Why do we stress about the future as if the present has no purpose and bears no value? The consequences of our present choices help to determine the outcome of our individual futures. Yet, how often do we neglect to factor in long term consequences and instead focus on immediate gratification? Too often we choose to follow our shoddy desires instead of the indefectible will of God. In doing so, we advertise how shallow we are in faith and flaunt the depths of our rebellious hearts. We need to understand and accept that often times, we create that stress by trusting in our imperfect will to provide us with a perfect outcome. That's like trusting in gasoline to put out a fire. We have the one living God willfully giving us perfect directions to accomplish His perfect will, but one must earnestly and humbly seek Him and be patient. Who makes more sense to trust? The one who can't control the rebellious thoughts that enter their own mind, or God who created the universe that surrounds the planet, that provides the air, that gives life to the body, and in which that rebellious mind resides. Remember, we only see the past as fact, but God sees the fact in the future. Trust in God's will, allow him to direct you in the present, even when it doesn't make sense. How God took me from where I was to where I am now, no human can make sense of, but God knew what He was doing. Make a habit of following God's will in the present so that your faith doesn't rely on the outcome of your choices, but is rooted in your submissiveness to God's perfect will.
* Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.*
Philippians 4:6-7 NASB
You will always have some stress but more importantly, as a Christian, you also always have the peace and hope of God, which is far more powerful than a self-created emotion.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. - Exodus 20:7
Vain – 1) having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements; 2) marked by futility or ineffectualness: unsuccessful, useless; 3) having no real value: idle, worthless – Merriam-Webster
Have you ever wondered what this commandment really means? When I was a child, I was told that it was about vocabulary. It was a warning against the “GD” and “JC” exclamations all too familiar to us from various movies. Certainly, these (as well as many others) are vile and repulsive to our God, but I think the command goes much deeper than a mere vocal expression and really ties in to the crux of the FLOW series we are doing here at the church.
So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things. - Acts 15:17
Did you catch that? Those of us who are in Christ are called by His name and therefore have “taken” his name. This commandment may well be a warning not to take His name and then do nothing with it. It is so easy to fall into an inward focus, concerning ourselves primarily with “Godly behavior” and refining our thought life. These are worthy efforts, but is that all there is? Is my salvation only for me? Does this commandment require us to be effective to the world with our salvation? This commandment may just be one of the most difficult to keep as there seems to be a call to action, not just meditation.
Jesus (quoting Isaiah) spoke of it in Matthew 15:8-9
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
Today, my brothers and sisters, may we seek the mind of Christ so that we may glorify Him in our lives and not fear that we have taken His name in vain.
Having a humble heart and serving others is essential for one to be a faithful follower of Christ. We are all called to have the heart of a servant while at the same time being joyful of our adoption into God's family. In Mark 10:45, Yeshua(Jesus) says, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Yeshua, Himself never required others to serve him, He requested the obedience of others, don't ignore that key word, "requested." God's love for us is such that we have the free-will to choose that obedience, He doesnt force us to love Him, He wants us to choose to love Him. It is through that love for Him, that we should choose to be obedient and follow Him.
Throughout scripture we see Jesus consistantly serving others by showing love to the unloved, feeding the hungry, serving the servants, and seeking the lost, How much more should we, His followers, follow His example? How hard is it for all of us to be less selfish with our time and be faithful to the title of christian that we claim. The word "christian" or "christianos" in Greek, means a follower of Christ. But to claim such a title while living a lifestyle that contradicts that claim, is like claiming to be a police officer while living like a theif. I can claim to be whatever i want, but the reality of my actions ultimately speak to who i am. Serve others with a humble heart. Let your actions expound the love of God to those you come in contact with. This is by no means me throwing any stones, I know I have a lot I have to work on to be where God wants me, you will never hear me claim otherwise. But the only way any of us will get closer to living out Christ's example, is aknowledging our shortcomings, repenting, and relying on God's strength to empower our obedience.
A phrase on the radio caught my attention one morning: “It’s feel good Friday.” I suppose feel good Friday follows mopey Monday, tough Tuesday, woeful Wednesday, and too slow Thursday. Of course, after feel good Friday we have super Saturday and spiritual Sunday. I even hear retired folks say, “Life is great because every night is Friday, and every day is Saturday.” It’s funny how we can be so affected by the day of the week.
Why do we let the clock and the calendar have so much power over us? The Monday morning alarm is seldom met with joy, but 5:00 pm Friday always brings a smile. I admit I can be snared by this trap of letting the situation dictate my mood. I can become too dependent on my circumstances and not dependent enough on my Lord. I can start to live by what I see instead of who I am in Christ when I forget that I am a child of the Great I Am.
When I find myself covered by this faithless, moody mess, I remember Peter’s words: “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15, NASB). This verse reminds me that I have a hope that is not dependent on my circumstances. This hope does not change based on my emotions. This hope exists because I am a child of God.
While this hope comforts me, it also brings accountability. I am given the responsibility to live in such a way that others can see His hope in me. It is an obligation without exception. It is a duty that requires me to adjust my outlook, my attitude, my actions, and my faith.
Day in and day out, good circumstances or bad, my attitude should reflect and declare the hope that God has placed in me. I have little trouble with my disposition when life is good, but His hope should not be based on expectations being met or a lack of conflict in my little world. His hope transcends time as well as my circumstance. His hope is an unshakable anchor attached to my life with an unbreakable chain.
When I adjust my life and my mind to be focused on His hope, His joy wells up in me; and something miraculous happens. I become the salt of the earth and the light of the world, just as Jesus commands me to be. I am able to share His love in ways I could never do in my own power; and as a result, I can effectively encourage those around me. My perspective changes and my doubts, fears, and worries fade as the fruit of the Spirit fills my life. I begin to experience His abiding presence, and my faith grows as I walk with Him each day.
Focusing on His hope and nourishing it with time spent in prayer and His Word helps me see through my circumstances to what really matters. It reminds me to savor each and every day God has allowed me to live. So, how about you? What does your hope look like? Where do you place your expectations? What are you allowing to influence your mood? Do you have to wait until Friday to feel good?
As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”–Romans 9:13
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.– Romans 11: 33-36
When we read Romans 9:13, most of us wonder why did God hate Esau? If you read through the passages about Esau, they show that he was a man of flesh and impulse, but mostly he seemed to have a total disregard for the covenant that God made with Abraham (his birthright).
Perhaps the better question is why did God love Jacob? Was it because Jacob was “a man after God’s own heart” like David was? Or was it because Jacob lived so righteously and piously that God loved him? Certainly not. Jacob was an underhanded, self-serving usurper from the start. Most everything he did was motivated by self-interest.
This begs the question of why does God love us? Any of us? He knows us down to our motivations. He knows that in and of ourselves, we can do nothing with a pure motive. In essence, he knows the heart and that is one thing that Jesus emphasized. As Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.– Romans 3:10-12
It is easy to see why a righteous God would hate all of us sinners, but why would He love any of us? God’s love obviously has nothing to do with who we are or what we do. What then, is the reason that God loves us? Our answer is plain and short. It is because of who He is. God is love.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1stJohn 4:8-10
God is love. He doesn’t just love, He IS love. This is not the squishy kind of love that Oprah and some charlatan preachers talk about. This is action!!!
May we stay mindful that God’s love has everything to do with Him and nothing to do with us.And who He is does not change, even when we "miss the mark."