Friday, May 30, 2014

Too often I've heard it said, "You don't have to go to church to be a Christian".  Indeed, I would agree.  However, if we understand Scripture we would also understand that Christians go to church (Hebrews 10:25).  The institution that God has chosen to work through today is the local church.  Christ gave of Himself to die on the cross for His bride, the church.  Jesus Christ prizes the church, works through the church, and is coming again for His church.  He has challenged the church to permeate the world with the saving Gospel message in order that God would be glorified.  Praise the Lord that when Christ left this earth to be with the Father that He sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and to empower us each and every day to live out our Christian life and to be able to share this redeeming message. I'm aware that the church is filled with imperfect  people (sinners, fallen short of the glory of God) who are on a journey towards taking on the image of Christ.  I also understand that some are a poor testimony to Christ and His church.  However, I'm resolute to prize the very thing that Christ died for, to esteem it, and to give myself freely to advance Christ's church.

What an amazing thought that we as Christians are a representation of the holiness of God to those we come into contact with.  It poses the question, "Do others really see Jesus Christ in us"?  The church needs to be Gospel centric in everything we do.  The Gospel is our mission each and every day.  Yet, how well do others see the church in a positive light through us?  

In the book of James, he challenges believers not to be "foolish"--or literally a hollow person, believing that by claiming to be a Christian is sufficient (James 2:20, "You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?").  Depth of Christian character and authenticity in our daily living will revolutionize the world.  I want to be the church in my community and not only attend the church in my community.  My claims of Christianity do so little apart from genuine, loving action.  My days are certainly numbered--as are yours.  I'm learning to pray as the psalmist, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).  One day we will no longer be able to labor for Christ but will have to answer for our lack of work on earth for Him.  I pray that I would live "to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:12).


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stepping into the Deep with Christ

I believe God's idea of completely trusting Him may look different than what we have in mind at times.  My desire is to be used by God in great ways that point other people to Him.   I want the great things in my life that God speaks about in His Word but I know it demands a faith that completely trusts Him for who He is. Sadly enough, I drop the ball at times.

I must admit that I often calculate the risks and try to avoid disaster, after all, the entire book of Proverbs speaks about the truly wise man pursues (chases) wisdom.  However, true wisdom understands that God is sovereign and that He is in control of the smallest of details (Psalm 139:1-6; Proverbs 1:7).  What about when we are called to follow Christ in ways that may make no sense to us yet it is God's plan for us.  Are we willing to trust enough in Him during those times to take Him at His word and cling to His promises?  The joy of seeing God at work in our lives may never take place if we refuse to step out into the deep and into the places we can't control. This could be areas such as service, vocation, daily obedience, tithing, honoring our spouses, or witnessing.  I suppose that is why Scripture tells us that Christians are to "walk by faith not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Hebrews 11:6 says, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."  Faith in Him is essential in order to please Him.  Just because we cannot quantify something on a chart does not mean that God is not in the equation.  The greatest blessings in life often occur when we fully open our sails and hold the rudder loosely in order for God to direct our steps according to His desires.  I'm convinced that when we work to manipulate circumstances to rest in our favor that it is often to our own demise.  Simple faith in God alone allows us to go further with confidence and offers a peace that is unknown to those who do not know God.  I've come to believe that it is often our comfy lifestyles that we all desire that serves more to distract us from trusting in God's provision and direction.  One of my favorite verses is found in Psalm 20:7, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."

Do I really need a Plan B if I truly know that Plan A (God's Plan) is best and adequate?

SONG:  Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus  

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,  Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,  Just to know, “Thus says the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!  O for grace to trust Him more!