Sunday, January 31, 2016

Authentic Christianity

A Spiritual Appetite
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst
after righteousness for they shall be filled Matthew 5:6
In the Beatitudes, Christ draws his followers aside and begins to share about the special kingdom that he is establishing.  Jesus paints the picture of an Authentic Believer.
Trying to satisfy our spiritual hungers we consume large quantities of physical things.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness  Matthew 5:6a
"Hunger" and "Thirst"
·       These terms speak of being passionate.
·       This craving is not occasional, but constant and habitual.
"Righteousness" = being right with God
Man is "wanting incarnate".
What you WANT determines what you SEEK.
What you SEEK determines what you BECOME (destiny).
Man BECOMES what he WANTS--"he shall be filled."
A Spiritual Passion To Know God:
·       Emphasizes the attitude of heart over execution of deed
Law magnifies the action, grace magnifies the attitude.
·       Must be an intense desire
·       The desire for righteousness must be continuous
The great bondage of religion is maintained by keeping our focus on the works of man instead of the person of Christ.  Philippians 3:8-10
To have a spiritual passion to know God reveals that we are in great need of God and creates a constant appetite for God that can only be satisfied by God.
The desire must be for “righteousness” not happiness.  
The one who is "blessed" is not necessarily the one who achieves goodness, but the one who longs for it with a whole heart.
“For they shall be filled"  Matthew 5:6b
"filled" = stuffed, gorged - passive voice - done by God
The reward is RIGHTEOUSNESS!
Being right with God changes our behavior.
God's desire is that we desire.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you
the desires of your heart.  Psalms 37:4

Friday, January 29, 2016

Moved With Compassion

 (submitted by Kerry Patton)
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.””
Matthew 9:35-38
How Do I Love Thee…
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote in her brilliant work: How Do I Love Thee (Sonnet 43)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.

Now, that is a vivid attempt to describe one’s love.  At what depth and breadth do I love?  DO I really love others to the point that I am moved by compassion…as Matthew recorded of Jesus above?
In an article written for Leadership Journal in February of 2014, Tony Kriz wrote: Seven Lies Christians Tell.  Number Seven particularly impacted me:
 “We lie (Insidious and barbaric lying) when we pretend like we really, really, really love the other person when in fact we don’t.
·      We don’t love people when we dismiss their story (including their hopes values, beliefs and convictions).
·      We do not love people when we do not empathically listen to them, as opposed to spending that time formulating a counter-argument.
·      We do not love others when we reduce them to labels, caricatures, or opponents.
If we love, then we will find them shockingly beautiful and fascinating creations. We will find their stories riveting. We will radiate affection. Humans know deep down when they are or are not truly loved.”
Finally for today, I suggested that when we are moved with compassion, we are not merely moved to experience an emotion and express our concern over the situations of others.  Being moved with compassion compels us to respond.  Jesus illustrates this in his comment concerning how the harvest is plentiful, but laborers are few.  The reality of the harvest requires a response: Harvesters go therefore and conduct a harvest.  They do what must be done for the benefit of those who need it to be done.
In what realm will you and I be moved with compassion today?  Are we prepared not to merely feel sympathy or sadness at the suffering or need of others, but to formulate a plan and take action?  We are the hands of feet of our Lord.  Go therefore…and do…what he would do…In Jesus’ name.  Ready…. GO!

Almighty God, how I long to be meaningful this day for you.  I am surrounded by those who suffer and need intervention.  Let me be moved with compassion.  Let me spring into action.  Move me this day to be truly compassionate…to love. 

In Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Before We Can Know Acceptance, We Must Understand Rejection

Submitted by Donnie O’Fallon
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm34:18
Before We Can Know Acceptance, We Must Understand Rejection.
When was the first rejection on earth? It’s recorded in the first book of the Bible. God gives Adam and Eve everything they will ever need. He also gave them a warning, “Don’t eat from the one tree.” And what did they do? Ate from the one tree! Their direct defiance meant they rejected, not just God’s Word, but also God Himself (Genesis 2: 15-17; 3:6 ).
  • Rejection is the act of refusing to accept or consider a person or a thing that is not wanted or not approved of.
  • To be Rejected is to be cast aside, cast off, cast away, as having no value.
I wonder what Adam and Eve must have felt the day they rejected what God’s instructions? They hid themselves when their Creator came in the cool of the day to seek fellowship with his highest order of creation.
That day sin entered into the world. Death by sin, through Adam, was passed on to all men and as a result, “ we all fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That day God provided a covering for their sin and promised a covering for the sin of all mankind.
Before We Can Know His Acceptance, We Must Know The Price/Cost That was Paid.
“But God demonstrates His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Have you ever experienced a time when you were in the presence of Holy God and you felt the heaviness of your sin? For the first time perhaps you heard the voice of The Living God and you felt a strange tug as though you were being pulled toward God’s love and Acceptance out of that rejection. I remember an August night in a Revival meeting at the first Baptist Church in Corrigan, Texas at age 23, God offered me forgiveness and an acceptance through Christ when I acknowledged my sins and His Sovereignty.
There Are Three Potential Levels of Acceptance
  • There’s Zero Acceptance which says “I’ve done so much, I’ve been so bad, that God could never accept me.”
  •  There is a performance based acceptance which says, “ I will feel accepted by God when I can achieve what God expects of me.” Well friend He expects perfection, and we can never achieve that.
  • The final level is unconditional acceptance. That, my friend, is what the Grace of God is all about.

I understood that a year after I was saved. I Accepted Gods calling upon my life to be a Preacher of the Gospel of Gods Good News as I read these words: “You did not choose me but I chose you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit would remain, So that whatever you ask of the Father in my name He may give it to you.” (John 15:16)
A Promise to claim.

If you’re reading this, let me assure you that you have been and will be accepted by God too!He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

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