Where is Jesus going?

Where is Jesus going today? I just realized I never asked that question. Many times in the Bible, Jesus says to follow him.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” -Matthew 4:19

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24

Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him. -Luke 5:27

So we are called to follow Jesus, but we so often focus on the act of people denying themselves, giving up everything to follow Jesus. But where is he going?

I’m not really sure we know the answer, but I bet if you keep asking that question each and every day, we’ll find out. God will let us know when we get there. We just need to keep an eye out for Jesus and follow where He leads.

The other interesting thing about following Jesus, is the fact that “to follow” is an action verb. Meaning, it needs action to be taken.

The nature of following means we are going somewhere, not just staying where we are. We can’t follow someone if we stay where we are. It’s not just thinking about following, that’s not how it works. The verb is to follow, we need to take action and move.

So does it matter where Jesus is going? Not really, but I know he is going somewhere and He is worth following. We need to take action, we have to get up and actually follow.

So I’m going do two things. First, I’m going to ask the question, “Where is Jesus going?” Then comes the action part. I’ll follow.

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I don’t want to waste this day

I keep little snippets of text, thoughts, images in a my Evernote account that I run across each day. Sometimes I never go back to look at them. This morning I started going through some old notes and came across this image that I took while reading The Purpose Driven Life almost 2 years ago.

The Bible quote comes from Galatians 5:6

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Paul is talking about freedom in Christ. How following the law does not gain us entrance to Heaven. Only faith in Christ and what his death on the cross does that for us.

Faith is not just a mere intellectual agreement with that. It’s a living and breathing thing. Believing in God’s grace that manifests itself in acts of love.

I love the next statement in the book, which is really the focus of my photo.

Knowing this, I suggest that when you wake up every morning, you kneel by your bed, or sit on the edge of it, and pray this: “God, whether I get anything else done today, I want to make sure that I spend time loving you and loving other people — because that’s what life is all about. I don’t want to waste this day.”

I don’t want to waste this day. This day was created for us to love God and to love his creation. Loving other people, that may not love us back, is an expression of faith because God loved us, even when we didn’t love Him back. He sent His son to die, to become the accused for us, even before we were born.

This day was created for us to love like Jesus loved us.

Making good habits

So starting habits. Bad ones are easy to start and good ones are hard. Why is that? Bad ones are ones that can seem fun at first, even fun down the road, but they aren’t good for you in some way. It may not be healthy or somehow distracting you from what you should be doing.
 
Drinking is as simple as popping open a beer. And they seem harmless at first. “One beer today won’t hurt me,” you say. Then tomorrow it becomes two. Next month you’re drinking a six-pack every day and 10 years from now you’re a raging alcoholic. OK that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you can see how easy it would be to do that.
 
Good ones are things like exercising, eating healthier, spending more time with family.  These are things we all know are good for us, things we should be doing. And for some reason, they seem to be easier to start and easier to stick than easy ones.
 
Think about eating healthier. How much harder would it be to grab an apple instead of a candy bar? Or how about grabbing some water or fruit juice instead of a soda? Not much at all. But I tend to gravitate towards the unhealthy ones. Isn’t that odd?
 
I strive to pray and read the Bible daily. But why is it so hard to get into and stay in the habit? I read tons of stuff every day for entertainment. We spend so much time on social media, but can’t spend 5 minutes in prayer.
 
Why is that?
 
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. -Romans 7:15-20
 
This long exposition is exactly what I go through when I try to get myself right with my habits. I know what I should be doing, but I don’t do it. Why is that? It makes no sense.
 
We are sinful in nature and we know what we should be doing, but our sin nature won’t let us.
 
What is the answer? Well Paul tells us;
 
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! -Romans 7:25
 
So there is our answer. In the end Christ Jesus will deliver us from our sinful bodies into glory.
 
But there are things we can do today, to help replace our bad habits with good. Here is an article I came across to that gives some practical suggestions on how to make new habits stick.
 
But as usual, a common theme with me is to think small. So one of my favorites and the one that works the best for me is to start small.
 
Do something small. You want to exercise more? Well don’t join a gym right away or go commit to some huge complex program. Try something little. Try parking a little farther away from your office. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk after dinner instead of watching TV. All little things that don’t cost you much in activity, but are easy to make a habit.
 
Want to read the Bible and pray more? Don’t try to become a monk on day one. Sit down and read a few verses. Read the same verse over a course of a week to commit it to memory.  Don’t worry about waking up an hour early to spend an hour in prayer. Take your commute time to pray instead of listening to the radio.
 
It’s amazing how even these little things can impact your life if you start doing them. And because they are little, they are easy to do every day. They won’t change your routine much, if at all and before you know it, they will become second nature.

God is on the move

Our God is an active God, he doesn’t stand still, he’s not overwhelmed, he’s not passive. God wants us to join him.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. -Matthew 7:13-14

The road to life, to God’s kingdom is narrow. It is not something people will just stumble upon and accidentally get into the kingdom. It something you need to actively seek.

So how do you enter the gate?

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and throw into the fire. Thus, but their fruit you will recognize them. -Matthew 7:16-20

You enter the gate by bearing good fruit.

How do we bear good fruit?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ -Matthew 7:21-23

You bear good fruit, by doing the will of the Father.

How do we do the will of the Father?

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had a foundation on the rock. But everyone who hers these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. -Matthew 7:24-27

You do the will of the Father, by putting the words of Jesus into action.

 

When the world hates us

I’ve recently seen some very hateful things spoken about Christians. A few examples I’ve seen are comparisons to ISIS. I quote one “The only difference between Christians and ISIS is that Christians haven’t started beheading people yet”

This isn’t a ‘feel-good’ post, but it’s something we should all be aware of even though we may have experienced this in some fashion already. It’s not a matter of if, but when you see some persecution for Christ.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it will love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out if the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:18-19

Since the time of Christ people have hated Christians. We’ve often carry around a bad reputation for being unkind, intolerant, harsh, judgmental, self-righteous, and often as uneducated. As we are human and sinful, there is always some truth behind a reputation and even in the time after Jesus, there were many who proclaimed to be followers of Jesus who truly were not.

However, despite that, anytime you live a life of moral absolutes or speak out about it, you’ll get attacked by those who don’t want to hear that they are doing it wrong.

They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. – John 15:22

People who hear about Christ or see him lived out in the life of a Christian now have no excuse or “way out.” They won’t be happy and they’ll strike out at you.

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. -1 John 3:12

Cain murdered his brother because his brothers righteousness exposed his own evilness. The love God had for Abel, declared Cain’s disregard. Cain responded by killing his brother.

When looking at John 15:18, the word used for if is ei which assumes something is true. Basically Jesus is saying, “If the world hates you — and it does.” So as followers of Christ, we will be hated by the world. But his reminder that He was hated from the time of his birth. King Herod tried to kill him at his birth. The world knew who he was and was trying to prevent it.

Our following of Christ comes with a hefty price tag. We may lose friends or we could lose jobs. In other countries around the world, you could lose your life. But regardless of the extreme, the light that you have in Jesus Christ, exposes the darkness of the world and it will hate you for it.

But why does the world really hate us? First, we are no longer identified with the world. The love the world has for people is fickle. It can change in a moment. Just look through the news today (doesn’t matter when you read this, you’ll find examples). You’ll find someone who “fell from grace” so to speak of the public. Some celebrity who yesterday was everyone’s favorite, but today something came out and the world hates him. To be loved by the world, you need to do what the world does.

Secondly, we are identified with Christ and the world rejects Christ. When our lives truly reflect Christ, people will either reject us or accept us, but they are really rejecting Christ or accepting Christ.

We should be careful as well, because all of our persecution may not be for Christ. We can be jerks. We can be obnoxious and argumentative. We may not listen and be quick to anger. We should truly listen to people, be sensitive and respectful. When we are not, we bring the persecution on ourselves.

Thirdly, much of the world is ignorant of God.

They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. -John 15:21

In other words, Jesus tells us, ‘Don’t take it personally. They are directing their persecution towards Me.’ Many only know the name of Jesus Christ as a curse word. Many don’t own a Bible let alone read one. Those we see as persecuting us may just have never heard a clear representation of the Bible. There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God.

It is up to us not to chastise the unbelievers for sinful living, yet we look the other way when a fellow Christian sins. Or worse, we tell one they are living in sin, then go and live like that ourselves. Unbelievers sin, it’s part of who they are. We should not condemn them for doing something sinful. We should pray for them, care for them, love them like Christ loved us. We can share the good news of Christ even if they still rebel against it. We should share this Gospel through our lives and our words, not in a belligerent, condemning fashion, but in a loving way, the same way that Christ shared it to us.

Our persecution here in the United States can hardly be called that compared to what others face around the world, but despite the difference in degrees of persecution, we have an opportunity to witness to the world in how we respond to this persecution and through our lives.

But in all, be bold, be strong and trust Christ. It’s better to be loved by Christ, than liked by the world.

Day 23 – 23 Days of Thanksgiving – Happy Thanksgiving!

Well here we are, having traveled the road together for 23 days as we headed towards this day. This happy Thanksgiving Day! I wasn’t sure how this journey would be traveled as I started on this series, but I knew the destination. I knew that 23 days after I started, whether I wanted to or not, we would end up on Thanksgiving day. I could have written long posts or short posts, good ones or bad. Shoot I could have not written at all or I could have written 5 posts a day. No matter that path I took, I was going to end up on this day.

Our lives often take twists and turns, most unexpected, but no matter how many bumps in the road we hit, we know where are destination is since we’ve accepted Christ. We know where we are headed. We don’t know when we’ll get there, but we will some day.

Our journey through life will have tons of bumps, wrong turns, and probably a few accidents. However, the moment we accepted Christ, not only our destination was assured, but our path was laid out in front of us. We may still not follow that path exactly as God planned, but our destination is still certain. But along that path, God will keep us busy. It is not always a heads down race from start to finish. Along the way, we’ll meet people that need help, some of them may come along for the ride and we’ll reach the same destination. Others, perhaps we’re just comforting them for a moment and that ride will come along later. Still others, may walk away from our help and they are traveling on their path. No matter who we meet along the way or how diverted we get, our destination never changes.

So on this Thanksgiving, go and be with family and friends. Meet them along the path to your destination. Enjoy your travel, because when the trip is over. A God that loves us will be there to welcome us with open arms.

Oh and so as to stick with tradition. What am I thankful for? Well beyond being thankful for what God has done for me… here is what I’m thankful for in this world!

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

Day 22 – 23 Days of Thanksgiving – Last Minute Preparations

How many of us on this day before Thanksgiving are doing last minute shopping, food prep or just cleaning up for the big dinner tomorrow? I’m like many of you, I’m sure, in that I tend to procrastinate on things until the very last moment.

I was leading our small group Bible study this last Sunday and even though I had three weeks to prepare, I began my preparation the night before. It went fine as things usually do, though I stressed over those last few hours worrying on whether I would get everything done in time.

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. -Matthew 24:44

God however, wants us to be prepared. In fact, we must be prepared because we don’t know the time of His return or our departure. We as humans, like to procrastinate. We think we always have tomorrow. But in this decision about eternity, we don’t know if tomorrow will come.

We should live each day, praising God, worshiping, praying and loving one another. As we move into Thanksgiving, I challenge myself and all my readers, to recognize just one thing, everyday, that you are thankful for. Or something you see that makes you smile and recognize that God is good. Just one thing each day. Don’t wait until the last moment to be thankful. Don’t wait until the last moment and then feel the regret of lost days and years. Don’t wait to prepare for tomorrow when it comes to eternity.