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Living Every Moment for God

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Some people have gotten the notion that being spiritually “hot” is staying in a constant state of active adoration towards God, talking about Him, and saturating every minute with praise and worship.

Then they go to work and have to focus their minds on their daily tasks, which requires them to shift their adoring gaze downward for a while, and they are disappointed because they were not able to maintain that spiritual high. Their conscience is pricked because they haven’t been able to actively think about and dwell on God for several hours, and they feel condemned because they think they haven’t been “spiritual” for that amount of time.

Paul wrote in Romans 12.1, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” What did he mean by that? Perhaps we need to expand our concept of worship to include every corner of our lives. We please God when we do good things and share with one another (Hebrews 13.15–16).

Dear Christian, the way you work each day should please God. How do you worship God through your job? How do you offer yourself as a living sacrifice while focused on the complex or mundane chores of the day? When you work for people, obey them “with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man” (Ephesians 6.5–7). “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3.23).

When we work this way, we offer ourselves as a sacrifice to God, and God is pleased with us. This is a good day.

When you have a good attitude, when you work hard and heartily, when you seek the good of the people around you, when you serve others, when you submit to authority, when you do things you know are right, when you bring order out of chaos, when you clean up messes and organize, you fulfill God’s purpose for you on this earth. You reflect His image.

Those moments are precious when we can focus entirely on praising and magnifying the name of God, and we should look forward to and make regular time for that. But we can live every moment of our lives for God if we understand how our entire life works in the context of His kingdom. This is wisdom, peace, and joy. May we learn to live this way!

Why Did Jesus Feed the 5000?

Monday, January 29, 2024

In Luke 9, a huge crowd went out into a desolate place outside Bethsaida to find Jesus. About 5000 enjoyed the words and the powerful healing Jesus brought; all day they listened until the day began to wane. The disciples suggested that Jesus send the crowd into the surrounding villages so they could get something to eat, but Jesus surprised them with a challenge: "You give them something to eat" (Luke 9.14)!

"We have no more than five loaves and two fish," they answered, not for a moment considering a boy's lunch (John 6.9) ample provision for such a great multitude. I would have agreed with them, I'm afraid. (I sometimes stare into my fridge thinking, "There's nothing to eat," when really there is plenty...)

Jesus was not obligated to feed this multitude, and no one expected Him to provide a meal. He must have had a purpose to this miracle. Why did He do it?


1. Jesus increased the faith of the disciples.

After His disciples said they couldn't feed the multitude, Jesus didn't just say, "Okay, fine, if you won't do it I'll do it Myself." Rather, He launched into action to multiply the bread and fish, and He "gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd" (Luke 9.16). In other words, the disciples ended up giving the crowd something to eat, just as Jesus had instructed! Jesus does not command anything for which He doesn't also equip.

Jesus had told these disciples He would make them fishers of men (Luke 5.9-10). These twelve (Luke 6.13) would be the seeds which started a worldwide planting operation. How in the world would they accomplish such a monumental—dare we say, impossible—task? By faith these men would come to understand all they had to do was obey—God handles the multiplication!

God can take an oil jug with just a bit of left-over oil in the bottom and make it outlast a famine (1 Kings 17.8-16). God can feed and water a couple million people in the desert for forty years. Man's road blocks and impossibilities are nothing to God.


2. Jesus identified Himself.

Continuing the previous thought, Jesus identified Himself with Moses in the wilderness. John (in John 6) accounts a conversation the day following the feeding of the 5000 in which the Jews tried to provoke Jesus into feeding them again: "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’" (John 6.31). They did well to connect Jesus' power with the feeding of the Israelites in the wilderness, and Jesus continued the thought, identifying Himself as the true bread from heaven.

Not only did He identify Himself as the bread of life, but this even also identified Him strongly with Moses—Moses being a type of Christ. How could Jesus do such awesome things unless God had truly sent Him? And if God had sent Him, He was a true prophet. Moses had prophesied in Deuteronomy 18.15, "YAHWEH your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear..."

The feeding of the 5000 proved that God had raised up The Prophet!

Learning Paul’s Secret

Sunday, December 03, 2023

It’s the old chicken-and-egg problem. Which came first: thankfulness or contentedness, the grateful attitude or the peaceful spirit?

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Paul wrote that to the Philippian church while he was in prison in Rome! He is thankful and even joyful while bound and restricted. See Philippians 1.3–5.

Also from prison, he wrote the Colossian church, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1.3–5).

Also from prison, he wrote to his friend Philemon, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints” (Philemon 1.4–5).

How could Paul overflow with thanksgiving while in chains? It’s because he realized God had greatly blessed him in Christ and God was in control of his problems. God reigns over all of life. Jesus is not wincing on His throne, waiting to see if everything will turn out okay for His people. No! He is working to make sure all things work together for good for those who love Him. God is not some esoteric spiritual entity with no relation to our current reality. He created reality. We live because of Him. Paul knew that.

Paul thanked the Father, “who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light…[and] delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1.12–14).

When you realize what God has done for you in Christ Jesus, it’s impossible not to overflow with thanksgiving. So why aren’t we continually thankful and at peace in our spirits like Paul? Plainly, it’s because we lack faith. We forget God’s great deeds on our behalf. We forget He raised us up with Christ Jesus and seated us with Him in the heavenly places. We forget He wiped away the eternal consequences of our sins and loved us while we were still enemies spitting in His face. We forget the nails, the blood, the pain at the cross—that it was all for our sakes.

Paul, what is the secret to establishing our faith? How did you stay strong and find peace even in the darkest circumstances?

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4.11–13).

Thank God for Paul and the word preached through that man. What a blessing God has given His people to teach us these attitudes so we can know supernatural peace and heavenly joy right here on earth!

Which came first then? It seems the thanksgiving for God’s work came first, and Paul’s calm, contented spirit was built on the grateful recognition of blessing. We should remind one another constantly of our exalted place in Christ and the blessings we now have and are promised to have in the future! We should listen to God, who has the eternal, omniscient viewpoint, trusting in His knowledge and control. When He says we are blessed in Christ but we don’t feel it…trust that we are still blessed in Christ and give Him thanks.

Give thanks in all things, even when you’re down. Let’s learn Paul’s secret.

Speak the Truth with Your Spouse

Monday, November 27, 2023

Picture this: your spouse is not in the room. You're chatting with some friends, and suddenly the conversation turns to spouses. One lady says her husband never considers her feelings anymore—he just does whatever he wants. You commiserate because your husband has lately been getting on your nerves, and several recent episodes tumble from your mouth as you vent your frustration. There! It's been said. You feel better. You can go on with life.

Wrong!

You have just engaged in a bit of character assassination, and it was against the one person who should be closest and dearest to you!

God said in the Ten Commandments: you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

"But what I said wasn't false!" you protest.

Wasn't it, though? Think back on the words used. Did you huff resignedly, "That's just how he is!" Did you insist, "he never..." or "he always..."? Did you allow your frustration to color your language with hyperbole? Did you keep in mind the good he has done for you, or were you only thinking of the recent trouble?

When we use words like never and always, we lie, because it's almost never true! Test it out...

"He never considers my feelings first." That's an animal and not a man you've just described.

"He always throws his dirty socks on the floor." Has he never once hit the laundry basket even by mistake?

"She never wants to do what I want to do." Was that what attracted you to her in the first place?

"She always says just the thing to get on my nerves." And I'm sure you always respond with a gentle answer to turn away her wrath.

Husbands and wives, can we agree that we sometimes do bear false witness against our spouses? We need to quit. It's not healthy, it's lying, and it's sinful.

We ought to remember that our moods change. Murder is committed when people act in the throes of anger. Paul commanded,

"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil" (Ephesians 4.25-27)

All these commandments work together. Anger often prompts us to falsehood as we modify and reshape the truth to serve our own purposes. The best thing to do in our anger is usually BE STILL! Don't act! Wait. Take a breath and count to 10… or 100... or 1,000… whatever it takes to cool off. If we speak in anger and frustration, we are apt to sin.

Next time you feel frustrated with your spouse, try some of these options:

  1. Pray about it. Laying the problem out to God often exposes our own faults in the matter. It helps to lay our problem at the feet of the one who loves us most.
  2. Don't talk to your spouse immediately. Take some time before you address the problem.
  3. Don't complain about your spouse to others.
  4. Even while you are upset, do something nice for your spouse—just because.
  5. Ask yourself why you feel so strongly about it. Was she intentionally trying to hurt you? Does he even know how what he did or said affects you? Be honest.
  6. Pray about it again. Has God revealed anything to you?

I have found most issues tend to vanish given time and breathing room. I'd love to know how this technique works in your relationship.

Anger and lies give the devil a foothold in your life, so always speak the truth with your spouse!

Taming the Tongue

Monday, November 20, 2023

Ephesians 4.29–32

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 5.3–4

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

These two verses list many ways we can use our tongues to destroy rather than build, and in them Paul warns against corrupting talk, clamor, slander, filthy talk, foolish talk, and course jesting.

The first set of sins (Eph. 4.29–32) flow from bitter and angry hearts. Our actions follow our heart’s attitude. If we harbor bitterness towards someone, we likely will speak hateful words about them or to them at some point. Evil hearts overflow into evil works.

The second set of sins (Eph. 5.3–4) come from lustful and unclean hearts. Minds saturated in sewage will spew disgusting, disruptive, disturbing speech. Why is potty humor so popular? Why is our gaze so often directed downwards and not upwards? The marriage bed is to be held in honor, but many make it a joke, a punchline, speaking of sex in flippant and irreverent ways.

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled” (Titus 1.15).

How do we tackle a profane tongue? How do we raise our speech out of the gutter and onto the highway of holiness? We must direct our hearts to pure and holy things. Instead of angry talk, we should focus on kindness and forgive one another (Eph. 4.32). Instead of filthy talk, we should focus on giving thanks (Eph. 5.4). Imitate God’s character. What would Jesus think, do, and say?

Our speech will always be out of the overflow of our hearts, so we should be directing our hearts to that which is holy, pure, and honorable. May God help us tame our tongues!

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