Tag Archives: Imagine

The Big Lie

I watched the beginning of a video a few weeks ago that is haunting. I couldn’t watch it all. I didn’t want to see the end. It was the video of a young lady committing suicide. Someone had filmed it. The beginning of the video was heartbreaking as she just stood there…on the edge of this tall building looking down. I stopped the video before she moved a muscle. The title told me all I needed to know. I can’t imagine the thoughts of someone as they make this kind of life ending decision. It’s a tragic event in the life of someone God has made. It’s a horrible end of the life of someone dear to God. I just couldn’t watch the point of decision…the point where she leans forward and moves beyond her ability to make any other decision. The rest is inevitable.

It made me think about something that I have been dwelling on for a long time. It’s what I call the big lie. It’s a lie that started many centuries ago, but continues to be believed even today. Here’s the lie- I can find happiness disobeying God. It’s a lie that we have believed to our own fall for centuries.
At first, you have a sense that all is well. You might find pleasure for a moment, a little excitement, maybe a thrill; but there will be a moment when you move past your ability to make any further choices and you begin to fall. The outcome is unavoidable. It will happen every time and yet I hear over and over again, as people tell me they want to make a choice that is clearly sin in scripture, “I just want to be happy…” My response is the same each time. It’s a response I have repeated to those on “the edge of their building” over and over again….”You will never find happiness disobeying God.” But what I know is that most people don’t believe me and so they go on that horrible quest that starts with the decision to jump and always ends in death.
Here’s how the book of James describes it,
James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Look at the way James describes this- conception, birth, full growth and then death. From conception to birth there is a time of growth. The baby is growing in the mother’s womb. For a few months it looks like there were no results from the intimate act that had in fact conceived a new baby, but soon the action begins to show….soon there’s a birth, then growth and finally death. This is the perfect description of disobedience to God. For a moment there is pleasure, no one disputes that, but there will be a birth coming. There will be results from sin, it will come to light, it will grow up and ultimately there will be a death because of the choice. Sin has a price and it’s high!
I’ve seen this so many times in my role as a pastor I could almost predict the outcome when a person decides that it is “ok” to disobey God because….”don’t you know….I just want to be happy.” There are a hundred stories I could tell. They all end the same. The big lie has not changed in centuries, nor have the results. Don’t believe the culture when they tell you that it’s ok, because God would surely want you happy. I must tell you that God is more interested in your obedience than he is in your happiness. If you do things God’s way happiness will be one of the results. If you do things your way happiness will always elude you because…you will never find happiness disobeying God.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

A Wealthy Pauper

It strikes me that a Christian who knows God is the richest of people while in the world’s eyes he may be without what the world values. We are the people who have everything, but possess nothing. We walk with a God who owns everything that exists and supplies us with daily needs. The world hordes goods, money, and things in the hope of having “enough” for the days ahead. Proverbs tells us to not set our hearts on riches because they make themselves wings and fly away.

And yet we long for security. We want to know we have enough in the bank to be ready for that rainy day when we will need it. We have the strange idea that we are in this by ourselves. In fact, for the man in the world I understand this need for security, but for the Christian who lives and moves in and with God it’s an idol to hold onto and seek after wealth as a security. God meets daily needs so that our trust and focus will be on him and not on our own ability to meet our needs.

There are difficult days. There are times when the economies of the world struggle. In those times those around us fear, panic and struggle….how will we survive? What will happen with our retirement? How will we have enough? We have this sense that all of this is up to us to hold onto, to provide, to save. If that is true we should be afraid! No one can be secure in the evil days. If we don’t trust in God for our daily needs, our daily provision, we will be fearful, worried and will struggle with the world around us.

But, imagine a man or woman who lives in the reality of a sovereign God who has promised to meet our needs and is fully able to do so. Imagine having nothing, but possessing everything. Imagine trusting God as your provision rather than your own ability. Imagine a rest, a trust in one who will provide no matter what the world around us is doing. Paul described it this way, “My God will provide all your needs according to his riches in glory.” What are his riches in glory? He owns everything, he possess all. If he lacks anything then he can’t be God, but he is! He has everything we need, everything. As you put your rest and trust in him you lack NOTHING.

In that trust we find ourselves to be wealthy paupers, possessing nothing, but having everything. We might walk about with empty pockets, but living as children of the Father who possesses the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns everything and promises to provide for us as we trust him. This is a whole different kind of life….a life of trust, of peace, of freedom from the news, the world’s fears, the crisis of the moment. It’s a life lived in dependence on a Father who has promised to provide all we need each day, our daily manna, the bread for the moment. We find we are the richest of men while in the moment we possess nothing at all.

The man or woman who trusts God finds they are the ultimate paradox- a wealthy pauper.

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to HIS riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

True security is not in the possession of things, but in the possession of someone…the great God, the wonderful Father, the source of all we need for the moment even as we walk about with empty pockets, a company of wealthy paupers.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

A Justified Death Sentence

A guest post from @proverbsnwisdom 

As a Christian for many years, Ashley Ormon is fully conscious of the life-changing impact an individual can have in putting God first and developing a close relationship with Jesus Christ. You are welcomed to visit her website and community, Proverbs & Wisdom, where she writes to encourage you, empower you, and enlighten you on how to become a more successful and wiser individual. Please experience the lovingkindness her Facebook community entails and the encouraging words sent out by her on Twitter!

A JUSTIFIED DEATH SENTENCE 

Imagine this:

You’re in court being trailed. You’ve been accused by many, there are witnesses to your crime, you’ve been proven guilty and there is no escape. So what happens to you? What’s your punishment? Death.

The list of crimes you committed are as follows:

You lied
You cheated
You stole
You murdered
You lusted in your heart
You hated
You gossipped
You cursed
You walked with the ungodly
You were disobedient
You had a prideful attitude

You were selfish

And the list goes on. And on. And on. The end? Never.

You ask for another chance, but you are refused.
They lay you down on to a bed. You’re confined: strapped down and unable to free yourself. You’ve been given the death sentence. A lady comes over with a needle filled with poison that will be injected into your body, killing you slowly. It will be a long, tormented death. They take out your arm, in preparation to inject the needle and then…

A man shouts “WAIT!” Everyone pauses. “Take me instead. I am the guilty one…” he says, “this person has been justified.”

Justified? What does that mean? You’ve been absolved, proven innocent. You aren’t guilty. But if you aren’t, who is? He is. This man.
Quickly and willing this man unstraps you from the bed. He looks at you and says, “May you live in freedom. Go! Live life!”. The man then lies down, straps himself onto the table, holds out his arm, and tells the lady he’s ready, his life may be taken away…

As the needle is injected into this man’s arm you ask him, “Who are you? Why have you done this?” As he slowly dies, he looks into your eyes and says “I love you. I want to save you.”
You and others scream at he dying man, “Why have you given up your life for a guilty person?”
Again he replies, “I love them. I want them to be free.”

You ask this man as he grasp for air, his heart slowing, his mind shutting down, “Sir, is there anything I can do for you? How can I possibly live free and happily when you are here dying for me? What can I do as payment? Is there anything? How is it that I can be innocent?”

The man replies, “To live free from all hurt, all pain, all trouble, you have to love me. Accept me.”

“Is there any thing more?” you ask.

“No.” he says, “Accept me. Love me. And you shall live free.”
He closes his eyes. He’s on his last breath. “But wait,” you say, “how is it possible that I can be free?”

The man breathes in deeply and as he exhales his last breath says, “Because I have asked the One who can forgive all, for you to be forgiven.”

Now, you’re left wondering, who was this man? His name is Jesus. Except He didn’t die on a bed with a needle in His arm. He died on a cross: nails pierced into His hands and feet, thorns placed upon His head. He bleed, was slashed 39 times upon His back. Flesh ripping out, blood gushing out, pain everywhere in His body. He was hung for all to see: they mocked Him, they laughed at Him, they called Him names. And yet, despite it all, though His flesh was torn and others wanted His Spirit weak, with all He had within Him He said, “Father, forgive them.” He said this with you in mind. He said this thinking of every wrong you have ever done. He said, “God, take me instead. Let them live.” God answered Jesus and gave you the chance to have life.

But how can you receive this life He willingly gave you? What can you do? Accept Him. Love Him. And like the person charged guilty in the court, you too, shall be set free.