All Things Are Possible
“What this adds up to, then, is this. No more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we are all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”
"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents."(The Message)
The question is, am I a part of the body of Christ?
I attend church somewhat regularly. I pray sometimes but maybe not as often as I could or should. I joined the church. I sing songs in the church. I give some of my money to the church. I’ve been baptized. Do these things I have done make me a part of the body of Christ?
Are my sins forgiven? How do I know if I have the Holy Spirit?
These were the questions the gathered brothers asked Peter in the book of Acts.2:37. So now what do we do?
Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized. Do this each of you in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children. (The Message)
I admit there are times when I’m tired of being me. I’m tired of experiencing defeat. I’m tired of feeling guilty and alone. I wonder if I’ll ever reach the point of trusting Jesus Christ so much that I want Him to take control of me? Am I ready to live that kind of life? If I am ready, what happens then?
"I must know Jesus Christ as my lord and Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me. Other than that (it's just) a lofty ideal which only leads to despair. But when I am born again by the Holy Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach. He came to make me what he teaches me to be. Jesus says..."Then you're in a wonderful place, let me show you how it's done". (My Utmost For His Highest-Oswald Chambers)
It is good to work against racism even if one should fail. It is good to work against poverty even though the poor will always be with us. These things are so because a moral choice and moral actions reflecting God’s nature are good in themselves, whether or not they are successful.
"No one can make himself pure by obeying laws. Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations. He gives us His teachings, which are truths that can only be interpreted by His nature, which He places within us. This comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit." Chambers continues; "The great wonder of Jesus Christ's salvation is that He changes our heredity. he does not change our human nature. He changes its source. He doesn't change our natural instincts. He replaces them. Our new instincts come from Him. And with these new instincts He changes our motives as well." (My Utmost For His Highest-Oswald Chambers)
When we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the source becomes the Holy Spirit within us.
"Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher. If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain. What is the point of presenting me with such a lofty ideal if I cannot possible come close to reaching it? (My Utmost For His Highest-Oswald Chambers)
The answer is, I must commit my life to Him and receive His Spirit.
Chambers reminds us; "There is only one master of the human heart. God. Not religion. (My Utmost For His Highest)
Have we ever considered the business of being religious might get in our way of having a relationship with God? In a way, religion can become our God. Who or perhaps what, is the master of my heart?
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus reminded us of this. “You cannot serve two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other”. (The Message)
This isn’t the end of my quest. It doesn’t end with asking Jesus Christ to become my own personal Lord and Savior. It doesn’t end with the repenting of my sins and the committing of my life to Christ. It doesn’t end at all.
Who, or perhaps what, is the master of my heart? So what’s the point? We have not arrived at this place solely to develop a spiritual life of our own. We are here to take part and to be a part in the building of Christ’s body, the church. We are joined to one another in Him. As the scripture reminds us, we are all connected to each other.
One step at a time and one day at a time, God reveals to us His purpose for each of us in His Body. Absolute obedience to His spirit is required. We are to be used to complete His plan, His purpose, and not our own. In the process, the fruits of our obedience will be revealed within his perfect plan.
God has given us free will. We can choose to be obedient or we can choose to follow our own inclinations and desires. In effect, we can choose to be our own God.
In Mark 8, Jesus says; ” Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat, I am. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose (yourself), the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (The Message)
We are quite familiar with the concept of obedience. We’ve known since childhood the results of both obedience and disobedience. We are familiar with the rules and regulations of the highway, the state, and the country. We know the price to be paid for disobedience to those rules and regulations. In America, we are free to challenge our government’s laws.
We can appeal the decisions of the courts when we disagree with their judgements. Sometimes we can get a law changed. We can question the meaning of our laws and hire an attorney to argue our position for us if necessary.
It is the duty of the Court to interpret the meaning of the laws which the founders had in mind when they penned the Constitution of the United States.
Currently there are many questions revolving around our government’s constitution and its original intent.
Was the United States of America founded on Christian principles? Were the writers of the constitution Christians? Was the United States of America founded as a Christian state? If it was, does that mean all other religions were to be excluded?
I suggest to you the Holy Spirit, which abides in us, will lead us through the discourses of today as well as the discourses of the scriptures.
The Bible is a living book with revelations of life on every page waiting for us to discover its meanings to us and to our world. The Spirit is our guide.
The sermon on the mount dealt with all aspects of living the Christian life. Among them were being and doing. Matthew 7: (The Message) “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.”
“Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do…..The way of life to God is vigorous and requires total attention.”
“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma, look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.”
“These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned. Knowing the correct password and saying Master Master, for instance, isn’t going to get you anywhere with God. What is required is serious obedience, doing what my Father wills.”
“I can see it now at the final judgment. Thousands will be 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.”
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life. They are not homeowner improvements to your standard of living. You’re out of here. These are foundational words to build a life on.”
“If you work these words into your life, you’re like a smart carpenter who built his house on a solid Rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit. But nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up it collapsed like a house of cards.”
Continuing Matthew 5:33-37 (The Message)..“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying “I’ll pray for you,” and never doing it. Or saying, “God be with you” and not meaning it.”
You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious it becomes less true. When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”
And again in Matthew: “Be especially careful when you’re trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, are hoping for stardom.”
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it. You’re here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept.” (The Message)
You and I are here to BE the body of Christ.
John Wesley put it quite simply, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
Watching what God does and trying to do the same is a full time endeavor. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, through the church the body of Christ, all things are possible.
Photography By Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck