Preparing for the Coming Reward

Reflection on Hebrews 12:1

Training, Practice
Preparation for the great run
The finish line in view
Streams of radiant light

Dreaming, Wonder
Awe of its glorious unfolding
Let us run with endurance
The race God hath set before us.

Adversity, Temptation
The burdens that cause us to stumble
Lord strip off the weight
That anchors my feet for failure

Freedom, Redemption
Grace has spared me from the struggle
Let us run with endurance
The race God hath set before us.

Desire, Thirst
Parched from lacking confidence
Fill me with Living Water
That flows from your heart.

Refreshed, Satisfied
Quenched in humble devotion
Let us run with endurance
The race God hath set before us.

Weakness, Aching
Sore from vigorous work
Yet the paradox holds;
You provide strength to the powerless

In Pain, In Tire
You redeem my strength higher than before
Let us run with endurance
The race God hath set before us.

Persevere, Endure
I know of the coming reward
We reap a harvest of blessing
As we faithfully cling to truth

Victory, Triumph
Our Just God’s lips bend
Smiling from his Holy Throne
Waiting to place the medal around our neck

Because we have ran with endurance
The race God hath set before us.

Transformers, Not Conformers

As Christians, we were made to stand out from the rest of the world in our ways.  However, in this day and age, the American culture has blended into Christianity and stretched the beliefs to fit in.  Modesty, purity, language, humility, and many other virtues have been left behind as Christians begin to embrace the religion of the 21st century.  Over the years, swearing has become more acceptable in our culture, TV shows have become more inappropriate with an even younger crowd, sex has lost its meaning, marriage has lost value, and laziness and greed have captured the hearts of many Christians.  In biblical times, God would have wiped out the whole nation if He saw such sin taking over His creation.  For example, in the story of Noah and the ark that’s just what He did.  But God saw how Noah stood out from the rest of people and chose him to lead His new world.  Would we have been left behind?  

One of the problems is that we are comparing ourselves to other people and not to Jesus.  Compared to the world, we might use better language, or gossip less than the average person, but if God set us apart and looked at our hearts individually, He would still see the words that dwell in our thoughts, or the anger that takes over our mouth, and the gossip we are guilty of.  God isn’t calling us to be nicer than a coworker or not be as impatient as a neighbor, He is calling us to be like Him.  He even gives us a whole book to turn to so that His word is clear!  Instead of turning on the TV and thinking, “At least I don’t watch the show she watches,” think, “If Jesus were sitting right next to me, would I be watching this?” As the world is constantly changing, God’s truth and wisdom remain the same, so it is Him that we should look to.

When a person accepts Christ into their life, the Holy Spirit comes and exposes the dirty parts of their heart.  With the Holy Spirit we can understand how we have strayed from God so that we can begin to chisel off the parts of us that are unlike Him.  Our actions and God-driven choices are what visibly separate us from people who don’t know Jesus.  But how can we stand out if the world has control over our conscience?

God created everyone of us to shine His light in everything we do.  We are supposed to be the changers, not the ones being changed.  In Francis Chan’s words- be transformers, not conformers.  Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

 

Challenge:  Ask God to reveal how you let the world conform you and let Him work in you to change that.  Compare yourself to Jesus, not others

Sources: Romans 12:2, Genesis 6-7

 

Just for Inspiration: The world says let people marry people of the same gender as long as they are happy, but God says “I created man for woman and woman for man.”  The world says you need a boyfriend or girlfriend to be happy, but God says “There is joy in the Lord.”  The world says you’re ugly without certain products or diets, but God says “You were created in the likeness of God.”  The world says it”s good to be diverse in religion and let everyone have their own beliefs, but Jesus Christ says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Your Salvation Story

When I say “salvation story”, I’m referring to way you came to know Jesus, or your testimony.  Being as general as I can possibly be, there seem to be two types of salvation stories that can relate to us in our lives.  There’s the “Climactic or Emotional” story, or the “Routine or Commonplace” story.

People who have the climactic or emotional story have experienced God’s power in extreme ways, perhaps God has brought them out of the darkness and sin in their life, saved them through a struggle, or witnessed a miracle in some form.  Even if this isn’t your salvation story, these events are still present in our lives and God still uses His mighty hand in obvious ways.
If you have experienced something like this that has moved you drastically, then you have been given a gift from God.  Your story is a gift, and God has blessed you with it not only for your benefit, but so that you can work in the hearts of others by sharing with them what God has done in your life so that somebody else might be able to relate to where you used to be until God saved you.  He gave it to you so your story can strengthen someone else’s faith in addition to yours.  After all, stories are meant to be told.
It is also a fact that people who been through these transformations will generally be more loyal to their Savior on a personal stance simply out of gratitude for what He has done in their life.  There is a story in the book of Luke about a woman who has a very sinful past, and is touched when Jesus goes to eat at a Pharisee’s house and goes to meet Him there and breaks down crying and washing Jesus’s feet with her hair and tears.  A Pharisee sees the sinful woman touching Jesus and questions Jesus about why He would associate with such a sinful woman.  Jesus basically tells him that someone who has been forgiven of a bigger debt (or of more sins) will love Him more, and (while speaking to the Pharisee who was not from a sinful past) tells the man that he who has been forgiven little, loves little.  This just shows that those who have been saved from more, will show more appreciation and responsiveness to how God has been prominently present in their lives.

People who have a routine or commonplace story are people, like myself, who have been raised perhaps in a Christian home or came to know Jesus simply by going to church or hearing about His great works from their parents or another elder.  Maybe you have been a good person your whole life and you love and believe Jesus with all your heart.  People who don’t have an extremely riveting story of how they met Jesus may have to have more faith simply because they haven’t had that drastic change in their lives so it takes more willpower to believe just how much God can do.  Listen to these words someone at church once told me while I was questioning why I didn’t have such a thrilling salvation story about how Jesus swooped into my life saved me from my sins, or felt as if other people have more of a reason to believe God than I did:
“Your salvation story may not be exciting, but your journey with God will be.”  This phrase cleared up all my questions.  Another Bible verse that helped me to understand this concept of why I didn’t feel like God gave me an exciting testimony, or why I felt like I needed to sin more just so God can save me from it, was Luke 12:48 “…From those who have been given much, much will be demanded…”  For example, if God has blessed you with a good home, a good family, and you are loved, then you have been called to love others.
But sometimes a problem arises with people who are at this place in their life who are very kind moralistic people who have so much and think they have life under control, is that they don’t realize their need for Jesus.  Just because someone doesn’t sin as much as another person does does not make the first person perfect.  They are equally human and sinners and are both in need of Jesus and in need of forgiveness- some people just may have a greater debt than another.
So make your walk with Jesus exciting by creating space for Him to work in your life and being cognizant of how much you need Jesus.

Sources: Luke 7:36-50
Luke 12:48
Challenge: Decide which salvation story is yours and let it be present in your walk with Jesus.  Share your exciting salvation story, or let God be in control of your story to use you in exciting ways.

Why Does Talking about God Seem so Hard?

Why not share your love for Jesus to everyone you know?  Why not read your Bible in front of your peers?  Why not let everyone know that you are free and saved because Jesus died on the cross so that we can live perfectly one day with God forever and not have to fear death?

One of the problems with the Christians in our society is that we are ashamed of the gospel.  Our fears of not being accepted, or being judged hold us back from opportunities to share the great news of Jesus with the world like God desires for us.
Recently I have been thinking about this problem and how it relates to other aspects of life.  I came up with this:

Someone walks up to you and gives you a crisp one hundred dollar bill for no reason! Sound pretty great, right?  It gets better: this person is willing to give the same exact amount to anyone who wants it!  So what are you going to do?  Thank the person who gave it to you every now and then, but hide your gift from the public and speak nothing of it, or are you going to be so excited about your one hundred dollar bill that you tell everyone you how thankful you are for it and lead them to the same guy that gave you that bill whether or not they believe the story of how you got the money.

It’s no different with the gospel!  The only difference is that instead you are being given forgiveness that you don’t deserve, a God who cares so much for you, and the ultimate gift of living forever in heaven!  Just more of a reason to tell people!  He asks nothing in return except for advising us to tell his other children who may not even be aware that such a gift is available to them.

In fact, telling others is the least we can do to say thanks to God!   There is absolutely no possible way to repay God for sending his son Jesus to live a perfect life and then dying on a cross for all the sinners in the world.  He only asks that we pass it on, so why not?  Why be ashamed?  Why not tell the whole world what God has done?  What are you afraid of?

Source: Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, it is the power of God that brings salvation to anyone who believes.”

Challenge:  Share with someone how God has answered one of your prayers or impacted your life.  Mention God in at least one of your conversations today!

Hey!

In the 21st century, it’s easy get caught up with worldly things, temporary things that cause us to sin or be depressed or angry, or things that keep us from God.  Every once in a while we need a breath of tranquility and a walk in the garden of Eden to reconnect with the One who created us with purpose and compassion.

I’ve been having so many thoughts that pop into my head recently with no place to put them all so I thought I would create this blog!  Most posts will probably be simple thoughts relating to our journey with Christ or just having a great meaningful life!  I hope this will give me an excuse to read my Bible more often so that I have something new to write about and I will be sharing what I’m learning about living a life for God’s glory with you!🙂