John 5:44 reads “How can you believe? While accepting glory from one another, you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God.” Commenting on this verse, A.W. Tozer said, “If I understand this correctly, Christ taught here the alarming doctrine that the desire for honor among men made belief impossible.” Certainly there are a few ways one could read this verse, but Tozer presents an interpretation which is at best sobering and at worst terrifying.

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We spend much of our lives seeking and accepting honor from others. In our Western culture, life is all about moving up and getting ahead. Even a casual look at our Facebook and Instagram feeds proves people are consumed with presenting their best and brightest moments while seeking validation from others.

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The Presidential election in the United States is winding down to its final couple of weeks. It’s difficult to look at a newspaper or a website without being bombarded with headlines of “Trump or Hillary”. Certainly I have friends and family with strong opinions on both sides of the question. I have my own preference and sometimes even a feeling of dread if the contest should swing one way rather than the other.

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I was praying about this and came away with a renewed and refreshed outlook on the election results. At the end of the day, the Trump or Hillary question shouldn’t matter at all to disciples of Jesus. Our allegiance is to Jesus and His Kingdom, not to any flag or Country.

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Do you want to know what’s really most important to you? Follow the money. Are you curious how close you are following the Lord? Follow the money. If you are wondering if your priorities are in order, well, you guessed it… follow the money. It’s easy to say we believe in something or hold some value important, but actions never lie. Neither does where we spend the money God has entrusted to our care.

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How we spend our money always tells the truth about who we are. Your bank account has no hidden agenda; it only has the mission you give to it. As pastor Aaron Brockett recently said, “Your heart will follow your money so send your money where you want your heart to be.”

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We live in a world obsessed with numbers. We count friends, likes, and shares of our posts and pictures on social media. We count the amount of money we have down to the last penny.  Perhaps the place we most fixate about numbers is at church; we boast about attendance, number of people baptized, and even the number of programs available to the attendees.

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It seems even more incredible to me when you read the Bible and realize the only number Jesus cares about is one. It’s because one represents you, the apple of His eye and the passion of His heart.

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Jesus said to pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44). I have a hard enough time making time to pray for my friends and family, so praying for my enemies has rarely made it high onto my priority list. I admit there was a certain sly satisfaction in knowing my prayers could heap piles of burning coals onto their heads (Proverbs 25:21-22). That’s more what I typically have in mind when I think about my enemies!

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Still, Jesus said if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. He didn’t say some of His commandments. His words certainly imply we keep them all. Thus, you must learn to pray for your enemies, and I must learn to pray for mine.

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It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. God can and will still use you if you let Him.  The Bible tells us even though we fall seven times, we can still get back up (Proverbs 24:16). Too many people use the failures of the past to disqualify them from the victories in their future.  If you are still breathing, God can still use you.

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No one is too low or too damaged to build the Kingdom of God. We limit ourselves by thinking God could never use someone who has done the things we have done. Since we can’t stop sinning, we think God has surely turned His back and run the other way. But these are just lies Satan loves to tell us.

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I learned (again) the hard way Satan is a master at stealing time. It’s amazing and more than a bit discouraging how you can be having a great day serving God only to see it fizzle into hours doing things of no Kingdom value. Without a consistent and diligent focus on how we spend our days, too many of them can be stolen away before we know it.

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While pondering that thought, it occurred to me maybe Satan isn’t so much a master at stealing time as we are at giving it away.God has put the gift of time at our disposal. Every breath we breathe is an endowment from Him. What God has given to us cannot be stolen. Satan has no power to do that. But as agents of freewill, it is within our authority to give away what God has granted to us.

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One of the most mindboggling facts of living is we were made to enjoy intimacy with God. That’s amazing. The One who created us and everything else in the universe wants to have an intimate relationship with each of us. He doesn’t just want to know us casually, He wants to know us inside out and to be involved in everything we do.

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The fact we so often reject His offer is hard to believe. Imagine if Jesus came to your door wanting to hang out. Would you turn Him away because you were too busy or had better things to do? We do the same thing to God every day and think nothing of it.

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In his book, “Renegade”, Vince Antonucci writes, “We want to follow Jesus and we want to live nice, safe, comfortable lives that are ‘normal.’ That’s a problem—because it doesn’t work. You can’t have both. Following Jesus means embracing a selfless, crazy, dangerous, God-obsessed life, and that’s something most people refuse to do.” 

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It’s disappointing discipleship is becoming somewhat of a buzzword in churches because few I’m aware of qualify discipleship with Antonucci’s definition above. The disciples of Jesus left everything they knew behind to follow Him. They didn’t simply leave homes, jobs, and possessions, they left their passions and the only way of life they ever knew. Discipleship means going all in with Jesus.

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Each one of us gets to decide whether or not we will follow Jesus. But none of us get to decide how we will follow Him. Our freewill ends when we choose to be a disciple. If that is indeed our choice, from that point forward, the way we live is determined by Jesus and not ourselves. It is the pledge we make to Him. Our freewill isn’t taken from us, it I surrendered by us. It’s your choice to follow Jesus.

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You get to decide. However once that decision is made, you are obligated to live life the way Jesus commanded you live it. Freewill is an amazing gift and should not be lightly given away. You must understand the cost. For those willing to count such a cost, the rewards of living life wholly surrendered to Christ are beyond words and incalculable. It’s your choice.

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