Can We All Just Shut Up?

It doesn’t matter what side of any issue you are on at this point, the reality is that we all need to shut up and take a step back for a moment.  We have collectively forgotten what it means to be grateful for the things we have…we have forgotten what it means to be gracious toward one another…and truthfully, we have forgotten what it means to love one another.

It’s quite despicable, really, to take a step back and look at the overgrown children we have become…we have no respect for anyone, including ourselves, which is where I will start this conversation…we have become selfish, but we try to pass it off as if we are being victimized in some form or fashion.  Are we though? Is it any worse for one than another?

Let’s just be clear, to everyone who is saying that “My Jesus wouldn’t look that way or act that way!” Disclaimer – this is for people on both sides of the issues – the reality is that Jesus wouldn’t look like any of us…we are sinners, we are physically and morally unable to be anything more than the trash that we are…sorry, truth hurts. So, with that being said…are any of us worthy to be a moral compass for anyone else? Short answer: NO, so stop trying to pass off Jesus as someone who fits into your box and looks like you, he doesn’t.

This is where I’m reminded of Revelation 5 where we see John weep because when it came to opening the scroll, “No one was found worthy”…did you catch that? NO ONE! We do go on to find that One was worthy, the slaughtered Lamb who took away the sins of the world; but this stirred John’s heart because NO ONE was worthy…and if we look at the world around us today, again, NO ONE is worthy to be a moral guide for anyone else…Even the holiest among us is still a mere man who is at best a sinner in need of the saving grace of God.

So, why shut up? Because we have become disgraceful in how we live life…so much so that we have begun to attack the very ones that need to see the grace of God at work.  We attack others because of their “sins”, but we fail to realize that we too are sinners.  Just because someone sins differently than you, it does not make them a worse person.

NEWS FLASH…”All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” – Romans 3:23

You want to talk about being inclusive? This is likely one of the most inclusive stances that you can take; straight from the scripture…we are ALL sinners! Hate to burst your bubble…but it’s a reality that we must understand.  So…please stop trying to be a moral compass and professional splinter remover…

Just imagine what a world it would be if we could focus on the plank that rests in our own eyes…instead we have become blind to the sin that we need to overcome.

Thank God for His mercy and grace, that overcomes the vilest of hearts and can bring us all into a relationship with Him…but for us to truly experience Him, we need to stop trying to interpret the scripture for everyone…the Spirit gives guidance and clarity, we just need to share God’s love.

Colossians 3:14-15 – “But above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection; And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

Paul is clear…

Put on love – wear it, live in it, share it, love one another!

Be unified – we are called to be ONE body…

And be thankful!  Be content in your situation; stop demanding that people see things your way or that they give you what you “deserve”. The reality is, all you deserve is death….we already saw that all have sinned, and the wages of that sin is death (Romans 5:8).

So please….can we all just shut up and love one another…the way we were commanded to?

“Love one another, as I have loved you…” – John 15:12

Thanks!

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Selflessness vs. Selfishness

These two words go hand in hand…and the true measure of who someone is in Christ is the ratio of how they apply them to their lives.

Selfishness is something that we all become familiar with when we are children.  Children are versed in being selfish at times – mostly when there is a toy they want to play with.  Look at a group of young children and you will usually find selfish behavior, and parents spend many hours on trying to teach their little ones the importance of sharing.

Being selfish carries over to our adult lives as well.  We find ourselves wanting what is best for us, not necessarily for others.  We will even walk away from situations when we have a feeling that it will not turn out in our favor.  We have a problem…look at Biblical examples:

Judas – He let his selfishness get the best of him, enough so that he was willing to trade Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Jonah – was asked to go and preach to the people of Ninevah.  He ran, was swallowed by a fish, and then finally made it to minister.  This is where we stop the story most of the time…we neglect to mention the selfish nature of Jonah after he ministered to the people.  He then went up on a hill and waited for the destruction to come, because he wanted nothing more than to prove he was right.

Selfishness runs rampant throughout our country today, with people seeking their own benefit, and never giving of themselves to help others…never being selfless.

Selflessness comes from putting others before ourselves.  People who are selfless will give you the shirt they are wearing if they believe you can benefit from it better than they can.

There are a number of people today who live selfless lives, giving to charity, giving of their time and money to benefit others.  There are a number of people who are even willing to give of their lives so that others can hear the Gospel.  One of the best examples that I can think of today is a missionary.  Someone who gives up the life that they have here to travel to a run down, third world country to minister to people who have never heard the good news of Jesus.

These are people who understand what being a Christian is all about…people who imitate Christ Himself…many of whom would die for the cause of their Savior.

Christ gave all He had to save a lost and dying world…He came to seek and save the lost, obeying His Father to the point of being hung on a cross for sins He didn’t commit.  Jesus was the best example of selfless living that we can find to exemplify how our lives should be modeled.

Our true heart is shown in which of these we live the most.  Each of us has both selfish and selfless tendencies, but which are we seeking?  Are you seeking your own? Or, are you seeking to follow in the footsteps of Jesus?

Examine your heart, which are you?  I challenge you to be selfless rather than selfish, just as Jesus was.

Blank

As I have spent time this week thinking about what it means to be a Christian, it hit me when I opened the Pages app on my iPad to work on a schedule I was making. The file is simply titled ‘Blank’ until you change the name, and it hit me, that is how God views us when we accept Christ.

When we come to the realization that Christ died for our sins and we accept Him as our Savior, we are presented with a blank slate, a fresh start, a future that is unblemished by our dark past. We are no longer slaves to the sin that has tied us down for so long, and we now have a future with Him.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12 KJV)

If God has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west, we have nothing that we should hold on to to keep us from moving forward. If God has cleared our slate, then I feel we can learn a couple lessons from this. First, we see that nothing can keep us from the love and mercy of God. Second, we see that we should be as forgiving of others as Christ is of us.

Romans tells us, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:34, 35 KJV),” so we know that nothing can keep us from the love He has for us.

In Philippians we are instructed, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5, 7, 8 KJV).” if we have the same mind as Christ, forgiveness should come naturally.

Today, make an effort to accept the gift given to you of a blank slate, and offer the same to others. If we can all move forward as one, we can all benefit from the rewards of Christian living, and we can find hope in this life. We can not move forward as the body of Christ if we hold grudges, if we fail to forgive, and if we hold on to our failures. Embrace the blank slate, and offer it freely to others today.

What Must I Do?

I have been thinking about this topic a lot over the past couple of weeks, and it is one that I know many people deal with on a daily basis…and that is, “What must I do to be saved?”

There are many that we come across on a daily or weekly basis that are struggling with this question…the trouble is that many are afraid to ask the question.  Another troubling, and perhaps more troubling, struggle is that of Christians who are not prepared to answer the question when it is asked of them.

One account of this situation is found in John 3 where we see Nicodemus speaking with Jesus about this exact topic.  He is asking questions of Jesus on how a man can come to know salvation.  If you are one who is asking this question, the answer can be found in the words of Jesus.  If you are struggling to find an answer when someone asks this of you, the proper words are there for you to share in the words of our Savior.

“Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” – John 3:9-15 (ESV)

Jesus then expounds on this in the next three verses and gives us the answer in a statement of salvation that we can all take heart in.  These three verses are the answer that we can all use when asking, or being asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

In that we see our answer…Believe in Jesus Christ.  Accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  He came to save the world, and not to condemn.  If you want to know what to do to be saved, look to Him!

For God So Loved

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” – John 3:16-21, ESV

These words speak volumes to each of us who follow Christ. One of the things that I find many doing is stopping at 3:16 but never going any farther. Many stop at simple belief, but Jesus continued on to tell us that there is more than just believing. Scripture tells us that even the demons believe.

Jesus, in these words to Nicodemus, tells us all that He did not come to the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He elaborates on this by continuing the conversation and explaining that those who believe are not condemned. He then says some of the key words to our Christian faith in verse 19, saying, “And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” What does this mean?

It means, when someone is living in sin, they love the darkness, they love to be around others who live like they do, those who are also in the darkness, those who will not condemn them. Light has a way of exposing that which is hidden in the dark, and when the light is revealed all sins are made known.

Today, we must examine what we are doing. We have to realize that we are not being what God has called us to be when we live outside of the light. Christ is the light, and he has called us to be in the light.

James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James continues on by telling us that we must be hearers and doers of the word, not hearers only. There are many who hear and believe the word, but there are few who do and truly believe the word. So many stop at believing that Jesus is the Christ, but they forget that being a believer of the Word means that they are putting faith into action each day.

Are you putting your faith into action today? Can others see Christ in you? Are you living in the light or the dark today?

Examine your heart today. I encourage you to be more than just a simple hearer of the word, but to embrace what Christ is offering today through our ‘doing’ the word. Be more than a hearer today. Let God expose you today so that you can be all he needs you to be.

Confidence in Troubled Times

“Lord, how my foes increase! There are many who attack me. Many say about me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep, I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of the thousands of people who have taken their stand against me, on every side. Rise up, Lord! Save me, my God! You strike all my enemies on the cheek, You break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; may Your blessing be on Your people.”  – Psalm 3 (HCSB)

Each day we should begin with a confident and unwavering approach to the day ahead.  As we see in this Psalm of David, God will never abandon us, especially in our times of need.  David was feeling as if the world was against him, and he mentions this in the first few verses.  David states, “Many say about me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’” (v. 2)

David felt pressure, he felt like he was under attack from all sides, even feeling as if his enemies were increasing on a daily basis.  How many times do we feel this way? We feel as if everything in life is going against us and we fail to see what He is doing for us.  We can take a lesson from David in that we can approach things in our lives the way he did in this Psalm.

Our response should be like David’s, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain.” (v. 3-4)

If we can adapt this into our thinking, we will see a change in attitude and perspective as we go through our days.  When we feel things are against us, when we feel we are being betrayed by those around us, and when we feel that God is far from us, we have to renew our thinking and trust that God is by our side.

Paul also adapted this thinking into his own life and ministry, in 2 Timothy 4:16-18, “At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me.  May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the proclamation might be fully made through me, and all the Gentiles might hear. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever! – Amen.”

Today, I encourage you to find the courage deep within yourselves to stand on these truths.  No matter what you are facing today, if you will put your focus into this type of trust, it will amaze you how much easier things will seem to get.  God wants nothing but the best for us, His best, which can become our best if we put all trust in Him.

Sometimes we may wonder why things happen the way that they do and today may not have been an easy one, but these are the days that we can see God working the most.  Take the time to trust Him and thank Him for what he has done for you.  “To God be the Glory, great things He hath done.”

That’s Life…or is It?

“That’s Life!”

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this statement being used as a passive statement dealing with one of the most difficult situations someone will ever deal with in their lives….Bullying…

As the years have passed, I’ve realized that this statement comes in quite a few forms…”That’s Life”, “That’s Politics”, “Kids will be Kids”, “That’s just how he/she is”…

Lately we have seen it everywhere! From the top of our government down to our school children…and it has become an epidemic that has to stop!  It results in division between groups, families, and has led to suicide and murder…in fact…it is as harmful as a loaded gun in the wrong hands.

You get the picture.

Life is difficult…we all know that…but why do we feel that making it more difficult for others makes ours somehow easier? Sure, we see others going through things, but what I have begun to notice is that life isn’t easy for anyone…no, some just deal with it better than others.

In life, you come across people who let you down, disappoint, and betray you.  Many times people don’t say or do the right thing.  Maybe they have treated you in an unkind fashion or bullied you. What can you do in those situations when people aren’t treating you the way you think they should? What can you do when you feel like they are treating you in an undeserved fashion?

Matthew 5:44 gives us some insight into this…”Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”

Sound Impossible? We are told to love our enemies and pray for those who are persecuting us.  That goes against everything the world tries to tell us is right. Even our nature is to attempt to argue or prove that we are being wronged, or in some cases, we feel the need to get even.  But, I say it again, the Bible says to love our enemies.

How is that done? How do we love someone who isn’t doing or saying nice things to or about you?

How?

Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

God fills us with His love.  It’s a simple lesson we were taught at a young age…1 John 4:7-8…”Beloved, Let us love one another! For Love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God…He who loves not, knows not God; For GOD is LOVE!”

This is GREAT news for us!  We do not have to love our enemies on our own! God gives us the love to love them…God doesn’t ask us to do something that he doesn’t give us the power to do! Loving enemies can be a difficult thing…but God is love!

It doesn’t matter what a person has done to you.  It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve been hurt by someone’s actions…you still have a responsibility to love them in return. But God will help…he will give you the love to do it! It’s up to you to believe it and tap into the power that God gives; loving others who have wronged you can be difficult…but with God’s help it is more than possible.

Trust Him today to guide you through the process…It’s not a passive thing.  Words and actions hurt, especially when they feel undeserved…but maybe we should all take a look at how we treat one another? There is no justification for being a bully!