To Grow Closer to Christ…

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.

God Does Not Look at Me from a Distance

God does not look at me from a distance. If He did, I might hide myself in the shadows or under covers. But He is here, close by my side–and not BY me only–but IN me. He is within this heart, where these lungs breathe.

God is here: within this mouth, in this tongue, in these eyes, in each of us who call Him Lord, God dwells. He is within you, and around you; He is beside you, and behind, and in front.

God sees everything. You can see God everywhere. God is working everywhere with eyes open.

God sees everything and more particularly God sees me!  He sees you as much as if there were nobody else in the world for Him to look at. My attention is divided when I look at a sea of faces. But the infinite mind of God is able to grasp a million objects at once and yet to focus as much as on one as if there were nothing else.

God sees you with all His eyes, with the whole of His sight–YOU! YOU are the particular object of His attention at every moment, at this very moment.

God sees you entirely. He does not merely note your actions and appearance. God sees what you are thinking; He looks within.

God sees you constantly, entirely, with undivided attention.

GOD is Here

God is here. God has been here the whole time.

That’s not just the sun signaling the start of a new day; it’s the witness of the steadfast love of God that will always break the darkness of night.

That’s not just a dinner with friends; it’s the music of laughter reminding us we’re not alone.

That’s not just the sound of a baby crying in the night and robbing us of sleep; it’s the evidence that your child is loved, that she believes you will care for her.

These are all gifts from God, ordinary, extraordinary, earthy, yet filled with God’s glory.

Life is more than a sum of its events. In each moment, in each breath and thought and act, something more is going on.

God is Everywhere? So What?

God is omniscient/omnipresent. What does that mean practically speaking?

To those that pray: God indeed hears you! He hears us BEFORE we pray.

To the anxious: God sees you! If you are lying on the battlefield of life, God sees you. He will relieve you, for He only needs to see the woes of His children to relieve them.

To the slandered: God sees you for who you really are so shut out the despairing voices of falsehood. Some may think you guilty, but God knows your innocence.

To those who know not Christ: Whenever you sin, you sin in the presence of God. So repent, for His evidence at the judgment is full proof.

You were Made to Believe in Someone Else

At the core of believing in ourselves is our desire to be in control. However, if you attempt to live life believing in yourself, you will be trapped by discouragement, fear, anxiety, and worry. You were not made to believe in yourself, because you were not made to be in control. You were made to believe in Someone else, to trust someone else to be in control. That is ultimately what faith is–trusting in the One who sits on the throne as King.

There is a wonderful freedom in living this way. It takes all the pressure off you and places it on the One who can handle it. God never gets stressed, anxious, or worried. He is in control of all things, has a plan and purpose, and is strong enough to see it through. Time and time again He has proven Himself. But to believe in Him means we have to let go. Letting go means we can no longer hold on to it. Whatever that “it” is, it’s time to place it in the hands of God and let go of it. Faith steps in the moment you let go.

Caring for People has a Price Tag

Caring for people always has a price tag. Stopping to mend broken hearts and shattered lives requires an investment of time and other resources.

People want instant success and a ministry of compassion rarely meets this standard.

Here are some things we may have to give up to help others:

  1. Reputation: Some people won’t understand why we’re loving certain people.
  2. Stuff: You never know what God might ask you to give up.

A life of reckless love is messy. But this is the life abundant Jesus talks about.

3 Things We All Need

We all need a King...the King who knows us best. Only one King is qualified to sit on the throne of our heart even though we constantly replace Him with idols.

We all need a cause. We are made for a mission, a purpose. If not, then we might as well become nihilists.

We need a community. Hebrews 10:24-25. Jesus had a community of disciples, a small group of men committed to living on mission everyday together.

It’s Hard for Jesus to be the Hero of our Story when We’re so Busy being the Hero

For many Christians Jesus ceases to really be their hero. Instead they feel a part of a faith community (tribe) and mentally assent to who Jesus is and what He’s done, but there’s no heartfelt reality and application of the Gospel until they experience a real sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness.

God is always with us, but sometimes we don’t sense His presence in our lives because we’re so busy with our own decisions, solutions, and plans. That’s why it often takes a crisis to get us face to face with God.

God often brings us or lets us get to a place of helplessness because He wants us to let go and let God. He wants to be our Hero who comes in and saves the day. All we have to do is let Him do what He does so well.

Heaven rules in spite of the situation you face. The problem is not yours. The battle is the Lord’s.

Fire and Brimestone Sermons

Fire and brimstone sermons are rarely preached anymore. Why? Has God changed or were they inappropriate then as they are now? Some argue that they use fear of hell as a motivation to follow Christ rather than the love-based motivation of God’s love and grace. Which God would you rather follow?

Perhaps many preachers presented it that way but God has not changed. We follow and trust a God who is a consuming fire and loving.

We prepare for the severe side of nature–why ignore the severe aspect of God? When a man builds his house or ship strongly to withstand the elements we do not say he is a victim of fear. Instead, we say he is prudent.

Likewise, when I appeal to the severity of God–to His fire, His sword–I am not preaching mere terrors of the Lord to move people by alarm rather than by love. I am simply being faithful to the facts–I am reminding you that God is not less complete than the season He made. I am asking you in the summer of His mercies not to forget the winter of His judgment.

Happiness as by-product of Hope

Many people think they’ll be happy when something good happens to them. But it’s actually not the case necessarily. Good things tend to happen to those who are already happy. Isn’t it truer that a happy person will create a happy marriage, rather than become happy through a good marriage.

Happiness is putting the cart before the horse. Real happiness, the kind that comes from God, can only be found when we have hope–the anticipation that something good is coming. It’s the happy feeling we get when we think about the good things God has planned for our future, especially in the context of His plans for a redeemed world.