Genesis 1:27 | Look at the Stars

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In the beginning man is made in the image and likeness of God by God. Unique in creation men and women are created a shadow or an outline baring some of God’s characteristics like love, mercy, justice, wisdom, compassion, and free will.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 ESV

God creates in “our image” demonstrating from the very beginning the singular God exists as three persons the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Our image” also makes mankind uniquely special in all of creation. God does not waste himself and he cannot be mocked so however one treats fellow men reflects then on how they would treat God.  Have you ever stolen from , lied to, or even simply called another person “stupid” in a derogatory way? Then you have trespassed not just against man but the image of God who is the source of our very being.

7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:9 ESV

The reason racism is such an evil is that any person who disparages another group because of physical characteristics is disparaging God himself. Racism is rooted in Darwinist worldviews where evolution is used to justify racism. Other groups, using the logic of evolutionary worldviews, are not fully man because they have not evolved enough. Also according to this logic man is in the image of animals therefore they may be treated as less than a creation in God’s image. Such thinking is evil as is the Darwinist view that there is no God. People regardless of intellect, opportunity, or being inside a womb are all still men created in God’s image. How can one pray to God on one hand and then hate God’s image bearer in the other?

God created men and women to worship him. God created the stars that men would look up and dwell on spiritual things and marvel at the infinite scope of God’s power. By looking up one might draw near to the creator. But we spend too much time looking down and marveling at our own creations. Worshiping our own marvels like buildings, technology, sports, governments, business, money, doctors, and power. Interestingly in modern times as we light up the night in cities and suburbs the stars fade away as the light pollution obscures them from the sky. Look at the stars. Ponder their creation! We are cut off from God’s creation the beast of the field, the seeds of the land, and the light of the heavens. This creates a warped view of who we are.

8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Acts 14:8-16 ESV

Paul performed a sign, God is here!, and the community was so impressed they assigned Paul to the likeness of a man-made super hero or god. Paul pointing them to God the creator not god the created and the community missed the sign because they were enamored of their own creation. Now is the time that we might turn to the living God who created the heavens and earth and all that is in them. The living God who is alive and active. We are obligated to him because he is the author. Who is God? God is the Creator and everything was made by and him and for him. Is it time to accept who you are in God’s creation?

Genesis 1:14 | No more Darkness

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Light and Darkness are a theme in life and storytelling. Darkness hides and Light reveals. Darkness is a cloud over our mind that leads to depression. Darkness halts activity. Darkness is where the fears of men hold back progress. The dark ages vs enlightenment. Light is life. Even the faintest smallest amount of light will penetrate darkness. On day one of creation God created light to separate the darkness and then God called light “good”. It is obvious even now that light is a source of goodness.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:3 ESV

Interestingly when God created the light he did so before creating the sun or any other source for light. The source of light the device from which the light is produced was not created until day four. If I were to diagram an evolutionary step by step requirement for a creation God’s creation of light before a light source would seem to be an odd approach. The word “lights” used to describe the creation of the sun, moon, and stars is the same word and context as when describing light from a lamp. On day one when God said “Let there be light” that word is used in the same context as when talking about light as one might describe the “light of the morning” the description of the light is of the light itself not the sun the source of that light.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19 ESV

So then we have light created on day one and we have an ongoing source for light created on day four. This blows up any desire to reconcile an evolutionary progression of creation with a God spoken creation. Is this a contradiction in the Bible or does this revelation tell us some greater truth about God himself?

God did not say let light shine out of the Sun. Paul reveals more detail about God’s creation of light that existed before the sun was created. God himself was the source of light in darkness.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

Just as God created the heavens and the earth from nothing so he creates light from nothing. Light shines out of darkness by God’s command on the first day of creation. He is the source of that light, by his word and his creative power. The same God that brings forth light sourced from his own desire is the same God that brings forth an even greater light in the darkened hearts of men.

God does not need a lamp or a sun or a moon to bring forth light. In fact, on the fourth day when God created a source for light he created it for our benefit as “signs and for seasons, and for days and years” while we live in this time limited creation.

In any story or event in life surrounding the war of darkness and light Jesus, who is God in flesh, overcomes the darkness. Darkness that leads to death, fear, or depression is broken before Jesus the author of light. Jesus revealed his heavenly state to the disciples at the moment of his triumph.

2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Matthew 17:2 ESV

And the future state of creation will have light without any need of a sun or moon. God himself will be the source and lamp of light that will shine on all who are with him in Heaven.

5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:5

God did not need the Sun to bring light into this world. God himself is a source of light both physically and spiritually. We have an opportunity to be in the light to be part of the light or we may remain in darkness for all eternity. Light is found in Christ and he is near to those who would call on his name.

Genesis 1:1 | Beginning with Purpose

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The start of something is beautiful and there are usually only a few that are involved or even notice. Birth of a child. Start of a business. A new relationship. So it was at the beginning of physical reality. God acted bringing forth everything.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 ESV

He created planets, space, time, life, laws of nature, wisdom, and anything else that is ordered and true. Our very existence points back to God. We cannot understate his influence on every moment of our lives. So why did he create? Why begin something so vast that did not previously exist?

I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:9-10

What is this creative all-powerful God’s purpose? Paul writes that God’s purpose is to “lavish” upon peoples his plan to bring all of creation into unity. He created all things not to watch disinterestedly. Many people think that the creator is passive and that we are free of any interference from Him. A passive creator is not possible. Some view him as weak and powerless to control the creation once it was unleashed. A creator big enough to create the reality we live in is big enough to control what is going on. God knew exactly what he was doing at the beginning and has demonstrated the truth that “I will accomplish all my purpose”. That purpose is revealed in Christ.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV

The beginning was beautiful and demonstrated the majesty and holiness of God. What follows from Genesis 1:1 is the purpose of God to draw people to him that want to love him and that want to fellowship with him. There is more to the event in Genesis 1:1 that is revealed after the arrival of Jesus. That backstory is the amazing knowledge that Jesus was created first before the beginning. God’s purpose was evident before the beginning even started.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3 ESV

Not only was Jesus the word and the active agent through which God spoke creating everything. Jesus is the image of God the first born of everything we see today.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16 ESV

The beginning was created through Christ and for Christ. Jesus lived and walked this earth and he left a record of his purpose that we can read and study today. Dear reader today is the moment of mercy and grace that you might connect with his purpose. From before the beginning. Before God created you, he planned a moment and provided a way of reconciliation. This is the purpose and Jesus is his plan to accomplish that purpose.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, John 1:12 ESV

Hebrews 10:39 | Soul Driven Path

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I would not know Kanye West’s music if I heard it, but I am aware of who he is, and he has made news recently in his public “like” of President Trump. It is interesting to me because of the intense backlash that has impacted him personally. Public figures supporting Trump in any way even if only a little is an unforgivable evil for those in media. It is also an apparent betrayal in many evangelical circles as well. Here is a quote from Kanye where he talks about the pressure he was under to avoid freely speaking his mind on this topic.

“Everyone around me tried to pick my candidate for me, and then told me every time I said I liked Trump that I couldn’t say it out loud or my career would be over, I’d get kicked out of the black community,” he said. “So even when I said it right before I went to the hospital and I expressed myself… When I came out I had lost my confidence. And it took me a year and a half to have the confidence to stand up and put on the hat, no matter what the consequences were.

This is the way the world works. Everyone is expected to be part of the tribe and to follow the party line. The more power, riches, or fame the more one has to lose by breaking from the group. Deviation from the framework will cause one to be separate from the crowd. I personally feel that my views of the world are like walking upstream. From politics, to personal use of technology, to how children should be raised I have always followed a less than popular path to the frustration of my own extended family. My service to Christ only highlights this even more. Jesus said the way to God is a narrow path (Matt 7:13-14) but the church and especially the world are always looking to make that path wider. Making a path set by God wider is problematic and impossible.

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:39 ESV

Following the narrow path is not easy. Walking upstream against the flow is filled with all kinds of pressure that limits career and community opportunities. The word for soul here in Hebrews is the Greek word ψυχή (psyche) which houses the core of our feelings and desires of the heart. My desires are formed on the narrow path and are driven by the Spirit of God that has taken residence in my heart. God’s spirit has invaded my psyche and pushes me down this hard way. Leading up to this pronouncement of preserving the soul and not shrinking back the author gives examples of what he means.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:32-36 ESV

The narrow path is the will of God. That path looks different for everyone in actual execution but the path remains narrow because of the sacrifice of comfort and peace in this world by those who follow.

14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:14 ESV

The Christians this author is addressing have lost their homes, joyfully accepting the loss he adds, plundering of property, shamed in public, and standing with those who went through the same. I am anonymous in this world and have never experienced this kind of resistance. How would my soul my psyche handle that kind of abuse? Would I see the conclusion that I am not one to shrink back because I have faith? I pray I have been practiced with small amounts of public shame so that if and when the big one hits God has prepared me.

He has promised as much. He will have prepared his children to endure what is needed. Shrinking back is not an option because my very core and foundations are built in him who has already walked that narrow way.

19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

2 Corinthians 12:10 |Content in Weakness

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I am rarely content. I think it is a sickness to always want more. It is part of the sin nature to covet and desire. Always comparing myself to my neighbors and coming up short. It eats away at the soul to always want more.

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV

Contentment while having a lack of money and power and contentment with actual hardships points to a diminished sense of self and selfish desires. Paul found strength to live like this through Christ. Wealth is a dangerous power because it creates an illusion that the possessor of the wealth has control over life and can live independent of God. We control less than we think. Wealth only separates one from dependence on God temporarily like the foolish prodigal son who left his father to live a life independent of any care for tomorrow.

12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

That is not to say wealth in this life cannot and should not be taken advantage of when it is used for God’s glory according to his leading. The strength comes not from the wealth, in fact it is a weakness, strength comes from Christ and Christ alone.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

Whatever your circumstance, rich, poor, happy, sad, strong, or weak give thanks to God that he has given Christ. Give thanks to God for giving you life to live. Be content where you are today and be grateful for all that you already have secured through his love.

Acts 17:30 | Ignorance or Holiness

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If someone called me ignorant my initial reaction would be to throw up defensive shields and turn on my offensive arguments of war. However, the truth is that I am ignorant on a great many subjects. Yet to call someone ignorant does seem to be an insult in an age where information is literally at the fingertips of anyone with a connected device. At this point in life I may remain ignorant of a specific topic unless or until there is a need for me to be educated. This brings me to the book of Acts with one of the most interesting chapters where the apostle Paul makes a stop in Athens Greece. While on this stopover he is invited to speak to the Areopagus. The Areopagus was a location where a council of the most educated, likely wealthy, men and women of Athens gathered to “spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21 ESV) This crowd is not ignorant. These are the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers that helped to build the foundation of western society that I materially benefit from today. Yet Paul addresses them and tells them that they have been ignorant.

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:29-31 ESV

The old saying “Ignorance is bliss” highlights the fact that being unaware of the complexity and realities of this short life people blissfully unaware of the impending dangers that lay ahead. The fact that ignorance about a topic or event may eventually get one into trouble in no way slows the trouble or prevents those events from unfolding. Paul tells us all that while we like to make God into an image of our own choosing God has revealed himself and will no longer overlook such ignorance. A day of impact and judgment has been set when the time of mercy and grace will end. At that moment God will call men and women both alive and dead to account. Paul uses a word for ignorance here that is not a general kind of ignorance. These people of Athens he is speaking to are not ignorant people. Paul calls them a special kind of ignorant ἄγνοια (agnoia). This is an ignorance of divine and moral knowledge. While for their time these people of Athens may have known about the physical world they were ignorant about the moral implications and the dead spiritual conditions that shadowed their minds. Much like the modern world of today.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ! Ephesians 4:17-20 ESV

Do not be ignorant Paul preaches to us today. Do not be ignorant of the moral and spiritual darkness of the land we live in. Repent, turn away, from that darkness. Flee from the selfish life of lust, sensuality, and greed. Do not be ignorant because God will hold against people a life impurity. Even more God has made the Bible, his revelations, available to a majority of people the world over. Ignorance is not an excuse because God will not overlook sin when that person has at their literal fingertips access to direct revelations about Christ and salvation.

Christ is the opposite of ignorance. He is the truth. He is the life. In him is found self-control, unselfish love, and a beating heart. This is what is learned when in Christ and how we become a new creation no longer darkened by ignorance of a former life.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct 1 Peter 1:14-15 ESV

Acts 2:42 | Public Faith

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The prevailing ethic of the day in regards to faith goes something like this… “My faith is my own and it is something I keep private.” In the public square, at work, at home, at school, in government, and out shopping there has been a push to scrub Christianity and promote secularism. When I bring of the topic of God, Church, or spiritual things in public or with friends and family there is an awkward moment before the conversation moves forward. The question then is a private and personal faith hidden from the public square or hidden from ones own family biblical? It is right to podcast a preacher and call that church? Is that acceptable to God?

I have learned something over the last 10 years that eluded me when I was younger on this topic. God is relational and in order to be in fellowship with him in a way that is meaningful in this life one must establish like minded relationship with others in the community. Jesus demonstrated this with discipleship. The early church lived this as they started a community of Christians. If you are a Christian then you must follow in those footsteps and live out the example that was set thousands of years ago.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42 ESV

While one could podcast sound Christian teaching all day long one cannot podcast “fellowship” or “breaking of bread”. One might be able to pray privately, as we all should, but without a church community one will not be able to devote themselves to “the prayers” that come with a corporate and community need. Living a life of private faith unannounced and without fellowship will be shallow and stale. God desires that we serve each other. That we disciple each other. That we are accountable to each other. That we eat in each other’s homes. That we share our lives with each other. This is what God has called us to. Do not let secularism quiet what should be a public acknowledgement of what Christ is doing in your life. If you never talk to your children about what God is doing and where he is at work what would they conclude? Is your faith real or imaginary?

13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV

It is amazing to me that two people on opposite ends of the earth may instantly share a common bond through the Holy Spirit in this life. One might be free the other a slave. They might have cultures that clash as much as Jews and Greeks yet in Christ they work as one sharing the same spirit.

Do not miss the dynamics, of discipleship, fellowship, prayers, and relationship, that God desires in every Christian’s life because you might be different than the people in the church. If you are drinking from the same spirit God will bind together one body for his glory. Don’t be afraid to integrate into a church family because everyone who is saved is a child of God and therefore brother and sister before the Father.

Acts 1:4-5 |A Heart of Stone No More

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Religion is man striving and working to secure the favor of God. Live this kind of life, go to this kind of church, give money to the poor, follow the ten commandments… I could write for days all of the things people must do in the name of religion. Religion even carries a dark undertone when used to oppress those that do not follow the rules. It is an ugly business when one group to curry favor with the gods will crush another group who follows different rules for life and becomes offensive to those around them. Beyond this ugliness religion also has a major problem. How does one know when they have done enough or the sacrifice outweighs the guilt before god? I can’t even keep a new year resolution more than 60 seconds how do I know God will accept me and the life I have lived?

The answer is we don’t and so I hear from people all the time. “I hope my good is good enough” or “God knows I have done my best he will not hold it against me”. The problem is that these attitudes are subjective wishful thinking of people who have not spent enough time pondering this most important mystery.

God however knows that religion is not going to save anyone. We should understand that also.

In the days of old God set up an elaborate system of laws that the Nation state of Israel agreed to live under. These laws included religious observances that included ways to ask forgiveness for sins against God and neighbors. The people of Israel did not live up to the laws of that state very well and so after many generations of rebellion God dispersed the people all over the known world. This was a very violent dispersal in a very violent world. Yet even in this dark time God continued to reveal a plan and a promise that would impact the future we current live in.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

God through his prophet told the people that his plan was to give his people a new heart and a new spirit. This promise is fulfilled at the conclusion of the earthly ministry of Jesus. After Jesus was raised alive from the dead one of the last times he physically met with the disciples he asked them to wait what turned out to be a few short days for the promised Holy Spirit. The new spirit would be poured out generously to those who would chase after Christ.

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5 ESV

So what does this new Holy Spirit have to do with Religion? What does the Holy Spirit an a new heart have to do with our hope that we have been good enough? The Holy Spirit is the fruit of the salvation that Jesus secured on the Cross. Without the Christ and the Holy Spirit living in me the gulf between God and man stands impassable. I can’t be good enough. So, God destroys the hard heart of religion and frees us to stand before him has rightful children. We stand before our heavenly father in full rights of relationship. Our communion takes place through the ministry of this new spirit that God has poured out on those who call on his name in Jesus.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

The Holy Spirit is the promised heart and down payment of a guarantee. Not a hope not a work to be good but a guarantee that our relationship with God is permanently restored and one day, come soon Jesus my savior, I will be fully in possession of God’s presence in heaven to give him Glory for all eternity. Don’t live life with a cold religious doubt eating your soul. Submit now. Surrender now. Seek salvation now from Christ who has the authority to give you a new transformational heart of living breathing grace by way of the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 2:10 | The Task Ahead

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Ever have one of those weeks where the schedule is so full that the calendar is hour by hour events that must be attended, work to be completed, or deadline that overshadows life? Sometimes I wonder how I get myself into these situations. Bring on the panic attack and the disappointed friends. If I can just endure and push until after this last event or deliverable then I can relax. The problem being that time to relax most likely is weeks away. Non-essential time like sleep, time with the kids, or maybe even food will be pushed aside. Even then the work accomplished is sloppy. I hate when the schedule backs up like that. Most of the time this kind of crazy is my own fault. Saying yes when I should have said no.

The problem is that there are so many things that I want to accomplish. There are things I want to see my church, my business, my kids, my community, and my friends accomplish. All of this, all of it, requires my participation, engagement, and love. Paul when he wrote to Timothy said much of the same.

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 2 Timothy 2:10 ESV

There is a task that Paul desperately wants to see accomplished. His task is urgent and his task is life consuming. Paul wants to see others fall into the saving grace and eternal glory that only Jesus provides. The difference between Paul’s need to endure hardship for his task differs from my over-packed schedule in three ways. First Paul’s task and desire has eternal ramifications. His overriding desire is to share Christ with everyone. My task and schedule do not rise to that level nearly enough if at all. Am I prioritized the right way? Second Paul unlike me has nothing but time on his hands. He reveals in the verse right before this that he is bound by chains. Most of my life is consumed by frivolous time wasters. Paul’s time was consumed by the knowledge that he could not freely execute the passion in his heart. This most urgent task of preaching Christ was outside of his ability to accomplish in the way he would have liked. My most urgent tasks are outside of my ability most of the time but my tasks are not nearly so urgent as Paul’s. Finally Paul gladly endures prison and even eventual death because he knows God is going to accomplish a great work through Paul’s obedience. Paul is walking in a long line of Godly examples as found in the prophets who endured all kinds of hardships to proclaim God’s message of salvation.

10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:10-11 ESV

How the Lord is merciful indeed. My scheduled is consumed by things that are of importance to me even though most of those things are temporary. God wants me to focus more time on the primary task, for the sake of the elect, that others may see eternal glory and salvation in Christ. While Paul is imprisoned his task, given by God, falls to me, even in some small measure. Do I adjust my schedule to make it God’s schedule for my life? Do I slow down and listen to God’s direction for today? Would I remember the main thing when I interact with people today? Would the thought that the cranky and rude person I bumped into may need and want the gospel of Christ today get in the way of my current distraction and waste of time?

Romans 10:8 | Spoken Commitment from the Heart

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This year will be the 19th anniversary that I have been married to my friend, companion, and wife. We have lived some awesome days and some incredibly blessed days together. These last few years have not been as much fun for various reasons but the stress has not separated us. We are still drawn to each other and we are still committed to this life God has given us together. We promised each other that we are committed to this marriage until God separates us in death. Thankfully God has given us much grace and mercy to follow through on that promise up to this day. In a world where opinions change daily, where people will change jobs every few years, and where marriages are fewer with more ending in divorce commitment seems to be tied directly to how we feel at the moment. Mad at your boss? Quit. Spouse not living up to your perfect expectations? Leave. Worse yet no attempt is even made to commit by many. The many commit to nothing dodging all responsibility or requirement to serve anything or anyone other than themselves.

There is one commitment that no one will be able to dodge forever and that is the commitment to Christ. No amount of self service and avoiding a commitment to others is possible in the end. God likes paradoxes. He has a rule that the person who serves others (the person who is last) will be the person most highly exalted (the person who is first). God also likes to set the example so he humbled himself and took on the form of man to serve all of humanity.

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11 ESV

Because Christ is the name above all others because he committed his very life to the world we should rightly submit to his leadership and authority. We should commit to him and his cause. When I married my wife 19 years ago I did so with the knowledge that this commitment would consume the rest of our lives. It was not a commitment taken lightly.

While I have been married for these 19 years I made a greater commitment even earlier in my life and that was to Christ. I acknowledged him as the King of kings and as the rightful owner of my service and devotion more than 30 years ago. This commitment while not fully understood at that time has grown over the years and the commitment has become even more powerful as I mature and more fully grasp the power and majesty of God.

My hope is that anyone and everyone reading these words would commit to Christ now in the time of grace. Saving grace is at hand already secured. Serve him freely and commit to his plan because he deserves the commitment. Christ will change your life for the better and for eternity.

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:8-10 ESV

There is only one way to make this commitment and that is by speaking out loud what is happening in your heart. The body and the spirit will agree with God who will then act to transform your selfishness into a new saved life that cares for others. It is a scary idea to give up your plans but really how is that going anyway? My plans and commitment to myself always ends in a mess of broken relationships.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 ESV