May 26, 2012

How much is Enough?

How much of this world is enough? When is it too much?

   It certainly matters today which side you come to this question from.  The world will tell you, the sky is the limit, get all you can.  Our desires are pretty much inexhaustible; the more you feed them, the larger they grow.   An over -zealous Christian might say we need none of the world; however our needs of food, shelter, and the like, are ‘worldly’ goods.  The Bible says:

"Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap ;” Luke 21:34 NASB

“For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:” 1 Peter 4:3-4 KJV

   The words dissipation and lascivious are not used much anymore, and may be unfamiliar.  Dissipation is most often used in a scientific context for a process similar to evaporation.  In a broader scope, we might define it as an unrestrained loss of resources.  (Think of your money at the end of the month; ‘Where did it all go?’)  Lascivious describes uncontrolled behavior, usually sexual in nature, or a fit of rage.  I’ve heard it said in a situation, “I just lost all control!”  In general both words describe wasteful and uncontrolled living.

   In contrast, God’s Word says that He will provide for us (Mat 6), and He is enough for us (2 Cor 12:9).  Men of God (1 Tim 3, Titus 1) are called to be good stewards, and rule their house under subjection.  This does not mean as a cruel overlord, but a thorough caretaker who watches all under his care.  God desires men and women who will judge each minute, each dollar, and each ounce of strength to ask how can I use this to glorify Him?

   Now back to the question at hand.  We are called to be content with what we have.  Some men are blessed with great resources in order to bless others.  Others are only given enough to meet their needs to show dependence on the Lord.  In either case, whatever is given should be used in the service of the Lord.  Our examination should be to find points of excessive or wasteful living, and turn them into God exalting opportunities.  Then if God chooses to bless us further, we recognize the blessing, and continue the cycle of glorifying Him.

May 19, 2012

Same Sex Marriage

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination" Leviticus 18:22

"who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." Romans 1:25-27

Due to a recent interview, done by President Obama and ABC's Robin Roberts, a lot of buzz has been created again concerning same sex marriage/homosexuals.  It will certainly be a political issue in the upcoming presidential race, but it is also a sin issue that the church should address.  You may say that the church, and certainly the pulpit are not places for politics to be discussed; however I would say that they are exactly the right places for many issues to be discussed.  While campaigning should not be done from a pulpit or teacher’s chair, the Bible addresses all issues of life which are important. Preachers and teachers have responsibility to show how the Bible addresses them.

Why does it matter?  God designed the world down to every detail, with a plan in place.  In Genesis, God created man, and then woman to be a helper and companion to man.  Man was to leave his family and marry a woman, becoming one flesh.  Man and woman could then have children and teach them God’s commandments.  This was God’s plan for family, marriage, and for the populating of the world.  As the passage in Romans above says, homosexuals ‘exchanged the truth of God for the lie.’  Sin is a rejection of God, His truth, and His Word. 

What should we do?  In the most immediate context, you should identify the values of the presidential candidates.  Then compare them to the Word of God, and vote accordingly.  Living in a democracy we are given the ability to shape the future, by selecting our leaders, in which we should participate for Christ.  God showed us the value of leaders throughout the Bible; perhaps greatest in the Davidic Covenant and the kings of Israel and Judah.  When the people had a God-fearing leader they followed suit, but when the leader did not follow God, the people fell away.  Vote for God-fearing leaders and legislators. 

- Pray for those who have fell into the lie of homosexual relations.  God can still save them, and show them the truth of His plan for the World.  Show them love just as Jesus did, while they learn God’s will and allow it to change their lives.  It is not easy to change/repent, and these feelings have such deep roots, that they will need extra support along the way.  Above all, pray for God’s glory to be shown in all our lives.

May 13, 2012

Cleaning out regardless of feelings

I don't like to talk about or share feelings often. They change so often and are unreliable. Yet the fact remains that so many people are motivated and driven by feelings and emotions. I certainly admit that it is much easier to do things when motivated by emotion and passion, yet these feelings are not always there when things need to get done. Imagine all the jobs that would not get done if waiting on a good feeling or passion for the job. Most of us would never clean (some of us still do not often.) I know there are some weird people who actually love to clean, but when was the last time you took out the garbage, or cleaned out the gutters for the joys of the job? How about the doctors? Who loves to go get a prostate exam or mammogram done for the good time? Then comes work, which by its fallen nature is hard and grueling. In short, we do many things out of need, duty, or devotion.
Our walk in Christ is going to be much like the things above. We should certainly praise Him when we feel His presence and are experiencing his blessings. But his praise worthiness does not diminish when we are cleaning out our heart of junk we accumulate. Nor does it change when are examined by the Holy Spirit. There are things we must do as discilpes of Christ, that will not always be joyous, but accompany the work we are called to do as followers.
Before you "Amen," this thought, remember what happens when the Lord examines our hearts. He finds sin, disloyalty, and sometimes apathy. You may have a laundry list of habits, ideas, and things the Jesus has delivered you from already, but there is always more. The further we go in this process, the more we need God to cut things out, and cutting hurts. Yet this is why the scriptures are referred to as sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). God uses His Word to shine a light on the attitudes, doubts, relationships, and sin in our hearts, and then expertly uses this two-edged sword as a scalpel to remove them from our lives.
Have you had spiritual surgery lately? Do you need to pray and ask the Lord to cut something from your life? Remember He only prunes and disciplines those He loves.
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:3

May 5, 2012

More about Jesus

As a good person/American/Christian when someone is in need, we generally find a way to give to them.  If they need food or clothes, we find a way to provide it.  We have advice to give to those who are misguided.  We will give recommendations for those needing a mechanic or doctor.  Then we will even give our precious time to a cause which pulls our heart strings.  How often though do you give Jesus, or the gospel to someone?

As a method of public confession, I am much better at giving of myself.  When a need surfaces, my brain searches for someone or something that I can give, and often this means my time.  While my opinion is that volunteering is certainly a way to minister to others, and show the love of Christ; my intentional sharing is lacking at times.  Meeting these temporal problems with temporary resources, only defers the issues.  Our ultimate need is always Jesus, it may manifest itself in temporary ways, but the need is always there.  The old saying says to “teach a man to fish” but we teach them to find sufficiency in Christ and his teachings.  Another issue with my tendency is that I am finite, and will often reach the end of my rope, no longer able to help anyone. 

The solution to this is simple, actually.  We must learn to give more of Jesus, instead of ourselves.  There will still be plenty of instances when you need to give tangible food, gas, and shelter.  We are called to do so by James (2:16) as part of the works of our faith.  Yet if our first thought is filling people with Jesus and his Holy Spirit, then even a meal or clothes can be a great tool for witnessing about Him.  My thoughts go to the great hymn we sing:

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me

My energy and resources will end and fail, but Jesus never ends, He is infinite and will not run dry.  Matthew 5:16 tells us to shine our lights before men, but this is not a spotlight on ourselves.  With our country, and world trying to become “post-Christian” we must continue to shine the “light of the world,” Jesus Christ.  The more of Jesus we give away, the more we will have.