Monday, December 13, 2010

Who's Lovin' Who?

Time and again, I have had one recurring conversation with Christians and non-Christians alike - what do you have to do to be a follower of Christ? How do you know someone is a follower of Christ? So today I ask, what is the identifying mark of a Christian? Is it how often people see or hear about you reading your bible? Is it how often you make it to church? Is it how loudly you pray? Is it in a showy display of praise? What should set Christians apart from all others?

Never fear, because Christ answers that question loud and clear! He made the identifying mark of his followers crystal clear. He said:

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:35 (emphasis mine)

Yes folks. Love. That is the identifying trait of a Christian. Loving others. I have the symbol above on the back of my car. And I can't tell you how many times I find myself ashamed because displaying love while driving in NYC is one of the hardest things to do. And yet, that is how I show that I am a disciple of Christ. And I'm not just supposed to show any old love. This is not love by my understanding. But Christ made the kind of love that he was referring to very clear. He said:

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." - John 13:34

Now, let's unwrap this a bit. Christ said this the very night that he was to be crucified for our sins. He knew what was going to occur that night. And he told his disciples to love each other as he loved them!

Whew! So we're supposed to love each other to the point of laying down our life for each other... That's a special kind of love. But that's just one thing we'd be able to do for each other if we had Christ's love in us.

So, just what is love? How do we show it in everyday life? For that answer, I send you here:
Agape Epistle - Love Letter

~*Be Blessed*~

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rainbows are Precious Gifts

Last week, as I drove to work and back home again, it rained and rained and rained. I saw so much devastation around me. A bus had crashed into a car - a heart-wrenching sight. As I kept driving, I saw a car that had been side-swiped by a truck. And I'm sure that that's only the beginning of the days devastation. However, as I approached my destination, the storm clouds cleared, the rain lightened to a drizzle, and the sun began to set. And behind a cloud, surrounded by sun rays, was a small rainbow (it's very small in the picture above). And suddenly, I had a revelation.

At Genesis 9:13-17, God made a covenant with Noah to never again destroy all life with rain. But the covenant was so much deeper than that. In order for a rainbow hidden in the clouds to appear, the clouds must part and the sun must shine. And it dawned on me - as we travel to our life destinations, there will be storms. However, as we approach our destination, there will be a time for the clouds to part, the sun to shine, and the rainbow to come out. So don't let the trials of life get you down.

As James 1:2-4 (MSG) says: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."

Now, you may be saying, "You don't know what I'm going through and how long I've been going through it." That's very very true. But there is always a helper who does know what you're going through. The scripture continues by saying,

"If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought." - James 1:5,6a (MSG)

So go through the storms of life, seeking God and asking him for help, without doubting that He'll help. And remember, the rainbow will come out at the end of your journey.

BlogPress @ iPhone

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Need New Clothes?

“Clothe your brother, Aaron, and his sons with these garments, and then anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they can serve as my priests.” - Exodus 28:41(NLT)

The garments referred to here were all created to exacting standards and from holy material - gemstones, gold, and fine linen. God specifically asked for the men gifted with the spirit of wisdom to create these pieces of clothing. (Note: They needed God's wisdom, not their own).

These clothes set Aaron and his sons apart for God's use in a way that those around them could physically see. Over his heart, the priest of God was to wear the sacred objects that determined God's will (signifying a prioritization of God's will over their own feelings). And most importantly, they had to be clothed in each holy article to approach God so that they would not die.

As I read this, I had a sudden revelation: we too should be clothed in holiness, according to God's exacting standards, in a way that those around us can see, if we want to be used by Him. Note, Aaron and his sons were to be fully clothed BEFORE they were anointed and ordained, or taken to a higher level of use.

Now I, for one, will not be going out and purchasing gold and gemstones for an outfit those around me can see, so what are we clothing ourselves in?

In writing to the church, Paul says, “[T]hrow off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” - Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT)

So we throw off, literally take off, our old nature, guided by the things that make us FEEL good. Then we let God's spirit make our thoughts & desires new, as it cleans us for this new outfit & we prioritize His will over our feelings. Finally, we get to our new outfit - a righteous and holy nature so that we can be used by God. Once fully clothed, our actions will be what those around us see.

Of course, this isn't a one time thing. Aaron and his sons didn't just get dressed once and call it a day. They got cleaned and dressed every time they were going to approach God. So as we wake up and get ready for each new day, let us remember to ask God for a cleaning and our new outfit.


BlogPress @ iPhone

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eating with God

“There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!” - Exodus 24:10, 11

As I read this, the first thought that came to my head was, “WOW! How awesome would it be to sit in God's presence and eat and drink!” The immediate next thought was, “Wait, I get to do that every time I ask the Holy Spirit to be with me or fill me.”

How often do we pray for Holy Spirit, and then forget that we've just asked the Almighty to bless us with His presence. We may not consciously forget, but do our actions show that we've forgotten? Just as these nobles saw God with blue gems under His feet, God joins us in a room when we pray for His presence. Stop for a second. Think about it. I know I straightened my clothes & sat a little straighter when I realized that it was almost as if God was sitting next to me. Do we always bless Him with the reverence He deserves when we ask Him to come in? And if not, do we really expect Him to stay? Think about this: If you invited your friend over (and I like to think of God as my best friend) and you didn’t listen to her as she gave advice, interrupted her, or constantly ignored her, would you expect her to stay? Better yet, if you were that friend, would you want to stay? How grieved Holy Spirit must be when we treat Him that way!

Just because He doesn’t appear to us with gems around His feet, doesn’t mean that we too don’t get to eat and drink in the presence of God. Let’s be good to Him when He’s our guest!

BlogPress @ iPhone

Saturday, August 28, 2010

When Things Seem Rough...

“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” - Exodus 13:17 (NLT)

If you remember the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt, they grumbled about being in the wilderness. They wanted to know why God led them so far out into the wilderness and even accused Him of bringing them out there to die. But here’s what I didn't notice until now: God directed them on the longer path to protect them from even worse troubles than they experienced.

What wilderness times might you be experiencing? Perhaps you wonder where God is in your life. Perhaps you wonder why you must suffer certain things, or when it will end, but the truth is, perhaps you're where you are, and not where you could have been, to escape death, injury, illness, etc. Just because what you're going through is bad, doesn't mean that what you escaped going through wasn't worse. So count your blessings, be grateful, and trust God who never forsakes the righteous.

BlogPress @ iPhone