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Greetings,
I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!
Sincerely,
TC AVEY

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hindrances to Becoming Like Christ Part 4: Selfish Faith



Let’s ask ourselves some tough questions:

What motivates your faith in God, today?

Looking back, what prompted you to accept Christ as Savior and Lord?

Looking at the reasons for our faith can help us identify where our need of God stems from.

Do we need Him in our daily lives…or just to “get out of hell” when our lives are over?

Do we trust Him only when times are good…or call out to Him only when things get tough?

Analyzing how we relate to God on a daily basis will show us how strong our relationship with Him truly is (click to tweet).

The song, “Hosanna” by Hillsong United has a powerful line (underlined) that has left me asking,
What are the motives behind my faith?

Here’s the verse that has prompted my assessment:

I see a generation
Rising up to take the place
With selfless faith, with selfless faith

SELFLESS FAITH.

Is my faith in Christ selfish…or selfless?

Like Job, can I sincerely say, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Job 2:10b
 
Do all I want are God’s blessings?

Do I want an “easy” life here with a pass on hell for later?

Or am I willing to serve Him when things don’t go my way, when pain hits, and faith gets hard?

While reading through the book of Job, I see God showing not only satan, but also Job, the true depths of Job’s faith and the motives behind his devotion to God:  LOVE.

Job’s faith was selfless.

He loved God regardless of blessings, regardless of possessions, regardless of health.

In the end, both satan and Job knew that God was enough for Job. He didn’t require anything else but simply to be known by God.

I read an article on the The Blaze about the Ebola survivor, Nancy Writebol, who was a missionary in Liberia. During the painful recovery she drew closer to God. But there was a time she wasn’t sure she would recover. During this time she shares that, “she felt God responding to her with an important question: “Nancy, if I take the boys, if I take David away from you and if I take your life and you are with me, am I enough?”

I think God is asking all of us, “Am I enough?”

Do you love Him for WHO He is or for what it profits you to belong to Him?

Do you seek His hand or His face?

Are you willing to accept suffering as much as the blessings?

Another thing I learned while reading through Job is that all the suffering provided ample opportunity for Job to JUSTIFY his temptation to sin, to alleviate his suffering and/or to cast blame. 

Simply put: Suffering brings us into great temptation.

It’s up to us how we respond to suffering (choice).

Will we curse God? Blame Him? Turn from Him? Turn TO others for comfort? Self medicate? 

Or will we draw closer to God? Cling to Him? Reject worldly solutions? Praise Him even though we don’t understand and the pain is overwhelming?

For Job, it was his faith that brought about his suffering, but it was also his faith that saw him through (click to tweet). 

His faith in God was selfless.

Is yours?

Is mine?

I pray you truly ask yourself if GOD IS ENOUGH?

Or do you feel you deserve something from Him? Deserve His blessings? Deserve possessions? Deserve good health? Deserve protection from hard times? Deserve an “easy life now” as well as a pass on hell for all eternity?

What motivates your faithfulness to God?

How devoted are you?

How selfless is your faithfulness?

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38 NIV






Monday, October 20, 2014

Hindrances to Becoming Like Christ Part 3: Worldly Philosophies INSIDE the Church



There are a few philosophies embraced inside and outside our churches today.

As seen inside the church:

1.        We aren’t perfect, we can’t be perfect, so why bother trying to live like Christ? Why try to do the “right thing”? That’s the point of needing grace; I don’t have to DO anything. God knows how I am; He knows that I’m “just human”. Stop expecting me to change. This is how God made me.

2.       I’m pretty close to perfect. I do tons of “good” things. I act waaaay better than “so and so” and I don’t commit any “major sins”. God is sure to love me more, and bless me greatly, because of all the good things I do and how good of a person I am.

As seen from the world: 

1.       We’re just human. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing more after we die. Just enjoy the time we have here. Make the most of the opportunities presented. No regrets. You only get one life—better make the most of it. There is no one to hold us accountable, except us.

2.       If you do enough good deeds you get to go to heaven or someplace like it (or get reincarnated). Work hard, give big, love much, laugh often. Just be a good person. That’s the best we can hope for and the most we can do.

Both views are short sighted and provide justification for whatever belief you hold. They keep you from having to do more, be more, or think about the “after life” to any real extent. 

And the reality is, they all hold some elements of truth to them. 

But they are incomplete. 

Most Christians know the passage in the Bible about faith and works going together (James 2:14-26) and yet they still tend to lean more into one group or the other.

Last week I shared with you the song and lyrics to “Flesh and Bone” by Matt Maher, today I want to combine that with these two philosophies. 

Here’s the chorus to that song:
“If I saw the world in Your eyes
Would it help me understand?
How You see through all our lies
Still You hold us in Your hand

I'm dying to believe
I'm trying just to show
That we're less than perfect
More than flesh and bone.”

We all believe in lies. 

God sees those lies and He loves us anyway.

He knows the times Christians give lip service in our prayers—“Lord, if you will just help me out of this mess, I promise I’ll live better (or give more, or stop doing xyz).” 

He also knows those seeking to live” life to the fullest” are truly seeking Him, even though they don’t realize it.

He knows our lies.

He knows our hearts.

We can’t hide anything from Him.

We can’t hide:

Our prejudices. 

Our guilt.

Our pride.

Our anger.

Our fears.

Our lust.

Our materialism.

Our addictions.

Our religion.

Our WHATEVER.

God sees through ALL our lies…and He loves us anyway. 

Christian, it’s time to get real.

It’s time to stop buying into the lies these two philosophies embrace.

It’s time to realize that we need both Faith in God for OUR Salvation and Works to help point others to Him.

We are all less than perfect (Romans 3:23).

Yet we are much more than simply flesh and bones.

There is life after death.

But if Christians don’t live like there is, how is the world to know that there’s more to this life than simply having a good time or being a good person?

Time to shed the lies that make us comfortable or justify our lifestyles.

Trusting in “man-made” religions won’t allow you to live the abundant life (John 10:10). Becoming more like Christ, is realizing there is more to Salvation than simply “getting out of hell”. 

Salvation is the first step.

The rest of our lives are to be spent becoming more like Him. In order to become like Him, we must stop believing the lies and find out the truth.

It’s time to read the ENTIRE Word of God—not just parts of it.

We are less than perfect, but more than flesh and bone.

God knows this…do you?











Monday, October 13, 2014

Hindrances to Becoming Like Christ Part 2: Division



Division.

There are many causes to the dissection between people today:

Pride
Entitlement
Hatred
Envy
Zip Codes
Race
Sexual Orientation
Religion/Denomination
Etc.

No matter the “cause”, the root of it comes from SATAN.

Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

He comes to set people against each other—both inside the church and outside of it.

And we allow it.

We allow ourselves to be pitted against each other.

Why?

Perhaps part of the answer is our short sightedness and lack of love. 

A major theme throughout the Bible is LOVE.

Part of LOVE is being UNIFIED. 

Not divided. 

As I listen to Matt Maher’s song, “Flesh and Bones”, I can’t help but wonder what our churches, and world, would look like if we began to see others as Christ does.

If we could see our “enemies” as God does, would they still be our enemies? (click to tweet)


If we could see those we “hate” as worth dying for, would we still think less of them?


If we could see their value through the eyes of their (and our) Creator, would we still find faults in them?

“For God so love the WORLD…”(John 3:16)

Not just you.

Not just me.

Not just those who go to church.

Not just those who live in certain zip codes.

Not just those who look a certain way.

GOD LOVES EVERYONE.

Everyone is worth dying for.

Everyone is worth loving.

Everyone has faults. 

Everyone needs grace.

I encourage you, next time you find yourself critiquing someone (that person would look better if they lost weight), angry with someone (that idiot just cut me off in traffic), judging someone (that person is stupid), or being against certain people (homeless people are that way because they’re lazy)—STOP.

Stop for a moment and see them as Christ does.

God loved them enough to create them…warts and all.

Christ loved them enough to go to the cross…even though they didn’t deserve it (neither do you).

God values them. 

God loves them.

God wants everyone in heaven—no exceptions.

God doesn’t see us in groups, divided into categories.

He sees us as LOVED. 

“who wants ALL people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  1 Tim 2:4
(emphasis mine)

Christians are instructed to be imitators of Christ (1 Cor 11:1, Eph 5:1,Phil 2:15, Luke 6:35, etc).

So if Christ doesn't divide people into groups, if He loves everyone, shouldn't you?
(and yes I know that in the end God will divide the "sheep" from the "goats" but that's HIS job, not ours and in HIS timing. For now, He longs for all to come into the Family of God, shouldn't you long for that too?)

Lyrics to "Flesh and Bone"(songlyrics.com)

 I met a man who walked on water


Who wore His crown like a blue collar
I met a man who treated children
Like they were ambassadors to the Kingdom

If I saw the world in Your eyes
Would it help me understand?
How You see through all our lies
Still You hold us in Your hand

I'm dying to believe
I'm trying just to show
That we're less than perfect
More than flesh and bone

People climbing trees to catch sight of You
Broken and blind searching for the truth
We're crippled by our fears and torments
Oh, Son of man, have pity on Your servants

If I saw the world in Your eyes
Would it help me understand?
How You see through all our lies
Still You hold us in Your hand

I'm dying to believe
I'm trying just to show
That we're less than perfect
More than flesh and bone

I wander and I want
Squander the riches of Your love
It's never enough for me
Oh, take this poverty and nail it to this tree
And all that's captive shall go free, I'm free

And if I saw the world in Your eyes
Would it help me understand?
That You see through all our lies
Still You hold us in Your hand

I'm dying to believe
I'm rising just to show
That we're less than perfect
Yeah, we're less than perfect

That we're less than perfect
More than flesh and bone
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/matt-maher/flesh-and-bone-lyrics/#KoTKk0sXeq5u9krI.99


 Disclaimer: The video link to the Matt Maher song, “Flesh and Bones” is simply one I found on YouTube. I don’t know (or follow) the person who made it. I simply thought the pictures added to the lyrics in a powerful way. I pray it speaks to you.