Archives For God’s will

So why do we do this Jesus thing? Why would we devote our lives to a man who was last seen alive more than 2,000 years ago, and to a God we cannot see? Everyone is going to live for something or someone. But why Jesus? What compels us to live radical, counter-cultural lives for His sake? These are fair questions, and ones to which every Christ-follower should have an answer.

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We’ll dive into this a bit, but my immediate answer would be to respond as Peter did when Jesus asked if he would desert Him. Peter’s response? “Where else would I go (John 6:67-68)?”

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Few would admit it, but what most people want is a comfortable relationship with Jesus. We want answered prayers, help through troubled times, and comfort in crisis. Oh, and spending eternity in Heaven while escaping Hell, we want that too. Those are the comfortable benefits making Jesus so desirable to us, after all. Here’s where it gets a little uncomfortable. Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time talking up those benefits. He spent most of His time warning of trials and persecution, and giving stern warnings to those seeking to live a comfortable “religious” life.

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His harshest words were reserved for people just like us… those who were trying please God through comfortable and often self-serving platitudes. Comfortable Christianity is synonymous with Pharisaical living.

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I was recently wondering what it would look like if I reoriented my life around the rhythms of the calendar. If you’re anything like me, you don’t take much time to celebrate or even breathe. In the Old Testament, God gave His people festivals and Sabbaths to observe. I don’t believe God does anything on a whim or without purpose, so I know He had a reason for these events. Could it be, as our Creator, He understood we need these times to refocus and re-center?

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Working with this knowledge, it makes sense to orient our lives today around similar rhythms. I’m not advocating we observe each of the Jewish holiday’s if you aren’t Jewish. They won’t have the same beauty or effect without being immersed in the tradition and history. But we can all build an effective and even joyful cadence for our lives based on the calendar of our own culture.

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Each of our lives is telling a story. There’s the one we think we are telling, and the one actually being told. No matter what story we have led ourselves to believe we are telling, the way we live will tell the truth about who we are. God is the Author and Creator of all life, but He has given us the freedom to write our own story. What story we tell is up to us.

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We can’t dictate every circumstance, but we can decide how we respond to whatever comes our way. The trouble is, we tend to not be able to see the forest for the trees. We tell ourselves our life is telling one story, when in truth, it is saying nothing of the sort.

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I’ll admit it. I’m desperate. Contrary to what you may be thinking, I think it’s a good thing. While desperation usually carries a somewhat negative connotation, I believe it’s a necessity for would-be disciples of Jesus. Until we come to the point where Jesus is the only thing of value to us, I question whether we are full-fledged disciples of His.

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Desperation may in fact be the key to living a life that looks like Jesus. Chances are, if we aren’t desperate for Him, we’re probably desperate for something or someone other than Him.

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In his book, “Together is Better”, Simon Sinek writes, “We can start a revolution when we know what we stand against. To create change that lasts, however, we need to know what we stand for.” (emphasis mine) This advice is great for our lives as disciples. It’s easy to tell the world what we’re against. Doing so may even gain us a following of sorts. But if we look at the way Jesus lived, He spent His time demonstrating what He was for.

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In doing so, he caused a change so radical it split time in two. We now refer to dates based on those before Jesus came (B.C.), and after His birth (A.D.). The followers of Jesus in first century Israel were looking to Him to denounce all the Roman Empire was doing. They were looking for a revolution. Jesus brought something better. He brought a glorious change to their lives and to our world.

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Becoming a disciple of Jesus can seem like a lot of work, but upon closer examination, we see work has little to do with it. Instead, following Jesus as a true disciple is about doing just a few things well. As I’ve continued my journey to discipleship, I’ve come to realize there are three keys to spiritual success. Craig Groeschel summed these up well in his latest book, “Divine Direction”.

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He wrote, “It’s the faithfulness to do mundane things well, develop productive habits, and to remain faithful that eventually leads to success.” These are three simple concepts, all of which have the potential to unleash incredible results in our quest to live a more Christ-like life.

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One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:27, which says, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” As religions go, this list of requirements seems extraordinarily short. Yet there’s so much to discover in this little verse.

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Jesus didn’t come to instill a new religious order on earth. Rather, He came to establish a way of life. All Jesus wanted, and still wants, is for people to seek God with all their hearts (Matthew 6:33). Everything else falls into place once we get that part down. Why then does James call out requirements for religion God will accept, a true religion?

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Much of our lives are spent chasing the myth of security. We seek to live in safe neighborhoods, work in good parts of town, and save to achieve financial security. So much time is spent pursuing the myth of security we rarely have time to think about living dangerously. Unless and until we are ready to sacrifice our own comfort and security, we will never be able to take the light of Jesus into the darkest places on earth.

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If we won’t shine the light within us, who then will go and rescue the hopeless, the desperate, and the lost? Instead of pursuing the myth of security, we should be bounding headlong into the certainty of risk and danger.

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With the new year approaching, it’s a good time to reflect and examine what you have done for the Kingdom over the last year. Is your walk closer to God or further away than it was a year ago? What have you done to make a difference for Jesus? The sad fact is most Christians never give these questions a lot of thought, much less spend any time intentionally planning how they will grow closer to God and have a greater Kingdom impact on this world.

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Why is that? Shouldn’t our relationship with Christ and what we do for Him be the most important thing in our lives? There’s not a single New Year’s resolution worth anything unless it furthers the Kingdom of God and draws us closer to the One who created us and gave His life for us.

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