Tag Archives: Faith

Judge not…

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1 ESV

 

I have heard the saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” a million times. Usually by non-Christians doing very non-Christian things. I’ve used it myself, before I was a Christian, whenever I would get called out for doing something I shouldn’t be doing. We use this verse to try and justify our actions or condemn those who don’t agree with our actions. If I’m honest, I really struggled with this verse for a while. We have one part of the bible saying to call out people in sin (1 Corinthians 5) and here we have Jesus saying not to judge people. So what do we do?

I think the root of this problem is our understanding of the word “judge.” We associate it with our opinion of someone when Jesus had a completely different idea in mind. We need to think of this type of “judging” as in a court room where a judge has the power to sentence you. Jesus is saying that we have no power or authority to cast judgment on a person in the sense of where they will spend eternity. In that case, yes, only God can judge you. BUT! That is not a pass to overlook sin.

If a brother or sister is caught in sin, we must deal with it. We must deal with it in love and gentleness. In the book of John, a woman is caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus for judgment.  She wasn’t rumored to be in adultery, she was CAUGHT in the VERY ACT of adultery. In this moment, the group of “religious” people surrounding her were ready to literally throw stones at her. But what does Jesus say? Jesus says in John 8:7, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus knew that we are all guilty and deserving of this punishment. After the crowd leaves, Jesus looks at the woman and says, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She says, “No one, Lord.” Then Jesus looks at her and says, “Neither do I; go and sin no more.” This is beautiful. This is grace. This is love. This is Jesus.

We are all guilty of sin. We are all the woman in this story, caught in the very act of (insert sin here). And just like this woman, Jesus looks at us and says, “I don’t condemn you.” But He also says, “Go, and from now on sin no more.” Jesus doesn’t give her a pass to sin, He gives her a command to repent. To turn from this lifestyle of adultery and live righteously. This same call applies to us as well.

The great thing about our God is that He doesn’t say to clean up our lives then follow Him, no, He says follow me and then we’ll clean this up together. We have a God who truly loves us. A God who is mighty and able. A God who still works everyday miracles in people’s lives. If you are caught in sin, I beg you, repent and turn to Jesus.

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Crazy Talk

“I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 NLT

 

I believe the bible. I believe every word. I don’t always understand it, but I believe it. I believe that God sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sins of the world then raised Him from the dead three days later. I believe that one day Jesus will return and we will all have to answer for our time here on earth. I believe that each and every one of us will be judged for what we have done and the only way to avoid God’s righteous wrath is Jesus Christ. I also believe that sounds completely crazy to anyone who doesn’t believe that. So how do we reach these people? People that look at our beliefs and think we are some kind of crazy. The bible says that, “Faith comes from listening to this message of good news-the Good News about Christ.” Romans 10:17 NLT. It’s up to us to tell them, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable, we must tell them about Jesus. Romans 10:14 NLT says, “But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?” Jesus has given us a commission, a calling, a command. At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus tells us to go and make disciples.  So why aren’t we doing it? What’s holding us back? This commission wasn’t just for preachers, it’s for every man or woman that would call themselves a Christian. It can, and will, be awkward. Push through it. If we truly believe the bible, we have to believe what it says about hell and the unbelievers. “But cowards who turn away from me, and unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all liars-their doom is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.” Revelation 21:8 NLT. Hell is not something that is particularly fun to talk about, but it is a reality. A reality that many choose to ignore or pretend doesn’t exist. I recently read an article that said 43% of Americans were “unchurched”. 43%. Almost half of the US is headed to eternal damnation, separated from God, forever. Christians, we must step-up. If we truly believe what the bible says, and we have any love in our hearts, we must spread the gospel. We must reach out to those who don’t know the hope of Jesus. We must shine the light of God in this dark world. It wasn’t merely a suggestion from Jesus, it was a command.

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end 0f the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NLT

Fearing Man

I’ve made a reputation for myself, and not necessarily a good one.  I’m not sure how I get here. Actually, I take that back, I do know. It starts with me turning from God.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 ESV

I try so hard to be cool, to fit in, to make people laugh. I’m still trying to be part of the “cool kids” club. But in truth, I’m running from God. I’ve made friends here, good friends, that desperately need the hope of Jesus. But instead of speaking truth to them, I engage in idle chatter. Ephesians 5:16-17 NLT says, “Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.” I understand what the Lord wants me to do, yet I run. I run from the awkwardness of confessing my faith to people out of fear of what they will think or say. I hold my tongue when God is clearly telling me to speak. Instead of asking, “How can God use me?” I’m asking, “What will they think?” Bouncing back and forth between Galatians and Ephesians, it’s clear how we as Christians are supposed to act. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11 I am tired of living my life to please man. It is fruitless. If I stop and look at my life and everyone agrees with me, then I can almost always be assured that it doesn’t agree with God. We as Christians follow Jesus, a man that was murdered for the way He lived. Why should we think that, as Christians following this example, we would not face some form of resistance? 2 Timothy 3:12 ESV assures us that we with face persecution if we are true followers of Christ. Looking at the world around us, it’s painfully clear that we are trying as hard as we can to please man, not God. We try to be politically correct in everything we do, worrying more of what some group of people will say about us instead of what the creator of the universe will. We think that we are making progress in law and rights when, in actuality, we are plunging further and further into darkness. We true Christians have to make a stand. We can no longer afford to fear man, we are losing too many brothers and sisters. Paul spells it quite clearly for us in a letter to Timothy. “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV I don’t think you can paint a clearer picture of the world today than that. So what do we do? As Christians what can we do in such a dark world? Paul gives us the answer in the next chapter of the same book. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill you ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:2-5 ESV I hope these words are as sobering for you as they were for me.

We are called to action. Prayer is great, and I highly encourage it. But we are called, by God Himself, to do more than just pray. We must reach out. How will they ever be saved if we fail to tell them about the love of God? Fulfill your ministry, whatever that ministry may be.

Tone-deaf

“And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow the religious customs of the nations from which they came. And this is still going on among them today. They follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the Lord…” 2 Kings 17:33-34

Sometimes when my wife calls me or asks me to do something, I’ll pretend not to hear her. I know, I know, this is horrible. But it’s the truth. She’ll ask me to give the kids a bath or take out the trash and I just sit there looking off into space. I joke with her that I must have gone tone-deaf to her voice…she doesn’t think it’s too funny. Making my way through 2 Kings, I came across some verses that really stood out and honestly make me reflect on the way we view Christ. I say we because I am guilty of this as well. The verse above says that yes, they worshiped the Lord, but they also continued in their old ways. They never TRULY worshiped the Lord. They never TRULY surrendered to God. As I look at my own life and compare it to these verses, I can’t help but to relate. Yes, I worship the Lord Jesus Christ, I read my bible, I sing songs of worship, and I pray. But I also have not fully surrendered. I haven’t surrendered my emotions, my selfishness, my pride, the list goes on. I know what the bible says about this, but just like with my wife, I sometimes try to act like I don’t hear the Lord calling out to me. It’s usually when He asks me to do something difficult or out of my comfort zone. In these times it’s important for us to remember the promises of God. God said He would never fail us, forsake us, or abandon us. Hebrews 13:8 states that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” If this is true, and we believe what the bible says, we must take to heart what Jesus said in Matthew 28, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus Christ is with us. Always. We Christians must turn from our old ways. We must forget the religious customs that came from this world and remember what the bible says about who we are and what we are called to do. We can’t afford to turn a deaf ear to God any longer, this world needs Him. Please, please don’t follow the footsteps of those mentioned in 2 Kings 17:40, “But the people would not listen and continued to follow their old ways.” Whatever God is calling you to do, no matter how difficult or awkward it may be, do it. God is with us. Trust in His word. “And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.” Philippians 1:6.

 

Burn Out

“Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.” Romans 12:11 MSG

Easier said than done, right? A gentleman in my Wednesday morning bible study made an interesting comment today. He said that a group of college kids had came in on a mission trip and were “on fire for Jesus”. He also stated that he wished we could keep that fire going as we grew older, but the world would eventually beat them down as well. Maybe one would keep the fire but most would “burn out”. I have to admit, when he said this I was taken back, even a little angered that he could say this so nonchalantly. Like it was inevitable and that we could do nothing about it. When I sat down to write this post I was frustrated at his comment, upset with the ease of it. But as I started typing I realized something…he was right. But why? Jesus said in Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” If it’s easy and light, why do so many Christians burn out? As I prayed about it, a thought came to mind. Maybe the reason so many of us burn out is because we are not yoked with Christ, but ourselves. We try to take on the yoke of Christianity without Christ. Instead of leaning on Jesus and trusting in Him and His work on the cross for salvation, we are desperately trying to save ourselves. We trust in our own works, our bible studies, our prayer time, our volunteering to ensure our salvation. We end up trying to be our own savior. Don’t get me wrong, all these things are of great value, but they won’t save us. Only faith in Jesus Christ can save us, and through faith come the works. The bible studies and prayer time, the volunteering and serving should come as a result of faith in Jesus, not the other way around.  So looking back on the comment made of “burning out,” he was right, to an extent. Apart from Jesus we can only sustain the fire for so long. Eventually we will burn out. The world will beat us down and do its very best to douse our flames. If we hope to stand any chance of avoiding exhaustion and spiritual burn out we must rely on Jesus. Only He can sustain us. “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV. My prayer is that you would find your strength in Jesus Christ, that He would fan your flames until they roar uncontrollably with His spirit. That you would lean on Him in times of weakness. That those of you who don’t know Him would stumble into the wildfires of my Christian brothers and sisters and upon seeing the flames of their passion for Christ, have no other option than to themselves ignite. I pray for those whose coals have all but burned out, that the Holy Spirit would blow in like a hurricane and set your soul ablaze. We are called to be the light of the world. I pray that the Holy Spirit would keep us fueled and aflame. Amen.

I Surrender…

When I became a Christian I thought that the battles of addiction would be my biggest struggle. Addiction to booze, drugs, porn, you name it and it was an issue. But that wasn’t the case. My desires for those things simply didn’t weigh as much as I thought they would. My biggest struggle was, and still is, myself. Trying to take my eyes off of myself and focus on Jesus Christ has proven to be one of the biggest challenges of my life. I’m selfish. I’m inconsiderate. I’m impatient. I’m human. The bible says in Luke 9:23 NLT, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.” Jesus calls us to die to ourselves and He calls us to do it daily. This has been weighing on me for a while now. Every sermon I watch, every book I read, every verse, every song, is telling me to surrender. Why is this so hard? If I take a step back and really look at why I don’t just give in to the call of surrender, the answer is simple and heartbreaking. I don’t trust Jesus. I don’t trust the fact that He truly knows what is best for my life. I don’t trust that He WANTS what is best for my life. So many times I will hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me, telling me the next steps I should be taking, but I choose to ignore it. Why? Jeremiah 29:11 NLT says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” The Lord Himself has told us, promised us, that He has plans for good! Why do so many of us refuse to believe this? We believe that He was raised from the dead and will save us from an eternity in hell, but we don’t fully surrender our lives to Him. I have been living a life of partial surrender for too long. It’s exhausting, it’s frustrating, and it has been my stumbling block for long enough! I’m tired of pretending that I know better than God. From now on, and I encourage you as well, I will start my day off with a prayer of surrender. A prayer that will empower me to live out Galatians 2:20, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” I surrender Lord, I surrender.

Dead Faith

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

James 2:14-17 ESV

Faith without works, is dead. What good is it to sit and read your bible all day and never put it into practice? We can pray for someone hurting and struggling all we want, but sometimes we have to do more. I’m not saying not to read the bible or pray, but we have to act as well. It scares me to think about how many “Christians” are practicing “dead faith”, myself included. I try to do a bible study and pray as much as possible, but what good is that if I don’t take what I learn and put it into practice. It bothers me that we care more about a dead lion than the millions that are dying of starvation or preventable diseases. It breaks my heart that we care more about a man turning himself into a woman, than the millions that are caught in the sex slave industry. It’s 2015 and it seems that the color of someone’s skin is more important than the condition of their heart.  We have to start putting our faith into action. Yes, we are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, BUT, our works confirm our faith. James talks about Abraham and how he was justified by faith AND works, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24 ESV. What if when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham would have said, “uhhh, nah I’m good. I believe you and everything but I don’t trust you enough to do that.” Sadly that is what many of us do everyday. It’s simply not enough to have faith alone, even demons in hell have faith and believe in God.