Friday, March 24, 2006

It's What's On The Inside

Have you ever been given a box of chocolates as a present? I have and most of the time it is a great gift. However, there are certain boxed chocolates that come with assorted chocolates filled with many mysterious concoctions and you are given no clue as to which pieces of chocolate are filled with what you actually like. Each piece looks great from the outside, but when you bite into it and you find out that the chocolate has been filled with dark chocolate lemon cream with a touch of fake fruit syrup, or some other gross filling, you quickly realize that the chocolate’s outer beauty was misleading.

Like these assorted chocolates, many of us portray ourselves as highly religious and extremely moral people, but on the inside we are no better than anyone else. In fact, some go as far as to believe that, because of their “perfect” outward appearance, their path to Heaven is different than any “normal” person. In Luke 11:27-52, Jesus criticizes the religious leaders of that time for doing just that. In verse 39, Jesus says, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are still filthy—full of greed and wickedness!”

It is easy to put up a holy front without actually practicing a holy life. In fact, Peter, in 2 Corinthians 11:14, tells us that even Satan himself pretends to be an “angel of light”. But, as Christians we are called to be set apart, or holy, just as our Father in Heaven is holy (Leviticus 19:2).

Is your relationship with Christ only a front? Or are you actually working on allowing God to polish you from the inside out? If we want to live an abundant life through Christ, we must work hard at getting rid of the gross “concoctions” that are within our “chocolate shell”. In order to do so, we must constantly strive to be more like Christ by spending time in prayer and diving deep into His word. No matter how “clean” you are on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that speaks truth about the condition of your relationship with Christ.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Learn Then Do

Wow, my 100th post! I'd really love to hear from those who read thecoblog to see whether or not it makes a difference in their lives. What do you like about it? Has it impacted your relationship with Christ? What would you change? Do you have a subject you want me to write about? Do you have any friends who'd love to read thecoblog? Don't hesitate to send them a link! Thanks again! God Bless!

When I was younger, I used to race pinewood derby cars. My father and I would spend time together in the garage building, sanding, painting, weighing and testing the cars until everything was perfect. We’d check to see what the best placement of the weights was and how much graphite was the best amount. We’d even make one of the front wheels higher than the other so it would decrease the friction between the car and the track (yes, it was legal).

Not only did the relationship between my father and I grow during the weeks that it took for these cars to be built, I was also able to learn how to use the tools that were required to build them. Similarly, when we go to Church, we come together to fellowship with each other, to connect with God and to be equipped to do what we have been called by God to do.

Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “[Christ] is the one who gave these gifts to the Church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do His work and build up the Church, the body of Christ.”

The people who are the leaders in your Church have been given a vision from God in order to carry out their ministry for Him. According to the passage above, their responsibility is to take this vision and use it to equip people to do God’s work. Sadly, many who attend Church fail to realize why it is so important. They don’t see that when they go to Church they aren’t just listening to a sermon or singing songs, they are being taught how to use the “tools” God has given them in order to be best used by Him.

Because they don’t realize that they are to use what they’ve learned to do work for God, they begin to have a self-centered walk with Christ. By this I mean they go to Church wanting only to be fed instead of using what they’ve learned in order to feed others. This would be just like me not using the tools my father taught me how to use; if I didn’t use the tools, the cars would have come out ugly, or worse, they would have never been completed. Likewise, we must not only focus on learning more about Christ, we must use what we’ve learned at Church to improve our relationship with, and to more effectively bring other people to, Him.

Are you allowing yourself to be equipped by the messages that God speaks through the leaders of your Church? Are you using the gifts that God has given you for His kingdom, whether it’d be at your Church volunteering or witnessing to others? Just like my goal of winning the pinewood derby races required using tools that I learned how to use, as Christians we must strive to win the race that God has given us by doing what we’ve been equipped to do. Our prize, however, is not some small gold plated medal, our prize is eternity with our Creator (1 Corinthians 9:23-25).

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I Showed You So

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that ultimately resulted in an “I told you so” moment? There have been many times in my life where I have given someone advice on how they need to handle a situation and, even though they wanted my advice, they chose to do the complete opposite. Many times, after the situation had passed, they’d come back to me and tell me that they wished they had followed the advice I’d given them. Sadly, many of these conversations have been with people who are not followers of Christ and they ultimately make a huge mistake that they wouldn’t have made if they would have listened to the advice I’d given them from the Bible.

Since it is God’s Word, the Bible is the source for guidance on how He wants us to live our lives. Every word that you read from the Bible is useful for learning (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and shows you how you need to live your life. God promises us that He wants what is best for us (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28); all we have to do is live according to His purpose.

As Christ-followers, we already know that living our lives according to God’s will is the path to a more abundant life through Him, but the concept of living by someone else’s purpose is a hard one to accept by those who haven’t experienced the life-change Christ brings about.

Many times we try to talk with non-Christians about the difference there will be in their lives if they would just accept Christ, but our words prove to be useless in bringing them to Him. We become frustrated because we want them so badly to see that Christ is the way, but they continue to think that the message of Christ is foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Proverbs 23: 9 says, “Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.” No matter how hard we try, no matter how long we hold our breathe, there are just some people who are so hard-headed that they will not listen to the loving advice we give them about Christ. It’s in these cases that we have to live a Christ-like life so that they will see the difference in us. Instead of constantly telling them that they need to accept Christ, show them the life-change they are missing out on. Show them Christ through how you act in your every day life.

If someone that didn’t know you tried to guess whether or not you were a Christian, would they be confused as to where your allegiance was? If someone had been told all of their life that Jesus was the way, yet they constantly refused to accepted Him, would the image of Christ through you be the key to the door of their heart? When our words are considered useless, we must rely on the way Christ is perceived through us to lead people to Him. Live your life according to God’s standards for you and remember that “I showed you so” will ultimately reach more people for Christ than “I told you so”.