Monday, July 18, 2011

Works, Faith, and Heart

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” -James 2:26

The old issue of faith and works. It sounds easy thing but I it has been an issue with every person in the church for centuries. Every denomination was practically created because of certain works that a Christian can and cannot do. James here talks about this subject and says that faith and works go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. In fact James provides evidence through the lives of Abraham and Rahab. They both showed that their works were a reflection of their faith. That is what James here is talking about. Your works is a reflection of your faith and your faith is shown through your works. James here addresses that we should not get caught up in faith and works that and to focus in upon the fact that we need both. What also can be seen is the real center of the matter that the heart of the person and their relationship with God that is reflected through your faith and works. The bigger question that James is getting at is, what is our heart towards God?

Sometimes I forget the importance of my works and how it reflects the way I feel. Recently at a dinner with my girlfriend, I was able to order this awesome rack of lamb dish that I love. When it came, I just charged it with a fork in one hand and knife in the other. It tasted so good that I was consumed by it. Bite after bite was a great sensation of taste exploding. However, as I was eating it I didn’t ask to share it with my girlfriend, but at the time it didn’t bother me. After I finished my awesome dinner, I wanted a sample of her pasta. But she refused and said that I didn’t offer any of my lamb to her. I was a bit thrown off. I would have given if she asked, but that wasn’t the point. I forgot to think of her. My works did not reflect my feelings and heart towards her. It also peered into my heart that, I'm not proud to admit, am somewhat selfish when it comes to food. Now this is a small matter, but it makes me really ponder my faith and deeds through out my life. Are my actions a reflection of my hearts towards God? In many ways I need to draw closer to God so that my actions are a true reflection of my deep love for Jesus.

Lord thank you for this lesson. Actions speak louder than words, may my actions speak big for you.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Grace leads to Action


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8

A classic part of the scripture where Isaiah responds to the call of the Lord. Prior to this the Lord allowed Isaiah the ability to see this amazing vision and was able to be in the presence of the Lord. Through that process Isaiah realized that he is completely unworthy to be in the presence of God. After the Lord made him clean, with grace and thankfulness, Isaiah immediately stepped forward in to ministry.

When I read this I am overwhelmed by the amazing grace of God but also the renewed heart that Isaiah had for ministry. This just proves that when you have a brush with God it changes you. Reading this account of Isaiah’s life gives me the strength for a renewal of my own ministry. Sometimes I forget how much love God has for us. Often time it is taken for granted. Then when I am about in my everyday life, I tend to lean away from doing the things God has asked for me to do. Isaiah’s life just gives a boost to my heart, a lift in my spirit to endure the hardships, play through the pain, and begin to live for God again. I want that heart again, here I am Lord, send me!

Lord thank you for the boost. Send me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hard times for believers


“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:12-13

Being a follower of Christ is not easy, so says Paul. Here he states that following Jesus and living a godly life will be full of hardships and persecutions. To make matters worse it sounds like that those who do not follow Christ will be turning from bad to worse. During these times, it was not easy to be a follower of Christ. This was the beginnings of the persecutions. They would die a death that is equal of a criminal. Times for being a believer here is not easy, and it would only get worse as the years would go on.

How does this really apply to me? I live in a country where it is pretty easy to be a Christian, where “living” for God is the norm not the exception. But the better question is: Am I really living for God? Does my life reflect godliness or is it just a facade? Am I really following Jesus or am I being what Paul calls an impostor. I feel at times, my life could be little more godly. The way I treat people, to my patience with others, to decisions I make, there are many places where I have a small amount of godliness. In fact it may be a reality that my life is not where it should be. However, what I also know is that God wants us all in. But I struggle with going all in. I want to live a godly life, its not all that easy that’s all.

Lord I want to live a more godly life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Go Hard or Go Home


“So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.” 1 Kings 19:21

Freshly anointed by Elijah, Elisha waste no time in moving on to the next step of his life. One day he’s a farmer the next day he is a prophet. Just like that he leaves everything and follows what the Lord ask him to do. Not only does he leave everything, he burns everything up and walks away from it all. Not only does it show the dedication and heart that Elisha had for God, but it also shows that when you have that strong of a calling on your life, you will give it all up for Him and follow.

God does call, but do I listen. Here Elisha shows me that you either need to go hard or go home. Either fully embrace the call on your life or not. God loves it when we walk in complete obedience. The issue with me and I am sure it is with many others, is that if we like the call, then we go hard, but if we don’t like the call or the assignment, we go home. But the thing with God is that it does not matter if I like it or not. Would I be ready to burn it all and live in complete obedience? I should hope so. I pray that I have this kind of commitment like Elisha, and I am ready to give it all up and Go Hard for Him.

Lord I like this reminder, but really let it sink into my heart.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Change


“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastics 3:1

It may be time for a change. Here in this chapter Solomon talks about seasons in ones life. He then begins his very famous speech about times of change in life. What he makes clear is that change is inevitable and a necessary thing in ones life. Change sparks growth, maturity, and seems to be the spark that makes the world go around. If there is anything in life that is consistent, it is change. So what does Solomon do, does he question God, does he fight it. No, he accepts it and accepts it as is. No reservations, no resistance. He moves with the flow, and makes best of it. For he admits that God allows it, and there is a reason for it all.

Usually in my case, verses from the bible speak lessons in my life that show what I need to learn, however, here today, I read this verse in the midst of transformation. Change is never easy, but it in many cases, it is a sign of something good. Something God brings along to show His wonderful plan. But I am nervous, I am sacred, and I am afraid of the unknown. However, like Solomon, I should accept it and see God’s wonderful plan.

Lord thank you for change

Friday, April 29, 2011

Who is He?


“But what about you?” he (Jesus) asked. “Who do you say I am?” -Matthew 16:15

I love it how Jesus here gets right to the heart of the matter. He asks the disciples straight out, “Who do you say I am?” He comes forward and ask the tough question about what they really believe. But what is interesting is when Jesus asked this question. He didn’t ask this question in the middle of the Last Supper. But he asked this during the times where things were going good. But at least one of them, Peter, answered it right. But this is a valid question that should be asked of every person who is the follower of Christ. What if Jesus came today and asked the question right in my face? See what we answer will determine how your life is lived.

When I hear this verse it reminds me to come back to the basics. Who is Jesus? Though I know the answer intellectually, but do I truly understand the answer and do I believe it with all my heart. That is what I have to determine. Who is Jesus to me? I know that sometimes I can say the right answer but my actions are different. Today, Jesus ask me and maybe all of us, “Who do you say I am?” Do I really believe He is the Messiah only when my back is against the wall? Or only when I am at the end of my rope? Or, do I really believe He can save when things are easy? I must be like Peter and see Jesus for who he really is. He is God during the good times and the bad. Who is Jesus to me? I hope to say He is God, not only in mouth but in action no matter the season.

Lord thank you for this question. Help me sink the answer from my head to my heart.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hard Decisions


But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hands.” 1 Samuel 27:1

It appears to be frustrating times for David and it doesn’t seem like it will change anytime soon. Tired of fighting the system and running for his life, he does something unthinkable, he joins the enemy camp. He becomes part of the Philistines. This is an ultimate betrayal, to put it in modern day times, it is like when Johnny Damon became a Yankee after he won World Series with the Red Sox, or like how I saw Hulk Hogan become a tool in the WWE. This idea David had, was crazy. I am not so sure that David was convinced that this was a great idea. But it seams like he had no choice. He had to make a call to on a difficult decision, a decision he knew that being king of Israel would haunt him in the future. However, for the sake of preservation of his life, his army, and his future legacy he made a hard decision, trusting God will protect him along the way.

Life altering decision making is something not to be taken lightly. What I am learning from David is that the right decisions, sometimes won’t even seem, right. In fact it will be one that seems outrageous. David here was faced with a decision, but he knew God’s promise and trusted that God would see the promise fulfilled, regardless of what was going on. It’s amazing to see how David makes these decisions. He makes them to survive, but also he does it with confidence that God will see things through. So the lesson for me here is to make those tough decisions and trust God will complete His part of the plan. That’s some pretty awesome trust.

Lord help me make those tough decisions. Even if I don’t understand and don’t want to do them, help me make those decisions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Constant Communication


Once again David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into you hand.” -1 Samuel 23:4

This seems to be a very common phrase I am reading in this book of Samuel, “David inquired of the Lord”. David was in constant communication with God. He asked God about every major thing in his life. He developed a habit and lifestyle that before any major decision he ask God before anything. It prevented him from making brainless decisions but it also give him a dependence on God. It is a very wise choice to make. Jesus in the sermon on the mount also said to, “ask... seek... knock....” He instructed to ask God for wisdom in all that you do.

To me this is elementary in teaching, but really difficult to put into practice, especially here in the US. I am convinced that “rugged individualism” and “self made man” theories in life has really hindered our ability to be more reliant on God. Thus it is difficult for me to ask God for everything. But what I must learn is that I need to be in consistent communication with God. To be connected as Jesus said, “vine to the branches.” Developing a lifestyle like David, where I learn to ask God for everything, will bring me closer to God, and that is what I really want.

Lord, today I am gonna make a habit of asking you for everything, help me develop a lifestyle where I constantly have You on my mind.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Taste, Fear, Seek..


“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” -Psalms 34:8-10

Funny when you look at this you see how great these bible verses are. However, after you read about what is going on with David when he wrote this Psalm, it sounds more like he wrote this to himself so he would not go insane, even though he was pretending to be insane. In a short amount of time, David’s life turned upside down. He went from riches to rags in a heartbeat. From hero to zero like some celebrities we know. The difference is that he did nothing wrong. However, we see here that though his life was going downhill, his devotion and love for God never wavered. Through these verses he teaches us to do three things in times of adversity. Taste and see the Lord, Fear the Lord, and Seek the Lord. David was a gifted writer, and when he wrote it was full of metaphors and elaborate descriptions to pinpoint truth. Taste the Lord, experience him, and after that you will know his power. Fear the Lord, and seek Him with reverence and devotion, and you will lack nothing.

I admire about David in this verse is that he knew what it meant to please God no matter what. I look at myself and I don’t have nearly as much adversity as David, so it makes me cringe when I see that my faith is no where near where it should be. But the lesson I can apply to my life from these passages is to truly develop a deep desire for pursuit of God. Taste, Fear and Seek are all action words. It requires me to get up off my butt, and put my faith in to action. David’s faith was in action when he wrote this. But how often in my life my faith is missing in action. Not that I denounce God, but I do worry a lot more then I should. Today’s lesson requires a call, a call to taste, fear, and seek God with all of my heart. Then though adversity and trials come, I can have the unshakeable faith and assurance that David had.

Taste, Fear, Seek. Oh Lord help me do all these.

Friday, March 11, 2011

But for You


“But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.” -Psalm 38:15

David must have been in pretty tough situation to be uttering these words of pain. The first half of this Psalm he cries out to God of his suffering. He gives God a brutally honest account of his feelings and what he is experiencing at that moment. Then he makes this beautiful transition, “But for you....” Though he is suffering and though he is going through anguish, David then expresses his trust in the Lord. He calls out to God and awaits His answer.

God does answer. But for me do I take the position of David here where I will wait on Him, or do I take matters in my own hands and try to change the situation without waiting for God. There is this thing about God and waiting. He loves to just answer after we wait. But like most of us here in the modern age, I hate waiting. I like the instant answer, the immediate reply, and the quick response. I have grown accustomed to the speed of this day and age, that this verse where David says he will wait, is somewhat a foreign idea to me. However, it seems that when God does his greatest works, he makes us humans wait before he does it. During that time there is usually suffering, hardship, and toils. But oh when He answers, it will be a great thing.

Lord thank you the lesson of waiting.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

When the Lord says "No"


“That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. But commission Joshu and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” -God (Deuteronomy 3:26-28).

When I was young, I was taught that God answers in three ways, “Yes”, “No”, and “Wait.” As I grew with Jesus, I found that I love the answer “Yes.” I can cope with the answer of “Wait”. However, when God says “No”, it’s not always a pretty sight. So when I read this about how God said “no” to Moses, I had to start paying attention. Previously Moses requested to cross the Jordan and lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, but God says “No”. I can’t even imagine how Moses must feel at this moment. Granted he was talking to God, and experienced a touch of Him first hand, but to be rejected in such a fashion must have been at the least, hurtful. After all he only led the craziest, most ungrateful, always complaining group of people for forty years. I would hope that he gets to reap the reward and cross into the promised land. But God didn’t allow it. He said, “No”. To make matters worse, God tells his Moses to get Joshua, his leader in training, ready to lead the people to the Promised Land. That alone is humbling in itself. But Moses does it, and obeys God through the pain, and hurt of rejection.

Rejection, no one likes it. It sounds somewhat cliche to say that, “Well, you got to trust God and know that He knows best.” That’s nice and all, but in the middle of a rejection, when you are trying to cope with the pain, that’s not exactly what I would like to hear. The truth be told, I don’t want to be told “no”, especially if I worked my butt off like Moses to reach a certain goal. I would feel entitled, owed, or deserving of going to the Promised Land. But the reality is that I must submit to God, and trust His plan. After all, He’s God. I personally may not like it, but in reality I have such a finite mind and limited vision, that I cannot see what God can see. But the feelings of rejection, anger, resentment, frustration, hurt, all begin to fester in my heart and that is when I must give it over to Christ. Give him the all those feelings, and pain, and trust He knows what He is doing. I must learn to react like Moses, to accept the will of God, and faithfully do what he commands and do it with joy. Because it’s really all about Him, and I know He loves me and because of His love for me, I can trust in whatever His plans are.

Thank you Lord for the lessons of “No”.