Stubbornness Can Be Dangerous

People are dealing with weighty issues these days. Whether they have brought their problems on themselves or become victims of the sin of other people, they must find their own way out.

So, I tactfully explore whether we can invite God into our discussion, to see what the Bible has to say about their issue and how God Himself can factor into their solution. Astonishingly, some of them who are already on the brink of ending their lives remain dug in and refuse permission. That rejection may suggest bad experiences with unyielding parents, overzealous peers, or church hypocrisy. Other times, society has already foisted upon them a negative perception of God and the Bible. Some, I learn, fear that they will need to relinquish an addictive sin – the very thing that keeps them in bondage.

Perhaps deep inside, the people in this latter group already know they have wandered from what is right, but they haven’t connected it to their issues. To consider God would make them face something they aren’t willing to change. If we can deny God’s existence or His lordship, then we are accountable to no one but ourselves, so the thinking goes. People want to do their own thing. Submitting to authority is as unpopular now as it was in yesteryear.

Jesus met the same unwillingness to confront the truth. Members of a sect, the Sadducees, were more into hairsplitting than discovering who Jesus was. They tried to trap Him with trick questions, but He silenced them with wisdom and authority, the likes of which they’d never experienced. He saw through them and exposed them:

Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said, “Beware of these experts in religion, for they love to parade in dignified robes and to be bowed to by the people as they walk along the street. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and at religious festivals! But even while they are praying long prayers with great outward piety, they are planning schemes to cheat widows out of their property. Therefore God’s heaviest sentence awaits these men” Luke 20:45-47

The Sadducees had no interest in Jesus because He threatened their position within the culture. Exploring Him further would have meant changing their ways and giving up some power.

The sound of God’s voice threatens people who are unwilling to submit to Him. Even though His Word would shine light into their darkness and His Spirit’s transformative power would unshackle them, some people aren’t ready to surrender and leave their “discomfort zone” behind. Their stubbornness always shows they have yet to understand God’s love, forgiveness and power. At high cost, evil grips them.

One day, the Bible says, “every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). May the Holy Spirit soften hardened hearts and expose the enemy’s deceptions before it is too late.

God’s Love For You

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!

God’s Indescribable Gift

Have you ever forgiven a loved one who wronged you and said they were sorry? It’s difficult, but to save the relationship, often we find it in our heart to forgive – especially if the other person is sincerely sorry. But how about the person who wrongs you and is not sorry? Would they be dead to you? Should that relationship be pursued? Should they be shown forgiveness? Actually, it happened to each of us … about 2,000 years ago.

All of us, at one time or another, chooses wrong over right: to lie, steal, curse, or to be resentful, bitter, or jealous of another person. Because we are made in God’s image and created to be in relationship with Him, when we violate His character, we separate ourselves from Him and sever the relationship. Still, as a loving Father, God wants to restore this relationship and is willing to forgive even when we’re not sorry. Romans 5:8 says:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

God did not wait for us to come to Him; for God knew that left to ourselves, it would never happen:

“The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, … There is none who seeks for God.” Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:11

And so, before the beginning of time, God arranged a rescue mission to extend forgiveness to those who didn’t know to ask.

Easter has just passed and is the celebration of this amazing gift. 2,000 years ago, the Son of God, Jesus Christ willingly left the glory of Heaven and came to earth, wrapped in human flesh, to become the complete sacrifice for sin. Yet, when we look at the Cross, we often forget that Jesus suffered something far greater than physical death: He suffered spiritual separation from God the Father so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus laid bare His greatest agony when He cried out,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

The eternal God-head was torn apart for us. The penalty for sin is not the Cross; that’s the symbol. The penalty for sin is eternal separation from God, and only the eternal God could pay that price.

The greatest gift ever given is not God’s forgiveness that is now available to us, but rather God’s Son through whom forgiveness was made possible.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

The person who looks upon God’s Son who, as He was being nailed to the Cross, said,

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

… and turns away, will not spend an eternity regretting his sin – that’s done and paid for. Rather, he will be left to agonize over all the ways God tried to reach out to him, reveal Himself to him, and demonstrate His love in an endless pursuit to have a relationship with him — that God even decided he was worth dying for — but he turned away … however:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, …” John 1:12

On that first glorious Easter morning, the dark tomb was empty. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, restoring Him to His rightful throne in Heaven, demonstrating God’s complete satisfaction that the penalty for all sin, for all people, for all time, has been paid in full. Easter is resurrection day! The day Christians all over the world celebrate that their relationship to God the Father, once dead, has been restored to life — and not just life, eternal life!

God wants to restore a relationship with you and He is only a prayer away. If you want to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior – God’s greatest gift — you can pray a simple prayer something like this:

Precious Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and sending your beloved Son, Jesus to pay the penalty for my sin. Jesus, thank you for dying for me on the Cross & for rising from the dead. I am sorry for living my life apart from You and choose today to follow You. I repent, turn away from sin and accept you as my personal Lord & Savior. Please come into my heart and make me the person You created me to be. Thank You Lord for hearing my prayer and saving me from the curse of sin. In Jesus’ Name I Pray, Amen.

And one day, when you enter your heavenly Home, you will run to your Father who will scoop you up into His arms saying, “Welcome home, my child!”

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

What love! What a gift! What an amazing God!

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!

Viewing Life From An Unobstructed View

If we want to see things clearer, we have to remove the stuff that clouds our vision or we will continue to live with a distorted view.

In Luke 11:33-36, Jesus tells us that we need to keep our minds eye open so we don’t live in the dark.

“No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.”

By choosing to fill my mind with the Word of God and sound biblical teaching, it helps keep my spirit and entire countenance illuminated. In other words, I am constantly soaking up the instruction I receive and allowing the knowledge to enlarge my vision.

Proverbs 4:1 says,

“Hear, My sons, the instruction of a father, and pay attention in order to gain and to know intelligent discernment, comprehension, and interpretation [of spiritual matters].”

The Apostle Paul’s prayer in Ephesians resonates with me today as I believe it did with those who read his words soon after they were written.

Paul writes,

“I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of His work in us who trust him — endless energy, boundless strength!” Ephesians 1:17-19

When we seek the Holy Spirit’s counsel, our plans line up in accordance with what God desires for us to do. Otherwise, things can turn out to be a greater struggle than a delight.

Jesus said to His disciples,

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14:14-17

It is God Himself who longs for our spirit and His to be united together as one. Only then will we have the full capacity to see with unobstructed vision.

Precious ABBA Daddy,

I Thank You that You Promise to draw near to us as we draw near to You. Lord, You have accomplished a Mighty Work in our lives as we are Born-Again By Your Power & You Have Given Us The Mind Of Christ and The Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth. Lord, please help us to set aside the clutter & deafening noises of deception which seek to stop us from focusing upon who we are In Christ Jesus and Our Oneness With You. In Jesus’ Name We Pray, Amen.

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

If infants don’t receive positive interaction during early development, they are stunted in personal interactions. As older children, they show little emotion in response to others. In some countries, orphans sit alone in cribs and get little positive contact with adults. As a result, they are severely underdeveloped emotionally. Even physical growth is stunted. Face-to-face interaction is necessary for healthy development.

As adults, we continue to watch faces. We subconsciously observe how people respond. We can tell if our audience is pleased, amused, delighted, or displeased. We see it in their faces—and we adjust. We quickly embellish our story for greater response, add more detail to support our view, or we end the conversation quickly. We take our cues from faces around us.

Maybe we’re created that way so we will properly relate to God.

Speaking to God, David said,

“As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.” “When Thou didst say, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to Thee, ‘Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek’” Psalm 17:15, Psalm 27:8

David was satisfied with God’s face, and is the only person in the Bible that repeatedly talked about God’s face. Likewise, David is the only one we’re told was a man after God’s heart. Do you think that David could have gained a heart after God’s heart because he was practiced in looking into the face of God? Could it be that David got his cues from God rather than from those around him?

In Psalm 11:4, David said,

“[God’s] eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.”

The Lord is watching and waiting for us to look into His face. As a loving mother looks at her baby, the Lord’s eyes are on us, waiting for us to look at Him and return His smile. The Psalm closes with,

“For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face” Psalm 11:7

It is natural for the righteous to look into the face of the One that loves him (or her) the most. “The upright will behold His face.”

If, like a baby, we look into God’s face for cues, He will lead us with His eyes. As we allow His eyes to guide us, our lives will reflect His righteousness. As a baby responds to loving parents, we will delight in His pleasure.

The problem is that sometimes we’re too busy to gaze into His eyes. We’re also distracted by gauging what our friends think of us. Survey results indicate that the church today doesn’t look much different from society. It makes me wonder where we are looking to get our cues. It doesn’t seem we’re looking to God enough.

If we don’t seek the face of God, we’ll we be like babies, trapped in a crib, stunted in our spiritual growth. We won’t reflect our God to the world. I don’t want to be stunted. I want to reflect the righteousness of God to those around me.

Lord, help me turn my eyes to Jesus and to gaze into His eyes. I join David in His cry,

“Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; Save me in Thy lovingkindness “Do not hide Thy face from Thy servant, for I am in distress; answer me quickly. Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it” Psalm 69:17-18a; Psalm 31:16

Spiritual Maturity

As we grow through tests and trials in our relationship with God, we learn to trust Him through ALL things. This is the essence of spiritual maturity.

Christian maturity is being a responsible son or daughter of God. I think the mature in Christ are people who have stopped being concerned about their own needs and pursuits, and have entered into the global vision of their Father, so that they may transform a hurting world. The mature go out as His agents in order to accomplish the aims of the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10

It’s like a son who is being brought into the family business. Instead of racing fast cars and running around with girls, he finally buckles down and says, “Dad, I’m part of it. It’s my business, too, and I’m going to work hard and undertake the burden of this work.” That is real maturity. We undertake the burden of God in the way Jesus Christ would do it. Not in the energy and heat of our own flesh, striving to do something ourselves, but in the anointing of the Spirit of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit.