Sunday, September 15, 2013

Get a LIFE!

Sometimes it's hard to be a Christian. I've always been a bit of an odd duck, and then when I came to know Christ, it became harder. Other folks my age seem to think that I don't enjoy life because I don't party or drink.  I don't watch a lot of movies. I talk strange, dress strange, and act strange. Many times other young people will pull me aside to give me advice. "Come ON," they say, "get a life!"

But the life God desires for His children is so different from that of the world. He calls Believers to a life of hardship that forces us to call on Him. He calls us to be radically different from the world, but promises to never leave us or forsake us. He calls us to be holy as He is holy. He calls us to fellowship with Him.

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: 
in Thy presence is fullness of joy; 
at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore." 
Psalm 16:11

The God of the universe desires fellowship with you. With me.

Isn't that incredible?

That, my friend, is what life is all about.

Is it an easy road? For sure not. In fact, Jesus told us it would be hard; that we would often be persecuted and friendless. However, following Christ is the most rewarding life in existence.

This is illustrated in the New Testament in the story of Mary and Martha. Remember? Martha was busy, busy, busy, serving the Master. Obviously, we are called to serve Christ, and someone has to make meals and keep house. However, Jesus commended Mary because she chose to put the other aside and sit at the feet of Jesus.

Does that mean that you and I should ignore our domestic responsibilities and instead embrace constant solitude "sitting at the feet of Jesus"? Of course not! It would not be long before the house would not be livable! What this means is that I need to live in a constant awareness of the presence of Jesus. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, God is there. With me.

I once heard a story about a woman who understood this principle so well that her grandchildren thought she was crazy. "She's so weird! It's like she has an invisible friend or something." Well, she did. Jesus is invisible, and He's the best friend a person could ever have. What a compliment it would be to be accused of talking of and to Jesus so much!

What is life? To know Jesus. His presence is more fulfilling than any other relationship you and I could have. His love is overwhelming, and His grace, empowering.

Do you know my Jesus?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Striving for Holiness

It amazes me how many times one can read the Word of God and still learn something "new." The Bible is truly the Living Word, and sharper than a sword.

Lately I've been reading through Paul's letters in the New Testament. In 1 Thessalonians, I read:

"...For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness..."

The word holiness seemed to jump right off the page. Holiness. What exactly does that mean? My Bible cross-referenced Hebrews 12:14, so I flipped a few pages.

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

Without a clear conscience and holiness, I can't see God. (Similar to Matthew 5:8) That brought more questions to mind. Is it possible for us to be holy, or is it a goal we ever strive for, but don't reach, until heaven? Daddy, mom and I discussed it over breakfast. Then it was time for that great big book, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, to come off the shelf.

Holy or Holiness comes from a couple of Greek and Hebrew words, but they all basically mean the same thing. Pure. Sacred. Blameless. Consecrated. The word carries the idea of "saint."

Is it possible?

My daddy says that you have "two dogs on your shoulder. One is the new man, and the other is the old. The one you feed is the one that will grow and get stronger." He explained that the new man is made holy by Christ living within. It's the old man that gives us trouble and must constantly be put in submission (purified, made sacred, consecrated) to the new man. So,

"As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." (1 Peter 1:15)

One clarification of what holy living looks like can be found in 1 Peter 2:9-12, but there are examples all over. Enoch (way back in Genesis) walked with God 365 years, and "was not, for God took him." Imagine walking with God and living a holy life, and God just whisking you away to his presence. Numerous passages such as Leviticus 19:2 and Ephesians 1:4 explain the importance of living holy.

However, as my daddy reminded me, holiness is not achieved by our own measures. 2 Timothy 1:9 alludes to this fact when it says

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus..."

Not by my works, my effort, my attempts at righteousness, but by HIS purpose and Grace.

Holiness.