Waiting and Hoping

​I wait for the Lord , my soul waits, and in his word I hope; – Psalms 130:5 ESV

My daughter is watching the classic Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer this morning. It’s a tale about this peculiar reindeer who is shunned by those around him because he is different. They don’t see his unique nose as a gift but as a curse. A peculiar little elf that wants to be a dentist joins him and they wonder,  “Why am I such a misfit?”

There are times in our lives where we may ask ourselves,  why am I like this? Why can’t I be more like ________? Or we might ask ourselves,  why am I failing at this? 

There are a few problems with this direction of thinking that will cause us trouble. First off, we aren’t trusting that God has a special purpose,  even in our uniqueness.Second, we aren’t waiting with wonder at how the Lord might use even our being “different” or our being “weak” or or being “imperfect” to, bring glory and honor to Him in the testimony of our life. And third, we can fall into the desire of the eyes (covetousness, envy,  and jealousy) and the pride of life (shame and condemnation) when we are truly the Children of God, set free by the Blood of the Lamb, those who are more than conquerers in Christ Jesus. 

You say,  “But it’s hard to believe it when I can’t yet see the evidence in my life.” And I say,  cast off your doubts and rest in the Word of God. Meditate upon the Word of God and seek His face in prayer. Wait upon the Lord because He is the only one that is faithful and true and worthy of all praise. He will use your imperfections, your peculiar ways for something amazing that will confound the “wise”, the “normal”, the “common” man – but you are set aside for a special purpose,  for His Holy use. 

Rudolf and Hermit have to make it through their adventures and find an island of broken toys before their greater purpose begins to be realized. There are people out there that the Lord can use your testimony to reach that those “common” vessels could never reach. You are unique,  you are a peculiar people, you are precious to the Lord.

Remember this as you are waiting. Remember this when the storm comes. Remember where your strength comes from and your unique story might just provide the light that leads others to safety,  to joy,  to Christ. 

“God is my judge”

Daniel – “God is my Judge”


I love that in the book of Daniel,  we see that “Daniel was determined not to defile himself”. He risked being judged and even killed because of his strong conviction to remain faithful to God,  even when his beliefs didn’t agree with the ways of the world around him. Daniel didn’t take the easy road of “man’s way”, he didn’t choose the broad easy way that leads to destruction but instead chose a life surrendered to faithfully following his master’s will and purpose for his life. 
The book of Daniel (whose name literally means “God is my judge”) shows us a beautiful example of his faithful obedience even when facing extreme circumstances. Daniel wouldn’t even take credit or honor from others for interpreting the dream,  but he gave God all the honor and credit for it. Yes, Daniel is a wonderful example of how a life dead to self and surrendered to God’s will has little to fear from God as judge when God is leading His servant’s steps. As the king said to Daniel, “May your God whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you. ” But it also demonstrates clearly that those in opposition to God’s will, when facing the same Lion’s den will find that “it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”(Hebrews 10:31) – as we see those men who were his accusers went into the same Lion’s den,  “along with their wives and children to be devoured by the lions”. 
So this cry,  “God is my judge” should bring comfort to the true believer who has not deceived themselves. As James 1 tells us “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” And as Philippians 2 reminds us “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” Such a cry should both convict us to confession and repentance that draws us closer to the Lord,  and should remind us as Ecclesiastes 7 tells us that “It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools.” So we don’t find ourselves in pride. 
Yes, this cry of “God is my judge” should remind us that we have little to worry about from the judgement of men compared to that of God, as in Matthew 10 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” And we can be assured that the full truth of our hearts and deeds will one day be revealed, as in Luke 8 “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
Lord, don’t let us use the cry “God is my judge!” to excuse ourselves from understanding your Word, remembering your sacrifice, laying down our lives,  and following you. Lord,  don’t let us use the disguise of religious words and practices as an attempt to hide from receiving you into our lives to abide and live and influence our thoughts, words,  and actions. Lord,  don’t let us forget that you are a holy and righteous God and that only a true, abiding faith can offer us that blessed assurance of being washed by the blood of the Lamb as a new creation,  born again as a child of God. Lord,  remind us of your purpose and will for our lives today,  now, and the importance of our stepping into these good works that you have set before us rather than being a stumbling block to others. Lord, train us, equip us,  and send us out as your vessels for your work,  walking in the Spirit not in the flesh, bearing the fruit of your very character and nature in our lives – spreading Hope, Faith, and Love in a dark and fallen world that would love to steal our joy and minimize the impact of your Kingdom come, your will being done on earth as it is in heaven. Teach us to endure sound doctane and to be doers of your Word and not just hearers. Amen.

Leadership 101 – aka “How did I end up here? “

We are called to go out and make disciples of the nations. And disciples are just fellow students of the Word of God that we come alongside to encourage, uplift, correct, instruct, and equip. And even though we are best served by maintaining an attitude of the humble servant, we will be leaders – not leaders like those in the world who control people through money, power, manipulation, and trickery – but leaders by the example that we set in our lives.

So as we grow in this walk – if we truly dive into living God with our heart, soul, strength, and mind – if we share the compelling testimony of Christ alive in our lives to the lost – we will eventually find ourselves with people who are a combination of confused, somewhat interested, seeking, zealous, humble, etc that want more of what they can see we’ve been touched with. And whether you wanted it, or sought it, or feared it – you are going to be a source of light for others. It’s scary, humbling, and encouraging all wrapped up in one – and most of us learn by “on the job training”.

These are some helpful things that can guide you that day when you look up from just being a servant faithfully following Christ – to realize that you’ve accumulated a small group of followers who trust and look to you for encouragement, accountability, and wise counsel. We want to be a help and not a hindrance, so this is some helpful guidance that I’ve used.

Eight habits of effective small-group leaders

1. Dream of leading a healthy, growing, multiplying group.

2. Pray for group members daily.

3. Invite new people to visit the group weekly.

4. Contact group members regularly.

5. Prepare for the group meeting.

6. Mentor an apprentice leader.

7. Plan group fellowship activities.

8. Be committed to personal growth.

Qualities of a Good Leader

1) Works Hard – Proverbs 12:24

2) Doesn’t penalize people for honesty – Proverbs 17:26

3) Listens before answering – Proverbs 18:13

4) Open to new ideas – Proverbs 18:135

5) Listens to both sides of the story – Proverbs 18:17

6) Stands up under pressure – Proverbs 24:10

7) Stands up under praise – Proverbs 27:21

Dangers when there is a lack of good leadership

1) Fools are honored – Proverbs 26:8

2) A wicked ruler is dangerous – Proverbs 28:15

3) People groan – Proverbs 29:2

4) A wicked ruler has wicked advisors – Proverbs 29:152

Other verses to study

1) Preparation – Proverbs 27:24

2) Revive/Refresh – Proverbs 25:13

3) Recognition – Proverbs 27:138

The Facebook Invite, the Flirtation… What to do?

Man of God:

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” – Romans 12:20

chess two rows of pawns with knight challenge centre

Our natural reaction is to see a threat as an enemy. The man who is trying to be faithful and to turn away from lustful temptations may think of that pretty girl on Facebook or at work as either “a delicious morsel to be devoured if given the opportunity” or as “a pawn of the enemy coming to attack me”.

And the Bible tells us about our real enemy:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12

Make no mistake. That enemy will use people to get to you, to tempt you, to distract you.

know-your-enemy3

There are times when I receive invites on Facebook, or flirtations in real life, and it would be easy for many of us to fall into a pit of poison with these temptations, ignoring advice like we find in Proverbs 5:

My son, be attentive to my wisdom;

    incline your ear to my understanding,
  that you may keep discretion,
    and your lips may guard knowledge.
  For the lips of a forbidden[a] woman drip honey,
    and her speech[b] is smoother than oil,
  but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
    sharp as a two-edged sword.
  Her feet go down to death;
    her steps follow the path to[c] Sheol;
  she does not ponder the path of life;
    her ways wander, and she does not know it.

  And now, O sons, listen to me,
    and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
  Keep your way far from her,
    and do not go near the door of her house,
  lest you give your honor to others
    and your years to the merciless,
   lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
    and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
   and at the end of your life you groan,
    when your flesh and body are consumed,
   and you say, “How I hated discipline,
    and my heart despised reproof!
   I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
    or incline my ear to my instructors.
   I am at the brink of utter ruin
    in the assembled congregation.

   Drink water from your own cistern,

    flowing water from your own well.

I used to fall prey to that enemy without even putting up a fight. In all honesty, there was a time in my life when I taught myself how to identify, track down, and wrap myself up in the chains of those Jezebel spirits and let them devour and destroy all kinds of things in my life.

But times they are a changing…

jezebel__47314-1398797210-386-513

The other common approach is to forget that they are lost just like we once were and are in need of the very help that we have received. Our other alternative is to demonize the women/ladies themselves – as if we haven’t ourselves been the very fuel that has flamed their promiscuous natures with our following eyes, with our flattering words, with our fumbling hands…

But these girls are someone’s wife or future wife. They are someone’s daughter. They are someone’s sister.

Will you look God in the eye and tell Him what you are thinking about this daughter that He has created? Are we so foolish to think that we can hide your thoughts from Him? Or do we not even believe enough to care?

Do we care that this is a lost female in need of help, actually, a SISTER that is not in need of our incestuous celebration of her captivity, but in need of our leading her to the freedom that can only be found in Christ!

I think of Paul’s heart for those around him who were lost:

With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters.I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. – Romans 9:1-3

break-my-heart-for-what-breaks-yours

And I remember that He does not wish that even one should perish and that faith comes by hearing the Word of God:

As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. – Romans 10:11-17

lost

So when faced with these situations, it is time for discernment. Is this a lost soul who will hear the Word of God and in whom a seed will be planted by my sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with them? Is this a Jezebel spirit just wanting to get close to me through this female vessel that needs to be freed from her current master? Am I in a situation where my own integrity and virtue might be compromised by allowing any interaction with this person? Or am I in a situation where my wife and I and our strong, faithful, dedicated and loving relationship might demonstrate something new and better to this person?

Dangerous ground if I’m standing upon sand.

Dangerous ground if I’m using grace as an excuse to abound in sin.

Dangerous ground if I’m powerless and lost in religion with no active and abiding relationship with my Lord and Savior.

Dangerous ground if I think that I’m stronger and safer than I actually am.

So, the playbook for such a situation? A firm and sound footing in the Word of God and a willingness to share the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ with them first and foremost. That Jezebel spirit will run from the name of Jesus if the Holy Spirit is present and active and moving and at work in my life. But if I were working under my own power and authority and not that of Jesus Christ, I’m reminded of the warning in Acts 19:

A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.

The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices.

sonsofsceva

But I’m no son of Sceva. I am a Son of God. I am in Christ. I am called and sent. In fact, it is my faith in His power and authority that is the source of my confidence – not in myself – but in Him to not let His Word fall void.

romans-8-1

So, if I respond, it is to share the Word of God with these by the wayside, so that some might recognize His voice and His message and they might turn from their wicked ways and repent and believe.

warnthem

And yes, some will read this an say, “Buy you’re JUDGING them!”

I can judge fruit, I can recognize sin, I can hate even the stain on the garment, while still extending forgivness, mercy, and salvation to the sinner who will come to confess their sins, repent and turn to a new life in Christ.

salvationplan

Yes, I hope that my sharing the gospel – even if it drives these flirtatious women away – might show her that I love Jesus Christ and that my seeing the promise of her living as my sister in Christ is more important than seeing the corruption of her dying as my whore in bondage.

If you aren’t willing to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with any woman that comes in contact with you, are you even a believer? Are you more concerned about scaring away the prey than saving her from the wolves? Are you more interested in what she can raise for you than seeing her raised to life?

Harsh words? Harsh language?

But loving, nonetheless.

If you cannot share the whole truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ with these women, stay away completely. Run home to your own house, your own home, your own wife/family and do not look back. If you will not, or you can not, do not be surprised when the fires are licking at your life, burning everything away, leaving nothing behind of value, and you find yourself, naked, battered, and alone in the darkness. If you’re there now, turn back before it is too late.

DO NOT FALL FOR IT.

DO NOT STUMBLE THEM.

REPENT.

God bless.

 

 

Stop Trusting. -> Cut Off. -> What??!?

​As the Scriptures say, 

“God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear.” 


Likewise, David said, 

“Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever.” 


“Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” 


Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either. 


Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. BUT IF YOU STOP TRUSTING, YOU ALSO WILL BE CUT OFF.

Romans 11:8‭-‬10‭, ‬19‭-‬22 NLT

BUT IF YOU STOP TRUSTING, YOU ALSO WILL BE CUT OFF.
What a statement that should cause a great pause to those whose only “blessed assurance” lies in a once upon a time prayer or dunking in some water but who is not alive and abiding in a faithful trust in the Lord!
What a shocking statement for those who are familiar with the routine of weekly or daily religious chores and schedules,  but whose heartfelt trust in the Lord is ac totally in question,  in doubt, in rebellion, in backslidden forgetfulness about this Jesus they call out to with their mouths and deny with their hearts! 
What a shocking statement that mirrors the wake up calls of chapters like Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 that remind us that finding Christ is the beginning of the journey,  not the completion of our race!
What an encouraging verse that places the victory firmly in His hands, with Him even responsibile for the faith and trust that we find in Him! 
Where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord!
If you cannot say this yourself,  seek Him  diligently,  ask Him for His mercy to feed you even just the crumbs from the table that are meant for His true children, acknowledging that you realize you are coming as the dog that has chased time and time again the vomit of sin —

And in your returning as the prodigal hoping for just a servant’s portion, find that He calls you His own,  and that He is faithful and true,  and that your unwavering trust is the only sane response to the grace and mercy and love of your heavenly Father. 
Cling tight. Never let go. Through His strength,  and through His righteousness, know that blessed assurance of a life lived out in faith, in trust, in that grateful response to the victory won for you by the Lamb of God slain on the cross, so that by your belief,  by your abiding belief, you walk as a new creation confirmed in Spirit and Truth. 

Lion of Judah

​”Lion of Judah, thank you that I can rest in your untamed grace, trusting your rescue and salvation. Keep me from fear of any other, because it is you who keeps all creatures under your control. Not a hair can fall from my head, not a scratch can mark my body without the will of your providing and protecting hand. Amen.” [BC 13]


So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.

Daniel 6:16‭-‬23 NLT
I cry out to the Lord ; I plead for the Lord ’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me. I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me. Then I pray to you, O  Lord . I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.

Psalms 142:1‭-‬6 NLT
Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

Matthew 28:1‭-‬7 NLT


Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice.”

Revelation 12:10‭-‬12 NLT

One Flesh

“​So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Matthew 19:6 ESV
Are you one flesh,  born again in Christ?

Are you the bride of Christ?

Are you joined to Christ by God, so that no man could separate you from Christ – so that the very gates of hell shall not prevail against you? 

Or are you just dabbling in the idea of entertaining the Lord as a possible suitor while you dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? 

Or are you enjoying your whoring with the world because you just aren’t His at all because you have chosen a different lover altogether,  whether it be self or flesh or worldly desire or pretty treasure that will waste away well before you expect?
Hear me if you will – all your whoring has not disqualified you,  friend. 

There is still time to repent and turn back from your wicked ways. But it is that lack of belief,  that lack of faith,  that absence of love in return for the high price paid for victory that will sound forth as the defeat for so many. Don’t wait. Come to the altar and lay it all down to pick up your new life in Christ. He is faithful and you will not find a relationship more valuable anywhere else in eternity. 

Forgiveness

My daughter read the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor last night in Matthew 18:21-35 before going to bed. As usual,  after reading it,  I asked her questions about what she remembered from the reading. First,  I asked specifics about the details of the story,  and she remembered most of it.Then, I asked her how this might apply to us. I asked her, “What kind of debt do we have that needs to be paid?”

She answered, “Our sin.”

So I asked her about sin,  and she told me about sin being our choice to do things our way and not God’s way – we discussed that it separates us from God and from His will for our best life as part of His Kingdom. It’s amazing what her 5 year old mind grasps,  understands, and recognizes so clearly and unwaveringly.

Then,  I asked about how our debt is paid,  and she told me about Jesus on the cross,  His blood, His death,  His resurrection. Yes, this was the milk,  the part that we drink down quickly like a smooth, refreshing gulp to quench or thirst. The Word that brings us Hope in the promises brought to light in Christ on the cross. Yes, so much Hope is clearly evident when we stop and rest in this Hope.

So we press on to the solid food –

I ask,  “What did the man do after he was forgiven? ”

And she told me about the man that owed him some money, and that he was mean to that man. She realized that the man who had received the promise of mercy by the king had not learned mercy –  had not learned love – had not received any wisdom or understanding from the king’s beautiful example. This man proved that he was not like the king in how he treated others. 

And we talked about the lesson and applied it to her daily life at school and in the world. We even used her favorite stuffed animals, Franny and Rudolph, to play out a scenario. I explained that even if someone is mean or hurtful to us, that we are to ALWAYS offer them forgiveness in return for an apology because we have been forgiven so much by Jesus. 

I explained that we offer forgiveness because we want them to repent and be forgiven – so that they can be freed from sin -so that they can be drawn close to the Lord – so their unforgiven sin does not take root and build a stronghold between them and God’s plan for their life – and so that we don’t allow our own pride or unforgiveness towards someone else to create the same distance in us from God’s loving and merciful nature and presence.  

Remembering the lesson from our reading the night before(Matthew 18:15-20 Correcting Another Believer), I then asked her how we are supposed to handle this situation if they say they are a Christian, but they won’t acknowledge the wrong they have done to us, apologize, won’t accept the forgiveness we are offering them, and won’t repent. 

She said, “We go to them in private.” 

And we talked about how that means that we go to just that person – not to others to grumble and gossip – and how it says we will either win that person back into fellowship, or after a process of trying to help them be freed from their rebellion, and after multiple attempts to lovingly and gently restore the person, they will find themselves separated.

We talked about how we want to be close to God and to other believers and to share the love of Christ freely available to any who would receive and accept forgiveness and repent,  but that we can’t force anyone to learn the very mercy, love, and forgiveness that we have offered them and that Christ offers them. And that some, like the Unforgiving Debtor, will find their hope in a forgiven debt unfounded,  because they never knew, they never understood, they never received Christ into their lives to live and abide and grow and remain with Him.

Today, I encourage you that your debt does not have to be your own to repay. 

Faith in Jesus Christ. 

Belief. 

Not religious practice/ceremony/obligation. 

Not trying to comply to a set of rules in order to earn you something. 

Not ignoring the character and nature and guidance and godly wisdom of the Word of God to do it your own way. 

Not claiming forgiveness for yourself while withholding it from others. 

But extending the same love and mercy and forgiveness received – purely out of gratitude for what Christ did on the cross for us – not because we think someone does or does not deserve it by their lives, their actions,  their words,  their thoughts, their sinfulness. 
No one deserves God’s grace – not even you, religious hypocrite – not even you, proud sinner – not even you, broken hearted and hopeless at the end of yourself. 
We deserve the pit. We deserve the chains of this slavery and rebellion we have chosen at some point in our lives. 

Yes, we deserve separation. Our own words testify to our rightly deserved destination when we speak of the law that we have found so many ways to break ourselves – if we do not offer this free salvation in Christ to all who would come and drink new life in Christ. 

What are you drinking today,  friend? 

What are you pouring out for others? 

Is it life? Or death? 

Is it Christ on the cross offered freely to all who would come to Him brokenhearted and unworthy? 

Or is it religion and law that only serves to shine light on our need for Christ alone,  the cornerstone? 

Are you withholding forgiveness, freedom, life from those around you? 

Do you have it yourself? 
Look closely at that deceitful heart,  past its treacherous snares – does Christ live there? Will you invite Him in? 

Will you pleadingly knock at His door until He answers? 

Will you answer when He knocks at yours? 

Do you hear Him calling you now? 

Come near to Him, child. Be forgiven. Be loved. Be restored to fellowship with Him and with your brothers and sisters. Do not delay. Do not waver. Come now. 

“Your honorable life”

​”It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.” – 1 Peter 2:15‭-‬16 NLT
There is nothing quite as frustrating to a lost person to hear as “I’m free in Christ and I choose not to be a part of sinfull things like X, Y, and Z.” 

It is such a crushing blow to those still trapped in their love of sin that they will mistake your hatred of the old traps and snares as something less than love for them. They see themselves as the sin. They are so familiar with the ways of their flesh, their drowning in the mud amongst the pigs, that they have wrongly labeled themselves by the very things that ensnare them. An honorable life to them is like a slap in the face,  and they scoff at “such fools” as those who would seek to live godly,  holy lives. 

I know this because I used to hate those godly, holy,  “honorable lives” myself. I used to make war from the other side of the road, myself. 

Yes, they will level accusations towards those who are seeing themselves transformed by the renewing of their minds and label them as hypocrites because they “have changed”, because “you’re not the same anymore”. They say these things because they do not understand the growing distance is not from a lack of us reaching out, or from a lack of us loving them, or from a lack of us inviting them to remain in our lives. But they say these things because our outward change in behavior as a result of the inward change in our hearts and desires. 

This change in our own actions and character convicts them without any words spoken to or at them having to. Their minds race with what they think we are saying about them in our minds –  when truly,  we are not as concerned about their sinfulness as our own – when truly, we are so driven by our love of that close relationship with Jesus Christ that we don’t want to take part in anything that would grieve the Holy Spirit or act as a stumbling block for others in their drawing close to Him as well.
But again, I’m speaking of Christians by heart and relationship with a risen and living Savior who abides in them and through them – not a group of lawless people who claim Christ by name alone but deny Him in their daily lives -not a group of religious people who claim Jesus by their church attendance and religious practices but deny Him in their not loving and serving Him and others daily in love – not a group of hypocrites keeping the law out of a sense of obligation and self righteousness so they can judge and condemn others. 

Yes, I’m talking to those disciples of Christ who are peculiar,  strange people in this world of lies and tricks and traps. And my hope is that even though I myself, who was once the foremost sinner and enemy of Christ, might silence those others with the evidence of my honorable life,  even as I preach the freedom of the cross. Because my obedience is truly obedience down to the root of my desire,  not outward and visible compliance masking hidden rebellion – because it is fed by grattitude for what He did on the cross,  not by prose in what I might do myself. 

You see,  the battle is over. He has won.

Any honorable life you see in me is Him,  not me. Any filth that remains visible, has already been wiped clean underneath, and the evidence of that is starting to shine forth. 

I’m no fool anymore. I see past the lies. I know my name. I know my purpose. 

Don’t you as well,  friend? 

Go,  tell the people,  shout it to the nations,  let your honorable lives shine forth as evidence of the Christ who lives in you. 

Do not be deceived,  do not remain lost, do not remain fearful, because He is faithful to forgive. Yes,  He has already paid the price, He is there on the road,  welcoming you home into His arms. 

Thank you,  Father. Thank you,  Jesus. Thank you,  Holy Spirit. Thank you for this way,  this truth,  this life that we now receive and live to point others to your glory and honor and power,  forever and ever. Amen.

Direction

​Those who follow the right path fear the Lord ; 

those who take the wrong path despise him. 

The prudent understand where they are going, 

but fools deceive themselves. 

Fools make fun of guilt, 

but the godly acknowledge it 

and seek reconciliation. 

Backsliders get what they deserve; 

good people receive their reward. 

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! 

The prudent carefully consider their steps. 

The wise are cautious and avoid danger; 

fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence. 

If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; 

if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness. 

Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! 

Those who fear the Lord are secure; 

he will be a refuge for their children. 

Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; 

it offers escape from the snares of death. 

Godliness makes a nation great, 

but sin is a disgrace to any people. 

A king rejoices in wise servants 

but is angry with those who disgrace him.

Proverbs 14:2‭, ‬8‭-‬9‭, ‬14‭-‬16‭, ‬22‭-‬23‭, ‬26‭-‬27‭, ‬34‭-‬35 NLT

The Word of God.

Thank you, God.
For some, they will consider these words foolish. Some will see them as religious. Some will find they are convicting, like a sword thrust right into an hidden area of their heart that is a source of guilt and shame. And some will also find these words are convicting, like a surgeon’s scalpel meant to cut out the poison, cast it into the fire, and replace it with healing and restoration. But sadly, some will say they appreciate this Word of God, but they will not draw close to it, they will only let it speak to them about their neighbor’s speck and not let it have any impact upon their own heart and life. 
Yes, we can each read this same Word of God, and we will find that it is alive for us and is like a two edged sword that either offends us or has an effect upon our thoughts, words,  and actions. There is no other choice than those two – as hard as we might try to refuse the truth – either the Word of God is unveiled and powerful to send fresh blood flowing through our hearts, or we have to ask if we are still veiled from knowing the Truth, the Life, the Way – instead still lost, blind, with a cold,  dead heart that needs the redeeming touch of Grace that brings Hope, Faith, and Love.
So knowing this- 

Do we ask Him to forgive us?

Do we ask Him to change us? 

Do we ask Him to make this Word of God come alive in us and guide us along the path today and forevermore? 

Do we seek to live lives where others might see His will being done and His love prong or in our example? 

Lord,  let it be so. Amen.