Once in a while, God will ask one of His followers to leave everything he has accumulated over a lifetime and move half way across the world as a missionary. He is asked to leave his home, job, car, possessions, and in most cases, even family members, all out of obedience to the Lord.
Most of us would have a very difficult time following in those footsteps, and for all sorts of excuses. ”I can’t sell my car, its less than a year old!”. ”I don’t want to sell my house, and I don’t trust it to renters.”. ”I can’t leave now, my parents aren’t getting any younger, you know.”. I’m sure the Lord has heard them all.
We can think of our various possessions as mooring lines on a boat, holding us fast in place. A home, a car, and a good job are all nice things to have, but with each of these things, our mobility tends to decrease. Worst of all, our possessions may take precedence in our lives over our Lord.
In deepening my relationship with the Lord, I sometimes find myself clinging to one possession or another, drawing the mooring lines ever tighter, even as I resist the change that God wants to make in my life. And what am I resisting really? If I untie the mooring line and let go of the possession that it represents, does it mean that God will immediately take it away from me?
Of course not!
Actually, it makes sense to me that the possession that God is most likely to take away is the one that I am clinging to most tightly. The one that I release into His control He will more likely allow me to keep. For, once I have let go of a possession, it is no longer a barrier to the Lord in my life. Once I have released that which I thought I could not live without, once that possession no longer occupies my heart and mind, I leave more room for the Lord to come in and engage me in an even closer relationship with Himself.
And finally, when I am able to cast off the last of the lines which tie my life to this world’s goods, the true Captain of this ship will be able to come aboard and pilot this vessel according to His will.
Lord Jesus, I pray today that You would teach me what it is like to live in the center of Your divine will. Amen.
By Mercy Me
This song encourages us to imagine what it will be like when we stand in the presence of Jesus, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
It is truly incredible to think about. Just imagine! Being face to face with our Savior! What will it be like to stand in the presence of the Creator of all things?
This morning at worship, our Pastor asked a very pointed question. He was using the Book of Acts, ch. 11 for an illustration (read especially, verse 26):
Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
26 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. - Acts 11:19-26
The question he asked was, if the “Antiochians” had followed us around as they did the disciples of Christ, would they decide that we should be called “Christians” In other words, would the Light of Jesus show forth from us as it did from them? Or is our light hidden from the world?
Our Pastor was actually preaching from 1 Peter:
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11,12
So, the question asked by Pastor remains, do the people who know me think of me as “that Christian guy”? Or do they just say, “Oh yeah, that John guy is pretty cool!”?
Or, to put it another way, into which Kingdom do I fit better, the Kingdom of God? Or the Kingdom of this world?
The earthquake was recorded by the monitoring station. Jesus Mendoza watched as the seismograph scored jagged lines on the drum of paper. It looked like it might be a big one. On the other hand, it might be that the epicenter was close to the seismic sensors and that the earthquake was really quite harmless.
In either case, Jesus was on the phone, setting up a conference call with other monitoring stations even before the last diminishing shock waves had been recorded on the seismograph. After a few minutes consultation and some hasty calculations, a first approximation of magnitude and location was made, and this was no harmless temblor, this was a monster!
The epicenter was about 2500 miles out in the Pacific, a few miles under the seabed, in very deep water. But the magnitude was what was most troubling. According to their calculations the earthquake was somewhere between 8.7 and 8.9 on the Richter scale. And, as with any quake that large, tsunami was a very real danger.
And then Jesus remembered that several months ago, two families had set up residence on a tiny island a few miles off shore. The island was so small it didn’t even have an official name, and Jesus wondered how they ever expected to survive. But there they were.
Jesus knew what he had to do. As soon as the conference call ended he ran from the station down to the boat dock only a block away. Once there, he borrowed his friend’s skiff and made for the tiny island as quickly as the boat was able to carry him. The island occupants had no idea what danger was coming. It was up to Jesus to save them!
When he got to the island, Jesus ran the boat up on the beach and killed the motor. Getting out, he tied the boat off to a nearby tree so it would not drift away and ran for the nearer of the two huts. Thank God the family was in the hut! In fact, both families were there, sharing stories and food and each other’s company.
Jesus rushed into the house and began to explain excitedly about the tsunami. He pointed out that the island had no high ground, no place of safety. Then Jesus admonished the inhabitants to make haste and come with him in his boat, so that they would be safe.
One family readily accepted Jesus’ offer, but the second family refused. No amount of pleading would convince them. Their attitude was that there was no danger, for there was nothing out of the ordinary to be either seen or heard. Therefore, they would be safe.
Finally, for the safety of the family that had agreed to go with him, Jesus was forced to leave the island with the agreeable family and leave the refusing family behind, know that they would surely die in their ignorance.
I’m sure that this parable was quite transparent to most people, in fact, I am hoping that it was.
I am too often amazed at the number of people who are convinced that either sin is not a problem that concerns them or that the Gospel of Salvation is nothing more than a fairy tale that can be safely ignored. And often it is both! The prince of this world has done his job well!
I am impressed that we as believers must never cease to take every opportunity to share the Gospel with any who will listen.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son…” the verse goes. God has already given it all to save a world of lost and helpless sinners, because of love. Now it is up to us, as lovers of Jesus, to give our all for Him!
Father, I pray for opportunities to witness to Your love and grace. Amen.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – Eph. 6:12 KJV
In this same passage, Paul instructs his readers to put on “the whole armor of God” that they may be able to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand“.
The fact is, every believer, myself included, is an enemy of this world. By accepting the Lord Jesus as my savior, I have become a target of the principalities and powers that rule over this world. Satan knows that he cannot steal my salvation away from me, because that is a gift to us from God. He does however have a great interest in rendering believers such as myself, ineffective for the ministry of the kingdom, and all too often, he is successful!
As one born to this world and to its evil, it is a daily struggle to live apart from this earthly kingdom. But as a child of the King of Glory, I yearn daily to serve my King with ever greater devotion.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, I read:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
This is the promise, a guarantee from God that He will allow no temptation into my life that I am not able to overcome. That is His promise to me. And wearing the whole armor of God is the means that He has provided for my success.
The first thing I notice about Paul’s instruction concerning the armor of God is that he says that I must put on the “whole armor“.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Eph 6:13
When our enemy is the devil, putting on only a piece or two is not an option. It is the whole armor, or nothing. Not that I would suggest not wearing any armor at all, but unless I put on the whole armor, it may as well be nothing at all. I am to wear God’s truth, righteousness, preparation of the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God. A tall order, to be sure. It’s a good bet that the armor of God does not find its way “onto” me by accident.
No, wearing the armor of God is an intentional act that requires time in the word, prayer, and above all, practice. Daily practice!
But living outside of the influence of Satan is something that I can daily strive for, and, I believe is achievable. For God commands through Peter:
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. - 1 Peter 1:16
I am convinced that our God does not demand of His children that which they are not able to obey. Therefore, I continue to strive daily to live apart from the world and its constant bombardment of temptation, and to live for God, and the holy life that He desires for me.
Worthy is the Lamb,
The Lamb Who was slain,
Holy, Holy is He
A beautiful song of praise and worship to our wonderful Savior!
In Jesus, there is unbounded joy!
Let us Rise up and worship the Risen King of Glory!
Hallelujah! He is risen from the dead and lives inside us!
Perhaps some who read this will remember the great science fiction story by Robert A. Heinlein. For those who do not, Valentine Michael Smith, the main character of the story, was a Martian, brought to Earth by explorers of the Red Planet. The majority of the story revolves around Smith, an outsider to anything and everything of Earth, including its culture, traditions, and etc. Slowly, and many times painfully, he integrated himself into the society that we take for granted. Over time, Earth changed Smith, and the reader must decide whether the change was for the better.
I find myself in quite the opposite situation. Like Smith, I too am a stranger in a strange land. But the Earth is not my home.
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. – Heb. 11:10
Like Abraham, my home is a city built by God. And what a city it is!
2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. - Rev. 21:2-5
Imagine! A city where the King of Glory dwells with His people! That is my home, the place my heart yearns for! But for a little while, I must dwell in this strange land, a land where darkness reigns. It is a land where distraction and temptation lies at every turn, where I am hated by its rulers, and where the battle for my heart and mind rages forever a constant in life.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – Eph. 6:12
Thank You, Eternal King of Glory, for calling me out of this darkness, and into Your Eternal Glorious Home!
In response to “Was The Garden Of Eden A Prison”:
A very well written article with a very interesting and provocative, thank you Marjorie!
I have been thinking a lot myself about the spiritual reasons for our nation’s predicament recently. We have a tyrannical President, a decidedly left leaning, dependency focused Senate, and a House of Representatives, that, even though there is a Republican majority, is totally inept at using that majority and so, caves to the demands of the “Big Government Left” again and again.
Then I look at where we are as a nation, with a majority of our citizens giving only lip service to their Creator, if that, with murder (abortion) on demand, and with the acceptance of homosexuality being taught in our schools. And I wonder, is God using our current circumstances as a warning that we are drifting far far from where we need to be in relationship to Him?
When I read the Old Testament stories of God’s dealings with the nation of Israel when they went their own way and left God, I see some interesting parallels. True, God has not empowered the enemies of the United States to take us into captivity, nevertheless, our Constitutional form of government that guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is fast slipping from our grasp. It would not be a far reach to say that our American way of life is being taken into captivity.
So, my question is, what must change to reverse our current course?
At this point, I fear that even a turn toward Conservatism would be only short lived, and that within an election cycle or two, we would find ourselves right back where we are now. And I say this because of the reasons listed above. So long as the heart of America is in disregard of her Lord, little we do will be of consequence until her heart is turned back.
I strongly believe that the only hope for America lies in the following biblical passage:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 CHR 7:14, KJV
It is time for America and Americans to pray.