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Public Enemy Number One

How is it that a husband and wife can turn into enemies? Why do churches get torn apart in relational wars? And why do we fight such fierce battles within our own hearts? Perhaps it’s that we have allowed the real enemy to cloak himself. Jesus said,

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

John 10:10 (NLT)

In other words, when there is stealing, killing, and destroying going on, it’s because the real enemy has snuck into the picture. In moments of conflict, my wife and I have often reminded each other of this truth. When we recognize the evil attempts of the enemy to divide us, we almost always calm down and turn toward each other for mutual support against his tactics.

Jesus’ purpose is never to destroy you. His plan is to give you both a new quantity and a new quality of life. Eternal, abundant, rich and satisfying life is what He grants to all who come to Him by faith. And when you meet Jesus, He grants to you the gift of eternal life to be enjoyed right away, not merely after you’re dead.

So rebuke the enemy, flee to Jesus, and start really living!

What Being a Follower of Jesus Is Really All About

Some of the scariest verses in the Bible are found at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount…

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

– Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)

Jesus made it clear that entrance into His family, His kingdom, His heaven is not based on knowing the right lingo. Speaking Christianese and talking like a church member won’t get us “in.” He also made it clear that it’s not about doing things for Him, as though our works would somehow purchase for us what Jesus already paid for in full on the cross. And it isn’t even about having a particular emotional or miraculous experience.

It’s really all about knowing Him. Jesus will say to many, “I never knew you,” meaning, I never knew you by experience in a personal way. You may know about Jesus and even do things in His name. And He certainly knows all about you, through and through. After all, He’s the divine architect of your soul. But do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?

Knowing Him is what following Him is all about. It starts and stops there. These verses don’t have to be scary, but they should prompt a heart-check in us to be sure that we’re in the family of God by faith.

photo credit: Alain-Christian

Bless the Little Children

This cartoon cracks me up, but illustrates the point well.

One of the sweetest scenes in the Bible is the little children gathering around Jesus to sit on His lap. The Bible describes the scene this way,

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them.

– Matthew 19:13 (NLT)

What I love about this scene is the picture of Jesus’ personality that comes through. There was something about Jesus that kids loved. He wasn’t an intimidating, judgmental, cynical man who looked down on them for being kid-like. He reveled in their joy, their innocence, and their simple trust.

Here’s the short question – have you cultivated the kind of joyful personality that blesses children and causes them to want to draw near you? If not, it may be that you’re struggling to bless adults too. And if we fail to bless others with our smile, our gentle touch, and our encouraging words, we may just fail to create a space for the sharing of the gospel of love.

Jesus Is a Treasure to Be Discovered

I still remember digging around in a treasure chest full of sand at the Browning Fair. I felt something like a rock and pulled it out – it was gold! Actually, it was a rock, spray-painted to look like gold. I traded it for a cheap plastic fire helmet which was probably the greater treasure to a little boy enamored with firefighters like his Dad and Granddaddy.

There are wonderful and amazing truths to be discovered about our Creator, about eternity, and about our own souls. Where did God hide all of this wisdom? In Jesus.

God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ.

– Colossians 2:3 (GW)

Jesus is a treasure worthy of discovery. In fact, He’s worth selling everything else to focus on the hunt with all of our heart and energy. And where do we begin digging? Our first clues are in the story of God inspired in the Scriptures. Grab a Bible. Start digging.

photo credit: ToNToN CoPT

Lavished!

Sometimes the phrase “God loves you” just seems so shallow, especially when we print it on little yellow smiley face bouncy balls. If we’re not careful, we wind up with the impression that God’s love is a novelty, a token of sorts. But that’s not the love of God the Bible presents…

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!… 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

This is no love in word only. God’s love isn’t merely something that sounds good on a bumper sticker. No, this is the kind of love that gets lavished upon us to the degree that we are blown away by the measure of His goodness.

God loves you enough to send His Son to die for your sins, to forgive and redeem you, to bring you into His home, and to adopt you and call you HIS child. He also loves you enough to wait for you to choose Him.

You may be going through a difficult season, or you may simply feel apathetic about life right now. Regardless of how you feel at the moment, meditate on the truth of God’s love today and relish in it! Roll around in its absolute abundance. Feast yourself on the love that God offers to you.

Lavished