How Are We “Children of God?”

John 1:10-13 reads like this, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

That has a lot to tell us about who we are and who we can be.

  1. We have the extraordinary right, through Jesus, to become children of God. Again, we can become children of God. We are not born “children of God.” Everyone is not God’s child but everyone is born in God’s image which means that everyone is worthy of our respect and ultimately, love.
  2. By nature we must be adopted into his family; we are not natural children (Romans 8:14-17).
  3. The transaction is made when we respond to Jesus and by faith (not by good works, deeds, obedience or adherence to the law) receive his name (Galatians 3:26) and we are led by his Spirit (Romans 8:14).
  4. Jesus himself promised this to the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).

True or False: Do Your Best and God Will Do the Rest?

Our culture seems to promote the “do your best and God will do the rest” philosophy. But that’s wrong. When we first focus on our best and wait until we need God’s rest, it may be too late. Prayer becomes a last resort, not a first retort. Then even the Lord becomes a victim of our impatience.

Following Jesus does not mean we use Him when we no longer function ourselves. It means that we recognize that we follow Him because following ourselves and our best is nothing at all, but that God can do everything through us. As disciples, we find not some, but ALL of our strength, hope, courage, and confidence IN God. Therefore, prayer must be our first concern.

Sold All He Had

Jesus said in Matthew 13:44-45,

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.”

We “sell all we have” when we risk putting ourselves in God’s hands alone even though our senses can’t prove our faith. The “treasure” we receive is exactly this relationship where we have surrendered ourselves completely into the hands of our Creator and rely on Him alone.

Most of the time God gives back full measure, overflowing. At other times when God says no, we trust “no” is good for us. Sometimes God hides Himself in powerlessness so that we have to work out our own problems, and that’s how He gives us such gifts as independence, courage, and patience. Our TREASURE is to live contentedly with what God gives. Often we will be surprised by joy.

What’s the Primary Motivation for living out the Christian Life?

It’s hard, I’d say impossible, to be growing in your walk with Christ if you’re not regularly spending time with Him in His word or serving in the church or community.

Gratitude should be the primary motivation of living out the Christian life. A person needs little added incentive for being friends with someone who saved their life. Christ’s death and resurrection should provide all the motivation we need to serve Him. If we need more incentive, we have failed to grasp the most foundational logic of the gospel.

So if you’re not spending time in the word, in prayer, in worship, and serving others, why not? Don’t do those things out of guilty but out of humility to the One who gave you all.

The Walking Dead’s Not Just a Show. It’s a Reality for Those Who Live According to the World

I love the Walking Dead show on AMC about a zombie apocalypse.  Why?  Not because of the gore but because of the realization that I am capable in my own life of playing the zombie or the truly “Living” person.

Ephesians 4:17-24,

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul warns us here that those who live according to the world’s ways ARE the walking dead–they will move about the earth without the joy and power that is true life, aimless, without purpose or direction except feeding the urges that compel us beyond reason.

The Harvest is Coming

On an oval track the starting positions of the runners are staggered so that the runners on the outside lanes do not have to run farther than those along the inside, but that also means onlookers can’t judge who is winning until the last stretch at the finish line.

Jesus compared the Kingdom of heaven to a field in which good seeds and weeds were both sown. When workers wanted to pull up the weeds, he said, “You can’t judge yet which is which. You must wait for the harvest.”

I wasn’t raised in the church but my children seldom miss. I know members who don’t bring their kids at all. People are all at different places in their faith journey because they had a different starting line. Help is needed, not judgment.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter what we believe and do. There is a harvest coming.  We’ll be surprised whom we meet in the Kingdom, people we never thought of, while others will be missing. But that judgment belongs to God alone, not us.

2 Kinds of People in the World

1 Corinthians 1:18,

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

There are two kinds of people in the world–those in the process of perishing and those in the process of being saved.

Which are you? Does it bother you, Christian, that the world sees us as foolish? It shouldn’t We were once “wise” with worldly wisdom. Those perishing are just held captive to the idols of “reason” or “wisdom” or “popularity.” Rather than react to the world, we need to LOVE it aggressively! Love always defeats “wisdom.”

Why do Some Christians Fail to Use their Gifts?

Why do some Christians fail to make good use of the gifts Christ has given them?

  1. Some Christians do not understand that we are obligated to use the gifts that God gives for the building of His church (Romans 12:4-8). Our desire for self-fulfillment cause some to not even consider their obligations to steward what God has given them for the purposes of the One who purchased us with His own blood.
  2. Sometimes we do not want the obligation of our gifts. They may be in an area that requires sacrifice or does not bring acclaim.
  3. Neglect of our gifts can also be a result of our wanting others’ gifts.

We must ask ourselves: Am I doing what God has made me to do or am I neglecting my gifts? Am I delighting to be what God has made me to be, or am I despising my gifts?

Our Confidence is in God’s Character

What confidence do we have that God will continue loving me if I cannot do everything He requires? Our confidence, the Apostle Paul says, should not be in our accomplishments but in God’s character.

We know this by…

#1 God’s Past Faithfulness: God’s love is based on something in God’s heart not our heart. The chosen people of Israel were not chosen because of something in them. They were not more holy, more numerous, or more distinguished than any other nation. See Deuteronomy 7:6-7; 9:5-7.

What is the result of this faithfulness? Praise, praise, praise at the amazing plan of God.

Even the trials and difficulties of our lives do not undermine God’s ultimate plan–we cannot help but praise Him.

Even when we have failed, even when our sin is apparent, the purposes of God do not go away. The lines of God connect the events of the past, the events of our lives, and the experiences of others, so that all might be to the praise of His glory.

#2 God’s Present Faithfulness: Paul uses the present tense to say that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” God’s plan is for the present age, our time, right now.  God’s plan is true and applies to us.

What a difference it makes in my life and yours when we believe that the trials as well as the accomplishments, the difficulties as well as the joys, are not simply the by-products of brute forces in the universe but actually are all part of God’s eternal plan for His glory and our good.