Archive for July, 2008
Thursday, July 31st, 2008
When most of us became Christians, we had a period that most people would refer to as being on fire for God. We tried hard to leave our old ways behind us, we wanted to learn more about God, and we wanted to change the world. However, over time, most of us lost that feeling, and slowly slipped back into what we used to be. It probably wasn’t an overnight fall, but a gradual slipping. See, it’s very easy to lose something slowly. If we’re not constantly trying to follow God; if we neglect our personal Bible studies, and if we skip church, it’s going to be hard to stay on the path.
Peter writes about this in 2 Peter 1:5-9. He lists a lot of qualities that we need to have, like godliness and love, and says if we don’t have these, we’re blind, and we’ve forgotten that we saved from our sins. Without those qualities in our lives, we’re no different than what we were before we were saved. We need to constantly be trying to be better Christians and be closer to God. Do we try to have these qualities in our lives all the time, regardless of how hard it is? Or do we only do so when it’s convenient?
Paul speaks a lot about resisting his old nature. Even though we’re new creations, we still have to resist falling back into our old habits. It’s hard work sometimes, but with God’s help we can change. If we’re still doing all the things that we did before we were saved, we need to take time to pray and seek God’s help to change. How about us? Are we all very different from what we were before we were saved?
It’s possible, however, to still do all the right things, and still have forgotten God. Revelations 3, where the churches are being assessed, criticizes one of the churches for having forgotten its first love. This church followed the letter of the law. They wouldn’t tolerate evil in their midst. They endured so much from the world. It sounds like they were a strong church, but they had forgotten their first love. They had gotten so focused on doing things that they forgot the reason why they were doing them. We need to be sure that not only are we doing the right thing, but we need to be sure that God is the focus, not what we’re doing.
So, looking at our own lives, do we still feel as on fire for God as we did when we started? Are we still trying to change the world around us for God? If not, we need to take a good hard look at ourselves, and come back around to Him. It’s hard to keep focused sometimes, but with His help, we can.
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Everybody goes through rough times in their lives. Times when the walls seem to be closing around them, nobody is for them, and everything seems to be falling apart. Christians are not immune to this, even you are living the way God calls you to live, eventually you will go through a time of suffering. But, when you are suffering for following God’s will, remember that God has a plan, and that things will work out for good.
Peter talks a lot about suffering in 1 Peter 3:13-17. He says that if we are suffering, we are blessed for it. Don’t be afraid of what is going on around you and what is happening in your life. Make sure that you are following God’s will and focus on Him; don’t focus on your problems. It’s hard not to focus on all our own problems, but God doesn’t want us to drown in our despair. He wants us to seek Him. Also make sure that you are suffering for doing the right thing, rather than suffering for sinning. If you’re suffering for doing the wrong thing, it’s meaningless.
Peter goes on to say that we need to bless those who are causing us to suffer. We’re not to hate them or try to get even, or repay their evils with more evils. What does that accomplish? If we hurt them because they’ve hurt us, are we any better than they are? We’ll just bring in more suffering on ourselves in the end, and like Peter says, it’s better to suffer for doing the right thing, than the wrong thing. Peter also says, in verse 14, that we’re not to be afraid of those who are threatening us. Trust God, and do His will. Remember that through your suffering, you may be able to lead another to Christ because of what you’ve been through. When Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they led their own jailor and his family to Christ. Pray for those who are causing your pain, and try to lead them to God.
In closing, Peter goes on to say, in verse 18, that Jesus suffered for doing God’s will. Not only did He suffer, but the way He suffered was more than any of us will ever have to bear. Because He suffered for us, we have an eternity with God in heaven, rather than an eternity of suffering. We shouldn’t forget this. Jesus went through more than any of us ever will, and yet He stayed focused and finished His task.
It’s hard sometimes to stay with God when things are getting rough. It’s even harder to not hate the people who are making things rough for us. But, with God’s help, if we’re doing God’s will, we can get through these tough times, and come out the better for it.
Sunday, July 27th, 2008
The world we live in loves tearing people apart. It doesn’t really matter who or what it is, if it can be hurt or made to look bad, it’ll do it. But, there’s one type of person that the world really loves to hurt and see fall, its Christians. Because of this, we as Christians need to be careful of our appearance, not only to the world, but to other Christians as well.
Peter, in 1 Peter 3:16, speaks of this. He says that we need to have a good conscience, so when people slander us or say things about us, people will realize that they are lying. In order to have that kind of a good conscience, people need to see us as who we are. We can’t lie, or sin, or anything that’s going to make us look unchristian. If we do sin, as all of us eventually will, we need to confess it, and not try to bury it. Look what happens when people try to bury things in their past, when people make accusations against them, all those things come right back in their faces.
People are always looking to tear down leaders in the church, so leaders need to be above reproach so that there is nothing for people to use against them. Paul repeatedly says that leaders in the church need to be above reproach, making it one of the primary qualifications for a pastor or deacon. People judge churches by their pastor and deacons and other leaders. If they aren’t good, people question the entire church. If people can’t trust a pastor or a deacon, what does that say about the church as a whole? If you’re a leader in a church, you need to make sure that your life is clean and that there is no sin, hidden or visible, that people could fault you for if they knew about it.
Not only do we have to be careful of our own actions, we need to be careful about what we do with other people. Hanging out with poor company not only can affect our own spiritual lives by putting us in situations where we may get tempted, but it also destroys our own reputation as well. I’m not saying to ignore the unsaved, but I am saying to be careful about what situations you let yourself get into with them. Don’t put yourself in a place where you will be tempted to do something wrong. You may think that you’re helping them or witnessing to them, but all you’re really doing is setting yourself up for a fall.
Living above reproach in this day and age is hard. But, with God’s help we can do it. Find another Christian to be accountable to, and together, make your walk with God better. Take a good hard look at yourselves. Is there anything in your life that makes people wonder if you’re a Christian? Is there any sin in your life you haven’t dealt with?
Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Authority is one of those words that most of us only like if we’re the ones with it. Most of us aren’t too fond of submitting to someone else’s authority. However, in this life, we all spend more time under someone else’s authority than we do in authority over other people, so we may as well get used to it. There are three main figures that are in authority over us.
First, our parents are in authority over us. Not only is it one of the Ten Commandments, but Paul himself comments on it in Ephesians 6:1 saying that children need to obey their parents because it’s the right thing to do. Now, if one’s parents ask us to do something that’s directly contrary to Scripture, we don’t need to listen, but I’m pretty sure most of us aren’t going to be in that situation. What parents say to do doesn’t always make sense, but keep in mind that they’ve lived a lot longer than us, and have a lot more experience in life than we do. Now, some of you are probably wondering about what happens when we move out of our parents home. Well, they’re not in authority over us as much, but rather they deserve our respect and honor, and we definitely should seek their advice with the tough stuff. Because they’ve had more experience than we do, it’s better to learn from their experience and their mistakes than to do it all ourselves.
The second authority that we need to submit to is the government. We live in a day and age where the taxes are high and the government isn’t popular. However, Peter makes it clear in 1 Peter 2:13 that we need to submit to every ordinance of the government. Again, if the ordinance is contrary to Scripture, we don’t have to obey it, but aside from that one exception, we need to be the model citizens. We need to follow all the laws, even the ones that seem stupid or unfair. A lot of people these days complain about taxes, and talk about how they’re getting around them. Yeah, taxes may seem high or unreasonable, but even Jesus said we had to pay taxes. Are you wiser than He? It’s sad to look at the news, and see Christians going to jail for tax evasion because they don’t believe that they have to pay them. Is this the witness that we want to give the rest of the world?
Not only are we to honor the laws, we need to respect the leaders of our country as well. Regardless of who wins the election this year, we need to respect them and show them honor. If we’re constantly digging up bad press on the candidates, are we really any better than they are? It’s one thing to point out their politics that go against what God says, but to compare them to Satan, the antichrist, and so on? Is that really even that accurate? Yeah, the other side always ridicules our candidates, but we should be the bigger person, and be better than that.
The final authority, in more ways than one, is God. We need to obey God. It sounds trite; perhaps overused, but it needs to be remembered. Obeying God is much more than just following the letter of what the Bible says. Obeying God needs to be done happily, with the right attitude. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter. Look at the Pharisees. The followed the law that God gave the Israelites to the letter. They went beyond that, and did even more. But, they did it for themselves, and looked down on anyone who wasn’t as “good” as they were. Even though they were doing all the right things, they were doing them for all the wrong reasons. When you obey God, you need to do it not only because it’s what you’re supposed to do, you need to do it happily. Otherwise, it’s meaningless. And no, God’s laws aren’t always easy to follow. Loving your enemy, and doing good to those who curse and hate you is quite hard. But, with God’s help we can do it.
In the end of it all, if we obey God, we’re going to obey the government and our parents and anyone else who has authority over us. Pray for God to give us all the strength we need to do so.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
When most of us became Christians, we were living sinful lives. Sure, most of us weren’t mass-murderers or serial killers, but there was definitely obvious sin in our lives. When we become Christians, we need to leave the sin of our past behind us, and change.
Paul teaches in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, that when we’re in Christ, we’re a new creation, and our old selves are passed away. This means that we’re essentially a new person after we become Christians. We don’t do the same things that we used to do. Rather than focusing on US, we should be focusing on God and others. We should be able to look back, and see a definite change between who we are now and who we were before we got saved. More importantly though, the people around us should be able to see that there has been a change in our lives, otherwise, what’s the point? If the unsaved people around us can’t see a difference in our lives, are we really changed from who we were?
Ephesians 4:22-24 teaches that we need to lay aside our old life, which has been corrupted by sin, and take on our new life, that is created in righteousness and truth. We need to leave all the past behind us. All our sins, all our old fleshly desires, everything that causes us to sin or lead us into temptation needs to be dropped and forgotten. For some of us, those raised in a Christian home, that’s not too hard to do. But for the ones of us who got saved later in life, it’s a lot harder. How many of us still hold onto our old ways of living? How many of us still follow the same patterns of sin, even though we’re saved and have been for a while?
There is one thing though that we shouldn’t just leave behind. If we hurt someone or did something wrong to someone before we got saved, we need to make it right. We need to face the consequences of our sins, even though we’ve been forgiven by God for them, there are still earthly consequences for them. So, apologize to those your have hurt, and pay whatever consequences you must for anything wrong you did. Not only is it what we’re supposed to do as Christians, but it’s a large step in leaving the past behind.
Just because we’re saved and trying to change our lives doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy. We need to constantly stay on guard to make sure that we don’t start to fall back into our old patterns and sins. We can’t do it by ourselves, we need to pray that God gives us the strength so we can change and stay changed. It’s easy to change for a day or two, but it’s much harder to make a change that lasts. Pray that God helps us all make a change and stick with it.
Sunday, July 20th, 2008
We’re almost done working our way through the book of James. In the last chapter, James spends time talking about the power of prayer, how Christians are supposed to treat one another, and the folly of riches. It’s a wrap-up for the entire book.
James begins in James 5 by condemning the rich men who are so focused on themselves and their wealth that they’ve ignored everything else around them. These rich men took advantage of their workers in order to make more riches. James condemns them, saying that in the last days, all their riches would mean nothing, and that they will be punished for all their sins. People can live evil lives for a while with seemingly no consequences, living a life that most people wish they had, but in the end, they have to suffer the consequences. Just because it doesn’t seem like you’re paying any consequences for the sin in your life doesn’t mean that there are none. Sometimes it takes a while. Is it really worth living for a moment of fun that you’re going to be paying off for the rest of your life?
James continues, and talks about the people in the church, giving them instructions on how to live with one another. He says not to grumble against our brothers (and sisters) in the Lord. If we have a problem with one of them, we need to go to them in love and tell them, not talk behind their back. We are also told, in James 5:16, that we need to confess our faults to one another. We need other believers to hold us accountable for our sins. It’s easier to stop sinning when our friends in the church know we have an issue. They can pray for us, as we pray for them.
James then says, in James 5:19-20, if we see another Christian sinning that we need to confront him, for by doing so, we save him from Death, and hide his sins. When we are sinning, sometimes we can’t see it, or don’t want to see it, and need someone to get our attention. While our first instinct is to lash out at them, we need to realize that what we are doing is wrong, and that they are just trying to help us.
In James 5:12, it says not to swear by any oath because our yes should be yes and our no should be no. What he’s saying is that we should be telling the truth all the time, we shouldn’t need to swear an oath in order to make people believe us. Throughout the Bible, God makes it incredibly clear that lying is evil and that He hates it. Why, then, do we lie?
The final point that James makes in this book is that we need to be cheerful. Even if we’re sick, or if our lives aren’t going the way we want them to, we need to keep praying and praising God. It’s hard a lot of the time, especially if we’re sick, but being cheerful and praying makes things a lot easier. It helps even more if you have other Christians around you, praying and being cheerful. We need to be patient as well, James says to look at the life of Job for an example. Even when everything around him was going wrong, he stayed true to God. We need to do the same. It may seem like God has forgotten us, but He hasn’t. Rather, we should ask ourselves this: have we forgotten Him? Pray without ceasing, even when things are going great, make sure you’re doing what God is calling you to do, and never forget about your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Thursday, July 17th, 2008
Life is short. Seems like a cliché, but it’s accurate. People are always planning what they’re going to do with their lives. They talk about their dreams, where they want to go, what they want to be, and where they’re going to retire. Some people talk about doing things for God, but most only think of themselves and what they want. They have this twisted idea that God wants them to be happy, so they live their lives for themselves, and wonder why they’re in debt and wonder why nothing seems to be working out the way they thought it’d be. They forget that God is in control, and that He gives and takes away.
James wrote a bit about this in James 4:13-17. He says that we shouldn’t be making far off plans into the future based on a whim, because we don’t know how long our lives are. We could die tomorrow, and all of our plans would be in vain. James says that we should instead say that if the Lord wills, we will do this or that. We need to pray and find God’s will before we make far reaching plans in our lives. Otherwise, we won’t be living in God’s will, and we will eventually end up in pain. It’s easy to turn to God when our own personal life plans fall apart, but had we been walking with God the entire time, going where He leads us, things probably wouldn’t have gotten so far out of control. Look at Jonah. He took matters into his own hands, and everything for him was so much worse than if he had just obeyed the first time. The Israelites as a people in the Old Testament are another good example of what happens. They all made their own plans whenever their lives were going well, but inevitably it turned into a disaster for them that cost them so much.
Looking back at what Jesus taught, we see in the parable about the rich fool that Jesus taught this as well. The rich man built his grain towers so that he could make a larger profit, but he dies before they could be completed. The rich man didn’t know that his life was going to end that night. Jesus said that this happens to people who stores up things for themselves rather than for God. God deserves everything that we could ever give Him. Who are we to only call on God in our times of trouble, but ignore Him when life is good? If we try to walk away from God, He’s going to do something to get our attention, and most of the time; it’s pretty painful for all involved. Isn’t it so much easier to just find where God is leading us and go, rather than trying to do what we want?
Not only is it foolish to live our lives the way we want, it’s also sinful. James says, in James 4:17, that he that knows to do good, but doesn’t do it, its sin. There are two ways to take that. First way is that if we see something good that we can do, but we don’t do it, then we’re sinning. The second way to take it is in context with the rest of the chapter. In that way, it’s saying that if we don’t follow God’s will, we’re sinning as well. Personally, I believe that both views are equally valid. If we see a chance to do good, and don’t do it, then we’re sinning, and if we ignore or don’t seek God’s will in our life, then we’re sinning as well.
A lot of people who aren’t living in God’s will, and suffering the consequences of it, try to use Romans 8:28 to make themselves feel better. It says “All things work together for good for those who TRUST IN GOD and are CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE”. They generally take the first half of the verse when things aren’t going well for them as an excuse. Most of the time, these people are having issues in their lives because they missed the second part of the verse. If we’re not doing what God wants us to, things aren’t going to work out for good.
Seeking God’s will is a critical part of our lives. It doesn’t mean that our lives will be smooth and easy, look at Paul’s life for example, but we will be much happier in the end. Do we seek His will in what we do, or do we just do what we want?
Tuesday, July 15th, 2008
A major problem in churches today is the amount of fighting and squabbling between the members of the church. We all worship God, but can’t seem to get along with each other. This has been a problem since the beginning of the church. James spoke about it in James 4.
He says that the wars and fighting among us all comes from the lusts inside us. We all want what we want, and we don’t let go. Envy and pride will destroy any relationship, and do even more damage in the church. Our lusts and envying are in vain, as he says in James 4:2 that we lust, but don’t have it, that we desire, but cannot get, and that we fight but we don’t have what we’re fighting for. Basically, we’re trying so hard to get what we want, but in the end, we don’t have it. What’s the point? We should all forget about ourselves a lot of the time, and do what God calls us to do. As Christians, we’re all on the same side, we shouldn’t be fighting among each other.
James takes it a bit farther than just churches and people though. He says in James 4:3 that it affects our relationship with God as well, saying that we ask, but don’t receive because we’re asking from our lusts, and not from a desire to do God’s will. We can’t be on good terms with both the world and with God; we have to choose one or the other. We need to have a humble spirit when we ask things of God, and make sure we’re not asking for things out of envy or out of our lusts. Otherwise, God will not listen.
So, what kind of person does God give to? James 1:6 says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. We need to not only stay apart from the evil of the world, but we need to be humble about it too. As soon as we start making a big deal about how righteous we are, we lose it. We need to submit ourselves to God. James 4:10 says to humble ourselves in the sight of God, and He will lift us up.
It’s hard resisting envy and lust, especially when we think that someone around us has something better than we do, but we need to resist. God will give us strength to resist if we ask Him. Think of all the trouble envy has caused throughout the years. So much trouble in the church and in the world could have been avoided if people had just backed down and prayed. How many churches split over something stupid like the color of a carpet? Do we really want something like that on our conscience?
Sunday, July 13th, 2008
Everyone knows someone with a temper. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, but if something goes wrong, he immediately starts yelling or shouting. He doesn’t listen to what the other people around him are saying since he’s convinced that he’s right, and they’re all wrong. This kind of person is a horrible example of a Christian, but, sadly, there are a lot of Christians who act like that.
James writes a lot on this subject. In James 1:19, he tells us that we need to be fast to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. Rather than just making assumptions and exploding when people around us say or do things that we don’t like, we need to hear them out first before we start saying anything. How many of us have been yelled at or criticized for something we didn’t even do because the other person wouldn’t hear us out? If you have, you probably weren’t happy about it, so why would you turn around and do that to someone else?
James goes on to say in James 1:26, that any man who seems to be religious, but doesn’t control his tongue, he’s deceiving himself, and his religion is in vain. If we are truly religious or saved, our lives will reflect that, and we won’t have outbursts like that. If there is no change, do we truly believe in God and have faith? James says, in James 2:6, faith without works is dead. If we truly have faith in God, then our actions are going to demonstrate that faith.
Later on, in James 3, he criticizes people who worship God, and then turn around and curse their fellow men. He uses an analogy of a fountain, asking if pure water and bitter water come out of the same fountain. The answer, obviously, is no. His point is why then should our mouths put out good and bad? If we’re saved, it should be good; it shouldn’t vary from situation to situation.
It’s hard to control our tongues, but we need to learn how. How many friendships or relationships have we damaged because we haven’t controlled our tongues? How much worse have we made situations because we’ve exploded at someone because we didn’t like what they were saying?
Thursday, July 10th, 2008
The world is very quick to judge people based on the way they look or on what they have. If you don’t wear a certain type of clothing or if you’re poor, you’re going to be looked down on. A lot of times, this attitude carries over to the church as well. It’s sad that churches get like this, because all it does is push away the people who need God the most.
This was a problem back in James’ day as well. James 1:1-4 criticizes people who would show special favor to the rich people who came to their churches while ignoring the poor members of the church. James criticizes them, saying that by showing favoritism like that, they were sinning. As Christians we need to love our neighbor as ourself, regardless of how much money they have or how they look. Otherwise, we’re no better than the rest of the world.
James wasn’t content though to just say that it was a sin. He went on to say in James 1:10 that if we obey the entire law, but break one bit, we’re guilty of breaking all the law. In the context of the chapter, he’s saying that by showing favoritism to them, we’re no better than they are. All of us, Christian or not, have sinned, and consequently, we’re no better people than they are in God’s eyes. Don’t look down on someone because you feel you are better than they, and don’t treat someone better than another because they look better or have more money than the other one does.
Looking back earlier in the New Testament, we can see that Jesus taught this as well. He ate with and taught people, regardless of whether or not they were godly or not. He taught the type of people that the religious leaders of the time looked down on. The tax collectors, harlots, and poor – all the groups of people that everybody hated He made His ministry. He didn’t show favoritism to anyone. The world was His ministry. We need to remember that, and do it ourselves.
Too often churches today tend to look down on people that don’t look nice or aren’t saved or are poor. We need to come alongside them, and lead them towards Christ. No, they’re not perfect, but are we? We need to hate the sin, but love the sinner. How can we expect them to stop sinning, or look better, or just be better all the way around if no one shows them how?
» You are currently browsing the ChristianPlace Hub
for July, 2008.
Welcome to ChristianPlace!
Here we believe in a literal view of the Bible, and believe that it is the inerrant
Word of God.