Saturday, July 30, 2005
Genesis 4:7 says, “You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it."
This passage tells us that we either are controlled by sin, or we subdue it and become its master. Why is it so hard to do good rather than evil though? Paul and James put it in perspective for us with the harsh truths their books expose. Paul, tells us in Romans 6:16, “Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.” James also tells us about our desires in James 1:14-15, “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.”
We aren’t left hanging though. God’s word doesn’t just tell us that our evil desires are what cause our sin, but it also tells us how to overcome it. Once again, Paul lays it down for us and gives us the remedy we need. Philippians 2:12B-13 says, “Now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God's saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.”
When it comes down to it, in order to overcome the evil desires that we have as human beings, we must obey God. As Christians, the Holy Spirit provides the desires that God wants us to have. We can take comfort in the fact that God is working in us to choose what is right. Only He can provide the desire and power to do what pleases Him. When you are in a temptation situation, don’t try to overcome it on your own. Instead, call upon God to provide His power so that you can desire to do what is right in His eyes.
Friday, July 29, 2005
After God had found out that Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, He asked them why they did it. When He found that it was the serpent’s (Satan’s) lies and influence that caused them to stumble, He laid down the law. Genesis 3:14-15 says:
Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
Basically, in these two verses we see God telling Satan “know your role”. In the second part of verse fifteen, God shows the extent of Satan’s power. The phrase “you will strike his heel” refers to the many times that Satan will try to defeat Christ during His life on Earth. “He will strike your head” foreshadows Satan’s defeat when Christ rose from the dead.
A strike on the heel is not deadly, but a blow to the head is. This verse let’s us know that Satan’s power does not even compare to God’s. When you feel that the trials that you are going through are too much to handle, remember the awesome power that God has. He will not allow anything to happen to those who love Him. When you find yourself in a spiritual ruts, call upon God to help you through. By calling upon Him and realizing all the power He wields, you are reminding Satan about his limited amount of power. Stick it to him and tell him to know his role.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
When Adam and Eve committed the very first sin, eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened and they were ashamed of what they had done. In Genesis 3:7-8 we read of Adam and Eve noticing that God was in the garden looking for them. When they heard God coming, they hid because they were afraid.
You might find it humorous that Adam and Eve were trying to hide themselves from the all-knowing God that we serve, but we all do it. Because of the shamefulness that comes from sinning, we try to hide our faults from God. No matter how much we try to hide though, He always knows what we have done.
In Genesis 3:9, God called out to Adam and Eve and asked them, “Where are you?” Does God constantly have to ask you where you are? Do you try to hide from Him? Honesty is the best way to strengthen your relationship with Him. Don’t be afraid to tell God all about what you have done. Be comforted by the fact that God wants to be in constant fellowship with us. You will realize that by communicating your faults with Him, He will help you overcome them. Stay strong and work hard at being honest with Him. Even though He already knows everything, the more honest you are with Him, the more honest you are with yourself.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Sunday, July 24, 2005
2 Peter 3:18 says, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." While this verse may seem a little vague on the surface, when you dig deep into it, it is actually very clear.
The verse first tells us to grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior, but how is that done? The way that we grow in God's grace is by understanding that He is always there for us and that by His grace we are free. How can we mature as Christians if we are not certain of God's mercy? By growing in God's grace, we grow closer to Him and use His grace to gain more understanding about His true love. In turn, with a better understanding of God's love, we will be better equipped to reflect His mercy to others.
This verse continues on to tell us that we need to grow in the knowledge of God. This means that we need to dig deep into God's word on a daily basis and surround ourselves with the loving direction that it provides. The more we know about what God wants in our lives, the better equipped we will be to follow Him. The better equipped you are to follow God, the better you will be able to reflect and communicate His love to others.
As a Christian there is always room for growing; you can never reach a maximum maturity. I encourage you to continue to read your Bible every day and share God's word with those around you. You will find that the more you understand and use God's grace, and the more you soak up the knowledge that God provides, the more your walk in Christ will thrive.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
As a Christian, I still have temptations to do worldly things; it's sort of like I have two "selfs". When I am tempted by worldly things, my old self wants to do it, but my new self in Christ knows better. New Christians will find this the hardest part of their walk with Christ because many will accept Christ thinking that they will not have to worry about doing right-they think they will just do it.
Do not be afraid that you will not be able to handle the temptations of this world though. Romans 8:1-2 says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
When you are struggling to overcome your old self, pray to God asking Him to help you take control and to rely on the strength He provides. The more you rely on the Holy Spirit, and the more you make an effort to live life as the new you through Christ, the more you will find God's blessings in everything you do. Dig deep into God's word so that you will be more in tune with what God wants for your life. Only then will you overcome your Spiritual Schizophrenia.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Tonight, as I was being smothered by a group of four year olds, I wondered what made me so appealing to them. As I begin to think about it, God showed me that what these kids saw in me wasn't just my goofy and crazy personality, but the love that God projects through me as a Christian. These kids were attracted to me for the same reason I am attracted to God: His unconditional love.
Have you ever noticed that the more love you show to a kid, the more they want to be around you? Many times, the most appealing thing about someone is the love that they share. I've noticed that I am most attracted to those who openly share God's love. As Christians, we are told to love everyone no matter what. I truly believe that the unconditional love that we share is what attracts others to Christ.
Our commandment to love others no matter what is not an easy one though. Matthew 5:39-40 tells us to turn the other cheek when someone slaps us, and to give our coat too if we are sued for our shirt! This type of behavior expresses exactly how we are to love others, unconditionally, just like God loves us! (For those who think that by loving others in this way is useless and won't get you anywhere, take a look at Proverbs 25:21-22!)
All in all, as Christians, we are always going to have a love/hate relationship with the world. There will be plenty of people who will hate us, but as long as we continue to show God's love to them, the love God provides will always outweigh the world's hate.
Do you show everyone God's love? As you go through your day, remember to show God's love to everyone, not just those who show you love, and constantly remind yourself that God's love shown through you is exactly what attracts people to Christ.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
If, as Christians, we believe that God controls everything, and that He will take care of us, then how can the events in our lives be caused by chance? In the past, I used to credit luck as the reason why certain things happened. I never meant to give luck the credit, it was just a word that I used. One day, I found myself feeling convicted of giving credit to something that is defined by chance and does not describe God's ultimate power over everything.
Proverbs 16:33 says, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." A "lot" was an object that was used to decide a matter by chance - today's equivalent would be drawing straws. This verse shows us that even though to us we may see something as chance, God has control over every situation and its final outcome.
I no longer use "luck" to describe certain situations in my life. Instead, I use "blessed" because it expresses action and communicates that God is behind everything that happens. It is easy to credit chance as the cause for things, but we must remember that "every decision is from the LORD". Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, pray to God and ask for His favor in the situations you face. Remind yourself throughout the day that God has power over everything and that nothing is left to chance.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
During the times in my life where I feel like I can't do something, I repeat in my head Philippians 4:13, which states, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." This verse, that promises us that there is nothing that we cannot do through Christ, allows us to not worry about whether or not we are capable of doing something.
It is important to understand though, we cannot merely depend on our own strength; we must call upon the name of the Lord and rely on His power. So, as you go throughout your day and you are faced with certain trials, give it all up to God. He has promised to always be there for us and to help us through our tough times. Don't believe Satan when he tells you that you are not capable of doing something; instead, remember to call upon the name of the Lord and use the strength that only He can provide.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
During these tough times, when I feel that all I do is work, I sometimes get discouraged and want to just sit down and do nothing even though I know that things still need to be done. It's at these moments that I have to remind myself that I should be doing my best - not for man, but for God.
Colossians 3:23-24 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
To put it plainly, all of the work we do should be done in order to please God. Notice how this passage does not say, "work half-heartedly", but rather says, "work [...] with all of your heart"! All work that we do should be done with all of our vigor and strength. Our hard work will eventually pay off and we will receive our reward from the Lord! I don't know about you, but it makes me feel good to know that I am serving a God that recognizes my work.
So, if you find yourself half-heartedly doing you work - or you feel like the work you do doesn't matter - ask God to give you the strength and motivation to work at everything with all of your heart. After all, the more diligent you are, the more your desires will be satisfied (Proverbs 13:4).
Monday, July 11, 2005
After we thanked the media people for their help, I sat down, closed my eyes, and prayed. I asked God that He would provide a way for the show to go on. I asked Him to make it work so that we could teach the children about Him. After my prayer, I jumped up, looked at the sound board, pressed a couple of buttons (I'm not media person mind you) and spoke into the mic. To the amazement of everyone, the mic started working.
When asked what made it work, I told everyone that I had prayed asking God to fix it. I put all my faith in God and His power and left it up to Him. Many times, we underestimate the power of prayer. We end up praying these half-hearted prayers that we don't even have faith in.
Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
The show went on, and the verse that we taught the kids turned out to be Philippians 4:6. I'd like to say that this verse was ironically the verse we taught the kids, but I know that God used it for a reason. It was no coincidence, God had provided just like I requested. It is really easy to worry in a world where dependability is scarce, but we must remember to present our requests to God. There is nothing too small, or too large, that cannot be brought to Him.
Do you talk with God during the day? Do you thank Him for all He does? Don't forget the miraculous power of prayer. Build your spiritual bond with God by going to Him in prayer with everything. After all, the best way to strengthen a relationship is by communicating.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
I'm sure you've heard of the country song where a guy goes to pick up a girl, the girl's dad doesn't like him, they leave and he tries to figure out what he was thinking. The verses go on to say that he knows there will be consequences, but all he's thinking about is the girl. Another example of the media being soaked with this lie of Satan's are all of the one night stands in movies where everything turns out honky dory.
The truth must be exposed! If there wasn't a tomorrow then we wouldn't have to suffer for the consequences of today; the problem is that there is a tomorrow and we will suffer the consequences. When we believe Satan's lie that what we do wrong will go unpunished, we are willingly being ignorant of God.
1 Corinthians 15:34 says, "Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God-I say this to your shame."
The best way for us to see through Satan's lies is to grow deeper in our relationship with Christ. The best way to do this is to read your Bible and to soak in all of what God want's in our lives. Pray specifically asking God to help you know His truth from Satan's lies.
Jeremiah 10:23, "I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps."
Thursday, July 07, 2005
After some thinking and praying, I finally realized that there are three reasons why this guy feels the way he does. As someone who doesn't believe in Christ, his happiness is focused on things of this world, God may be waiting for the perfect time to reveal this void in him, and he might have been covering up what he really feels.
When someone is going through life and they are not a Christian, they focus all of their emotions on worldly things. All of their pleasure and happiness come from things of this world. If at the current time in their lives they are happy with the temporary things that this world offers, then they won't feel the void that God is meant to fill. We all know though that when we focus on what this world offers, we will always be disappointed. In Matthew 6:19-24, we read of two different types of lifestyles: We either store up our treasures on Earth, or in Heaven. Usually when we look at this passage, we concentrate on the parts that talk about storing our treasures up in Heaven, but let's look at what is said of those who store up their treasures on Earth.
This passage tells us that the things that we value here on Earth are able to be destroyed by moth and rust and stolen by thieves. It also tells us that "where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart will be also". It is apparent to see that this guy's heart (and the hearts of those who are not Christians) is focused on temporary Earthly things.
The passage continues on to tell us that our eyes are the "lamp of the body". It shows us that if our eyes are good, then our whole body will be full of light, but if our eyes are bad, then our body will be full of darkness. The last sentence in verse 23 says, "If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" To me, this passage states that if darkness is inside of us, how can we see the light that God offers to us?
Finally, this passage shows that "no one can serve two masters". We either hate the one and love the other, or we will be devoted to the one and despise the other. We cannot serve God and worldly things. Could it be that this guy is so focused on worldly things that he does not want to recognize the void inside of him?
Another reason may be that God is waiting for the perfect time to reveal the hole in his life that things of this world cannot fill. God's timing is perfect; He will reveal things to us when He knows we are ready. One thing that we must remember though is that we must seek God while we can (Isaiah 55:6).
I also believe that this guy may be hiding what he's actually feeling. As Christians, we know that we are to share our burdens with fellow Christians (Galatians 6:2), but those of this world will many times keep things hidden within themselves in order to seem "ok".
All in all, no matter what the case is, God has a plan for everyone. God is working on this guy by using my friend to witness to him. God will provide all of the answers in order to show this guy that he is in need of Him and in time, God's plan will unfold and we will all see how perfect it really is.
When it comes down to it, we all do have a "void" inside of us where only God can live. Things of this world will come and go, but God's love is ever lasting. Constantly remind yourself on a daily basis that you are promised your reward in Heaven. Allow God to thrive in you and make an effort to share His light with others. Once we understand the complexity and vastness of the hole that God fills, we will better appreciate the love He provides.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Matthew 7:13-14 says, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."What are the narrow and wide roads? In this passage, Jesus was talking about how we should not conform to the patterns of this world, but we should take the road less traveled. This narrow road is the path of following Christ; the path where we do good because of our want to please Him. The wide road is the path that is taken by many and is congested with worldly desires and selfish living. It's sad, but there are a lot of people who have the chance to live the life that God wants for them, but instead, they give in to the influences of worldly desires and go on a four wheel drive excursion to the wide road.
Are you in a position where you are in a rough spot? Are you going into a profession that is surrounded by worldly influences like acting or singing? Are you wanting to strengthen your relationship with Christ? Don't be like all of the others who are of this world; make an impact for God: take the road less traveled. Shine your light that He ignites and you will find the life that God wants for you; you will not be disappointed.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Just like the early Americans, we as Christians have declared our independence. Our independence though is from the things of this world. We strive daily to maintain this independence in order to become what God wants us to become, not who the world says we should be. Each day is our Independence Day and we should treat it as such.
Psalm 119:45 says, "I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts." In this verse, the author shares that they have freedom because they sought out God's will for their lives. But, with freedom comes responsibility and trials. Just like the early Americans had to endure the war in order to finally declare their independence, we as Christians must live in a world where spiritual warfare is imminent. Satan does not want us to accept God's freedom, he wants us to be dependent on him and secular things. The good news is that God helps us handle the freedom that He has given us.
Throughout the day, remember that you are free from the reach of death. You have declared your independence of Satan's grip. Thank God for standing by you and sending Jesus to die on the cross to make you free. Don't forget that God's gift of freedom is not a one day thing, your independence is forever!
Saturday, July 02, 2005
To answer these questions we first need to have a little background about what the people in the temple were actually doing. The most detailed account of this Bible story comes from John 2:14-16:
14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
In the other passages of the Bible where this account is told (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17 and Luke 19:45-46), Jesus accused the merchants of turning the temple into a "den of robbers". This phrase is referring to Jeremiah 7:9-11 where Jeremiah shares with the people of Judah what God had shown him. He is saying that those who were doing wrong went to the temple because they thought that, just by being in the temple, they were safe in doing their detestable things. Thus, because the temple that Jesus evacuated was crowded with those who were doing wrong, He called it a "den of robbers".
Jesus called those who were selling in the church a "den of robbers" because the people exchanging money and selling animals in the temple were actually ripping the people off. There were two ways in which these merchants were ripping the people off: 1) they were charging more to change the money and 2) they were charging more when selling the animals used for sacrifices.
During that time, there were a lot of different coins in circulation. During Passover, the temple would charge a temple tax but they would only accept Jewish coins. The difference between the Jewish coins and other coins in circulation was that the Jewish coins had images on them that were not objectionable because they did not violate the command against graven images, but some of the other coins had images of pagan Gods.
Because the Jewish coins were only accepted, temples had money changers who would exchange the unacceptable money for the Jewish money. The problem was that the money changers in the temple that Jesus evacuated were charging extra for their services.
Not only were the money changers charging too much, but the merchants selling animals used for sacrifices were as well. There were many occasions when Jews would be called upon to offer an animal sacrifice at a Temple far away from their home. It was not practical to bring their animals with them on such long trips, so they would buy the animals at the temple for sacrifice. The problem came about when the merchants would charge more money than they should have for the animals. As you can see, Jesus was not upset that there were merchants in the temple selling things, He was upset because the merchants were ripping His people off.
At Fellowship Church, we have a bookstore and a coffee shop called "The Source". The Source is a ministry that Fellowship uses in order to provide for those who are seeking, and to help believers grow in their walk with Christ. The cafe is a place where people come together to build relationships throughout the congregation, have meetings, and enjoy a serine place to indulge in God's word. How can something that brings so many people together and attracts so many non-believers be wrong? When it comes to selling things at church, I believe that as long as what you are selling is used to further God's kingdom, God is all for it.
Friday, July 01, 2005
The other day I offered to buy my seven year old brother a movie at blockbuster. The problem was that when we got there, he went straight to the video game section. "Collin! Can I get a video game instead?" was his question. I promptly suggested that we check the videos first since they were cheaper. After looking through the videos and finding nothing that he wanted, he walked back to the video game section determined to get a video game. I looked at him and told him that because I love him, I was going to get him the video game that he wanted.
He looked at me and smiled and came over and gave me a big hug. What I did for him was not done in order to receive something back from him, but he looked me in the eyes and said, "Collin, because you are buying me this game, I'm going to give you a five minute massage!" I looked at him, grabbed him on the shoulders and replied, "The hugs you give me, and the love you show are more than enough."
In Luke chapter six, verses twenty seven through thirty six, we read of many commandments of how we should treat others and how we should aim for a higher standard than secular people. It talks about how we are to do for others without expecting anything in return, but what about the way we treat enemies? This too is touched upon in this passage.
Luke 6:27-36 says:
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" lend to "sinners," expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
What I love about this passage is the fact that it shows that as Christians we are to meet a higher standard than those who aren't. We are to be kind to everyone whether or not they are kind to us, we are to love those who don't necessarily love us, and we are to be generous to others without expecting repayment. We must "love [our] enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back."
At times, these high expectations are tough to meet and may feel like a waste, but look at what the passage says towards the end. When we strive to do these things, our "reward will be great"! As you go throughout your day, remember to go above and beyond the expected behavior of this world. Even "sinners" do that; show others that because you have God in you, you aim for a higher standard.