Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Revelation 3:15, “Nobody settles for luke warm soup, but Faith?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Revelation 3:15, “Nobody settles for luke warm soup, but Faith?” A Bible Study Devotion.

I am proud to introduce a first post by guest blogger Brian Bovee.

Easter week, the time of Christianity's greatest remembrance of God's love for us seems like a decent time to do a little self evaluation.

Francis Chan, a pastor in Semi Valley, California asked a great question to his congregation during one of his sermons when he said "when did following Jesus go from actually following in His footsteps to just studying His life and teachings?" He gave a great example of this in application saying "if I asked my daughter to go clean her room and she came back to me and said; 'dad, I just spent the last half our studying what you said about cleaning my room and it's awesome wisdom! In fact, I can now say "clean your room" in Greek'! What would your response as a parent be? Your missing the point! Go clean your room!" But isn't that illustration a pretty good example of what our faith has become as Christians in the United States today?

As Christians in America (as a whole body statistically) we are average and falling with our weekly attendance to church on Sundays. We are way below average on our giving of time and talent towards the causes Jesus asked us to champion. We are worse about the giving of our financial resources towards His Kingdom and putting God first in our lives has become almost "out of touch" in the Christian culture. As I make these observations many of you reading this are saying to yourself "not me" and/or "can you believe those 'other' Christians?" Today I want to challenge you if you call yourself a Christian. Are you truly a follower of Jesus or are you a student of Jesus?

To answer this question, you simply have to follow the trail of evidence in your life. If you spent a week and accounted for how you used every minute of every day, where your thoughts were and how you spent your money what would it reveal? Where does Jesus fit into that picture? What percentage of your week belongs to Him and His mission on earth? Is He the first priority in everything you do or is He the afterthought of "if I have time" and/or "if I have the money to give". How you spend your time and money will let you know what your relationship is with God. That is a scoreboard we use to validate our relationships with others in our lives so why do we not use that same system to evaluate our relationship with Him? The scary part is understanding that He already knows the truth about His priority in our life though we may not have already confessed it.

I used to struggle with putting Jesus as a priority in my life. I used to struggle with giving generously with my time, talent and treasure. I used to feel as though Jesus wanted too much from me especially since it feels like the majority of our culture has turned away from Him to live the "good life" and do not want to be bothered by His ideas of what is good for us. "I'm doing more than most" I'd tell myself but Jesus never said "I want you to do more than most". No, He calls us to live as He lived and to love as He loved. We are not called to study Him, we are called to be like Him.

I have come to understand that God does not need my money to do His will. He does not need my time and talent to accomplish what He desires. He is God and created everything that exists including me so why would He need anything from me? The simple truth is that He doesn't need anything from us. God wants our hearts freely given and He knows that if He has our time He has our heart. If we make Him the priority in our day He has our hearts. If we give our money freely to Him and His causes He has our heart. If our time goes only to our family, or career, or if we think about Him the last five minutes of the day, or if we give to Him only out of our excess or "if we can spare a few dollars", how can we say that he has our heart? Jesus said, "you cannot serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24) You can substitute any number of things for "money" in that verse . . . career, family, image, houses, kids activities, retirement, hobbies etc. etc. etc. Can you see why the biblically based relationship we are called to have with Jesus seems "radical" to our current culture in the United States that tells us more, bigger, better, faster? It means we'd have to give up other things we want to make room for Him. The point is, what you spend your time and money on tells you whether God truly has your heart! You see we are so financially rich in America, even the poorest of us, and because of that, it makes it so hard to truly follow Jesus. There is so much we can put before Him and it is so easy to do that when we are comfortable and our culture exudes "we don't need God" on a daily basis!

So here is the question I pray that you ask yourself today and will be honest with yourself regarding the answer. Are you a student of Jesus or are you a follower . . a disciple of Jesus? If you cannot honestly answer that you put nothing before Him and what He has called you to do, then please change the course of your journey today for God does not accept those that are lukewarm into His kingdom (Revelation 3:15). It is simply wrong to call ourselves Christians if we do not live like Christ and put Him first in our lives. But there are too many of us today who are doing just that and feeling safe doing it. Belief in Him does not let Him know you love Him . . . how you choose to live your life is the proof. Remember, this does not mean that you earn salvation by your deeds. Salvation is a free gift. However, you will not have salvation if you only believe in Him but do not truly surrender your heart to Him and thus we come full circle.

Could someone you don't know tell that you were a Christian by how you choose to live your daily life? It is a pretty scary question to ask yourself isn't it? If we live like Jesus calls us to do you would never have to call yourself a Christian because it would be so obvious to those who encounter you (see Mother Theresa). But the answer might tell you if you are Christian by self-proclamation or by definition (a follower of Christ).

If you want to really hold yourself up to the mirror, I pray that you watch this YouTube video of Francis Chan's talk on "lukewarm and loving it". I promise it will change the way you look at your faith . . for better or for worse. Though I don't think you will want to stop watching it I challenge you to get to at least the 16th minute where the lukewarm conversation start to hit the peak.

Have a blessed Easter and when you remember how much God gave to bring us redemption please reflect on how your life can be lived to show Him your love and gratitude for all He has done.

Guest written by Brian Bovee

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