Sunday, February 22, 2015

God's Plan For Us Is To Be Spiritually Prepared

Are we fully prepared to face all of life's challenges? We can be. But we can't if we're paralyzed by the thought that we don't have the "right" opportunities before us.

Some people are waiting for God to act, to "open a door," to make things "right" for us so we can grow into the people God wishes us to be. They wait, sometimes a lifetime, for God to "put the right person" into their lives, either a mate or a boss or a benefactor.

But we should stop waiting, and start acting. Because Jesus, the one He chose and sent to us as a teacher, tells us God does not show favoritism among people, and the scriptures teach us that He does not accept bribes to do our bidding for us (Deut. 10:17.) The creator of the Universe is not our door man, our butler, or our personal magic Genie.

Instead, Jesus tells us God wishes us to serve others and love God COMPLETELY, with all that we have and all that we are. He does not tell us to wait for God to make our wishes come true. He calls us to ACT to fulfill others' needs.

God has done, and will continue to do, all He can to prepare us to confront any challenge. We must pledge to use what he's given us to do Good on behalf of others.

What, then, is God's "plan for our lives?" Nothing less than to love Him with all we have, and serve others completely. In this way, we grow into the people God wants us to become.

His PLAN is for us to be spiritually ready for WHOMEVER and WHATEVER comes into our paths.

God's plan for our lives is for us to be spiritually prepared to handle whatever life throws at us.

Inspired by God, we help those around us. God works through us when we allow Him to inspire us to work in holiness. And we may know what we can do all God wants us to do because He has chosen and sent us Jesus as an example to follow. And this Jesus spent every day of his life perfectly serving others completely and putting others above his own comfort and desires.

God's plan for our lives is that we are spiritually prepared to serve in perfect love.

God's plan for our lives is that we serve others wherever we are.

God's plan for our lives is to be ready to serve and love people in whatever situation we find ourselves.

God helps prepare us, at birth, by giving us a thirst for knowledge of Righteousness, and a will that can freely choose to serve Him.

God helps prepare us to serve Him and others in His name by granting us the Wisdom and spiritual strength we may obtain from Him through prayer. This is how we learn His will.

When we're spiritually prepared to do God's will in every situation, we can meet any challenge.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

God Is Not Our Personal, Wish-Granting Genie

If a stranger walked up to you on the street and said, "I know a guy, a professional 'fixer,' who can get you a better job, make sure you get more money, attract a perfect mate, and even manipulate other people to make things, you know, go BETTER for you," you'd probably think he, like TV's Tony Soprano, was inviting you to join a criminal enterprise.

But shockingly, people - many, many people - believe this about GOD, the Creator of the universe! Many, in fact, believe He is in the same "business" as Tony Soprano - the business of manipulating the world to "fix" things for those He randomly selects to be in his "family."

Many people actually PREFER this view of God because it means we can throw the burden of "Good Works" onto God Himself, and selfishly (albeit PRIVATELY) complain when God doesn't work all things out for our personal, selfish benefit.

But that paints God as a sky-dwelling puppet-master - a magic genie who manipulates every detail of every human life.

This may be a very ancient view (ancient paganism) but it's a completely FALSE, childish, and warped view of God, our world, and of the faith God wishes for us.

How shameful it is for us to believe that God, our Creator, can manipulate people we dislike or who aren't on our "team" to lose their jobs, to have car accidents, to be injured, or to get diseases!

And how sad to believe that WE should somehow be immune from trouble because God is our "fixer in the Heavens." Again, this is an appeal to paganism and magic, not to Jesus and his, and our, God.

This Jesus, the one God selected to tell us about God and what God requires of us, tells us that we are to conform our lives to God's Will and to seek always His perfect purity, holiness and goodness by faithful obedience. 

By doing this, we will be equipped to handle whatever happens to us during our daily journey. 

Jesus never tells us we will never be persecuted, hated or despised for doing this. In fact, Jesus says: be READY for it. This is what we sign up for as Jesus Followers, not golden streets, great wealth and perfect health.

In reality, Jesus calls us to a healthy, adult relationship with our Father, and wishes us to treat all people as our brothers and sisters, loving them, and Him, with all that we have. 

Jesus calls us to take action OURSELVES to build up God's Kingdom, through righteous acts and purified motives.

But doesn't God "move mountains?" Doesn't He work miracles, and grant us Grace to achieve what He asks of us?

Surely, God does indeed "move mountains" - by granting us ever growing faith by which we can COMPLETELY change our lives into something resembling the one His chosen Spokesman, Jesus, modeled for us during his life, and even in his death.

God changes lives in miraculous ways - when our eyes are finally open and we see the wonderful spiritual principles His servant Jesus laid out for us, which will help us achieve the kind of perfection God calls us to achieve.

And God never leaves us alone, sending us His Grace when we ask for strength through prayer. And we know that we have Jesus' example and words always with us as a guidepost, showing us how we are to live according to God's Will.

We must lay aside the ignorant and pagan beliefs we have inherited from the childhood of the human race.

God is not a sky-dwelling Genie who will grant our material wishes and make us rich or healthy; and when we instead seek a simple, profound and straight-forward faith in which we obey God through the example of His Anointed one, Jesus, we enter into a healthy, joyous and adult relationship with our Father.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Be All You Can Be!

The United States Army had a saying a few years back, "Be All You Can Be."

It urged people to join the army to become stronger, better, and more complete people.

The message that Jesus preached offered the same program, minus the military training.

Jesus' teachings are properly and legitimately seen as a template by which we can model our lives.

But while other teachings in our world seek to make us better business people, better employees, more enthusiastic dieters, or materially richer, the message Jesus preached challenged us to become more spiritually complete.

Jesus tells us that God created us to be complete beings, and that we are to forgo those things that hold us back from accomplishing that Goal.

Sin - falling short of God's ideal for us - is what keeps us from becoming what God wants us to become.

When we repent of our sins (by recognizing our acts were not aimed at doing God's will) and commit to seeking and doing God's will, we begin to become who God wants us to be.

By accepting the knowledge of God's path Jesus reveals to us, we are then challenged by Jesus to actively live out this Faith.

We live out our faith not just with our lips, or our good intentions, but with Good Works. And we have the life of Jesus and the ongoing spiritual support of God's Spirit to guide us.

God has given us so much - our spirits, our ability to do great things, our inborn talents, and the very earth and universe around us.

He asks in return that we BE ALL WE CAN BE - that we become spiritually whole and complete (perfect) just as He himself is perfect. And that we serve in perfect mercy and compassion, just as Jesus did.

We become a gift to others after we prepare ourselves spiritually to do God's will.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

There is Nothing Mysterious In the Gospel of Jesus. #JesusFollowers

Our Master, Jesus, left us a legacy of hope with his words, his life, his teachings and his death. All remain an example to us of a life lived perfectly for God. In this, Jesus was clear that he was not hiding anything from his disciples. Nor is anything hidden from us, today.

Jesus said: "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for EVERYTHING that I learned from my Father I have MADE KNOWN to you." (Matt. 15:15)

And Jesus said: "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOU." (Matt. 13:11) "Because whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open." (Mark 4:22)

This was not true for some religions of the ancient Roman world in which Jesus lived. For some, faith was built around a "mystery." Priests of these "mystery religions" were charged with revealing the secrets of the gods to those who had been initiated. Only then were these "mysteries" unfolded to the one who had committed to worship the deities that were the focus of those faiths.

But Jesus and HIS Gospel were different.

Jesus revealed ALL THINGS to the world during his lifetime, and did so openly, and to all.

There was nothing the remained hidden, nothing left out. There were no "mysteries" left to unfold or reveal after the ministry of Jesus ended.

Just as he spoke to his disciples, Jesus speaks to us today - through the simple, clear teachings in the Gospels. We follow Jesus and obey God with our eyes wide open, with our full understanding, as well as our hearts and minds.

Jesus calls us to repent of our sins, to seek to live righteously and in a Godly way, to forgive others, to love and pray for our enemies, to do Good Works (in humility) and to love God and serve others in God's name. He says we will be rewarded according to our deeds alone, judged by God alone: we are not to judge ourselves or each other. That, and nothing more, is the Gospel.

The Gospel Jesus gave us wasn't lacking in anything when his ministry finished with his death on the cross. We need no further explanations, no further revelations, and no interpretations, in order to determine what we must do to please God.

The clarity of Jesus' message is obvious to all who read it. The life, teachings and example of Jesus are a clear window onto the Will of God.

Jesus challenges us to do all that God asks of us, and has given us an example we can follow.

He points us to God, calling us to repent of our sinful acts, seek forgiveness, and live the way God wants us to live.

God continues to grant us all the strength, love and support we need to continue growing into Spiritual Completeness and maturity.

We are told by Jesus to "do as I have done" and to "follow my example." We are not to hide our good works under a bushel basket, but to Do Good, and do so in humility, not simply to be seen by others.

Accepting this knowledge of God's path which Jesus reveals to us, we are challenged to actively live out this Faith as friends and followers of Jesus.

Let us do so with faith, humility and joyful obedience to God, who sent us Jesus to reveal His will to us!