Your Own Salvation

 

Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. – Philippians 2:12

 

I just read where another Christian musician has stepped away from his faith.  This seems to be occurring more and more frequently.  In this latest case, anyone looking at the guy at any time up until his lengthy Twitter post would have sworn that he was just a solid Christian.  Every youth leader on the planet would have had no problem driving miles and miles to see the band Hawk Nelson.  Just about every Christian parent would want their kids at one of their concerts. Why?  Because by all appearances, they said and did the right thing.  They looked the part.

 

Despite the lead singer revealing that he no longer believes in God, there is one paragraph of his letter that I really like.  It says this:

 

I’m open to the idea that God is there, I’d prefer it if he was.  I suspect if he is there, he is very different than I was taught.  I know my parents pray that God reveals himself to me.  If he is there, I hope he does. 

 

All that seemed to happen to the guy is that he felt he couldn’t ask some hard questions.  When he did finally ask a preacher he thought could help, the preacher gave a terrible answer . . . at least in my opinion.  It is the answer of a preacher who hasn’t wrestled with God and sought out really, really hard answers.  The other problem is what terrifies me even right now.  It terrifies me for my own children as well as the children of countless “church” people.  It is the proverbial question of “How do we train up our children in the way they should go?”

 

It is very easy to “force” children into looking the part of a Christian.  Once again, everyone would have thought that Jonathan Steingard, lead singer of Hawk Nelson, was fine.  He was a pastor’s kid, he knew the church language, he got started by playing in the worship band at church, and even grew to be the successful singer of a Christian rock band who played all the youth conferences and Winter Jams.  Everyone thought he was fine.  Yet, in his own heart, he was struggling with some questions that he was afraid to ask.  Questions that can all be legitimately answered.  I read his questions and would love to sit down with him for a few hours and just give him the conclusions I’ve come to over the years.  I’ve asked the same questions and wanted answers as well.  Unlike him, I went straight to the source and said, “God, I need for you to answer me this!”  Of course, my answers didn’t come immediately, but over time He has given me satisfactory answers that I can accept and that allow me to move forward in my faith.  Here is the thing, not one time did God ever say, “How dare you ask me that?” or “How could you ask such a thing, do you even believe in Me?”  He is the God of the Universe and of all time . . . You really think He is afraid of any question that man brings to Him?

 

I do believe that the church world suffocates a lot of children.  If you don’t look like the majority believe you should look, or if you don’t fit the mold that many denominations want to put you in, then it is very easy to be excommunicated.  At the very least, it is very easy to feel as if every eye is closely watching you, your life is on display, and everybody is airing their opinions of your every move.  If you ask certain questions, you could immediately be judged and told that you “ought not ask such things.”  If you misbehave, read Harry Potter, or listen to rock music that isn’t labeled “Christian,” then may God Himself help you because most religious church people will write you off very quickly.  It will be interesting to see how the church as he perceives it responds to Jonathan Steingard.  Will they simply pray for him?  Will they send him “hate mail?”  Personally, I’m going to pray that God does reveal Himself to him and that his faith does become personal.  I’m also going to pray for what is probably a countless number of others who are struggling with making faith their own.

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The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

 

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” – John 21:27

 

In this verse there are two men in two different places as it relates to who they are in Christ.  They are about to have an encounter with the resurrected Lord.  John, who refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” is the first to recognize Him.  Peter, whose last encounter with Jesus was his infamous denials, literally leaps at the chance to see Jesus again.  What is striking me this morning as I write is the fact that John is confident in His position of being loved by Jesus.  On the other hand, Peter is doubting Christ’s love for him because of his past performance.  Jesus is about to restore Peter.

 

This quarantine has given me a lot of time to be in my own mind.  I miss being a preacher and being able to play praise and worship consistently like crazy.  But, for some reason, I think that I thought God was happier with me when I was doing that stuff.  No wonder He took all that away.  There is no way that the God of the Universe is going to allow one of His children to think they are being favored or not favored because of their performance.  I think I might have had a bit of Peter’s attitude.  Even if everyone else fell away, Peter swore that he would be the only one who died with Jesus.  When he couldn’t live up to that standard, Peter felt undeserving of God’s love.  John, on the other hand, even at a distance, is the first to recognize, “It is the Lord.”

 

For months now, I have been going back and forth from where Peter is at this moment in the story, and where John is.  One moment, I feel the peace and presence of God like crazy.  The next, I’m wondering what I did wrong and what I need to do to fix it.  Yet, right now at this very moment, I have perfect peace.  I don’t want to leave this moment right here, right now.  God is not upset with me.  God does not give His love away based on performances.  If I never preach another sermon or play another praise and worship song, I am the disciple whom Jesus loves.

 

I don’t know what this realization does to you, but for me it makes me want to just be with Him.  It makes me want to get alone with Him more than anything and just exist.  I don’t have to say anything or do anything . . . just be.   Life is no fun and peace is so scarce when I’m trying to win His affection.

 

Lord, I’m sorry for trying to make you some horrible earthly father who is only proud of his children when they are behaving well.  You had every right to ditch Peter after he denied You.  Yet, you lovingly restored Him, not because Peter deserved it, but because You love Him.  Every time I do wrong, it is You who have come to me.  It is You who sent just the right word at just the right time to let me know You haven’t gone anywhere.  It has always been You.  Help me to always know who I am in You.  Help me to always know that I’m in Your mighty hands . . . even when I’m not performing well.  I love You, Lord. 

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Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord?

 

Is anything too hard for the Lord?  I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.  – Genesis 18:14

 

When God asked Abraham this question, it would have been difficult to answer.  You and I can draw upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Lazarus, the crossing of the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion’s den, and many, many other killer awesome stories in the Bible.  Abraham and Sarah didn’t have the luxury of knowing these stories because they haven’t happened yet.  When confronted with the question, “Is it too hard for God to give a couple with a combined age of almost 200 a son?” they laughed, they questioned, and honestly, they just didn’t know.

 

God has done so much over the course of history.  He has even done so much in my own heart, mind, and life.  I’m thinking back to a time when I was having to learn to trust Him.  I’ve never really had a problem believing that God can and will come through for you and for others.  I’ve had a tremendously hard time believing that God will come through for me.  In my heart, I know that He will forgive you for anything.  Yet, when I do the slightest thing wrong or I miss the mark, I wonder if He could possibly forgive me.  It does not really matter how much God has done and accomplished in His Word.  It doesn’t matter how many people tell you amazing stories of what God has done in their lives.  Until God comes through for you on a personal level, it is so hard to believe that God loves you, will come through for you in His time, and that absolutely nothing is too hard for Him.

 

I remember watching my friends get married in my early 20’s.  I remember being alone and wondering if I was destined to stay that way.  Years later, I remember wondering why God would not allow me and my wife to have children.  Years later, I remember praying for my dangerously sick child and wondering if God would heal her?  In one hundred percent of these cases, God came through in a way that I will never forget.  I’m so thankful for the days where I began to learn that absolutely nothing is too hard for the Lord.  He has come through for me so many times now that it would be difficult to not trust Him.

 

Last week, I posted a WMD that I wish I had just kept to myself.  In fact, I’ve been airing for a while now that I’ve been hurt.  I was honestly beginning to wonder if I’d carry that hurt for the rest of my life.  I had a friend tell me that I simply needed to pray for the people that hurt me.  I thought about it for a while, and then I knelt down to spend some serious time with my heavenly Father.  God showed me a picture of fallow ground.  I honestly didn’t know what I was looking at.  I researched a bit and found out that He was showing me a picture of ground that had been plowed up and prepared for planting, but the seeds were withheld this season so that fertility could be restored.  He showed me that this was my heart.  I saw that I was in a season of rest so that I could be restored.  I saw that no one person hurt me.  The ones that I thought did hurt me, God allowed me to see into their hearts.  What I saw made my heart break and drove me to pray for them.  I saw that all that I’m going through right now was and is ordained by God Himself.  One more time, He has come through for me.  One more time, I can say, “Nothing is too hard for the Lord!”

 

Having said all that, I want you guys to say a prayer for one of my friends.  He is right now at the point where he believes in God, trusts in God, knows God can, but he is wondering if God really cares.  He is wondering if God will come through for Him.  I can tell my friend all day to trust in God and that, in His time, He will come through, but saying those kinds of things just doesn’t help him right now.  Right now, my friend needs to experience God.  He needs to feel that peace where you just feel so wrapped up in Him that you know, no matter what, that you are in His hands and that this is the safest place you will ever be.

 

Lord, make Yourself real to my friend.  Start those one by one miracles where his trust in You begins to grow so much.  You did it for me. You did it for Abraham and Sarah.  You’ve done it for so many people, Lord.   I know You can and will do it for my friend.  I pray that you will do it for any reader today who wonders if it is too difficult for You to come through for them in their situation.  Pour out miracles, signs, and wonders upon us, Lord, so that a new generation of believers will emerge who just know that You are the God who can do anything.  Let us all begin to learn that there is absolutely no one like You, for You are the living God.

 

Amen

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Judged More Strictly

Judged More Strictly

 

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. – James 3:1

 

For the longest time I believed that if I became a teacher of the Word, then when I stood before God at the end of my life, I would be judged more strictly.  I thought that if I sinned as a preacher, it would be worse in God’s eyes than if I was just a regular dude claiming to be a Christian.  Though there may be an element of that to it, I now believe that the “judged more strictly” part comes not from God, but from other believers.

 

The worst things that I have endured spiritually since becoming a follower of Christ have come at the hands of other Christians.  If you think about it, Jesus endured crucifixion at the hands of other people who claimed to know and follow God.  Christ endured all kinds of crap for some really dumb reasons.  Religious people jumped on His followers for not washing their hands (Matthew 15:2).  I guess you can still get into trouble for that one . . . especially today.  Jesus was trashed for healing on Saturday instead of one of the other six days of the week (Mark 3:1-6).  There were just all these trivial traditions that the super religious expected everyone who claimed to know God to follow.  If you didn’t follow these rules on top of the rules, then you were deemed unworthy of God’s acceptance.  How idiotic is it to think that you or I would be allowed to make such calls?  Since Jesus claimed He was God’s Son, He was judged very harshly.  Interestingly enough, sinners thought He was a lifeline, while Pharisees thought He was a hindrance.  Jesus claimed to be the ultimate teacher, which He was, and He was judged more strictly for it.

 

Someone told me once, “If I ever sin and really need someone to care and simply talk to, send me to a bar . . . not a church.”  How condemning is this?  We really are the only group of people that kill our wounded.  If you’ve had an abortion, struggle with homosexuality, struggle with pornography, or struggle with a myriad of other what we would call “obvious” sins, then may you find grace and mercy at the foot of the cross because God knows it is rarely found amongst His followers.  I see so many posts that imply that salvation is dependent on behavior.  Many Christians claim that if you don’t stop this very moment and turn from all of your sins, then you are still lost in them.  Does the person who has the guts to say this type of thing honestly struggle with nothing?  Have they honestly stopped all sinning?  Who reading this has not sinned since asking Christ into their lives?  Who reading hasn’t sinned this week so far?  Are we really better off asking Jesus to remember us when He comes into His kingdom, and then dying like the thief beside Him on the cross did?  I don’t know about you, but there are sins that took decades for me to conquer.  At the end of it all, I can honestly say that I didn’t even conquer them, Christ literally changed my heart and mind in His own time and made it so that I didn’t care about them anymore.  Up until that point, all I could do was agree with Him that I was sinning, ask for His forgiveness over and over, and beg Him to help me stop.  He gets all the praise, honor and glory!  Thy will be done!  I did nothing but place my trust in Him and His finished work on the cross.  If you want a sin to condemn me for, I’ll be straight up and tell you one.  I’m struggling with unforgiveness in my heart right now.  I’m struggling with the only sin that Jesus Himself says, “If you don’t forgive them, then I won’t forgive you! (Matthew 6:15). Honestly, no matter how hard I try, how many times I say it, or how badly I want to not even think or care about it, I just can’t make the feelings go away.  It is like a recurring weed in the flower bed of my heart.  I pull it and think I got the root and all, but then it pops right back up.  Therefore, I do the only thing I know to do.  I say, “Jesus, help me to forgive.”  When I finally do forgive and forget, and I eventually will, who will get the credit?  You guessed it!  Him, not me.

 

In Matthew 3:17 God speaks down from heaven these words about Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I’m well pleased?”  Do you know what is so cool about this?  Up until this point, Jesus hasn’t preached a sermon, He hasn’t done a miracle, and hasn’t even gone public in any kind of ministry.  His Father being pleased with Him had absolutely nothing to do with His performance.  He loved Him even before He did any type of ministering.

 

Doesn’t God love me the same?  Is He not pleased with me right now regardless of whether or not I have performed well?  I believe He is.  I am incredibly aware that I get things wrong more than I get them right.  I’m aware of just how unworthy I am to be called His.  I am also incredibly aware that I love Him and need Him desperately to work in my heart, mind, and life if I am going to be used to make a difference in anyone’s life at all.  I’m thankful that salvation is a free gift.  Who would want to be a part of a religious system where the best performers could brag?

 

Surely not I.

 

Pray for me.

 

I need it.

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When God is Exalted Anyway

 

If we are thrown into the furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.  – Daniel 3:17-18

 

My initial favorite story in the Bible was the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  I know that most people know them by their Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  I think it is worth the time to memorize their God given names and using them when referring to these guys.  Hananiah means “Beloved of the Lord.”  His Babylonian name, Shadrach, means “Illuminated by the Sun.”  Mishael means “Who is as God?”  Meshach means “who is like Shach?” which was comparable to the goddess Venus or Aphrodite.  Azariah means “The Lord is my help.”  Abednego means “Servant of the god Nego.”  Which name would you prefer future generations to remember you by?

 

These guys had their freedoms completely taken away.  Their parents were more than likely killed by the Babylonians and the only reason they were alive is because someone saw them as potentially beneficial to Babylon.  Before they would decimate a country, the Babylonians had learned the art of extracting the best people a nation had to offer, giving them new names, treating them well, and basically turning them into their own citizens.  The plan worked flawlessly until these three guys, along with Daniel, purposed in their hearts that they would not be defiled by their new normal.

 

It all comes to a head one day when the king builds an enormous gold statue of himself.  He commands that the entire region bow when he gives the signal.  Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refuse to bow down.  The king calls them forward, gives them another chance, and all his threat produces is one of the best God-honoring speeches found in the Bible.  The king just knew he was going to get the final word when he had them thrown into the fire.  What happened next would have been one heck of a sight to see.  How many people got introduced that day to the God who delivers from the fire?  What an introduction!

 

I’m sure the Jews living in Babylon loved the freedom that they had known as a nation/state.  I would bet that none of them thought they could lose it in their lifetime.  It must have absolutely sucked knowing what you had and what you now have.  You can read in 2 Kings 25 how the last king of Israel, King Zedekiah tried to fight and keep their freedom.  Nobody would listen to Jeremiah when he preached and flat out told them, “This captivity is from God, and this is going to happen.”  Most of the Israelites refused to believe that God would really allow them to be taken into captivity.  King Zedekiah’s weak attempt at fighting Babylon ended with his sons being killed right before his very eyes.  Those same eyes were gouged out so that the last thing he ever saw was his sons being killed.  Babylon was merciless!

 

Right in the midst of this Babylonian captivity, three young men being willing to go through the fire produced a God-exalting story that we tell in the year 2020.  Do you find that absolutely astonishing?

 

Our world is changing right before our eyes.  I love American freedom.  But what if American freedom is coming to an end?  I don’t know if it is or it isn’t, at least any time soon.  But what if God has already appointed the time?  Will anything you or I do stop it?  I’m not trying to be a prophetic Jeremiah here at all, I’m just a guy on the internet.  With all my heart, I hope American freedom lives on for me and my children.  However, I know for a fact that eventually American freedom is coming to an end.  Why should it not happen in my lifetime?  Read Revelation 13.  There is a “beast” that is going to have power over the entire world.  We know that all earthly power is given by God.  He has forewarned us in His book that it is coming.  Believe it or not, there isn’t a Facebook petition, meme, gif, comment, or post in existence that you or I can make that will stop it.  The real question is: Are you prepared either way?

 

There are 328 million Americans out of 7 billion 8 hundred million people on the planet.  This means that we are 4.2% of the population.  Yet, you would think from our overall behavior that we are the center of the universe.  Forget persecution, just simply inconvenience an American, even an American who says they are Christian, and watch them respond.  I’m not saying that I’m any different . . . I’m not.  However, with all my heart, I want to be.  I pray that my heart remains undefiled.  I pray that no matter what happens I can say, “The God I serve can deliver me and even my whole country, but even if He does not, I still love Him, and I still follow Him . . . no matter what.”

 

Here is what I know for a fact:  even if the worst comes out of all of this mess, God will be exalted.  Opportunities to exalt Him will be abundant.  Eventually, the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and his reign will be for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15).  Until that time comes, may you and I not be found sleeping.

 

Watch and pray so that you will not enter into temptation.  For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  – Matthew 26:41

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Rest for my Soul

 

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  – Matthew 11:28-29

 

Right at about a year ago, I was given a prophecy.  As I was reading the story of the creation, I saw where each year that I had been a pastor correlated almost perfectly with each day God created.  I understood that 2020 was going to be a year of rest, though I didn’t really know what that meant.  I thought that it meant that I would lead a group of people into rest for 2020.  Turns out, it was for me alone to learn how to enter rest personally.  Even though 2020 isn’t even half over, I thought I’d write out what I’ve learned so far.

 

I’m always amazed at how many verses I can bring to my mind, but I can’t think of any context surrounding those verses.  It is very important that we know the surroundings of a verse.  If we don’t understand the context, we will end up thinking that Biblical rest is some sort of state of retirement or perpetual laziness.  We like to justify our actions and think that God wants us to get a new job, a new church, a new preacher, a new spouse, or a new whatever we think will make us happy.

 

In Matthew 11, we must catch a couple of things.  For one, John the Baptist is doubting that Jesus is who He says He is.  John is in prison and sends someone to flat out ask Jesus, “Are you the one, or should we look for another?”  John’s life sucked at that moment.  He had preached for God, prepared the way for Jesus, spoken the truth to Herod and his new wife, and it landed him in prison.  He was wondering in his heart if it was all worth it.  He probably even thought that in some way he had at least “earned” the right to be kept out of prison.  In a moment of despair, he asks Jesus if He is even the Messiah they’ve been waiting for.  I think everyone who follows Christ has to go through a “prisoner in the cell” moment.  It is a moment of brutal honesty where you flat out ask God, “Do you do any good?  Are you going to help me?  Have I been following you for nothing?”

 

Afterwards, in the same chapter we find Jesus describing the generation.  It certainly describes the majority of Christians today as well.  He says they are like children sitting at a marketplace calling out to each other.  He goes on to say that when music is being played, they won’t dance.  He says when mourning is taking place, they won’t lament.  In other words, they never catch on to what God is trying to do in their lives.  It’s like they are chasing the wind and just can’t be happy and content.  They think salvation is a magic wand waved over them.  Jesus is present, but people are off to find the next dynamic preacher.  Jesus is present, but people want to see Him do another trick, another miracle.  Praise is being offered up, but people won’t join in.  When it is time to repent and spend some time at the altar, people won’t go.  Jesus goes on to lament the fact that, had the same miracles taken place elsewhere, they would have repented.  It is hard to believe that I have questioned God after all that I have seen and heard, and after all He has done for me.

 

At that time, Jesus answered and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”  — Matthew 11:25

 

Look at that last word, “babes.”  Jesus calls those closest to Him children.  I am learning that I don’t mind at all being considered a child.  In the same way that I’m trying to train up my own children, I can see God trying to train me up.  In the same way they need to be disciplined by me, I need to be disciplined by Him.  I may think like John the Baptist every once in a while, and say, “What are you doing?  Why did you allow this awful hurt in my life?”  I may get off track thinking that there is some sort of labor that I have to do to earn God’s favor.  I may even think that I’ve sinned so greatly that God is angry with me and no longer sees me fit for salvation.  But, ultimately, when I begin to feel like this, I have the greatest gift this world has to offer.  I can do just like my children used to do when they were little.  I can pull myself up near God’s lap and ask Him to hold me.  No matter what you’ve done and no matter how bad you feel you have been performing, He will pick you up every single time and hold you, love you, and let you know that everything is ultimately going to be just fine.  You will find perfect rest.

 

Lord, I come to you this morning in just about the most perfect state of rest I’ve ever felt.  I thank you that I don’t have to perform for you.  The truth is, I’m just not that good at performing.  I thank you that I can just be me.  With all my imperfections, I can just be me.  Thank you for holding me this morning.  I pray for everyone who reads this that, just for a moment, they will close their eyes, let you pick them up, and just be held for a little while by their good, good Father in heaven.  I look so forward to the day when my faith becomes sight and I will be with you forever and ever.  Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King! 

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Righteousness

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. – Isaiah 64:6

 

What makes you righteous before God?  I’m going to write this sentence just to help ensure that you answer the question.  It is very important that you know the correct answer.  If someone were to ask you that question right now, what would you tell them?  I have had this conversation with more than one person these past few weeks.  The people I’ve talked to all believe the same thing . . . that their behavior has been so bad that God does not and cannot accept them anymore.  How would you answer them?

 

I want to submit a thought to you:  Suppose you lived what you believed was an absolute perfect day.  You read the Bible and prayed for two hours to start the day.  Then, you went and helped with tornado cleanup in Seneca.  You bought lunch for the car behind you at chick-fil-A.  You didn’t cuss, you didn’t lie, you didn’t cheat, you didn’t listen to secular rock music, and at the end of it all, you prayed for another hour thanking God for all that He did for you and through you that day.  At the end of that day, would God be prouder of you than say another believer who just binge-watched Netflix, played on social media, and ate junk food all day?   Does the first Christian have any right at all to say bad things to others about that lazy second Christian?  Would God be more likely to receive the first into His kingdom rather than the second if they both died that same night?

 

The answer is a resounding “no.”  Righteousness is not earned at all.  Just in case you don’t believe me, the Bible says, “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”  – (Ephesians 2:9) As believers, we never get to play the comparison game.  I’m going to submit to you that if you play this game, you are in a dangerous spot.  In fact, you are an absolute stench in God’s nostrils because the righteous acts you believe make you better than others are nothing more than filthy rags.  Righteousness comes from God and God alone.  Righteousness is a gift.

 

God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that through Him we might become the righteousness of God.  – 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

We become righteous by one thing and one thing only . . . remaining in Him.  He is the vine and we are the branches.  All we must do to remain righteous is simply remain in Him and never ever let go of our faith and our trust in Him.  If you remain in Him, He will eventually prompt you to do good things.  Sometimes you will do them, sometimes you will not.  Either way, you will learn from your decisions and you will wind up glorifying God because of them.  Ultimately, you will realize every good thing, especially the good things that you do, comes from Him and Him alone.  He gets all the credit while you get none.

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  – Matthew 5:3

 

For a Christian, the height of arrogance is believing that you had anything to do with your lot in life.  If you honestly believe your kids are better than mine because, as a parent, I’m not doing things like you are, do you see the danger and the pride in that?  You are puffed up in spirit.  If you honestly believe that you are where you are in life because you “worked hard,” then you are your own giver of good things.  Where is the honor due to God for giving you your mindset, health, and abilities?  The truth is, you could not possibly be in a better position with God than when you are poor in spirit.  Letting God know that there are sins in your life that you can’t stop and won’t stop if He doesn’t help or intervene does not and will not make Him angry.  In fact, the opposite is true, you actually gain access to His kingdom.  He will intervene to help you with any and every sin in His own good time, not yours.  In the meantime, remain in Him.  Hold on to Him and never let Him go.  Your righteousness comes from Him and Him alone . . . not your good behavior.  By all means, if it is in your power to do good, do it.  To him who knows to do good and doeth it not, it is sin (James 4:17).  At the same time, just because you aren’t doing good or don’t do good at a given moment in time does not mean He is finished with you.  Adam sinned, Abraham sinned, David sinned, Peter sinned, and Paul flat out admitted that what he wants to do he doesn’t do, and what he doesn’t want to do, he does (Romans 7:15).  He didn’t seem worried that God was done with him.  Paul made it clear that his faith wasn’t in himself and his own actions, it was in Christ alone.

 

I say all this because some awful stuff is being done by people who call themselves Christians.  The world is watching this behavior and thinking one thing:  If that is the way Christians are, I don’t want to be one.  I’ve seen Christ followers over the years call certain preachers “heretics.”  Read Philippians 1:15-18, Paul didn’t like the reasons why some people preached, but he still rejoiced that they taught the Name above all names.  We have Christians trashing politicians.  It does not matter if they are democrats or republicans, they are pretty much equally abused by people who say they are Christians.  Here is the thing:  God placed them all in power.  Read Romans 13:1 and try to convince me otherwise.  In 1 Samuel 26, Saul was a terrible king, but David would not kill him or slander him because, like it or not, God put him there.  Do we make no effort at all to follow our Biblical examples?  Should we vote?  Absolutely!  Ultimately, will God put who He wants in all places of authority?  Absolutely!  He owns and runs it all!

 

You and I, along with every other person on the planet, have hearts that naturally gravitate towards sin.  You and I will sin again before we draw our last breath.  God was so sure we would be sinning in 2020 that He went ahead and died for our sins 2000 years ago.  If you have placed your trust in and believe in Jesus Christ, then you are being transformed into His image.  He has given you His righteousness.  Never judge another because God hasn’t done in someone else what He has done in you.  Most importantly, never ever judge another because they sin differently than you.  If you realize you have done this, like I often have, then aren’t you glad that forgiveness and grace are always readily available through Christ, our king?  Aren’t you so thankful that He is slow to anger and abounding in mercy?  Where would you be today had He not been merciful to you?

 

Today, reflect on the things that ultimately won you over to God.

 

What about Him will ultimately win those who, at this very moment, do not know Him?

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