It’s not so much that I need to know what to do; it’s that I need to do what I know.

The title is from https://i-m-4-u.com/2013/07/14/forgiving-can-be-tough/ and captures part of my struggle.  The other part is that I definitely need to know more.  And yet the two are intertwined.

God will not give me more instruction if I am not doing what he has already given me.  If I want to know more I have to actually do more of what he has already said .  That’s the hard part.

Or is it?  I have the most fun when I am obeying God.

I think for me it is the process of deciding to obey God that is the toughest part.  I have to risk, and trust Him that what I don’t want to do now is exactly what I will be glad I did later.  Many times I feel alone when deciding.  (This may be why I need to be part of a small group).  No matter what help I have, it is in the end my decision.  And if I want to know more, if I want to experience Jesus closer to me, I must obey Him.

What’s in a name?

Does the same word mean different things to different people?  I grew up learning the definitions of words from the context of the experiences I was in.  Did you?  No, I don’t mean the context of the experiences you were in, but the experiences I was in.  Of course not, you say.  And herein lies the problem… or opportunity.  When I say, “father” what do I mean?  I think of my father.  If I am trying to describe to you my relationship with my Heavenly Father do you instantly think of my father?  Or, your own father?

I believe some people hate God the Father because they are really thinking He is like their own father.  And their earthly fathers did not fulfill their expectations at best, and were evil to them at worst.  Satan can encourage real or imagined hurts to grow into bitterness.  So when I talk of my Heavenly Father what do I mean?

Jesus is the exact representation of the invisible God (Isaiah 1:16).

When Jesus was born He was called: wonderful counselor, mighty God, EVERLASTING FATHER, prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).  Because Jesus was and is God’s Only Begotten Son, He can perfectly represent God the Father to us.

So what is the character of this Father?  Jesus was patient, even when His disciples got it wrong again and again (as I would have gotten it wrong as well),  Jesus was kind, even when it cost Him.  And forgiving too.  He didn’t repay evil for evil.  When He was dying on the cross He prayed for His murderers (the religious leaders) and tried to help them discover His Forever Love by reminding them of Messianic Scripture.  Though God the Father created all things by Him and for Him, He was not proud.  He humbly seeks a relationship with us.  He never forces Himself on us.  He doesn’t hold our past mistakes and sins against us.  He loves us with all that He is no matter what we do or what anyone or anything else does.  He believes the best about us and encourages us to become all He created us to be.  He does not fail.  (See I Corinthians 13 and substitute “Jesus” for “Love”).

Does this sound like a Father you would like to have?  You can.  Just ask Him to forgive your wrongs and come into your life and heart.  He is waiting.  And you two have so much to talk about!

Wisdom, Humility and Real Life

James 1:5 NKJV

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 4:6 – 10 NKJV

6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:     “God resists the proud,     But gives grace to the humble.”  7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. 

Naturally, in and of myself, I don’t have any wisdom at all.  I become painfully aware of this sometimes when God removes His wisdom from me.  Then I realize that if my own wisdom was dynamite I wouldn’t have enough to blow my nose.  God is the source of all true wisdom.

I used to write these posts for the local newspaper, accompanied by a meaningful photo.  After writing them weekly for two years I became proud, thinking I was writing them out of my own wisdom, out of my own power, out of myself.  I knew I was getting proud, but I couldn’t shake it.  My pride got in the way of hearing from God to write the posts.  And eventually I had to quit writing them.  And I couldn’t write another until eight years later.

There is a relationship between wisdom, love and pride.  Wisdom is the practically working out of love for God, others and ourselves in our daily lives.  Pride is the opposite of love.  Pride cuts off the ability to hear God’s wisdom because we seek glory for ourselves and so it results in a fall, or the destruction of our lives.

God knows we all have a problem with pride.  That’s why He sent Jesus to take the punishment for our pride.  God said to humble ourselves under His mighty hand and in due time He will lift us up.  He doesn’t lift us up the way this world does, that is, by making ourselves “greater” than others.  He lifts us up by making us like Himself, by making us able to be a loving servant like Him.  Humbling ourselves and loving and serving others is real glory.  And this real glory, when we humble ourselves, and love God with all that we are and others as much as ourselves, is just breaking even in God’s sight.  It is the minimum God expects from each of us.  We are no “greater” than anyone else.

And that’s the way we would want it isn’t it?  We want others to love us as much as they love themselves.  But, we don’t want them to feel “greater” than us by doing so.  It is just what is expected.

But loving others this way is impossible in our natural selves.  When we are born our spirits are dead.  But, when we confess our sins to God and believe that Jesus paid our sin debt in full (when He died and rose from the dead), God gives us the Person of His Spirit that is alive and willing and able to do all that God asks.  We then are able to choose to follow God if we want to follow Him.  And when we choose to follow Him we find out the reason He made us.  We find real life the way God intended it to be.

 1 John 5:11-13 NKJV

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Matthew 10:39  NKJV

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Today, right now, Jesus is calling you.  And if you listen to Him, and respond to Him, you will never be the same.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

So if Jesus pays the bills, what do I do?

Jesus Christ said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NIV84).

 Jesus isn’t against working hard (for the right reasons). Jesus isn’t  against planning for the future and putting something away for a rainy day.  I think the point of this verse is Jesus wants us to see our value to God.  And to know that if God cares enough about birds, to supply them with what they need to survive, He will with certainty care about us, to give us all that we need.  He wants us to stop worrying about what only He can provide, and wants to provide, for us.

Now, God doesn’t take the worm and bring it to the robin and put it in her and her young ones mouths.  The robin has to use its God-given abilities to hunt for the food and take it to her family.  We are no different.  We have to do what God wants us to do.  When God fed the Israelites manna from heaven they had to go out and collect it and grind it and bake it.  God does what only He can do, we do what we He tells us to do.

I think God wants us to trust Him for everything.  From trusting Him about food, clothing and shelter, to trusting Him enough to give Him back His 10% of our gross income by giving it to the local church.  And, trusting Him to make the other 90% meet our needs.  I think we also need to ask Him what He wants us to do with the skills, abilities, knowledge, and particularly the ability to practically show love to others, He has given us.

But, the process of growing in trust is HARD for me.  It involves risking the seen for the promise of the unseen.  I can risk looking stupid at times.  I can be at odds with society.  Hey, I didn’t have Christian role models in my life when I was growing up so I’ve never seen this done before.  As the Christian pop singer Carmen might say: if I step out on nothin’ will I find somethin’ there?  But taking the chance of obeying Him is the only way I can find out if He is trustworthy or not.  Jesus said that if anyone does His word he will find out if Jesus is from the Father.

I used to be afraid to tell Him I will obey anything He asks (okay, I still am a little;-).  Now that I have obeyed Him several times I have much more confidence that He is as good as He says He is.

As Charles F. Stanley might say, “[Trust and] obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him.”

Will Jesus pay the bills?

When I was a child I depended on my father to supply my needs.  I didn’t wonder where my next meal was coming from and I didn’t worry about how the mortgage payment would be paid.  My father loved me, I was his, and I assumed he would take care of me.  And he did.  Jesus said that to enter the kingdom of God I and you need to become like children.  We need to trust our Heavenly Father like I used to trust my earthly father.

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV84).  Jesus said that He would supply our needs if we trusted Him as our Lord (His kingdom) and Savior (His righteousness).  He also said, that we could not serve God and Money.

We need to make a choice as to whom we want to trust.

We can see Money.  We can predict what Money will do.  And when we make Money our master we are deceived into thinking we control Money and that we are the master.  And it is very “normal” and natural to love Money.

But to trust God for the daily basics of life is not natural.  And very few people trust God with their lives.  We can’t control Him.  And we can’t predict everything that He will do or want us to do.  And we can’t even see Him.

So why do I attempt to make Him my King?  Why do I try to give up loving what I can see for the One I can’t see with my eyes?  Why do I trust Someone who lived 2000 years ago?

What I can see with my eyes doesn’t satisfy for long.  And then I need more and it still doesn’t satisfy.  Alcohol, drugs, sex, power, prestige do not fill the emptiness of the human heart.  Even good things like spouse, kids, work, and church busyness are empty without Jesus.  In the end, depending on this world that we can see, touch and hear will leave you helpless and hopeless.

The emptiness we feel and search the earth to fill was designed to be the home of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.  He made you, He loves you and He died in place of you so that your sins could be forgiven.  Then He rose from the dead to give you a new heart, and a new living spirit.

Jesus loves you and wants you to know Him personally and have your soul satisfied with His infinite love and eternal care for you.  And you can know Him right now.  Agree with Him about your wrong attitudes and actions.  Ask Him to forgive you and to fill the empty spot in you with Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Then tell others about Jesus.  Read the Bible.  Find a church that believes the Bible and preaches it.  (And tell me about it, I would love to pray with you!).