We started a podcast towards the end of last year called Just a Thought (https://anchor.fm/mike-farley5). The podcast has similar content to Freedom in Truth website and book by the same name but now as audio. We had for people asking to be able to listen to content and the hope is to reach a wider audience. At some point plan on adding videos again but production space and recording equipment are limited right now.
Month: February 2023
What happens when Jesus becomes our Priority?
Jesus is first and we want to enter into His constant stream of goodness, truth, and the reality of who He is. What happens when we do this? What are the natural outcomes of putting Jesus first? First, there are a few ways we can do this. These are Spiritual Disciples or arrows we can pull out can use.
We saw we can do this by reading Scripture. We can take time to dedicate ourselves to reading His Word, to be transformed by His truth. We can also take time to let Him speak as only He can by His Spirit.
Silence and Solitude
We can practice silence and solitude. In our culture, we do not value silence and solitude. We have so many noises around us, so many voices calling for our attention, and so many distractions that a great arrow we can pull out of our quiver is silence and solitude. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We need to be still.
Practicing the Presence of God
We can and we need to change the way we think. Instead of going to a time with God, we incorporate the practice of always being with Him. We can see Him in the most mundane of actions because He is always present.
St Patrick said
“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”
There are a few things that happen in us and in our lives when we place Jesus first. Just like with the arrows in our quiver, there are many outcomes to placing Jesus first. Just two quick ones.
One is we are transformed. We become like Him. Romans 8:29 in the NLT says,
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
When we place Jesus first, when we practice spiritual disciplines, when we use the arrows we have been talking about we become more like Jesus.
We used to be one thing but as we seek Jesus and make Him a priority we become “blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world” Phil 2:15 says.
When we become more like Jesus, we start to do things like Jesus did. We weep with those who weep we mourn with those who mourn, and we rejoice with people. We begin to react and think like our Savior.
Our Desires Change:
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, Eph 5:18-19
When Jesus becomes thepriority, we no longer desire to be filled with other things, instead, we desire to be filled with the Spirit and in that we desire to build others up.
There is another thing that happens. There is something that is produced in us.
In John 15:4-8 Jesus Says,
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so, you will be My disciples.
Fruit is a byproduct of Priorities and Strategies
What does this teach us? It teaches us that Fruit is a byproduct of Priorities and Strategies. It teaches us that abiding in Jesus, which is another way of saying placing Jesus first in our lives, produces fruit. The act of making Jesus a priority means the fruit will be produced. That is the natural order of things. An apple tree produces apples, and an orange tree produces oranges. That is just how it works. Abiding in Jesus produces fruit. It is as natural as a tree producing its fruit. It is not the goal it is the natural outcome. It is not something to strive for, it is the result. It is not something we produce; it is something produced in us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
This is what is produced in us as we give ourselves to Jesus. This is what the Holy Spirit does inside of us. We get love, we get joy, we get peace, we get patience, we get kindness, we get goodness, we get faithfulness, we get gentleness, and we get self-control. We do not earn them. We do not work for it. We do not strive for it. We just get it because we abide in Christ.
The things we give ourselves to produce things inside of us. For good or for bad. If you want to know what your priorities are look at the results you have.
It is the opposite of working for it. If you lack love in your life, do not try to love harder. If you lack patience do not strive for patience. Instead focus on Jesus. We make Him first; we give ourselves over to Him and spiritual disciplines. Then these things will be produced in us.
One of my favorite spiritual disciplines is cleaning. I have been doing it for years. I clean because something is dirty, I clean because I want to do it, so my bride does not have to, but ultimately my motivation for cleaning is as an act of worship and surrender to Christ. In doing it, something changes in me. I am terrified of becoming prideful. I don’t know why; I am just on guard against it. So, to help me with this I clean the bathroom. It is hard to think of yourself as something great while scrubbing a toilet.
Again, and this is so important. This is not transactional. We don’t tell Jesus, “I’ll give you 20 minutes of silence and solitude for 8oz of love please.” NO, we seek Him, we desire Him, we make Him the priority, and then He changes us we find a greater capacity to love.
If we put the focus on Christ and Him as priority, then we get more than we could have ever bargained for.
C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.”
Everything changes because the focus changes. The point is this: If you want the fruit of the Spirit, Abide in Christ and give yourself to spiritual disciplines because fruit is a byproduct of placing Jesus first.
Fruit Attracts Hungry People
Then something amazing happens. Something beyond expectation occurs. Other people are drawn to the change that occurs within us because fruit attracts hungry people.
Acts 2:1 tells us that all the Disciples were together in the upper room and the Spirit fell on them. What were they doing? Acts 1:14 tells us they were practicing spiritual disciples. They were praying, they were placing Jesus first and then the Spirit fell on them. He was changing them and then things changed.
If we jump down to Acts 2:42 it tells us this group of people devoted themselves to spiritual disciples. They made Jesus a priority and because of this, the outcome, the result, was the entire community was changed. This is because the people saw something that drew them in.
The early church did all sorts of things. We can read about some of these things in the Bible. Feeding programs for the poor and the widows. Healing and prayer ministries that were off the charts. Racial reconciliation. Other things are not recorded in the Bible but things that history tells us the early church did. For example, the early church spoke out against abortion and infanticide. An article on the Gospel Coalition talks about this:
More than merely condemning abortion and infanticide, however, early Christians provided alternatives by rescuing and adopting children who were abandoned. For instance, Callistus (d. c. A.D. 223) provided refuge to abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes, and Benignus of Dijon (3rd century) offered nourishment and protection to abandoned children, including some with disabilities caused by unsuccessful abortions.
The early church was nonstop in going against the grain of the culture and doing things that shamed the people of their day because of the love, devotion, and care they had. BUT and this is of utmost importance. Everything they did as a byproduct of placing Jesus first and practicing spiritual disciples. They used the same arrows we have been talking about. The ministries they had, the compassion they felt for their fellow man, and the love they had for the vulnerable was because Jesus was first.
They were not threatened by the world because they knew who they belonged to.
They were radical, first in their pursuit of Christ, and second in their love for others.
We practice the same spiritual disciplines and serve the same God.
We make Jesus the priority, we place Jesus first and we get changed by the Spirit of God. Then our community gets changed by the Spirit of God. If we want revival, if we want renewal in our homes and our communities to be changed, then it starts with Abiding in Christ, letting Him produce fruit in us, and then letting that fruit out. We need to be radical in love for Jesus and be willing to live life in abandon.
Just a thought,
 Mere Christianity
Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
Hebrews 4 talks about rest for God’s people but no rest for the disobedient. Hebrews 4 and 4:5 is a callback to Psalm 95 and Numbers 14. The idea is this; God has rest for people to enter into but the disobedient do not and cannot enter into that rest.
The disobedient are called such because they refused God’s rule and reign. They did not want to submit to God’s authority. They wanted their own way and wanted to kill the leadership because they were tired of being in the desert. God’s rest is not for those who refuse Him, it is for those who follow Him.
What is the rest of God? The word used in Hebrews 4:9 tells us. The word is sabbatismos. In most translations, this is translated to sabbath rest, and the idea is a rest from toils and troubles. And this can look like a few things.
For one it is talking about the final rest we will enter into as God’s people. Revelation talks about the day when God restores all things and gives us rest from all pain and trouble. He will be with us and us with Him. It will be a perfect day (like not ending) that has no trouble in it. We as believers in the Messiah look forward to that day when we will rest with God.
But what about now? What about here? Can we enter that type of rest now? I say yes and we will look at one type of rest. Philippians 4:6 says that for the Christian, the follower of Christ there is a peace that surpasses all understanding. That is a type of rest. Peace is a beautiful thing that gives us rest.
When we follow Jesus, the world does not all of a sudden become perfect, in fact, I would argue that it often gets harder. This is because to accept Christ and the peace He gives and brings is to accept His rule and reign. We now belong to a different kingdom with a whole different set of rules. But we have a secret weapon, sabbatismos.
The rest God gives us can be external and internal. External is His provision. Internal is a peace that comes from following Jesus’ rule. The internal peace that gives us calm in the storm and rest when we are weary. It often comes from doing things that seem country to wisdom.
An example might help. Some years ago, I felt God leading me to leave my job and start a handyman/contracting company. We had one possible job lined up and that was it. To leave my current job meant leaving financial stability which meant my kids might go hungry. However, I was unhappy at work and needed more time for ministry. Once I was certain God was leading me to take this leap, I had immense peace. The money came in as we needed it until it didn’t, but we had peace and saw the hand of God providing. We had rest even though it was scary and hard.
The rest God promises is just that, a promise. We are guaranteed His peace. Jesus says, the Scriptures testify to it, and God keeps His promises.
Just a Thought,