Beware the saying: “Once this is over, my life will be better”

tunnellight

Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? Unfortunately, there is none, in this life at least. Good luck finding it, because it’s not there. It’s like seeing a mirage in a desert but when you get there, there’s no water.

       The deceiving lights vs the fulfilling Light

As we learn in reading the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, the richest, wisest man with over 700 wives, was never satisfied, although he thought he would be once he was done with making his palace big and getting knowledge, wisdom, the ladies, and money. In fact, we learn that his pursuits increased his sorrow:

(Ecc 1:17-18): “And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for wind. For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”

Think about summer break as a kid. For all of us, it wasn’t as good as we thought it was going to be when we got there. Have you ever had a situation that was better than you thought when you got there? I certainly haven’t-and if I have, it faded in the blink of an eye and I was suddenly grasping for wind again (Ecc 2:11).

In John 1:7-9, we learn that Jesus is, in fact, the Light, and there is no other. Our light at the end of the tunnel hope is to be applied to Him only, not the situations of the world that always let us down. He is our Light at the end of the tunnel, and when we reach Him, we actually will be fulfilled!

93603-004-D74382EF

      Why are we kept unfulfilled?

Would you really keep coming back to drink of Living Water if you were always fulfilled? It’s our sin holding us back. If you constantly have a water bottle with you, you don’t even miss water or remember what it’s like without it; but if you go without it for a day, you realize how much you need it.

So it is with God when He sees us taking Him for granted. We see it countless times in the Psalms where the pray-ers say things like “Lord why have you drawn away from me?” It’s because we have taken Him for granted in our sinful, selfish, prideful state and He wants us to turn back to Him.

Walk_in_the_fog_by_Ph1at1ine

       Fog for a reason

So when you feel unfulfilled, be careful to not have any light at the end of the tunnel situations in this world or assume tunnel at the end of the light situations, for you do not know God’s plan. He has placed us in a fog for a reason so that we can take our next step well.

(Ecclesiastes 3:11) “…He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no on can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

For you do not even know if God wills for you to live tomorrow and you can be confident that the things of this world will not fulfill because they never have in the past.

James 4:13-16

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

satan at work when we least expect it

A Plea for Prayer

Image

It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of “satan doesn’t exist” or “satan only works in these ways and not others”.

The reality is, satan works best through the mindset “Ignorance is bliss.” And no, his name doesn’t deserve to be capitalized, I often wonder why it is-probably because people are on his side and don’t even know it. I invite you to read on, otherwise you’ll be fulfilling the statement “ignorance is bliss”

Image

Getting out of “Ignorance is Bliss”

Obviously, the goal is to get out of “ignorance is bliss,” but why? Because it allows us to participate in God’s plan further. What do you do when you turn on the news and there’s a sad/bad story about someone dying? Chances are, (like me all to often), you quickly switch the channel or you think “I’m glad I’m not in that situation.” That’s exactly what satan wants us…

View original post 657 more words

In the Fog with Eternal Fuel

Image

Matthew 6:31-34:

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

All of us are driven by future orientedness in someway or another. People are fueled by hope, it’s an innate desire which God has provided us to be applied to a relationship with Jesus.

We all struggle with future orientedness because it is much easier to apply hope to physical things. The problem: physical things don’t last and we have to work harder each time to find something physical to hope in since we realize at the end of our hope that what we’ve put our hope in is unfulfilling. It’s like a tunnel at the end of the light when we get to it, and a light at the end of the tunnel when we pursue it. After all, we are only fulfilled in the pursuit of things.

2 Cor 4:18: “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Think about the end of school when you were a kid, everyone gets on the bandwagon of hope: “Once school’s over, life will be great!” It’s interesting how no one remembers how the past 10 summers were unfulfilling when they got to the start of summer.

Everyone puts their hope in something worldly and pulls fuel from that hope. It’s easier to hope in something you can see. But what’s the benefit of putting your hope in something that you can’t see? Like 2 Cor 4:18 says, it’s eternal, therefore, you can hope in it for your entire life. The hope that is given to us when we admit we are sinners, repent from our sins, accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and follow Him-praying to Him and hanging out with Him, is an immense one that can only be provided by Him.

One scripture in particular sticks out to me:

Ecclesiastes 7:14

14 When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
    anything about their future.

See, God doesn’t want us to know about the future, He want’s us to live in the moment and see how to live with Jesus right now, today. God keeps a fog in front of us so that we can take meaningful steps today. After all, how can you see the fire under your feet unless you look down? If you are looking too far ahead, you’ll automatically step on that fire, but like the picture above, you can always see the cross above all the fog-the hope of eternal life through Jesus alone that keeps us going.

The only way to live for today is to shift our hope in physical happenings in this world to the eternal joy that can only be found in Him. After all, happiness is based on happenings. If your house burned down today or your laptop got stolen, would you still be joyful?

Things to pray for:

-Pray for God to reveal to your family, friends, and enemies the unfulfillingness of the things that are seen and that God will draw them to Him and into a relationship with Jesus-the eternal hope. (2 Cor 4:18, John 6:44)

The Cold Old Life to the Hot New One

Image

Whenever I take a shower in my house, the water heater is extremely hot so I don’t need a lot of hot water. It ends up being about 20% hot, 80% cold on the knobs. (Now stay with me..) Then, as the shower goes on, the water becomes less hot. To get the water hot again, I have to turn the cold water down so that the water can be as hot as it was. This is a gradual process until the water ends up being 100% on the hot knob turned in order for it to be hot, and it stays hot because there’s no cold water interference.

This is like our relationship with Jesus. It’s gradual, and we are entering a life of sanctification, in which we are gradually being transformed into the newness and renewing of our minds in Jesus Christ, giving more up to Him while He increases and we decrease (Romans 12:1-2, John 3:30).

  1. Once we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we experience the living water that He provides us and are comfortable (John 4). With Jesus alone is “The Hot Water Life.”
  2. We realize that to be fulfilled by Jesus, we have to follow Him and gradually give more up to Him from “The Cold Water Life”, which is lived based on our own desires, because it is what He calls us to do: Deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (Matthew 19:21, Luke 9:23-25).
  3. Our goal is to be “Hot” Christians instead of lukewarm Christians (Revelation 3:15-16). We must pray fervently for the desire to know Jesus more each day, the desire that only He, through the Holy Spirit, can provide. Yes, and you could even think of “hot” from the attractive sense because someone with the eyes of Jesus sees the heart (John 7:24).

Image

You might say, “Wait, your analogy is fraud because the new believer is ‘hotter’ than the believer who isn’t giving up more of his life to Christ!”

If you’re not getting closer to God, you’re getting farther. It is better to assume that any day we aren’t spending with God or in Jesus’ name, we are falling away from Him. God expects His followers to seek to give up more to Him and to know Him and love Him more today than yesterday. (Matthew 6:33, John 3:30)

It reminds me of this song by Spiral Starecase, this is how excited we should feel about our relationship with Jesus! :

“Every day’s a new day of loving You,” and

“If all my dreams come true, I’ll be spending time with You,” and

“I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.” and

“I love you more today than yesterday, but only half as much as tomorrow.”

If this singer can sing about a girl this way, much more should we be able to sing about Jesus this way since He fulfills us and can give us a passion for Him that is far greater than that for a human when we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him with our whole heart. I’m reminded of when Jesus chose the disciples, they left everything. (Matthew 4:19)

Image

Verses:

Romans 12:1-2:  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

John 3:30: He must increase, I must decrease.

Matthew 19:21: Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Luke 9:23-25:  Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

How does God Work Through us More?

Image

1. Holding back

I went on a run the other day for the first time since Fall. I realized something: my heart could keep going, but my legs were holding me back. Sadly, I had to run back much sooner than I thought. I realized I’d have to work on building my muscles up so that they don’t hold me back.

The same thing happens in our lives with Jesus. He wants to work through us, but we hinder his ability to work in our lives through the Holy Spirit. We do this by eating unhealthily, not exercising, over/undersleeping, and making excuses that we need something worldly to fill us up rather than having faith that Christ alone can do this (Matt 4:4, John 4:14, John 4:31-34).

This can also be done by giving God an agenda for our lives; ie “I’ll follow you, but only if I can still get this car/house/wife/kid/grandkid/etc” He wants to work through us, but we limit His work through us by not giving it all up to Him and grasping hold of our worldly desires as if we live off of them.

Image

2. Why should He?

Why should He bless your food to your body if you haven’t taken up your cross and chosen something healthy? Why should He bless your job if you are doing nothing for Him through it? Why should He bless your friendships if they are drawing you away from God and/or you are making that person an idol? (Matthew 4:8-10) Why should He bless your marriage if you haven’t put Him at the center of it? (Matthew 6:33)

Image

3. Be of good cheer!

But this shouldn’t discourage us at all; rather, it should encourage us to become even greater vessels for God to work in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)! It should become addicting as we see God work through us more and more the more we give up to Him in our lives.

So be of good courage, Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33) and blessed those who accept Him as Lord of their life and their Savior with the Holy Spirit to work through us to become more like Him each day (John 3:30). The best way for Him to work through us is to give up more to Him in repentance and not limit what God wants to do for His kingdom through us. This desire to know God more, pray to Him, and get into His Word and follow His plan can only can be given from God alone (John 6:44). We must therefore pray for the desire to know Him more.

For more about this aspect in regards to nutrition: https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/god-and-nutrition/

Verses:

Matthew 4:4: “…Man shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Matthew 4:10 “…Him only you shall serve.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

God using Hot Sauce on our Acts of Service

Image

If you’ve ever had school lunches, you know they’re pretty bad. At least at college dining halls they have healthy options, but sometimes, or a lot of the time, they don’t taste very good. I’ve had a meal plan throughout college and always had a big lunch regardless of the taste.

My secret? Douse it with a bunch of sriracha. This way, I could make even the bad tasting stuff I was eating taste good. Similarly, God does this with our acts of service that are often, if not always, tainted by our sin. No matter how bad it is He will use it for His good, even if it tastes bad (Romans 8:28). Now, it’s better for us to try and find healthy, good tasting food in the first place so we don’t have to put sriracha on it, but regardless, I end up eating what’s on my plate, and God ends up using what we give Him through the power of Jesus Christ living through us as believers.

On a similar note, Jesus sings for us, perfecting our worship so our worship, it certainly will never be perfect on its own: See http://www.zachicks.com/blog/2013/1/1/jesus-sings-for-us-the-good-news-about-our-bad-worship.html

God will use whatever we give that is on our plate, even if it is bad (which it usually is), for His glory. I think of the story of the prayer of the Pharisee and of the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14:

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Image

When the hot sauce hurts

Even our ‘best’ acts of service are often tainted by pride or some minuscule underlying reason that we either ignore or don’t notice. We have to admit at one point, we have all thought we were better than others; although we are not called to compare ourselves to others, but to Jesus (2 Cor 10:12). It is better for us to follow God’s plan for us perfectly or as perfectly as we can because “The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.”(Proverbs 10:29) After all, you can only have so much sriracha before it hurts your stomach and gives you health problems from the amount of salt!

It reminds me a lot of this song: Sovereign over Us, especially @ 2:49:

Image

Verses for today

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

(2 Corinthians 10:12)

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

From the Car to the Restaurant

Image

I pulled up to the restaurant, starved. The lights weren’t on so it took us awhile to find it. I walked out of the car. It was freezing, so I threw on a nice warm jacket. I could see the warmth at the end of the cold and knew it was coming, soon. I reached the restaurant glad to be out of the car and in a larger community of people. We usually are fine not being uncomfortable for a short amount of time, knowing that we will reach warmth very soon.

The very same thing is happening to we who are following Jesus right now, making Him Lord of our lives. We are to deny our own flesh, which makes us uncomfortable, cold.

Image

Cooped up in the Car

The car is our old lives, cooped up in our own fleshly desires, only comfortable in a little zone. We can only sit in the car so long before we get irritated and want things to change. There’s nowhere to go but to the backseat. We often get so cooped up in our ‘car’ (our lives) that we try and upgrade it: leather seats, a sunroof, more gadgets, a little bigger. But a car can only get so big before you feel limited by it. The hope people in the world have in their lives are in the upgrades that they will apply to it. After awhile though, you can only upgrade your car so much before it starts breaking and you have to repair it to have it back to where it was at its best. Additionally, you can only squeeze so many people in it. (Matthew 19:21)

Image

Putting on the Jacket to Face the Cold

When we accept Jesus into our lives, that’s when we step out of the car and leave our old desires behind. We clothe ourselves with Jesus: the jacket (Romans 13:13-14). He keeps us warm, it’s only Jesus who keeps us warm through the Holy Spirit, and it’s knowing, through the Spirit, that the restaurant is so close and being able to see it. The hardest thing to do is get our friends out of the car to walk with us, but when we do, it’s a very special thing. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Image

Keeping the Restaurant in Sight

When we get out of the car fully, we see the restaurant, Heaven, in sight. Thus, we become kingdom oriented, focused on the things from above, not the things in the world (our little car). The warmth that is provided from seeing that is powerful. That hope is immense, and would hardly make combating the cold worth it if there wasn’t anything to look forward to. (2 Cor 4:16-18)

Image

Walking with Jesus

The path to Heaven is a narrow one (Matthew 7:13-14), not very many people have been blessed with the opportunity to see the restaurant (Matthew 13:14-17), and let alone, desire to deny everything they have built up in their car and tread the path set before them. Most people try and do it without a relationship with Jesus and thus, resort to going back into the car because it’s warm, or assuming they are good enough people on their own. I think of a bouncer at the restaurant door. When you get there, He says, “Where is your jacket?” You say, “I didn’t need it, I just beat the cold and made it through without one.” He says, “It’s too bad, we don’t accept people prideful, impractical people into our restaurant.” (Matthew 7:21-23 & 22:12-14) Your dad goes into the restaurant with the car keys and you are left in the cold, without a jacket, because you thought you could make it without your jacket (Jesus).

Image

Verses 

Matthew 7:21-23 (The Message): 21-23 “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

Matthew 19:21: 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18: Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.