Jesus is a gentleman

If Jesus wants me, he can come and get me. I’ve heard lines like this from many cynical people over the years. They want nothing to do with the church or the message of Jesus Christ, yet seem angry that God isn’t chasing after them and miraculously making them change their lives. Why not? Jesus is a gentleman. He doesn’t barge into places where he isn’t welcome.

I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.

John 8:37 (NIV)

The statement, you make room for what matters, is as true as any statement can be. We make room in our lives for family and friends. Some make room for church and gathering together with other Christians. Some make room for prayer, worship, and time reading and studying the Word of God. And some make room for none of it while fully expecting God to work in their lives even though they pay no attention to Him at all.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.

Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

If you’re wondering why Jesus doesn’t appear to be active in your life, you might want to check the front door. He’s probably standing there patiently waiting for you to let him in. And he’s already made the first move by knocking and announcing his presence. Whether or not that door gets opened to allow Jesus entrance into our lives is another story. Jesus only does what we allow him to do in our lives. He’s the guest here. How much liberty will you allow him?

Read: 1 Chronicles 8-10, John 8:37-59

The seventh day

Read: Exodus 31-33, Matthew 22:23-46

When you think of something as being holy, what comes to mind? A certain place? The empty tomb. Jerusalem. A church or temple. A specific thing? The Bible. Communion elements—bread and wine. The ark of the covenant. Things that are holy usually generate a picture in our minds. But the very first thing that God set aside as holy was neither a place nor a thing.

And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Genesis 2:3 (NIV)

According to our religious way of thinking, once God had completed creation, we would expect that He would create a dwelling for Himself, a holy sanctuary where He could reside. But He didn’t. No such thing was made.

Things are only temporary. Out of sight, out of mind. Had God set aside a place or a thing, it could (and probably would) be easily forgotten. Instead, He set aside time, a regular occurrence at which point humanity was to set aside all else so that our focus could be on our Creator alone.

Exodus 31:13

We can set aside places and things to be considered holy, but unless we actually take time, God will not be glorified or worshiped. Even though western Christian tradition sets aside Sunday—the first day of the week—as the Sabbath. I don’t believe God is so concerned with which day or time we set aside as He is with the fact that we actually take the time to turn our focus off of everything but Him.

Our holiness is entirely dependent on God’s holiness. And we cannot be made holy if we do not know the One who makes us holy. Whether you take the first day, the seventh day, or the fourth day, take a day. Consider it holy. Don’t just abstain from work, but use that time to pursue God. Let it continue to stand as a reminder for the generations to come that He is the Lord, who makes us holy.

The Devil’s fence

There is a story that describes a person sitting on a fence. On one side of the fence, there are green pastures. It is clear and peaceful. On the other side of the fence is every pleasure the person could ever desire.

A man approaches from the peaceful side and offers a hand. “I’d like for you to join me here.” The person on the fence considers the offer. The peaceful green grass is mighty appealing.

Then a man approaches from the other side and makes a similar offer. “Join me here and you’ll have everything you ever wanted.” The man on the fence also finds this offer appealing, but cannot bring himself to make a decision and tells both men so. The second man shrugs. “Have it your way.” He turns and smiles to himself. “Good thing I own the fence.”

By making no decision at all, the man on the fence unknowingly made his decision. To do anything other than choose God is to choose against Him. Sitting on the fence doesn’t absolve you of anything, because the Devil owns the fence.

I will search with lanterns in Jerusalem’s darkest corners to find and punish those who sit contented in their sins, indifferent to the Lord, thinking he will do nothing at all to them.

Zephaniah 1:12 (NLT)

There is absolutely no benefit at all in sitting on the fence, waiting to make a decision. An offer has been made from both sides. It’s time to choose. Every day you sit on the fence is a day that could have been spent in the presence of the Lord.

Gather together and pray, you shameless nation. Gather while there is still time, before judgement begins and your opportunity is blown away like chaff.

Zephaniah 2:1 (NLT)

Even if you have already made a decision to follow Jesus, you must still make every moment count. There is no better time to deepen and strengthen your relationship with him than right now.

Daily Bible reading: Zephaniah 1-3, Revelation 15

Now is the time

When someone asks me to do something I’d already planned on doing, immediately I want to say no. It has turned from being an optional thing into a thing that must be done. And, now that it must be done, I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s not the greatest attitude to have. Especially when it comes to spiritual things.

I said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of my love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.

Hosea 10:12 (NLT)

These statements from the Lord were not given as options. You might want to plant the good seeds of righteousness. Maybe think about plowing up the hard ground of your hearts. No, these are statements of things that must be done if we want to reap the rewards that are also described.

Chances are that you’ve planted something before. Maybe in school. Perhaps a garden in your yard. A flower pot on your patio. The soil is as important as the seed. This is why Jesus told a whole story about the soil. In the parable of the sower, Jesus took the time to describe the different types of soil in detail, but never gave any indications as to what the seed may have been or looked like.

As he scattered it across the field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.

Matthew 13:4 (NLT)

We can assume that the footpath was hard, packed, well-trod soil—if you can even call it soil anymore. When soil is hard and packed, a seed cannot even get far enough into the ground to sprout roots. All that potential becomes nothing more than bird food. God tells us that we must plow up that hard ground. Now is the time to do it.

Unlike planting, soil preparation can happen at any time. A farmer can start preparing a field for planting a year or more in advance. If the plot of land is particularly hard and stony, it will take time to make it useful for planting. So long as the ground is accessible, it can be prepared.

Our hearts are the same as the unprepared field. We don’t need to wait for a certain season to start. We just need to prepare ourselves to receive the seed. God will take care of the rest. But if we never take the time to prepare ourselves, we can never expect to reap a harvest. Any seed that may be scattered will be snatched away.

Let’s stop waiting and procrastinating. Get the job done while it is still a choice, not a duty. Now is the time to seek the Lord.

Daily Bible reading: Hosea 9-11, Revelation 2

Why wait?

There are many reasons we wait in life. There’s a line. We’re not ready. We’re not prepared. We don’t have the right supplies or equipment. Maybe we’re anxious or afraid or shy. Maybe it isn’t the right time. Whatever the reason, we wait. A lot. Even when we shouldn’t.

Timothy may have be one who had a tendency to wait because Paul gave him this instruction:

Preach the word of God. Be persistent whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

2 Timothy 4:2 (NLT)

I think we’d all like to wait for a favourable time, the right time. And often, waiting for the right time becomes a grand excuse to never really accomplish anything—especially when it comes to sharing the Gospel.

Paul told Timothy to be persistent whether the time is favorable or not.

PERSIST: To continue steadily and firmly in the pursuit of any business or course commenced.

When Jesus commissioned the disciples to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, he didn’t qualify his statement with a time or place. He told them to go. He told them what they could do if they did and then he was gone.

So what are our excuses for waiting to share the Good News? Maybe we’re waiting to be alone with a certain person. Maybe we don’t think we know enough. Perhaps we wait until we’re comfortable.

If you’re not alone, go for it. Maybe someone else needs to hear what you have to say. If you’ve been saved and know Jesus, you know enough. Get your Bible out and read. If you want to be comfortable, good luck. The message of the cross is uncomfortable.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

2 Timothy 4:5 (NLT)

As the body of Christ, we can no longer afford to wait for the favourable time—because there isn’t one. We’ve been given a message. We’ve been given a commission. We’ve been given power and authority. So what are we waiting for?

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 27-28, 2 Timothy 4

 

These rules

My parents have family rules. Even now that all of us kids are adults, there are still certain parameters and guidelines that we are expected to live by, especially when it comes to our interaction with each other. Anyone else who joins the family—by marriage or by birth—is expected to adapt to the family code of conduct. It’s not always easy and we don’t always like it, but in the end, we’re all still family and we still love each other.

God has adopted us into His family. And, like my parents, He has a set of rules and guidelines that we are expected to follow as members of the family.

God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules, but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 (NLT)

If I decide that I no longer want to play by my family’s rules, I’m not only being rebellious, but I am telling my parents and the rest of the family that I no longer respect them and cannot be bothered to act in a manner fitting to be part of the clan.

We do the same to God. He has called us to a higher standard of living than the one we lived before we came to Him. He has grand plans for all of us—if we follow His instructions. But if we make the decision to disobey Him, we are not only letting down our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we are essentially saying that God is good, but not good enough and that His plans and purposes aren’t worth our effort. We not only reject His rules, but we reject God himself.

So, if we don’t feel like living up to God’s standards, what does that say about how we feel toward salvation? If God isn’t enough, was Jesus’ sacrifice enough? Was his message not worth his time and effort?

My parents haven’t laid out guidelines for the family to be mean or spiteful, they’ve done it so that we can continue to have fruitful relationships with each other. God has done the same. All of the rules He has given us are not to take things away from us, but to prepare us for the great things He has in store for us.

These rules aren’t such a bad thing after all.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 59-61, 1 Thessalonians 4

Find the time

I recently had my father and two of my nephews in the car. We were heading out to watch another of my nephews (I have seven nephews) play football. We’d barely pulled off the street when I looked back to see the older of the two pull a video game out of his pocket. I asked my dad if he was supposed to have it. He’d been told to leave it at home.

“Hey, Kiddo,” I said reaching back. “You’re not supposed to have that. Hand it over.”

“Well, I guess I forgot I had it in my pocket.” (The flaw in this story was the speed in which he pulled it out of his pocket once we started driving.) He handed it over and I put in the console of the car. When it slipped out, I had my dad put it in his pocket.

When we got home later that evening, my nephew wouldn’t get out of the car. He was squishing himself between the front seats reaching for the console—where he’d last seen his video game. In a matter of minutes, he forgot that it was in his pocket, but over several hours, he didn’t forget where he’d seen me put it…

Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right.

Ecclesiastes 8:5b (NLT)

My nephew is eight years old. And he’s smart. Really smart. But still largely lacking in the wisdom department. He had a desired outcome—to have his game with him when we left the house. In order to get to that outcome, the cost was willful disobedience and a lie to try to cover it up.

Most of us would look at this situation and shake our heads. Yet, we’ve probably done something similar in our adult lives. There is an outcome we desire and we make some decisions to get there. A few people may get hurt or shunned along the way, but we plow ahead on the most direct route to get what we want. But what if there was a less direct way to get there? What if we didn’t have to hurt someone to get it? The wisest course of action isn’t always the most direct and, sometimes, it’s taking no action at all.

Wisdom takes the time looks at the outcome, determines whether it is necessary or not, then determines the best way to either go after it or avoid it altogether.

We must all make choices on a daily basis. It is wisdom that will lead us to do what is right. Wisdom finds right the time and the right way to do it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 7-9, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15