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Do You Know Your Purpose?

Do You Know Your Purpose?

It is perhaps one of the most common questions asked by humans throughout the ages.

“What is the meaning of life?”

Another related question for any given individual is:

“What is my purpose?”

People are born, live their lives, then they die. It’s that dash, you know, on our tombstone, the one between 1968 and 20?? (At least for me) that we’re living out.

Some people seem to love living, they just enjoy life.

Then there are others, the majority, unfortunately, that can’t wait for the weekend so that they have some time off from their work. These people would like to enjoy life but they don’t know how. In most cases, their happiness is based on being able to have time off, a better job, or having a nicer home or car.

What about you? Is your life satisfying? Are you enjoying your time here on planet Earth?  Is your life worth living? Do you have a clear purpose? Or does it seem meaningless?

How does one go from living a meaningless life to one filled with purpose?

Suppose you found a device. It’s a little electronic gadget that has some buttons and a little display. The only words on it are foreign and you can’t get it to turn on or do anything. Until you know what it was designed for, it has no obvious purpose. It seems to have been masterfully designed and looks really interesting, but it does nothing and seems meaningless.

Then along comes the device’s creator. He has something in his hand that appears to be some sort of power source. He plugs it into the device and it lights up, makes some noise and starts doing some of the most marvelous things you’ve ever seen. What the little device does is simply amazing. The technology is so wonderful and so exceptional that it makes you say “Wow, whoever designed this little thingy is a genius!”

Psalm 19
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
     The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
     night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word;
     their voice is never heard.
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
     and their words to all the world.

Have you ever observed the sky at night?

Did you ever look at the moon and stars and said “Wow!”? Now check this out:

Genesis 1:  14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them mark off the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

Isn’t this cool? The Bible actually tells us what these heavenly bodies were made for. Though we see them day in and day out they continue to amaze us. The heavens happen to be God’s handiwork and it’s been working very well. Also, notice that they are multi-purpose, they separate day from night, one to govern the day, another to govern the night. The sun governs by affecting wind patterns and weather, while the moon governs by affecting the tides and I’m certain other undiscovered influences. All the heavenly bodies have the purpose of illumination and each is quite brilliant at that. I think it’s really cool that the moon has no light by itself, but only when we see the moon when it is reflecting the sun does it have light.

Are there any true atheists?

The people who deny God say that life and our universe happened all by chance. They see no purpose in any of it and think we’re just some cosmic accident.

Romans 1:  18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. 21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

This is telling us that even atheists know God, but they’ve suppressed the truth. This proves the point that if you lie to yourself long enough you’ll end up believing it. Their minds are really dark and confused.

Satan has a lot of people fooled these days, doesn’t he?

He does anything he can to distract us from the Living God to the point of believing that there is no purpose and that life is meaningless.

So what about humans? What is our purpose? How were we designed?

Genesis 1:  27 So God created human beings in his own image.
     In the image of God he created them;
     male and female he created them.

What sets us apart from every other living creature is that we were made in His image. This knowledge helps us a lot. This implies that, by design, we resemble God. He’s cast us to be God-like, it’s in our DNA.

But since creation, we’ve encountered a bit of a problem. Well, actually, it is a major problem:

Romans 5:  12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

Born Sinners

Humans have been separated from God since Adam’s transgression and we’re born sinners:

Psalm 51:
5 For I was born a sinner—
     yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

Separation from God means that we cannot know or understand our purpose. Like the aforementioned device, we have no purpose until we are plugged into our Power Source, the Creator. Only then can we live in such a way that brings Him glory:

John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

This makes it clear that humans are in need of reconciliation with God. How can this happen?

Romans 5: 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Only in Jesus

Only when our faith is in Christ do we truly live and are plugged into His power.  Then we can live up to the purpose He’s created us for, which is to glorify Him.

Again, how do we glorify Him? John 15: 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Is there a sure-footed way for us to bear fruit in every season? You betcha!

Psalm 1
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
     follow the advice of the wicked,
     or stand around with sinners,
     or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
     meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
     bearing fruit each season.
  Their leaves never wither,
     and they prosper in all they do.

This makes complete sense when you think about it.

The Bible is God’s instruction manual for us, it really teaches us how to live and how to love God. We are so wonderfully made that unlike the device mentioned above, God’s designed us so that He made us aware of our sinful nature and has given us free will and the ability to plug ourselves into His power.

John 6:  26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

This purpose of living for God yields eternal life and when this sinks into our hearts it brings true joy. The more we read His Word, the more we know how to please Him and give Him glory. After a while, our lives become simpler. We live each day making a concerted, deliberate effort with the simple goal of pleasing Him and giving Him the glory.

Paul said it best:

Romans 12:  1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Will you live for His glory?

“Dear God, you are my maker and my savior. You came before me and follow me. Without you I am nothing and have no meaning. I owe everything to you. When I consider this, I am compelled to give you all the praise and thank you for my life. Thank you in advance for the eternal life you’ve promised me! If only I can keep this fresh in my mind, I take it for granted all too easily. Please help me to get to know you better. Help me to put my complete faith in you. You are so faithful and loving, a God that will never let down all whose hope is in you. Thank you for everything! In Jesus’ name, amen”

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Can We Have Renewal?

What Does Humility Have To Do With Renewal? Renewal, part 3

This continues our series on renewal, read the first 2, Renewal, part 1 and Renewal, part 2 if you haven’t already.

None of us are innocent, not one of us is without sin.

Romans 3: 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Sin hurts us and those around us, in many ways. The more I follow Christ the more obvious my sins are and the more pain it brings. How can I declare my love for God in the morning and in the afternoon willingly do something that I know He disapproves of? What kind of godly man am I?

Jeremiah 17: 
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?

I am just a man, but it makes me want to hate myself. Am I alone with these feelings?

What’s really helped me is a greater understanding of Romans 7 and knowing that it is my flesh that I hate and I can have some compassion for my soul.

Romans 7: 14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Every time I read this is it astounds me. Knowing how God used His servant Paul to do the good works he did and then to read about his private struggles is incredible to me and refreshing. The more I struggle with my sin and examine my actions and thoughts in light of my faith, the more understanding and compassion I have for others. It truly humbles me.

1 John 1:  5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

Sin is a terrible thing and it is the human condition. How do we go about approaching our perfect and Holy Father after engaging in a sinful event? Let’s look at some examples in the Good Book that we can all use to help get us back on the right path and have communion with Him when we find ourselves hiding in the garden.

9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

James 4: 7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

James 5: 16a Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Repentance (changing your mind) and confessing is certainly where it starts, but it is not always easy, is it? Unless my heart is soft, I will not confess.

2 Samuel 12: 13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.

David’s heart was not soft after having Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed, that was until the Words of God pierced his heart through his friend and prophet Nathan. I think Psalm 32 sheds some light on what king David experienced:

Psalm 32:
 When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

I can totally relate to this, can you? Do you have a close friend that you can confess to? You are blessed if you do. If you don’t, pray that God will bring someone to you. A small group is good but cannot do what a single, close friend can do. Meeting with a single, similar gender, godly friend on a regular basis is invaluable, I cannot recommend it enough. There is a reason Jesus told His disciples to stay in the same house for the duration when visiting a town. I think that it was to build deep, lasting relationships. It is the deep relationships that we truly learn how to love others and we grow from them.

We read in 2 Samuel 12: 13 above that David confessed to his friend, but as we continue in Psalm 32 we find that he confesses to God:

5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

Whew, isn’t it great to get that burden off your chest? You can just feel his excitement through the text, can’t you? Why does it take so long for us to come to Him sometimes? (Read Jeremiah 17 above)

I believe the key to resuming a strained or broken relationship with God is humility. Since all sin is primarily related to pride it only makes sense that humility is required to return to the Lord:

James 4: 6b
As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”

And notice that I did not say sacrifices:

Psalm 51:
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

When is the last time you wept over your sins? When is the last time you wept at all?

James 4:   9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

I’ve written before that weeping is a natural, God-given outpouring of emotions that is a real blessing. We were designed to be emotional and weeping is a part of it. Some of my most precious moments with the Lord have been when I’ve wept before Him. Sometimes out of joy, other times I’ve been overwhelmed by His Spirit and other times after humbling myself before Him because of my sin. We see all types of weeping throughout the Scriptures by all God’s leading men and women, from Joseph to Jesus. I am certain that if one hasn’t cried in recent years or especially as an adult that their heart has hardened. You may not agree with me on this because our culture has been teaching for so long now that “boys don’t cry” or “if I’m to be tough I shouldn’t cry”, but I am convinced that if laughter is common among all human beings so should the shedding of tears. Let’s learn at least this much from our Teacher:

Matthew 18: 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

John 11: 35 Then Jesus wept.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned about keeping humble is to maintain my relationship with God daily by reading His Word and praying to Him. I pray to Him as I would my earthly father only I am more intimate with God than I am with my Dad who lives in Pennsylvania. I can tell my Dad that I love him, but I do not tell him about my feelings and what I am thinking. This daily relationship with God is what keeps my heart soft and malleable. I am determined to know Him more and am passionate about getting even closer. I also fellowship 4-5 times a week with other godly people. These habits are my way of staying on His path and they keep me from straying very far from Him.

You can get as close to God as you desire, there is nothing holding you back but yourself. If you are discontent about your relationship with God then you might want to consider changing your habits in an effort to know Him more.

Luke 10:  38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What is keeping you from getting to know Him more?

“Thank you, Jesus, for making my relationship with God possible. Help me to get to know you more. I love that I can come to you when I’ve messed something up or have sinned against you. You take away my guilt and renew my soul. Your love for me is so great and your patience is unending, you amaze me. Please continue to work on me. Keep me humble and willing to obey you. I will praise your name and rejoice in you. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.”

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Can We Have Renewal, part 2

Which way will you choose? Renewal, part 2

Thank you for reading the last post, “How Can We Have Renewal? part 1”.

The importance of practicing the presence of God cannot be overstated.

When we find ourselves confused, bewildered, angry, doubtful, grief-stricken and ready to “throw in the towel”, where do we turn? What immediately comes to mind? Is it exercising, gardening, pursuing a hobby, cleaning the house, or going for a walk? Some of these activities I think can be healthy outlets to taking our minds off that which we obsess and at the very least have us doing something constructive. Many people have learned over time to turn to unhealthy habits such as work (when the family is neglected), alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex, gambling, shopping, abusive anger and other addictive vices.

We all have times where we start obsessing on things and situations in our lives that don’t make sense, are painful, painful to others and incredibly frustrating. Things that, for the most part, are beyond our control. These painful and confusing situations we face are common to everyone. No one on the planet past, present or future is immune from pain, including Jesus. As humans, it is simply not healthy to bottle up the pain or ignore it.

Eventually, the pain becomes so great that we cannot ignore it.

If we continue to wallow, obsess and focus on the painful circumstance that surrounds us, the anger will build up, the depression will go deeper, the isolation will increase and we become weak in so many ways. The pain gets worse, friends disappear and God becomes more distant. After a while, after staying in the muddy and murky situation we become hardened, lifeless, and without joy. For those that harbor resentment, anger, un-forgiveness, and depression, their physical bodies begin to suffer. The result of this can be ulcers, hair loss, headaches, heart conditions, cancer and ultimately death.

How do we turn the tide and let go of it? How do we get out from under this murkiness? Remaining in this lowly place is as sinful as anything else. For when we stay there, we lose faith, lack hope, have no love to offer and really become unproductive and useless for God’s purposes. This is right where the devil wants us.

What can we do? What remedy do we have?

The answer can be seen in the actions of a young child. When a three-year-old boy falls and scrapes their knee, where does he go? How about when a child has her toy taken away, where does she turn? When a child disobeys and her privileges are removed, who does she cry out to? That’s right, they come to their mommy or daddy for consolation and comfort. They will crawl into mommy’s lap and she will kiss their boo-boo and somehow make all their pain go away. Mommies and daddies have a way of doing this by just their mere presence. Not long after a child cries for what seems like hours, the pain is gone. The toy is forgotten, they’ve learned their lesson, and the boo-boo is hidden by a Flintstones bandage.

It is most joyful to know that coming to God brings the same result, that is when we know and love Him as our heavenly Father. The more you love and know Him, the more joyful this relationship becomes.

Galatians 4: 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Of course, this message only applies to the believer, those who fear God and put their trust in Him. They know who their heavenly father is.

“There is no peace for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22)

For those people that do not know Him cannot take solace in this message. I have no hope to offer those that reject Him. They reject their Creator and remain ignorant, some willfully.

2 Peter 3:  3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. 6 Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. 7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

Just as flesh and blood are common to all people, past, present, and future, so is the Creator common to all people, past, present, and future. He created you and knew you before you were born. He wants you to know Him and to be your Father.

If you aren’t a parent, pretend for a minute that you are. Imagine your child crying out to someone else’s parent. What if your ten-year-old child visits your neighbor’s house when he’s hungry. Imagine your sixteen-year-old daughter seeking advice from their friend’s parents or asking them to buy a prom dress. As a parent, would this not make you a bit angry or in the least be painful?

How do you think God feels when we treat Him like this?

Isaiah 65:
2 All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes.
3 All day long they insult me to my face
by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens.
They burn incense on pagan altars.

As a small child, all we knew was to cry out to mom or dad but as we grew older and if that dependency was not transferred to the Eternal One that we are ultimately accountable to then we learn to trust in everything but God. This is why it is so essential for fathers to teach their children about trusting in God and setting this example.

Deuteronomy 4: 9 “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. 10 Never forget the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai, where he told me, ‘Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them. Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will teach their children to fear me also.’

If we trust in everything but God, where will that lead us?

That could mean we trust in people (friends, family, and anyone else that seems smart) or governments, banks, employers, horoscopes, religion and everything in between. In other words, idolatry. Then when the people, governments, banks, employers, horoscopes, and religion fail us we seek comfort through those activities mentioned earlier for relief.

Deuteronomy 30:  15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

Knowing this should make our choice between life and death ever so clear. It is to choose God or anything else. This makes it very simple for the devil. He will think to himself “If I can only keep people distracted by anything instead of knowing the Almighty God in Heaven, I will keep them from life.”

The choice we have to make is a daily one. 

Am I choosing to start each morning by yielding myself to God? Do I surrender to Him before doing anything else? Am I setting apart time each day to read His Word and seek Him in prayer? Do I meet with His followers regularly to give encouragement and receive comfort and sense of family?

God loves you and He wants you to get to know Him. It is a win-win situation when we decide to make every effort to put Him first in our lives, give everything over to Him and pursue Him wholeheartedly.

Hosea 6:
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.

Let these words from Jeremiah sink into your soul.

Jeremiah 17:
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.

7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.

9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”

14 O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed;
if you save me, I will be truly saved.
My praises are for you alone!

Will you turn your heart toward Him?

“Dear God, please have mercy on me. I am such a sinful creature, completely lost and hopeless without You. You are my Maker, the One who knit me in my mother’s womb. Please show me how to follow you more faithfully. Help me to learn how to trust in you. Keep me on your path so that I might have the joy that only you can give and sing praises to you so that everyone may hear. For your namesake Lord, please keep me from falling away. I want to know you more, please reveal yourself to me. Thank you for having patience with me and for all that you have done in my life. Let all that I am praise the Lord! In Jesus’ name, I pray this prayer, Amen.”

Photo by Dominik QN on Unsplash

 

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Can We Have Renewal?

How Can We Have Renewal? part 1

Let’s start 2018 with renewal! I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year.

Yes, I am late to the party, sorry for taking so long to get this blog post out. I have many more, promise. 🙂

If you have enjoyed or benefitted from any of my blog posts, I’d sure love to hear from you, thanks!

And now for the message…

One of the great things I love about God is His ability to renew.

Over the next few posts, I’d like to discuss the various types of personal renewal that we can experience.

We’ll start today with what I call the “That’s not fair!” renewal.

This is the renewal that someone can experience when it seems that life is not going as planned and things don’t look good. Frustration sets in. You may not relate to this, perhaps everything is going well for you and that what is taking place on the planet makes sense to you.

But if it’s the case that things aren’t going well for you and the world doesn’t make sense, you may be moved at one time or another to say “That’s not fair!”.

This applies to those times when we are frustrated, confused, angry, grief-stricken, doubtful, depressed, exhausted, and so on.

Can you relate to Jeremiah’s emotions?

Let’s look at a couple examples in the Bible so that we can learn from the Master himself.

Jeremiah 15:
10 Then I said,
“What sorrow is mine, my mother.
Oh, that I had died at birth!
I am hated everywhere I go.
I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose
nor a borrower who refuses to pay—
yet they all curse me.”

Here I think Jeremiah is having a bad day, don’t you? Actually, it’s an extremely bad day, the man wishes he’s never been born! Let’s see how God responds:

11 The Lord replied,
“I will take care of you, Jeremiah.
Your enemies will ask you to plead on their behalf
in times of trouble and distress.

God seems to take it well, reassuring Jeremiah that he’ll be taken care of.

But Jeremiah’s not done complaining yet:

15 Then I said,
“Lord, you know what’s happening to me.
Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors!
Please give me time; don’t let me die young.
It’s for your sake that I am suffering.
16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts.
I sat alone because your hand was on me.
I was filled with indignation at their sins.
18 Why then does my suffering continue?
Why is my wound so incurable?
Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook,
like a spring that has gone dry.”

I don’t know about you, but this is hard for me to read.

Jeremiah is going through a lot of emotions here and is having a really rough go of it. Life is not fair and he’s making sure that God hears it. He seems ready to throw in the towel. I really think that what he says is ok up until that last sentence. I think that is what sparked this response from God:

19 This is how the Lord responds:
“If you return to me, I will restore you
so you can continue to serve me.
If you speak good words rather than worthless ones,
you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them;
do not let them influence you!
20 They will fight against you like an attacking army,
but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze.
They will not conquer you,
for I am with you to protect and rescue you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
21 Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men.
I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”

What can I say? God gives him great reassurance and instruction. He also puts Jeremiah in his place when He says “If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman.”

It seems as though only those who speak good words will be permitted to be His authorized spokesmen.

If you ever had “issues” with the Almighty, you’re in good company.

Consider Habakkuk…

 Habakkuk 1
2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
3 Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
4 The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted.

Habakkuk lodges a general complaint about the state of his nation. Could this be a complaint we might use today?

Here’s God’s response:

5 The Lord replied,
“Look around at the nations;
look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
something you wouldn’t believe
even if someone told you about it.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
a cruel and violent people.
They will march across the world
and conquer other lands.

Not good enough for Habakkuk, he had a second complaint:

12 O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal—
surely you do not plan to wipe us out?
O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us,
to punish us for our many sins.
13 But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil.
Will you wink at their treachery?
Should you be silent while the wicked
swallow up people more righteous than they?
14 Are we only fish to be caught and killed?
Are we only sea creatures that have no leader?
15 Must we be strung up on their hooks
and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate?
16 Then they will worship their nets
and burn incense in front of them.
“These nets are the gods who have made us rich!”
they will claim.
17 Will you let them get away with this forever?
Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?

These are great and legitimate questions.  How does God answer?

Habakkuk 2:
2 Then the Lord said to me,

4 “Look at the proud!
They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked.
But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
5 Wealth is treacherous,
and the arrogant are never at rest.
They open their mouths as wide as the grave,
and like death, they are never satisfied.
In their greed they have gathered up many nations
and swallowed many peoples.
6 “But soon their captives will taunt them.
They will mock them, saying,
‘What sorrow awaits you thieves!
Now you will get what you deserve!
You’ve become rich by extortion,
but how much longer can this go on?’

God continues to answer throughout the second chapter of Habakkuk along these same lines. He seems to answer the same questions we all might have about the proud and the wicked and why injustice seems to prevail at times.

What effect does this insight and wisdom give to Habakkuk?

Habakkuk 3:
1 This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk:
2 I have heard all about you, Lord.
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
remember your mercy.
3 I see God moving across the deserts from Edom,
the Holy One coming from Mount Paran.
His brilliant splendor fills the heavens,
and the earth is filled with his praise.

And he ends with this:

17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

It is rather difficult to explain how this renewal process happens but we see this time and time again through the Word of God. His people have their complaints; they bring them to God, which is what we all should be doing. God then reveals Himself to them mostly by demonstrating and explaining His awesome power and sovereignty.

This knowledge of the Divine has a way of giving us a proper perspective and helps us accept things as they are. He is in control and He knows what He is doing. It’s up to us to praise Him and give thanks for all that He does for us. This knowledge also leads us to share Him with others so that they might know they can experience peace on earth and have eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 94: 19 When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Have you been renewed?

“Dear Lord you are Holy and apart from you, I am not.  You are sovereign, who am I to question you? You are the Alpha and the Omega, my life is but a breath in comparison. There is so much I do not understand. Your ways are not my ways and your thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts, how can I ever imagine how great your purposes are?

Please help me keep this perspective. You are far too wonderful for me to comprehend. I give you all the praise for you’ve done many wonderful things in my life that I can’t even begin to count. Thank you for even thinking of me! Please lead me to a greater knowledge of you and all that you do. I long to know you more and seek a deeper relationship with you. Please be patient with me. In Jesus’ Holy name, amen.”

Photo by Dominik QN on Unsplash

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 2

How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 2

You can read part 1 here: “How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1”.

While watching a movie recently, I enjoyed observing the star character. It was played by the boy of a very famous actor. It was really incredible to watch his mannerisms and how he spoke. Many times throughout the film I found myself saying “He’s just like his daddy.”

I’m sure that most of you have heard that expression, haven’t you? Or perhaps you’ve been told “You’re just like your daddy”, or “You remind me so much of your momma.”  We really can’t help it, can we? When we’ve grown up in the environment of our parents we just become like them, not to mention DNA.

The same can be said about Jesus:

John 8:  19 “Where is your father?” they asked.
Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”

Colossians 1: 15a Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

He’s just like His Daddy! Isn’t that cool? But check this out:

Genesis 1:  27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Romans 8: 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

(I’ve learned that the word Abba is an intimate, Aramaic term that a child would use for their father and can be translated as ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’. )

Do you see the similarity? We were made in our Daddy’s image, that’s how human beings were designed.

Think about this for a moment and allow it to sink in: “I am designed to be like God, which is how I am supposed to be.”

I can recall a DVD player I once had. Its purpose was simply to play the DVDs, without problems. That is what it was supposed to do.  It didn’t. It failed to play my DVDs and for that reason, I got rid of it. Of course, I gave it a few chances to work, it was not my desire to throw it way, but if it would not work for me, I considered it useless, so into the trash it went.

Matthew 21: 18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, 19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

Of course, the fig tree was designed to bear fruit, and when Jesus discovered that it was not, He quickly discarded it. He determined that it was useless and acted accordingly.

Isn’t it interesting that we are a lot like God without even trying to be? When something doesn’t work, we pitch it out. We like to create, He likes to create. We like to see progress, He likes to see progress.  He worked 6 days, I work 6 days. He likes to see people getting along, we like to see people getting along. This is the intrinsic nature of God that I think we all have, but when it comes to fruits of the spirit, they are developed only through our relationship with Him.

He is patient, I am…. wait. Sorry, that doesn’t work for me, at least not when I sit at a red light. He is humble, I am…. wait, that doesn’t work for me either. Let’s try He is loving, I am… wait, not always. This isn’t going so well now, is it? Then I am reminded of these verses:

John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

This makes me so glad that God is patient, although I am not. When I first realized this, I realized how far I am from His “factory specifications”.  I can hear God saying about me: “This one isn’t working very well. What will I have to do to get him in line with my plans?”

I am so glad that God has more patience with us than He did that fig tree, aren’t you?

We’ve been discussing finding greater peace lately and one thing not to be overlooked is found in these verses above. To paraphrase: “When we ‘remain in Him’ we produce much fruit” Then “When we don’t ‘remain in Him’ we can do nothing.”

Isaiah 9: 6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Just as Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we were designed to be People of Peace. After all, the human body works best when filled with peace.

If my life cannot be described as one of peace, that only means one thing: I have not been spending enough time with Daddy. It is that simple. We discussed this at the very beginning, a child becomes like their parents after spending years of intimate time with them. The greater the love a father has for his child, the more that child has peace. The child of a loving father feels secure.

Galatians 4: 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

God wants His children to feel secure so that they do not have to be pre-occupied with worrisome thoughts which hinder their ability to think and act as they should. This is where the greater faith we develop over time, the more at peace we will be.

Psalm 103:  13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

Just like the bumper sticker says “No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.” This is not on an intellectual level and has little to do with Bible knowledge. I’ve read about many persecuted Christians in various parts of the world who had very little Biblical knowledge but they certainly knew their Lord very well and that was by relying on Him through prayer.

That’s enough for now; I’ll leave you with my favorite verse relating to prayer (One that I think should be memorized):

Philippians 4: 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Are you your Daddy’s child?

“Heavenly Daddy, you are so good to me. Thank you for teaching me so many things. You have provided for me and have answered my prayers in so many ways that I cannot count them. You are my provider and I know that every good thing comes from you. What will it take for me to really know you and love you as a child loves His father? What will it take for me to surrender my life in exchange for the Life you have to offer? Please hold me tight and keep me on your path. It is you, Lord, that I desire more than anything. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

 

Photo by Chris Liu-Beers on Unsplash

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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