When the Crap Hits the Fan Our Religion Falls Short

John 16:33 (NLT), “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus was very plain, we live in this corrupted, fallen world, and here, there is going to be trouble. He also prayed later in John 17, “Not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” So, we are here till He returns or until God calls us home. So trials and sorrow will be part of our lives. Tribulations and turbulence will be in our future.

So what do we do?

Being “religious” isn’t the answer, going to church, reading your Bible, memorizing scripture isn’t the solution. Though the last three are great things, they are only a means to an end. The end, the final solution, is a close, intimate, and personal relationship with God. Knowing who He is, listening to His voice, getting to know Jesus, talking to Him in a way that isn’t just a list of “do for me” things. Because when the crap hits the fan, our religion falls short.

Jesus said that in Him we might have peace. We only get in Him, when we totally surrender our hearts to Him and allow Him to be Lord of our lives. Just saying a prayer doesn’t change us, or build a relationship. Yielding and pursuing Him does. And only a close and personal relationship with God will get me through the rough places in my life.

A great example was Jairus. He was a religious leader during Jesus time on this earth in human form. His daughter became sick and his religion couldn’t help her. There is no worse report for a parent than your child is a deaths door. This great need, with no religious solution, sent Jairus to Jesus. He had heard about His healing power. He humbled himself and sought the answer. After meeting Jesus and His quick agreement to go with Jairus, someone comes and tells the man that his daughter is dead. Sounds like misplaced faith, that the father was too late, that the answer wouldn’t come.

But Jesus! He assured Jairus that his daughter would be well. His daughter wasn’t just healed that day, she was raised from the dead.

Knowing about God doesn’t save us. Knowing Him does.

Get Up

God tells Joshua twice in chapter seven to “Get up”, or some versions say “Rise up.” What was Joshua doing? Lying prostrate and asking God “Why?” They had just lost a battle that they thought was going to be an easy one, in fact all of their fighting men hadn’t even gone along to the battle. Even worse, it was the very first battle after they saw the walls of Jericho fall down.

Joshua was perplexed, he was doing what most of us do…lie down and cry out “Why didn’t you come through for us, are you just going to let me die?”

So God patiently explained Himself- Nope, He told Joshua to “Get Up!” He had already given them something to do with very clear instructions. Yet they hadn’t obeyed. God told Joshua they had sinned. When we disregard God’s instructions there are consequences. They hadn’t won the battle at Jericho because of their strength and courage, but because God’s strength! When we obey, He always has our backs.

Are things tough, maybe it wasn’t your fault, maybe it was sin, no matter what, don’t lie and cry. Get up! Repent if you need to, and then get back to the battle. Have you left something unfinished? Get up and do it!

James 1:22 (NIV), “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

What Do You See?

II Corinthians 3:17- 18 (BSB), “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Picture yourself looking in a mirror, the reflection is you, but not really you. It’s an image, a likeness, of you. We are to be an image and a likeness of Jesus, to reflect His glory, and be transformed into His image.

How do we do that?

There are a few ways. Reading His word is one. Another is to pay attention to what you are paying attention to. We always reflect what we see the most. What has your attention? Is it nightly news, politics, celebrities… all that negative junk? Or what about the enemy, his supposed power, his attacks, and the control he seems to have over the lives of our loved ones. Do we give our spoiled children or our spoiled friends all of our attention? How about our flesh and the lusts that it whines for? If we are giving too much, or any, attention to those things, then we will reflect them. We will be spoiled, whiney, scared, anxious, negative, gloomy, arrogant, judgmental people. Do any of those characteristics reflect Christ?

If we are looking at our problems we will see everything through a negative pair of glasses. If we look at God, we see everything through the glasses of His Love.

Proverbs 27:19 (ESV), “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.”

Who has your heart? Keep your eyes on Him!

What’s Holding You Hostage?

Nehemiah 9:17 (Net Bible), “They refused to obey and did not recall your miracles that you had performed among them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to return to their bondage in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and unfailing in your loyal love. You did not abandon them,”

We are all aware of the term “hostage”: when someone is taken against their will and held hostage usually for a ransom, or when a terrorist hold a person to either protect themselves or again to force negotiations. Each one of us was born a hostage. Satan, the ultimate terrorist, held us against our will. Jesus paid the ransom. We are now free to go. If we are still under the rule of Satan, it is purely by choice. We can choose to surrender to Jesus, who only ever asks us to come willingly and never forces us to do anything. Or we can allow things, or the enemy, or our flesh to hold us hostage.

I Timothy 26:5-6 (BSB), “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all — the testimony that was given at just the right time”

What is keeping you from walking free? What is keeping you from surrender to God? Is it your habits, addictions, or lusts? Is it greed, selfishness, or pride? Maybe you feel unworthy, unclean, and unloved and can’t seem to get a grasp on the fact that God loves you, wants you in His life, and made a way for you to live free from every bondage.

Maybe you chose God and somewhere along the way wondered off, like the dog that returns to its own vomit. You have placed yourself back in bondage after tasting freedom. Don’t despair, God has not abandoned you! Turn from that life and turn back to God. He is waiting with arms outstretched.

What’s holding you hostage? The ransom has already been paid. Walk free, walk tall, you are a child of the King.

Quit You Like Men

I Corinthians 16:13 (DBT), “Be vigilant; stand fast in the faith; quit yourselves like men; be strong.”

Ok, so I am not a guy, but this verse always gives me courage. Most of us can start out strong, standing in faith, and vigilantly protecting our territory, but how do we finish? Do we lose faith, sit down, back down, tuck tail and run, or get lazy and let the enemy run rough shod over us?

Quit like you started, quit like a man. Other versions of this verse says, “be manly”, “be courageous”, “be men”, and “do manfully”.

A Godly man knows who he is and Who’s he is. He keeps the faith, not letting his guard down. He eat, sleeps, and lives, with the battle ever in his mind. A true warrior. He will fight to the death, and if he perchance survives, he comes out stronger with his spirit and morals still intact.

Before we can quit like men, we have to be watchful, see the enemy’s attacks for what they are, stand ready for battle, then finish the job like a man.

Psalm 31:24 (NIV), “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!”

Of With The Old And On With The New

Romans 12:2 (BSB) “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Why doesn’t God want us conformed to the world and its ways, how come I can’t act and talk just like my unsaved friends and family? One reason is that we aren’t of the world, we don’t really belong to it anymore. We were bought by Jesus’ blood and what a precious price He paid for us. We are born again from Heaven, we should be different. Also, when we don’t allow the Word to transform, renew, clean up our minds, then we can’t rightly discern God’s will. Since His will is good, pleasing, and perfect wouldn’t we want to know what that is for our lives.

Ephesians 4:23-23 (ESV), “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

God made us brand new when we accepted His love and surrendered all our junk to Him and His forgiveness so why then does He tell me to “put off” and “put on”, because we live in a corrupt place. It tends to rub off on us. Our minds get dirty, our hearts get hard, and our vision gets cloudy. It all has to be washed away again. Just like our clothes get dirty when we work in the yard, we have to come in and take off the soiled and put on the clean, so it is with our hearts and minds.

If we didn’t change those clothes and maybe even take a shower, after a couple of days we’d stink. After a few more so would out houses and our cars. Before too long people wouldn’t want to be around us and we would withdraw into our own smelly world and refuse to come out. Who wants to live that way? I sure don’t. I want others to want to be around me. I want to be a pleasing aroma to God and to man. I want a clean heart, a clean mind, and clean hands. However, it’s not in my power to stay clean. It takes the Holy Spirit and a lot of the “washing of the word” to keep me that way. It takes being humble and admitting everything doesn’t smell like roses, admitting we let the mess get too big for us and we need some divine intervention.

His way is better!

I say off with the old and on with the new!

I John 3:1-3 (NIV), See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

 

The Same Glory

I Peter 4:14 (NIV), “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

Living for God, from Heaven, in Jesus, may lead to some insults, slander, and hatred. No big deal, not really. Not if you compare it to having His Glory rest on us. Pause and think about that for just one minute.

When Moses went up on the mountain to talk to God face to face, he came down off that mountain with the Glory of God literally shinning all over his face. The people were so freaked out by it they asked him to cover his face.

That Glory.

John 17:20-23 (NIV), “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Jesus glorifies the Father here on earth. God the Father shared His glory with the Son. Before He left, Jesus prayed that we would all be one, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Body of Christ. In Jesus’ own words, He gave us the same glory the Father had given Him. He gave it to us to bring us into complete unity.

That Glory.

Then the whole world will know that God sent His Son and that we are all loved.