Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lessons I am Learning

I have not been writing and blogging much the last few weeks because I have wanted to take a step back and focus on some heart issues that God has been bringing up in my life. I am trying to put into practice James 1:19 that says we should be “quick to listen and slow to speak.”

God has been showing me some areas in my life that need some attention and that I want to pass on to you today.

1) Jesus is much more impressed with honesty than position. In Luke 18 he tells of a religious leader and a tax collector who went to give their offerings in the temple. The religious leader brags about how good he is. He points out all that he does and looks down on those who don’t measure up. The tax collector looks down in shame, beats his breast in scorn and declares, “God have mercy on me a sinner.”

Jesus notes that the tax collector is the righteous one. He recognizes his sin and shame before God and humbles himself to God’s mercy. How often do we quote our spiritual resume for God and others instead of honestly professing what is true of all humanity: we are guilty in God’s eyes and in desperate need of his mercy.

2) God will do the amazing when we are obedient. I have seen God move in ways that can only be explained by his power and his glory. The only part I have played in these events is to simply do what he has called me to do. Obedience is the greatest form of worship.

“You do not delight in sacrifices or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of god are a broken and contrite spirit; a broken heart. O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17

The most significant sacrifice to God is the brokenness of the prideful human heart.

3) Some people get offended when you preach about Jesus. Preach about Jesus anyway!! I have always sought to speak the truth and power of God’s word in every message. Occasionally I make people angry and they say really nasty stuff. I am learning more and more that when that happens, I have usually preached the exact message God wanted to communicate.

The Word of God is offensive to people. We don’t have to be offensive in how we present it, but the human heart is offended by eternal truths. It does not diminish my calling or my requirement to present truth.

God has been showing me a ton of stuff the last few weeks; things that you will be hearing and seeing in the weeks and months to come. Hopefully as you see them you will understand that the root foundation of what God is doing in my life is not me but Jesus. I am learning to be discontent with the status quo and am seeking to move forward in obedience to Christ. I pray with all sincerity that you will join me on this journey.

Monday, November 9, 2009

God's Wants

Have you ever really thought of the difference between a want and a need? When we glance at them briefly they might not seem so different, but closer inspection shows differences that are deep and profound. I want ice cream. I need vegetables. I want a new car. I need transportation. I want a bigger house. I need shelter.

In our western mindset, wants and needs become blurred. Go visit Africa and see if you can be content with what you have and if what you think you need really turns out to be something you just want. Look into the eyes of a hungry child and recognize that the food we have that we don’t like suddenly looks like a gourmet meal.

The bible actually talks about God and his wants and needs. That may sound foolish, but God has incredible wants, even though he has zero needs. In Psalm 50 God reminds us that everything in the universe belongs to him. He does not need to inform us when he is hungry because the entire world is his and he could eat whatever he chooses. But God has a want. He has a desire. He has a craving that can only come from outside of himself.

God says that what he wants is the offerings and obedience of his people (vs. 14). God has all he needs, but what he wants more than anything else is relationship with us, his creation. It is the only thing in all of creation that God does not simply control. He could make us robots that do only his will. But that would eliminate our freedom and diminish our relationship with him. To truly receive love, God allows us to choose to give it to him or not.

God has no need that we can meet. He does, however, have a desire that only we can meet. It is the desire for his people to love him, worship him, and obey him. What would happen if we chose to recognize that our life could be dedicated to meeting the one true desire of God? How would your life be different today? How would our world be different if we lived in relationship with the one true God?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dividing Lines

Yesterday I started a new message series called “The Prodigal God.” I am using some ideas from Timothy Keller’s book of the same name and preaching through some lessons found in Luke 15. Yesterday’s message was on “Dividing Lines.”

The main focus in the beginning of Luke 15 is the two groups of people gathered around Jesus. There are “sinners and tax collectors” and “Pharisees and teachers of the law.” Luke shows the two groups as contrasting in social and religious standing and the context of the passage shows them contrasted in heart attitude. One group is listening in anticipation to Jesus while another criticizes Jesus’ company.

No matter how we may divide life or people or society, we run a dangerous course when we begin to categorize people. We box people in, we focus on differences and we limit the concept of God’s grace. And we miss the one common trait of all humanity.

That trait very simply is the trait that without Jesus we are lost. All of humanity is lost and hopeless without Jesus. We are, as Jesus shares later in the text, lost sheep or lost coins. We are never able to find our way and we are in danger of great harm in our world.

When we begin to destroy the lines of division, we begin to see as God sees; hurting people of various backgrounds all with the same soul disease. When we blur the lines, we can focus on our common need instead of our differences. When we blur the lines in our culture, we begin to see the larger plan of God that Jesus referred to in Luke 19: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”

No matter your background; religious or pagan, pure or prostitute, wealthy or poor, white or black we are all hopelessly lost without the saving love of the Messiah. It is time for us to destroy the lines that divide and to unite under the grace of the God who loves.