If you could choose between the two, who would you rather be Saul or David? If you know much of the Old Testament story of these two men I imagine you would reply David pretty quickly. Me too. I mean who doesn’t want to be the guy that drops a 9-foot tall giant with a rock to the forehead? Who doesn’t want to be the guy who’s considered to be the man after God’s own heart? Most would say, “sign me up,” right away.
With social media all a buzz about Kim Davis, the clerk from Kentucky, and so many Christians ready to make her the next Christian hero, I’m finding myself not so ready to do that. By the way, I am a Christian. By that I mean that I am a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. But, my take on Kim Davis may be a little different from yours.
Like a lot of movies, if you ask your friends what they think about the movie “Forrest Gump” you’ll hear one of two reactions. They either love it or hate it.
Regardless of what you think of the movie, there is one line that Forrest uses several times that makes a lot of sense. Any time Forest is asked if he’s stupid he answers with the famous line, “Stupid is as stupid does.” What he was saying was that someone only could call him stupid if he was doing stupid things.
Biblically, I can assume this statement when it comes to a true believer. You can do it to. If someone walks up and asks you if you’re a believer (by that I mean a true believer in Jesus Christ) you could answer, “believer is as believer does.”
The only way to truly know if someone is a believer is if it is lived out of their life. (Church attendance is not a way to know if someone is a true believer by the way.)
Jesus said it this way in the context of spotting false prophets:
“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-18)
Both James and Paul later write according to this teaching of Jesus. Paul states in Galatians 5 that Spiritual “fruit”, the fruit of the life of a believer, is as obvious as the “fruit” of the flesh.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
James teaches that it’s important that believers “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” (James 1:22)
Jesus, Paul and James are not teaching that you should act a certain way to try to “look like” a believer. As a matter of fact, the Bible has a term for that too; hypocrite. What is true, however, is that both you and those around you will know whether or not your a believer by what you do. Believer is as believer does.
You’ll never see me try this illustration in a sermon but here’s a video excerpt by Francis Chan that delivers this question: how many are true believers? Take a look:
Like most churches, we have done our best to minister during the Christmas season to anyone God put in front of us as well as declare the truth of the Gospel. Having seen many new faces over the last month I guess we can deem this past Christmas season a success. Of course, nothing would make it more of a success than if all those who have come in contact with Jesus this Christmas have been changed by Him. This is not just a goal for those who do not yet believe but also very much a goal for those already a part of the church.
So, now the candles from the Christmas Eve service our blown out and, as we speak, the Christmas decorations are being taken down. It’s time for a new year.
I imagine most people are beginning the new year with thoughts of what the year will bring, some with resolutions, some with regrets looking forward to escaping the past. I guess there’s all kinds of thoughts we can have when a new year approaches. Of course, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have the opportunity to find yourself with hope; hope that the new year can be one that brings you closer in fellowship with Christ, experiencing the life-altering influence of His Spirit and the ability to hear more when your Good Shepherd speaks. I’ve been reflecting a lot on Psalm 96 as I prepare to preach a New Years message this Sunday. I love how so many of the Psalms speak of the newness we find in God, even when we’ve known Him for a long time:
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!(Psalm 96:1)
As a pastor, I often find my personal “hope goals” are often the same as the goals I have for our church. This year, I have one goal in particular:
This year my goal is too big to be a resolution and is probably impossible to measure. As a matter of fact, this goal is something that should be on going and should be, and have always been, the most important goal of my life since meeting Jesus Christ.
This year my goal is to make decisions, act, speak and even think (thinking is probably the most difficult) as if the only thing that matters is what Jesus thinks. Is that crazy or what?!
You see, my thinking is simple. If Jesus Christ is really the creator of the universe (See John 1:1 and Col. 1:16-17) and all of this world is really about what He’s planning and what He’s doing…and…He’s calling me to follow Him, hear His voice and live the life He’s given me, then, my crazy proposal is, I should care about what He thinks.
So, that’s my New Year’s “Hope Goal.” To live, act, move and breath as though what Jesus thinks matters. What do you think? Are you crazy enough to try this with me?
I was struck by the words of Oswald Chambers this morning, as I often am, so let me conclude with an excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest:
“If we have never had the experience of taking our commonplace religious shoes off our common-place religious feet, and getting rid of all the undue familiarity with which we approach God, it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and familiar are those who have never yet been introduced to Jesus Christ. After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing Who He is.”
Now that the candles are out, it time for us to live as though Christ has come and that what He thinks really matters. Read More
Every time I read the first two verses of Luke 15, I’m reminded that if the religious crowd become irritated with whom we’re reaching we’re probably doing a good job. What’s interesting about Jesus’ ministry is that the Pharisees wanted to kill Him, but “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.” Reading this passage this morning brought up a question in my mind:
What does it look like to have the heart of Jesus? Obviously, to have an attitude even remotely like the Pharisees, who speak negatively of Jesus being “a friend of tax collectors and sinners,” would mean we’re off track; but what does it look like when followers of Jesus share His heart?
1. We realize that we (the church) are not what people need, they need Jesus.
- We have fallen off the cliff if religiosity when we think if people were just like us, they’d be better off. Nothing could be further from the truth.
2. We realize that those outside of the faith are no different than we are, we’re just like them. We are the same, the difference is Jesus.
- We are made whole by Jesus when we make our prayer and plea. (See Luke 18:9-14)
3. We have an unquenchable desire to see those outside of the household of faith hear the message of Jesus.
- When we have the heart of Jesus the question, “why are they here?” never comes out of our heart or mouth.
4. We remember we are the lost sheep Jesus came to seek and save.
5. We still have a crazy desire ourselves to draw near to hear the words of Jesus.
Jesus, friend of sinners, friend of mine.
Soli Deo Gloria