In my last post, I mentioned that according to the Barna Group researchers, 76% of the Christians and a whopping 91% of the U.S. Adults think the best way to find yourself is to look within yourself. So sad to think so many are so mis-guided to think this way. Case in point:
Oklahoma has been experiencing a great deal of grass fires, endangering people, livestock and destroying property. A Harper County farmer and rancher on a family farm has lost 1,000 acres, a brand new combine, a large shop building and his grandfather’s irreplaceable historical tractor and the memories that went with it. The fire also threatened his brother’s home. Is this man broken due to this loss? Maybe, if he was looking within himself; but he is looking ahead!
What lies ahead for many locked into “things” and their own self-worth could easily make them feel devastated by the massive loss. How can anyone look within themselves and not be crushed by historical loss, the monetary loss of expensive machinery, and all the objects that generate the income one needs to rebuild? Devastating!
This man’s comment when interviewed? “We’re pretty blessed, we’re a lot better off than a lot of other people were. We’re still all here and all this is just stuff. God gives us the opportunity to do it all and I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to be here. It’s not real fun right now. But guess what? It will be alright.”
What does this man have that 91% of the U.S. adult are looking for? Will the 76% of the Christians also find that the world does not deliver what they are looking for? Will the culture finally see that the emptiness within mankind is only filled by the grace, mercy and forgiveness found by turning to the LORD Jesus Christ? …the ONLY way to find your true self!
The Barna Group of researchers has published that 76% of surveyed practicing Christians see the best way to “find yourself” is to look within yourself. I would understand that the 91% of all U.S. adults might believe that way with all the self-help books and TV shows spouting that nonsense, but the Christians?
Are we thinking it is the “born again” Christians…you know, the ones with an all new inner spirit; that looking within they actually find something not of their own making? Or, are we thinking that we are all sinners and we all have an evil heart, a heart that wants to rebel and not follow God? While we were created to glorify God, our freedom to love God or to love ourselves is also God given out of love. We have a choice.
John 15:13 tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for our friends; that is selfless love! That is what Jesus did for you…what are you going to do in return for that love? There is no repayment possible. There is only thanksgiving! To do something good in return…so…do you think doing something good for yourself is the right way to say thank you to Jesus? Or, to do something good for others?
Again, what is the best way to find yourself? To “look” selfishly within, or to “do” selflessly for others? Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God.” If you are a “born again” Christian, it is by the gift from God and not your own doing…so…should you be looking within to find yourself? Or, should you set your eyes upon Jesus…the one that made you wonderfully alive and really worth something?
How do you know that you are sick? Answer: Contrast. If you feel good one day and then feel poorly the next day, you have contrasting feelings and can easily decide the bad day was not as good as the good day, so therefore, you must be sick. Physical health is easy to determine if you are sick or well, but what about mental health? How do know if you have sick ideas, if you are sinning, and if you are lost going the wrong way? You need a benchmark, a datum from which to measure your current activities and thoughts. What happens if that benchmark is sliding? Then you will be unable to effectively measure your current situation. The demons of the world today are winning for now because they have effectively achieved that “slippery slope” where people now say there are no absolutes. It is a relativistic world where anything goes and the majority must cave-in to the demands of the minority; this is a world where sin rules. The road to hell is wide and crowded; the road to Jesus is narrow for He is the only way to redemption from sin (Matt. 7:13+14). So many born-again Christians today believe they should simply pull away from the world so to not be contaminated by the filth. This, of course, is not what Jesus asked us to do; we are to take the Good News of the love, the forgiveness, and the grace of the LORD Jesus to the sinful world (Matt. 24:14).
Once I was a sinner, but now I am saved! Saved, not by my actions or my beliefs or anything else I might have done; saved by grace. From this point we’re talking about my response to my acknowledgement that Jesus saved me. My response is one of thanksgiving…being thankful for receiving such an eternal gift, all while realizing I didn’t deserve it. If you are honest, how can you possibly react in a selfish way to this truth? No, I must do something for Jesus, not to get something but to say thank you. I am saved for relationship, and a relationship is a two-way street. You see, I must develop the realization of receiving a gift that can not be purchased and that I don’t deserve, which in turn empowers me into action. Action to love as Christ loved me. If I am truly saved from my sins, I must come to understand what that means. Once that fact sinks into my thick head, it should cause me to want to share with others the true way, that they too could beware of such salvation and turn toward Jesus. This is what discipleship is. Being a disciple of Christ is not about getting anything; it is about saying thank you!
It is no secret that we live today in a world of relativism (believe what you want for it is all the same), no absolutes (who knows what the truth is) and diversity to the point that there are no differences. Once a nation of laws, honesty and integrity where sin was frowned upon, we now have many states are thumbing their nose at Federal law; laws put into place by the same political group now leading the rebellion. How that group lacks morals and fights against God. Groups and governments want to seal your voice and break your freedoms down to control you. So, in this harsh environment, how do we obey God to go out into all the world? (Mark 16:15). Are we afraid of those loud voices in townhall gatherings to not pray in Jesus’ name; the one name they need to bring them out of their turmoil?
When Paul and Silas were thrown in prison for preaching Jesus in the Temple, once released…they went right back to preaching Jesus in the Temple. Psalm 96 verses 3 and 10 tell us to say to the Nations how great the LORD is, for He is King!
So, where are the Godly voices? What are we afraid of? Do you not feel the glory, mercy and forgiveness of the LORD Christ Jesus in your own heart? Don’t you think the unknowing peoples of the Nations should also have a chance at these same great blessings? We are to share “The Good News” gospel for there will come a day like that that Psalm verse 13..”for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth.”
Throughout all time “the good guys” have tried to remove themselves from “the bad guys”. We have tried to make visible separations; the good guys will wear white hats and the bad guys will wear black hats. Religious zealots, no matter the theology, have removed themselves from “the sinners”. John the Baptist lived out in the desert wilderness of Judea. He ate from the desert, locusts and honey, and wore animal skins for clothing. He lived apart from those “lesser people” not so focused, not so devoted. He preached to these other people, calling them out concerning their sins.
Monks, such as Tibetan Buddhist Monks, have removed themselves from society, often living in remote monasteries, so that “the world” will not taint them or suck them back into the awful filth and sin of the world. While this action did have benefits, such as the translating of religious documents into many different languages, the isolation does not allow “the doctor” to be available to “the patients”.
Jesus got into trouble with the religious establishment of His day because He “mixed-it-up” with the sinners He encountered. Lepers were thought to be that way due to sin; to touch one was to also make you unclean and a sinner. Rather than separate from these so-called “sinners”, so you would not also become a sinner, we see that Jesus reaching out to the unclean, touching them and making them clean again. The blind were blind by either their own sin or the sins of their parents, so the people thought; the same was felt over those who were lame. What did Jesus do with the blind and the lame? Jesus healed the blind and the lame, most often by touching them! He did not remove Himself from being exposed to their plight; the Bible speaks of the compassion Jesus felt for them because He was there with them and not off in some mountaintop monastery. The tax collectors, because they often cheated people, were thought to be sinners as well. Because He was there walking the same streets, Jesus had fellowship with them, ate dinner with them, made one His own disciple! This “human compassionate sharing” did not sit well with the religious establishment of the day. The Doctor was seeking the lost.
Many searchers simply refuse to see the evidence for God’s existence so plainly before them. My first book, “I Am, the Great Creator God” was a 20 year effort to show people how to “look” at the evidence before them and to see and experience our Creator God.
Many are searching for light, here is a classic example. Stephen Hawking, an extremely smart scientist, whom I respect, is a man who has spent his whole life searching for the truth in how the universe was created. Stephen Hawking contends in his book, “The Grand Design” (September 2010) that definitely God did not create the universe or spark the Big Bang into being. He writes,
““Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” [underline added]
“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists why we exist.”
When these scientists talked about “nothing”, that is, “create from nothing”, they always mention some pre-existing “law” that is already there. Please note that there are four major forces in the universe that hold all matter together, one being gravity. So Hawking’s words, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing”, really Dr. Hawking? Here is where being so smart actually keeps you from seeing the obvious. To have an already existing “law” or a “force”, such as gravity, is not “nothing”. Gravity is something! Nothing means nothing…no laws, no forces, no energy, no matter…no anything! Ex nihilo! So, who created gravity? Where did the universal laws, forces, energy and matter come from? Who created the force that binds elementary particles together to form atoms and molecules? You can’t say they always existed; there had to be a beginning where there were no forces, no anything.
“Spontaneous creation”?…really Dr. Hawking?
As a tree searches for light to empower its machine, so too must we also be searchers of light. Searching for the light of truth; if you would open your eyes, heart and mind to receive God’s truth, you would see real light and receive real living water.
Light is intended for seeing and guidance; we all need it. A Christian is to search, absorb its warmth and truth, and then spread it to others. Our world wants to stop Christians from talking, but we can’t stop. We are to respond in love and gentleness with the mercy and grace we have received. The world is hurting and we Christians, who know of the love of Jesus, need to share that love because we care for others, even those who hate us. We Christians are commissioned to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for Christ is the light to the world. His Light becomes our Light, so we find Jesus saying:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)
When was the last time you read the book of Daniel? How about Daniel Chapter 6? Even those non-Christians have heard the Daniel and the Lion’s Den story. Are you sure it is just a story, maybe you think of it as just a kid’s story?
Daniel, now in his 80’s was high in the Darius Kingdom (6:3); for many years he stayed true to Yahweh and yet was most favored by the various kings of Babylon since his exile. His so-called friends, jealous and corrupt, hated Daniel, yet could find no basis to bring charges against him. So they tricked King Darius to issue a decree (6:12) that would get Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. A stone was rolled over the entry to the lion’s den and sealed (6:17). The king went to the den in the morning and found Daniel alive (6:19-22).
The story of Daniel, six centuries before the birth of Jesus, parallels the story of Jesus, high and mighty God, yet falsely accused by evil men who argued that the ruling governor should kill Jesus. The body placed in a tomb, a stone rolled over the entry and sealed. The next available morning, Jesus was found alive.
Lions throughout history are often tied to chaos, evil destroying and consuming, in the universe. Without Jesus the Christ, there too would be evil destroying and consuming the earth and the whole universe which He created. Obviously, these two events are tied together…the evil men who falsely accused Daniel were thrown into the lion’s den (6:24), and the evil men who falsely accused Jesus, their “lion’s of chaos” never allowed them to see the Messiah they longed for, never for them to receive mercy and grace! Without Jesus, there is death; this is no kid’s story!
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after his encounter with God, he was physically changed. When we become a new creation in Christ, we are changed as well; the old has gone away. There should be a difference between a Christian and the rest of the world; unfortunately, many cultural statistics remain the same whether the surveyed group is Christian or not. One should wonder if there is really a change or not; for Jesus said many would call Him LORD and He would say, I don’t know you (Matt. 7:21-23). We are to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1). We are to strive to be like Him (Romans 8:29). As Christians, when people see us they should be able to tell that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). In boldness and in love we should stand up for Jesus and be His disciples no matter what the world thinks of us. Be holy as Christ is holy; be loving as Christ is loving…search and find Jesus Christ, then strive to be like Him.
We searchers of light are not perfect, but we try to be. When we fall short, we are supported by the Spirit and forgiven by God’s grace. So what then is our action toward those that hate us? Shall we return the hate? Fight fire with fire? No! Jesus forgave those that tortured Him and killed Him on that rugged cross. No, we are to love our enemies; though in a way they are not “our” enemies, but we are “their” own enemies. Actually, the love we are to show is not our love at all but God’s love, we are only instruments [disciples] used to pass that love [Agape love-God’s love] around to all that will receive it. Strange that “God’s love” is such a threat to so many; they have no eyes to see.
Someone has to say it. I am troubled. My country, the once great United States of America, that stood for freedom, accomplishment, and the ableness of all citizens to succeed and believe as they wished, has grossly slipped toward the failure of socialism. We now have half the country wanting government to provide for their every need; this is not the role of America’s government. To that end nearly half voted for the uncharged criminal that would have delivered such control over the people instead of a business man that just might actually help the country…why? Have we fallen so far already? We see huge protests based on fabrications and misunderstandings. Anarchists in the streets, upset over a fair election that didn’t go as they wanted, now destroy property as thug criminals. What have we become?
Someone has to say it. Half the country was upset when Obama was elected but we saw no protests or violence in the streets then What is different now? Civil leaders are ministers of God (Romans 13:3-4); God can and does raise them up and brings them down (Daniel 2:21). I agree with Nathan Tabor as he mentioned back in 2008: The humanist view of the role of government is to “perfect” mankind; while the Scriptural view of government’s role is to “protect” mankind. Which are we seeing now in America? Since there is no such thing as perfection, we are seeing chaos. Sad…I am troubled for my country! What kind of country is being left for my grandsons?
Let’s all step back, pray for guidance and healing…and try to be more loving to one another. Let prayer guide you rather than your politics!