-Motivational Blog Posts To Encourage You To Stay On The Mainstream Path Of Faith-
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!
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!
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
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.
Any "Christian" can say, "Jesus died for me" or "God is love" or "I know I'm saved because I said the prayer", but do they really know who God is? Do they really know what salvation is or what they believe? I have been going back and forth with myself if I wanted to ever write this because I feel it may offend some, but I know God has laid this upon my heart for a reason. I want you to think about yourself as you read these words, and truly answer to yourself if this is you.
I am not here to attack anyone; I am not here to make you confused or afraid. I am not writing to make you doubt your beliefs or change your beliefs. I want you to read this and question yourself. I want you to really dive deep instead of just skimming the surface. I want this post to cause you to do your own research if these words cause you to think.
I hate seeing these "LAZY Christians". There life speaks words to me like this: "Oh, yeah, I'm a Christian. My mom told me to get to heaven I had to repeat after her and just really mean it. I said the prayer and I think I believed hard enough. Ever since, I have been doing all these good things for God."
You know these people. Maybe this is you. These people know the simple verses like Romans 3:23, John 3:16, and maybe Acts 16:31 if you're lucky. They talk about how much their life has changed since they've been trying to be a Christian, but if you look deep enough, these are the same kids that are at home watching porn when no one is around, cursing because they're "cool" when they're outside of the Christian circle, listening to that rap and hip-hop trash that fills your mind with filthiness, and just completely following their heart after lustful desires that the Bible completely speaks against doing.
I am not saying that Christians don't struggle, mess up, and do these same or similar sins daily, but I know the Bible says "you will know them by their fruits." If you don't see them even trying to put off the old and put on the new how can you believe that they have truly been changed at all?
The Bible CLEARLY states, “Put off the old, and put on the new.” If these small areas of their life aren’t matching up with the Bible, what’s the rest of their life look like? The Bible talks about confusion and diversions in the world. It talks about how Satan will have diversions in the world and lead people away from God. Could one of the diversions possibly be someone thinking they are saved?
Revelation 12:9 (KJV)
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (KJV)
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
The Bible says many will think they are going to Heaven, but you want to know what they will say? It will probably be along the lines of, "Lord, I did all these good things. I said the salvation prayer, I prayed for my friends to get saved, I went to church on more than just Sundays, I went on that one mission's trip, I went to youth group, I stopped cursing for the most part, and I did all these other good things for you!" Jesus' words will be, "Depart from me ye that work iniquity; I never knew you."
Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV)
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
How sad will that be? That must be a shocker to them! Did you see the pattern though? The people that think they are saved will say, "I did this, I did that, I I I I....." Is it really about anything we did? Is salvation AT ALL about what you or I did? Is it about some prayer you said? You really believe that a prayer is the key to salvation when it's preached all the time, "It's not by works"? I hope it doesn’t make sense when the preacher says, "You can't do anything to save yourself so just say a prayer and Jesus will save you!"
Speakers like this are literally telling you to do a certain work (say a salvation prayer), and you will obtain the gift of salvation from Jesus. After that they tell you to change on the outside and show the world what a "Christian" looks like. Just live a certain way and say the right things; you will definitely be going to heaven if you just follow these simple steps. Step one: Say the prayer. Step two: Live the life. Step three: get others to say the prayer. I believe these are the three key steps to living the life of a "Lazy Christian."
Now let me tell you why I feel this way. Romans 6:6 says that Christians use to be slaves to sin. Do you know what that means? The unsaved is enslaved to sin, as in bound by sin. You were or are consumed by sin nature. If one is bound by sin nature, can they do anything that is good? NO!!! Of course not. The Bible says that their works are like filthy rags because it is impossible for someone to do good if they are enslaved to sin.
Isaiah 64:6 (KJV)
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
That's like telling a human to grow a tail or to fly with wings. It's impossible! Why? Because you are bound by human nature. Your human body cannot do that. It’s the same with an unsaved man enslaved to sin; they cannot do any good because good is the complete opposite of sin and outside of sin nature. So if this is true, is it really possible to admit you are sin and do something good like saying a prayer that you believe in God to get saved? I would disagree, but this is what many believe.
I wouldn’t doubt one’s salvation who believes this way, but I would doubt their understanding of their salvation. God can save somebody and they can still believe they said a prayer that saved them. But at the same time, one can say they got saved by a prayer they said and not be saved at all. Many believe this way, but I think it is a mix of Christians and unsaved.
Psalm says the fool rejects/disbelieves God. A fool is one who is unsaved. If they are rejecting God, why would they come to admitting they need God? They wouldn’t! So how can you get saved? I’m making it sound like mankind is pretty hopeless.... But that’s because mankind IS hopeless. Salvation is nothing any man can achieve on their own. It is only by the work of God one can be saved.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. 2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. 3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
You see, God draws one near and touches their life with His grace.This grace is what saves; this grace is what opens one's eyes so that they may see. Saving grace is what reveals the truth to one of their hopelessness. Without God’s drawing and touching one’s life with this grace, man cannot receive salvation.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Many will disagree with this because of the belief of God not wanting any to perish and giving man the freedom of choosing salvation. They might say that if God’s drawing was only for people He chose then He’s sending people to hell. First, God doesn’t send people to hell; sin does (Romans 6:23). Secondly, If you are bound by sin nature do you have the choice to do what is right? I don’t believe this is so. So can you really have a choice of doing what is right? Would that make salvation special at all if it was just thrown to whoever? I believe it is much more intimate if God says, “I have chose to save you!” I believe God has to shine light in the darkness to open up salvation to you.
Another part people disagree on is God’s drawing. Some believe there is no election and chosen people for God, but if you read Ephesians 1-2 it says otherwise. I believe on the opposite side of the spectrum; I believe if God doesn’t draw you in and open your eyes, you don’t receive salvation. Many will say that makes God unfair. Well is God a god based on fairness?
HA! NO! (not trying to mock anyone, but I hate the idea of a "fair" God)
If that was so, God would weigh our “goods” and bads on a scale and tell us if we made it to heaven or not. If God was truly fair, everyone would go to hell. NO ONE is righteous and even worthy in God’s presence. Is grace “fair”? The whole idea of salvation is not fair. It wasn’t out of fairness God gives salvation; it was out of His love and grace He chose to save some of His creation. If you don’t think that’s fair or right of God to do, read Romans 9 and then tell me if you have any business telling the Creator what He can and can’t do with His creation!
Man cannot confess of sin to be saved; one confesses their sin because God has saved. When God reveals full glory and grace to one, they will repent, but without God drawing and revealing, man cannot find good on their own.
You see, man would not be hopeless if you believed you have to seek God and say a salvation prayer when you believed. Man is only hopeless if they cannot save themselves, but only be saved if their life was touched by a stronger outside source (God) that could break the sin’s chains of slavery.
I hope I am not being confusing with all this, but if so my challenge to you would be to read your Bible and search it out! Don’t base your beliefs on man’s words; match up their words with the Bible. Don’t base your salvation off of what your pastor says or your parents taught you; look to God’s word! He promises to make Himself known to the ones who seek Him. He will draw one in, open their eyes, and cause them to realize the reality of their sin. They will cry out to Him because He has shown them.
I use to believe in what I call the Two-part Salvation. I believed God already did all the work by sending His son to die and promising life through his rising from the dead. I believed the free gift of salvation was just thrown out to everyone and whoever took it was smart. I always thought, “Why wouldn’t everyone take it? Even if you don’t want to follow Him, might as well take His gift of eternal life.” I believed that when I got saved it was through my belief and my words of confession. I believed God made a solution for my sin, and I acted upon it.
Ever since about six months ago I have been questioning my belief. I always knew I was saved because I could see change and feel conviction from the Holy Spirit in my life. I just had this problem with not knowing all the answers.
I will never know all the answers, but that shouldn’t stop me from diving deeper. From not diving deep enough I got myself into believing that my salvation was partly out of my working. Once I dove deeper and tried asking myself and other godly men in my life the harder questions I started seeing that my salvation was intimate. I could see my salvation had nothing to do with a prayer, but it had everything to do with God choosing me in His timing for His purpose. How much more special is that God wanted a relationship with me and I’m not just another lucky guy that chose to accept Him into my heart?
His gift of salvation is grace that is particular and much more meaningful than the grace He gives to everyone every day. That grace would include things like oxygen we breathe every day, a body that works, creative minds, and just the opportunity to live. Salvation’s grace is much more meaningful than the grace that God gives to the unsaved and saved every day.
I think I will stop rambling for now because this could go one hundred different directions if I keep typing. Let me end with this thought: I don’t want you to believe what I say because I say it’s true. It’s a lot to take in and questions will pop up in your head, but instead of getting defensive of what I am typing, look to God’s word and see what it says to you.
Don’t allow yourself to say, “I’m right and this guy’s wrong!” I wouldn’t be posting this if it wasn’t important to me or I didn’t believe it could open a whole new point of the Bible to you. Salvation is a topic I feel we dumb down so much when there is so much we might not understand about it. Did Jesus die for all sin or just Christians’ sin? Does God hate or only love? Was my salvation my choice? Can one reject salvation after Him showing grace and opening their eyes? Can I lose my salvation? Can I be saved and still do what I want?
I have already answered these questions and more for myself, but I’d like to challenge you to answer them personally. Get serious with God’s word; ask someone like your pastor or a Christian friend that may be more knowledgeable about questions like these. Ask them to show your where and what the Bible says. If you take anything out of this post, don’t let it be anger if your belief of what the Bible says about salvation is different than mine. My whole goal was to cause my readers to think and to tell you to not become a lazy Christian.
So don’t walk away from this post saying, “Hmmm, that was interesting.” I want you to get up, grab the Bible you haven’t touched in a few days/weeks/months/years, and get your phone. Do a simple Google search of some keywords or where to find verses. Read some passages you remember that talk about salvation if you want to study more (I would suggest Ephesians and Romans). Ask others questions. Do everything in your power to try to understand and know as much as you can about what God says about salvation.
Don’t be a lazy Christian; thirst after the word and desire to understand it more instead of taking an easy way out. Don’t make God the God you want Him to be in your mind; read the Bible and see what He has to say to you. (look at that! I said I’d stop rambling four paragraphs ago…)
I am sorry I have not posted in a long time; I have pushed it off for awhile now. Some of it was laziness, but most of it was because I do not want to write halfheartedly. Let me explain....
I work at a Christian camp called Spruce Lake located in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. I am a counselor for a program called Day Camp there. Day Camp is like day care and vacation Bible school smashed together that lasts eleven weeks in the summer. At Day Camp we average close to 100 campers a day, and anywhere between 8-15 of them are my responsibility every day. I am the counselor of the Rattler group, which is the 12-13 year old children.
These kids pretty much drain me Monday through Friday. My day consists of teaching devotions, feeding them lunch, running games and playing along, walking them to each activity, and anything in between. We do camp games, hike Spruce Mountain, go on field trips, swim, make crafts, and many other things that occupy time from 9-4 every day. Since it is a Christian camp, God is shown and talked about at every opportunity found.
Like I said, these kids drain me, but I love my job. I have such a burden for teaching these kids about who God is, what God has done, and what God is doing. I want them to know about Christ and be able to share the same relationship I have with Him. Some of the children come from a family that go to church or at least have heard about God, but many of them do not. Many parents use Day Camp as just a day care and opportunity for their child to do something with their summer instead of sitting in front of a TV.
I get home from work every day around five. I am then exhausted and ready to do nothing; I get the urge to write many times and want to when I get home. I just don't want to write with the attitude of trying to just get it over with, or quick putting something together without studying my Bible or feeling inspired. I don't want writing to become homework; I want my writing to be done out of pure love for God, knowing that through my writing, God can use it to touch the lives of others.
I guess I am kind of challenging other Christian writers with this: Don't write because you feel like you need to, but write because you want to and are moved by the Holy Spirit to motivate, discipline, encourage, or overall point others to Christ. Yeah, maybe some of my delay in writing was out of laziness, but there were many times that I thought, "I do not want to write if I am this tired and unprepared."
I know I could throw something together in twenty minutes that sounds good and says to love Jesus, but is that really the attitude I want to go into writing with? I mean, this is talent given by God that I can use for His glory! I don't want to do a sloppy, halfhearted job on the Lord's work; I want to take my time and do my best to glorify Him. If I just try to throw something together quickly, am I going to hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."?
This doesn't just go for writing. This goes for any occupation, hobby, or work done by us. If Christians are going into life with the attitude of, let's just get this over with, are they truly bringing praise to God? If you are going through life with this this kind of rushing or sloppy attitude, you're lacking the heart and motive.
What is your motive when you work? Is it, "How can I point someone towards Christ today?" or is it, "I can't wait till this day is over so I can do what I want!" The second one definitely sounds selfish, but it's how so many of us act so often.
To close, I would like to just try to encourage (as well as myself) to humble yourself and remember what you are working for. Pray and ask God to give you the opportunities to set an example of a follower of Christ to others. Be all in for the glory of Christ. Put your own desires and goals aside when you are doing God's work. Don't get sloppy or become lazy; become motivated!
It has been on my mind recently that I believe God is calling me into missions. I don't know where, how, when, with who, or even why; but I know that God wants me to tell others about what He has done for me and what He can do for others who are broken and lost like I once was. I have a heart for those who are slaves to sin; I know the cure and don't think as a Christian I should keep that to myself.
I have been on three mission trips outside of the United States in the past, and it each time this question would pop into my head: "What about America; where are the missions here?"
I have a burden on my heart for unsaved in America. I've heard teachers and preachers go on and on about how corrupt America has become and where America started. I hear them say how America is on a downfall. I find myself always asking this question in my head, "Okay, instead of talking about how awful our homeland is, what are we doing about it?"
I understand we as Christians need to talk about these things, but I don't understand why I don't see movement. Where is the action taking place? I've started to learn the truth to this in my life: if I don't see a change and I want one, I should make it myself. That's what I feel God is calling me to do! I want to be that change.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
I feel compassion on America because it is true that it is falling. It is becoming darker and darker. There is no one man in the nation to blame; the only blame is that we live in a sin-cursed world. Our culture is becoming so polluted at every moment of the day. You can't even check out of a store without seeing a magazine that causes immortal thoughts or seeing candy and becoming a glutton. You can't flip through five channels without coveting what celebrities have or how they live. You can't watch a movie today that doesn't try to justify that murder and violence is "okay" or that because this scene is quick it's "okay" for teens to watch.
1 Peter 5:8(KJV)
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
What has our world come to? How far are we going to allow America to corrupt our minds? I find myself justifying things saying why they are "okay." I soon after realize how stupid I was to think that something is not ungodly and contradictory to the Bible. I can see the spiritual war becoming more of a reality in my life as I open my eyes. The issue is that I see a need for revival but no one filling the need.
I am not writing this to judge or point a finger at anyone; I am just trying to make a point. My point is this: have you ever been in denial of God's will? It doesn't have to be missions at all; that's just personally where I have been convicted. For so long I have pushed the thought of missions out of my mind. I worry and deny how it could happen. I ask, "God, how can this work? How can I do this? Are you sure?" Is that you too?
27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
Maybe this is you. You deny God's purpose and plan that He has for you. You feel convicted or a burden and see a need, but you push the thought aside because you are afraid. Why? Why are we so afraid of the future? What is the true fear? Do I fear missions because I don't think God can do it? Do I deny missions because I want to live a "normal American's life?" Do I fear leaving my comfort zone?
Are we underestimating the power of our God?!
I mean think about it. It can be large or small, but we all deny God's purpose or plan in our lives in one way, shape, or form at some point of life. Maybe you do it daily. Maybe you denied it years ago. Maybe you feel the conviction, but you are too afraid to move.
Maybe you deny God's reasoning. You know something is sin, but you still do it because "God takes all the fun away." I've been there, done that, and am embarrassed to know that as a Christian I can still fool myself. I write and tell others at my Bible study how wrong and stupid sin is, yet am turning around, becoming a hypocrite, and doing it myself. I can't even accept my own advice sometimes. Anyone else, or am I alone on this one too?
Do you realize how ignorant we Christians can be? (Remember I am not trying to point fingers. This includes me.) We say we trust in an all-powerful God, yet we still doubt Him and try to do things our own way. I mean how stupid can I be? If I know God is calling me to do something, whether it is in my idea of life or not, I need to be willing to go with all confidence in God, trusting He will direct my way. I need to have a positive attitude and be thankful He is putting direction in my life. We take His prodding of conviction in our lives so for granted; without Him being a guide where would I be?
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.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
This whole post sounds a lot like a pity party on doubt, or as if I were trying to say ALL Christians do this. I am not trying to come off in a way that makes you feel worse about your position in life, but don't be convicted and not move like I have in my past and still struggle with today! My pastor, Bill Schneider, says, "If you read the Bible and you don't feel like you've wrestled with God, you're reading it wrong. Read it again!"
The truth to this quote is that we are not perfect; so a book that describes our imperfections should not always leave us with butterflies in our belly (not saying that's a bad feeling sometimes). Instead, we should be coming out black and blue. Let the word of God make you feel broken and realize how much you need to change, how much you need to turn around, and how much you need Christ.
I will close with this thought: is there any area in your life that you are denying God's will? Do you have denial in His guidance. I would not use the the cliche "Just let go and let God," but, instead, pray and move. Pray for His guidance and start doing something. You can't expect God to use or direct you unless you get up. Don't sit back and wait on God; get up and ask God to lead. Push your denial and worry to the wayside, and replace it with confidence in His direction.
Ashlea Heitner is my computer teacher, but she is more importantly my close friend. To be honest, I first thought it would be weird having her as a teacher, seeing she's only four years older than me and was a fellow student five years ago. Now, I am exceedingly thankful I can see her every day to talk to about the many topics we have in common or just to have a good laugh to brighten my day. She is encouraging in many ways such as her positive attitude, her way of writing, and her spiritual walk with the Lord. Ashlea (Mrs. Heitner), thank you for being a part of the shaping of my life. Your influence has been a blessing and has driven me to write more. You were one of the main reasons I started to blog, and I will forever be thankful for you pushing me to do so. I am happy to have you share some thoughts on my blog today.
Pardon the Interruption -by Ashlea Heitner
The squeak of the expo markers on my polished, clean white board echoes in my mind. Tiny fingers reaching for the “p” key or the “t” key on keyboards still catches me off guard. Teens walking up to my desk asking for advice about a rigorous math problem or asking for a difficult concept from their Bible class to be explained causes me to push aside my papers, cap my pen, and give them my attention. Teachers, not so savvy with technology, burst through the doors with their laptops pleading for help, for some semblance of order in the mass chaos that is the web.
Driving home, I often find myself pondering over what was said during the day or what could have been accomplished. Given the longevity of my drive home, I tend to muse on such things.
However, the interruptions continue to pile as I turn the knob of my door to enter my bird’s nest or as some people label, my home. My husband is sprawled out on the couch with a sharpened, no. 2 pencil and a gridded, research notebook diligently completing his various homework tasks.
After several hours in the lab and working an 8 hour shift, the guy is hungry. Typical man? Maybe. But it is true of the women too.
My hand seeks the handle of the fridge to assess the current situation. Pork chops? Steak? Chicken, again? So many options, yet I am on a time crunch. The bellowing of my hubby’s stomach doesn’t allow for second guessing the meal-plan, but quickly maneuvering to get it done. As I pull out bowls, parmesan cheese, and chicken to prepare the meal, texts erupt from my rose gold iPhone on the counter with family members asking for prayer requests.
Interruption, hitches, glitches, disturbances, or delays are all a part of life. Life is so busy that just taking in a breath seems like an arduous or calculated task. I’ve noticed lately that my response to interruptions reveals my heart and my real motivation.
My attitude is really dependent on how well my plans are executed and to what measure my expectations are met. You can imagine the emotional teeter totter I have set up for myself.
There will always be interruptions. At times they are welcomed and other times they seem insurmountable, like everything scribbled on your list will never get to be crossed off.
In the last few weeks, I have been monitoring my “annoyed, impatient, irritated” odometer when disturbances halt my progress. The proverbial “gas pedal” is revved when I either have had:
Little to no sleep
A situation has blown up in my face about finances, marriage, family or friendships
School work, programs, kids
No time with God (whether through prayer or reading His word)
Do you know how hard it is to pretend or hide those things? Some of those things aren’t in my control. People get upset. I recognize that. You recognize that. It’s easier to counter the offender
with a verbal slash of your own when you have felt wronged or betrayed.
But what if we were to choose to pardon the interruption with kindness, with peace, with compassion? What if we were to counter with love and grace?
In order to do that, I want us to truly focus on the last bullet point. This is my personal caveat, no time with God isn’t an option. It is the hinge on which you and I learn how to turn away from the natural, reactive emotions. It is the foundation on which we stand when everything else has fallen apart.
One of my favorite quotes is from A.W. Pink. He says, “No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to lazy people.” His statement reiterates the truth found in Scripture.
Proverbs 29:11a “A fool always loses his temper,”
Proverbs 10:23 “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,”
The moment we neglect to read and study God’s word is the moment we open ourselves to the desires of our flesh, the fears surrounding our decisions and the reactions that instinctively come to us. We act like fools and it isn’t a compliment.
God loves a wise man that seeks his face, that desires or longs to know and obey the commands God has laid out for his life. If it wasn’t true, why on earth would men, inspired by God, waste their time writing in tandem about how good and right it is to follow God’s leading, his guidance. It isn’t easy. It’s hard, but it is ALWAYS worth it.
David, a man after God’s own heart, cherished the presence of the Lord so much that even if all he was able to do was be a doorkeeper in the house of God at least he was there and able to bask in glory, in holiness not in the tents of wickedness.
Psalm 84:10 “For a day in your courts is better than A THOUSAND elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the
tents of wickedness.”
In the presence of the Lord there is fullness of joy. The priority of your relationship with God is the key to the attitude you will cultivate and allow to grow. Ignoring time with God is simply setting up your attitude to fail.
Let me ask you a question. Better yet, Scripture has a question.
“What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do
good, seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.”
If you desire life and love, to see good, do the things commanded of you. You will fail to perfectly execute such instruction. I have failed. Do you notice that in the verse the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous? NOT the perfect. Release the weight of perfectionism. It isn’t worth carrying.
The interruptions will continue. It is inevitable. But my challenge to you and I is this. Seek God and what His word has laid out for you. With Christ you succeed. Life has a lot of twists and turns that either fall into the good or not-so-good categories. We don’t control that. We control how we respond by choosing to put on grace, love, kindness, peace. We decide to turn our eyes from the wicked things. We choose what dominates our thoughts and steals our joys. Determine whom you will serve. Search God’s word and pursue his commands. And the next step is obvious, follow them.
Jase Rosenburg has been an inspiring writer since the first week I began blogging. I stumbled upon his site (jaserosenburg.com) through Faithfulbloggers, and have been exchanging e-mails with him ever since I started reading his posts. Reading his work inspires me because of how personal he can be. I love to read about personal experiences; it lets me know the writer can relate to similar struggles of life. He does not try to sugarcoat the truth. His passion, "I write in the dark to bring faith to light", is prominent in each of his posts.
Jase, thank you for being an encouragement to me. You are a blessing and motivation to my blogging journey. I am thankful that God has allowed an online encounter between us; thank you for promoting Christ through your writing. I am overjoyed to have you guest post on my blog.
-Michael J. Vitelli
Hope -by Jase Rosenburg
First I’d like to thank Michael for this opportunity to post on his blog. I know that it’s a huge thing to trust someone else with your readership.
I thought for a while about what I’d like to share today. I ended up with the topic of HOPE. It sounds like such a simple word, but without it where would we be?
I’ll share a personal story since you guys don’t really know me. I’m like most of you, I’ve faced challenges. I lost my dad to cancer in 2006. I beat cancer in 2007. I’ve also battled a few other health issues since then that leave me in excruciating pain at times. And I lost my stepdad in 2015 to cancer.
I can say that without a doubt hope has been the only reason I’ve made it this far. God will stop at nothing to get to you. I want you to fully understand that sentence. GOD will stop at NOTHING to get to you. Think about that for a few minutes.
It truly amazes me how much he loves us. Many times when I’ve been in pain my wife will pray for me and the pain eases. I’ve been awake at all hours of the night crying in pain. I didn’t want to wake her up so what did I do? For a while I did nothing but be miserable. Then one night I decided I was going to praise God through song. I started singing. I can’t tell you how it works, but it does. When I sing out praises to God, the pain eases and I eventually drift off to sleep.
Many people wonder why does God allow us to go through such things. I have to say that we live in a fallen world. This place is cursed and we have to deal with the repercussions of a decision Adam and Eve made long ago. However, while we are here on this earth GOD gives us hope in the trials. It doesn’t matter what we are facing, he is there. He understands.
If you’re in the position right now where it looks like things are hopeless, hang on. Call out to God and hope will rush in. I guarantee you that he will come to you. It may not be in the way you want or expect, but you will have hope.
One of my favorite things to imagine is God being a hero. How many times in movies or books do things look hopeless? Then there is a hero that sweeps in and saves the day. Why do we love those stories? Because we can relate. God is ready to sweep in to your situation and bring a hope that will comfort you in any situation.
All I can say is God IS good. He proves it to me every day. I look down at the scar on my arm and I see hope. I look at the sunrise and I see hope. I look at the flowers and plants and there’s hope there too. It’s all around us. Open your eyes and see what God is waiting to give you. I promise you it’s worth every thing you’ve had to go through.
I’ll leave you with this from 1 Corinthians 15.
54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
55 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
I John 1:7-16
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
You hear of "true" love today as if it is just flippantly thrown around. You see it in fairy tales, in movies, in social media, and in your friend's life. You say to yourself, "I wish I could have a relationship like that." What you don't know is that you can. I am not talking about the world's view of love. The world believes you can "fall" in love. Does that mean you can fall out of love?
I want to tell you of the one true love you don't have to chase after; this love finds you. It can make life seem like it is starting over. You cannot "fall" out of this love. This is love that can only come from perfection. This love is not a feeling that comes and goes, nor is it an emotion you start to feel. This love is a person, and that person is God.
Maybe you already have this relationship with love but have never thought of it in this way. Let me put a new perspective in your mind. Without a relationship of love with Christ, all others are faulty. Let me say that again. Without Christ, your relationship with others will fail! Let that sink into your thoughts; ponder this truth for a moment if you haven't ever before.....
Recently God's mercy and love have been a reminder in my own life. I thank God every day for the overwhelming love He bestows upon us all. God is the definition of love. GOD IS LOVE! This is exciting news! this should make us shout in praise and leap for joy! "Why?" you may ask. Let me tell you how I see love. Here is my personal thoughts of what I believe is true and have read in His word about God's love.
Without God we are nothing. This also means without love we are nothing. If God is the one who makes us found, then we are lost without love. His love finds us. In God we have purpose; In love we have purpose. In God we are found; in love we are found (I think you get the point).
The greatest, living example of God's love is shown through His son, Jesus Christ. This great deed of God was only possible by His abundant grace and mercy. Mankind brought sin into the world, but the holy God allowed His son to be the ultimate sacrifice, taking the place of the world's sin, to make a way for unity with God. That is a lot of love!
Put yourself in God's shoes for a moment. If you had full power, created humans, and they disobeyed you, would you not wipe them out and start over? Why would you keep them around when they won't even thank you for life and do what you say?
Remember, God is love. He is not like us. He decided that He would make a way for us. He gave up His only son for you, me, and every other sinner that has ever lived. Why would God do that? Why would God make a way for you and me? You and I live a selfish life and make mistakes every day. Why would God want us around?
Again, remember God is love. A friend once said to me, "The motivation for Jesus dying on the cross was His love for sinners." He died with the purpose of giving us hope through His love. The pain He suffered was for you. Every time you sin, remind yourself, Jesus died for that very act. Jesus died for you. Deny it all you want; Jesus died for you! How great is the love God has for you, that even though you are not perfect, His own son willingly paid the debt for you!
Without Christ dying for you, what are you? Where does that leave us? Without the death of Christ, unity could not have been made with God. God needed a perfect sacrifice, a payment for the very sins we do every day. Without God's love you have nothing. In one way it should almost depress you in realizing how wretched and awful you are, but in another way it should cause you to rejoice in how gracious God is to you. Your sin put God's son to death, yet He willingly died for you because He loved you. Why would God do that to His son? It was all because God is love.
God didn't leave His son in the ground. What power would that prove? The Son of God, who claims to be one with God, is conquered by death? How could God save you if He cannot even save His own son? For those of you that don't know, this is not the end of the story. Easter (the holiday celebrated last Sunday) is also called Resurrection Day. It is the day we remember when Christ rose from the dead. He proved that sin could not even kill Him. He bore the weight of sin to the point of allowing it to put Him in the grave, but He rose from the dead three days later proving His power over sin. He left that sin in the ground. Sin has no grip on almighty God!
Maybe you ask, "Why would He die in the first place?" It's all because God is love. You have sinned; instead of you paying for your sin through death, God allowed His son, Jesus, to be the perfect sacrifice. He rose from the dead showing that sin can't hold Him down.
His death and resurrection portrays what happens spiritually when surrenders his life to Christ. Just like Jesus died, one must spiritually die to his own ways, and give his life to Christ to follow His ways. Jesus rose from the grave without the sin weighing Him down. When He gives one life, He forgives them of their sin. This is the beautiful picture of God's love.
Everything is meaningless in life without love. Our purpose as Christians is to serve God with His great example of love. We are commanded to love because He first loved us. The meaning to life is found in the love of God. If you claim Christ to be your personal Savior, love should circumference your whole life. If your life is founded on God, it needs to be overflowing with love. Your life needs to reflect God and the same love He showed you.
This is not easy. To do this you need to be constantly reminding yourself that God is love. If you have a relationship with God, you have a life founded on love. Share that love the same way Christ has shared it to you. Let God's love in your life motivate you to show love to others and be a light for Him. If others see the way you live, they will see the relationship of love you have with God. A life lived for God, though it may not fulfill YOUR personal desires, it is full of love. A life of love is a life of purpose; this is worth much more than a selfish life lived for yourself. Let God's love dwell in you, because without love, you are nothing.
I Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Usually I like to write as if you are reading about yourself, but today, I feel this is a group issue and want to tell you that it's not only you. In this post I will be talking about us, the children of God, as a whole. I believe we all struggle with this problem at times in our lives. This is not a problem that simply goes away through life; It will most likely haunt us for the rest of our lives. With one willing soul that is ready to wake up, others may follow. Let's conquer the fear of change together, sparking the lives of other Christians who can do the same.
Change is not always bad. It definitely can be; we all know that feeling we get when we start pushing the limits and feeling "okay" with sin. Yeah, that's the wrong kind of change. I want to talk about the good kind of change. This change comes from God and God alone.
At the beginning of time, God made the world perfect for us, but Adam and Eve didn't keep it that way. They brought a change into the world... a bad change. They changed unity with almighty God. They chose their own way instead of God's way. This idea of making our own decisions, as if we are God, is not something new. This started back in the time of Adam and Eve.
As time went by, God, through His grace, made a way for us to have unity again by sending His son, Jesus Christ. This brought a choice of change into our lives. We had the choice to accept Christ's gift of life, or we had the choice to reject it. As Christians, we have chosen to make a good change of having God as king of our life instead of ourselves. Now, this is where the true challenge comes into our lives.
Even though we have chosen to give our life to God, we still sometimes try to hold some back. We still live in our flesh and have some of the same desires of sin. We are changed by Christ, but we haven't fully changed our ways to match up with our choice. It's like going on a diet; we have our "cheat" days. With God there is no "cheat" days. We need to live up to the standard we have been called to. God was gracious enough to choose to give us life; it's time for us to live up to that holy lifestyle.
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called," Ephesians 4:1 (ESV)
I can even see it in my own life. Yes, I am a Christian, but I still do that same, stupid sin sometimes. I feel like I can't let go of some of those fleshly desires in my life. It's not easy to live a life true to my word. I say I am a follower of Christ, and then turn around and do something that is specifically wrong in God's eyes.
We all do it. Sometimes we say we want to change, but we chicken out. We are too in love with our sin. We don't think we can live without it. We can't live without God either, so what is our choice?
Maybe you are saying right now, "Yeah, I'm a Christian and I sin, but it doesn't bother me. It's not that bad. I mean, God knows I'm gonna sin anyways and He's forgiven me so what does it matter?" Let me tell you, IT MATTERS A LOT! If you do not feel convicted or ashamed of offending the king of your life with sin, maybe you should examine yourself. Is He truly your Savior, or did you just say a prayer so that you can go to Heaven? If you are serious about having a relationship with God, and you are having doubts, it is never too late to call upon His name.
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 1 Peter 1:10 (ESV)
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:1-2 (ESV)
God wants us to be serious about our relationship with Him. It's never too late to wake up. If we are true believers, we died to our own ways; we need to stop going back to what is dead. It's time to stop walking as the dead and live life the way we are called to live. It's not easy to change, but it is not optional. As Christians we are called to change to His ways. God will not conform to our ways. We need to change our way of thinking, our way of speaking, and our way of living.
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. Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Let's be the ones who are willing to stand up. I want to start a change and actually hold firm to what I say I believe. We need to stop trying to serve God while serving sin. It doesn't work! it won't work! Even Jesus said a man can't serve two masters. We need to be willing to change. We need to be willing to allow God to make a difference in our life.
Think of it this way: we are all light bulbs. A light bulb lights up, right? Wrong! A light bulb ONLY lights up when it has its source of energy. Without screwing it in, and turning on the switch, the light bulb is dark.
As light bulbs, without being screwed into place, we are nothing. That is what we are without Christ, worthless. We can never screw ourselves in; we need His helping hand. We have a purpose of showing light, but without Christ, we will waste what our purpose is. We will be worthless without Christ giving us purpose.
If you accept the gift of life, Christ will screw you in. Some believe that is the end of the story. "Yes, I allowed Jesus to come into my life. Now my life is complete." Well, this is not exactly the end of the story. This is more of a fresh beginning.
Yes, Christians are now screwed in and are being a "good person" like they should be, but this is not what is intended by salvation. Salvation is the beginning of a life of sacrifice. Salvation is allowing Christ to screw you in and be used by Him. If you tell Christ not to turn the switch on, yes you have Christ, but you aren't showing how Christ can use you. You then become worthless again.
When Christ gives you life, don't hold back from letting Him use you to shine for Him. He needs you to be a light to others so that others may come to know Him. The life of a Christian is of service. You need to tell God, "Yes, I am willing to let you turn the switch on. I am willing to look different then the others who are not screwed in. I am willing to be a leader to those who are screwed in but have not let you turn the switch on. I am willing to change for you."
When Christ gives you life, don't remain in the works of the dead man you once were. Let Him change you. Remember, you may be a problem, but you are not the problem. We together are the problem. God is the resolver, and with God, we can change. Let's not be the problem; let Him work in you to become His work of art. Be the one who stands up for God.
Do you ever need a reminder? Maybe you need something to keep you motivated and on track? Well, it's a Sunday night, and I don't want Monday to be here already! My weekend went WAY too fast. I think it's a good idea to have a reminder for the week.
Remember God's promises! Here are a few to meditate on for the week ahead of you. (I understand I can go into much more detail with each of these, but I'm going to keep it brief. You can always dive further into God's word for more promises and answers.)
1. God promises to sustain:
It might be a little hard for me to relate since I am not paying many bills and living on my own yet, but I understand that money can be an issue for some people. Maybe you wonder how you will afford college. Maybe you wonder how you will ever be able to provide for a family. Maybe you wonder if you will even have food in the pantry next week. Don't carry these worries alone. Trust in your almighty God who promises to provide for you. There's nothing out of His reach; He can do the impossible. Have faith and ask for Him to be there for you.
2. God promises hope:
He is worthy of praise! When you come to grips with how wretched you are, it should just remind you so much more of how awesome God is. He sent His own son, Jesus, to make a way for you. He died for you so you don't have to pay for your sins. He made the payment for you. Praise God for making a way for you and me to come before Him boldly. Praise God for the hope He has given you of salvation from sin. He had a plan and created a way for man to have unity with Him. What an awesome promise of hope!
3. God promises purpose:
This point is my favorite. I just love the picture it puts in my head when I think about how God changed me from having a worthless life to having a life full of purpose. I think of God taking garbage and shaping it into something beautiful. Purpose is all we ever need in life. Without purpose, there is no meaning to you. With God's purpose, he can use you to change the lives of others. Making the decision of giving your life to Christ, is a decision of following in His footsteps. Don't feel worthless, but remember God promise. He can use you.
4. God promises forgiveness:
Have you ever thought about how dirty you are? Have you ever thought about how loving and forgiving God is? It almost doesn't make sense? How could He forgive someone like you or me? He is truly amazing! I can't comprehend how He forgives me for my past, present, and future mistakes. When He sees me, He doesn't look at my sin anymore; He sees His son, who has saved me! Again, it's such a beautiful picture that God puts in my head. Be overwhelmed by His forgiveness. Thank God for it daily. It's truly amazing how a holy God forgives an unholy sinner. How great is His love for you and me!
5. God promises life:
Lastly, God promises life. Before salvation, you were a dead man walking. You were living life by King You! You did what you want, said what you want, and didn't care about anyone but yourself. Maybe you had morals put in place because of good parenting or upbringing, but your life was centered around you. It says in the Bible that outside of Christ, you will not see life, but in Christ you have eternal life. Once you were dead; now you have life in Him. Thank God for becoming a part of your life! What else could you ask for? This is the biggest blessing God can promise to you. He offers life to you when you deserve judgement for being imperfect. Remember the promise that God gives you life. He wakes you up and pulls you from the sinful death you once walked in. Walk worthy of this new life you are living for Him.
I wanted to put these reminders out there for those who have given their life to Christ and found themselves in a rut. Maybe you just feel stuck or are struggling recently. Here's the wake up call to get you back on your feet.
I've said it before, and I will say it again. God does not promise an easy life. We're suppose to reflect Christ. If you have ever read the gospels, you can see He had some rough spots too (especially the part where He died). It isn't easy living a life sacrificed for God's glory, but it is definitely worth it.
I want to remind you of the blessing of God's promises to motivate you. It's so amazing to know God has promised so much! One of the greatest promises of all is that He doesn't lie. He is an honest God. Jesus even says it in a prayer in John 17:17. Many times throughout scripture, the Bible is called "the word of truth." God is honest throughout His word. I'm so thankful for the attributes of God, especially honesty. He won't break the promises he has made for you and me.
This verse was shown to me recently by Ashlea Heitner and has been a good reminder to me when I read God's word. Don't forget about God's promises. Let them encourage you.
Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5
If you haven't read the analogy I wrote that I will be referencing to, here is a link to read it now. Part IV will be covering the topic of "Desire" (roughly paragraphs six and seven).
Have you ever came to the point of life where you hit that wall right in front of you and you feel a little stupid because you knew it was there? It's like when you're looking to the side, talking to a friend, and you walk into something. That's kinda what happens for Christians who finally get serious about their life being lived for Christ. It takes some longer than others, but know that God cares for His children. Sometimes God puts a roadblock in your life as a wake up call.
When you come to that point where you say to yourself "Duh!" after you realize following God's way is the better action, you have two choices to make. You can either decide you'd rather keep going about your way, or you can decide to get serious with God, ask Him for the help, and search the map with Him for guidance.
Let's say you chose to go about your own way. Maybe you feel that God will never forgive you, or you're too deep into this sin and don't want to give it up anymore. Maybe you decided that His way is too hard. Maybe you only chose God because you wanted to be saved, but you still want to live your life your way.
I'd encourage you to never feel abandoned by God. Know that you can go back to Him, dirty, wasted, and broken; He will pick you up every time. God won't leave you behind. Know that struggling through life with God on your side is much better than struggling through life alone. I'm not saying it will be easier physically, but it is definitely easier mentally knowing God is with you every step of the way.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
If you only asked Christ to come into your life and save you because you wanted to escape God's wrath, you should examine yourself. God is not a tag-along friend to save you from fire. Salvation is built on faith, not on some prayer you said one day. Your life cannot be ruled by your desires; life is lived for God's glory alone. Don't try to take that away from Him. If you have not come to the point of true desire to live a life for Christ, maybe you have never given it to Him in the first place. Have you really accepted the role of living for Christ, putting His desires over yours?
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
Search Him out! You will find Him! He is the one and only true answer to life! Stop your search for a purpose here, and look to the almighty Creator for salvation. Stop living for the pleasures that are passing; die to sin and live for Christ!
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Proverbs 8:17 (ESV)
When you decide to get serious with God, Praise His name! Praise God for bringing you to the point of brokenness for His purpose of opening your eyes to Him. God desires you to follow Him; God wants your desires to be met through His will.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
The more you choose Christ in your life, the stronger your relationship grows. The stronger your relationship grows, the more you will desire to please Him. The Christian life is all about the work of the Father. It can be done alone, at home, at work, in private, in public; God can be worked out of your life everywhere and everyday. It's all about choosing Him and letting your desire to bring glory to God drive your life.
It's definitely not easy to let God call the shots in life. It's not always easy to look at the map or ask Him for assistance with things in life. Sometimes you think, "I got this" or "I know this is probably something I shouldn't do, but I'm not one-hundred percent. I'll just not ask or check the map so I don't feel guilty about it."
It's easy to deceive yourselves or fall to your own flesh. Sometimes you fall back to your own desires because you have given God a lot and you want a small part of your life. Maybe deep down you know that you have sin in your life, but you keep it a "secret" by not bringing it up to God or searching His word.
“For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps. There is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves. Job 34:21-22 (ESV)
Follow His ways, and soon His ways will become your ways. Know and try to comprehend how much He loves you, and soon His love for you will become your love for others. Be a follower of God and His desires; soon His desires will become your desires. Fight the sin that creeps into your life. You will probably mess up. No, you WILL mess up, but get back up and look to Him every time you fall. Drive according to the map.
Live your life choosing Christ. Let God become the desire over bringing glory to self. God's ways are better than your own; let Him guide the way. Listen to what He has to say, and talk to Him about everything. He will help you grow and bless you. Die to yourself daily, and put on the desire of living for Christ. Live life keeping Him in power; let Him empower you to live out His desires.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24
This is the end of my series of "Who Is in Power", and I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any comments you can leave them below, or you can go to the "Subscribe" page and contact me there. I hope that I encouraged you and have given you a new way of looking at your life. God bless!
If you haven't read the analogy I wrote that I will be referencing to, here is a link to read it now. Part III will be covering the topic of "Expectations" (roughly paragraphs four through six).
What do you expect of God? Have you ever thought about that? Do you treat Him as if you expect something from Him. I know I have definitely done this. I can think of times that I have thought of God as a bail out. I expect Him to help me when I'm in trouble. If you do something stupid, or something you know was wrong, and it back fires, should you expect God to do anything?
Maybe you expect God to say, "I told you so!" Maybe you expect God to be like, "Here I'll help you out this one time." or, "Come on, really? I can't believe you! You are such a mess up!" Maybe you expect Him to not say anything at all or not to even look at you.
God is loving and is full of overwhelming mercy. He will get you through every mistake you have made. This is not to be used in your own way. Don't expect God to "bail you out" when you decide to do the same sin every day without caring about God's direction. He will not be angry with you or throw you out of His family, but instead He will wait for you. Treat God with the respect He deserves. If you had someone you were in authority of, asked them to do as you said, and they did the complete opposite, would you not be let down? You expected them to listen!
"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." Galatians 5:13 (ESV)
Think of it this way. When you were (or still are) living with your parents, did you ever say to your father, "Dad, did you do that list of chores I gave to you, yet?" Did you ever say, "Dad, the grass looks high. Go mow the lawn." or, "Dad, I broke the window with the baseball. Go clean it up before Mom gets home. If she sees it, you did it." OF COURSE NOT! What kind of respect is that? My dad would not be happy if I talked like that. I'd be lucky if He didn't punish me for disrespect like that, but that is how you treat God.
"God, did you get me a raise at work yet? If not, I need it! Can't you help me out?" Maybe what you ask isn't always a bad thing to ask for, but there is a lack of faith. instead of asking for a raise, ask God to be the great provider as He has been throughout the Bible. Think of the ways He provided for Israel. He guided them day and night, told them when to move and when to set up camp, and even fed them. It's not wrong to ask God to help you; it's the way you ask Him.
"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people." Exodus 13:22-23 (KJV)
"Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”" Exodus 16:4-5 (ESV)
"God, you know Paul has cancer. Can you just cure Him and put Him out of misery? You are making Paul and his family go through a very hard trial. How can you do that to Him? I thought you were a loving God!" Sometimes we ask God to do things that are not part of His will. We can pray, and pray, and pray, expecting an answer; but God doesn't always give the answer we like. Know that God has a reason for everything He allows to happen to people. Whether it's a trial or a blessing, God has a reason. Trust His way even when you think His way is wrong. God knows the future; He can see further down the highway than we can. He has a better view of the next exit for your life and the lives of all His children.
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)
"God, can't you see the mess I made with my life? Can you erase it or sweep it under the carpet for me? Do Something!" Sometimes, we try to switch places with God. We try to make God the servant, make Him drive, and tell Him where to go. God doesn't do that; God will not submit to someone as faulty as you or me. There is only ONE God, and that God is not you. Stop trying to steal His authority; the position of a servant is an overwhelming blessing.
"If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him." John 12:26 (ESV)
When you try to snatch God's place away from Him, you try to live a life driven by pride like Satan once did. He is a great example of how pride can drive you. God gives you a position of a servant, a friend, and most importantly a child, but you let your ego get in the way and say you want better. God didn't allow Satan to take His glory; don't think you are any special exception. Be thankful as a servant of God. Don't try to make God the driver of your life and listen to your ways. God doesn't drive; God guides.
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105 (KJV)
God expects His servants to live life according to His word. He provides direction; you just have to follow. Two mistakes that Christians make are following their own way instead, or not moving at all, expecting God to somehow make things happen in your life while you sit back and watch. The Bible is full of verses about the lust of our flesh and desires of our heart. The Christian life is described as a life of labor with effort in it. That shuts down both those ideas. You are God's servant who is expected to follow Him.
The bottom line is that you cannot expect anything from God. He has already given you so much and you're going to be ungrateful and ask for more? How selfish can you get? God has given you more than you can ever ask! God provided a way for unity between God and man, and that's not enough for you? We are trash, that God decided to make into something beautiful, and we are still disappointed in Him. It's sad how we let our pride get in the way of who our God truly is.
Remember that God is in power. You are the servant. God has already given you plenty; be thankful for what He has given and know that He will still provide. You are the servant; God expects you to live for His purpose. It's your choice. Live the life of your dreams, (dreams fade and lead to disappointment) or live the life that you, as a Christian, have been called to live. God has a purpose and plan for you. Go seek it out.
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!