Giving rather than Getting

Luke 12:15 warns, “Beware! Don’t always be wishing for what you don’t have. For real life and real living are not related to how imagerich we are.”

Its black Friday, the day we justify spending hundreds of dollars in order to save hundreds of dollars to give people gifts they want but don’t need. I know, Christmas is about giving. That’s the point though, focusing on giving rather than upon getting. Easy for a few, difficult for most of us.

This annual event called Christmas is the celebration of God coming to earth to live among us as one of us in order to die for us so that He could spend eternity with us.

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Knowing and Doing the Will of God

Luke 9:23 God in Jesus told us, “Anyone who wants to follow Me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carryimages his cross with him every day and keep close to Me!”

What does God want from us? He has told us plainly when He made His personal appearance to us and had recorded for us so that all generations could know the will of God for humanity.

How seriously do we take God’s command that we put aside our own desires and conveniences and carry our cross with Him every day? What does this mean anyway? No fun and no pleasure?

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Loosing the Warrior spirit

1 Chronicles 19:13 commands be courageous and let us act like men to save our people and the cities of our God.image

Most men like a good fight and are willing to engage one as long as we can win!

There’s something of the warrior spirit deep within the male psyche. Yet we are trained to suppress, deny and eliminate this inherent nature of what it means to be male.

The Bible describes God as a warrior in certain places and many find His actions in and through Israel to be a stumbling block to their better judgment of right and wrong.

Nevertheless, the Bible paints a picture of a universe at war: first the angelic host against God, then man against God, then man against man and finally God against all those who oppose His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

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The Temptations of Jesus

Luke 4.1-13 records the temptations of Jesus.image

These were not His only temptations but while they literally occurred they also represent three areas where we struggle to obey God.

First is the temptation to be independent. Jesus had the power to miraculously feed Himself but He waited on God to supply His needs His way. The Christian life is a process toward dependence upon God and away from being independent rebels. We are to look to God for our provision and direction while daily obeying His every command. Christianity is an evolution of doing what we know while learning to know God more.

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Are we ‘all-in’ for God?

Luke 3:7 proclaims you are trying to escape hell without truly turning to God!image

If we are honest this is the state of most of us, we want to go to heaven but we don’t want interference from God over how we run our lives. We take the minimalist approach to God trusting that He is loving like grandma and giving like Santa Claus.

The reason for this hypocrisy is because we really want to be god, totally in control without accountability, for everything we do, think and say. This reality says a lot about us and little about God. If we knew God better we would think more highly of Him and live more trusting of Him.

What kind of a God are we worshipping Who finds acceptable our minimalist effort at pleasing Him?

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Praising God on Monday

Hebrews 13:15 commands to continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by telling others of the glory of His name.image

Most people think of praising God in terms of singing songs or giving Him thanks. God describes praise as declaring to others the glory of His Name. It is easy to give thanks and sing songs in church but much harder to declare the need all people have to love God and obey His commands in the marketplace. This is true for a myriad of reasons.

First, we lose focus on Monday from the God Whom we worshiped on Sunday. Like those who don’t follow Jesus we become consumed with the pursuit of success or overwhelmed by the responsibilities to produce at work. We forget the Christian command to work as though Jesus were the boss, because He is for the Christian, which means keeping our focus on honoring Him all day while we do the tasks we are assigned by people. We mustn’t let our desire for success and acceptance overwhelm our neighbor’s need for a Savior.

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Praying for Blessing

1 Chronicles 4:10 records he prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that You would wonderfully bless me and help me in my work; please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all evil and disaster!” And God granted him his request.image

A few years ago a book was written about making this prayer a normal part of the Christian life because it affirms the notion that God wants us blessed and successful as long as He receives the glory. We have often been deceived with this idea that our success leads to God’s greater glory.

If He just gives us all that we want we will make sure to tell others about Him so they can get what they want too because God wants people to want Him and He wants to bless them.

Interestingly, when God lived among us and had His very best opportunity to demonstrate such a life He chose the very opposite of such a successful life.

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Raising Children

Amos 2:11 observes I chose your sons to be Nazirites and prophets.image

The purpose of parenting is to raise godly offspring.

Fantastic conversion stories, while entertaining to listen to, were not to be the normal experience for most people.

Most people who follow Jesus should have as their personal story of trusting Jesus as their Savior something along the lines of being raised in a godly home where Jesus was seen, taught and heard such that we could never not remember believing in Him and one day I simply decided to follow Him as my Lord.

The work of God in a child’s life becomes increasingly more complicated the less parent’s follow Jesus as Savior and Lord.

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Undefiled by Sinners

Hebrews 7:26 records God in Jesus is holy and blameless, unstained by sin, undefiled by sinners, and to Him has been givenimage the place of honor in heaven.

In a pluralistic world Christianity is maligned because it denies any means to heaven besides Jesus. This is because if the Christian story is true, that God sacrificed Himself as payment for the disobedience of humanity, then no amount of good works by humanity can be sufficient otherwise God wasted His effort.

While Islam also makes exclusive their religion for obtaining heaven, theirs is based upon obedience to their way rather than the love of God demonstrated in His personal sacrifice. Another similarity between these two religions which also demonstrates their marked contrast is the idea that God remains undefiled by sinners.

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Getting Better

Hebrews 5:14 encourages we become better Christians and learn right from wrong by practicing doing right.image

The assumption Scripture makes about those who claim to have placed their faith in God as their Lord and Savior is that they will be faithful to obey His commands. Somehow a disconnect between belief and obedience has crept into the Church allowing people to believe in God without surrendering to God’s will for their lives.

When God lived among us as Jesus He commanded that those who would be His disciples, those who would believe in Him as Messiah/Savior, would take up their cross and follow Him. The taking up of the cross is the surrender of self-will in order to perfectly obey the will of God.

This was what God modeled for us as man in Jesus, the absolute surrender to the will of God over the will of self epitomized by Jesus’ statement in the garden, ‘not My will but Your will be done.’This statement is to be the refrain of every Christian.

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