Monday, November 18, 2013

The Lie

This past weekend Shep was out of town. 

Yours truly got to fill in as the teacher for our Sunday school class at church.

As I prepared for the lesson on "Sanctification" I uncovered some truths that I felt God was speaking to me.

The grand lie that myself and so many other Christians believe is this:  the closer we get to Jesus the less we need Him.

I live like I am going to attain some level of maturity with Christ so that I will somehow be less dependent.

Isn't this true?

Here is the truth:  the closer we get to Jesus the more we realize we need Him even more.

Walking closely with Jesus (in the brief moments I actually do this) requires a dependence that most of us are uncomfortable with admitting.

The process of sanctification can be boiled down to this....being ok with needing Jesus all the time.

His truths didn't stop there.

Needing Jesus all the time requires work on my part.

We usually aren't ok with this either.

Who wants to work at something else?

We have jobs, families, commitments, obligations, deadlines, schedules, and appointments.  Laundry has to get done.  The house has to (occasionally) be cleaned.  Groceries, pets, playdates, and so on.

Needing Jesus to change my habits, my thoughts, my actions, my likes, my dislikes, my attitude, and my heart require some level of work.

Working for God.....isn't what I am getting at here.  Being a greeter at church, serving in the children's ministry, donating money, and volunteering hours won't change the heart.

It is the real work of Christianity.  Needing Jesus to do it all.

How does that happen?

Pouring His Word into your mind for transforming and renewal.
Spending time in prayer for guidance, repentance, confession, intercession, and praise.

Starting with these two simple things would go a long way in doing the work of sanctification.

It would be awesome (I guess) if Jesus zapped us and made us just as He is. 

But then we wouldn't get to observe the supernatural change that occurs in our lives when we yield.

I am the most blown away when God helps me to love someone I want to hate or when forgiveness and mercy come easier than it used to.  I am in awe of Him when generosity replaces cynicism and selfishness in my own life. 

This is the work. 

Needing Him all the time changes who we are.....and the cycle continues as others observe and desire that change as well. 

A great plan from a truly great God.

1 Corinthians 1:2 " who have been called by God to be his own holy people.  He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did all Christians everywhere-- whoever calls upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and theirs."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Unbelief. Unrest. Our undoing.

There have been divine moments of worship to God when I have been completely undone before Him. 

I have sensed His presence in arenas holding thousands, church services holding hundreds, bible studies with friends and certainly alone in my car.

When His Presence fills the space you are are taken with Him.

His grace.  His goodness.  His mercy.  His vastness.  His love.  His favor.

It is all about Him.

Those moments when we are taken in the torrent of worship become moments where we are openly undone.  We are like jelly.  Poured out.  Limber and pliable in His hands.  We see ourselves against Him and we don't mind losing our identity and taking on the One that is His. 

This kind of undoing works for us. 

Surrender is found here.  Submission to Jesus Christ and His will for our lives.  His direction becomes our only aim.

There is another way though.  A detour of sorts. 

A way that most of us take without even meaning to. 

I am satisfied that our enemy plans it that way. 

He wants us undone as well.  But his path isn't trust and submission.  It is the exact opposite. 

The path is so easy to follow that we take it most times because we know the way so well.

It is like a well worn trail that our feet know by heart.

It is unbelief. 

Unbelief leads to unrest. 

Unrest gives us lives without direction and endless chaos and second guessing. 

I saw this correlation just a few mornings ago as I read in Hebrews chapter 3.

Verse 12 starts off in this way...

"Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters.  Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God."

The following verses go on to exhort us to be faithful to God and trust Him firmly.  Then the reader is given an example of God's people falling into this trap of unbelief and unrest.

We are told exactly what happens in verse 19, "So we see that they were not allowed to enter his rest because of their unbelief."

This piece of scripture is talking about a specific group of people.  Not necessarily you and me.  However we should learn from them, right?

Ultimately we can choose unbelief in Jesus Christ and never enter His rest, that is, Heaven.

That is the over-arching theme.

But this can go deeper.

There are those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and then stop right there.  For those is lived in unrest.

When we believe God for little else than our salvation, our lives are chaotic, messed up and look very similar to everyone else around us that does not have the Holy Spirit of God living within them.

Satan's chief goal is for us not to believe in Jesus and be doomed for hell.

He doesn't stop there....for those of us who have already chosen to place our faith in Jesus....he will settle for our lives to be filled with unbelief, unrest, and to be undone and practically useless for the Kingdom of God.

Believing God is crazy and wonderful at the same time.  It is scary and outcomes are uncertain.  We are armed with knowing that He is with us....that is about it.

So many people (including myself) cringe at the thought of life this way.  But those that are called of God are asked to believe Him for God sized tasks.  Impossible becomes just a word....

Believe and find rest.