What does the Lord require?

I want you to imagine that you have a significant other that you’re telling how much you love them, and imagine you haven’t gone on a date with them for a few months, you barely call them- only when you need something, and you never do anything they ask you to do.

How long would that last?

How long would you stay if you were treated this way?

Probably not long for either question.

Love requires and demands evidence in every relationship. Words are not enough. Expensive gifts are not enough. Public declarations are not enough. It requires our heart.

It’s the same with God. He wants our hearts.

Psalm 51:16 says, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

Matthew 5:18 says, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”

Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

God wants us to love Him with our hearts. He wants us to care. He wants us to keep His love and commandments on our mind. It’s not enough for us to say we love Him. It’s not enough for us to give to the church. We have to mean it. Nothing in this world can substitute our wholehearted commitment to Him.

Commitment means obedience, commitment means prayer, commitment means thought put into your relationship.

You may have that special someone. And you may not be able to spend time with them right now. You may not be able to give them expensive gifts. You may not be able to take them on dates. But if they know that they have your heart (your commitment)- your relationship will last.

With God, you may not have many talents to give Him, you may not have the years to give Him just as a younger person could, and you may not have any special skills to offer.

God only wants your heart. He wants your love, your commitment, and your full obedience and reverence.

It doesn’t matter who you are, that you can give. That, you can always give.

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

 

 

What if you lost a finger?

Around 8 months ago, I stepped on a scale and my jaw dropped. I was like, I do not weigh ___. I do not. I was horrified. I knew I was not healthy, but it had been so gradual, that I never noticed how terrible it was.

Something finally clicked inside of me and I decided that this was not ok. Determination or desperation grasped me and without knowing how, I knew I would find a way to become healthy. Eventually, I found a plan and I stuck with it. Over the next months I consistently restricted my diet and exercised without wavering, and I lost over 50 pounds. I’m not telling you this so you can be impressed, but because I want to share an idea with you.

You see, I had always wanted to lose weight. For over ten years I had been saying I needed to. But I didn’t NEED to. I wasn’t desperate. I wasn’t determined. If I could lose weight, or eat cake . . . well the cake might win or it might not. And that’s how I lived. Saying I cared, but living like I didn’t.

I feel like that’s how we are often in our Christian walk. We have addictions and pet sins. And we say, “I need to stop doing x.” But we don’t feel like we NEED to. You see, we’ve become accustomed to our sinful stumbling Christian walk. Just like I had become accustomed to carrying around an extra 50+ pounds.

Changing our lifestyle would be uncomfortable. And we don’t feel the pressing urging need to change.

Christ once said, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

That’s how seriously Jesus took sin. This verse is mainly speaking about salvation and coming to Christ initially, but it still carries the meaning of the seriousness of sin.

Take a moment and consider.

What are you allowing in your life that is unwholesome? What sin are you aware of, and comfortable with?

Take that sin, and picture it right now.

Would you let someone chop off one of your fingers so you could do it again?  Willingly be maimed for life:

Because you felt like gossiping about your coworker.

Because you wanted a second piece of cake.

Because you wanted to think an immoral thought.

Because you wanted to: Fill in the Blank.

Does it bring an entire new meaning to taking sin seriously?

It does to me. I would never sacrifice a piece of my body so I could eat a piece of cake, or do any of those things.

And yet we sacrifice our fellowship with God- something far more valuable than our bodies- for a moment of pleasure.

Last night I met with an old friend who noticed my transformation. I told him excitedly how I had decided one day and it all came into place. He looked away wistfully,

“I wish I could lose weight like that”

Immediately I jumped in, “You can, just do this and this!” I began to explain my journey. He shrugged his shoulders,

“Ahhh, I don’t feel like doing all that, it’s such a hassle. ”

I walked away so full of sadness. I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the times pastors have told me to do daily devotions, pray, or seek God – and I said to myself,

“I wish I could have spiritual victory, but that’s such a hassle.”

 

Better than any return

Let me share with you a principle of financing that may very well change your life. Whenever you go to work, you trade time and energy for money. Later, you trade money for other people’s time and energy in the form of goods and services. Many people live like this and never take advantage of the principles of true wealth. True wealth is not just value, it’s return.

For instance, your money has value, but when you put it in the bank for a little time, it make 2 cents or so. That minuscule amount is your return. If you trade stocks wisely or buy a stock with dividends you gain money. When you buy a house, that house has value. When you rent a house, that house(value) makes you money. It’s return on your investment.

The secret to residual income is being able to live off your return.

If you can live off your return, then you aren’t loosing value and your wealth can last for generations. Many people live off the value of their time and energy and rarely if ever take advantage of this valuable principle.

And now, if you’re wondering why I’m giving out financial advice on a devotional website, the reason is that I really wanted to share with you this really cool word picture God makes in Proverbs.

You see, in Proverbs 1 and 2, Solomon speaks of wisdom and understanding like it’s a great treasure. He tells his son to go seek it out and search for it like he would seek for hidden treasure. He continues by telling his son that God hides special wisdom for the righteous. In Proverbs 3, the picture continues.

Proverbs 3:13 says, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than find gold.”

Solomon was an amazingly rich king. He definitely understood principles of financing. He tells his son, that wisdom and understanding (the kind you get from God) has a better return than silver and gold. Realize this, Solomon wasn’t just saying that wisdom was more valuable that silver and gold. Solomon said that wisdom produces things that are more valuable than silver and gold.

If you think that paying off your mortgage is cool, or having loads of gold and silver is amazing, think again. The wisdom that comes from God is more valuable than any earthly treasure.  I challenge you, seek to acquire the wisdom of God. It’s value surpasses the best investment. God tells us that the man that finds the wisdom of God is happy, and I believe He meant that as an understatement.

Oh and if you decide to accept this quest of searching for one of the greatest treasure/investments on earth, then I wish to give you three clues.

Psalm 111:10 Proverbs 1:7 Proverbs 9:10

Happy Hunting!

PS: I realize I was a little vague with the benefits of gaining wisdom and understanding. For more details see: Proverbs 3:14-18

 

Unto Blood?

Imagine a great battle, where people line each sides of a field. They draw swords, and charge. As they meet each other, they begin to fight, but then one army retreats. They leave the field in defeat and say that the battle was too hard. When you inspect the troops however, you find that not a single soldier has a scratch on them. They are alright except for a few bumps and bruises.

What would you think of an army that retreated only because they were uncomfortable in a fight? Would you write of their bravery in songs of poems? Would you tell others of their greatness. I think not.

Most likely, we would scoff at such wimps who would call themselves men. We would not praise such people. Those who selflessly sacrifice for the cause, those people are worthy of praise.

We may think little of an army that retreats without any real cause, but in many ways, our Christian life can probably be viewed the same way. How often do we retreat from our daily spiritual battle because the cross of Christ is uncomfortable to bear? Hebrews 12:4 says, Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. What is an army that retreats before even one of their men looses a drop of blood? Not many wars have been won by such a noncommittal group.

And yet, how can we expect to be triumphant in our spiritual warfare unless we are willing to commit wholly to the cause of our Savior?

The war that faces the Christian is not hard. Christ says, Resist the devil, and He will flee from you. – James 4:7

I challenge you, you are in a battle against sin, take it seriously. Have a warfare mentality when it comes to unrighteousness. Don’t give up on your battle because things get a little difficult or fighting your flesh isn’t fun.

Make a conscious decision to commit to standing for righteousness and holiness. Secure the thought in your mind that there is no other option. And you will find your impulses weaker, and you will find that Satan will be fleeing from you. Never forget, God is with you, and the battle is His. All that remains to you is to make a decision to stand.

Won’t you?