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Imagine for a moment the sun blazing furiously from its heavenly perch, beating on your brow as you trudge a long, dusty road. You come upon a lake and find yourself hoping to perhaps buy some fish, a real treat for you and your family, but are distracted when you see a crowd gathered on the shore.  You then hear a voice call out with a strange tone of authority.

“The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel.” The commanding voice somehow draws you closer with cords of curiosity. As you near the mass of people who stand almost silently with attentive gazes fixed upon a man whose own eyes seem to belong in a face far older than the one in which they rest, you slow down and nearly stop.

“Kingdom of God?” you muse. “I wonder what He means.” As your own stare joins the stares of those in the crowd, the Man moves to the lake’s edge and solemnly faces two rugged fishermen mending their nets. You recognize them as Simon and Andrew, having purchased fish from them on past excursions to the lake.

The stranger leans forward and says just loud enough to be heard by those standing around, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” He then simply turns and makes His way through the crowd. To your astonishment, Simon and Andrew immediately stand up and hurry after Him, attempting to maneuver through the men, women and children who’ve closed in behind Him. At first, your gaze follows the stranger, but then you glance back at the now empty boats pulled up on the shore, with the un-repaired nets draped over their sides, dangling in the water… forgotten (from Mark 1:14-18).

“The Kingdom of God is at hand,” you repeat to yourself. “Kingdom of God.”

Even today, we may have for ourselves a lot of questions about the Kingdom of God. For instance, “how does one recognize the Kingdom of God?”, “What does it look like?”, and, “If it was ‘at hand’ back then, where is it now?”

Jesus said much about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Chapter 13 in the Gospel of Matthew alone has seven “word pictures” of the Kingdom, not to mention the countless other references throughout the rest of the Gospels. “The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field…. It is like a mustard seed…. It is like a treasure hidden in the field…. It is like a merchant seeking fine pearls…. It is like a dragnet cast into the sea, gathering fish of every kind.”

The Kingdom of God is nothing less and nothing other than the power, provision and presence of God at work in His creation through His people!

The Kingdom of God is nothing less and nothing other than the power, provision and presence of God at work in His creation through His people!

Make no mistake. The Kingdom of God was nothing less and nothing other than the power, provision and presence of God at work in His creation through His people. Think of it! God’s Kingdom, knowing no boundaries in our hearts, transforming our character so profoundly that His presence in us is undeniable and His work through us is unmistakable!

Do you want to make a difference in the world? Then let God transform what you are into something greater than who you are in of yourself. “He must increase, but I must decrease,” said John the Baptist in John 3:30, beautifully surrendering the spotlight of God’s message to Jesus, the One to Whom it truly belonged.

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33 ESV).

Like leaven? Though it is such a little thing it affects the whole loaf of bread; invisibly massaged through the dough, it changes every part by its presence.

Is the Kingdom of God still at hand today? It is… inasmuch as God’s people live lives surrendered to His holiness and love.

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death…. By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:14, 16-18 ESV).

I recall an occasion when I was talking with a friend of mine in a missions agency operating in different parts of the world. He mentioned that he had just been on the phone regarding the fate of six orphaned children from Nepal (ages 6-12). They had been taken to an orphanage in India only to be turned away for lack of room and resources. The one who had brought them nearly gave up in despair, prepared to leave them to fend for themselves in a train station. “After all,” he thought, “begging here in this station will be better than the life that they would have had where I had found them.

Then hearing of one orphanage that might yet take them, he led them there. Run by a little woman of God who has a big faith in Jesus, she simply said, “We have no means to care for them, but I cannot send them away. They may stay. Somehow, the Lord will meet the need.”

When I shared this true story from my friend with the people of our church, even the children were moved to begin to work towards meeting this need and began to give so that it might be met. For some reason they sensed that they were called by God to address the physical needs of these six children. And, of course, in the meeting of these physical needs, the love of God is now moving in practical ways so that the spiritual needs, the eternal ones, may also be engaged.

What needs is God wanting to address through you? Are you “tuned in” to God’s work in your life enough to recognize His invitation? Can you recognize the Kingdom of God when you see it? Can it be seen in you?

May it be seen ever increasingly more so in you as you “hunger for more” of God in your life.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Something New

As we enter once again another presidential election process, we can expect that one message that some will toss about is that of “positive change”. So people across our nation begin the process of waiting for the eventual election in order to see if the “good things” they’ve reaped might continue or that new things may soon come their way.

But I cannot help but look on all the impending furor and frenzy with a great deal of sadness for those who put their eggs in the basket of presidential politics. While the process of democratically electing our leaders is tremendously important and while I too feel strongly about the issues at stake and the candidates who will be running, the fact of the matter is that the persons appointed to the various posts of leadership in our government (including the top one) cannot meet the deepest needs of our lives.

What makes me sad is that we tend to collectively spend the energies of our passions on all sorts of causes and pastimes yet neglect the one thing that matters most: our own spiritual condition. Folks hope that those elected to office will somehow fix all their woes and make everything all right, but they still end up empty, frustrated and defeated.

Is it time for a change in America? Perhaps, but whatever changes take place on any political level are going to be incidental to you compared to your spiritual needs. For too many of us such changes are just deferments for the changes that should be taking place in our own individual lives that then bring about change in our small, but important circles of influence. The changes we generally pursue our mere smokescreens to cover gaping lacks of responsibility we each have for our own eternal destinies and the fact of our responsibility for others we could positively influence towards the Kingdom of God.

Is it time for a change in your life? Consider well the questions, “How has God changed my life?”  Or “Is God changing my life?” If we cannot answer either question with a “yes” or if the answer is unclear to you, let your heart open wide to the change that God’s love can bring to you starting now.

Such change fundamentally begins with the moment we surrender our sin and our self-will to God and come to Him in faith.

John chapter 3 records a religious leader named Nicodemus having approached Jesus to discuss the lofty matter of the Lord’s teachings. Nicodemus probably thought himself merely interested in conversing about some of the things that Jesus had been teaching.

Jesus’ response however was to get to the heart of the need of this theologically learned leader: “You must be born again,” He tells him in verse seven. Quite visible to Jesus was Nicodemus’ intrigue with the power and authority of Jesus’ life. Quite evident to the Lord was the man’s hunger for the same meat of meaning and victory in his own experience that he discerned in Jesus.

Have you had a “new birth?” Whatever Nicodemus thought he knew about the kingdom and the things of God, he hadn’t caught on to this basic and yet essential truth. Whatever good things Nicodemus had accomplished in the name of God for the sake of religion or even for the benefit of other people, he had nothing if he did not have this one thing.

Through the grace of God, we can put behind us the wretched and selfish persons we once were and become new creations!

Through the grace of God, we can put behind us the wretched and selfish persons we once were and become new creations!

Jesus looks on this tortured teacher and tenderly tells him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” What a tragedy then if you or I were to choose to continue to live our lives based on religious exercise instead of being “birthed” into relationship with Him! What loss and powerlessness is our doom if we never come to personally know the power and hope of the kingdom of God!

Let it not be so for you and for me! “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:14-18 ESV).

As Jesus proclaims what is ultimately our only hope for life and meaning, let us look upon this One Who was “lifted up, believing in Him that we may receive the gift of eternal life!”  And as we are then “born again”, let us know that we have been gloriously made new! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

Through the grace of God, we may put behind us the wretched and selfish persons we once were (no matter how cleverly we hid our wretchedness behind airs of self-confidence and good works) and become fully the new creations that God is making of us, enjoying the journey of relationship with Him through Christ.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people, the people whom I formed for Myself that they might declare My praise” (Isaiah 43:18-21 ESV).

Once we allow the change of God to enter into us through a new birth, we can then allow that transformative power enter into our relationships, homes, workplaces, and culture to affect an enduring kind of change that carries us beyond the short-lived moments of our lives on earth into an eternity with God!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Being passive doesn’t work well in the spiritual realm. Many Christians say that they want to have a more meaningful spiritual life and yet invest no significant effort in the cultivation of that deeper life.

Thronged by people entranced by His talk of a “higher life”, Jesus was often met by folks who wanted only short-cuts and easy access into God’s favor.

But Jesus’ invitation to know God wasn’t at all an implication that God was ready to “wait” upon the table of our dreams and wants, taking our order for spiritual blessings while we sit and gab away our lives, asking us, “Do you want Me to ‘supersize’ that?”

Jesus’ invitation was always on His terms and on His timetable. Furthermore, His invitation always required a response… “Come and see” (John 1:39), “Follow Me” (John 1:43), “Fill the jars” (John 2:7), “Take these out” (2:16), “Give Me a drink of water” (John 4:7); “Go and call your husband” (John 4:16), “Go” (John 4:44), “Stand up” (John 5:8), and so on and on.

The response necessary for us to enter a position to grow spiritually and experience God is first a yielding of our hearts and minds and then a reordering of our attitudes, plans and activities. Real faith, after all, cannot help but manifest itself somehow in our physical lives.

Sadly, when we fail to actively receive His invitation to join Him and know Him, we put God off and miss out on experiencing His work in our lives. When we refuse to walk away from our pasts and our ambitions for the future and choose to live instead on our own terms and on our own timelines, we can simply not experience God as He desires us to and we can never fully know all He could have done had we allowed Him to get us into a position to bless us.

But if we thirst for God’s Higher Life made available to us through faith in Jesus Christ, we must respond and follow. We must get up off our proverbial posteriors and follow Him as He leads us by His Holy Spirit.

“(Jesus) cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38 ESV).

The most “trivial” act of obedience can be a “supersized” opportunity when in the hands of God.

The most “trivial” act of obedience can be a “supersized” opportunity when in the hands of God.

Let us understand that we are challenged to actively pursue a deeper and more vital relationship with God. Let us believe that there is more to this life than the routine of each day. Let us trust that the “trivial” can be “Supersized” opportunities when in the hands of God. And let us embrace the fact that it is the Father’s will for us to have a more exciting life at the hands of the infinite God of the universe then those of a finite world.

Are you ready then to believe that God has more in store for you than you can ever hoped for or even imagined?

As you earnestly and actively work to cultivate a deeper relationship with God (in the context of His Bible, prayer and a church family) expect God to work in your heart in such a way that He’ll lay before you an invitation to get up from what you’ve always been and always known and go with Him.

There will be times when He’ll “wow us” with His presence, love and works and we will hear Him say in the still, small voice He whispers to our hearts, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away), while I was still a college student, I gave being a salesman a shot. It proved to not be one of my most successful enterprises in life. Frankly, it’s doubtful if I could have sold a fire insurance policy to a man whose house was on fire.

All these years later, I am still not a salesman. I am far more concerned with the substance of things than I am the appearance. Perhaps too much so. No, I may not be a salesman still, but, by God’s grace, I am a “sharer” who has something, not to sell, but to share in a world that has spent itself on cheap thrills that prove all too costly in the end.

Today, for example, with people running short on hope, wondering if talk about “faith” and “godliness” really means anything, and worrying about what tomorrow will bring, how can one not share with others about the significance of the resurrection of Jesus? How could one not wish to remind Christians of the implications of the resurrection for living life today? And how can one not desire to tell others who have yet to personally become recipients of that hope or not invite them to take that step of faith (no pun intended), trusting Him as their savior?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ should have tremendous significance to you. Why? Well, without the resurrection, our faith in Jesus is vain. While that may sound sacrilegious to you (though it is more sacrilegious in my mind to disbelieve in the resurrection), consider that the Bible itself declares in 1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV, “…If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God's Word thunders with clarity and power as it continually echoes in our hearts!

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God’s Word thunders with clarity and power as it continually echoes in our hearts!

First, the fact of God’s restoring Jesus to life authenticates God’s promises of forgiveness of sins for all who will believe. In other words, the resurrection is a physical demonstration of God’s satisfaction with the His Son’s atoning sacrifice. “Jesus paid it all… Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow,” we’ll sing. In Isaiah 53:10-12 (written about 500 years before the life of Christ) the Bible says, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for sin, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

Secondly, the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ validates the significance of the Gospel itself. Gospel means, “good news”, but without the resurrection of Jesus, there is no clear sense that there really is any good news. Without the resurrection, we have no proof that Jesus’ words were anything more than “good words” and “nice teachings.”

But with the resurrection, His words thunder with clarity and power and echo in our hearts when we grasp for hope! God is alive and well today ready to bring men and women, boys and girls into a right relationship with Himself. When we pray, as Jesus taught, “Our Father…”, we may be free from the millstone of condemnation that is unforgiven sin and unashamedly enter His presence in prayer. Our own eternal destinies become clear, too, as we trust Jesus as our only means of entering God’s favor, and Heaven, as promised by God, is guaranteed. Good news indeed!

Finally, the resurrection of Jesus associates the love of God with practical living so that it transcends mere rhetoric. It isn’t just a lot of mumbo-jumbo about something that happened two-thousand years ago, nor is it merely a lot of hooey about something that we tell people happens when you die in order to placate them. It means something about how we live our lives now, too.

“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4 ESV).  God’s intention for you and me is to “live in newness of life” here on earth. The power of sin and the dread of death have been defeated by Jesus through His work on the Cross and His conquest of the Tomb.

Are you living a new life today in Christ? If not, will you yield your will to Him and surrender pride, fear, anger and selfishness to Him? Will you allow Him to “raise you up” with Christ in that newness of life? As the sun rises this Easter morning, celebrate the rising of the Son of God. Let this be a time for God’s love to dawn in your life today.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Clink, clink, clink! Is it the sound of coins being counted out or is it that of links of a chain rattling together? Perhaps it’s the one and the same. Strange, isn’t it? How can it be that the sound of what we believe can open the door to freedom and security is really the noise of our being shackled by greed and manacles of insecurity? If, when we have fallen victim to such bondage, we could step outside ourselves and see with a clear eye, we’d likely know at once the ugly presence of selfishness.

Are there chains in your life that weigh you down and restrain you from what God intends for you?

Are there chains in your life that weigh you down and restrain you from what God intends for you?

In some places in the world, idols are carved from wood or stone, overlaid perhaps with gold or silver. But false gods in America are often more subtle and clever than that. Some of our gods we lock away in vaults and add to them so that they grow and grow and grow. Sometimes we often drive around inside our gods and demonstrate our worship of them by spending more time and resources upon them than the needs of our world around us. Some American gods are even more abstract and have no physical forms, being instead a feeling of pride that we get when we win or succeed or are esteemed highly by others.

Should one assume then that money, cars, success, or the good opinion of others are bad things in of themselves? Oh, no. Of course not. It would be loony to say that wood and stone are bad things in of themselves. But neither are any of their middle-class equivalents bad in of themselves. These things only BECOME bad things, however, when we set our hearts upon them and give to them what should have been given to God. And when we divert towards our selfish dreams and desires what He’s given us to bring Him glory and help others, we have locked upon our silly selves links of the chain of selfishness, crueler than rusty iron and heavier on our souls than lead.

Perhaps that is why the “Rich, Young Man” recorded in Matthew 19:16-22, approached Jesus with his earnest pondering, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 ESV). He was coming to Jesus with a hunger for more than his money could buy. And certainly he was coming in recognition that the good things he had done had not yet succeeded in procuring for him a real sense of peace with God.

On the contrary, he was a quite a driven man I gather, for when he heard Jesus sum up the Law of Moses in Matthew 19:18-19, the man hastily pointed out that he had kept all the commandments. But although he had been meticulous in observing the rules, he was still missing the point of the Law: the Person from Whom it came. Something was still not right. There were still chains in his life and a heaviness he hadn’t been able to shake.

“What do I still lack?” he asked Jesus in Matthew 19:20. “What is it that I’m not doing? Why can’t my spirit fly? Why don’t I have freedom in my heart?” The shackles were cutting deeply into him and the weight of his bondage was stubbornly dragging him down still.

Even today, we can be really “good” people. We may generally try to get along with others; we might highly esteem hard work and honesty and helping others; we might even go to church and help out there. Still… just like this rich, young man, who was really very poor after all, we find something lacking, something that isn’t quite right, something that leaves us yearning and hungering for more. The chains grip us tightly and we feel their burden upon us.

Jesus looked at that man and saw his need. He saw a life with everything that money could buy but was still gripped in the terrible jaws of greed, comfort, and pride. “If you really want to be whole,” Jesus told him in verse 21, “take those things to which you are enslaved, and get rid of them. Kick them out of your life, and follow Me” (from Matthew 19:21).

I can’t help but pause here and reflect on how wonderful Jesus is. He didn’t give the man a religious answer per se, but He did give him a real answer. He didn’t say what religious dogmatists might have said if approached similarly. Neither did he say what the man wanted to hear just to please the man and win him over.

No, Jesus was not a particularly good politician (at least if one characterizes that title with modern examples): He didn’t get caught up in worrying how people might receive His message. He spoke the truth, spoke it with boldness, and spoke it in love. He told this searching young man what the young man needed to hear the most, whether he wanted to hear it or not. “Get rid of those things before the love of them overpowers you. Let go of them before they drown out the craving of your mortal soul for the divine life that God desires to give you

Jesus, looking into the man’s heart and mind, discerned the terrible hold that money and possessions had on him. He could see how that the man was giving his worship to things instead of God. The door was now open. This grave young man was being given an opportunity to have his shackles unlocked and the chains broken. Here he was, looking into the eyes of Jesus, God’s Spirit softening his heart so that he not only could sense his own need but could see that Jesus alone could save him.

But when Jesus presented him the open door of escape from materialism, the man turned away. It had never occurred to him that for him to really find that for which he was looking, he might have to give up what had been the center of his life all along. Maybe he had hoped that he could worship both… setting up two thrones, Jesus on one and the man’s belongings on the other. It had never dawned on him that God might expect and even require exclusive rights to the position of “first love” in his heart.

The man turned away. He turned away sad, but that feeling of sorrow or regret could in no way fill the ache in his soul nor mend his spiritual disconnect from God. Unless he would yet turn to Jesus and renounce his allegiance to any god besides Him, he would be left without hope for eternity.

“And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God…. With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:23-24, 26 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

What an awesome moment when one’s heart yields to the invitation of God and sets out on the greatest journey of all with the Creator of the Cosmos! We each are invited to be counted among such great ones as Abraham to whom God said, “Go… to the land that I will show you” (from Genesis 12:1); Samuel, called by name by God in the deep watches of the night, “Samuel! Samuel!” (1 Samuel 3:4, 6, 8, & 10); and that also of Andrew and Simon Peter (Matthew 4:19).

All He asks is that we listen to His call and respond with trusting obedience. Not easy? Of course not! We are constantly accosted with great dragons of fear. We fear losing control of our lives! We fear ridicule! We fear disappointment! We fear missing out on things offered in life! All too often, poisoned by our circumstances and by corrupt philosophies, we even fear Him, the One true God and the only hope for the world! “What if,” we wonder, “He leads me into a trap?” “How can I tell,” we ponder, “if He’ll take care of me and/or my family?” “Perhaps,” we muse, “it’s all just a bunch of make-believe.”

And to complicate things further, the world incessantly broadcasts to us its static and aims its deadly barrage of conflicting messages as it contradicts the promises of the King of kings! How it flashes its shiny and flamboyant “trinkets” in front of us, elaborating in graphic detail what we might never have and never see should we choose to follow the Good Shepherd. Of course, all the while it floods us with counter-offers to Jesus, it never mentions what we will miss having in eternity nor what we’ll miss seeing in the hereafter if we don’t accept the Father’s invitation in Christ Jesus. In fact, it also conveniently leaves out what we’re missing out on in the “here-and-now” as we live life without His guidance and His provision of joy, peace and victory to sustain us.

It’s a dangerous and too often an eternally fatal business to spurn the invitation of God, an invitation, one might add, that was arranged at an inconceivable cost to God Himself as He offered His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our failures, our selfishness, our neglect, our hate, our lust, our greed, our bitterness and our despair. Sin could not be easily defeated but it was thoroughly defeated as Jesus breathed His last on the coarse and rough wood of the cross.

We have a magnificent invitation to know God, written out, not with gold ink, but with His own blood.

We have a magnificent invitation to know God, written out, not with gold ink, but with His own blood.

We have therefore a magnificent invitation to know God, written out not with gold ink, but with His own blood. It is no small mistake to turn on ones’ heel and walk away from that invitation when it is offered. Nor is it wise to seek after other “avenues and routes” than the one that cost Him everything as He yielded His own Son for us.

So what must we do and what must we NOT do? Well, first we must be resolved in our hearts to not receive God’s “grace in vain!” After all, He has richly blessed us and this is the “day of salvation.”

“Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV).

And when I consider the immensity of His having secured for us so wonderful a future with Him, I am reminded too of how precious a gift it is and what it cost Him to provide it for me and others!

“We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:20b).

Since He did indeed die for me, I will truly seek to live for Him! “Yes, Lord. That’s right. I’d like to RSVP to the special invitation that You sent my way. Please count me in. Take me where You want me.”

How tragic that some to whom the offer has been given, will not take Him up on His offer. They will be like those mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 22:1-14 who have been invited to a wedding feast but prove too self-absorbed to respond. In the end, none of the fancy invitees show up but their places are filled anyway with those who aren’t duped into thinking that what they have is somehow superior and that what He offers is insufficient.

“…Many are invited, but few are chosen,” Jesus replies in Matthew 22:14. What is the distinction between those invited and those who were chosen? Only that some among the invited responded to the invitation with obedient faith, and some did not. Faith that moves your feet to set out on the journey of life with Him is the right kind of faith. Faith that causes you to set your hands to the work of productive endeavors that build the kingdom of God is a pleasing kind of faith to the heart of God. Faith that tames the tongue so that it is not an instrument of hurt but of love, respect and wisdom is the kind of faith that transforms lives and brings hope to those who desperately need it.

So what must you do to join God in the journey? Just respond as Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” Better yet, don’t just wait for God to hopefully do something in your life without beginning the process of “pursuing” God’s will. Seek to be like David, who was “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Pursue the heart of God, chase after the will of the Father for your life and watch as He blesses your life with meaning, fulfillment, direction and provision for your needs!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan.

The romance of the danceHave you ever lost yourself to something so wonderful and amazing that you wanted to throw into it your mind, body and soul? Have you ever been so passionate about something or someone that you were hardly aware of anything else around you, the object of your passion and delight eclipsing all other things?

Perhaps you’ve had tastes of such reckless and luxurious abandon if ever you’ve fallen “head-over-heels” in love or if ever you’ve been ablaze with passion for a high and noble cause. Such passion and zeal are exciting when they grip us with fingers of vision and emotion, thrilling when they carry us on the winds of activity and accomplishment, yet soul-rending and heart-breaking when they end in cold disillusionment and emptiness.

Look around and you’ll see all about you the wearied and jaded visages of people whose passion has led them into a deep and dismal cavern of skepticism. You’ll see men and women whose hearts have been so buffeted and bullied by false promises and wistful wishing that they no longer know what can be trusted and have failed to even care anyway. Thick and deadened layers of calluses now cover their once tender hearts so impenetrably that worthwhile passion and zeal can no longer seem to get in or out.

We do well when we learn to not squander our passion and fervor on temporal things, and better yet when we learn to steer away from those things that have promised their great spiritual worth yet lead only to spiritual graves. But our disappointments have so completely veiled our spiritual eyes that we no longer see the brilliant countenance of the One in Whom “there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). We no longer hear His voice though He “calls us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3), deafened as we are by an earwax of complacency. We no longer respond to His invitation to love and be loved, an invitation that God has written with scarlet letters and sealed with His own promises. We have become distant and reluctant in our relationship with God. We’ve become cold and dreary “worshipers” who have no real worship to give.

But though we’ve spurned Him again and again, He is yet knocking on the door of our hearts, calling us to hear that we are loved, beckoning to us with fingers extending from nail-scarred hands to come and see that the love of God is eternal and more than sufficient to overflow with goodness our parched and famished lives. Even now He invites us to risk everything and love Him in return.

“I will make for them a covenant on that day… I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD” (Hosea 2:18-22 ESV – emphasis mine).

God’s people are the love of His life! He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5) because He passionately desires our love in return. “You yourselves have seen… how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession…” (Exodus 19:4-5a ESV).

Have you ever been loved passionately by another? Whatever you may think about yourself or your past, the answer is yes: you have been and are now loved passionately. There is One Who gave everything to have You with Him forever. How now will you respond? Will you wholeheartedly embrace His invitation to “dance” with Him in relationship? Or will you turn away, either permitting yourself to not believe that He means what He says when He says He loves you, or postponing your response to Him, choosing instead to dwell in the horror of luke-warm service and ho-hum worship?

Oh, I hope you’ll dance… that you’ll at the least dance in your heart like King David danced in body in 2 Samuel 6:14-16! I hope that you may be willing to shed an over-developed sense of propriety and allow yourself to be vulnerable in the great dance that is genuine worship. I hope that your great delight will be in walking with God as was David’s as he lavishly rejoiced in the return of the glory of God to the heart of the land. I hope that you’ll remember that, no matter your station and whatever your rank, life is only really lived when you lose yourself in unabashed devotion and celebration of the King of kings!

And while you will undoubtedly have your critics (as David did in his wife, Michal, in 2 Samuel 6:16, 20-23) let your aim be to “dance” for no one but the Lord Himself. Let criticisms and misguided good intentions roll off your back as you refuse to tone down your adoration for God.

“(I danced) before the LORD, Who chose me…. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this” (from 2 Samuel 6:21-22a). And why not be willing to set aside pride and self and all other things that stand in the way of genuinely seeking His face? Why not discard the rags of pretension we tend to wrap about ourselves that hinder our freely walking with Him? There is, after all, no substitute for truly pursuing God in relationship and there is no love like His which dwarfs even mountains of affection and adoration were you to summon them from within your heart.

As our cold hearts thaw to the warmth of His love and our eyes are met by the golden glow of the sunshine of His glory, He lovingly whispers His invitation, “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone” (Song of Songs 2:10b-11 ESV). Why don’t we now just join Him in the dance of life, listening to the music of His love filling our ears with joy, following the rhythm of His daily leading as He guides our wayward feet, and rejoicing in the wonder of fellowship with Him?

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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