Does God Love Me?

Okay, I could have asked, “Does God love you?” But I thought I would just pick on myself here. You can pretend I am talking about you if you want.

Consider this…

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”- John 15:10

Do I obey Jesus’ commands? A lot of times we tell ourselves how full of grace and acceptance God has. He does have a lot. After all, look at the types of people Jesus reached out to in the New Testament.  However, Jesus said, “Obey my commands.” Actually he said, “if”, which indicates there might be a catch to God’s love?

Let me put it this way. Could Jesus be saying, If you do not obey my commands you will not remain in my love? This might be the negative view. But I think you get the picture. Jesus gave an example of his own too. He obeyed his Father and because of the obedience, remains in God’s love. Can we fall out of God’s love?

You think about it. I am not going to say any more right now.

God bless.

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The Power of Submission: Christlike Leadership

Just before Jesus was hung on the cross, John records a very important demonstration of the power of submission. He demonstrated that the kind of leadership he wants is one of submission. In John 13, the author records, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

People who are in leadership positions are in power. You can lead by force, by charisma, or by example. Most of the time when we think of leading we do not think about submission. However, Jesus turns things upside down. Jesus wanted the men who were to lead his people to do so from positions of service not power.

He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:4-17

I think we all know that those who are truly great the real heroes are people who have given of themselves with no thought of reward or the consequences. Real leaders are often unsung and annonymous. Jesus at the end of his ministry was trying to teach the apostles that the Son of God came to serve, so should they.

The kind of leaders he was trying to create were not the kind the world already had, those that lord over their subjects, instead he wanted servant leaders. Leaders in submission to God and willing to serve others.

God bless.

The Power of Submission

Ever wondered if there were any power in submission? I think the two words are antonyms. Power and submission.

Power defined by Merriam-Webster is possession of control, authority, or influence over others; one having such power; specifically : a sovereign state; physical might or political control or influence.

Submission defined by Merriam-Webster is the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant; an act of submitting to the authority or control of another.

By definition, submission is the act of putting another in power. The one in submission has given their power to someone else. Where is the power in that?

Think about these words from Jesus.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27,28)

Jesus submitted himself to God. For what purpose. Why alow himself to be hung on the cross to die?

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

The ultimate power in submission is Christ’s willingness to die in order to fulfill his Fathers will. It is the power to change you and me. To save you and me.

God bless.

The Rest of the Story: The Older Brother

Let me borrow one of Paul Harvey’s favorite phrases and tell you the rest of the story about the prodigal son. I know you have read or heard the parable before. If not you can read it all at biblegateway.com in Luke 15:11-32. I have also posted several other posts about this parable. This is one of my favorites.

Basically, the little brother asks his father for his inheritance (before his father is dead). He takes the money and hits the road and starts living the good life. He has lots of food, fun, and friends. That is until his money runs out. Just so happens when he hits rock bottom he comes to his senses and remembers how good it was living with his father. So he decides to go home and apologize. Because he no longer considers himself worthy of being his father’s son he decides to ask his father for a job. When the son gets close to home, his dad sees him and comes running. He welcomes him home enthusiastically and seems to completely forget of all the wrongs the son committed. He forgives him. Of his return home the father says, ‘this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

Most of the time this is as far as anyone gets in the parable. However, this is not the point of the parable. It is an important part. We need to see ourselves as the prodigal son because we all are; however, in the context of the scriptures, the parable is really about what happens next.

You see, Jesus is telling this parable to the people gathered around him in response to the Pharisees accusation that Jesus accepts sinners.

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  Luke 15:1-2

Jesus was trying to teach them a lesson. So he told 3 parables, the parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and finally the Parable of the Lost Son. All three about looking for something lost. God is looking for those who are lost. They are who He is after, who he loves. (Okay, he loves everyone so by default that means he loves sinners.) And in all three the people celebrate finding the lost item. That is until Jesus gets to the last parable of the three, the lost son.

Someone was not happy. More than that, he was ready to give up on his daddy. Out in the fields, after everyone else was celebrating was the older brother. Remember him, he stayed home. He did what his dad asked. He worked hard and never asked his dad for anything. Now he was angry. How could his father let this no count brother come back? Not just come back but celebrate his return?

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” Luke 15:28-32

As far as the Pharisees were concerned, “sinners” were not going to take any part in God’s kingdom. Only the Pharisees were going to be saved. Because they were the good people. They suffered and gave up things for God. Everyone else was having all the fun, not them, they were strict, disciplined, and outwardly perfect.  I love this parable because Jesus really gets in the Pharisees’ faces and preaches.

Do you hear the message? Here is one.

Stop thinking you are suffering for Christ when you do not live like the world does. Stop condemning those who have chosen to ignore God and face the world alone. Clean off the welcome mat outside the door of your heart and get ready to welcome some folks home. Home is so sweet and so warm. Everything in it is Yours, get ready to share.

God bless.

Resolutions 2008: Grace

Give yourself some grace!

Grace means you do not have to be perfect. You do not have to keep your resolutions perfectly just keep on trying. Remember God loves you more than you can comprehend.

Now for the real challenge, give someone else some grace.

I have come up with another Older brother trait and it is no forgiveness. Older brothers really appreciate Gods love and grace he gives them but do not transfer that to other people. “God will not forgive them,” they may say.

Well it does not work that way. Jesus told us to forgive others.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

Giving the grace we ourselves expect to receive is a big part of becoming like Jesus.

God bless. Spread the grace.

Flashlight Fetish

I have a deep personal love affair with flashlights. Not sure when it really took hold, probably when all the different LED flashlights came available. I really think they are neat. Everyone should have 3 or 4 around the house. I actually carry one with me all the time.

It may be genetic. My Grandfather, Papa, always carried a flashlight too. This Christmas I gave a Craftsman LED equipped Ball Cap away in our family free for all. I put a little card in the package that said, “In loving memory of “Papa” who’s light still shines in all of us.” I have so many fond memories of us giving him a hard time about having a flashlight all the time.

In another way, because he was a good Christian man, his Christian light shines through us too. His dedication to Christ has lead many to know Jesus, especially his Grandchildren. Papa never mentioned a spiritual connection to his love of lights so I will.

“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”- Luke 2:28-32

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness. John 3:19 says the world loved darkness instead of the light. I hate sitting in the dark at work when the power goes out. I hate sitting in the dark of my sin lost spiritually too. We do not have to be in the dark.

God bless. Turn on the light.

Woe is Me

I hope this list does not apply to you but if it does today is the time to start doing things differently. Jesus really let the Pharisees have it in this passage from Matthew.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! Matthew 23:13-32

The real question is, “Do you relate to any of these seven problems?” I hope you do. I do. If you do not WONDERFUL. However, I would probably think you were lying. And not being able to see sin in you life is a key Older brother characteristic, so watch out.

God Bless