Archive for December, 2009

Guard against complacency

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people…” Isaiah 8:11 (ESV)

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV)

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”” 1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)

It’s not enough to be “better than most.”  We can’t just keep comparing ourselves to other people.  I know it is so easy to look around at the mall, at school, at church, and become complacent, “Hey, I’m doing pretty good.”  But it’s not enough to be the most spiritual girl in your youth group or the godliest guy on the football team (though that can sometimes signify a good start).  We’re supposed to be focused on becoming more like Christ, not on being better Christians than our peers.  If the world’s standard is the floor, and God’s standard is the ceiling, it’s not enough just to be above the floor.   As my dear friend said in one of the comments earlier this week, we’ve got to stop comparing ourselves to our friends, and compare ourselves to GOD – how am I doing compared to Jesus?  We need to be always moving towards the ceiling and pushing one another higher as well.

Read Full Post »

 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)

 Here’s another thought related to the previous post.  When our friends (or maybe people we don’t even know) find out we’re doing/watching/reading/listening to those things, does it make them think, “Wow, he/she really loves Jesus!”?  Do the things we do make people desire a closer relationship with our Savior?  Do the things we say inspire others to search and know more of God’s Word?  Remember, as much as God wants to use us to bring others to Himself, Satan also wants to use us to draw others away from God.

If someone had a list of, say, all the movies you have seen in the past year.  This person had never met you, never seen you, never even heard of you.  All that they knew about you was the movies you had watched in the past year – what could they conclude about you?  This can go beyond movies – how about a list of all the songs on your iPod, all of the books you have read in the past year, or all of the games you have for your X-box?  A lot can be concluded about a person’s personality, character, and values just by what things they choose for entertainment.  Do the movies we watch, the books we read, the songs we listen to reflect that the purpose of our lives is to glorify God and serve Him forever?  According to Matthew 5:16, when people look at the things we do, our actions should point them to God.  In fact, our lives should be lived in such a way that when people try to accuse us, all they can accuse us of is being honorable, real-deal, walk-the-walk Christians.  “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12, see also Titus 2:7-8, 1 Peter 3:16)

Someone will say, “But people aren’t supposed to judge me.  Why should they care what I do?”  You’re right, we aren’t supposed to judge one another, but we are commanded to set an example to all believers in every area of life. (1 Timothy 4:12, see also 1 Peter 3:15 and 5:3)  Now, I’m not saying that we have to be perfect – we all know that’s not possible as long as we have our sinful nature living in us.  But we are supposed to be becoming more like Christ every day, and He is perfect!  (Leviticus 11:45, 1 Peter 1:15-16)

As Christians, we should live our lives as if we had Jesus in person beside us at all times (He is with us in His Spirit, but we so often ignore that fact).  Let’s ask ourselves these questions: Would I watch this movie if Jesus was sitting beside me?  Would I read this book aloud to Jesus?  Would I take Jesus to a concert of this popular music artist?  Would I say what I just said to my friend/mom/sister to Jesus?  Anything I do in my spare time, would I do it in front of Jesus?  Dear brothers and sisters, He is coming back someday, and we don’t know when.  Do you want to be caught doing/reading/watching/listening to those things when He returns?

“You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:40 (ESV)

“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Rev 22:20 (NKJV)

Read Full Post »

Satan is Sneaky

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.” Genesis 3:1 (ESV)

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

I can see it happening all around me.  Satan is sneaking his way into Christian homes and churches, and we haven’t even noticed.  He uses movies, books, music, TV, video games, friends – pretty much anything that God can use for His glory, Satan can and will also use for his evil purposes.  Satan is real, he really is present on this earth (Job 1:7, 2:22), and he uses real things to tempt us away from God.  Sometimes he uses things that don’t seem evil at first to lure us away from God – For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)  But his real purpose is to destroy our lives and testimonies – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10a)

I say these things because I am seeing that it is more and more necessary that we realize this threat and build up our guard against Satan and his wicked devices. 

How do we combat Satan?

   “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8 (ESV)

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11 (ESV)

I believe we fight against Satan by drawing near to God, asking Him to search our hearts and purify us from any worldliness.  We must study, study, study His word, and view everything through the lenses of His truth, not out of self-desire.

There is a phrase I have heard that is very true.  In your spiritual life, you’re either going towards God, or away from Him – there is no in between.  Which way are you going?  I want to challenge each of you, think about what movies you watch, what books you read, what music you listen to, what things you do when there is nothing else to do.  Ask God to search your heart and help you to see clearly.  Do they glorify God and bring you closer in your relationship to Him?  Or do they do just the opposite?

 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24

Read Full Post »

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” John 17:14-18 (ESV)

This is an excerpt from what is often called Christ’s High Priestly prayer.  This took place after “the last supper” with His disciples, before He departed to the garden of Gethsemane to be alone to plead with His Father.  I believe Christ was praying not only for His disciples then, but also all those in the future – including us.

The world hates us because we belong to God.  Satan, the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11), will do anything he can to take our focus off of God, and ruin our testimony.  He uses things like movies, books, tv, music, video games… even ‘good’ things that can be distracting and destroying.  As long as we are here on this earth, those kinds of influences and distractions will be around us.  Jesus didn’t ask God to keep us from the world, but from the evil that is in the world.  If we turn to God for our strength, He will keep us from evil.

Even though we are not openly persecuted for our faith here in America, Christianity is not encouraged – in fact often discouraged – by the media, government, Hollywood, Disney, etc.  This should not be surprising to us, for Jesus warned that we would be oppressed and persecuted just as He was.  But we don’t have to be afraid of persecutions that come from the world – our God is bigger than our problems!  

John 15:18-20 – “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…”

John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  

1 John 4:4 – “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them [those who oppose Christ], for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Read Full Post »

Comfort Zone

Have you ever had those mornings where, for whatever reason, you just don’t want to get out of bed?  Yeah, I had one of those this morning.  It made me remember an analogy the Lord showed me last winter when I felt the same way. 

Lying in my bed I was thinking, “Boy it sure is warm under the covers, and I’m still tired.  If I get up I’ll get cold, I’ll have to do chores, school, etc.  But here I can sleep just…a…little…longer…”  Then I realized this can represent my comfort zone as a Christian.  In my comfort zone, it’s warm and comfortable.  I am tempted to have an attitude of: “The people out there are cold-hearted.  I’ll just stay here at home or with my Christian friends where I feel accepted.”

How wrong of me!  Jesus told us to “go into all the world.” (Matt. 28:19-20)  He didn’t say, “You can go if you want to, or if your spiritual gift is evangelism.”  He said, “Go!”

“Ok, Lord, so here I am out of bed, now what?”  Something I do after I get out of bed is to get dressed for the day.  Sometimes in the winter, my clothes can be cold to my skin when I first put them on.  But that’s ok, they warm up when I’ve had them on for a while.  Personally, I think this can be compared to putting on the armor of God.  It may seem somewhat uncomfortable at first, before I get used to it, but after a while, I’ll realize that it’s more uncomfortable without it.

All throughout that day, I found comparisons between my daily life and the Christian challenge of getting out of your comfort zone.  For example: Eating breakfast to nourish my body for the day = morning quiet time to prepare my heart for the challenges I will face.  Daily chores, helping my family = Christian service at church, helping my spiritual family.  What other comparisons can you find?

Read Full Post »

Why Ask Him?

Early last week, I had a really great day spiritually.  God confirmed several things that had been confusing me for several weeks, and I just felt really close to Him.  So I was lying in bed just talking away to my Savior, praising Him, telling Him all about my concerns, and then it hit me, Why don’t I always do this? 

I think often I get this idea in my head that I don’t have to talk to God about everything because He already knows everything I need.   This is true – For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8b (NKJV) Then why does James say, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”  James 4:2 (NKJV)  If God already knows our needs, why does He tell us to ask Him for things?  Take a look at these verses.

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matt 21:22 (ESV)

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 (ESV)

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9 (ESV)

 “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” John 11:22 (ESV)

There are literally dozens of scriptures like these scattered throughout the New Testament! 

So if God knows our needs and wants, why are we told to ask Him?  I think it is because He wants me to show that I really believe He cares.  He will meet my basic needs whether I ask or not because He is all powerful, and He loves and cares for me. (See Phil. 4:19) But by telling Him my needs and expecting Him to meet them in His own way and in His perfect timing, I show Him, myself, and others that I really believe He is all powerful and loves and cares for me.  When He then answers our prayers, it helps us learn to trust Him even more.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Read Full Post »

Born to Die

And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. -Mark 15:24-27 (ESV)

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” -Mark 15:33-39 (ESV)

This is probably not the scripture you expect to read on Christmas Day. Yet, it fits. Why? Because this is the reason Jesus came to earth. This is the reason we celebrate because Jesus Christ was born to die for our sins. Of course that’s no the end of the story.

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. -Mark 16:1-8 (ESV)

Hallelujah! The Savior is Born! Praise the Lord! He has died for MY sins! Hallelujah! The King is risen! THis is the true story of Christmas. As a matter of fact, it is my favorite part of a great and wonderful story of God’s love. To remember the cross at Christmas, my family as a very special tradition. Next to the trunk of our Christmas tree hangs a long, iron nail. This nails that were used for crucifixion. We hang this nail on the tree to remind us of the true story of Christmas, Jesus was born to die.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »