Wednesday, October 13, 2010


No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24)

I have heard the phrase “the one who dies with the most toys wins” on more than one occasion. Do we really believe that? Is that what this life is all about? I disagree completely with that statement. Certainly having toys here on earth makes it much more entertaining for us, but they are not really necessary for our existence. Filling our time and our minds with tangible things makes us lose focus and it takes our eyes off God. I have seen it happen so many times and I have had it happen to me. Putting this world and our possessions ahead of God can truly jeopardize our souls. “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). So I tend to agree more with something my mother always said. “I have never seen a hearse pulling a UHaul,” because that is so much more applicable. You cannot take it with you. We know this because archeologists are always finding tombs of important people and kings filled with treasures that they left here on earth believing that they would pass into the next life with them. For Jesus said “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

The exchange of currency simply exists for us to take care of the basic needs in our lives like food, clothing and shelter. With too much money, we tend to hoard or become greedy for more stuff. Without enough money, we tend to look for ways to get what we need often by sinning against God and our fellow man through stealing or whatever else can bring the greatest immediate reward. Money distorts our sense of ownership and challenges our humility. Money gives us control and with money we feel like we can control our own destiny and we have no need for God. Those with much money often use it as a tool to get more and control those who do not have as much. It is a very powerful thing on the earth to have much because often the more you have the more you can control. Satan uses this lie to pull people away from God. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money can also tear apart the most important relationships that we have here on earth, our family. “An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end” (Proverbs 20:21). Fighting over money that is left behind that did not ever belong to you causes strife and discord among even among the strongest believers.

But God controls everything. He owns everything, therefore His power is so great that we have nothing to offer Him or barter with Him. Simon the Sorcerer saw this in Acts. “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:18-21).

Our greatest power comes with the wisdom and knowledge of God. Understanding that we are merely His servants is our greatest reward. “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4). And know that this power and wisdom is distributed by God for His glory alone. “Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). God’s glory and power are revealed through our actions that glorify Him. The moment we try to use God’s power and glory for self benefit, it will be taken away.

So Lord, thank you for giving me my basic needs so that I do not have to sin against you or any man to be able to survive. But also, thank you for not giving me so much that I lose sight of what is important and have excess that I do not need that would cause strife between me and my friends and family. Amen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Ultimate "Flipper"

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

I like watching those house flipping shows that come on TV on Saturday mornings sometimes. Most of the time, the investor comes to a piece of property or home that is typically run down and maybe infested with insects or destroyed from years of having no caretaker. They decide if it is worth their time and money to rejuvenate it and then they dig in. Cleaning, tearing out old and rotten materials, and replacing everything unworthy of salvage with something new. Within a few weeks, the house is ready for a new owner or occupant and they proudly stand back and admire their handiwork. Then it is time to move on to another, cleaning up the world one unwanted home at a time.

I image this is how God sees humanity. He knows the human heart to be rotten and unworthy, but He can see the potential of the property. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). He comes in, cleans us up, replaces the old and worn out stuff with new and beautiful things. “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22). Then He moves in to make a home for Himself there. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The only catch is that we must understand that our property is in desperate need of repair. Then we must open the door to Him and allow Him to complete his work in us. “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8). Only after God comes in and transforms us and creates a new being can we be beautiful both inside and out. “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4).

I am one of those flipped properties. God has made me new on the inside and is living every day continuing to keep this house up and running. I am so grateful for His many blessings on me and my family. Although it may be challenging to live in this world right now, I am comforted to know that God is preparing an even better place for me in my home with Him in Heaven.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dining with Jesus (Part 2)

It all started in a garden

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

When God created Eden it was a reflection of His Heavenly realm. “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:9). The river running through it provided water for the plants and trees (Genesis 2:10). John writes of his visions of Heaven in Revelation 22,

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding it fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (1-2)

This broken place is but a glimpse of the eternal kingdom that is being prepared for us (John 14:3). God knew that man would fall into sin and from His grace, yet He made him anyway. His intentions all along were to send Christ as our Savior and eternal sacrifice (2 Timothy 1:9). He provides glimpses of His glory and majesty on this earth that we may understand how much greater our lives will be in Heaven.

Unfortunately, the ruler of this world is Satan and he chooses to distort and pervert everything that God intended for good. Once Adam and Eve ate that fruit from the tree (Genesis 3) they then understood that there are two sides to every action, a good one and an evil one. While God was in control there was only good because there is no evil in Him (Psalm 92:15) but once the knowledge of evil was revealed, Satan got a foothold. “ ‘You will not surely die’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ (Genesis 3:4-5).” Of course Adam and Eve did not physically die, but they died spiritually. The communion with God was broken and now nothing could save them from eternal damnation but a complete and total sacrifice for their sin.

So now we are presented at every turn with the opportunity to do good or to do evil. We are born dead and must be “reborn” to God and Christ in the Holy Spirit in order to see right from wrong . John 1 says “yet to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (12-13). How cunning Satan was when he told Eve she would not die. Of course he did not elaborate on the type of death, he only alluded to the death she understood, which was physical and a return to the dust of the ground.

After this heartbreaking moment, God cursed Adam and his descendants. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:17-19). There was not a man that God could have created that would have avoided the temptations of the devil forever. God knew that in order for man to love Him, he had to give him the choice to hate him. Only true love is revealed in the choices we have. The only human who chose to love God completely and obey His every command was of God Himself. Only Jesus Christ had the wisdom and knowledge to overcome Satan while in human form, and it was not easy for Him. Surely He was God in the flesh, but He was also a man, to whom the pleasures and temptations of this earth are rarely overcome.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dining with Jesus (part 1)

It’s all about eating

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

When we sit at a table and dine together, we talk and laugh and commune with one another the way that humans were meant to share with each other. Seems these days that we spend more time eating in the car, eating in front of the television, eating alone, eating in the “closet” or just not eating at all. The nourishment of food has been lost since its original intention of communion. A true “dining experience” comes at a high price where we pay large sums of money for people to bring us plates of food for our fleeting pleasure. We rarely experience the taste and texture of food any more, it is simply to fill the empty space in our stomachs and stave off the hunger of our bellies. The foods we eat now have very little nutritional value and simply leave us fat and dissatisfied until we can find something else to ease our cravings.

The world has lost its communion with itself and with God. In the Bible, God used food to remind people of His presence and His promise to take care of us. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years being provided every meal by God. And when they complained about the fare for the day, he sent them something different! Very few fathers would relent to the childish antics of one of their own by providing a different meal when the child insolently proclaims “I don’t like that” or “I am tired of that!” Of course these days, with the ease of microwaves and pre-packaged delights, so many parents simply give in and cook those chicken fingers and French fries for the finicky child who refuses to eat the green beans on his plate.

God gave us the hunger pangs in our bellies to remind us to fill them with good things to nourish our bodies and keep us alive. I believe we have spiritual hunger pangs similar to physical ones that God also gave us as a gift to remind us to fill our hearts and minds with Him. We are supposed to commune with God, to dine with Him daily, to fill our spiritual stomachs with His Word. We have lost the knowledge that the hunger we feel is for a righteous God and now look for earthly things to fill our spiritual insides. Material possessions, sex, empty religions, other humans, and even food are the things we believe that we crave to stave off the spiritual hunger that we feel. Of course, we never get full. We just keep stuffing it in at an ever-increasing pace only to become more and more empty inside. We are literally obese and starving to death at the same time!

Food was obviously important in the Bible. God carefully crafted man as a machine that had to be fueled to remain running at its peak. This daily eating was a way to remind ourselves of our humanity and God’s infinity. We are His creation and we can only survive on His terms. The intricacies of our bodily systems and the pleasure we derive from fueling our bodies with food are no accident. God intended to parallel our physical desires with our spiritual desires. It is perhaps the only way He had to allow us to understand the greater knowledge that awaits us upon our rebirth into the Kingdom.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Law and the Prophets

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17

All things from the beginning of creation point to Jesus. The record of creation says “let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The plural was used because God has always been triune. Jesus was always there, along with the Holy Spirit, from the beginning until now and forevermore.

As soon as Adam and Eve fell from grace and into sin, the intention was always to send the Savior. The Law was created for men and handed down from God to Moses so that men might understand the difficulty they would encounter meeting God’s expectations. You see, God’s expectation is perfection. Nothing more, nothing less. And man was completely incapable of meeting God’s expectations. So many religions today teach good works, good will, enlightenment and so many different paths to Heaven. But none of these good works will ever be good enough, because only perfection will do. God created the Law to reveal man’s inability to keep it! Men who believe that they can get to Heaven on good works are deluded. Our realization that we are not and cannot be good enough is the catalyst for Christ in our lives. We cannot earn favor with God-He is holy and perfect-only Christ is good enough. Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The moment that we embrace this truth and turn to Christ for our salvation, we encounter an entirely new feeling of peace and grace. Our willingness to admit that we will never earn God’s favor without Christ is the beginning of our communion with God. The end of our “selves” is the beginning of our relationship with Him.

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Underdog Story

“We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:42 (NIV)

People just love a good underdog story. As much as we like to see the popular people fall from grace, we want the most unlikely people to succeed and catch the limelight for a moment or two. It is very heartwarming. The Bible is filled with stories of the unlikely people succeeding. Moses, Abraham, David, Esther… and too many more to count. Of course, they could never have done it without the grace of God on their side.

Jesus met up with the Samaritan woman at the well in the heat of the day. It was noon, when most people stayed inside to gain some relief from the heat, and she was out drawing water to avoid the scoffing murmurs of the other women in town. She had been through five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband (John 4:18). It was certainly not socially acceptable for a man to talk to a woman in public, but it was even less acceptable for a Jew to talk to a Samaritan. The two groups had a significant disdain for each other and did not associate at all. But Jesus selected her, much to her confusion, to ask for a drink of water and offer up his own “living water” (John 4:10).

After their initial conversation, the woman begins to realize that Jesus could possibly be the Christ, the one they have been waiting for. She urgently runs back to town, leaving her water jar behind. When she arrives she exclaims with excitement “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). As they all rush out to meet Jesus, I try to imagine what that Samaritan woman is thinking. This is her moment of redemption, both literally and figuratively. Jesus has saved her soul and helped her regain her dignity and reputation. I would be inclined to believe that if God’s grace had not intervened in her life at that moment, the people in town would have just looked at her and laughed. How interesting that Jesus chose not only a woman, but a woman of ill repute to deliver the news of his arrival to the town in Samaria. Of course we learn that Jesus stayed for several days teaching the Samaritans and many believed in him, but it was because of the Samaritan woman at the well that his grace and glory were received by this town. I believe this story is telling us that we should never underestimate what God can do through us, and that we are never so far gone that he will not accept us into his loving arms of mercy and grace.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Glory of God

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3 (NIV)

I have begun a new Bible study to begin this New Year. By the end of the reading today I was overwhelmed with joy and absolute amazement, yet again, for God. Today’s lesson was about one of the reasons God created man, which was for His Glory. Glory is used to denote “the manifestation of God’s presence” according to Wikipedia. God created everyone and everything for HIS glory alone. Isaiah writes of God calling to “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (43:7). The Bible makes an overwhelming number of references to God’s glory from the beginning to the end. It is represented as filling the whole earth (Isa 6:3), appearing to Moses and Aaron (Num 20:6), filling the temple (2 Chron 5:14), being declared by the heavens and the people (Ps 19:1, 29:9), and belonging to God alone (Isa 42:8). And those are just a few of the Old Testament references to glory. Glory is God’s amazing and wonderful presence is all that He is and all that He has made.

The New Testament is also filled with references to God’s glory, which has now become manifest in the person of Christ Jesus (John 1:14). Christ owns all the same glorious attributes that were always present in God and He is now revealing them to us by walking on the earth. So the amazing thing is that God’s glory now can belong to us, His children, while we are waiting here in these earthly tents in which we dwell. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). Christ is OUR hope of glory as we are revealing God’s glory through Him in ourselves. Paul writes “and we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). Ever-increasing glory. Praise God for His many blessing, for we are now the small vessels in which God is pouring his glory through our faith in Jesus and the filling of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the key that unlocks God’s glory in us. Just as we have no hope of glorifying God without Christ in us, we begin to understand that as we mature in Christ we will reveal “ever-increasing glory” to the world around us. I can’t think of a more wonderful thing than revealing God’s glory. It is an honor, a privilege, and an amazing gift that God would even consider revealing a tiny portion of His glory though sinners like me and the rest of the fallen humanity of this world.