Sons and Daughters of the King

Romans 8:16 — The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

Jesus died to let us once again enter a loving relationship with our God. Part of this relationship is being a child of God. We are called Children of God so many times that it is undeniable. One of the most famous parables (the prodigal son) talks about this father child relationship. This relationship is so close. Let me explain.

Luke 11:11-13 — “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus compared our relationship with that of natural fathers and sons. All of the loving things (even common sense things) that fallible, human fathers do are less than what God does to show his love. I recently read a story about a man who had disowned his father (like the prodigal son) and was living a horrible life in order to avoid him. The man said that almost every day his father would come looking for him. Every time the son would ignore his father and leave the door unanswered. It wasn’t until the son overdosed on LSD that they were brought together. The son was in a semi-comatose state for days while his father sat by him repeatedly saying how he loved him. This is the picture of a human father that showed unrelenting love. If this father, though he was evil, knew how to love his son relentlessly, how much more will God love relentlessly. imagine how much greater God’s love is!

God loves us in a way that only He can. His love for His children is unrelenting, unashamed, amazing love!

Galatians 4:6 — Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

The New Creation

2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

Being a new creation has huge implications.The first thing God did during creation was say “Let there be light!” Jesus is, according to john, the light. We receive light, and as John 1:5 says “the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.) God then separated the light and dark. He does the same in us, separating death, and life, or sin and righteousness.

God called dry ground up from the deep waters. He gives us solid ground to stand on, Jesus (the cornerstone), other believers, and the Bible.

God created the lights in the skies to mark time and events. He gives us symbols of His love (personal messages, beautiful sights, human love) and He creates events that are important to us (salvation, baptism, marriage).

Song of Songs 4:1 — How How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead.

God then brought life to the world, life that he told to be fruitful and multiply. The new creation is blessed with “life” (e.g. blessings, gifts, opportunities, miracles). This life will both be fruitful (providing more “life”), and multiply (becoming more and more beneficial).

Philippians 4:19 — And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

The last thing God did was create mankind. God recreates us. He gives us new identities and changed lives.

Genesis 1:31 — God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.

A Question of Reality

Titus 1:16 — They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

That is a strong thing to say, but it speaks very clearly. People who claim to know God, but don’t really are bad people. This is called practical atheism. Practical atheists are people who are Christian in name, but act as if they don’t know God. They may act kind, and be nice in public, but deep down they only do it for themselves and other humans.

So, what does a Christian life look like? A Christian life is one that is changed because God is there. Not just changed superficially, but really changed. Think of it this way: If God were suddenly to stop existing a practical atheist life wouldn’t change, but a Christian life would be drastically changed.

A Christian life should be changed by God, but what does that look like? It looks like a true love for others (not just a give and take love), and a true love for God. It can also look like miracles, and revelations from God. True sacrifice and fully giving oneself to God are also signs of a Christian life. If none of these are present then how is God present. If church is just a social club how is it different than basketball?

Let me finish by asking a question:

If God didn’t exist would your life change?

Diamonds in the Fields of God

Matthew 13:44 — The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

This is a beautiful illustration of God’s love for us. Let me rephrase it. We are like a diamond that a man found in the middle of an empty lot. He hid it again so that he could rightfully get it. Then, because he was so exited, he went and sold everything he owned so that he could get the lot and the diamond in it.

God didn’t just pick up the diamond and put it in his pocket, but he thought it was so precious that he should buy the entire lot. We are the diamonds that God goes above and beyond to find. He sold everything! The parable doesn’t just say that the man took half a second to admire the treasure and then moved on, no! The man stopped and then re-hid the treasure so that he could sell everything and get the treasure for himself.

The man bought the entire field. That is how much he wanted the treasure. He made sure that the treasure was rightfully his. If the man simply picked up the treasure it would be his, but the owner of the field could come find him and lay claim to the treasure. By buying the whole field the man guarantees that the treasure is his only. God buys the whole field. By doing this he makes it so that the devil, and the world can’t come and say “see that right there? It’s mine.” God “bought” all of us, not just the good part. He also took the bad part. Most of the field was dirt, but the man bought it anyway.

Matthew 13:47-48 — Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.

Combating the World

John 16:33 — “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Sometimes we hang out with our friends who are particularly worldly, and we feel like we’ve been influenced by them. I certainly feel this a lot. When I get done hanging with some of my friends I feel gross, like I just went swimming in the sewer. After I long time with those friends I need time to regenerate, and readjust myself. This time is really important.

Some things to remember when you get feeling like this are how God has defeated the world, and how we are not part of this world. As John 16:33 said Jesus overcame the world. The world is a place of death, but Jesus defeated death. The world is a place of sin, but Jesus lived a fully human life without sin. Because of our identity as royalty in God’s kingdom we aren’t part of this mess. We need to remember that we are not worldly like the people that we may hang with. We are no longer consigned to this world of sin. We are not of it.

So how do we combat this feeling. During the time with these worldly friends try to talk about God. Where God is fear, hate, and impurity are banished, they cannot stay in God’s presence. Bring God into the conversation, and if you must remove yourself from it. Don’t give into the ways of the world. When your done socializing, and you go home, or somewhere else private dive deep into God. Read His word, pray, worship, and just rest with Him. Like I already said God banishes fear, hate, and impurity. God will regenerate you, and get you back to where you were before, if not higher.

The world is a crazy place, and sometimes you need to find ways to fight it. God is the way to do so, everything about Him can become a source of strength.

1 John 1:9 —  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Spreading The Good News: Where To Start

1 Corinthians 13:13 — Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Often I feel very overwhelmed by the task of telling someone about Jesus. Jesus is so huge ad so important that I wonder, where should I start? The bible, as it often does, has the answer: start with love. Love is the single most important part of the Christian faith. without God’s love there would be no salvation, no blessings, no miracles, no need for praise and worship. As John put it “God is love.” Paul, and John say multiple times that we should be known for our love (see 1 John 3:17-18, Romans 12:9, 1 John 4:8, etc.). Paul even goes so far as to say that without love a Christian is nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:2 — If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

So we should start ministering to people with love, but what does that love look like. In this case there are two kinds of love: Gods love and our love. We should show people our love for others, and ourselves, but this love should stem from God’s love for us. While this shows God’s love a little bit we can do more. We can tell people about God’s love. Now realize that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are literally saying “God loves you!” all of the time. It might, but it doesn’t have to. God may tell you something special about that person and about how God loves that, or you may be able to demonstrate God’s love, or you may find certain things to say about God’s love.

Romans 5:8 — But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Much of Jesus’ ministry was about love. Why did He heal people if He didn’t love them? Jesus took the time to talk to Nicodemus at night, he talked to the samaritan woman at the well, and he called ordinary men, and gave them a higher purpose. Jesus was all about love, and he should be because God is love.

Song of Songs 2:8 — Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.

Our Death and Resurrection

Colossians 2:12 – having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

In the Old Testament baptism represented purification, and initiation into Judaism. After Christ came baptism came to be a sign of our Christian conversion. The cool thing about baptism though is that is also symbolizes us dying with Christ, and us being resurrected with Him. This idea of dying with Christ is huge.

Romans 6:4 – We were therefore buried with Him

We were buried with Jesus. At first glance this doesn’t sound like a good thing. One may ask “Do I have to die to become Christian?” The obvious answer is no! It isn’t our physical body that dies with Jesus, it is our old sin-self (Christianese for “who we were before we became Christian”). When Jesus died He took our sins with Him, and not just our sins, but also our identity as sinners.

Romans 6:4 – in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We died in order to be raised to life. We can’t be brought back to life if we aren’t dead. Does that mean that it is our old sin-self that is resurrected? No! When Jesus came back to life it was because He defeated death. We come back as a new creation with our identity centered in Christ.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Faking It?

Sometimes our prayers feel like the room at the top of this page: empty. I hear about powerful prayer all the time. Prayer causing healing, powerful revelations through prayer, and close encounters with God, but what about when these things don’t happen? Our culture seems to expect powerful prayers, so that when we don’t have powerful encounters with God we feel like we are doing something wrong. We may even begin to ask are we faking it?

Not feeling something doesn’t mean that we are faking it. If we earnestly try then we can’t be faking it. Think of it like this: if you want to go to Disneyland you are going to save up, plan for the trip, and then buy tickets for you and who ever is going with you. If you are only pretending to want to go to Disneyland you will tell people that you are going, but you wont go to all the trouble of buying tickets, and planning a trip. That would be a waste of time and money! Its the same with prayer. If you are spending the time with God, and searching for Him in you private life you are not faking it. What would be the point of praying in private if you didn’t really want God?

1 Chronicles 16:11 — Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.

How Then Shall We Dress?

Our physical image shows the world who we are, and what we represent. It is very important that we represent God in a good manner. If our clothes are part of that we must think about how what we wear shows God to others. I don’t mean that we have to walk around wearing nothing but shirts that talk about God. I mean that what we wear makes others think differently about us, and more importantly God.

First, and most obvious, if we wear clothes that glorify violence, sexual immorality, and anger we are, ourselves, glorifying these things. Jesus’ philosophy was very clearly against these things. We may wear a shirt that glorifies one or more of these things without realizing the effect it may have on others. People see that shirt, and think “Is that what being a Christian looks like? How is that different than me?” Our image mot only tells people about us, but it also tells people about our relationship with God.

Second, when we wear that kind of clothing we provoke un-pure thoughts in others. People see your clothes and it makes them think about what is depicted on them. This is pretty much the same as my first point, but it revolves around others. if we dress in a way that doesn’t glorify God we don’t encourage others to do so.

Third, we should care more about Jesus than what we look like. God is the only thing that matters in all the world. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” You shouldn’t be worrying about what the newest trends are more than you think about God.

Matthew 6:28-30 —  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Holy Ground

Exodus 3:5 — “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you stand is holy ground.

In the beginning of exodus 3 Moses comes across a burning bush while out shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep. When he gets closer God calls him forward and tells moses that he is standing on holy ground. What made this ground holy? Was it the miracle of a burning bush? Was it Moses’ presence? No, it was the presence of God that made the ground holy. God is the defining factor of what is holy, in fact, before God even told Moses that the ground was holy in exodus 3 tells us that “God called to him from within the bush.” God was there, thus the ground was holy. This is found in many other places as well. The holiest place in all of the old testament was the temple because it was where God lived before Jesus died.

After Jesus died the veil that kept the holy part of the temple separate form the rest of the world was torn. God was made accessible to everyone, and no longer only dwelt in a few places that were considered holy. Now God lives in us Christians, or as 1 Corinthians 6:19 puts it we are “temples of the Holy Spirit.” Think about that for a second: we are now the holiest places in all of the world.

1 Kings 8:10-11 — And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

What significance does this hold for us? Two things. The first is this: There are no places in this world that have more potential for holiness any more. Jerusalem is not more Holy than Merna, Nebraska, it is the people there that may, or may not be more Holy. The second thing is that wherever we go becomes holy ground. If we go to Merna, Nebraska with God in us that place where we are becomes holy ground, God is there, sickness becomes foreign, love abounds, and all of the things that come with holiness.

Revelation 21:22 — And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.