Posts tagged ‘Lord’

Savior Yes, But Lord?

I was listening to a radio pastor recently while driving down the road, as I often do. He closed his message by asking the listener if Jesus was their Lord and Savior. Interesting question. Perhaps more interesting is the order of the words. Let me break it down and ask the question without the compound word “and.”

Is Jesus your Lord? Is He The Lord of your life? Have you surrendered yourself completely to Him? Have you asked Him to make you who He wants you to be? Have you asked Him to mold you and shape you, as a potter molds and shapes clay, into a vessel able to pour out God’s love on all those around you? Do you obey traffic laws because Jesus is The Lord of your life, and you know that He put those who make the laws in authority over you? Do you obey your employer’s rules because you work for them as though you are working for Jesus, Himself? Do you obey Him, even when you don’t want to, as a sacrifice to your Lord? Do you sin, seek forgiveness, and sin again, without true repentence, without surrendering that area of your life to Jesus and asking Him to change that in you? Do you long to spend time with Him? Do you hunger and thirst after His righteousness in your life? Do you pray without ceasing because He is the first one you desire to turn to all throughout your day and night? Do you wake up in the morning thanking God for another day, and eagerly looking forward to time devoted and set aside to read His word and pray and worship Him? And do you go to bed at night thanking Him for His blessings? Is He in your heart and mind, never far from every thought? Is His name always on the tip of your tongue? Have you given His Holy Spirit the throne of your heart so that His presence within you is becoming as though you are one together?

Or. Or is Jesus your Savior only? Once upon a time you told Him you believe that He is God’s Son, that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, then took your sins to the cross and paid that penalty that you deserve to pay. You believed that Jesus came back to life, and is living in Heaven now, while His Spirit is here on earth with us. You may confess it in church on Sunday as a part of the litergy. You sing it with the congregation. You recite the prayers, or at least bow your head when the pastor prays. But when you walk out the door of the church, you leave Jesus behind a barrier that you have erected there. Like a cloak, you put Jesus on when you enter the building, and you take Him back off before you leave. That is where He stays. He is your Savior. You are grateful. But not so grateful that you are ready to bring Him into your outside world. He is not your Lord.

Brothers and Sisters, Jesus did not die for you so you could get a weekly reprieve from your guilt. He did not die for you so you could live how you want during the week knowing you have a safety net that will pull you from the depths on the day of judgement. He offered His salvation free of charge, but when you accepted it, you were bought at a very high price, a price that only God could afford. You belong to Him. He is your Lord. He is calling you to make Him Lord, not only in name, but in deed also. Jesus took your filthy sins. He bore the intense weight of your guilt, and bled and died your death. Then He covered you with His purity and promised you life eternal. Does He not deserve to be The Lord of your life, lock, stock and barrel?

Time is short. The end is near. Soon Jesus will return. He needs all of His people to be serving Him with all of their hearts in this time so that as many as will receive Him will become sons of God.

Verses (from the NKJV):
Luke 6:46 – “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
John 13:13-15 – “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
Romans 10:13 – For whoever calls on the name of The Lord shall be saved.
Romans 13:1-2 – Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.
Colossians 3:22-24 – Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to The Lord and not to men, knowing that from The Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve The Lord Christ.
Psalm 4:5 (NCV) – Do what is right as a sacrifice to The Lord and trust The Lord.
Isaiah 44:22 – “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.

So What is God’s Story, Really? Pt. 2

In part one of this post, I laid out God’s over-all plan…to create a people to live with Him throughout all of eternity.  But not just people to fill the space.  He wanted, wants, people who love Him, and choose to be with Him.  In order to do that, He had to create them, and give them free will.  He allowed them to turn their backs on Him, and then went to the extreme to save them when He offered His own Son as the sacrifice, paying the penalty for their hatred of Him.  He patiently waits, year after year, century after century, to bring as many people into eternity as will come, and why?  Love.  He loves us with a love that we cannot understand.

God set the world spinning, filled with all these people, with the goal being eternity.  But He doesn’t just sit and watch it spin.  He doesn’t just let the chips fall where they may.  Earth and it’s people are not an experiment to see what will happen.  It is not happenstance or willy-nilly…God sitting back and letting it all play out, hoping for the best scenario.  God is busy, active, involved in this world that He created.  Yes, we, as a whole, are indeed the middle step in His plan, but God is involved in the lives of each and every person who has ever, or will ever live.  He knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs.  He takes the time to know our names.  He knows the very number of hairs on each of our heads!  He knows the desires of our hearts.    God is intimate with us.  He is developing the intimate relationships with each of us that He so desires, and it is all preparation for when we will see the end to the goal, when we will be in Heaven, for eternity, with Him.  No, this is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants plan.  God does not have ADHD, and decided impulsively to create a world filled with people without thinking it through.  God’s plan will be worked out in every life, from birth to death, until the time when Jesus returns.

I was so blessed by the words God gave me in part one of this post.  I could see the big picture so clearly, and was in such awe of my God!!  But what touched my soul was how God works within His creation, on a personal level, recognizing each and every one.  Like an artist, lovingly sculpting, noticing, and perfecting the finest details.  Loving what He is making, even though we are all just one tiny figurine in a shop of billions.  I can almost see Him, bent over the clay that is me, eyes warmed by deep love and affection, a carving tool in His hand.  He touches me gently, scrapes a little clay off here, but shifts a little, or adds some in another place.  In one spot, He uses a damp sponge to smooth a scratch.  He speaks lovingly to me all the while.  So devoted to making me just right…and at the very same time, with the same love, attention, and devotion, He works on thousands, maybe millions of other pieces of clay, all in different stages of readiness.  Look!  Do you see what He has done?  He painted the blood of Jesus on my forehead!  I am His!  And He is mine!  And when it is time, He will breath eternity in to me.  I will be able to commune with Him, face to face, in a way that I can only dream of now.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV) – For You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

John 10:14-15 – “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Matthew 10:30 – “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.

It’s Time for Day Lilies to be Sunflowers!

Recently I attended a conference that had absolutely nothing to do with sunflowers.  However, sunflowers were used as an example of something during the presentation.  I honestly can’t tell you how they linked to the topic, because when I heard the illustration, I grew a bunch of goosebumps and had a worship-my-God-the-amazing-creator-of-all-things moment.  Here is why.

The presenter at the conference told of an experiment that was done with sunflowers.  (Unfortunately, when I asked later, she could not tell me the name of the experiment, and I have not been able to find it.)  In the experiment, sunflowers were planted in a controlled environment, a room.  A bank of lights was put at one end of the room, and turned on at a certain time every day.  The scientist wanted to see if the sunflowers would remember which direction the light came from.  I’m not certain how they were going to measure this.  But what they discovered is that the sunflowers would actually turn toward the bank of light an hour before the lights would go on.  Amazing!!!!

Now, in my attempt to find this particular science experiment, I have sort of accidentally learned more about the sunflower.  Apparently they have an uncanny ability to turn towards the sun as it comes up in the East, and follow it through the day so that it is still facing the sun as it settles in the West.  In the morning, it has turned back and is ready to follow from East to West again the next day.  Amazing!!!!

I’m not a scientist.  In fact, science was always my worst subject in school.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it then, and still can’t today.  So the next bit of information I share here is going to be the best that I can understand of why sunflowers do this fix and follow every day.  Apparently the “neck” of the flower, which I suppose is the stem, grows in a sort of rotation.  As the sun shines on the East side of the plant, that side of the stem begins to grow stronger and so the plant faces East.  Then the Northern side grows, followed by the Western side, with the flower turning according to its strongest stem-side.  During the night, the south side grows (in the dark? Don’t ask me why!) and so the flower returns back to the East for the morning light.  This could likely go down into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most pathetic science lesson in history!!!!

Of course you are wondering by now why in the world I am making such a weak attempt to share all of this information.  Hang in there, I’m getting to it.  Of course an illustration could be made that we, as Christians, should always be facing the Son of God, Jesus.  Keep your eyes focused on Him as you go throughout your day.  Makes perfect sense.  A great illustration.

I would like to go back to the sunflowers in the room that turned toward the bank of lights an hour before they turned on, however.  And I ask you, isn’t that what we should be doing?

There is another flower that I know of that opens up to the sun.  I am sure there are more, but I am not a florist, or a botanist…too closely related to scientist:-)  We have a patch of Day Lilies that grow every summer out behind our shed.  My boys love to pick them for me.  They are always so excited to offer me this beautiful orange flower, bloomed and open to the sun…and so disappointed at night, when the sun has gone down, and the flower in the vase in the window has closed up and sunk down into the vase.

There are far too many Christians who are like the Day Lily…asleep at the wheel; oblivious to what is happening.  Jesus told us to watch for His return.  Pay attention to the signs.  Matthew 25:42 – “So always be ready, because you don’t know the day your Lord will come.”

In 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 Paul warns us to be alert.  “You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night.  While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly.  It is like pains that come quickly to a woman having a baby.  Those people will not escape.  But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness, and so that day will not surprise you like a thief.  You are all people who belong to the light and to the day.  We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.  So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control.”

How can a Christian be alert, and watch for the return of the Lord, if they are not awake and paying attention half the time…like a Day Lily that sleeps through the night?

The sunflower not only looks to the sun, and follows it all day long, it remains alert to it, even through the night, by turning to watch for its return each morning.  The sunflower is always ready, even turning it’s face before the sun returns.  Christians must wake up!  The end times are here.  The wars and rumors of wars.  The continual, rapid decline of mankind into greater and greater sin and depravity, turning further and further from God.  The increase in natural disasters.  Prophesy after prophesy are coming true, right now, in our lifetimes!  If you follow the events in the Middle East, it is nearly impossible to miss the signs!!!  The alarm clock is sounding!  We must wake up!!!  We must be ready!!!  God is calling us to a state of readiness, and we cannot afford to be Day Lilies.  It is time for Christians to be like the sunflower…to be SONflowers!  We must follow the Son all day, all night, and be turned, with our faces toward Him, ready for Jesus to make His appearance in the skies.  He is coming…soon, very soon.  Are you watching the skies?  Is your face turned to see Jesus coming through the clouds?

 

Building A Temple: From Jerusalem to You

King David wanted to build a Temple for God.  He wanted it so badly, but God had other plans.  The Temple was for David’s son, Solomon to build.  David did not get to build it, or even see it.  But God did not leave him hanging high and dry.  God gave David the blue print.  I can see David, laboring over writing the plans that God gave to him, and pausing to day dream a bit, trying to imagine what the finished  Temple would look like.  Can you see the shine in his eyes with that far off look?  The awe and wonder written on his face?  Can you sense the wistful longing?  Sigh!

David wasn’t daunted in any way by taking on this task.  Not so for Solomon.  He was given the privilege of doing the actual building.  But building the temple of the one true God was a bit nerve wracking!  What if he messed up?  What if something didn’t turn out like it was supposed to?  He must have been showing his nervousness, maybe fretting, pacing, or chewing his nails.  Because David felt the need to encourage Solomon.

“David said, ‘All these plans were written with the Lord guiding me.  He helped me understand everything in the plans.  David also said to his son Solomon, ‘Be strong and brave, and do the work.  Don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or leave you until all the work for the Temple of the Lord is finished.'”  (I Chronicles 28:19-20, NCV).

So Solomon set to work.  He followed God’s blue print, and built the temple.  What a truly awesome place it was, too.  Eye-popping, jaw-dropping beauty!  Check out I Kings 6 and 7 for the description.  God was faithful to David’s dream, and Solomon’s work.  He was with Solomon as the temple was built, just as He promised.  And when it was finished, He moved in.  I Kings 8:6, 10-13 (NCV) – “Then the priests put the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord in its place inside the Most Holy Place in the Temple, under the wings of the golden creatures.  When the priests left the Holy Place, a cloud filled the Temple of the Lord.  The priests could not continue their work, because the Temple was filled with the glory of the Lord.  Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord said He would live in a dark cloud.  Lord, I have truly built a wonderful Temple for you–a place for you to live forever.'”

Could you hear Solomon’s giant sigh of relief, as he let out the breath he held for years while the Temple was being built.  WHEW!!!

Fast-forward a few hundred years to when  Jesus, the Son of God, took on the roll of the Temple of the Lord.  John 2:19 (NKJV) – “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'”  Jesus was the Temple, the presence of God, in human form, walking on earth.  The Holy Spirit was with Jesus, living in Him, part of Him as the third member of the Trinity.  Before Jesus went away, the Spirit could not come to us in an individual, personal way.  John 16:7 (NCV) – “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away.  When I go away, I will send the Helper [the Holy Spirit] to you.  If I do not go away, the Helper will not come.”

Fast-forward again.  Jesus was crucified, and raised to life after the third day.  He walked the earth again, and ascended to Heaven.  At the day of Pentecost, He sent His Holy Spirit…where.  Into (not to, INTO) the disciples, and every follower thereafter.  Jesus, in His human form, could not dwell in each of us.  He couldn’t even be with each of us all over the world all the time.  He was limited to that which his human form, like ours, could do and be.  But His Holy Spirit can be all over the world in every single believer at all times.  Now we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us…and we have become the Temple.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NCV) – “You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you.  You have received the Holy Spirit from God.  So you do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought by God for a price.  So honor God with your bodies.”

David wrote the blue print for the Temple.  Solomon built the Temple.  Jesus brought the Holy Spirit to a personal level.  He made us the Temple where the Spirit resides.  What is your roll as the Temple of God?

God has a blue print for you.  He wrote it.  Have you sensed His call?  What is He leading you to do?  Do you pace the floors, fretting, biting your nails, wondering if you are up to the task?  Consider David’s words to Solomon, “Be strong and brave, and do the work.  Don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord God, my God, is with you.”

We have a huge bonus that Solomon did not have.  The Holy Spirit living within us.  There is a reason Jesus called Him the HELPER.  With the blue print designed and written by God, and The Helper living inside of you to HELP you, how can you go wrong?  So do not fear!  Instead, be strong and brave and do the work God has called you to!!!  And “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV).

 

I Don’t Get It! How Can God Use ME??

The Israelites never cease to amaze me.  They were the chosen people of God Almighty.  He spoke directly to them, and performed one incredible miracle after another to, through, for them.  He demonstrated His power time and again, and showered them with blessings.  God Himself gave them the best land, a land filled with milk and honey.  He defeated their enemies on countless occasions.  He was actually present with them in a tangible form (in a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire, and on the seat of the ark of the covenant).  Yet, over and over and over again, they rejected Him.  They refused to obey God’s commands.  They worshiped false gods.  How in the world could they turn from the presence of the God who communicated directly to them, whom they could see was alive and well and all-powerful, to worshiping a chunk of metal or rock?  I don’t get it!

Still God used them to bless the entire earth!  He used this group of ungrateful, back-stabbing, faithless people to send the Messiah, the Savior for all, to this sinful world.

While I ponder this miracle, I see a reflection…an image that looks all too much like the Israelites…me.  My life is a mess.  Oh, I don’t mean that my marriage is on the rocks and my children are all out carousing and getting in trouble.  I mean I’m a sinner!  I am selfish.  I have a quick temper.  I am impatient.  I can be judgmental.  I falsely accuse.  I fight my attitude all the time.  The list goes on.  Yet somehow, in an amazing miraculous way, God has chosen me as a vessel.  He shares His messages through me, the pen in His hand.  I don’t get it!

I am so grateful that “God does not see the same way people see.  People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).  Thank God He knows my heart!  Thank God he knows the depth of my desire to serve Him!  Thank God He understands that I am a sinner, saved by His grace!

Unfortunately, people don’t know my heart.  They see the outside.  They see the mistakes I make.  They see the sinful me.  And I am certain that it is far too easy to believe that I cannot possible be used by God, after all, look how frustrated and impatient she is with her children when they are goofing off in church, or messing around in the store.  Look at how she lost her temper with that teacher when something happened to her child at school.  They can’t imagine how God can use me.  They don’t get it.

But God is using me.  I don’t deserve to be used of God!  I know that all too well.  But I want to obey Him, more than anything.  And so I keep struggling through everyday life, making mistakes, committing sins and seeking forgiveness…and remaining open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I know that I need to look different.  My witness, and God’s message, are tarnished by my sinfulness.  I must seek to serve Him, and obey Him in every area of my life, not just my calling.  Titus 3:1-2 (NCV) – “Remind the believers to yield to the authority of rulers and government leaders, to obey them, to be ready to do good, to speak no evil about anyone, to live in peace, and to be gentle and polite to all people.”

I am so thankful that God knows my imperfections, and that His work is not complete in me…it won’t be until the day Christ returns.  I can’t expect perfection from myself, or anyone else, for that reason alone.

If you believe God can’t use you because of your sin, you are wrong.  Remember that all things are possible with God.  Just ask Him to use you, be open to His leading, and be obedient to His call.  Being used by God is not up to you, or your abilities.  It is up to God and His abilities.  You, my friend, are an open slate!  Rejoice in that!!!

If you are obeying God’s call, as I am, and think your sins shout “hypocrisy” from the highest mountain, don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  Do work on it!  The Bible tells us in many places the kind of behavior we should exhibit as followers of Christ.  We must work to look and behave differently.  We will fail.  Get used to it.  But, by the grace of God, our failures will be less and less.  Do not lose hope because the Spirit will help us…we just need to listen, and obey.

If you are a person standing at the foot of the mountain and hearing the cry of “hypocrisy,” be discerning.  Remember how God used the Israelites (and so many other flawed and sinful people in the Bible).  Listen to the message.  Weigh it against the Word of God and pray for God to reveal His truths to you.  Remember that the message, the lesson, whatever it is that is coming to you through another person, perfect and holy or not, comes from the Holy Spirit, not the person.  Look past their failures, and look to what God wants you to know.

“I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.  How marvelous!  How wonderful!  And my song shall ever be:  How marvelous!  How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”

BOO! Gotcha!

Nothing can make me crabbier in an instant than one of my kids sneaking up behind me and hollering to make me jump.  Oh, I hate that!  They catch me off guard, and in that moment, I feel completely out of control.  To make matters worse, I am usually pretty aware of where each child is, and what they are doing.  It is rare that I don’t have at least a general knowledge of their where-abouts, so when they manage to make me jump sky high, it means they have caught me in a moment when my alert level was low to begin with.  For that moment when I am spooked, control of my situation, and of myself, has been forcibly yanked away from me.  I am out of control because I have been taken off guard.  Because I hate that feeling so much, I stay alert…always listening and watching…ever aware of where the boys are.  I protect myself this way, and I know when one of them is standing outside the bathroom door just waiting for me.  When they jump, I can just keep going…or use the opportunity to attack and tickle.

Right now the stage is being set for a ginormous “BOO!”  And the world is absolutely oblivious to it.  Even Christians, who should be alert and watching, are going on with life as usual.  But when it comes, the world will be turned on its ear and will never be the same again.  It will change everything.  It will cause far more than a yelp and a rapid heartbeat.  It will be a complete upheaval of the world as we know it.

I am talking about the moment when Christ returns to take His people out of this world to be with Him.  The Rapture.  In my July 15 post, The End Times, I shared with you that God as revealed to me that Jesus is coming soon.  The end is near.  I don’t have a date or a time.  I would never expect that because we are told in the Scriptures that no one but God knows that.  But I do know that it will be within the lifetimes of my children.  As time flies so quickly, and with the view of thousands of years in the history of the earth behind us, even if my boys lived to be 100, Jesus is coming soon!!!  We must be alert!!!  

As I sit in restaurants, walk through stores, or even see people on the television, I think, “Do they have any inkling of what is to come?  Do they realize that Jesus is coming soon and that the world will change forever after that?  Do they know that the day they will need to stand before God Almighty and answer for their lives is looming before them?”  Of course they don’t!  They don’t have a clue!  They expect the world to continue on for thousands of years to come, just as it has for thousands of years in the past.  1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 (NCV) – “You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night.  While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly.  It is like pains that come quickly to a woman having a baby.  Those people will not escape.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the , with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.  And those who have died believing in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive will be gathered up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And we will be with the Lord forever.”

Believe me, this is not the kind of event that anyone is going to be oblivious to.  The whole world will witness it!  And when every citizen of earth hears the trumpet call of God, and the voice of the archangel.  When every person sees millions of dead people rising to meet Christ in the sky, and millions more living Christians joining them, those who remain will not shrug it off and go about their business as usual.  There will be fear and panic.  Chaos will reign until someone is able to gain control and restore order.  All the Christians will be gone…as will all of the good they brought to the world through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  What kind of life do you envision this being?  It will not be fun!  Picture all of the movies you have seen about the world after a cataclysmic event…a global warming disaster, a universal nuclear war, an attack by far more advanced alien race…they all paint a picture of complete devastation and survival that is only one by fighting tooth and nail for the basic necessities.  I won’t say that this picture is what is going to be.  It is just what I envision in a world without the presence of the Holy Spirit.

There are two points to be made in this.  First, we Christians need to wake up!  We need to be alert.  We need to watch and prepare ourselves.  We need to be ready for the call of Christ.  We can’t pack a bag of things to take with us.  Nothing that we have here on earth will matter.  We need to change our priorities, our perspective on our life here.

I used to love going to garage sales.  It was so much fun to look through other people’s junk and find a treasure that would look great in my house.  I have no interest in that now.  I find that I see possessions more and more as unnecessary.   Not to say that I don’t buy things.  I just bought a new pair of shoes for vacation so I wouldn’t kill my feet climbing in and out of a monster truck.  I am considering purchasing a small table I can set up in my living room to leave a jigsaw puzzle on for the family to do together.  But I can’t seem to bother myself with spending money of frivolous things that really have no purpose other than to allow me to spend money.  It just doesn’t seem to matter any more.  Why?  Because my perspective has changed.  I know that my life here is only a way-station, a rest-stop.  I’m not going to be here much longer, whether because I die, or Christ returns.  This is not my home, and I would much rather spend my time and money on serving God and preparing my heart to meet Him face to face.

1 Thessalonians 5:4, 6, 8 – “But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness, and so that day will not surprise you like a thief….  So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control….  But we belong to the day, so we should control ourselves.  We should wear faith and love to protect us, and the hope of salvation should be our helmet.”

The second point is that we need to be bold in sharing the good news of Christ.  Knowing what lies ahead for those who don’t believe in Christ should motivate us to move quickly and speak without fear.  They cannot have the opportunity to accept or reject Christ if they have not been introduced to Him.  Now is the time.  We are living in a life-or-death moment.  May the Spirit of the one true God fill us with the sense of urgency we need to send us out into the world.  The Christians of the early church boldly spread the Good News, and the church of Christ grew.  This is our last stand.  Today, the church of Christ must again go so boldly into all the world.  And that includes our neighbors, our co-workers, the people we meet on the street.  The time has come to leave the cares of this world behind, and grab a hold of the prize before us.  Onward Christian soldiers!!!!

Cutting & Pasting the Bible: What Are We Missing?

Bible Study 2

Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

We cut and paste the Bible all the time.  How many verses can you quote from memory?  I don’t know nearly as many as I should.  And the ones I do know I often don’t recall where they are found.  But one thing I am discovering as I have been making my way through the Bible for the 2nd time is that many of the verses we use as our go-to verses are taken out of context, or at least not used with the full context intended.  We miss the full meaning by doing this.

Let me give you 3 examples from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, all in the same chapter, too yet:-)  As a side note, I have learned that Paul likes to make one-liner points, but throws them in the midst of a bunch of other wording.  I think we often miss the true point, so I will show you what I have seen this morning.  Watch for those italics and bold markings.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NCV) – Be full of joy in the Lord always.  I will say again, be full of joy.  Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.  The Lord is coming soon.  Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I saw 3 verses, or part verses, that are quoted all the time.  I’m sure you caught them, too.  There are two things I want to point out in this passage.  Let’s look at the bold print first.  There is a definite link between what we do, and what we receive.  What are we to do?  Do not worry.  Pray.  And give thanks.  What do we receive?  The peace of God.

Second.  Did you notice the italics?  What is that doing in there?  It totally doesn’t fit…does it?  Yes!  It absolutely does!  In fact, it is the overall point!  Allow me the liberty of expanding on Paul’s words, if you will.

Be full of joy in the Lord always.  I will say again, be full of joy.  The Lord is coming soon.  Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.  The Lord is coming soon.  Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  The Lord is coming soon.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  The Lord is coming soon.

In other words, the Lord is coming soon!  Keep your attitude in check.  Be joyful, don’t worry, pray, give thanks, and experience God’s peace…because…the Lord is coming soon!

Passage number 2:  Phil. 4:8-9 – Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise.  Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.  Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do.  And the God who gives peace will be with you.

Point?  This is not just “the God who gives peace will be with you.”  There is a condition to that.  First you must “do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do.”  Now the example Paul set for us to follow…”think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected” (obviously not all-inclusive, but a good place to start…with our minds).  [I swear, Paul writes backwards!  From bottom up!]

Passage number 3:  Philippians 4:11-13 – I am not telling you this because I need anything.  I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens.  I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough.  I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength.

There it is folks, the secret to happiness…contentment.  But contentment why?  BECAUSE CHRIST GIVES US EVERYTHING WE NEED  (as He sees it) FOR EVERY SITUATION!  Contentment that stems from total reliance on God.  When we are relying on God for everything we need in every situation, good and bad, we are content…and happy.  There is so much more in those verses than just a moral booster!  It is a lesson, an attitude, a way of living, and what happens when we follow it.

The next time you see a verse on a shirt,  or a framed picture, or hear it quoted, I encourage you to pull out your Bible and read the verses surrounding it.  What more is there to glean from further study?  And what message from God will you be able to carry with you for the next time you hear that verse?  God’s Word is such an amazing blessing!  But it is so important to read all of it, not just single verses that we cut and paste into our lives when we think they fit.  That is like trying to put the pieces of two puzzles together to make one picture.  Our picture and God’s picture.  It doesn’t work that way.  Take the pieces from God’s puzzle and see what picture He makes.  

May God reveal Himself to you in His Word today!

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