ACCEPTANCE AND EPIPHANY (and some music)

“Many people did believe in Him, including some of the Jewish leaders, but they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.”   – John 12:42-43

How often I find this true in my life. as I gain a greater relationship with God, I see it less and less, but we are instinctually creatures who long for acceptance and approval, and the giant epiphany that suddenly strikes us – the discovery of God’s character – hasn’t hit most of the world. So many people today, and yesterday, and tomorrow have painted a false portrait of God as a man pointing fingers, condemning us because we aren’t good enough, when in reality, God has already paid for our failures, and He has left them out of sight. All He now asks is that we recognize Him and His appreciation for us despite our seemingly small worth. God wants to see nothing but us living in praise of Him, living lives seeking validation from Him, because in the end e is the only one who can affect our destiny, and He longs for us to accept the destiny He desires for us.

This is a song by one of my favorite bands, The Collection, from North Carolina. I think it sums this up pretty well. Listen to the lyrics, and take the message to heart:

“All that I can see is that You can’t see the dirt in me.”

Have we realized this? Or are we still trying to find acceptance other places because we haven’t yet accepted the fact that God has already accepted us, regardless of the dirt in our lives. After all, God loves us more than He hates sin. Pretty crazy to think about isn’t it?

Also, the kind folks of The Collection are giving their EP away here. Go get it, share them with everyone, and maybe leave a tip.

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THE ‘MAGIC’ PRAYER (and why it often doesn’t work)

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”   – John 14:13-14

This a verse that, when we look, we immediately think of the things we’ve asked for and haven’t received, and almost feel cheated by this verse and what it says.

But that is only because we aren’t really hearing what it says!

“Ask and you’ll receive.” This is what we hear when we read this verse. What it actually says, however, is “ask for anything that brings glory to God, and you will receive.”

This verse is a promise to us, but it is a promise given by a God who is much more wise than us! We can ask for anything, and we might believe it is for God’s glory, but only He truly knows. Only He truly knows the end result, and the true motives of our hearts in everything we ask.

Remember this next time you ask and don’t receive, and praise God for knowing your true needs and desires! Praise Him for His wisdom, and your foolishness in the midst of Him! Don’t hold a grudge against God for not giing what you’ve asked; for holding a grudge against God is simply pride and selfishness. It is you telling God you know better than Him, and that is never the case!

“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”  -Proverbs 16:1-3

It isn’t until we are one with God that we can truly ask for anything in His name, and when we are at that point, the things we ask will be of Him, and undoubtedly bring glory to Him because of His presence in every essence of our lives. “Ask in my name” isn’t a magic trick to get what we want, but simply an example of what can be done when we live completely in the Holy Spirit rather than under our own ambition. Ask in the Holy Spirit, in unity with God, and you will receive. And if you ask out of the Holy Spirit’s prompting, that which you receive will undoubtedly bring God glory!

IF YOU LOVE GOD. . . (The dangers of an ultimatum)

“If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

“Love is not premeditated – it is spontaneous.” – Oswald Chambers

We often find ourselves preaching about discipline, or denial, or tasks. We often find ourselves using the phrase “we should be doing these things out of our love for God,” yet often find ourselves condemning those unwilling to complete those tasks.

My question is what if those tasks aren’t completed because the person tasked with them knows they aren’t doing them out of love? What if the one tasked is simply  listening to what we’re saying? Do we give them an ultimatum to “do better or else?” Or do we tell them to seek God first?

I fear the answer is too often an ultimatum. I fear too often we give a “do it or lose us’ response. I fear we often respond with the guilt trip, rather than giving them a reason to love God to the point of obedience. I fear we aren’t really  listening to our own advice.

In our inconsistency and the inconsistency of others, especially in those we disciple, we should be avoiding the ultamatum at all costs, and should begin recognizing the problem at it’s heart. We must recognize the lack of love.

In our failed goals and failed attempts at showing our godliness and love for God out of task completion, we must examine ourselves and our peers, and ask ourselves: are we completing these tasks out of a longing to love God, and know Him better because of that love? Or are we completing these tasks because we’ve been told that if we don’t, we don’t love God?

“If you love me, keep my commands.” – John 14:15

This verse can sound very legalistic to us. It brings with it a tone of salvation to be earned. Yet to truly understand, we must change the language. What if the “if” in this verse was a “because?”

This verse is not about legalism, but rather the end result. It is about the fruit that pours out when we love our God, not the things we do to prove that we love Him. It is about what happens when we embrace Him and deny us – which is true love! And through that true love, we long to serve the one we love. It is not “if” we love Him, but “because” we love Him that we will do His will and obey His commands. It is not task completion that earns His love, but rather His love that leads to our obedience.

As Romans 6:11 says, we shall consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to Him, and in Him there is no legalism – only love.

Obedience is rooted in love. Love is not rooted in obedience.

ABIDE AND LET IT BE!

“Look at the birds of the air . . .consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.”      – Matthew 6:26, 28

. . . They simply are!

So often we fret about our usefulness to God, yet in this passage (among others) He simply reminds us of our usefulness in the areas we don’t recognize. Our focus can not be on doing things for Christ, but rather being in Him! For when our focus is on doing for Christ, it is on the action rather than the reason. When our focus is on the reason rather than the action, we can have an influence for Him which is greater than we will ever recognize, and the reason we’ll fail to recognize it is because our focus will not turn away from Him long enough for us to look around at the rest of our lives.

We were created to be focused on God to the point of tunnel vision – unable to recognize ourselves and our lives outside of His purpose and direction.

“Let love be genuine.”   – Romans 12:9

Notice the simplicity again in this passage. We are not to “make” our love be genuine, or “force” it to be, but to simply “let” it be! WE were created to love, and through the recapturing of the Holy Spirit in us, we are to simply let love happen. With the transforming of our hearts comes the transforming of our very natures, and we no longer need to try to be godly, we simply need to abide in Him, and let His qualities shine through!

Have you recognized His transformation and let Him overcome our old nature and make His nature our own? Abide in Him, and let it happen!

ALL MY FOUNTAINS

“As they make music they will sing,

‘All my fountains are in You.'”   – Psalm 87:7

Psalm 87 was written by the temple assistants, the Sons of Korah, and was written about the City of God – the place where all believers will one day gather, and is looking ahead to the Holy City as described in Revalation 21:10-27. It will be an amazing sight when the day comes! The city is described as being 1400 miles square, and as long and wide as it is high! Imagine a 1400 square mile city, full of the worship of God’s children! A city without night, lit only by the glory of God! That will be a wondrous sight!

Yet although this verse is describing the glory after Christ’s return, it also describes what we should strive for while on this earth!

“All of my fountains are in You!”

This is the place we shall strive and long to be. I long to be in the place while on this earth where I know I have no other options besides leaning completely and totally on Him, and having “all my fountains” invested in Him. Heaven will be a wondrous sight, yet what is stopping us from showing heavenly  praise while on earth?

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Lord, take me to the place with no other options

take me to the heart of You!

For as this world tries me, I learn of my weakness

and my strength, found only in You!

Take me to the place where my spring finds it’s origin,

and let that origin be You!

 Not my strength, but Yours alone can sustain me,

For in my trials I rejoice of You!

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EDIT: When I posted this, a friend shared this video with me, so I thought it’d be worth posting here, as well. Enjoy!