Squeezed or Stirred

Remember Tang? This space-age orange juice substitute powder went into space with the astronauts! I remember drinking many glasses it.

Do you think you could tell the difference between a glass of Tang and a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice? Of course!

Numerous times Jesus commanded, “Follow Me.”

A definition of a “disciple” is a learner or apprentice of a Rabbi or a Greek philosopher. But this definition of a disciple falls woefully short of Jesus’ terms for discipleship!

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23 ESV

To deny yourself includes forsaking your own needs, possessions, and pride to live your life totally for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Next, Jesus sent shock waves through the crowd when he said to take up your cross. A convicted criminal under the Roman regime endured the ultimate humiliation of carrying his own cross to his place of execution to be nailed to it until he dies a torturous death.

Jesus was not talking about a philosophical or ornamental cross. When Jesus would have been about 11 years old, a man known as Judas the Galilean led a revolt against the Romans. He and his rebels raided the armory at Sepphoris, a town only four miles from Nazareth where Jesus grew up.

The Romans squelched the rebellion with a vengeance. They burned the town and sold the inhabitants as slaves. Then for miles along the road, they crucified 2,000 of the captured rebels!

This image must have been burned into the memories of those listening that day.

So according to Jesus’ terms for discipleship, a casual Christian is a contradiction of terms.

Then Jesus added “daily.” Every day will include a new part of life that will have to be crucified in order to obey and follow Jesus.

Following Jesus is freshly-squeezed daily, not just a stir-in to other loyalties.

Jesus’ terms for discipleship are clear, there’s no room for self in following Him. What must die in you in order to follow Jesus today?

Father, thank-you for the sacrificial death of your Son on the cross on our behalf. Now, we die to ourselves daily in order to follow Jesus.

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Amen.

Normal Behavior

Perhaps you saw the clip from a German comedy show of the adult daughter who gave her father an iPad. He used it as a cutting board, rinsed the electronic gadget in the sink, and placed it in the dishwasher.

Hundreds of dollars spent for a gift totally misused and ruined! Imagine how God feels when a person takes His precious gift, misuses it, and ultimately ruins it?

Shock on the daughter’s face seeing her father completely oblivious to what he had just done is great comedy. But to misuse God’s gift is no laughing matter.

For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes.

Proverbs 5:21 NLT

The fifth chapter of Proverbs instructs a man to avoid sexual perversion and love his wife only.

God blesses the sexual relationship of one man and one woman committed to each other in marriage. God’s word is clear and simple on this subject.

Sadly today, all forms of sexual perversion are now “normal.” But it is sin. It is rebellion against our Creator.

It comes in many forms: addiction to pornography, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, trafficking of women and children for sex, and add to the list recent public mob-rapes.

Near the end of the Roman Empire, sexual perversion of all types became “normal.”

Proverbs chapter 5 predicts what will happen when someone chooses to rebel sexually:

  • Strangers will enjoy your wealth (v.10).
  • Disease will consume your body (v.11).
  • Regret will haunt your mind (v.12-13).
  • Public disgrace will ruin your life (v.15).

“You are so old-fashioned!” If living by 30 centuries of proven wisdom is old-fashioned, then yes I am. I prefer to see myself as “God-fashioned.” God fashioned me and therefore the best way to live is the way He intended.

“You are so judgmental!” No, that’s God’s job, he is the perfect judge. God has called me to proclaim truth with hope. The truth is salvation is found only in believing in Jesus Christ and surrendering your life to Him. Turn and believe on the Lord Jesus.

For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. Proverbs 5:21 NLT

Our Father, thank-you for your precious gifts of life and love. Forgive us. Bring conviction of sin to America and spiritual awakening in our churches and communities.

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Amen.

A Direct Answer

Instead of giving me five possible options or blaming someone else, please, someone just for once, give me a direct answer!

With all the unknowns, possibilities, and alternatives in this world, isn’t there someone who can boil it down to the essence of what this time on earth is all about?

Even Jesus many times did not give a direct answer. Sometimes he answered a question with a question, told a story, or spit into the dirt and made a mud paste. His answers were always relevant, but not always direct.

But one time Jesus did give a direct answer. It could not be clearer. It was straightforward leaving no doubt what his answer is.

Someone asked him, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’” Matthew 22:37-38 ESV

So let’s be direct. You cannot love God and reject his son Jesus. If you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, then you will receive and believe in Jesus as God’s way, the only way, of salvation.

Jesus is God’s perfect son. Jesus is both human and divine. We are sinners. God must judge sin. But God loves us. So God poured out his wrath toward sin and put it on Jesus while he died on the cross. Jesus is our substitute who took on the punishment for our sin.

The only way to find genuine forgiveness of sin and therefore the abundant life you so desire is to love God so much you will receive his son Jesus into your life, repent of sin, change your life, believe in him wholeheartedly, and confess Jesus as Lord and risen from the dead.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 ESV

Our Father, thank-you for Jesus who is our only hope of salvation. We love your Father by receiving your Son into our lives for Him to live in us as Lord.

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Amen.

 

 

The Gnawing of Not Knowing

If God can bring blessing from the broken body of Jesus and glory from something that’s obscene as the cross, He can bring blessing from my problems and my pain and my unanswered prayer.” Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter.

Have you ever felt God did not answer your prayer? Of course! I have too. Often a young child asks a parent for something, but the parent knows better than the child. So the child does not receive what he or she asked for, receives something different, or is told to wait.

Someone said that God always answers prayer. He gives one of at least three answers: yes, no, or wait.

The apostle Paul prayed for a “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. He asked three times! Paul even said Satan used it to harass him. The word for “harass” means to be hit with a fist. “Thorn” could also be translated “splinter.” We all know the pain and distraction of a sliver of wood under the skin!

Paul observed it kept him from becoming proud. The thorn humbled him. Humility is a good thing!

But God did answer his prayer! It was not the answer he wanted. But the answer is profound!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Do you have a “thorn” you are asking God to remove and yet He doesn’t remove it? Perhaps you reply, “No, it’s more like a giant Redwood!”

“But, why?!” Why do I still have this thorn!? Why is this happening to me? Constantly asking God “Why?” can be like a hamster running on a wheel. It usually gets you nowhere.

So instead of gnawing on not knowing, try asking the “What?” question. Ask, “What can I do now in this experience to bring glory to God? What can I do now that helps someone else? What can I do now to grow closer to my Lord Jesus Christ? What does God want me to learn from this?”

Jesus commanded us to obey all that He has taught us. He did not say to figure out why everything happens. The Scripture if full of clear commands of “What” Christ wants us to do. Stay busy doing His commands and loving Him who gave us the commands.

Our Father, we trust Your infinite wisdom when we don’t know why. So we commit ourselves to love you with such devotion, we will obey you in doing what you’ve told us to do.