“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” Colossians 3:9-10
God built us to serve others. Jesus saved us so that we could serve others to his glory. We all know that. We all talk about how Jesus saved us, and we should love one another and model what Jesus did. But how many times have we reached out to that person at work, or in social settings who is not like us or who seems a little quirky? God created ALL of us and Jesus died for the sins of EACH one of us. Not just us as in our friends and Christian buddies but ALL of us. Our responsibility is to love them and serve and lead and influence. Matthew wrote about this in 22:36-40. (You shall love your neighbor as yourself v. 39)
During the work week, I challenge you to find that one guy or gal by the water cooler who we normally would not say anything to and just say “hi” or “have a great weekend”. Perhaps something that simple could make a difference to that person that would cause them to see you more as Jesus. Or maybe at Walmart, we give the checkout lady a little extra time and attention and ask her how her day is going, AND actively listen to her response. It can be uncomfortable, or it might take up a little extra valuable time from our day but it’s what is asked of us by Jesus when he gave his LIFE for us and gave his time for us on the cross.
In Psalm 19:13-14 King David makes this prayerful request to God:
“Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
This prayer request should be made every day by every Christian. A presumptuous sin is one that is deliberate; or to be put more plainly, a sin that you know is a sin, the Holy Spirit is convicting you, and yet you still proceed to commit it. I am guilty of this and will, undoubtedly, be guilty of this in the future; not because I want to be but because I am fallible. Yet, the love of God is infallible and He continues to love us the same despite our rebellious actions. Scripture tells us to call upon him in times of such temptation:
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
How many times could a sin have been avoided if in that moment of temptation, we quieted our thoughts, and ask God for help? How much more prepared would we be if every morning we started out with a prayer such as the one David prayed? A prayer that not only shows humility and a desire to be faithful, but also a desire for correction. We should always seek God’s correction. It is through His sacrifice, His love, and His blood that we have been undeservedly redeemed and justified. Spend time with God, and request the discipline to overcome temptation, but also for God to renew your mind (Romans 12:2) in such a way that will glorify Him.
The Life of Christ
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Cor. 5:21
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8
Now that the Christmas season is about to be upon us again, I am pondering not just the birth of our Savior, but His life. Much is made of His birth and His death/resurrection and rightfully so, but there has been something pressing on me for a while about the life of Christ.
Have you ever thought about the fact that He came for a singular purpose…to die on a cross for us. Not only did He come to die an agonizing death for our benefit, but He had to first live a sinless life to even make the sacrifice count. Have you ever thought about how weighty that really is? To live a sinless, perfect life, devoid of pride, forsaking any will other than the will of the Father, all the time knowing that the cross awaits. Remember that Jesus lived many years before His ministry started. Other than His birth and a couple of early incidents, the Bible only records about the last three years of his life. He lived for over 3 decades…sinless.
We know that the path was stressful, the kind of stress that I cannot really wrap my mind around. It was stressful enough that He was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22. He asked that the Father change His will and take the cup, but God the Father obviously told Him that there was no other way. So, Jesus put aside any of His own interests and pursued the path given Him. He was then led to the cross to die for us who were enemies of God at the time. All the while, fully knowing of the excruciating death that was in store for Him. Bearing the sin of the world and suffering the separation from God that everyone except Jesus deserves. All of this was made possible by the Life of Christ in perfect obedience to the Father.
Have you ever, even once, believed that you knew what God wanted you to do, but failed to do it for whatever reason? I have, and more than just once. This simple act of disobedience just one time would have disqualified Jesus from being our sacrifice and our separation from God would have endured.
Today, may we honor not only the sacrificial death of Christ, but His sacrificial life as well.
“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Have you stopped long enough to realize that as we get ourselves in the right frame of mind with God that we see things differently than others? Even simple things become clearer in their purpose. As I’m out camping with my family, looking up at the stars in heaven it’s even more clear and more powerful remembering God's promise to Abraham that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in heaven. And in the morning, as I have coffee alone outside waiting on the sunrise, I just see, smell and hear God’s glory all around me. As I prepare to walk the fields with my son, God will be with us; father and son, shooting and talking and having a day of fun. God is so good! And it’s so much better each day knowing God is with me and has a purpose for me to share in his kingdom and to invite others to learn and live for his purpose. I hope you feel the same way.
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.