If Sin Doesn’t Bother us there’s a Problem

biblePsalm 119:136
Rivers of water run down my eyes because men do not keep your law.

I love David’s passion for God. His clear and, as he puts it, freewill offerings of his mouth to the Lord are awe inspiring. This verse really spoke to me. I should be devastated when I see others willfully sinning against God, choosing not to obey Him. Even more so other brothers and sisters in Christ. Earlier in this same chapter in verse 11 David says “your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” . This is the difference maker right here. If Gods Word isn’t hidden in our hearts and we aren’t passionately in love with Him and seeking to obey Him seeing others willfully sin probably won’t bother us.

Are you desperate to obey God? Does it break your heart to see people living against His Word? Other Christians even? Funny story, recently I was told that after my husband and I left a get together the rest of the group started acting differently than they had when we were there. First of all, I was devastated and sad by what I was told. Secondly I was okay with the fact that they felt they had to hide this behavior from us, knowing that would be bothered by it. We have to wake up and take an honest look at our lives and determine who we really want to please. David wanted to please God and he knew that in order to do so he had to make a serious commitment to living each day with Gods Word in his heart. He couldn’t afford to flip flop and neither can we.

What this means is that we can’t be okay with our own sin or the sin of those around us. We can’t hide from God. If people living against God’s Word doesn’t break our hearts it might be because it really doesn’t bother us. What choice will we make each day? Will we hide Gods Word in our hearts and strive with all our effort to not sin against Him? We won’t get it perfect, but if we make this our daily goal we will certainly be on the right track to living a life with a heart after God, according to His will with an abundance of joy.

Will I Obey Even When I Don’t like God’s Answer?

bibleHave you ever begged God to show you what to do or where to go, desperate for a direct answer? I was so irritated the other day while reading Jeremiah 42. Check it out really quickly before continuing. There was a remnant of Israel that went to Jeremiah asking him to seek God for direction, promising that they would do whatever God wanted them to do. God responded telling the people not to go to Egypt, but instead to stay where they were and that He would bless them and protect them. Guess what happened next? They disobeyed God and decided to follow their own desire to go to Egypt! This made me really mad because I would give anything for such a direct response from God.

How could this remnant possibly hear from God so clearly and yet choose to disobey and do the opposite of what He told them to do? First of all, it seems to me that they weren’t really close to and connected to God. When they initially went to Jeremiah they referred to God as Jeremiah’s God, rather than their God (vs 2). If you aren’t close to God then what He wants you to do isn’t going to matter a whole lot.

Think of the people in your life who have the most influence over you. You care about what they think and say and long to please them. I would be fairly certain that these are people you feel most close to. In the same way, it is when I am close to God that I truly value His plans over my own and long to obey Him. The remnant was missing this connection with God. this is evident in later chapters when God calls them out for worshiping other gods aside from Him (Jeremiah 44:8).

The second thing to notice is that their hearts didn’t match their requests. Initially their request appeared genuine, at least it did to me. They ask God “show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do.” They weren’t making this request because they longed to do God’s will. They were looking for relief and an easy way out. When this is the reason behind your request there is a good chance you wont obey if God’s response doesn’t line up with your desires. They wanted instant comfort and pleasure. It seemed more realistic to them that they would get this in Egypt, where everything looked nice and pleasant, rather than staying put with the imminent threat of Babylon close by.

Our goal should never be to find relief from difficulty or to feel safe and secure. Our goal should be to please God and to be as close to Him as we possibly can be. Our level of true safety and security comes from our closeness to and connection with God through His son Jesus Christ, and should be totally unrelated to outside circumstances. This is what Paul meant when he said he learned to be content whatever circumstances (Philippians 4:10-13). A poor man without Christ is no less secure than a rich man without Christ.

Reading this caused me to look very closely at my own requests to ensure that my goal is to please God and to do His will, rather than to find relief and comfort. What I found is that I have to set aside any hoped for outcomes and be open to whatever God might have and desire for me and my family. Just recently my husband and I were led to make a decision that went against everything we had hoped for and desired. To be honest it wasn’t fun and it was certainly scary. Knowing that God is in control and close to us enabled us to face it and move forward toward something different, something unplanned for. The remnant was blinded by their hoped for answer from God, which was to tell them to flee to Egypt and find comfort and safety.

How can I avoid making the same mistakes that the remnant made? What I concluded is that I can hopefully avoid this by following three principals I learned from reading this chapter.

Principal 1: Make sure my goal is to be close to and to please God, not to find relief. Isaiah 55:7 tells us “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LordAnd He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Hebrews 10:22 says “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” I need to focus on drawing near to God and living a life that is pleasing to Him. 

Principal 2: Release any desired responses I feel I need to receive from God. I need to be open and willing to obey whatever God calls me to do, even if it is 100% different from what I wanted. Proverbs 20:24 tells me “A man’s steps are of the LordHow then can a man understand his own way?” If God’s Word tells me that I wont be able to understand my own way then why am I always expecting to have it all figured out? I need to be willing to give this up and allow God to truly guide me according to His will.  

Principal 3: Trust that He will deliver on His promises. God’s Word is full of promises for me and for you. The remnant gave into fear rather than believing God. Romans 8:28 tells us “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.” If we know this and believe this then we can trust that no matter how scary or uncertain things look, if God has called us it will all work out. This doesn’t mean that we will be comfortable and will have endless worldly pleasure, what it means is that our lives will bring glory to God and will impact this world for Christ.

 

 

Surrender: The Cure to Inadequacy

Whenever I am feeling inadequate and incapable of accomplishing the tasks that God has laid before me I listen to this song. For some reason I always feel a sense of peace and adequacy afterwards. God showed me today that simply giving myself to Him, fully surrendering to His will, is all I need to do to regain my sense of confidence in the work He has called me to do.

Do you ever struggle with feeling inadequate when it comes to doing God’s work like I do? Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” It is His power working in us that enables us to accomplish great things for the kingdom God. All He requires from us is total surrender, giving ourselves to Him.

This is easy to say, as is anything, but isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes it is really hard. Surrendering to God requires faith, trust, and obedience. If we want Him to do great things through us we have to be willing to give ourselves over to Him, including our desires, our dreams, and our talents, and allow his spirit working through us to accomplish His will. Typically what God asks of us isn’t something we can do on our own, which is why feelings of inadequacy often follow, as they should. This is why we need to constantly surrender ourselves to God and allow the Holy Spirit to take over.

I Corinthians 1:26-27: For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 

This verse tells me that If God has called me, which I believe He has, just as He has called you, then I shouldn’t be capable of doing it without Him. My only hope at being adequate to do what He wants me to do each day is by giving myself to Him in full surrender.

Have I Really Forgiven?

Forgiveness.jpgWhen I was reading my book Hope Focused Marriage Counseling written by Everett Worthington last night I came across something about incomplete forgiveness. It talked about how sometimes we think we have forgiven someone but we might not have fully forgiven. What it talked about next really got my attention and got me thinking. Do I feel a sense of happiness or satisfaction when I find out that something bad happened to or went wrong for someone I have “forgiven”? This was tough for me to read and really convicted me. Here I am thinking I’ve been obedient and have forgiven specific people who have hurt me, yet reading this made me realize I really haven’t.

Think about someone who has caused you pain that you think you have forgiven. If you found out tomorrow that something went wrong for him or her would you be happy about it? or would you feel compassion? My answer to this question definitely did not thrill me. To be honest with you, after reading this my initial thought was how in the world can I truly and completely forgive? What I realized was that forgiveness is a choice, one that takes purposeful action and God’s grace.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

This verse tells me that I am to lay down my bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. When I feel a sense of satisfaction at the expense of someone I claim to have forgiven I am not obeying this command. Additionally, as I mentioned before, If I have truly forgiven someone I should feel kindness and compassion towards him or her, especially when things go wrong. This can truly seem like an impossible thing to do, which is why I must rely on God’s continuing mercy and grace to accomplish this.

We have to remind ourselves of the forgiveness and grace that we received from God through Christ in order to offer this to another. One thing I have found helpful when I am lacking forgiveness is to pray for those I can’t seem to forgive. That God would bless them, encourage them, and heal them as He has healed me. Asking God to help me forgive is also something that has made a huge difference for me. Praying for strength to forgive doesn’t mean you are failing, it means you admit that you need God to accomplish such a difficult task. I’m still on my journey of forgiveness and hope that this encourages you on yours as well.

Regaining your True Identity and Defeating your Goliath

bible

When I read the story of David and Goliath this morning I asked God to give me a new perspective on it. God always seems to deliver and always in a way that makes sense for what I am currently facing. Lately I have struggled with some doubt regarding certain situations in my life and am in desperate need of some good old fashion faith! You know, like David had. So what have I been missing lately? Lets first look at how the Israelites fell short and gave into fear.

The story of David and Goliath can be found in 1 Samuel: 17. If you don’t already know the story I would suggest giving it a read before continuing. In verse 8 Goliath comes out to challenge the Israelites, saying ““Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul?” This is part of the Israelites first problem. Notice how he refers to them as the servants of Saul, rather than the servants of God? Back in Ch. 8 God tells Samuel that the people of Israel rejected Him, and no longer want Him to reign over them (I Samuel 8:7). Enter problem number one. The Israelites had turned their hearts away from God. Additionally, they lost sight of their true identity. No longer are the Israelites God’s servants, they have chosen instead to serve Saul. Because they turned their hearts away from serving God they no longer have their identity secured. In Ch. 12 Samuel urges the Israelites saying “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” They clearly did not listen to Samuel, but chose instead to forget the Lord and serve another. This is why they were “dismayed and greatly afraid” when Goliath threatened them.

So why was David so courageous and able to defeat Goliath? Lets take a closer to look and find out.

He had a heart after God: The first time we meet David is when Samuel anoints him to be king. In this meeting God tells Samuel that He will choose David to be king, not because of his outward appearance, but because of his heart (1 Samuel 16:7). David’s heart was for the Lord and this enabled him to defeat Goliath. So what does it really mean to have a heart for God? Acts 13:22 says “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” Are you willing to do all of God’s will? Am I? If we aren’t willing to be obedient to God and follow His commands then the simple truth is our hearts are not for Him. This doesn’t mean we wont fail, after all, we all know about David and his major screw-ups. What it means is that we desire God with sincerity and want to follow Him and obey Him. This is where we must start if we want to be able to defeat the giants in our lives. If we fail here then we are truly without hope. So ask yourself this question and I will to: Do I desire God with all my heart and strive to do all His will?

His identity was secure: When David shows up to the battle and hears Goliath and all his ranting his boldness is fueled. He can hardly believe what he is hearing and decides to act immediately. What is his initial response exactly? David says “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (I Samuel 17:26) David’s identity was secure in God. He knew that this army did not belong to the enemy, but to the living God. His confidence was grounded in who he was as a servant of the living God, not as a servant of Saul. When I’m struggling with fear and doubt I have to question whether or not I’ve lost sight of my true identity in Christ. Romans 8:15 tells me that I have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but I have received the spirit of adoption by whom I cry out, Abba Father.”. When I allow fear to control me, the way the Israelites did, Its because I am forgetting exactly whose daughter I am. In order to face my giants and overcome, the way that David did, I have to regain my sense of identity as a child of the living God. David had confidence in his identity and this is why he was able to do what he did. Where does your identity come from? The enemy will try to convince you that are not who God says you are, he sure tries to do this to me. This is when we must stand boldly and proclaim our place as children of God and courageously stand against him.

He remembered what God had already done for him: When David first approaches Saul about going out to fight against Goliath Saul isn’t exactly thrilled about it. David is young and inexperienced, while Goliath has been a warrior since his youth. So what is David’s response? He remembers how God had previously delivered him and believes God will deliver him again. Verses 36-37 say, “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” We really need to stop giving ourselves credit for what God has done and recognize his deliverance the way that David did. What can you do to remember the ways that God has delivered you in the past so that you will have confidence in His future deliverance? I recently started a thankfulness journal and read through it every so often. This reminds me of things that God has done for me and enables me to continue trusting Him with new battles.

As we all know, David did indeed defeat Goliath. This was because of his heart for God, his secure identity, and his focus on all God had already done for him.

If you’re struggling to defeat the giants in your life you might be lacking in 1, 2, or all 3 of these areas. Thankfully there is always hope for change! What Giants are you facing right now? Maybe you or a loved one has a serious addiction. Or maybe your wondering how you can be a light to lost and hurting family members. Maybe your facing a serious illness or a financial dilemma you don’t think you can handle. Maybe your facing a divorce or a cheating spouse. Or unemployment and the threat of losing your house. Whatever your giant is I promise that God will enable you to face it and overcome it. Get your heart right with God, claim your identity in Jesus Christ, and walk in it confidently, remembering all He has done for you, capable of defeating the giants in your life.

Building an Emotional Bond With your Spouse

IMG_9801I’m sure a lot of men and women would read this title and run for the hills. In fact I used to be the woman who was shut down emotionally and closed off to others. It wasn’t until my husband came around and attempted to engage my emotional side (over and over again I might add) that something changed. His persistence, patience, and secure love is what finally helped me to open up and break down the walls that were blocking me from emotionality. I have so much thanks to offer my husband for the emotionally secure and in touch woman that I am today. Building this emotional bond with my husband was critical for our marriage to thrive and is critical for yours too.

Think about the scripture on love below, could any person accomplish this without a secure emotional bond with his or her spouse? I would argue that he or she could not. Read it with me. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭(NKJV)‬‬

Doing all of these things becomes possible when coupled with a secure emotional bond with your spouse. Think about the way you love God, you have a close emotional bond with Him because He is consistently faithful to you, He loves you unconditionally, He doesn’t give up on you when you fail, and He is always there to listen to and attend to your hurting or joyful heart. This is what building an emotional bond looks like, and is how my husband helped me go from avoidant and closed off to emotion to secure and open to sharing my deepest needs, fears, and dreams with him, knowing full well that he would be there to listen and care with a genuine heart. I’m telling you this to offer encouragement. If your spouse won’t open up to you emotionally and tends to shut down, through offering continuous support, patience, and understanding you can help to break down the walls of fear they’ve built and become emotionally open to you, as my husband did with me. Just don’t give up. Do you offer this to your spouse? If not, it’s likely that you are lacking an emotional bond.

So how exactly can you form or reform this bond with your spouse to strengthen your marriage and connection?

Be present with your spouse: something I see causing so much damage to marriages today is technology. How many shows are you watching? How many games are you playing? Are your hands attached to your smart phone? When your husband or wife needs you are you half-focused on a game, show, or app rather than giving him or her all of your attention? Not only that, how much time do you spend really talking to and getting to know each other? Ask yourself this question,given the choice, would you rather spend time alone, time with your friends or other family members, or time with your spouse? if the answer isn’t time with your spouse then this is a huge problem. This indicates that you likely don’t have the strong emotional bond necessary for enduring love.

Be there when your spouse needs you: not just physically but emotionally too. I Thessalonians 5:11 says “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” As a husband or a wife we are called to comfort and edify our spouse. This means being available to him or her when he or she needs comfort or edification. If you aren’t there for your spouse he or she won’t feel safe to go to you during these times of need. Does your spouse know you are there for him or her? If you aren’t sure then ask. This will open the door to honest communication that will start you on the path to developing a secure emotional bond. Knowing with confidence that your spouse will be there when you need him or her offers a true sense of security. I am not saying that your spouse won’t ever let you down, but when you have this secure emotional bond it is much easier to face when it does happen. The only person we can truly depend on no matter what is God, but don’t think that this means we should not be able to trust and depend on our spouse to be there when we need him or her, because we absolutely should!

Be willing to share your fears, hurts, and joys with your spouse: Building a strong emotional bond with your spouse not only requires that you are there when he or she needs you, but that you are willing to share your fears, hurts, and joys with him or her too. No marriage is one-sided. As our relationship with God requires effort on both sides, the same is true for our marriages. We feel close to God when we get to know Him through reading His word, prayer, and worship. But this isn’t enough to build a close relationship with Him. This comes when we let down our guard and share ourselves with Him. In a marriage the only way to form a true emotional bond is by being fully known by your spouse and fully knowing your spouse. Do you know your spouses deepest fears and hurts? How about their dreams and longings? Or what brings him or her the most joy? Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” How can your spouse weep with you and rejoice with you if you aren’t sharing whats on your heart? Being dependent on your spouse is not a negative thing. God created us to depend on, not only Him, but on others for encouragement, support, and strength. If this were not the case He would not have looked at Adam and said “it is not good for man to be alone.” He has given each of us a beautiful gift in our spouse. when we start building an emotional bond the beauty begins to shine through the mire of let downs and disappointments, enabling us to build a secure emotional bond and lasting love.

Maybe you finished reading this and think, “I just don’t see how this will ever be possible with my spouse, he or she will never change.” If you are struggling to build an emotional bond, and its not for lack of trying, I would suggest seeing a competent counselor who can guide you through the process. After all, God’s Word has a lot to say about receiving godly wisdom and counsel from others. Just don’t give up. God can heal any hurt and reform or form a bond between a husband and wife, no matter how dark or ugly the circumstances.

4 Signs that Indicate I’m not Actively Believing God

bibleAm I living as though I believe God? This is a question I recently asked myself after talking to some friends about why we often fail to pray about things and instead try to figure them out on our own. Does this ever happen to you? I came to the conclusion that sometimes the reason I don’t pray or seek God on things is because I’m not really believing Him. What do I mean by this? Well, I’m certainly not saying i’m not believing IN God or that He is with me, what I’m saying is I’m not actively believing what He tells me in His Word. I hate that I do this and would love more than anything to stop forever!

So how can I know when I’m not believing God? First of all I have to take a critical look at myself to figure this out. Self-awareness is the key to being capable of noticing these kinds of things in yourself and making changes. For more on that check out my blog 7 Tips for Increasing Self-awareness here.

Here is a list of things that might indicate that I’m not believing God:

When I’m worrying about tomorrow: I despise when I do this. It does nothing but bring me down and discourage me. The Bible tells me not to worry about tomorrow, but rather to focus on today, trusting that God knows what I need and will faithfully provide it (Matthew 6:31-34). This honestly applies to worrying about all sorts of things. Thankfully this is something I have improved on substantially over the years thanks to God proving himself over and over again.. I wish I would have caught on a little bit sooner though. Whenever I start getting anxious about things like internship hours, care for my daughter, a conflict with a friend, unforeseen financial burdens, etc., and am wondering how I’m going to manage, I remind myself of what God’s Word says and that I need to actively believe it. Not worrying about this kind of stuff proves that I really do believe that God knows about it and will faithfully work it out for my good as He says He will for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). True freedom from anxiety comes from believing this truth and living it out. God will take care of it. Not always in the way we want, but even then we can know that it will all work out. All I have to worry about is doing my part today, while trusting Him for tomorrow.

When I pray without faith: Recognizing this one requires that I honestly think about my attitude and mindset while praying. Am I praying just to pray? Because I should? Or am I praying because I believe that I can enter into God’s presence, worship Him, and experience His power, knowing that He hears me and will answer my prayers in whatever way seems best to Him. This can be so hard for me. Sometimes I feel like God isn’t really listening to me and even if He is I’m not believing He will actually answer my prayers. Maybe I’m thinking that what I’m praying for is just too difficult for God. You know, like redeeming someone I love from a dark and empty life, changing their heart, or maybe giving me His wisdom and guidance to make the best decisions in life. What it all comes down to is whether or not I believe God’s Word.

Psalm 34:15: The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.

Mark 11:24: Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Jamies 5:16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Do I really believe what these verses tell me? When I’m praying without faith I’m indicating to God that I don’t. Don’t think I’m saying that this means that God will give me whatever I want and will do whatever I say. It doesn’t work this way. Praying with faith means believing that He hears and that He can answer, staying faithful to Him even if he chooses not to in the way that I hope.

When I’m hoping for, “revenge”: I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been deeply wounded by another individual. I have caught myself in the past thinking negatively and hoping for something to happen that might make me feel better, hoping they will have to “pay” for what they’ve done. When this happens I know that I’m not believing God’s word. Romans 12:19 tells me “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” I need to remember that God has my back and will take care of me. Additionally, 1 Thessalonians 5:15 says “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” This can be really hard to do, especially when you have been mistreated, but if we believe God’s Word then we can know that He will give us strength to let it go and feel love and forgiveness towards that person who hurt us.

When I’m not sharing the gospel: This is a tough one for me to admit. There have been many times where I feel so ashamed of how frequently, or infrequently for that matter, I’ve shared the truth of Jesus Christ with people. I have to ask myself why this is the case and be honest with myself in my response. First of all, do I really believe that people around me are broken and lost, in need of a savior, and secondly do I believe that through sharing the truth of Christ a person’s life can be truly changed? There have been times when I’ve struggled, convincing myself that nobody wants to hear it, or nobody will care. I’m so ashamed to admit this. If I really believe in God’s power then all I have to worry about is planting the seed of the gospel of Christ, God will do the work in the heart of the hearer.

When I’m living as though I truly believe God I’m free of worry and anxiety, praying with a bold and courageous faith, loving and forgiving those who have hurt me, and sharing Jesus Christ with the people around me. These are some signs that indicate that I’m on the right track.

 

As Lecrae Says it, are we Outsiders or Insiders?

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Before you read this post check out Lecrae’s song outsiders here

Also, if you aren’t a follower of Jesus Christ this post wont exactly pertain to you, but you can continue reading if you would like.

Something that really breaks my heart is seeing a fellow believer of Christ not living in a way that pleases God but rather in a way that dishonors Him. I’m not talking about not sinning. I’m talking about making a conscious choice to disobey God’s Word and showing little or no remorse and sadness when sin does take place. Lecrae has it down in this song “Outsiders”. I just love his bold passion for Jesus Christ and speaking truth. He doesn’t care what people think about him, believers and nonbelievers alike.

What we as Christians and followers of Jesus need to realize is that we will never impact this world if we are insiders rather than outsiders. If we want to experience abundant living like Christ offers us we have got to start living as outsiders, set apart from the ways of this world. The definition of an outsider is a person who does not belong to a particular group. If it appears as though we belong in this world based on the way we live then we simply don’t get it. Sadly, our Christian culture can be so watered down and distant from the truth of Gods Word. Because of this so many Christians are living lives absent of joy, faith, and peace and are having little, if any, impact on others for Christ.

Do you think God is any less sad over believers who fail to obey his commandments than lost people who choose not to accept him as savior? 1 Peter 1: 14-16 (NKJV) says “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” What has happened to Christ’s call for us to be holy? We are so desensitized to this world that we are willing to lower our standards. Instead of judging ourselves based on God’s Word we try to find someone who is just a “little worse” than we are so we can justify our actions. We have one person to be comparing ourselves to and that is Jesus Christ. We will never achieve true holiness as Christ did, but we sure as heck better spend our lives striving to. Anything less than this is a direct act of dishonor to our savior who rescued us from darkness and death.

The moral standards of Christians today is downright confusing. If we want to make a difference we have to be different. Its as simple as that. And I’m not talking about going to church and reading the bible. That’s all great of course, but if aside from that you are no different than the world then honestly what’s the point? Being different means not getting wasted every weekend, not entertaining ourselves with pornographic shows and movies, not laughing at perverted jokes with friends, not being hateful to people who are different, not making our goal in life to achieve more wealth and possession. Do the people around you have any idea that you live a totally different lifestyle than they do? Because they should. If not, its probably because you don’t.

This isn’t some self-righteous post; I’m talking to myself the same way that I’m talking to you. This is about speaking the truth of God’s Word. A truth that I believe really needs to be spoken in the midst of this watered down generation. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to stop just reading the Bible and start living it. James 4:4 says “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” We have a choice to make. Do we want to be God’s friend and servant, or his enemy?

Think about those people you know who are continuously showing the love of Jesus everywhere they go and impacting this world for eternity. How do they live their lives? Like the world? I highly doubt that. These people know what it means to live abundantly and we will too if we make the decision to give up our love affair with the ways of this world and live in obedience to God’s Word. What you will find when you make this choice is that it really isn’t much of a sacrifice at all. The real sacrifice is living for the world rather than God. A sacrifice of joy, peace, abundant living, and being close with the God who created you and loves you, who made the ultimate sacrifice in giving His son for you. Don’t shame His sacrifice any longer by claiming to be His follower while being an insider rather than an outsider.

It’s Time For us Christians to Move

c9b64b2cdff7d7a4523fc63665869015I think as Christians we have this idea that we cant move forward unless God comes down and writes a script for us to follow. We are so afraid of getting it wrong that we do nothing. We make statements like, “well I would love to get involved in that ministry but I have to pray about it first.” We end up feeling like we didn’t hear God say yes and we do nothing. I’m not saying don’t pray! What I am saying is that we need to read God’s Word and move forward based on the truth from God that we already know. Divine revelation will come. But what we have to remember is that we have already been given instruction on how we are to live and serve others. The following verses offer us pretty clear instructions on ways we are called to serve.

James 1:27 (NKJV)

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Galatians 6:10

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Ephesians 4:28

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

Hebrews 13:16

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

I think we make it a lot more difficult than it needs to be. I’ve been guilty of this myself countless times. We think we need to find a “ministry” to sign up for in order to do anything. What if we simply invite all of our neighbors over for dinner and share the love of Christ with them? Or we see a homeless man sitting on a bench and we take time to go sit with him and show interest in his life? Doesn’t that sound a lot like what was going on in the bible?

We also need to remember that its okay to get it wrong sometimes. We are sinful and broken human beings. Of course we will get it wrong! Allowing this fear to hold us back from doing anything is foolish. If you’re not quite sure if something is right for you, be in prayer and try it out. God will show you. Sometimes God speaks to us after we move, rather than before. Abraham did not know where he was going when God told him to pick up his whole family and move (Genesis 12). God told him after he had already stepped out in faith. What if God is waiting for us to step out in obedience to His command to share the truth of Christ with others before He gives us specifics like He did with Abraham?

This has always been a struggle of mine and something that God is continually working on with me. I will say that the times when I have stepped out in obedience to God’s Word the fulfillment and joy I’ve experienced has been unlike anything I ever have before.

Do People Know I’ve Been With Jesus?

bible

Acts 4:13 (NKJV)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

This verse provokes me to ask myself a simple question. When people see me do they realize that I have been with Jesus? Obviously I haven’t physically been with Jesus as John and Peter were, but I have the privilege every day to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit. When people see me do they know this? If I can’t answer yes then I need to ask myself why and come up with a solution to this huge problem. You see, the problem is, I truly want people to see Christ in me but oftentimes, for one reason or another, they don’t. As I’ve pondered this I’ve come up with a few reasons why the people around me may not know that I’ve been with Jesus. Maybe you can relate.

Simply put, because I haven’t been: This honestly happens to me all the time. Maybe this sounds familiar to you too. I get so fired up about Jesus. I’m spending so much time in the Bible and in prayer and loving every minute of it. I mean I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere I go! And then all of a sudden I just stop. I truly cannot figure out why but I just go on a hiatus. And guess what happens? The joy and excitement that I was experiencing diminishes. Even my husband can tell. He will often say, “hey, have you been reading your Bible lately? Because I can tell.” Well okay! Hah. Who I am when I’m focused on Jesus, when my goal is to be close to Him, is totally different than who I am when I’m not. If I’m not spending time with Christ the people I’m around will not be impacted, it’s as simple as that.

Because I’m not doing things that require Christ’s strength: Maybe I have been with Jesus but I’m just not being obedient and stepping out in faith. This was common during Jesus’ ministry on earth and its still common now. Think about it, Judas was with Jesus. did anybody know based on the way he was living his life? Absolutely not! Spending time with Jesus isn’t enough. We have to be willing to step out in faith and live boldly for Christ if we want to reflect His light to those around us. If we want people to know that Christ is living in us we have to be willing to live in bold obedience to His Word. The verse paints a clear picture. Peter and John were not formally trained to be doing what they were doing. They were acting based on Jesus Christ’s strength rather than their own and people could see it. Do you ever feel Jesus calling you to do something bold but you ignore it because “it just isn’t your strength?” Its time we get over that! True freedom comes when we embrace Christ’s strength and trust that He will do a great work through us. This is when people know that we have been with Jesus and when lives change.

Because I’m a hearer and not a doer. James 1:22 tells us “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” This might seem like the same thing as the last one but it’s somewhat different. To me, being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer is about living in daily obedience to Gods Word. For example, if I read that I should edify people with the words I say and instead I tear people down I’m being a hearer and not a doer. Or if I know that the Bible teaches me to love my enemies but I’m bitter and hateful towards them I’m being a hearer and not a doer. What I have found is that when I live out God’s Word, especially in ways that seem to go against the norm, like the previous examples, people notice. To be honest this has always been a big fear of mine. Hearing and studying God’s Word but not doing what it says. Do I have all the knowledge but fail to apply it in my life? I want to stand before God someday knowing that I’ve not only heard his Word, but I’ve done it. Do you?

Because I’m distracted by things that straight up DON’T matter: We have got to stop allowing the things of this world to seduce us and keep us from the things of Christ. Honestly this issue right here is probably the culprit behind the other three reasons why people don’t know I’ve been with Jesus. In Mark 4 we read about the parable of the sower and what often happens when people hear God’s Word but don’t go on to produce fruit. Verses 18-19 says “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” More money, success, possessions, and attention will NOT increase our joy. Producing fruit for the kingdom of God will. This is what happens when people look at you and know that you’ve been with Jesus. They don’t know this by seeing how rich you are, how intelligent you are, how successful you are, how big your house is, or how great your kids are. We have got to refocus our attention on Jesus if we want to be remembered in the same way that Peter and John were, as men and women of God who boldly proclaim Christ and produce everlasting fruit for the Kingdom of God.

Thank you for reading my blog!