Tag Archives: love

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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Tomb Raider

“And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” Mark 5:9 ESV

 

When Jesus stepped out of His boat in the country of the Gerasenes, He was immediately met by a man that had been living in tombs. A man that the bible says had, “an unclean spirit” (Mark 5:2). This man had been crying out and cutting himself with stones (Mark 5:5). When the demon-possessed man seen Jesus, he fell to his knees and proclaimed Him, “Son of the Most High God”. After a short introduction, Jesus cast the demons out of the man, making him sane again.

While most of us have probably never been demon-possessed, some of us have been outcast. Much like the man living in tombs, some of us have been rejected, ostracized, an maybe even cut ourselves. Some of us live in a “tomb” of loneliness. But we don’t have to stay there. Jesus approaches each one of us with love and kindness. He wants a relationship with us. Jesus didn’t heal this man then give him a list of dos and don’ts. Jesus simply asked the man his name, healed him, and told him to go and tell his friends about all the Lord had done for him. This is what Jesus wants for each of us as well, to step out of our “tomb”, build a relationship with Him, and tell others about His great love.

If you’re reading this and struggling, living in your own personal “tomb,” dealing with things all on your own, I beg you, give Jesus a chance to know you. Allow Him to cast out your demons and heal you. God loves you.

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15 ESV

 

 

 

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

What is Love

Baby, don’t hurt me! Sorry, I couldn’t help it. When we think of love, often a song or movie will pop into our heads. We may think of our spouse or children, our dogs and cats, or pizza. But what is love? The bible talks a great deal about love. 1 John 4 says that, “God IS love.” We think of love as in two people who love each other. I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family! But God’s love is different. His love is unconditional. Most people know John 3:16, even if you don’t believe in God or have any church background, you have probably seen it on a sign at a sporting event. John 3:16 NLT says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” This is a verse that I have heard and read so many times that I just tend to gloss over it. But here lately, God has been trying to open my eyes to what love truly is, His love. John 3:16 has a couple words that really stand out to me. It says, “God so loved the WORLD,” it also says, “EVERYONE”. WORLD, EVERYONE, those words are powerful when you think about it in the sense of God’s love. 1 John 4:10 NLT says, “It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” It’s not that we loved God, but He first loved us. Before we loved Him, He loved us. When we were still lost to sin, He loved us. Before we acknowledged Him as Lord, He loved us. When we didn’t even believe that He existed, He loved us. Even when we are actively rebelling against Him, He loves us. God loves the worst sinner just as much as the He loves the most evangelical preacher. Hates the sin, loves the sinner. That’s what the Good News is, God’s love. Before Jesus Christ, we were dead to sin. Doomed. But God loved us. He SO LOVED us that He sent His Son, Jesus, to take our place. Instead of us being nailed to a cross bleeding and humiliated, God sent His only Son so that we could have life and have it abundantly! He did this not only for the “good people” of the world, as if there were any, but He did this for EVERYONE. The drug addicts, the liars, the drunks, the sexually immoral, murderers, and thieves….everyone. God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, not just the “acceptable” sins, all sins, so that we may have eternal life in Him. That is the Good News. God offers a gift, a gift of love, true love, all you have to do is accept it.

Say something….

“Many people, including some of the Jewish leaders, believed in Him. But they wouldn’t admit it to anyone because of their fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.”

John 12:42-43 NLT

As much as I hate to admit it, this passage rings just as true for me, and I’m sure many others, today just as much as it did back when it was written. No, I’m not worried that the Pharisees are going to throw me out of the synagogues. But I am worried that if I start speaking up about God or my beliefs in Jesus that many of the people, who’s opinions for some strange reason I strongly care about, are going to think less of me. Why? Why do we care so much for the opinions of man? So many times I will be hanging out with friends or loved ones and some kind of conversation about religion or church will pop up and I just remain silent. I can hear God telling me to say something, nudging me to speak up, and more often than I would like to admit, I just shrug my shoulders or shake my head. Why is it so hard to speak up and spread the Good News? I mean, that’s the whole reason we are here isn’t it? Jesus Himself said in John 13 after He had washed the disciples’ feet, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” Jesus said to do as I have done to you, and I’m pretty sure He wasn’t scared to talk about God. I think most of us have the same problem as the Jewish leaders that were afraid to admit their belief when Jesus was still walking the earth, we love human praise more than the praise of God. We love to hear someone tell us we’re doing a good job or well done! And sadly, when we start witnessing to people about God, the chances are that we are not going to hear those words. Which brings me back to my original question, why do we care? Why do we care what people think? As true followers of Jesus Christ, we know where true blessing comes from. Jesus said in John 13:17, “You know these things-now do them! That is the path of blessing.” If we truly follow Jesus, truly believe Him and His word, we have to start saying something. We have to speak up for Jesus. I myself am tired of taking the easy road, looking back on past conversations and wishing I would have said something differently.  Think about the mess we would be in today if Jesus had chosen not to speak up. He knew what the outcome would be if He listened to God and He did it anyway. Knowing full well that His actions would ultimately lead to His own death, He chose to still speak up for God and die on the cross for our sins. Why? Because that was the very reason He came, to save our souls.

“All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And if they follow me, the Father will honor them. Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from what lies ahead’? But that is the very reason why I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” John 12:26-28 NLT

The passage says His soul was deeply troubled. I’m sure that if we knew that our actions were going to lead to beatings, torture, and a painful and humiliating death on the cross, most of us would probably not do them. But Jesus did. He knew the outcome and He did it anyway. He did it so that we may have eternal life. So that we could be saved. He did it, not just as a get out of hell card, but so we may have a truly joyful and abundant life. Jesus loves you, and if you will truly give your life over to Him you can experience the blessings that God intended for each and every one of us.

Murder in the first degree

“Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart.” -John

Here lately whenever I’m having my “quiet time” doing a bible study, it seems that the theme of the study always goes back to the same thing…forgiveness. Maybe it’s because I went through a tough season in my life were I honestly felt like God could not forgive some of the things I had done in the past (I would have been stoned in the streets if this were the Old Testament days) maybe it’s because of some of the things going on in my personal family life. I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, God is definitely trying to tell me something.

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants for you to do, and He will bless you for it.” 1 Peter 3:9 NLT

You see, I’ve held onto this grudge in my heart for weeks now. It plagues my thoughts, my dreams, my prayers, everything I do is tainted by this. It has caused me to slip away from God. To turn my thoughts from Him, to thoughts of hate, violence, and malice. While trying to find scripture that would help support me in my hate filled rage, I stumbled across a verse that made me rethink my whole perspective.

“Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.” 1 John 3:15 NLT

Murderer? Really? It’s amazing which verses stand out depending on what you’re going through or where you are in your walk with Christ. I have read Johns books numerous times but have never paid that verse any mind, until now.

“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen? And God Himself has commanded that we must love not only Him but our Christian brothers and sisters, too.” 1 John 4:21-22 NLT

God didn’t say we should “try” to love, He didn’t “recommend” we love, He COMMANDED it. God is love. God is mercy. God is grace. God is forgiveness. If we want to follow Christ’s example and be more like Him, we have to love one another, forgive one another no matter the pain that was caused.

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father WILL NOT FORGIVE YOUR SINS.” Matthew 6:14-15 NLT

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the hatred that filled my heart. I’m sorry for the violent thoughts that plagued my mind. I’m sorry. Two simple words that are often times the hardest to say. I’m sorry. Two words that have the power to completely change a relationship. I’m sorry. Two words that could mend a relationship that has been rocky for years, or maybe just a few weeks. I’m sorry.

As true Christians, we have to follow Christ’s example. If Jesus could forgive the people that were crucifying Him, WHILE THEY WERE CRUCIFYING HIM, I don’t see why we can’t forgive each other now. We don’t have a very long time on this earth, we shouldn’t spend the time we do have in hate and anger. There’s only one thing that matters and that is spreading the Good News. Showing Christ’s love to others. Finding the lost and help in bringing them closer to God. How can we show the love of God if we are bitter and angry with one another?

Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? Or perhaps someone that you need to apologize to?

“and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” Matthew 6:12 NLT