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Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

One day my family and I were driving down a logging trail deep in the forests of northern Minnesota. As darkness fell we kept our eyes open for any wildlife that may be roaming in the woods alongside the road, or better yet, on the road we traveled. We were disappointed. Our trip didn’t produce any success.

As we returned to our campsite my wife made a statement that struck me as being far more profound that she may have realized. Her statement was simply this, “We didn’t see any animals, but I wonder how many saw us.” It was a point well taken. God has given animals tools to keep them safe from enemies. Some animals would be easy prey if it weren’t for the camouflage that hides their true identity from the enemy.

While camouflage may be a good thing for animals, it has no place in the Christian life. There have been a few times recently when celebrities have spoken openly about their faith and it came as a surprise to me. Then I thought, why? Why should I be surprised that someone is ‘bold enough’ to speak about their faith? Why should that be considered a courageous thing?

John, one of Jesus’ disciples, makes it clear that a person who claims to be a child of God should show by their lives who they are. Disciples of Christ should never be camouflaged by the world. People should recognize them easily just as they recognized Jesus.

Slide1Jesus wasn’t known because he ‘had all the right answers’. Jesus didn’t stand out because he spoke out against the evil rule of the Roman government. He didn’t spend his time demanding other people follow his way. Jesus didn’t call people by their sin, he called them by their names. He didn’t point out their failures, he healed them of their pain.

What will you wear today? Will you wear the camouflage of ridicule and condemnation or will you wear the name of Jesus proudly and show it through graceful living. Will you notice people by their sin or reach out to them because of their pain?
Lord Jesus, help me to show others your love and grace. Keep me from hiding behind the camouflage of judgment and religion so others can see you. In your name I pray, Amen.

But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin. Romans 8:10 (GNT)

‘Christ lives in you.’

Let those words dwell in your heart for a few minutes. Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God indwells you. Jesus. The one who touched the leper, the blind, the crippled and in so doing restored not only their physical lives but their emotional, social and spiritual health.

Jesus, the one who reached out to the immoral, the rebellious, the confused and by so doing took away the shame and guilt that had plagued them for so long.

Jesus, the one who took a few uneducated, rough individuals and turned them into a mighty team who turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) with their teaching and miracles.

Jesus, the one who came so you could get to know the Father; who died so you could live; who rose again so you no longer need to be afraid of death.

This same Jesus indwells each of us. What a marvelous fact. No other religion in the world offers us the opportunity for God himself to indwell us like Jesus does.

Just before Jesus left us to sit at the right hand of the Father and intercede for us, he promised us that he would never leave us, never forsake us, never forget about us. His seal, his proof of the covenant between him and us was his Spirit.

In John 14 & 15 Jesus tells us about his Spirit. He calls him a comforter, a counselor, a friend, an advocate who will guide us through the storms, comfort us in the pain, and give us wisdom when we are under attack.

Why is it then, that this body of Christ we call the church has such a hard time with this Spirit of Christ sent to dwell within us? Go into any Christian Church on any given Sunday to talk about Jesus and you will be welcomed with open arms. But speak about the Spirit and people will squirm.

This Spirit you have within you is the Spirit of Jesus! We don’t have any problem knowing how Jesus would act, but we argue about what his Spirit can do in us, through us and for us. Jesus sent us his Spirit so that we could live in unity, power and freedom, yet we often live in discord, weakness and enslaved by legalistic thinking.

The ultimate irony! That which was given to us to empower us has divided us. That which was given to give us peace has brought fear. Let us, as a community of Christ come together and live by the Spirit of Christ that is within us. By so doing our words and actions will show the world the power of a loving Savior who came, not to condemn, but to free us from condemnation.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for your promised Holy Spirit in my life. I praise you that your Spirit was given so that You could live in me. Forgive us Lord for failing to use the power within us to show the world your love and forgiveness. Empower us with your Spirit so that the world will see you in us. Amen.

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:39-40

I have a confession to make. I have a problem with ‘Christians’. I think it’s safe to say that because I’m honored to have been chosen by Christ. I’m so thankful that He willingly and lovingly forgave a weak-willed sinner like me, and continues to do so. So I’m well aware that when I point fingers I have four more pointing back at me and perhaps that’s good since I’m probably more guilty than most.

One of the most frequent accusations I hear about ‘us’ is that we are all just a bunch of hypocrites. When we hear that we’re tempted to use a quick comeback like: “Then join us, you’ll fit right in!”, or “Well, we aren’t perfect, we’re just forgiven”. But the reality is, it stings for any of us when our weaknesses and failures are flaunted to those outside the ‘circle’.

Maybe one of the reasons it’s so hard to hear the accusations is because there are so many times when I’ve seen people who claim to be Christians doing things that Jesus would never do. When I see people verbally (and sometimes physically) assault ‘corrupt and evil sinners’ in the name of Jesus I want to…..slap them! (or worse but then I’d be like them).

Don’t get me wrong. I have several close friends I truly admire for the way they reach out to those in need. There are many openly Christian organizations that do a tremendous work to show Christ’s love in times of disaster, and tragedy. God Bless You if you are in one of those groups!

But there are so many times when I hear people say things about how they’d never go back to church after they were treated badly, or hear horror stories of people in agony who have been stomped on in ‘the name of Jesus.’

It’s relatively easy to be ‘Christ-like’ in a situation where there is tragedy and disaster and it’s noble as well. The question is, how many people are silently struggling around us? How many are enduring the pain of divorce, addictions, abuse, anger and chemical dependency with no comfort from someone who is ‘Jesus in skin’?

We need to recognize that God did not put those who are down and out on earth for me to change, convict or save. He put them here for me to learn from, listen to, to challenge and be challenged by, and to enjoy together and if possible and to comfort along this journey we call life.

Here are some ideas that may help each of us (and I emphasize EACH of us) in making a difference among the silently struggling in our own little corner of the world. Each should be bathed in prayer and practiced until perfection.

First, keep your eyes and ears open to the feelings (not just the words) of those who you come in contact with. Many times people hide their pain in sarcasm, and other ways. The trained ear knows how to look past the shell of protection to see the real need.

Secondly, make time to be available. Look for service projects that need to be done. Volunteer at a school, a shelter, in your church, at a local ministry. Ministry doesn’t come to you. Search for it and you may be surprised that even though things in your life are not going well, being a servant not only elevates those who are suffering, it elevates you as well. Don’t let your own trouble keep you from being someone else’s comfort.

Thirdly, be available inspire of your own busy schedules. Service isn’t always convenient. There were many times in Jesus’ life when he took side trips because of need. Let the grass grow a little longer, the clothes pile up in the laundry and use that time to be a servant to someone in need.

Finally realize that being a servant to someone may require a personal price. You may have to sacrifice your reputation. People may question your motives. You may be taken advantage of. You may be accused wrongfully. That’s all part of being a servant. It happened to Jesus and will happen to you as well.

Big ‘C’ or little ‘c’? Which will it be in your life? Is your Christian faith a religion to practice or a relationship to enjoy and grow in?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. When I think of your ministry on earth I’m in awe of your patient, giving and loving attitude. While I try to live my life so others will see You in me, I confess that I fall woefully short. Empower me with your Spirit to be a servant to those who may be silently suffering. Help me use my pain to comfort others. In your name I pray, Amen.

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February 2023
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