-Motivational Blog Posts To Encourage You To Stay On The Mainstream Path Of Faith-
The billowing waves roll over the deep
As the flux of waters hurdle me.
Pulling me under, the tides flip me around.
Terror overwhelms me. Which ways up? Which ways down?
My eyes and lungs fill with brine.
The thought of drowning comes to mind.
Uncontrollably tossed by the ocean’s torment,
I’m unable to release the grip of the current.
Not willing to go down without a fight,
I swim in the dark hoping to find light.
Allowing my hope to be my guide,
I’m able to find where the surface resides.
I gasp for air as I rise from the sea.
I have never been so thankful to breathe!
I scan the offing to find what is near.
Although it is dark, I see lights from the pier!
Relief rushes over me as I swim to shore
Leaving behind the control of the storm.
My hope in Christ now directs each stride.
No longer on emotions will I rely.
Slowly, but surely, I arrive at the shore.
I sit back and ponder the storm I endured.
Emotion-led choices had caused me to stray.
One moment on shore, next drifting away.
I was so caught up in all the emotion;
Wisdom was silenced by the commotion.
I now see the danger in life led by emotion;
They pull on heartstrings like a storm in the ocean.
No longer blind passion will lead me astray;
My hope in Christ will guide my way.
I hope you enjoyed my poem! I was inspired to write this poem when reading in my devotions about the reasons people make choices. Choices are most commonly made either for the sake of consequences or identity.
I can say from experiences in my own life, there are many choices that I have made either out of avoiding a consequence or out of fear of depleting my status. I think a great example is an advertisement! When I am asked to buy a product, the ad usually focuses on one of these two things.
“Want your hair to look great? Then you NEED to buy this product.”
“Don’t be at risk when buying car parts. Buy our car parts for the most reliability.”
“Need new eyewear? Our fashion designed glasses will make you look brand new!”
Okay, I obviously made these up, but I hope I get my point across. The market corners people, trying to make one feel the need to buy what they have. If one doesn’t buy, then they will either suffer the consequences or take damage to one’s identity score.
There is something to learn here for everyday life. The market tries to cause choices that are led by emotions. They want one to make a judgment call, not based on wisdom, but on one’s feelings.
I think the saturation of these emotion-led choices surrounding everyday life makes it a habit to practice this in situations that become dangerous. Often times, even in my own life, I make a decision based on how I feel instead of on what I know. This sadly leads to mistakes and sometimes even emotional pain.
I’ve made choices out of love, anger, or even fear that have caused me to ask myself, “Why didn’t I just think?”
We’ve all made mistakes like this before. These choices can hurt relationships, lead us off track of goals, and often times lead us astray from God. More often than not, listening to the voice of emotions is usually the selfish voice of our flesh.
(Jeremiah 17:9 KJV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Instead of look at ourselves as the focus of attention, we need to change focus. We need to lock our gaze upon Christ, who we as Christians find our identity.
If I’m going to make a decision, the consequence I should consider is: “Will this hurt my relationship with God?”
If I’m going to make a decision, the identity I should consider is Christ’s, NOT mine.
Let’s keep our focus on Christ as life faces us with decisions. I hope that this poem is an encouragement to us, and will cause us to remember for who we make our decisions.
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The word love has been skewed in today's culture. Anytime a word is overused, it is manipulated and taken out of context making the true meaning slowly fade away. The meaning and name of God have also been very skewed. It doesn't take an expert detective to find different beliefs on who or what or when God is. Take a hundred random people to answer some simple questions about God, I am quite positive that they're all going to be a little different, but many come to the same answer in some way. This is what makes the doctrine of the love of God so difficult to describe.
"God loves everyone and everything. He knows everything. He is a great protector for everyone." This is a very basic idea of what many will say about who God is or describe God. It's very simple, and I am not saying all of it is false, but it is not full. There is so much missing. Check out this website if you have the time by clicking here. That website talks about a poll taken in the US about people who say they believe in God. It's funny... mostly sad.... but a little funny... many who say they believe in God have a hard time answering questions about Him.
The point I am getting at is that mixed understandings of love + confusing beliefs in God = A HUGE PROBLEM! How can we truly say we know God loves if:
1) We can't define love.
2) We can't define God.
Do you see the issue? That's why I would urge you to read your Bible! Don't wait for the day to come when your pastor or priest or friend or neighbor decides to teach you this stuff! You need to take action! Be motivated to get edified by the word of God! We need to be willing to learn about God. What I teach you today, I want you to learn from! I do not want you to simply and blindly believe/apply what I say. LEARN from it.
AKA - take the knowledge I have gained and felt the desire to type out and go proof check it. Read your Bible. Buy the book I read. Study it out yourself. Please, don't blindly believe what I say. I did it for years myself, and I never want to do it again. Don't believe what a mere man has to say. Believe what God has to say. I will quote some scripture to back up my points to show that this is from the word of God, but I would encourage you to go and read these things yourself!
From the learning I received in D. A. Carson's book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, here are 5 aspects of God's love found in the Bible
PS: this is going to be long... Instead of quoting each verse, I will be leaving links to scripture at the end of each point for you to look up and study on your own.
1) God's Trinitarian Love
The love of God between the Father and the Son is the most unique love seen in the Bible. This kind of love is something that does not exist anywhere outside of the Triune God. It cannot be replicated, nor can it be fully comprehended. The Love Between God the Father and God the Son is the ultimate picture of God's love we should all long to mimic ourselves.
It is not only a love that is like Father and Son love but a love that was kept perfect through the obedience of Jesus to the Father. For example, a father will always love his son, but the son definitely senses the love differently when he obeys or disobeys. This is because, though punishment may be out of love, the love does not feel rewarding. Since Jesus kept the Father's commands perfectly, their unity of love was always perfect.
2) God's Creation + Provisional Love
God has what some would call "common love" for all things. This love is not one that is intimate and emotional, but a love that is a choice God has made. He chose to make all things and call them good, showing He had a love that was pleased with His creation. In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks of how God provides for Creation and having full control of providing for the animals. If He can provide for the birds and the lilies, how much more can He provide for humans, the ones made in God's very image?
God did not make the earth and immediately hate it. Yes, He does have sorrow for His creation because of what sin has caused, but that doesn't mean He has stopped loving. He still sends rain; God still provides food. God is still actively working in His creation though it is no longer in perfection. God has a love for His creation that does not rely on the creation's state of perfection. Thankfully, this is good news for us. Though we live in a fallen world, we can have faith God is still actively loving us.
3) God's Salvific Love
This is probably the most commonly understood love, yet it needs to be referred to. The God in His love granting salvation is the best news we as sinful humans can hear. Out of love, God sent His Son for the world. Out of love, God foreshadowed redemption for humankind in history. Out of love, God made a way of salvation through belief.
The hard part for many to understand is that this love, though it is shared will all men and women, is not acknowledged or experienced by all men and women. Sadly, God gives this loving gift and not only offers salvation but demands all to repent, yet some hearts stay in a dark place and never come to salvation. Some never really grasp and partake in the fullness of God's love. God makes it clear that His love is shown and there, but foolish men decline God's beautiful love offering. Do not be one of those men. Christ died for the sinners of this world, to sufficiently pay the price. Come to Christ and let the blood sacrifice sent out of love wash you clean!
1 John 2:2
4) God's Intimate Elective Love
God has a specific love that is shown only to the elect. This love is seen in ways it is not shown to the whole world. This is not to cause jealousy or to say I am better than someone else, but this is to show that God longs for an intimate and affectionate relationship with His children. Like His relationship with the Son, He longs for a close father-son relationship with His children. Christians have been adopted into the family of God; this was because God has set affection on His children.
They may sound unfair to the ones who are not the elect, but you must remember that God is not the author of sin. Man is! God is not responsible for man neglecting to belief. Man is responsible for their own actions. For God to set special affection on whom He pleases is something to rejoice over. As a Christian, I can say, "What!? Me? You have an intimate love for me?" How marvelous this truth is, and it makes me want to love and worship God all the more!
God chose to change my will, to draw me close, to save me! It was nothing I did or said; it was all God. I have all the reason to rejoice and serve Him with my life! I love Him because He decided to first love me! This is the greatest aspect of God's love that could happen to anyone, and if it has not happened to you, cry out for mercy that God would bestow such love on your life!
5) God's Directed Love In Obedience
Lastly, God's love is seen through the elect's obedience. We are to mimic Christ the way He kept God's commandment to stay in His love, so shall we. This love is specifically only for Believers to partake in, as Believers are the only ones that can do the will of God. As I mentioned above, when a child obeys his father, he feels that love because of his obedience. Similarly, when a child disobeys his father, he will not feel the father's love but the father's wrath. Though this wrath is out of love, it is felt in a much different way.
The Bible describes the relationship of a Christian and the heavenly Father in the same way. When we obey God, we stay under His will and under His love. When we disobey God, we come out from underneath the will and love of God and fall under His wrath. This is not an easy truth to accept, but it must be something we believe; otherwise, we would not keep the father's commandments. This gives us the initiative to keep His commands and obey Him as we should.
This does not mean we will lose salvation in disobedience. Once we are saved, we are secure in the Father's love. Like any good father, no matter how the child disobeys, the father will always love His child, and discipline him to come back onto the path they are to be on. This good news should motivate and encourage us to do as we are told in God's word.
With the five aspects of the love of God in mind, there are a few more things to keep in mind that I would like to go over.
The Love Of God Is Unified
Never should we ever look at the five aspects of God's love divided. God's love is not to be divided, for God's love is unified as one attribute. God does not have five different loves. God only has one love. This is so important to keep in mind because if we try to divide His love, we can fall into the danger of elevating the importance of one aspect of God's love. They are all equally important and must all be seen this way.
For example, I should not say God's elective love is more important than God's common creation + provisional love. Without God's creation + provisional love in place, God's elective love would not even exist. I cannot put too much weight on the other side either, for then we are making His intimacy less important than it truly is.
We also cannot say His Trinitarian love is most important because if God's love for His Son was more important than the love for creation and life on earth, He would not have made the sacrifice He did. Do you see why all of the aspects of God's love are completely unified? They all exist as one love. Without one aspect of these five loves, the others would cease to exist. They are all so important together.
This also brings up another important point I would like to make: we must understand each aspect of love individually to understand the love of God in its context. This is where Calvinists and Arminianists find many of their debates. Calvinist put more weight on God's intimate, elective love, forgetting that God's salvific love was for all. Arminianists put more weight on God's salvific love, forgetting the importance and beauty that is found in the affectionate love of God that is set upon the elect. Without having an understanding of the importance of both, we will start to pick sides and argue why one is right and one is wrong.
Many try to do the work backward by saying, "well, the Greek word used for love in this context is agape, so it must mean this." The problem with this is that instead of allowing the context to define the meaning of specific words, we allow the word to define the specific meaning of the context. Have you ever heard the term "Context is King"? This is a true statement we must take into account when understanding passages. The book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God speaks much more on the Greek words of love and solid reasons why it can be dangerous to allow one word to define a whole context, but I am not going to go into it now. You will have to get the book yourself to find out.
Here is one quick example to hopefully drive home my point. Some will say John 3:16 is not speaking of the world or loving the world; it is speaking of love that is meant for the elect. That would be using words to describe the context. Allowing the context to describe the words gives us the better understanding of the passages meaning. We also have to remember that trying to go back to the Greek and not speaking the Greek ourselves can be dangerous. We may not understand the reading like they would, and therefore draw conclusions that are not there.
With a holistic understanding of the word love, we can then know which aspect of the word love is being used in the context. This is why it is important to know what it means when the Bible says "God loves". Without understanding who God is or what love is, we cannot truly understand this statement.
God Is Transcendent, Omniscient, And Sovereign
When studying the doctrine of the love of God (or any doctrine for that matter), we must remember who we are studying. We are not studying a human! Do not make the same mistake I made for years, compare God's attributes to human attributes! This is so dangerous, and I would advise you to break that habit if you started it. When we view God and study Him, we must remember the context of who we are studying.
We must remember specifically these three attributes of God: He is transcendent, omniscient, and sovereign.
Transcendent - God is above and not bound by space or time
Omniscient - God is all-knowing
Sovereign - God is in full control of all things
Without remembering these three attributes of God, we will fall into the mindset of putting God in a box and making Him seem like a mere human.
With these three attributes of God in mind, we can then have a better understanding and perspective of who God is. When we look at God's love with this perspective, it makes it all the more glorious. Think about it: God, knowing all things, outside space and time, and in full control, decided to intimately interact with the world He created and LOVE! He showed love in the midst of all the sin. How amazing truly is our God? I can't even fathom how great He is! Though how imperfect and sinful I have been, God set affection on me!
The great news of this truth is that if God has chosen to love, He must have a reason. He did not choose to love without a plan, for He knows all things. If He knows all things, then God gives His love with a purpose! This is good news for all; God has a purpose for the loved creation He has. How amazing is that? Just think about how beautiful that truth truly is? Are you in awe of the doctrine of the love of God yet?
God's Love Is In Full Agreement With God's Wrath
Lastly, I want to mention the term compatibilism. Compatibilism refers to the truth that all attributes of God are in full agreement with one another. If they were not, then obviously we are misunderstanding something. God does not overstep or make mistakes; His very nature is immutable (unchangeable). Keeping this in mind, we must then realize that God's love and God's wrath are compatible with one another.
This is a sticky subject for many, and it does not agree with what the world believes about the love of God. The truth is, God's love is not greater than any one of His other attributes. He is perfectly loving, but God is also perfectly holy. And to protect God's holiness, He must be full of wrath and justice. Without God's punishing justice, His love would not align with His holiness. God must stay holy and hate sin.
Multiple times in the Psalms the hard words that God hates sinners are repeated. While many would say, "No, God doesn't hate; He only loves," they're wrong. God must stand firm on His justice. The good news is that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to make a way to be justified in the presence of God. While this is true, the bad news is that apart from Christ, you are under the wrath of God. Though God still shows love to the sinner that is at enmity with God, He cannot save one that is not justified.
God's love may be deep and wide, but it will not overstep the bounds of God's holiness.
A great example of how we see the compatibility of God's wrath and God's love is the cross. God poured out His wrath in order to bring redemption to pass. God's love was given through His Son when God's wrath was taken in our place. This is the picture of God's love and wrath colliding in complete unity. Through God's wrath, we see His loving hand working and vice versa.
If you've made it this far, thank you for actually taking the time to learn more about the love of God from what I have been taught through God's word and D. A. Carson's book. I hope and pray that I have been an encouragement to you, and that these words motivate you to learn more about the love of God. Whether that is through reading The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, studying the Word, or maybe somewhere else, I hope that you will go somewhere to deepen your faith through the studying of God and His attributes.
Thanks again for reading what God has laid upon my heart. I would appreciate it if you comment below on what you thought of this post, subscribe to my blog to get updated on new posts in the future, or hit one of the social media icons below. All the support helps my audience grow and the furthering of the teachings of the Bible.
If you haven't read the two post before this, I'd recommend reading them. It will give you understanding of where I am coming from and why I am writing this. Are You A Pharisee? & Are You A Pharisee Part I - What Did The Pharisees Believe -
WARNING: This is a 15-20 minute read, but it is 100% worth your time. I did not include any scripture in the blog post, but I will link from where in the Bible I am teaching. You can easily find all these passages from Biblegateway.com, which is a great source for Bible studying and reading the Bible online!
If you read The ending of Matthew 22 and the whole chapter of Matthew 23, that is where I will take most of my information. This is the last time the Pharisees try to test/tempt Jesus, and He silences them once and for all. He does not only answer their trick question, but he then preaches against them to the point that they council together and plot to kill him just a few chapters later! (Matthew 26:3-5)
When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, He did not sugarcoat anything, and He didn’t show too much grace. It’s actually tough to think this is how Jesus would speak to the false believers/false church even today. You know, the people that make a bad name for Christians by calling themselves Christians but live the opposite way or change the whole meaning of Christian in general? Yeah, that's kind of what the Pharisees did. They called themselves men of God, and most people thought they were great for their good works, but Jesus condemned them for how they lived!
If it made Christ upset, and He refuted them like this, does that mean we should do the same against today’s Pharisees? Jesus never went out of His way to pick a fight with the Pharisees, but in conversation with them He made it very clear that He disagreed and shared the gospel. I’m going to leave that question open to the reader’s discretion, because that’s not what this blog post is all about, but if you have thoughts on the topic, I’d love to hear them in the comment section below!
Anyways, back to what I am suppose to be writing about, from taking note of what Jesus had to say about the Pharisees, we can see what kind of people they were, and who lines up in this category today. This is a very serious topic; we need to be able to see the real and false identity of Christ today. Someone you know may be crossing the line of Pharisee and Christian; or even worse… it might be you.
Read the rest of the blog post to find out what the Bible and ultimately Jesus has to say about it.
Jesus Was Not A Pharisee! - 2 Proofs
First, we must point out the fact that Jesus was MUCH different than the Pharisees. Jesus was not some sort of a true Pharisee and He was not proud of the Pharisees either. This is so important to point out! There are some out there that would say Jesus came to show how to be a Pharisee, or that He was not condemning them but instructing them what to change. This is in complete contradiction of scripture.
I would recommend reading Matthew 12 if you are looking for an example. This chapter gives two proofs of how we know that Jesus is not a Pharisee.
One indication is that Jesus never goes to seek out the Pharisees; the Pharisees always come to Him. Remember, the Pharisees wasn’t a huge group back then. Some say there were less than 10,000 Pharisees in total at the time of Jesus. This means the groups of them that were spread out among the land would be spying on Jesus. Jesus never goes looking around for the Pharisee hang out spots; they always came to catch Him doing or allowing something they believed was wrong.
The reason I point this out is because we need to understand that Jesus didn’t come to earth to instruct the Pharisees. If He did, don’t you think He’d go find them and speak to them? He never went out of His way for them; they were always looking to get in His way. Praise God that these conversations are recorded though! Without them, we’d end up doing the same thing!
The second indication is the attitude and the mood you can feel in the accounts of the Pharisees and Jesus. They are never really happy encounters; they always come with a snobby, arrogant attitude, almost like a Ha! We Got You! kinda attitude. They also always left the conversation more defeated than when they entered, making them very angry, to the point of wanting to murder Jesus! This doesn’t sound like the type of people that want to learn from Jesus, and if Jesus being the Son of God and knowing all things wanted them to learn from Him, I am sure He would not have turned them away as many times as He did.
If Jesus came to be a Pharisee or to teach the Pharisees, He would have shown them much more grace, but instead Christ came making the first to be last and the last to be first.
After accepting the fact that Jesus is not a Pharisee and never encountered them out of His own endeavors, you can now understand each conversation out of a more solid perspective. The Pharisees come to cause friction with Jesus; Jesus turns them away each and every time.
Building up to the conversation in Matthew 22-23, there is a lot of tension. Each time the Pharisees come to Jesus, it is to prove Him wrong or catch Him in the act. They were testing Him.
They wanted Him to fall! They wanted Jesus to mess up so that they can get the crowd’s to look back at them. He stole their thunder; Jesus could actually do something no one has ever done before… He bypassed their "righteousness" (as if they really had any). He became the center stage and the talk of the time.
This tension and anger build-up most likely kept getting worse and worse. They didn’t just want Jesus dead overnight. No, this wrath inside them against Jesus was a build up from every time He either stumped them or proved them wrong. Do you really think they walked away from the conversations they were defeated in saying, “Aw, bummer. We’ll get em next time, boys!”? Doubtful. They probably walked away mumbling under their breath curses and harsh remarks about how stupid this Jesus guy was. Their careers were going down the drain because of Jesus; they wanted revenge!
The Pharisees knew Jesus was sent by God? -2 Proofs
The crazy thing about the Pharisees is that they knew Jesus was from God. We know this because first of all, they wouldn’t try to disprove He was something if they didn’t think He was something in the first place, right? It’s just like any scenario today: if someone said, “I can solve any math problem without a calculator” you’re gonna try to disprove them by asking a bizarre mathematical question. This is exactly what happened with the Pharisees. Jesus claimed to be equal with God. They couldn’t let this kind of bizarre statement stand! When Jesus ended up passing all their tests, they’re spotlight kept becoming threatened and ruined more and more.
We also know they knew Jesus was from God because of the account in John 3, where Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the night. He states that we know that you are a teacher from God. We, meaning Nicodemus and other Pharisees. I just find it interesting that they knew the truth, but they suppressed the truth, trying to prove to themselves the lie they were telling themselves. Sounds a lot like Romans 1!
We do this all the time. We know a fact, and it seems obvious to us, but instead of accepting it, we try to prove otherwise. Have you ever sinned but tried telling yourself that it was okay or not that bad? That’s exactly what the Pharisees were doing. They knew Jesus was from God. I mean, they saw Him do miracles! They didn’t believe miracles came from anywhere else (one time a Pharisee tried saying He was of the Devil, but Jesus blew that theory out of the water!). But instead of believing, their blind eyes and wicked ways caused them to fall into believing their own lie. Their pride caused them to want to kill the greatest man ever sent by God… God Himself!
What Did Jesus Say About The Pharisees?
Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 indicate a lot about who the Pharisees really were.
We first see they have seated themselves in Moses’ seat. In other words, they have gained a high role of leadership over the Jewish people. They were looked up to; they had the same status that Moses had when He led the Israelite people. They were seen in a spiritual sense “closer to God” by others, and they even probably thought this about themselves.
The next remark by Jesus is to do as they say but not as they do. OUCH!
They spoke Truth. They taught the Old Testament, which was ultimately the Word’s of God Himself. I mean, Jesus even quoted the Old Testament. Speaking the Bible is a good thing, right? The problem was they did not live it out themselves. They could say the right things, and looked great on the outside, but they didn’t do as they spoke. They didn’t apply it personally. As long as they looked good and scholarly, that was more important than truly devoting their life to God. They weren’t willing to take on the heavy load of the law they dealt.
We then hear Christ say who the Pharisees truly lived for: the praise of men. WHOA!
Instead of living to bless and glorify God, they lived for the temporary praise of men around them. They wanted to look good on the outside to be respected. Their hearts were not in it for the right reason. Sure, they looked like they were living for God to others, and probably said they were living for God too, but their entire life orbited pride. All they cared about was what everyone else saw in them.
This next statement by Jesus hurts: Jesus says the Pharisees unworthy of their earthly position. YIKES!
If I were a Pharisee, I think this one would have me boiling with anger. He doesn’t only steal the spotlight; He basically says they don’t deserve to have it back! Don’t call them teacher; don’t call them father; don’t call them master. Why? They are not God! He is our Teacher, our heavenly Father, and our one and only Master! This statement is heavy. Jesus just took the leadership position they thought they had and claimed it as His own. He levels the playing field by causing the crowd to hear that the Pharisees are no higher or closer to God than any other man.
Lastly, Jesus describes the Pharisees: Blind Guides, Fools, and Hypocrites. OOF!
Jesus’ gives many reasons for calling them these terms, but the main point is that this is who they are. Anyone listening in on this conversation would have a lot of second thoughts about both Jesus and the Pharisees. They wouldn’t know who to trust, who was right, and what to do about it. But if one were to take all these terms Christ spoke about the Pharisees literally, I don’t think they’d want to follow them anymore.
Bling Guides - The Pharisees leading was going nowhere because they cannot lead. It’s literally like asking a blind man for direction through a maze! The Pharisees looked as if they had the transportation to Heaven, but really, they were in the same boat as the rest of humanity… the boat that was going downstream straight to hell!
Fools - The term fool is a very strong word in the Bible. A fool is usually a description of one who has not been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, meaning they are still ignorant to God’s ways. Just look at any of the Psalms or Proverbs; the description of a fool is NOT how you want your leaders to be described. For Christ to say this about the Pharisees must have caused some sharp gasps in the crowd.
Hypocrites - Everyone knows what a hypocrite is. Saddest reality is most Christians are the biggest hypocrites. We say we're not suppose to something because God says so, and do it anyways. This is something the Pharisees struggled with too! They were very good at teaching the law and looking like scholarly teachers, but behind closed doors they didn’t live that way. Sadly, their looks in front of men had caused a blinding pride in their heart. This pride took away the sight of what they were really doing; they didn’t realize (or if they did they didn’t care) that God was watching them the whole time. You aren’t a Christian just on Sundays! Your a Christian 24/7! Their role as Pharisees was only a part-time job.
What Would Jesus Have To Say About You?
Now, as a Christian, you’d say you believe everything Jesus said, right? Of course, so you must believe what He said about the Pharisees. You can see He wasn’t proud of them; He did not show any praise to them. He condemned them for the life they were living! The Pharisees were living a facade! Whether they thought it was pleasing to God or not, this is no way to live life in accordance to God’s word.
Is that you? Are you living the Pharisee lifestyle? Are you faking it to look good for the praise of men, or are you truly living in full devotion to God. There are many that fake it for so long, it becomes their life. Like the Pharisees, if you live the lie long enough, it becomes your reality. It becomes your truth. You go so far to think that the way you are living is ACTUALLY pleasing to God!
Don’t let this happen! What kind of Christians are we? FAKES!?!? Because if that’s true, are we even really a Christian?
Are you doing this because you want to please God, or are you doing things because you feel like you have to please God?
Do you live in accordance to God’s word because you love Jesus Christ, or do you look like you live in accordance to God’s word because you like the idea of Jesus Christ?
Do you live with eternity in perspective because God has saved you, or do you live with the present in perspective looking good for God to save you?
Ask yourself these questions; they are vital questions that need to be answered for the sake of your life. You can’t earn God’s favor by looking good. You can’t live a certain way because it feels right. You can’t walk-the-walk hoping to get by. GOD WILL NOT BE FOOLED! Jesus saw right through the Pharisees; He will see right through you!
So what is it? Are you a Pharisee? Because if you are, I hope you’re like Nicodemus, brave enough to face the reality that you are a sinner that needs to rely on Christ. He’s the one who found favor in God in our place. He is the only option for salvation and union with God. Whether you are a Christian or not, your hope is found solely in Christ. If you don’t go to Him, don’t expect to fix your life on your own. You don’t always have to live a Pharisitical lifestyle; ask God for mercy. Don’t stay under the condemnation that the Pharisees received; come to Christ, the only one who can take away this burden.
Thank you for taking the time for reading this blog post on the Pharisees. I hope I have encouraged and motivated you to stay away from the Pharisee’s lifestyle. If you enjoyed it, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. You can also subscribe to receive emails of my new posts below, or get in direct contact with me by hitting the subscribe tab above.
If you haven't read the post before this, I'd recommend reading it. It will give you understanding of where I am coming from and why I am writing this. Are You A Pharisee?
This blog post is going to focus on what the Pharisees believed. To know if we live like the Pharisees, we must know what they believed. Makes sense right? But even before going there, I want to give you a little background of who the Pharisees were, and why it is so important to know what they believe. Let's get right into it!
Who were the Pharisees?
"The Pharisees were a scholarly class dedicated to the teaching of both the written and oral Law and stressing the internal side of Judaism. Pharisees would have been determined to avoid in their resolution to separate themselves from any type of impurity proscribed by the levitical law — or, more specifically, their strict interpretation of it." (found here) The time and origin of the group is debated as they are only mentioned in the New Testament, but I would suggest that the Pharisees rose as a group during the 400 silent years.
Josephus, born in 37 A.D., was a historian that came from Jerusalem. Many would know the name from their apologetic study; if you're not familiar with him that's okay too. Just know that he is a pretty well-known trustworthy source for early A.D. history.
Anyways, he speaks of the Pharisees. You can look up some of the stuff he says with a quick Google search, but I want to share a few that I found interesting online.
Josephus stated that the Pharisees lived in harmony with others.
Josephus stated that the Pharisees were seen as the most accurate interpreters of the law.
Josephus stated that the Pharisees believed and taught oral laws, laws which were passed down by word of mouth through generations, but were not recorded in the law of Moses.
Josephus also makes it appear that during the time of Herod, the Pharisees were influential on the people, but they were also careful with their speech and actions because they were under control of the king. The Pharisees were probably loyal to the king because they wanted to keep the peace between the Jews and the Romans, since the Romans basically had full control over them at the time.
(found these statements from here)
This is all very interesting to take into account when thinking about the Pharisees. They kept the peace, were acknowledged and respected, and were loyal to the king. They sound like some pretty good guys so far, right?
Let me explain:
From the studying of the background of the Pharisees, they sounded pretty sincere. It seems to me that they truly wanted not only others to see them as holy men but God also to see them as holy men. They wanted to be the example for the Jews. For the Jews to regard them as respectable men of the day was not a mistake; they truly did keep the laws of Moses and the Jews would have held high regard to this. This all leads up to one statement: it was not what they were doing essentially that was wrong; it was what they believed. Their belief was very misguided, making them blind to the Messiah.
The Pharisees were seen like a brotherhood (sounds like a cult); they devoted their whole life to studying the law.
Let me ask you a question: What's the point of knowing ANYTHING if you won't apply it? Think of it this way: Why go to college to become a surgeon, study hard, pass all your tests with perfect scores, and then never get a job at a hospital to put it into practice? What's the point. It's as if the Pharisees studied, showed everyone that they studied and how much they knew, but never moved on. They knew the law, but never looked to the application of the law. They never saw that law was about much more than just doing and looking righteous.
If I went to college and got the degree as a surgeon, you would think the next step is to start operating. What if instead I just kept studying, so I could be the wisest and most talented surgeon there is. I wore my scrubs, carried around my surgical tools, and showed everyone that I had a degree. They would probably look at me and say, "Wow, this guy is successful." Does it mean anything if I never do an operation? What was the point?
The Pharisees thought the point was to look and be as righteous as can be. That was the goal. They wanted to impress man and God with knowledge. They were misguided. It was useless without being given the job; it was useless without the application of God in their life.
What did the Pharisees believe?
The Pharisees were very legalistic Jews. They were more dependent on moral law then faith in God.
Do you see the problem there? They found it more important to do what looked good to God than believing in God. They basically took salvation on themselves. "If I just do this, this, and this, God won't be able to deny seeing me as a holy and righteous man." This makes salvation fully dependent on the work of man instead of the work of God.
So on the outside, the Pharisees looked great; in fact, they were highly regarded! But Jesus wasn't fooled; he knew where their hearts were.
But why did the Pharisees believe this way? Because they believed in salvation! They believed that the righteous would be rewarded with eternal life; the unrighteous were damned to death. This is made clear in Acts 23:8 "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all."
They believed in the resurrection of life, and they believed that the righteous would be the ones receiving it. This is true! The Bible makes it clear that the righteous inherit salvation. You must have righteousness, but the difference is what the Pharisees believed.
Pharisees saw it this way: "We must be righteous. Righteousness is being right or justifiable; it is to be considered good. So I just have to be good, and God will see that I am righteous."
Read Romans 3-4 for me PLEASE! If you have never read Romans 3-4 you need to crack open a Bible or Google it right now. Paul perfectly explains how this works and the misunderstanding of the Jews in Rome. He even uses an Old Testament example (Abraham) for them to see where it states that the righteousness we need is not our own. Yes, we need to be righteous in the site of God, but we are all unrighteous from birth. So how are we suppose to become righteous? By faith! God credits Christ's righteousness to the one whom has faith in God instead of their own works.
This is why Jesus could say, "Do as they say and not as they do" (Matthew 23:3). They Pharisees taught the law; they were teachers of God, but they did not live in accordance of it!
Pharisitical Christians Today!
We do this all the time! We teach one way, and we do the other! Are you guilty of being a Pharisee? I sure am! I love to study the Bible and know doctrine and deep theology, but when I don't live it out, I am a Pharisee. Christians are the biggest hypocrites! It's true, and it hurts to say it because I know this is true of me too.
We say we believe this, and yet we fall under the Pharisitical mindset of just studying and doing, studying and doing, looking good on the outside, no intimate intention on the inside. It's like saying, "Look, I love God. I read the Bible. I pray every day. I go to church. I even invite people!" and not saying or doing any of it with the motive of glorifying God. What's the point of doing anything if you're not going to do it for the right reasons?
If salvation is of God ALONE, and not of ourselves, we must live in accordance of that truth. If you call yourself a Christian, stop living for yourself! Your belief is crooked; Don't be a fool like the Pharisees were. They hated Christ because He challenged what they believed. They hated Christ because he took the focus of keeping the law and looking good, and put it on God! Does Jesus need to do that for you too?
I want to end by challenging you to take a good look at yourself. Ask yourself why you do what you do? What do your actions say you believe? What is your heart motive? Who are you living for? Are you living with the intentions of looking good so your own righteousness can buy you eternal life? It's not going to work! You need to live in accordance to scripture. Let God's righteousness be credited to you by faith in Him and the work of Christ. Only then will your works and life lived out truly reflect where your heart is.
Jesus words not mine:
(Matthew 23:27-28 NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."
Is that you? What are you going to do about it?
Everyone knows who a Pharisee is. I don’t even have to quote scripture; you probably already have a pretty good idea in your head.
Self Exalting, Puffed Up, Wealthy, Hypocritical, Religious, Bigots.
From the reader of the Bible's point of view, nobody likes the Pharisees. They were always the ones picking fights with Jesus. They were always trying to catch Him doing something wrong. As a Christian, it’d be first instinct to dislike them.
Sometimes we pick sides and build up fences between people or groups. We then act like angry neighbors that throw harassing remarks at one another or try to catch the other in the act of doing something wrong…. As if both sides think they are better than the other. It's like Christians group up against the world and act cool by trash talking. Who's the Pharisee now?
You see it? You see what I just pointed out above? Sometimes we think of how wrong or even evil the Pharisees were, yet Christians stoop down to that level and act the same.
Really? Christians? Acting like Pharisitical hypocrites? No, never! They wouldn’t!
I say this all humbly; I want you to really try to examine yourself, your friends, your church, even your pastor. Try to see what is in the heart of someone. Do they fake it and just look good in front of the audience of people? Do they live for themselves? Do they show love to the unsaved and share the Gospel?
I know, we can't see everyone at all times, and we can't judge someone easily by just a few occasions. Christians need to keep their Bible spectacles on (see all of life through Scripture). We need to examine ourselves most importantly.
"Why do I dress the way I do?"
"Do I pray in the wrong manner?"
"Do I show love like Christ to the world?"
"Am I willing to give everything for the sake of furthering Christ and the Gospel?"
Some of these questions can be very simple answers. Some can get you tied up in a knot. These are just a few examples of the questions the Pharisees probably could not answer honestly and still glorify God.
The next few blog posts, I would like to focus on the subject of how the Pharisees lived. According to scripture, I want to really dive deep on who they were, why they believed what they believed, and what went wrong. These are IMPORTANT questions to ask, because if we don't know the answer, how will we know if we are going through exactly the same phase the Pharisees did?
Listen, if your Christianity has become more "religious" than relational, don't give up; Nicodemus was a Pharisee, and I believe from the evidence of scripture, we can see Christ changed His life! It can be the same for any of us. I want to motivate you to really think about why you would call yourself a Christian. What does that really mean to you, and how are you living in light of what you believe? I truly hope these next few blog posts on the Pharisees are encouraging to you!
I want to recommend two books to you on this topic that have impacted me to write on the topic of Pharisees.
I would challenge you, if you have the time, to do some research on the Pharisees. Brush up on who they were, how they lived, and what they did. See what others had to say about them. I can't wait to share my first topic on the Pharisees in my next post with you guys!
We live in a day and age today where the name of Jesus Christ has lost weight. Most times you hear the name, you can count on it being mixed with vulgarity used more as an expression of WOW instead of carrying any weight it was truly meant to carry.
Today, I am hoping it is used correctly. Today, I'm praying that the name Jesus Christ is heard from all. Today is a day of great joy and praise; for today is the day we celebrate my Savior, Jesus Christ, because He PROVED He won the victory. I hope it is the same for you.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 KJV) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Easter Sunday is a big deal to me personally. It is a holiday that I celebrate with the remembrance of my Lord establishing eternal security for God's children. In other words: if Jesus can raise Himself up in three days, I am sure He will raise me up one day as well!
What would it be like if Jesus just died? Would you be okay with that? He died, promising He brought your sin onto Himself and therefore into the grave with Him... is that enough? The whole Christian faith would be a little odd after that. We would worship God, who we'd say and believe that died. Think about that for a second.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Do you see what i'm getting at?
if Jesus just died, it wouldn't fill in all the gaps. We would just have to take His word that He cleansed us of sin, but even that wouldn't suffice. How could we believe in an eternal home if He couldn't raise Himself up? God, who became man and died, is going to raise us up still some day? Harder to believe in my opinion. And then you have to deal with the fact that we would worship a dead God. Which the Father and Holy Spirit would not be dead, but now we're taking our one God and dividing Him into three. Which He is three in one, but is He now two in one?
See all the questions that would sprout up if Christ didn't rise? We'd have a big issue. I would be afraid of death!
(Hebrews 2:14-15 NASB) Therefore, since the children share in [m]flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
This is why today is such a great day for Christians. Without Christ rising, I do not have full assurance in my God. But since Christ did rise, I can count on Him being able to raise me up as He has said! Christ conquered death, took sin to the grave, and rose again proving His power over death and sin even today.
(Revelation 1:17c-18 NIV) “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."
It was prophesied, He spoke about it Himself, and then He did it! The God-man came to earth to die and rise, and He made my life a beautiful picture of it! Today isn't only a day to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ, but the resurrection of life He has done in you!
Think about it: If you are a child of God today, you were once dead in sin, condemned by the law, and damned to Hell by the just and righteous wrath of God. UH-OH! Not cool!
(Romans 6:23 NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thank God for grace.
(Ephesians 1:7 NKJV) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
God had chosen you, the Spirit came like the wind to awaken you, and Christ said "Believe in me" and died for you. The Triune God all worked together in your salvation, making you alive in Christ. As a Believer, your old man has died with Christ. He was crucified on that cross; the sinful man was left in that grave. Three days later a new man had come out. You have risen up by the power of Christ with the old man dead and gone and the new man alive and well!
(Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved--
Oh! What a beautiful picture! Once enslaved to darkness; now enslaved to light. Once journeying to hell; now picked up and shown the way to glory. Once living for yourself; now living for the King. Get pumped! Get excited! Today we remember salvation being accomplished for sinners like you and me! Today we remember the resurrection not only of Christ's body, but the work of the resurrection done in all the saints. Praise God!
(Romans 6 NKJV) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Today is a day of joy! Don't forget to praise God today, who made a way and gave salvation to you! And if you can't say that's you today, I pray that you fall at the mercy of God and cry out for His saving from sin. He's the only one that can save you, and everything I said above can apply to you if He saves you. If you're reading this, whether it be on Easter Sunday or days later, today is the day of salvation! Don't waste any time; I pray that these words speak to your heart.
Because Jesus rose, we have a hope in salvation. If he never rose, all hope would be lost. It's like this: Jesus died to justify, Jesus rose to sanctify, and Jesus ascended to glorify! All three of these things describe your life if you are a believer in Christ. If you are a Christian, today is a day of rejoicing!
Happy Resurrection Day!
(John 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
I recently listened to two Youtube videos that have EXPLODED my motivation for writing. I absolutely love writing and believe it is a passion and talent that has been given to me by God alone for His glory alone. Watching these videos caused me to stop and think, "What happened to my book?"
It's been fully written for over a year now. I have had many eyes search my words for errors in grammar and theology at the end of last year. I was pushing towards my goal extremely well... but then... I lost it. I lost my motivation. I was waiting on two editors that were very busy in life at the time and had forgotten to keep on them about my book. They were both very important people to me; it was a necessity both of them read through my book and gave me their advice. They were not doing any ordinary editing. They had the role of theologically checking my words and making sure what I said lined up with scripture.
Instead of giving the friendly reminders, I completely forgot to even ask if they had worked on my book recently. That was all the way back in November. SIX MONTHS AGO!!! I haven't looked at my book since then until today. Today I decided it's time to start working on publishing again.
One of the editors still has a copy that they completed editing, but has never given it to me. I messaged the other that had not completed the editing I had asked of him six months ago. He said he read through the entirety of the book but had not taken the time to write down his thoughts. I'm thankful I asked because he said he will start it today and give me back my first chapter hopefully this Sunday at church.
Once I receive the final copies, I have a friend that will be going over the book with me and reading each editor's (I have four editor copies in all) thoughts, suggestions, and disagreements. This will be the start of my (hopefully) final draft. Once my final draft is finished, I have a friend who is an English major who will do a final check for grammatical errors. Once that is done, it will be time to get in contact with publishers.
It is so exciting to think about publishing a book; I cannot wait to be holding a hard copy of a book I had written in my hands. Why? Because I want to share what God has laid upon my heart with anyone who is willing to take the time and read it. I want to reach as many as I can with the love of Christ. I don't want to drop this opportunity; I don't want my ideas and God-glorifying words to go to the grave with me. I need to share my passion.
Reader, I wanted to tell you this not only because you deserve an update on my book, but also because I want to encourage you with these words:
Don't let your passions die!
If you're like me, it can be hard to stay dedicated to something. Even things we are passionate about we fall away from at times. It could be a sport, cooking, reading a good book, or even God. We can get so invested into something we love and, one day we seem to forget the feeling.
I wanted to share this example because of today. Today I woke up. Today I remembered my passion. I would feel so awful if a few years from now I looked back and remembered my book that I never published. I'd probably think, "It's been too long now. It's not worth trying anymore." It would be forgotten by everyone except for me, and it would haunt me every time I thought about it.
Don't let that happen to yourself, especially with your relationship with God! At times we fall away, get disconnected, and go off our own way forgetting the feeling of being on fire for God. Thank goodness God is long-suffering and patient with us. Thank God our salvation is a documented purchase in the Book of Life. As Christians, we have been bought and we aren't going to be thrown away. God waits for us and brings us back to Him.
We need to keep ourselves and the fellow Believers around us in check. We need to encourage each other to daily die to self and live for Christ. We need to daily remember the talents and hobbies we love that God has given us so that we don't stop doing them. If you have a real passion about something, God probably gave you that passion for a reason.
Ephesians 2:10(NIV) For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God has prepared in advanced good works that will be worked out in our lives. Think of it like an orchestra. God has built the instruments. You are one of the instruments made specifically for the beautiful song you will play. You see it? There's violins, and the bass, and clarinets, and the piano, and so many more instruments that God has made in the orchestra that all have a unique sound and part.
God wants to use you for the talent He has given you. He wants you to play your part!
Maybe you have forgotten a talent you use to have or a hobby you use to practice often that brought glory to God. Maybe you're like me and its been even half a year since pushing towards a goal or task that God had given you. It's not too late to pick it back up. It's not too late to let God do a mighty work in your life. He sure is doing something in my life right now; I hope it is the same for you!
Let this be motivation to you, because we all need motivation at times. I hope I have encouraged you today in some way, whether that is to keep on doing what you're doing, getting back into the old routine, or maybe encouraging the ones around you to start showing the light of Christ. I believe one of the best ways to express and show the glory of God is through the talent He has blessed you with.
This isn't just about doing something you love; this is about showing the glory of God!
Please take a moment to read this text nice and slow. Feel the writers emotions in each word.
My future used to be empty. Not only dark, but empty. A meaningless existence as just another cog in the machine. A 9-5 yes man fantasizing an early end to avoid the shame of pulling his own plug. A life lived in yesterday. Every day a waking reminder of his regrets, flaws, hardships, and imminent self-destruction. A man who fell from a high cliff and survived the fall to rock bottom. Picked up by the grace of God and placed on the other side of the abyss. My future now bright. I fear no evil. My past no longer destroys me; it makes me. It doesn't abuse me; I use it. My life is full of potential and will never end. My life has purpose and when my time comes it is because He has called me home.
I want everyone to know that. It breaks my heart seeing people hurt as I have hurt. It kills me to see people falling into the abyss. I've been there and wish I could put up a sign that reads "Bridge out of service; please walk around." The sign of trust. I learned the hard way, please don't follow me because I can see the way from here.
I say this to myself as much as I do you, my brothers. Never forget the horror you have endured. Remember the feeling. Recognize it wherever you go and destroy it. We have amazing lives ahead of us; why not share that privilege with the world? Christ fed thousands with a few pieces of bread and some fish. Well we have something better than fish and we ought to feed the world.
February 26, 2019
A friend of mine posted this in a group chat a few weeks ago. WOW! What a transformation!
I wanted to share this because I wanted to let you know that salvation is real. There is a 100% change in one's life once God makes an encounter with them. Many say, "Oh, yeah... Me? Of course I'm a Christian." but then you realize the words just don't match their lifestyle. They may even believe it in their heart. That can think what they want, but Christ's own words were, "You will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16)
Read that verse again; there's no question in there. You WILL know them by their fruit is a pretty strong statement in my opinion. Whether a person is bearing grapefruit or little blueberries, you will see the fruit. I'm not saying Christians are perfect. Everyone is a sinner, and everyone falls. We are all going to make mistakes, Christian or not, but there is a distinct difference between a the saved and unsaved.
My friend, which I quoted above, made the announcement that he had been saved a few months back. Did I doubt him? Not exactly... but I was weary about it of course. "Okay," I said to myself, "let's see if his words line up with the way he lives."
Slowly, but surely over time he started speaking a little more about the deeper things in life. He wasn't the same person he had been the year before. The guy that went through mood-swings, usually hating life with a negative attitude, and always looking to this world for mere moments of pleasure just wasn't there anymore.
It was as if the old friend died and was made anew. His speech had become more positive, even pointing to God at times. He started speaking of struggle He had still battled with, but made statements that he knew God was helping him through. He stopped focusing on all of the awful things that seemed to drowned him life, and started sending scripture in our group chat and speaking about how he was praying with God.
There was truly a miraculous change that occurred in his life that was seen by the friends surrounding him. This is what I am talking about! This is PROOF of one who has truly been born again by the mercy and grace of God! We prayed for him, witnessed to him, even read the Bible to him; but at the time of 3-6 months ago we knew that his heart was still stone.
It wasn't until God reached down into the dark place he was in and pulled him up onto the other side that he truly began to change. The righteousness of God was worked into him, not by his own doings, but by God himself. He couldn't climb out of the deep cavern he was in. That's why Christ came down into the abyss... He gave a way to get out onto the other side!
PRAISE GOD FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE! PRAISE GOD FOR THE SALVATION HE HAS GRANTED TO MY NEW BROTHER IN CHRIST!
I wanted to share this story with you for two reasons.
1. Believers bear fruit.
This is a hard truth, but a truth that is reality. You may have friends of your own that say they are believers. They may even go along with the routine of most believers (church, owns a Bible, sometimes maybe attends Bible studies). We may be fooled, but God will not be fooled. Jesus' words: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27) True Believers will prove who they are. Growth may be slow, may not even show itself at times of struggle, but true Believers will bear fruit. There's no way around it.
2. There is hope for the unbelievers.
Sometimes we forget that there is hope. Sometimes we fall into the sad state of not sharing the Gospel, not showing others what living like a Christian is all about, and not praying for the unsaved we are surrounded by. Never lose hope. I prayed for my brother, Dave, for a long time before God saved him. It was years! I went through times of no prayer, little prayer here and there, and then towards the end TONS of prayer for his salvation. It took months and months before the Spirit came upon him.
Same with this friend; I was praying for his salvation probably over six months ago. Because of seeing God working in my brother Dave, I knew that God could do the same for my friend. Dave's salvation gave me hope in salvation for others. There is power in prayer. If God has given you a new life, don't waste the privilege of prayer; beg God to do what he has done to you to the one's around you. Ask God to make you the witness that they need in their life.
I hope from reading this you are encouraged and motivated to go out and be the Christ God wants you to be in other's lives. Don't lose hope, and bear the fruit of Christ in the lives surrounding you.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
There is life on the other side of the abyss.
If you read my last blog post, you will see the build up here. I challenged everyone to do the Psalm 119 Challenge so you will have a better understanding of how important the Bible is. Let me give you a few basic reasons the Bible gives that hopefully shows you its importance in your life.
The Bible Keeps Us from Sin
Finding yourself falling again? Don't worry... you're not the only one. When we focus more time on God's word we focus less time on fleshly desires. For example, personally I have a much better attitude going into work every day after reading the Word of God. Having a good attitude may not sound like much, but realize how far an attitude can take you. When people are just in a bad mood you can see how miserable they can get. I too can have bad thoughts about others, become aggravated much easier, and just focus on myself when I don't devote time to God in the morning.
The Word of God also keeps God in the forefront of our thoughts, keeping dirty thoughts further away. It's much easier to be on guard against sin when God is the main topic in you head. Sin is easy to run to when God is left behind.
I would encourage you that if you don't do this by now, start reading every morning. Even if it's only a few verses. Take the time to actually think about what God is saying and learn from it. This will sharpen your thoughts and actions for the day. This will help you put your best foot forward. This will help you live the life Christians are called to live.
Those Who Read the Word of God Are Blessed
I am truly overjoyed when I read the verses that speak of those who read/keep/walk (whatever the verb is) the law of the Lord are blessed! Me? God is blessing me? Wow! It's awesome to know and remind myself that each day I take a moment to read, I'm taking blessings from God. That blessing could simply be the Word itself. Maybe you will find that what you read will apply to that day or week. Knowing the God of Heaven is giving a blessing to those who are in His Word is just glorious!
I find this to just be a simple motivator to keep reading the Word of God. I don't want to miss a day of blessing, and no one wants that! I think that reading the Bible can also help us see the little blessings in life. Like warm clothes when its below zero outside! (God, someday please let me move closer to the warm weather...) Or money to provide in your circumstance. Or even just a home to go to each night in a country that's somewhat stable. There are so many things we forget to thank God for that He is blessing the saved and unsaved with every day!
The Bible Gives Us Knowledge
This may seem like a simple one, but I think it is forgotten and lost sometimes today. Think of the average Joe Christian. They are no theologian or pastor. They probably aren't serving in the church... actually you're lucky if they are even a member. Yeah, they say they are a Christian. You see them attend church and they are there when there is fellowship dinners or get togethers (probably for the food). You may have heard them pray a few times before, and maybe you can even see a Bible on the dash in their car.
I'm not trying to put anyone down or describe anyone in particular. Just think about how America views Christianity. Yeah, there are some fakers out there that slap the label Christian on their lives or their living styles that have ruined the name a bit, but it's not just them to blame. Think about it. The average guy or girl today that may actually be a Christian barely lives to prove it. Christians have ruined the name Christian and have turned it into a goody lifestyle label. WHY? I believe the cause is from the lack of knowledge.
You see, from my own personal experiences, I can look back in my life at times I was growing. What was the cause? Reading the Word of God and grasping for understanding from God. Those were the times my life reflected Christ. The times my life did the opposite, I may have been still reading the Word of God, but I wasn't reading with the motive to grow. It was more to read because I'm a Christian so I should read the Bible. There was no real growth. I still lived in sin. Those times in life are stages of hypocrisy, and those are the moments that we ruin the name of Christianity on our own.
If only we could strive for more knowledge and understanding from God 100% of the time could we fix the name we stand for. Obviously impossible... but not something that we shouldn't strive for. Push forward to ACTUALLY understand what God is trying to communicate to you in His Word. Read other books from other wise men and learn from them. God has taught them something great enough they'd write a whole book on it; I bet it's worth reading. It gives you a reason to crack open a Bible and line up their words with Scripture.
What I am not trying to say is that everyone needs to become a theologian or pastor. That is not God's calling for all of us. Some are called simply to be a father. Some are called into the military. There is a variety of fields that God places us into for specific reasons. Just remember, read to learn. Go into your life with the motivation to gain knowledge from God, the one who is Creator and King. I'm sure His wisdom is far greater than anything else we can imagine.
The Bible Teaches Us God's Statutes
God's law is pretty critical. Critical enough that God has smote down some who have broken it. You walk dangerous ground on the other side of God's law. What do we know about God? Well, we know He knows everything, and we know that He is perfect. I think that's enough to say that God's law is probably pretty impressive if it was created under an all-knowing, perfect God. I mean, that doesn't leave any room for flaw. Keeping that in mind, if God made a law, that must also make Him.... a judge.
The Ultimate Judge
This is very crucial to understand. God is a judge (the only judge, actually and you really don't need anymore since He is perfect) and must be perfect in His judgement. God hasn't been caught for injustice yet; I doubt that's ever going to happen. So we know God is perfect, knows everything, creates a law which makes Him judge, and He never does injustice. Whoa! That's a lot to take in!!! Do you know what this means? We are in great danger! God has to punish law breakers, and I'm sure we have both broken the law.
So the bad news is God has made a perfect law knowing that no mere human could keep any of it, therefore making us lawbreakers worthy of His punishment of death. Thank God for the good news known as the Gospel. Since, as I stated earlier, no mere human could keep the law, the God-man kept it for us. Not one part of the law was broken. This perfect act of righteousness was topped off with death.
Jesus died for living perfectly; but this was not an act of defeat. This was an act of victory! He died, taking our place of eternal death, and then rose three days later proving He had conquered death! Best part of it all is that if we are Believers and the Holy Ghost is dwelling in us, we now can also keep God's statutes as they are worked into us. This is the process of sanctification. So in the end, did God make a perfect law that was impossible to keep? Yup! Did God make a way for us to be able to be justified and seen as law keepers instead of law breakers in His sight? Yup!
You know what that means? God is causing His children to do the impossible! Amazing, right? Living by the law of God is literally doing the impossible, and it's all done by God working through us.
The Word of God Saves
Lastly, which I kind of already covered this above, but the Word of God saves! Now, I stated above it's actually Jesus Christ who did the saving. Don't get confused; the Word of God is just His words. It's not like we can read His words and conjure up some magic.
What I mean is that the Bible is the tool (sword) we use to witness. It is the Bible that God uses to speak to people (that's why it's called the Word of God). Since we are not the ones that can save and it is only God, why would we try to sap up some special conveying way to speak to someone and cause them to fall in love with God? God gave us the Bible to do that! Actually, that is probably what He used to save you, right?
There is not one instance in the Bible where someone reaches the conclusion of believing and following after God until He has came to them in a divine way. Whether that was through Him speaking, someone else speaking His words, or one reading the words He wrote. Salvation only comes through God's mouth!
Think about the moment of salvation for you. God probably didn't speak to you through a burning bush or through a dream like with others in the past, but you either read His Word or heard His Word spoken and that translated into salvation. Amazing, right? God has freely given us the power to hold His Word and speak His Word to others... the Word that saves! Wrapping your head around this will cause you to realize the importance of scripture memorization.
I am not saying you have to quote scripture word for word to have saving power come to pass; but knowing Scripture is knowing salvation. If you know the key to salvation, why not share it? The Bible is God's living Word, and this is what we have to use to reach others. This also puts a greater impact on yourself. If God's Word is where you obtained life, doesn't that prove its importance?
I hope that this post was eye opening to you. If you haven't tried the Psalm 119 challenge from my last post (linked here), I would highly recommend giving it a go, as I got all of these conclusions from that chapter. Let this be the motivation to acknowledge the importance of God's Word in your personal life so that you can share it to those around you.
I've Got News!
The blog post has come to an end, but I've got some big news for you so please don't stop reading yet! If you look at the tab titles found at the top of the website, I have now added a new tab called "Theology Q&A". This is a place where I can interact with my audience, and I would love if you would hop over there and check it out for me! Thanks!
This is going to be a different kind of post today.
I was challenged to do this in high-school by a pastor, and have found it to be a great study. I plan to do it again, and now I am challenging you. Reader, that means you, don't push off my challenge. Please give this a shot, whether you read your Bible every day or have never touched one, take a moment to hear me out and try this. You will not regret it.
If you take your time, you will complete this challenge in 21 days (8 verses a day)! It's really easy and doesn't take long. This is a great way to see the importance of the word of God.
This is the Psalm 119 challenge. There are 176 verses in Psalm 119. The challenge is simple. You will basically be dissecting a verse.
First, you will underline where it speaks of the word of God. (Whether it uses the word precepts, testimonies, statutes, commands, judgments, etc.) Basically anytime the passage uses a word that speaks of the words God has spoken, underline that word or phrase.
Second, you will seek out the action the author is doing towards the word of God in the verse and take note of it. (Most of the actions are words like keep, learn, look, teach, etc.) You can put a box around this word or phrase.
Lastly, you will now search for why the writer has wrote to do this action with the word of God. What is the reason? Highlight that reason. Some verses have this part; other verses do not.
I will attach some photos of example verses I did in my Bible. I really hope you're not still reading this and thinking about not doing it. I'd recommend at least trying to do the first letter of the chapter. Oh.... if you didn't know, Psalm 119 is the longest chapter of the Bible. It is divided by the Hebrew alphabet of 21 letters. The first Hebrew letter would be Aleph. You should at least read and try to do the three steps to the first few verses under this letter.
The whole point to doing this is seeing how highly important and superior God's words truly are in our life. Over and over again you will see how many ways the word of God can be described and how many actions we can apply towards it. I hope you take the challenge. Here are my examples. Let me know if you give it a shot! You got this!
I wrote this post about a month ago, and I think it is finally ready to post. There is so much I could say about Jamaica, but you would just have to talk to me in person. Here are some photos of sunrises, scenery and our team during the week, along with a brief summary of what I got out of the mission trip. I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful day whenever you are reading this!
Hey, it's Michael Jaymes. Thanks for taking the time to read this far. I hope you don't stop here... Or even here...
I feel like it's been awhile since I've written to my readers, and that's because it has. I was suppose to post something a few weeks ago; I kept pushing it further down the road until- well- now. Now I'm literally on the road, and I'm not driving so I thought I might as well write in the quietness of the backseat of this packed car.
My parents, brother Dave, my girlfriend Yailinee, and I are making our way down to Harrisburg, PA, 2½ hours south of my home area of Scranton. We are heading down on a cold Sunday morning to make it to a church service that will be preached by Pastor Gary Scott. (You know you're a Jesus freak when you travel 2½ hours to hear a theologian speak.)
Gary Scott is very close to my brother, my dad, and I. We met him on our Jamaica missions trip about three weeks ago. And that is why I am writing right now. I should have posted this a few weeks ago, but going to hear Gary Scott reminded me of it, and therefore I'm typing. So, now that I have drawn you in on an adventure I am on, I want to suck you right out of that adventure and pull you into a new one. This is a blog post about my Jamaica missions trip. Enjoy!
JAMAICA MON! This is my second time I have been to Jamaica, and my fifth missions trip out of the country. This one was by far the best in all ways. I grew tighter relationships with fellow friends I had seen on the missions trip last time, made a greater bond with my brother, and even grew my relationship with God. I don't really know how or where to even begin with this post, so I'm gonna just try to go chronologically with
what I remember and then if any sporadic thoughts pop in my head I'll share those too.
So Dave, Dad, and I decided to join the church on a missions trip. This was my brother Dave's first missions trip to go on after becoming a Believer. (He had been on others before, but just recently God has saved him.) From my church, Kenny, Jason, and Pastor Bill also came. We all arrived in Jamaica on Saturday, November 3 around midday.
Once we arrived in Kingston, we waited for other churches and team members to arrive. Some I had met in the past; others were new faces. I was very excited to see my favorite bus driver, Michael still picking us up. This man has an incredible testimony, which I will have to share another time.
Anyways, everyone piled into the big bus. I think there was 21 of us in all? It was like one of those buses where the engine is kind of underneath the drivers feat so it has a flat face to it. It's like a bus you'd see in New York City. Cool thing about this bus is that there is a passenger seat right in the front next to the bus driver that I always tried to get to first. It was the best seat, right next to the bus driver that I shared my first name with.
The bus driver always brags about how good of a driver he is if you bring it up. He really is an amazing driver! He told me that before salvation, he use to be a street racer, and no one has ever beat him. He's never been in an accident, but has witnessed many. He also said that he raced people on windy roads driving backwards and he would still win. He's an incredible driver. I can't really describe it. You'd just have to see how narrow the roads are and be there to experience it. Sometimes he even drove up little roads going backwards in the bus to impress us.
After a long drive from Kingston to Buff Bay, we got to the mission home we call the Globe. Saturday is the day we just settle in. Sometimes we'll go walk around the town and see what it's like, but many take a nap due to jet lag.
Buff Bay is not a very popular place in Jamaica. I wouldn't say it's rundown, but it's not somewhere everyone has heard of. Everyone that lives in Buff Bay lives there because that's where they grew up. No one moves to Buff Bay. Not many move out either.
Throughout the week we did all different kinds of ways of witnessing. We did open air evangelism (basically taking turns preaching from a microphone on the street), gave the gospel in schools, spoke at hospitals, and preached night services at different local churches. That is one of the neat things about Jamaica: Jamaica is very open to Christianity and allows us to speak in their schools and hospitals freely. This gave many opportunities to spread the good news of Christ with everyone we could. Every night would end with fellowship and walking down the road to get some jerk chicken, an amazing food famous in Jamaica.
Now that I've given a basic rundown of the trip, I just realized how long this already is. Since I can't go over it all because this post will just keep going, I just want to touch on a few of the highlights of the trip. (So that whole chronological idea just got thrown out the window)
1. I wrote what I believe to be my best poem yet on this trip. It's funny how it happened... About halfway through the trip, I got a migraine (they run in the family). I went to take a nap during a break time we had hoping to help my head, but I couldn't fall asleep. I decided to try to read to occupy myself, but couldn't get into that either. I looked down at my bag and saw my notebook I only write poems in, which I don't even know why I brought it with me. I asked God if He wanted me to write, picked up the notebook, and started writing. That poem was 100% spirit led. I wrote it so quickly and the words were flowing on the page perfectly. It was pretty amazing. I'll leave a link to the poem if you want to read it at the end of the post.
2. I also had the opportunity to give the gospel a few times in different ways. Street preaching was a little bit of a challenge, but each time I did it my words were clearer and the message came across smoother. You truly just have to pray and acknowledge that we are the tools that God will use for His word to go forth, and then speak what He has taught you. I also got to speak to children which reminded me of the time I spent teaching at Spruce Lake, the Christian camp I use to work at. Any time I was offered the chance to give the gospel, I tried to act upon it. I now realize how important it is to memorize scripture, and I'm very thankful for growing up in a Christian school where I was tested on verses. This made giving the gospel much more of a breeze for me. I would just pray, breathe, and let the Spirit guide my words.
3. Lastly, I got to see and learn from many wise men on this trip. Rich Ives, Gary George, Gary Scott, and Roy Owens were all men from different churches in the US I met down in Jamaica. All of them had an impact on me, especially Roy. This was my second time seeing Roy on a Jamaica trip, and we connected really well. I'm thankful for the memories I share with some of these guys.
Going down there and seeing the Jamaican people and their culture is life changing. It is very humbling to see how different it is from the states. Some of the friends I made in Jamaica answered questions about how different the culture, lifestyle, and religion is. In some ways they have it easier than us, but in others we are spoiled. I'm guessing there's pros and cons to every country.
To wrap this up, the Jamaica trip made me excited about seeing God work. It is so good to see things fall into place and happen the way God plans. The sad part is when I come back home, that fire seems to fade. I was just witnessing daily to others. What have I done since then?
It's healthy as Christians to challenge ourselves in this sense. It's like asking the question after singing a song in church, "do I know what that song even means, or do I just sing it because it was catchy and sounds good to me?" Or when reading the Bible the question should be asked, "Did I just read that to say that I read the Bible, or did I listen to what God had to say to me?" Everyone can play the part and do what's right, but are you challenging yourself to take it one step further. Jamaica definitely challenged me. It challenged me to not just play the part. It challenged me to do what's right and know why I'm doing it.
The biggest thing that challenged me was something my pastor pointed out towards the end of the trip. We woke up early every morning to do devotions as a team together. We started the day off right. Since I've been home, I have tried to work that into my routine, and doing this has made a large difference in my day. It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah...
Isaiah 26:9NKJV "With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;
For when Your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
Because of starting my day talking to God, His glory worked into me is shown as I live out the rest of that day. So in closing, that is what I want to challenge you with. Sometimes it's the things that may seem little that can have a big impact on your life. Jamaica challenged me to wake up early and read the word of God. Have you done that yourself? Maybe give it a try.
I know this was long, but I hope you enjoyed my reflection on the mission trip, and maybe I have encouraged you in someway today. If you're still reading this... Wow! God bless you!
Here's the link to the poem I wrote in Jamaica! (CLICK HERE)
Born in sin, already lost.
I could never pay the cost.
Jesus Christ came down from Heaven,
Fulfilled the promise of election.
He lived a perfect life for me,
And then He died to set me free.
My Lord’s mission was to die
To make the dead come alive.
Three days later He rose again
Proving power over death and sin.
Because He died in my place,
Now I live a life of grace.
No longer sin has grip on me;
Jesus Christ has set me free.
No longer nothing of myself;
Now I have eternal wealth.
What was broken has been restored
By the one and only Lord.
The Holy Spirit now lives within
To give me power over my sin.
In chains no longer to my sin;
Now enslaved to God my King.
God the Father calls me His son,
Because Christ paid the sufficient fund.
I am a child and a slave,
Because of the life that He gave.
I have decided to follow Jesus,
Because I know He first loved us.
Because He died for my soul,
I will give my life in full.
He has chosen me for glory.
He is making me more holy.
I know my life is not by chance,
So I will live by His commands.
His word is truth; this I see.
By this I’ll live eternally.
Life that is given from above
Causes me to live in His love.
For my Master I shall give
All my life that I shall live.
There was once a Man... the kindest Man to ever live. On the outside, He looked nothing more than a common man, but on the inside He was the most loving Man to all around. He looked at all as equals. He showed mercy to all colors and statuses. There was no upper and lower class to Him; the weak and strong were still people in His eyes. He was one that many sought wisdom from. When questions came He spoke truth, even when the lie would be much easier for the hearer to receive. Some chose to look up to this the Man, but many rejected Him.
The man became widely known across the land. He would often speak to crowds and give a message like this...
"I have news for all to hear." His voice was gentle but stern. "Some will dislike the message that is to follow, but for those of you who have ears, hear my words."
The Man paused and slowly glanced over the crowd. Some were intrigued and ready to listen; others looked worried not knowing what to expect.
"You are all infected with a deadly disease. It was inherited from your fathers, who inherited it from their fathers. You may feel fine, but do not be a fool and ignore these words. It will soon overcome you; you have less time than you believe. One day it will be too late, and it will bring you to the grave.
I do not come to only tell you of this disease. I come today to tell you of good news. Do not be afraid of the death that is to come; I can offer you life by cleansing you of this disease.
"You see, I come from a place where this disease has never been. My Father, lives in a Sanctuary where only good resides. He allows those who are clean to enter into the Sanctuary. That is why He sent Me on this quest. He is inviting you to be healed and live in His presence with Him, where the disease can never reach. I was sent to spread this message to you. My Father has chosen Me as the healer, and I have come to heal you. Follow Me, and I will lead you to your new home. I am the only way, the only truth, and only hope of life. No one comes to my Father unless they come through Me."
Scoffers scoffed; the confused remained questioning; but many followed. As the Man turned and started to walk away, little by little a group of followers formed. Some were just curious. Others came to see the excitement. There were those who followed that completely despised the Man and His words. Out of the group as a whole, only few were there who had actually believed. They were the ones who felt drawn to go and endeavor on their journey to their new home.
As the Man went further, the crowd grew smaller. The excitement was lost; the haters went home. The curious gave up. All that was left was the Man and those who truly desired to follow Him.
One day the Man asked, "Do you know why you are here?"
Simple answers were thrown around, but none were the answer the Man was looking for. He then gave them understanding to what was vague to them before.
"You are here because you are the sheep to My flock. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. The others were not of my flock. No wonder they did not stay long. Only those, given to Me by My Father will follow Me. They are the ones that have ears to hear. That is you!
"I gave the message for all to hear. The words were clear. Truth was given, but all men reject what has been given by My Father. All are deaf to the words of truth until my Father gives the ears to hear. It is then that you heard My words and followed. His grace has given you understanding beyond the natural man. Now you hear the Truth, and the Truth has set you free.
"The journey is hard. Many of you have given up so much to follow, but do not fret. Do not grow weary. I am the Healer, and I have overcome the struggle. The reward of life is more promising than any imaginable satisfaction found in this world. Your desire to follow Me because you know without Me you are dead. This choice was not a mere decision, but a choice of life or death.
"Those who choose death are set in their ways. Their desire in life is not of healing, for the disease has taken grip of their minds and hearts. They do not choose to be healed because they either deny the fact of being ill or seeking healing where it cannot be found. But you have been awakened from the lie! You have been chosen to be healed. It is only by grace that you are here today.
"The beauty of it is the fact that no one is making you stay. My healing has freed your will from the disease, and now you choose to follow Me. You love me, because my Father first loved you. Isn't it beautiful?"
The Man's words were powerful, almost causing knees to buckle. The followers were in awe of the affection set on their lives. Many were made fun of, lost their families, wounded with words, and even beaten or killed; They were broken people following what some called a lost cause. But they could all see that there was a reason for it all. The natural man had rejected the ways of the Healer, and therefore hated the followers too. Their ways were in complete opposition to the world's, but they pressed forward. They found joy in life, knowing the promise of purpose was there.
Life as a dead man is not life at all. Living life that only results in death is a life led by pride, lacking the pursuit of a greater purpose. The purpose found in the Man was the purpose of truly living up to the expectations that the Father had for all. He sent the Healer knowing all would reject unless He chose to open the ears of some. It is those who have ears to hear.
Do you hear Him? Are these words of Truth impacting you today? Or are you going to allow the sickness to flood your head and push the thoughts of life away again?
John 14:6 (NIV)Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
A short story written to help understand the disease of sin upon the natural man and the power of God that heals. -Michael James
You know, I've been thinking to myself recently about the sin I struggle with in my life. I'm not talking about the every day sins we commit that are different in each day. I'm talking about that one sin in particular that haunts me.
You probably have that same sin. That one sin that seems to be stalking you everywhere you go, creeping around the corners, looking for a chance to defeat you again. It drains you physically, conquers you mentally, and rips you apart emotionally. It's almost like that sin has got you on a leash. It's in control; and when it pulls, you follow.
That's why I wrote this poem. God has all the answers, and some of the answers to my sin are very clear to me. It's just a matter of actually listening. It's a matter of asking God for a repentant heart. For me, writing is a really good way for me to let things out and listen to my own advice. Hopefully it's helpful to you also.
I say I'm a Christian that's in love with my Savior,
But I act like a slave to my bad behavior.
The Devil is knocking at every door.
I know it's him, but I fall for his lure.
I'm like a fish that he is trying to bait.
With sin on the hook, Satan waits.
The Devil is patient as he hunts his prey.
All he has to do is put sin in my way.
I see sin on the hook. I know it's not right,
But I still go over and give it a bite.
At first it's good; it satisfies me.
The tempting sin feels meant to be.
I savor each and every moment in sin,
But then I realize I should have never fell in.
The hook is in me and now I'm caught.
It would not come out no matter how much I fought.
Failure sinks in; I plummet in defeat.
But for some reason, Sin and I still meet.
I hang my head in shame and sorrow,
because I know Sin will be in my tomorrow.
It became a habit for me to meet with Sin;
I start to say, "I will never win."
One day, I realize, I've been doing it all wrong.
Instead of myself, I look to God alone.
"God! Please Help me! I should have came to you before.
I tried to fight it, but no longer can endure.
"I'm weak, depressed, and have become defeated;
My sinful habit is being repeated.
"I felt alone like you weren't there to save me;
I realize now you were waiting for my plea.
"I'm sorry Lord; I have sinned in your sight.
Please, give me strength to overcome this fight."
The Lord looks down; He hears my cry.
I hear his sweet voice: "Oh, child... why?
"Why have you done what I said not to do?
Hell was created for sinners like you."
I hang my head in sorrow again.
He's the last person I wanted to offend.
Then, in mercy and kindness God says to me,
"Good thing my Son has set you free.
"I know you're a sinner; I know what you've done.
That's why I sent Jesus: my one and only Son.
"Don't look at your sin and become depressed.
Run to Jesus and find your rest!
"Jesus sacrificed His life for you.
He made the just payment that was due.
"Now your sins are forgiven and gone.
In your heart he has put a song.
"Joy and gladness floods your ways
Because now you are covered by saving grace.
"So don't be depressed; don't be ashamed.
Boast in the cross and what you have gained.
"You have been chosen for my good purpose.
Don't let sin make you feel worthless.
"You are going to stumble and fall,
but that's why Christ has paid for it all."
My wounds are healed by my Father's words.
My faith in Christ is reassured.
I look back at sin as I leave the bait.
Sin has such an unsatisfying fate.
It always feels right at the time,
But moments later it leaves me empty inside.
Maybe this time I will stay closer to Jesus.
Why do I leave Him when He never leaves us?
"This time I've learned. I won't fall in!"
I said this on the way to again meet with Sin.
Will I ever change my life so fickle?
Only God can change His child's sinful cycle.
In this world I will never be sin free,
but all the more glorious Heaven will be.
Maybe you're thinking that ending was a little twisted, but sometimes life isn't a happy ending. I mean face it, you have sins you have probably been struggling with for many years like me, and then one day you hear a very emotionally moving message that makes you think you need to clean your life up. You start by turning your back on that sin for awhile, but then you fall again. Why? Because we are such FICKLE humans that need a God to do everything for us!
That's the beauty in the Gospel. We have to do anything for God's love; He just chooses to love you and changed your life. So remember: God has a purpose planned for you. He didn't save you to be worthless; He has intimate meaning to your life. Live up to that! Be changed and show the world what it means to be a Christian. You will fall, but have joy in knowing that God has already forgiven you.
Falling is a part of life; the difference is a Christian is suppose to get up. Don't let sin push you down; stand tall! Live a positive life showing the satisfaction only found in Christ. That will make all the difference to the world. Yes, you will fail, but only a fool will live in failure. Get up, move on, and stand on truth.
John 17:17 (KJV) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Proverbs 1:2-7 (NKJV)
2 To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
3 To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
4 To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion--
5 A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and an enigma,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Before I begin, I wanted to remind my readers: I only write when I feel the Holy Spirit pushing me to write about a certain topic. I feel like writing without God's guidance lacks passion. I don't want to just pick new topics to write on each week; they would be half-hearted. I like to wait for God to show me something in my personal life, so that when I write to you, it is written more personally, passionately, and God led. So I'm sorry I have not written in a long time, but God has been teaching me this for awhile, and I am now finally ready to share.
Have you ever played out a conversation in your head with someone who disagrees with you on your religion? You could be any of the following: Christian, Catholic, Agnostic, Atheist, Muslim, Jewish (and the list goes on). Believing in a religion and being open about it is a great way to stir up controversial debates with others you bump into. Maybe you dread these conversations; maybe you love these conversations. Either way, they are bound to happen if you say you believe.
If you have played out these conversations in your head or been in one before, you know that it is not easy to have all the answers. I think that is the problem with the Christian society today: We don't strive to know the answers. Instead of studying and preparing, we become defensive and say silly things like "The Bible says so." That doesn't really prove a point very well... If this is your go to strategy when witnessing, you should probably rethink how to go about stating the facts.
For me personally, I love these conversations. I have friends that debate with me on Christian topics quite often. It's funny, a majority of these debates are among other Christians, but every now and then I have a few with those who are not. I believe these conversations are a good thing. When having these debates, it causes me to stretch and realize where I need to grow. I am sometimes asked questions that I have to answer with a simple I don't know because of my lack in specific studies, which pushes me to know more. I hope this is the same for you.
II Timothy 3:16-17(NKJV)
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [a]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When encountering controversy, don't look at it as a bad thing. Don't become dogmatic and angry with those who disagree. I feel like sometimes Christians frown upon knowing the Bible inside and out. We need to stand upon the Word of God. Instead of becoming the know it all Christian that is never wrong or hiding in the corner, try laying down your belief, explaining what it means, and proving it.
In other words:
State the principal you stand on.
Expound upon what this means.
Prove your statement in scripture.
This is very important. If you cannot do one of these three, your side of the argument becomes flaw. Now I understand it's not our words that saves or changes someones mind, but the Holy Spirit convicting them and God giving faith. This gives no excuse for us to not study! How is the Holy Spirit going to use our words if we can't give an answer at all? Let me give an example.
(Atheist): Why is God going to send me to hell if He is soooooo loving?
(Christian): Because you are not washed by the blood. The price of sin is eternal death.
(Atheist): That doesn't sound very loving.
(Christian): God does love, but He is also just.
(Atheist): What makes God just if He creates people knowing they are going to hell someday?
(Christian): The Bible says so and that's just how it is! Don't argue with me; argue with God.
(I know, most conversations have much more to them, but bare with me for the sake of the example.)
From this very short conversation I made up, I hope you can see how important it is to know what the Bible says, what the Bible means, and where the Bible says it. In the debate above, by the end of the conversation, the Christian didn't point the Atheist to any scripture, he did not explain what some of these foreign terms may have meant, and he became defensive and angry in the end. Conversations like these do not accomplish anything except maybe a tear in your relationship.
II Timothy 2:24-26(NKJV)
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
My pastor says this a lot: "Doctrine is practical." This truth is truly needed to be taught more. I disagree with the belief that only pastors and priests study that stuff. You are not always going to agree with what the man behind the pulpit says. I'm not saying your pastor is a false teacher, but is it possible that he can teach something incorrectly? Remember, he is just a man! This means he can be wrong and it won't be the first time. Pastors are no more of a man than you are. Their knowledge from the Bible may be more full, but this does not mean you can believe everything they believe without studying on your own.
Sometimes, we have to agree to disagree, but this is no excuse to not studying the harder questions of scripture. Remember the one verse I posted above? It says that all scripture, meaning there's not one part of scripture that does not apply to the list given in that verse. If it's in the Bible, it's there for us to read and study. Do you think God wants us to be ignorant about Him? Of course not!
It's actually sad to think back on my own life. I remember lacking a lot of understanding of my God, and I praise God for all the knowledge I have gained over the years to know Him better. If you can't even explain who your God is, how can you believe in Him? In my opinion, that's a scary way to live. I don't know anyone who would state, "I want to worship a God I don't know about."
That's just foolish. You have to strive to know Him better. He is a person too! He may not be a simple man like you and me, but God has attributes and emotions just like us. Not to mention, He is in three separate parts while still being one God. Each person of the trinity serves a specific role. All three parts of God can be studied out alone. (I'm in a study of the attributes of the individual persons of the trinity right now.)
Studying who God is can cause one to grow so much closer to Him by understanding more about who He is and what He expects of His children. We are also commanded to be like God; without a knowledge of who He is, we cannot live up to this command.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Subjectively, I would state that the largest reason we as Christians need to study theology is because God commands us to.
II Timothy 2:15(KJV)
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
He expects us to read His word. The Bible is all about God and what He has done or is doing; we should not only study the parts about Him working. We should study about God Himself too.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
Many times in Psalms it talks about the ways of God. How can we know His ways if we Don't know much about His nature? For example: we know the ways of a pig because we know it's nature. A pig will roll in mud because it is part of it's nature. You can't fully understand God's ways without studying theology to better understand His nature.
12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. 13 You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
As we mature in our Christianity and understanding of the word of God, we can move onto the harder things to understand. For young Christians, it will definitely be much more difficult to study some doctrines of theology; they can obviously start with reading something like the life of Christ. For mature Christians, I believe it is a responsibility to study the deeper and harder subjects of scripture. If no one studies, there will be confusion on the important matter of who God truly is.
Typical debatable Christian topics consist of questions like:
Does God hate anyone?
What is election?
What does it mean to be predestined?
Does God hear the prayers of the unsaved?
Can God keep one from getting saved?
If God doesn't change, why was there a time of judgement and now a time of grace?
What is God's will?
Why did God allow sin?
How is God jealous yet sinless?
Why does God have the right to judge?
Is God required to show mercy?
Does God demand worship?
Why does God seem hidden today?
What is the wrath of God?
If you are not a child of God, who is your father?
These are all questions that you should be able to answer, expound upon, and prove in scripture. I can't answer all these questions perfectly myself, but I have been trying to study to know more about who God is. If you are seeking to know who God is more, I would recommend a book about doctrines of the Bible. I read one myself written by William Evans.
Make sure you do not believe a book as absolute truth unless it is the Word of God. You still have to line up what they say and make sure the doctrine is sound. The book is very useful for personal studies because it gives an outline with references to help know where the Bible speaks about specific topics. Studying theology becomes much easier with an outline to help lead the way.
The internet can also be a very useful tool for studying your theology, but again, make sure you line it up with the Bible. It is very important you don't read something and follow a false belief without even knowing it. I've done this myself, but it's all a part of growing and what God brings to our knowledge in time.
I know I went over a lot in this blog post, but this is something that has been on my heart for a long time. No, I do not think it is God's will for everyone to become a scholar or monk, but you can never know enough about God and His Word. There is always more to learn, and that's why it is so important to keep studying His Word. I hope this post has impacted you and causes you to study more about your God.
I urge you to prove to yourself that your faith is true by lining up what you know and have been taught with Scripture. Know God well enough to be able to be a tool for Him and witness to the lost. Don't let theology be confusing; let your doctrine become practical in your life. If God is truly your Father and friend, Don't you want to know everything you can about Him?
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
II Peter 1:10(NASB)
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
Please, even if you didn't know Dave Crispell, take the time to read this in honor of him.
May 10, 2018, Dave Crispell went home to be with the Lord. For those of you who don't know, Dave Crispell was a special pastor to many. His preaching was probably something that started a true growth in my life at a young age. His life truly reflected Christ, and even as a twelve year old, I noticed it. When I was in fifth grade, I rededicated my life to the Lord, and Pastor Crispell baptized me soon after. From that point on, I always looked up to Dave.
Dave didn't stay at the church very long before God called him to serve elsewhere. Pastor Crispell's ministry was worldwide. What a true role model for missionaries! Just a few of the places I know that he served in are various churches in Pennsylvania, Alaska, the Bahamas, and Haiti (I know there is many more that I don't remember at the top of my head).
He use to message me on Facebook every so often to tell me he was reading my blog. For me, that was a huge encouragement that he was taking the time to read it.
I felt God pushing me to write while I was at Pastor Crispell's memorial service yesterday, so I took out a pen, peeled open a tithe envelope from the pew in front of me, and started writing on the white empty inside of the envelope. Here is a poem that God has blessed me with. It has been written in honor of Dave, but I'm sure it can be a true encouragement during any loss of a loved one. I hope you enjoy it.
Please share this with anyone you know that knew Dave Crispell.
"The Death Of A Believer"
-In honor of the life and death of Dave Crispell
In times of worry or devastation,
Remember Christ, your restoration.
Even when death seems to have won,
Remember Christ has overcome.
The end of life on this earth
Is the beginning of life with eternal worth.
In the grave one's body lays,
But the soul has risen. God be praised!
On earth you mourn and you may cry,
But in Heaven where God and angels abide
There is no crying. There is no tears.
There is only rejoicing, and joy filled cheers.
For God has brought another child home,
And it was all for His glory alone.
Though your loved one passed away,
Praise God that Jesus made a way.
You will miss the one you lost,
But praise God for His Son paying the cost.
The price of Christ on the cross
Saved the life of your loved one lost.
So take the time to thank God today
For the life of your loved one that He gave.
A life that's lived for Christ is blessed
With eternal life, nothing less.
The life of your loved one has now passed;
But your life on earth still lasts.
So let the life of one be a reminder to you:
Live up to the purpose God has for you too!
"It's unbelievable how many relationships and friendships are ruined because we would rather lie to comfort someone than tell the truth and see it hurt them. The pain from the truth will never last as long as the pain when the lie is revealed." -Seth Gattuso
My friend, Seth, posted this on his Facebook status a few months ago, and it kind of sparked my attention. I've been thinking about writing on the topic of truth for awhile now, and I guess this kinda gave me a kick in the butt to get a move on.
I chose this picture above, because I have heard and seen this quote too many times recently. It's actually sad the way the world's thinking has twisted what God has said. "Unity is Greater than Truth?" REALLY????? You'd rather be surrounded by ignorant people while you are all lied to than stand alone on the truth? (some people have really lowered their standards)
It's funny, I saw another picture that was similar to this one awhile back. It said, "I'd rather walk in darkness with friends than stand alone in the light." I actually laughed out loud after reading this. I thought to myself, "Isn't it common sense that if you choose to be with your friends in darkness, you all end up falling? One in light is much better off."
But that's not how the world thinks these days; they aren't blunt (and I mean in a straightforward way not in a sassy rude way). For example: people aren't even blunt enough to let their children lose in sports anymore. Everyone gets a trophy, and everyone's a winner because no one was keeping score! They literally wash down things as small as winning and losing.
They have twisted biblical standards and would rather lower their status to ignorance and stupidity. Even worse, Christians sometimes follow or don't say anything at all instead of being alone standing on God's truth. I shouldn't even say "the world thinks this way", because I have brothers in Christ that do it too. I shouldn't even say "brothers in Christ" either, because I do this myself. I guess we all probably do this in different shapes and sizes.
"The truth is blunt, so why aren't we?" -Truth Part One (honesty with others and yourself)
Think about the title of this post. How do those words effect you? Let's think through this logically.
Well, the opposite of the truth is a lie, and the opposite of blunt is sensitive. So if we're not speaking truth, we're speaking deceit. If we are not being blunt, we are sugarcoating. That's heavy! Think of the weight that statement carries now. How many times have you maybe withheld the truth, or maybe said something "slightly true", or didn't say what was really true at all? Those all fall under the sugarcoated deceit category instead of the blunt truth.
Let's try this; pick one of the following statements that you think describes you:
"The truth is blunt; so am I."
"The lie is sugarcoated; so am I."
I know this may seem silly, but this is important. You are probably not perfect, and you will probably pick the second statement. You could be lying to others or even yourself. As a Christian you should be striving to be able to say you have been getting better at not lying to others and even yourself.
Think of the quote from my friend stated up above. Has that happened to you? Have you covered up your past, beliefs, or opinion with a lie to attempt to save a friendship? Whether you did this in front of one friend or many, it isn't right. Honesty is the best policy (I know... so original).
Psalm 25:5(NKJV) Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
"I'll just do it one more time."
"Everyone else is doing it. What's the differrence?
"It's not that bad."
"Okay, if I do it now, I won't do it later."
"Well, I already started. I might as well finish my sin."
Ever hear these voices in your head? These are examples of your lies. You have deceived yourself into making mistakes over and over again. It's sad, you say you are Christians, but sometimes drop this status and trade it in for ignorance when you come to times of temptation. Read these verses below. Maybe you can relate; I know I can!
Romans7:14-20 14(NIV) We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
After all this, maybe you are wondering how do you speak more truth? Here's what I think: fill yourself with truth, and truth will be produced. Simply, read the Word of God, and your words will be truthful. This goes two ways. The one way would be in honesty (telling someone the truth to a question), which I spoke about above. The second way would be in belief (telling someone the truth from the Word of God), which I will talk about in the remainder of this post. Either way, REMEMBER: fill yourself with truth, and truth will be produced.
John 8:31-32(NKJV) 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
"The truth is blunt; so why aren't we?" -Truth Part Two (belief)
When there is simply a time in life that you are asked to do something wrong, why is it so hard to just say, "No"? Maybe you aren't even asked; maybe you are just facing temptation. What makes it so difficult to tell yourself, "No"? I'll tell you what makes it difficult! Our sinful nature CRAVES to disappoint your Savior. As a Christian, you were made alive in Christ, but that doesn't mean it's not easier to just live like the dead man. Those old habits and sin sometimes creep into your life, desperately trying to deceive you.
I want to stress the truth in your personal life because it is so important that you know where you stand between you and God. If you can't come to an agreement within yourself, you won't be able to stand up for what you believe when you are around others.
Romans 12:2(ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Maybe you struggle with standing up for Christ. Instead of just simply saying, "stand up for Christ", let me give you some advice on how to do this. (This is subjective.)
Know what you believe based on the truth. Don't try to stand up for something that you don't know the answer to.
Say, for example, you believe sex before marriage is a sin, but you don't know why. You were just taught that. You don't even know if or where the Bible speaks about it. Do you think it's a great idea to tell someone else this is wrong? What will you say when they ask you why? "Because the Bible says so." Great advice; now you just annoyed your friend with the most simple, ignorant answer.
It makes more sense to study out what the Bible says, where it says it, and why it says it first. If you can answer questions like these, when the situation/conversation comes, you will be prepared to bluntly stand up for what you believe. You won't sugarcoat the truth, or give halfhearted answers; you will know exactly what the Bible has to say about the topic.
You can't stand on what you don't even know. I know "Christians" that say that they believe Jesus died for them, but don't really know anything else about God or His Word. How can you say you stand on this truth if you don't study it? If you truly are a Christian, PROVE IT! Show your love for Christ by doing what He commands. Don't know what He commands? Maybe try reading His Word to find out! If you live half-heatedly for Christ, you will never be the one standing on the truth.
Proverbs 3:5-6(KJV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
To be like Christ, you need to know His ways. Think of some of His encounters with the Pharisees; He was blunt when He spoke the truth. Doesn't sound loving at first, but realize that telling someone the truth of God IS being loving.
We need to do the same as Christ: speak the truth bluntly in love. How many "hot" topics are there today that Christians are considered "haters" for? If Christians answered people with more than just "because the Bible says so", maybe there would be different answers from the world. Maybe we'd be less of haters towards their choices and be seen more as lovers of what our God says.
I'm not saying we won't be hated; the Bible teaches that the world is against God. But if you don't know what you believe, you will be a laughing stock for Christ instead of a witness. Be prepared for the opportunities to witness. Study His Word so you can stand on truth. Don't follow the lies of this world. Line up what they say with what God says, and don't be afraid to speak up for what is right.
James 4:17 (ESV) So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
I know this is very long and drawn out, but the basic truth of standing up for Christ is much easier said than done. Just know that if you are the only one standing on truth, not following the crowd, you're not truly alone. Your Father is looking down saying, "Well done my good and faithful servant."
Romans 12:21 (ESV) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So, this blog post isn't on a huge topic of any sorts, but I thought I'd give you an update on me. :)
Recently the battle of temptation has been very overwhelming and holding me back from writing. It's hard to try to do what's right and encourage others when your own life is not in line. It's kinda like having someone who can't ride a bike try to teach you how. I feel like I try to give advice I can't even take from myself sometimes. BUT.... God is still good to me. His mercies are new every morning, and I know that He still loves me as His son, even when I mess up.
On a brighter note, I just finished editing the third chapter of my book. It's only five chapters long, so I'm very close to being done. I'm hoping to get it published soon after and release it on my blog if anyone is interested in buying. If you have any advice on easy, cheap ways to publish a book, please contact me through the subscribe tab above, or leave a comment below with your email, and I can get back to you. :D
My sister is an artist, so I plan on having her do a sketch of what I want the cover to look like. I'm very excited for the finished product! I keep praying that God will use His words in my writing to touch the hearts of others.
I have some big plans ahead of me in my life. I have been trying to save every dollar I can. I believe God is pushing me to move forward in the next chapter of my life. Maybe within the year I will be moving out. I am praying for His direction constantly; it's exciting to see little answers of prayer each week.
For this summer ahead I have three small personal goals I have set before myself:
1. I'd like to gain 20 pounds by the end of the summer.
I have never really gotten into working out or eating healthy, but my girlfriend's father and one of my close friends are both into it. I started working out a little bit with both of them, and seeing progress has got me too excited to quit. I haven't really gained any weight for like five years; I've always been that average sized kid. This year I'm hoping to put on some muscle.
2. I want to hold a copy of my book in my hand by the end of the summer.
I wrote this book in about thirty days. Because of procrastination and business of life, I have pushed off the editing of my draft. I am now so close that I have no excuse why I can't have it done.
3. I would like to get through a few Christian books by the end of the summer. I find it hard reading on my own sometimes, but I find it much easier to read with others. I'm hoping to read through a few books in my Bible study or with some friends this summer. Here are a few books I have that I have not read yet and would like to.
The Pursuit of Holiness
Close Enough to Hear God Breathe
The Imperfect Disciple (finished half of it)
The God of Yes (finished half of it)
Don't Waste Your Life
The Path to Holiness
Life Beyond Living
The Battle Plan for Prayer
Many of these books were given to me by friends or family. I've heard great things about a lot of them; I just have a rough time sitting down reading one of them. I'm hoping to finish at least three this summer. If you like any of these or know of any others, let me know what you have read and found encouraging. :)
That's about all I have to say for this post. I'm hoping to have a poem finished sometime this week or next. Thank you for taking the time to read this. It means a lot.
This is going to be short, but these words are full of meaning.
1 Corinthians 9:19,22-23(NASB)
19 "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it."
These words have really touched my heart. I have read them and pondered them almost every day for the past two weeks. They're very humbling; they cause me to wonder why I'm not doing the same thing. It really causes me to examine myself and to see how selfish we so called Christians can really be at times.
Paul was willing to come as low as considering himself a slave to someone else. What a beautiful picture of Jesus Christ his life reflected! Didn't Jesus do the same thing for us? Coming down from the throne, the most precious jewel of Heaven, to live and die as a ransom for the sins we commited. Just like Christ, Paul was a slave to all for the sake of the Gospel.
Sometimes I look at myself and think, "When was the last time I was willing to do something for someone 'lower' than me? When was the last time I even considered someone else's soul? I believe the Word of God, but do I put it into practice?" Maybe you should ask yourself the same question.
Romans 9:17(NKJV) "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
John 10:27(KJV) "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:"
I share these two verses because I want you to realize the truth that you may not already see. In Romans 9:17, it is speaking of saving faith. Where does it come from? God. How? From hearing His Word. According to this verse, faith is not just a decision made by one. Scripture makes it very clear that no one chooses God before God saves them!
This is special because it proves the intimacy of God. You didn't just decide one day to follow God. You had no right to say to God, "Hey, your son died for ME, and I want eternal life." You may have said a prayer asking God for mercy, but what led up to your decision? Isn't the sovereign God the one who chooses what happens in this life of yours? God planned for you to hear His Words because He was drawing you to Him!
God, in His perfect plan, intimately came to you through the Gospel and said, "Follow me," and that's exactly what you did if you are a born again believer today. Isn't that much more special? Realize, it's not your salvation to take; it's God's salvation to give! How much more thankful should you be that God was gracious enough to give it to a sinner like you?
In John 10:27, Jesus says that His sheep will follow Him. Understand, none of God's people are left behind. God does not make mistakes. They will hear His voice and follow. This doesn't mean they will hear the Word, and it will go in one ear and out the other. If we are willing to speak, His people will hear and follow.
That should be exciting news. Yes, you will be rejected and mocked, but even if one hears the Word of God from your witness and comes to Christ, isn't it worth it? You may even see one come to Christ that you would have never expected!
I just wanted to encourage you with these verses because they really encouraged me. Sometimes, I just read a part of the Bible, and don't line it up with the whole to see the full glory in it's truth. Maybe you do the same. When you take the Bible as a whole, and see how different passages line up to show an even more glorious truth, it is truly beautiful.
I guess I just wanted to challenge you, Christian. I wanted to challenge you to act upon what you read. If you read the first passage I shared above, how is that going to effect your life? Are you just going to say, "Wow, that's a good verse" and walk away, or are you going to let those words sink in and act upon this truth? Ephesians 2:10 says we are created for His work that He created for us to do. Maybe this is the very wake up call you needed.
I'm not saying quit your job and be homeless to reach the homeless, but I am saying to not get comfortable in life. Instead, step out of your comfort zone, and be willing to serve others. Maybe you can't financially or physically help others, but you can always pray.
I want you to do something that can truly help humble yourself. Think of the person in your life you love the most, whether it's your spouse, child, friend, or parent. Just someone that is dear to you.
Now, I want you to think of the person you would least want to be seen with, whether it's because they're not cool, or smell bad, or are too sinful for your status, or maybe you just plain dislike them. The love in your words when you pray for that dear friend, should be the same love you use when you pray for that person you don't like. That's NOT easy to do, but it's truly humbling. It's a first step to a servants heart.
Humble yourself, and be willing to be a slave to others. Don't let these words just be words. Realize, this is God speaking to YOU through His holy Word. Listen to what He has to say, and if you truly love Him, you will do as He commands.
1 John 2:3-6(ESV)
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
I haven't had the chance to blog as often as I use to... mostly because of work, but also because I have been preoccupied with other parts of my life. Recently I have been thinking of what I wanted to blog next and this has been in my head for awhile now. Please, just remember, I am not trying to come across offensively, but I my writing style may be a little blunt. ;)
Where do I begin? I'll start with this: Is God using you, or are you trying to use God?
'But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Romans 9:20 (NIV)
We live in such a selfish world today. Whether you bump into an old friend, meet up with family, or maybe just seeing every day people, what is the main topic? Usually, they talk about their life, and then you get a chance to talk about your life. You probably ask questions like:
"How are you doing?"
"What have you been up to?"
"How's your job?"
"How's your family?"
Then It's your turn to answer and everything you talk about is you and your life.
I'm not saying this is entirely a bad thing. Sometimes people ask how someone is doing because they care. Sometimes you have a friend you haven't seen in a long time, and they just want to know what they've missed. The point is, if I'm a Christian, why am I the main point of all of my conversations? Why am I not answering with "God..." instead of "I..."
Let me ask a few questions for you to chew on...
Do you believe God saved you? Did He have to? Did He save you because You said a prayer, or You did something different, or You made the decision that He can be a part of Your life?
Please, don't keep reading until you really ponder these questions. The answers you make personally to those questions will affect what these next words may mean to you.
I don't ask those questions to scare you or cause you to debate with me, but I believe they are important for you to answer on your own. It's truly a humbling matter.
I grew up thinking God saved me because I said the magic words to a prayer.
(That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 9:10)
After saying the prayer, like all the other children, I must have been saved. I was just listening to what I was told to do. I knew the Bible was true, and I thought I did what it said. God HAD to save me because I did the steps! (Pretty selfish mindset, don't you think?)
Over the course of my life, growing in my faith had caused me to really debate with what I was taught. Early on I had many points of doubt with God, wondering "What if I didn't mean it and I'm not saved?".
Now, I'm not blaming teachers, my church, or anyone teaching me incorrectly; I'm actually thankful I went through a time believing this false teaching. If I didn't go through it, I wouldn't be able to share it today, and if I'm going to blame anyone for a moment of time I went through, wouldn't God, the Creator and author of time, be the one to blame?
You see, God has ordained the times and has His hand on every moment. That means God had a purpose for me going through a time where I was in the dark. It was a part of my life that God had planned, moving pawns into place when the time had come for everything to happen according to His way (Ephesians 1-3). If I never went on believing the lie of being saved by a prayer, maybe I would have never sought God in the first place.
I'm saying all this because I want you to know this truth: God is intimate with His Creation.
This is very important to understand and remember. God didn't create the world and wind it up like an alarm clock to watch everything happen. God is working at every moment of every day. God knows what He has done, knows what He is doing, and knows what He's going to do. Our God commands us not to be a sluggard; it'd be pretty hypocritical if all he did was "sit back eating potato chips on the couch to watch the world pass by." (A line from my friend Ben)
God has predestined me as one of His children. How do I know? Because the Bible says so and no lie has left the mouth of God. He had me planned as one of His elect. If He had me planned as one of His elect, He'd definitely make sure that life lead to a point where He drew me to His son and I heard the words of God that ultimately gave me saving faith to make the decision to follow Christ. Yes, I made a personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, but it was NOT on my terms! It was ALL an act of grace on God's part! My decision was made because He decided to save a dirty sinner like me, and grace be to God because of it!
He drew me to His son. ("No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." -John 6:44NIV)
He put His Word in my life so I could hear. (9 "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”' -Romans 10:9-15NIV)
I heard the Words of God, which had the power to pierce through my heart which was turned away from understanding God. (hears a bunch of verses about the power of God's Word: https://dailyverses.net/the-word I didn't want to list them all)
I was redeemed by Jesus Christ. ("The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." -1 Corinthians 2:14NIV)
Only then, when God's Word gave me the understanding of who God was and who I was in his presence, I came before God and repented asking for His salvation. (25 "Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." -2 Timothy 2:25-26NIV)
It was ALL granted by God's beautiful work of grace. (8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:8-10NIV)
(12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—" Romans 9:16-23)
All that to ask this question: Are you living on your to do list or God's to do list?
I was at my friend's house the other night, and before going to sleep his father was spreading some wisdom on us. Something that struck me was when He asked, "Is God on your priority list?"
You would think the easy answer to this question would be "Yes, of course God's at the top of my priority list", but that wasn't the answer he was looking for (trick question). You see, God, the sovereign one in control, does not and will not conform to the little box you call your life. I don't think there's a verse in the Bible that states, "God will conform to your ways." Believing in some God that lets you live the way you want, when you want, and HOW you want is some made up God in your head!
You need to live your life asking God for Him to conform you to His ways. What I'm not saying is you can't have goals in life, but remember, as a Christian, this is not your home. If God was gracious enough to save you, don't you think He had a reason. That is what you should be living your life towards. Stop trying to meet your own expectations, and dig deep searching God's word for His expectations in you. God is no sluggard, and neither should you be. Be willing to put in work for God while you live on this earth.
We live life trying to put God in our box while we go on with daily living. Yeah, we have time for Him on Sunday, maybe prayer before dinner, and if we're feeling "extra spiritual" we even read His Word in the morning or go to Bible studies.
We need to come to the realization of how gracious God has been to you, saving you from sin, without any requirements because you couldn't keep any of the law anyways. He went as far as giving you His only Son to die a brutal, bloody death, so that you could be with Him some day. And what do you do in return? Lie to yourself, saying YOU saved yourself with the magic words or deeds and throw God in YOUR box to follow your life plans?! Sometimes a self examination can really show how selfish and messed up we so called "Christians" really are.
After realizing that everything is all by the overflowing love and grace God showers upon us, only then will we see why living for Christ is so important. It's all part of God's plan. Maybe it was God's plan for you to read this today so that you could get back on track.
Again, I am not saying you can't have a career, goals, or fun. I'm just trying to get across this point:
Don't put God on a to do list; that's a works based salvation and not the salvation the Bible teaches. Instead, read God's word and ask Him what He wants you to do for His glory. Paul was humble enough to call himself a slave of Jesus Christ (first verse of many of His letters); are YOU?
So I have the prologue and first chapter pretty much completed and edited. I would have liked to have the next chapters edited by now, but it has been rough trying to get someone to help me so it is not bias. I have a few sources that I am going to have help go through it with me hopefully soon. Prayer that (in God's timing) I finish my book and it brings glory to Him would be MUCH appreciated. Thank you -Michael Jaymes
It's a day late, but here's a poem I wrote on Christmas Eve. I hope you enjoy it and have a happy holiday.
What Christmas Means To Me
I come to you with news today.
Good tidings of great joy I will relay.
The Christmas story, have you ever heard?
The true story recorded in God's word.
It's about the boy born in a Manger.
To this world he was a stranger.
At this time there was silence on earth
Until this new born baby's birth.
This is not the story of an ordinary baby.
This is God's son, sent to save me.
Born of a virgin, how could this be?
Because the son of God had to be sin free.
If He was born from the seed of man
Sin would have ruined God's perfect plan.
Instead God chose the virgin Mary
And sent an angel to tell her whom she'll carry.
Mary said the angel's words were flawed,
But he reminded her that nothing is impossible with God.
Joseph planned a divorce when he found out,
But an angel in a dream removed his doubt.
Sure enough, Mary bore a son.
Prophecies were fulfilled; the Messiah had come.
The angel declared that they call Him Jesus
And that He was the one sent to save us.
Remember I said, "He was sent to save me"?
That's because God planned for Jesus to be
The spokesman, a servant, the only way,
The door, the deliverer, and the sacrifice paid.
You see, Jesus lived as a perfect man.
He's the only one that could fulfill God's plan.
The price of sin was high to pay,
But my Savior, Jesus, paved the way.
He faced His fate; He lived perfectly.
He was sinless all the way to Calvary.
He was dying, hanging, on a tree,
But I know He did it all for me.
Dead and cold my Savior laid.
In the grave he laid for three days.
He has risen! Can it be?
Oh grave, where is thy victory?
He took my sin to the grave,
And now my soul he has saved.
This is why Jesus was sent:
He came and died for the punishment
That sin had put upon our soul
So we can then again be whole.
Do you now see why I celebrate Christmas?
It's not for money, toys, or other presents.
I'm reminded of His birth,
A gift with priceless worth.
Because of Jesus being gifted,
Now my burden has been lifted.
This story is what makes Christmas true.
I pray that God gives this gift to you.
By Michael Jaymes
First of all, is spilt even a word, or is it a slang term? (Lol)
Heard a great message from my pastor awhile back. He used this statement to make a point I wanted to share with you.
"Don't cry over spilt milk."
Well, what's that suppose to mean? Let's take it, first, literally, and then as an example to apply to our lives.
Literally, it means what it says. I mean, I don't think this needs to be explained, but I like the picture it puts in my head. I think of when I was a kid, trying to pour my first few bowls of cereal. I saw the target, aimed, and still seemed to go all around the bowl on the floor and table, making maybe a tenth of what I poured out into the bowl. I knew where I wanted the milk to go, but mistakenly spilled (or spilt? lol) it all around the target.
There was probably a few reasons I missed. First, I lacked the strength in my five year old arms to pour a full gallon of milk. Secondly, my mom use to always make my cereal for me. It was new and difficult for me to learn to do. Thirdly, as a child, my accuracy was not a strength yet. Even though it is something as small as pouring milk into a bowl of cereal, it was still something I had to learn.
As you can expect, I cried when I made the mistake. I was a child; what more can you expect of a child that doesn't achieve their goal? After making a spill, I wouldn't want to clean up the milk; heck, I wouldn't even want my cereal anymore! I felt defeated. I wanted to give up!
"Don't cry over spilt milk."
Whether it was my mom, dad, or maybe an older sibling, someone probably came along my side, told me to quit crying like a baby, and helped me clean up the accident. You see, I couldn't just cry and leave it there; what does that accomplish? I had to clean up the mistake and move on. I couldn't dwell on a small, mistake and allow it to ruin my whole morning. Instead, I could clean it up, pour my milk again, and enjoy my cereal.
Now, I know this all seems silly to think about, but this is how you sometimes live your life. You act like a five year old again. Instead of cleaning up your mistake and moving on, you decide to pout about how, "I can never accomplish anything in life." and say, "I hate my life." Really? You're going to let a mistake that's in the passed ruin the way you live in the future? That seems a little childish, does it not?
Maybe you blame your mistakes that haunt your life on depression, not being good enough, or on others. You want to know what I think you should blame it on? PRIDE! The only one deciding how you will live your life is yourself. You make a mistake.... That stinks, but don't be unwilling to clean it up and move on! I don't care how small or large this mistake is. Maybe you upset someone on accident or made a mistake at work. Maybe a mistake threw you off track for a life goal, or maybe you made a choice that is "unforgivable" to someone else. Whether it's great or small, you have to move on. Don't choose to live in a bitter, selfish, depressed lifestyle because you're no good. Get up, and move on.
Now, if you've read this far, thank you for persevering through my ranting. Let me get into the Biblical aspect of this. I can understand that some mistakes are harder to clean up and move on from than others. Some may seem impossible in your own strength to overcome. Thank God you don't have to and sometimes shouldn't keep trying.
You see, some mistakes are created through just pure accident. All this proves is that humans are not perfect; move on. You can get over that. Issues created by sin is different. For example, if you create an issue through your temptation in sin, should you try to overcome it in your own strength? NO! Why would you trust yourself to overcome sin when YOU are the one who fell in the first place? What sense does that make? Logically the only other person you can turn to as a believer is God.
“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” (Hosea 12:6ESV)
I've said it before, I'll say it again: MISTAKES HAPPEN!!! Whether it's out of an ignorant decision or pure accident, you can't change the fact that you spilt the milk. The question is, what are you gonna do about it? Are you gonna act like a child, cry about it in the corner, and leave the mess hoping someone else will clean it up so you can act like it never happened? Or will you go to God, the only one who has control over your messy lifestyle, and ask Him to help you?
"'Even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." (Joel 2:12-13NIV)
Sometimes, it's pretty hard to face God without pride. No one wants to admit they need help, they can't do it, and that they made a mistake; but what's scarier: trying to fix things on your own, trusting yourself, the one who is bound to mess up again.... or facing a compassionate God and crying out, "God! Please have mercy on me. I can't do this on my own; I need your help to get through this."?
You may be a disappointment, a failure, and a defeated individual. You may be broken beyond what anyone can imagine. You may feel like there is no reason to live life anymore because this mistake is too much to bare. (weird, I say all this as if I have experience...)
These depressing thoughts will NOT put you back on your feet. These are thoughts of pride, pulling yourself down, treating yourself like you're garbage.
"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." (Psalm 42:11ESV)
Have you forgotten? If you're a believer, what you once were WAS garbage, but not anymore!!! You're created in the image of God; you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. You are a light for God. You were adopted as one of God's children FREELY in despite of your filthiness, and now you want to call yourself trash? Don't lie to yourself. You know who your heavenly Father is! Turn to Him! When was the last time you asked Him for anything!?!? This time of darkness seems like a very convenient time to get things right with Him.
Sometimes God allows what we call "bad things" to happen for us to turn to Him. He has a much better plan for you; He has a purpose of glory in everything. Let that encourage you to turn your back on these depressing thoughts and run to the one who loves you! As a Christian, death has no hold on you; the only one that will never let go is God. Cling back to Him; turn to Him and search for comfort and peace only He can provide.
"When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." (Psalm 34:17-19ESV)
Remember the story I told in the beginning? Someone came to help the child clean up the mistake. They helped fix the issue. YOU are the child in the story, and that someone who came along side the child is God. Don't be a baby that pouts in the corner; instead, allow God to help you clean up the mess. Stop giving up and letting your emotions run your life. Stop pushing God away. Who else is going to help you?
"Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7NKJV)
I wanna challenge you to read Psalm 34 if you are struggling with something bothering you from your past. It is a great passage of comfort, and can help you fix your eyes on the Lord. He is in control; He knows what you are going through and why. Trust and seek Him for peace.
I know... I haven't written in awhile. My mind has been engaged on my work and my life. I guess that sounds kind of selfish. I'm sorry; I took my mind off the goal for a long time, but I have good news for you! Before I get to this news, let me give you a small update on my life.
If you did not know, I was writing a book. Yes, writing, as in past tense. I can now say I have written a book. My first book is finished; well, actually, it's still a rough draft and has to be proof read. The book is basically written, but over the review it may receive some slight changes in wording and maybe some additional sentences. I wrote it in about a months time! I'm actually surprised with how quick I wrote the book. It is not very long (between 70-110 pages), but it is exactly what I wanted. I cannot wait to share it with you. It is easily read and great for all ages to hopefully enjoy. I am hoping to have it published early on in the new year to come.
After finishing writing, I took a long break from writing anything at all. I started doing some online work and really enjoyed the job I got into. It's been a great first two months working, but it kind of got me side track from my passion of writing. I almost feel I need to apologize for my absence. Maybe you have kept up with my blog or maybe you have never read it before, but I have always had a passion of sharing the effectual love I have received from God that can change your life too. I have always had a passion of being a motivation to the people around me with my words; the last two months I have stepped away from that passion and filled that space with work. I guess to put it bluntly, I have failed myself and feel like I have failed you. More importantly, I have failed God.
God has put this ability and enthusiasm inside of me of writing and sharing uplifting news with you, and I have disregarded? Shame on me! But let me point something out to you: just because I have fallen in the pit of failure, it does NOT mean I can't get out.
This is where the good news for you comes in! You see, I have fallen into a lazy state. I have fallen off track with something I believe God wants me to do: share what He has taught me with you!!! But let me be an example to you in your life! Maybe you have fallen off track with something too. It can be anything! Maybe you strive to lose weight, buy something you have to save for, be better at basketball, or even grow closer to God.
-YOU WILL NEVER GET THE RESULTS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR WITHOUT PUTTING IN THE TIME-
You see, when you start something, you aren't finished until you get to the result. You don't quit in the middle. Maybe you slacked off at a time, but don't let that stop you from getting back up. Maybe there's a sin you keep falling into temptation with. Do you discourage yourself by saying, "Well, I fell into temptation last time so it doesn't matter if I do this time. I'm never gonna be able to stop anyways." STOP! That is a lazy way out. It's an excuse your flesh will try to use.
Mind over Body!
Whether it's a sin temptation or just any ordinary situation in life, don't let your failures stop you from reaching success.
-If you want to lose weight, put in the work.
-If you want to buy something out of your price range, put in the discipline to save your money.
-If you want to get better at basketball, keep your head up and start practicing.
-If you want to grow closer to God, put in the time for prayer and devotions.
If I want to be a better witness through my writing, I need to start writing again. I let my laziness get in the way and told myself it doesn't matter. I now realize that from my lack of motivation, I had fallen away from my writing; but if I don't start again now, how long would I keep pushing it off?
Listen, you are not alone. Everyone struggles with reaching goals in life. As a motivation, remember this verse:
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
As a Christian, God has created you for good works. God has prepared a way that you would walk for His glory. Let that motivate you to live up to that goal. It has motivated me tonight. I was quoting that verse and thought right away, "Man, I gotta get back into writing."
I hope if there are any goals you have missed or failing to reach, that you would get back on track and live up to the purpose of success. Don't let mistakes hold you down; instead, allow motivation to pick you up.
So I haven't written in awhile, and that is because I have been working on a book!!! Yes, I am going to self publish my first very own book! I am not exactly sure when it will be done (I'm hoping very soon), but I have also been working on this poem. So I wrote a poem, but I didn't want to post it without backing it up with scripture. So here it is! I hope you enjoy it. God bless!
I wrote for Christians, trying to give a better understanding of their salvation. I hear many testimonies where people talk a lot about what they did and how they accepted Christ. It always makes me think, "Is it really all about what YOU did? How did you make that decision on your own? What caused you to make that decision?" I use to think that I had salvation because one day I asked Jesus to save me and repented of my sin. I am not saying that there is no repentance to salvation; that is definitely part of it! But what happened first? Did I just magically decide one day that Jesus was the answer to all my problems and choose Him, or has God had a purpose and plan for my life, choosing me beforehand allowing me to choose Him also?
I am not trying to offend anyone in this poem, but I definitely come across blunt. If you have your opinions or disagree that's totally okay. I am backing up what I say with scripture and doing my best to explain what I have been learning in my personal study of Soteriology recently. I just want people to realize after salvation how intimate it really is. God chose you first, had a plan, made you who you are for His glory, and has a plan in how He'll use you.
You didn't do anything, saying anything, or be anything different than anyone else; God just decided out of His sovereignty that you were going to be one of His. You rejected Him through life until one day He decided to open your eyes, draw you in, and cause you to choose Him by repenting and believing. And that's not the end; now you are on a journey with God where He is transforming you and sanctifying you more and more into the likeness of His son. Isn't it beautiful!?
I guess I will stop rambling on; here is my poem and there is scripture next to every line to hopefully back everything up. I would encourage you to read all the scripture and really meditate on what the words mean. It was really powerful doing a small study on sin and salvation. Please enjoy.
Salvation By God
I write in spite of what the world may say
Or think of me because I believe this way.
Some say and may believe that this is true:
"salvation is a gift for me and for you."
I won't and don't doubt one's salvation,
But is it possible a lie swept across the nation? II Thessalonians 2
I'll try to find an easy way to explain
That the delusion of salvation through a prayer is insane. Ephesians 2:8-10, John 6:44, Psalm 65:4
Many agree with what parents or church taught, Psalm 118:8, Jeremiah 17:5-12, Isaiah 29:13
That they get a say in going to hell or not. Matthew 10:28, Romans 9:14-23
Don't base your case on what others may say. Psalm 118:8, Jeremiah 17:5-12
Base your religion on what the Bible relays. Psalm 33:4, Psalm 18:30
Feel free to see what I believe God teaches,
But again, don't believe because it's what a man preaches. Psalm 118:8
This is what His word has said to me;
So Please, enjoy this poem on how man is set free:
My soul is wholly saved by grace God gave me; Ephesians 2:8
It's not by a work, a prayer, or a plea. Ephesians 2:9
My eyes were opened; I see black and white. Acts 26:18
Their way is gray, with no wrong or right. Ecclesiastes 5:1
For they without ray of light inside Proverbs 4:19
Are in sin's darkness where they abide. II Corinthians 4:4
Is in their sin where they will stay? I Corinthians 2:14, Matthew 22:14
That's not for me to choose or say. II Thessalonians 2:13, Romans 8:29-30, I Peter 2:9
"Is it a bit unfair?" you may debate. I Samuel 2:1-7
"Shouldn't all get a chance to enter heaven's gate?" Romans 9:20-24
Does he or she have a right in that choice? Romans 8:7, Romans 3;12
God doesn't listen to a sinner's voice. John 9:31, Psalm 34:15
For they one day may receive salvation. II Corinthians 2:2,
But not out of their own declaration. Matthew 7:21-23, Titus 1:16
God's gift that lifts one out of darkness Ephesians 2:8, 2 Corinthians 4:6
Is solely on Him; works are regardless. Ephesians 2:9, Titus 3:3-7
Can't you see that all are enslaved to sin? Acts 7:51, Romans 3:12 John 8:34
Every work is bound by evil within. Titus 3:3, John 3:20, Romans 8:8
To vent and repent to God won't save! Romans 3:11, Isaiah 29:13
Anything man does only leads to the grave! Romans 7:5, Proverbs 14:12
Realize the wise of this world are not right. Romans 1:22
Man's ways are hopeless in this fight. John 15:4-5, Philippians 2:13, Galatians 6:3
To win against sin is impossible for man; Matthew 19:25-26, Hebrews 10:1-10, Hebrews 11:6
To be freed from sin's chains is something God can.Romans 6:22, John 8:36, Romans 8:2, Isaiah 43:10-13
A good deed won't lead one to receive; Romans 10:1-4, Titus 3:5, Romans 3:27-28
Only by God given faith one can believe. Romans 12:3, 10:17, Hebrews 12:2, Galatians 3:23-24
Any voice or choice said by one Romans 10:9-10
Is because God’s saving work has begun. John 15:16
God draws one near and opens their eyes. John 6:44, Luke 4:18, John 9:39, II Corinthians 3:16
He takes a fool and makes him wise. Ephesians 1:17, James 1:5
It's then that men will choose to repent. Romans 2:4
Because God gave the knowledge of what sin really meant. Proverbs 2:6, Ephesians 1:17
When freed they believed through faith in Christ Galatians 2:16
Because He is the one who paid the price. I Peter 2:24
When in their sin, faith couldn't be found 2 Corinthians 2:14, 4:4-6, Ephesians 4:17-19
Because by sin's nature they were bound. Proverbs 5:22
Please see that we are not freed from what we say. Romans 9:20, Acts 4:12
It is God alone who can takes sin's chains away. Galatians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 3:17
It's He who will be the one who will choose His elect. Romans 9:11, 11:5, Ephesians 1:4
He is the Creator, sovereign and perfect. Psalm 18:30, I Timothy 6:15, Romans 9:1, Acts 4:24
Is Christianity being sugarcoated? I feel like Christianity is being preached as if we are the center of attention, but the Bible is completely against this. It's not about us at all! It is about our King, God almighty. He does so much for us that we don't deserve.
Living the Christian life is not about becoming a better person, or checking off a list of works, or deciding that God saves so "I might as well live His way." True Christianity is all about how God draws one in, transforms Him completely, and this one now lives beholding Jesus Christ.
Think about this:
Salvation is nothing one does; it is all by the grace of God and out of His supernatural power. He draws one to Him and opens his eyes to the knowledge of his sin and hopelessness without God. That is the only reason one would repent and turn to God because in the state of sin, no one will turn to Him. This is the beauty of salvation!
Romans 7:18-25(ESV) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. vs.19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. vs.20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. vs.21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. vs.22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, vs.23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. vs.24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? vs.25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Ephesians 2:8-9(KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: vs.9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
After salvation, one's life is under the chastising and direction of God. Yes, He has the choice of right and wrong, but His will is limited by God's allowance and directing. This life is not lived in attempt to have less sin; after salvation you are still in your flesh and will still choose to sin at times. This life is not lived chasing perfect deeds; this life is lived chasing a perfect savior!
Phil. 1:21(KJV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Salvation causes one to see how beautiful Christ truly is. It's what causes one to thirst after God more and more. It's not within the man that changes the way he walks, talks, and thinks. These things are transformed by God! His salvation changes one!
Acts 26:18(KJV) To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
PLEASE REALIZE THAT YOU DOING GOD'S WORK IS ONLY BY THE SALVATION GOD HAS GIVEN YOU. THE DEEDS YOU DO AFTER SALVATION ARE NOT OF YOURSELF!
Phil. 3:9(KJV) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
I am not saying that you don't make your own choices, but you never would have made the choice to glorify God if God never saved you in the first place! God commands us in His word to live for Him, but you showing fruits in how you live after salvation is only because Christ has broke sin's bound on you. So in saying that, your works are only done out of result of what Christ first did to you.
Understand? Good, let's move on.
Sorry, but I am now just getting to my main point, so please, just hang in there.
God has now saved one; this person is now a Christian. Now what? Well, they usually go to church. Why? To know more about this new God in their life. The danger of this is that so many church's teachings are watered down! All this Christian may hear is about how lovey lovey God is to everyone. If you read your Bible a little bit, I bet you will see a God who is a little more than just love.
Yes, God is love, but God is also equally hate! Yes God is full of grace and mercy, but God is full of wrath and judgement also. So you know the one half of God; shouldn't we want to know the other half of God? Do you want to know your God as much as you can?
Many would say God is not hate or even anger; He's just a big happy guy waiting for someone to "decide to love Jesus". If God was just love and loves everyone, then answer me this:
Why did He create hell?
Why did He flood the ENTIRE world and only decide to save eight people?
Why did God destroy Sodom and Gamorrah?
Why did He harden Pharaoh's heart?
Why did He favor Israel as his chosen people?
Why does the Bible talk about so much bloodshed?
Why does the Bible say many will come before Christ and be denied?
Why does God say He loved Jacob and hated Esau?
There's probably many other questions I could ask, but can you see that God is more than just love? Stop reading the easy stuff. It's not wrong to know God loves; it's really important to know God is love. But there is so much more to learn about Him.
You see, I am not trying to tell you churches are wrong, but many churches are afraid to "offend" people if they teach about the other side of God. Let me tell you a secret: the whole Bible is offensive! Jesus Himself was offensive. He never sugarcoated people's sin; He drove straight to the point and was blunt to the sinner. He was not afraid to hurt feelings because sometimes the truth really does hurt.
I have something very important to tell you. If you remember anything you read, let this be it:
DON'T BASE YOUR SALVATION OFF OF WHAT SOMEONE TELLS YOU!
I don't care if it's your pastor, best friend, parent, or sibling! Everything they tell you may be true, but do not believe what they say without lining it up with the Bible. The only one you can believe about your salvation or any topic about living the Christian life is God, the one who is the giver of life! He understands it much more than anyone you will EVER meet. He is the only one who can explain it, and He explains everything you need to know in His word!
2 Timothy 3:16(ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
You see, without lining things up with the Bible, man finds no reason to read their Bible. With no reason to read your Bible, you will have a belief that is simply based on man's words. The danger of this is that any man can falsely say anything about the Bible. Anyone can say, "God hates alcoholics," and thousands may believe it. Did they actually read a verse that says that or are they just basing their belief off of what one man said? Do you see my point?
I know this whole post is a little rabbit trailish... but I want you to get these three points out of it. First, salvation is a work of God not of man. If it was of man than man would not be truly hopeless would they? Second, any good work done of you after salvation is only because God has saved you first. Your works are not a checklist for God, but they are part of the transformation and working of the Holy Spirit in a Christian's life. You would never serve Him unless He saved you first. Third, after salvation, READ YOUR BIBLE. Don't base your religion off what you heard, but seek to know it for yourself. Grow closer to God by learning more about Him.
I would challenge you to find some answers to the questions I mentioned above. I would encourage you to even find the answers on your own. Don't see what Google has to say, or ask that "really good Christian friend", or go to your pastor. These are all good resources for input or where to look into the Bible for the subject, but a Christian should study God's word on their own. Have some time between just you and God, pray you will understand what He says in His word, and dive in. You can look up what passages of scripture may cover these topics, but read them yourself.
If you still don't understand after searching out an answer, then I would go to someone who knows more or may have more knowledge on the question you are trying to answer. It's always good to discuss deep theology and doctrine with friends or elders.
Find a good church that preaches the word truthfully. I can remember growing up a pastor telling me, "Find a church that reads from the Bible and challenges you to read your Bible on your own." Those are wise words. If a church is challenging you to read it for yourself, I bet there's a better chance what they are preaching is going to be found in the Bible.
I'm only challenging you to do these things because I want to be an encouragement to you to read your Bible. If you read my last post on lazy Christians, you would understand why I am writing this. It is so very important that we actually find out who our God truly is to us; especially in your own life. Find out more about who God is as your Savior, Father, friend, Creator, and director.
2 Timothy 2:15(KJV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Hi, I am Michael Jaymes. I am 20 years old, and decided to start writing in the winter of 2017. I have always loved writing, and I get to pour out that passion in my blog. I want to be a motivation, an encouragement, and edify my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that come to MainstreamBlog. I have made my life motto, "I just want to be a blessing." This is where I live that out!