For better or for worse/Part 2
I can't speak for the general Christian populous out there, but I try to keep my life relatively simple where I can. It's important to me to not exceed a single credit card, retain a P.O. Box for my mail, have separate ministry and business phones and make sure all of my belongings can fit into a 10X10 storage unit. I have a dream to live out of a _____2500 4X4 with an attached camper on the back. Yeh I know, that kinds of explains why I've yet to been married- and that's just for starters! Depending upon your own ideas of simplicity you might find this to be better, or possibly quite worse for your own tastes.
All laughs aside (laughing with or at me for now), the reason for the above is quite simple: I want to be as mobile and available in God's service as I can possibly be. Plus, I just don't want all the headaches that come with all that stuff you own.
I'm slow to change my ways, as are most having breached the fifty year plateau. I threatened to take my I-Phone back numerous times in the 1st week and I'm ashamed of the adverse emails I sent Apple in relation to their lack of instructional information on these devices. They reminded me of a time my dad suggested I become a computer programmer (he was a computer engineer) and why- because I have a knack for seeing what is so obvious to the simple and so complicated to the wise. That will be my theme in this 2nd and final installment of "For better or for worse."
As most now know, we live in a push button society, and I have to admit, the Delete button is no doubt my favorite- or the 'flick of a finger" method of closing out a page on my new phone. A problem remains though, despite what we try to erase online, it lingers still and somebody is bound to discover it in time. And though we can't change what we've said or done, we can allow God to change who we can become. That's a grace we do well to take advantage of while there's still time.
I want to offer some simple questions and ask you to simply think about what you presently believe about them. I'm not looking for an answer from you. This is simply offered in the hope that you might seriously consider what you presently believe in light of two things:
1. What the Bible actually says (not what some people tell us it says wrongly)
2. The experiential evidence in your own life that should echo the truths of the Bible
We live in a society that is changing at near lightning speed. We are being fed all kinds of information from all manner of sources- a literal bombardment of various ideas, theories and claims from various people, organizations and even people who claim to be representing God. It is vital that we have the ability to discern truth from error and keep our focus on what matters most lest we be carried away into an unfruitful life or worse, one of deception. The technological advances of the day can be helpful under certain circumstances, just as they can just as easily becomes idols which lull us into more self-pleasing and worthless chatter and vain pursuits. We have to know with absolute certainty whether the choices we make are truly from God and therefore beneficial to Him and others, or whether they're in fact steering us away from God and His intentions for us and His people. In short, we must know whether our decisions are for the better or rather for the worse.
Question: Where did you receive what you believe to be the truth about life and eternity?
Most people who profess to be Christians would claim they initially heard about God from their parents, a religious professional or a chuch they may have attended. For some it may have been all of the above. But how do you know what these people, most of whom are likely well meaning, are telling you truth? Can you trust them or is their a better way?
I am certainly not opposed to learning about God from others anymore than I am opposed to telling or teaching others the truth about God myself. The problem is that I can only transmit to you information, information you have to process before God yourself. You have to seek God as an individual and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. You have to learn to trust Him in forming your own convictions- no one can or should attempt to do that for you. I don't think my friend Noah would have appreciated me telling him what to do in regard to his many decisions. I never even considered doing that. I spent more time helping him to think about and understand the potential implications of each decision he was considering. He thanked me specifically for both.
Have you really met Jesus? Has He really become your life, your everything? Or is He simply a means to your own ends in this world and the next?
No supeficial or intellectual pursuit of Jesus will ever really satisfy one's soul. Jesus wants to own you and until He does, you will fall far short of His intentions for your life and your place among His people- not to mention heaven itself. You cannot exclusively live for yourself and be a Christian.
Read your Bible and ask God for a spiritual revelation in relation to His real purpose for you in this life. Once He shows you that, nothing will ever matter more than Him again. Then your life can be better- In Him.
Question: What is salvation and how does one obtain it?
The modern day concept of salvation is warped beyond recognition. Most people think salvation is God's promise of heaven and a blissful eternity. They are told to simply say a prayer to receive Jesus and then they're on their way to heaven. How they live in this world seems more or less irrelevant after the fact. Is this really the gospel? Does God save people just to get them to heaven or to be used for His purposes and will?
Salvation is actually three fold: A daily deliverance from sin, a future state exempt of sin and a past act of God wherein He calls individuals unto Himself. In all three salvation equates to Jesus Himself, for in Him is life eternal and he who has the Son has life. Salvation is received when an individual believes the good news of the gospel and turns from their sinful lifestyle.
May I repeat what was said earlier- If you are truly saved by God's grace, you no longer own yourself. You are now a slave to righteousness and are obligated to be useful in your Master's service. In His service, not in what you think or others tell you is His service. That's also something you must seek Him about.
Read your Bible and ask God to show you what salvation actually entails. He is faithful and will do it. But will you obey what He reveals to you? If you do your life might get better, if you don't, it will surely end much worse.
Question: Is their a specific manner in which God desires Christians to lives and if so what does that entail and prohibit?
Most professing Christians believe regular attendance at a church is a necessary part of their Christian life. In fact, most of these people believe their Christian lives should revolve around church and church related activities. Most think and are taught that their are things they "should and should not do" though few are taught directly from God Himself. Most just follow the instructions of those they call "Christian leaders" (whether they be authors, musicians, self-professed Christian leaders or leaders of their own religious organizations or empires. Most just follow unquestionably the dictates of their local church pastor or priest.
God is not the author of any organized religion. All institutional religion is authored by men and is inspired and empowered by the devil himself. Not a single person, professional or otherwise can prove that any religion is from God Himself or that He sanctions them in any manner whatsoever. The Bible itself doesn't sanction religious institutions either, they are the inventions of men that divide the body of Christ and control men's lives and keep them enslaved to a system in contrast to Jesus Himself. The leaders in these places use Jesus' name as a means- a means to their own selfish ends.
God has made clear the manner He desires His people to live and fellowship and what hinders and competes with that fellowship- anything and anyone who attempts to build earthly kingdoms. All religious institutions fall into this category.
Read your Bible and ask God to show you specifically what He desires for your life. Allow Him to form convictions in your heart that are from Him and refrain at all costs from following the religious status quo. God is shaking anything and everything not directly tied to Him and in time all religious instutions will fail. He will lead you to those with whom to fellowship with in due time, for certain amounts of time and for reasons He alone knows. Your job is not to try to figure His ways out but simply to obey when shown the truth.
Question: Is their a specific manner in which God desires Christians to reach out to a needy world and its people?
Most professing Christians never even question those they allow to lead them. Far too often they are caught up in some leaders vision and therefore fail to listen to God for themselves. They end up being a recruit for someone else's idea that may or may not even be from God. This is how many ecumenical pursuits have begun and are advanced, even though none of them are actually inspired or directed by God. They are nothing but human ingenuity.
The non-stop litany of various spiritual pursuits, conferences and so-called miracle working crusades are a farce. The proof of this is easily seen in the manner the the leaders promote themselves and the agendas they promote. They are just another manner in which people are recruited to some leaders particular outreach. As is typical, the average person has no ability to question what is being said or taught by the self-professed leaders.
Read your Bible and ask God to give you the courage to reach out to those closest to you-your own family members first, any other Christians you know and then your neighbors- in that order. Stop pretending that religious attendance and participation in religious rituals/traditions equates to obeying God. It doesn't.
Question: Is your present experience as a Christian echoing the lifestyle of those written about in the 1st century?
If you have chosen to obey God as the Bible directs you and as you hear from Him you will:
- Have the promise of salvation and the assurance of it/Him (John 5:24) (1 John 5:11-13)
- Listen to others, but only obey God as He directs you (Proverbs 12:15) (John 10:3-5) (Galatians 5:16)
- Refrain from earthly pursuits- co-labor with Christ in what He is building spiritually in others (1 John 2:15-17) (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
- Learn to cast off that which hinders your service for Him, not as a law but as a labor of love (Hebrews 12:1, 2) (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15)
- Be willing to be hated, slandered, shamed and even killed if need be- (Matthew 10:24, 25)
…..then you will be like Jesus, then you will be worthy of the calling to which you have been called….. and only then.
If you pursue a better life in this world, you will never know Jesus as you ought to know Him or as you could know Him. Such a pursuit will frustrate any previous spiritual progress and choke whatever He aims to accomplish within you. You must come to Christ without reservation, without expectation, without the hope of bettering yourself or your circumstances here on earth. That is the heart He requires, that is the vessel He can use.
Serving God doesn't guarantee one's life will become better, at least as far as appearances go. In fact, as far as appearances go, it's very likely to become worse. Just as God the Father took pleasure in crushing Jesus (due to the blessed results that would follow) so He takes pleasure in breaking us from all that we are now into all that He can make us. Contrary to modern day belief, the process is a downward trend. In Christianity and in God's service, the way up is down and all who claim otherwise are deluded and liars. We are His handiwork; a work He begins, He sustains and He brings to completion.
Our part in the great work of redemption is this: To trust Him regardless of our lot and to cultivate an intimate friendship with Him who gave all for us that we might follow in His footsteps. That is where true hope and happiness resides, the better life- that which has learned to abide above regardless of circumstances here on earth. Amen?
Jesus still says today;
"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" [Matthew 11:29]
"The world and its lusts are passing away, but the one who does the will of God abides forever" [1 John 2:17]