The code of the believer

Is there a standard that we can live by? Is there like a code of conduct that if we applied to our lives, it would make the world a better place? I didn’t say a code to force onto others, I said a code to live by, one that I apply to myself and my children.

Romans 13 has a code of conduct.

“Romans 13:7-10 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

It could work.

But it isn’t something to muster up, to force on over our lives like a wet suit that’s 2 sizes too small. It is only possible from a heart change that takes place when we have received God’s forgiveness through Jesus death on the cross.

Step 1. Admit our need. Which means we will need to one or all of the list below:

I). Stop justifying ourselves by either saying what we’re doing isn’t wrong or by comparing ourselves with someone else and seeing ourselves better than the other person. (Unless we are comparing ourselves to Jesus which should be done).

II). Stop trying to pay off our mistakes with good works. You can’t pay off mistakes with used sanitary products, which is what Isaiah called them “Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. ”

Then, confess, say out loud, that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.

From that beginning our hearts are changed and we will have Jesus living in our hearts. He can empower us to live out “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It’s not just the code of the west, it’s the code of all who believe in and follow Jesus.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Truth that is hard to believe

“Though in your sin you are undeserving and undesirable, He loves you when your mind disavows it, your heart dodges it, and your soul dismisses it. He loves you right now as you are, not as you think you should be.”

I don’t have to shower or shave, to change my socks or undies or my habits before God will love me. He just loves me.

I put a period at the end of that last sentence but my emotions want to put a question mark there. Even me? Even me God? Have you seen me? Have you looked at all of my life?

Yes he has, and the truth is still the same for even me. For God so loved (my name here) that he gave his one and only son so that (my name here) would believe in Him, he gave the power to become a child of God and give him not death, but eternal life. That was John 3:16 from a paraphrased memory. Here it’s quoted:

“John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world (our name here)that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever (and here)believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world (and here), but to save the world (and here) through him. “

I rejoice that so many of my Christian friends read my early morning devotional ramblings but I also hope that someone who doesn’t know about Jesus love for them yet might read this or at least hear the message. Will you, the person reading this, tell one other person today that God loves them and Jesus came to die for them so they can share in God’s love and have eternal life? At least one?

Thank you.

(Originally posted 8-16-2017)

Zero dollar principle

We had a yard sale Saturday morning. It went well. The weather was great. Once it was over the wind kicked up and brought in some lightning, thunder and rain, a lot of rain. I was in our basement checking on something and noticed the floor drain was backing up. I thought it was the extra rain but when I tried to clear it, there were signs of a clog. I did my best but we had to hire a professional to unclog the drain. It’s fixed. It cost about 1/2 of what we made at the yard sale. Yesterday Mary noticed a shiny spot on the lawn. We have a broken sprinkler pipe.

Stuff happens. Our world is breaking and dying, at best we maintain what’s here. Sometimes we make improvements in one area but neglect another. We have found that windfalls of money usually are placed in our lives not to be rich but to provide for a need that we didn’t know was coming. We call it the zero dollar principle. Maybe the yard sale preceding the plumbing problem is just such a situation.

Proverbs says “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:8-9 –

My bible study this morning led me to Proverbs 3. I found some verses that I need to remember.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 3:5-6, 11-12

Sometimes life gets hard. My natural inclination is to whine, then try and figure out a way out. Well maybe God is teaching me something in the circumstances. Do I believe he loves me? If so, I will be disciplined and corrected and taught by Father who loves me and wants me to be faithful and productive.

The writer of Hebrews quotes 11-12.

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline —then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:4-11 –

Life is sometimes hard, stuff happens, the world and everything and everyone in it is winding down, and wearing out. God loves me and will carry me through all of this. Sometimes the hard stuff is God disciplining me, sometimes it’s just stuff breaking (or plugging up). God is with me through it all. He provides for me and my family, sometimes before I even know I need it.

Mayberrian life

Romans twelve. The lifestyle chapter. If you want to know how apply Christianity to life this would be good chapter to memorize.

This morning I can’t stop thinking that this chapter is the Mayberry RFD of Christianity.

-Bullet points-

Offer our bodies as living sacrifices

Don’t conform but be transformed by renewing our mind

Be humble and also know that we have a place in the body of Christ and so too we have a job to do for and with the body of Christ

Love, love with sincerity

Be joy full, be hope full, be patient full (?)

Be real with those around us, cry and laugh when appropriate

Be humble

We don’t get to get our revenge. Our story should never make a good spy novel.

Live at peace, as far as it is possible, with everyone

Give your enemy his needs, food and water. Our enemies are people who hate us, because there are no people that we hate.

Do not be overcome with evil but reverse that, overcome evil with good

And now i will whistle a tune and smile. Knowing who i am and whose I am. Probably won’t fish for fish but I might fish for men. A very mayberrian life.

Upstream living

I can’t do it. I want to but I can’t. Fit in. Mold myself to the culture around me. I try but I can’t. I get stuck half way. Wanting to conform but this whole Jesus thing, his love for me, his sacrifice, he died for me, it calls me back. Most of my day I spend running back and forth between two masters. How can I just stop being drawn away from Jesus who loves me, to the world and worldly pleasures that I love?

I read a verse today, I have read it many times, but if I put this into practice, I will be launched and supported in the way I should go.

“Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2.

Putting this into practice will mean I act on this verse by adding the rest of the Bible, bit by bit, to my heart and head. Head and heart, I know what it says, and I believe it, and I do it.

I have been a Christian since 1981 and in that time I have gone through seasons of intensely following Jesus and seasons of coasting, like journeying up a river, against the flow, and then at times pulling in the oars, laying down and taking a nap, waking to find that the boat that is my life didn’t stay where I pulled in the oars. What a rude way to wake up, with the roar of the falls of destruction in my ears, and the mists of the tears of the fallen on my face.

The Christian life is rowing the boat against the current of our culture and our world, but not in judgement of those around us floating with the flow, in concern and care of them, warning, loving, helping.

I’ve said enough. I need to get back to rowing.

I am adopted…by God

The book of Romans has some hard things. Chapter 9 is especially hard in places. Election, mercy and where do we fit?

The take away for me this morning is this:

“What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory– 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26 and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

I have been adopted into Gods family, not because of anything I have done but because God is a merciful God.

Two masters

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil that I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.”

The voice of my sinful nature is never silent and the pull of my fleshly appetites never goes away. Like gravity there is a constant tug to go the opposite way that God is calling me to follow. How do I do what is right? Like a dog being called by two “owners” I am conflicted. I need to follow the one who loves me the best. The one who loves me the best is the one who made me, paid for me, that is bought me back out of the slavery that I sell myself back into, and wants the best for me not only now, but in the life to come. The “owner” that loves me best may not have a treat in his hand, but he has love in his eyes and his voice as he says, “come, follow me”.

“…Who will rescue me from this body of death?thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:18,19,24,25