Sometimes we allow our feelings to get the best of us. Feelings are great, but not always accurate or trustworthy. Sometimes they quit on you when you really need them, and other times won’t go away when you wish they would. God has worked on me for a solid 15 years on this subject. I use to have a pretty good size mess because I would say or act on how I felt immediately. Do not misunderstand, there is a time and place for a reply, but only after it’s been thought through and analyzed. As Christians we are held to a higher standard that commands us to not live by our feelings, but to love one another as God loves us. People can also have a misguided understanding of God’s calling. Some think if it’s God’s call then everything will be butterflies and roses. I can tell you from the last year of our life, I feel we have been in God’s will every step of the way with these two little ones, yet we have experienced a lot of stress, tears, and frustration. We never planned it, our hearts resisted it, yet here we are a year later with four kids. Why? We knew it was God’s will, but it wasn’t the desire of our flesh. You see our flesh knew it would take money we didn’t have, patience we would have to mustard, and lots of grace. Basically a lot of work! So we had a choice be obedient and do the work, or allow our flesh to have its way. If we had passed on the chance to be obedient, we would have missed the most refining time in our life. God has shown up and out in our lives in ways we never could have imagined. I share this story with you to encourage you that God‘s call on your life sometimes comes with conflicting emotions. Do not let the desires of the flesh rob you of some of God’s most amazing blessings! Craig Groeschel states,”Obedience is our responsibility. The outcome is God’s responsibility.” Today if you are seeking God about His will I encourage to pray Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This verse does not mean God will give you whatever you want. It means when we acknowledge Him we are lining our self up under Him, which in return will allow His heart to be our heart. It doesn’t happen overnight, but God is faithful!!
Are you taken back by the question in the title? Does this almost offend you? Well Craig Groeschel wrote a whole book about it. Literally the gist is that we say one thing as Christians, but completely live our lives differently. For example, we state in our faith "the Lord will provide for all our needs" (needs not wants), yet we spend hours upon hours stressing about how WE will make it work. We proclaim that "Jesus is the peace that passes all understanding", but many Christian homes are not peaceful. We say adamantly "we should love one another", however when presented the opportunity to deal with a difficult person in love, we refuse. The list could go on and on. As Christians no one wants to hear us talk, they want to see us act. Those of the world want to find hope in something. They want to experience something different and unexplainable. In order for us to live like we believe it, it will require great sacrifice. It will require dying to ourself not only daily, but hourly, maybe even minute to minute. Without the proof of our actions, our words are just that, useless words. I am reminded of the verse in Matthew, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
Wow, that stings!! Let’s ponder how our actions may not be matching up to our bold worship on Sunday.
Have you seen the new AT&T commercials “ok is not ok” where the surgeon pops his head into the patient's room and remarks "Are you nervous?" The patient replies, “Yes.” The doctor then responds, “Me too.” As he walks out of the room he throws over his shoulder, "Don't worry about it we'll figure it out." I don't know about you, but if I am having surgery I don't want ok, I want the best! The statement “it’s ok” simply implies, it will do, its not great but whatever, and in general settling for second rate. Sometimes I feel like maybe we are being lackadaisical in our faith toward the Lord. Are we offering the Lord our best, or are we like the commercial "its ok." I want to remind you today, as God has reminded me, why it is so important to take your faith serious and evaluate your life as we head into 2019.
This week I was studying my Sunday school lesson about the Passover. It was specifically speaking about the first Passover the Israelites experienced. If you are not familiar with the story, the Lord was freeing His people from Egypt, but Pharaoh was not cooperating. The Lord had sent plagues displaying His awesome power in order to give Pharaoh the opportunity to change his mind, but to no avail. The final plaque would be one of great sorrow and loss. God issued death over every first-born son in the household. In order to protect those who believed and served Him, God instructed the sacrifice of a lamb and blood to be placed above the doorpost. The death angel would pass over the houses with the blood, knowing they were children of the Lord. You see the Israelites were sure to follow God’s directions to the letter because their child’s life depended on it, yet in other times we find them in open rebellion. So what made this time different? Often whether or not you obey depends on what you feel you have at stake. I love how the book framed it. "The Lord brought judgment on every house in Egypt, both Jew and Egyptian. That night every household either had a dead lamb, or a dead son. For those who placed their faith in God and took shelter under the blood, the lamb took what the son deserved." I cannot even read this without getting chills. This was simply a foreshadowing of what Christ would later do for us on the cross. Jesus would shed his blood on the cross to pay a debt that wasn't His, but mankind.
If you have taken shelter under the blood of the lamb (Jesus), are you living like someone who has been spared his or her life, or are you flippant and casual about your salvation? Have you told anyone about Jesus lately? Have you shown an unnatural grace to those around you? Is getting the next material thing more important than doing God's will? Just as God sent judgment to the people in the Old Testament, one day He will send judgment again. If you are not under the blood you will spend an eternity in hell, but if you have taken refuge in Christ you will have eternal life. However, as Christians we will still stand before the Lord to answer for every word and deed. I just wonder if you stood there today would you be confident in your words and deeds. I can assure you the thought makes me shudder. My point is to be urgent to share the gospel with others, and to be diligent in your actions. If you found an amazing product I am sure you would share it right away. Why then hold back the greatest gift, which gives eternal life? Our Youth Pastor, Josh Boyd, preached, "to choose our own way is to reject the Lord." Let those words sit heavy on your heart. Every time we choose what the flesh desires; we are making a choice not to follow the Lord. The Bible is clear you cannot serve two masters. "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24
I pray that you will read the familiar scripture John 3:16 over again, and allow its meaning to wash fresh over you. Salvation cannot be earned, but freely given. Because Christ loved you so much, he sacrificed His only Son. What would it mean to give up one of your children? I dare say you would fight tooth and nail to keep them. How it must have broken God’s heart to turn his head away from His Son as Jesus bore all of man’s sins upon the cross. You were bought with a very high price because you are loved. I pray that God would allow His deep, agape love to consume you, that it may allow you, as well as myself, to become more urgent about living a life pleasing to the Lord.