I love going to the gym as much as my schedule permits. The gym is my happy place. I put on some music and spend an hour trying to push my body. One thing that bothers me at the gym is when people sit at machines and do not exercise. The last time I was at the gym, I was exercising on the elliptical machine and peered out to see a handful of people sitting on the weight machines with cell phones in hand. The people sat at the machines the entire time I was on the elliptical machine. I became curious as to why the people would even come to the gym if they were not going to work out.
The people who sat at the machines could tell people that they went to the gym. Perhaps some of the group checked in at the gym on Facebook. Perhaps some of the group will tell friends or family that they were at the gym. They will even tell themselves they were at the gym. But to be at the gym and to actually work out at the gym are two different things. Anyone can go to the gym, but not everyone uses the gym equipment. People can see the check in on Facebook and believe their friend is getting buff, and in the end, their friend was scrolling their Facebook newsfeed. To the blind eye, it appears the person is getting fit; reality says something different.
This same façade is true in the life of a “Christian.” There are many people who claim to be Christians but when outsiders observe their lives, they are not seeing Jesus. There are people who attend church on a regular basis and people who do good deeds, who unfortunately do not know Jesus. These people may know of Jesus, but they never had the blessing of enjoying the presence of God in their lives because they were too busy trying to show everyone they had everything in order, too proud to lean into God, or too blinded by their own façade that they missed the grace so freely poured out. It is sad how many people still today think that they must try to earn their place in heaven.
We are each on a journey. We all need Jesus. Let us not sit at the machines pretending to be Christians. Instead, may our eyes be fixed on Jesus. May our words and our deeds point to Him. May we stop trying to cling to the title of Christian, and instead invest our time in following Jesus by responding to the great commands to love God and love others. Love is not a façade. It’s honest. It’s real. It’s vulnerable. It’s messy. It’s certainly not easy. Love God. Love others.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31 [NIV]
Jesus said that we could not serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We know it’s true. Time and time again we find ourselves with divided loyalty. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates it as “an indecisive man… unstable in all his ways.” Other translations say “double-minded.” That wasn’t even a word until it appeared in the Bible!
All of us have a divided loyalty. We can say we are devout Christians and that we have placed God first, however, we are still in this world and we are still in the flesh. Romans 7:15 says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (NLT). This is the Apostle Paul saying that he wants to do what is right, but yet he doesn’t do it. He recognizes that we have a sinful nature. The struggle is real. We keep on doing evil.
As we are living in this world, trying to live for Jesus, we need to keep in mind that our loyalties are divided a times. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus on His Word. When the world tries to pull you closer, remember that we are not of this world. God has a bigger plan for you and I, and it requires a desire for Him. Always aim to take steps toward Him, and the loyalty will become less and less divided, and more and more God-centered.
“Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” – James 1:8 [NLT]
Trying to figure out who you are is one of the hardest things to do in life. I remember when I was younger, it was a big question that would be bounced around in my head. Many people would ask what I had planned for my future. I remember the “are you going to college” and “what do you want to be when you grow up” type questions. Now my kids hear those same questions.
The truth is, we live in a world that tries to tell us who we are, and so often we listen. We listen when the world tells us what we cannot do. We listen when the world tells us what we are “supposed” to do in the eyes of the world. We listen to what the world says about how we should think or what we should wear. We constantly are listening.
All of the listening we do, we forget to listen to the One Who is Truth. We miss out on truly grasping who we are—a child of the King. As we are busy trying to fulfill the titles of mother/father, sister/brother, friend, co-worker, parent, teacher, doctor, cashier, drama queen, youngest child, cat lady, etc., we look in all the wrong areas to figure out who we are and what makes us and moves us and completes us. We don’t understand our place in the world or what defines us because we aren’t looking in the right place.
May today be a reminder for you—for who you truly are in Christ Jesus. As a believer in Jesus Christ, many things are understood about you. You are the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14). You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16). You are a child of God (John 1:12). You are a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). You are a saint (Ephesians 1:1). You are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). You are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). You are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). You are a personal witness of Christ (Act 1:8). You cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). You have been redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14). You have access to God (Ephesians 2:18). You are united with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17). My friends, THIS is who you are—now live it out!
I have a very bad memory. I write everything down and I use technology to remind me of everything short of breathing. Many days I will find myself noticing my hands are dry. It is then I remember that I did not put lotion on my hands. I have lotion—lots of lotion. But it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for me to neglect to put it on my hands.
I have a shelf full of Bibles, each a different type or a different translation. But they will not do anything for me unless I actually take one off the shelf and read it. Nor will it help much if I neglect to pray and seek the Lord’s will. It is so easy to neglect what Jesus gave us as a Comforter, as a Helper. It is so easy to neglect His Truth.
Today is a great day to start making a habit of connecting with your Lord and Savior. Did you know experts say it takes about ten days to make something a habit? As you continue to spend time with God, in His Word and in prayer, you will be more aware and responsive to His presence. Before you know it, you will spend more time acknowledging His presence and you will have a great relationship with your Father. I’m going to go put on some more lotion, as I am realizing I forgot once again. Then let us open up His Word and seek His face.
“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” – Psalm 105:4 [NLT]
Recently my son had a problem with his gaming system. I decided to reveal my tech geek side and began to look deeper into the issue. I realized that the disc drive was malfunctioning and had another drive ordered. When it arrived, the sticker on the box said, “new.” I quickly learned that it was anything but new. It had a padded wrapper over it but inside told another story. I found things broken and a stripped screw.
The people who sold me the disc drive can easily slap a sticker on a box and say the merchandise is new even though it is anything but new. With us, we can pretend to be a particular way; however, if we have the Spirit, if we accepted Jesus into our lives and were baptized, then there should be a sign of fruit—fruit from our lives.
You cannot fake a relationship with Christ. You cannot slap on a label (ex: “Christian”) and think it makes the reality change. There’s a song that says, “You’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Today, are you a box with a deceptive sticker or are you the real deal? If people look around will they see the fruits of your labor or will they get lost and confused from the image you try to uphold?
“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” – Matthew 7:16-18 [ESV]
To align with someone is to give someone support. To align with someone is to take a side with, to agree with, to root for, to fit with someone. When I think of align I think of getting the car tires aligned. They have to be a particular way for the car to move properly. They have to all be in agreement with how they are to work so that the car will run smoothly.
In today’s passage, it speaks of what God wants—His will for us. He wants us to have eternal life, to align with Jesus. We simply must believe and trust Jesus and align with Him. Then we “will enter real life, eternal life.” How awesome is that?
It is so easy to make an altar call and think that everything is good to go; however, being a Christian, being a true follower of Christ, means so much more. It isn’t about an altar call. It’s about aligning your life with Christ. You believe. You trust. You continue to side with Jesus. You root for Jesus. You fit with Jesus. You agree with Jesus. Your life is built on Jesus. When you are aligned with Jesus, life is always smooth no matter how rough the path, no matter what comes your way.
“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”
-John 6:39-40 [MSG]
When you live your life for Jesus you will find that some people are not so eager to be supportive of you giving up your will for His will. There will be people who do not understand. There will be people who do not want to spend time with you. There will be people who want to argue with you. There could be confrontation.
Jesus said He came to “disrupt and confront.” You may be on the receiving end of hurtful words and actions. You should expect disruptions to how things were in the past to how they are now that you are living for Jesus. The relationships you have might change. It may be tough to cope with as people treat you differently.
If there is not disruption and confrontation, then there is a Christian tucked away, fearful of moving forward. Remember those who told Jesus they would follow Him, but wanted to turn back to their family? Remember those who said they wanted to make Jesus their number one priority, but they could not quite let go? My friend, it may not be easy but I pray each day you may say, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” May each day be a day where you give up your will for His will.
“I’ve come to start a fire on this earth—how I wish it were blazing right now! I’ve come to change everything, turn everything rightside up—how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront! From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be—
Three against two,
and two against three;
Father against son,
and son against father;
Mother against daughter,
and daughter against mother;
Mother-in-law against bride,
and bride against mother-in-law.”
-Luke 12:49-53 [MSG]
This last winter was horrible. I remember being stuck out in the cold many days having to shovel and shovel some more. I remember once my kids locked me out too. I did not have my keys with me because I wasn’t leaving. I was simply shoveling the inches of snow that had once again come our way. But I couldn’t get inside. I was cold. I knocked. They didn’t answer. Thankfully they came to my aide a bit later. It was no fun being outside in the cold.
The Bible says that there will be people who “will find themselves out in the cold.” It is sad but it is true. When you read the verse, something has to stick out—THOSE WHO GREW UP ‘IN THE FAITH.’ Wow. They will be in the cold?!? But they grew up in the faith. The second part says BUT HAD NO FAITH. It’s much clearer then. You see you cannot save your family members. You cannot grow up in a church and say you are a Christian because you were raised Christian. What even is that? YOU, yes YOU PERSONALLY, need to repent of your sins and give your life to Jesus. You need to say, “Not my will, but Yours.”
Growing up in a church won’t save you. I cannot save my own children. I try to follow God’s Word to parents. I take them to church. I lead by example. But they ultimately have to make the decision on their own. If you have been going to church all your life but you have never fully accepted Jesus, never repented of your sins and given your will for His, pray about it today. I don’t want any of you outside in the cold. I know God doesn’t want you outside either. He wants each of you saved. He wants each of you with Him.
“Then those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith will find themselves out in the cold, outsiders to grace and wondering what happened.”
-Matthew 8:12 [MSG]
This is a poem that I wrote for a very special person. See you soon.
Mary Got A Promotion
“Love Justice & Seek Mercy
And Walk Humbly with your God”
“Love your Neighbor as yourself
Be Kind and Compassionate”
“Work Hard at Whatever you do
As Working for the Lord”
“Honor your parents
Teach your children”
“Follow My example
Walk in the way of love”
Today is a day of celebration.
Today is a day to rejoice.
God said “Good job My faithful servant”
Mary got a promotion.