Battle With Sin

Why is it that Christians must have the proper concern about the sin in their lives? After all, we have been promised eternal life walking on golden streets. We have been forgiven. Our everlasting reward is guaranteed. Why should we be concerned about our sins?

The sin that remains in our lives will be a barrier to a close relationship with our Father. It will be a cloud that prevents us from knowing Him more intimately and it will block us from understanding his purpose for our lives. It will block the blessings He has planned for us. . Therefore, as his children we must continually be alert for sin. We must learn to recognize it in  its many forms.

Sin comes in many outwardly attractive shapes, sizes, colors and packages. In reality, it is ugly, deceptive and deadly, but on the surface it is often beautiful and alluring.  It is presented to us through the internet, books, friendships, magazines, TV screens, movies, advertisements and the advice of well-meaning people. It calls to us at night, in the morning and throughout the day. It approaches us at home, at work, in the park, on the lake, in the country and in the city. It invades our thoughts when we are alone or when we are in a crowd. It even calls to us on Sunday morning during church services. it can be loud or soft, bold or shy, smooth or crude.

Sin is everywhere, all the time. Satan, who is a liar and killer, constantly tempts us.

God calls for us to use all our strength to resist sin, but He does not ask for us to do it alone. He has given us the Holy Spirit and in Philippians 4:13 He promises we will be able to do all things through Christ. All things certainly includes resisting sin.

Our minds are the battlefield on which we must defeat sin. We can be successful only if we give God control of our thoughts and actions. In James 1:5 He has promised us his wisdom to use in this battle. Through the Holy Spirit He will direct our fight against sin. If we follow his directions our lives will be increasingly free from Satan.

And then we can give our heavenly Father all the glory, praise and gratitude.

After Salvation, Sanctification

After the event we call salvation (born again, redemption) God wants to begin within each of us a process called sanctification. This involves each of us ridding ourselves of sin and allowing God to change us. The result of this process is that we will be more Christ-like in our actions, attitudes, desires and motives.

Our part in this process is to make a life-long series of decisions to stop doing certain things and start doing other things. It involves both omission and commission. God’s part is to give us the wisdom and courage to make the proper choices. He is always faithful to do his part if we want Him to and allow it.

Both our worship of God and our service to God are impaired by a lack of sanctification.

There are several Biblical examples of people who were faced with specific things that had to be cleansed from their life before sanctification could take place.

For Gideon it was fear....Judges 7
For David it was lust....2 Samuel 11
For Peter it was rashness....Luke 22
For Zacchaeus it was greed....Luke 19
For Nicodemus it was religion....John 3
For Paul it was tradition and pride....Acts 9
For Martha it was domestic business....Luke 10
For the rich, young ruler it was money....Matt 19
For Jonah it was intolerance and bigotry....Jonah 4 

Before we can become a person God will richly bless and effectively use in his service, we must allow the Holy Spirit to carry out the sanctifying process in our lives.

What needs to be added or subtracted in your life in order for you to become more sanctified?

Jesus Sinless On The Cross

Mark 15:23 records that Jesus refused to drink a mixture of wine and myrrh that would have reduced the pain of his crucifixion.

Why? Was there a certain level of physical pain He had to suffer in order to accomplish the purpose of his death? Did the Father require a minimum amount of physical trauma before salvation’s plan would be complete? I don’t think so. For Jesus the physical aspect of the cross, with all its horror, was not the worst part of his sacrifice.

Jesus refused the myrrh because He still had work to do, even after the nails had been driven through his hands and feet. He needed a clear head to to stay sinless until his death.

For thirty-three years He had lived a life of sinless perfection, always obedient to his Father’s will. Even though the crucifixion had begun He still had six hours during which He had to continue to resist temptation. To sin at this late stage would have been to negate all previous acts of service and obedience. He had to remain the perfect Lamb right up to the moment of his death.

The myrrh might have clouded his determination. (He was, after all, still fully man.) By refusing it, He was choosing spiritual purity as a higher priority than the relief of pain and placing obedience to the Father’s assignment above comfort. He could not allow a chemical crutch to interfere with his most important task.

The temptations of those six hours on the cross must have been greater than all the other temptations of his entire life. Truly He was a man among men, masculine, heroic and courageous in every sense of the terms.

Bits, Pieces, Odds, Ends – 13

Quiet me, Lord,that I may experience you and worship you.
Embolden me, Lord, that I may serve you and testify of you.
Guide me, Lord, to appropriate times, places and methods of both.

Jesus is my only current and eternal security.

As a child of God I should strive to be informed about Jesus so I can be transformed by Jesus.

Ultimate wisdom is complete oneness with God.

The degree to which I can behave like Jesus depends on the degree to which I am like Jesus.

Jesus, the healer of body and spirit, allows us to visit him whenever and as often as we please. No appointments are necessary and walk-ins are welcome.

Jesus spent more time teaching than healing. He placed spiritual growth above physical health. Do my priorities match his?

When strangers visit my church, do they meet people who want to help them and love them or people who want to only count them?

No Other Gods

Not glory, not wealth, not friends, not health,

Not honor, not fame, not money, not name,

Not pleasure, not fun, not daughter, not son,

Not knowledge, not truth, not beauty, not youth,

Not talent, not wife, not husband, not life,

Not comfort, not cheer, not power, not career

Not pride, not skill, not strength of will,

Not house, not land, not right to command,

NO OTHER GODS

Do the Easy Stuff

As parents we sometimes ask our children to do unpleasant chores. They are likely to look at the hardest part of the task and complain they can’t do what we have asked. But if they are obedient and willing to try, we will step in and do the difficult part for them.

What we really want from them is their obedience and an honest effort to do as much as they are able. When they are willing to do what they can, then we will gladly help. But we do need them to get started. For instance, Dad will move the heavy stuff in the garage if his ten-year-old will just start sweeping. Mom will wash the really greasy pots and pans if her eight-year old will begin washing the glasses and silverware.

God asks the same from us, his children. He wants us to obediently begin the tasks He gives us. We need to demonstrate our belief that He will take care of the difficult stuff. Our Father will not ask us to do anything that together, with Him, we cannot do. But we must be obedient and get started. Then his assistance will be readily available.

God told Joshua to do the easy stuff. All Joshua had to do was organize and carry out seven marches around the city of Jericho. When he did the simple part, God did the rest.

Sometimes our lack of faith is demonstrated by our unwillingness to get started. We must not allow what we think we can’t do to keep us from doing what we can do.

Faith and Obedience

Faith and obedience are as inseparable as the two sides of a coin.

God sometimes calls us to acts of obedience that have the possibility of undesirable consequences. We hesitate. We procrastinate. We rationalize. Then, finally, we call our weak faith into play and do the thing He has asked.

And because He is our Father He still supports and protects us. The possible unpleasant results do not happen. Our faith grows stronger. We are more willing to be obedient next time.

So each act of obedience results in increased faith. That increased faith, in turn, brings about a more instant, joyful and confident obedience the next time He calls. We become more mature Christians because of the upward spiraling interplay between these two spiritual aspects of our lives.

James was referring to this connection when he wrote “anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act”(James 2:18 LB) It was obedience that directed James’ actions. He was doing the things God selected for him to do, not the things he had chosen for himself.

If we are disobedient, we need to ask the Father for increased faith that will give us the courage to obey. If we lack strong faith we need to act in obedience anyway and our faith will be strengthened when we observe his protection and provision.

And our reward for increased faith and obedience? The greatest reward of all: “Well done” from our Father. (Matt 25:21 LB)

My Sunday Responsibility

As a Christian, what is my responsibility toward the Sunday morning worship time? What does God expect of me concerning that one hour of “holy huddle” each week?

It begins with prayers on Monday morning. I need to set aside time each weekday to pray for the pastor and each person who will have a leadership roll during the next worship service.

Then I am to ask God if He wants me to invite anyone to attend the next service with me. Do I know anyone who needs what He will provide then?

I should also begin to pray for myself that I will learn what God wants to teach me during that time. I need to give the Holy Spirit permission to start preparing my mind and will to receive His message.

Throughout the week I should plan my weekend so that nothing interferes with my attendance at God’s house. It is my responsibility to control my time to guarantee I will be in my place.

On Sunday morning I must get out of bed early enough to be on time without any hassle, rush or last-minute confusion. The self-discipline of time control is vital.

When I arrive at the worship site I need to focus on God. I must yield my will to Him so I can be taught and molded. The actions of the pastor and worship leader should be secondary to my understanding of God’s word and will. The Holy Spirit will speak to me during the worship time if I want Him to and if I block out distractions.

Throughout the worship time I should be in prayer for others. I should be asking the Father to lead the pastor to say only the things He wants said, praying that all of us hear clearly and correctly.

Lastly I am to continue praying for myself that God’s message will produce His desired results in my life during the coming week. Then, with gratitude for the opportunity to worship and for those who have helped me do so, I must remember the Golden Rule as I drive out of a crowded and confused parking lot.

THE SCARED CHURCH

On the evening of the first Easter the disciples huddled in a closed room and bolted the door to keep out the world. They were so frightened of the people outside they had to use doors and walls to separate themselves from outsiders.

Today our churches still seem afraid of the world. We hide behind our stained-glass windows, choir robes and Sunday School literature and preach about the evils of homosexuality, drugs and pornography.

The message of such behavior is “We are scared of Satan and his world of evil.”  We meet to share time with other frightened Christians and have a few hours each week of “holy huddle,” fervently hoping the world will not physically or emotionally intrude.

We say “Our church doors are open. All are invited to worship with us.” We even send out visitation teams to persuade people to come to our church next Sunday. But are our hearts as open as our doors? Are we careful to invite only the “right kind” of people from “correct neighborhoods” to join us in our sanctimonious ceremonies?

If new-comers do not dress correctly or wash frequently do we secretly hope they will search for God somewhere else? The world that many people face every day is dirty, mean and dangerous. Many of the people that live in that world tend to be unkempt and rough, with an unpleasant odor. Do we as long-time members really want them to be a part of our worship.

The addicted and abused, the frightened and confused are not urged to attend the 11:00 Sunday morning, suit and tie, heels and hats, upper room gathering of the faithful. They frighten us. We do not want them to disrupt our services, offend our sensibilities and upset our routine. My goodness, one of them might actually sit in my pew.

Even worse, some of these down-and-outers might require some of our own personal time and assistance. They might become a bodily, practical expression of God’s message “unto the least of one of these.”  After all, if we don’t intend to individually go “into all the world” we for sure don’t want the world coming to us!

Listening to God’s Advice

Suppose I was the world champion rodeo bull rider.  I had mastered all the techniques and tricks of the trade. I was the best that ever existed.

Then two years ago I retired.

Now my son wants to be a top tier rider. He is in his second season. I try to teach him all I know. He listens, but when he climbs on a bull he ignores my advice. In event after event he gets bucked off. His pain and injuries are mounting up week after week.

Each time he hits the ground it hurts me, too, because I love him. I know it would be so much better for him if he would just listen and follow my instructions.

So it is with God when I try to live my life outside his advice and commandments. Life would be so much easier and successful if I just followed what He has told me in his Word. When my stubborn nature leads me away from Him I get hurt and He suffers because He loves me.