Lesson from Nature: The Twist of Life and Death

©PurePurpose.org

©PurePurpose.org

Sometimes, the twists we create with others’ lives can be catastrophic. We end up squeezing the life out of each other, because we just don’t have enough life to give. Our unhealthy boundaries aren’t so much about the closeness of the relationship but about what we do with that relationship.

Other times, the closeness creates a beauty that would never have been possible on our own. We give each other strength, support, and nourishment. We’re vulnerable, because we have exposed ourselves to others. We invite them into our lives in ways that cannot be fully revoked. We give a piece of ourselves that we can never completely recover. That’s frightening. It can turn out badly.

But it can also be beautiful.

God intends for us to rely on and commit to each other. Most of all, He invites us to rely on and commit to Him. He gives us a piece of Himself. He became vulnerable first, when He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us, taking all the junk of our lives into the pit of death, then overcoming that death, leaving it behind. It seems like a twisted way to get to us, but it’s the way He chose.

Because God loves us. He loves you.

Loving Him isn’t easy. It requires vulnerability and humility. It requires twisting your life with His so intricately that you no longer know where One stops and the other starts. But He’s worth it. And He knows you’re worth it, too.

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)

The Next Step

No matter where you are in life, the next step is often the most difficult to take. It’s exciting, frightening, breath-taking, daunting, lonely, reassuring, promising, and shaky. I don’t know what your next step is. I don’t know what your next breath requires. But I know this. God is God. He is purposeful. He longs for you to choose to take the next step with Him. He knows just how you feel. He’s ready. Are you?

Get Warm. Share the Light.

fireThe concept of rekindling a relationship isn’t a foreign concept to most people. It’s a strenuous process. Rekindling a relationship is usually not as simply as rekindling a fire, which can often be done by throwing a chunk of fuel on it, poking it with a stick, and blowing strong puffs of wind on it. Rekindling a relationship takes a more gentle touch, and it usually takes perseverance and patience.

One relationship we might not consider in the context of rekindling is our relationship with God. Perhaps it’s because we take it for granted and easily overlook it. We think it “just is,” that it really doesn’t change all that much, and we haven’t let it die out, so why would we need to rekindle it? However, have you really never let your relationship with God ebb and flow? Has it not cooled off during various seasons of your life? Have other priorities taken the majority of your time and energy so that you’ve neglected your relationship with God? Any relationship left unattended will atrophy.

If your relationship with God isn’t as close as it can be, it’s not God who has stepped away and created distance. God is always present and always available. Bemoaning the distance won’t help. Acknowledge the distance, then take steps to rekindle the relationship.

Remember who God is. Claim Him as your Creator and ultimate authority of your life.

Recommit to seek God today…and tomorrow’s todays.

Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and provide in every situation.

Renew your commitment to trust Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your daily life.

Take it one day at a time. Before long, you will be warmed in God’s presence, and you’ll share the light with those around you.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. (Psalm 27:4-6)

Life with Attitude

Rejoice_title_1024x1024What makes you rejoice? What brings you great delight? Does what prompts you to rejoice bring great delight to God? Joy is a firm confidence that all is well regardless of the circumstances. Philippians 3:1 says “Be full of joy in the Lord.” God is the source of joy, and God is the object of joy. We rejoice because God is who He says He is, and that means we can trust Him, fully relying on His guidance and provision through any circumstance. Our joy isn’t circumstantial, because our faith isn’t circumstantial. We rejoice because of God but also with God. As we live close to God, we experience life with the glimpse of His perspective. Because God has the big picture, we can trust there is always hope, and if nothing else, we can rejoice in hope.

Knowing God, being in a dynamic relationship with Him, transcends any and all temporal circumstance. Knowing God is inextricably connected with obeying God, and obeying God gives us peace and assurance even in uncertainties. Life isn’t fair, but God is.

The thing is…whether or not life is fair is irrelevant. God doesn’t want us to get stuck in this life. He wants to correct our eyesight so we see into eternity. This life on earth is important, because it’s where we live out our faith. We seek, learn and grow. God doesn’t want us to waste one minute of it. That’s not to say we’re supposed to be perfect. After all, we often learn most through those trials. We experience the most intense joy after a dark night. God doesn’t want us to waste life, not because it’s about us, but because, ultimately, it’s about Him and our relationship with Him. Are you rejoicing through life with God?

Rejecting Sin with Love

hateloveWe must reject what is against God’s will. He commands us to love one another. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a common phrase to describe how we’re to respond to people who are engaging in behavior contrary to God’s will. Most Christians have struggled with how to live this out in specific circumstances. It’s perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions: “How can I love the person without giving her the impression that I approve of what she’s doing?” You can’t do it with your own strength and love. God’s love is unconditional, but it’s also corrective. God loves you even though you don’t live every moment of your life exactly the way He wants you to live. Even when you’re seeking His will and intending to live every moment for Him, you’re going to make some poor judgments. You’re human. But God still loves you.

He also loves the person beside you. You might not know how to share your love, but you can share God’s love, because God says she’s worthy. You don’t have to have every detail of the relationship figured out. You simply must follow God’s lead. That means staying invested in the relationship as long as God leads you to stay invested—and not a moment longer or shorter. People are in our lives for seasons, so you will have limited impact on people. Following God’s lead means you’ll speak up in some situations and be silent in others. It’s how God leads. You have to be content that you don’t have the answers—God does. He knows how to express His love much better than you do. When you respond out of what makes sense to you instead of what God is directing you to do, you run the risk of not only rejecting the person or sending the wrong message but also of rejecting God yourself. When you ignore His lead, you’re putting others and yourself in front of your relationship with Him. And that’s certainly not ever His will.

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 17-25)

Free Water

water (7)The One on the throne said to me, “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give free water from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty. Those who win the victory will receive this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. Revelation 21:6-7

God is.

That’s it. Pure and simple. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. There has never been and will never be life without him. There is nothing that escapes his awareness. There is nothing outside of his reach. That includes you.

Perhaps you acknowledge him as Creator. You accept him as Savior. But what now? We can easily think of our relationship with God as a one-time decision when, in reality, it’s a relationship that is alive and growing. God desires to engage with us. He doesn’t abandon us. He fulfills every promise and hears every concern. He attends to our needs and often entertains our wants. Most of all, he longs to be the desire of our hearts.

When we have a thriving relationship with Jesus, we live out the truth that he is our Lord and Savior. He fulfilled a promise to us to give us eternal life, to sacrifice himself in place of our sins. He showed us unmerited grace and mercy out of his love for us. He endured pain so he could spare us an eternity of torment. He is our Savior.

But he’s also our Lord. That means he is in charge of our lives – not just the areas of life we don’t want anymore, not just the areas we’re uncertain about or struggling with, not just the areas we think we’ve cleaned up enough on our own to present as acceptable to him. When we accept him as Lord, we yield our lives to him. We let him guide us through the big things and the tiny ones. He cares about it all, and he doesn’t require we be at a certain place before he helps. He doesn’t wait until we’re in our Sunday best before he reveals himself. He doesn’t ever withhold his guidance and provision.

We thirst. God quenches.

Aren’t you thankful?

Live It. At some point throughout the day, preferably right in the middle of a busy time, stop. Quiet yourself to take a deep sip of God’s will. Let him nourish you to do his will. Let him fill you with his will, guiding and convicting you to be on his path. Where he leads, he will equip.

False Teachings

G.B.Y.Logos.1Those false teachers are like springs without water and clouds blown by a storm. A place in the blackest darkness has been kept for them. They brag with words that mean nothing. By their evil desires they lead people into the trap of sin—people who are just beginning to escape from others who live in error. 2 Peter 2:17-18

We seek springs with fresh, flowing water, but not every spring is nourishing to us. We must learn to discern who to follow and who not to follow.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, we didn’t have access to vast information the way we do today. Information can be truthful, but information isn’t inherently truthful. When you ask a search engine a question, are you looking for information or truth?

A problem arises when we argue that truth is relative, depending on who is seeking and why. When truth is assumed relative, nothing is reliable. There’s no difference between fact and opinion, good and evil, real and imaginary. Questions of purpose, personhood, and faith appear to be unessential. Purpose, faith, and life seem to float in air – with no firm foundation.

When we become information-driven instead of truth-driven, we don’t change reality as much as we might think we do. We deceive ourselves into thinking we’re much more powerful than we are. We don’t define ourselves, our world, or the reality of either. We don’t – and can’t – change truth. There is foundational truth in life, and there’s a search engine you can use to seek it.

It’s God. You can access some accurate information using search engines such as Google and Bing, but when you search God, you’ll always find truth. It’s a different sort of search. It’s not instantaneous. It’s often a journey of one question leading to another and another. You’ll often reveal pieces of truth and continue to fit new pieces as you search more.

Searching God isn’t as easy as using a search engine, because it’s based in a relationship. Relationships are ongoing, challenging, developing.

Would you rather have a relationship filled with effort but also filled with truth or an impersonal, brief, uncertain interaction? Do you want to search passively or actively?

Live It. Notice opposites or things that don’t match throughout your day: salt and pepper, green and red traffic lights, loud and soft sounds. Practice noticing the details and differences. As you become more aware of what’s around you, you can become more in tune with what details God is pointing out to you to determine the differences between his true teachings and all false teachings.