Be Different and Stand Out

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Romans 12:1-2 (Message translation): So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

What stands out to you as you read these verses?

The main thing that stands out to me is that we, as Christians, are to be different than those around us. This means we treat people differently. We do not get lost in the crowd. We positively impact people with the love of God through Jesus Christ. This passage says so many things we CAN do, that we shouldn’t miss the point of things we SHOULD NOT do.

For us to live in this world as followers of Jesus Christ, we should look at what he said.

Matthew 5:13-16 (CEB) “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city on top of the hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus is basically saying that we are to bring out the best in people by how we act. If we allow people to suck the good out of us, we have nothing left to give. We are to be beacons of light (God’s never ending love) to everyone and should stand out from everyone else. When we try to blend in with the culture and be like everyone else, it is like we are putting our light “under a basket” so it is hidden.

Our good works also involve how we treat people. Many times we can easily engage in bullying and hurt another person’s spirit to make them think they have no value. Jesus summed up the Old Testament laws this way, showing us how we should act in this world: love God and love people.

To be the salt and light of the earth means that we are people who:

  • do everything for the GLORY of God
  • love each other unconditionally
  • treat everyone EXACTLY the way we would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12)
  • be forgivers
  • do not judge nor condemn (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1-11)
  • welcome anyone and everyone in the group
  • be people who respect and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • not do things or go places simply because “everyone is doing it”
  • learn and have our own opinions and not be easily swayed
  • stand firm in your beliefs; but do not condemn opposing views (learn to listen)
  • and many, many, many more good things we can do in this world

We should keep our focus and attention on God. C.S. Lewis says, “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” This means that when we seek for and focus on God, we are able to love people and will treat them better and not worry about the crowd. When we solely focus on things of this earth, we miss the mark and will end up compromising just to make people happy.

Our task and challenge is to bring people to Christ. We do not do this by acting as everyone else acts; but rather by showing how Christ makes us different and how he makes the difference. To be people that follow Christ means we are becoming more and more like Christ.

Matthew 5:48 “Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.”

So, what do you think?

Our Real Gift

I’m not perfect.

There, I said it. This may come as a shock to some, but not for most. I do not pretend to be perfect. When I think about my past, I can see and remember things I’ve done and said that can cause regrets.

I bet there are many people, in fact I know there are many people, who can say the same things. The question we would have to ask is, “do I allow these past actions define me?” It is easy to dwell on the past mistakes (let’s be honest….these past SINS) and to think that is who we really are. “I am a liar…I am cheater…I am a (fill in your answer).”

Here’s the deal though, we can allow these past decisions to define us, or we can realize our true identity. We may not see ourselves as perfect or “new creations,” but God does.

His love has been handed to us and placed before us in the form of Jesus Christ. Because of his life, death and resurrection, we can have and experience a new life and new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Romans 5:8-11 says Christ died for us while we were still sinners so we have a reconciled relationship with God.

So many people (including me at times) don’t know, forget or don’t realize this incredible gift God has given you and has given me. Each day you and I are invited to accept, open and receive the gift of life God gives through Jesus Christ.

You’ve messed up and don’t feel you can be accepted by God? You are accepted AND loved! Live your new life in grace and holiness and live life with the knowledge of God working and living inside you.

Don’t live in the past, live in the presence of God by receiving the gift of Jesus Christ.

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New Life

Ever had a day that you feel like you did everything wrong and nothing went right? Of course you have! Everyone has at some point in our lives. This is true before we encounter Jesus Christ and come to know him and it even happens after we come to know him as Savior.

Something to remember, if you’re a believer remember this and if you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, listen up, you are a new creation in Christ. (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)

You may feel like you make mistakes and keep sinning in your life. We ALL make mistakes, but we should also remember that our sin has been bought and paid for by the same Creator who made us! If you have never personally met Jesus Christ in your heart, let me introduce him. Jesus was a man who live about 2,000 years ago. We can find much about his adult life in the Bible and about his life in other reliable historical sources. He was a man who did not sin and was tempted in every way possible that we are tempted today. Don’t believe me? Right after Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness (really a desert) and fasted from food for 40 days. Jesus knows what it is like to be deprived of physical nourishment. The Tempter came and said, “if you’re hungry turn these stones into bread to satisfy your hunger.” Jesus responded, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word from the mouth of God.” Jesus was tempted to make things happen himself rather than trust in God. We are tempted to rely on our own strength more so than trusting in God for provisions.

Then Jesus was placed on top of this tall mountain and the Tempter tempted him to jump saying, “He has commanded the angels concerning you and they will take you in their hands and you won’t hit your foot against a stone.” Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Do not test the Lord, your God.” Jesus was tempted with his very life, if he jumped his misery would have been over, but he would have missed out on the fulfilling life God had planned for him.

The Tempter placed Jesus on top of the world and said, “All these kingdoms could be yours if you just bow down and worship me.” Jesus said, “worship only the Lord your God.” Jesus had every opportunity to take the life of luxury and not have to live the life he did, but Jesus still chose to go to the cross for you and for me. The luxuries in this world stay here and do not go with us, and they only provide short term satisfaction. Jesus knew true joy and true life is living the life God intended.

Sinning means veering off the path. When we sin, we get further away from God. Our sin, my sin, needs to be paid for to bring us into the right relationship with God. Jesus died on the cross so that we have the opportunity, you have the opportunity to realize you have value and can be made right with God. Because of this, you have the chance to seek God with your whole heart and experience life as God intended. Life is not always easy, but being made right with God allows us, allows you to know forgiveness which gives peace and joy beyond understanding.

You have the choice to accept this love God has for you. Whether or not you believe in God, God believes in you and desires you to get to know him and spend time with him in the Word (Bible), with his people (church worship and community), and personal prayer time (speaking with God daily).

No matter what you have done wrong, or feel you have done wrong, God is always there waiting on you. Forgiveness and new life is yours! Jesus rose from the dead for YOU to have new life.

God created the heavens and the earth; but YOU are his most valuable creation!

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