Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)

The teachings of Christ are many and I cannot hope to get into all of them in this one post, but I do wish to cover one topic today and that is what Jesus said about the greatest commandments of all.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Wow, that is a powerful statement. To say that all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. At first glance these commandments seem very easy, but if you have ever tried to love someone who has wronged you then you know these are not as easy as they sound.
I hear the expression 'Hate the sin not the sinner,' all the time, but I don't agree with that. As humans with human minds it is often difficult for us to separate the two. We see people according to what they do. If this guy killed someone and went to prison, he is a murderer. It doesn't matter that he may have come to know God through Jesus Christ while he was in there, the second we know what he did he is automatically labeled a murderer. We must push away from our prejudices and learn to truly love one another for just being a wonderful creation of God. Everyone may not return your love and kindness but its just as Jesus says;
"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:35-36)

Here Jesus tells us how we should treat our enemies. He didn't say it would be easy, only that it is what we must do.

Only when we come to fully understand the first commandment and put it into practice can we hope to develop a heart that is open enough to love our neighbor.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the commandment that we must strive for. When I was first saved I thought that 'Love the Lord,' was no problem, I can do that, I already love Him. But, did I truly love Him? No. I fell back into my old ways within a few months of being saved and I backslid so far it took me 2 years to come back to Him. Learning to love God and give Him your entire heart, soul and mind takes some time and dedication. Giving your heart to Him doesn't mean that you truly love Him, truly loving Him means giving Him everything you have not just your heart. There is a big difference from what I call "Spiritual Puppy Love" and true love. Spiritual Puppy Love is the people you see that are just saved and they are so full of joy and happiness and they love God one minute and the next thing you know they have fallen back into their old ways without even blinking an eye.

Loving God is a learning process for all of us. I try to give praise to God every second of the day and I try to put Him first in everything I do, but there are those moments when I get upset and in the midst of my anger I push God out of my mind. I have finally reached the point in my walk with Christ where I can control my anger a little better and turn my mind back towards Him, but it still takes a little effort. Our human minds like to hold onto anger, we like to dwell on it, but if you do this long enough it will eventually eat a hole right through you. Not a visible hole but a spiritual hole.

Have you ever met someone who is just angry all the time? Doesn't matter what is going on, they could be at the park on a beautiful spring day with the person they love and they are still griping about something. Unfortunately this describes the majority of the world. They have forgotten how to love somewhere along the lines, they have a hole in their heart that has been eaten away by some event in their past. It isn't until they can learn to love again that the hole will be filled and the anger will be replaced. Lucky for us, for them and for the whole world we have the best teacher there is on the subject of love; Jesus Christ.

The word love is mentioned over 200 times in the new testament. Jesus' ministry was established on the foundation of love. As disciples we are to seek to become Christ like. This brings me back to the second commandment: "Love your neighbor..."

"As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
(John 13:34-35)

Jesus showed us the way to love by being an example for us to follow. As believers we need to be there for one another and willing to do what we can to help.
It is also important that our love for one another is evident to the rest of the world. As Believers we are under the watchful eye of the world and open for scrutiny. Non-believers watch us very careful, just waiting for us to slip up, so we must be careful in all that we do.

God Bless

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Christ came to make disciples to himself. He wants us to follow him and strive to become like him. He does not want our religions with our hollow prayers and half-hearted rituals. He wants you entirely and completely as a living sacrifice to him.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

I look at many churches today and see how they are lukewarm. Jesus tells us in Revelations 3:15-16, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

If Jesus came today, how many churches and Christians would he find that are lukewarm? I think that fits about 80% of the Christian world. Of course this is my guesstimation and probably wouldn't hold up to real statistics, but I am not here to talk about statistics. You know what they say,"70% of all statistics are wrong." :o)

Jesus, loves us and he died for us and with the knowledge of this Truth we cannot live our lives as we so wish. We can no longer go about our day, only bowing our heads at the supper table, the bedside at night or Sundays and holidays to acknowledge him and give praise and thanks to him. Our days should be filled with praise and honor, our minds always focused on him. If our minds are not on him then they are on things of this world.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."
(Matthew 6:24)
Which one do you serve God or the world?

I want to be able to say that I lived a life holy to him, that I used every opportunity to bring praise and glory to his name. That I sought to bring as many as I could to know him through his son and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
If you are hit by a bus today and have to stand before God, what will you say to him when he asks you, "What did you do with the life that I gave you?"

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'
His master replied, well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!
The man with two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'
His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many. Come and share in your master's happiness!
Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' " (Matthew 25:14-30)

Jesus tells us the parable of the wicked servant to describe to us how important it is for us to use that which God has entrusted to us. He has entrusted to us our lives. This life you are living does not belong to you, it is a loan from God. He created you so that you might have a loving relationship with Him. What are you doing with the talent(life) that God has given you? Are you burying it and doing nothing with it or are you using it to profit the Lord?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

God knows our very needs, more so than we do. We think we know what our needs in life are and this is when problems begin to arise in our lives. Our lives become unmanageable; days seem to get worse and worse until we find ourselves in a hole that is so deep we can barely see the top in order to climb out.

Take everything to God and give it to him. Seek Him in all that you do and He will never lead you astray.

"I will never leave you, nor forsake you." (Joshua 1:5)

Take comfort in these words and know that if you follow him with all your heart and all your soul He will always you lead you down the path of righteousness.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)