Sunday, February 27, 2011

Believe it or not!

Recently, I have heard a lot of talk about people picking and choosing what they want to believe in the Bible. My Dad, once said that if you don't believe everything you read in the Bible, you should just sit down with a Sharpie and cross out the stuff you want to ignore. Can you imagine doing that? I can't, but essentially, that is what we are doing when we read Scripture and don't accept it as truth.

What is the basis of my belief system?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed. That means that every word came from Him.

Who am I to pick and chose? 

He is the Creator of the Universe. He holds everything in the palm of His hand. It is because of Him that the sun and the moon rise everyday. It is because of Him that our earth continues to orbit, without crashing to destruction. I can't compete with that. If God has said it, I need to believe it. 

Sometimes it is hard for our human brain to accept everything we read in the Bible as real and truth. We (and I) need to overcome that spirit of unbelief. Our enemy would like nothing better than to distract us and take us down a different path. 

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! - Galatians 1:6-9

Paul is specifically referring to Christ being the only way to salvation, but I think that we could apply that to the rest of Scripture. The word grace used in verse 6 is the greek word Charis which means the grace of God that "strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues". Scripture is supposed to teach us, warn us and enable us to be more like Christ.

That scares me a little and it should! If anyone believes anything other than what Christ taught, they will not go to heaven. That is the "curse" from verse 9.

So what can we do about this?

Read and learn what God says about living a life that brings us closer to Him. That means reading the Bible at times other than Sunday during church.

We need to prepare our minds to accept His truth.

I love the Joel Olsteen quote that he uses before teaching. Everyone listening to his messages stands, holds up their bible and says, "This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess my mind is alert, my heart is receptive; I'll never be the same. In Jesus name, God bless you."

Pray for all of our unbelief to be overcome.

There is a story in Mark about a man who brings his son to Jesus to be healed. The disciples try and cannot heal the boy. Jesus says to them, that their lack of faith (and unbelief) is what kept them from living in the power of God. The man says to Jesus, "help me overcome my unbelief". The MacArthur Bible Commentary says it perfectly. "Admitting the imperfection of his faith, mixed as it was with doubt, the desperate father pleaded with Jesus to help him to have the greater faith the Lord demanded of him."

We can go confidently to the only one who can help us!

Lord, I believe that the Bible is a gift from you. Help me to read it, learn it and accept it as Your truth. I confess that I have not believed everything You said. Please help me to overcome my unbelief. In Jesus, precious name, Amen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are You Sensitive and Obedient?

The other day, my son came to me to confess that he had hit his sister while swinging a hockey stick around the living room.
"Do you think that was a good choice?" I asked. 
"No", he said simply. 
"Why did you have a hockey stick in the living room?" This is clearly against our rules. 
The typical child response came back at me. "I don't know," he said. Then he surprised me. "Mom, I wish I had a Jiminy Cricket. I need a conscience to tell me not to do bad stuff." 
I silently laughed at his logic, but I asked, "did you hear a voice in your head that said don't do that"? "Yes" he said. 
"Well", I replied, "that voice you heard is better than a conscience. That is the Holy Spirit. God inside of you, talking to you and warning you not to do something. You need to pay attention to that voice and follow what it is telling you."Satisfied, I finished my teaching moment for the day. 
"But Mom, swinging the stick was a lot of fun" he said, so innocently.

The story is humorous now, but I think it is a real issue. I know the rules. I know I am not supposed to do something. But when it comes to obedience, there are times that I fall short.

Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. -Deuteronomy 6:3

Notice it says hear and obey. It is not enough to know the right thing, we actually have to DO the right thing. 

Recognizing the sin is the first step to becoming right with God. From there, we need to confess that sin to our perfect High Priest, Jesus. We need to ask for forgiveness and repent (which means we are going to work at avoiding that sin in the future). We are not left with our sin hanging over us. God is so good to forgive us every time we come to Him with a heart that is full of truth and honesty. The only way that we can be in relationship with our Holy God is if we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus. God's light and our darkness cannot dwell in the same place. (1 John 1:5-10

That is all well and good, you may be saying, but what about the obeying part?

Well, we have help there too. God gave us the Holy Spirit, our own Jiminy Cricket. (John 14:16-18) If we are in true relationship with Christ, the Spirit will guide us, teach us and warn us before we do things that are against the will of God.

We need to listen and be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. But, it doesn't end there, we also need to follow in the direction that he is leading.

Lord, I am a sinner and I am not good enough on my own to be in Your presence. Thank you for sending your Son to cover my iniquities. Please make me more sensitive to sin in my life so that I can avoid it and remain in relationship with you. Thank you for loving me and providing me with everything I need to be better than I am. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Did you enjoy fellowship today?

Photo by Evgeni Dinev

I have a great friend! I want to tell you all about her. She calls me at the perfect times just to say hi and see how I am doing. She really has a knack for knowing just when I need to talk. She sends me texts and emails frequently to check in. I don't usually have time to respond, even though I intend to. She gave me the best, most thoughtful gift for my birthday this year. It was exactly what I wanted. Huh. I just realized I don't even know what month she was born! She likes to meet for coffee or lunch and invites me, but I am just so busy with other things, I dont really feel like moving my schedule around. My friend is so thoughtful and she puts so much into our relationship. It really makes me feel special.

A little one-sided don't you think? Hopefully you realized that was a made-up story. I hope I am a better friend than that!

Unfortunately, this is exactly the way some of us treat Jesus. He calls out to us and we ignore his voice. He invites us to spend time with him and we are just too busy to fit it into our day. We often turn to Him when we need something and never bother to ask if there is something we can do for him.

One definition that I found for fellowship is: intimate communication, sharing of thoughts or emotions. 

That is what Jesus wants from us. He doesn't want us to check in just because we feel obligated and replay our day for him (P.S. He already knows).  He wants us to come to him with our true feelings, questions, praises and concerns. He wants to have a genuine two-way relationship with us.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9) The word for fellowship used in this verse is koinonia it is a Greek word and it means partnership, participation and communion.

Can you imagine having a partnership with someone where there is no communication, no interaction and no reciprocation? I don't think the partnership could survive for very long.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:6-7

God knows, and people will eventually know, if we are in fellowship with Christ. When we are spending time with him, we cannot help but be changed. We begin walking in light. We begin to talk and act like Him. We become little Christ's in the world which is what being Christian is really all about.

Walk with the wise and become wise, 
for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 13:20 

I can't think of a better person to walk with!


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