True truth can only be found in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, the Bible.
- I must accept its authority. The Bible must have the first and last word in my life. It is more sure than culture, tradition, reason, or emotion. All four of those are flawed by the Fall. We need a perfect standard.
- I must assimilate its truth. That takes time, research, and meditation.
- I must apply its principles. We must become “doers of the Word.” [See James 1:22] We avoid this part because it is difficult and painful.
I’m a suburban kid by upbringing but I’m so soothed when I’m hiking or sitting in nature just marvelling at God’s beauty. I don’t marvel enough at God’s creation of humanity.
After each of the first five days of creation, God looked at what had been created and saw that it was “good.” On the sixth day of Creation, however, after making humans, God declared that creation was “very good.” Too often we look around and see the beauty in sunsets, mountains, or cascading waterfalls but forget the beauty present in God’s greatest, most complex creation–human beings. After all, God loves us enough to have sent Jesus Christ to live and die so that we could have abundant life and eternal life.
I love baptism! I know that’s an odd thing to say perhaps. But it is beautiful.
“Baptizo” from the Greek means to “dip,” or “immerse,” or “submerge.” Why did Jesus pick immersion as the initiation rite for becoming his follower?
Romans 6 makes it clear that one of the primary pictures Jesus had in mind was decomposition–baptism is actually a mock tomb.
When we are lowered into the water, it’s like being lowered into the grave. Being raised out of the water like our raising to a new life.
Through baptism, God is saying, “The whole journey is about death. Death to yourself. Death to the culture in which you live. Death to your ambitions, dreams, and wishes. But it’s also about life! My life within you.”
There it is: the card that people play to justify actions they know deep down are wrong.
Is our happiness really the main point of the good life as a disciple of Jesus? is that God’s main priority for us?
The world’s idea of happiness is directly tied to circumstances. If our circumstances are favorable, then we’re happy. If not, then we’re not.
But circumstances change all the time. Then we allow those vacillating circumstances to dictate our happiness. Outward forces control our inward feelings.
I think God has something better for us than happiness. God desires that we experience joy, that settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope that only comes from trusting Him.
Three reasons joy is better than chasing happiness
- Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). In the Bible, fruit is a symbol of character. The list of fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5 should naturally flow out of Christians’ lives when have they God inside them. If you have the Spirit, you will have joy! This is a fundamental difference between joy and happiness. We attempt to find happiness from favorable ciircumstances, but we receive joy only as a gift from the favorable God.
- Joy is built on a person named Jesus; happiness on circumstance. Joy will always be wherever Jesus and His Spirit are. No matter what I go through, I can have joy because my God is with me. Now just so we’re clear, joy is not always laughing, smiling or being silly. Don’t confuse joy with upbeat feelings.
- Joy is a command from Scripture. Nothing is more confusing to the world than for God’s people to say they have joy in their hearts while they have misery on their faces. Philippians 4:4. When should we rejoice? ALWAYS. Not…when everything is going your way or when everything makes sense of if you feel like it. It’s not a suggestion. This is a command to rejoice at all times, no matter what is going on.
Remember, God is with you.
There are many reasons for sure but here are a few we can do something about.
First, God’s people have become self-centered rather than God-centered. For generations, American churches have taught their people that the measure of a great worship service is whether they enjoyed it. They rarely consider whether their worship actually honors God. They sing songs they like, dress according to their tradition or comfort, and measure their experience by what they got out of it. For years, the church has taught its people to be self-centered and now it’s reaping what it sowed.
Second, the Church is seeking to attract people rather than transform them. Our question should not be, “What message will draw people into the door.” But rather it should be “what message properly presents God’s heart?”
The church blames secular society, spiritual warfare, Hollywood, Washington, or the media. But it does nto believe it has departed from God.
What’s the remedy?
First, reject a Christian cultural upbringing and embrace true discipleship in every day life which is anything but self-centered.
Second, focus less on pleasing people and more on pleasing God.
God exalts thow who act with faith. This principle goes back to the Old Testament and even Genesis when Abraham acted on faith to God’s call.
And those who God exalts are rarely the powerful and important. In God’s story, the common people take the center stage. It’s not a king’s eloquent decree that makes Jesus stop, but rather a blind beggar who desperately calls out His name. Jesus did not ignore the common people or portray them as buffoons.
God prefers to focus on ordinary people and how they become quiet heroes through loving acts of fatih; God invites us to do the same. 1 Corinthians 1:28, “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.”
The incarnation is the first miracle of the gospel, not the turning of water into wine or the cleansing of the lepers. No, all those things are symptoms of this miracle of God taking on flesh and living among us. The Apostle Paul writes that the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Him. God arrives with a body, with a hometown, with a voice, and with a name.
In Jesus, salvation has a name. Jesus isn’t a name that his parents plucked out of a baby name book, summoned from their familiy trees, or a result from brainstorming. He shall be called Jesus. The Lord will save His people from their sin.
Jesus is a name with a purpose: He will save us from sin.
Praise His name, His name of hope.
I don’t know anyone who says, “I pray too much.” I think all of us could pray mroe. So why not create triggers in our daily routines that will increase our prayer times like we already do with saying a blessing at each meal?
-Pray for a neighbor every day you get the mail from your mailbox.
-Thank God for something specific every time you wash the dishes.
-Ask God how you might encourage or bless someone else each time you walk into the grocery store.
Notice specific rhythms to your day and try to create a prayer habit out of those.
James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
I want to grow closer to Christ daily but the “grind” of life often works against that. I must continue to work hard at:
Living in Awe. We are created to appreciate the wonders of the world. Isaiah 29:14, “Therefore once more I will asound these people with wonde rafter wonder.” I live in awe, to never get over what God can and will do. I never get over God’s love for me. I never get over the love that sent Jesus to the cross to die for me. I never get over the beauty and wonder of the world God created. I never get over that God invited me to be a partner in building His Kingdom.
Living in tune. God invites us to His throne of grace to talk and listen. When I listen, when I live in tuen with Christ, we grow closer.
Living in the Spirit. We become the home of God Himself as His Spirit comes to dwell in us. In His word we find that the Holy Spirit is our Advocate (John 14:26), Comforter (14:16), Truth (16:13), freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17), peace (1 John 4:4) and our power (Acts 1:18).
Living in gratitude. One of the hardest commands in the Bible is “Give thanks in everything for this is God’s will for you…(I Thessalonias 5:18).” Paul reinforces it in Ephesians 5:20. How is this possible?
When I give thanks, even during difficult times, three things begin to happen. A. My focus changes. I see Jesus more than the cirumstances. I remember His love and sacrifice. B. Then my faith expands. I remember that I can trust Him. C. Doors open. When I say thank you, it is as though I hand God a key to open doors of acceptance, understanding, and opportunity for God, to His good work in and through me.