Varuca Salt and the “I Want it NOW” Approach to God

Most have seen that very funny movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” based upon Roald Dahl’s children’s story.  One of the children who received a golden ticket was Varuca Salt, her father a wealthy industrialist.  Having been spoiled her entire life her attitude towards her father is to demand things at every turn, asking louder and louder until the father gives in.  When she falls into the bad egg disposal chute the Oompa Loompa’s sing about how she simply was always really looking for love.  By giving her everything she demanded, her father was not really loving her, he was empowering her bad behavior and a cycle of bad decisions and poor choices that hurt not only Varuca but those around her forced to deal with her.

How many times have we made similar demands on God.  “Please give me this job/car/boyfriend/house/new watch and I will follow you forever and become a better person!”  Sadly such demands also come at very low points in our lives: “Lord cure me/heal me/restore me/save my life and I will believe in you and turn from sin.”

God knows that His love is what we need, and that love oftentimes means that he must say NO when we ask for things…it is not that He does not want to help us but we must trust that He knows the time, place and manner for us to receive His blessings.  Often the Bible talks about how we must have faith, be committed, and have our focus on the Lord BEFORE we may rightly ask and receive a blessing.  After all, who are we to demand that our Creator “deliver the goods” when we are not prepared to honor and respect the giver?

I love John 14:7 because it sums up God’s approach to how He fathers us:  “If I am in you and you are in me, ask what you will and it shall be granted to you.”

In that one verse Christ lays out the rules of God the father.  We cannot simply be going around making deals and demanding that God deliver blessings…in fact we must get right with God, have Him in our hearts, be connected to Him with our own personal relationship…then and only then will he extend to us not only what we wish but what he desires for us.

If there are troubles in your life, unanswered prayers for help, healing and blessings, go to God on your knees.  Take Christ in your heart and in humility and love share with Him what is on your mind.  Ask that His will be done, and have FAITH that He will hear you and bestow His blessings in appropriate measure at the appropriate time.  In the end it is not the stuff we need, it is the love of Christ that gives us life and hope and joy and peace.  The loving relationship every father desires with his children is the foundation on which a beautiful and bountiful life is made.

Have a blessed and peaceful day!

 

How to Do the Impossible

So many today strive individually or as part of a group effort to accomplish seemingly impossible goals:  world peace, eliminate hunger, control gun violence, improve education for our children, protect the environment and combat deadly diseases.  These are lofty goals…goals that in one way or another, from one perspective and another…have challenged man for generations.  Great minds have pondered the issues, best-selling books have been written, billions of dollars invested both public and private to find answers.

Yet despite think tanks, public interest groups, world bodies, laws, rules and regulations, billions upon billions invested what do we see?  World violence unchecked, hunger rampant even in modern industrial societies, gun violence…in fact all violence on the rise, millions under educated and millions more uneducated, environmental waste and destruction and Cancer, AIDS, and no cure for the common cold.  Why?  If we have evolved to become super beings, creating super computers, the Internet, space travel, cloning, scientific and medical drugs and tools never even conceived as little as 50 years ago then what is the problem?

Why do we fail miserably…at coming close to solving mankind’s most troubling and stubborn issues?  Because our flesh rules our brains and our bodies!

We remain greedy…tax dollars and research dollars are wasted.  We are proud…accomplishments are magnified and exaggerated and made personal.  We are selfish…we show a superficial desire to help others but secretly make decisions that are designed to advance our own personal interests.  We are lazy…we talk a good game, and fail to have the stamina, endurance, commitment and courage to finish the race.  In short, we are sinners fallen from grace who refuse to acknowledge the importance of God as an anchor, restorer, instructor, disciplinarian, and loving father.  Left to our own devices how can we be expected to overcome our sinful state and work together for the general welfare of our fellow-men and women?

“Likewise reckon ye also to yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:11

Many like to quote the scripture “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,”  however I like to view this as” I can not do anything except through Christ, who strengthens me to accomplish what I will, and as He wills it for me.”  This requires shedding the old self, setting aside personal goals, pride, selfish behaviors and greed.  In other words, we must die to the sinful past and embrace a rebirth in a new “me.”

The formula is easy…on our own we inevitably fail.  With God we eventually succeed and earn victory against any obstacle.  Want to do the impossible?  Take it to God through Jesus Christ.  Seek counsel and advice and wait for that guidance to be revealed.  After all with God on our side, who can oppose us?

Go out and move mountains today…conquer those impossible tasks, dreams and challenges.  But first put on the armor of God and take along the Holy Spirit for wisdom.  See what a difference having God in your life means for you and for your fellow-men and women.

 

 

Good Enough to Get Into Heaven?

The other day, I was talking with my teenage daughter about the choices we have to make between good and evil in our lives.  I urged her to stop and think always before she reacts and to choose to be the salt and the light God wants her to be to the darkness of our world.  A thought suddenly occurred to her and she asked ” What if I’m not good enough for God or not good enough to get into heaven?”

It is not through your actions that you are saved, it is through your faith in Jesus Christ as your savior.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)   For all have sinned and all would be held personally responsible for it and are, therefore, guilty in God’s eyes from the smallest breach of the law to the largest (Romans 3:23-24).

Our good acts alone could never bridge the gap between sin and salvation…for thousands of years men tried but always fell back into sinfulness, idolatry, and rebellion.  This is the reason that Jesus came, to show us a new way.  Furthermore, there is no way that we could live a 50.1% good life and earn salvation….there is no weighing of good and bad deeds that gets us into heaven…Jesus Christ is the only way. How do I know this?  Because the Bible tells us  so, and Christ’s own words instruct us “I am the way, the truth and the light, no man come to the father except through me.” John 14:6

When you allow Jesus to take over control of your life and live by the guidance of The Holy Spirit, you become righteous and holy–the way God intended us to be.  Through God’s mercy and grace He sent Jesus to pay the price for your sin to redeem you because He loves you and He wants you to live with Him forever.

 

Men Love Your Wives!

The Bible commands us as men to be leaders in our home as Christ would lead not as our selfish impulses direct us to lead.  We lead with love not anger, gentleness not violence, forgiveness not guilt and retribution.

Our wives and children are gifts from God, and especially our wives…to whom we must hold the highest regard.

“What God has joined together, let not man separate….they are no longer two but one flesh.”  Matthew 19:4-6

“Let each man have his own wife…let the husband render his wife the affection due her.” 1 Corinthians 7:2-6

“The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church…Husbands. love your wives just as Christ also loves the church and gave Himself for her…love your own wives as your own bodies…he who loves his wife loves himself.”  Ephesians 5:22-28

“Husbands…dwell with [your wives] with understanding giving honor to the wife…being heirs together of the grace of life…be of one mind…be courteous…that you may inherit a blessing.  1 Peter 3:7-11

If your relationship with your wife is not ideal…pray for forgiveness and show love.  Love overcomes all.

Have a blessed day!

 

Which Came First, the Church or the Word?

Today denominational churches often require allegiance to a church doctrine as evidence of faith.  One must believe in the infallibility of a man (or in some churches today a woman) in an elevated position, or adhere to certain precepts, rules, procedures and special days honoring church historical figures to truly be “faithful.”  In some instances congregants must recite “oaths” of allegiance” to church authority and pre-eminence and dedicate oneself to acknowledging that all true spiritual direction comes not through God directly but through the church which is exclusively ordained to interpret and teach what the Bible really means.

Romans 1 and 2 tell us clearly that all mankind through the witness of creation and the conscience know that the Bible is true.  The early disciples did not preach church they preached “Christ crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2  It was the atoning death of Christ and the invitation to have a personal relationship (through faith and direct prayer) that was emphasized.  Christ said “come to me all who are weary and find rest.”  Matthew 11:28 He did not say go to your priest, pastor, minister or other person so they can interpret my Word for you and intercede with me to try to get you some rest!

In addition Christ makes it clear throughout scripture that we have individual responsibility for our faith…we cannot get it (or fail to have it) due to some other human being’s interaction with us (or failure to interact with us), or their intercession on our behalf.  We alone stand in judgment and must answer for our own life!  We cannot say at that time, “well my minister never explained that to me!” or “I heard of the Bible but never read it because someone else told me what it said!”

Church leaders are necessary for shepherding but they are not to “lord it over God’s heritage” but to be “examples for the flock.” 1 Peter 5:3  We alone are responsible for believing in God and the death of Christ, for repenting and being renewed, and for witnessing and spreading the Good News among the world’s lost.

The Bible should be our fall back, our personal guidebook for living, which we alone need to master and read and have revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. God created us to feed on His Word.  We cannot allow someone else to feed it to us after they have sliced and diced it for “better digestion.”

It is the true Gospel “whereby ye are saved” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)  which is the “power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes it.” Romans 1:16

When you go to church today, wherever you may go, take your Bible with you.  As the Bereans did, whatever you hear preached no matter who is preaching it, check it against the Word to “find out whether these things are so.”  Acts 17:11

Have a blessed day and a peaceful week ahead!

Serving the Lord: What We Were Created For!

This morning I was reading in Luke 1, 2 the story of the birth of John.  What a marvelous demonstration of the power of God and the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy!

God blessed Elizabeth in her old age with a son to be the one to pave the way for the coming of his earthly cousin, Jesus Christ (born of Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary) to bring a descendent of David into the world as the ultimate King-Priest and savior of mankind.

After the birth, when Zacharias is able to speak he blesses God and says in part “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for he has visited and redeemed his people…that we should be saved from our enemies…that we might serve Him without fear!”  Luke 2:68-74  It struck me that the birth of John followed by Christ was a redeeming act to save us from sin so that we could then serve the Lord the way God intended for us to serve him from Creation!

Serving someone is such a powerful concept.  Some people reject the service of others as too burdensome.  Others are prideful and expect to be served.  Many do not have the courage or the focus to offer themselves as servants.  But what does it mean to serve?

The Bible gives us more direction in Romans 6:18.  There Paul instructs the church that “Being then made free from sin, you became servants of righteousness.”  He later adds, “what fruit did you have before? But now you have fruit unto holiness.” Romans 7:21-22.

So the life and death of Christ frees us from the shackles of sin and death but it does something else:  it creates in us a new person, bearing the fruit of rebirth.  This fruit is a righteousness that makes us a light for the world, an example for others, and a witness for the redeeming blood of Christ!  We who are saved, who have been reborn are not to simply sit back and be inactive in our faith.  We are to take the gift of the Holy Spirit and serve God by engaging in acts with and for others that reflect our righteousness and bring the example of Christ and the testimony of the impact of his redeeming death in our own lives to those around us!

We who are called are servants for the Lord to the world!  So get out of your church, get up from your pew, put down the Bible (or better yet take it with you) and go out and spread the Good News!  Be a light in a dark world for others to follow.   Step up and step in when righteousness is needed….be the example that Christ has been for us, and demonstrate the love of God to all you encounter.

As Christ is not dead, your FAITH is not dead or stagnant…it is alive, and needs to be USED and DISPLAYED so that in doing so you serve the Lord by bringing your testimony to others, and making new disciples in a fallen world.

Be courageous…spread the Word today and be the servant that God made you to be!

Have a blessed day and a wonderful week ahead!