So what’s new with you? God says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that we are a “new creature”. Be careful, though. Just going to church, saying nice words or singing some music isn’t going to make you a “new creature.” All that may make you “feel” better, but it won’t make you “be” better, and Jesus came to make you be better!
Your Adam nature is broken; it is enmity to God; it is what it is. Jesus came not to fix that broken thing, but to give you a NEW nature—His nature! He came so we could be transformed into something entirely and completely NEW…new command, new covenant, new and living way, new heart, new way of thinking…you catch my drift. Get with Jesus; He’ll make you brand new! Endure the fire…it's producing pure gold!
In Psalm 46 we read, “Be still and know that I am God.” More and more, I am convinced the first part of that command must be mastered long before the last part can come to fruition!
In all of us, there’s a slight awareness and wonder that there is something else besides what we can perceive with our senses, which brews beneath the surface of every human, whether they admit it or not. To hone in on these things is a delicate task that does not fare well in the hectic, busy, noisy, distracting culture of today.
But in order to nourish and be enriched in the inner life, it is imperative to carve out a precious piece of time with God. Practicing quiet, alone time with Him will be difficult today but in developing that habit of focusing on God, all else that is helter-skelter will soon settle down and be focused, too. The deep understanding of God and His ways will seep into your soul as you sit quietly and soak up His presence. Only then will you have peace in your heart and an ability to make the right decisions, have the right discernment of what you are to do and who you are to be.
Sh-h-h, quiet now and know that He is God! Endure the fire…it's producing pure gold!
"I'm done", "It's over", I'm through", "I can't do this anymore!" Ever find yourself saying or thinking that? Of course, as humans we have all been stretched beyond our strength; we reach the "straw that broke the camel’s back" stage.
So, what do you do? Well, you can run away, pretend the situation doesn't exist or, as some do, delve into the false fix of drugs, alcohol and sex.
Whether you are accosted by overwhelming circumstances or physical challenges – or both, you do have another alternative. The sooner you run to the Lord, the better. Neither your circumstances nor your physical situation may change, but how you view, pursue and accept what's happening definitely will.
I'm not talking about denial of your circumstances, delaying the inevitable, or living in a fantasy world of "happy thoughts" and positive thinking. I am talking about an actual strength and wisdom, the kind that you cannot get anywhere else but by trusting the Lord completely and relying on His empowering presence. And God is so very good that even if you don't choose Him first time around, He'll still be there to ease you toward Him so you can enter His rest. Jeremiah 31:25, "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." Endure the fire…it's producing pure gold!
Oh poor me, nobody likes me, everybody hates me. Feel like that some days? Get over it!
Some years ago, my friend Al Snow, the "combat photographer" for many veterans groups, gave me a small nail on a leather string. The nail has a square head and is a replica of the type of spike that was used as they nailed the hands and feet of Jesus to the cross. It is a constant reminder to me when I think I'm having a bad day of what a bad day Jesus endured during his agonizing death on the cross.
So if you feel rejected and despised, remember, so did Jesus. His life seemed riddled with rejection. His neighbors in his own hometown laughed at Him. His family wondered if He was losing His sanity. His closest acquaintances betrayed Him, and yet another even denied Him. To top it all off, His own fellow citizens in the nation of Israel traded His life for that of a murderous criminal.
When you top that – go cry a little; until then, do what Jesus did...He loved His enemies, He loved them through their unforgiveness, mocking and scoffing. So run to Jesus, he really understands what you may be going through. Endure the fire…it's producing pure gold!
Philip Yancey, a noted Christian writer, had the opportunity to visit New York City soon after the Islamic Extremists’ attack on 9-11. He made some observations in his devotional book, "Grace Notes”, in which he stated his admiration for the work of the Salvation Army in that situation. They offered so much assistance to the exhausted and suffering emergency responders and workers who filled the streets each day during that horrific time. Those responders and workers saw firsthand, the grim and destructive results of one group’s hatred against another and the Salvation Army was there to help them bear that burden.
But down there in the midst of all that death and destruction, Yancey saw yet something else…three booths set up in a building across from the WTC site: Police Officers for Christ, Firemen for Christ and Sanitation Workers for Christ (motley crew for sure!). The workers had asked the Salvation Army Chaplains to conduct two prayer services each day at the booth locations, and each was well attended.
What struck me as I read that was there were no booths marked as “Firefighters for Buddha” or “Police for Islam” or “Confucius for Comfort”. The intent of noting that observation is not to call attention to the absence of booths calling out to pagan entities at the site, but rather that when it all hits the fan—it is God people need, not religion. And God says if you seek God you find God; and if you find God in this era of time, you find Jesus. There is an innate “hole” in every human being’s heart that longs for the God of its creation. Some deny that longing and try to fill that hole with the empty and fleeting pleasures of life; and others try to fill that hole with ill-fitting pagan philosophies, but to no avail. But for those who find the living God, they find that missing piece that fits perfectly into the puzzle in their hearts.
From that day forward, their lives are never the same. And I am sure, that in the rubble of 9-11, many found a restored relationship with Christ. An enemy may debase and destroy the physical land on which you live, but none can destroy the territory that belongs to the Lord. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death”, Romans 8:1-2.
For some, that verse is totally misunderstood. Jesus did not sacrifice His life to give us permission to go ahead and willfully keep on sinning. Read it again—the Spirit of life sets you free, not to do whatever ugly thing may come to mind, but rather to set you free from sin and death…it’s freedom, not a free for all!
The urges of your broken Adam nature are enmity to God and far from His holiness. The Spirit of God within has the enabling power to assure that you do not sin, for if you walk by the Spirit you cannot walk by the flesh. The big “if” is that you have to choose to obey the leading of the Spirit within. The choice always belongs to you…serve God and live in wisdom, joy and fulfillment or serve the flesh with its immediate burst of pleasure and power. But after that, then you must endure the end result of the flesh: turmoil, troubles and eventual eternal death and separation from God.
Hm-m, put like that, I think I know whom I shall serve. How about you? Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!