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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God using Hot Sauce on our Acts of Service

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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.”

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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:

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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.

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 Hindering Checklist

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1. The misleading checklist

What’s the point of a checklist? If we’re honest, we use it as a means of fulfillment, that we ‘got something done’. But so much of what is on a checklist is meaningless and not glorifying to God. Most that is meaninglessness can all be summed up into one word: “Shop” (this is a misleading thesis as the rest of this article is not at all about shopping..); but in reality if anything isn’t bringing us closer to God, it is bringing us farther away and is, therefore, meaningless (or for God’s sake, worse than meaningless!)

Here’s the typical Bible study: scripture memory, read a certain passage for it, and pray. That’s a checklist. Everything is a checklist. Why do we have checklists? Jesus never had a checklist for us, He said to keep following Him our whole lives. We don’t get a break. If you’re following Jesus, when He stops to rest, you stop, when He starts, you start. There’s nothing to check off. He should be in complete control of our lives at all times. For we are wired with a desire to pursue Him our whole lives without ever reaching perfection.

2. The Dialogue

Person 1: “I’m going to church this week, therefore, I’m a good Christian and don’t have to worry about not being a good Christian for the rest of the week.”

Person 2:“Wrong.”

P1:“Oh, really? Okay, then I’ll do mid-week Bible study”

P2: “Good, but wrong.”

P1: “Really? Okay..I guess I could start serving and be a deacon”

P2: “Good, but wrong.”

P1: “Alright fine, I’ll give 10% of my money”

P2: “Good, but wrong.”

P1: “Bring my kids to church?”

P2: “No, although all those things are good. What you need to do is make Him Lord of your life. He must infiltrate and be Lord of all your days. Pray without ceasing. (1 Thes 5:17). Seek His will. Read His Word as often you can and make as much time for Him as you can.”

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3. Giving Him 100% of our lives/handing over the keys

Any kind of checklist is offensive to God. Many think if they’re giving God an hour of quiet time a day, then they’re home free; but Jesus wants to be a part of everything and every part of our lives. We should be spending 100% of the time with Him, seeking God’s will and being careful where we step (Proverbs 4:25-27)

Jesus wants to drive our car, not be in the passenger seat. We must pray that He will infiltrate every part of our lives and desire for Him to do so. We must desire His will and not our own and seek out things to give to Him, rather than find excuses to get as close to the sin-line as possible. Ie “Well the Bible is kind of unclear with that..”

We must turn from our selfish desires and checklists we’ve made solely as excuses to go back to our fleshly, worldly lived lives and, rather, seek His business (Luke 2:49)

4. Applying it

If we aren’t applying what we’ve learned in church and Bible study(only a fraction of our lives), what’s the point? (James 1:22, 2:19)

It’s almost as if we think we’ll get brownie points for doing a bunch of Christian things. These things are good steps, but if a Bible study is convincing us all we need to do is read a particular chapter of a book or even an entire book of the Bible, we’ve missed it. There is no checklist. God wants us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him always (Luke 9:23). Do the checklist, and then do more. Read the Bible, and then read it again. We can’t ‘check the Bible off’ unless we’ve memorized and applied the entire thing, and become sinless.

We must pray fervently for the desire and the fire to know God more, both in our friends, in our enemies, and in ourselves. Then, it will become natural to give everything to Him.