Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where I Lead Him, Will He Follow?

Woke up this morning with this old hymn running through my mind; haven't heard it in years, but I still remember the words to the old chorus:

"I will follow where He leadeth;
"I will pasture where He feedeth.
"I will follow all the way, Lord;
"I will follow Jesus every day."

Almost immediately, I was struck with the thought, "What if I were the one leading? Would God follow where I'm going?" I understand that the concept may be difficult to fathom. I mean, we follow God, understanding that He knows the end from the beginning, that He created all things, and that there is nothing in our unseen future that He's not already aware of. 

We follow Him; not the other way around.

But... If I were leading Him, would He follow?

Just before He left this earth at His transformation, Jesus told His disciples, "I will be with you always..." So we, as Spirit-filled Christians, understand that the Spirit of Christ goes with us everywhere, at all times. We take comfort in this during our times of hardship, pain, grief...but what about all those other times when we're not feeling our need of His comforting Spirit quite so strongly? What about when times are good, and we're not leaning on His Spirit quite so heavily?

If He's with me at all times, no matter where I go or what I'm doing, would my steps take Him anywhere He's uncomfortable? If I lead Him, will He follow?

I have absolutely no doubt that anywhere and everywhere He leads me, I'll go; there may be—indeed, there will be—times and places that I don't understand, and no, it may not always be comfortable. However, I know that He's never going to lead me into places or situations that compromise my integrity, my relationship with Him, or the purity of my own heart.

If I were the one leading, would He feel the same?

Observe your own steps today: the pathway you walk, the conversations you have, the material you watch, read, or listen to; take note of your own actions (or reactions), the things you engage in, the words you speak to (or about) others. Would Jesus be comfortable tagging along with you every step of your day today?

At the close of the day, look back over your shoulder and ask yourself the question, "Did I lead Him anywhere He wouldn't have taken me?"

We understand, of course, that God will not allow sin in His Presence, and would never compromise His own Righteousness. Think about your steps today, however, the words you speak, the choices you make, the things you do, and ask yourself this question: 

"Where I lead Him, will He follow?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Did Mary Hear?

Scripture tells us that Mary "sat at [Jesus'] feet and heard His word."

We have no idea how long she sat there; we have no idea how long any of the disciples that invaded Mary and Martha's home that afternoon sat there listening to Jesus teach. We can gather, however, that it must have been quite awhile, because the scripture tells us that "Martha was cumbered about much serving..."

With no modern appliances, preparing a dinner took some time; obviously, if it were long enough for Martha to prepare, cook, and serve those uninvited guests, it's probably safe to say that Mary and the others were sitting at the feet of Jesus for quite awhile. It was long enough that Martha finally reached her breaking point, and went and demanded that Jesus send Mary back to the kitchen.

Interestingly, Jesus did not reprimand Martha for being busy; He didn't belittle her, nor did He play the comparison either direction. Jesus didn't tell Mary that she ought to be more like Martha—busy about the work of the kingdom—nor did He chastise Martha for not taking the time to sit down and listen to Him, as Mary had. He simply pointed out that "Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken from her".

What could possibly have been "good" about Mary just sitting there at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him speak?

What possible good can it do to spend an hour...a half-hour...fifteen minutes, even?...sitting here and just "reading the Bible". Ho hum...what a waste of time. There are so many things to do; I have so much to get done; how can I possibly take a half-hour of my morning to just sit and read the Bible? Or pray? You expect me to pray for an hour, when I have so little time of my own already?

What did Mary accomplish in the time she sat there listening to Him speak? The only thing we have record of is that she was berated by Martha, but commended by Christ Himself. We don't find her lost in worship and adoration; she wasn't crowned Chief Apostle or given any special attention, other than when Jesus refused to send her back to the kitchen.

But what did Mary hear?

In all likelihood, she heard something Martha never heard: some soft-spoken words of wisdom, a promise, assurances that everything would be okay in the days to come...Perhaps Mary even heard some words that caused her to hang on to hope when her brother Lazarus lay dead in the tomb for three days.

Martha had the same opportunity, but she chose to spend her time bustling about "doing" stuff. I've always found it slightly amusing that Martha felt it her duty to provide a meal for the One who had just fed over five thousand with only five loaves of bread and two small fish. 

Sometimes I wonder if I suffer from the same malady; do I feel this compulsion to "serve", when what I really should be focusing on is just listening to Him? In all my "busyness" of serving Him, and proving to Him (and hopefully to all those around me who will recognize how spiritually-minded I am by all the work I do for the Kingdom!) how faithful I am, is it possible that I may be missing those quiet words of reassurance, of promise, of hope, of a Love beyond my comprehension?

In the mad rush of today's society, it seems—it really does seem—that 24 hours in a day just isn't enough anymore. And the idea of sitting down with my Bible, or kneeling in my prayer closet, for an hour—or even thirty minutes—of the precious little time I have left for "myself"'s easy enough to become convinced that that would just be time "thrown away".

Time spent with Jesus, however, is never time wasted, nor thrown away. We are so focused on having immediate results, however, that if we spend a half-hour reading our Bible on Monday morning, and something miraculous hasn't happened before Wednesday night prayer meeting, we fall prey to that mentality that "it's not really accomplishing anything".

Hear me: Time spent with Christ is never time wasted. You may not see immediate, external results; you may not feel goosebumps, or spine-tingling chills; you may spend an hour in prayer, and your Monday be as mundane as always. 

Time spent with Jesus Christ is never time wasted.

It is in those times that you devote to Him, that your focus is completely on Him, on listening to Him speak into your life, that you may find that promise, that encouragement, that strength to keep you going when your world collapses. 

I think it's sad that Martha never really heard Jesus speak. 

I don't want to be like Martha. 

I'm thinking I'll just find me a place at His feet, and just listen for awhile. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Let's (Not) Get Physical...

In the beginning, when God was creating the worlds and all that was in them, He looked at Adam and plainly noted, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a help [companion] meet [suitable] for him."

God then placed Adam into a "deep sleep", and from Adam's own flesh, God created the woman, Eve.

This passage alone should be scriptural proof enough that God never intended to engage in acts of physical intimacy with His creation. 

While I understand the professions of love and adoration that many of today's Christian songwriters are trying to express, it still bothers me that in today's society, so many are attempting to turn our relationship with God into something that is corporeal, even slightly lascivious, carnal.

God loves His creation, ladies and gentlemen; that doesn't mean He is interested in becoming your supernatural boyfriend. The "Bride of Christ" that is mentioned in Scripture is made up of countless born-again Christians, and there is no act of physical intimacy that takes place between the Holy Spirit and a single physical human being. This includes "laying back against [Him] and breathing" or "dancing with [Him] in a field of grace" (or any other foliage, for that matter).

I also find it interesting to note that Jesus—the physical manifestation of the Almighty God—dearly loved His friends, yet throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus never failed to keep the line of separation clearly drawn, making Himself distinct from His followers. "Ye call me Lord, and ye do well, for so I am..." The twelve whom He personally called were His disciples, His followers; He referred to them as His friends, while stipulating "...if ye do whatsoever I command you." (Most of us would have serious issues with someone who told us we could be considered their "friend" only if we did whatever they told us!)

Today's society is so far removed from a true understanding of adoration that it is difficult for many to wrap their mind around the idea of "loving" someone, yet simultaneously holding that person in a position of high esteem, superiority, reverence. 

Yet we simply MUST hold God in the highest position of reverence and honor, and cease trying to bring Him down to a carnal level where we can express our love in some base manner that He never intended.

He alone is God, the Holy and Faithful King of Kings, and we should never attempt to bring Him down to our level, when He went to such great lengths to call us up to His.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's About Time

Many people have absolutely no problem giving God their heart, their finances, even their children. Giving Him your time, however, is another story altogether.

Relationships are built on time and communication, however, and the unique thing about a positive, close relationship is that, the more time you spend with that person, the more you communicate with them, the more you enjoy it, the more you desire to. 

Study the lives of the great men of God throughout the Scriptures—both Old and New Testaments—and the one common denominator with those who had that "special" relationship with God: Time.

Abraham comes to mind, because he was personally referred to by God as "Abraham, my friend". David was personally referred to by God as "a man after mine own heart". Although he made an egregious error and displeased God, Moses still pleased God enough to merit one-on-one conversations with God, was allowed to look upon God, and ultimately earned a special burying place that only God knew.

Plenty of us—and I did say "US"—will grace a church pew on Sundays, will faithfully give of our finances, and have (or will) dedicate our homes, our children, our families to God. But the longer I live, the more I become convinced that the true Bride of Christ is going to be made up of those who long to be with Him, who crave spending time with Him, who cherish those hours of prayer and communication with God. 

God is not looking for a "marriage of convenience", ladies and gentlemen; He desires a Bride whose desire is toward Him, a Bride that will spend time being with Him, not just enjoy the benefits of His Name. 

If you want to enjoy that special, unique relationship with God, it all boils down to time. How much you're willing to give Him will determine how well you know Him, and how well He knows you. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Gracious Words...

Just as food doesn't have to be presented on the finest china in order to create a good meal, so also the Word of God doesn't have to be presented in eloquent format in order to vital and nourishing to the hungry heart.

Presentation, however, can make a world of difference in how that meal—or Message—is received. The man of God should never, EVER feel carefree or cavalier about his presentation of God's Word; to be entrusted with the delivery of God's Word is the highest calling man could ever be given, and the man who takes that calling, and delivery, lightly with no forethought of how he performs in his duty, is a man who has no true realization of the task he has been given.

Those who approach the delivery of their message with the thought, "I'm just the vessel..." need to realize how true that statement is: You ARE the vessel; as such, you should always strive to be a vessel of honor, and never one to dishonor God or His Word by poor, unprepared, or cheap presentation.

While preaching is not—and never SHOULD be—considered a "competitive sport", we should always strive to present this Truth in our finest form, with "gracious words", as Jesus Himself did. Your presentation may determine whether that message from God is accepted or rejected.