Friday, July 30, 2010

Day Thirty Friday July 30th, 2010

Day Thirty
Friday July 30th, 2010

“Watch and pray, lest you enter temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
-Mark 14:38

Amen. I want to do so much for the Lord. I don’t want to have to sleep. I don’t want to have to eat. I enjoy those things, but they sometimes get in the way of doing what I want to do for the Lord. And there’s the temptation. Not eating and sleeping, for the Lord knows I need those things. The temptation is what I want to do for the Lord. Peter was supposed to watch while Jesus prayed, but he grew weary and fell asleep. But when the trouble came, he was ready and decide to fight, (badly) and cut off an ear. The temptation that Peter always faced was to give into the desires of the flesh, whether for sleep or to be the hero or protector, he trusted in his strength rather than the strength of Jesus. I am guilty of this too. I get excited and want to fight, thinking that I’m fighting for Jesus but Jesus never called me to fight. He calls me to stand. (Check out Ephesians 6) So I need to watch and pray. I don’t want to enter into temptation even if it enters my life. I want to do great things in the name and the power of Jesus, but my flesh is indeed weak. (But check out 2 Corinthians 12:9)

Day Twenty-Nine Thursday July 29th, 2010

Day Twenty-Nine
Thursday July 29th, 2010

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
-Proverbs 8:13

I admit that I do not always hate evil. I don’t always shun it. In my weak times, I even endure it in my own life and in my own heart. However, Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” I need to ask God to remove evil from me and I need to see it for what it truly is. Evil is harmful. I am to hate what is harmful. Harm doesn’t always come in hurt. Pain can be a good thing when it strengthens you. But harmful is always harmful. Pride and arrogance is harmful and it has crept inside the church. It has crept inside our church. It has crept inside my church. I didn’t even know it was here. Is it in me? Am I prideful and arrogant? I know that there are times when I am. And in those times, I pray. But I wonder if there are times that I am and don’t know it. I don’t pray for God to take away my pride because I don’t know I have it. And how do I confront it in others? Do I outright call them out? Can I do it gently? My heart is to restore. I don’t want them to leave. I just want them to realize they have this pride and arrogance and repent.
Lord, remove from me any pride and arrogance that I have right now. Please let me be humble and lowly, like you were when they hung you on the cross. I can understand being despised by men, but let me live in a way that I will never be despised by you. Please keep me from the same sin as the devil. I don’t want to ever think I deserve anything or that I’m too good for anything. I deserve nothing, Lord. But You give me everything. I love you, my Jesus. It’s in Your name that I pray. Amen.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day Twenty-Eight Wednesday July 28th, 2010

Day Twenty-Eight
Wednesday July 28th, 2010

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you with all joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 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; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and the confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
-Philippians 1:3-8

Paul loved the church in Philippi. He prayed for them every time he thought about them. There are certain people that are like that to us in our lives. Some that we pray for in joy, like Paul, and some that we pray for in trepidation. (Don’t feel bad if you have to look this one up, Wanda. I had to look it up to. (After I wrote it.)) There are people who we pray for because we fear they are choosing the wrong path. We pray that God would show Himself clearly so that they could simply choose. Life has a way of creating a haze around the simple truth of God and sometimes God needs to disrupt our lives to clear the haze. But I hope that people don’t have to pray for me in that way. I would rather them pray for me with joy. I would rather pray for others with joy. If I could encourage you to do one thing today, Wanda, let it be that you live your life in a way that causes people to pray for you with all joy. Don’t be a burden on others and their prayer lives. If you need help, by all means, ask for help, but don’t think that you can have someone pray that you’ll be “safe” and go on continuing to live in a way that is opposition to God. (And remember that you are either for God or against Him. There is no other option.) There are people that I pray for, and I ask that God would smack them. (Not smite.) I want God to shake them up so much that they fall to pieces and the bit of ground that God does have in their hearts, which is unshakable, would remain. (Check out Hebrews 12:27) The fear I have for their lives is that nothing will remain because they are so living a rebellious life that I cannot be certain that there is any ground.
Now a note on rebellion. It does not always look like rebellion. It does not always look selfish, but rebellion is always selfish. You want to do things your way. You want to be the hero. You want to change the way things work so that your view is accepted as the superior view. What makes rebellion fun is that it speaks to that part of your nature that was implanted into Eve and Adam through the lie of Satan back in the garden. Satan doesn’t care what you rebel against, as long as you rebel. There is no rebelling against Satan because Jesus said that, “if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25) We are called on to resist the devil (Check out James 4:7) not rebel. Rebellion brings about passion and anger and a lot of people say that it’s a righteous anger. People quote Psalm 4:4 at me which says, “Be angry, and do not sin” to justify their anger over any particular topic. That actually makes me angry, that they would twist the Word of God to justify their own passions. What does the rest of the verse say? “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.” If they would be angry and go and meditate within their hearts and be still, then I would have less of a problem with it. Instead, that verse is used to justify many unrighteous acts of slander and violence. People call Jesus a rebel, but He never broke any laws or rules. Hm driving people out of the temple was not a rash decision, but calculated to turn the Father’s house back into a place of worship. After He cleared it, He sat down and taught. If you are looking out to pour out God’s wrath on people, you need to be rebuked by Jesus, for you do not know of which spirit you are of. (Check out Luke 9:54-56) Instead, be wronged. Turn the other cheek, live at peace with all men. God claims vengeance as His own. It is not our job to fight. It is our job to stand. (Check out Matthew 5, Romans 12, and Ephesians 6.)
Now back to the passage: Paul is thanking God for the fellowship in the gospel of the Philippians. Notice that it’s fellowship in the gospel. It’s not the fellowship of the pool hall or of the pot luck or of the ring. It’s the fellowship of the gospel. If you are building fellowship with people around anything that is not God, it will not last. If you are not building up those around you and encouraging them in the Word of God, you are not investing in an eternal relationship. This doesn’t mean you have to quote scripture all the time, but you can encourage them by living a life that gets them to thank God for you and pray for you with all joy. A tree is either growing or rotting. Which are you? There is not other option. When you get together, let it be for the glory of Christ. You can still go bowling or golfing or whatever it is that people with extra time do, but do it all for the glory of Christ. Let people look at your life and praise God for you. Can you live that way?
I know what you’re thinking, Wanda. You’re thinking that it’s a lot of work to live right. There are so many things that you’ve done that you are so used to doing that it’s hard to stop. And on top of that, there are a lot of things that you should be doing that you’re not and it’s hard to start. You’re right. It is hard. But that’s okay. Do the hard things. Read Philippians 4:13 and be encouraged. But remember that it is Christ who is working it all out to perfection and He will never stop until the work is done. Just don’t give up. Persevere. Endure. Last until the end. If you do, it will be a good ending. (Check out Revelation 2:10)
Paul was imprisoned for the gospel, and everyone who prayed with him took part in that suffering. They all suffered. The victory of Paul’s perseverance was awarded to them all. If I could encourage you to do two things, Wanda, the first would be to live a life which causes others to pray for you with all joy, and the second is to pray for others with all joy. Take part in their sufferings for the sake of the gospel and praise God for them. Pray for their strength to come from the Lord and pray for them to endure to the end. And you, through prayer, endure with them.
God knows how much we love. He is my witness to any who ask about me. If you wonder if I love you, ask God. He is my witness. I love many of you, but I’m not holy enough to love all of you, although I know that I should love everyone. One day, I will be. One day, God’s going to complete the work He’s doing in me. He is, after all, faithful.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day Twenty-Seven Tuesday July 27th, 2010

Day Twenty-Seven
Tuesday July 27th, 2010
And a voice spoke to him a second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
-Acts 10:15

The context of this verse is Peter on the roof of Simon the Tanner in Joppa. Cornelius has already sent men to fetch him and they are about to arrive. Peter does not yet know this and goes up on the roof to pray. He is hungry. God gives him a vision of a sheet being let down from heaven with all kinds of animals on it. God tells him to rise, kill, and eat, but Peter protests. He tells God that he has never eaten any unclean animal and God tells him the verse above. He is preparing Peter to share with the Gentiles, the very Gentiles who were about to knock on the door.
This was a rebuke (albeit a soft one) for Peter and it is one for me too. Peter thought that being a Jew made him better than others, whereas I thought that being a sinner made me worse. I am a sinner, but I am cleansed by the blood of God and so I may not debase or ridicule myself anymore. I don’t know what potential God saw in me when He decided to save me, but I don’t see it. If I lived went back in time to the time when Jesus walked the earth before He hung on the cross for my shame, I would probably try to convince Him not to go. My argument would be that I’m not worth it. I would say that it’s a bad deal and that He’s not going to get as much as He gives. Of course, He would rebuke me probably the same way He did Peter when He said, “Get behind me Satan,” (Matthew 16:23) and I would have kept quiet… for a while.
The truth is that I don’t think a lot of myself and I know I’m not worthy of God’s grace… but if I were worthy of it, it wouldn’t be grace, then would it? The problem is that it’s just so easy to see my own sin, and I get overwhelmed by how ugly it is. I know it’s paid for. I know I’m forgiven. I don’t have to say, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) because I know that Jesus will. He does it. He did it. It’s done. But until I can shed this body of death like a serpent sheds his old skin, I will have to keep a perspective that I am more than what I see in the mirror. Behind this frail human mask is an eternal soul, empowered by and is the dwelling place of the Living and Everlasting God. It’s a wonderful honor to be who I am. I have been cleansed and am continually shaped and formed everyday to be more and more like Jesus.
It’s still true that I have nothing of value to offer Jesus. My works are not good enough. My intelligence is not smart enough. My muscles aren’t strong enough. But He doesn’t want that. He just wants my surrender. He just wants my weakness. He wants me to trust Him with what I cannot do on my own, which I’m realizing more and more that that’s everything. He wants me. Not my skills. Not my abilities. Not my talents. Just me. I have been cleansed by the blood of God and am no longer common. I need to start treating myself that way.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day Twenty-Six Monday July 26th, 2010

Day Twenty-Six
Monday July 26th, 2010

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
-2 Timothy 1:7-11

I love that God has not given us a spirit of fear. In fact, His Spirit, which is perfect in love, casts out fear (Check out 1 John 4:18.) His Spirit is one of power and of a sound mind. (Ooh… perfect verse for the sound guys at church.) We are not to fear because we have the power of God living in us. Notice that He is not at our fingertips so that we can control Him, but think of it as we are His fingertips that He uses to touch others around us. A few of you may claim to have been touched directly by God, to be by yourself and alone in your thoughts, but God came down and “touched” you. He did do this in the Bible. I’m thinking Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the Disciples, and Saul (who became Paul) all had their lives changed by a direct encounter with God. However, most people are touched by God through other people. You and me. And we who go out and are the fingertips of God must first be filled with His Holy Spirit, which doesn’t fear, but has this power to change lives and a sound mind so that we do this in an organized manner. No one filled with the Holy Spirit acts like one who is filled with a demon. The Holy Spirit is orderly, and we must use the gifts He gives us in such a way.
Paul also tells us not to be ashamed. Why should we? We have the Spirit of power and of a sound mind. Why should we be afraid of what others think. There is a line drawn in the sand. (Check out Exodus 32:26) We need to make a choice and let people know where we stand. If we stand with God, and that puts us in prison, then we will rejoice in suffering for the gospel. Joseph did. Peter did. Paul did. Silas did. Barnabas did. And there are quite a few modern brothers and sisters around the world who are living today in prison for the sake of the Gospel. God has called us to be His fingertips to touch the lives around us. God wants us to pray for everyone, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3:4) In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul had been praying for God to remove a “thorn in his flesh,” but Jesus answers him in verse 9, saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
This was never plan B. Jesus going to the cross was the plan from the very beginning. God knew Eve would be tricked and He knew Adam would fall. He knew from the beginning that we would break His heart and that His Son would give His life, but He went through with it and created the world the way He did anyway. Now either our God isn’t that smart, or our God knows more than we do and there is something good at the end that makes all this pain worth going through. He was not afraid of the pain. He does not have a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power and a sound mind. That’s the God I worship. That’s the God in whose image I am being fashioned. That’s the God I love. If I have to go through pain in this life, I know that the pain is worth going through. I know that in the end, when death is abolished and immortality is not just something the Bible describes, but something I’m experiencing, and when I cannot teach or preach anymore because we will all see Him face to face, that whatever pain I went through here on Earth will be worth it, and I won’t regret a single lesson God has taught me. But for now, I will suffer. Less than most, more than some, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, (Philippians 4:13) but remember 2 Corinthians 12:9 says that His strength is made perfect in weakness. Well, I’m weak, Lord. I admit. Please show Your strength.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day Twenty-Five Sunday July 25th, 2010

Day Twenty-Five
Sunday July 25th, 2010

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
-Ephesians 4:1-3

Oh course all the pastors say it, and I cannot ignore it. “If you ever see a therefore in scripture look back to see what the therefore is there for.” So I did, and back in verse 17 of chapter 3, we see, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” Therefore, since Christ is in our hearts, I (meaning Paul,) a prisoner of God beseech (which means to beg or more in this case, command,) you to walk worthy of the calling with which you are called. What are you called to? What job or what task did God give you to do? Are you doing it, Wanda? I would also consider myself a prisoner to Christ, but being a prisoner in Christ is like hanging out in a city jail while the world out there is starving and killing each other. Sure, you can’t leave, but you don’t want to. It’s warm when it’s cold outside and cool when it’s hot outside. You get three meals a day, exercise time, and the same bars that keep you in keep others out. I would rather be a prisoner of Christ than “free” in the world. I put quotes around free because we are never truly free. If Christ does not reign in us, then our desires do. If not our desires, then our sense of morality which is a lie from Satan. Satan is the one that tells you that you only have to be a good person to go to heaven. God says that no one is good. (Romans 3:23) Satan tells you that love and peace are possible no matter what religion you are or who is God. God says that He alone is God (Umm.. The whole Bible) and His peace surpasses all understanding and guards our hearts and our minds. (Philippians 4:7) We are all prisoners of someone, God just gives us the power to choose who. I choose Christ. I call myself a prisoner, a bondservant, a willing slave. He calls me an heir, a son, a child. It’s a good relationship. The more I think I deserve something, the less I deserve it. I must decrease so that He may increase. (Okay Wanda, Here’s a challenge. Find out where in the Bible that verse is from and who said it. If you win, you get to keep reading. If you don’t, I will trust you to hang your head in shame and call a friend to help you before continuing to read.

I’ll wait.

Okay. Good. You found it. So as a prisoner of the Lord, I cannot really go out giving commands. I wish I could just command you to follow the Lord and to work worthy of your calling, but I can’t. I don’t have that authority. I cannot judge whether or not you are because I have my own calling with which to concern myself. However, I would encourage and exhort (that means that I would persuade you to action) you to figure out what God wants you to do and then to do it, no matter how hard or impossible that it may seem. I don’t want you to take a Spiritual Gift Assessment test. Just go to the source. Get into a quiet place and pray and listen. He will speak. If He doesn’t, just wait longer. We don’t have to constantly listen to music or watch TV. Our brains can and should be stimulated in the presence of God and Him alone. Would you decide not to go to heaven if you found out that you can’t bring your iPod? (You can’t. You’ll have to leave it here.) So turn it off, whatever it is, and get someplace where it’s just you and God and pray and listen. (Check out James 4:8)
Once you know what God wants you to do, then go out and do it. Don’t act special because you have a job. Just go and do it. I know that God has put it in my heart to teach. So I teach whoever will listen. I will teach kids or grown-ups or dogs if I have to. (My dog doesn’t care much for teaching, and treats only last so long.) I’ve given the Gospel to my bedroom ceiling plenty of times in different ways using different text. I’m to tell people about Jesus, offer the invitation, and encourage and exhort them to a right relationship with Him. Does this mean I’m better than others? Absolutely not. I don’t know all the answers, but I know the one who does. I just ask, listen, and wait for an answer. God talks to me through prayers and through His Word. Sometimes He tells me what I need to hear, but most of the time, He sends me flipping through my Bible because although it’s enough to convince me that God told me, other people wouldn’t and shouldn’t take me at my word. My word isn’t worth anything compared to God’s Word. I’m going to stand on that and from that will I place my foundations of thought. I don’t always understand everything I read either, nor do I always read the things I understand, but what I do know, I proclaim to you without hesitation. Jesus is Lord and He has made a way to the Father. It’s through Him and it’s through the cross. It’s a hard road, but it’s worth it. Are you worthy to walk it? It has nothing to do with your abilities. In fact, your abilities are a hinderance on this road. This road is a road for the broken, for the weak, for the sick, and for the poor. Whatever you had, leave it at the feet of Jesus and leave it at the cross. God wants you and only you. No baggage allowed. He will sustain. He will provide. He will supply. You just walk in faith that if you get hungry, food will be given before you starve to death if you just keep walking. If you’re thirsty, trust that water would appear before you die of dehydration. The food is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit is the Water. Eat and drink fully as much as you can take. Put it to practice. That is what you are called to, so do it.
When you do it, whatever God has for you, be wary of spiritual pride. I don’t even like jokes about it. What if someone takes you seriously when you’re joking? What if the adage of there is a bit of truth in every lie is true and you cover up your real spiritual pride by saying it’s a joke? What if you are hiding it even from your own self? In everything you do, consider yourself least and a servant of all as Jesus commanded. Be gentle, so that no one is injured physically or spiritually. It is not your job to punish or pronounce judgment, but God’s. Even if someone has wronged you, God claims vengeance as His. You live at peace with all men. (Check out Romans 12) But instead, love those who hate you and bless those who persecute you. (Check out Matthew 5:44) Show love. Pursue peace. Suffer long for the sake of others. It is in this way that you will be most like Christ.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day Twenty-Four Saturday July 24th, 2010

Day Twenty-Four
Saturday July 24th, 2010

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
-Mark 6:4
But He answered them saying, “Who are My mothers and My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and My mother.”
-Mark 3:33-35
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake’s and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundred fold now in this time - houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions - and in the age to come, eternal life.”
-Mark 10:29-30

Luke 4:21. (Look this one up yourself.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day Twenty-Three Friday July 23rd, 2010

Day Twenty-Three
Friday July 23rd, 2010

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
-2 Timothy 4:7

Today was the last day of VBS. I am exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep until I wrote to you, Wanda. Total numbers. 363 kids between the three weeks. About 13 kids gave their lives to Christ. 1 gift of prophecy discovered. I taught 75 VBS lessons. (5 a day for 15 days.) I built a donkey three times, swept up hundreds of strands of hay, caught dozens of kids from falling, but challenged all of them to stand on the truth and not believe the subtle lies of the the world.
VBS is an amazing time to reach out to kids. Some kids only go to church at VBS because they get invited by friends. We charge $30 for our VBS, but if you don’t have the money, there are ways to still attend. Even if you do pay, $30 for 4 hours a day of childcare isn’t a bad deal. And on top of that, they get the Word of God. It’s sad how many kids are being raised by grandparents. It made me want to cry today when a child started a story with the words, “Once when my dad came to visit.” I didn’t cry, but the fact that it’s so commonplace is dreadful. Kids shouldn’t have to be good at dealing with divorce. But even so, when those kids come to VBS, they are loved by dozens of helpers and teachers and rotaters. We allow kids to serve as young as 8th grade and there are grandparents serving with us as well. And most of us served all three weeks.
But now it’s over, and as much fun as it was, I’m glad it’s over. But you can praise the Lord with me that some kids were reborn, others were watered, but I believe that all of them grew. Amen.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day Twenty-Two Thursday July 22nd, 2010

Day Twenty-Two
Thursday July 22nd, 2010

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
-Psalm 63:6-7

As many of you may know, I’m a night person. I don’t always get to bed before the sun comes up. But night time is when I get in my writing and reading. That is when I sit and meditate on the Lord and pray and listen and ask questions and seek answers. The day is so busy, and there is so much to do that I love it when things quiet own and I can spend some time in silence dwelling on the presence of the Lord. In the mornings, if I wake up for them, I usually jump out of bed late for whatever I was going to be doing. I was too selfish in sleep and didn’t get up when I was supposed to, but at night, I can stay up as late as I want and seek the Lord. I did notice this Psalm starts out, “O God, You are my God; Early I will seek You,” and I am up early in the morning… just as early as some people rise, but the difference is that I haven’t gone to sleep yet. Okay, so far, I’ve just talked about my night habit. Not helpful, is it Wanda. I guess I could erase it, but I’m going to just move on.
God is so good that He should be the last thing going on my mind before we go to sleep. Before I was saved, I would use that time to go over every detail of the day that I could remember and look for clues or signs in my conversations with people to figure out what they were trying to say or didn’t or figure out where I messed up that day so I could be smoother in the future and planning every possible scenario for the next day. That process was birthed out of a desire to control my life, but it always ended in being so complicated that I would go to sleep from mental exhaustion. Now that I meditate on the Lord, I drift off to sleep in comfort. I’m not trying to untangle the mysteries of God. I’m thinking about them and enjoying them. It’s more like a child watching a magic trick an enjoying the show instead of trying to figure out how he did it. It’s more like someone in love thinking about his lover instead of trying to figure out how to control the relationship. It’s like drifting down steam on an easy current instead of trying to swim against it. It’s peaceful and relaxing.
When my life is not as nice as I would like it to be, and I am stressed or worried or afraid, I also flee to my bed as sanctuary. I give up trying to fight my circumstances and pray and sleep and allow God to change my heart. My bed is my sanctuary. It’s where I hide in the shadow of His wings. He protects me. I’m no longer scared or worried or afraid. I know He has it so I can sleep. It’s me letting go.
Just in case you are worried that I’m making an idol out of my bed, I’m not. I just got it last year, but slept on the floor the year before that and thought the same way. It’s not the bed that I’m loving, but the fellowship with my Father in Heaven when it’s just me and Him. Anything else is much more distracting. Even my dog knows not to bother me when I’m in bed. Speaking of bed. Goodnight.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day Twenty-One Wednesday July 21st, 2010

Day Twenty-One
Wednesday July 21st, 2010

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the spirit.
-John 3:8

So there might be a meteorologist out there that might disagree with Jesus on this one. He might say that he knows where the wind comes from. It comes from the evaporation of water over the lakes and oceans that move the air around that they can map it all our on a world scale. An engineer might say that we know where it goes over or under the machines we designed and since we’ve used technology to unravel one of the mysteries of God, it seems to make God less mysterious.
I say that even though you think God is less mysterious, you must admit that makes God more wonderful. The fact that it took us thousands of years and so much technology to understand the ecosystem that God spoke into existence with only a few words makes God seem more wonderful. It’s easier to say that God created the world, and it’s true, and it gives God the glory, but to say that God made water so it would evaporate and hundreds of molecules evaporating at the same time over a nice sunny warm patch of ocean (not to mention that the boiling temperature of salt water is lower than fresh water so water evaporates faster in the ocean than in lakes) moves air around and that movement of air travels hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to land, then through valleys and over mountains and hills to bring that nice cool breeze on that hot summer day, and after the wind kisses you on the cheek, it travels on, pushing clouds over the land to water it so that the vegetation can grow and the beasts of the land can drink. The fact that there is wind allows us to have life on Earth. If there was no wind, there would be no life. (Unless God set up a different system.)
Since I am not a meteorologist or an engineer, I know very little about wind. (I think I just told you everything I know.) When it’s windy outside, I don’t try to figure out what body of water it came from and try to deduce if a storms coming because of it. I just appreciate it as wind and that’s all. Also, after it sweeps across my face and ruffles my hair, I don’t know where God is going to send it next. I do hear the sound of it and feel the affects, but I don’t see it and I can’t manipulate it with my own power. (I can displace a little amount of air and make some wind in my own power, but not enough to do anything useful.)
But I am born of the spirit. I show up where God sends me and do His work. But I have skills that don’t represent where I came from. Jesus did more than anyone thought of a carpenter. David did more than anyone thought of a shepherd that followed the sheep. (That’s the lowest shepherd position.) Peter did more than anyone thought of a fisherman. Nehemiah did more than anyone thought of a cup bearer. (He was the king’s food taster. If he died, the king’s food was poisoned. What a fun job.) I’m not bragging about how cool I am, but I am bragging about how cool God is and that He would use me, even though I don’t have the necessary qualifications of service. Wait… I take that back. I don’t have what the world would set as qualifications. I have what God requires. Surrender. I have surrendered my life to Jesus and that is all He required of me. Anything more would have been impossible for me to give. Even surrendering all of me is too much for me at times. I have to constantly be reminding myself that I am not my own man. I was bought for at a price and I am owned by God, to do His will. And even though He calls me child and friend, I still call Him Lord and Master, which means that I am His Servant, and I have no right to complain.
But more than that, He empowers me to do wonderful things. He gives me opportunity to use the giftings He’s given me for His glory and I am blessed (spiritually excited) to be a part of it. I don’t know when the Holy Spirit will move upon me next to do something great. It could be tomorrow, next week, or even tonight as I write this. I do know that we, as Christians, can miss out on His Works because we don give the Holy Spirit enough credit. We earn degrees in theology to prove that we know what we’re talking about and we have badges and medals and diplomas and other paraphernalia to prove that we are worth knowing or worth hiring. What if we just recognized God in each other? Why can’t two people of the same Spirit recognize and just fellowship with each other? Can we? Do we? I think we do to a certain degree. You don’t interview friends, but you do choose them. As Christians, do we choose friends that we see the Holy Spirit in? I do. If I see the Holy Spirit working in someone’s life, I want to get close to that person. My spirit yearns to connect with those who are following Christ. We are stronger as two or three than as one. (Check out Ecclesiastes 4:12 and Proverb 27:17)
Ask for the blessings and gifts of the Holy Spirit. I have asked for everyone that I’ve found and although He hasn’t seen it fit to give me them all, He has given me a lot of them. I don’t think I would have some of them if I didn’t specifically ask for them, but having them myself helps me see them in others. I’m not done yet either. I’m still asking for them. I’m still searching out the scriptures for these treasures that are a benefit to me both now on Earth and later in Heaven. I can earn the rewards in Heaven by using the gifts of the Spirit to bless those around me here on Earth. Not every reward in Heaven is gained by giving something up on Earth, but we must give up our pride and self-seeking nature. It’s hard to give up, but easy to take up again. People tell me that it’s impossible, but I don’t believe them. I’m going to keep trying. What is impossible for man is possible for God. (Check out Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 18:27, and Philippians 4:13.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day Twenty Tuesday July 20th, 2010

Day Twenty
Tuesday July 20th, 2010

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
-1 Corinthians 14:1-5

Yesterday a girl came to me at the end of VBS asking about how the Bible was written. She asked if God told them what to write and they just wrote it. I told her that they just wrote what Jesus said and did (referring to the gospels) and the epistles were letters written to different churches. They didn’t know they were writing the Bible, but God put it on other men’s hearts to put the Bible together years later. I didn’t spend much time on this because it wasn’t the heart of the question. She was hearing God and was wondering if she should write it down. My spirit was moved when she told me this and I recognized the voice as she described it, but I asked her to write it all down and show me. Today, at the end of VBS, she did. God is speaking to her. She has not read the whole Bible, but she was speaking out of Romans and Philippians and John and a 1st John and a few other books. The words weren’t verbatim, but the message was God’s message. We have a prophetess in our midsts!
I remember receiving the same gift when I came to the Lord, but I wasn’t 12 like this girl, I was 18. I was quoting scripture before I read scripture, and as I grew older and have grown in His Word, He still speaks through me, but now I have chapter and verse most of the time, and when I don’t, I still have His main message. I’m so excited for this girl. Not everyone can hear the voice of God so clearly. I get main ideas, but she gets word for word. (She doesn’t speak the way she writes what God says, and even though it’s simple enough for her to understand, it definitely isn’t her voice.)
So I exercised my gifts of encouragement and exhortation. I encouraged her to keep listening and exhorted her to write it all down. I gave her a journal to use and she said she would share with me what God says. God has shown me wonderful things. He has shown me the tribulation days, (weird locusts creatures and all) creation, the naming of the animals, and the baptism of Jesus, and as cool as those are, I’m super excited about what God is doing in our midsts through these children. I have a lot of spiritual gifts because I ask for them and I seek them in prayer. God grants them to me out of His goodness and it has nothing to do with my abilities to do anything, but as much as I have, I feel like I have the least that God is willing to give. I believe that this little girl will receive a greater portion of the gift of prophesy than I have received and I’m not jealous at all. I am excited for her and I hope to guide her in using it for the edification of the body of Christ.
It is good for us to want the spiritual gifts, but it would be wrong to use them to draw attention to ourselves. I do speak in tongues, but if you’ve ever heard me do it, then I have been careless with that gift. It is for my edification. When I’m around others, it is better to use the gift of prophesy or encouragement or exhortation or teaching. I’ve asked for all these gifts individually. I think we miss out by not asking for these gifts. I think we are too happy with too little, as if the best God could do was to remove adversity from our lives. In fact, that’s the one thing that we ask of God that hinders His work. Without adversity, we do not strive to get closer to God. We get stuck in a routine and we don’t ask God for help anymore because we just believe that everything will just work out the way it did yesterday. But if everyday brought new troubles, then we would be praying everyday for God’s will to be done in our lives. Pray for the gifts, Wanda. God want’s to give them to you. His Holy Spirit gives liberally as He sees fit. I can tell you that the more you are surrendered to the will of God, the more He will use you. And as He uses you, He will give you the Spiritual gifts needed to complete the tasks that He has assigned. What’s stopping you? Is it fear? Is it comfort? These are false gods that Christians commit idolatry with. Put off fear and leave comfort behind. God is faithful and the road is bumpy, but it’s worth it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day Nineteen Monday July 19th, 2010

Day Nineteen
Monday July 19th, 2010

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.
-Psalm 139:14

God knows me because He made me. He put me together. He knows my strengths and weaknesses. He knows the thoughts and intents of my heart. Someone once told me that he didn’t have a say in being born. He said he would rather have chosen never to existed than to suffer all the pain he was feeling. I don’t think God created us for pain. I think He created us for pleasure, both his and ours. I think our pain is the result of us trying to get pleasure from sources other than Him. He knows what I need. He made me, after all. I don’t know much about the human body, but from what I do know, we are amazing creations. From cells to our neurological system to involuntary reactions to our immune system and so much more that I can neither pronounce or spell. We cannot create machines as efficient as a human and everything I have in my body, a baby has a miniature working version of. God is truly amazing. His works are amazing, and the longer I live, the more I come to realize that. We have every reason to praise God. Do you have any reason to doubt Him?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day Eighteen Sunday July 18th, 2010

Day Eighteen
Sunday July 18th, 2010

And Mordecai told them to answer Ester: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

-Esther 4:13-14

Here’s a quick background: The Jews are under Persian rule at this time. The Jews have already been allowed to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and many have went, but there are still many more living throughout the Persian empire. The Persian king, Ahasuerus, held a huge 180 day party followed by a seven day feast. Well, him being a king, this was a drinking party, and he calls his wife, Queen Vashti, to come and dance for him and his high up officials. (It is hinted that this is not a polka or country dancing, but something a little more PG-13 rated or higher.) She refuses, and to save his honor, the king banishes her from his presence forever. (He actually makes a royal decree. (Which goes to show that if you are king and get drunk with your friends, you might end up making irreversible laws that you may regret later.) So now that this powerful king of the world has a restraining order against his own wife, he decides to hold a contest to find the most beautiful girl in kingdom to be his new wife. Beautiful young girls are brought in from all over and each one spends at least six months going through a beautification process before her one night with the king. In this one night, she has to convince the king that she is better than all the past girls and better than any girl that might come after her. If she doesn’t succeed, she gets to spend the rest of her life in the harem with the other failures. (They would not be allowed out to go back to their lives since they’ve been with the king and are considered his property. Talk about woman’s suffrage.) The one who wins his “heart” is named Esther (her Jewish name was Hadassah… but it was too Jewish for a cute girl in Persia) and she becomes the new queen. Meanwhile, the king’s right hand man, Haman has a vendetta out against the Jews. (He’s an Agagite, a decendent from King Agag whom Saul didn’t kill when Samuel told him to, and not it’s coming around to bite the Jews.) He wants them exterminated from the earth. He tricks the King into signing an irreversible decree that on a certain day, everyone in the Kingdom of Persia (which, at this time, is most of the known world) will be able to kill any Jew they encounter and take their stuff. Neither the king nor Haman know that Ester is Jewish, but her cousin Mordecai does. (Lot’s of people call Mordecai her uncle, but I would like to draw your attention to Esther 2:7.) He tells her to go to the king and plead with him, but she is scared. Then there is the speech I’ve quoted above.
The message he gives her, and I believe it’s the same message God gives us, is that we are not God’s only hope. God does plan for us to act on His command. He does hold us responsible for inaction as well as disobedience, (civil or otherwise) but we have a God who is going to save with or without me. It’s my blessing to be a part of His work. He doesn’t need me. He never did. He wants to use me. He desires to use me, but although I am valuable to Him personally, I am expendable to His Will getting done on Earth. Whether I follow Him or not, He will still one day come back to rule with an iron face. He will judge the nations. He will restore His glory and majesty on Earth as it is in Heaven. My choice is whether or not I’m going to be a part of it. Now this takes a load off me. It helps me realize that people are not going to hell because I’ve failed in my witness. It means that whether or not someone hears the gospel isn’t up to me, but if I don’t step out in faith, then I miss out on seeing what God has planned. I loved seeing people get saved. I love seeing God work in people’s lives. I work for God, not because I have to, but because I want to.
You have the same choice. You can either love God and want to serve Him, or you can love you and want to serve you. You can’t do both. This doesn’t mean you have to work at a church or teach Sunday School, (although I do both and love it) but God has something for you to do. Maybe it’s at work or school and He put you in a class or office for a specific purpose. It could be something like being there for someone who is going through a hard time and you share Christ with them. If you don’t do it, you were there for nothing, but God will have someone else go to that person because He loves him or her so much that He will do whatever it takes to get him or her the message.
Now I know what some of you Wanda’s may be thinking. If God’s going to send someone else, I’m just not going to try. It’s weird and embarrassing and uncomfortable. I’m happy to get into Heaven and sit on the grass. I don’t need the crowns or rewards and you might feel good about saying you won’t need that stuff. If that’s you, then I’m going to be bold and tell you that you are not on the path to heaven, but on the path to hell. You are not thinking of yourself in heaven because you are focused on being comfortable now. If God tells you to do something, go do it. If you don’t, God will raise another, but you won’t escape destruction. If your comfort is more important to you than doing God’s will, then comfort is your god. I wish I was wrong about this, because this means that so many people think they are Christians because they prayed and they falsely believe that they will go to heaven because they repeated words after some pastor once. But if there is no change in heart, if their comfort or their security is their god, then there is no space on the grass reserved for them in Heaven. There is only standing room in Hell. I’m not saying that you have to good works to get saved, but I am saying is that if getting saved doesn’t cause you to do good works, you may not be saved. Mordecai is telling Esther that her own life is dependent on her action here. I’m telling you that yours is too. Who do you serve?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day Seventeen Saturday July 17th, 2010

Day Seventeen
Saturday July 17th, 2010

When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and and you give them no warning nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.

-Ezekiel 3:18-21

Ezekiel was made a watchman for the house of Israel. His job was to watch for danger and warn the people. But God told him plenty of times that the house of Israel was a rebellious house and would not listen. Now I can imagine that Ezekiel was a bit discouraged by that information. I would have complained to God saying, “But why should I go if they aren’t going to believe anyways?” This is a different situation from Jonah and the city of Nineveh. For one, the city of Nineveh was a foreign land, whereas Ezekiel was warning his own people. Two, Jonah knew the people of Nineveh would repent and that God would have mercy, but Ezekiel gets told up front by God that they won’t and God will make his “forehead strong against their foreheads.” (Ezekiel 3:8) Even though Ezekiel knew that the message was not going to be received, he still had the job of going to tell everyone that God wasn’t pleased.
God gives us jobs too, and our love for Him is on the line. Can you imagine Jesus saying to Ezekiel that if you love me, you will follow my commandments? This is a commandment from God and Ezekiel must follow it. It is not an easy one and it seems harsh for Ezekiel, since after hearing this command, he is now responsible for the lives of people he may not know, or maybe he knows them and doesn’t like them, or maybe he likes them and is sad that they are not obeying the Lord. So he must go to the wicked and warn them of the impending doom that God is sending (in the form of the pagan army of Babylon) judgement upon Judah, knowing that they will not repent. But he must do this to give them every chance to repent, because God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. He wants all men to come to repentance. God likes to make the choice simple because He wants us to have an easy choice. Life or death? But we complicate things and elevate concerns over what is simple. The Israelites in the wilderness constantly complained that they were going to die in the wilderness (and because of this complaint, they did) and would rather be slaves and live. (But of course, while they were slaves, their male children were killed as soon as they were born. (On another note, if I were evil and trying to control a population, I wouldn’t destroy the males, but the females. One male and many females can make a lot of babies, but one female and lots of males don’t. Silly Pharaoh, and he thought he was god.))
So maybe God is telling you to do something that you see as pointless. Go do it anyways. If you don’t do it, God will hold that against you. He deserves and commands your obedience. Remember that God gives every good and perfect gift (James 1:17) and He will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11) But you don’t know what will happen. If he repents, you have gained a brother, but if he doesn’t, you have given him yet another opportunity and have shown God’s longsuffering, which we are called to show. If you pronounce judgement, like Jonah did, God may still use it, but we are not called to bring about His wrath. That’s His job. James and John got rebuked when they wanted to bring down fire from heaven. (Luke 9:55) Jonah got rebuked gently when he sat over the city waiting for its destruction, (Jonah 4) and Peter got rebuked… well… a few times, but I’m thinking of John 18 when he cut off Malchus’ ear. So we say, “Yes, Lord.” And go do the hard thing that God tells us to do. It’s good for us. I’ve told people things and they haven’t received it and I didn’t see them again for years. But then God spoke to them and brought to them our encounter and they repented. They have come up to me and apologized for the way they acted and asked for forgiveness and I gained brothers. (By that time, I had even forgotten what it was all about.) You are not responsible for their repentance. You are responsible for the message which you have to give. Once you give that message, you are freed from that responsibility.
Imagine a general loses a battle, and sends a messenger back to the king with the bad news. The messenger is afraid the king will not like the news, but he must still go before the king and report. Not giving the message would surely result in death. It’s that serious for us, but the tables are turned. We are getting a message from the King to go to the people, and we are afraid of how they will think of us. We are afraid of being thought weird or a nerd or whatever the bad things is today. We want people to like us and sometimes, we think people will like us better when we don’t talk about Jesus. And I think that we might be right. They will like us better if we don’t talk about Jesus. However, if God told us to talk about Jesus, then we should do just that. I would rather be hated by everyone and loved by God than loved by everyone and hated by God. What about you? Jesus said He came not to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34) There will be people who don’t like us because we remind them of Jesus. If I am to be disliked here on this earth, I would want that to be the only reason. What about you?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day Sixteen Friday July 16th, 2010

Day Sixteen
Friday July 16th, 2010

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

-Ephesians 5:15-16

Did Paul make up a word here? I haven’t seen the word circumspectly anywhere (including Geometry) other than this passage. My guess is that it means around, but looking it up in the dictionary, it means wary or unwilling to take risks. I looked it up in the greek (akribos for you Greek geeks) and it is also translated in the Bible as diligently or perfectly. This means that we know the law, both of God and of man and we don’t want to break either if possible. When they arrested Jesus, they didn’t have an accusation to bring against Him. They couldn’t say that He peacefully resisted because He didn’t. He broke no laws. He broke molds and traditions and social barriers, but according to both the law of God and the law of man, He was blameless. Even when He was asked to pay the temple tax, He sent Peter fishing so He could pay it. And He did that so as to not offend. (Check out Matthew 17:27) We are to know what is legal for us to do and not do and obey it.
We must also redeem the time. Be wise with your time. You have the same 24 hours in your day as I have in mine. (If you have more than that, I want to talk to you.) What do you do with it? I challenge you to take a note pad and write out the hours of the day on it. Then, as you go through your day, write down what you’re doing. Do this for a week and review at the end of the week. Are you spending five hours a day watching television? Do you hang out with friends more than anything else? Work for most people takes up eight hours a day, and so does sleep, so you still have eight hours minus three for eating is five hours of free time. Where is that spent? There are only two types of things that you can do. You can either do things that will last for eternity or you can do things that won’t. I’ll let God convict you on what is what in your life, Wanda, but I will tell you this. Even if you have a completely secular job and are not even allowed to talk about Christ at the work place, that time can still be redeemed if you work for your boss just as you were working for Christ. If our God can allow a donkey to speak, (Check Numbers 22) He can share Christ through your actions and lovingkindness. There is no rule or law anywhere against lovingkindness. (At least at the jobs that I had.) They may not like Jesus, but everyone likes lovingkindness. The problem is that they don’t always know that Jesus is lovingkindness, and maybe it’s your duty to show them. Redeem your time, no matter where you are and no matter what you’re doing. The days are evil, but God is good. And one day soon and very soon, we’re going to see our King.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day Fifteen Thursday July 15th, 2010

Day Fifteen
Thursday July 15th, 2010

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

-Galatians 2:20

When I was a child I had a high annoying voice. (I’ve seen video.) I wore bright blue sweat pants and a bright blue sweatshirt to school. (In my defense, it was the eighties.) I played with G.I. Joe’s and built cities for them in my room out of old shoeboxes. I would watch Pee Wee Herman and get excited when the Disney Channel had a free preview weekend. I don’t really do any of those things anymore. If you went looking for that Jonathan, you wouldn’t find him because he doesn’t exist. Now I’m not going to make the case that my fashion improved, but it’s different. I graduated school, my toys are somewhere above my parent’s garage, (I think) and I gave up watching television a few years ago. I don’t even own one. (One of the better decisions I’ve made, but that’s a different topic.) That Jonathan died to give birth the adult version. Well… adolescence is a tough birth. But as a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, a child changes into an adult. (You may think I’m stretching the comparison a bit far, but I’m sure parent’s of teenagers will agree that their teens are about as responsive to them as if they were in cocoons. If your not sure, go try suggesting to your teen to do the dishes.)
In the same way, I’ve changed as an adult when I decided to follow Jesus. Now I made that decision when I was 18, so I wasn’t an adult for very long, and even that is arguable. But when I did, I changed on the inside. Things I didn’t think were that bad before were actually bad. I didn’t think they were that bad because I didn’t think anyone was watching or was hurt. But I was wrong. Every act of sin (imperfection in attitude towards God and others) hurts someone. Sometimes, it’s just God and me, but that’s enough for me to realize that it’s wrong. However, most of the time, others are hurt by it too. And there were things that I didn’t even know were bad, but I was doing them anyway. And then there were things that I thought were good, but they weren’t. They were bad. That was only part of the change. I also learned about things that were good and why they were good. I learned that doing good things aren’t always free and the best things cost the most. The absolute best thing for me is to go to heaven and that cost Jesus His life. And if He died for me, I should die for Him. So I did. I died. The me that was living for myself and the pleasures of this world has died. No funeral. No grave. Just dead. There were no good old days where I would sin care free and conviction-less to remember and remorse over. It was sin. It was selfish and needed to die. And when I gave my life to Christ, then His body counted for me and the sins that I committed hung on that cross that frightfully glorious day. I am no longer the sinful Jonathan that once existed, but I’m a new creation. I still make mistakes. I’m not yet perfect. I can still hurt people and I usually do it unknowingly now, but I’m getting better. The change is from the inside out and at my core is the Holy Spirit. I’ve decided to step aside in my own life and let God take control. I want to do what He says and when I’m calling Him “Lord,” I’m really calling him “boss” or “Master.” And all that means is that I do what He says. I read the Bible and if it says to do something that I’m not doing, I do it. If it says to not do something that I am doing, I stop doing it. I pray and ask God to lead me and then I follow. The selfish me is dead and this new me is alive and growing. Now I may still look like the old me. You may not be able to tell the difference, but one day, the inside will break free from this cocoon and you will see me glorious and perfect. I know this because I have faith that God will one day complete His work in me. I’ll have a new physical body made in the image of God and a new name and I can’t wait. But for now, as I live in this flesh, I live it in faith that Jesus will one day complete His work. He loved me so much to promise this good work to me. He paid His life to do it. I believe it.
(Okay, I admit this day is a bit confusing, but maybe it’s easier to understand the verse than to understand my explanation. I know what I said, and it helped me to say it. Just like sometimes when I do bad, I hurt only God and me, well… the opposite is also true. Sometimes when I do something good, it only brings joy to His face and understanding to my spirit. Kinda like talking in tongues. Check out 1 Corinthians 14:6-19 for tongues and John 14:26 for an explanation for both the Galatians verse and the 1 Corinthians verse. If you still don’t get it, go read James 1:5-8. If that doesn’t help, I’m sorry, but I can’t explain it to you. Matthew 7:6, Matthew 11:15)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day Fourteen Wednesday July 14th, 2010

Day Fourteen
Wednesday July 14th, 2010

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

-Hebrews 3:12-13

Earthly wisdom tells us to follow our hearts. It’s the theme of movies and career changes and not a lot of people argue with that advise. But I remember Jr. High and High School. Following my heart then only got me into trouble. If I let my heart lead, it often wound up broken. In the book of Jeremiah that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the hear, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
If you are always going to go after what makes you feel good, you’re never going to get it, even if you get it. There’s this lie that the devil has been telling for a long time. The American proverb of it is, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” The lie is the god of pleasure. The devil tells us that if we can only get this thing, if we can only do this task, if we can only… then we will feel good. It worked with Eve in the garden, it has translated into the American dream today. If only you work hard and make money, you can move from the poorest of poor to the richest of rich. This is the land of opportunity. You need to help yourself before others will help you. You need to love yourself before you can love others. All these are the different versions of the same lie. They are the lie of an evil heart. An evil heart does not want to believe in God because Jesus says, “pick up your cross and follow me.” (Check out Matthew 16:24) An evil heart is looking for rewards in this lifetime, not the next.
There are lots of “religions” that say you can follow Jesus and still have what you want. They appeal to a large number of people and, especially in the United States, people are becoming consumers of religion instead of being consumed by the Holy Spirit. They act like customers. They expect the church to provide programs where they can meet their spouse or have someone teach their kids how to behave and mind their parents and the payment the church receives is attendance and tithe money. If this church makes them feel guilty, they go find one that’s more “seeker friendly.”
I am ashamed to call myself an American when I see this happening. I have been taught in school that the best type of society is a capitalistic one, but the only “good” government I see in the Bible is the one where people follow God as the king… and that one hasn’t quite happened yet, but it will. I’m not saying that we must make everyone a Christian, (although I would love for that to be true) but I am saying that there is too much world in Christianity today. Instead of following Christ, we decide to follow the world in the name of Christ. We just see what the world does and make our own “Christian” version. Beware of this. It’s the lie that allows you to feel good and not feel guilty about it. It’s your evil heart and that is creating an unbelief in God. God is no longer God, but a banner you wave. You hold debates and concerts that are much like worldly debates and concerts except with no swearing or sex talk. It’s like the best Christians can do is create a PG version of the world. If you believe that, they you are selling yourself short. If anyone who knows me misses the rapture, I want that person to know why I’m gone and he or she is not. I want that to be because I’ve shared with them what is coming and I’ve lived my life in a way where they know that I believe it. My work is not for this world, but for the next. I’m working to give as much opportunity as I can for people to hear the calling of God on their lives and act on it. I must do that “Today” because by tomorrow, I might be gone. And you would be here, Wanda, wishing you did more than add Christianity to your life, but that you had added your life to the body of Christ.
Heaven is real. Hell is real. They both last forever. I know that I’m going to Heaven. I’m sure of it. I know it’s not how much money I have or how nice of a car I drive or how many kids I have. It’s how much I trust God. It’s like I’m on a sinking boat and He’s a life raft. I can jump over board to be rescued by Him, or I can go down with the ship. There’s no half way. I can’t stay with the ship and expect Him to pick me up once it goes down.
So as long as you have a choice, choose Christ. Choose Him today. If you died today, would you go to Heaven? Are you sure? If you say, Yes, and I hope you can, does whatever it is you do all day (for work, after work, on weekends) have any effect in eternity? Compared to the next life (in Heaven or Hell) this life is so short, but it’s so important. In the short 70 something years most people live, they make the decision on where they will spend the rest of eternity. You can’t go looking around for the best deal. There is only one deal. It cost Jesus His life to offer it to you. He asked His father, “If there was any other way,” and the Father still sent Him to the cross. There is no other way. There are different types of churches in every town, but God didn’t tell you to join a church. (I still recommend finding one that teaches the Bible.) He wants you to believe in Him and what He already did on the cross. As long as it is still today, make that decision to follow Him. You may not have tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day Thirteen Tuesday July 13th, 2010

Day Thirteen
Tuesday July 13th, 2010

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits. And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning - Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

-Psalm 130:5-6

Our time is not God’s time. Truth comes, and our hope does prove well placed, but until it manifests, we have nothing to go on but faith. In faith the night watchman waits for the morning. He knows it will come, and he just has to wait through the night. Us too, when things look tough, must wait a little longer. Our hope is the promise of morning, Romans 13:12 says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
We may think or even call God unfair sometimes because of what we see, but we must always remember that what we see isn’t the end of it. There will be a final judgement and justice will be delivered. Also, I think a lot of what we call unfair is merely disappointment, because we expect something to happen one way, and it doesn’t. But to that, we must wait on the Lord. We must hope in the Word of God who says that the day is near and we will soon see our King. The Bible calls this life a vapor.
We’ve been waiting a long time. It doesn’t always seem like things are getting better, but we must have faith. Matthew 25:13 says, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” We must wait on the Lord and trust His Word. Read the whole of chapter 25 for illustrations of waiting on the Lord. In Romans 8, all creation groans for the return of the King and we Christians groan also in our spirits for His return when we see injustice. But we must also keep in mind that if we received justice and not mercy, we would want the Lord to wait. We must wait so that those who have not yet obtained mercy have every opportunity to receive it. To the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. For me, it seems sometimes that an hour is an eternity and a week passes by too quickly.
I’m always warned against asking God for patience, but I know I need it and ask for it anyway.
Lord, please give me patience and help me to rejoice in trials. Let me trust You when things don’t look the way I thought they would. My feelings change. My ideas change. My desires change. But Your Word is everlasting. Help me wait on You, Lord. I know that it’s worth the wait. I love You, Lord. In Your Name I pray, Jesus. Amen

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day Twelve Monday July 12th, 2010

Day Twelve
Monday July 12th, 2010

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.

-Daniel 3:17-18

If you are unclear of this story, Wanda, let me summarize what has happened until this point:
The land of Israel has already divided into two kingdoms. The Northern kingdom, Israel, was carried away by Assyria a long time ago. The southern kingdom, Judah, watched it happen, but did not repent of the same sins, so they were overcome and taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. King Nebbie (as I like to call him) took the best and the brightest youth of the kingdom and had them serve in his court. (He made them Eunuchs, but that’s not important to the story.) Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. These four would not eat from the kings tables because the food the king ate (probably sacrificed to idols and included unclean food such as pork and shellfish) was not allowed in the Law of Moses. Instead, they asked for just vegetables and water and became stronger and smarter than those who ate well. (It is a strong argument for becoming a vegetarian, but Jesus told Peter to Rise, kill, and eat in Acts 10 and I’m claiming that one for Meataterians.) King Nebbie had a dream about a statues made of many different metals and Daniel told him what it meant. King Nebbie, however, didn’t like the interpretation and made himself a statue of gold, from the head down to the feet in an act of defiance against God. (I don’t recommend defying God, He’s going to spank you.) He commanded that everyone bow down and worship the statue when they hear music, but Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Renamed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego) would not. I don’t know what Daniel was doing. It doesn’t seem like him to bow down to the statue, but he isn’t mentioned as resisting like these three. It has been suggested that he was out of town at this time on the King’s business. He was in charge of a lot after King Nebbie discovered that he was wise enough to interpret dreams. (Although Daniel says that the dream and interpretation comes from God, most worldly people disregard statements like that as foolish Christian talk… or in Daniel’s case, foolish Israelite talk.) So these three will not bow down and face the punishment; to be thrown into a fiery furnace. The King gives them another chance, and the scripture above is their reply.
I love this scripture because although they believe that God can save, they are also okay if He doesn’t. If they die in the furnace, they know that they will go to Abraham’s Bosom. (At that time, before Jesus died on the cross, people who died believing that He would come and die went to a place called Abraham’s Bosom where they waited until Jesus goes and brings them to Heaven. It’s kind of a VIP waiting room for the faithful. Luke 16) Do we have that kind of faith? Can we say that we know God can save, but even if He chooses not to, we’re still going to do what we know is right. That means that we value truth and good more than our very lives.
Now also notice in the book of Daniel as to how the four resisted King Nebbie. They always respected him and told him that they must follow God, and each time, they expected the punishment or for God to save them. Like Jesus in the wilderness, they weren’t going to use their own cleverness to get them out of trouble. I think that if we are going to oppose the government today because we don’t like what the government is doing, we must go about the same way that these four do. They are willing to get arrested and sentenced and are trusting God with their fate. And because of that, King Nebbie always sides with them afterwards and has their enemies killed. (Most of the time, the four had enemies that tricked King Nebbie into making some strange law or other.
Romans 13:1 says to respect authorities. They have been placed their by God. I think God picks authorities to remind us what is in our hearts. Saul was the first king of Israel, but he wasn’t a good one. He did, however, represent to the people that they were imitators and cowards and selfish. I think our criticisms of our current President (whomever he is at the time of the complaint) reflect God’s criticisms of our hearts. If you got something bad to say about our President, I would first stop to think if you could be accused of the same thing. Even if only in your thoughts.
I want to be a man who stands on God’s Word, no matter what. I also think that we should follow the rules of our government. Some would say that I wasn’t a patriot because the founding fathers rebelled and started the United States. If I lived back then, I would probably have preached peace under British rule instead of fighting, since we have only our fleshly lives to spend here on earth and eternity with Jesus in Heaven. I am a patriot. I love my country and my homeland very much. The United States is nice too, and I enjoy the visit I have here, but my real home is in Heaven. Until I go, I’m going to respect the government I am under, cheer for our soldiers to do their jobs, pray for the people who make and enforce, and judge the laws of our country and try to live in peace as much as I can. The only thing I won’t compromise for that peace is the Word of God. If the Word of God becomes illegal to preach, own, possess, or read, I will do all those (probably openly) and be okay with getting arrested. I would trust in Jesus to either rescue me or take me home or lead me to continue my work from behind bars. (They can take the Written Word of God from me, but not all of it. As long as it is legal, I am hiding it, bit by bit, in my heart and they’ll have to kill me to get it, but by then, I won’t need it there anymore since I’ll be in heaven with Jesus. Okay, Wanda, so I realize that I’m making some bold statements here and it’s totally possible that I’ll chicken out, but if it happens, and I chicken out, it is your job to remind me of what I said and keep me accountable. Jesus says, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32. I don’t want to be denied by Jesus, so if you catch me denying Him, remind me please while I still have time to repent. Thanks, Wanda. I knew I could count on you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day Eleven Sunday July 11th, 2010

Day Eleven
Sunday July 11th, 2010

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God
-1 John 5:13

John is clear in his intentions. His purpose is to give us reason to believe in the name of the Son of God, that is Jesus. Am I this purposeful in my intentions? Do I come right out and say what I want you to know? And is my message as good as the message John gives? When I am teaching, it is definitely my intention to introduce Christ to those who don’t know Him and to deepen the relationship for anyone who does, but how often do I come out and say that it’s what I’m trying to do? Maybe I need to do it more. It is my desire that everyone I meet come to believe in Jesus and I want them all to have eternal life. I know I don’t always live out that desire and I’m not that great at expressing it, but I really do want that. It is, as John says, a continual belief. I must keep on believing that Jesus is trustworthy and I need to keep choosing Him.
Let’s pretend that I’m rich, and I rent out Disney World in Florida, or even bought it. I also bought a bunch of busses to bus all my friends from California to Florida in the best road trip ever. I have some friends who live in states along the way, so I would have my caravan (Or is it carabus?) pick them up as we go. Now, for all my friends here in California, they might believe that I’m rich because I’ve shown them the Benjamin’s or made grand purchases without having to beat down creditors, but unless they believe in my goodness and generosity, even if they wanted to go to Disney World, but they wouldn’t get on the bus, then they wouldn’t get to go, would they? In the same way, we can believe that God exists and even believe that He is good and the Bible is true, but if we never step out in faith, it’s like not getting on the bus in the first place. Also, if my friends from California got on the bus, but along the way, got tired of the days and the stops, and got off along the way, then they wouldn’t never make it. In fact, they would be worse off because they are no longer even where they started. In the same way, Christians, we must make a continual choice to stay on the bus. Stay in the will of God and let Him take you. The moment you decide that you want to make your own decisions is when you step off the bus, and unless you get back on, you’re not going to heaven. Do not let pride deceive you and rob you of the blessing of not being in charge. If God is in charge, my biggest worry is staying on the bus, knowing that God will provide the rest. However, if I get off the bus, then I’m worried about where I’ll sleep and what I’ll eat. The desert is a lonely place to shop, and there’s a lot of it between here and heaven. You have a choice, either stay on the bus where the desert is a place you are touring, or get off the bus and make it a place where you live. Currently, I’m in the world. I eat the food here, I breathe the air, I spend it’s money. But one day, I’m going home, and I’m going to leave this world far behind. I won’t miss it, because home is better. I’m here to do a job. I’m here to tell people about who Jesus is and to build their relationships with their loving Savior. It’s my prayer, Wanda, that you will continue to choose Jesus and if you haven’t chosen Him yet, please let me know so I can talk to you about him. You may email me at me@jonathandow.com
Come on and get on the bus. The desert is hot and the buss has air conditioning. (Philippians 4:7)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day Ten Saturday July 10th, 2010

Day Ten
Saturday July 10th, 2010

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
-Ephesians 4:1-7

My Christian brothers and sisters, you were called for a purpose. God doesn’t call people to come and see (John 1:39) without telling them to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18). Not everyone will be a pastor, but not everyone should want to. Pastor’s are important, but they are not the most important. In God’s kingdom, the least is most important. Those are the people who no one notices, but they do God’s work quietly and gently, speaking the Word of God in their workplace and living it’s example in front of their co-workers. They accept persecutions and sufferings from others without fighting back because that’s what Jesus did. They raise their children to love the Lord and to read the Word. If you are called to be a Pastor, and you are not pastoring, then you are failing to do what God’s called you to. I am called to teach the Word of God. If I am not teaching, then I fail at doing what God has called me to. But if God calls you to talk to homeless or elderly or another group of people that has the potential to smell bad, (maybe the sick and dying) then you must do it. No excuses. You can’t look at a pastor and wish you were standing behind a pulpit. Paul wrote this as a prisoner of Christ (even though he was probably under house arrest in Rome at this time) and a convict told me that prisoners have no rights. They do, sleep, eat as they are told. If we are prisoners of Christ, then we have no rights. “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all.” (Galatians 4:1 (Read the rest of that section, at least until verse 7. It’s great stuff. I might get to it on another day.)) We are children of God, are we not? Are we so fast to consider ourselves grownups? How childish of us. I teach children (by law, a child is anyone under the age of 18. Until then, they are not fully responsible, by law of man, not God, for their actions) of all ages and they all want to be older. Little kids want to be big kids and big kids want to be teens and teens want to be adults. There are so many high schoolers that think they are too mature to hang out with high schoolers and always like to hang out with college students. They are in such a hurry to grow up and be respected like an adult, that they give up the humility of being a child. Jesus says we must be like children in regards to humility. I remember hated being called a child when I was twelve. I insisted that my parents called me a young adult. I read books from the young adult section of the library. I was in such a hurry to grow up. Now, I’m almost 30. Still not old, but I’m that I’m grown up, I wish I could take my current understanding and be a kid again. I don’t want to escape my responsibility, but I want to retry all those opportunities that I lost knowing that they don’t all come back. If I could have actually been more mature instead of insisting that was, I would have been able to help more people and get more out of the relationships that I had. We seek respect and admiration so much from other people that we forget to seek praise from God. Jesus says that if we are His friends, we’ll do what He says. (John 15:14) He’s called you for a purpose. If you are still a child, be okay with being a child. If you are grown up, put away the childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11) Be content in any situation. (Philippians 4:11) Do all as you are doing them for Christ. (Ephesians 6:5-6) There is no competition in the kingdom of Heaven. There is no room for competition in the heart of the believer. Playing sports is one thing, but thinking or feeling that your better than someone else is another. Trying to win is one thing, but trying to make someone else lose is another. People coming to your church or Bible Study is great, but if you are just stealing people from another church or Bible Study, you are not helping anyone. We are all one and should be helping each other. 1 Peter 2:4 calls us living stones. We are building up His one church. We are cells in His body, each working a specific purpose to make the whole body function. Any part of the body that stops functioning its purpose and starts serving only itself is called cancer. How much cancer is there is the body of Christ today? One day, He will Radiate and remove our cancerous cells, but for now, He leaves them in, giving them the chance to change their ways. If you are not willing to work with the rest of the body, and feel you must go create your own church or teaching or style or movement, I would advise you to seek God continually in prayer. God does call people out to start new good works, but if He’s not calling you personally, you are in danger of being a false teacher and leading others astray. We must work together. We will spend forever together in heaven, why can’t we get along now?

Day Nine Friday July 9th, 2010

Day Nine
Friday July 9th, 2010

And how shall they preach unless they’ve been sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
-Romans 10:15

This week ended VBS number two at our church. There is only one more this summer. VBS is wonderful and I love teaching it, but it tires me out. It would be okay if I wasn’t trying to get at least 20 hours of work in that week as well, but I can’t afford to take the time off this year. Maybe next year. But even though it’s tiring, it’s worth doing. One little kid told me that he’s half Christian and half Jewish because his dad is Jewish. We told him about Jesus and that you can’t be half Christian because it’s about what you believe and not blood. Then he gave his life to Christ and got excited about asking his Jewish dad if he knew about Jesus. He wasn’t going to see his dad until the weekend (so he might not live with him) so we loaded him up with the cross and salvation and sent him on his way. He isn’t a regular at our church so I don’t know if I will see him again before heaven, but I’m praying that he will preach the gospel to his dad. He has all he needs to do it and he is excited about Jesus. I didn’t notice particularly how his feet looked, but I bet they’re beautiful.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Day Eight Thursday July 8th, 2010

Day Eight
Thursday July 8th, 2010

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
-Psalm 145:18

Father in Heaven, I believe You and call upon You. I believe that as I draw near to You, You draw near to me. I know I don’t deserve You or the gifts you bring. All the wages I deserve have already been paid by You sending Your Son to die on the cross. I am not asking for mercy since I have already received it. I am not asking for grace although You give that to me in abundance. I want Your presence in my life. I want You. I don’t want you so that others will see. I want you so that I can see Your works and I long for the day when I am perfected and can see you face to face. Is it wrong to be jealous of those who have already died in the faith? Is it wrong to want to see Your face and bow at Your feet? I love You more and more everyday. I want to walk with You here on Earth as I will one day in Heaven. Please draw near to me, Father. Have me by Your side always. I am tired of living for my desires. I’m tired of trying to do the right thing under my own power. I just want to give up to You. I know what You called me do is only possible through Your strength and I don’t want to ask for Your strength tonight. I just want You to be near me. I know I am not alone because You are with me. I know You are here because I prayed from the truth of Your Word and Your Word says that You are near when I call. Please help me to never stop calling. I love you. I want You. I need You. Will You have me? Will You keep me? This sinner that I am. How could anyone but You love me? I still don’t understand how You can love me, but You do. I don’t need to understand it to accept it. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank You for rising on the third day. Thank You for holding the universe in its place, commanding the boundaries of the oceans of the deep, and still caring enough about me to crawl inside me and dwell here. Thank You for thinking me so valuable that You would instruct me. I love when You instruct me. I love the opportunity to obey. There are many things that my body desires and I pray that You teach me to depend on You for my needs and not to chase after my wants. Please let me not grasp anything You do not wish me to have. Please help me abound in faith and quench the doubt within me. I want to be wholly Yours, my inside and outside, my top and my bottom, my left and my right. You are all in all. I am all in You, and only when I’m in You. Otherwise, I’m nothing. Please help me to stay in You and in Your will. I want to do Your Works and I want to serve You all my life. I want to sit at Your feet and walk beside You. I want to reside within the folds of Your robe. I want to bask in Your glory. It’s You who is my first true love. May I have a heart that is always soft towards You. I know that You will answer and I truly believe that I am asking in truth and in spirit. And I pray this in the name of Your Son, Jesus, whom I serve. Amen.

Day Seven Wednesday July 7th, 2010

Day Seven
Wednesday July 7th, 2010

Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts towards us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
-Psalm 40:5

God is amazing. Even if you count the starts as wonderful works, they are too many to number. There are stars out there that NASA hasn’t discovered yet and they know it. They have seen clusters of stars, but can’t even count how many are in a cluster. God designed our human bodies where our heart supplies blood everywhere through highways of veins throughout our whole body. He infuses in each one of our uncountable cells DNA that holds instructions for our whole human body. He made Laminin (google it) to hold our cells together. He gave us an electrical system to run voluntary and involuntary functions and made all the life support functions involuntary. He made fur on animals to grow a certain length and no further. Our bodies heal themselves when we get hurt. Blood is the only liquid that turns into a solid when it touches any surface that isn’t the inside of our veins. Scientists can’t explain how bumble bees can fly since they have a big body and small wings which should make it impossible. Ants, having no language, can collaborate to make intricate nests and prepare for winter by doing separate jobs. Woodpeckers wrap their tongue around their brain when they aren’t using it. The earth is the correct distance from the sun to support life. A little farther, and we would freeze, and a little closer, and we would burn. The rotation of the earth gives us day and night. The axis of the earth gives us seasons. God did all of this and so much more. And He thinks about me.
I know what you’re thinking, Wanda, but He’s not thinking those thoughts. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” And God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” -1 Timothy 2:4 This means you too Wanda. He is thinking good thoughts about you. And we can’t count them. We can’t order them. We can’t list them before God because there are too many. If a man loves a woman, or visa versa, then just trying to count the thoughts in his or her head would be bad enough, and that’s a humanly understanding of love. Think of how much better a perfect and Godly love would be. It’s like comparing a pea to the known universe. Count the cells in the pea and that’s like a man or a woman in love, but count the cells in the universe, and you might be just developing a slight understanding on how much God loves.
Jesus loves me so much that He gave up heaven and clothed Himself in human flesh. He lived among us, poor and probably dirty, for thirty-three years without making one mistake. He didn’t sin once. Then, He allowed Himself to be arrested, beaten, whipped, mocked, spat on, struck, humiliated, stripped and He hung naked on the cross, shamed and defeated. That defeat is mine. That cross is mine. The torture He went through, that’s all mine too. I deserved all that. The older I get, (and I’m not even that old yet) the more I realize how much I really deserve. All that Jesus took, I deserve it. If I had hung upon that cross and died, and stood before the Lord in judgement, I would have to admit that the punishment is fair. But Jesus took all that for me, and conquered it. He rose on the third day to prove that His defeat was His victory, and I have a chance to share in that victory if I could just choose Him. He loves me and offers me that choice. I choose Him because I love Him. And I love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 14:13
I want to loved like I am loved. I lay down my life for Jesus. I am His now. If you ever have a problem with what I do or say, go to Him. If I’m wrong in the way I act or speak, I would really like to know, but it’s His job to correct me. If I’m right, and you think I’m wrong, it’s His job to correct you. He did not die for me so I could fight for Him. He died for me to be His, and He will fight for me. All I need to do is serve Him, and honestly, that’s better for me anyway. I call myself a servant, but He calls me friend. (Check out John 14:14)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Day Six Tuesday July 6th, 2010

Day Six
Tuesday July 6th, 2010

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
-Romans 12:18

I’m not old. But I’m older than I used to be. (I know, profound statement, but stay with me a little longer.) I remember the passion and fire I had when I was younger. (late teens, early twenties.) I see it in the people that age today. They look around at this world, and don’t feel that it is right, and it isn’t right, and want to change it. I think changing it for the better is a great idea. However, I am not convinced that there is always as much prayer as there is passion. This worries me. I’ve started countless projects, drawn up designs, and devised plans on how we could make this world a better place. I don’t know if I’ve ever finished a single one. I’m not saying don’t try. But I am saying that you should check your motives. There’s that little rebellious person in all of us who wants to fight for something. We want to oppose evil and overcome with good. We want to be superheroes.
But superheroes fight. They practice and train (or have a special ability) so that they can fight and hurt people (some don’t kill, but they still try and hurt.) They focus on putting the bad guys behind bars and protecting the good ones. They take it upon themselves to judge who’s okay for society and who’s not. Is that you? But maybe you’re not into fighting crime fist to fist. Maybe you want to save the whales or the rain forests or enhance the quality of life of KFC chickens. Those aren’t bad things to get involved in, but what’s the point? Are you doing this because you love the environment (or chickens) or are you doing it because you want to feel valued or that your life has purpose. If you want to be valued for what you do, you can never do enough. There is no retirement for superheroes. They fight until they die. If you are looking for a purpose to live for, and you fight for the endangered animals or the sweatshop children or whatever, it may hurt you more than it helps them. Let me explain. First of all, doing something that the Lord isn’t leading you to do means you’re doing it on your own power. Whatever we do on our own power never lasts. It’s like trying to build machinery out of something perishable… like bologna. Even if we get it to work, it won’t last. (I don’t know if it’s possible to make anything out of bologna, but I can take a slice and bite it strategically until it looks like a gear or a sprocket.) Second, It is easy to make enemies out of people who don’t agree. Third, even though you will find people who agree with you on every point, you will become frustrated and embittered when the issue isn’t as important to them as it is to you. You’ll feel like you’re doing all the work and they just don’t care enough.
Now although protecting the earth is a good thing and you can find Biblical evidence that supports our upkeep of it, (Genesis 1:26-31, Genesis 2:15, Leviticus 25:23) We know that in the end, it’s going to burn anyway. God’s going to make a new heaven and a new earth and all our hard work here will be worth nothing at that point. (That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth anything now.) But will be worth something in the long run is if we tell people about Jesus. If someone gives his life to the Lord, then that person was going to hell, but is now going to heaven. I think this should be the main focus of our lives. To introduce and strengthen each other to Christ. Either we are offering salvation to the lost or we are growing the saints. If we can do that and help the environment or better our government at the same time, I vote for that. But if our cries for justice and judgment overshadows our love of the Lord and His Word, then what good is it? I would rather my neighbor know me as someone who loves Jesus than someone who doesn’t eat tuna because it kills dolphins. Holding picket signs doesn’t seem like we are building bridges between people in Christ or that we’re encouraging people to love Jesus more.
I want to live in peace. I don’t want to start fights. If someone is going to dislike me, I would only want it to be because he hates Jesus and he sees Jesus in my life, like the apostles that stood before the Pharisees in Acts 4. Jesus said that He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34) and I completely agree with that. (He is Jesus, after all. He knows what He’s talking about.) And I too hold a sword. I have the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17) I am responsible for how I use it. I can use it to defend myself in battle (as Jesus always did. (Even when it seemed like He was on the offense, He was defending His title of God (which we don’t have))) or I can go around and just start poking people to see what they’ll do. That doesn’t usually make friends. Now to be honest, I do like to be challenged by friends and the Bible does say that “as iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” Proverb 27:17, but friends do it in such a way to build someone up, not break down. 1 Corinthians says that knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. So whatever you do, edify in love. And if you edify in love, you will live in peace with all those around you. Even if they are not Christian. They will see Christ in you and their hearts will be touched by the finger of God. It will then be their choice to harden their hearts towards Him or allow them to be softened. But you will do your part in loving them and living with them in peace.