Lower Standards Only Hurt You

Don’t move the bullseye. Let the Spirit enable you to hit it!
The little girl in the comic shot an arrow towa
rd her yard’s all white fence. After putting down her bow, she ran toward the fence and proceeded to paint a red bullseye around where the arrow entered the fence and then two red circles proceeding outward.
I can only guess at the writer’s point, but it was dead on when it comes to Western Christianity, let alone culture. We love to lower God’s standard of holiness thinking we’re freeing ourselves from God’s constraints in order to reduce our guilt in the hopes of living happier lives.
Yes, God’s standards are high. Yet, reality continually shows that living up to higher standards actually makes us feel better than does living down to lower ones. Think about it. How do you feel when you’ve earned something rather than when you’re patted on the head and given something you know you didn’t earn? Achievement helps not hurts, though it may hurt to achieve it.
Yes, God’s standards are high, which is why He knew way back in Genesis 3 He’d have to send Jesus to meet them for us! Yet, if the mark of holiness can be lowered, why not lower it to non-existence? And if that happened, Jesus didn’t need to come at all!
Yes, God’s standards are high. Yet, Jesus met those standards for us. He is also making us into those standards, holiness. Don’t move the bullseye. Hit it in the Spirit’s power! As you do, you’ll be ready for Jesus’ return.

Ouch before Ahhh

Change is painful, but pleasantness will come.
We can become tired, irritable, edgy, frustrated, and the list of negatives goes on and on while letting God change our lives. Why would anyone put themselves through such an ordeal? Faith that something better will replace it.
This is what the writer of Hebrews expressed in 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God and rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
Yet, if we thought God was cruel, we wouldn’t come to Him, let alone want to please Him. And, if we didn’t think He’d reward us with a better life tomorrow, we’d certainly not bother listening to and following Him today. Instead, we’d just white-knuckle this ride called life all the way home/heaven.
Yes, the process of allowing God to change your life (unless He steps in and does a miracle) is painful. It’s like stepping on stickers with your bare feet. Ouch! But know this, He promises that the ahh will come on the other side of the process; and, God always keeps His promises.
If you’re in the middle of the “ouch” keep going. Becoming like Jesus will happen with all its increased fruit. And rejoice and be thankful if you’re in the “ahh” phase. Either way, you will be ready for His return.

Found Faithful

Shadows are not real.
As I was taking this picture of a mountain’s shadow, it hit me. I’m standing right next to the real mountain that caused that shadow, but I’m admiring the shadow instead! How often do I focus on living, the shadow, and not admire the giver of life, Jesus, who is standing right next to me?
Jesus is returning, are we letting the shadow of time lull us into laxness? We will not be found ready and a faithful servant when He returns if we let the shadow of time get in the way of Jesus.
Admire the reality, not the shadow, and you will be found faithful on His return.

Say What?!

Hardships come with living on this planet, doubly so for Jesus followers.
Philip Yancey, author of Finding God in Unexpected Places, states, “According to some estimates, Christians in developed Western countries now represent only 37 percent of believers worldwide. As I travel and also read church history, I have observed a pattern, a strange historical phenomenon of God ‘moving’ geographically from place to place: from the Middle East to Europe to North America to the developing world. My theory is this: God goes where He’s wanted.”
Could the reason lie in another of the author’s observations? “When difficulties come, Christians in affluent countries tend to pray, ‘Lord, take this trial away from us!’ I’ve heard persecuted Christians and some who live in very poor countries pray instead, ‘Lord, give us the strength to bear this trial.’”
Even troublesome trials have a purpose. Jesus said we’re blessed when they come in His name. Paul states believers should actually expect such trails. James writes they mature our faith. And not because we’ve done anything particularly wrong either; but, because they can be used to make us holy is the insight given from the Hebrews author.
Las Vegas, Nevada. Houston, Texas. Southern Florida. Puerto Rico. The Caribbean. Mexico. Israel. These people, let alone believers, are facing tremendous hardship at the moment. And what about how it’s affecting those who don’t even live there?
Merely living on this planet brings its challenges…some extremely more so than others. Yet when they come, and they will, the question for Jesus followers is, “Will we pray to be delivered from or to be given strength to go through them?” Your answer will lie in the following, “How bad do I need or want to get to know Jesus?”