Can’t Life Be Just a Little Better?


Have you ever taken a sleeping pill or Tylenol PM and never quite come out of the fog the next morning? You know you have slept well the night before, but you still feel a little groggy and not quite up to par. You can get through the day, but you keep thinking, “If I could just lay down for another couple of hours, I could gain some clarity.” Instead, you push through and get through the day, all the while knowing that life could be just a little better.

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Living life without God is a lot like that sleeping pill. Life can be good without God. You can experience success; get through the daily tasks without ever really needing to call on God or believe in His son, Jesus. Yet, you know that life could be just a little better, and you just don’t know how. You may have even thought, “Is there more to life than this?” Nothing tragic has happened. Life is routine, uneventful and even boring at times. All the boxes in your life are full to a comfortable level.

The funny thing is this; we can live a life of comfortable despair and never know we are in misery. We have grown accustomed to this way of life. The fog is almost, well, acceptable. We don’t realize there is more. Yet, at the same time, we wonder if there is.

You see there’s life and then there’s life to the fullest. There’s watching someone sail the seas and then there is sailing the seas! There’s looking at travel guides to Hawaii and then there’s soaking up the sun on the beaches of Hawaii. The difference between living life without God and living with Him is this very concept. We can hear about the abundant life in Jesus…and think, “Yeah, yeah, I hear you, but who needs Him?”

Well, it’s this simple: the one who wants to live life to the brim not to the base needs Him.

The cool thing is this, living life with God brings all kinds of amazing promises that we cannot fathom or experience without knowing Him in our life. Without Him leading, guiding, and filling every crevice of our existence, we will only know the facts about Him. Facts are living life at the base. But when we embrace all that He has to offer by trusting in His Son, Jesus, we live life on a whole different level. We live to the uttermost brim, overflowing with not only clarity, but breathtaking encounters.

You see, Malachi 3:6 says, “I the Lord do not change.”  Some of you may be saying right now, “Well, I tried that life and I just didn’t experience better.” Did you miss your part when you tried? Again, the Lord does not change. That’s the hard-core truth. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is not made up of shifting shadows that one day please and the next destroy. He is constant. He is faithful. His promises to us do come true in our life.

And it’s a good thing He does not change. For if the God of the universe, who created heaven and earth and all these entail is full of changes, then we would be surely destroyed. Grace would have never made it to the cross. Eternity in heaven would never be our sure deal.

Thankfully, God does not change. But we do. We shift. We expose our shades. Change is good for us, but without God, we can reveal a demeanor that’s mean. We can be selfish. We can be corrupt. Let’s face it, we can get ugly. Yes, we can be good, but can we be gracious? We can practice acts of kindness, but do we seek to understand those who hurt us? We can be tolerant, but can we be patient with the one slow to change?

Our culture is living in the 50 shades of changes. One day it’s good, the next it is not. In culture, a life without God knows no mercy, no forgiveness, no hope. We live in fear. We live in judgment. We live in the daily tasks of fog.  We find no purpose in challenges, grief or struggles.

It’s actually interesting, when something bad happens to us, we immediately blame God, but do we look at how we may have shifted from God?

While God does not change, He does call us to change. Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” To enter the kingdom of heaven is to enter into the abundant life of Jesus. His presence is power and His power brings clarity to this fog filled life we live day in and day out. He does not want us to change from the person He created but instead to change our position.

Move closer to Him.

Some may say that God walked away from them, but God does not walk away from us, we walk away from Him.

If you seek God, you will find Him.

He is right there, ready and willing to clear the haze and smog of this life we live and give it vibrancy, drive and a point. He even gives the challenges, grief, and heartaches to life purpose. He uses them for good. Whereas the culture uses all that’s bad for worse. The culture is our agent of despair, never God.

God’s cause is to help you to make a difference.

He is there to take your goodness to the next level of greatness.

Yes, you can go on living life without God. You can marginally find success. You can even have a few awesome encounters that come, but go as quickly as they came. But can you say with total sureness that you never wonder if there is more to life than this? If you are asking this from time to time, get to know Jesus. He’ll fill your base to the brim.

 

 

What Does Your Expression Say About You?


Our expressions tell others a lot about ourselves. How we feel; what we might be meditating on; and who we are serving. In many cases, it reveals the character we have chosen to embody at that time.

Christ displayed many expressions while on earth; actually He expressed nine in all. These nine expressions were not only His way of living life on earth, but it’s also how He expresses Himself to you and me today.

As a Christian we have been given these same nine expressions of Christ that we can embody in our everyday life. They are all found in the Fruit of the Spirit, “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Notice that in Galatians there is one fruit with many expressions. And the entire fruit is the totality of God’s character.  Secondly, when we show these many expressions through our everyday life, we are not in conflict with God’s Law. We live righteously.  As the challenge to you and me, we must remember that when we accept Christ as our Savior, we must do as Jesus did; 1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in Christ must walk as He did.”  To walk as He did means we must conduct our lives in the manner in which He did; this would include our expressions – it’s not just facial, it’s physical, verbal and more importantly it’s relational. It’s our whole way of doing life with others.

You will notice that each expression is not seen unless it is practiced in relationships. For example, you can’t love if there is no one to love. You can’t have joy if there’s no one to serve, for joy is best expressed by serving others.  We are to pursue peace with others, which means to seek harmony when things aren’t so agreeable. Patience is best practiced when we need to wait on God and wait on others. Patience lends itself to love with endurance, trust with hope. It’s hard to be kind if there is no one on the receiving end. Goodness is practiced out of good will for another, as we seek what’s best for others above ourselves.  Faithfulness requires being loyal to someone else. Gentleness isn’t needed if there’s no one fragile and in need of our tender care. Self-control is the only expression where it requires we have a strong relationship with ourselves so that we are not a stumbling block to others.

Not only is the fruit of the Spirit – one fruit with many expressions – the total character of God – relational, it also comes to us in seed form. If we are in Christ, we get the whole fruit. Unlike the gifts of the Holy Spirit, where we may receive a few as the Spirit determines, we can have all nine of the expressions of Christ.

But the important thing to note, is each seed must be developed. Each expression transforms us into the image of God’s Son as we learn about Him, walk through the testings of life, practice what He taught, and rely totally on the Spirit of God to help us each step of the way.

The questions are…

  1. Are we learning and growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ?
  2. Are we allowing the testings in our life finish their good work in and through us?
  3. Are we practicing what Jesus did and does?
  4. Are we relying on the Spirit?

Some of the Fruit of the Spirit are very obvious in us.  People see them easily in us.  On the other hand, there are some that lay dormant. We need to give them more attention and ask the Holy Spirit to show what’s holding us back.

As a nonbeliever in Christ, impatience and lack of endurance was my constant expression. When life got hard, I was the walk out woman, the run away. I gave up. Even as a new believer, this was a struggle for me. I was always looking for a way around my challenges vs. a way through them.  I lacked the patient endurance needed to let the struggle finish a good work in me. But over the years, I have been intentional at asking the Spirit of God to help me with this. Now when I meet a trial, I still want to quit sometimes; the temptation is staring me in the face; but this means I have a choice. Will I walk by my flesh, or by the Spirit? I am much better at going through things, because now I have a different perspective. My mindset is on the growth not the obstacle. The other part to this, is I know I’m not alone.  Christ in me is with me and He goes through everything I face.

  1. What part of Christ’s expressions come easily to you?
  2. What’s part of the Fruit of the Spirit is dormant that needs extra attention?

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”

(Galatians 5:25).

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