buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Jesus Follower”

Think About This

Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to live when Jesus walked the earth? What would it have been like to be in the crowds listening to Him preach the Word of God? Would you have walked away when the teaching got hard? I might have. I would like to think I would have been as attentive as Mary sitting at His feet. I would like to believe that I too would have followed Him even if it meant I would die for my beliefs. I know many people followed for a little while then many left because He wasn’t what they had envisioned as their Messiah – a war hero that came to conquer Rome.

Since the Christmas season, something I read during that time has been marinating in my brain. The story of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus is the seed of thought. When the wise men inquired about the place of birth for the King of the Jews, they asked the sitting ruler of the region, King Herod. The King didn’t know the answer, so he called the chief priests and the teachers of the law. The men knew the answer because it was written by the prophet Micah centuries ago.

The wise men told the King the star had risen in the east and they followed the star so that they could worship the king of the Jews. The king was disturbed and all of Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3). I understand why the king was disturbed – he didn’t want to be replaced by another king. His lifestyle would have changed; his position would come to an end; maybe even his life if a new king was crowned. But why was Jerusalem disturbed? Also, why is it when the wise men set out for Bethlehem, they went alone? Wouldn’t the chief priests want to see their Messiah and worship Him too? Weren’t they curious?

These were learned men. They had been taught from very early in life and memorized everything written in their Scripture. Yet, they missed the best thing about the Word – the Word came to life that day. The chance passed without one thought toward it because they kept missing Him.

The next time we read about Jesus, we find Him old enough to sit in the temple listening and asking questions of the teachers. Luke records everyone was amazed at His understanding and his answers (Luke 2:47). But no one seems to have been aware that the Messiah was in their midst. If these teachers were in the crowd that day at King Herod’s palace when the wise men came to visit, they didn’t seem to recall the Messiah had been born. Surely the Messiah would show up one day in the temple where everyone was expected to visit – especially during their high Holy Days. They obviously didn’t connect the dots.

The next time we see Jesus, He’s a grown man and ready to change the world. He visits the temple in His home town. But they couldn’t get passed the snotty little kid that they had known from years ago to this learned scholar who knew things that they didn’t understand. And they had no understanding how He came to be so knowledgeable. They missed the greatest thing to ever come out of Nazareth. They missed the Messiah – their King. They actually got angry with Him and tried to kill Him (Luke 4:14-30).

Scripture tells us many were amazed at His teaching. Crowds followed Him eager to hear Him speak and see the miracles He performed. They probably left every time and spoke about Him to everyone they met because word spread throughout the region. Yet, the chief priests got angrier and angrier as the years passed by. Jesus didn’t follow the rules. Jesus came into their midst and they missed His significance even though they knew the Holy Scripture that spoke of Him through every verse they had memorized. How can this be? How can they be so clueless?

Hindsight always gives greater insight so I can’t be too harsh with them. I might have been just as bad. I might not have liked His hard teaching to turn the cheek or give my coat to one who did not have one or any of the other teachings that got me out of my comfort zone. After all, I have those same words before me today and I can be just as stubborn as the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law. I can ignore those teachings just as they did. At times, I am no better than them. And I guess that thought is what is disturbing me since Christmas. I have a lot to consider about my actions or lack thereof if I truly want to follow Him like He desires.

It’s never too late for any of us to consider these things and change. What a different world we would live in if we would truly take these things to heart. I think revival of the church body begins with each of us. We all have to consider where we stand with Jesus. Are we following closely, at a distance or have we walked away feeling let down because He wasn’t what we had anticipated? Where do you stand today?

Jesus is the answer we seek, even though it may be different from our expectation. He is the total package – the real deal. Let’s not miss Him being in our midst. Sit at His feet and listen, then go and do as He instructs. Let’s change the world.

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20b-21; 25-26

Advertisements

Lordship Over All

Over the last few years, it has come to my attention on numerous occasions that there may be a lordship problem amongst the Body of Christ – well, maybe it’s just my problem. But if it’s a problem with me, it might be a problem for others. I think we can all agree that Jesus came to save us from our sins, so yes, He is our Savior. But can we also agree that He is not only our Savior, but supposed to be our Lord – over all things in our lives? Not just the Lord over our spiritual lives, but also our marriages, our families, our working lives, and yes, even over our finances. Everything should be surrendered to His control.

I am a financial person. It’s my training, it’s my experience, it’s my nature to look at things financially first before I consider other things. My Mom was the same way, so I owe my financial nature to her. I have been blessed with parents who did not live beyond their means. They were good stewards of the resources God gave them. And they taught me to do so as well. Being a single woman, I really have no one to be accountable to for financial resourcefulness. It’s me and only me – unless you put Jesus in the mix, then I am accountable to Him for how I manage His resources.

As followers of Jesus, we are managers of everything He has given us. We will be accountable for how we use His resources – that includes our gifts, abilities, time, and our financial resources. He doesn’t just give us funds for our pleasure, but for His purpose. Sure, He gives us opportunities to use some of the resources for pleasure, but not all of it. We can say “no” to our inner child when our inner child sees a something it wants. It’s called self-control. And we need to have better discipline over God’s resources.

This was a big lesson for me to learn a few years ago. God put a passion in me that required a bit of training to do it well. I researched the schools that were available at the time. Each time I looked over the possibilities, I kept coming back to the same school. It was going to take a big step of faith. It was a big expense. I had a bit of savings but not enough for the travel and expenses it was going to take over a period of ten months. But I felt this was the right one for me, and God seemed to confirm it on several occasions. God opened the way for me to do it, but it cost me to follow through.

Through that experience, I learned to say “no” so that I could say “yes” to something greater. I think that’s what Jesus’ Lordship is all about. Saying “no” to our fleshly desires gives us greater opportunities to say “yes” to something better. Putting Jesus Lord over all things gives us something greater. That includes our financial resources. Spending every last penny and borrowing more to feed our fleshly desires is robbing us of the true joy that can be found in Jesus alone.

We need margin. We need to be able to serve God with our financial resources; the resources that He has allowed us to have. He gives to us so that we can be a blessing to others. We are called to be “funnels” of His resources. We are not to hoard and believe that what has been given is solely for our use.

This is the lesson that I am currently learning. I want to be a funnel, but right now, I have that mentality of scarcity because of my lack of resources. I am in an uncomfortable position to learn this lesson – whether its by my own doing or His – He is teaching me through it. It’s about opening my hands. He can place resources in my palm and take them out at His discretion. This is not mine, but His. I am just His manager, and He instructs me on how to use what He has given me. At least, that’s what I am learning.

There were things I had to let go of. He determines which is best to go and which is to stay. It’s uncomfortable. However, I am committed to His Lordship over all. He has to be – He made the purchase for that right. He purchased my sins and my life by His death. He paid the price so that I could live a better life through Him. This is His right as my redeemer. And by His resurrection He has given me a new life.

I acknowledge that He is my Savior and Lord. I hope you can do the same. Learn the lesson so that you can be a blessing because He will give you so much more than you can ever earn on your own. Trust Him! Trust His character. He will never give you less than His best.

 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” Luke 12:29-32 (MSG)

The Fly Zone

Ever heard of the fly zone in a relay race? David Green (the Hobby Lobby guy) wrote about this concept in his book Giving it All Away. He used the analogy of the hand off of the baton in the fly zone as the hand off from one generation to the next. The fly zone is the place where one runner ending a race hands the baton to the next one starting their race. The first is winding down and the next is sprinting ahead, and it’s a crucial time to transfer the baton. It is an instant that can either win the race or lose it with a bad hand off.

David Green has quite a bit of wealth to hand off to the next generation. However, it’s more of handing a vision to be carried on long past his retirement or his death, and the wealth that has accumulated to be able to continue what has been started. David’s story is really inspiring. He didn’t have much, but God has blessed him through the years because of David’s faithfulness to the vision. This vision was given by God to David, and God has provided the means to accomplish the vision. David is passing the vision and the means to the next generation.

David has been given an insight we all need to comprehend. His business is not his own – it’s Gods. The money it generates is God’s. What would God want done with His money? He would want others to benefit. He would want His Kingdom to grow. And this is what David has done. He has set hours that would allow family time for his employees. He pays the employees living wages. He believes a manager should be able to do his job in 66 hours – the same hours the store is open. If that manager can’t handle it in that amount of time, then that person is wrong for the job. And the Green family is not guaranteed a job. They have to earn just like everyone else. Impressive.

David has a godly vision for the business and for the family. The business gives 50% of the profit away to projects the family decides to fund. There are several criteria that are considered on every project. If the project doesn’t meet the criteria then it’s a pass. I believe this is a good plan for anyone who wants to be a good giver. Being generous is more than spontaneous giving. It’s having a plan and sticking to it no matter how much you make. It’s a percentage. As wealth grows, the money given grows by the same percent decided ahead of time. David started with a percentage and grew the percentage until 50% was given away. The other 50% went back into the business to grow the business.

This book is not about a business. It’s about a mindset; a foundation for living out the vision. David has raised a family that has the same vision; that has the same values and is leaving a legacy that will be carried on for generations after him. David caught the vision and values from his parents. I got the gift from my parents too. They got it from theirs. We all have received this precious gift that needs to be carried on. It’s how the Gospel message has been transferred from one generation to the next. But we need to understand this is our time. I am in the fly zone. My parents have done their job. It’s my time, and it’s your time regardless of how you got the gift – it’s your time to pass it on.

One of the things I came away with from the book is to have a plan. Giving it all away is a plan, but a plan needs to have a foundation. What really matters to me? What’s my vision for the Gospel message and how can I fund the vision? This is the foundation that needs to be set. Hopefully, I can pass this same vision so that it doesn’t die with me. My vision should stay longer than one generation. I should be able to fund the vision so that it has its own legs to continue the race.

This is not about me and what I can do, but what God will do through me for His glory. It’s His vision and His glory. I just happen to be His runner just as David Green is His runner in this race. We all have a part to play to finish this race. We are in the fly zone, and it’s our responsibility to make a good pass. We can’t drop it now; this race is too important! Let’s finish strong!

You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.

You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way.
2 Timothy 4:3-7 (MSG)

Challenging Message

This week has been all about the challenge that I heard from two different messages – becoming more like Jesus. One of the greatest characteristics of Jesus was His love. He loved everyone – even the Pharisees, who were really difficult to love in my estimation. The underlying theme of the Bible is love. God so loved the world that He sent His Son (John 3:16). God so wanted people to have a relationship with Him from the very beginning that after the fall of man; God called a man, Abraham, out of a nation (Ur) to become a nation (Israel) so that through Abraham God’s Son would come. God’s plan in the very beginning of time was to walk with us – to have a relationship with His creation (us). That plan has never changed, but the fall of man changed how that could happen.

Dr. Tony Evans has a message series going right now called the Jesus Challenge, which looks at the churches found in Revelation. The first message was on the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7). Jesus praised the church body found in Ephesus of all the good they were doing; however, there was one thing that Jesus found that needed to be corrected – they forgot their first love. They were doing everything right except they forgot to love God first and let everything flow from that love. They were busy doing but did not put God first. God is not a god of second place. God is first in everything. It is written in Exodus 20:5 that He is a jealous God and will not tolerate our affections for another god in our lives. He wants no competition for first place.

Well all of that is real easy to write or to say; but doing is a whole lot harder. I think the real problem in doing all that we are called to do – love everyone (even the difficult ones), put God first – is because we walk in the flesh and not in the spirit. Scripture tells us that when we become born again, we are born in the spirit. Since we are now born in the Spirit, the spirit should be in control of us. If Jesus’ Spirit who is just like Him lives in us, then Jesus should be living through us; which means that we should be able to love like He did. But why aren’t we doing it? Why are we not loving like we should? Because our flesh is in control and that’s just wrong as followers of Jesus.

Now you know why the challenge has fallen on me hard. This walking in the spirit as we are called to do is just hard when it should be the easiest thing for us to do. Just let Jesus control the wheel as someone once sang. But we all like control. Jesus is going to get all up in our business and clean out some things that we think is important to our lives. But if Jesus is in control, He is going to better our lives. We need to grasp that idea. It might be difficult to let go, but that’s okay, He’s got this! It would serve us well if we just let Him have His way in us.

When I got up on Sunday, I changed my routine. When I changed my routine, I missed my quiet time with my Lord. I completely forgot it. I did the same thing one morning while I was on vacation. It’s been a long time since that happened. Now I am questioning if my quiet time is just routine. It is just a routine that I do in the mornings, something I check off that I have done and fulfilled my obligation. But that’s not what God wants from us. Like the church at Ephesus, tradition and routine is not what God wants – He wants our hearts to be in it. He wants us to think of Him first, not as an obligation, but because He is our Daddy.

I know that may sound a bit childish to call Him Daddy, but that’s what we do here in the south – our loving fathers are daddies here. And we are told to come to Him like a child. Jesus called God the Father, Abba which means daddy. We are to have that childlike faith in Him. Believe He has the best for us and loves us unconditionally. If we don’t have good examples of a loving father, it may be hard for some of us to believe that about God. It’s not about the routine of joining Him in quiet time. It’s about the relationship with Him as our Daddy. Daddy is first and foremost. And His Son is to have control of our lives. Easy enough, right?

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:10-12 (NLT)

The Adventurous Spirit

I have a confession to make – I’m bored. I have been bored for years. I don’t know when boredom set in, but it’s been years since I’ve had a sense of adventure. I used to enjoy new challenges and loved change – change of scenery was especially welcomed. I changed jobs every two or three years. When I changed jobs, I moved to a new city. I liked the change of place and new opportunities. Packing up the household meant I cleaned out the clutter which was especially beneficial.

After my sister became single again, we began traveling together. About once a year, we planned a trip to New York or some other destination. We traveled as far as Alaska and Hawaii; and then even went as far as London. It was fabulous to experience new places. I loved it. When my travel partner got married again, I decided to keep on traveling even if it meant going alone. I went to Vermont and Maine. I even went to New Zealand and Australia. Of course, my Mom was not too crazy about the trips alone. She especially wasn’t happy about the time away in NZ and Australia. But oh the things I got to experience in those places!

It would have been nice to have someone travel with me. But the things I experienced while alone put me in a place of vulnerability. Most would think that was a bad thing, but as a Christian I need to be in a place of vulnerability. It means I have to rely upon Jesus to help me through some tight spots. And I had a few while traveling.

I realized the other day I haven’t had an opportunity to travel in the last six years. I also realized I love staying in hotels and living out of a suitcase. I loved going. But something has changed. I don’t have a sense of adventure as I once did. I have had plenty of time to go, but the financial means isn’t there. I don’t feel like I can “waste” the money on unnecessary travel. I have settled into this sameness mentality that is draining me. My sense of adventure has to come back. I can’t settle for mediocrity. By the very definition of Jesus follower means going where Jesus goes and His path is never boring. So why have I settled for boredom?

When I traveled to New Zealand, I didn’t go on a mission trip. I went for the adventure. I moved off the beaten path so to speak. Buses carried me from one point to the other. I loved seeing the countryside. I love visiting cities, but the country is where the beauty lies. From the mountain peaks to the green valleys, nature is painted with God’s glory. When I was in Christchurch, I visited the famous church in the downtown square. I walked in wanting to experience the awe of the place. I snapped a picture of one of the panels of stained glass. As soon as I did, I was reprimanded by one of the officials. I hadn’t paid for the right to take a picture. I immediately deleted it, and left the building.

I realized at that moment, that building was a business not a holy place. And I really couldn’t contain His beauty in a picture anyway. God didn’t fill that place with His glory. His glory has to be experienced by the eye – spiritual or physical. I went to the lakes and the mountaintops; and caught a glimpse of His grandeur and majesty. I had a sense of awe at the beauty I found in those places. God isn’t contained in a building.

God is experienced in the movement of the Holy Spirit. We settle in the comfort place and forget to be led by the Spirit to experience God’s presence in those places. We all need our sense of wonder back. We all need a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one experiencing the boredom of my comfortable place. Boredom shouldn’t be the feeling of any Jesus follower. If it is, then we’re not doing it right. It’s time to get back to where we experience God’s presence again. We don’t have to travel to distant lands to see God’s glory. We just have to open our spiritual eyes to see it once again. We have to be open to His voice to move in obedience to what we hear.

Something has to change. I am asking for a fresh perspective. Will you join me in the adventure God has for each of us? Don’t settle in that comfortable place. Let’s be Jesus followers in every sense of what that entails. Lord, lead your people out of boredom and into the great adventure You have for us. Amen!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Post Navigation