So how do you find the door where Jesus is knocking?
Look for the pain.
As a rule, Jesus is looking to occupy the places inside where we hurt.
Why is that? First of all, because He heals. He comforts. He makes things better. Even if we don’t experience physical healing right away, His presence and His perspective bring about emotional and spiritual healing which lays the groundwork for all other healing. Second, because when Jesus occupies the hurting places in our lives, those things lose their power to control us. We are set free to enjoy the presence and purposes of God.
PS. Got this email the other day about the Spiritual Self Defense textbook:
…a man in our fellowship…fell to despair and drinking again…to his great dismay. He was desperate enough to read your book, and did so in two days, saying: “This is the best book I’ve ever read to help me with this! He’s saying a lot of things about lies I’ve believed and I’m seeing now from my childhood where this comes from! It’s like I get near to success and victory and I sabotage myself! He’s talking about why I turn to drinking! I want to read it again and take notes. And I’m not the only one! 60% of Christian men have a problem like this with alcohol. It’s a plague! Lord Almighty, this could help a lot of people!”
Answer from last time: Righteousness, peace and joy
New question: Both Joseph and Joshua from the Old Testament lived to be what age?
For me, an easy way to think about the Christian life is this: Your life is like a giant house. When you begin walking with Jesus, you open up the front door of that house and invite Him in. But there are hundreds of rooms and closets where the doors are still closed.
As we move forward in life, we find Jesus knocking at those doors. Not all at once, but one at a time. There we can choose to say yes or no. We can invite Him in, or keep Him out.
But when we open the door, His presence changes everything.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. Ping me back or comment at my blog.
Answer from last time: The church of Laodicea
New question: What three things characterize God’s kingdom according to Romans 14:17?
God loves you…
So…what does that look like?
I need to tell you I have NO idea.
I CAN tell you what God’s love for me looks like. It’s a drive down a lonely country road with the windows down, nobody behind me, nobody in front of me, no place I need to be, no time I need to get there. It’s smooth jazz on rainy night in the city. It’s crunching autumn leaves under hiking shoes exploring a trail I’ve never walked before. It’s a great movie, a good book, listening to someone’s story. It’s those moments when all my anguish turns to laughter because Jesus meets me in that place of hurt. It’s Father God coaching me in the game of life.
I don’t know what love looks like for you. But I know Jesus speaks your love language, whatever it may be. Let yourself be loved by God—whatever that looks like for you.
A Spiritual Self Defense thought
Answer from last time: John the apostle
New question: To which church did Jesus say He stood at the door and knocked?
Why does God create us so fragile? There are so many ways we can suffer. We can get hurt many, many different ways.
I’ve long thought of this as a difference between God and me. I’m fragile; He is not. But now, I see it very differently.
God created us as fragile because that was the only way we could understand His heart–how deeply He feels, how much hurt He has suffered.
Answer from last time: Faith, hope and love
New question: Who was the author of the book of Revelation?
God has a much richer life for you than a set of do’s and don’t’s.
What would Jesus do? While that may be a good guide for behavior, God is interested in far more than our behavior. He wants you to experience the full and rich life that Jesus brings to us. Confident. Peace. Joy. That is all yours; it simply requires a little different focus.
Do you know others who can benefit from these messages. Feel free to share on Facebook (or wherever) and/or send your friends here: http://ssdcourage.com/
Answer from last time: The law of God (or the word of God) (Psalm 119)
New question: According to Paul, what three things remain?
In practical terms, what does God’s love look like? I believe there are three things God wants to do for you and for every person in your world.
#1 Heal all your hurts
A painful past. A deep disappointment. A secret shame. Whatever your hurts might be, God wants to heal them all. His love is soothing. He is the God of all comfort and the Father of mercies. (2 Corinthians 1:3) Healing played a central role in the life and ministry of Jesus. (Acts 10:38) When God shows up, healing takes place.
#2 Renew your mind
God wants to show you your world from His perspective. Triumphant. Compassionate. Confident. He wants to fill your life with “aha” moments where things start to make sense on a whole new level. When I was a kid, we owned some dining room chairs with an abstract flower design on them. I probably looked at those chairs a thousand times before one day I saw it. Those were not flowers at all. They were cows! From that point on, I never saw flowers—only cows. In the same way, God wants to show you what you cannot now see—and everything in your world will change as a result.
#3 Transform your life
God wants to empower you to approach everything from a position of peace and strength. He wants to empower you to experience life as Jesus does—filled with assurance, feeling fully loved, ready for whatever life presents, equipped to go out and bring the presence of Jesus into your world.
This is my prayer for you—that God will heal all your hurts, renew your mind, transform you life.
PS. The whole focus of Spiritual Self Defense is on this threefold prayer. Check it out here: http://ssdcourage.com/spiritual-self-defense/
Answer from last time: Esau
New question: What is the subject matter of the longest chapter in the Bible?
Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) But, have you noticed, many people know the truth, yet aren’t free … from anxiety, addiction, anger, you name it.
What gives? Where’s the disconnect?
A full answer would take a whole book. In fact, that’s what Spiritual Self Defense is all about.
But here’s a partial answer: God designed us to know truth on two different levels—an intellectual level, and a much deeper level—what I call gut-level truth. Many people have truth on the intellectual level, but haven’t yet received that same truth at that deeper level where freedom can take place.
Jesus wants to bring His truth to those deeper places in our souls where transformation really takes place.
BTW, wishing my wife, Kim, a happy birthday today (September 17)!
Bible trivia: What was the name of Jacob’s twin brother?
“They are lazy…”
~Pharaoh speaking of the people of God (Exodus 5:8)
Do you want to be a better Christian? Try harder.
This advice is ubiquitous, but where does it come from? Doesn’t it come from Pharaoh?
Pharaoh says, “Oh, you don’t like being slaves? Try harder. Supply your own straw for making bricks. Try harder. Don’t reduce your quota. Try harder.” (Read the story in Exodus 5.)
But God is not another pharaoh. God calls us into freedom. Jesus has done the hard work. As Jesus said, our work is to believe (John 6:29).
This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of Christendom. God is not trying to build an army of exhausted, try harder Christians. On the contrary, Jesus came to free us from slavery. The best thing you can do is let yourself be loved by God. Everything else flows out of that.
Is this helpful for you? Ping me back and let me know.
Do you know others who could benefit from these messages? Spread the word! Send your friends to http://ssdcourage.com/ so they can join us.
I like being right. As a Christian, truth is important to me, and I have a distaste for false teachings.
Unfortunately, this need to be right has gotten me into trouble. My stubborn insistence on being right sometimes gets in the way of God’s purposes. For many years when I saw other people—Christian and non—expressing beliefs that I knew were not right, my first impulse was to correct them. My unspoken mentality was: You’re wrong. I’m right. Let me fix you.
Outcome? I walked away convinced I had won the argument. The other person just…walked away. I lost a friend.
I bring this up, because I see this happening a lot, particularly online. The “I’m right; you’re wrong” mentality comes in many forms. “God told me to say this.” “If you disagree with me, you’re disagreeing with the word of God.” “I’m more educated, informed, intelligent than you.” Yada, yada.
Setting people straight has terrible costs. Here are a few:
- We lose friends—friends we were meant to win to Jesus.
- People walk away with a distaste for Christianity.
- We don’t grow because we lack the humility to learn from someone who disagrees with us.
We grow by asking questions. We grow by seeking to understand. We grow by listening. At the end of the day, we may still disagree, but at least we’ve all moved forward in our journey.
Each of us is a work in progress. No matter how anointed, gifted, educated or spiritual we are, at some level, we’re all right, and, at some level, we’re all wrong. It’s called being human. Every person has something to teach us—if we’re willing to learn.
Do you know about Spiritual Self Defense? Check it out here: