Friday, July 28, 2017

What rewards are you getting?

Today I celebrated a recent win - I picked up the gift card that was my prize and used a little of it to get myself a cherry empanada. Victory can be sweet. Literally. But you know what else it is? Fleeting. Very fleeting. It was a delicious celebratory snack, but it was gone in 5 minutes.

As I ate, it hit me what a contrast that is with the reward that we as Christians will have at the end of time. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” and in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

Are your rewards temporary? Or are they everlasting?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Showing Christ's Love When You're Not Present

Did you ever realize that you don’t necessarily have to be present to be influencing others and displaying God’s love? Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t permission to just avoid people because you can still represent Christ when you’re away. That’s not it at all. But it is to say that if a strong love of Christ exists in your life, the evidence will be there even when you leave.

Currently I am house-sitting for my neighbors. It is one of my favorite things ever. Not just because I get paid to enjoy three cats and a swimming pool, but my times at their house are always full of reminders of God’s love and power. It’s not like they are “in your face” about their faith, but you can just tell from being there that God has a special place in their lives, and it spills over into their home.

Sometimes I walk in the door and they happen to have left the radio on the Christian station and it is playing just the song I needed to hear at the moment. Sometimes I go into the kitchen and see encouraging notes (such as the one pictured above) written on the whiteboard. Sometimes it’s in the books that they have sitting around. These aren’t things they have gone out of their way to do or place- it is just my neighbors living their life.

What do you leave behind as you live your life? Will it remind others of God?

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. - Titus 2:7-8

Friday, July 14, 2017

You Can't Overcome Your Biggest Obstacle

Water: it is one of the main boundaries in the world. Cities are divided by rivers, properties may be divided by a stream, and the continents are divided by an ocean. Sometimes, water separates us from things unexpectedly, like in the photo above when the walking path between two nearby towns flooded and became impassible by all practical means. 

In the Old Testament, water was the separating factor between Israel and their escape from Egypt. Later on, it was the one thing between them and their impending conquest of Jericho. In both of these accounts, however, God used this great obstacle to remind the people of His power and protection.

In Exodus 13:15-18 we read, The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lordwhen I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

Fast forward a number of years, and we see in Joshua 3:7-13 a similar event: The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lordthe Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

The likeness of these two instances really struck me. God lead His people through many obstacles over time, but it was fascinating that of all things they would cross a body of water on dry ground twice. What are the odds? Well, humanly speaking, zero. Even with our modern technology, we still cannot instantly dry out a path through a river or sea. At best, it would be a muddy swamp that your feet would get stuck in. But God? He knows no limits. Perhaps, He gives us our most limiting obstacles to remind us that it is not we who have the ultimate power, but Him. He will give us what we need to overcome them in His timeframe and by His will.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Seeing The Light When Your Glasses Are Filthy

"Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25 says. That's the truth. It's hard to find hope you can see when all you have to stare at is a desert and you can barely look through your dirt-encrusted sunglasses. But do I wait with patience? That's hard. Patience is a fruit of the spirit that I often lack. Looking back at that verse, I'll be honest, patience isn't the only thing here that is lacking: it's hard to hope for what I don't see. It's easy to give up when the horizon looks empty.

So where can we go from here? What happens when all you can see is a dead horizon through your crusty dirty glasses?

Romans 8 continues in verses 26-27, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

Pray, my friend. Pray. It's all we can do, and even that isn't done entirely on our own accord.