“Coming Out”

May 1, 2013

What many people are looking for today is FREEDOM! Many want freedom to do what they want…when they want…in the way they want. That’s why some people left home–they were tired of their parents’ rules. That’s why others got married–to be on their own, make their own decisions, and not be under anyone’s rules. Funny thing, there’s something inside ALL of us that tells us that there’s a prescription for FREEDOM–that in order to really be free in life, you’ve got to rid yourself of all authorities, all responsibilities, and all boundaries. No one’s going to tell you what to do, you’re going to make your own decisions, and you’re going to do what you want to do! We think that’s what FREEDOM is!

Then, we run into a man named Jesus Christ who is the FREEST person who ever lived. He could do whatever He wanted to do, and go wherever He wanted to go. He had the power to heal and forgive. He could make the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, He could set the captives free, and raise the dead! He was the FREEST person who ever lived! And, His life is a living illustration to us of a vital principal.

His life shows us something that we would not expect…that the FREEST person who ever lived CHOSE to be under someone else’s authority! Jesus showed us, and taught us in His life, that maximum FREEDOM is found UNDER the authority of God, NOT AWAY from it! The freest place any of us can be is under God’s authority! The most blessed place in life is when God is reigning and ruling in our hearts!

God has a people who have “come out”! They are a people filled with His love and obedient to His Word. They are a people walking in godliness and truth. They are a people who have not set their minds or hearts on the things of this world, but have dedicated themselves to living for God’s glory! Are you one of those people? Have you repented of your sins and turned to God for forgiveness? Will you turn away from your old life of darkness and selfishness? Why not “come out” today, and take your stand for Jesus Christ and godliness?

“…I do nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me…for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:28-29

“COME OUT of her, My people, so that you will not participate in her sins…” Revelation 18:4

That’s right, you heard me! Don’t settle for mediocrity! It’s too easy to settle into routines, ruts, and habits that take all of the energy and creativity from us. We get into patterns of behavior and patterns of thinking where we no longer allow ourselves to be challenged, or stretched. Have you grown comfortable in what you’re doing? Have you given up reading, going to conferences, learning from mentors, trying new things?

Don’t be mediocre! Don’t settle for average! Don’t just drag along spinning your wheels on endless, meaningless tasks that are taking you nowhere. Surrender yourself anew and afresh to God! He placed gifts and talents within you for His glory. He has filled you with His Spirit so that you might accomplish His purposes in your life. Let your faith grow! Let God stretch you! Get out of your comfort zone and put some risk into your service and devotion for God! You weren’t meant to be a “turkey”, you were created “to soar like an eagle”! Remember the risen Christ lives in you, if you have trusted Him with your life. Let Him direct your steps and take you where you need to be! His plan is always best!

“…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

I always find it quite amazing when I go to the zoo and see animals, that we would normally thihk of as “wild”, “ferocious”, “adventureous”, and “dangerous”–sitting calmly, passively, and comfortably in their caged area. Even though many have large areas in which they can move around, they are still not the same animal that they would be “in the wild”. Over time these animals have become domesticated. That is, they have become comfortable around people in their confined boundaries. Many are no longer a threat to anyone, they just lazily pass the day in their new environment.

Have we domesticated God? Have we believed in a God of our own making? Have we made God so cuddly, cozy, comfortable, and loveable, that we think of Him as a big teddy bear? Have we somehow tamed God to where He’s predictable, easy to follow, and never moves us out of our comfortable places? Have we made God so safe, that He no longer requires commitment or obedience from us; He no longer asks us to step out in faith and take risks; He no longer calls us to courage and devotion…maybe even laying down our lives for the cause of Christ? Following this God is so nice, easy, comfortable, without cost, and just to our liking.

Does not the Bible present God as “wild”, “adventureous”, “awesome in holiness”, “majestic in glory”, “jealous”, “dangerous”, and “deeply in love with His creation”? I fear at times that we have grown to worship a God that is NOT the God of the Bible at all! We have domesticated Him! We have made Him safe and comfortable to worship. We have created a God that asks nothing of us and who never stretches us beyond our own comfortable places. We follow a God who is always safe and never requires anthing from us. I REPENT that at times I have wanted a God that was safe, comfortable, and easy.

“God, will you cleanse my heart today, and become that wild, adventureous, holy, majestic, jealous, dangerous, consuming fire God that the Bible talks about–to me!!! I love You so much! I want to follow You with full-out devotion…no matter the cost!”

“…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” Daniel 11:32 KJV

In 1 Corinthians 1 the apostle Paul contrasts the message of the cross with the wisdom of this world. He shows in a brilliant way how the preaching of the cross runs counter to man’s wisdom and thinking. Man is full of pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, and self-centeredness. To man’s wisdom, the cross of Jesus Christ seems utterly foolish and ridiculous. The Roman cross was an instrument of torture. It was the place where criminals were punished and killed. The cross represented shame, humiliation, suffering, cruelty, and death. How could a man who died in such a horrible way be accepted as the Son of God? And especially, as a Savior?

Paul says, to the Jews, this message was a stumbling block because they desired signs and miracles; to the Gentiles, this message was foolishness because they wanted eloquence, sophistication, and wisdom. With great insight into the heart of God, Paul rightly says in verse 18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Jesus paid for the penalty of our wrong-doing on the cross when He shed His blood. Because of that sacrifice, all men can find forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Jesus’ triumphant resurrection from the dead affirmed and validated His death and claims to give eternal life to all who believe in Him!

In verse 21 Paul says, “God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” And in verse 24, “…Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” God has given His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the ultimate sacrifice of His life for our sins. It is through the message of the cross that we see the love and grace of God displayed for mankind. To the wisdom of man–this message seems ridiculous; but to those who open their hearts in faith and accept Jesus as the Son of God–there is life, freedom, joy and hope. I celebrate with joy the powerful message of the cross of Jesus!!!

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Millions of people are asking questions like, “Why was I born? Why am I alive? Was I put on this earth just to go through heartache and disappointment?” Isaac Asimov, world famous astronomer and writer, once said, “As far as I can see, there is no meaning to our existence.” That is a tragic statement because life without meaning is an empty and purposeless life! Maybe you have been asking, “Why am I alive? What meaning is there to my life?”

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 16:4 (NLT), “The Lord has made everything for His own purposes.” Notice that word, “everything”. That includes you and me! You were made BY God and you were made FOR God, and you were put on this earth for His purposes. It’s in that truth, that life takes on meaning. I am here to discover a loving relationship with a personal God, who loves me and cares for every detail of my life. God wants me to be in fellowship with Him every day of my life!

God made you to love you! You were created to be loved by God. He has shown us the depth of His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for our sins and rise again from the dead. In Jesus, we can have eternal life and experience peace, forgiveness, and hope in our lives NOW! Having a hope beyond the grave infuses power and meaning in our lives. When we receive Jesus Christ by faith as our Savior and Lord, we come to realize the reason why we are here on this earth–to know God in a personal way, live for His glory, and to be in fellowship with Him all the days of our life!

Have you made that decision yet, to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior? Why not do it right NOW? Make that wonderful decision today!

“Long before He laid down the earth’s foundation, He had us in mind and settled on us as the focus of His love to be made whole and holy by His love…” Ephesians 1:4 (MSG)

The Divine Gardener

March 11, 2013

I remember a number of years ago having a neighbor that lived next door who was a terrific gardener. He had this fantastic ability of making everything he touched beautiful! He had a keen ability in working with shrubs and flowers. He knew just exactly what it took to plant them, fertilize them, prune them, and care for them so that they were always exquisitely beautiful. It was a joy living next to this skilled gardener. We got to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of his dedicated labors. He loved gardening and took great pleasure in it.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have a Divine Gardener working in our lives. Jesus tells us in John 15:1, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” God is at work in our lives every day bringing to us what we need to grow and develop as Christians. His daily love is caring for us, nurturing us, pruning us, feeding us, protecting us from deadly spiritual diseases and enemies, and transforming our lives so that His beauty is seen in us! Jesus encourages us to abide in Him, rest in Him, trust Him, and let His Spirit transform our lives. Jesus reminds us that, in our own power we cannot bring about godly life change, without Him. Thus, He points us to the Father, who lovingly is always at work within us giving us the energy to do His will. Will you let Him have His way in your life?

Lord, please continue your loving work in my life, and help me reflect the beauty of Jesus Christ!

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT

A Silent Influence

March 5, 2013

Many years ago, Francis Thompson, wrote a poem with this line, “The innocent moon, which nothing does but shine, moves all the laboring surges of the world.” We often take the moon for granted. It has no light of it’s own, it merely reflects the light of a greater heavenly body in our universe. Many would say that the moon has little, or no, significance. However, the moon quietly and silently bears influence on the great oceans of our world by it’s gravitational pull. Every day it bears a silent ifluence upon our earth.

How many persons live their lives every day, with no “fan fare”, or “hoopla”, yet are bearing an influence for Christ by the way they live their lives? Maybe, many of them feel as if they are insignificant, or unimportant, in the influence they carry. They may think, “What impact am I making?” Their picture may never appear on a magazine cover, or their name in a newspaper article, yet every day they are making a difference for the Kingdom of God! Do not be dismayed, dear friend, if you feel your life is unnoticed and unappreciated. Your silent influence is being felt! God needs all of His children to be witnesses for Him! God calls you to faithfulness! That’s what counts!!!

Some believers are given “out in front” positions of leadership and service where many see what they do. Others, work more behind the scenes lending their expertise and talent. It matters not where we serve, or how loud we are–what matters is that we are bearing fruit for Jesus Christ and seeing lives changed!
What kind of influence do you bear? Are you letting your light shine for Jesus? YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE EVERY DAY BY LIVING YOUR LIFE FOR JESUS CHRIST!!!

“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16 NLT

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