“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17 ESV
This is a hard, but beautiful, verse. Sacrifices and offerings without the right spirit and heart are meaningless. This does not get you anywhere.
Broken: No longer in one piece or in working order
Contrite: feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for improper or objectionable behavior, actions, etc.
It’s not very hard to be broken. What’s hard is admitting you’re broken. What’s even harder is acknowledging what you’ve done wrong, feeling remorse for it, and surrendering it all up to God. Once you’ve done this, God does the rest. He receives you and heals you, NO MATTER WHAT, resulting in a transformation that is truly supernatural and beautiful. This is not something you could ever accomplish apart from your creator. He wants you to give up the fight, be broken and repentant before him and let him help you. Let him make you new.
There are often times that I don’t feel very worthy of God and his love. What changes that for me isn’t going and doing Christian activities. What changes that for me is getting before God and asking for help. Confessing those feelings to him and receiving his truth. The truth that I am worthy because he counted me worthy through the death and blood of my savior, Yeshua. Once I understand that truth and allow it to wash away those feelings of unworthiness and those lies that I can do something to feel or become worthy, I feel such strength and gratitude. Then I genuinely want to offer sacrifices and praise to my God. Because I understand that I’m not doing those things to gain anything. I’m doing those things because of what I’ve been given.
Until you’ve been broken before God you might believe that what you do counts towards your worthiness and Gods acceptance of you. This can also lead people to believe the lie that they’ve done too many things wrong to be accepted and redeemed by God. Both lies.
God loves you too much to leave you whole in yourself. He wants you broken before him so he can restore you back to wholeness in Christ. If you desire that, he will allow you to be broken. This is the hard truth we don’t always want to or like to face. God will allow fire and pain to break you in order that he may restore you. Once you’ve been broken to the point that your faith was tested to the place of losing it, but you held on and didn’t give in, then he will build you back up and restore you. Then your faith is proven. This is when you see yourself for who you truly are and you can see God for who he truly is. Then you know that your wholeness has absolutely nothing to do with you, and everything to do with Jesus. You now know it was all because of him and you will give him the glory he deserves. This is where pride dies.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
This is where the true beauty of life begins and you are now able to be used by God for the good works he has prepared for you through his power working through you. You can’t get to this point without brokenness. You might currently be facing a time of great breaking because you’ve been asking God to have all of your life. To use you for his glory alone. If this is what you desire God will absolutely answer in a powerful way. When you have been restored by your savior there is truly no other way you want to live.
Nothing compares to experiencing the power of Jesus transforming you. This isn’t something I can convince you of based on my own life. It is something your heart must desire on its own. All I can do is be faithful in sharing truth, hopeful that it positively impacts even just one person. I was broken to the point of wanting death, and was restored by Jesus to a place of abundant life. Now I get to experience the presence of God, his unfailing love, and see Jesus work in and through me to continually change me and other broken and hurting people. I couldn’t live any other way. This is what God has planned for you too if you would allow your heart to be broken and repentant before him. If you would allow yourself to surrender to the one who created you. He wants you more than you could ever imagine, regardless of anything you have done.
You can’t get through times of breaking without coming close to God and his truth, crying out for his help. You can’t get yourself through these times, not a chance.
Pride says hey look at me, look what I did, look how much I know while godly humility says hey, look at God, look who he is, look what he did, in spite of me.
How is it possible that the people we read about in the Bible who did outrageously amazing things (David, Daniel, Mary, Elijah, Abraham, Moses, Paul, and the list goes on) were so humble? They were broken. They had a contrite, repentant, spirit. Is this true of you? What is the state of your heart right now? The answer to this question is vitally important.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12 ESV
Maybe you might think it’s unfair that God desires brokenness, that we have to face things that break us. This isn’t a game God plays. If we can get to a place of brokenness and humility apart from trials and pain I believe God would do that. This is a result of our own inability to overcome pride and develop dependence on God by ourselves.
God recently spoke to me and told me not to be afraid of adversity and challenge, but to expect it. He also told me to expect victory. Every single time. God always gives us victory in Christ. Challenges break us and renew us, and are worth it in the end if we surrender to God through Jesus, resulting in a heart and spirit that is acceptable and pleasing to him. This creates a life worth living, a life full of the beauty and the power of Jesus.
Maybe you’re wondering if fully surrendering and choosing to follow God is worth the effort. Why would you do something that requires breaking? When you’ve experienced brokenness and your spirit is contrite before God it is here that you fully experience his power and the depth of his unfailing love for you. Why? Because you understand in that moment that you do not deserve it, not even a little bit, yet you still have it. This will change you forever. Nobody else would or could love you like this.
Let me make something clear, when you surrender to God he will NOT leave you broken. God will restore you and heal you. Psalm 147:3 says: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
In his great power God will faithfully heal your broken heart and spirit, if you cling closely to him with a repentant and correctable heart. When you are through this process you will rejoice and be grateful for all he has done and your life will never ever be the same.
About 6 months ago God led me to read the story of David and Bathsheba. He allowed me to read it as if I never had before, showing me the truth of this story in scripture. I believe the truth of this is so very important for christians today. For some reason I couldn’t finish writing this for the longest time and wasn’t sure why. A few days ago I prayed and asked God if this was something He truly wanted me to write about, and if so to help me get it done. That same night I read the article in Christianity today regarding Ravi Zacharias found here, and realized that the truth of David and Bathsheba is critically imperative for Christians in light of what has come out. I address the situation regarding Ravi Zacharias and why the truth of this story is so relevant and important near the end of this post.
When we make assumptions about scripture we miss what is actually there. God told us exactly what he wanted us to know. Nothing more and nothing less. It is not our job to try to figure out what God chose to leave out. We have to get comfortable accepting that we can’t know everything and we have to start teaching what is there instead of what we think might have been or should have been there, based on our own assumptions and personal biases. Go ahead and share assumptions and opinions at times, this is normal and healthy, but when it comes to God’s Word we can’t teach them as fact. I don’t think we do this with evil intentions (some people do intentionally twist Gods Word to fit an agenda) but normally it’s just our human nature and tendency to assume that gets us to make this crucial error. My job and your job as Christians is to follow and obey Christ Jesus, to know God’s Word, and to declare it to those around us. Sometimes I learn things in scripture and I’m either confused by it or it doesn’t quite fit my own agenda. Guess what? Tough luck. God is who He is and His Word is His Word. We cannot change God’s Word because we either don’t understand or we don’t like what He is saying.
Try to read the following story as if you are reading it for the first time. Let’s take a look at what is truly there. I will include some of the story below, but I encourage you to go read all of 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 right now to get the full context.
“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. ( Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” 2 Samuel 11:1-4
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” 2 Samuel 11:26-27
“And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 2 Samuel 12:1-14
The sermons I’ve heard on these passages of scripture, taught by different pastors at different churches, have all been taught roughly the same. The basic idea is this: David should have gone to war, Bathsheba shouldn’t have been on the roof and was acting immodestly. She knew David was watching and wanted to lure him in. They chose to commit adultery. Is this Biblical truth? Actually no. It is not. This is actually a false assumption not built on scripture and harmful to the church for many reasons.
Nowhere in the Bible is Bathsheba condemned or said to have done wrong. In fact, Nathan the prophet, when he confronts David, compares her to a sacrificed ewe lamb. If you have ever heard a message where a pastor talks about how she shouldn’t have been on the roof and she drew David in with lust, this is not scriptural truth and is not found in scripture. It is a personal assumption taught often as fact. David’s lust and evil desire is what led him to sin. Not one single time is Bathsheba condemned or is it said that she sinned. Not one single time. In fact, Nathan never even mentioned her name.
I read a commentary recently that said Bathsheba should have known David could see her and she acted immodestly. Guess what? That could be true, but this is NOT what the Bible says. And never once in the BIBLE, which is the authority for teachers of the Bible, is Bathsheba said to have done wrong in this situation. Why do teachers choose to speculate? This is so dangerous to our Christian faith because it carries over into all teaching and leads people astray. We have to stop doing this. This post isn’t about defending Bathsheba, although she likely needs defending. It is about defending the truth of the Bible and pointing out the danger of people teaching their assumptions as Biblical truth.
David was a powerful man. He saw something he wanted, he sent soldiers, and took it. This is a great danger that I believe we are facing today. Spiritual leaders, like Ravi Zacharias, using their power to indulge their evil desires, causing immense harm. (I will explain why David and Ravi are actually nothing alike later on, so don’t worry.)The church must stop Idolizing powerful spiritual men and women, turning a blind eye to their sin, and blaming their victims. Could Bathsheba have gotten into that room alone with David and mutually agreed to his sexual requests? Maybe. The truth remains that David used his place of power to get what he wanted. This is victimization no matter how you look at it, regardless of what Bathsheba might have done. The truth is, we do not know exactly what happened and how it happened apart from what we were told. This is the information God chose to give us. Anything about what happened there that we weren’t told is literally irrelevant. We have to let God’s word be enough and leave it at that. Why do pastors preach this as adultery and place partial blame on Bathsheba when this isn’t what the Bible says? David surely did not blame her or ever refer to what he had done as adultery. Neither did God. Some will say that nothing was mentioned of her reluctance, and therefore she gladly gave herself to him. Again, this is a lie. The absence of something does not prove something else that is also absent. The danger this poses to the truth is severe. We have to start being honest with ourselves and others. We have got to value truth over what we like or assume when it comes to God.
One question I would encourage anybody reading this who believes the assumptions about Bathsheba is this: Would Nathan’s confrontation looked differently if those assumptions were true? I don’t see how what God spoke to David through Nathan fits at all with the unbiblical narrative often taught. Ask yourself that question and be honest with yourself. Teachers of God’s Word have one job. To please God with what they say. Not to please themselves or people. Sure, teaching your personal assumption might make you feel good or might better appeal to those listening. But what does God think of this?
This is not the story of a godly man being lured away by an adulterous woman, as mentioned in Proverbs ch 7 (those women absolutely exist). Every single person, including godly people, have evil desires within their hearts. If left alone and acted on without repentance these evil desires grow. This is actually the story of a godly man using his place of power and authority to give into sinful urges and take what he wanted. A story of a godly man seeking to cover up his grievous sin unsuccessfully, resulting in more sin. The story of a godly man, who when confronted with his sin, took ownership and repented. A story of a man who loved God, yet severely displeased God, receiving a severe punishment. Severe. Followed by restoration. How do I know David was godly? He repented with true sorrow over what he had done and did not continue in his evil.
What separates a godly man from an ungodly man is not the absence of sin, or sinning only when lured in by others. It is the choice to take responsibility for that sin, own that sin rather than cover it up, not blame others, accept God’s discipline, repent, and choose to no longer continue in that sin. We know that after David repented of this evil he did not continue in this pattern. 1 Kings 15:5 says “because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” 1 Kings 15:5.
David never, according to the truth of scripture, blamed Bathsheba or called his sin adultery, and neither can we. This is a fallacy that could make people believe godly men only sin if they are being lured into it by a woman, thus leading to victims being blamed for the evil sin of another. Not only that, this makes it very easy to confuse an ungodly man with a godly man. This is perhaps the reason why sexual sin is covered. If we lived as Jesus commanded this would not happen. We would hold each other accountable, judge sin, deal with it, expect true repentance, forgive, and see restoration with God.
Remember that God himself called David a man after His own heart. I think (this is my personal take away) we blame Bathsheba and call this adultery because we need to create a false assumption that godly people (especially leaders) do not sin unless somehow forced into it. Good people sin. Good people take ownership, repent, and purpose to change. Those claiming to follow Jesus should not cover their sin or blame others and get away with it. If this standard is not upheld ungodly men and women will take full advantage of it and cause serious hurt. I personally believe that had David successfully covered this sin and not been held accountable, maybe this would have happened again. And again. And again. As we see today with these same situations. Nathan did not idolize David, but cared more about pleasing God. This is why he was able to boldly confront David as God led him to do. Because David received correction and repented it was clear that he truly was a man after God’s heart. A person can claim to have a heart for God all day long. If that person is unrepentant and does not have sorrow over his or her sin I beg to differ. If sin is ignored and covered how in the world are you supposed to know if someone who acts like a Christian really is one? This is a scary thought.
How many cowardly men and women have chosen to ignore and help cover the wicked and harmful sin of their leaders to protect their reputations, all under the disguise of not wanting to “harm” the church or prevent the power of the “gospel”? This is most assuredly form Satan. Repentance is what leads people to Christ. Do you really think that uncovering sin and doing the right thing could thwart the plan of God? We must stop lying to ourselves and start obeying God. Simple as that.
What are the truths of this story?
*David used his power to get what he wanted. *David sexually victimized Bathsheba (some say rape, but the Bible does not specifically state how things happened when he took her, nothing is mentioned of her desire or willingness so I would rather not speculate. Regardless, when a man uses his place of power to have sex with a woman it is wrong.). *Bathsheba is not the focus of this story and hardly any details are given about her. *David attempted to cover up his actions and his cover up resulted in a man’s death. David’s sin greatly displeased God. *David was confronted with his sin and took responsibility and ownership. *David did NOT blame Bathsheba for what he had done. *David was severely disciplined for what he had done. *Scripture places no blame on Bathsheba for what David had done. Not once is it said that she had sinned. *Nathan the prophet compared Bathsheba to a sacrificed lamb. This significantly proves the lies of this story as such. *Scripture does not refer to David’s sin as adultery. *David repented of his sin and was restored back to God.
What are lies that have been spoken about this story? There is no Biblical backing to any of these.
*Bathsheba knew David could see her bathing and lured him in with her immodesty. *David and Bathsheba committed adultery. *Bathsheba and David were both to blame. *David only sinned because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Bathsheba provoked him. Truth: These evil desires were within David’s heart. I think if it were not with Bathsheba it would have likely been with someone else. David himself said “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” Psalm 19:12. Accountability, correction, and uncovering sins we are blind to cleanses our hearts of wickedness.
Why might a church or ministry deny and cover up sexual sin? First of all, if we don’t realize that every single one of us has a sinful nature and needs to be held accountable, regardless of our spiritual stature, we might be deceived into thinking our leaders would never do something so terrible. This is a recipe for disaster. Additionally, some might believe that it’s best to cover these things up to prevent the downfall of a ministry. The idea that uncovering the truth and demanding accountability and repentance might destroy a ministry and keep people from receiving Christ is a work of Satan. The first problem with this, all God cares about is obedience. The second problem, God brings forth increase, not us. God desires obedience over sacrifice. Read my blog on that topic here. There are only two options when dealing with spiritual leaders and their sin. Option 1: Confront and bring it to light, hope for a repentant response, care for victims, protect further harm to other potential victims, and accept that the ministry will suffer consequences. Option 2: Cover things up, allow the leader to continue in his or her wickedness, harming countless individuals, (or as some do, quietly send him off to another ministry to harm other people), avoid consequences, while severely displeasing God and losing His favor. How is this even a difficult decision? Is there no fear of God? Is there no reverence to His absolute holiness and righteous majesty? For a follower of Jesus Christ nothing should be worth the cost of disobeying and displeasing God and remaining unrepentant. Maybe this sounds extreme, but this is what it truly is to be a follower of Jesus.
Ravi Zacharias did evil and unimaginable harm to many victims. My heart aches for these individuals who suffered at the hands of a man who claimed to represent Christ. I am so sorry for them and pray for their healing.
Years before the investigation into Ravi Zacharias was completed and the article I previously mentioned was written, Ravi was confronted by one of his victims. He did not repent. Rather he continued his plans to cover his wicked sin. He denied having ever harmed anybody and sued his victim. Those in ministry with him allowed his place of power to blind them and did not hold him accountable. Not only that, it seems they believed him to be above reproach. There is only one of whom this is true. Jesus Christ. These actions caused even more unimaginable pain and harm to his victims. I will never speak to the state of Ravi’s salvation, only God can do that. But his actions we know of are not indicative of a repentant or godly man. The truth is, this man used his place of power to cause horrific harm, just as David did, but he was not repentant (that we know of, this could have changed on his death bed), was not held accountable, and was not dealt with in a godly way. Not only that, unlike with David, it appears Ravi’s evil abuse was repeated over and over again for many years. Despite being confronted, his heart was not repentant.
No Christian leader, no matter how distinguished, rich, or powerful he or she happens to be, is worthy of being idolized or of not being held accountable. We are the church, the body of Christ. The way we represent Jesus Christ is so incredibly serious and needs to be of absolute utmost importance. As His body we are all given spiritual gifts, and we all work together for the purpose of glorifying God and doing His will. We have to stop believing the lie that one member of the body is of more importance. We have to stop seeking to place an individual above us as our “king and idol”. Only Jesus should take that place in our lives. If we held to this I believe spiritual leaders would not look like they do today. Famous and powerful. Nathan the prophet was obedient to God and did not allow David’s place of power to intimidate him from doing what honored God. We all must do the same. In the words of my husband “we need more foot soldiers doing the work of the kingdom and loving others, and fewer celebrity pastors and speakers”.
The biggest ministries in the world could crumble tomorrow and guess what? This would not alter any of God’s plans. Satan will manufacture any lie imaginable to keep us from repentance. We must know the truth of God’s Word, including the truth of this story, so we can defend ourselves against the lies of Satan. I hope and pray that this encourages even just one person so step back and decide to make the choice to start getting in God’s Word in search of truth, with the Holy Spirit there to guide, rather than simply taking teachers and pastors at their word. Ravi Zacharias is an example to all of us that even those who appear to be the godliest and who have all the knowledge and training can be full of wickedness and unrepentance.
Had Nathan ignored God and had not confronted David his sin would have been successfully covered! Think about that. David did not know that he was the man Nathan was referring to until Nathan told him. He was blinded to his sin. How many spiritual leaders and individuals today have harmed and abused others and gotten away with it? Or at least think they have, as God will repay in the end. Nathan obeyed God and confronted David in a very bold way. This is what we have to do for each other as the Body of Jesus Christ. Otherwise we will not see repentance. Repentance is what separates the sheep from the wolf! If this is not our standard we might just end up with some dangerous wolves taking up residence, claiming to follow Jesus (as we were warned of and as we have seen). If sin is called out rather than covered up you will see who truly has a repentant heart. Nathan was obedient to God in confronting David and holding him accountable for what he had done out of his own evil desire. David was repentant, proving he truly did have a heart for God.
I pray this post encourages godly men and women who feel they must cover their sin or blame others to do so no longer. Confess, repent, receive forgiveness, and be restored back to the father. This is what David did and this is what we all must do.
Nathan compared Bathsheba to a sacrificed lamb. A lamb. Think about that for a minute? We have turned this into a story of two people committing adultery. A godly man being seduced by a lustful immodest woman. when it is really a story of a powerful man taking a sacrificial lamb for himself, to do with her what he wished. If you have ever placed blame for sexual harm on a victim I urge you with every fiber of my being that you repent and never do this again. Ever. Stop believing the lie that “he or she would never do that!” Ravi Zacharias clearly proves that untrue. No person EVER has the right, no matter what excuse could ever be given, to sexually harm another. EVER. If we can see this story for what it is maybe as the church of God we will stop blaming victims. We will start a new movement of believing victims and helping them heal, requiring confession and repentance. We will be able to separate the sheep from the wolves. Men and women who have sinned and have truly repented will be forgiven and restored back to God. Victims will be properly loved and cared for. Men and women in power will no longer be encouraged to blame others for and cover their sin. And ungodly men and women will be seen for what they are and dealt with in the right way. To be put outside of the church, no longer able to use their power to harm a lamb again.
What are the applications to the truth of this story?
*Even people who have hearts for God and long to please Him have evil and corruption within them. Repentance, or a lack thereof, is what separates us. We need to be very aware of this and on guard. As Christians we should often ask God to reveal hidden sin in our hearts so that we can repent. And we should be looking for repentance in the hearts of those we walk with and serve with in Christ Jesus. *When we sin God will discipline and correct us as He did David. He does this because he loves us. *When we are confronted with our sin we need to take ownership with sorrow and repent. *When we repent God will forgive us and restore us back to Himself. *Ungodly people sometimes find their way into places of spiritual leadership. We must not idolize or hold anyone above reproach.
My husband went to a Christian college. For one of his business class projects he created a coffee mug designed to show words when heated. When hot coffee filled the mug quotes from school professors and special speakers from chapel meetings appeared. As I started reading the quotes I was very disturbed by one I came across. It said “the question isn’t is it true, but does it work?” Why was I so disturbed by this quote? Well, it is completely backwards and the opposite of truth. Frankly all we should be concerned with is whether or not something is obedient to the truth. If something produces results, but only through disobedient means, in my opinion, and I know God agrees, it’s worthless. In fact, deception comes from Satan, not God. ALL we need to focus on is whether what we are doing is obedient or not. The results are up to God and God alone. Not only that, sometimes we don’t see the results of our obedience. Often the results are not easily recognized by us, and are simply within our own or another’s heart. Sometimes we are planting for another to water, and another to reap. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments.” We don’t show Jesus we love him by doing things that we think work. We show him we love him through our obedience. Later in that same chapter He said “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (Vs 21) Jesus told us in His Word that if we keep His commands He will show himself to us. What an amazing truth. Is disobedience worth missing out on this? I have so much work to do in this area. I am incapable of living in perfect obedience to God, which is why Jesus paid the price for my disobedience. All I, or any of us, can do is strive to obey and please God.
We cannot focus on results while ignoring the means in which we accomplished them. The only question to answer? Did I obey God? God can bring forth results from our disobedience. Does this negate our choice to disobey? Absolutely not. We will suffer for it. Let’s look at what happened when Moses disobeyed God.
“Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” Numbers 20:6-8
Moses was off to a great start! He got on his face before God, desperate for his help and leading. Stepnumberone: Always ask God his opinion before action. He has one, and it’s really all that counts. Do you do this about everything? God’s Word tells us to pray about all things. God responded so faithfully to Moses and He will respond faithfully to you. God told Moses exactly what He wanted him to do. So what happened next that resulted in Moses no longer being allowed to lead the people to the promised land?
Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy. Numbers 20: 10-13
God told Moses what to do. Moses disobeyed. Step number two: When God responds and tells you what He wants you to do, you do it. There were still results, water came out abundantly. So wait, Moses disobeyed God but still saw abundant results? Why then was God so displeased with Moses? God was going to give the people water whether or not Moses chose to obey Him. God wanted to use Moses as His vessel to deliver the blessing. Moses failed. He did not do what God told him to do. Simple as that. It does not matter what resulted after his disobedience.
-God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will. If we choose to disobey He will still get He job done. I heard someone describe God as the master chef and us as His little children He allows to help out in the kitchen. I could bake cookies on my own a lot more quickly than when I let my 3 and 6 year old help. I certainly don’t need them to do it with me, I want them to. This is the same with God and His children.
-“Results” (or what we believe results are) do not automatically mean we have been obedient, and a lack of “results” doesn’t mean me haven’t been.
-“Results” do not negate disobedience. Moses disobeyed, the water flowed. Moses suffered consequences.
-Obedience is all that matters. Literally this is all that matters. If we are obeying Scripture and the voice of the Holy Spirit, God is pleased. “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22. Scripture makes it very clear that what God wants most from us is our obedience. As soon as we realize this we will stop focusing on results and will start focusing on loving Jesus through our obedience. We need to stop obsessing about “what works” in our own minds, and trust and obey God. God is looking for His followers to be radically obedient. You will face rejection for this, by non-Christians and Christians. We all have to choose who we want to please, people or God? “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10. Paul made it clear that if we are living to please people we are not servants of Christ.
-God will speak to those who ask him to. He will continue to speak to those who obey when he does. In my opinion, if you hear God clearly and choose to disobey He will pick someone else who will obey. Aka Joshua. God still loved Moses but He no longer used Moses to lead the people into the promised land. Moses was forced to pass the torch to Joshua because of his disobedience. God is a God of grace and if we repent of our disobedience and ask His forgiveness He gives it. In this case things could go differently than they did with Moses, but maybe not. That’s all up to God. Either way we need to repent when we disobey and seek restoration with God.
-The Holy Spirit will never contradict or add to Sctipture. You will only recognize His voice if you know sctipture. You cannot obey Him if you do not know Him. I personally believe from studying scripture that God still speaks to us today as He always has. For example, there are things God has spoken to my heart and told me to do. I know it was God speaking because I am in fellowship with Him through His Holy Spirit in me. I do not only hear Him when I read scripture, but what He says to me always lines up with the truth of scripture. How are we supposed to recognize His voice if we do not know Him? When Samuel first heard God speak to him he did not recognize His voice. Eli did, and he told Samuel it was God speaking to him. Eli recognized God’s voice because he knew scripture and He walked with God. If you aren’t doing this and you don’t know scripture it’s likely you won’t hear God or recognize His voice.
-God wants to speak to us, and wants us to listen and obey when He does. I believe that if you are in a place of ministry (actively teaching, discipling, or ministering Christ to others, something we should all be doing) you are obligated to be connected with God, seeking His will, meditating on His Word, hearing Him when He speaks, and obeying what He says. Jesus said He only did the will of the Father. If we are ministering Christ and our goal is not to only do the will of The Father in our ministry, we are way off track.
-If you had to disobey God to produce “positive” results you are dishonoring God. He is not pleased with this, he hates this. “lying lips are an abomination to The Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight.” Proverbs 12:22. I once heard a story of a youth pastor telling students to lie to their friends from school to get them to come to youth group. He told them to tell them it was a hangout instead of church so they would show up. This pastor believed that lying was okay in this situation because it would result in kids hearing the gospel. What he asked those kids to do was literally an abomination to God, and the opposite of what Jesus Christ did and would have ever done. In fact, many times the things Jesus said drove people away. Why? Because He came to tell the truth. The truth will set people free, but it will also push away a lot of people. If we have to lie to draw a crowd, whether personally or in our churches, we are disobeying and dishonoring God. Guess what? If a kid showed up to youth group based on a lie and received salvation through Christ that’s all because of God, and does not justify this pastor’s disobedient and sinful shepherding. That youth pastor is very accountable. Just like Moses was. Satan’s lie that we have to produce results, no matter the cost, to be good enough and to please God, has brought such destruction.
A few years ago I was driving to physical therapy and was crying out to God to hear Him speak to me. I felt an intense desperation for his guiding that particular day. I wanted to have a supernatural experience with God and I begged him for it through tears. When I got to my apt. I got myself together and went inside, expecting some divine encounter. Nothing happened. I left and headed for Walgreens to pick up a prescription. While I was there I suddenly felt an indescribable supernatural urge to go outside to the bench where a homeless man was sitting and talk to him. I had actually seen this man sitting on that bench every day for a year and had never spoken to him. This feeling was so overwhelming and out of the ordinary for me. I knew the Holy Spirit was literally leading me to this man. I was terrified! I got in my car and drove over to the spot next to the bench on the very busy road. I prayed for peace and the words to say, got out of my car and approached the bench. I asked if I could sit down, introduced myself and asked for his name. Let me stop for a minute, I was expecting I would be sharing Jesus with this man and he would receive Christ and I would have an awesome divine encounter story to share! What I saw when I sat down alarmed me. This man, Bobby, was reading a bible. He then proceeded to witness to me! I was shocked. I sat talking with him for a while about Jesus, letting him know I did indeed believe. He told me God had him there for now and he wasn’t sure for how much longer. I then offered him money and guess what he said? “Oh no, I have everything I need”, as he patted his Bible. I was again in shock. This homeless man witnessed to me and turned down my money. What in the world? I practically forced him to take the money, I suppose that made me feel good. He smiled and finally agreed.
After we talked for a while I got in my car in absolute shock. Do you know what I thought? Let me confess this to you. I was somewhat disappointed. I thought the Spirit was leading me to witness to a homeless man and give him money. I was expecting results. It wasn’t until years later (just recently actually) that I realized this was a divine encounter. With the Holy Spirit and me. the miracle of this story is that I heard the Holy Spirit telling me to do something that terrified me, and I obeyed Him. God was working on my heart. This is what matters! Not whether or not I had some cool story to tell about the results. sometimes God tells us to do something just to see if we will obey Him, no matter what. In my experience, the more we obey the more God will speak to us. When we obey we start to realize He is with us and His spirit enables us to do things that terrify us. The next time He speaks it doesn’t seem quite so impossible to obey.
My goal should be to hear and obey. Simple as that. The fruit God allows me to see from my obedience is irrelevant. After all, He is the one who brings forth the increase. God can bring forth fruit even from my disobedience. This is how much he doesn’t need me. He simply wants me, and He wants you, to join Him in the amazing work of His kingdom.
Jesus had one goal. To do only what the Father told him to do. He was a display of perfect obedience and our goal must be to be like him.
The only thing we have to offer God is an empty vessel. An empty vessel that desires to be filled with the spirit of the living God in order to make the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ known to others. A surrendered vessel that allows the Spirit to do whatever He chooses. It has nothing to do with how capable or talented we are. Until we can become the empty vessel, fully surrendered, we will never experience the fullness of what It is to please God while in these earthly bodies. I have to ask myself. Who do I want to please? Will I allow the judgments and condemnations of others to keep me full? Will I allow my own strengths and accomplishments to keep me full? Will I allow my fears and doubts to keep me full? Will I allow the approval and acceptance of others to keep me full? Will I allow fleeting sin to keep me full? As long as I am focused on pleasing people I will never be the empty vessel. As long as I love my sin more than I love my God I will never be the empty vessel. A vessel that is used for honor. A vessel that is used for love. A vessel that is full of the spirit of God, being wielded by Him to do the supernatural to make the gospel known.
No part of me can do what He wants to do apart from the Holy Spirit. Not one part. Not any part of you either. I am overwhelmed with emotion thinking about how badly I want to be that empty vessel. What do I need to get rid of so that God’s Spirit has total control of this vessel? What do you need to get rid of?
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:20-26 ESV
In order to become a vessel of honor to be used by God through His Spirit in me I have to cleanse myself from what is dishonorable. Empty myself of all the garbage and let the Spirit of God fill me with what is good. Righteousness, faith, love, peace, kindness, joy, self-control, patience, gentleness. This is the only way for me to bring the knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ to those around me. When I get rid of the garbage my heart will begin to desire the things of God on a deeper level. Galatians 5:16-17 tells us “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” If you truly want to be in the flesh and you don’t desire to walk in the spirit, or you don’t feel any remorse over doing what is opposed to the spirit, you probably don’t have the spirit of God in you. How can I say that? This passage tells us that our flesh keeps us doing the things we don’t want to do. Why don’t we want to do those things? Because Gods Spirit in us has transformed us so that we no longer live to please people, but to please God. When the Holy Spirit is in you, you do not want to be in the flesh. When you do fail, (which is probably daily, at least it is for me) you aren’t okay with it.
Romans 7:7-21 explains this perfectly. Paul tells us that although he desires to do what is right (in his spirit) his flesh is incapable of doing it. He continues to do the things he hates (his sin). The answer to this problem? To seek every day as best we can to live in the Spirit. How do we do that? To cleanse ourselves from unrighteousness and surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit in us. It is a battle that requires a daily surrender of our flesh and our own desires, and can only be accomplished supernaturally through the Spirit of God in us through salvation in Jesus Christ. We have to be aware of the Holy Spirit and surrender to his leading.
When I am aware of the Holy Spirit and surrender to Him I can hear and understand more clearly where he is leading me. This is when my faith is assured. Jesus said “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13) This isn’t just a nice thought. It is the truth. The Holy Spirit literally speaks things to my heart and directs my life. It is supernatural and powerful. There is nothing normal about it, and nothing compares to it.
Years ago I was at work and I was headed to teach my bible study. This particular day I felt completely incapable and unqualified (to be honest, I often feel this way when doing things with God). I stopped on the way to say hi to my friend Eric, he was much wiser than me. He often sang gospel music at his church and other events. I looked nervous and he asked me what was up. I’ll never forget the wisdom he shared to encourage me. He told me that whenever he was about to sing he would pray the following prayer. “Holy Spirit, let me be invisible, that you would be seen.” I prayed this way that day and I was able to teach God’s Word confidently. That had such a lasting impact on me. I pray that prayer as often as I can and I always feel peace and confidence afterward. Holy Spirit, let me be invisible, that you would be seen. Such a beautiful prayer of surrender. I wonder if Eric even realized the wisdom he was sharing in that moment and the impact that would have on me. I believe that when we choose to become empty vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill, giving Him control, we begin to experience exponential divine encounters. When you are a vessel of honor the Holy Spirit is free to work His gifts in you at His will. The Holy Spirit spoke a word of wisdom to me through Eric, His vessel. If the thought of being that vessel for the Lord doesn’t sound like the most amazing thing to me it’s because I am full of things that are contrary to the Spirit of God. There is no room for the Spirit because my flesh is in control. I have to empty myself of everything dishonorable so that I can be used by God for His work. Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Every single day I have to empty myself of me and surrender to the Spirit of Christ in me. I have to give up what my flesh desires and let the Spirit take over, otherwise I can do nothing. At least nothing of true value.
A life as a vessel of the Holy Spirit, fully surrendered to the will of God, is truly the most fulfilling and incredible life. There is nothing boring about it. As Christians we have to empty ourselves of everything that is against Christ and become the vessel of honor to be used by God for every good work. This is the only way the World will truly see the truth of Jesus Christ and experience the supernatural power of Gods love. If the love you see seems ordinary, then you’ve never seen the love of God.
The other day my husband read some scripture to me that blew my mind. Read below:
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. Matthew 28: 1-4
The guards at Jesus’ tomb saw the angel of the Lord come from heaven and roll back the stone. These dudes were terrified! Literally scared them to death. Okay jump forward and keep reading here:
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place.12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
don’t deceive yourselves to believe that rich powerful men and women as we speak are not using their wealth to spread lies and deceit in an attempt to squelch the truth of the gospel. It happened then and it is happening now. Satan will specifically target wealthy individuals who value power over truth, and greedy individuals who value money over truth. This was his scheme before, and it is his scheme now. This happens everywhere, including in the institutional church. We have to understand that the wars we see going on around us are not physical, they are spiritual. Satan is fighting hard but he has no chance at victory. Jesus Christ already has the victory. We need to endure and fight Satan with the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ. Ask God to remove any and all hate and offense from your heart as you love him and his word, for God’s Word said “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14. Are you loving the law of God? Are you loving your neighbor right now or are you filled with hate? As long as you are not loving your neighbor as yourself you are not fulfilling the law. You will NOT have the peace of God. Do not allow Satan and his schemes to destroy the love of Christ in you.
As for me, I pray daily for truth to be revealed to me. For any lies I might be believing to be snuffed out. That with love and empathy I will fulfill the law and rest in the peace of God, with NOTHING causing me to stumble. I hope you will do the same.
This post started going in one direction and then shifted in a new direction. I just wrote what I felt God was saying to me. Thanks for reading.
You don’t become a Christian because you start going to church and doing Christian activities. Let me warn you. Doing these things has benefits that can be dangerously confused with life transformation through salvation. What are those possible benefits? Community and relationships, positive emotional experiences, a good set of moral standards to follow, volunteer opportunities that lead to a sense of accomplishment, sometimes financial benefits. These things aren’t bad, unless you believe this is what it means to be a Christian. In this case, these things are detrimental. There is actually such thing as religious addiction. Why? Because religion can provide positive experiences and can be A good coping mechanism.
So what is a Christian really? The answer has nothing to do with a list of religious activities. John 1:12 says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Ephesians 1:13 tells us “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” A Christian is a child of God, who received and believed in Jesus, who is sealed with the Holy Spirit. So what does it really look like to be a Christian and to have the Holy Spirit with you and in you? For starters it is a constant. Sometimes we choose to ignore him, but he is always there. If you forget about God when you leave your church,or you have no desire to pray and just be with God in his presence, or you don’t feel any different than you did before unless you are in a church building, or you have no intrest in being more like Jesus and understanding scripture on a deeper level, or you have never known the Holy Spirit, or you have no desire to please God and give him control, could it be that you go to church but you aren’t actually a part of God’s church?
What happens to a kid who grows up going to church and knows how to do all of the churchy things but never actually became a Christian through acceptance and belief in Christ, never receiving the Holy Spirit? Could that child grow up doing Christian things and eventually, because there is no true root and doubts about the Bible set in, walk away? This person is walking away from religion, not true Christianity. What about the boyfriend who got invited to church by his girlfriend (who said she wouldn’t marry him unless he was a Christian) and chose to adopt Christian practices because of the benefits, but never actually became a Christian? What if this man decided to go to seminary and became a pastor because he knew how to act like a Christian and enjoyed studying (not to mention, nowadays becoming a pastor can be a good career choice). You can learn biblical things and have knowledge without salvation in Christ and the Holy Spirit of God living in you. However, knowledge without the Holy Spirit does not lead to wisdom or understanding of spiritual things. (The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14) There are atheists who teach Bible courses at universities. How can that be? It’s very easy for this to happen. It is very easy to go to a church building every week, to listen to sermons, to volunteer, to get a seminary degree, and not be a Christian. The bottom line is, a Christian is a member of the body of Christ every single day. When you have the Holy Spirit in you there is no way not to desire the things of God. If you do not desire to please God you do not have his spirit living in you. Does this mean we always please him? Of course not. Sometimes we choose to operate in our flesh instead of the Spirit. Christians absolutely cannot be in the flesh at all times because the Spirit is living in them. When you are at your worst, you will still know the Spirit is in you, even if for a time it is simply the conviction of sin or the urging to walk in the spirit instead of your flesh.
“Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”
Romans 8:8-9 ESV
I’ve recently heard stories of Christians who were in popular bands or writing music for Christian bands walking away from God. This is sad but were they ever truly with God? You can think you are and not be. Judas was with Jesus all the time and was involved in ministry, but he never actually believed. He acted like a disciple, but he never was one. (“But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)” John 6:64
Have you ever met someone who was such a “faithful Christian” never missed a church service , there every time the doors were opened, volunteering every weekend, and then Just like that, walks away from God? Why does this happen? Perhaps we have a misunderstanding of what it means to be with God? Perhaps many Christians have a very flawed idea of what a Christian even is? Of what the church is? Could it be that some of those people who walk away from Christianity are not actually walking away from God, but are actually walking away from a belief system centered on a set of religious practices? These things are empty and do not take the place of a real life with God.
Jon Steaingard of Hawk Nelson, in his post about walking away from his faith, talked about how he and his wife did not enjoy going to church or worship. He said “Now I don’t believe anything was wrong with us. We simply didn’t believe – and we were too afraid to admit that to ourselves.” Listen, you do not become a Christian and receive the Holy Spirit of God if you do not believe. Belief does not equal attending church services religiously, singing in worship bands, going on missions trips, giving money, attending church events or workshops, going to seminary, or engaging in other religious activities. When you believe, truly believe, you will be sealed with the Holy Spirit. He will be with you and in you. According to scripture, if you don’t have the Holy Spirit, and you would know if you do, you are not a Christian. How can I say this? Because it is Gods spirit entering you through belief, acceptance, and repentance through Jesus Christ and his resurrection that you are sealed by the Holy Spirit. This is what happens when you become a Christian. There is no mistaking the presence of the Holy Spirit in you and with you. Based on what this man said, he did not walk away from his faith in God, he walked away from religion. In order to even be with God you must have his spirit dwelling in you. Doubts about the Bible will not cause you to leave your faith when you literally have Gods spirit in you. Doubts about the Bible when you do not have Gods spirit in you will. My hope for this man is that now that he has removed himself from the bondage of religion, he can truly seek God and find true belief in Christ.
John 14:15-17 says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will bein you.
Here Jesus tells us that we know the Spirit because he dwells with us and is in us. He doesn’t say we can know him, he says we do know him. If you don’t know the Holy Spirit through personal experience, he isn’t with you. You are not a Christian. Only you can know that, I will never look at someone and decide whether or not they truly are a Christian. That is between that person and God. I’m just relaying the truth of scripture. Truth that has often been lost in the chaos of activities, programs, and false beliefs about Christianity.
Acts 2:36-38: Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This verse shows us that when we repent and receive Christ we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not something we have to work extra hard for. We have to be careful not to ignore the Holy Spirit or quench him through despising his power, as we are warned in Thessalonians. But, even when we do this, we will still know the Holy Spirit. We just won’t experience him as we would when we engage and fellowship with him. The way we were always meant to.
If you are going to church and practicing religion without salvation, without being sealed by the Holy Spirit through your belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ, I urge you to stop. Acting like a Christian without belief will not transform you. It will potentially harden you toward God. Why? Because you will not understand spiritual things and you will likely be deceived. You will also deceive others. It is 100% possible to go to church multiple times a week, to passionately sing worship songs, to listen to sermons and take notes, to give, to volunteer and serve, yet not be a Christian. If you lost all of the extra benefits of going to church that I mentioned before (community, emotional experiences, financial gain, a moral standard to live up to, activities that lead to a sense of accomplishment, etc.) and all that was left was God, would you still be a Christian? If you have the Holy Spirit living in you through salvation then the answer should be yes. Just really stop and imagine that for a minute. Abraham and the early prophets didn’t have church services. They didn’t have exciting worship services with bands and lights. They didn’t have talented preachers with a mix of humor and depth. They didn’t have Sunday school. They didn’t even have the New Testament. They had Communion with God Almighty, and that was enough. The early believers didn’t have grand church buildings and Hillsong worship, or entertaining programs, or coffee shops to hit up before Sunday service. They had the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling with them and living in them. And that was enough. We have to get back to the heart of what it truly is to be a Christian. What it truly is to be the church. We have to strip it all back and ask ourselves if God is truly enough. We have to start there. If that is not the foundation everything else is worthless. We have to truly understand what is necessary and required in our Christian life and realize that if that is missing, “Christian activities” are pointless.
This post isn’t about what we do as Christians (which is highly important), it’s about who we are as Christians. You can do Christian things and not be one. You cannot be a true Christian without action. You must become a Christian before you try to act like one. Fake it til you make it doesn’t work here. Not only that, a lot of things focused on in American churches are either extrabiblical, or mentioned hardly at all in scripture, yet are the focus of “Christianity”. If you start there, rather than with God, there is a danger of getting a very flawed Christian belief system that is not based on truth. According to scripture, a believer, someone who accepts and receives Jesus and becomes a child of God, receives the Holy Spirit of God and is radically transformed. This person then needs to be discipled by another person. This is not the same thing as listening to sermons or attending church services. The Holy Spirit is now with you and will guide you as you study scripture, gather with other Christians, and get discipled. This then leads to a life in God’s presence, loving him deeply, and a life poured out in love and service to others (here is where the action comes into play). This is what Jesus taught and this is what the early church was all about, and what the church today needs to be about.
I could share many stories of my life with the Holy Spirit and how this has strengthened my faith in God and helped me through doubts. Is the Holy Spirit with you and in you? If you call yourself a Christian but you can’t answer yes to this question that’s a problem. Maybe you are ignoring him because you don’t really know that he is always with you and living in you. Or maybe you simply do Christian things but you aren’t one. Get alone with God in prayer, ask him to change your heart and to teach you through the power of the Holy Spirit and scripture what it really is to be a Christian.
The Holy Spirit confirms the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Well because when you believe in and receive Jesus, God puts his Spirit in you and you change. This wouldn’t happen if the gospel weren’t true. You might always struggle with doubt over the Bible, but through the Holy Spirit you can have total assurance and confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Saved a powerful quote for last. Taken from an interview with Jon Steingard and Sean McDowell.
“The only good reason someone should be a Christian is if it is true. And we can know it’s true by direct testimony of the Holy Spirit and by examining the historical evidence for the resurrection.” Sean McDowell
Submit is a scary word, especially if you prefer to be in control. To submit is to let go of control and surrender all. Webster defines submit as yielding oneself to the authority or will of another. I think as Christians we can sometimes latch onto parts of verses that encourage us or offer us something of value in the moment, while ignoring other parts. One verse that offers me comfort that I hear spoken of often is James 4:7 which says “therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The funny thing about this verse is that the part I hear most often is the “resist the devil and he will flee from you part”. It’s important to remember that the Bible cannot be broken down and picked apart, it needs to be accepted as a whole.
There have been times when I have felt attacked and have prayed and feel as though I am resisting the devil, but for some reason he isn’t fleeing. Does this ever happen to you? What I’ve realized is at these times I am not fully submitting to God as I should be. The thing is, apart from submission to God, we aren’t strong enough to resist the devil and his attacks. We need to be fully submitted if we are to successfully resist Satan. In fact, verse 6 in the same chapter says “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Wow, God resists the proud! If in pride you are trying to resist the devil, the truth is God is resisting you. If this is the case do you stand a chance against the attack? What is pride but the need for control, possession, accomplishment, etc.? Can you submit to God while holding onto pride? You cannot.
What does it really look like to submit to God? Honestly this is a difficult yet rewarding task. I find myself revisiting it and realigning myself often. It is easy to neglect submitting to God and, for me, this is when I find it more difficult to resist Satan. When I get back to a place of submission I feel a renewed strengthand freedom. Submitting to God means accepting His plan over your own. It means not taking credit or seeking to find a sense of worth in your own accomplishments or possessions. It means giving God free reign to do whatever He wants to do in your life. It offers the ability to have peace and calmness when things don’t go as you expected. It means not making a decision in life without first consulting God, and when you don’t like His answer, it means doing what He wants regardless.
Submission is a choice and it is what separates you from being a humble follower of God to an interested yet uncommitted “Christian”. Honestly, I know for a fact I cannot expect myself to be in perfect submission to God at all times, but the goal is to recognize when I make this error and get back on my knees humbled before God. If I don’t make this a regular habit I know I will not be able to resist the devil when he comes after me. Maybe you are at a place right now where you feel incapable of resisting. Check yourself to see if you are fully submitted. If you find that you aren’t, choose to submit and give God control. As His Word tells us in James 4, He will lovingly offer grace, and the devil will indeed flee from you.
If you received Jesus as savior and aren’t sure why all your pain, weaknesses, and burdens haven’t disappeared overnight it could be that you’ve been misled. Maybe you’re wondering why your life isn’t automatically easier, why you don’t have all the answers to life’s toughest questions. Maybe someone told you that all you had to do was get saved and your life would change. This is true, but it doesn’t happen in the way we might think. During His ministry Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). I don’t know about you, but this verse offers me so much encouragement and hope. Jesus offered to take our painful, often unbearable, burdens and give us rest. Maybe rest is something you have been desperate for for so long and you’re wondering why it hasn’t come.
If Jesus offers this why hasn’t it happened yet? Re-read the verse again and you will notice that Jesus is offering something but He is also asking us to do something as well. He asks us to come and says take my yoke and learn from me. Maybe you’ve come but you have yet to learn from Jesus. Could this be why you are still suffering as you were before? Learning from Jesus is an incredible process that will completely transform you from the inside out, but it takes time. Yes, when you responded to John 1:12 and became a child of God your life forever changed. You went from being an orphan to being adopted into the kingdom of God and God’s spirit is living in you (Romans 8:11). You probably instantly felt a lesser desire to continue in sin, a desire for repentance and forgiveness, a longing to be closer to God, but this is where the journey starts, not where it ends. This journey begins with making a choice to accept Jesus as savior and is followed by acting on Jesus’ command to learn from Him.Jesus is telling us that we have to learn a new way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. He is asking you, and me, with the power of His spirit living in us, the same spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead (how incredible!), to learn a new way.
Consider the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10. I just love this story because it speaks to me on so many personal levels. Go read it before continuing on. Jesus came one day to visit and Martha was busy and distracted serving, stressed to no end. she was angry! Where was her sister Mary? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus learning from Him. Mary knew that this was the most important thing she could ever do. When Martha complained to Jesus his response was simply amazing. He said to her “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Have you chosen as Mary did? To lay your troubles and worries down and sit at Jesus’ feet to hear and learn His Word? Martha clung to her troubles and often times this is just what we do. This is why people sometimes wonder why Jesus isn’t “working”. Mary knew hearing and learning from Jesus was the only hope she had. Jesus basically told Martha that she chose her troubles over the better option. Do I do this? Do you? When we choose not to learn a new way from Jesus we are choosing to remain in bondage. In 2 Corinthians 12 we learn that rather than eliminating our weaknesses, God offers us grace and strength to overcome them.
So how do you learn from Jesus? You have to start reading His Word, the Bible, and living by what it says. You have to throw out anything that doesn’t line up. You will never learn a new way if you don’t, and nothing will ever change. To be honest, I don’t know how I would get through a day without the Bible. I don’t even want to think about what my life would be without it! It’s not just about using scripture to help us in our struggles, it’s about knowing the full story and living based on that understanding. Who is God? How can I live to please Him? In order to answer these questions we have to meditate on scripture, allow it to transform us, and live in light of that truth. I also believe knowing God’s Word is our weapon against the enemy. Jesus used scripture when Satan temped him. We can’t fight the enemy if we don’t know scripture. The key is first, understanding God’s Word as a whole, and then applying it to our lives. Some people try to use verses to feel better, but without really knowing who God these verses are often taken out of context. Approach God’s Word first to learn the story and to learn who God is and His ways. I believe Jesus example also teaches us to meditate on scripture and apply it to our circumstances. Just don’t try to do this before seeking to understand it as a whole.
I’ve mentioned it before in another blog, but I have always struggled with fear, especially at night. This burden has weighed on me heavy so many times. When I finally chose to search Gods Word and learn and memorize every verse on fear, rest and peace finally came! (Again, I did not do this without a deep understanding of God’s Word and its fullness). Looking back I can’t believe how much of a struggle it had been for me. I’m still extremely susceptible and prone to letting fear take hold but I have learned a new way to face it. I turn immediately to Jesus and his truth to overcome and it works every time. I write those verses down, say them aloud, and pray them over and over until the fear is gone. If I hadn’t learned how would I have known? This is just one single example, there are countless others, of how learning from Jesus has lightened my load and given me rest. Not to mention, when you choose to follow someone how in the world could you do it without learning their way? If studying the Bible isn’t part of your life as a Christian it’s imperative that you change that.
what burdens are weighing you down and how can learning from Jesus change that?
Your burden says I’m afraid.. Jesus says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Your burden says I’m anxious.. Jesus says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8
your burden says I’ll never be enough.. Jesus says “You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:10
your burden says my pain will never go away.. Jesus says “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
your burden says I need more stuff to be happy.. Jesus says “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
your burden says I can’t do what God is asking me to do.. Jesus says, “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
your burden says I can’t overcome my temptations.. Jesus says “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
your burden says I am unlovable.. Jesus says “neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39
your burden says I have no purpose.. Jesus says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
God’s strength is waiting to be made perfect in your weakness. He is waiting for you to come to Him, learn from Him, and trade your heavy burden for his light and easy load. This is a daily journey filled with ups and downs, but it is also filled with hope. Something you didn’t have before you accepted Jesus. Don’t forget, the Holy Spirit of God is dwelling in you and will teach you all things. Start getting discipled and gathering with other Christians to add to your learning and develop friendships with other Jesus followers. Messages my pastor has preached have helped me learn and grow so much and God has used godly mentors in my life to teach me as well. This is so important! Just be sure to never allow learning from others to take the place of the Bible in your life. Studying and learning on your own is critical. Read as often as you can, write down verses in a journal and keep it close to read through whenever you can. This is something I have always done and it has helped me learn and remember so much. You will begin to notice your mindset changing as you hide scripture in your heart. You will start responding to life’s troubles differently when you allow scripture and your deepened love for Jesus to guide you, rather than your old worldview. The load will begin to lighten and you will find the rest you’ve been seeking.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
Someone close to me recently told me that during a dark time in her life she tried to go to God. She begged him to heal her and rescue her from the pain she was feeling. But He didn’t. She never claimed to believe what the Bible teaches about who God is. From her perspective she tried God and that didn’t work. I wonder how many people would say the same. This breaks my heart, and there was a time in my life this would have left me rather upset with God. Thinking, God, why would you not heal someone who cried out to you and begged for healing. Especially someone I care so much about. To expect this of God is to expect him to force himself on those who do not really believe in who He is. I personally don’t believe he does this.
The person who truly believes, will go to God for redemption, not relief. Why? Beause she believes in Who God is and she understands her desperate condition and need for a savior. She is a sinner in need of saving grace, not a victim in need of help in a troubling circumstance. The reality of an eternity without salvation and life in Christ is far more significant than a current struggle, no matter how challenging. God wants to transform your heart and mind, not fix your problems. Does God care about helping us through tragedy and pain we face while on earth? Of course! But this only comes once you have believed in your heart in who God is and have received Jesus Christ as your savior. You can’t go to God expecting his reward without believing who He is.
“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Romans 10:10 NKJV
When we believe who God is we will naturally want to diligently seek Him. Webster defines diligent as being characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort, and to seek, as going in search of or trying to discover. So we are to seek to discover God steadily, earnestly, and with great effort. Would you do this without believing who He is? Possibly, if you were set on gaining knowledge for the sake of knowledge. But I think for the most part, you wouldn’t. I don’t diligently seek God because I hope He is real, I do it because I know and believe what the Bible teaches me about God, along with what creation shows of Him. Add to this the personal relationship I gained when I answered His call, believed and received Jesus as savior, and the incredible and amazing things He has done in my life since.
Maybe you are that person who “tried” God when times were tough, nothing miraculous happened, and so you determined that He must not be real or at least must not care about you. This just isn’t truth.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Did I seek God for relief from a difficult circumstance rather than for redemption? Relief from struggle is appealing, but it doesn’t compare to redemption in Christ. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” Ephesians 1:7 NKJV
2. Did I acknowledge my sin, my need for a savior first, and the reality of not accepting the gospel of Christ? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 NKJV, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” II Thessalonians 1:8-9 NKJV (not trying to be all fire and brimstone, but this truth shouldn’t be avoided simply because it is unpleasant)
3. Did I really believe who God is? That He is the God and creator of the universe and everything in it, “I have made the earth, And created man on it. I—My hands—stretched out the heavens, And all their host I have commanded.” Isaiah 45:12, NKJV), that lack of belief condemns me, (“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” John 3:18 NKJV), that He sent His son Jesus Christ to live a sinless life and die on the cross to pay the price for my sin, offering me the free gift of salvation? (“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” Romans 5:18 NKJV).
If you answered no to these questions it could be that you went to God for relief, rather than for redemption, because you didn’t really believe that He is. So what’s the good news? It’s not too late to believe and receive the reward that God has to offer you, eternal salvation in Christ and spiritual blessings that blow worldly comfort out of the water. God doesn’t offer bandaids, he offers complete redemption through His son Jesus Christ to those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. Once you have gone to Him believing who He is, your life can never be the same.
Maybe you just don’t know who God is because you have never sought out the truth. Go get a Bible, pray with belief in your heart, ask a Jesus follower you know. If you diligently seek, believing who God is, you will absolutely never be the same. How do I know this is true? Because He told us in His Word!
There are so many stories in the Bible about weak and incapable people doing incredible things for God. Reading these accounts encourages me and reminds me that no matter my weaknesses and failures God can still use me to do His work. Consider Gideon, He was the lowest in his entire family and God used him to take down an army with only 300 men (Judges 6-7). Gideon completely doubted himself. So how was he able to accomplish all that God asked? Gideon obeyed and the Lord filled his gaps. It had nothing to do with his special gifts or talents. I urge you to read the story, it’s a truly incredible show of God’s power! All we have to do is obey and the Lord will be with us to give us victory. Obviously this only applies if God is actually calling you to something… not to our own selfish ambitions or desires.
If you need even more encouragement just read about king David. God described him as “a man after His own heart, who would do all His will” (Acts 13:22). God wasn’t concerned with outward appearance and physical strength, He was focused on David’s heart. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). What a relief! God is concrerned about our hearts, not our talents and physical capabilities. You can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t have a heart for God it is truly wasted. The Bible tells us that David was only a youth when he killed the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33). This is incredible to me! There is no excuse that excuses us from doing God’s will.
Start obeying Gods commands that are clearly laid out in His Word and you will quickly see that He will be with you and will enable you. Start loving more, giving more, serving more, all those things you don’t think you can do. Obey and watch God show himself faithful. After all, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). As Jesus followers we have been called to daily follow, and in order to do this we have to know what Jesus desires from us. We have to read the Bible as if our life depended on it. Because it does! This is the only way to know God’s will and do it.
Maybe you feel discouraged because you don’t feel very capable of doing God’s will. Maybe you see all these people around you doing so much for God and you truly believe they have something you don’t. Some special talent that you don’t seem to possess. You wonder if you are truly capable of doing anything good for God. What I’ve learned about Satan over the years is that he can’t see into the future, but what he can see is a tender and loving heart toward God, the kind of heart that, if freed up from fear and doubt, will do the will of God. He will do whatever he can to keep that person believing lies that he isn’t capable. I have always struggled with insecurities about many different things. I questioned my ability to be a wife, a mother, a friend, a counselor, basically everything God has called me to. What I have found is that If your heart is for The Lord and your desire is for His will He will meet you where you are at and will enable you to accomplish all He has planned for you.
please, I beg you to stop believing Satan’s lies that you have nothing to offer. Jesus gave His life for you because you are valuable to Him. If you accept that free gift He will enter your life and transform you from the inside out. Nothing in this world can even come close to the beauty that comes through being reconciled to your creator and spending the rest of your life doing His Will and not your own.
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