Christianity is about something that happened. Something that happened to Jesus of Nazareth. Something that happened through Jesus of Nazareth.
Christianity is NOT about a new moral teaching.
Christianity is NOT about Jesus offering a wonderful moral example.
Christianity is NOT about Jesus offering, demonstrating, or even accomplishing a new route by which people can “go to heaven when they die.”
Christianity is NOT about giving the world fresh teaching about God.
While all of those things happen in Christianity to some degree, they are not the reason Christianity exists.
Christianity is all about the belief that the living God, in fulfillment of his promises and as the climax of the story of Israel, has accomplished all this: the finding, the saving, the giving of new life in Jesus. In particular we are all summoned to discover, through following Jesus, that this new world is indeed a place of justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and that we are not only to enjoy it as such but to work at bringing it to birth on earth as it is in heaven.
No one has to tell a young man in love that he needs to call his girl and go see her.
Likewise, when we fall in love with Jesus, no one should have to tell us to set our sights on Him and talk to Him every chance we get!
So if you’re not having a regular daily time with God, then maybe you need to repent and admit that God is not first in your life. And then put Him there!
I like being in control. PERIOD. I want things to happen according to MY wishes and timetable. When things don’t go MY way then I’m most likely to demonstrate a volatile temper, disappointment, frustration, or worse, apathy.
Oswald Chambers correctly observed,
Our Lord never asks us to decide for Him; he asks us to yield to Him–a very different matter.
Acceptance means learning to trust God more.
Vance Havner put it this way,
Prayer may not get us what we want, but it will teach us to want what we need.
Dear Lord, let me focus on my blessings, not my sorrows. Give me the wisdom to be thankful for the gifts that I do have, and not bitterness about the things I don’t.
In 1 Samuel 4:1-2, Israel went into battle without God and lost. In verses 10-11 Israel goes into battle WITH God…and still lost! They lost because they sought to use God; and God cannot be used by us.
It is possible for us to treat God like a waiter in a restaurant. You sit with your friends, enjoying a meal, talking together, and most of the time you ignore the waiter. You only call him over when you want something. The waiter does not sit at the table with you. He is not part of your evening. You just call him over when you need him. We can trust God like that. He is not part of our lives. But when we need Him, we call Him over to help. We don’t take Him seriously.
It is not hard to see God in this ordinary way. We come to worship each Sunday, read our Bible daily, and give money away and think we are doing our best for God. And in return we expect God to save us from Hell and help us out from time to time, ensuring that we are comfortable and happy.
We were made in His image. We are not to make Him into ours. The world does not revolve around you or me. God must be the center.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says,
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
In this you can be certain: God is sufficient to meet your needs. Period.
The Psalmist writes, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”(Psalm 30:5). But when we are suffering, the morning may seem very far away. It is not. God promises that He is “near to those who have a broken heart” (Psalm 34:18).
If you are discouraged by the inevitable demands of life here on earth, be mindful of this fact: the loving heart of God is sufficient to meet any challenge…including yours.
For many people, attending worship is full of frustration and distraction: “We are running late! Hurry up!” or “The sermon was way too long!” or “What should we do for lunch and the rest of our day?” Worship is an invitation by God, not an obligation. It’s not about meeting “my needs” but about shaping my soul. I would like to make your corporate worship more meaningful by suggesting a few acts of preparation:
- Create margin. It’s hard to focus on worship when you’re running late and you’re tired. We have to get to worship with the right attitude. We should go to bed early enough to get enough sleep so that we can get up early enough to get ready with time to spare. Time margin is necessary to create heart margin.
- Arrive 5-10 minutes early. That will allow you to visit with friends or make new ones perhaps. More importantly it will give you a chance to take a deep breath and remember why you’re there.
- Come with holy expectancy. That phrase comes from Richard Foster and he recommends beginning worship with a simple prayer: “Spirit, speak to me. Jesus, teach me. Father, let me experience your love and power.”
- Commit to applying one thing. Just as worship begins in holy expectancy it should end in holy obedience. So pay attention during the service so that by the time you leave you can answer, “What does God want me to do as a result of this time spent in worship?”
Ephesians 2:6 says, “God raised (past tense) us up with Christ and seated (past tense) us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
Because we are in union with Christ, who is in heaven, then we are in heaven with God. Paul urges praise for God because we are with Him being blessed by Him. As hell is total, conscious separation from the blessings of God, so the spiritual dimension of heaven is total and conscious union with God. In our union with Christ we are already partakers of this spiritual reality, even though it is not fully realized until we are in our glorified state. This means we are already experiencing aspects of heaven, although we are not there yet.
The benefits of this “already and not yet,” Paul has already stated: grace and peace (Ephesians 1:2).
Some say that “true prayer” is about quiet and contemplation, implying that the more spiritual you are, the more calm and composed you will be. Not true. Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1 is a prayer that God answer and far from the above description.
- deep anguish (vs. 10)
- bitter weeping (vs. 10)
- misery (vs. 11)
- being deeply troubled (vs. 15)
- great anguish and grief (vs. 16)
If you’ve ever prayed with those emotions, then you are in good company. Prayer is not a technique to master! It is “pouring out (your) soul to the Lord” (vs. 15).
We seldom pray because we think we can manage without God. They are done out of duty, one option on a busy day. Prayer was not an option or a duty to Hannah!
The cry of prayer is a cry of faith. It arises from the belief that God is a father who is powerful enough (able) and loving enough (willing) to answer.
Your success will depend, in large part, upon the passion that you bring to your work. God has created a world in which diligence is rewarded and sloth is not. So whatever you choose to do, do it with commitment, with excitement, with enthusiasm, and with vigor.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. And for believers, it’s important to remember that hard work is not simply a proven way to get ahead, it’s also part of God’s plan for His children.
God did not create us to be ordinary; He created us for greater things. Reaching for greater things usually requires work…lots of it.
Colossians 3:23-24 says,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
In Matthew 26:40-46, Jesus prays 3 times, “Father let this cup pass from me.” 3 times God says no.
Neither our prayers nor our faith are weak merely because God says “no” to our requests. We are called to pray like Jesus but typically wind up praying like Peter.
3 times Jesus returns to the inner 3 friends; 3 times he finds them sleeping. He singles out Peter because he had just boasted he would die for him. And in just a few minutes he will draw his sword.
Conclusion: Peter is willing to fight with a physical sword for Jesus but too sleepy to fight with spiritual weapons. Are we?