Teaching is correction

This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Isaiah 48:17 NLT

He teaches us what is good for us.

But how many of us ignore the truth and value of the Word of God and seek to fit parts of His instruction into how we want to live our own lives? When something from God doesn’t align with what we want, are we submitting and yielding ourselves to His guidance, or justifying why we are allowed to do it or own way?

If we are choosing something different than He teaches is good, can we say that He is the Lord OUR God – or just acknowledge that He is God while confirming by our lives that we have not accepted His Lordship willingly?

Stubborn, rebellious animals that we are sometimes – I’m thankful that we have a shepherd that corrects the ones that He loves.

How can someone say they are a student if they do not accept correction? Doesn’t a teacher teach by instructing students in the correct way? Doesn’t learning involve change?

Too many today seek a once a week, feel good, recharge of their emotions – gathering for an entertaining and uplifting social event to get them through another week. But how many seek correction, learning, conviction against their worldly ways,  and instruction in leading a godly life, set apart from the ways of the world?

Lord, help us.

Trust in His Victory

I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
1 Samuel 17:35‭-‬37 NLT

[Trust in the Lord, testify with your life, step out in faith and let His power be demonstrated. ]

Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin ? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Matthew 10:28‭-‬31 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.10.28-31.NLT

[You are unique and precious to the Kingdom of God, believer. You are beloved by God so much that He came in the flesh as Jesus Christ to die on the cross for you. You have a particular purpose and mission in your life to demonstrate His love, His nature,  His spiritual fruit, to a world in need of spiritual nourishment and healing. YOU have an opportunity today to serve Him,  not out of religious obligation, but out of personal grattitude because of grace.  ]

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.
2 Timothy 1:6‭-‬11 NLT

[Yes, if we are going to boast in anything, it should be in the gift of grace that we have received, the Holy Spirit that strengthens us and guides us and inductees us and empowers us to see sin and death conquered under the foot of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. ]

At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God. ” Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.”  He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.
John 6:66‭-‬71 NLT

[We choose. Do we stay with Him, or turn away. Do we follow in His footsteps, or do we serve another master? Are we interested in the prizes that have no lasting value, or are we satisfied with Christ as our portion and prize? Will we trade in our inheritance for some silver coins or a bowl of soup? ]

We gave no such commandment

And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He  did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: “Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “ You  must be circumcised and keep the law” —to whom we gave no such commandment— it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.
Acts 15:4‭-‬13‭, ‬18‭-‬20‭, ‬24‭-‬29 NKJV

The commandments we hear from Christ are, “Repent”, “Follow me”, “Go and sin no more”, “Love”, “Walk with me”, “Abide with me”. And yes,  these will keep us from sinful ways when we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh – but I wonder how often we argue for or against our weak,lost, and broken brothers and sisters when we mean to be standing against sin but end up entangling perfect grace with the law of Moses instead of the law of liberty. 

Yes, the law is beautiful to the man freed from it to look upon its beauty as a demonstration of guidance and instruction. But we must remember that to those still under the law, it is a curse – and we do not bring cursing upon the people but we bring Good News. Don’t let us submit ourselves to be slaves to sin or slaves to the law of Moses – let’s walk in the freedom of a life reborn to live with Christ living in us and through us.

Still the rebellious son, even at 42

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:1‭-‬3 NKJV

I just want to tell my mom and dad how much I love them and am grateful for them.

The other night they came to help me with some urgent items. I was stressed and grumpy because we are down to just the car (with the truck in the shop for some major repairs). We have so much going on with selling our house, getting ready to live in a camper, and getting ready to build a new house –  and I REALLY don’t like having to rely on others for help. (I tell myself that I like “feeling like” I’m being a blessing and not a burden – but honestly, it’s just my pride.)

In my rush trying to get things done, I was disrespectful at one point to my dad who was there to help me. We’re both type A personalities and we clash at times each wanting to do things our own way – because I don’t submit to his authority as my father like I should. I told him as we were finishing up last night that I was sorry, but I don’t know if he realizes that I really am sorry in my heart for letting circumstances take hold, which led to me disrespecting the closest thing I have on this planet as an example of a Good, Good Father.

You see,  my dad chose me, he adopted me, and gave me his name. And he has always been an amazing dad to me. No one would ever think otherwise watching his love towards his “adopted” son. No, in his eyes and in mine,  I’m not adopted. I’m his and he is mine – exactly like it is with my Heavenly Father who chose me and adopted me to be His child.

I’m glad that they both will forgive me for my foolish behavior last night, and I love them both enough to try to learn from it and change. I’m not just remorseful about it, I want to not be that way anymore. It is embarrassing and humbling to see myself still as the rebellious son, even at the age of 42.

I love you, dad.

Friends, tell your dad that you love him today. Even if you “don’t say stuff like that” – ESPECIALLY if that is the case. Call him and ask him for some wise advise over something in your life today and actually listen to what he has to say.

Then, pray to your heavenly Father and tell Him that you love Him – ESPECIALLY if you haven’t done it recently. And open that Bible and listen to His wise advice for your life today.

We have escaped, the victory is His!

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their wrath was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
The stream would have gone over our soul;
Then the swollen waters
Would have gone over our soul.”
Blessed be the Lord ,
Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord , Who made heaven and earth.
Psalms 124:1‭-‬8 NKJV

[There are people in this world who appear strong and powerful and influential,  but who are spiritually weak and powerless and impotent. And there are people in this world who appear weak and poor and needy, but who are spiritually powerful and rich in His mercies and grace.

Many of the “rich and powerful” of this world are pawns of the enemy, seeking to oppress and control others for their own benefit and profit. There is a new kind of slavery being sold to the ignorant as they are promised worldly wealth and possessions and debauchery while they are maintained and controlled under the pitchfork of addiction, debt, greed, and pride. Yes, these are prison walls not made by the hands of men, but by the choices of our lives – and they come with heavy burden and consequences.

But we can live as proof that the snare is broken, that what the enemy intended to harm us is now what has humbled us and demonstrated to us our great need for hope, for salvation, for repentance, for deliverance from our old ways to walk in His way. Yes, it is His victory,  because all we did is surrender our lives to Him. He gives us the strength and His is the victory.

He is glorious.
He is victorious.
Forever and ever,  Amen.]

Do we?

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
John 7:38 NKJV

Do we believe?
Do we love Him?
Do we know Him and not just know about Him?

Asking ourselves these questions is not harmful when we ask and examine ourselves to PROVE that we are walking in faith. But if we are just content answering yes to these without any real examination and comparison of our lives to Christ, aren’t we instead trying to CONVINCE ourselves instead?

So the Word of God teaches us ways to know whether we are true or whether we are deceiving ourselves.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22 NKJV

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.
Galatians 6:1‭-‬5 NKJV

Living water flows from the heart of a believer, the annointing of the Holy Spirit – Christ lives in the hearts of those who are born again as children of God. And these living waters “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”. So we should ask ourselves – Is the example of my Christian day to day life a light shining in the darkness proving that I have been convicted regarding sin and righteousness and judgement?

Additional Reading

Some verses and notes from a related article about examining ourselves:

“There are many ways you can deceive yourself and believe what you’re doing is right. Many Christians deceive themselves by thinking they can’t stop a certain sin, but truly just don’t want to stop a sin. Many people deceive themselves by believing something bad is good. They go out of their way to find a false teacher who will justify their sins when the Bible and their conscience says no.”

Lying to yourself and telling yourself you’re not sinning.

1. Romans 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

2. Proverbs 30:20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’

3. James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

4. 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Thinking you’re a Christian when you don’t live a Christian lifestyle.

5. Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

6. James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

7. 1 John 2:4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.

8.  1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

9. 1 John 3:9-10 Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness—the one who does not love his fellow Christian—is not of God.

Thinking you will get away with things.

10. Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

11. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

12. Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Saying you don’t sin

13. 1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

14. 1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Deceiving yourself with friends.

15. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Wise in your own eyes

16. Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

17. 1 Corinthians 3:18 Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.

18. Galatians 6:3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

19. 2 Timothy 3:13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

20. 2 Corinthians 10:12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

How to know if I’m deceiving myself?

Your conscience.

21. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

22. John 16:7-8 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

23. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

24. 1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Reminders

25. James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do.

Bonus

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Choices – Life or Death Decisions

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
Deuteronomy 30:19‭-‬20 NKJV

Yes, God made us with the ability to choose between life and death. We are not robots following a lifeless script – we have the freedom to respond to life’s circumstances as we see fit. Our hearts desires influence our decisions and choices, and we get to choose moment to moment where we are headed – towards life or towards death.

How we choose to live demonstrates what we value – sin that leads to death – or living, obeying, and clinging to the Lord.

How will we live today? Wisely or foolishly?

Forgiven little? Or much?

I now realize that it upsets some people that we get excited and are filled with joy and raise our hands and sing out from our hearts with everything when we get to praise our Lord and Savior together.

I now realize that it upsets some people when others in the pews want to actively participate in praise and worship and not just watch a performance by those on the stage and behind the podium.

I now realize that some will snarl with judgemental,  religious faces when the name of Jesus is sang about from a place of joy and love and worship or when He is preached, practiced, and lived out in the places outside the church and the days other than Sunday.

I’m not making a judgement about the hearts of those who are quiet and reverent about Christ in their lives and in their weekly church services.  I realize that the Holy Spirit in them might be on fire and active and moving in amazing ways underneath the surface as they worship in truth and spirit. However, I used to be quiet,  and it was because there was no fire burning in my bones,  there was no active grattitude in my moment to moment life for what Christ has done for me, and it showed because there was no joy feeding me. I was just going through the motions of empty, dead, religion.

I don’t mock and judge and scoff at those who aren’t excited about the opportunity to actively praise and worship the Lord of Lords, King of Kings. I hope that they are genuinely in love with him and are getting to enjoy the opportunity of praising Him and worshiping Him. I hope that it goes deeper in their heart than what the eye can see. I hope they are being fed and nourished by the Lord the same as we are and that they truly just praise Him “in a different way”.

I just hope that they can understand my excitement, my grattitude, my love for the Lord that cannot be held back because it is like a flood of living waters flowing out of my chest. It is like a fire shut up in my bones that has to come out. It is like I have the very spirit and nature of God in me that wants to be seen and heard by a world in need of Him.

Yes, they will call me crazy. And they are right, because I’m crazy in love with Jesus.

Yes, they will call me irreverent. And they are right,  because His light in me breaks through the darkness and crafts a disturbance in this world and the traditions of men.

Yes, they will call me peculiar. And they are right, because He has set me apart for His Holy use, as a vessel for His Holy Spirit to dwell, for His Kingdom come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I am not pretending like I’m grateful in order to convince you of my love for Jesus. Who would waste their time with such foolish things if they didn’t truly believe – especially when it is clear that living openly and vocally excited about this Good News brings more persecution and objection from both the religious and the worldly than just holding your tongue. 

No, I’m thankful,  and I aim to please God, and to follow Christ, and to share truth so that someone else might know this joy add well when He calls them into this crazy,  irreverent, peculiar life of being a follower of Christ,  not just a Church goer,  and not just a child of the world.

As I seek to make sense of the difference without judging – I wonder if it is simply my realizing how much He has truly forgiven me. Maybe He didn’t have to forgive them very much at all. Maybe their lives were never turned away from Him in sin like mine was. Maybe they are great in the kingdom because of their lives of dedicated obedience with only little stumbles since birth, living all their days in the house with our father,  and I made it only after returning as the prodigal son.

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
Luke 7:47 NKJV

Paul Worked

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
II Thessalonians 3:7‭-‬12 NKJV

Great Article about “Why Paul Worked”: http://www.bible-bridge.com/pauls-income-four-reasons-why-paul-worked-day-job/

I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever

The Lord  is  my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NKJV

Today is my birthday, and I have been blessed with 42 years of life. But these last few years have been abundantly blessed – with a new direction, with a new purpose.

You see, I met a man that I had heard about,  but that I never really knew. I fell into a close relationship with someone that I knew about from afar, but who I hadn’t loved up close and personal. I met a man who touched me and healed me and set my life on fire, and His name is Jesus Christ.

He changed my desires and my direction. He has me looking outward at how I can love and serve others and be a good steward of this life that I’ve surrendered to Him – instead of only inward serving myself. Many people will look at me and only see “another religious person” – and I understand, there are many of those around,  and I was once too blind to know the difference myself.

But I’m no longer rebellious or religious – I’m just in love with my Lord and Savior. I just want my life to be a blessing, to bring honor and glory to His name – not so that it will earn me anything, not so that people might think that I’m a good person – but so that they might realize that He is real.

You see, He isn’t that far away God that I would remember only in times of trouble. He is that loving Spirit that has come and made my house His home. He is changing my life. He is sending me out with His Good News that He loves you.

You don’t have to buy salvation with your silver pieces, but if you cling to them as your own, you will lose what is truly most valuable, and you will receive what you desire most instead.

You don’t have to work for your salvation with charitable gifts and religious practices, but if you remain idle and fruitless in what you call faith, can expect anything but to be cut away and burned with the other dead branches?

You don’t have to be a slave to the law, but if you are a slave to sin, how can you say that you have a permanent place in the Lord’s house and that His Holy Spirit lives in you and is Lord of your life?

The Good News is that He tells us, repent of your sins, believe in your heart,  and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of your life, follow Him and do not turn back,  run this race to the end, because He has gone to prepare a place for you good and faithful servants.