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.
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?
Every time I pray I am attending a family reunion because my Father and Brother are both there.(Hebrews 2:11) My Father provides the entertainment by singing (Zephaniah 3:17). What song is He likely to sing? What about the lyrics below, sung to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me". Child I love you. This you know. In my Word I've told you so. Little one, to me you belong. You are weak, but I am strong. I'm God. I love you. (3x) My Spirit tells you so. Many worship leaders decry the lack of passion and emotion in times of corporate worship (song services). But few seem to be troubled by such absence. James 5:16 says that one requirement for effective prayer is fervency. Can I pray fervent prayers if I don't care about the subject of my prayer? If fervent can be understood as "emotional attachment" I need to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me into a more caring attitude. This certainly applies to my prayer "Father, make me more like Christ." The purpose of my praying must be to converse with God, not convince God. And, like any effective conversation, both parties must listen. After I am done talking in my prayers I must sit and continue to meditate on the things the Holy Spirit brings to my mind. Prayer that is the most pleasing to Him is prayer that is Holy Spirit initiated and guided. Being Spirit sensitive will increase the effectiveness of my prayers. How should I judge the effectiveness of these prayers? By how much I am changed by my prayers. There is truth to the saying that "Prayer changes things", but the things that should be the most changed is the person doing the praying.
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, caring, forgiving and some occasional foot-washing. Our trunk has compartments that contain an inexhaustible amount of all forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can match each recipient with the proper form of love at the appropriate time. 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 was (is) my qualification to be a receiver of such love and how much better my life is now because of that love. ************************************************* The Bible is a love story...not a romance, but a love story none-the-less. It is a story of love freely offered, but often rejected. In the cases where that love was accepted the result was wonderful loyalty, joy and power in each individual's life. It is a love story featuring you and me, just as much as Biblical characters. ***************************************************** I have grown up with the idea that as Christians we should "Love the things God loves and hate the things God hates." I think "...and with the same intensity" should be added. This may be an accurate summary statement of being and living as a Christian. It seems lately that the intensity of our hating is much greater than the intensity of our loving.
Loving other people is dangerous. Loving other people can cost us time and money. Loving other people can cause us to travel to frightening places and spend time with frightening people. Loving other people can result in us being with “others” when we would rather be with “our own.”
For children of God, is loving other people a command or an option? Mark 12:31 answers that question for us. And that love for others is to be demonstrated by doing and sharing, not just talking and preaching. It expects us to love individuals, as well as groups.
Such love is impossible for us to achieve and maintain unless we are Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. The “filling” will provide us with the desire to love and the “led” will show us how to love. When we feel we are unable to do either of these we need to emulate the love of Jesus and daily choose the life-style described in I Corinthians 13:4-7.
If, for some reason, we want to measure the extent of our love, we need to go to that passage and substitute our own name for the word “love.” (Go ahead and try it. I’ll wait.) Isn’t it wonderful to know that even though we don’t yet love like Jesus does, He loves us anyway and the Holy Spirit will continue to teach us.
It is the king's right to command and the servant's duty to obey. Why was Jesus born a king? Because His father owned the kingdom. Obedience must be attitude as well as actions. I must be as willing to serve God as I am to worship Him. Partial obedience to God is disobedience to God. If I become more like God I will behave more like Jesus. I am not a great servant of God, but I am the servant of a great God. Obedience to God, without a close relationship to God, produces Pharisees. God's future blessings to me depend largely on how much I have shared His past blessings. It is more important that we talk to God than about God.
Dear Lord, give me the humility to ask for your guidance, the patience to wait for it, the sensitivity to recognize it, the wisdom to understand it, the faith to trust it, the courage to carry it out and the gratitude to praise you for it.
Every blessing I have been given I am expected to pass on to others. These include grace, mercy, patience, sympathy, empathy, tolerance, listening, forgiveness and second chances.
Each day my challenge is to allow the Holy Spirit to change or reinforce everyone of my attitudes, likes, dislikes, plans, opinions, memories, hopes and fears. To do this I must be sure I deny self and permit the Spirit total access to all I am.
I must not allow God to become the “elevator music” that forms the largely ignored background of my life. Instead, He must be the blaring symphony, the hard-driving beat that is clearly heard and seen in every part of my life.
I want God to control our relationship, oversee our companionship, begin and end our conversations.
Dear Father, from this moment on, for all eternity, I give you control of All my houses, all my land, all my hopes, all my plans. All my pleasures, all my fears, all my joys, all my tears. Where I go, where I stay, what I hear, what I say. What I eat, what I drink, what I like, what I think. What I give, what I keep, when I work, when I sleep. Where I shop, what I buy, how I live, when I die. What I wear, how I look, what I text, what I cook. When I pray, when I sing, when to let go, when to cling. All my strength, all my health, all my pleasures, all my wealth. What I do, what I see, what I let bother me. When I stand, when I bend, when I back away from friends. When I whisper, when I shout, when I quietly "back out". What I hate, what I love, when to talk to you above. How to serve and obey every moment of each day. All things tiny, all things grand, things I do not understand. In my life, Lord, take control of my body, mind and soul.
My relationship with Jesus gives me daily strength that may or may not be accompanied by a feeling of euphoria. My relationship with Jesus gives me joy and peace that may or may not be accompanied by the need to sing and shout. My relationship with Jesus gives me confidence and a sense of security that may or may not be accompanied by a mountain-top sense of revival and rapture.
Corporate worship should lead me to new heights of spiritual excitement, but it should also reinforce my existing levels of spiritual belief. It is not a wasted worship experience that says “You are on the right track. You are headed in the right direction. Keep fighting the fight. Stay on course.”
Should I ever become satisfied with the level of my devotion to Jesus? Of course not! But is it wrong for me to be pleased that I am growing in Him? I don’t thing so.
I don’t feel a time of corporate worship must be deemed a failure if I am not transported to the throne of God and emotionally thrilled by the activities that transpire there. If I approach Him in my own quiet way, if I take joy in my time with my brothers and sisters, if the Holy Spirit reinforces my devotion and submission to Him I will feel my time has been well-spent.
There are times of corporate high, holy excitement. The valleys are endurable only because of the mountain tops. But it may be unrealistic to think that every Christian can attain a mountaintop every Sunday morning. And undue efforts to attain such worship levels may prevent other desirable worship experiences.
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?