Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year's Request: God's Will in 2014

I said, “I will be careful about how I live. I will not sin by what I say. I will keep my mouth closed when sinful people are near me.” I was silent and kept quiet. I didn’t even say anything good. But the pain inside me grew worse. My heart was deeply troubled. As I thought about what was happening to me, I became even more troubled. Then I spoke out. I said, “Lord, show me when my life will end. Show me how many days I have left. Tell me how short my life will be. You have given me only a few days to live. My whole life doesn’t seem like anything to you. No man’s life lasts any longer than a breath. People are only shadows as they go here and there. They rush around, but it doesn’t mean anything. They pile up wealth, but they don’t know who will get it. “Lord, what can I look forward to now? You are the only hope I have. Save me from all the wrong things I’ve done. Don’t let foolish people make fun of me. I keep silent. I don’t open my mouth. You are the one who has caused all of this to happen. Please stop beating me. I’m about to die from the blows of your hand. You correct and punish people for their sin. Just as a moth eats cloth, you destroy their wealth. No one’s life lasts any longer than a breath. “Lord, hear my prayer. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my sobbing. I’m like a guest in your home. I’m only a visitor, like all of my family who lived before me. Leave me alone. Let me be full of joy again before I die.” (Psalm 39:1-13)
I stumbled upon these verses when searching the Scriptures this morning. What powerful verses from the one anointed to be King of Israel. Listen to his humble heart. Hear his plea for God's grace. Feel the pain he feels not only from the hurt others cause him, but from his own sin! No wonder God admired David's heart for the things of God!
I pray that these can be my words to the Father in 2014. I want to grieve over my sin and the sins of this generation. I want my life to matter . . . not just for me but for generations to come. Lord, what can I look forward to now . . . in the year to come? Keep me focused upon You so I can indeed do Your will and not my own. Help me to be full of Your joy and think the way You think about things!
Happy and Blessed 2014 everyone . . . May God's will be your desires!

Monday, December 30, 2013

By whose standards?

God has breathed life into all of Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. By using Scripture, a man of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing.(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
I must admit, I am really challenged these past few days and weeks. I hear so many different viewpoints concerning Christianity and the Word of God. While I expect this from secular news and the culture, I am still a bit upset and perplexed when I hear so many viewpoints from believers! My challenge does not come from hearing the various comments and reactions from random folks, but from the so-called biblical viewpoints! From all I have read and been taught, God has not changed and neither will His Word. He cannot lie and will not change His mind on what He requires from His people. Are we living for Him? Are we seeking His return as in the days of Malachi?
“I am the Lord. I do not change."(Malachi 3:6)
Paul warns us in Hebrews to keep the covenant of marriage pure. He reminds us to be content with what we have and to follow the Scriptural teachings of those of faith. We are to support our leaders (elders) and honor them, not make life miserable for them. God is to get the glory from our lives. It is not about us or what we have accomplished. Does that reflect our Body of believers today?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.(Hebrews 13:8)
Tolerating sin is really disgusting. Being afraid to lose friends, associates, or supporters should not be the deciding factor in how we live! Yes, I understand that none of us is perfect but God and that we all sin and fall short of God's glory. But I hate my sin. I can't stand it when I let God down. I do it day after day, yet I refuse to excuse it and say "I'll do it anyway" and still claim that I love God!
By whose standards are we living?
To repeatedly lie and say it is acceptable for a Christian is just wrong. To be a thief and justify it by saying I was born a thief is crazy. What murderer can go free simply by saying "God knows me and loves me . . . it's ok"? If we are saved by the blood of Christ, there must be conviction that sin, all sin, is wrong in God's eyes and we need help in changing our minds concerning sin. The Holy Spirit is our guide and our conviction. He is our help and strength. We must agree with God that sin is not excused or tolerated but called sin! There are even times when we have to make the hard decisions to end relationships that continuously challenge our own relationship with God!(1 Corinthians 6:9-20) If Paul was correct when he was instructing a young pastor named Timothy to use Scripture to lead his people, then we too must use Scripture as it is; not watered-down or dummied-down! We are not here to please everyone, but to draw everyone to the loving arms of Jesus Christ. it is not God's will that anyone be lost, but sadly, some will be. Let's be sure of our beliefs and live by our Father's instructions! It will all be right one day!
Heaven and earth will pass away. But my words will never pass away.(Matthew 24:35)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The comfortable and friendly CHRISTian . . .

So many get upset when one publically calls out sin.
"Don't judge me" they say. Well, I have news for you. If we in the Church do not lovingly judge or correct one another, God will! Judgment begins in the Church. (1 Peter 4:17)
God gave us a son (John 3:16) and promised us a Savior (Isaiah 9:6) in order to redeem us from sin, not tolerate it! While we do not expect the unredeemed and the lost to understand, we do and must call the believer to be accountable . . . but in love! Jesus does not tell to not judge, but to point out sin lovingly and with mercy and in a way that leads one to the reconciliation of Christ.(Luke 9:35-42) It was because of sin that God gave to us! If we do not point out sin, then we will not be able to explain the need for a Savior! Sin caused Christ to come down from heaven and sacrifice for us. We 9as a Church) need to be called to accountability and discipleship. There needs to be a constant on-going desire to be sinless and to desire to sin less and less each day! We must seek to live as a holy people. Live in this world yes. Dig into the culture of this world yes. . . yet a holy people . . . not freaks of nature, but as holy, human, saved, and living-for-Jesus-and-His-will people!(1 Peter 2:9) Jesus and sin cannot co-exist. Christians therefore cannot blatantly tolerate sin nor condone it! We must also be careful to pint out our own challenges with sin. We are not perfect, but striving for perfection! So now, who is willing to walk beside the sinner we point out and help him or her to get to know the Savior? It is easy to both ignore and tolerate. It is easy to judge without love. None involves our commitment. Love requires dedication. If we are truly disciples of Jesus then we are to making disciples of ourselves as well.
As we follow Jesus, others should be walking along with us. Are we willing to pay the price of discipleship or live the easy life of the comfortable and friendly CHRISTian?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Do I Celebrate CHRISTmas?

An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. 12 Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, 14 "May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!"
(Luke 2:9-14) I know all about the secular and satanic symbols. I know the cultic associations with Christmas. Yet I still celebrate!
The evergreen tree (to me) represents the eternal life every believer has when he trusts the sacrifice Jesus made upon a tree long ago(Romans 10:9-10). That cross is stationed just behind the nativity scene in my yard and reminds everyone who rides by that a child was born to die in order to save man from his sin(John 3:16!) The angels spelling out "Peace on Earth" shout out the joy we should all still feel within our hearts (Luke 2:14). The candy cane symbolizes the shepherd's staff, reaching out to the lost sheep. The red represents the blood shed to make my heart white as snow before God. Even the peppermint taste is said to represent the bittersweet "holy herb" hyssop David once asked to purge him (Psalm 51:7). The lights, well they remind me that we are still to be the light to a dark world (Matthew 5:14-16). And Santa, well there was once a really nice CHRISTian man who did good for those in need and although he is not eternal like Christ, he is a good image for an innocent child to hold onto!
So do I celebrate? Oh yeah! I celebrate because I know the Savior! I celebrate because the Bible tells me to celebrate as the shepherds and magi did! I celebrate not to please my neighborhood or my friends, but to honor my God (Galatians 1:10)! Celebrate CHRISTmas while it is still legal! Take a stand for the Savior who was born to die . . . and rise to give us life and freedom to CELEBRATE!

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...