Archive for March, 2014
God’s word will guide you through this life. Learn it and use it. It works.
“I’m afraid of what might happen to the church if abundance comes to the island.” That’s how one of my Christian friends in Cuba described his country’s situation. People in Cuba are going through a time of hardship, with the weight of international disputes falling on the shoulders of ordinary people.
In these difficult times, people are looking for God. They are hungry for hope. Churches are growing at a fantastic rate.
My friend is concerned that some of that could change should conditions improve. He doesn’t desire suffering on anyone; he’s just aware that abundance brings its own problems.
I know that he’s right, for the Bible says many similar things. Jesus talked about how hard it is for the rich to be saved (Matthew 19:23-24), and he warned of gathering riches in this life rather than the coming one (Matthew 6:19-21). In one of his parables, Jesus warned of “the deceitfulness of riches” that could choke out a growing faith (Matthew 13:22). The apostle Paul said that trying to get rich was a good way to ruin your faith (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
That’s why we each have to make a decision. What are we going to prioritize? Will we put more emphasis on comfort, pleasure, and financial security? Or will we seek faithfulness to God above all else?
Jesus explained it this way:
“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. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)
Christians can be rich. Rich people can be Christians. But we need to remember that material things can often get in the way of our faith. We need to keep Paul’s words in mind:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Godliness with contentment. That should be our goal.
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)
Chosen by God… what a wonderful thought! God has chosen us Christians to be his special possession. Let that thought lift you up today and every day.
Some day we will see the face of God. Live with that expectation. It changes everything.
“He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.”” (Mark 8:12)
We don’t need to see miracles to believe in our God. As Jesus said, blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.
Great news for today. When you feel overwhelmed by the guilt and shame of your sins, remember that our God forgives them. Praise God.
“O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night” (Nehemiah 1:5–6)
Our God keeps his promises. And he hears our prayers. Don’t be afraid to share with him your deepest fears and greatest hopes.
Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices. But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. (Zechariah 1:4)
Do not be like them. Repent and turn to God.
I love to attend school activities: sports, plays, concerts, and contests. I enjoyed watching my children and now my grandchildren and their friends. I have found one common trait among all students. They look for people in the audience. The younger students wave at family and friends – sometimes shyly, sometimes enthusiastically. The older ones are more subtle, but you can see them looking. They are looking for friends and family. Looking to affirmation, checking to see the reaction to how they are doing.
Every one of them is excited when they do well, knowing they have made their family proud. But I also watch them when it does not go so well. Some immediately look for support, encouragement, and reassurance. Others look with the expectation that they have disappointed, or embarrassed not just themselves, but also the ones who came to see them perform. I wonder if they have been conditioned to expect anger, ridicule, or punishment for their failure.
I think that is how many people think about their lives and God. He is watching, and how will he react? They know he is pleased with them when they live according to their faith in him. They expect and anticipate encouragement and comfort. Some see the God who is loving, proud, supportive, and welcoming even when we fail… maybe especially when we fail.
But others have a feeling of dread and fear that God is in the audience. They believe that God is waiting for us to fail so he can condemn us to hell. As if that is what he really wants for us. That is the concept of God that someone has taught them. And it is a lie.
The truth is that God is pleased when we follow him. He is hurt when we fail, but he does not want to condemn us. He wants to save us. That is why he sent his son to die on the cross for all our failures. That is why his son came to earth. He came so he would know and understand how it is down here. So he could save us.
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
Jesus reminds us that we have to be as pure on the inside as we are on the outside. What we think about matters.