Friday, February 26, 2010

Having Ears That Hear

In Matthew 13:13-15, Jesus says, “This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'” Jesus wanted the people to understand that when hearts become hard, when we lose our curiosity about the things of God, then we will not know how we are to act or what we are to believe.
It is interesting to me to see that God wants people to know His word, and yet Jesus often talked in “parable” form. Jesus would purposely teach through parables to weed out those who were following Him simply for the “wow” factor. Because of Jesus’ popularity and miracles, people often followed Him because it was the thing to do, or to see another miracle. They wanted to be wowed. But Jesus wasn’t there to be an entertainer, Jesus came to lead people to salvation. And Jesus’ style of teaching was designed for the true follower.
Jesus knew that those who really wanted to understand His teaching, whose hearts were truly seeking Jesus, would stick around and ask questions. Jesus knew that those who were sincere in their pursuit of God would persevere through the mysteries of God.
How about you? Do you pursue God and God’s mysteries, or do you allow yourself to go away with questions and not understanding? Seek God with your whole being. Be a person who has “ears to here.” It will make the difference in your fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, and for your life to really count.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pattern of Living

Why is it that some people seem to be closer to God than others? It is interesting for me to have people say, “Pastor, will you pray for me. I know God hears your prayer.” Obviously, they believe God hears my prayers more than theirs. I believe that the answer lies in our pattern of living. How we live our life, on a regular basis, day to day, moment to moment, helps to make an incredible difference.

There are many examples of people who have seemingly given their life to God, but then walk away, or live in an ungodly manner. It is not hard to figure out that this is usually because they have changed their pattern of living. What they practice each day is worldly living, not godly living.

Romans 12:1-2 says: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” To have a godly view, and live a godly life, one needs to be renewed and transformed in mind, body, and spirit.

Mind. What we place in our minds will affect our minds. If we put negativity, then we will become negative. If we put hate, then we will become hateful. If we put forgiveness, then we will be forgiving. And so on…. We can best transform our mind by reading the Bible each day, and remembering what it says. Maybe you might want to memorize verses or passages that help with where you are struggling.

Body. What we do and where we go will affect our thinking and our actions. If we allow ourselves to be in sinful environments, then we will in time be comfortable with this way of living, and find our pattern of living changing. We must surround ourselves with people who encourage us, and love us and build us up. We must build for ourselves a network of people who keep us living in a godly way.

Spirit. Jesus was clear that for us to truly connect with God, we must do this on a spiritual level. We need to learn how to connect our spirit with the Spirit of God. We can do this in several ways. Worship helps us to connect with God on a spiritual level. Prayer will do this as well, if it is not just us talking to God, but us trying to listen to God’s voice. Meditation, or quiet reflection will also lead us to this deeper spiritual connection.
I hope that you will be diligent and intentional about your “pattern of living.” If you are, then you will be able to live a godly life, and know God’s perfect will for you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Opening the Door

As we come to this season of Lent, a season that is meant to be a time of repentance and embracing God’s holiness, I want us to think about a remarkable fact that is told to us in the Bible. God gives you and me an invitation into His presence. An invitation that shows that He hears us, and invites us to come to Him. As Ephesians 2:13 says: “Now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away from God are brought near.” As we understand this, we can understand that what once separated us from God, our sin, has been removed. Nothing remains between us and God, except for an open door.
When Jesus Christ died, the door was opened for you and me. The writer of Hebrews tells it to us like this in Hebrews 10:19-20: “So, brothers and sisters, we are completely free to enter the Most Holy Place without fear because of the blood of Jesus’ death. We can enter through a new and living way that Jesus opened for us. It leads through the curtain—Christ’s body.” According to the writer, the curtain equals Jesus. Therefore, whatever happened to the flesh of Jesus happened to the curtain. What happened to his flesh? It was torn. Torn by the whips, the thorns, the weight of the cross and the point of the nails. By enduring the cross, Jesus removes the barrier of the curtain, in essence opening the door.
The good news is that Jesus hasn’t left us with an unapproachable God. Yes, God is holy. Yes, we are sinful. But Jesus is our mediator. 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us: “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
God is holy, and we are sinners, and there is a distance between us. Because of this, we don’t trust our conscience, we trust the cross. The blood has been spilt and the veil has been split, and we are welcome in God’s presence.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Charge of Jesus

There are different kinds of charges. In the picture we see an elephant charging forward. You can use your charge card to purchase something you need. A charge in the Bible is calling someone forth to do a specific task; it is when God gives us a call, a responsibility of action. In Matthew 28:20, "Jesus said, 'I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" When Jesus said this, He was giving a charge to people to go out and make disciples. As Christians we have been given the calling of telling others the truth about Jesus; the truth about the gospel. Unfortunately, it is too easy to shirk this responsibility and think we have more important things to do. But what could be more important than someone's salvation? When we talk to people, we aren't alone. That is why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit, to help lead us to do and say what God needs us to! This really isn't meant to be open for discussion. It isn't a suggestion, but a command. It is to be part of who we are as Christians.
So here are some questions: What keeps you from telling others about Jesus and about heaven? How does it make you feel to know Jesus is always with you? Let yourself be ready for these opportunities that God alone gives you. Have a wonderful day.