The Night Before

I’m waxing poetic this evening so I want to post this thought:

 

I know the truth. And I know that this life is but a flash at the start of eternity.  Therefore I have one task: I must tell the truth, the only truth of consequence. I must shout with every bit of energy. I must chase the truth through the twist and turns, past the roaring lions and through the dark places. I must take every risk to hold the truth. This life is but the night before eternity, and if I do these things I know that when I rise at dawn I will have the prize, and the King.

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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A Message In a Bottle

You are not alone

Even when you’re so far from home

Even in the dead of night

When all around you are weapons

If you stand in the silence

Afraid to even whisper

Know that you are not alone

In the darkness let it be known

That there are those who stand

Whether beside you or behind you

Standing with you, standing for you

And let it be known here and there

That there is one who stands

And has conquered the evil of our lands

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!”

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.

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?