Making Change Happen

Colossians 1.6 observes the Good News changes lives everywhere. images

Our lives must change, we know that intuitively, but changing them is hard. Commercials of all kinds feed on this discontent we feel, promising to deliver the contentment we desire if we make the change to their product.

Things cannot satisfy our soul no matter what they are or how many we have as the stories of implosion among the rich and famous repeatedly reveal.

We have this sense that change is necessary because life doesn’t quite work the way we want it to, at least not yet! There are certainly good days but all of us have regrets, all of us wish we could be just a little better in our relationships with others if only we and everyone else could change.

God promises change and change for the better for He knows all is not right in the world as a result of our ignoring and disobeying Him.

The first step toward change that will last forever is the step of humbly following Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives. Following Jesus results in change from within by the power of God Whose objective is to change all of us into His image with the result we experience deeper and richer relationships both with God and with people.

The process of this change involves submission to God and service to people – the antithesis of our try on our own normal behavior.

If our relationships with God and others are not becoming closer and more intimate we should stop and evaluate if we are really keeping God first in our lives, others second and ourselves third.

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God’s Not Dead

Philippians 1.27-28 commands we tell the Good News fearlessly, no matter what our enemies do.images

Last night I took my family to see the movie God’s Not Dead. It was an outstanding story of courage to identify with Jesus Christ at great personal cost.

This is one of the greatest needs of our current hour within the American Church: to unashamedly identify with Jesus Christ.

Christians have been so bullied by the media, liberal attorneys and academics into believing they have no freedom to express their faith in Jesus Christ publicly so that most Christians remain silent about their faith and trust in God.

The result of our cowardice is a society becoming increasingly more immoral and more hostile to the ways of God.

The movie portrayed Christians in the manner by which they should be courageous: humble seekers of God whose lives reflect their beliefs without trying to force the world to do the same. These characters did not carry signs condemning evil behavior, they did not shout- down those who ignored God instead they stood-up for God when those around them maligned Him and threatened them with painful consequences for their belief.

God’s Not Dead was a great encouragement to the Church to fearlessly tell the Good News when other people are telling their bad news and wanting to force everyone else into their mold.

Christians should not be obnoxious but humble loving servants of Jesus who seek to encourage everyone to consider the validity of the Christian message that God’s not dead but very much alive and desirous of having a personal relationship with everyone through Jesus the Savior.

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What about Jesus?

John 16.9 observes the world’s sin is unbelief in Me. most people believe themselves to be pretty good, especially as compared to others. images

Most people view religion as a means for helping people to know what is good so they can do good.

Interestingly, when God lived among people on the earth, He claimed the problem with humanity is their acceptance of Him.

Evil in the eyes of God is the rejection of Him and His authority over our lives.

The belief that God requires is not in the historical figure of Jesus as a good religious leader. Neither is the belief that God requires merely the acknowledgement that the universe contains God in some form, manner or way.

The belief God requires in Him acknowledges Him as the Only true God Who alone is absolutely pure and righteous and Who is Creator of all, and is alone to be obeyed and worshiped by His appearing in Jesus the Savior of the world. The evil forces in heaven and on earth acknowledge the Sovereignty of God but they do not obey Him as Lord of all.

All religions except Christianity deny Jesus as God and the only One through whom humanity can ever be reconciled with God. Doing good, having our own religion, not being as bad as some Christians and loving the planet will not please God.

The sin of all humanity that must be fixed if any one is to be accepted by God is that of denial and unbelief in God Who lived among us as Jesus.

We can only be made right with God after we acknowledge Jesus as the Lord of all and place ourselves in subjection to His eternal rule over us.

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How to become more like God

John 15.3 reveals God prunes us by means of the commands He has given us. images

The purpose of God for the earth is to establish His kingdom upon it so that all people acknowledge Jesus as Savior, King and Lord on earth just as everything does in heaven.

The means by which God is accomplishing His purpose is through the Church which is the collective body of God’s sons and daughters, those who have acknowledged Jesus as Savior and Lord over their lives.

The work of God is to extend in breadth to every nation , tribe and tongue but it is also to extend in depth within every child of God until all of His people are fully formed into the image of Jesus.

This eternal work of God is done by Him in the Holy Spirit through the use of His eternal and good commands which, when obeyed, transform us into ever more similarity to Jesus the Son of God.

Obedience to the commands of God require the sacrifice of people for they will often conflict with our natural way of living. This natural way has been corrupted from creation when our forefather Adam rebelled against God causing everyone since to be born with a natural propensity to ignore and disobey God.

This is why God commanded us to be born again of the Spirit for His plan is for His Holy Spirit to reside within His people empowering them to live in obedience to His commands in order to produce the work He intends to be done through His Church.

We must therefore seek God in an ever increasing measure through the Scriptures first so we might know what God commands and thus set our minds to obedience and second through prayer that we might connect with the power of the Holy Spirit for practically obeying those commands in our specific context.

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True Believers

John 8.24 observes unless you believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, you will die in your sins.

God has come to earth as a man to live with men in order to reveal God to people and to reconcile people to Himself. images

This is the simple message of Christianity: God has come to us.

If there is a God doesn’t it make sense that He would want us to know Him and to know specifically how we are to please Him?

God has come and revealed Himself to us in Jesus the God-Man and therefore requires all humanity to believe in Him alone by living as He instructed.

Jesus warned the religious leaders of His day that they were going to miss heaven because they refused to believe God was living among them. Many people saw the good deeds God did among them and resonated with His words so that they believed God was indeed in their midst thereby committing themselves to following Him.

What we believe about Jesus will determine where we spend our eternity.

Since God has come in Jesus He requires all humanity to recognize Him as God. How we live demonstrates our true belief. Those who live to please God are the true believers of God for they understand God is to be honored and obeyed and so change their behavior to reflect His reign over their lives.

Getting to heaven is quite simple really: it only requires believing God has come to earth in Jesus to restore us into a right relationship with God then living in such a way that we demonstrate we have been reconciled to God.

What is this way of living?

Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Those who live this way reflect their belief that God has come and has reconciled them to Himself.

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True Christianity

Galatians 6.15 records what counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people.images

Who are the true Christians?

Regrettably many people who call themselves Christians do so because they believe in God and their Church has taught them that nothing else is required. This understanding of Christianity explains why many in the Church live lives congruent with non-believers and are convinced that all religions are essentially the same so all people who believe in God go to heaven.

These things are simply not true if the Bible in all its parts are true and anyone can verify this if they but read carefully the entire Bible, especially the New Testament.

If all religions are basically the same then there is no need for one religion, Christianity, to claim that God has come to earth to receive punishment and death as a sacrifice for the disobedience of all mankind.

There is only one true religion because there is only One true God and only one true mediator between God and humanity: Jesus the Savior.

Those who seek God’s pardon are those who commit themselves to obey God by loving Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

Those who live lives of obedience to God will reflect a different way of living. The unmarried will not sleep with others before marriage because God calls pre-marital sex evil. Married couples will not divorce because God hates divorce and commands couples, one man and one woman, to love one another as He loves the Church. Everyone will put others before themselves because God has commanded we love our neighbor as our self and we forgive others as God has forgiven us.

The devil believes in God but he makes no attempt to obey God.

Belief in God that doesn’t result in obedience to God does not result in making a person a child of God.

Children of God hear their Father’s voice and live to please Him always.

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Loving or Hating

John 7.7 observes the world can’t hate you; but it does hate Me, because I accuse it of sin and evil. images

God claimed the world hated Him because He accused it of sin and evil.

The world now would have us believe God loves everyone no matter what they do and He accepts everyone no matter who they are.

This is partially true, God does love everyone and invites everyone to reconcile themselves to Him no matter who they are. While God invites us to Himself as we are, He does not allow us to stay as we are but insists we follow Him so that we may be transformed into His image becoming like Him in thought, word and deed.

How did God in Jesus accuse the world of sin and evil?

He did not do it as the Church has some history of doing which is to condemn sinful people as evil.

God in Jesus accused the world of sin and evil by attacking the religious leaders about their hypocrisy and duplicity. Jesus condemned the religious who made heaven so difficult to obtain by the sinner because of the hypocrisy the sinner saw and the condemnation the sinner incurred such that they had no desire to ever please God nor did they believe they ever could. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for not speaking the truth about Who God really is and loving people in such a way that people would want to love God.

The world that hated Jesus was the religious world for He attacked them over their false teachings and practices that led people astray and kept people from living in right relationship with God.

The role of the Church is the work of reconciling everyone to God through living lives that reflect the image of God toward one another and then all humanity by loving one another as we love ourselves.

The Church is to go forward in loving the world and not condemning the world in order to save the world by calling everyone to follow Jesus.

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What is most important?

John 6:27 commands you shouldn’t be so concerned about perishable things like food, no, spend your energy seeking the eternal life. images

What are we giving our time to? To what are we devoting the bulk of our energy? The simple answer is our basic needs and wants, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

God says this is foolishness, a misuse of our time. Don’t we find this amazing?

God is not comparing our need for Him and life eternal with our excess or surplus but rather with what we would consider basic to our survival.

We feel we have the right, the need, the requirement to put work, food, clothing and housing above everything else, including the pursuit of God and obedience to His will. Yet God commands we seek first Him and His kingdom and trust Him by faith to provide the essentials we need for living.

We justify ignoring Him and His will by our pursuit of money, work, and what we determine to be the essentials.

This is the reason for God demanding we put Him first, we love Him most, we make His will and not our own supreme:so that we don’t place Him and His ways second in our life.

How many of us really live this way? How many of us really know what living a God first life looks like?

What will be the consequence for our failure to make God our first love and greatest priority.

We already see the effects of Christian self-centered living in our culture as it lives increasingly ignorant of God and in disregard of His commands.

God’s ways are not hard. God’s ways are not burdensome. God’s ways make our lives full, lead to the best relationships and end without regret.

What the world needs more than anything else is for God’s children to live with God as their greatest love and His will their greatest priority.

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Worthy of Heaven

Luke 20.35 promises those who are counted worthy of being raised from the dead get to heaven. images

Everyone will live for eternity according to the Word of the eternal God. Not everyone will spend that eternity with God in heaven or upon the new earth instead many will spend eternity in torment and suffering in hell.

Getting to heaven is like getting a job for which we have no education or skill but was given to us by the owner because He loves us. This job pays well and is a joy to do every day. While the job was not earned but given freely still the owner expects production from the employee and not idle wasting of His time or resources. The owner evaluates the employee by his performance based upon his ability to accomplish the assigned work.

The Scripture repeats two themes about eternity: it cannot be earned through any amount of good deeds we can perform but must be received as a gift from God paid for by the work of Jesus the Savior.

Second, people are judged by what they do for God toward other people particularly the work of helping people know God and love Him as demonstrated by living obedient lives to God.

All of the judgment passages in the Bible revolve around the actions, as opposed to the beliefs, done by people whether for God and with God or against God and in disregard for God.

Heaven is free because Jesus worked for humanity’s ability to go there but it is maintained by a person’s following of Jesus doing the works He did in the manner He did them for the purpose He gave them: the glory of His Father and the building of His Kingdom.

To believe in God but do nothing for God does not make us worthy of living forever with God.

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Rewards of our Work

Luke 19.11 explains He told a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.images

Jesus brought the Kingdom of God from heaven to earth for He is the King of heaven and earth so where He is the Kingdom of God is also. Yet He told us to pray that His Kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven for the Kingdom of God is not yet established upon the earth as it will be when the King returns to reign forever.

Glimpses of the Kingdom can be seen and felt through people whose lives are now filled with the King’s Spirit.

The Kingdom of God waits for the people of God to use their talents and treasure to build the Kingdom of God upon the earth. This building is not of brick but of the Spirit as increasingly more men and women come to know the King as Savior Who is Jesus, God made man.

The story Jesus told was one of three men who chose or didn’t choose to use the treasure they were given by the king to further the king’s interest in his absence. In the end, his will people were judged by their effectiveness at increasing the king’s influence upon the earth. To those who did much for the king they received a great reward but to him who did nothing for the king, he was condemned even though he believed the king would one day return.

The story reminds the people of God that their primary responsibility is to use their God given resources to bring God’s Kingdom to earth which is the increase of His influence in the lives of people.

The degree to which we see and experience God’s Kingdom around us is the degree to which His people are working to make it happen.

If the people of God are winning people to Jesus and teaching them to obey His commands using their resources generously for this work then we will experience the presence of God but if the people of God are not working or investing in Kingdom work then our society will appear as though God were not here at all.

Which do you think is happening?

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