Many people, even those who aren’t Christians, know that God created everything. There isn’t much question about this. So we know that God is extremely powerful. The bible says that He created the universe with a mere breath. Considering how immense the universe is, this also means that God is huge. However, these are just attributes of God. Do you really know who He is? You most definitely should, particularly if you are a Christian. Let me explain why.
People often think of God and a king, sitting on a throne like a tyrannical judge just waiting for people to do something wrong so He can punish them. He indeed is the king. But what picture does this conjure up in your mind? The most common thought, in this context, is that God is a being that demands total obedience, at all times. The thought is that He is the punisher, the master, and that we are mere slaves to His every whim. In some ways, this might not be totally inaccurate, however what would you think or say if I said that this isn’t who God is? No, I don’t have some divine wisdom that the rest of humanity lacks, and no, I don’t have some hidden insight into who God is.
The answer to who God is can be found in the bible.
If I asked who Jesus is, most people would probably have a firmer grasp on the answer. Jesus helped those in need, corrected people when needed and always in a kind spirited way and was a servant to others. He served in every way that could be imagined. Though he is the Lord, he showed time and again that he lived to serve and was totally humble. He preached that we should all serve. His words in Mark 9:35 are representative of how he lived his human life:
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Jesus exemplified love on a scale that should leave us all in awe. In fact, the only time he showed anger was when words and actions demeaned God and the kingdom of God. His love and kindness was not only phenomenal at all times, but he also ministered to the sinners, not just to the righteous. Many times, his focus on helping wicked people who had turned away from God left the apostles puzzled. He clearly knew that the sinners and wicked people were the most in need of salvation. Through it all, he showed love toward all people and he put others before himself, just as the bible teaches; love your neighbor as yourself.
What does all of this have to do with knowing who God is? I’ll submit to you that if you know who Jesus is, you know who God is. Why can I say that with such conviction? Jesus said it better than I ever could:
“If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now you do know Him and have seen Him.” John 14:7
You see, in order to know who God really is, we need but to learn and study who Jesus is. He came to allow salvation, though not one of us deserves it. God didn’t have to allow his Son to die to give us salvation because we are all sinners. However, Jesus also came for the express reason of letting people know who God is. All of his words and actions were in direct accord with God’s will. Thus, God isn’t just the creator and He isn’t a tyrant. Jesus showed that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that all the good things we have and see are from God. God is goodness, kindness, a dear friend, a loving father and a servant to all.
The staggering part of all of this is that once you grasp it; that Jesus showed by example exactly who God is, there is another revelation that is as clear as glass. Just as God is everything that is good, anything that isn’t good also isn’t God or from God. That puts things in proper perspective, don’t you think? If you look at all the evil in the world, it is no wonder why lovers of the world are enemies of God, as the bible puts it. Personally, I find this all quite uplifting. God loves you, wants the best for you and wants to help you to have happiness and joy. He can and does go out of his way to help you and all you have to do is to open the door and let Jesus in. Each of us has the power to open our own door. Jesus is standing right on the other side, waiting to be let in.
Is God good, or what?
Posted in Inspiration, Uncategorized and tagged God, happiness, Jesus, joy, kindness, love, salvation by rextrulove with 2 comments.
Have you ever been in a bad situation when it looked like there was no way out, so you tried to strike a bargain with God? It is safe to say that most Christians have, or at least have thought about it. I certainly have. Despite what many people might think, the Bible doesn’t tell us that we shouldn’t or can’t attempt to make a deal with God. Even Abraham made a deal with God. For that matter, God has also made deals with Satan. Before thinking that Brother Rex has lost it all, let me explain.
Do you remember the story of Job? Job was a God-fearing man who loved the father. He had a good and comfortable life. However, Satan made the claim that the only reason he loved God was because of the things God had blessed him with. He said that if all those things were taken away, Job would turn away from the Father. God made a deal. Satan was allowed to make things hard for Job in any way, but God made the deal that Job couldn’t die through any action Satan took. Naturally Satan was proved to be wrong. Even with everything taken from him, Job still praised God and still both loved him and followed him. The point is that God made a deal. Making deals isn’t wrong, because nothing God does is wrong.
All this said, should we try to make deals with God? Well, that depends entirely on the deal and the circumstances.
You may have heard of soldiers who prayed, “Father, if you get me out of this, I promise never to swear, to read the bible every day and to go to church every Sunday, without fail.” Such a deal wouldn’t be testing God, because we know that he can and often does deliver us from the darkest circumstances. However, if you really look at the deal, you will probably see how unwise such a bargain would be.
First of all, the deal is self-centered and selfish. The focus of the deal would be on the person, not on God. Second, it is impossible to keep the deal. The soldier in this illustration is elevating himself to the position of God by saying that he will never swear, will read the bible every day and will go to church every Sunday. He doesn’t know what might happen in the future and since he took God out of the equation, he virtually dooms himself to failure. Third, he is trying to make a deal that would benefit him and in return, he’d do what he should be doing anyway.
What the soldier should do is quite a bit simpler and it is a provision our loving Father put into place. It is part of the reason he allowed his son to be killed to begin with. That is, we all have a direct line of communication to God, by praying in the name of Jesus. Instead of trying to strike a bargain, the soldier should simply say something like, “Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray that you will get me out of this mess.”
While the bible doesn’t say that we can’t make deals with God, quite often when we find ourselves in bad situations, we try to make deals that are doomed to failure, when we never had to make a deal at all. God loves us! He does things for us all the time, even when we don’t know about it. If you are in a dire position, pray for help, in the name of the Lord. In fact, Jesus instructs us to do exactly this.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
I’m not saying that there will never be circumstances when it would be wise to make a deal. However, consider it carefully first. If you aren’t selfish, ask for it in the name of Jesus. God will hear the plea and he loves to help us. By doing this, you are putting the focus where it belongs; on Jesus and our heavenly Father. Isn’t it wonderful to have a Father who loves us so much?
Have you ever tried to make a deal with God that you couldn’t keep? As I’ve said, I have. I later needed deep prayer to ask for forgiveness. The failure was mine, not the Lord’s.
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged bargain, deal, God, Jesus, Job, prayer, soldier by rextrulove with 2 comments.
It seems that in this world, a large number of people are only interested in what material things they can amass. For these people, it is all about themselves, not about others. Sadly, this also includes a number of people who profess to be Christians. Are they really Christians, though? How will people know that you are a Christian?
True Christians follow the teachings of Jesus and apply them in their lives. This may seem so basic that it is almost funny, but it actually answers both questions. Jesus teaches that we are to love one another and he showed it with his actions. Jesus never missed an opportunity to display the love of the Father. The bible puts it very plainly:
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8 NIV)
This is rather explicit. If we aren’t showing love every minute of every day, even when no person is watching, we aren’t being Christian. No person may be watching, but God always is. Indeed, that is the answer to the title question. People will know that you are a Christian by your love. If a person can’t see the love in you, it means that more work needs to be done, because you have a heart condition. If you let Jesus live within your heart and continually pray that the Spirit will fill you with love, the love becomes manifest in everything you say and do. This isn’t easy to do in all circumstances, which is the reason for the prayers to fill your heart with love.
At times, there will be a battle raging within you. It is easy to get angry, but that is because all people have a carnal nature and desires that have nothing to do with God. The Spirit is all about God, so the two can be opposites, and often are. A true Christian tries sincerely to do what God wants, not what the person wants.
I know of a person who is an emotional vampire. They obviously enjoy dwelling on the most negative aspects of other people and businesses. I honestly don’t believe that they know that they are doing it most of the time. They are convinced that most other people agree with them, even though they do not. They get very defensive when their stance is questioned, even off-hand. Thus, they show in their words and actions that they believe that everything is about them. Humility is the last thing in the world that they display.
I don’t want to love this person, frankly. I get worked up and stressed out by their words. Yet the Holy Spirit tells me that I must love them. Allowing God in my heart means that I have no choice, because God is love. What I want makes no difference. It is what God wants that is the only thing that is important. So I do my best to approach the person with love and kindness, even when the person doesn’t want to accept it. If the person tries to bait me into an argument, most often I don’t even reply. The more wicked they act, the more loving I must act. Even if that person doesn’t see the wrong they are doing, others do and others can also see the love and kindness that is extended. As a Christian, my role is to plant the seed. It is up to God to make it grow. In fact, since this is so and since no man knows the plans of God, it is quite possible that God is using this person to get through to others; how to love by example.
Again, it isn’t always easy. At times, every one of us feels any number of things other than love. If we realize this, though, we open the door for God to take control and to demonstrate his love in action. God is very willing to resolve the problems we might have with others, but it is up to us to open that door for Him. I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill be with love and that God will bless my actions that I might bring glory to Him. I know that I won’t always be successful, but recognizing my failures brings me more in line with God’s will. It is a step on the path toward righteousness.
How will they know you are a Christian? By your love. Can you show your love more strongly than you do? That is a question each of us must answer honestly, with the guidance of God.
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged christian attitude, God, Jesus, love, showing love by rextrulove with 9 comments.
Have you ever really thought about the Sabbath? I don’t mean about what day of the week it actually falls on or anything like that. That is something that scholars argue about to this day. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t make much difference whether a person thinks of Saturday as the Sabbath or believes that it is supposed to be on Sunday. The principle is the same, either way.
The idea is easy to grasp. One day out of seven, we are supposed to rest. Some people take that to mean that no labor at all is to be done on the sabbath, but that isn’t quite what the bible teaches. The bible isn’t that extreme. It merely says that we should rest and some people do rest and relax by doing what other people would think of as ‘work’.
For example, I find it quite relaxing to sit in my garden, pulling weeds. There are plenty of other people who would consider that to be back-breaking work. This is actually important, though it is different from one person to another and even though the idea of no labor at all on the Sabbath is old testament teaching, before Jesus gave us the new covenant.
First, it is important to understand that the Sabbath wasn’t meant for God, it was meant for man. Jesus said it plainly in Mark 2:27:
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”
Put in a different way, the Sabbath was created for us, for play. It wasn’t created for God, who does not rest. The part about ‘…keep it holy’ also makes sense. We are to rest, play, relax, but we are not to do anything that is sinful while we rest and relax.
This means that there is nothing in the bible that would prohibit me from ‘working’ in my garden on the Sabbath, since I don’t see it as work. I see it as play. It is relaxing to me.
What is even more important is the realization that God really does want to take care of us and He really does care about our welfare. He knows perfectly well that working day after day with no rest is a bad thing. People need to rest and He shows his understanding and love by making it a command that we are to rest one day out of every seven.
Wow! God really loves us and cares about us. He wants us to be healthy and happy. He wants us to make sure that we have play time!
Christians often think of the sabbath as the day of worship, and many would be shocked to learn that it has nothing to do with that. We should be worshipping God every day, not just one day a week, for a couple of hours. The sabbath is a day that is actually one that is set aside for you and me.
Mind you, in no way am I suggesting that you shouldn’t go to church on Sunday (or Saturday). Fellowship is important. Learning about God and the bible is enormously important. However, it means that we should take care of ourselves as he intended by working hard and playing just as hard.
Have you really ever given thought to the Sabbath?
What do you usually do on the Sabbath?
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged Christian, commandment, God, meaning, play, sabbath by rextrulove with 13 comments.
This is a question many people ask; why does the church always ask for money? After all, God has no need for money. I’m sure that many Christians have wondered why they should tithe and give to the church. We must remember, though, that we live in the world, even though we are merely visitors who are just passing through. The world is driven by money and money is required to do almost anything. Even Jesus needed money in order for he and the apostles to do their ministries.
Consider this, though; do you think that you would be making money without God? He makes it possible for you to earn every dime. Moreover, if Jesus is our Lord, he owns us, right? That means that He owns everything we possess and every penny we make. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we give everything to our church. We have to survive, too. Still, amazing things happen when we have faith and listen to that inner voice that tells us that we really should give. That is God speaking and if it comes from God, it comes with certain promises and guarantees. One of those is that He will provide for us. For everything we give, He gives us many times more in return. This is a testimony to show how this happens. This is only one example.
Recently at our church, we had a guest speaker; an evangelist named Ron. Ron travels the world in his ministry and that isn’t cheap. However, he is bringing the word of God to people who have never heard it. This is what we are told to do. Now, it costs money to even come to our peaceful backwoods town and it certainly costs a lot more to do it in places a person couldn’t find on a map. On Sunday, we had two offerings. The money for the first one goes to our church and most of that is returned right back to the community via many programs we have; clothing bank, food bank, wood ministry, Agape Christian school, etc. The money brought in for the second was to help with the cost Ron incurred when he came here.
I am a poor person. I had exactly three dollars in my wallet and had intended on buying a light bulb. That might sound frivolous, but a bulb had burned out and we needed a replacement, if I could scrape up enough pennies to go along with the three bucks, as light bulbs cost something like $3.27 around here.
God takes precedence in my life, though. I also trust Him implicitly and had that voice in my mind saying that I should put money in both offerings. I gave a dollar to each offering, leaving me one dollar. Two-thirds of what I had at the beginning of service, I didn’t have at the end of service. A light bulb wasn’t as important as spreading God’s word and we have a flashlight if we need it. I wasn’t bothered by the giving at all. I wasn’t giving the money, I was returning it. Jesus owns it, after all, since He is the Lord.
It was a great service and I very much looked forward to the evening service. Amazingly, at the evening service, a lady came up to me and gave me $10 to pay in advance for some gardening I’d agreed to do. Wow! What a return on the money that I’d invested in the church. The evening service got over a little early, too, so the store was still open. I was able to get the light bulb and still had money left over.
This is only a very minor example. God knows what you need and why. When you put Him first, He provides. It doesn’t sound like much, as it was only a couple of dollars. However, my immediate need at the time was for that light bulb. By putting God first, I ended up with much more than enough to get the bulb. God is always there to provide for the major needs and the minor ones and it shows that there is no need too great or too small to merit His attention.
It is always a good idea to listen to that voice or urge that says, “You really should make an offering.” Think of it this way; how much is God’s love and grace worth to you?
Posted in Testimony and tagged church, donation, God, money, offering by rextrulove with 2 comments.