Friday, July 29, 2011

Loving God with Our Emotions:

You have heard it said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" - Mark 12:30. Jesus is telling us to love God with our everything. He is admonishing us to love God with our emotions (heart), our inner-man (soul), our intellect (mind), and our actions (strength). Loving God involves all of these expressions.

With such a clear directive from our Savior, it is surprising that there is a segment of the evangelical community that continues to shun loving God with our emotions. These teachers indirectly and sometimes intentionally tell people that an emotional experience with the Lord or an expression of emotions toward the Lord is somehow "less than" or even heretical and unbiblical. This argument often surrounds the selection of corporate worship songs.

Where does this war against emotions come from? It does not come from the Bible or the heart of God. I often wonder if the people who instruct against loving God with our emotions are people who have issues expressing their emotions and therefore have created an emotionless world and theology.

Again, Jesus instructs us to love God with our emotions. In the greek, the word "heart" is regarded as the seat of emotion, feeling, impulse, affection, desire. The Lord created us to experience and to express emotions. He gave us these qualities because He created us in His image and He created us in order to love Him rightly. King David is called "the man after God's heart." King David was a man of emotions. Just read the Psalms. In many ways, the Psalms were given to us by God to encourage and highlight the involvement of our emotions in our love of HIm. Our passionate God created us to be passionate. He wants more than just our dutiful service and our understanding of His truth - He also wants our emotions.

Loving God and worshipping HIm must include our everything: emotions, inner-man, intellect, and actions. To diminish any of these expressions of love is to rob people of the relationship God created them to have with Him. To diminish and discourage any of these expressions, including the involvement of our emotions, is to rob the Lord of the complete love from His precious children for which His Son gave His life. God loves it when we get emotional for Him and because of Him.

While it can be dangerous and ill advised to base our doctrine on emotions and feelings, it is also dangerous and ill advised to allow our doctrine to remove our emotions from our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who do you crave time with: family or God?

In my last post I wrote about craving the Lord. We are called to make the Lord our number one passion. There are noble things in this world. For instance, parenting is extremely noble; it is a blessing from the Lord and a responsibility too. Culture and even the church tells me as a parent to crave time with my kids. I agree that I should desire to spend time with my children and to invest into them. However, nowhere in the Bible does it tell me to “crave” time with my kids. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell me to make time with my kids the most important thing in my life.

Hang with me here…

As we study God’s Word, we see a common theme that tells us to crave the Lord, to make Him our treasure, to seek Him first, to make Him our deep desire. We must give our lives, our first, and our best to the Lord. Nothing else can take His place and nothing else should be allowed to rob us of our time with God and our passion for the Lord. Not even our families.

While God’s Word does teach us to invest our everything in Him and in His kingdom, it also teaches us that we should not do this on our own. We are not called to simply go off on our own and get as much of God for ourselves and let everyone else fend for themselves. Rather, we are called to bring others along with us on this amazing journey. We are called to make disciples. And our family members, our children, should be at the top of the list of those we are bringing along with us on this journey.

So go after God with all that is within you. Chase after Him. Pursue the Lord. Crave pure spiritual milk. Let your family watch you live for the Lord. Teach them what it means to live for God. Show them with your life, your actions, your priorities, and your investments what it looks like to crave the Lord. Teach your children what is really important. Leave an eternal legacy of generations that live life for God and crave the Lord. Your children are watching and learning.

Go after the Lord with your everything and bring your family along for the ride. Your family time will be rich because it will be time pursuing the Lord together. Your family will be built up in the Lord, you will create God-sized family memories, your legacy will stand the test of time, and the Lord will be glorified.

I trust you understand the heart of this message is not to spend less time with your family, rather it is a call to an amazing family adventure in pursuit of the Lord. This is how we truly, "raise up our children in the way that they should go."

What are You Craving?

What are you craving? God’s Word tells us in 1 Peter 2:2 to crave “pure spiritual milk.” That pure spiritual milk is the Lord Himself. Are you finding a craving in your heart for God - to know Him better, to grow closer to Him?

This can be a challenge for us today because there are so many things in our lives that cry out for attention, that take our energy, and consume our passions. But Peter reminds us that the one who is truly born again, will long for the presence of the Lord; and not just long for Him on Sunday mornings alone.

We must reject the Sunday morning only, spectator mentality of the Christian faith. Being a Christian is not dependent upon, nor is it summed up by simply attending a church service and looking bored with the preacher. That isn't what it means to be a follower of Christ. Following Christ is living dynamically. It's a craving for God, to know God, to be excited about God. It’s an all-consuming passion for Him.

Indifference and lukewarmness is very dangerous. We hear this from too many people these days, “if I have time, if it works out, if I've got the money, if I'm not doing anything else… then I will go after God with my everything.” We can’t give God our leftovers.

A little baby not only desires its mother's milk, but that baby has a powerful, instinctive urge for that milk. This is what Peter is talking about here… having an URGE, a craving, a passion for the Lord, for His Presence, His truth, His Word, His Ways.

If you're a believer, are you craving the Lord?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

FINDING JOY

Let me tell you a little secret... true joy is found in holiness; in being "set apart" for the things of the Lord. When we set ourselves apart from the things of this world and consecrate ourselves unto the Lord, we find joy. I was reminded of this truth as I was reading in Ezra chapter 6. After rebuilding the temple, those who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of the world in order to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, found so much joy that they celebrated and feasted for seven days. It was only those who had pursued holiness that were participants in this great celebration. Those who set themselves apart for the things of the Lord and leave behind the things of this world, get to participate in the things of God and enjoy the blessings and presence of the Lord. This is where true joy is found - in the Lord.

Most people think of obedience to the Lord as "downer" and something that will make life boring. Others think that mixing some things of this world in with the things of God is an acceptable way of living and that God is totally cool with it. These are lies and believing these lies is keeping people from experiencing true joy, true peace, and a satisfied life. We have to remember that the Lord does not get cozy with worldliness.

I contend that there is no real joy apart from the Lord. Yes, there may be temporary experiences of happiness that feel like joy. But true and lasting joy that penetrates the soul and gives life to the spirit only comes from the Lord and this joy is only experienced by those who are setting themselves apart for Him and Him alone. When we compromise in the area of obedience, we cheat ourselves of real joy. When we engage in the things of this world that do not glorify the Lord, it costs us greatly. It costs us the joy of the Lord. However, when we purpose to consecrate ourselves unto God and when we aggressively set ourselves apart from the unclean practices of this world, the joy of the Lord fills us up and becomes our portion. Are you ready to exchange the junk of this world for the joy of the Lord? I am.

I leave you with the words of Jesus:
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. 10 If you obey My commands (holiness), you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. 11 I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." - John 15:9-11

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

LEAVING A LEGACY

What are we passing down to our children; to the next generation? What will be our legacy? Be assured, how we live our lives is sending a strong message to those who follow us. Are we showing them how to gain wealth, financial success, prosperity, a career OR are we showing them how to touch the heart of God? There is nothing wrong with wealth, financial success, prosperity, or a career. However, none of these are eternal. They are all temporal and they all pass away. None of these pursuits even compare to touching the very heart of God and beholding His beauty.

So, what are we investing in today? What are we dedicated to? What example are we giving to our children and the generation that is looking up to us for direction? Do they see us diligently and with great zeal seeking the Lord or do they see us dedicated to other things? Again, we are showing our children what is important every day by how we spend our time and where we invest our resources. What are we passing down to our children? What will be our legacy?

Jesus should be our example. He was about His Father's business. What are we about? Our children are watching and they are learning. What are we seeking first? Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Can you really say that you are seeking first HIs kingdom and His righteousness? What would your kids say you are seeking first? What will be your legacy?

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Biblical Key to Answered Prayer:

Why do the prayers of some seem to always be answered, while the prayers of others don’t? Is it because some people know what to say and how to say it? Is there a trick to seeing our prayers answered or is it just the luck of the draw?

Well, we know that the Lord is sovereign and perfect in all He does. He will answer the prayers that He wants to answer; those prayers that are “according to His will.” But it also looks like the Bible doesn’t guarantee everyone equal access to the Lord and equal results in prayer.

Check out these passages of scripture and notice how obedience and righteousness are correlated to answered prayers. How much more of God’s kingdom would we experience if we embraced the sanctified and obedient lifestyle Christ died for us to live?

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” - James 5:16

O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.” - Nehemiah 1:11

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” - 2 Chronicles 7:14

These are just a few passages that make this correlation. God’s Word is full of this truth. I contend that we will see great revival, the kingdom of God will come in greater measure, and our prayers will be answered when the church embraces obedience and righteousness.