… like oil and water

Have you ever actually tried to mix oil and water? If you pour some oil and water into a bottle and shake it up, do you know what eventually happens? It will try to mix at first, but you can see it is little bubbles inside of liquid. Then, over time, they will eventually and naturally separate. They can not stay together. This idea is exactly what God is talking about in 2 Cor. 6:14.

This week, Aaron had to memorize 2 Cor. 6:14 for school. It is a familiar verse. I am sure you have heard chapel speakers, convocation speakers or pastors preach mostly on how Christians should not date or marry unbelievers. This is an accurate and appropriate application of this verse, which I hope and pray you all believe and plan to obey. But, today, I would like to add to our understanding of this verse because it is about far more than just who we date and marry. Let’s let the verse explain itself.

We are told not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In what situations are we “yoked” to someone? We know the picture God is using is one of 2 different type farm animals being hitched together to try to plow. But you and I are not farming, are we? What is yoked for us? Well, look at the rest of the verse because God explains it.

God asks what ‘partnership’ righteousness has with lawlessness? What ‘fellowship’ has light with darkness? Being yoked to an unbeliever is to be in a partnership or in fellowship of some kind with an unbeliever. Other translations include words like alliance, on a team, participation with, join, relationship, and common interests.  God is telling us to not be in our  closest relationships with unbelievers. He is making clear that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ can not be partners. Light and darkness are opposites. Good and bad do not belong together. How would 2 opposites ever work together or have the same goal? They wouldn’t – in fact, they could not. If we are still unclear, here are a few examples: If our closest friends are not believers, do you think you will both go to church together or discuss hard biblical topics? Will a non-believing co-worker give wise counsel regarding how to spend your money? Do you think they will recommend tithing and hold us accountable to that? In regards to a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, if you asked them to pray for Dad’s doctor’s appointment today, could they?

You are in friendships right now and you could identify which are oil and water. The ones that will never mix. They are the relationships that are not moving you to become more Christlike. Eventually one of your partnerships or friendships will become a spouse for you. Be wise and discerning in your decisions regarding who you are on the team of life with, because oil and water have never mixed, and they never will in the future either.


Aim to please…

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.12.51 AMPrintable15Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.12.56 AMToday is the big day for me. As I contemplate another birthday passing, here is my “pleasant” thought for the day-I have less years to live now, than I have lived most likely. This does not bother me, though. The reality is, I still probably have many years, and more importantly, as each year goes by, God shows me a clearer view of heaven. He shows me what I am looking forward to.

Paul spends a good amount of time today in 2 Corinthians talking about earthly bodies breaking down and looking forward to heaven-that’s what he is referring to in the “home” or “away” above.  His point is, we are breaking down (and I will be happy to give anyone proof of that myself if they need it!) but that’s ok, given the end for a believer. Heaven and new bodies. Everything fixed. Oh yes, it will be amazing.

But Paul does not stop there-he goes on to bring us back to our reality: the here and now. He says that regardless of where we are on that time line, all believers should be working with the same aim in mind: to please Him. To please God. Our lives and actions should stem from the desire to please God.

Who do you aim to please right now? Your professor or teacher? To do that you complete your homework on time, you study to get a good grade and I would bet, you are nice to that teacher. If we are honest, we also desire to please our friends (me included) -we dress in a way that is “acceptable” so they won’t make fun of us. We don’t do things when we are with them that would embarrass them. We share our things with them. The question is-what happens when these things come in conflict. What happens when in order to please your friends, it requires you to do, act or say something that does not please God? This is where the “rubber meets the road.” How do you make that decision? How do I? It happens in a split second-I can assure you that. In fact, I don’t think most times we realize we have made a decision in that realm until after the fact. It is habit, our natural tendency.  And this I believe is the critical point-how can we increase our natural tendency to please God over all other “options”?

First, there are many biblical specifics that we know please God-being kind, helping others, being gentle as well as the “do not murder”, “do not steal”, “do not lie” type of pleasing and obeying. We can and should make an effort to make these our natural course of action.  But, the desire to please the world and ourselves (at the cost of others usually) will always be a strong desire, trying to pull us away from pleasing God.  Be aware. Pray for this desire to increase. Pray that we would make it our aim today to please Him above pleasing all others, including ourselves. The more we learn about God, his ways, his workings, his desires, the stronger our desire to please Him will grow. As Paul prayed in Colossians, it is also my prayer for all of us that ”we would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual understanding and wisdom, so that we may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of the God.” (Col. 1:9,10)