Tag Archives: Jesus

Fall So Hard

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 ESV

 

The first sin, the fall of man. It was a dark day for mankind when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. They were kicked out of Eden, Adam had to start working the fields, and Eve was promised painful childbirth. Not a very good start in my opinion. To cut Eve some slack, she was deceived by a creature who, “was more crafty than any other beast of the field,” Gen. 3:1. Nevertheless, they sinned. They chose to believe the lies of the enemy instead of the truth of God. Why? Why did Eve put her faith in the lies of the serpent instead of God’s truth? Yes, the serpent was crafty but I think it has more to do with how Eve viewed the tree. It says she, “saw that the tree was good for food,” and, “a delight to the eyes,” Gen. 3:6. Eve viewed the tree as a delight not as a means to death. She viewed it as pleasure instead of pain. God told her that if she ate, she would die. Yet, she eats.

Thousands of years later, we still commit the same sin. God tells us not to do something because it is sin and sin leads to death, but we do it anyway. We still choose the lies of the world, the lies of the devil, instead of God’s truth. We do it because it seems delightful or may bring us momentary pleasure but we are left with guilt, heartache, and pain. We have to change our perspective on sin. We put new labels on old sins to make it seem less lethal. We say things like, “I’m struggling with…” or “I messed up again.” We must call it what it is, sin. Don’t get me wrong, I have things that “I’m struggling with,” we all do. The bible says that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. But we must call sin, sin. The good news is we don’t have to live in a continuous sin cycle, we can be free from the chains of sin.

So how do we break free? How do we escape slavery to sin?

We confess.

Romans 10:9 says, “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED.” This is how we are saved from eternal damnation, but how do we free ourselves from our sin cycle?

We confess.

James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be HEALED.”

We confess to God and we are saved, we confess to one another and we are healed. We are not meant to do this life alone, we need each other. We need people in our lives that we can confess our sins too. I’m not talking about someone you confess to and they say, “Yeah, me too buddy! Join the club.” I’m talking about Christian brothers and sisters that will hold us accountable to our sin. People that love us enough to tell us when we are wrong and to call out our sin.

The problem many face is that we don’t like to be called out. We don’t want people to know our dirty secrets. We fear the rejection of man more than the wrath of God. This too comes from a problem with our perspective on sin. If someone warned us that we were about to do something potentially deadly, like walk into traffic or jump out of a plane with no parachute, we would thank them for saving our lives. If someone calls out our sin we tell them to mind their own business. We must view sin as the poison it is and be thankful for the people that God has put in our lives to help us overcome it.

My prayer for you reader, is that if you are struggling with sin you would confess it and be free. You don’t have to live with that guilt and shame from some hidden sin anymore. Confess and you will be healed. Break free from the bondage that is sin.

 

 

 

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Quoted from a coffee cup

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 ESV

I have seen the above verse on coffee cups, t-shirts, bumper stickers, key chains, pretty much anywhere you can stick a verse, I’ve seen this one. It’s a great verse. It inspires you to strive forward, to keep pushing, to go for gold! But is that what Paul really intended when he wrote it? If we look at the verses just before, Paul is talking about being content instead of personal achievement.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

Paul is saying because of the strength that God has given him (and us too!) he can face any circumstance, good or bad, and be content. Keep in mind, Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. He wasn’t on a mountain top, staring at a beautiful sunset, he was in jail! To me, that statement is way more powerful than, “You can do it!” It says that no matter what you are going through, God is with us through it all. He may not bring us out of the storm like we want, but He will bring us through it and He will be by our side every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.P.G.

Some of my favorite video games I’ve ever played were RPG’s, or “role playing games.” The reason I liked them so much is because you could play any type of character you wanted. You could be a dashing hero always there to save the day, a villainous raider taking whatever you want by force, or somewhere in between. Another great aspect of RPG’s is that if you didn’t like your character or a decision you had made, all you have to do is erase it and start over or load a previous save where your actions had not yet taken place. This works only in the realm of video games. When we try to apply this same logic in our real lives, we can find ourselves in a loop of regret, disappointment, frustration, guilt, and may even fall into depression. We don’t have the option of loading a previous save in the real world, or simply erasing our past mistakes. We don’t have that kind of power, but God does.

“What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

God has the power to change our characters. He can take us from villainous raider to dashing hero. He can hit the reset button. But how? The bible says, “…those who become Christians become new persons.” So how do we do this? How does someone become a Christian? Much like an epic main quest from one of my favorite RPG’s, a person can travel down “Romans Road.”

Romans Road is a journey through the book of Romans in the bible that lays out a path to salvation through Jesus Christ. As you travel along Romans Road you will discover who needs salvation (Romans 3:23), why we need salvation (Romans 6:23), how God provides us with salvation (Romans 5:8), how we can receive salvation (Romans 10:9), and the results of our salvation (Romans 5:1).

The amazing thing about this is the fact that once you walk Romans Road, it isn’t the end of the story but the beginning. This is when your epic tale of salvation, your trust in Christ truly starts. You are free then to explore the side quests of Christianity.

If you have never walked down Romans Road, if you are still living in your past mistakes, still living with the shackles of sin in your life, I urge you to trust in Jesus. Let God remove the guilt, the shame, and the regret. We can’t do this on our own, only God, through faith in Jesus Christ can. Let Him hit the “reset” button on your life, and start anew!

 

Resolution

“For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

 

Looking back at 2016, I’ve had highs and lows. Spiritual mountaintops and darkened valleys. Like David in the Psalms, I had moments where I praised God aloud for His grace and mercy and then screamed out, “Where are You?!” I’ve had moments where I asked myself, “How did I get here? How did I end up in this situation?” If I were to be completely honest, those times of darkness were often times I turned away from God, thinking I knew better than He did, and trying to do life on my own program. But one thing always brought me back around. One emotion or concept. One feeling, love. The bible says in 1 John 4:8 that God IS love. When I was down and out, feeling blue and sorry for myself, there was always someone there to love me through it. Someone to sit me down and speak truth to my life, not anger or hatred, but love and truth. I thank God for the people He has placed in my life. People of strong faith, people to keep me accountable, people to love me. I’ve seen what my life looks like without the love of God and His people in it and it is not a pretty picture. That is why my new year’s resolution is 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.” I’ve allowed myself to drift into the cares of this world for too long, forgetting what true love looks like. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT.  God is love. There is no clearer picture of that than Jesus Christ on the cross. That is true love.

 

 

 

 

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.

Withdrawn

“However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.” 2 Chronicles 32:31 NLT

 

As I look through some of my recent journal entries, one word seems to be popping up in almost all of them, distant. Distant from friends and family (mainly because I live in a different country) but also distance from God. I don’t feel as close to Him as I have in the past. It has been weighing on me for a few weeks now.

This morning I had a few minutes before I had to take my son to school, so I decided to read a chapter. I have been on a journey through the entire bible and have made it up to 2 Chronicles. The book is recapping all the Kings, good and bad, that have ruled in Judah and Israel. Hezekiah had put into place some religious reforms to bring the people back to the Lord. As I read about the success of Hezekiah, the chapter closed with the verse above. The last part of the verse is what really hit me, “…God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.” In the ESV version of the bible it says, “God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.” That’s exactly how I have felt lately, left to myself. But as I prayed and really tried to look at this verse, God gave me a different perspective. It says that ambassadors came to ask about all the remarkable events that had happened. I believe that God left him to himself to see what he would say in regards to the miracles that God had done in his life. Would he give God the glory, or would he try and take credit for it.

As I reflect on this verse, I can’t help but be humbled by what God has done in my own life. The miracles He has worked in me, the gifts He has given me, His grace and love.  The truth is that without Jesus in my life, I can do no good. The only “good” is what Jesus does through me, when I allow His living and active word to change me and work through me. When I stop trying to take the glory for His works and just thank Him for all He has done for me. What about you? Are you having a season of “withdrawal”? Maybe this is a good time to stop and look at all the things God has done for us. His miracles, His grace, His love, His mercy. I know for me it was. This one short verse stopped me in the middle of a selfish “all-about-me” season in my life. A “test” to see what was truly in my heart.

I pray that you will give yourself fully to Jesus Christ. Hold nothing back from Him. Give every area, the good, the bad, and the ugly over to Him. Trust me, He can handle it.