Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Magazines like Cosmopolitan, YM, etc, tend to contain material that does not live up to the Christian standard. Many of these magazines promote sexual themes and portray fashion as a competition to see who can show the most skin. What's sad is the fact that those who read it buy into the lies that are advertised by them.
As Christians, we need to represent Christ in a true and undistorted way. When Christian girls go around wearing some of the clothes that are suggested in these magazines (which show too much skin and leave little to the imagination) all they are doing is attracting the wrong guys. Ladies, you must realize that guys are physical beings; we are drawn to physical things. How can you expect to attract a Christian guy if what you are wearing shows too much skin? The truth is that Christ can't be represented in the way He is meant to be represented when you wear short miniskirts, low tops and other revealing clothing.
Romans 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world..."
This passage urges us to give our bodies to God as LIVING sacrifices; our body should be holy and pleasing to Him. Many people don't understand this. They get things wrong and dress themselves in secular ways so that they can please those of this world; this passage is telling us that our bodies should be pleasing to GOD!
What is said next in this passage is something that should not be missed: "this is your spiritual act of worship". Worship is not just something that we do at a church on the weekends, it is something that we are constantly doing!
Is what you are wearing pleasing to God? Does it distort His image? The next time you find yourself in a situation where you could be convinced that the fashion of this world is worth distorting God's image, remember the first part of verse two in Romans 12, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world". As Christians, God does not want us to promote things that are of this world; we are to promote His image. From now on, when you walk into your closet, ask yourself if what you are going to put on will attract the wrong kind of guy. If it is then don't wear it.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
James 4:7-8 says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
This passage not only tells us to submit ourselves to God, but how to do so. Dictionary.com says that when we submit we "yield or surrender ourselves to the will or authority of another" (in this case Christ's). Surrender is a powerful word and the actions required in order to carry it out are even tougher. So how do we submit ourselves to God?
The next part of this passage tells us how we can click our internal submit button and grow closer to God. It tells us that we must resist the devil and it promises that when we resist him, he will leave us. When I read this verse, it reminds me of the times when my younger brothers would start to annoy me. They would do their best to get on my nerves and the only way that I could get them to stop was to not get aggravated and to make them think that it wasn't bothering me. After a while, they would stop because they weren't able to get a rise out of me. The same will happen when we resist Satan.
If you feel like you are falling away from God, take comfort in the fact that when you come close to Him, He will come close to you. Build up your relationship with Christ by digging deep into His word. Memorize scriptures and repeat them in your head during the day. You will find that when you purify your heart by growing your relationship with God, you will be better equipped to resist the devil.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Galatians 7:7-10 says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
The author of this passage reminds us that God will provide and reward those who do good things in order to please Him. The verse guarantees that "at the proper time we will reap a harvest". Notice though, that the condition is that we do not give up. If we do, then we will not reap the harvest that God had intended for us. The author goes on to remind us that we need to "do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers".
Are you in a situation where you feel that you are doing all the work and you haven't received any benefit? Take comfort in God and His word. Memorize this verse and play it back in your head when you feel that you are doing good for no reason. Remember, God cannot be mocked; eventually you will obtain your reward.
Monday, June 20, 2005
In Matthew 7:15-20, we jump midway into Jesus' sermon on a mountainside. In this passage, Jesus warns us to look out for those who claim to be good (the wolf in sheep's clothing) but are bad on the inside. In verse 19, Jesus mentions that any tree that does not bear fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire, but those that do bear fruit will be recognizable as good. As Christians we are to bear the fruit of the spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). By bearing these fruits, we will be recognizable as Christians.
Not only will we be recognizable as Christians by those on this Earth, but our works will be remembered by our Heavenly Father in Heaven. In Hebrews 6:9-10, the author let's us know that "God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." This passage alone shows us that God remembers the things that we have done and the fruit that we have produced. Notice that it says "continue to help them". Our works are not just a one time deal, we must continue to do them.
The passage in James 2:14-26 is on of my favorites. It contains evidence that faith without deeds is useless. It talks about how Abraham was considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar, but it then goes on to say that faith and actions work together. Faith is made complete by what we do. In verse 19, we see that even the demons believe in God!
As you can see, we should not have faith alone; our actions work together with our faith in order to produce the fruit of the spirit. This will then allow you to be recognizable as a Christian and will help you witness to others. Although a submarine with a screen door can float on water, it can never go where it was intended to be. Likewise, you can skim the surface of God's will for your life by just having faith in Him, but the Bible makes it clear that faith without works is useless. Make an effort to produce the fruits of the spirit by teaming your faith up with Christ-like works; only then will you experience all that God has in store for you.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
A lot of people confuse advising with judging. Judging and advising are two different things. When we judge someone else, we are putting our authority over them. We are telling them that we have final say in their outcome and that what they think does not matter. An example of judging would be me telling you that you are going to Hell because of your actions. While this could be true, I don't have the authority to sentence you to eternity away from God. Jesus Christ is the only One who can judge and condemn. We are not worthy to have such authority!
The Bible does say though that we are to keep each other accountable and advise each other. This is different than judging because we are doing this on the same level as them. We should never put ourselves above them or make them feel sentenced for something they have done. In Ezekiel 3:16-21, the author writes what God had shown him about advising others in the ways that they should go:
At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.I believe this passage shows us that we are to let others know when they have done something wrong and that we need to advise them in what they need to do. The way we do this though, is not by condemning them (judging), we are to advise them in a loving and caring way.
Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself."
In Proverbs 9:9 the Bible states, "Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning." Not one of us is above advisement; we all can learn to be better. Throughout your day, remind yourself that you do not have the authority to judge others but that we are instructed to advise others in order to help them live a better life for God. Be open to other Christian’s suggestions and dive deep into God’s word; God will provide.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Millions Of Specs
Millions of specs, just floating around;
They hear no sound, they don't want to be found.
They gave up eternity, so they could be "free";
How can that be, it makes no sense to me.
I looked at God and listened in;The tears flow from your eyes, as you realize,
This is what was said when He spoke to them:
You and I could have been allies.
You didn't get it, and now you never will;
Leave me now, go to hell, you make me ill.
I don't want to see you ever again;
No not even every now and then.
You could have had life, but you chose wrong,
You will be weak, when you could have been strong.
I gave you chances, that was what life was for,
Of ME you took advantage, now you will be no more.
Today is Judgment day and you have been judged fair,
Your place isn't with me, it's in hell, go there.
A lot of people are doomed for hell. As Christians we are called to lead people to Christ and although we can't make them accept Christ, we can plant seeds in their heart-- God will take it from there.
Matthew 4:19 says, "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
Ed Young, the Sr. Pastor of Fellowship Church, put it best when he shared that when we are mature we have the ability to produce offspring. Are you a "mature Christian"? Are you producing offspring? If not, then think about all the people that you come in contact with that God was going to use you as a path to Him but you didn't make an effort to share Him. Always do what is right in God's eyes, and don't be afraid to stand up for Him; this is a sure way of becoming a fisherman of men.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Proverbs 13:21 says, "Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous."
I know quite a bit of people who go around and sin without even thinking about the consequences. They take advantage of God's forgiveness when they sin just because they know that He will forgive them. The problem is that, although God will save us from eternity away from Him, we will still suffer the earthly consequences that our sins produce.
Do you think about the consequences that come from your sins? Or do you just continue to do what you know is wrong because you know that God will forgive you? If you surround yourself with sin, God will not bless you, but if you tap into the strength that God offers and dive deep into His word, you will be better equipped to handle the sins that you struggle with. Build your relationship with God by having a quiet time every day where you just talk with and listen to Him.
The next time you find yourself amidst sin, keep in mind that you only have one life to live. Once you have done something, you can't go back in time to fix what you have done. God promises that He will always take us back, but for those who live a righteous life, prosperity is what they will find.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Because of stress, it is easy to become discouraged; especially when you don't feel there are enough hours in the day. It can be upsetting when you feel like all you do is work but we must remember that our God is the Creator of all things. He watches over us and is always there for us (Isaiah 58:11).
When I feel overcome by stress I think of Daniel and his sleepover with the lions (Daniel 6). The king's administrators were jealous because the king favored Daniel and planned to set him over the whole kingdom. They had a problem though; these men could not find any basis for charges against him. So the king's men decided to get the king to enforce a law that would not be in agreement with God's: no man could pray to anyone else but the king. Daniel remained loyal to God though, and the king reluctantly threw him into the lion's den.
How stressed do you think you would be in a situation like that? You would have done nothing wrong, and you would most likely feel that God had turned His back on you. The passage becomes ironic because the king became so stressed that he did not eat and could not sleep. On the other hand, Daniel was at peace because he was in God's hands, and He saved him from the lions.
There are plenty of times when I feel so stressed that I don't feel that I can go on, or I feel like I am being over-loaded. I begin to wonder why God has allowed so many things to be put on my plate. I have to remind myself that God will provide, and that I am blessed because of the love and peace He offers.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Are you going through a stressful time? Do you feel like you can't go on? Pray to God and ask Him to help you with your day. Ask Him to allow you to see that you are too blessed to be stressed.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
I know a great Christian guy that lost his wife four months into their marriage to a blood clot in the lung. He shared with me how hard it was to deal with what he is going through. I can only imagine the strength it must take in order to make it through each day.
Because of this event that he is going through, he will be able to be a better witness to those who have gone through the same thing, yet don't have God in their lives. I believe that God allows certain Christians, that He knows are strong enough, to go through tough situations so that they will be able to share the impact of His love in their lives to those who have experienced similar situations. The amazing part of the story is that this guy now has the ability to make a bigger impact with his witnessing. By relying on God to help him with this tragic event, he is showing others that God is faithful and will not allow us to go through anything that we cannot handle. What an inspiration this guy is to me and many others.
In Philippians, we read a letter sent from Paul and Timothy, while they were in jail, to all of the saints at Philippi, the overseers, and the deacons. Philippians 1:12 states, "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel." Although Paul and Timothy were in jail, they realized that their trials would be used to advance the gospel. What an amazing outlook on the trial that they were facing.
When you find yourself going through a tough situation, and you don't feel like you can ever make it through, pray and thank God for trusting you with such a tough situation. Thank Him for giving you the strength to make it through anything that is brought your way. Also, remind yourself that without conflict, there is no progress and that these tough times will eventually expose their hidden blessings.
Because God cannot be where evil is, He will not bless your life when you are surrounding yourself in sin. Psalm 66:18-19 says, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer." This verse is not saying that you have to be perfect before you go to God, it is saying that God will not bless us when we surround ourselves with sin.
Pray to God asking Him to surround you with strength that only He can provide. Ask Him to watch you, and help you with the temptation that is brought your way. Dive deep into God's word and run from sin, and you will find that God's been there all along waiting to bless your life.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Hebrews 10:25 says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." The author of Hebrews is showing us that meeting together as a congregation is a great way to encourage one another and to equip each other for Jesus’ second coming.
If you are someone who thinks that there is no benefit to going to church, I encourage you to remember the analogy that Jesus uses in Mark 6:34. We are all lost without His direction. The church is a place where we come together in order to learn more about God, and to strengthen not only our relationships with fellow Christians (which is important), but also our relationship with Christ. You cannot truly receive the blessings of God when you aren't even obedient in something as simple as meeting with fellow Christians as a congregation.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Fortunately, I made the decision that I wasn't going to buy the performance parts because I knew there were better things to put my money towards. There was a good chance that, if I would have chosen to buy the parts and extra things that I wanted, I would have ended up in debt and unable to live without financial help.
The urge to be better than everyone else, or to have more than they do, is a normal thing. We all want to feel a part of something, and many times we try our best to get things that make us feel more important. The problem occurs when we spend more money than we earn, and we put our self-worth into what we buy. I know that if I were to have bought those performance parts and all the extra things, that I would have ended up putting a lot of my self-worth into my car, and ultimitely putting God on the back burner.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 says, "I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind." The author of Ecclesiastes is showing us that wanting to achieve and obtain more than our neighbor is as meaningless as chasing the wind. No matter how fast we run, no matter how much we obtain or have, we'll never catch the wind and we'll never have "enough". Today, instead of thinking about all the things that you want, think about all the things God has given you. Praise Him for providing you with what you have. You will find that this type of contentment is exactly what God wants us to have.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
I, myself, get bogged down with the work that I have to do on a daily basis. I wake up, go to church (or school during the school year), and then right after that, I go home and work on other things that I am obligated to. I've noticed that a great percentage of my time is either in front of my computer working, or up at church pounding out material for Imagination Theatre. By the end of the week I am so drained that sometimes I don't feel like I can go on.
It's at these times that I have to remind myself that God is always in control, and that He is God, not me. Only He can help me when I am exhausted and need to be rejuvenated. He is the only one capable of restoring the energy needed to live in this world. But with such a hectic schedule, sometimes I forget, or I feel that I am too busy to call on Him to help me.
Psalms 46:10a says, "Be still and know that I am God." Psalms 46 moves on to tell us in verse 11 that God is also our fortress. Whenever you feel over-worked or stressed, say Psalms 46:10a in your head and remember that God is always there and He is always in control. There is nothing too big for Him to handle and He is just a whisper away. Even though the world we live in is all about constant work, you can find comfort when you remember to be still and know that God is in control.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
The day finally came. It was the day that we were going to leave, and all of a sudden I had a sinking feeling. It felt like all the preparation and prayer went down the drain and I began to have a panic attack. I remember thinking "I'm having a panic attack and we haven't even left yet!" I also remember the way I felt the whole week: down and depressed.
The week went by, and the closer it got to the last day there, the better I felt. I remember how happy I felt when I got home and praised God for helping me get through it. Since then, I've been all over America on different trips and I don't get homesick like I used to. God helped me grow during that week, and I became stronger because of it.
Trials are events that we all go through. During them, we feel that there is no way out, and that we will be stuck with what the trial brings for the rest of our lives. We continue to look at trials as a negative thing, but look at what James 1:2-4 says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.This verse constantly reminds me that the trials that I face will help me grow. I also love how James says "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Mildred Witte Struven once said, "A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain. " I encourage you to embrace the trials that you face, and to remind yourself daily that this hard time in your life will ultimately make your faith in God stronger.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Don't be like the people that Peter talks about in Titus 1:16: "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him." The Bible says that "friendship with the world is hatred toward God" (James 4:4). It even goes as far as saying "Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an ENEMY of God." God's not going to settle for a superficial commitment from us. We have a higher calling on our lives, and it's the Lord's desire to use us for His glory. In 1 Timothy 1:12, Paul talks about the honor it is to be appointed to God's service: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service." Paul knows that even though God has great expectations for him, He will help him and give him strength!
The Bible assures us that our God is a just God, and He will never give us unattainable goals to strive for. When we supply the will, He supplies the power. Exodus 23:2 tells us that we are to break away from the crowd and to remain faithful to God.
Satan does a great job at telling us that God doesn't care about the little details of our lives. Don't be deceived! He cares very much, and He expects us to be faithful! Jesus said in Luke 16:10, "Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones".
God has promised to reward our faithfulness by giving us opportunities to serve Him. When we make it our life's goal to please the Lord, the result is joy, peace, and fulfillment. On the other hand, whenever we try to please other people, we experience frustration, disappointment, and emptiness.
The truth is that living to please God is the only way to live. My prayer for you is that you will have the same spirit that Peter and the other disciples did when they declared, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Just like my car, as Christians, we are labeled. It should be evident that we are Christians and anyone that knows us should be able to tell that we are Christians. Representing Christ can be a tough ordeal though. We must constantly represent Christ in a way that will not distort His image.
Today, as you go throughout your daily deeds, constantly remind yourself that you represent God, the One who created everything. This will not only allow you to stay in check with how God wants you to act, but it will strengthen your relationship with Him.
Romans 12:17b, “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody”