January 25, 2010

"God's Love Through the Gospel"

The love of God is something that I can’t grasp, but strive to grow in my understanding of by the power of the Holy Spirit. He created us to be a perfect reflection of himself, and to bring our creator glory. Our sinful nature inherited from Adam keeps us from fellowship with the Father.
I am a disgusting person in need of a Savior, and I don’t always see my sin for what it truly is. Actually I never see my sin for what it truly is. It is wretched, dirty, corrupt, gross, shameful, filthy, disgusting, perverted, nasty and so much more when compared to a holy, just, merciful, upright, perfect, righteous, and a sovereign God.
This is the reason I need a Savior, but a Savior was not something I asked for. I didn’t seek a Savior from my worldliness. Jesus found me and willingly saved my soul. He wasn’t forced or tricked into dying on the cross.
This is the love that I can’t grasp; how God would give up his only Son, so I could have him. It was God’s idea and plan that his Son would be crushed and broken beyond human recognition, and his blood would flow from his ripped flesh. He came up with this sick idea! There was no plan B! How could a loving God do something this wrathful to his own Son?!
The answer is love. Love for a sinful race and self-serving world. There is one more part to the story. We have to put our faith in what Jesus accomplished through his perfect life, death on the cross, and his bodily resurrection, which is the full atonement for our sins.
There is nothing else we can add on to the blood of Christ on the cross. We are justified by our faith; not baptism, going to church, reading our Bibles, praying to God, good works, or anything else we can come up with. Why would God kill his Son if we still had to do something on top of Jesus dying to obtain salvation? That would not be grace, because grace is a free or unmerited gift from God. How is us doing something for God a free gift to ourselves? It’s not.
Along with faith will come justification, but on top of that comes sanctification and on going repentance. The Holy Spirit will start changing our hearts and make it more like Christ’s. We will see our desires change, our minds be set on things of the Spirit, our actions will start to reflect Christ, we are given a new heart, and we will serve one master, which is Christ. This is only possible because he first loved us.

January 19, 2010

"Meaningless Material"

Why do the "common" people want autographs from the "famous" people? What good does an autograph do? If you get a T-shirt signed it will eventually wear off. If you get a program, ticket, or random piece of paper signed, it will collect dust in a drawer, on a dresser, or in a closet. You might be thinking, "That's not what happens to my autographs." "I have a collection of autographed memorabilia in my house." "I sell my autographs on eBay, and make money off of them." So what happens after we get an autograph? I mentioned it does nothing and collects dust, we create a collection/shrine of them, or we sell them and get something that is actually useful to humans, which is money. What I'm trying to get at is that autographs are worthless. If they sit around and collect dust, then I think I've made my point on that one. If you create a collection/shrine then what are you getting out of that? Something to show off or boast about to your friends and family. Something that you truly treasure, and becomes an idol in your life. Two different types of sin, take your pick, it doesn't matter they are both sin, so there is no escaping that one. If you get an autograph and immediately sell it on eBay, then i guess it's not important enough to you in the first place to actually keep, so you exchange it for money. Money can be good, because we all need money to live and get by, but how much money do we need and how much do we just want for our own personal spending. With all that extra money, what are we gonna do with it? Are we gonna give it to charities, churches, hospitals, schools, Haiti, or other worth-while causes? Or are we just gonna go buy more stuff that is gonna sit around and collect dust?
We love stuff and material possessions even though we don't really get anything out of them. Think about the things you have bought lately, or things that you are thinking about buying, or things that you wish you could buy but will never have the money to. Ask yourself, what percentage of those things do you use on a regular basis and what percentage gets put up on a shelf, slid under the bed, put in a closet, stuck in a box, or put somewhere on display only to look at for as long as you live. For the Christians, some good questions to ask before making a purchase could be; How is this going to help me or others grow closer to God? How will this benefit the kingdom of God? How will this edify God or is it even possible to bring glory to God through this purchase? Can I even use this object or is this something that can only be put on display so others to admire my neat toys?
We need to conscientiously ask ourselves these types of questions before we buy things on the fly. We need to be more discerning with our purchases. I don't say these things because this is what I do already, but I write this because I NEED to start doing these things in my own life. I'm too careless with my money, and as a Christian I feel like I am called to manage my money to the glory of God, and keep myself from falling into sin. For instance, I mentioned idolatry and pride earlier. We need to identify specific sins in our lives, classify those sins specifically, and find ways to eliminate them from our lives. If we don't throw them out the door now, then God will deal with them on his own terms.
What things are we treasuring in our lives? What do we get excited about buying next and why do we get excited about buying that specific item? Is God what we are treasuring? Are we excited to buy a brand new pair of shoes when you just bought a new pair last week? Are we seeking to try and bring joy to ourselves through our spending, or are we going to bring glory to God through our spending?
If you are having some tough times dealing with some of these questions because you are trying to justify your material possessions, and your spending, then maybe this is an idol in your life. We don't like to hear the truth sometimes, because we are scared what's going to happen if we give up our idols. I'll tell you what is going to happen; God is going to strip you of your idols and leave a huge hole in your life... but he won't leave the wound without a bandage. He will fill it with himself, and provide true happiness in a life that was formerly corked up with false joy.

January 9, 2010

Judging Others

Matthew 7:3-5 says,"3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
Do these verses describe you? I know it describes me. I think of all the "Christian" and "holy" things I do to try and draw closer to God, but shortly after I will completely disregard what I learned. Since I have put my faith in Christ I put myself higher up than non-believers and sometimes other Christians who are not as far along in their relationship with the Lord. I quickly forget that I still have major sins to take care of in my own life, and forget what God has saved me from. I don't acknowledge that where I am in my faith is only because of his grace in my life in the first place. What do I have that is not from God? Nothing. Everything I have obtained has come from him, so why don't I live in light of that. I give in to easily to earthly desires, and do not look at God through a gospel-centered lens. I need to see what Christ has done for me, and accomplished for me by his death and resurrection. I need to see MY sin nailed to the cross, and know that it will remain there forever because God's atoning work is finished. Romans 8:1 declares that "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." So if God doesn't condemn me then why do I? And if he does not condemn other followers of Christ because of Romans 8:1 then who am I to do so. We as followers of Christ need to be more Christ-like, which is forgiving and giving grace to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to leave the harsh judgement up to the Lord, and point each other to Christ in a loving and patient manor instead of one that is judgemental and condemning.
Let us love our great God and Savior, which should lead us to love our neighbors just the same.

By God's Grace,


January 7, 2010

"Failing to Stay Awake"

When driving alone on a road trip it could be easy to get drowsy and come close to falling asleep. At that point it becomes a battle just to stay awake. We try and think of ways to combat this urge to fall asleep, so there are a number of things we could attempt. We could crank up the music, sing along with the music, take a 5-hour energy shot, or call someone on our cell phone. If it’s cold outside roll down the windows and do a “freeze out.” Find a way to make the temperature of the car uncomfortable so it keeps you more aware.
So we have all these options in order to keep us awake, but do we ever use these resources that are so readily available to us? I know for me I normally just let the drowsiness get the best of me and fall asleep.
If you haven’t figured what’s really going on then listen closely. This is an analogy for fighting/battling sin. “Driving alone” is us trying to deal with sin on our own power. The “road trip” is our life. Our “drowsiness” is our sin temptation. “Falling asleep” is the act of sinning. Throughout our lives we are tempted to sin, and we can either fight it or let it consume us, and eventually lead to our death, so the battle has begun.
I said we have multiple options right at our fingertips to try and “stay awake.” With technology today, we have so many resources we could use to fight sin. The Internet can be used to actually fight off sin instead of indulging in it, believe it or not. There are online Bibles, Christian music, and sermons we can listen to. Facebook chat could be used to let someone know you are being tempted at that very moment, and you could ask him or her to pray for you.
Cell phones are another great resource. Did you know that you could call and even text a friend using a cell phone? YES! You did know that! So why don’t we in times of need, but every other moment of the day we can’t put our phone down, and especially in regards to things that don’t matter as much as fighting sin and pursuing holiness.
Let’s go back to online Bibles, Christian music, and sermons. With all the new phone companies coming out with the Internet built into the phones, there is no excuse why we can’t use it to read God’s Word in times of temptation. The Word that can change hearts isn’t going to change yours in times of need if you don’t open it up.
Prayer is a perfect example of accessibility. How more accessible can you get? All you have to do is start talking to God out loud, or even easier, in your head. God knows our thoughts; so let’s start talking. In times of temptation, pray that God would remove this desire from you. Pray that God would draw you to himself.
The last thing I want to mention is meditating. When I say meditating, I’m talking about focusing on God, and/or thinking deeply. Thinking deeply about the characteristics of God. Focusing on certain promises of God. Going into the depths about the gospel, and what Christ did for us on the cross, and not only what he did but what he achieved, which is salvation for those who believe in his atoning sacrifice.
With all these resources so available to us, why do we keep falling into the same old habitual sins? I think there are a few reasons.
1. Our sinful desire and nature to please ourselves.
2. We are passive, which relates to point 1.
3. We don’t see God as being Holy, Holy, Holy, and our sin as being despicable, perverted, and displeasing.
4. We don’t understand the price that was paid for our sins.
5. We doubt the promises of God that we find in his Word.
6. We really don’t desire to grow.
7. We don’t want to give up certain areas of our life to God.

"Live, Die, Live Again"

Verse 1:
Why do you call me your son?
Why a child such as I?
Without your hand on my heart,
My hope would be no more.

Bridge 1:
Fully God in human form,
But unlike us he did not conform

But instead he took our place, on the cross.
He bled and died and bore our shame.
There was more we should have known,
Cause then he rose and sat on his throne

Bridge 2:
Oh what a mystery; we search but our minds cannot conceive.
Praise God for what he reveals through his Word; gives us life and makes it real.
Our hope is found in Christ.
So I shall give my life.

Verse 2:
I will go where he leads me.
No need to fear our God is here. I trust his sovereignty.
He’s love, he’s just, he died for us, he lied there in the grave.
He rose in three days.
Our faith is not in vain.
We have been reclaimed.
That’s why we’re not ashamed.

"1 Peter 1"

Verse 1:
Praise to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our living hope. (v. 3)
By his great mercy we receive a brand new life cause he rose from the dead. (v. 3)
Our inheritance is unbreakable. It’s undefiled. It’s unfading. (v. 4)
By God’s strength and power we’re assured of our faith until the end. (v. 5)

Verse 2:
In this hope we sing even though we go through trials, it tests our faith. (v. 6-7)
Though we don’t see him, we believe and rejoice with joy, filled with glory. (v. 8)
The Holy Spirit reveals to us the triumphant news of Christ our king. (v. 12)
We long for the time when your fullness of grace is revealed to all your saints. (v. 13)

Verse 3:
We’re children of God so let’s throw aside our old ways, the pride in our lives. (v. 14)
In his Word it says, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” (v. 16)
We were not bought by riches of the world, but by the blood of our spotless lamb. (v. 18-19)
The flowers may fade, but the Word of God shall remain forever. (v. 24-25)