Thursday, January 2, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 13

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 13, January 2, 2014
Readings: Psalm 12, Genesis 13:2-18, 1 Chronicles 13, Luke 8:4-21

It's only the second day of the new year, and already, I've been supremely dismayed by humanity. I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise. But nonetheless, it's sad. If you hear one thing from me today, hear this: I am, at my core, selfish, depraved and lost without God.

I need Him. Without Him, it's all about me. Without Him, we are all selfish, depraved and lost. Every. Last. One. And I was reminded of this by the oddest thing - an inspirational quote from Rhonda Byrne that someone posted:

"Do whatever you can to feel good, because when you feel good, life will be good. The better you feel, the better life will get! Think about, talk about, and focus on the areas of your life that make you feel good, and temporarily keep off the subjects that don't make you feel good. When you do this one simple thing, everything in your life will get better, whether that's better relationships, health, money, or better circumstances with your job. Nothing in your life can ever improve until you feel better, and when you feel better, everything will improve. Make feeling as good as you can your number one priority for 2014, and it will be the best year of your life!"

Do whatever you can to feel good? While not often directly stated, that is the message of modern philosophy and relativism. Jesus addresses this very simply in the parable of the sower.  

"And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature." (Luke 8:14)

Thorns. Cares, riches, pleasures of life - doing what makes you feel good! are defined by Jesus as thorns that choke. Thorns that prevent growth, fruit and goodness. Friends, if you call yourself a follower of Jesus, know that you and I are not called to chase earthly riches and pleasures. They will choke the life out of us, and those around us. 

Another example of this arrived in my inbox just after Christmas, from a certain retailer whose logo is a bitten fruit...and whose products I own. The title? "There's one last gift to get: Yours"

Get yours. Do what makes you happy. Live your best life now. Get rich quick, be satisfied, be secure, love the skin you're in, whatever it happens to be, do you notice the one common factor? It's all about you. And if there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that when I live my life all for me, I'm a jerk. I don't help other people. I don't give. I don't have joy. I take and I use others for my own personal gain. I'm revolting when I live for me.

Jesus calls us to something different. We have been given the gift of life, the Good News of the gospel that saves. That heals. That restores brokenness. And all we are asked to do in return is love God and love others. I'm not in that, other than in the giving. My best life? It's when I give. It's when I am selfless. It's when I refuse to hide. And Jesus addresses this too, in the same parable:

"As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. " (Luke 8:15-16)

Live for others, bear fruit, share the good news, the light with others. That's what will make the best 2014 for me. And you, and anyone else who knows that only Jesus saves. Only he can bring joy. And his gift, freely given for all, is the only thing I need. 

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