Friday, May 26, 2023

When Goals Become Gods

I’m about to say some things that you’ve probably heard before. But I am also going to say some things I’m not so sure that you’ve heard before. I pray that God will use this to help you find a lasting, satisfying, peace.  

I want to talk to you about why you can’t seem to get ahead. Or maybe why you seem stuck in a pattern of sin. Or how you seem to do good for a while, maybe a long while, but then you do it again, you go back to that old thing. And perhaps you need to see how this is all related.

You know that you need to get out of that bad thing. You can’t keep going the way you do, or going back to that way again, and think that this short-term coping mechanism is not going to have long term consequences. Sin isn’t going to lead you to spiritual success. You might know that by now. But you don’t know why you keep falling for the same old sins. Just when you think your going to win, you go right back to that old sin. But why?

It’s because what you define as winning, can actually be sinning. It’s because you have the wrong goals. And they might be good goals. But they are getting in the way of God. You might not think so. But let me show you how.  

Having goals can be a very good thing. Or a very bad thing. For example, you might start out with a good goal, like getting sober. And yes, Jesus will help you get sober. But here is the thing about that. You might wind up thinking that if Jesus helped me get sober, now I need to get my life back, or go for those things I know I want, or need. As if Jesus is your ladder to whatever you define as success. And as long as I have Jesus, I can get my other goals met as well.

You say, well, what wrong with that?! And I say thank you, because you have just proven my point. You don’t need to get your life back. You need to live a new life. On God’s terms, not your terms.

Those other goals may not be what Jesus wants for you right now. In fact, I know they aren’t, whatever they may be. What Jesus wants for you, is for you to want him, without having your other goals met. It’s not about getting just enough Jesus to move ahead to the next thing. And then, when I really have enough Jesus, I’ll be able to have what I want. No friend, that is a wrong pursuit. And it isn’t that Jesus doesn’t have good goals for you. But truly knowing Jesus as your lasting, all satisfying peace, this is the one goal above all else, regardless of all else. Even if you never get to have anything else.  

You might really love Jesus. But Jesus doesn’t want you to have any idols. An idol is something you feel like you must have, something that you can’t live without. It is more than just something you want, something you wish you had. It is something that you won’t have peace if you cannot get. And if you do get it, you think you will finally have peace. But sometimes it’s something you had before, and yet you still had no real peace. An idol always asks for more. Think carefully about that.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy that some people think of God as a means of gain. That godliness is simply a means to getting what we want, or that getting what we want is somehow the mark of godliness. And that kind of thinking will get in the way of your knowing Jesus.

Sin is like a chameleon. You desire one thing, and then it turns into another, and another, and you never have what you really want. True peace. And idolatry is what keeps moving the goalposts. You turn that around by making your goal to have Jesus become your true, lasting, all satisfying peace. It can happen. You need a new goal.

Sometimes our goals become our gods. Idols have the power to hypnotize and deceive you. They guide you away from God and towards the goal itself. Even as you think that you’re moving with God. And then you wonder why hasn't God blessed you? Or why isn’t God blessing you? Well, maybe God has blessed you, just not in ways that people normally measure. Or in ways you aren’t counting. 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Pouring Out Your Frustration

Don't pour your frustration out on other people. Pour it out to God. He can take it. As a matter fact, he did. All your failure, all your fear, all your frustration, all your sinful anger, bitterness, and contempt, he took it all. Don’t take it back and put it on someone else. And when people pour it out on you, it’s the same answer, pour it out to God.   

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Emotional Rollercoaster

Two months of incredible ups, downs, and all arounds

In just 58 days, the disciples went through a whirlwind of events

Sunday – Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Friday – The Crucifixion of Jesus

Sunday – The Resurrection of Jesus

40 days later – The Ascension of Jesus, 40 days of “infallible proofs”, then “poof”

10 days later – Pentecost

58 days from the Triumphal Entry to Pentecost, with the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension along the way – what an adventure of ups and downs and all arounds 

Then – The Great Commission    

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, May 08, 2023

I Thank God for You

In 1 Thessalonians 1:2, the Apostle Paul, speaking for himself, Silas, and Timothy says, “We give thanks to God always for all of you.” Salvation is something that God initiates, and salvation is something God continues. God gives us a new nature and a new direction. And that was being evidenced by how the Thessalonians received the word of God, and how they were living out the word of God. Paul, Silas, and Timothy knew that God had started, and was continuing, a work in this church. So, they were thankful. And Paul was about to tell them how and why they were thankful.  

When is the last time you told someone that you were thankful for them? And when is the last time you told someone why you were thankful for them? And when is the last time you thanked God for them in prayer?  

People often talk about “praying for you.” And that is good, of course. It is encouraging when someone tells you that they are praying for you. But how encouraging would it be if instead of just telling someone you were praying for them, you also told them that you were thanking God for them? And why you were thanking God for them? Imagine how that might impact your relationship with people. And with God. And you don’t even have to imagine. You can read about it in God’s word. And you can see that God wants you to thank him for other people.

I thank God for the people in our church. I thank God for the confirmation that he is still working to save people, and to grow people. And I thank God that I can see examples of people who have been strong in the faith for many years. And I thank God for all those who have fallen back, but who God turns around. I thank God for all those I don’t really agree with, and even those who I don’t get along with, but who I know are Jesus’ people still. Whoever you are, wherever you are, whenever you are, I thank God for you, all of my brothers and sisters in Christ.   

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Find a Way

In 1 Thessalonians 1:2, the Apostle Paul says – We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 

I want you to think about that word “we”. When Paul prayed as an individual, he says so. And when Paul spoke of praying with someone else, he indicated that. So, this “we” is saying that Paul, Silas, and Timothy had been praying together for the Thessalonians.

Surely, they each must have been praying individually for the Thessalonian church as well. But this “we” is not to be overlooked. Corporate prayer in church, prayer meetings, believers praying individually but also together for others on a prayer list, groups of people praying for missionaries, and praying about other godly endeavors, families praying together for family members, loved ones praying together for loved ones, etc., this is an important part of our prayer life as individual believers, and as a church.

You can be a “mighty prayer warrior” in your “prayer closet.” And that is good, of course. But if you never pray, at the same time, in the same location, praying together for the same needs, you are missing something. And you are withholding something from others. People need more than your prayers. People need prayers made together. You need to pray together with other believers. About the same things. And at the same time.

Romans 15:6 says that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that would include your prayers. And that would include the prayers of others, including believers who are still children, and everyone else. And if you can’t be with other people, and if you aren’t able to leave your house, use your phone, use your computer, use whatever means you can find, to find a way to pray, together.    

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©