We love our freedom.In fact, we love it so much that we have mistaken the free will of man as a synonym for our rights.Freedom without obedience will threaten a nation or a family.It’s also destructive to Christians who abuse God’s grace as an opportunity to accept His promises without the rules.It just doesn’t work that way.
The Children of Israel had become rebellious, as recorded in Deuteronomy.They pushed Jehovah aside and worshipped idols and the gods of their neighbors until their behavior evoked a stern warning: “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave to him!”Deut 13:4.It was as simple a strategy then as it is now:obey God and be blessed; rebel against Him and be cursed (Deut28).
John the Apostle recorded the words of Jesus in John 14,“If you love me you will do whatever I command.”So the consequences of disobedience remain the same today as in the Old Testament; if we chose NOT to obey we suffer the negative and certain consequences of our actions.
On a wall in the Lubeck Cathedral there is engraved a poem which dates back to the construction of the church (1137 – 1247 AD).The very last line is quite unexpected.No one seems to know who wrote this masterpiece:
Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us: Ye call Me Master, and obey Me not; Ye call Me light, and see Me not; Ye call Me Way, and walk Me not; Ye call Me Life, and desire Me not;
Ye call-Me Wise and follow Me not; Ye call Me fair and love Me not; Ye-call Me Rich and ask Me not; Ye call Me Eternal, and seek Me not; Ye call Me Gracious; and trust Me not; Ye call Me Noble, and serve Me not. Ye call Me Mighty, and honor Me not; Ye Call Me Just, and fear Me not; If I condemn you, blame Me not.
In God’s wisdom He created us with a free will and we have REALLY grown to love that attribute He gave us!We are free to choose right from wrong, good from evil and even things which taste good over the things that do not.But in our choosing we must choose wisely because our decisions may lead to reward or they may lead to punishment.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, make us discontent with the temporary rewards of our poor choices; and remind us that the consequences of disobedience are eternal.Amen and amen.
“This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down my life so I may take it up again.No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own.I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again.I have received this command from my Father.”
-Jesus Christ in John 10:17-18
In Ernest Gordon's book "Miracle on the River Kwai" we are presented with the following story - the Scottish soldiers, were forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad and one afternoon something happened.A shovel was missing.The Japanese officer in charge became enraged.He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else.When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot... It was obvious the officer meant what he had said.Then, finally, one man stepped forward.The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death.
When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloodied corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check.This time, no shovel was missing.Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first check point.The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp.An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others!
What a gift from the volunteer to die!Truly, there is no greater gift to give a friend or loved one than your life!Luckily for all of us, Christ GAVE his life for us!He did not die for us because He HAD to; He died for us because He WANTED to!Jesus Christ freely gave His life so that we might receive His salvation. He didn't do this because we deserved it. At best, all our righteousness is as filthy rags in God's sight.
GospeLines Prayer: “Father, we thank you for your gift of salvation through your son, the precious and holy lamb Christ Jesus.We thank you that He humbled Himself, and came to earth, not out of obligation, but out of His desire to reconcile us to you, and willingly laid down His life on the cross. Father, we pray that, should the time and place arise, we may have the courage to sacrifice ourselves for the good of our brother, as Christ sacrificed Himself for us.Amen.”
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, March 9, 2011
"Two Thumbs Up"
I owned a Geo Tracker 4x4 Convertible for about 9 years, blue with a white top.How I loved that car and I still miss it. Don’t you dare laugh at me, because I would tell everyone that when it grows up it’s going to be a Jeep Wrangler!
On the way home from work one day, there was another Tracker in the lane next to me, just like mine, except it was solid white. The driver was a young Hispanic man in his early twenties. I pulled up beside him, looked over and smiled and gave him a thumb’s up sign for his cool ride (that means nice choice of vehicle). He returned the smile and gesture, and for a brief moment, in busy traffic, our lives leaped the barriers of thirty years age difference, race and language. It was a two-thumbs-up experience!
Connecting with people at any level is crucial in our impersonal, selfish world. It might only be a sincere “How-do-you-do”, or a word of encouragement, or genuine interest in something he/she is wearing, or a question about their family. It really doesn’t matter what topic you choose. What is important, is that Christians have the privilege, no, the obligation to give back some of the joy which Jesus has given to us.That small effort on our part may be the icebreaker which leads to a serious discussion about a person’s soul and eternal destiny.
“You are the light of the world... let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”(Matthew 5:14, 16)
GospeLines Prayer:The world has taught me so well the value of minding my own business, that I sometimes forget that YOUR business is my main business. Well, that stops right now! Today and every day, allow me to connect with one person so that they may experience a little bit of the joy of which I have a lot! Amen and amen.
The popular weekly television game show Let's Make A Deal made its debut on the NBC Television Network on December 30, 1963!This show’s popularity was due in part to the show’s finale.The stage was set with three doors and behind each door was a prize.One prize was always very valuable, another valuable, but not like the first.The 3rd door always revealed a “less that desirable” prize - a joke or gag prize.
After a contestant selected a door, one of the remaining doors was opened to show that prize.Then, the contestant was given the choice between the already selected door or the remaining unopened one.This caused the contestant a dilemma that was sometimes rewarding, sometimes sad; but, almost always entertaining.The show, like life, was about making choices based on faith.
Some have faith that is bolstered by human knowledge.They believe a certain medicine will cure us because of our faith in the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA.They believe that man descended from apes because of the fossils unearthed by anthropologists and their theories that explain their existence.They believe that there is no God because they have faith that, given time, science will unravel the mysteries of the universe (and of life) to their satisfaction.
Others have faith that cannot be buttress by human knowledge but is based in knowledge of the heart and soul.They believe that the prayers of a righteous person will accomplish much.They believe the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God.They have faith that the words spoken by Jesus Christ are true and that He will come again (Some think He’s coming very soon).
A few try to have it both ways.They accept God; but, they do not accept Jesus.Or, some believe that Jesus was a very important figure, maybe even a prophet; but, there are many ways to God.
Like Let's Make A Deal, life has choices (doors).If group #1 is right, it doesn’t really matter which door you pick because there is no God and there is no eternity.If group #3 is right, just be a good person and all the doors will lead to heaven.
However, if Jesus is right, there are only two doors.One, through Him, leads to Heaven and eternity with God.The other leads to hell and eternity away from God.If Jesus is right, there is no door #3.It’s time to pick…
Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
A child walks into the kitchen and sees a cookie jar. He opens the lid and reaches in only to find crumbs. When he walks away his Dad reaches into the cabinet and gets a cookie, which he was hiding for himself. The only thing the child was interested in was the cookie, he didn’t care about the jar; all he wanted was the cookie.
Now, suppose the Church is a cookie jar…
How do I get an unsaved person to reach his or her hand into the cookie jar?
How do I tell an unsaved person that the cookie he wants is inthe cookie jar?
What type of cookies does he or she want?
How do I keep them coming back to the cookie jar?
What do I do when I have them reaching into the cookie jar?
Sadly, far too many churches no longer share “cookies” with those who attend their services. The visitors don’t expect to receive cookiesbecause nothing (or little) in the presentation of the worship leads them to feel hungry for cookies. Instead, the worshippers expect and do receive a boost to their self-esteem, and that happens with regularity. When the visitor leaves the worship center he is filled with satisfaction that he was there, but he left empty handed! No cookies…just a warm, fuzzy feeling, the kind you get at the movies or when you are with friends.Admittedly, he didn’t have that feeling when he first arrived…but no cookies. Not one person offered him a cookie, although many boasted to him about the beautiful cookie jar.
A lot of churches are more interested in showing off the fabulous cookie jar than giving away cookies. And these jars come in all shapes, sizes, and denominations with all kinds of bells and whistles which attract people who need cookies, not beautiful jars. But by the time they fall in love with the cookie jar, they have forgotten all about the fact that the jar was empty. It just didn’t matter to them anymore. At the time, what they got from the worship service was so exciting and the jar was filled with so many amenities (bowling lanes, softball fields, exercise classes, yoga groups, cruises to exotic places and invitations to the country club, etc.) that they didn’t know they were actually missing the best part.
In fact, I don’t think we need so many jars anymore. Most of them are advertised to be more than they can deliver; some of them have so tightly restricted membership qualifications that the jars have become “off limits” to people who are different.They aren’t very interested in having others participate but I blame a lot of that on the management of the jars. It’s management’s obligation to teach about the origin of the jar, its purpose and its mission for today…people aren’t hearing that story as much as they should be.
There was a time when churches didn’t care as much about the jar as they did the cookies. They would even stand on a street corner and share those cookies all day long, or walk the neighborhoods to give away as many as possible, door to door. But cookies have lost their appeal to us. In spite of the famine all around us, we would rather sell the jar than give away the cookies. Cookies don’t bring in the tithes and offerings…jars do.
GospeLines Prayer: “Father, remind us that the cookie is more important than the jar. Remind us that it is not the jar that You yearn for, but rather what’s inside; and not necessarily the quantity, but the quality, also. Help us to “bake and share” more cookies in Your Name, O Lord.”