PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD, AND PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN YOUR WORLD.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” John 15:4
I’ll never forget the time I bought a new stereo system. I brought the boxes home and carefully unwrapped each piece of equipment. I spread everything out on the floor. There it was—wires and all. But halfway into the assembling project I realized I needed some serious help. Believe me, I am a technological idiot; when it comes to connecting in digital world, I’m in serious trouble!
Most of us are a lot like that spiritually. We have all the equipment we need to connect to an intimate and fulfilling relationship with the only One who is tailor-made to make great music out of our lives. But most of us never quite seem to get it figured out. So here are some pointers.
The intimacy with God we were built to enjoy begins by realizing that our relationship with Jesus is the key to getting connected. As He said in John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” And then in John 15:1-27 he paints a profound picture of what that looks like (I find pictures are really helpful in set-up manuals), by telling us that we are like branches and that He is the vine. All the resources we need to prosper and bear fruit come from entwining our entire being—mind, will, intellect, emotions, and attitudes—into Jesus. And then He concludes the connection instructions by telling us that the key to letting the music flow is our unflinching obedience to Him in every aspect of our lives.
Jesus says, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10). The payoff of finally getting connected is that we will experience the deep-down joy that only He can give as a reward for obediently staying wired to Him. He assures us, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
Perhaps you can imagine the joy I felt when a friend came over to get me out of my digital mess. And the music was spectacular!
When you think of your spiritual journey, I wonder if you feel frustrated and wound up in wires that go nowhere, leaving you disappointed and doubting if your Christianity will ever work? Check in with the “intimacy expert.” Jesus welcomes you to listen to His advice for your life and then to hook up by obeying all of His directives. Directives about how to deal with your enemies, your family, your finances, your weird boss, and anything or anybody else that crosses your path. As it is with digital equipment, there are no alternatives. If the wires aren’t plugged into the right place, it just won’t work.
And, one other thought: When I can’t get something to work I always know that it’s not the manufacturer’s fault. They knew just how to make the equipment. So if God seems far away and there is little or no music in your heart, it’s not God’s fault. We were pre-wired to fellowship with Him in harmonious obedience!
Through The Bible
1 Chronicles 28:12, 19 (NIV) 12He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things… 19″All this,” David said, “I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.”
There is a tendency to think God was more visible and directly involved in Old Testament times in more dramatic ways than in this age. As David was sharing the plans of the Temple with Solomon, he told how he received the inspiration for the plan. He did not have a vision or experience some kind of autonomic writing. He did not have a vivid dream or spirit travel to heaven. The Spirit of God put it in his mind. The hand of the LORD was upon him and gave him understanding of the details of the plan.
The LORD often works with us in the same way. If (and that is a great big “IF”) we are seeking Him and His will with all our heart and have been walking with Him for some time to learn discernment, the Spirit inspires our thoughts. As we walk with the hand of the LORD upon us, we will discern Spirit inspired thoughts.
Thoughts come from one of three sources: suggestions from the demonic, our own soul, or the Spirit of God. As we mature we learn to discern the difference and become more and more attentive and obedient to the Spirit inspired thoughts and quick to reject the enemy’s temptations. When we pray we will notice the thoughts for whom to pray for enter our mind. As we approach daily difficulties, we will notice solutions that we had not thought of. Be careful to give God all the credit and the glory for those. That is what David was doing when he said, “He gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.” “I can’t take credit for one little detail. God inspired my thoughts.” We find the same experience today as we go about working on the temple with living stones.
Remember: Grab those God inspired thoughts and give Him all the glory when you see the good fruit.
Acts 17:2-4, 11 (NIV) 2As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. 4Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.
11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Paul usually began working in a city from the Jewish synagogue. It was a place where he could speak to people with some background in prophecies about the Messiah. His approach was to show the people that the prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He explained that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. To explain why Jesus had to suffer is to explain His sacrifice in our place.
Seeing that the prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus, some of the Jews were persuaded, along with a large number of God-fearing Greeks. Even in those early days, women seem to have more readily accepted the Gospel. The Jews who did not accept Paul’s teaching were jealous of them winning the crowds. They stirred up a riot, and Paul and Silas had to leave.
The next town, Berea, met the message with a more noble character. Instead of emotion and competition, they searched the Scriptures every day to see if Paul and Silas were speaking the truth. The church today has the same response to teaching. Some just get upset and boot the new speaker, in spite of the new people coming into fellowship. They are jealous of a loss of power. Others search the Scriptures to see if the new speaker is teaching Scriptural truth.
Consider: When you hear a message that teaches something unfamiliar to you, do you act like a Thessalonican or a Berean?