Life in an Upside Down World

I’ve been writing about the upside-down kingdom of God. Losers will be winners, the last will be first, and the marginalized will fit in.

The biggest loser in the history of this world is Jesus Christ. He was poor, rejected, beaten, buried in a borrowed tomb, but now he is seated on the throne in heaven directing the affairs of this world and waiting for us to come home.

In the meantime, what are we to do?

For starters, we shouldn’t look down on people. We don’t have a full picture of their lives and kindness goes a long way to lifting them up a bit.

Everyone lives on God’s grace, sinner and saint alike. God’s blessings fall on both the righteous and the evil doer. We’re all takers. The only thing we’ve earned  is the wages of sin.

Be grateful. We once were alienated from God, but now we have been drawn near by sheer grace. God set his love on us, not because we were great human beings and deserving to be in the family, but because he chose us, pure and simple. We’re just as nasty as the next guy.

Tell others about this wonderful God we love and serve. That’s our reason for living. To glorify God and enjoy him forever. There’s nothing that gives more joy than witnessing for Christ. Even if we do it badly, it’s worth it, and God takes the mistakes and turns them around for good. So forget about feeling like a failure. There are no failures if you’re telling someone about Jesus.

Talk to me.

 

No Despair

Jesus has removed your burden of striving for God’s approval. He has taken away your self-help attempts of winning God’s love. You don’t have to clean yourself up to be presentable and acceptable to God. The world wrestles with that. It battles guilt and shame and an over-burdened conscience of law keeping, whether it’s one of its own making, or the real list of moral commands from the bible.

There are really only two camps to be in: the one of self-effort, like a gymnasium, full of sweat and exertion, or the one of surrender because you can’t conform to any of it.

There is more hope of finding the gospel in the camp of the dejected than in the camp of the proud. FullSizeRender (21)

Today, if you find yourself feeling hopeless, you’re in a good place. It means you know you don’t have the answers or the strength for living life well.

None of us do. It just takes some of us longer to realize it than others.

Don’t despair.

Look up.

Jesus lived life well for you.

He obeyed God for you.

He loved God with all his mind, heart, will and strength for you.

He served God perfectly for you.

He also paid the price for your sins on the cross.

He was the Perfect Man who was well pleasing to God.

And if you believe in him, then God has given you his Son’s perfect record as your own.

That means when God looks at you he sees you as never having sinned, ever, and as never having had a sin nature.

He only sees Jesus in you.

You need joy today? Read this post again!

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adoption Matters

I’ve known a few people in my life who were adopted as children and the longing of their hearts was always to meet their real biological parents.

Everyone wants to know where they came from. That’s a common desire.

As a Christian, have you ever asked yourself where you came from? And why was it that God chose you to be in his family?

Let me start by saying that it had nothing to do with you!

Once upon a time, before the world was made, God decided to give his Son a people as a gift.

Those people were known only to God before they were ever created.

These people had one common purpose: they would glorify God by imaging the Son.

If you have faith in Christ today, you are one of those people.

God chose you.  photo-37

God drew you to Christ.

God clothed you in Christ.

For the purpose of being holy and blameless.

It was God’s love to his Son that he adopted us into his family for the glory of his grace.

The fact you love the Lord and believe in him was all God’s plan for you.

Check it out. Read Ephesians chapter 1.

And start praising!

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

What’s in Your Church Lately?

Have you ever wondered what the purpose of the church is? Is it a place to get your needs met? A place to hang out with like-minded friends? A place to get a shot in the arm for the week ahead?

Nowadays more and more churches are like that.

I hate to say it but we’re not allowed to re-purpose the church to our liking or to meet the needs of the culture. God didn’t give us pastors to be inspirational speakers, or comedians, or storytellers. And he certainly didn’t give us pastors to be our life coaches either.  For that you have movies, TV shows, and TED Talks.

So what’s the purpose of the church anyway if they’re not clubs for the cool, support networks for tech families, or places for therapy?

According to the bible, God has given the church three mandates:

  1. The worship of God
  2. The maturing of believers
  3. Bringing sinners to faith  img_8865

If our churches aren’t doing this, then we need to ask if it’s a true church.

What tools is the church to use for the worship of God, maturing the saints, and bringing sinners to faith?

The gospel.

The teaching and preaching must be the gospel. It’s the only tool God promises to use that is powerful and accomplishes its purpose.

The gospel is not inside of us by nature. That’s why we need to hear it from the outside. The church is where this is done in song, in prayer, and in preaching.

It’s not only the pastor’s responsibility, it’s all of ours. We need to be specialists in the gospel so we’re able to share it, counsel it, and tell it to others.

As private Christians we have many assignments in life, but the church has only one: the preaching of the gospel.

And we need to be reminded of the gospel every week, no matter how old we are in the Lord.

The gospel is not only for sinners but for Christians as well.

Talk to me.

How to Be Happy

Why are so many people unhappy?

Why do so many people say they hate their jobs?

Why do others break off relationships, some of which have lasted a lifetime?

And why do others become slaves to alcohol and drugs?

At the bottom of their reasons is a desire to be happy.

Everybody wants to be happy. No matter who you are, where you are, or what you do.

I believe God wired us for happiness. This is not something we have invented. It’s part of our DNA as God’s image bearers.

But, as we all know, sin has marred everything, including this longing for happiness. Now we look for it in all the wrong places, especially in other people, only to be disappointed in the long run.  IMG_7161

Real happiness comes from knowing and enjoying Christ. Everything else is Hollywood. You have a choice – it’s a question of lavish feasting with him or settling for scraps the world offers.

We are born craving approval, acceptance and love and resisting the one Person who can give it to us. What fools we are. It can be ours in Christ. We don’t have to earn it, grovel for it, or hope for it. It’s ours the moment we believe.

We are wired for intimacy and we have it in Christ, as a gift. God has placed us in Christ’s kingdom and we have been drawn into the fellowship not only our Savior, but God the Father and the Holy Spirit. What can be more amazing than that? As C. S. Lewis said, it’s time to drop those mud pies in the gutter and take that holiday by the sea.

What are you doing about being happy today? Looking at your career, your marriage, your retirement, your shattered dreams, your own heart? Don’t waste your time. Look to Christ and you’ll find it there.

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Write Your Story

Once upon a time stories were for children. Now they seem to be usurped by almost everybody – big business, airlines, pharmaceutical companies, the automobile industry, everything is fair game even down to the toothpaste yuo use.

The truth is we’re wired for story. Our brains respond to them. And for some of you, you are a slave to your story. It’s the one you play in your head everyday. It can be a traumatic event, an emotional decision, a deep hurt, an unfairness, whatever it was that left a wound in your soul.

Instead of replaying it over and over again, replace it with a better story.

Sounds crazy?

It’s not.

What better story, you ask?  IMG_1415

The one that has you in Christ’s story. It’s the one that starts like this:

Once upon a time God created a perfect world and handed it over to his children, Adam and Eve to take care of it, but then they disobeyed him and plunged themselves and everybody after them into sin. When God saw the mess they had made, he realized only he could fix it. So he sent his perfect Son to earth in the form of a perfect man to live and do what Adam and Eve and the rest of us failed to do. Jesus lived to please God and then died on the cross to pay the price for your sins. His perfect life and record is now yours as a gift from God to you. All you need is faith in Christ to get it. The moment you receive that gift you step into Christ’s story.

What is true of you now?

You have a new Father who loves you. He is unlike any earthly father you’ve ever known.

You have a Savior who fixed your biggest problem – your sin that kept you from God.

You have a new identity – you are a child of God with all its privileges, including an inheritance.

You have a new family – your brothers and sisters in Christ.

You have a new future – living in the new heavens and the new earth for an eternity.

You have new support – the church.

You have a calling – the Holy Spirit has given you spiritual gifts to serve God with.

So what are you waiting for?

Dump the old story today and start telling yourself the new one!

Talk to me.

An Awesome Name

Did you know God is the only one who names himself?

El means power. Elohim. Pushing back the chaos and establishing order. You see this on display in the creation of the world. God can push back the chaos in your life. Nothing is beyond his power.

Yahweh is used 5,000 times in the bible. It’s his most important name.

Think Passover. The parting of the Red Sea. The drowning of the Egyptians.

He is a face-to-face promise-keeping God. The burning bush. Moses on the mountain. Jacob wrestling with the angel. IMG_8004

God wants us to think of him as the trustworthy God.

He’s not Mr. God, formal and aloof in a black suit behind a desk.

He’s known as Yahweh Jireh. The Lord sees and provides. The ram in the thicket. Manna in the wilderness. Jesus on the cross.

Yahweh Rapha. The Lord heals you. He turns your Marah into sweet water. Jesus heals you body and soul.

Yahweh Nissi means God is your banner. You cannot be defeated. God went to war for Israel. He stands shoulder to shoulder with you today.

Yahweh Sabaoth. He is the host of heaven. He brings the armies. He defends you.

God has now visited you in Jesus. It’s permanent. He didn’t slip out of his body like a garment when he returned to heaven. He stays a man forever and lives there. He remains a man who sympathizes with you and prays for you.

Celebrate his name today!

 

 

 

 

 

Safely Home

Was the Exodus a splashy demonstration of God’s power?

Absolutely.

Who else could have mobilized millions of people with their animals and belongings across a body of water like that?

Not even Disney World.

But why did God do that?

Because God had set his love on these people and they were being abused by Pharaoh.

“Time to get up and leave!” God said to them one night.

But was that all there was to it – to usher out a body of people into a new location?

Hardly.

God wanted to free Israel from slavery so they could serve him and sing his praises.

That’s what Israel was made to do, and that’s our purpose, too.

God is worthy of our praise and we need to give it to him.

We express our highest purpose when we celebrate his glory, and honor, and power.

The God who parted the Red Sea is not old and feeble. He’s still in the exodus business.

Every time a person comes to faith in Christ, he experiences his own exodus from sin and hell.

In the Exodus Israel was as guilty as Egypt. Israel deserved death as much as the Egyptians. They were all sinners.

But the waters parted for Israel while it drowned the Egyptians.

What was the difference?  Red Sea

God’s people obeyed by putting the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. A picture of Christ’s blood for the remission of sins.

It wasn’t because the Israelites were a better race of people. They weren’t. It was because they had the blood of the lamb on their houses which protected them from death.

And that’s exactly what Jesus has done for you. If you believe in him by faith alone, then you have experienced your own exodus in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

You are now free to serve God and sing his praises.

Are you doing that?

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

How Big Is Your Love?

Do we believe the cross is our Father’s ultimate expression of his love for us?
Or do we think that having our dreams and desires met is the litmus test of our Father’s love?

If our sin is the biggest impediment to the Father’s love, then the cross is His supreme gift to us. Why is that? Because it’s the only way to his approval. Nothing else will do. Igor Mitoraj2

Our problem is that we don’t fully grasp how sinful we are and how deep sin goes. It has twisted everything about us – our minds, emotions, will, and bodies. We are bent inward on ourselves, which keeps God out.

Each one of us lives in a world of our own making. Whose voice do we hear everyday? What thoughts do we think? What lies and fantasies do we entertain? What willfulness do we exert on others? Every atom of our being cries defiance of the living God. We are rebels in the world God created.

Since we’re as deformed as the Scriptures say we are, then the cross is our only hope of rescue and deliverance. We deserve death, not a make-over. And for that reason God killed us at the cross in Christ. Then he buried us with Christ. And when Christ was resurrected he took us with him so we would live a new life in him. See Romans 6.

We are so united to Christ that we are now new creations made in his image. His holiness and the fruit of his Spirit are now ours. And that pleases the Father immensely.

Christ won it all at the cross.

Thank the Father today!

Talk to me.

Shout!

If you think the bible is about good people doing wonderful things for God, you ought to read it sometime!

The fact is, the bible is about a wonderful God doing good things for bad people.

The only good guys in the bible are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Everybody else is bad.

That includes you and me.

There is none righteous, no not one.” – Romans 3:10

The truth is not a single soul can stand before God and say, “I’ve done my best.”

We haven’t done our best, not even on our good days.

If God is going to save us and use us and make something of us, He’s going to have to do it in spite of ourselves. Not because we read the bible every day; not because we give thanks before every meal; not because we never miss church; and not because we try to be good parents, friends and neighbors.

We are promise breakers, we’re not people of integrity, and we don’t measure up to our own standards let alone God’s.

We need a God for failures.

And that’s exactly what we have.

Jesus Christ joined the human race so he could become our substitute.

He lived the life we should have lived, obeying every one of God’s commands from the heart.

That means he won God’s favor and secured a place in heaven for us.

His righteousness was charged to our accounts, so that we with all our sins and failures are declared righteous.

What happened to our sin?

God charged it to Jesus’s account, he absorbed the penalty, and died in our place on the cross.

It’s all paid for.

We stand forgiven and accepted because of the work of our Savior.

HappyNow if that’s doesn’t put a smile on your face, sit down right now and read your bible!

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com