Posted in spiritual

Love and Relationships

The picture above is excellent advice for those of us who are still single, but let’s consider this in terms of our current relationship with and upcoming marriage to Christ.

Many will never find God’s will for their life because they’re in the wrong relationship. Is our relationship with Jesus our primary relationship? Do we value another relationship higher than we value our relationship with Jesus Christ? Do we spend more time in another relationship? Whatever we value most will impact our behavior in every aspect of our lives.

While I was teaching in Belize this year I heard a sermon about idols. About identifying the idols in our life. Some of the questions asked were; What do you sacrifice your time and money for? What are you most worried about or most scared of losing? What makes you lose control?

As I sat in the small group listening to my own and others answers, I noticed a pattern. Family, children (I was in a group of moms) came up the most. Relationships. As human beings were we created for a specific relationship, us and God.

First there was God. Then Adam was created because God desired relationship. Then because we were created in God’s image, God said it was not good for man to be alone and he created Eve. Now Adam had two relationships. Now Adam had a choice. Whose relationship is most important to me? Whose opinion is most valuable to me? Who do I want to please the most, right this second?

When God lost in that decision, the human race faced a whole new world. A world of conflicting relationships, a world of choices. These choices confront us every day. Every day we have to choose what/who is more important to us.

Love leads to Jesus, not sin. It is hard to know what real love is, I don’t think that anyone really understands everything that is involved in real love. Real love seems to be full of decisions about what is best for the other person and for ourselves, about how the decisions I make affect the other person and our future relationship. When we are faced with decisions that are about immediate pleasure versus future rewards, the decision we make shows what we value the highest. Our personal pleasure for today or a relationship that lasts for a lifetime and beyond.

Don’t date just to do it, if marriage isn’t the goal then that relationship is pointless. Are we playing around with God while keeping our eye open for something that might seem like a better fit? Is Jesus the reliable, steady, secure, boring relationship that you fall back to when your current relationship falls through?

Jesus loves us. There is no question about that. Jesus wants to spend the rest of our lives in a vital and alive relationship with us. So much so that even in Revelation 3:16 Jesus says, ” So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” God wants a committed, permanent relationship with us, not an on again, off again relationship. Like every relationship, there will come a point where a decision has to be made. Will we or won’t we. What relationship is more important to us?

God’s timing may take a little longer than we want, but His will is better than our plans. This is almost self-explanatory. For us it simply means, when we make our relationship with God more important than anything else, the decisions we make may hurt now but the future rewards are more than worth everything we will endure.

Once we acknowledge that Jesus is our first choice, in life, in love, in business, and back it up by making choices that put Jesus first, then our life will begin to fall into place. Into His plan for our lives.

Posted in spiritual

Jeremiah 15:20

Have you ever had something you really didn’t want to do but you ended up having to do it anyway?

I love God. I love spending time with him. I love reading his bible. But, even though I have read the whole bible there were books I did not want to read for various reasons. Jeremiah was one of those books.

Having spent almost half my life fighting depression and anger, I did not want to read about a “weeping” prophet.

(You know, I’ve noticed something about God. Looking back I can see that almost every time I’ve said I don’t/won’t/will never do something, if it doesn’t contradict his word, I end up facing/ living/doing what I didn’t want to face.)

For the past several years the majority of my bible studies have been in Jeremiah and Romans.

Romans is the training ground for practical living of the Christian life. How to see yourself, how to see others, how God desires us to react to adverse situations. How to stand strong knowing who you are in Christ. But, Jeremiah…..

Jeremiah had a thankless, despised and spat upon job. He was prophet (truth speaker) to the nations in a time when they, like us today, didn’t want to hear the truth. One of the biggest things we are hearing nowadays is the “prosperity” preaching, the feel-good messages. The ones that don’t have anything in them about Jesus, about him dying on the cross to give us a permanent way out. It is rare to hear anyone speaking on the battle that takes place in our lives when we surrender control of our lives to Jesus.

In the book of Matthew we read about the sermon on the mount, the miracles, the healings, walking on the water, feeding the thousands, yet we don’t want to see the rest of Jesus ministry.

We don’t want to see the persecution of the Pharisees and Sadducees. We don’t want to see how his brothers ridiculed him and attempted to bait him to his death. How his hometown rejected his divinity so much so that he could not perform any miracles there. We read about Jesus casting out the demons into the herd of pigs, yet we don’t want to read about how he was cast out of that area afterwards because he impacted the finances when the pigs ran into the sea and drowned themselves. We want to see Jesus’ life as perfect, we want to believe that he was loved by everyone, that the only persecution, that the only pain he felt was at the end of his life.

We want to believe that Jesus can wave a magic wand and fix all of our problems. We want to believe that if Jesus/God really loves us that we will not have any problems/worries. We want to be cosseted, protected. We don’t want to know that there is a war going on. We don’t want to know that we are expected to be soldiers.

In Jeremiah 1:8 it says “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah was given the position not just of truth speaker but God’s truth speaker. A position not just of authority but of relationship. A relationship where he spoke back and forth with God, where he bared his soul, all his feeling of hurt, anger, desires for revenge, depression, isolation, rejection. A relationship where he dared to be more honest than we could ever imagine being.

Do we want to be that honest with God? He wants to be that honest with us. Jeremiah 15:20 states, “And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord.”

He wants us to know that we will be persecuted, we will face trials, we will face even death. Death of our desires, our goals, habits, ways of thinking and sometimes our very self. The fighting will not just come from strangers but even from those who have been the most important in our lives. Just remember , He is with you, He will save you and He will deliver you.

Posted in spiritual

How do you want to spend eternity?

Recently I read a quote posted by Tony Evans,

“God is more interested in our character than in our comfort, He is more interested in our development than in our destination.”

This got me thinking, Why? Why, would God be more interested in my character than in my comfort? Why, would He be more interested in my development than in my destination?

Isn’t He a loving God that wants all the best for His children? Doesn’t that mean spending His fortunes on us to give us everything that we could want? I mean, isn’t my comfort important? Why would I want to be uncomfortable, sick, cold, lonely/alone? Or what about homeless, hungry, unable (unable to do, to be)? Why would God want me to face hardships?

Do I really need to “develop”? Aren’t I something now? I mean, everyone’s always telling me I need to love myself, that I’m a good person, I’m fine just the way that I am. I know there are areas that I need to work on but aren’t I alright the way I am now?

What is our perspective?

I, am a being that will exist forever. I currently reside in a body that is named Esther Wilson. I know that this body will die someday but I, the real I, will exist forever. Now I have to decide how I want to spend forever.

This is not a new thought. One of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. In the movie he relives the same day over and over and over and over. An eternity. At first he thinks he can do everything he wants and can get away with it, and he does. Then he begins to think that he is god, “I’m a god. I’m not *the* God… I don’t think.” Then when he realizes that he still can’t get what he wants, he tries to get out, suicide. It doesn’t work. Now his eternity is filled with boredom. (I don’t want to be bored here and now, why would I want to be bored for eternity?)

Then something happens, he faces a situation that he can’t change the way he is now. (Has this ever happened to you?) He does everything he can to change this situation, but every thing that he knows still cannot change it.  What now?  He starts becoming invested in peoples lives. He starts trying to change peoples lives but everyday everything resets to exactly what it was before.

Then, he starts changing himself.

We are the only ones who control how we are going to spend eternity. Do we want to be afraid for eternity or have someone that we trust? Do we want to face eternity throwing temper tantrums because we don’t like what’s happening or facing the challenges head on knowing Someone’s got our back? Do we really want to spend eternity with ourselves the way we are now?

God wants us to have confidence in ourselves as we grow in Him. He wants us to be willing to change when we need to change and have the courage to stand tall and refuse to move when we’re told that right is wrong. God wants us to be perfect, mature, complete, mentally, morally, in our work ethic, in how we grow as people.

In the book of James chapter1 verses 2-12 we are told that hard times will come, testing will come. We are told to be joyful when there seems to be no reason for joy. (It doesn’t mean that we are to be happy bad things happen.) We are to be happy that through this there will be changes in both us and our surroundings that will lead to something better.

How do I want to spend eternity? I want to spend it with someone important to me. I want to spend it in a relationship that has had all the kinks knocked out of it already. I want to know him and his plans well enough to be able to hold a decent conversation that goes beyond the casual. I don’t want to be full of a complaining attitude or a grumbly heart. I want to be someone that he wants to spend time around. I want to spend it with Jesus.

How do I accomplish this goal? I fight. I fight for more knowledge of Him. I fight for more time with Him. I fight my own selfish desires and urges that accomplish nothing and benefit nobody, not even me in the long run. I keep learning. I keep teaching others what I know.

Now, what about you? How do you want to spend eternity?