow, or to use, the Hard Road in our growth process?

A few reasons, I think:

*Keeps us dependent on Him for strength.
*Reminds us that He--the Lord--NOT our circumstances, is where our hope lies.
*Teaches us that we can trust Him to 'redeem' our circumstances, no matter how tough, unfair, or challenging--for HIs glory and Our good.

So, today, if you face a trial--health, finances, relationship, anything--don't just try to 'get out of it'. Instead, trust God in it. Let Him sustain and supply you. Let Him move you out of it in His good time.

THEN you'll start to see that the "Hard Road" is actually "The Good Road".


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stay off the roof!

I've always liked David. Partly because he's got a great name, partly because he was apparently not very tall (1 Samuel 16:7), but mostly because he was considered 'a man after God's heart'. He was a warrior, but also a worshipper who wrote many of the Psalms. He was rugged, and he appreciated beauty...I like that!

David became very close to God, and it seemed that everything he touched, God blessed. He became the King of Israel and oversaw its expansion in power, size, wealth and influence. He was widely regarded as a great king! why'd he do it?
Why'd he risk all of that for one momentary thrill?

Read about it in 2 Samuel 11. He commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah...then he tries to cover it up...then, when that doesn't work, he conspires to murder Uriah...then he takes Bathsheba as his wife.

This is NOT what I expect from a guy like David!

How did it happen?

I wonder...the chapter starts with "In the Spring of the year, when kings go out to make war, David stayed behind..." I wonder why?

Was it because he was tired? Was it because he was getting full of himself, and just wanted to 'phone it in', instead of doing what he'd normally do--which was to be involved in the fights? Is it possible that he had seen Bathsheba earlier and he arranged this situation so that he just 'happened' to be walking on the roof while she bathed? It's certainly possible that it was simply an unexpected temptation that he gave in to.

I'm not sure...

...but here's what I DO know:
1) We 'play' with temptation quite a bit...instead of dealing with it forcefully right away and moving on, we sometimes let ourselves mess around with the temptation, lying to ourselves and saying we 'can handle' it...until it's too late; and 2) We don't usually 'fall' into major sin like this...rather, we walk into it, one step at a time. (True, that last step may be a 'fall', but the truth is that there were many steps leading up to it.) See James 1:13-14

David certainly COULD have gone off to war...he could have been busy with the work of the Kingdom...he could have been worshipping God...there are LOTS of things he COULD HAVE done...but he chose to walk around his roof, looking at what was going on in other people's the saying goes, "Idle minds are the devil's workshop."

There are many lessons to learn from this is that, just as David should have been busy serving the Lord in some way (instead of walking around on his roof).

What is the equivalent for YOU? What is the area that you find yourself 'playing with' temptation, hoping for the best, saying 'I can handle it'? What is the "walking on the roof" moment for you?

When temptation comes, let's not play with it! Rather, let's go with the teaching of 1st Corinthians 10:13 "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."

It's best to avoid those compromising situations altogether, but if you're in one, remember that God ALWAYS provides a way out...take it!

...and from now on, stay off the roof!