The Wisdom in Listening

I went out for a quick lunch today. Being by myself, I noticed the interactions of a few couples. One couple was having some intense discussions in the parking lot near their car. She said to the guy she was with, I assume her boyfriend or husband, with her hands thrust down by her side, “You just are not hearing me!” “Oh, I am hearing you loud and clear, you just are not listening to me!” as his arms flew up in air with frustration. Her arms moved from her sides to a tight folding of her arms with a very furrowed brow and eyes in a strong stare looking down to the ground. There was silence for a few moments and I quickly walked by trying to look discreet. I am not sure all that transpired as I walked to my car, but I heard laughter and saw them walking hand in hand to their car. As I was getting in my car, I saw another couple in the car across from mine. She had thrust open her car door, looking like she was both hurt and mad, fighting back tears. Since the car was facing my direction, I could see the guy in the car. He was in the driver’s seat, hands gripping the wheel, staring straight ahead. He did not move. She looked back at him in the car and said something, but he kept staring. She just kept looking at him, I think waiting for a response. He said nothing, did nothing, just kept looking straight ahead. I was curious to see how this drama played out, but I had started my car and was backing out. As I glanced back, she was still looking at him and he was still looking straight ahead. I left wondering what happened, seeing two couples apparently struggling in their communication. As I drove on praying for these unnamed couples with their unknown issues, I found myself praying for their communication and that they would truly hear each other because there is great wisdom in listening.

 

Actually God desires for us to grow in our listening skills.

James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

To be quick to hear is to truly listen. Too much in conversation we are more eager to get our point across than to hear what the other is trying to say. What we need to do is ‘hear’ what people are saying. That word ‘hear’ in the above Bible verse means to receive and understand the information the other is speaking. It means entering into a conversation hungry to learn what the other is trying to communicate. This kind of hearing takes practice and instead of formulating arguments or responses as someone is talking to us, to listen intently trying to extract meaning out of what is being said. Sometimes it helps once the other has paused in what they are saying to put what they said in your own words and say, “It sounds like you are saying…” and fill in what you think they are saying. That’s called active listening. It means we listen twice as much as we speak. I believe it’s why God gave us two ears and one mouth so we would listen twice as much as we speak.

 

When we choose not to listen and hear what others are saying, making up our own mind as to what people mean by what they say, we venture into being kind of foolish.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

That word ‘listen’ is an interesting word in Hebrew. It’s the word ‘shema,’ Shema means a lot more than just the taking in of words or listening. It means to examine, heed, even obey. It is key in our faith with God as we are to ‘shema’ the words of God. If you would like to hear more about shema check out the Bible Project on Shema (https://thebibleproject.com/explore/shema-listen/). God desires for us to ‘shema’ Him, but also ‘shema’/listen to advice, for we can easily slip into foolishness.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

 

Now the wise work at listening and listening well.

Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Proverbs 25:12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

 

So here’s a challenge this week. Seek to apply the wisdom in listening and in our conversations truly understand what the other person is trying to say.

 

Church can be a great place to listen to God. If you don’t already have a church you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. We have just started a new series going through the Bible book of Proverbs and you might find it interesting. Our website has all the information you would need: www.cypresschurch.net. We would love for you to be with us.

 

Seeking to engage the wisdom of listening along with you,

 

Mike

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Making an Intentional Connection this Summer

“It’s SUUUUMMERRRRRR!,” came the cry of an elementary student as he ran out from his class the last day of school. I live just a few houses from an elementary school here in Cypress, CA and witnessed the cascade of happy students as they ended a year of school and started their summer. This particular student came running through the little park next to the school with a hand full of papers in one hand and his backpack jolting from one side to another as he ran. The call of joy that “It’s summer!” came from a face lit up with the wide eyes of joy and a huge smile of delight. As he greeted his mom with a hug, he said, “I can’t wait to go to the Great Wolf Lodge.” The Great Wolf Lodge is an indoor water park and resort in Garden Grove. As I walked by, I also heard parents and kids anticipating their trips to Disney World, camping with friends, church family camp in the Sequoias, going to visit their parents and grandparents in another state, and one was going to visit family in Korea. As I passed by hearing of all these trips and family adventures, I was encouraged and challenged as people were making an intentional connection this summer. They were making choices to intentionally connect: connect with family, connect with friends, connect with adventure, connect with nature, connect with God, and connect with fun. I was inspired and encouraged to make my own intentional connections this summer.

 

Summer is a great time to connect and reconnect. Yes, it takes some intentionality. Most plans don’t just happen. Trips need to be planned. Time needs to be set aside. Details need to come together and all that takes some intentional planning. Sure, it is a bit of work, but well worth the memories created and relationships built.

 

This idea of intentional connections is something God encourages us to bring into our lives. God created this amazing world to enjoy as it reveals much about Him.

Romans 1:20 For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

As we stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon or look up at Half Dome in Yosemite or see the grandeur of the Sequoia Redwoods, the power of the waves on the beach or the dazzling clear night sky of the mountains, we gain a greater view of God.

Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.  

Making the intentional choice to enjoy God’s creation is a great connection.

 

Intentionally connecting with friends and family builds the bonds of relationship and love.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Proverbs 27:10 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend…

Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

It’s taking time and making time to have a BBQ, meeting up at the beach or the movies or a game night, planning time to interact and enjoy the moment telling stories, talking sports, and learning of what is going on each other’s lives. Making the choice to engage others is a great intentional connection.

 

It is also good to make the intentional choice to rest this summer. With many people taking vacations, part of that time it is good to rest.

Hebrews 4:9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,

Matthew 11:28 Come to me (Jesus), all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Making the choice to pull aside and rest by taking a nap, reading a book, sitting at the beach, or taking a walk around the lake reflecting, processing, or just enjoying the sounds of nature, whatever is restful is a great intentional connection.

 

In all this it is also good to connect with God.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek His presence continually!

We connect with God through prayer. He loves the sound of our thoughts, through reading His Word, the Bible, and through attending church. Making the choice to connect to God is an amazing intentional connection. By the way, if you don’t already have a church you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need: www.cypresschurch.net. So let’s make some intentional connections this summer.

 

Seeking to be more intentionally connected this summer along with you,

 

Mike

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Savor the Moment

Ecclesiastes 3:13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

 

My wife and I were out for some ice cream a few weeks back and as we were waiting for our delectable delight I noticed two young kids each about to receive from their parents a huge ice cream cone with multiple scoops. Their eyes were both wide waiting to enjoy this treat that would not only make their taste buds dance with joy but bring bright smiles and laughter. However, as they were handed their desserts, amidst their squeals of joy, one grabbed the cone and began to inhale it taking big bites that made my teeth cringe. Then, he began licking up the sides of the cone as not to miss a drip while forming the scoops of ice cream into one, curled-top mountain. His intensity and focus was ferocious as each lick syphoned off huge portions. The other child was quite different. At first, he did not even take the cone from his mom’s hand. He stood up with an expression of awe and looked all around the cone, eyeing each scoop and the texture of the cone. His mom had to place it in his hand before he would take it. Still he stared it up and down as he let the drips of ice cream land on his hand gripping the cone. After his dad wiped the face of his brother who was more than halfway done and wearing much of the ice cream feeding frenzy all over his face, the father leaned over and said, “What are you waiting for? Enjoy it.” The son answered back without losing eye contact with his treat and said, “I am. I know it’s going to taste as good as it looks.” Then he took his first, long, calculated lick. With eyes closed, he put his head back and swallowed slowly with a big satisfied smile. His expression almost had me tasting his ice cream. This kid knew how to savor the moment!

 

I actually kind of envy that savor-the-moment kid. Much of my life I have rushed through like the first child wolfing down his ice cream, and did not savor some of the moments of my life. I’m not sure why I am like that. It probably has to do with my crazy life growing up. Regardless, I find it all too easy in our instant, rushed, got-to-get-on-to-the-next-thing world not to take the time to savor some of the moments of life.

 

We are actually encouraged in the Bible to make time to enjoy, to savor the moments of life. In the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, a book written by King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived besides Jesus (see 1 Kings 3:1-15 to find out why), we are challenged to enjoy and savor life.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

Life is short, and God provides for us wonderful experiences that we should not just breeze by, but soak in, celebrate, and revel in the joy of it all. I still remember the father/daughter dance at both of my girls’ weddings. I just wanted to make time stop as I beheld the beautiful women our little girls had become and the joy of them now starting their own family. That memory will always hold a precious place in my heart.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,

I think Solomon was into fine foods and the enjoyment of a good meal. God gave us these amazing taste buds to let the foods we eat bring us joy, and so why not savor the beverages, foods, and desserts out there.

 

One key in all our savoring is to let God guide us. Kind David, Solomon’s dad put it this way:

Psalm 23:1-5 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Following God opens great times to savor the moments of life. Life can get so busy. Why not make some time and take some time to savor the moments. There may be some great joy waiting for you! I think I want some ice cream now!

 

Church can be a great place to savor some moments with God. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net.

 

Seeking to savor the moments of life along with you,

 

Mike

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Let Your Light Shine

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others…

 

I saw one of my grandsons do something amazing the other day. No, it was not pushing up to the piano and playing one of Bach’s symphonies, nor was it standing up and reciting the Gettysburg Address from memory, nor was it jumping up on a skateboard performing all kinds of flips and handstands. No, what my grandson did was shed the light of love to another person. We were out on a walk and as we walked by a person who was looking kind of down, my grandson went up to say hi (this person was someone we both knew, so no ‘stranger-danger’ here). My grandson seemed to notice they could use some attention, so he went up and struck up a conversation. The person smiled and after sharing a few compliments and exchanging a few smiles, we walked on.

 

I’m not sure if that little shining of the light of love had any impact on that person, but it impacted me. I was so proud of my grandson’s sensitivity to do what he could to show care and empathy to another. He was living out the wonderful encouragement Jesus gave in the Bible to love others…

Matthew 22:26-39 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

 

John 13:34 A new commandment I (Jesus) give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

I was also a bit convicted by my grandson’s letting the light of love shine, for though I loved this time hanging out with him, I was more interested in getting home so I could get back to my list of things to do! I was not thinking of sharing the light of love because I was too wrapped up in my agendas and had not put sharing the light of love on that list. Yet, that is something God asks of us.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

 

As we live out these ‘one-another’ challenges, we let the light of love, Jesus’ love, shine out. When we do, we bring God glory and people are blessed.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I wonder what kind of impact we could make if more and more people would add letting the light of love shine to their everyday lives. Let’s give it a try!

 

Church can be great place to learn about God’s great love and how we might share that love with others. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net.

 

Seeking to let the light of love shine along with you,

 

Mike

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The Miracle to Overcome

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

“It was as if God gave us a second chance,” Bo shared as he looked down in gratefulness. “God took the brokenness of our lives and our past and is making something beautiful!,” Van exclaimed as he looked at me with a wonderful resolve and deep, appreciative smile. He continued, “It is what Isaiah said in Isaiah 61:3, ‘beauty instead of ashes, we wear because of Christ’.” Nareth put it this way, “By the grace of God we can cope with our situation. We are still traumatized by the past. At first, it was very difficult for us, especially for my wife, since she lost all of her relatives. The new culture, language, society, even food shopping was hard to cope with. We’re rebuilding our lives by trusting God every step of the way.” Such is the reality of many Cambodians now living the United States of America, and these were statements from of my Cambodian friends who have experienced the miracle to overcome.

 

The truth is the Cambodian people have had much to overcome. From the Angkor kings of history, to the occupation of Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and the evil Khmer Rouge of the past, others have sought to extract the culture and honor of these amazing people. The Khmer Rouge alone killed off nearly 2 million people and caused many to flee. The US saw nearly 320,000 come to their borders seeking rescue and help. Over 150,000 found their new home in Long Beach, California, where I have had the honor to know them, hear their stories, and learn a great deal from them. What has been a great joy is to see them experience the life-changing miracle to overcome, for it is something that can teach all of us. Though most all still struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), and some still have not been able to get out of a victim cycle, many have experienced the miracle to overcome through faith in God.

 

They have found a new identity based on God.

Psalm 139:13-14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

They believed God created them and life should be lived His way.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has

come.

They understood that Jesus rescued them from a deeper plight, from sin’s sinister plot (see Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23) and through faith in that rescue, they are not only saved, but given the opportunity for a new life, life as God had originally designed (see 1 John 4:9-10).

 

This faith in Jesus brought new life and a desire to stay in community brought great encouragement.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

John 13:34 A new commandment I (Jesus) give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

These amazing Cambodian followers of Jesus chose to place their trust in God to seek Him, and to live and love like Him.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 22:37-39 And He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

 

The miracle to overcome is very evident in many Cambodians. They are great examples to me as they continue to put their faith in Jesus, stay tight in community, and trust God immensely. Maybe there is something for you as well?

Psalms 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Maybe the miracle to overcome is just what you need. Why not follow my Cambodian friends’ example?

 

Church can be great place to learn about the miracle to overcome. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches (we do have a Khmer/Cambodian branch). Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net.

 

Seeking to overcome along with you,

 

Mike

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The Miracle of Courageous Trust in God

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

 

Awhile back, I was at a public pool and an amazing scene of courage played out right before me. It was a group of elementary school age boys, all gathered around the steps to the high dive. They were all excited, but apprehensive to take the stairs and face the dare and dread of jumping off the high dive. The first to go seemed to have confidence of one much older than himself and swaggered up the steps as looked and waved to a group of girls all sitting on the pool deck with their feet playfully dangling in the water. They were all smiling and exchanging glances with one particular girl in their little group. The brave boy reached the top, looked down at his mates, and with a nod to the girls took a bounce, launching himself into the air forming a perfect cannon ball tuck and made a huge splash to the delight of the girls. The next few guys took their turn, some trying to match the leader, some a bit more cautious, but all enjoying the thrill of the daring feat. One last boy was left. He was the most cautious. You could see in his face that he was fighting back fear. The leader of this band of brothers noticed the last boy’s apprehension, and leaving the group of girls that he had been talking with, went over to the last jumper. I am not sure what he said to him, but the hesitant boy looked more confident, almost every step the two made eye contact. Up on top of the diving board, the tentative boy did not look around but kept his eye on that other boy now walking away from the diving board so the one up top could see him. With an exchange of a smile and nod the boy took one last look and jumped!

 

I was impressed, not only with the last boy’s courage, but with whatever that other boy said to him that gave the other the courage to go on. It made me think about how much in life we feel like that kid at the bottom of the high dive. We don’t feel ________ enough. I’m sure, at one point in your life, you have put different things in that blank: I’m not talented enough, I’m not old/young enough, I’m not good/pure enough, I’m not confident enough, I’m not experienced enough, I’m not skilled enough. What’s in that blank today? Sure that little kid did not have the experience to be like the first guy, but the miracle of courage allowed him to enjoy the thrill of it all.

 

There are a number of biblical characters that seemed like that little boy at first. One was Moses. In Exodus 3:1-22 God called Moses to go to Egypt where he was banished as a murderer. God told Moses to tell the Pharaoh to let their slaves, Israel, go (not a real popular ask!). Moses is apprehensive:

Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Moses lacked the courage, but was clear that God would come along side him and would be with him (see Exodus 3:12). Moses chose courageous trust in God, stepped up to the challenge, and a nation was forever changed.

 

Joshua of the Bible also took a huge step of courage following in Moses’ footsteps to lead Israel. God challenged Joshua to step up in courage.

Joshua 1:6-7 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

The challenge to step up with courageous trust in God continues:

1 Chronicles 28:20 Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

Psalms 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.

 

I am not sure what you are feeling “not enough” in, but listen to the truth of God that He is with you. Place your trust in Him and see the miracle of courage take you to new and exciting adventures. Sure, they will be scary, but God has His eyes on you.

 

Church is a great place to gain confidence in God. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. We are continuing our teaching series called “Living Proof”, a biblical study of God’s miracles.

 

Seeking to have courageous trust in God together with you,

 

Mike

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The Miracle of a Life Well Lived

Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

 

This week we have the honor and privilege to celebrate the extraordinary, miraculous, yet ordinary life of Ioan (pronounced E-wan) Dambeanu. Ioan was a Romanian refugee to the United States, escaping the then communist régime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Ioan told me he had a price on his head and actually escaped death a number of times. Through God’s amazing grace he was able to relocate to Southern California and lived on seeking to be all that God created him to be. See, Ioan had come to a faith in God many years ago and sought in all he did to be a faithful servant of the Lord.

 

I met Ioan as our church custodian and maintenance man. He was incredible. There was nothing he could not or would not do, from painting, to carpet cleaning, to fixing holes in the wall made by rambunctious students. He actually loved fixing those accidental holes because he was glad those students were coming to church! He lived by that old Proverb:

Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

In other words, if you have a thriving student ministry or active church, the church facilities are going to need to be cleaned and a busy church is a good thing! Ioan loved his job and not only kept the place reflecting the beauty of the Lord, but also donated his time to build tables, kneeling benches, and our simple but useful podiums. If we needed it, he would try to make it. He was amazing at woodworking.

 

There are so many stories I could tell where his kind words encouraged me, or his passion for God inspired me, or his humble spirit was an example to me, or his consistent hard work motivated me, or his dedication to please God moved me. I could fill pages of the stories of this miraculous, well-lived life, a life of faithfulness. Ioan’s faithful life was not handed to him or even part of his DNA. Ioan lived a miraculous life because he chose to live life God’s way.

 

Ioan chose not a self-centered life, but a God-centered life. He chose to put his faith in Jesus Christ and did the best he could to know Him and follow Him.

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

It was an everyday choice to put Jesus at the center of his life, to hold Him as Coach, Leader, Boss, and Lord. It was also a choice to align his life to Jesus’ way, not his own. He discovered this by reading his Bible and seeking do what Jesus did.

 

Ioan’s choice to be faithful was also a choice to actively love. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40, that we are to love God and love our neighbors. This teaching was taken from the Old Testament Bible book of Deuteronomy 6:5-6. The ‘love’ talked about in both these passages is an active love. It is not just saying ‘I love you’ but to show that love in honor, respect, kindness, thoughtfulness, care, doing our best, striving for excellence, obedience, diligence, perseverance, and more. Ioan loved actively.

 

Ioan also expressed his faithfulness to Christ by the choice of humility.

Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

No task was beneath Ioan. He humbly served. The word humble in these two Bible verses means ‘to place ourselves under’. Ioan saw himself, yes, under Christ, but also humbled himself under those in authority and truly saw that his sin, like all our sin, makes us no better than anyone else. Ioan used to call himself ‘Bad Boy’, and I never liked that name because it can describe someone who is defiant, with an edgy pride on doing what every we please. Yet, for Ioan, ‘Bad Boy’ was a reminder of his humble, sinful state where because of his sin, he deserved NOTHING and was NO BETTER than anyone.

 

Oh, I could go on…Ioan’s choice to be a faithful servant was also a choice for joy, a choice to focus on God’s goodness over what he did not have, a choice to persevere and not give up. The point is…he chose. So the question comes to us: What choices are we making in life? Will we make the choices that when our time comes, when there is a memorial service for us, it will be said: ‘A miracle life well lived’?

Ioan loved church, for that is where he not only served God, but grew in faith. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. We are continuing our teaching series called “Living Proof”, a biblical study of God’s miracles.

 

Seeking to follow Ioan as he followed Jesus,

Mike

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