What does it look like to be ‘approved’ by God (2 Timothy 2:15) …or being really prepared (1 Peter 3:15)…and what is meant by ‘winning friends?’ (Proverbs 11:30)
Recently, I was given a glimpse into the life of a man that depicted these very qualities.Among other things, he was a faithful husband and a loving father & grandfather. But there was something else…..something more central to the ‘who’ in my friend, Barry. You see, Barry had a passion that drove him every day. It’s really quite simple, yet most of us struggle with it more than not. Barry genuinely cared about others, and he had no problem sharing the Good News of Jesus with others. To my knowledge, Barry hadn’t been through seminary or studied under Billy Graham. He had, however, an incredibly obedient heart. Matthew 28:19 was simple to Barry…it was an obedience issue, and he obeyed daily. My friend hated complicating things. I think this is why most believers find it problematic to share Christ…we over-analyze it to the point of making us inadequate. His memorial service brought a packed house, from family & close friends to a delivery guy. Barry’s physical being may be no longer with us, but his impact on those he had contact with will last for a lifetime.
May you (and I) thirst to touch lives through Jesus like Barry so effortlessly did. May we leave our soulprint in the soil of humanity.
photo by: ayushveda.com
Have you ever showered with one of those aromatherapy shower gels? I’ve seen scents that claim to relax you, make you more alert, and even increase your sensuality. Regardless of the benefit marked on the label, there is yet very noticeable evidence that you used THAT particular product. Anyone who comes anywhere near you can easily identify what you showered with. The aroma is strong, unique, and usually pleasant.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:7-8 (NLT)
This is the picture I thought of when I read the verse above this morning. The top three ingredients in ‘God’s shower gel’ are kindness, wisdom, and understanding. When we have accepted His free gift of salvation & patterned our lives after His Son…His riches spill over onto us. I guess you could say that we get to use God’s shower gel……consequently smelling like Him. The end result would be that people we come in close contact with would enjoy our aroma…and that it would in turn remind them of God’s sweet Spirit in us!
Of all the things that we could potentially smell like this week, may you take on the aroma of our Creator.
Philippians 3:1 reads:“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.”
Paul gives us two critical points in this one verse. First, no matter what’s going on…rejoice in the Lord. In other words, celebrate the fact that we have a loving relationship with Jesus. Second, the reason for this is to defend our faith. Choosing to have joy in any and all circumstances protects and builds up our faith in Christ.
When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, consciously looking at it through Jesus’ perspective changes how react to it altogether. Equally as difficult is doing the same when everything in life is seemingly trouble-free. Making ourselves acknowledge Jesus in the easy times reminds us to thank Him for how well things are going. After all, isn’t He responsible for all the good things in our life anyway?
Rejoice…and solidify your faith!
Colossians 2:1-3 reads: I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The apostle Paul is writing this to the church in Laodicea, but also to other believers in general. It’s a note of encouragement and instruction. As I read this passage, three elements jumped out at me.
(1) ‘Strong ties of love’ are what encourages and strengthens a church. It is not Christ’s desire for there to be disunity within the body.
(2) Confidence in understanding God’s plan is possible. Notice that Paul says understand and not know. There is a huge difference between the two. To know God’s plans is to be able to tap into the future. It would also take the mystery out of this text. Understanding God’s plans for us is saying, “God, I’m no were near close to understanding what you are up to right now, but I trust you entirely because I know Christ’s love for me.”
(3) To know Jesus is to have unrestricted access to His ‘wisdom and knowledge.’ The key word in this text, however, is hidden. If we truly desire to know the things of God’s heart…His will for our lives…and what He is up to, we must search. Take just a moment to place yourself in the shoes of a 4-year-old child searching for eggs on Easter. Remember that excitement, that energy and joy? I believe that’s the attitude Christ desires for each of us to embrace when exploring Him.
This week, may you enjoy seeking out the mind of God and not regard it as tedious or senseless. And if you’re wondering why He requires so much of us…just remember that every healthy relationship takes spending time together
and effort from both parties.
Matthew 19:16-18a reads:
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to
get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
“Which ones?” the man inquired.
Which ones? Did something in Jesus’ tone or facial expression hint that we could have a buffet approach to this? Jesus simply answers, “Obey the commandments.” I think this is why so many non-believers in our current society have a hard time accepting forgiveness and life from Christ…its too simple! The gospel message is simply too easy. Corporate America teaches us that the harder we apply ourselves at work the higher up we go in the pay and position. I read the Matthew text above and think, “this guy just wants to know the least he can do to earn a place in Heaven.” And then I think about Jesus…”He chose to go above and beyond…He gave everything possible.” He gave His very life and gained nothing…except the hope of one day having us come back to Him.
This week, may you feel His spirit’s tugging. And may you truly desire to give it all back to Him…expecting nothing in return.
Genesis 11:4 reads:“Let’s build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies-a monument to our greatness! This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world.”
This was a shrine to the people…..NOT to God. The intent was to pat themselves on the back as well as to make a name for themselves; so that they would be known throughout the land. The people would be known for thousands of years for the structural marvel that they had created all on their own. God, however, wasn’t involved in their plans at all and construction was never completed.
Let me ask you a question. How much do you tend to include the creator of the universe in your life monuments? 30%?… 50%?… 75%? And is it the smaller monuments, the biggest ones, or all of them? I guess there’s even a bigger question than this that must be posed. At the end of the day do you long for personal accolades on your accomplishments, or do you sincerely hope that Christ’s name is elevated because of your efforts. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We all need reasonable amounts of acknowledgment now and then to maintain a healthy self-worth and motivation for tomorrow. You see, I guess it boils down to this. There are things that all of us can accomplish on our own and without direct intervention from God…but why would we want that? Why would any of us desire substandard results when our heavenly Father is standing right there saying,
“Let me help you. Please, just ask me.”This week, may you long to see the possibilities in your life through God’s eyes and not your own. May you also not remain content with substandard results. Build that monument (whatever it may be) into the clouds…then place “Thanks to God” on a plaque at the entrance.
Isaiah 2:22 reads:
“Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?”
What good are we? That sounds a bit harsh, don’t you think? Frail in comparison to God…yes. Good for nothing…I’m not sure.
After taking a second glance at this statement within the context of the rest of the chapter, however, it’s clear what the real issue is here. It’s not so much about whether or not we are worth anything good. It’s simply that we are not to be praised, worshipped, or elevated to a position equal with God.
That might have made you laugh a little, but we all fall into this trap of idolatry once in a while and to varying degrees. Just think, do you know anyone who has ever…
…placed all their potential for happiness in the success of a sports team?
…blamed the health or death of their marriage on the shoulders of their counselor?
…looked solely to the person of a Pastor/church leader for their own spiritual growth?
…counted on the government to take care of all their problems?
Have you ever been one of these people? I have! And I’ll tell you this…people come and go in our lives. They may bless us, and they may also hurt us. But our God in Heaven will never give us a viable reason to mistrust Him….NEVER!
This week, may you dwell on this. Refrain from putting all your hope in people…in your teachers, your politicians, your parents, your pastors, your spouse, your best friend, or your church. They will come up short now and then, but your God; well, that’s simply not His nature. May you experience life with people, and trust your life to God!