Nothing in All Creation

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Imagine waking up every morning to this verse echoing in your head. It’s two powerful verses to be sure. And both verses help us realize that there’s nothing–nothing–we can do nor is there any power in this world that can separate us from the love of God in Jesus.

Wow! Just wow!

Giving

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret…” Matthew 6:2-3

Giving to the needy is a very important part of the Christian life. The point of what Jesus is saying in this passage isn’t even about the giving. It was assumed that all of his Believers would give to the needy. It’s the motive behind the giving. Why do we give? To impress others? To help others? Because it was commanded?

A preacher friend of mine said that when he was a teen forty years ago, he saw an older gentleman drop a $50 bill into the offering plate. He knew it was a fifty because the man straightened it out and folded it lengthwise before dropping it into the plate. As a young boy, my friend was impressed. He paused and said, “Impressing me was the only reward he would ever receive for that gesture.”

Giving is important. The motive for our giving is perhaps even more important.

The Cost

If anyone comes to me and does not have his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26-27

Very strong words.

Every day we’ve got to count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. The “cross” our Brothers and Sisters in Asia and Africa must carry is extremely heavy. Our spiritual relatives in Muslim countries know what the cost of following Christ is. Sometimes it means their certain death.

Every day we must remember who we are and who He is. Our suffering relatives in foreign lands are also depending on us to remember them in prayer.

How would it transform our prayer lives if we spent two minutes –120 seconds–every day helping our persecuted friends lift the weight of persecution from their backs? Would we complain less about our very comfortable lives and be more concerned for them?

And isn’t that what it’s all about anyhow?

Faith in the Son of God

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

I live by faith in the Son of God. Our walk is one by faith and not by sight. It’s easy to forget that in the heat of battle called life.

A number of years ago a movie came out that my family still talks about, What About Bob? It featured Richard Dreyfuss as a psychologist with a book titled “Baby Steps.” He encouraged all his patients to take his advice and do thing by simple baby steps. Nothing major, just small, seemingly insignificant steps in the right direction.

Our faith journey often resembles that, a little at a time. Some times are steps get larger as we’re encouraged by our progress in the smaller steps. Sometimes we fall down. We get right back up and do it all over again. Some days He tells us to take giant steps or to run.

What does a baby step of faith look like?

  • Encouraging someone who needs it even when you don’t have time to do it.
  • Visiting someone in a hospital
  • Taking over for an afternoon for an overstressed mother.
  • Housing a missionary family during furlough
  • Deciding to adopt an orphaned child (this entire process will involve many steps of faith)
  • Taking that job that doesn’t pay as well but is closer to home.

The list is endless.

Christ Lives in Me

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Christ lives in me. Christ lives in me. The reality of those four words should radically change our lives. Daily. Here’s why:

If Christ lives in me:

  • What should I fear in this world?
  • How shall I conduct my business?
  • How should I use my tongue?
  • What should my thoughts be?
  • How should I view myself?
  • How should I view others?
  • How should I speak to the ones I love?
  • Is there any room at all for gossip?
  • How should I look at the world?
  • How should I view end times?
  • How should I pray for others?
  • How should I love others?

Crucified with Christ

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Here is another of the verses that we should all commit to memory. Churn it around in your mind over and over and over again. It’s so rich and deep in meaning and significance. We are to live a crucified life, what does it mean? Romans chapter six tells us that as Believers we are now dead to sin and alive to Christ. Again, it speaks of a crucified life. Sin should no longer have mastery over us. Whatever the master chooses should be good enough for me.

So, what does this mean day to day? Philippians 2:4 helps us out:
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.

Essentially it boils down to this: it’s not about you. Or me.

It’s certainly a start.

A Strong Tower

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are saved. Proverbs 18:10

This is such a powerful verse of truth. We would do well to run to Jesus daily. Oh, how I need to hear that!

When things are going well, let’s run to Him. When things are breaking down and we’re stressed beyond belief, that’s also a time to run to Him. On our own, we run out of energy and strength. We sputter and wonder why we have no strength. We need something completely stable in our lives.

Trick Birthday Candles

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on it s stand, and it give light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

How’s your light today? Remember as kids we held up our forefingers high to “shine the light” for all everyone to see? We were so proud that it was no longer under our cupped hand. And then the part about Satan blowing it out. “No! I’m gonna let it shine.”

For many of us, Satan continues to try to blow out that light. Those attempts are strong and fierce at times and he would want us to give in, to give up. And sometimes we question God. And then we feel guilty and then Satan beats us up more. He tells us we’re not good Christians. We feel guilty because “he’s probably right” we think. It’s a nasty and destructive cycle.

Brothers and Sisters, we have no small victory in Christ! Your light may be smoldering but you’re reading this for a reason. Think of your light as one of those trick birthday candles. Just when you think it’s out, it re-ignites. Sure, Satan wins a battle every now and then, but your light just re-ignited. And again. And again. God is still pursuing you. And me.

Take heart, you are not alone.

“Don’t let Satan blow it out. No! I’m gonna let it shine.”

Salt is a Very Good Thing

“You are the salt of the earth…” Matthew 5:13

I heard a song on the radio this evening pointing that out by with slightly different words. The lyrics said that we were peculiar. 2 Peter 2:11 states that we are aliens and strangers in the world. They’re all correct, like it or not. We are different. We are supposed to be different, not for the sake of saying, “look at me, I’m different” but so that others will “see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” (2 Peter 2:12).

Here’s something to consider. I used to think, “with one billion Christians, why aren’t we making a larger impact on societies around the world.” My thinking is different now. “What would this world look like if we removed all the Christians from it? How fast would it deteriorate?”

Remove the salt from the world and it’s a completely different ballgame.