At our core we are selfish minded people. There’s not a day that goes by where we don’t think and/or act on the “what about me” principal. I was listening to Dennis Prager the other day who was speaking on this very subject. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Prager he is one of the most clear thinkers of our time, a modern day philosopher. He was discussing Happiness and how we make a choice to be happy. When challenged by a caller about this being relevant or even possible, he pointed to the example of going to work every day. There are many who love their job, myself included but given a choice we would prefer not to get up early and go to work, but for the most part we all do. We choose to go to work, we choose to be happy.
It comes down to the question of what’s best for us? Paul brilliantly makes this argument in Romans 15. When we invest in acts of selfishness we see two things, a fast payoff and what I’ll call “buyers remorse”. In other words, satisfaction gained through selfish acts is short lived and rarely meaningful. Paul urges us to invest in others and points to the cumulative affect of doing so.
Romans 15:4 – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. David Guzik sums this up very well in his commentary; This goes against the whole tenor of our times, which counsels people to “look out for number 1” and despises those who live lives of real sacrifice for the sake of others. Yet, undeniably Paul points the way to true happiness and fulfillment in life – get your eyes off of yourself, start building up others and you will find yourself built up.
We truly must choose to die to our selfish desires and put others needs before our own. It’s tough, but meaningful things are rarely uninvolved. Are you looking for more meaning in your life? Is happiness a struggle for you? If so, take Paul’s instruction to heart and a meaningful life isn’t far behind. Romans 15:2 – Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Over the last year we have seen our country divided by the political process. I can’t remember a time when it was this vociferous. Friendships have been broken, harsh words spoken to people we don’t even know. I’ve been guilty of this. Social media provides a platform for things we probably wouldn’t say in person. We all become a little more brave hiding behind a keyboard.
Not to ignore such differences but don’t we still have much more in common than where we differ? I choose to believe this and the hope that I have in Christ tells me it is so.
In Romans 14 Paul speaks of the petty differences in religious eating practices that were used to defame one another in his day. He also infers that this led to further judgement of other religious practices. The context of these words is based on religious differences but I believe Jesus would have us extend this to all people and circumstance. Regardless of what side of any issue you’re on we’re called to rise above. We must consciously choose to extend the branch of acceptance and peace. Romans 14:19 – So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Today you have choices to make. Some will be fairly mundane, like which shoes you picked out; others will carry a little more weight. In other words, some choices are solely preferential others are motivated by what we know to be right and wrong. I can tell you with a high degree of certainty that I will exceed the posted speed limit today. There’s a possibility that that decision could lead to consequences. From a very early age we are taught what is right and wrong. This is enhanced by the gift of conscience God bestows on us all. So while we may be taught that something like theft is wrong, we innately know it to be so. That “still small voice” thing is God’s love steering us away from ruin. We live in a world full of man made rules and laws and we are subject to abide by them. Know and be comforted by the fact that there is no authority or byproduct there of, that God has not set in place for our good. Romans 13:5 – Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
John 2 tells us of Jesus first “miracle”, turning water into wine. In this seemingly insignificant act Jesus made two points that carried through his ministry. The vessels he used to turn the water to wine were reserved for Jewish rituals. Jesus came in part to remove the barriers between God and his children. In the years to follow he continually pointed out and laid to rest the need for many man made rituals connecting us to God.
The simple act of kindness to provide wine for the celebration is indicative of Jesus’ desire for us to be happy. He moves in our lives everyday only wanting to be closer today than we were yesterday. He understands your circumstance and loves you more than the human mind is able to process. He will work a miracle in your life as well, I doubt it will be a water to wine kinda thing but I can guarantee a celebration will be had! John 2:11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Some things in life must be experienced to be truly appreciated. Take this sunrise I captured about an hour ago. There is no way I could adequately describe its beauty, so I share it with you here.
When Jesus first began his ministry Andrew was with John the Baptist. As Jesus passed by, Andrew asked, “where are you going?”, Jesus replied “come and see”. The answer was much broader than the moment at hand. Over the next few days, their group began to grow. Andrew told his brother “come and see”, Phillip called to Nathaniel, “come and see”. Being told about Jesus is one thing, experiencing him is quite another. It started with a few, today he has countless followers that sought him out and came to know Jesus so well that they had to share him with others. God be Praised!
John 1:46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
In and of themselves our eyes are nothing short of amazing! However, our brain processes much of what the eyes take in. For example our eyes see images upside down, our brain flips it. Our eyes cannot see the color red, our brain combines the colors that compose red. Without the brain doing its part we’d see a very different world. The images would still be the same but we would process them much differently.
The same can be said for our heart. The brain may process the science of how we see but our heart processes our state of being. At one point in my life I “saw” God / religion as utter nonsense, nothing but judgmental goody two shoes people telling me how to live. When I allowed a place in my heart for Jesus, he showed me how distorted my view was. Much like the frost of a winter morning obscures a windshield, our state of being can prevent us from seeing clearly. He can and will open your eyes to a world of things you never imagined. With Jesus, you’ll truly see things in a “different light”.
Luke 24:31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Were you punished for it? It’s not a great place to be. Knowing in your heart that you were innocent but still being looked at and treated as guilty, someone less than worthy.
Imagine how Jesus must have felt as he was captured and accused of “crimes” he didn’t commit. For the record he was even brought before two Roman rulers who found him not to be guilty, but we know how that worked out for him. In Jesus’ case he knew this was his destiny and even stated “your will be done” Luke 22:42.
When such things happen in our lives we cry out, “it’s not fair!”. Our eyes are fixed on the present, finding it almost impossible to see the good in how we’ve been wronged. Isn’t this a question of our trusting God with every aspect of our lives? What if we looked at these events as opportunities to trust God instead of the inequities they seem to be. Such an attitude will only bring us closer to God and discovering his purpose for our lives. Rejoice and praise God in all circumstance!
Luke 23:2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”
Distracted driving has become a fairly hot topic. Accidents and fatalities are ever increasing due to our inability to pay attention to what’s really important. For seasoned drivers the process of driving does become routine so why not throw in texting, applying make up and eating a Big Mac while we’re at it. Multi-tasking is cool! When you look at it from the view of practicality, it’s easy to see how dangerous it really is.
Have you become distracted from paying attention to Jesus? Have you considered how dangerous that could be? Unfortunately, we take Jesus for granted more than the we do the responsibility of driving. However, we are not alone. After spending three years with Jesus his disciples still became distracted. During the Last Supper, they paused to discuss which of them was the greatest and if that wasn’t bad enough, they fell asleep when Jesus prayed in the garden mere minutes before his capture.
When we choose to multi-task while driving we rarely think of the worst that could happen. All we have to do is turn on the news to see how wrong we really are. What’s distracting you from Jesus today? Whatever it may be, it can wait. The ramifications of your choice could not only impact you but like the deaths we hear reported from distracted driving, it could impact your family for generations to come.
Luke 22:46 – and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
What is it that you are not able to live without, but yet cannot afford not to give it to another?
Don’t let today pass without loving your fellow man; friends, family and stranger. A call to that friend to see how they are doing, a “just because” hug to a family member and a mere smile to someone you pass in the parking lot may change their entire outlook. Of all the things we’re able to do, affecting positive change in the lives of those around us is highly underrated!
Luke 21:13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness.
Question me an answer, this is a song from the musical Lost Horizon. It’s a fun little song that turns the typical quiz on its head. Meaning an answer is given first and the response should be the question. Many of the questions asked of Jesus by the religious rulers of the day were asked only to trap him by producing an illicit answer. When we pray to God many times we make the mistake of providing him with the answer instead of patiently waiting for his. In the aforementioned song the fun of their game is that the answer is always correct but the corresponding question may be wrong, even if it’s technically correct. For all the questions and requests we make to God there is rarely one answer. No doubt we have a preferred outcome but regardless, we need to embrace Gods answer as sovereign. Luke 20:20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.