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The New has Come

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone, the new is here.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (emphasis added)

sunriseIn Christ, I am a new creation. In Christ, you are a new creation.

When I first accepted Christ, I was a new creation. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, but I was different. As I look back, I realize I was excited about life in a new way. I was responding to the Spirit even though I didn’t know what that fully meant. I was proactive and had energy to do the things He put on my heart. I didn’t feel I had to do these things or else. It was more of a feeling that I had to do these things because I was so compelled to action.

Over the years, I’ve gone up and down in how fully I follow His promptings and there have been times when I’ve felt anything but new in my inner self. I’ve felt more like my same old self trying to figure out where I fit in to a new world.

What I found is that there are plenty of people inside and outside the church who will tell you in some way that it’s okay to be your old self. You are who you are and if it gets a laugh, if it gets you noticed, if it helps you deal with whatever’s going on, that’s okay. Because if it’s not okay, then that means they should be seeing change in themselves, too. And sometimes, that just seems too hard.

 

What would your life look like as a truly new creation? What will people think? Who will stay and who will go?

In Christ, you ARE a new creation whether you feel like it or not.

Just like a seed has everything it needs to become a tree, through the power of the Holy Spirit, you already have everything you need to live a new life in Christ. The Holy Spirit is like a seed planted in your heart. And just like a seed that is planted, certain things just happen. You don’t make them happen. You don’t make the tree sprout, but you can assist in the process.

If the soil is our heart, how do we do assist the work of the Spirit?

  1. Work the soil. Whether we like it or not, we have stuff buried in the soil of our hearts. When we moved into our first house, we found a huge wooden wagon wheel buried in our front yard. Rather than haul it off to the junkyard, those who were building the house, buried some of the garbage. We do that, too. Rather than look honestly at what has happened in our lives – what we’ve done, what’s been done to us – we deny, ignore and justify, burying it deeper and even letting the roots of that event grow. We need to let the Spirit clean out the junk and be willing to look at it, acknowledge it and let it go with His help.
  2. Water the seed. Water is life-giving. Water is needed for any living thing to survive. Without water, there is no life. What is water? Water is what brings life, encouragement and growth, new understanding and discernment. Practically speaking, reading God’s word, studying it with others and talking about it, as well as actually doing what it says is what it means to water the seed. People who have compassion while not letting you make excuses, but rather encourage you to “work the soil” are like water. Everything you do that moves you toward God is like water. Learning to hear the prompting of the Spirit AND responding to that prompting will grow your faith, your desire and your character. The great thing about this is we don’t have to decide what to do, we just need to do what the Spirit has decided we need. Everything we do when being led by Him will lead to our growth.
  3. Protect the seed. We do, however, still have decisions to make. There may be people in your life who try to keep the seed from growing, maybe even try to kill it. I know that sounds harsh, but most likely, it’s people who don’t have the seed themselves so they don’t understand it or it’s people who have the seed, but are unwilling to yield to the work of the Spirit in their own lives. Protecting the seed means not allowing anyone or anything to come between you and the Spirit. There may be times when, in order to protect the seed, you need to make a decision to distance yourself from a person or a situation, maybe a specific place or type of place, for a specific length of time. Protecting the seed may also be speaking up for the truth of Christ in your life regardless of the possible response. As one who has the Spirit, we can trust that He will give us the words and we can trust Him with the outcome of those words.

As a new creation in Christ, the Holy Spirit in us will never lead us to do anything outside the character or nature of Christ. He may refashion some of our old skills and talents for work in His kingdom, but He will never lead us to our self in ways that don’t align with Christ.

We ARE new creations. We have everything we need to operate and participate in this new life with Christ.

Something to Consider…

How have you seen or experienced the Spirit’s work in your life? In what areas of your life is there evidence of a new creation? In what areas are you still learning to let the Spirit have His way?

Which of the three things you can do to assist the Spirit’s work in your life (working the soil, watering the seed, protecting the seed) do you struggle with the most and why?

What have you found to be most helpful in learning to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit?

 

Worship through Mourning

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

© DepositPhotos/efired

© DepositPhotos/efired

The past few days I’ve been feeling a little heavy-hearted. We have all the regular holiday festivities going on: shopping, Christmas shows, gatherings, food, and exchanging of gifts. We’ve been sharing memories and making new ones laughing through most of it.

So why the heavy heart?

As I think about Jesus being born in the stable, I can’t help but remember that He was born to die. He had one purpose: To make God known and provide a way for us to have eternal life with Him. That required His death.

There are a couple of questions that come to mind as I work through this feeling knowing that there is ultimate and complete joy because of all Jesus endured.

  1. If Christmas is all about the birth of a baby, why think about death?
  2. If life in Christ is all about joy, how can we worship when we mourn?

It’s easy to gloss over His death, especially at Christmas. “Yeah, He died, but He rose again and we have life. Right now, He’s just a baby. Let’s celebrate!” But…

Jesus was not born so He, God, could visit us human beings. The reality is that Jesus was born because we were in desperate need of a Savior. Jesus was born to die so we could live.

Death is the consequence of sin even for Jesus. The difference is that it wasn’t His sin that brought about His death, it was ours. The corruption and wicked desires of man’s heart nailed Him to the tree.

We mourn, experience godly sorrow, when we recognize our sin and need for Jesus. My sin put him on that cross as much as the sin of those living at the time, as much as those who were yelling, “Crucify him!”

Understand this as well: mourning is not the same as sadness. I equate the feeling of sadness to the feeling of happiness. It can change based on our circumstances. Where mourning is a response to godly sorrow, a true understanding of the sin that separates us from God.

What do we learn about God through the death of Jesus? Sin is serious and it’s real. Sin as no place in God’s kingdom. At the same time, there is no length He won’t go to bring you home. There is nothing He won’t sacrifice so you can live in peace and freedom with Him. He is good because not even death can separate us from His love when we trust Him, choosing to turn from our sin.

Our worship of God is complete not just because we are happy that God is good. Our worship is complete because our joy is increased when we recognize the goodness of God toward us even in our sinfulness. We can more fully experience His joy when we allow ourselves to more deeply mourn.

Something to Consider…

How does knowing Jesus was born to die affect how you view the Christmas season: activities, events, and your own worship during this time?

Do you find it natural or difficult to allow yourself to recognize your own sinfulness? Are you able to process the truth of your sin or do you tend to ignore or deny the seriousness of it? If this is hard for you, find a trusted Christian friend you can talk with. You don’t necessarily need to share all of the details of your sin, but share your struggle and let God’s love and grace be experienced along with His truth.

How does knowing Jesus was born for not just your sins, but for the sins of the whole world affect how, during the Christmas season, you interact with others who may not know Jesus?

 

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!

What new thing is  God calling you to do out of worship for Him? How is God growing you in your relationship with Him? Is God asking you to sacrifice to serve Him and others in a greater way? Do you celebrate the fullness of all God has done when you come to Him in worship? Christmas is the beginning of God’s plan coming to fruition. It may not be realized until Jesus dies on the cross and is raised to new life, but today we have the gift of a baby. God has come to dwell with and save His people.

PCH Front Cover

 

 

 

Visit www.marikeisling.com to check out other studies available.

The Feet of Jesus

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” Psalm 95:6 (ESV)

© DepositPhotos/ Anetlanda

© DepositPhotos/ Anetlanda

As I think of kneeling before the LORD, I can’t help but think of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. There are days when I could sit and read, pray and listen all day. And I believe there are times of rest when this is just what needs to take place. Our spirits need to be renewed and refreshed, reminded and strengthened in the truth that God is still with us, God is still at work in our world, our workplace, and our homes.

But the feet of Jesus don’t sit still for long. Sometimes our worship and our bowing down takes place in our movement, not our stillness.

There were people who came to Jesus. There were those who sought Him out to hear His teaching such as Nicodemus and others who had real needs they hoped He could meet like the official with the son who was ill. There were also those who listened to trap Him such as the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.

And then there were those He met as He moved. There was the Samaritan woman at the well and the lame man at the pool. He came upon the man born blind and ten men with leprosy. He showed up on the road to Emmaus and the road to Damascus.

Jesus life was not just one of teaching with words and lessons, it was one of action. His life was an example for us to follow.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:3-5, 12-17

We like to find loopholes in these types of situations and lessons. “In our culture, we wear shoes so we don’t need to wash feet anymore.” Or maybe this one, “I’ll pay for them to have a pedicure.” Our feet don’t move and our hands don’t get dirty, wet or touched.

You don’t have to travel out of your city to come across people with needs in their lives. You don’t need to get on your hands and knees to comfort, console or care about the people you meet. You just need to show up. You need to be willing to love and encourage. Compassion from a distance is easy, but get up close and personal and it can become very uncomfortable.

When we seek God we will become uncomfortable. We will be stretched beyond our natural desires and our human understanding. Our character will be changed, transformed and made new.

I’ve realized lately that I bow down and worship my time. I covet every minute and in the process waste too much of it. I sit at the feet of a false idol. After all, what is time when eternity is waiting?

I want my worship to be active and passionate. I want to kneel at the feet of Jesus by getting up and going out. I want to see people as I’m “on my way” to wherever I think it is I need to be. It’s easy to get caught up in my own plans, so this will take intention. This will require an awareness of my surroundings. As I keep my eyes focused on Jesus, I trust Him to show me what He sees and help me respond with His heart.

I want my life to be a reflection of His example. That’s my hope for this time.

Something to Consider…

What do you worship? What stops you and causes you to “bow down”? We don’t have to let these things guilt us or control us. When we understand that we are giving ourselves to something less than God, we can make different decisions and move forward grateful and encouraged.

How is God calling you to sit at or move with His feet? Is there a next step that you are struggling to take? How can knowing Jesus has been there and done that help you trust Him as you move out of your comfort zone?

 

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!

What new thing is  God calling you to do out of worship for Him? How is God growing you in your relationship with Him? Is God asking you to sacrifice to serve Him and others in a greater way? Do you celebrate the fullness of all God has done when you come to Him in worship? Christmas is the beginning of God’s plan coming to fruition. It may not be realized until Jesus dies on the cross and is raised to new life, but today we have the gift of a baby. God has come to dwell with and save His people.

PCH Front Cover

 

 

 

Visit www.marikeisling.com to check out other studies available.

Reconciling Relationships

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Galatians 4:4-5

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:17

2016-treeIt’s December 1st!

My husband and I love the 1st of each month. We like Mondays as well. Really, we do! And the best is when the 1st falls on a Monday. The 1st is a new beginning. Mondays are a new beginning.

And I need reminding that new beginnings are possible because I almost always feel like I’m in need of one. There are so many things that are good and right in my life. People, activities, places and work, so many things going well. And then there are relationships that are just difficult. I don’t know what to say, what to do, and the pressure of getting it right is a heavy weight. Of course, I worry a bit about how well I perform or achieve in my work, how well a meal or project comes together, but most of the concern is over how it will be received by others. Thus, I’m back in the relationship camp.

Relationships can be joyful, but they can also be really difficult.

And what I’m learning is that my attitude in relationships is more about what’s going on in my own heart than it’s about what’s good, bad, right or wrong with the other person.

God’s attitude in every relationship is Love. He is love. He does what love requires Him to do. He can do nothing else.

And with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can choose to love with the same love with which He loves me. Even the difficult people. Even those I’m not sure I like. Even those I’d rather avoid. Those that are rude, self-centered, needy and inconvenient.

Because at some point, I’ve been all these people in my relationship with God … and He loves me still.

He loves me and He loves you. He loves the whole world so much that He sent His Son to enter into relationship with the most difficult people who ever existed. This includes all of us. God had this plan from the very beginning, to demonstrate His love by doing what we can’t: reconciling ourselves to Him.

“Christmas is the beginning of God’s plan being made manifest and coming to fruition. God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, had made a declaration in the garden. He could have let His judgment stand and we could have been left to live our lives according to the law. But instead, He stepped in and fulfilled the law, the obligation He declared, and took upon Himself our judgment and punishment. He brought about a completion of the original declaration in such a way that it still stands and yet there is a way for it to be fulfilled.” ~ Excerpt from Prepare Your Heart for Christ, The Christ Reason

As December begins and Christmas approaches, let us remember the new beginning God provided through Jesus. A new covenant was proclaimed, not one born of law, but born of love. When we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we celebrate a reconciled relationship with God AND with each other.

Something to Consider…

Which relationships do you find most challenging? Which relationships do you avoid? What specifically makes this so?

In what ways have you experienced these same issue in your relationship with God? What was His response to you?

How can God’s love for you move you to love these same people differently? How does loving them display your love for God or God’s love for them?

 

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!

What new thing is  God calling you to do out of worship for Him? How is God growing you in your relationship with Him? Is God asking you to sacrifice to serve Him and others in a greater way? Do you celebrate the fullness of all God has done when you come to Him in worship? Christmas is the beginning of God’s plan coming to fruition. It may not be realized until Jesus dies on the cross and is raised to new life, but today we have the gift of a baby. God has come to dwell with and save His people.

PCH Front Cover

 

 

 

Visit www.marikeisling.com to check out other studies available.

Give Thanks

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5

© DepositPhotos/satariel

© DepositPhotos/satariel

My husband and I love to host gatherings at our house. Whether it’s a formal dinner, potluck barbeque or snack-filled game night, we eagerly anticipate time with family and friends.

There are definitely times of stress leading up to our events. Do we have enough food? Have we cleaned everything that needed to be cleaned? Are we on the same page about what we are trying to accomplish before everyone shows up? Will our guests enjoy their time? What if they don’t like anything we’ve made?

And as I consider all of these questions and concerns I realize how much I love to prepare for the arrival of my guests. I want everything to be just right. I hope they know how much we appreciate them and are able to relax and enjoy their time with us.

Today, as I was preparing dinner knowing we still had to figure out how we were going to fit everyone into the same space, Jesus said, “I’m preparing for your arrival as well and am excited for the day when you are finally home with me.”

Jesus is not passively waiting to return. He is actively preparing hearts and minds. His Father’s house has many rooms and they all need to be ready. He is not worried about space. There will be room enough for all who respond to His invitation to come.

We are imperfect people flawed in our thinking, our behavior and our handling of relationships, and yet, I can’t wait to spend time with those I love. How much more does Jesus look forward to the day when His people will be made complete in Him? When we finally enter the courts of God’s kingdom, we will give Him all our praise with great thanksgiving.

Something to Consider…

We get to practice now for life in His kingdom. We give Him our first thanks as we recognize that He alone could and did make it possible for us to enter His kingdom courts.

What will be your attitude when you walk through the doors to meet with family and friends? Do you focus more on the people or the concerns as you prepare your home for others?

Love as He loves and give Him thanks.

Everything We Need

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3

© Depositphotos/ kevron2002

© Depositphotos/ kevron2002

I have struggled mightily with the words godly and holy. What does that mean? How do I live a “holy” life? I’m not godly in my behavior or thinking. I’m a mess.

And it’s not just mistakes that make up my mess. Let’s call it what it is: Sin. God knows more about my sin than even I do. In fact, He knows ALL about my sin.

Yet, God has given me everything I need to live a godly life. Because God has called me, because I’ve come to know Jesus, I have all I need.

So rather than try to be perfect, I’m going to take what I know about God and all that I’m learning and choose to live in agreement with Him. It might actually be that simple.

And if you’re reading this, God is calling you. Not because you’re perfect, good or holy, but because He is. He calls you by His own glory and goodness, not yours. And as you get to know Him through the power of the Holy Spirit, through reading His word, and by spending time with others who know Him, you will be able to recognize and live a godly life as well.

You will begin to live your life in agreement with God, not in opposition to Him.

… because He is good.

… because He knows you completely, sin and all, and still loves you deeply.

… because HE has given you everything you need. He’s withheld nothing good from you.

God is good so He calls and He gives. Will you accept everything He has for you?

 

God, you are good and you give good gifts. You give me everything I need and I lack nothing. Lord, when I feel like I don’t understand enough to move forward with you, teach me what I need to know so I can live in agreement with you. Thank you for giving me everything I need to live a godly life in your divine power.

Something to Consider…

Do you think of godly living in terms of what you must give up or in what you will gain? Perspective matters. How could a change in perspective help you move in God’s direction?

What do you believe is lacking in your life right now? What information do you believe would make a difference in this area? God has already given you everything you need. Ask him to make it known.

If you have not yet responded to God’s call to you, but would like to, you can. Right now, you can say “yes” to God’s glory and goodness by putting your faith in Jesus. If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. God knows all about your sin so acknowledge it and ask Him to forgive you. He will. Thank Him for the gift of grace through His Son, Jesus. He died on the cross for your sins so that you could be forgiven. Tell Him that you want to live in agreement with Him and ask Him to give you everything you need to do that. He loves you and calls you to be His. Say “yes” today.

Where Wisdom Comes From

“Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” Job 28:20, 23-34

© DepositPhotos/nature78

© DepositPhotos/nature78

I received a phone call from my daughter not long after she left the house this morning. Since few people actually pick up a phone to talk anymore, my radar went up and I was instantly concerned. Yes, it turned out that she may be having car problems.

Ugh.

She has places to be and she’s not close to home. Our coming days are full so we need to deal with this now. Of course, my concern for her safety is always high on my list of priorities.

I’m not a mechanic and my answer to any car issue is to bring it in. I don’t know what the problem is and I don’t really want to know too much. I just want it fixed. I just want her safe. It’s so good that others know so much more than me!

Since she was almost to her destination, I told her to go. I called the repair shop, made an appointment and then started processing how we would work out all the details. In the middle of everything I continued to feel a bit wound up and stressed. I can have a tendency to panic and I want that to be different in my life.

So I talked with a friend. Not just any friend, mind you. A friend I not only trusted, but one who I knew didn’t panic. One who I knew had dealt with car issues. One who I knew would give me some straight answers with common sense.

And she did.

Sometimes there are practical issues and situations in our lives where we need concrete answers and decisions in the moment. And then there are times when we need an overall shift in our thinking, our emotions and our way of understanding our situation.

This is what Jesus does.

Did His car break down? No, because He didn’t have a car. He didn’t have a donkey either. And when He needed one, He asked to borrow someone else’s. He reached out and asked for help. God had already ordained the response.

There really isn’t a situation in my life that Jesus hasn’t experienced in His own way. He understands completely and if I’m willing to ask for help, He will comfort and encourage me. He will guide me to the people who can help. He will help me shift my understanding and perception of a situation not because it’s changed, but because He’s already brought about a resolution.

He is the resolution and the response to every situation.

Something to Consider…

Does this situation seem petty? In the middle of all the hardship, troubles, and chaos in our world right now, does this seem so very insignificant? In comparison to other issues, I’m sure it is. But how great is it that we have a God who is truly just as concerned with our small and petty issues as He is with our big and overwhelming concerns.

What small issues in your life do you try to handle on your own? How can trusting God in the small and petty help you learn how to and be able to trust Him in the big and overwhelming worries of your heart?

Difficult working conditions, strained family relationships, oppressive governments, unfair opportunities and general day-to-day problems…Jesus has seen it all. He has overcome it all. Will you seek His wisdom and His way today?

Be Available

“At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?'” Mark 5:30

 

woman driving a car and looking at watch

©DepositPhotos/Syda_Productions

I have a long list of things I want to do. I have a long list of things others would like me to do. I have a long list of things I should do. And, of course, I long list of things I have to do.

It’s easy to get caught up in the lists. I am, after all a list maker. I like to write it all down and check it off so that I know I’ve really accomplished something each day.

When my children were young and at home, my list consisted more of “have to’s” than “want to’s.” Choices seemed easier just because there weren’t really that many. But as my girls have grown up and have become more independent, I have more time on my hands.

There was a season when time was what I wanted. I could sit and read, garden, take a nap, all the fun and relaxing things that didn’t seem to happen often enough with children. But as seasons have changed, I’ve realized that they may not need me in the same ways, they still need me … and so do others.

Our relationships matter not because requirements and expectations matter, but because it’s how we know we matter. What I do can make a difference in the life of someone else. This all sounds nice doesn’t it? But there are a few things we need to deal with and understand for us to really be willing to be available to others.

  1. It’s going to take some time. Jesus was on His way to see and help one person when another person came to Him. There will be interruptions. Now, I’m most likely not going to be stopped as I walk down the street, but I might get a phone call or text message that requires some immediate attention in order to really meet the need of the person reaching out. If I’m going to be available I’m going to have to stop and push pause on my list so I can answer or reply in the most timely manner possible.
  2. It’s going to take some discipline. And if I am going to answer or reply, maybe even show up when I can, I’m going to need to be aware of the time. Jesus was available in meeting the need of the woman, but He didn’t stay too long. He didn’t change the plans He has already made to go somewhere else. There are times when urgent matters need to be worked through in a timely matter so that you can get on with the other things that are also important. Discipline may also call for us to not over-schedule ourselves. Every time you are in a hurry rushing from one thing to the next, you are less likely to stop for someone else in the process. We miss divine appointments when we see the list or the clock before the person.
  3. It’s going to take some energy. Jesus noticed that power went out from Him when the woman touched His cloak. People take energy. We have to be willing to exert some energy. People need us to be intentionally present, not just sitting back and passively participating in the relationship. Jesus was always going off alone for time with His Father. He was filled and refreshed so He had what He needed for others. How we care for our relationship with God will directly impact our ability to care for our relationships with others.
  4. It’s going to get personal. Jesus stopped and asked, “Who?” You can easily do something for someone as another check box on your list. But the “who” behind the check mark is really what it’s all about. There will be quick, brief encounters with people. Names might not even be exchanged. But I wonder, should they be? Should we thank someone by name, notice them by name, and take a moment to step into their story in a more personal way? Who we are matters. If it’s not personal, what is it?

Something to Consider…

I’ve often thought of my flexible schedule as a positive aspect of my ability to be available, but what I’ve done is let it disrupt my ability to be disciplined. Overall I end up being less effective. How can discipline and flexibility work together to create space to be available for others when needed?

There are times when I think of people and the first thought is, “They are so much work!” What I mean is they are draining. They suck the energy right out of me. The truth is that I’m not prepared to give people my best. And if I’m at my best, then I can give them something better as well. What activities or behaviors increase your energy and ability to be effective and which decrease it? What activities or habits do you need to change so you can be at your best in order to give others your best?

How often does the “who” matter in determining your willingness to stop and be available? Jesus came for the entire world, each individual “who.” How can you let His love be the goal regardless of the “who?”

Peace Like a River

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.'” Isaiah 48:17-18

Ebro River passing trhough Miravet, Spain

© DepositPhotos/ nito103

I know many people who want peace, more peace, deeper peace. And yet, they go about life doing the same things they always have. They react and respond the same as every other day. They point the finger, play the blame game, and justify their actions. All the while their insides are turning upside down, tossed like waves of the sea.

They say, “God, give me peace!”

The truth is they don’t really need more peace. They need to learn to grow and mature in the peace they already have. And so do I.

We can choose to operate in agreement with the Spirit of God living inside of us or we can do things our own way. As I was writing in my journal this morning I prayed that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

God can make that happen all on His own. He doesn’t need anyone to do it for Him or help Him in order for it to happen. But, one way it happens is through His people. He uses His people to show the world His will by living His way according to His Spirit in us.

So, if I want God’s will done on earth then I need to be in alignment with His Spirit. And this doesn’t just mean in agreement with my thoughts. It can be really easy to simply say, “Yes, God, change this world. I want your will to be displayed in this world and I want those who don’t know you to start acting like they do.” Because often, this is really what we want. We want everyone else to start acting the way we think they should according to how we understand God and then we will experience true peace.

It’s really easy to quarterback from the cheap seats and tell others what they should be doing. But peace doesn’t come through the actions of others; peace comes through our own actions. If I’m going to be in alignment with God, then not only my thoughts, but my own actions and words need to be in alignment with God as well.

Peace comes from obedience, personal obedience. Peace doesn’t come when we are satisfied that others are being obedient. Peace comes from us seeking God, His kingdom and righteousness, and willingly doing what His Spirit prompts us to do.

God warned Cain that He had the option to do what was right in his relationship with God or he would end up doing what was wrong in his relationship with his brother, Abel. We are no different.

Our ability to pay close attention to God, to listen to God first doing what He says, will go along way in our ability to love others and have peace in this world. And when we do, God will restore us. He will refresh us with living water. Our own well-being will no longer be subjected to the external circumstances around us, but will be secure and steadfast in the power and sovereignty of our Redeemer and our Lord.

Something to Consider…

What is your definition of peace? Where does yours come from? Nothing in this world will satisfy completely. Everyone will fall short and everything will fade, decay or perish at some point. You will always run out of what you need when you rely on this world.

Rivers move, they are not sedentary. They navigate the terrain with ease and grace. The water gives to the bumps in the riverbed, but it keeps on moving.

What “bumps” keep you from being obedient to God? Fear, pride, or complacency? Only God can completely satisfy. When we trust in Jesus, He gives us His Spirit to help us know God’s will AND DO IT. Be obedient and experience His peace fully.

Knock, Knock … Who’s There?

Knocking at the door

© DepositPhotos/ depositnovic

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you any jokes, but I am going to tell you a story.

I don’t like to answer the door. Without getting into the reasons why, let’s just say, if you are coming over, text me … I don’t like to answer the phone either.

But God has been showing me that I need to open doors, not keep them closed. Once when I did answer the door, it was a teenager and his father collecting food for a food shelf. I grabbed some items from my pantry and as they were leaving, they thanked me for answering the door. Even though there were lights on and dinner tables set, no one else on my street had opened the door. They were about to sit down to dinner, but none took the opportunity to feed someone else in need.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.”

So this verse, Revelation 3:20, is the key verse in the lesson I speak on about how we can have faith. The implication of this verse is that Jesus stands at the door of each person’s life and knocks. When we hear Him and choose to open door of our lives to Him, we enter into a relationship with Jesus. The non-believer begins a new life of salvation in Christ.

Now, this verse is about relationships. And it’s true that when we invite Jesus into our lives, we are saved through a relationship with Him. Romans 10:9-13 says:

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”

But Revelation 3:20 is not as much about salvation as it is about repentance.

In chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, Jesus is writing letters to the various churches in Asia. This particular verse is found in a letter to the church in Laodicea. Jesus has written this to the church, to believers.

So if these people already know Jesus, have already invited them into their lives and have begun a relationship with Him, why is He standing at a closed door knocking?

The church in Laodicea had everything a city and its people could ask for. There were in essence, healthy, wealthy and wise. And yet, the church was lukewarm to the things of God. In other words, they had become distracted by the things of the world, they had become self-sufficient, self-confident, and they had shut the door on Jesus. They were no longer depending on Him for their needs, no longer inviting Him into their lives, and no longer responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their every day activities. They were caught up in their own desires and activities, not really seeing a need for God’s work in their lives.

But, God doesn’t just work in our lives, He also works through our lives. They had everything they could want and maybe they wanted to keep it that way. Maybe letting Jesus in would have called for them to give up some of what they had, some of what they wanted: the convenience of a comfortable life. All the while their brothers and sisters in Philadelphia, a church just a short distance away, was in great need.

In Revelation, Jesus is preparing His church for His return. And in this verse, He is calling them to repent for the kingdom of God is not only near, it’s here, and it’s coming. There is still time to invite Him back into their lives.

Lately, we’ve been singing “Even So Come” during our worship time at my church. Part of the chorus says, “Like a bride – Waiting for her groom – We’ll be a church – Ready for You.”

So I have a few questions for you:

Have you answered the knock of Jesus in your life? Do you ignore His knock or have to ask “Who’s there?” OR Do you recognize His voice and respond to Him?  Do you depend on Him to provide or do you look to yourself and your abilities to meet your every need? Do you eagerly anticipate the promptings of the Holy Spirit in your daily activities? Do you go out of your way to sacrifice in order to be obedient to the call and love of Jesus in your life?

Church, Jesus gives us an opportunity even as believers to repent and grow in our relationship with Him. He gives us an opportunity not only as individuals, but as a church community to respond to His voice, a voice with which we should be quite familiar.

Jesus is coming soon. He is knocking at the door. Will we find ourselves wrapped up in our own lives or as a church, will we be found ready and repentant, eager to open the door?

Something to Consider…

If you’ve heard the knock of Jesus in your life, but have not yet responded, seriously consider opening the door. See for yourself what He has to say. This isn’t a decision anyone else can make for you. Not even Jesus will force Himself on you. But if He’s knocking, He wants to have a relationship with you.

If you have already invited Jesus into your life, but are distant from Him; if you tune Him out because you don’t think you really need to depend on Him in your day-to-day activities, reconsider His invitation to you. He has shown you His love. He has chosen you to be His representative in this world. He has given you the opportunity to open your life to His knock every day. It’s not too late to repent and begin again by growing in your relationship with Him.