A Lie in Disguise or Truth Unclothed?

old brick stone mansion

We live our life as a façade. We have pretty curtains on the windows with a nice welcome mat on the front step, and at the same time, we surround everything with a massive wrought iron fence. Our doors are padlocked and dead-bolted, but the painted stucco covering the walls is magnificent. The front yard is immaculately trimmed, yet the grass is artificial, and the flowers are plastic. In reality, our life often amounts to little more than a heavily dressed-up lie.

We tell our friends and neighbors how wonderful they are, then gossip about them when they are not present. We boast to our coworkers about what a wonderful job we did, never mentioning that someone else we haven’t mentioned did most of the work.

Under the guise of diplomacy, nations cover up their lies to appease other nations. Many leaders and politicians are quick to divert the not-so-pleasant truth about themselves, yet are quite eager to expose it about others—or even demand that others reveal it about themselves.

“These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord” (Zechariah 8:16,17).

All the way back in the beginning, the first man and woman chose to clothe their disobedience in deception. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:7-8). Adam and Eve knew they were wrong, but chose to hide and not disclose the truth to God, their Creator. But God cannot, and will not, be mocked or fooled in any manner. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).

 

When we dress up our misdeeds we just make them into an appealing lie. And by living a life of covering up falsehood, we fill ourselves with pride, which further worsens our situation. We are telling God that we can handle the situation in the way we think is best. We don’t want the results that the actual truth will bring, so we keep the lie beautifully clothed and hope that no one will peek inside. Yet all we are really doing is putting ourselves into more and more bondage. By continuing our fashion show with our lie, we begin to live more and more in fear.

The reality here is that we sin, meaning we fail to obey the commandments of God, and then sin gains control over us. But we really don’t want anyone to know it. The only one who has a remedy for our desire to constantly disguise who we really are is Jesus. When we yield ourself to Him, and strip our disobedience bare by admitting that we were wrong and that we have sinned against Him, we allow Him to free us of this burden. From the time when Jesus came into this world, to the time when He sacrificed His life on the cross and rose from the grave, He fulfilled all of God’s requirements for us to be free from sin’s control over us.

The truth about who we really are is best when it is unclothed, raw, and out in the open before God. By hiding it, we set ourselves up for a life of falsehood, fear, and shame.

Even a half-truth, or a lie poorly clothed, is still falsehood. We may successfully disguise this from others, but never from God. Concealing it will never benefit anyone, especially in the long term. By living this way, we are in rebellion against God and setting ourself up for an eternity in hell. God loves us so much and has absolutely no intention of sending us there. We make this happen by continuing to reject Him. Yet all of this will change in a moment if we turn our heart and life over to Him. (Click here to learn more about how to yield to God.) Don’t dress up your disobedience—bring it out in the open, and lay it in the hands of Jesus.

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Simple and Dependent

boy holding bible

In this world, a little child is generally considered to be at the lowest level in society regarding knowledge, maturity, experience, and gullibility. Yet in God’s plan, this concept is completely the opposite. He looks with great favor upon little children, more so than adults. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14b). Why? It is due to the child’s simple and dependent nature. God wants us in complete dependence on Him, not on our self. When Jesus came to this world as a man, He did not rise up and overthrow the government, declaring Himself the almighty Emperor. Instead, He came in dependence on His Father in Heaven for everything—from what He should say, to where He should go next. He was never concerned about how He would get His next meal or where He was to sleep each night. Even while in a boat during a fierce storm, He slept on in peace. He knew that His Father would take care of everything.

Now if Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, was totally dependent on God, how much more so should we be in all areas of our life? Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Which kingdom are we seeking? Is it one where we are constantly struggling to get ahead without God, in order to achieve a high position in a fragile and evil world that will one day perish forever? Or is it a kingdom where our needs can be met just by asking and believing in simplicity like a child—with no room or need for anxiety, fears, or worry?

Father, I surrender myself to You, wholly and completely. Forgive me for my self-centered ways and motives. Turn my heart and life into one that is dependent on you. May I have the simple faith of a child that I may enter into Your kingdom and dwell there forever with You. Amen.

Greater Than Any Fence

sunset and heron behind fence

A simple chain-link fence was all that separated me from the Great Blue Heron standing at the pond’s edge. Hoping for the “perfect shot,” I carefully inched closer, camera in hand. With each successive step toward the fence, the heron became more wary of my presence. I slowly raised my camera to the fence top, when—whoosh—the heron made its rapid egress gracefully into the sky, evading me once again.

I spotted ibises later, moving across a grassy bank. With the tangled network of trees, bushes, and vines before me, the possibility was small that my presence would disturb them. Yet they still continued to hurriedly move farther down the bank. I cautiously repositioned myself just a short distance down along this barrier between the birds and me. Taking careful aim, I brought the ibises into focus, and waited silently. Suddenly, two boys gleefully bounded out of woods nearby toward my direction. The birds spotted them through this ‘fence’ and quickly flew off. Another fine photograph evaded me!

One would think that birds and animals feel safer behind fences and barriers. Yet almost every time, they flee at the slightest disturbance without hesitation. I’ve seen squirrels and doves high in a tree quite alarmed, that would run or fly away while I carefully walked underneath them. They didn’t know how difficult it was to reach them. So why would they, or a larger animal such as a cow or deer, feel compelled to move away from a human being, even though a large barricade stands between them? Could it simply be that they don’t understand just how secure they really are?

sheep behind fence

Many in today’s world harbor a similar fear. They consider the devil and all the evil associated with him a threat, and flee in the opposite direction at the slightest disturbance. This effort may be effective if someone nearby deliberately planned to throw a large object at them, but the devil operates in both the non-spiritual (natural, visible) realm, and in the spiritual (supernatural, unseen) realm. He is already waiting on the opposite side before they even get near there!

Wait—what about the fence mentioned earlier? Could the devil attack if a fence is in place in our life to protect us? It depends on our relationship with God. When we allow sin in our life, gaps appear in our fence, giving the devil access to us. Ever since the first man’s failure in the Garden of Eden, no human being has been able to be in God’s presence—whether in Heaven or on Earth—because of sin. Sin is disobedience to God’s laws and commandments, put in place for our benefit. Violating them results in both natural and spiritual consequences. God cannot permit or tolerate any sin in His presence, yet God wants every human being to be in His presence.

fence with hole

This is the point where Jesus, God’s only Son, comes in. Sin caused separation in the relationship between God and man. Through the requirements laid out in the Bible’s first five books, God made a way for man to come before Him, but only in a veiled manner back then. Sin couldn’t truly be defeated, because it required something sinless to overcome it—meaning no one from this earth would ever qualify. Sin could only be covered, or temporarily hidden, through the shed blood from the sacrifice of a spotless, innocent lamb. This meant that these lambs had to be continually sacrificed.

Jesus was sinless before He was born on this Earth as a man, and remained so all the way through His death on the cross and beyond. He was therefore able to fulfill this sinless requirement. He was the ultimate ‘spotless, innocent lamb’ that willingly (God never forced Him) shed His innocent blood by sacrificing His life on the cross. He permanently covered the sin of every man, woman and child that has lived, is living, and is yet to be born! Because He was the final sacrifice, no more lambs had to be sacrificed. When He cried out on the cross, “It is finished (literally just “finished,” John 19:30), He was referring to the end of the old physical sacrificial system, and of sin’s control over our lives. Not only did He sacrifice His life on the cross—three days later He arose from His tomb alive, completely victorious over sin and death!

So how does this apply to the fence I mentioned? Well, initially you need to admit to God that you were wrong and accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by faith, as if it was your own sacrifice of yourself. He took your place and paid your debt for sin that He didn’t owe (remember, He was continuously sinless and blameless) —a debt impossible for you to repay. In fact, you can’t even pay the interest! Ask Him to forgive you for all of your sins against Him, and turn completely around in the opposite direction of them, thereby allowing Him to be in control of your life. [Click here for more information about giving your life to Him.] Do this, and He, in essence, becomes a hedge or fence around you. Not a literal fence you can see, but a spiritual fence that the devil and his minions are aware of, yet cannot get past.

cross with blue sunset

Because of Jesus’ victory at the cross, the devil no longer has the legal right to break through this fence and attack you—as long as you are yielding to Jesus, allowing Him to work in your heart and life. This doesn’t mean that the devil won’t threaten and intimidate you though. Like the boys running near the barrier scaring the birds, the devil will still create quite a racket—enough to make you believe that he has actually broken through the fence! The difference is, when you put your trust in Jesus, focusing on Him and not yourself or anyone else, that fence will remain secure.

Actually, you will be even more protected than the birds I mentioned. They are only safe from direct attacks on the side that the physical fence covers. But Jesus protects you on all sides. “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2). He is greater than any fence or hedge of protection that you’ll ever find on this Earth. Make a commitment to Jesus today and let Him be your shield and barrier.

“Wash my feet?”

multiple sandy feet in a circle

“…He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then …Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? …Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:5-8).

Peter could hardly believe what he was seeing when Jesus knelt before him with a towel in His hand and told him to extend his feet so He could wash them. Peter replied that he would not allow Jesus to bring Himself down to such a low level. He could not in any way envision Christ as a servant. But Jesus explained that rejecting this offer would be the same as rejecting Him, and then He said, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

What is the essential qualification to have a part with Christ? It doesn’t matter what our sin may be—we can be made pure through the actions of Jesus. But the only way we can receive is to have our feet washed by Him first. Jesus is willing and able to wash us to purify us of all our sins. He did not say that we have to pay Him or give Him anything to do this. It is an honor we cannot buy or earn, because it only comes by the mercy of God, and it is from Him alone that we receive it.

bowing to royalty

Royalty demands that we bow at their feet if we hope to get a favor from them. They might even require us to wash their feet before we could be considered for a favor. But what did the King of kings and Lord of lords do? He took off His outer garment, picked up a towel, and bent His knee before us in order to wash our feet! We should be serving Him, yet He serves us!

After He washed the feet of the disciples, Jesus said that “…ye ought also to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14-15). So why didn’t they continue washing each other’s feet after Jesus left them? Because they understood that He was simply demonstrating the need for lowliness before each other to them. There was no set way this was to be done, only according to the time and place and need, sometimes one way, sometimes another. The lesson Jesus was trying to get across was to have humble love for one another.

Jesus also wanted His disciples to be as clean inwardly as they were outwardly once they were washed.

He wanted them to help each other to reach toward the goal of purity, which might include washing one another’s feet when necessary. They were to be willing to serve those of any class, not just their own, whenever they had the opportunity. Jesus desired for His disciples to not just be morally right toward their brothers in the Lord, but to go to the extent of humbly denying themselves in order to help their brothers to be morally clean and pure also.

red heart

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…” (1 Peter 1:22).

Jesus wanted them to demonstrate brotherly love for each other, coming from a pure heart of godly love. He wanted the disciples to see each other as brothers because they would all soon be cleansed, not by water this time, but by His blood shed on the cross of Calvary. This would be their true source of cleansing and purification. He also told them that “What I do thou knowest not now. But thou shall know hereafter.”

We who belong to Christ need to do what He wanted us to do—to humbly lower ourselves to the level of servant to one another. Then we will be able to help remove the dirt and stain of the world and sin from each other which we all come in contact with day after day. If we will lower ourselves to walk a simple life of humility, we will be able to help lift our brothers and sisters to a life that is pure and noble.

If we feel unworthy to have Jesus wash our feet, and let this keep us away from Him, do we think we will be saved by what we think is being humble? We won’t be saved unless we let Him wash us and cleanse us of all sin.

If we are not willing for Him to do so, then we will not have a part in Him. It is my prayer that each of us, as children of God, will have a part with Him, and that we will all be faithful and diligent to watch over each other’s souls in order to give account to our Lord.

The Means or the Master

Where is the main focus of your faith? Is it in the head of a religious organization, or maybe the person speaking at a church service? Is it in what is written in the Bible or your effort spent in reading it? Is it in the actions of an alluring individual healing the sick? Is it in prayer? Is it in all of your good works and efforts you’ve accomplished for God? Is it in a literal cross mounted on a place of worship, or hanging on a chain around someone’s neck? Or is it solely in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross?

Reading the Bible is wonderful, prayer is essential, and proclaiming the Gospel needs to be done, but they are, in themselves, only the results of a relationship with Jesus our Master and Savior—not the primary goal. The object of our faith and belief is not to be in the means—it is to be in the Master Himself.

Heavenly Father, forgive me for allowing things other than your Son be the only focus of my faith instead of your Son alone. Help me to place my faith solely in Christ and what He has done on the cross. May my ways and thoughts be on your Son and not on the products of my relationship with Him. Keep me from focusing on anything or anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Amen.

Pushing Fear Out of Your Life

headshot closeup of fearful man

Whether it’s something small, like a pen running out of ink in the middle of an important exam, or something major, such as a bomb detonating on an airplane, there will be fear in our life. None is exempt from having fear, regardless of age, background, standing in society, or physical location. Now fearing something, someone, or a certain circumstance is not necessarily wrong in itself, as long as we recognize it, and heed it as a warning to be careful or to make a change. But fear becomes a problem when it begins to hinder or control us. If fear dominates part or all of our life, and we just can’t seem to free ourself, then something in our heart is causing it—like doubt, unbelief, rebellion, or a whole host of other things. God may also use fear to alert us to the presence of sin in our life. As a result, even if we attempt to elude or hide from the situation, it is very likely to return until we are overtaken. God never wants anything in our life to bring us to the point that we are forced to succumb to our fears. But He does allow problems and difficult situations to come our way to wake us up, and to stir us to the point of repentance. God loves us greatly and does not want fear in our life any more than we do.

To remove fear from our life, we need to establish a solid relationship with God through His Son Jesus. But as long as sin dominates the heart, an intimate, godly relationship cannot exist. If a spouse in an earthly marriage relationship has an affair with another person, the marriage trust is broken and the original intimacy is lost.

Similarly, fear and perfect love cannot coexist in the same person. What we need is perfect (complete) love to fill our hearts, not sin.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love [drives] out fear: because fear hath torment [corrective misery]. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). The perfect love mentioned here is not the kind of love expressed toward a family member or a friend, and is certainly not the love of erotic desire. It is, instead, the sacrificial, godly type of love. This kind of unconditional and unselfish love transcends all physical boundaries. It is the love that “…suffereth long, and is kind…envieth not…[boasts] not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The more love enters in, the more fear is pushed out. But when we continue to allow sin in our heart, perfect love is driven out, allowing fear to rush in to take its place. Think of this like a transparent, U-shaped tube filled with a dark, putrefying fluid—a dreadful mixture representing fear. Then picture pure, clear water being poured into one end of the tube. The dark fluid will begin to spew out of the other end, until eventually the tube is as clear as the water itself. God’s perfect love accomplishes this toward fear when we let it flow in our hearts. But if we break that flow of love with sin, then that appalling black fluid has a place to re-enter and flood our heart again with fear.

U shaped tube showing fear and fear exiting

Do fear and anxiety currently dominate your heart? Are you able to sleep in peace? Or do you regularly feel like someone is watching you, like an evil presence hovers over your every move? Does a sense of failure or defeat continually loom over much of what you do? Are you filled with worry about how to make it through tomorrow, or even tonight? Then you need to lose no more time in yielding your heart and life over to Jesus Christ. He unselfishly sacrificed His very life on the cross so that you could have victory over fear and even death. Don’t try to remove the ugly fluid of fear from your life by trying to draw it out yourself. You’ll only form a void for some other abysmal hindrance to fill later. Fear can’t be defeated simply by your own effort or strength. If you truly want to have victory, it has to be turned over to Jesus.

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth [abides] in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:15-16). Take a moment right now and go before Him in prayer. Ask Him for forgiveness for your sins, and then open your heart fully to Him. Seek Him for a deeper relationship that will fill your heart with not just love, but perfect love. Don’t let any more time go by without yielding your deepest fears over to Him. “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed” (Psalm 34:4, 5). You can trust in Jesus—the only One who can expel your fear, and fill your heart with perfect love.

(If you want to surrender your heart and life to Him right now, look at this page to learn more.)

Pleasing God by Faith

“…without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

We all encounter many kinds of complications as we go through life. Most people go along with no hope of going through them successfully, while many face various difficulties because their selfish desires hinder them in trying to have a relationship with God. Difficulties can also come from lacking faith in who God really is. In their search for inner peace, people often reach out to the physical things of life, yet what they really lack is perfect, divine, peace in their hearts. Where can such perfect peace be found? It comes from God alone.

The Lord Jesus Christ came into my own life and heart many years ago, yet I can still remember that special day when I repented of my sins and accepted Him.

I can still remember that special day many years ago when I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my own life and He spoke to my heart: “My son, I have chosen you to bear My name.” When we truly welcome Jesus into our heart, we become His followers. He chooses us to become a ‘living’ vessel to bear His name. Then we can experience true, divine, eternal union with Him.

If we don’t accept Jesus Christ into our heart and life, then we do not have true faith in God. Therefore, it is impossible to please Him.

And what is the essence of faith in God? We must first believe in who He is—in His nature as God, in order to have the kind of faith that truly believes when we approach Him. When we believe in His true nature, we please God. Once we have been renewed in the spirit of our mind and become one of God’s people, created in His own image, then we are to bear witness to others as to who He is.

In both the Old and New Testaments, the name used for God is “Father”. This name describes Him as the One who produces all things, and as the Creator of all men. Therefore, all people have a relationship with Him as part of His creation. But this does not automatically guarantee that we all have salvation (deliverance from the power and effects of sin). Jesus said, “If you had known Me [personally], ye should have known My Father also…” (John 14:7). If we understand that God sustains all life, then we can better understand who He is. He is Jehovah-Elohim (“Lord God”)—the Creator-God—who is not detached from His creation. He takes care of His people by attending to their needs. In fact, the Lord Himself came down to Earth in person in order to help and save us all. By doing this, He demonstrated Himself to be the God who keeps His covenant with man.

The image of God that He put in man is man’s source of kinship with Him. God wants us to “…put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him…” (Colossians 3:10 emphasis mine). At that point, a new creation in Him comes forth from this unique, eternal bond as we are united with our divine Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. Once we enter into this eternal relationship with our heavenly Father as a new creation—a “new man”—then we can also devote our lives to His Son, Jesus. This all comes through having faith to believe in Jesus, according to what He did for us when He died in our place on the Cross. Then we can be renewed in the spirit of our minds in Him.

All of us were born originally from our mother’s womb. But all true children of God have also been “born again.”

This second birth comes by the Spirit of God, through reading or hearing the truth of the Bible, which is the Word of God. Jesus Christ has always been in the world, but not always visible to man. “When the fullness of time was come…” (Galatians 4:4), then He became God made known to man in the flesh, or the human form. He is the divine representative of His heavenly Father on Earth as His only begotten Son (born of the Virgin Mary).

This unique, divine, and eternal relationship that Jesus—the Son of God—has with His ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in the Lord is simple to understand. But the understanding of this relationship only comes to those who have been made alive in a new life—“born again”—by His Holy Spirit. They have become God’s children, so they are now considered to be the brothers and sisters of Jesus. And He has a love relationship, both intimate and eternal, with all who believe in Him by faith.

Many call themselves Christians, claiming to belong to Christ. But the heavenly Father does not know or receive all of them, because many will not let go of their sins. Nor will they acknowledge the heavenly Father’s divine authority over them.

God continues to love them. But they permit their sinful nature to continue to rule over them, which then keeps them apart from Him. What about you? Do you want to personally know God? Do you want to be saved from the power and destructive effects of sin and the sin nature? Then you need to personally know His Son, Jesus Christ, the great Savior. Listen to His voice as He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) and respond to Him while you can. “…He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

If you want to know more about how to come to God personally, please click here.

More Than Food and Clothing

“Take no thought for your life,
what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;
nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.
Is not the life more than meat [food],
and the body than raiment [clothing]?
…If God so clothe the grass of the field…
shall He not much more clothe you?”  (Matthew 6:25, 30)

Since Jesus said, “Take no [distracting] thought for your life…”, why do you concern yourself with “what ye shall eat…drink…put on…”? Does He want you constantly anxious, distressed, or puzzled about how to get what you need? This attitude leads to despair and unbelief, which do not honor God. He expects you to leave your life in His hands—can’t you just let Him take care of getting your daily needs also? Jesus said not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear, much less all the rest. Our Heavenly Father has so “much more” for us! Do we think we know more about how to take care of ourselves than He does? He concerns Himself with our circumstances even more than we do. Why do we let the cares of this world dominate our thinking? If we find them constantly competing for our attention, we need to stop and put our relationship with God first instead.

distressed woman

Constant perplexity over how to get what you need to survive is a waste of time, especially coming from a child of God. How we insult the One who promised to provide for us. You don’t need to get worked up about getting through tomorrow, next week, the rest of the month, or next year. There will be plenty to deal with as each new day unfolds. What will tomorrow bring? You don’t know. Why let it worry you sick, when it might be good tidings just around the corner, not more trouble? Take it one day at a time, Jesus said. Otherwise, you take out a ‘loan’ of trouble and worry on the future. You only need enough each day to get through that day.

head shot of man with concerned expression

Why such vexation about getting more fashionable clothing or a bigger house? Flowers don’t worry about buying colorful silk to make beautiful petals. Birds don’t worry about spinning yarn to knit a sweater to get through the winter. They expect to find what they need to get through each day. Both just go on, taking each day as it comes, letting God provide what they need. Can’t you do the same? If God cares so much about little birds, how much more does He care about those created in His very image? Can’t the God of the birds give you enough to get through each day? He gave us life and a body—the greater things. The same God can certainly make sure we get the lesser things—like food and clothing.

glasses and pen on sheet of financial rates

Who provided you with the body you now live in? You had nothing to do with getting it; you received it by no effort of your own. The same God who gave you your body is capable of taking care of it. Planning for the future is not wrong, but constant thoughts about a nest egg for old age should not consume your life now as you struggle to provide for a future you know nothing about. We say we trust God, and then do our utmost to provide everything we need ourselves! Where is our trust? Don’t lose your confidence in God and His provision for you. Having what you need when you need it provides contentment, not constant pursuit of more than you need. Jesus said, “Take no thought…” about your future. Then your thinking won’t be divided or distracted today. Otherwise, your mind will constantly dwell on the future, instead of concentrating on the important matters at hand in the present.

Are you experiencing the “much more” God promised to those who follow Him? Are you obeying the life He gave you? We get caught up in many things that confuse and distract us. But we only need to be very careful about one thing—our relationship with Him. Seek the kingdom of God first. Let Him be your business. Concern yourself with your soul—the matter of utmost importance. Have concern also for souls who might not make it to tomorrow, much less the distant future. Will their life end without them knowing God? (Will yours?) Help take care of others today and God will not fail to take care of you. In fact, He will provide for you so you can help others.

hands clasped in prayer

Jesus said to pray daily, to make ourselves ready to meet the temptations each day brings. Don’t be worried about fulfilling your every need; leave every need to Him. Those who fully trust and depend on Jesus simply rest in His loving arms. Let Him do all the worrying! He will provide much more than food or clothing!

“The Well is Deep”

old water well

I once went hiking near the massive rock formation of Sugarloaf Mountain, with its great, striking view, toward the low forest area of the lower footpath. After a while, it brought me close to a beautiful meadow. I could have taken a longer way around which would have led me to the main road. But it was one of those sweltering summer days. So, when I spied an opening in the weathered split-rail fence surrounding the vast open field, I took the well-worn footpath cutting through the middle of the open meadow instead.

Taking the footpath shortened my walking distance during the intense midday sun of this picture-perfect summer day. After I had hiked almost the full length of the path, it directed me down, going from side to side, to a wide, picturesque sight of numerous wildflowers growing throughout the meadow. It finally led to an old, dusty crossroad where I saw an insignificant, weathered, wooden structure nearby, originally a farmhouse. I discovered a long-standing, isolated, stone well there, sharing the same spot with an ancient oak tree, whose canopy of branches and leaves extended out far and wide providing welcome shade. Tiny, tightly-closed blooms peeked out from scattered morning glory vines nearby, while beautiful wildflowers in full bloom grew near where I stood. Then a small breeze stirred the very dry dust of the road, and the summer sun finally succeeded in penetrating the canopy that had been sheltering me from the midday heat.

I moved closer to the old well, hoping its water would quickly satisfy my thirst. Then I discovered that it was very deep. A tattered rope once held a bucket, but now swung freely back and forth around an old, rusty, cranking mechanism. And there I was, sitting under the shade from the massive oak tree at the well, with no means to draw water!

“The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?” (John 4:11)  

“The well is deep….” The well here was a lot deeper than expected. And this woman of Samaria could see that Jesus had nothing to lower into the well to get a drink of water. There are troubles and issues inside our human nature that can be very deep too. And we know we have nothing to draw them out with ourselves. But do we believe that Jesus has nothing to work with also?

He may come to us as we worry about issues in our heart that we cannot penetrate or come to understand and say to us, “Let not your heart be troubled.” But we shrug and argue, “Lord, this well is deep. I have tried and tried, and I can’t get any calm or comfort out of it. I don’t really see how You can do anything either.”

Why do we think Jesus is poor and powerless in dealing with our situation? He does not draw our help from deep wells of trouble anyway. He reaches up and brings our answer and comfort down from above.

We recall something we let Him do for us in the past, thinking: “Yes, He helped me that time, it’s true, but this time I can’t expect Him to solve this situation.” Why do we limit Him? Is He God Almighty or isn’t He? We want Him to comfort us, and to sympathize with us, but we don’t welcome Him as Almighty God in relation to our problem.

We have attributes and experiences that are Christian, but we don’t abandon ourselves to Jesus. What poor examples we are of Christianity, because we don’t draw on an Almighty Christ. We get into hard situations, and, instead of turning to Him, we say He cannot help us—that He is not able to do what we need. Then we try to go down into the deep well and get the water out ourselves. But the answer isn’t there anyway. We should know that if we look to Jesus, He can give us what we need. The Samaritan woman came for water at the well. But Jesus addressed her deepest unspoken problems and situations instead, and she left with her life totally turned around!

Yes, the well is deep and you are very thirsty. Don’t try to get the water yourself, though. Draw on the One who is the “Water of Life,” and you will never thirst again!

Much Effort; No Results

sprial tablet new ysr's resolutions

At the beginning of each year, we always seem determined to make ourselves better than we were the year before. What great endeavors we make to fulfill whatever resolutions we think will improve our life; yet, for so many, these efforts yield little or no results. Why can’t we accomplish all we set out to do? Or why do we sometimes succeed at something, then later see our success dwindle away? Why does it seem that for every two or three steps forward, we end up moving one or two steps back? How is that we work so hard to achieve so little—or even nothing at all?

For some, the answer lies in laziness, or just lack of initiative. Now if our success resulted solely from the monumental plans we have conceived in our minds, there would be prosperity and happiness in every corner! But, when it comes to walking with God, the real answer is that we are trying to accomplish all of these plans by our own strength and effort. We want to please God. We know we need to be healthy. We try to be abundantly prosperous. But we continue to do it all in our self. Without even realizing it, we leave God out of the picture. Or we do ‘include’ Him, but it ends up being conditional—on our terms. It’s like trying to drive a vehicle with an engine whose output is severely restricted. We make all of these great efforts on our own to get the vehicle moving and keep it going, but in the end, we’ve hardly traveled anywhere. Or, even worse, we boast of our great strides to go nowhere as if we actually accomplished something!

woman exercising in athletic field

God never intended for us to live our lives without Him. He wants us to look to Him for our strength and guidance. When we go forward on our own, we exhibit pride and self-righteousness. We are, in essence, displaying to God that we don’t need Him to solve the problem at hand. Or we are actually telling God that we know more than He does. Children and teenagers exhibit such an attitude at times when they are struggling to assemble an object, or have a difficult school assignment to complete. Rather than allowing (or even going to and asking!) one of their parents to assist them with it, they often angrily and hastily whisk the item away and move to another location. They may even order the parent to leave the room. Such actions naturally make the parent feel hurt. Then the child often does poorly or fails on the project, because he took it all on himself, even though he didn’t fully understand what he was to do.

Obviously, God does not view this or any form of pride and self-righteousness favorably. How could He, when His own creation has just declared themselves to be superior over Him! Our Heavenly Father loves us in a way greater than we, as a physical being, could ever understand. He knows that, due to sin, we are incapable of making ourselves totally right and complete before Him. In fact, it is impossible to make our sinful, mortal self perfect enough to stand before Him. That is one reason why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly came to this earth to be our perfect substitute. Since He was without any sin, He was the only one qualified for this position. Jesus fulfilled everything that the heavenly Father required in order for us to be able to freely and boldly come before Him—all the way to the point where He sacrificed Himself on a cross. All of this He did on our behalf. We could never reach the position, by our own efforts, where God could declare us to be pure, righteous, not guilty, and without blame.

We therefore need to stop trying by our own efforts to make ourselves acceptable and perfect to God (or anyone else, for that matter). Success will only come when we yield to Jesus and accept His sacrifice on the cross for our sins as our own. All of our resolutions and efforts, whenever they are made and attempted, will not make us any better before God—unless they are done through Christ. We need to commit ourself to Him and then let Him work through us by His Spirit. Even though we are children of God, we cannot just come boldly before Him as we are, due to our inherent sin nature (or sinful self). We must go before Him through His Son, who covers us and cleanses us of all our sins or unrighteousness with His blood that was shed on the cross. While exercise, prayer, budgeting, Bible reading, eating better, etc., are all good in themselves, if our true motive is to improve our self to gain the favor of God, then we will make much effort with no results.