Tag Archives: Christianity

Character

Proverbs 8-13

Wisdom. Integrity. Honesty. Discipline. Trust. A good work ethic. Good sense. Truth.

All these, and more, are mentioned in Solomon’s proverbs and ought to be present in every believer.

Yesterday in Sunday School, we talked about the fact that Paul used himself as an example of how to live this Christian life. “Imitate me,” he said in 2 Thessalonians 3. Paul had nothing to hide, and confidently put himself in a fishbowl.

Could I do that? Could you? Or are we trying to hide a tiny sin that would expose us as hypocrites?

The book of Proverbs reminds me that my character is as important as my testimony. Maybe more so as I represent my Savior to a world that needs Him.

What Do Your Tassels Look Like?

Numbers 15

One Christmas my niece and her husband gave me a wind chime that plays the most beautiful tones I think I’ve ever heard in a wind chime. Sometimes when there is a breeze I hear the music and stop what I’m doing just to enjoy the sound. Sometimes I’ll pray for Libby and Seth as their gift delights my soul. Sometimes I’ll just listen – but I always remember those two precious people who gave it to me. (Happy Anniversary by the way, dear ones!)

God told the Israelites to make tassels for the hems of their clothing so that when they saw the tassels they would remember and obey God’s commands “instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do.” (verse 39)

I sat here and wondered what my “tassels” look like, what it is that reminds me to obey, and not defile myself as I am prone to do. I believe God brought His Name to mind.

As I wear the name, “Christian,” shouldn’t that be enough for me to remember to obey the One whose Name I wear? Should that be enough to do what I need to do to NOT defile myself even though temptation is always in front of me? If I identify with Jesus by calling myself a Christian, shouldn’t my choices, my life be lived in obedience?

I will admit that my wind chimes sing out on occasion and maybe I hear them, and maybe I’m so used to hearing them the beautiful tones don’t penetrate my hearing. I don’t stop and listen.

And maybe I’m so used to wearing the name, “Christian,” I stop hearing the beautiful tones of my Savior’s voice telling me to be holy, to confess sin, to obey, to love, to stand for Truth, to go and make disciples.

God gave the Israelites tassels to remind them to obey. God gave me His Name that ought to remind me of the same.

So, what “tassels” are you wearing that remind you to obey your Savior? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Who Are We Listening To?

Numbers 11

I never noticed it before. I’ve read about the Jews complaining about the manna many times. But I guess I overlooked the fact the complaining began with “the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites.” (verse 4)

Makes me wonder. Are the changes in the Church coming from fully surrendered Christians inside the Church, or from people on the fringe who want to hold on to a bit of the world, people who want to feel good about themselves, and enjoy an entertaining hour on Sunday morning and call it worship?

Do we inside the Church hear a complaint (I’m sick of manna. I’m sick of hymns. I want meat. I want a cappuccino) and think, “Yeah. Me, too”?

The Israelites, instead of encouraging the foreigners to appreciate the God given manna and to praise Him for His blessings, took on the sin of the foreigners and complained themselves. Instead of pointing the foreigners to God, the foreigners pointed the Israelites to themselves. Many Israelites died as a result.

I wonder if we haven’t taken on the sin of self-centered, worldly desires of our foreigners, too, instead of helping them understand worship is not about them, not about their likes or dislikes, but about a sacrificial surrender and focus on God? Do we inside the church prepare those who are on the fringe to worship God in spirit and truth, or are we just interested in making them like us?

Who are we listening to? If we are listening to the “foreign rabble,” or today’s unchurched, we might be listening to the wrong people. At least that’s what I see here in God’s Word.

(I Corinthians 8-11) Who Is Your Example For Living?

Paul is one out of a handful of people who could confidently say, “Do as I do, AND as I say.” Not that he was perfect. He shared about his personal struggle with sin, confessed he had to intentionally die to himself every day. Paul never pretended the Christian walk was easy.

But Paul is an example of a man who was passionate about the Gospel of Jesus. He’s an example of someone whose own desires, needs, comforts, and popularity came in at a distant second to the Gospel. He was more concerned about the spiritual health of others than he was about whether or not he was compensated for ministering to them.

Say what you will about Paul, he was not a hypocrite. And he invites us to follow his example.

Passionate, focused, fearless, self-sacrificing are words that come to mind when I think about Paul’s example for living. Do any of those apply to me? Could I ever in a million years encourage you to follow my example?

The answer is, “NO!” Not out of humility, or the need to hear someone assure me how great they think I am. But because it’s true.

And I have to ask myself why, and what I’m going to do about it. Because as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and a believer in the Gospel, I ought to be an example for living to others. The whole “Do what I say, not what I do,” cannot be true in someone who wears Jesus’ name.

What about you? Who is your example for living? And for whom are you that example?

(Nahum, Habakkuk) Seriously

I am not sure the Church takes God seriously enough. We read about His wrath in the Old Testament against His disobedient children and against His enemies, and breathe a sigh of relief because we live after the cross.

The cross: the symbol of love and forgiveness and hope and eternal bliss.

We forget the cross is also a symbol of judgment without mercy, death, and God’s fierce wrath.

Read these Old Testament books and hear God say no one is immune from His wrath. You can call yourself a Christian all day long. But if you have not repented of past sins, and have determined to change in order to obey God today, you are not a Christian. You are His enemy wearing His name.

You don’t just “give your heart” to the Lord, and go on your merry way. Yes, God is love. He is patient, kind, and forgiving. He blesses and protects His obedient children. But don’t ignore the other side of that coin. He’s not a doting grandfather who turns a blind eye on disobedience.

He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

You are not immune from God’s wrath. But I want you to know God turned His wrath on His own Son for you. Jesus paid God’s awful judgment in your place. Accept it. But don’t take it for granted, either.

God seriously hates sin. We need to take Him seriously, too.

(Jeremiah 23-25) Do We Fear God?

The Jews considered themselves God’s chosen, most loved people on earth. Yet they acted like the rest of the world. They claimed to know God – but they did not fear Him.

Their preachers were preaching lies, and the people were soaking it up. God was about to show them what their lack of fear got them.

I wonder if Christians today really fear God. Our divorce rate rivals that of non-Christians. (yes, many non-Christians choose to live together without marriage, but so do many Christians these days). Some Christians carelessly use the Holy Name of God in their speech. There are Christians who lie, are judgmental, laugh at dirty jokes. Christians blend in with the world more and more every day. And many people who consider themselves Christians don’t even bother going to church on Sunday morning.

I’m not sure we fear God. And I think we are seeing the tip of the iceberg what that lack of fear will get us.

(Proverbs 24:10-12) How We Care

We hear that the neighbor down the street has received a devastating medical diagnosis. We shake our head and sigh, “I’m so sorry to heart that.” And we mean it.

We find out our friend is leaving her husband, and say, “I had no idea things were so bad.” And we really didn’t know.

A married couple you’ve gone to church with for years goes MIA for a few weeks. You say something to the person who normally sits near them during Sunday morning worship, and find out they’ve started going to another church. You’re surprised because you didn’t know they were even thinking about leaving.

Whose fault is it when we don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives? Yes, the one who is going through hard times, is unhappy or dissatisfied ought to speak up, ask for prayer, talk things through. But let’s face it – you don’t do those things, either.

The wisdom of God tells us we have the responsibility to know. Not so we can spread the word like some gossip, or so we can have the satisfaction of being “in the know.” We need to be invested in each others lives so that we can be the chauffeur, or chef, or babysitter, or yard maintenance worker, or maybe an ear. We have the responsibility to know so that you and I can be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus in the lives of people who are hurting.

It’s not enough to say we care. God will hold us accountable for how we care.

(Psalm 109) Too Harsh?

I wouldn’t want to be the one who made David mad. If you read this psalm, the prayer concerning his enemy is harsh! David not only asked God to punish this particular enemy with severity, he asked God to wipe out any influence that wicked man may have had, which in this case included the man’s entire family. David asked God to make the man’s children suffer for what their father had done.

Like I said – harsh!

Oh that we would be as harsh concerning our enemy. No, I’m not talking about that guy down the street who plays his music too loud or that lady in the next cubicle at work who talks about you behind your back. Our enemy, unlike David’s, is NOT flesh and blood.

Our enemy is Satan. And sometimes I think we’re more concerned about hurting his feelings than we are about defeating him in this war he’s declared on our souls.

Do we pray as fervently as David prayed that God would crush Satan in our lives and eliminate any influence that snake has over us? Do we want him eradicated, pulverized, annihilated, or just slapped around a little because we really don’t want to let go of some sin? We just know we need to confess it once in a while to make us feel like a Christian.

“Satan, wait over there while I talk to God for a minute. ‘God, I’m so sorry, please forgive me of that sin. I’ll never do it again. Thanks.’ Now, let’s get out of here, Satan.”

Not exactly the kind of prayer David prayed concerning his enemy, and it’s not the kind of prayer we should be praying, either. If we want to be “Christian” we have got to learn to be as serious about our enemy as David was about his. And we have to pray that God will do His worst to our enemy and any influence that enemy has over us.

Too harsh? I don’t think we can be where Satan and sin is concerned.

(Psalm 36) Who’s To Blame?

I doubt if anyone (believers and non-believers alike) can look at this world and think things are going well. I doubt the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when describing society is “love, peace, or perfection.” Why is that?

Most Christians would say Satan is to blame. Or they would point a finger at atheists, Muslims, and the like. But I wonder.

Warren Wiersbe said something in his commentary on Psalm 36 that has me thinking. He writes: “If there were more salt and light in this world, there would be less decay and darkness in society.” (Be Worshipful; David Cook Publisher; 2009; p. 134)

Read that again. Think about it for a minute.

David said this about the wicked in Psalm 36:

Dread of God has no effect on him. For with his flattering opinion of himself, he does not discover and hate his iniquity. (vv 1b-2)

Are non-believers the only ones flattering themselves and not dreading the judgment of God for sin? Are only non-believers accepting sin instead of recognizing it and repenting of it? I’m pretty sure Christians are having difficulty discovering our own sins, too.

Even in Christian circles, we would rather talk about the love of God than address sin. We would rather talk about God as our friend, instead of a fierce and frightening Holy Judge. The result is watered down salt and dimmed light, and darkness in the world.

Yes, I believe the fault of our decaying society falls on God’s people, the Church, we Christians, and NOT on non-believers. Non-Christians will act like non-Christians. We can’t expect them not to.

The truth is you can’t legislate good behavior, no matter how much big-government proponents want us to believe they can. You can’t write enough laws, throw enough money at programs, change history or demand equality enough to solve the world’s dilemma.

Only God can do that. And He has chosen to work through Christians to accomplish His will. Because if we are obedient, if we are holy and set apart, fleeing sin, and surrendered to God, God would do what He longs to do, what Jesus came to do…

save the world!

So to answer the question in the title of this post, “Who’s To Blame?,” the answer is, Christian, you and I.

(Psalm 2) Chains? Or Lifelines?

Verses 1-3: This psalm paints a picture of a wild animal fighting against the chains which hold him captive. Snarling, writhing, pulling this way and that with teeth bared. But he is only hurting himself.

He doesn’t understand why he is chained. He just knows he wants to be free of them.

Verses 4-6: The one who has placed the chains on the beast sits back and waits for the beast to wear itself out. He knows those chains has placed the beast under his control, not the other way around.

Verses 7-9: In fact, he gets his authority from the owner of the beast, the big boss. The owner has made him his son! He’s been given the power to control the situation, extending to the ends of the earth.

Verses 10-12: The beast is better off in the hands of his captor, under the protection of the one given authority. Instead of fighting against him, the beast would do better to submit to him. “All who take refuge in him are happy.” (verse 12b)

Here’s what the beast doesn’t understand. He is chained for his protection. There are enemies out there stronger than he, determined to kill him. While he is under the protection of the one with authority he can move around, enjoy freedom within the safe boundaries set out by the one with authority.

Warren Wiersbe says: “Freedom without authority is anarchy, and anarchy destroys.” (Be Worshipful; David C Cook Publisher; 2009; p 24)

Let me say that again. “Freedom without authority is anarchy, and anarchy destroys.”

We are seeing a society of people racing toward destruction because they want to throw off the shackles of Truth, of rules, of religion. They want to create their own truth and will fight anyone who disagrees. Anarchy leads to destruction.

I’m not just talking about society in general. The same is true of the modern Church. We want the freedom to worship like we want, believe what we want, live like we want. Throw traditional dogma out and be free. Anarchy leads to destruction.

But there ARE rules. There IS Truth. There IS right and there is wrong. You may consider them chains. I see them as lifelines.

I am sure most of you get it. This psalm is talking about Jesus, the One given authority by the Father. Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus who tells us to follow Him, to be holy, to believe and be saved.

Jesus is not a bully-captor holding us back with cruel chains. He is the lifeline!

All who take refuge in him are happy!