It Is Better

We’ve been talking the last few weeks about how much better God’s ways are than our ways.  The weed vs. palm tree analogy has crept into all of our daily conversations, much to the confusion of everyone around us. This isn’t something that actionchurch made up to keep you coming back, it’s a tried and true fact. If you talk to anyone who has lived a selfish life and then started living for God…they would tell you that life is more meaningful when life stopped being about themselves!

We even have a biblical example of this phenomena. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes  indulged himself in all of the good things that life has to offer.  He set out on a goal to find the meaning in life left no stone unturned.  His findings were pretty dismal, honestly it’s a pretty depressing book to read.  After his investigation he said “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.” How’s THAT for some self help?! Loving, serving and following God’s commandments will bring us the most satisfaction in this life and the next.
Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
1 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives. 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.

What is the wise thing to do?

Something we ask your teenagers regularly in our Student Ministry actiongroup is a simple question Andy Stanley pulled from a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians.

What is the wise thing to do?

In light of my past, in light of my present circumstances, and in light of my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do? In light of what’s going on in your family, what is the wise thing to do? In light of what has happened at work, what is the wise thing to do. In light of what I’m going through this week, what is the wise thing to do? In light of where I want to be by the end of the year, what is the wise thing to do.

I encourage you to read all of Ephesians Chapter 5. Just before the verses below Paul talks that as Christians we are to be lights in the world. So in light of how Jesus lived, what is the wise thing to do? Asking these kind of questions before your make decisions helps you consider bigger things than just yourself, and that moment in time! So don’t be foolfish! And in honor of the “singing and making melody with your heart”, I leave you a song your Future and Your Past.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭15-21‬ ESV)


The first half of Hebrews 10 is summed up below, explaining how Jesus replaced all of the temple customs and sacrifices.

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

Jesus made the one sacrifice for our sins and because of that, we can have confidence that we are completely forgiven.

22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

And to help us “hold unswervingly” (I still don’t believe that’s a real word!) to the God who has forgiven us, we have community! We meet together not just for ourselves to flourish, but to help others flourish as well! I’m pasting the following in verbatim from a commentary because I really can’t say it better:

“Christians ought to have a tender consideration and concern for one another; they should affectionately consider what their several wants, weaknesses, and temptations are; and they should do this, not to reproach one another, to provoke one another not to anger, but to love and good works, calling upon themselves and one another to love God and Christ more, to love duty and holiness more, to love their brethren in Christ more, and to do all the good offices of Christian affection both to the bodies and the souls of each other.” – Matthew Henry’s Commentary


24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Spending time in community ISN’T just for you, it’s for your brothers and sisters in Christ. *cough* Join an actiongroup! *cough*

Love God, love People

People tend to look at the Bible and think that it’s just a bunch of rules to hold us down. “Thou shalt not” is a huge turnoff in this era of “everything is awesome”. We believe and have seen that our lives can actually flourish by following God’s ways. Once when some religious leaders were looking to stump Jesus, he summed up the Ten Commandments with a simple “Love God and love people”. (Believe it or not actionchurch didn’t invent this idea!) As we see below, Jesus says, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” If we are truly loving God and loving people, are actions will almost guarantee that we’re following all Ten Commandments.
Are you loving God with ALL of your heart, soul, and mind? Do you love your neighbor (aka, everyone) as much as you love yourself? It sounds so simple to just love God and love people, but when you start to think of the implications of what it means to TRULY love every day, you’ll start wishing for just those Ten Commandments again… ;-)
“34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22: 34-40


4“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all fleshshall see the salvation of God.’”
Luke 3:4-6

I read this in a Spurgeon devotion a week or two ago and it’s stuck with me since. Imagine your heart is a wilderness and God is asking you to prepare the way for him:

“Every valley shall be filled”. All of my doubting, depressed and self-seeking thoughts and actions should be filled in. “Every mountain and hill shall be made low” Let all of the pride that seems to lurk behind my sinful desires be pushed down. “The crooked places shall become level ways” Let me live honestly and true, and be decisive in my attempt to follow Jesus’s way of living. “And the rough places shall become level ways” And let Jesus bulldoze all of the sin and rebellion in my life so that it make become level.

I can easily fall into the trap that “I’m doing pretty good with the whole sin thing”. When I stop to look at these four areas, I know I have much more to work on. I pray for myself and you that we hear the call of God in our lives to flourish through him and take a look at our hearts.