Friday, November 27, 2009

How Much is Enough?

Walking through the stores very early on Black Friday morning and feeling the throngs of shoppers snatching up as many deals as possible is an experience to challenge the rational mind. How much stuff do we need? What makes us willing to pay such a high cost to amass more stuff? Why do we continually seek something new and more powerful to meet our wants? Do we really need more? What is the root cause of desire?
Christmas is the season of many things, but for children in most Western countires the first thought is the presents. Even though parents and Christian teachers have labored hard to bring the emphasis back to God and the coming of Jesus Christ, nothing replaces Santa Claus and their desire to get more stuff. We may have created a monster, but the roots were there long before we watered the plant.
Even Shakespeare, in Troilus and Cressida, points out that desire is never satisfied and infinite in what it seeks. Likewise Paul would contrast the desires of the flesh as diametrically opposite to the law of God in the spiritual man. Fallen human nature, according to Ephesians 2, follows the desires of body and mind. Even Solomon, who had the capabilities of letting himself satiate every human desire from wealth and fame to sex, concluded that all is vanity and that it did not satisfy.
The problem is simple. Our flesh wants everything it can desire, but it doesn’t have the ability to know what really satisfies those desires. Once man is born again with a new spirit, his mind and desires must be renewed or changed by God’s desires, revealed in His word. As the word becomes flesh in us, our thoughts and desires are transformed to be like His. Then promises like Psalm 42 which declare how we long for the living God as a deer pants for water become reality inside our hearts. God is even pleased when we honestly admit our lack of desire for Him, and then ask Him to give us a hunger and thirst for Him.
So how much stuff is enough? Stuff may be useful but not helpful if it deadens or is sought in replacement of the true fulfillment that only comes from knowing Jesus and enjoying the presence of God. Once we know Jesus, His Spirit can lead us to the right amount and use of stuff. Ask the Holy Spirit to sanctify your desires and give you that which matters.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thank you, Jesus

Thank you, Jesus. Giving thanks begins with realizing that you have been given something valuable, beyond what you earned or deserved.
There are two sides of the foundational coin of thanksgiving. The first is admitting or knowing who we are and freely responding. The second choice is allowing an attitude of ungratefulness to settle in our hearts and suffering the consequences.
1 Corinthians 4:7 asks “what do you have that you did not receive?” In other words we brought nothing into this world, we did not create any of our faculties, aptitudes, or abilities that make us who we are, or do anything to cause us to be alive. God knew every aspect about us long before He knit us together in the womb. It isn’t that we have a checklist of twenty things we are thankful for, but rather there is nothing outside of the incredible treasure that we have been given. All any honest man can do is acknowledge he is blessed.
On the other side of the coin, the person who refuses to give thanks begins a downward spiral of delusion and pride. Romans 1:21 explains that “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The person who will not acknowledge God as his creator, usually demonstrated by being thankful for who he is and all he has been given, then no longer can think with true understanding and becomes captured by false desires. Verse 22 continues that this person claims to be wise but actually is a fool.
Giving thanks to the Giver is so simple and so right. The word of God continually exhorts us to humble ourselves by understanding what we have been given and walking in an attitude of gratefulness and obedience. Taking time to express thanks reminds us how blessed and valuable we are. God doesn’t need our praise and thanksgiving, He simply is worthy and has been incredibly good to us. We are the ones that need the right attitude in order to experience and enjoy the tremendous relationship that His gift has made possible. Come to Him right now with a simple, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fresh Mercy - Get It and Give It!

This morning a fresh blanket of snow covers the ground in the Denver area which reminds me of the blood of Jesus and the fresh mercy that He gives to start each day. Truly, God makes all things new for those who receive it. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, according to Psalm 23.
What an amazing God! Instead of rejecting us for our wrong choices and sinfulness, He has made a way for us to not only be forgiven but also to enjoy a perfect harmony and peace with God Himself. This gift is His mercy. Ephesians 2 reviews the consequences of our fallen flesh and then reassures us, “But God who is rich in mercy.” It certainly is not a coincidence that the presence of God in the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant, was the home for the mercy seat. Praise God that His nature does not change and He is continuing to be rich in mercy to each of us today.
The foundation of the word “mercy” is from the Latin word meaning “price-paid.” How true! God can afford to extend incredible mercy because of the total price paid by Jesus who freely shed His blood for every sin.
Joe Kuhlman, the father of the famous evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman, was mayor of Concordia, Missouri. One day as the city council was gathering for a meeting and entering the city building, a drunk pushed over the mayor as he stumbled into the revolving door. One city councilman said to Mr. Kuhlman, “Are you going to take that?” The Mayor replied, “Sure, I can afford to.” Obviously Jesus, who paid the supreme price, can afford to forgive and show mercy to you and me.
Since we did nothing to receive this priceless gift of His mercy, it follows that we cannot “un-earn” it. Naturally, we did not and do not deserve it. Yet God can do what He chooses to do. Thank God He has chosen to give mercy to us through His shed blood and He chooses to continue to give mercy to each of us. However, there is something we can do to show we are thankful and to continue to walk in it. Jesus declares in the beatitudes, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” His challenge to us is to demonstrate the mercy of God, which you have freely received, as a gift to others.
How much more magnificent in the eyes of God, than the beautiful fresh falling snow, would be the earth covered with the mercy of God. We are the instruments of His mercy. This morning, we are clearly reminded to receive and to show others that gift which is beyond human origin, the fresh mercy of God.

Monday, November 9, 2009


All things that are made, according to Hebrews 12:27, will be shaken so that only the things that cannot be shaken may remain. The question is what parts of our life are involved with the unshakeable?
A teenage boy spends hours playing Halo or some other video game mastering the fine points of how to reach the higher levels. A young girl reads all about the latest “hottie” in People or some other popular entertainment magazine. A man spends hours each day checking the latest sports news and scores as well as various favorite Internet sites which may even include some pornographic sites. Many people think nothing of spending several hours texting and posting on the various social media networks. What lasting effects or what practical value has these pursuits? Obviously, none.
Furthermore, the majority of people spend significant amount of time and effort to make money to spend on worldly comforts and pleasures. We strive to get the highest paying job that doesn’t require too much work or stress. We consider various luxuries such as the latest cell phones, high definition televisions, computers with high speed Internet connections, and various entertainment options as necessary expenditures, yet seldom consider the possibility of a higher and more unshakeable investment that could change lives forever. Would we be so nonchalant and secure if we knew that the vast majority of these activities will be shaken? Would there be a shift in the way we look at things and how we seek to spend our time?
According to Barna surveys the typical Christian spends less than a minute of the day talking to God or reading His word, and uses the other 1,439 minutes for mostly temporary things that don’t matter and will pass away. Jesus said that heaven and earth will pass away, but His word will not. Likewise in the parable of a wise man building on the rock instead of the sinking sand, the difference was hearing and obeying the word. There is a critical need to examine and determine what is built solid on Biblical principles in our lives. In other words, what parts of our life are unshakeable?
It isn’t even a question “what if” things were to change, the only question is when. Knowing this what type of person ought we to be? How can we begin to change? The answer is simple and yet completely profound. Read the word. Think about the word. Make our thoughts and ways line up with the truth of His thoughts and ways. What you think, what you desire, what choices you make that are consistent with God’s word, these will last forever and be unshakeable.