I often hear Christians and non-Christians painting a picture of Christianity in a very primitive state based on their understanding. What I mean is that they are still looking at scriptures and saying what they see instead of what they understand. The problem: When you take what you see in scripture and never look beyond it, all you get is a form of godliness. When you study and gain an understanding you get the form and function.
So for instance John 13:23-24, “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. This is a very “easy” verse to understand, but what you walk away with will depend on your level of maturity. Some people see the fact that there is a “commandment” in the first verse. This same person that sees the commandment will tell you that Christ commands us to do things. They will then begin to process their relationship with God based on a slave/master relationship.
Maturity doesn’t even see the word commandment. Maturity emphasizes the function of this verse and only sees the love. The mature person does not feel “forced” to love. They don’t think that there is a negative consequence waiting on them if they don’t love. The mature person, based on their understanding, has a heart so soft toward God that the willingness to “do” comes from an inner desire to please God and not a fearful expectation of being punished by God.
Spiritual maturity compels us to forgive, not because someone asked us to, but because God has forgiven us. We love, not because the object of our love makes it easy, it’s because God first loved us. We help one another, comfort one another and pray for one another, not because of a command, but because of what we understand.
Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
There is a serious need for Christians to move on to maturity and stop debating the gospel and start sharing it; to stop scaring people to be obedient and start encouraging people to be.
In January we tried to start the year new.
February was the month to build new relationships or strengthen old ones with the help of cupid. It didn’t work.
In 2013 March brought us the memory of the resurrection as we pondered our relationship with the cross. We felt guilty.
April always fools us. We’re fooled by people and things and we suffer loss of income, respect and dignity.
In May and June we remembered our parents, but failed to do anything more meaningful than a visit. We try, and try and try and there just isn’t enough time in a day. These visit are probably the most sincere things we’ll attempt all year, but we have a hard time going beyond that.
We celebrated our independence in July. The freedoms we enjoy allowed us to over spend, over indulge and over react. We came out of the month with one truth — it’s hotter than hell in July.
August meant nothing to us. Only emptiness and uncertainty wondering what the rest of the year would bring….
September was a reminder that we have to work. We must work for our living and work to pay taxes for other people’s living and work to support our government. The ninth month reminds us that there is no rest from our labors.
October is full of tricks and lies. It lies about the treats because they never existed. And all that’s left is tricks. We live in a world full of unmet expectations and unused potential. The only thing that really happens in the month is that we get tricked.
November we’re supposed to be thankful and in December we are supposed to be at peace. That doesn’t happen either so all we get is tricked.
Dear significant other,
Since I regularly participate in May and June, I won’t April you. I’m December and I’m November so despite what happens in September, October and August, our February will be July. So let’s January!
You ever wonder how a person can respect someone when they constantly treat people bad or hurt people’s feelings? How is it that people who run around with a sense of entitlement get placed in these positions of power only to be self serving and not look out for the best interest of the people that serve them?
Romans 13:1-2 says, “1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation (KJV).”
There is a valuable lesson in authority. Whether the person with the authority acknowledges God or not, the source of his power is God. The person who is in authority has a responsibility to God in using their power, whether they want to acknowledge God or not.
We, the subjects of these authoritarians, have a responsibility to power and authority. I can disagree with a higher power, but I still have the responsibility to respect that power because it is God given.
Respect and obedience are two different things even though the outcomes may look the same. I can have a boss who perceives me as a threat and mistreats me because of his feelings. Someone looking from the outside might see my submission to my boss despite the way he treats me and ask, “why are you so obedient to him?”
Obedience is a reaction. Respect is an action. A person can choose respect, but obedience is a reaction — normally to fear. Nowhere in Romans 13:1-2 does it use the word fear. It gives a statement of fact and then behavior that should follow. I want to honor God in everything that I do and I have learned that God places me in positions where I get the honor of showing him how much I want to honor him. That may come in the form of a challenging boss, estranged relationship, dealing with a stranger or challenges within myself. In all cases God has placed me in a situation that I can demonstrate who I belong to and more importantly who I serve.
As a result, I am not a slave to circumstances because I know he is in control of them. I am not oppressed by authority as someone who has no hope and I bow down to no man.
God is supreme and still in control. I am now to live free because I believe this to be true. And how about you dear reader? Are you living this truth or are you a enslaved. Is your hope built on the power of the creator of the universe or are you still trying to sit in that seat yourself? Choose this day who you will serve!
If you are fortunate to live in an area where the seasons change, you have undoubtedly heard the phrase April showers bring May flowers. But metaphorically speaking, whenever there is a difficult time in our lives, we count it as a storm. Some storms are far worse than others, but nevertheless we go through storms. During these metaphorical storms we always want to do work. We think there is some deeper meaning to the storm or that there is some unfinished business we need to do. In a literal storm, we know not to go outside and we take cover as to be shielded and protected from the storm.
No matter which storm we are referring to, the latter is always true: We need to wait. The bible tells us in the book of James chapter one: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” This is the true purpose of the storm. We don’t like storms because they are so unpredictable. We don’t know what to do about it, there is no cry for help and we can’t control it. The only thing we can do is wait — and that’s the dilemma!
Wait literally means to stay in place with expectation or to remain stationary in readiness. We have such a problem with waiting and with expectations and that’s because we don’t want to be let down. The feeling of not wanting to be let down is cutting us off from our blessing. God spoke through his Prophet Jeremiah to his people of old and said, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” What the prophet forgot to tell us was that we were going to get the triumph from going through the trial. There is no way around this.
God has not forgotten us and he is not asleep. He’s where he has always been and he has done marvelous things! Do we not have the faith to wait? Do we not have the courage to stand despite the odds we face. God’s people are not fearful people. We never need to fear a storm for we know that our God is waiting for us in the midst of the storm. It is in the eye of the storm where you will find peace and joy and God’s love. He’s there. Trust him. Go through that storm and count it all joy because He has something to show you!