The Cold Old Life to the Hot New One

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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).

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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)

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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?

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How does God Work Through us More?

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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.

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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)

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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.”

Cheating Heaven

God says yes and no to our prayers. When He answers yes, it isn’t always the yes that we want.

Think about your stomach hurting, you say “God please heal me.” Immediately, your friend comes in the door and says you have to get your appendix out. “No!” you say.

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1. It’s gonna hurt

God always has the best for us in mind, but He never says it’s not going to hurt sometimes. When is the best time that you grew closer to God? Chances are, it’s probably when you realized you were a sinner and allowed God to fill up your life (through prayer, praise, fellowship, and God’s Word) rather than turning to what we as a culture usually use to make us happy (TV, food, shopping, etc)

Many of us think that if it hurts, then it must not be God’s will, but what about all the disciples? Most of them got killed in the name of Jesus, and they were devout followers of Him. Additionally, I think about the consequences of not following God’s will, like with Jonah. He was told to go one way to preach but went the complete opposite way. The consequence? Eaten by a whale. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be eaten by a whale.

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2. The eternal perspective

We are limiting God’s plan for our lives if we force God to work in an environment that keeps us safe and without pain. Jesus even tells us we will go through pain as disciples of Him(John 16:33). We who are in Christ Jesus are not of this world, but we can’t try and cheat heaven while we’re on earth (John 17:14). We are to bring heaven to earth, not pretend that we’re in heaven on earth (Matthew 6:10). We are to work for Jesus Christ up until death; and if we really believe we’ll be in paradise for eternity, why wouldn’t we do so? (Romans 12:1-2)

I have learned to appreciate moments of pain and sorrow, finding my joy heavenward, in Jesus, and knowing that after this life, I will never experience those feelings again for the rest of eternity; also knowing that God is using these moments to bring me closer to Him. (James 1:2-3)(Hebrews 12:6-11)

This is not to say we can’t have joy in this life. We can! It’s in doing God’s will and growing closer to Him, not longing for the past, because we are growing closer to Jesus more and more each day becoming even greater vessels for His Spirit to work through us. (For more on this aspect, see https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/god-and-nutrition/ )

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3. Scriptural reference

John 16:33: These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[a] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 17:14: 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

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.

James 1:2-3: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Hebrews 12:6-11: For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.” Ifyou endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Eat if from the master chef, not the new cook

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1. From the source

Think of the best chef in the world preparing the best dish. Of course, everyone wants to try it (who cares if it’s got a little meat 😉 Now what about your Dad trying to make the recipe on his own for the first time? Don’t get me wrong, Papa is a great chef, but not as good as the master chef. He wouldn’t be able to represent the dish as accurately as the master chef even if he was told the exact recipe as the master chef. So if given the choice, why would we eat the meal from Dad instead of the master chef?*

This is the common misconception of Christianity today. Even Jesus spoke against having sects in Christianity. Here’s the problem: These sects stem from us eating the bread of life from imitators of Christ. (Matthew 4:4) Many people in Christianity are imitators of certain disciples but not others: “Well I agree with Paul, not so much James.” But we end up building our life around the principles of imitators of Christ, not the source. We even base our life around our pastors, but they aren’t perfect either.

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2. Imitators of Christ

A lot of Bible studies I’ve been in like to focus on Paul’s writing. That’s good, but this is vanity and a grave misfortune; see, I had never read a Gospel and dissected it; I knew who Paul was in Jesus Christ before I knew who Jesus was. Now, Paul’s life is different from Jesus’, as it should be; and none of these disciples were perfect, like Jesus was. Debatably, Paul was somewhat of a people pleaser by nature (1 Corinthians 10:32-33), and he used it for the glory of God(1 Cor 9:20-22, Hebrews 12:14). But we should not strive to be just like Paul, although that was his calling.

God uses our sin for His glory; but Jesus didn’t care what people thought of Him from that standpoint-He was just doing His Father’s will. Jesus didn’t have any sin in His life to be used. Jesus calls us to say something to our brothers when they are doing something wrong, and that’s not people pleasing, that’s doing God’s will, regardless of whether or not they wanna hear it (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus Himself said He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword! He came to set a son against His Father and a daughter against her mother (Matthew 10:34-39).

Paul cooks the main dish well, and Jesus is the source of it and cooks it better since He’s perfect. If Paul had a copy of a gospel, I’m sure he would have sent that to everyone along with his letters to show people Jesus’ perfect life, but that’s just not how it was back then.

When we are comparing ourselves to others, even the disciples and pastors, we are comparing ourselves to sinful beings, rather than the perfect One. Think of it like music, when a passionate, skillful cellist compares himself with Yo Yo Ma, he feels quite obsolete and that he must practice more than if he is only comparing himself with his cello teacher.

Paul, amazing as he is through the Holy Spirit, uses his people pleasing for God’s glory and to spread the gospel. Chances are, most people using the excuse of people pleasing are not doing this with it. If you aren’t going to use people pleasing to spread the word, it’s much better to get up in (prideful) people’s faces, like Jesus, and ask tough questions, and say it like it is (Matthew 16:23). Certainly, Jesus only did this with the prideful, rather than the humble. See, all the disciples were different based on what they learned from Jesus; they didn’t want people to follow them, but rather, Jesus. Not saying Jesus wasn’t compassionate, but when something was out of line, He said something about it.

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3. Enter by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14)

Many people assume the easy way for Christianity, “Well, Paul says this to these people so I’m gonna do that because it still lets me do what I want.” Or “I like this pastor’s interpretation of the verse better.” Better to assume the hardest way “because narrow is the pathway and difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:14) Jesus wants us to give it all up (Matthew 19:16-26). We must hand over the car keys to Jesus and sit in the passenger seat.

Rather than taking the scripture that’s the easiest to follow, lets raise the bar and take some of the hardest things Jesus said (ie Matthew 7:21-23) and have those be the new standard of our lives. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll tell you, we’ll become less focused on the world, and more focused on heaven and the will of our Father. For it is better to have pressure in this world, as Jesus did, knowing that we’ll soon be out of this world and in paradise. (John 16:33, Hebrews 12:2)

(PS: please comment below if you think this is theologically bogus-I’m not trying to do that; but rather, fixate our gaze even more on Jesus)

Not what you’re doing, what God’s doing

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1. The fleshly lived life: how interesting…

I’ve been having conversations with a friend of mine, she is a believer, but never tells me what God is doing in her life. She is still living in the flesh. I owe it to the fact that she hasn’t given her life completely over to Jesus (Matt 10:38-39), in fact, she hasn’t given over very much. She is very much a checklist Christian                                                                             ( https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/the-hindering-checklist ).

She often tells me what she has done throughout her day, but I’m not concerned with that (Matthew 16:26). What I want to know is what God’s doing in her life, because His agenda and the way He works is way more interesting than anything we do on our own by our flesh (Matthew 16:23). For the things which are done in the flesh have been done before (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)

I have had a number of situations where God’s plan was different and much better than my own when I went against my fleshly desires and let His agenda rule over mine. I chose to go ‘about my Father’s business (Luke 2:49) and to be a brother with Christ.(Matthew 12:50)

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2. The bar intervention

I went to a bar to talk Theology with some friends. They do this every Tuesday night, whoever/whenever someone wants to come. The night that I went, I was the only one there. I left, a little ticked with God. Wasn’t I following His plan? I looked in my wallet and realized I had a coupon for a free drink at the place next door, so I went in. I sat next to the bar planning on reading my Bible alone, but God had a different plan. Suddenly, someone sat next to me and we got talking about Jesus, not my plan. So I shared the gospel with him and found out his beliefs. It turns out his parents were marriage counselors with Focus on the Family and he had turned from his parents’ faith to an all encompassing New Age belief. I encouraged him that liberal Christians exist in this world, especially in Boulder. See, Jesus didn’t come to bring world peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). As God through the Spirit painted the Gospel for him, I left in awe of God’s plan, it was way better than mine!

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3. Confession

In some ways, I hate to admit it, but I’ve gotten to the point where “I’m not interested in what you’re doing, just what God’s doing through you in the Spirit.” Chances are, the more you’re following Jesus and making Him Lord of your life, the more He’s working in your life; and even if He was working in your life more before, now you are guaranteed to be more aware of His presence and work because you know more of the characteristics of God; from the Bible and seeing Him work in your life through the Spirit (John 16:13-14). Everything you do on your own was built upon someone’s knowledge. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9, 2:12).

I personally have learned the most about God’s character by reading through the Psalms and Gospels, specifically Matthew and John. The book of Mark touches a lot on Jesus’ emotions. We discover His will through reading The Bible, God’s Word, and in Prayer and Fellowship.

The misconception of love: Salad > Bacon

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We as a society have misrepresented loving one another. Think about raising a child, you don’t let them do whatever they want, rather, you help them do what they need. (Titus 2:5)

1. Jesus’ love

Jesus loved everyone and He showed it by getting up in disciple’s faces, challenging them, and even calling one Satan (Matt 16:23)! Jesus did what He needed to bring people in a closer relationship with Him, because He knew that it was the only way they would find fulfillment and purpose in this life, and in the life to come (John 7:18).

2. Salad > Bacon

Think about eating food for taste, it’s only good in that moment, not later on; in fact, it hurts your body (Philippians 3:19-21). The friends I appreciate most are not the ones who are ‘nice’ to me in the moment, but rather, the ones that are nice to me in the long run. They are looking out for me in the long run and admonishing me because they really care about me (Colossians 3:16).

A very good friend of mine who has known me for a long time told me that I was idolizing girls in my life and putting my energy into creating a better friendship/relationship with them. She told me it was sad to see that in me. I admit that I was enraged in the moment, but only because she was right. She was being used by God to convict me, and I thank God for using her to show me that.

3. Applying it

More recently, I’ve learned to throw away my people pleasing habits, especially when God is calling me to say something like that to a friend of mine. If a friend dislikes me in the moment for simply reflecting God’s word into their ears, so be it, because I know that later on, they will be thankful, and even if they aren’t, they will then know God’s way in that particular situation. It’s just like eating a tasteless salad for lunch, then feeling great the rest of the day.

If I had a million dollars, I wouldn’t be satisfied.

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Is it good for people to fulfill their desires of hope?

When I make a backing track on Youtube for someone to record vocals over ‘You and I’ or make a video promoting the purchase of the top Electric Upright Bass on the market, it is making the chance slightly better that someone will pursue God. Why? Let’s consider a story first:

1. Story

“A little boy has decided to go out and get some baseball cards. Once he figures out that there is one that is the best, he makes the decision that he won’t stop until he gets Babe Ruth. So he keeps buying cards every weekend, spending all his allowance on it.” Now let’s stop and think, what if the little boy never got the card? He would think that when he got that card, he would be fulfilled. So his hope would still be in that card. If he got it, however, then he would quickly realize that he was putting his energy and getting his life/hope from something useless and unfulfilling. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)

2. Biblical relations

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Think about the story of Solomon in the Bible. He got everything he could from this world, riches, knowledge, wisdom, food, a big house, tons of wives, and lots of other stuff. He states, “all was vanity and grasping for the wind.”  (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)

Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Think about where you have treasure. Nearly everyone has treasure on earth; but we must, rather, shift to the mindset that we are merely passing through this world.

In John 18:36, Jesus reminds us He is not of this world; otherwise, his servants would defend Him. Often, we defend something other than ourselves: our stuff, which is of way less value than ourselves.

Hebrews 2:7 reminds us of this saying God has made us “a little lower than the angels”, crowned us with glory and honor, and set us over the works of His hands.

3. The sooner, the better.

Many people think that once they get a lot of likes or thumbs ups on youtube for a singing video, then they will be filled up; not so. The sooner they can find that out, the better; it’s something they can cross off of their ‘fulfillment list’(maybe ‘bucket’ list). Some people also think that once they buy the next thing, an Electric Upright Bass(the best one), then they will be satisfied; not so. The sooner they can find that out, the better. In this sense, it would be better for people (specifically non-believers) to experience all the possibilities of things that could fill them up so that they could see it wasn’t fulfilling.

Regrettably, people go through their whole lives in hope thinking they never were fulfilled because they didn’t get that one house, when they don’t realize they wouldn’t have gotten filled up in the first place, when only Jesus can quench that thirst in being satisfied in the constant pursuing of us to know Him more. (John 4) Jesus even did this in John 3:30. I may be treading on rough theological grounds to argue He was going through a process His whole life even though He was perfect.

The Smiths

A song that comes to mind: Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by The Smiths. I love this song because it is so true of everybody’s worldly state without a hope in Jesus Christ.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoxTVonejwg

Wouldn’t it be better for someone to get everything they wanted; just so they weren’t driven by something like the hope of getting a big house at the end of their life, or a fancy car? It can even be dangerous in the aspect of children. I hear this all the time: “Once I have some grandchildren, then I will be satisfied.”

As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “he who increases knowledge increases sorrow”; because the more someone gets of anything, besides Jesus Christ, the more of a reason that person has to realize it’s unfulfilling.

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I know someone who has a package in the mail about 3 times a week. He is always getting something that will make life easier for him. It’s gotten so bad and out of hand that he even bought another skateboard just so he could leave one at school and one at home-so he could save 15 seconds unlocking his bike; when will it end? I’ll tell you when: once he gets the most convenient lifestyle and realizes it isn’t fulfilling. In reality, I sincerely hope 20 packages a week come so that it hits him sooner rather than later.

4. Conclusion

This isn’t meant to be a downer post at all, rather, it is intended for us to make less of everything else we put hope in so that Jesus Christ stands higher above material things, knowledge, wisdom, and anything else we ‘get’ in this world; to realize that these things will never fulfill.