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.

Cross The Bridge

John 3:16 (KJB), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

This is a pretty familiar scripture. Even if they can’t quote it, even non-Christians have seen the reference on T-shirts, ball caps, on signs at football games, and billboards. It’s a wonderful verse. It’s a testimony of God’s love.

If you take a closer look, you’ll notice there are twelve words on each end with “SON” in the middle. God’s love on one side, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten,” and our need on the other, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

We are perishing without Him. The wages of sin is death, and life here on this fallen planet is not perfect. We need a savior. God is holy and righteous, we aren’t. He has life for us, yet we are so unworthy, we can’t have it. There is this huge gap between!

God’s solution… Jesus. His Son is the bridge between us and God. He became our sin, so we could become His righteousness. Now, after yielding to Him, we can go across that bridge right into the presence of God.

Have you crossed that bridge?

Love Dwells Here

 

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.” I John 4:17-19 (TheMessage)

God is love. Not “God has love,” “God exhibits love,” no, “God IS love.” Who says? He did in His word. The scriptures also tell us that when we surrender to Him, accept His finished work of the cross (He became my sin so I could become His righteousness), then He is in us and we are in Him.

John 17:20-24 (BSB), “I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one—I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me. Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, that they may see the glory You gave Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

Jesus said that we are in Him and He is in us, that we are one with the Father, just as He and the Father are one. This isn’t complicated. Very simple really.

God is love and He lives in me. LOVE dwells in me.

So I can be loving, I can easily forgive any wrongs, I can show kindness and generosity, I can show the world that God is love. I John 4 says that if we don’t love, we don’t even know who God really is. We have to love! It isn’t just a command from God, it’s who we are.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis

Do we take chances when we love? Yes. Can we be hurt when we love? Yes. Will our hearts possibly break? Yes, but didn’t God say that a broken heart and a contrite spirit is lovely to Him.

That’s a heart He can Heal and He can use!

Anything less than complete, lavish, passionate love, is fear. Perfect love, God’s kind of love, that love that lives in us, is perfect!

I know Him. I know His love, intimately and personally. I know without it I am nothing and can’t accomplish a thing on my own. So I accept His love and allow Him to work in me and through me. He is in me and I am in Him.

Love dwells here!

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’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.

I Am Not Confined

II Corinthians 6:1-10 (MSG), “Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.”

Paul reminds the church at Corinth that even though they had some issues, those issues and circumstances including jail, work, beatings, slander, while they were ignored and distrusted, they still did what they were called to do. We can always say, “I can’t because…” of work, or sickness, or family, or friends, or because they might think this about me, or it is dangerous, or scary, or takes too much effort, whatever excuse you can manufacture. Yet, Paul says even when he was in prison he was not confined to his circumstances. We can let anything be bondage, a jail, a prison. We can let many things stop us from doing God’s will. It is all a matter of choice. Do we choose to answer the call no matter what, or do we say we aren’t able and then point the blame as someone or something.

Let’s get practical here, so you don’t have the money to bail your friend out of financial problems. You can cook them a meal, work on their car for free, pray for them, encourage them, and not judge their situation. Maybe you are still fighting the fight of faith and aren’t able to walk door to door to witness, or visit the elderly. You can call those who are shut in, you can witness on social media (not preach, witness, i.e. “God is so good, he is providing all I need.”). So maybe you don’t stand behind a pulpit, but you work, or go to school around people. Share His love.

Get the picture.

Our circumstances can’t confine us. Only we can decide to squander the life God has given us.

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.”