Use All of Me

     A man hired a carpenter to build him a house. He described the house he wanted and told the carpenter "Give me a list of everything you will need. I will get it all delivered."
     Six weeks later all the material was assembled and the carpenter went to work.
     A week later the man drove up to the site with a spray can of red paint. He started walking around the stacks of lumber marking some of them with the paint.
     The surprised carpenter asked "What in the world are you doing?"
     "You cannot use any of what I am marking. If it has red on it, don't use it."
     The carpenter did as he was told and finished the house as best he could with the limited material. When the owner saw the house he was disappointed and complained about the carpenter's work.
     Do we do this with God? He has provided all that is necessary to make us into the person He intends for us to be. Then we withhold part of ourselves - our attitudes, preferences, opinions, prejudices, habits, likes, dislikes - and wonder why we are not as happy and content as we would like to be.

Becoming Christlike

My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I love every person in my life all the time.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I want to help every person I love.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I learn how to express my love to people as individuals, not just as a group.
None of this growth will take place until I yield to the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
     God sends us into the world with a trunk full of love to give to others. We are to dip into that trunk and scatter love to everyone we meet. That love takes the form of listening, sharing, teaching, patience and forgiving. (That short list is not exhaustive.)
     That trunk has compartments that contain all the forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet.
     When I find myself running low on the motivational drive to be a "love scatterer" I must remember how empty my trunk was before He filled it, how small my qualification was to be a receiver of that love, and how much better my life is now because of that love.
     The best, most effective, most accurate way I can glorify God is to let the Holy Spirit make me like Jesus. "God...decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son." (Romans 8:29, The Message Bible)
     The Holy Spirit will do the shaping of the way I am. My role is to allow such changes to happen and then behave in ways that exhibit my new shape.
     Do we Christians spend more time, money and energy trying to change our physical "shape" into the way the world says it should be than we do allowing the Spirit to alter our spiritual shape into the way God wants it to be?

Deny Self

"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself..."   Matthew 16:24

To deny self means to deny
          self-importance
          self-competence
          self-direction
          self-motivation
          self-accomplishment
          self-glorification
          self-determination
          self-approval
          self-justification.

To deny self means to realize we are nothing apart from Jesus. Such a realization may come as a shock. It is not natural to surrender control of our lives to someone else. The very basis of our culture, our democratic way of life, lies in the belief that each person is in control of his own fate. Denial of our right to decide our own course goes against everything the world has taught us.

To live and function within this state of denial, we must constantly abide in Jesus. Only such abiding will enable us to accept his decisions and become all he wants us to be.

Bits, Pieces, Odds, Ends – 13

Quiet me, Lord,that I may experience you and worship you.
Embolden me, Lord, that I may serve you and testify of you.
Guide me, Lord, to appropriate times, places and methods of both.

Jesus is my only current and eternal security.

As a child of God I should strive to be informed about Jesus so I can be transformed by Jesus.

Ultimate wisdom is complete oneness with God.

The degree to which I can behave like Jesus depends on the degree to which I am like Jesus.

Jesus, the healer of body and spirit, allows us to visit him whenever and as often as we please. No appointments are necessary and walk-ins are welcome.

Jesus spent more time teaching than healing. He placed spiritual growth above physical health. Do my priorities match his?

When strangers visit my church, do they meet people who want to help them and love them or people who want to only count them?

Be Still and Know God

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is one of my favorite verses. This is strange because it is one of the most difficult commands for me to obey. I long to know God more intimately, to spend time communicating face-to-face with Him.

I understand that Bible study will increase such intimacy, as will time spent in active, joyous praise. Listening to God-based teaching and preaching will draw me toward Him.

But “be still?” I don’t understand! When I try to do that I keep hearing my to-do list and should-have-done list and why-don’t-they-listen-to-me list and what-am-I going-to-do list rolling around in my brain. When God saved me He did not intend for me to sit and do nothing, did He?

But maybe “be still” is not an end in itself. Maybe “be still” is part of the larger process of becoming like Christ. Maybe it is no coincidence that three of the world’s major religions were born in desert areas where stillness and solitude are the norm.

Help me, Father. May your Spirit increasingly control my mind and lead me beside still waters for your name’s sake.

CHRISTLIKE… “DO” AND “DON’T”

Becoming more like Christ is a worthy goal, one that every Christian should work to achieve. But there is disagreement concerning which characteristics compose Christlikeness. Exactly how would a person feel and act if he was fully like Christ?

Many of us have a limited view of Christ. We believe that if we avoid sin we will be  like Him. Therefore we concentrate on identifying sin and obeying the details of scriptural and man-made rules. We become absorbed with the “don’ts” of Christianity.

Certainly Jesus was sinless. No attempt to model a life after Him will be successful unless sin is avoided. But unless our Christlikeness includes more we will become dangerously like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Their morality included little more than “Don’t.”

Jesus’ life was marked by more than sinlessness. His was a life of service to others. On more than one occasion when He wanted to get away from the crowds and go to a quiet place with the disciples the needs of the people were so urgent and great that they intruded into His life. Then He would put aside His own needs and minister to those who were hurting.

His ability to do this was based on His personal, intimate relationship with His Father. His consistent, intensive devotional life enabled Him to be a servant to all. Because of that intimacy He was always aware that His power to serve came from God. This allowed Him to remain humble, even when others were urging Him to become their earthly ruler.

What then is Christlike? It is a life of service to others that comes from a humble spirit. It is always giving God the glory while doing the work of a good Samaritan. It is praising God while helping the needy. It is telling others the message of salvation based on the Father’s mercy and grace. It is loving everyone, even the unlovely.

If we are not increasingly willing to love and serve, we are not becoming like Christ.

Musings #3

If we allow it, God will use our fears to move us deeper into our faith in Him. Or if we allow it, Satan will use our fears to move us into desperation away from the Father. Faith or desperation. The choice is ours.

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I have some difficult and unpleasant lessons to learn, but I have a wonderful Lord to lean on while I learn.

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My super hero has a cross, not a cape.

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Jesus left the ultimate comfort zone (heaven) to make the ultimate sacrifice (the cross) for me, the ultimate “he doesn’t deserve it.”

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Each morning when I ask God “What do you want me to do today” I need search no further than the life of Jesus for my answer.

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It is GRACE that causes God’s GREATNESS to become God’s GOODNESS that showers me with blessings I don’t deserve. It is MERCY that causes God’s MAGNIFICENCE to become God’s MIRACLES that protect me from receiving the punishment I do deserve.

Do I Dare?

Do I dare claim His name and not care for others?
Do I dare have His joy and not pass it on?
Do I dare know His peace and not tell my neighbor?
If I don't care for others, do I dare?

Do I dare claim His name and not care for others?
Do I dare ask His help and not share His Word?
Do I dare take His blessings and not help the lonely?
If I don't care for others, do I dare?

Do I dare claim His name and not care for others?
Do I dare call Him Master and not be a friend?
Do I dare seek His power and not spread the Gospel?
If I don't care for others, do I dare?

Daily Footprints

Last night we had a two inch snowfall in my community. Everyone who walked in the park behind my house left footprints, a temporary record of their passing.

It is now evening and I have just finished living another day. Like strollers in the park, I also left a trail to show where I went.  I left emotional footprints that show how I affected other people. Did I successfully follow Paul’s admonition to live peaceably with all men? (Romans 12:18)

I left intellectual footprints which attest to my wise or unwise choices. When I lacked wisdom did I consult God?  Did I try to be an attentive student and learn all God wanted to teach me? (James 1:5)

In such sloppy weather I tried not to track snow onto the clean floors of my home. But I was unsuccessful and dirt ended up inside. Was I as concerned about keeping undesirable thoughts out of my mind, which is God’s home? (I Corinthians 6:19)

I left communication footprints. What did I talk about? What did I listen to? Did I speak of and point to Jesus? (James 3:1-10)

Most importantly I left spiritual footprints which attest to my priorities as I went about my assigned and chosen tasks? Did my life point to eternal issues or temporary concerns? (Colossians 3:2)

Tomorrow I will again leave a record of my presence in the lives of others. God calls me to walk so that those impressions will honor and glorify Him. I pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit I will be successful.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 9

The Holy Spirit will work to cause Biblical information to become spiritual illumination that will lead to personal transformation, if I let Him.

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As a Christian I take great comfort in the fact that God always keeps His word. Can others take such comfort knowing that I, as a child of God, will always keep mine?

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if after my death my family had “He loved God by loving others” engraved on my headstone?

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When I was growing up my mother told me “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if Jesus was with you.” Now, as an adult, I need to add “Don’t express any opinion you wouldn’t express if Jesus was with you.”

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I did not do anything to achieve my salvation, but I must do everything in my power to clearly express it every day.

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John and Andrew asked Jesus “Where do you live?” Jesus answered “Come and see.” (John 1:38) The invitation was to come closer, spend time together, become friends. And that invitation is still open to you and me.