A Good Shepherd

Life’s hard. Sounds comforting, I know, but its true. Life is full of trouble, temptation, persecution, and the bible is very clear about this:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 — But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

This doesn’t sound encouraging to most of us, but it’s all about perspective. Our lives should be all about God. We know that God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). We need to trust God to do the right thing, lead us to the right place, and mold us into the right person. In the book of Job a whole bunch of horrible things happen to Job, and Job , while not turning away from God, asks Him why these horrible things are happening to him. When God replies it is with questions.

Job 38:4-5 — Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?

God goes on for a whole chapter pretty much asking Job if he has any idea what God is thinking. Here’s the next place that Job speaks:

Job 40:1-4 — The LORD said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God correct Him!”

Then Job answered the LORD: “I am unworthy–how can I reply to You? I put my hand over my mouth.”

The rest of the chapter is God explaining that His plans are higher than Job’s.

This is the perspective that we need. We need to see that God’s plans are higher, and that they are for us not against us.

My last point is this: we shouldn’t be walking around life as if everything is turned against us, even if it is. We should be rejoicing because our God is for us, and His plans are good.

James 1:2-4 — Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

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Fear

I know that the title of this is fear, but first I need to explain love. God loves you. Cliche, I know, but its true. God has this deep, amazing love for you. John goes so far as to say that God is love. This idea is huge. If there is one thing I can tell you it is probably that. God loves you with a fierce love that is always chasing you, and always surrounding you, and always washing over you. His love is nothing like human love because it is perfect. It doesn’t rely on acts or even attitude.

Okay, now that that’s over with I can talk about fear. Fear is what holds many people back. It keeps us from sharing the good news with our friends, or stepping out in faith or changing our lives. Fear is something horrible, but there is good news. Fear can’t hold onto you. John says that perfect love casts out fear. Jesus’ love is perfect and it is surrounding you. That love can drive out all fear. God is the only thing that matters, so don’t worry about whether or not others love you. Only believe that God loves you.

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?