Tag Archives: promise

Have You Achieved Enlightenment?

Not me!
But it’s not like I haven’t been looking for it……enligtenment
No, I am not a Buddhist (and I mean no disrespect towards Buddhists) but I have nonetheless been searching for “comprehension” most of my life.
I have spent this life running aimlessly from one thing to another searching for something that I could use to say to God, “I found it, can I come up now?”  I know now it’s been right in front of me all along….but I was so busy searching for it that I couldn’t see it!  Like when I can’t find a tool in the toolbox, totally convinced it is just not there….until my wife points to it. 
Here’s my main thought on enlightenment folks…..
I think about someone dying and appearing at the gates of heaven only to be told….
“Sorry, but you haven’t achieved the proper quota of humming exercises.” (again…no disrespect towards Buddhists intended!)
The world will tell you….  “If you would just work harder and be willing to put everything else aside, sacrificing everything, you might attain true happiness.….”
What kind of promise is that? Work hard for the future, do your best…and you might achieve the promise of happiness?  Be very careful, because if you do achieve happiness in this world...it can be taken away at any moment…..Some of you most likely have already learned that painful lesson…I know I have!
God has promised us paradise…and we have to do nothing for it except believe in him and accept the sacrifice he made of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins….that’s it…no catch, no fine print. And the awesome news is…..it cannot be taken away from us…!
Self-help gurus all have their own special formulas for attaining true happiness and self enlightenment – but if you listen closely….they don’t really promise anything! But of course, they can sell you lots of books……
God has already provided a book for us to follow…and it’s free!
Am I the only one who has figured out that although we are all created in God’s image, we all have very unique reasons we are here…united in the one great reason…which is that we have been sent into the world to glorify him? So what good would it do me to read a book by a celebrity about their life to find secrets about achieving enlightenment for my own?
That’s like a mechanic reading a truck manual to learn how to fix my car.
I think it’s good to read about other people’s journey in life….and they may very well have achieved what God wanted THEM to achieve…but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is what he wants me to achieve…..
I think the main reason we all struggle in this world…is that no matter how hard we try……we cannot enlighten ourselves!
Do you have a favorite plant in the house….? Do you think that it can water itself or maneuver itself to get the best light…? Can your plant fertilize itself?
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”  
True enlightenment is already available to us….we just need to accept it!
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 

 

Alone

AloneOne of the grim realities of life is that we are alone. In the middle of a busy city with others all around we are alone.
This “aloneness” is one of the results of the fall, but is mostly ignored by writers. We simply don’t talk about it. Man, designed to be in constant relationship with God who made him is now thrust into the world empty, alone, isolated. Even with thousands around us we all have sensed this truth…we are alone.
In God’s amazing plan of redemption his intentions were to deal with more than one problem in the cross. Clearly the Christian world knows about his resolution of the sin issue. Without a doubt we all know about God’s redemption accomplished by Christ, the forgiveness of sin, the restored relationship, the promise of eternity, but what we don’t talk about is the resolution of man’s isolation problem.
Part of God’s plan in redemption was to bring us back into a relationship with him. We use those words so easily, but don’t realize what they mean. One of our major problems caused by sin is our isolation. We are alone! God’s plans included the restoration of how he designed us to be. His plans included the repair of this breach. Here is what Jesus says about this plan,
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.’ 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ 23 Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
“We will come to him and make our home with him.” Did you see that? In God’s amazing plan of salvation he also plans to resolve our aloneness. He resolves it by coming to us and living with us. Suddenly, we are no longer alone. In a moment of time the great ache of the heart is resolved. Human beings, designed to be in constant fellowship with God, through Christ, are restored to that relationship. God with us, living in us, our hope of glory. This truth is profound and immensely important. If we miss this we miss all that God has done. No longer alone….what an amazing and wonderful part of God’s redemptive work.

Grieving

grief2Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

Grief is part of the human experience. We avoid it, we dread it, but we will all experience it. Grief, when it happens, changes us and our lives and our future. There is no retreat from the loss that caused our grief. We grieve because our lives have been changed forever….in a way we never imagined, never wanted.

Grief is our response to a terrible loss. It’s the right response to loss. How could we not cry when we lose someone we love? How could we not grieve when we are shocked by something that should never have happened? Grief is a right response to the loss. Tears are part of the grieving process.

Grief is also social. We grieve best in community. We need each other more when a loss happens and we gather together to grieve, to cry, to sorrow. Somehow community helps us deal with grief. We have an opportunity to talk about our loss, our pain, our hurt. We have a chance to cry with someone who listens and cares about us.

Grief, believe it or not, is a gift from God. He helps us through our grief to give us peace and comfort. What grief tells us all is that this is not the way it is supposed to be. What has happened to us that has caused our grief is not right, not the way we should live. And our response, as we grieve, tells us this is not the way we were designed.

Soon grief will be done away with. Tears will be dried. Reasons for grief will be permanently dealt with. Soon God will put death to death and grief will no longer be part of our lives. Until then he gives us hope, peace, a promise of eternal life ahead. Until then he gives us each other to hug, to cry, to grieve together. Until the day grief is put to death he gives us the promise of peace and life ahead. This is not the end…..grief will one day be swallowed up in joy.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Do Not Fear

do not fearDo you know how many times in God tells us to ‘fear not’, ‘do not fear’ or ‘do not be afraid’? I don’t either.

It has been said that there are 365 ‘fear not’s in the Bible, one for everyday of the year. Others have searched and found only 100. Whatever, the number, it is a powerful promise from God…even if it appeared only once, it still stands as an AWESOME comfort for us.

Here are some of my favorite ‘do not fear’ and ‘do not be afraid’ verses from Genesis to Revelation:

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ” – Genesis 15:1

And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” – Genesis 26:24

So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. – Genesis 46:3

And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” – Exodus 20:20

Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’ – Deuteronomy 1:21

And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” – Joshua 10:25

Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” – Judges 6:23

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. – Ruth 3:11

Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. – 1 Samuel 12:20

So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” – 2 Samuel 9:7

So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” – 2 Kings 6:16

And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD. – 1 Chronicles 28:20

In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:4

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 118:6

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” – Isaiah 35:4

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’” – Isaiah 44:8

Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. – Isaiah 54:4

“But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, And do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; No one shall make him afraid. – Jeremiah 46:27

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. – Daniel 10:12

Do not lose heart or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land; one rumor comes this year, another the next, rumors of violence in the land and of ruler against ruler. – Jeremiah 51:46

‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ – Haggai 2:5

So again in these days I am determined to do good To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear. – Zechariah 8:15

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 1:20

Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. – Matthew 10:26

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:31

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. – Matthew 28:5

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. – Luke 1:13

But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. – Luke 1:3

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. – Luke 2:10

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. – Luke 12:4

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:32

Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” – John 12:15

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear ; do not be frightened.” – 1 Peter 3:14

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. – Revelation 1:17

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Revelation 2:10

Without

The words of a commentary come to mind this morning as I start my day, “The best word to describe someone who has not trusted Christ as savior is ‘without.'” It’s part of a commentary on the book of Ephesians. As those words came to me early this morning I thought, what would be on the list of the things that someone would be without? What is the man or woman missing if they don’t trust Christ?

The world would say that if you become a Christian “you will really miss out.” The implication is that there is a lot of good sinning to be had and if you become one of those Christians you can’t “have fun.” But, I wonder, what would be on the list of the things a person without Christ would be without. Here’s a few as I think about this,

1. without hope
2. without a promise
3. without a future
4. without God
5. without peace
6. without joy
7. without direction

I’m working on the list, but those few come to mind in a moment of typing. It strikes me that if you are without Christ you are without a future, without direction, without a promise, without God in the world. Instead of “missing out on the fun” the Christian is really the most blessed of people because they are no longer “without.”

Finding my way

It’s often hard for me to see God’s work in my life. I’m living moment by moment and I can’t see what he is doing in my moments. The light that shows me what God is doing sometimes comes much later. Most of the time I only get a glimpse, a stream of light through the clouds, a smile from heaven as it were. Finding my way is the challenge of life. How to navigate the road ahead when I only see a little bit in front of me.

I remember, years ago, while driving late at night in my 1937 Plymouth Road King that I accidentally hit the light switch and turned off the lights. What a panic! Going down the road in pitch blackness at 60 miles per hour. I quickly fumbled for the lights and the fear that overwhelmed me from the experience took hours to wane. It’s that feeling we often live with…the feeling of living in the dark. How to find the way? How to know what God is doing. It’s often a matter of trust when we see nothing at all.

Finding my way….I’m still working on it. But what I know is that God has promised to lead me, to help me, just as a guide would lead a blind man, holding my hand and leading me around the things I can’t even see. Paul wrote these words in Philippians, “My God will supply all your needs in Christ Jesus…” My greatest need is a guide to show me the way. I’m so glad he is that tender hand leading me along…even when I can’t see the way to go.

The law of liberty

This morning I got to attend a men’s study I have dearly missed. They are studying the book of James. Today they are in chapter two and as we read we came to these words, 

12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

The discussion focused for a moment on this strange phrase, “the law of liberty.” It’s a short phrase that presents a paradox. Law and liberty seem, in our day, to be opposites, but in this short passage the text puts these two concepts together. The law of liberty is a contrast to the law of Moses. The law of Moses had 10 commandments, but many more requirements. The law of liberty has one item and yet it fulfills and replaces perfectly the law of Moses! How can this new law of liberty replace all that the old law required? How can this new law of liberty do what the law could not?

It fulfills the law and gives liberty with this one simple command- Love your neighbor as yourself. That one command replaces the law and gives liberty to those living by this new law. Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s a law that brings liberty because when I love those around me it sets me free from a list, rules, trying to measure up, trying to please. Love makes the difficult easy. Love, as Solomon wrote, covers a multitude of sins. This amazing law of liberty sets me free to enjoy people. I don’t have to try to please them, control them or make them happy. All that is accomplished by love and it sets me free to have real, deep and meaningful relationships. A law that produces liberty? Amazing, but wonderfully true. Today I’m just meditating on this promise of a law that brings liberty.