Life

1 John 5:12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Life: Zoe; life, both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence.

What does it mean to experience life? Is it finding a career, having children, growing a family, attaining power or influence, or could it be something else?

There are many people that haven’t experienced any of these things, does that mean they don’t know what life is? What about those who may of had these things and then lost them, does that mean their life is now over?

I think it’s important to ask these questions. By doing so, it places these aspects of life into perspective and allows us to keep our focus on life as it is meant to be.

In looking at these aspects of life we invest so much time and energy into, let’s look at them in light of God’s perspective and see what is illumined….

Proverbs 23:24The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who begets a wise child will delight in him.
Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her who bore you rejoice.”

When it comes to children, I’ve seen it done really well and very poorly. I’ve often talked with many who live on the streets that tell me it was better to be homeless than to live in the house with their abusive family. With the level of news we have access to, there seems to be no end to the poor examples of parenting I hear about on a near daily basis. For the sake of decorum, I’m not going to list the recent sad details of what bad parenting looks like, all I can say is it’s criminal.

If only we had a news segment that glorified good parenting, the demeanor of public perception would change dramatically. A mother or father that teaches their children manners, respect, honor, and instills values that develop godly character would be a good start. I’ve met many people like that, and I know there are many in this world I’ve never heard of.

If the Lord has blessed you with children, that is a significant part of your life and the basic role of a parent must be more than food, clothing, and shelter.

Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

What is the way we should train them?

The values we hold as significant in our lives, are the values our children will see. We can talk all day about expectations but unless we live it before them, our words carry no weight.

Where do you get your values?

Do you rely on what your parents taught or how they trained you? Did your parents exert good judgement and godly character into their parenting? If not, you could be replicating error that cascades down into subsequent generations.

The term “Train”, is taken from the Hebrew word Chanak, meaning to narrow. What is the first scripture that comes to mind when you mention narrow?

Matthew 7:14Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

The path we are to lead our children on is God’s path.

Unless we ourselves are walking this path of righteousness, we will wrestle with instilling these same values into our children. After raising 4 kids of my own, I know how difficult it is to be a perfect parent. Having not achieved this distinction, I realize the necessity of grace and humility. When we make mistakes, and we will, the ability to humble ourselves and admit our mistakes is very useful in showing our kids what to do in the midst of failure.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The process of passing on godliness is a full time job. Whether you are influencing your children or someone else’s, the constant reminder of walking in holiness has its reward when these young ones become adults.

I have seen this principle of godly teaching while sharing the gospel with people who had never spent anytime in church other than as small children. While speaking with them, they will tell me how those early years had influenced them throughout their lives. I was surprised how a very limited window of instruction can set someone toward Christ years later.

Don’t ever discount the time spent in godly teaching.

**What about your work?

I know from personal experience, a majority of my life is spent at my job. For me working 8 hours/day, 5 days/week, and occasional call weekends, the people I spend a large portion of my time with are my co-workers.

Work is a necessary means to living. If you don’t work, you must have some other income to survive. Some people are on disability, other’s may be retired but the crux of it is, someone is working to feed you. The state has money coming in because there are people working that pay taxes, that then in turn are fune

How do we bring our work into subjection with True Life?

I would have to say, my time at work is my greatest challenge in my walk with Christ. Working in close knit quarters with people who are not believers, who are dealing with all the pressures of their job and life can be a daily challenge. Many live lives that are in stark contrast to the model Jesus portrayed or they may be actively opposed to anyone who represents this lifestyle.

Early in my career, I had a guy tell me straight up he was going to try and get me fired because of my Christian faith. That first year was miserable for me, I was being challenged in both learning my position and dealing with a hostile co-worker. The man was actively living with the assistant manager, who exerted much influence over her superior….it felt like the entire place was opposed to me.

The Lord taught me a valuable lesson during that time of trusting in Him, being patient through adversity, and understanding how to listen to God’s voice as He lead me through that valley. In the end, I was vindicated against all accusations, I understood how much God takes interest in our small affairs, and that man became my biggest advocate for the next several years. Once again, God proved Himself faithful to me.

I’ve learned since then to pray before work, the Lord opens doors for evangelism that I don’t have to strive after, they just come naturally.

Sometimes the Lord leads me through a difficult day or week by teaching me a quality of godly character He is developing in me. This process helps me be more patient as I go through a lifetime of work that at times can be so repetitious. If I look at my work and the people I work with as a responsibility to influence toward godliness, then I approach my job with a mindset of Christ. The world pushes the goal as gaining position or power, the Lord reminds us we are His ambassadors, regardless of who it is we are representative to.

John 4:34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

What about those of us who cannot work? There are many instances where people’s bodies just won’t cooperate enough to sustain that type of regiment.

I’ve learned, the Lord can use anyone, anytime, at any place.

Just because you aren’t able to do a particular job, does not diminish the capacity of your influence in the world. Whether someone is disabled from injury or they are born with their condition, their value in God’s Kingdom has no less value. Usually, a disability opens doors that others have no access to. The ability to inspire, encourage, or just show love is not relegated to one subset of the population, often times I’ve seen those with a disability have a sensitivity to others that is heightened in their awareness of others weaknesses. Empathy, kindness, or a caring hug lifts peoples spirits at just the right time. As long as our focus is outward and not inward, we will be able to see others as God sees them.

I’ve known folks with down syndrome who could barely speak respond to the question, “Who loves you?”, and their response is, “Jesus loves me!”. The joy in their faces from some of the smallest of pleasures reminds those around them to not lose sight of the things that matter.

Life is made up of small, seemingly unimportant decisions. The way I might respond to a hello, the person who asks for a dollar on the street corner, the way I respond to someone who is upset, or any small gesture of kindness and love can impact others as well as change the course of their life. There are times when we can speak the truth of God in love and leave an impact for Christ in someone’s life or just respond like everyone else with a simple gesture that leaves them in the same place they were before. A timely prayer for a person who shares with you their burden or an attempt to go out of our way for someone else are moments that we may never get again.

These are the events that happen each day that compromise the one life that we have to live.

Carolyn Arends sang a song in the 90’s that was titled, “Seize the Day”, the song was a good reminder of those who have made the most of their opportunities and a call for others to do the same:

Seize the Day

I know a girl who was schooled in Manhattan
She reads dusty books and learns phrases in Latin
She is an author, or maybe a poet
A genius, but it’s just this world doesn’t know it
She works on her novel most everyday
If you laugh she will say Seize the day, seize whatever you can
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day, pray for grace from God’s hand
Then nothing will stand in your way
Seize the day

Well I know a doctor, a fine young physician
Left his six figure job for a mission position
He’s healing the sick in an African village
He works in the dirt and writes home to the cynics
He says “We work through the night so most everyday
As we watch the sun rise we can say Seize the day, seize whatever you can
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day, pray for grace from God’s hand
Then nothing will stand in your way
Seize the day

I know a man who’s been doing some thinking
He’s as bitter and cold as the whiskey he’s drinking
He’s talking ’bout fear, about chances not taken
If you listen to him you can hear his heart breaking
He says “One day you’re a boy and the next day you’re dead
I wish way back when someone had said

Seize the day, seize whatever you can
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day, pray for grace from God’s hand
Then nothing will stand in your way
Seize the day

Well one thing I’ve noticed wherever I wander
Everyone’s got a dream he can follow or squander
You can do what you will with the days you are given
I’m trying to spend mine on the business of living
So I’m singing my songs off of any old stage
You can laugh if you want, I’ll still say

Seize the day, seize whatever you can
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day, pray for grace from God’s hand
Then nothing will stand in your way
Seize the day

I’m always a bit reluctant to draw much biblical insight from a song’s lyrics, but I have found that a song such as this will serve as a good reminder of all that God has placed in my way, and challenges me as to whether I act on His lead or I simply continue to just serve myself.

Jesus was asked once by a lawyer what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus answered him in Luke 10 with the summary of the Moral Law–loving God and loving your neighbor. The lawyer then asked, who is my neighbor, which in turn Jesus gave the parable about a person from Samaria, someone the jews despised at that time. We pick it up in Luke 10:30-37

“Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The question the lawyer asked was a baited question, “what must I do”, is a proposition that is impossible to fulfill. Unless you can fulfill the obligations of the Moral law perfectly, you can never earn your way into eternal life.

Jesus earned the way, it’s our responsibility to follow His way in what that life looks like.

The man or woman of God that embraces the life of Christ in them, will find the life that He gave. This is only achieved through humility and a contrite spirit. The same promise that God gave Israel as a nation, is the same promise he makes to you today.

Ezekiel 36:24-30For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.”

This nation you’ve been called to is a Holy Nation, one that He keeps for His own possession. The Lord will draw from all peoples, tongues, nations, and tribes to join this people He calls His church. To those who have accepted His call, we now live our lives for Him, for His glory, for His praise, we lift Him up and give Him the name that is above every other name.

You cannot live for Jesus without His Spirit dwelling within you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Come to Him not doubting, cast off all restraint and let Him guide you the rest of your days….you will find you have lived a life worth living.

What is important to Jesus becomes important to you. You will find you can be victorious in every circumstance, knowing that Jesus is glorified through you. You will one day reap the reward of the faithful, you will see the magnitude of your decision to follow and you will rejoice forever in Him.

The life in Jesus has no End, it only has a beginning.

When will your beginning start? When will you begin to experience Life?

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