“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” Colossians 1:15-16 (NIV)
He is our God. He is Mighty. His is King.
And yet, Jesus wept. John 11:35 (NIV)
He became one of us. He cried for one of us. He felt the pain to be one of us.
His love was so great that He came to save us. Regardless of this love, we betrayed Him. We reviled Him. We broke His body.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
A few years ago I considered going to Bible College. What I didn’t expect was the number of doors that closed in front of me. God’s message was very clear. He said, “No.”
I was so surprised. Surely He wanted me to learn as much as I could about Him and His word. Bible College seemed like the obvious answer.
I still don’t know why I wasn’t meant to go. I can speculate. It would have led me into a different direction for my life.
But often what we think is right for our lives may not be right. There is so much we don’t know, can’t know. God, however, knows everything. He knows what is best. He will show us the right way, the best way.
Ever feel like the world has grown weary of God? Do you shudder at the nightly news reports and wonder how we could have fallen so far? Do you shake your head at the greed, pride and depravity in our world? Have you lost faith in humanity?
It’s not faith in humanity we need to restore, but our faith in God. He is the only one who has the power to change us for the better. He is the one who gave us Hope through Jesus Christ. He gave us a future because, without Him, we had none.
So, Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
And let us share His Good News with others so that they too can see His Glory, accept His Salvation, and be transformed.
Occasionally I listen to the podcasts from Mars Hill Church. They are always so full of teaching and the Word of God. I do recommend them because they are always fresh.
One such podcast was on feasting and fasting and what they truly mean to us. In the abbreviated form:
Fasting is taking the thing away that’s a barrier to God – it doesn’t always have to be food. It can be technology, a sport, a hobby, any distraction.
Feasting is transforming that very thing that could distract us from God, into that which takes us to God – we don’t have to feast on food alone either. We can feast on our sight and appreciate the world God created. We can feast on our hearing and praise His mighty Name. We can feast on the little things. We can even feast on our very breath. Feasting is finding gratitude toward God and knowing He loves us and wants us to experience joy.
I love the different perspective on these definitions. We can worship God through both.
This post was inspired by Karen’s post here. She posted a beautiful song, “Bless Your Name Forevermore”. The first lines in the song are:
From the darkness came the light,
Out of nothingness You made life;
This got me to thinking… When we create we can only make things from other things. A building is made from bricks and mortar. Bread is made from wheat, which is grown from a seed. A light is made from a match, a spark, a switch.
When God created the world He made it from nothing. To create, He doesn’t need to plant, to gather, to process, to invent. His Word is so powerful that creation is shaped by it.
I used to see a particular friend on a regular basis. We’d go out to dinner at the local café and she’d come back to my place for a coffee and we’d chat some more.
On one occasion I was running late. I had enough time to either spend quiet time with my Lord, or clean up the house. I decided to clean up the house in case my friend came over after dinner.
Something inside me said this was wrong. I needed time with my Lord more than I needed a tidy house. And, to prove the point, it turned out that my friend couldn’t stay so she didn’t come back for coffee.
The Lord had tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me again how important it is to spend time with Him. He should never be our second priority.
Have you ever had one of those moments? Every time I think of mine, I think of Martha. She was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made by Jesus’ visit, but her sister, Mary, sat at His feet and listened to what he had to say.
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 (NIV)
A friend asked via Facebook, “If you didn’t know Christ would your life be any different?”
My initial reaction was, “Well, of course!” But then I thought about it some more. I’m a good person and was always a good person (as the world understands a good person). When I became a Christian I didn’t experience any major change in my life. So maybe, my life would be the same.
The possibility that this might be true shocked me. I still make foolish mistakes. I still think in selfish terms far too often. I still sin. I am no better than anyone else on this earth.
Then I thought about it some more. I may not have gone through a lot of outward changes, it may have only been an inward transformation to start with, but it impacted my life in a way that made all the difference.
God changed the way I think: I try to relate everything back to Him. He changed the way I respond to the world: I have to daily remind myself that I no longer belong to the world. And through those changes he impacted other people’s lives.
The difference lies in the choices we make, in our actions and inactions, and, most importantly, in the strength to speak out for Christ. This is how our lives are made different. This is how we are truly set apart.
We can all live “good” lives, but Christ changes us so that we want to shout out His name to any, and all, who want to hear. God’s love burns within us like a furnace and demands we share this warmth, this life, with others. How can we not share the Good News about our Lord?
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15 (NIV)
How different would your life be if you didn’t know Christ?
This is the final post for my short series about living the thoughtful life. So far I’ve covered thinking about our faith and thinking about others. Today I will cover the surprising need to also think about ourselves.
I am not promoting selfishness, but it’s important:
To think enough about yourself to know your purpose in God’s plan;
To know enough to practice self-control;
To know the things which tempt you so that you are more able to avoid them;
To know you are allowed to ask God for the things you need and even want;
To build that personal relationship with God.
When we accept the person God created in us, when we think about how we are fearfully and wonderfully made, then our love for our Lord and His people grows even greater.
My last post was about living the thoughtful life through thinking about our Lord and our faith. Today’s post is about living the thoughtful life through being sensitive to the needs of others.
That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong.
It’s not enough to be an isolated bubble of faith in the world. To care for others is not an optional addition to our faith. It is an integral part. It is what love is. And to care for anyone we must be sensitive to their needs. This requires time. It requires thought. It then requires action.
When we truly think about others, then we are more able to help them and more able to share God’s love.
This week in a short series I will describe the “thoughtful life” that we are asked to live as Christians, what it’s all about, and why it’s so important.
The thoughtful life, or the thought-filled life, enables us to experience all of God’s blessings because it opens our world to something greater than ourselves. Being thoughtful means we are informed, aware, and self controlled. Being thoughtful reminds us who we are and to whom we belong.
Part of this life - and what today’s post is about – is the necessity to think about our faith. It’s not enough to simply accept Christ into our lives one moment and then forget Him the next.
Any great artist must work at their craft. Any great thinker must exercise their mind. Any great relationship must be nurtured. To do our best, we must work at what we do and maintain what we have.
And so we need to learn all we can about our Lord and our faith. We must think about these things to grow strong so that we aren’t easily turned away. We must think about these things so that we can fully appreciate all that He has given us, all that He means to us.
God is worthy of our thoughts. He is our most precious treasure, now, and forevermore.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3 (NIV)
As humans we are extremists. We often find it difficult to sit in the grey. We fidget in the in between. Because we are taught early in our lives the difference between right and wrong, we think we must always live in the absolutes of yes or no.
And much of the time this is true. There is no other path to God except through Christ. This is an absolute. This is a Yes! And this is the best extreme there can be.
But there is also the not so extreme. In the Romans verse above, Paul urges us moderation. We are to think of ourselves with sober judgement. We aren’t meant to think too much of ourselves, but neither are we to think too little.
In Proverbs 30:8-9 (NIV) the prayer is one of financial moderation. Give me only my daily bread.
Many verses speak of self-control. While we are meant to die to the self this does not mean we are meant to deny all happiness, joy or a life.
God blesses us with wonderful extremes and He also blesses us with the not so extreme. It is all a blessing when we live our lives with the measure of faith God gave us.