Friday, February 11, 2011

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So You Say You Believe In Jesus

So you say you believe in Jesus, but do you love Him? So you say you believe in Jesus, but do you know Him? So you say you believe in Jesus, but do you seek to please Him? So you say you believe in Jesus, but does your life show it?

The marriage relationship between a man and a woman is probably the closest example I could think of to convey what our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is supposed to be like, though even it falls so short of what God has in store for those who choose to follow Christ.

When Rick and I first began dating, I could say that I knew him. But did I really know him? Well, I knew his name, where he lived, where he went to school, and how old he was. Could I say I really loved him? It could be said that I liked him, and thought he was ever so pleasing to look at. Could I say that I knew and did all that would please him? I knew he liked dancing, but does that cover everything that would be pleasing to him? Hardly, one has to spend time with someone to even begin to know what pleases them. The process of dating is supposed to provide time for people to grow in their personal knowledge of and relationship with each other.

Marriage is supposed to be founded on a firm foundation of love between a man and a woman. This love should be strong enough to keep vows to one another such as “to love, honor and obey, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for poorer or richer, till death do you part.” They are to leave their mother and father, and cleave to one another, esteeming the other more highly than themselves. That means considering the other even before them selves. Can you imagine how wonderful each marriage would be if the husband always put the needs and desires of his wife before his own, and visa versa? Of course, this can only be done when God is placed first in any relationship. It is God’s unconditional love for us and in us that enables us to know true love without self being first and foremost. That’s why God warns us not to become unequally yoked. However, God can even overcome that when both are willing to know and trust in Him, and Him alone.

Even the best of marriages is going to have its trials and tribulations. Each partner must be willing to do all that it takes to work at keeping the relationship growing and blossoming into all that it can be. It’s not a one time effort deal, but a continual effort project if your personal relationship with one another is to remain alive, vital, and well. If this is done, even when you are old and gray, you will never cease to be amazed at how much you are still learning about one another, and how much you are still seeking to fulfill and please one another. The embers of the fire that keeps your love for one another still burning hot will not grow cold or luke warm. When Rick was getting ready to retire, most of his colleagues were telling him that he was going to regret it. They said, “Before you know it you are both going to be getting on each other’s nerves and at each other’s throats.” Well, it has been a short ten months now, and their predictions have yet to become true. We just look at each other and praise God for blessing us with the gift of each other. Now don’t get me wrong. Yes, we still have our ups and downs, but He has given as a love strong enough to weather the storms of life.

I have always said that the other guys I dated gave me a wonderful gift- a greater appreciation for my husband. There are no doubts that God gave me the very best life mate that I could ever have received. My Mom once told him, “You better be willing to give her a lot of attention and affection.” Well, he has certainly more than met that requirement. I believe that I have returned the same to him. However, whenever I say “I love you,” he retorts, “I love you more.” What a lovely ongoing debate to have.

Spending time with one another, hearing one another (not just letting words go in one ear and out the other, but truly listening and seeking to understand and comprehend), developing common interests, doing little things with and for each other; these are all actions that help to develop a long, lasting, and fulfilling relationship –one that shows, or demonstrates so clearly, not only to one another, but even to those who may not even really know you, that anyone can see and appreciate the love you have for one another. That’s when we hear, “I want what the two of you have.”

Let's take a look at what I might have had. I once dated a guy whose values and desires were far removed from my own. He once said, “I want you to really think about whether I’m the kind of guy you want to marry. You know me. If I want to take off and go fishing or hunting, I’m going to do just that. Will you be satisfied with that?” I don’t believe he thought I would really take his advice. But I did just that. I concluded that I would definitely NOT be satisfied. Neither would I be happy with someone who thought Jesus was a nice guy, but revered money as the real god to worship. Thank you Lord, you saved me from a fate worse than death. In my minds eye, I can see the outcome or that kind of relationship. It would not be characterized as two people so in love, that spending time together was the greatest joy in life for both of them. In stead, either the marriage would end in divorce, or the two would just become room mates, each seeking fulfillment in their own separate lives, and neither of them really caring about one another. Is that the kind of relationship that would make you say, “I want what you have?”

I’m not saying that those who don’t believe in God can’t have s good marriage. Unbelievers may practice God’s principles which are going to produce positive consequences. The reverse is also true. If Christians do not apply God’s principles to their lives and marriage, they will suffer the negative consequences of not doing so. God’s law exists and is true whether we believe in Him or not, just like the law of gravity works whether you believe in it or not.

Do you think I have veered from my original theme? Far from it! I have
attempted to describe just a little bit of our marriage relationship, in hopes of demonstrating what others should be able to see about God’s love toward and in each of us. Our personal relationship with Jesus should be so vital that others will look, see, and say, “I want what you have.”

For me to say about Rick, when I first met him, that I truly believed in him, knew him, loved him, and sought to do that which pleased him, would be a complete lie. Yet that is the very thing that you and I are very often guilty of when we say, “I believe in Jesus,” but there is very little evidence in our lives that would prove the truth of that statement even to our selves, much less to others, and more importantly to God Him self. If we say we believe in Him, but do not seek to obey Him, we are the same as the devil who believes in Jesus. That is, the devil and his demons “know” who Jesus is. They even know the scriptures verbatim. But they will never obey Him(seek to do that which is pleasing in His sight), nor will they ever love Him.

Obedience in serving the Lord does not come forth as some may imagine. Some think of obedience and envision a tyrant or dictator who demands obedience through force. However, with God, our obedience to Him arises out our love for Him. If we truly love Him, we would never want to do that which is not pleasing in His sight. The following incident that happened between my Daddy and I has helped me understand the kind of obedience that we are supposed to exhibit in our walk with the Lord, our heavenly Father. Before my sophomore year of college, not knowing what I really wanted to major in, I told my Daddy that I was not going to return to college. He became very upset with me and began to exuberantly declare the harm I would be doing to my future if I just threw away the gift of an education that he was willing to freely give me. He loved me enough to “chastise”
me that I might see the error of my ways. He used the combination of laying down the “law” tempered with love to cause me to turn around and repent of my choices that he knew would bring harm to my life. Within five minutes, I turned around 380 degrees in my decision. Had I all of a sudden discovered what field of study I wished to pursue? No, but having seen just how much my education meant to my Daddy had convinced me that I should obey him. I loved my Daddy very much and did not want him to be displeased or disappointed in me. In learning the importance of doing my earthly father’s will, I have been able to understand that much more, the importance of being obedient to the will of my heavenly Father.
You see my Daddy had wisdom beyond my own limited knowledge at that time.

He had told me that even if I never used my education, at least I would have it if there ever arose a time in my life when it would be necessary. He was providing the opportunity for me to be equipped and prepared for the future. Therefore, I was able to help provide for my family upon several occasions. Not only did it help our family economically, but it also gave me an opportunity as a teacher, to reach out to my students and hopefully help to mold their lives. God also combines His love and His law to instruct and correct us, not for the purpose of reigning over us in tyranny, but to keep us from harm. In refusing to be obedient to the Lord, we have to suffer the consequences of not heeding His will for our lives. Serving the Lord willingly, that is obeying His Will as given to us in His Word, is for our benefit, not His. God is love and He is just. If He does not chastise us, we are not His sons and daughters. What loving earthly father would not willingly discipline his children? To not do so is to destroy the very one that you proclaim to love. Love and law must be combined. Read Hebrews 12.

Let me put it another way. How many of us would willingly enter into a marriage if we knew beforehand that it would be characterized by infidelity, neglect, abuse, and indifference? Yet that is the kind of relationship we seem to think is valid for Jesus to have in our lives. All too often, we don’t try to truly draw near to Him in daily praise and worship. We don’t seek to know Him through studying His Word. Or we may read His Word, but then not truly listen and then apply His Word in our daily life, but continually place our own opinions above His. That’s like a husband saying to his wife, “You talk too much. I can’t be bothered by your constant blabbing.” Is that what we really want to say to God? “Hey Jesus, don’t bother me with your silly thoughts. That stuff is old fashioned and for people that don’t having any thing better to do. What you have to say couldn’t possibly have any real validity to my life today. And besides that, why should I be faithful to you and you alone. That stuff about ‘having no other gods before you, and loving you with all my heart, mind, soul, and body,’ man you’ve really gone overboard with that hogwash. I can make it just fine following my own opinions. After all look at all those other enticing gods out there that will give me all I want; you know like the gods of money, work, sex, intellectualism, humanism, socialism, paganism, witchcraft only to name a few. I can follow after any and all gods for there are many paths to God. I can pick and choose any, all, or none. Who do you think you are to try and tell me I have to choose to follow only you? And as for obeying you, forget that! I can do anything I want as long as it does no harm to others. You know – if it feels good, do it! Hey, everybody’s doing it, aren’t they? So it must be okay, right?”

So where is our true love for Jesus if any other god will do just as good? Why would God the Father send His only Son to be crucified for OUR sins, if belief and obedience to any god or belief in no god would have the same outcome?
If we say we believe in Jesus, but do not have a personal relationship with Him as our Lord and Savior, then the truth is not in us. It is equivalent to being room mates and married in name only.

You say you believe in Jesus. But do you LOVE HIM? If you love your wife, wouldn’t it be a funny way to show it by only spending time with her for the purpose of just getting what you want her to do for you, and never thinking of what you could do for her? Some marriages are characterized by an attitude of “what have you done for me lately?” One reaches out for affection only to be pushed aside, or one forces selfish desire without consideration of the other’s feelings. One can be just as detrimental as the other because love of self has become more important than truly cherishing your mate. Similarly, our love for God, or lack of it, can be characterized by the same selfish attitudes and actions. When was the last time you told the Lord how much you really loved Him, just for the sake of letting Him know how much he means in your life.? When did you last wish you had more than mere words to pour out your heartfelt love to Him? All too often, we don’t think of prayer as a time to worship the Lord giving Him all glory and honor for which He alone is worthy. Instead, prayer time, or talking with Him, is very often characterized by an attitude of presenting a wish list, as if He was our butler.

He loved us first. He gave us Him self through His Son, His Holy Spirit, and His written Word. Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father; for the Father and I are One.” (Read John 14 & I John: 5) All too often, what does He get from us? An attitude of, “What have you done for me lately, God?” Or we present Him with an attitude of “do this, fix that, and give me that.” It’s as if we think we can go to God with the same attitude as going to McDonalds to order a burger and fries. Then to top it all off, if He ‘gets the order wrong’, that is He didn’t answer our prayer when and how we thought He should have, we respond with an attitude of doubt, unbelief, or even worse “Forget you God. If you don’t do what ‘I’ think you should, I don’t need or want you in my life.”

How would we like it if all we ever heard from our spouse were complaints and demands? Or how long do you think you would cherish your spouse if all He/she ever cared about was the fulfillment of their own selfish desires? Yes, God does want us to “bring our burdens” to Him. But love, in any relationship, is supposed to be a two way street, both giving and receiving. We need to remember that some of the best answers to our prayers were when He said, “NO.” We also need to realize that our experiences in life do not define or limit God. One of the best lessons given to us in scripture is the Book of Job. He lost everything, yet he refused to reject God. God is still God no matter what the circumstances of our lives may be. Just because we don’t know the beginning from the end is no excuse. That’s why we are told to stand and endure to the end. So maybe our time spent with the Lord should contain less complaining and more praises and thanking Him for being who He is, for He alone knows the beginning from the end. Most of all, we need to praise Him for the fact, that no matter how many times we fail Him, still His love for us is true, and He will never leave us or forsake us. His grace is sufficient. If we truly love Him, He assures us that we are “carved in the palms of His hands,” and nothing can separate us from His Love. He loves us so much He even knows the number of hairs on our head. Why and how can we neglect so great a love?

There have been precious moments when I felt the nearness of Jesus so real as if He was physically right there with me. Oh how my spirit within burned with love for Him and from Him. I treasure those times and wish that it could always be that way. The fact that it isn’t is not His fault, but my own. Yet I hold tight to those moments as gifts of little periods of time given that I may rerun them again and again. They are small glimpses of but a part of the glories we will experience when we go to be with Him in eternity. Like the song says, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years…we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.” Tenderly and sweetly He calls us into His presence that we may experience here and now a small part of the glories He has stored up for those who believe in and obey Him.

Again I say, so you say you believe in Jesus. Then where is the evidence of that love in your life? Just think what it would be like if your husband/wife had you on a starvation diet of only crumbs of attention and affection? Then relate that to how our Lord must feel when we dole out our love, attention, and obedience (doing that which is pleasing in His sight) as to practically be non existent. No wonder He said that because we are neither hot nor cold, He will spew us out of His mouth. We need to hunger and thirst after Him for our eternal life depends upon it.

I have known the wonderful love of family and friends. Think of how wonderful the most intimate moments have been between you and your loved one as you have shared your love with one another. Now try to understand that that love is but a mere shadow when compared with the treasure found in the love of our Lord, for He is more precious than silver or gold.

I urge myself, as much as the reader, to seek the face of the Lord while He may be found. Search the scriptures that we may eat of the bread of life. Jesus said, “It is written, Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” Learn at His feet. Find the eternal joy of the Lord; seek to Know Him, Love Him, and Serve Him that your life may be full in the here and now and for eternity. Again I ask, do you KNOW HIM, LOVE HIM, and SERVE HIM? Draw nigh unto Him, and He will draw nigh unto you. He will be our God, and we will be His people. May His love so shine in and from each of us that others will say, “I WANT WHAT YOU HAVE!”

Hebrews 10: 23 – 25
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Psalm 34: 3, 8
“Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”

Ginger Rahn


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