scripture

All posts tagged scripture

A House Divided

Published August 8, 2017 by Dawn

“I hate your house. I hate the music you’re always listening to and the way I feel when I’m there.”

He dissed my music … and my house. And the atmosphere in my home. I could have taken this personal. In fact, I might have except … well, I know it’s a spiritual thing and I am not letting the devil bait me.

I bet you want to know who said it. It hurts me to admit it, but it was my son. He hates my home. He attributes all his anger, depression and anxiety to the atmosphere of my home. That’s how I know it’s spiritual.

Ok, let’s talk for a moment very specifically about what he hates. He hates classical music. The soothing music that is scientifically proven to de-stress you. He hates it. Or, my worship music. The music that brings peace into the chaos of my life. He hates it. Why? Because Satan is trying to cause a war in him and the music I listen to is quite literally an instrument of peace!

He hates constant singing. That’s what I do. I sing … a lot. Like, all day, every day. I also laugh a lot. I also like to make him responsible for his own messes and hold him accountable for his actions and his words. He hates that. What teenager wouldn’t?

He hates it when I talk to him and my words end up being something straight out of the Bible, because the best of my wisdom comes from the Word of God. I speak to my kids in scripture form a lot. He hates that.

Do you know why this didn’t hurt me? Because I know who “he” is, and it isn’t my son. You see, Satan hates all of these things about my house. Right now, he’s managed to manipulate my teenage son into believing that everything that “he” hates about my house is making my son miserable. Perhaps it is. After all, my son is in the midst of a great battle to figure out who he is. He doesn’t know which side of the fence he’s on just yet. I’m praying for God to woo him one way, and the devil is masterfully persuading him in the opposite direction. I’m not surprised … we all have this war at some point in our lives. We all have to come into our own faith because someone else’s relationship with God won’t save us. It must be our own. So we all have a crisis of some sort, where our foundation is solidified; just us and the Lord.

I’m surprisingly calm, right? Ha! Listen, I’ve had my moments of crying out to God. This all started when my son was eleven, almost twelve. The turbulence in his heart and mind became really violent. He began struggling with depression and anger. I took it to God in panicked, ugly-crying sessions, begging him to save my son. He spoke something that was so true, though hardly comforting: “Every warrior was once a boy in training. There’s a time of preparation for the man of God, and mothers don’t get to choose when they are ready. Fathers do.”

Dear Lord.

That was the day I handed him over in my heart. I tried taking him back, but sadly, he’s not mine to coddle any more. He still runs to me like my son, leans into my hugs like he misses being a child and invents reasons to need me. But now he fights, which is something I never saw coming. He’s an untrained warrior learning how to wield a sword and sometimes, it teeters in my direction. He’s not my enemy. He never will be. I know who the enemy is. No, this emerging man of God is a warrior learning the battlefield for himself. War hurts, and so sometimes, he hurts too. Hurting people hurt people. My son doesn’t hate me. He hates the confusion. The angst. The constant struggle inside. I get it! I hate those things too.

I guess I just wanted to share this with you because, well, parenting is hard. Peopling is hard too. Sometimes, waking up in the morning is hard. You feel me? It helps to remember that “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness, and wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

Don’t take it personal, friend. At the end of the day, it’s not even about you. It’s about so much more than you. Pray for your loved ones. Give the hurt to Jesus and love them like you always have. They need your constant, unwavering love as a safe-haven in this war-torn world. Love is truly an oasis, even if they can’t always recognize it as such. One of the first things a warrior seeks out in battle is a safe place to duck into in case of an ambush. Let your love be that place.

Remember, friend, you are at war too. Only, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty! For the pulling down of strongholds, the casting down of imaginations and everything that sets itself up against the wisdom and knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4). As our loved ones train for their own battles, let us look past their faults and see their needs. God bless!

A Stone’s Throw Away from Judging My Neighbor

Published July 22, 2017 by Dawn

“Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matt. 7:1)

It’s the newest hot-button issue. The world loves this verse. Heck, so does the church. We’re throwing it around as a means to fend off anyone who wants to talk about morality because as a society, we’ve decided morality is so last century. I’ve been praying about this one for a while, because there are some scriptures in the Bible that seemingly contradict this one, and we’re all a little confused.

Because this is such a delicate issue, the authority of scripture is the basis of all commentary presented, and I hope this blog reads more like an expose. I also hope you understand that I have spent hours researching scripture and praying over this. I don’t claim to know it all, just want to present the scriptures and I pray the Holy Spirit leads you to the truth of God’s Will.

Let’s just begin here, with Matthew 7:1-5. I’m going to use the NIV text for ease of reading. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Ok, we have the topic of judging, alongside the topic of hypocrisy. This is a great place to start! Most of the time, this text is quoted in part. In effect, “Don’t judge me. The Bible says that.” But look further and you will notice that in differentiating between your plank and your brother’s speck, Jesus is referring to one thing: seeing your own sin. Christians should be introspective about sin before they discuss it out loud. They should know their own sin and then deal with it. To paraphrase, “take care of your sin first.” Christians should not speak of sin if they don’t have a healthy prayer life involving repentance. If we don’t know our own spiritual depravity, we shouldn’t try to help anyone else. When you come to know the depravity of humanity and what you are capable of, you can approach the topic of sin from a place of humility. Humility is so important, especially when discussing sin with unbelievers. When we have a nonexistent or weak relationship with Christ, we cannot help others understand topics such as repentance, forgiveness, and grace. There is no salvation from sin without these.

But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He says “deal with your sin first, then help your brother.” This is where things can get a little uncomfortable. Because we are called to talk about sin … no one likes that truth. For a more in-depth understanding of what Jesus meant, let’s follow Him to the scene of another group of church members discussing someone’s sin.

It’s important to understand, however, that the same Jesus who said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” also said, “Go and sin no more.” Let’s take a look at John 8:2-11:

“At dawn he appeared in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’

”Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away, one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

“’No one, sir,’ she said

“’Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

Ok, that’s a lot to digest so let’s take it in a little slower. It starts with the representatives of the church, those specifically entrusted to carry the Word of God to the world … the Pharisees.

Ouch, church.

They caught her in the act and decided something had to be done. According to the law, they would have been justified in stoning her. They were zealous for God, and loved righteousness. In this, they weren’t wrong. But when they picked up the stones, the true motives of their hearts were revealed. They didn’t want to redeem her from her sin. They wanted to punish her for it.

We still do this. I shake my head at Christians every day on social media who, zealous for God, only quote the law and lambast the transgressions of everyone who is not in line with it. Jesus dealt with the Pharisees by again pointing out their hypocrisy. He encourages them to take a hard look at their own lives. It’s a humbling thing, to be sure! The bottom line is this: we cannot talk to the world about sin if we do not have an understanding of our own sinful nature apart from the saving grace of Jesus. Because one thing the world is not wrong about is that we Christians also sin! What separates us from the world is not our purity, it’s our repentance. If we aren’t repentant, we are not pure!

The Pharisees also made a public spectacle of this lady. They pointed out her sin in front of a crowd of onlookers and demanded Jesus do something. What they failed to understand is that this approach did not make the woman repentant. It made her ashamed. People who are publicly shamed are more apt to be bitter and hardened to any effect the Holy Spirit might otherwise have.

Therefore, I believe the church, if we must speak of sin, should do so in a way that brings that person to Jesus in private. It is hard to be naked in public, people!

Finally, her redemption happened when everyone else left.

Everyone.

We don’t have to hang over people to see how things pan out after we bring them to Jesus. They will be much better off alone with him than with us anyway. Ultimately, redemption is the work of the Holy Spirit. We can and should present the Word of God without error, and we should pray with and for people. But we are not responsible for anyone’s salvation once we have presented the truth. Their blood be on their own heads. However, if we refuse to share truth because we’re scared of the world’s reaction, their blood will be on us. “When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely  die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood” (Ezek. 3:18).

Listen, I know it’s uncomfortable. I’ve been dodging this bullet for years. The world is so well-versed on the “Don’t Judge” scriptures. But having read scriptures, we can see that talking about sin is not judgment. Jesus says to help a brother out with their speck after you have dealt with your own. He also addresses the woman’s sin after dismissing the mob. Discussing sin is not the issue! The issue is how we do it! That is where judgment creeps in. When we confront sin with an attitude of superiority, we stand in judgment over our fellow man. When we confront sin with an aim of seeing punishment afflicted, we stand in judgment. When we relish hatred in our hearts toward unbelievers, we are so guilty of judging them. Condemnation is a satanic tool; it resides in the heart of “Christians” who love justice without mercy. We also have to be aware that people are comfortable with their sin, and often love their sin. We cannot destroy them in the process of trying to “help” them. When Jesus said, “with the measure you use it will be measured to you,” he was talking about the measure of grace you extend to others. The measure of mercy. That’s a dangerous thing, church, to mete out judgment! If we aren’t extending love and mercy in our hearts, we are measuring out our own condemnation. That’s scary!

The crux of the matter, then, is this: “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sin” (James 5:20). This verse right here should be the driving force of any conversations we may have about sin. It is true: you can catch more flies with honey. We have to be aware that quoting scriptures will never be enough. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). When we speak it in the authority of of God, with the love of God in our hearts toward people and the attitude of Christ about sin, that’s not judging. Speaking truth in love is a possibility. No, more than that, it’s a mandate according to Ephesians 4:15. For that, we should never apologize. But we should tread lightly and for God’s sake, put down our stones!

 

 

 

Beyond My Strength to Endure

Published April 4, 2017 by Dawn

This past weekend was EXHAUSTING. It was really good, but really exhausting. So exhausting that this blog took me four hours to write because I took a nap in the middle of writing it.

I took the youth group on a weekend glamping trip to a nearby theme park (and by nearby, I mean a four-hour drive … and we camped near the park … in cabins). We left on Friday and came back on Sunday. It was hands down the best extended trip I have ever taken a group on and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But it was long and took a lot out of me. Travel back with me to when it all started and see if you don’t come out exhausted too:

I woke up Friday and took the kids to school. Came home and went on a three-mile run before getting ready to go because I knew I’d not have a chance to run all weekend. Showered afterward and then left to drive 40 minutes north to pick up the rental van. Brought it home, packed our things into it, went shopping for weekend supplies (that took an hour of fast-paced aisle hopping), and then headed to grab the kids from school and meet the rest of the teens at church.

Our adventure began with a four-hour drive, complete with a concert at the top of our lungs and other shenanigans. We arrived at the campground, unpacked the van and while they all went off in every direction to “hang,” I sat down for a few minutes to unwind … I get uptight after extended periods of nonstop action.

An hour or so later, I started the campfire for dinner. We roasted hotdogs. I kept up with the trash and micromanaged a bunch because I didn’t want the messes to get out of hand. It happens quick with kids. Dinner done, they headed up to the gameroom for some evening fun while I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the fire. I know you think I should have been well-rested and not exhausted, and truth be told, I was at this point. Friday, after all the early hassles, turned out really awesome. I had a lot of down time. But then we stayed up until eleven, and I had to share a bed with my daughter and niece. I don’t share a bed with anyone, so this part was really hard. They were laughing, bouncing around on the bed, refusing to go to sleep … I was tired and there was way too much noise for me to sleep. I finally fell asleep at midnight and got a total of five hours of sleep before I was up for Saturday. Saturday, we left the campground at 8:00, so we had to wake the teens up at seven and have them breakfasted and on the van ready to go by seven thirty. We arrived at the park, waited a bunch and while they all rode rides all day, I ambled around the park talking to a friend who went with us. She wanted to ride a few rides, so I sat for an hour or so in a chapel there and read a hymnal until it was time to leave.

We went to dinner, played games for a few hours back at camp and then headed to bed. I finally fell asleep around 1:00 a.m. and managed to stay blissfully unaware until 7:00 a.m. If you are adding up sleep hours, that’s eleven in two nights. We went back to the park for a few hours before heading home, and then four more hours crammed into the van got us home. At this point, I was sooooooo done. But I really wasn’t done. I still had to wait for parents to pick their kids up (waited an hour for one), then I had to drive the van back, which took another hour and a half. When I finally made it home, I had to turn around and leave again because it was my son’s birthday and we hadn’t properly celebrated (or eaten), so we headed out to his favorite restaurant.

Back up just a little and I will let you into my head: On the bus on the way home, as the second Top-O’-The-Lungs Concert was happening right behind the driver’s seat, I started thinking about that drive to take the van back. I wanted to be home so bad, relaxing before bed, knowing I had to go to work today. That drive to take the van back was taunting me. I didn’t want to do it! I nearly cried for most of the drive home because I just wanted to be done. I wanted to go home at the same time as everyone else. I wanted to sleep!

I started praying for strength to endure. The same prayer I pray while I’m running. “Help me to make it to the end. Your word says you are strong in my weakness. Be strong in me!”

This truth became painfully obvious while I finished the long evening ahead of me: God’s calling has nothing to do with convenience. He’s not always concerned about us. When we submit to being His vessel, He uses us faithfully, but His ultimate concern is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others. The “job” isn’t always over when we like for it to be. It may require more of us than we would give on our own. It may require all of us. It may not be easy and God doesn’t necessarily apologize for that. Our comfort is not His main concern. Paul recounts this same truth in 2 Corinthians 11:27: “I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. God’s calling in Paul’s life had one aim and that was to use Paul to the fullest for God’s glory.

God’s aim in and through us is the same. We cannot allow our needs and our desires to dictate our usefulness to God. We cannot allow our comfort to keep us in a place where God can’t use us fully. If He is going to have His way through us, we have to be willing to be used beyond our feelings. Beyond our fleshly abilities to endure. We have to allow ourselves to be weak and still persevere through what God wants to do, being made strong by His Holy Spirit. The finish line isn’t dictated by our feelings. It is dictated by the Father, and He has promised to sustain us.

Unfathomable Love

Published March 6, 2017 by Dawn

“Do you love me?”

It’s probably the worst question I’ve ever been asked. It makes my skin crawl and I want to vomit every time he asks me this. I want to get as far away from him as I possibly can, crawl into a hole and fall asleep for a million years until I can forget that this ever came out of his mouth. Do you love me? His pleading eyes literally tear my heart into shreds.

How can he ask me this?

It started maybe a month ago. I’m not an emotionally vacant person, but I will admit that sometimes, I’m hard to read. It’s a defense mechanism and at this point, I don’t know how to turn it off. But here’s the thing: I am exuberantly emotional toward my children. They don’t have to question how I feel because I’m not defensive toward them. I’ve been stricken since their birth and I love them enormously. This question seems so ridiculously unnecessary that the first time he asked, I just laughed. Hysterically. Why the heck would he ever question my love for him?!

He was questioning it, though. Hard core.

My son has asked me many times over the past month if I love him. My response has run the gamut: at first, I was hysterical. Too funny, you crazy nut. Of course I love you! Then I was disturbed. Why do you keep asking me this? Of course I love you. Then I was serious. I love you, son. You’re one of the most important people in my life. Finally, I am so sad, I’m sick over it. How can you question my love for you? It’s consuming me. How can you not perceive it?

I didn’t want to write about this because my heart hurts over it and I’m letting you in to something I don’t even want to admit is happening right now. My baby boy is unsure about whether or not I love him even though I have expressed it in so many ways. There’s no mask. It can’t be mistaken. I love him so much and every time he asks me, it’s like he’s thrusting a dagger right into my heart. And the worst part is that he actually feels the need to ask at all. How does he not know?

I’ve been putting this blog off for a solid month. That’s why I haven’t been writing. I’m sorry, dear reader. I couldn’t bring myself to admit this to anyone else because it hurts so much. But I knew I had to eventually write about it because every time he asks me, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “He’s you, you know …”

Am I the only one? Am I the only child of God who looks to the Father in sincere disbelief and asks through tears, “Do you love me?” I’m incredulous, really, most of the time. How can it be?

On the wall in my room, I hung a canvas that I painted once, and I remember the look my mom gave me when she saw it. She had no idea what it meant … it was my heart cry. It was my first attempt at mixed media journaling and it says “U LUV me.” Not “I love you” or anything normal. Just a bewildered, “I can’t grasp the fact …” It’s unfathomable. He loves me. My King loves me.

When my son started asking this question, I couldn’t understand why he was so serious about it. But as the Holy Spirit began directing my thoughts heavenward, I realized that the pain I feel when my son asks me this in all seriousness is the same pain our Father feels when we doubt His love for us. After all, if we read our Word and are people of prayer, there’s no mistaking how He feels about us. But there’s a whisperer, in my child’s ear and my own, doing his best to convince us that we are unlovable. And even though God is exuberantly expressive about how He feels, we choose to believe the lie because deep inside of us are roots of insecurity that have a strangle hold on our hearts.  I’m not good enough, therefore I am not worthy of love.

Unworthy? “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We didn’t earn His love. We were born into it. The moment He conceived us was the moment He loved us fiercely, and He displayed His passionate love for us by sending Jesus to rescue us from the enemy’s clutches. He demonstrated His love by His willingness to endure pain and suffering and death on our behalf. While we were still sinners. While we were far away from Him, separated by a chasm of sin, entangled in a sordid love affair with the devil and the world. God loved us then.

“Neither height nor depth, no anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). We’re His. He loves us. When we accept Jesus and come into this love as a child of God, there’s nothing that can tear us away from His affections, or tear His affections away from us. We can walk away if we choose to, but that doesn’t cause God to stop loving us. And I am convinced that at the end of this life, when judgment must happen, it will be with tears of grief because many will choose to spend eternity separated from the love they’ve been chasing their whole lives and have rejected instead of embraced. I believe that moment will tear the heart of our Father to shreds. All this time He has looked at us and said, “Of course I love you.”

Trust me. He loves you. I know this because the love in me for my child is only a reflection of God’s love for His, and it’s consuming me. How much more passionately must God love us? Again … unfathomable.

How deep the Father’s love for us.
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To Make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

 

Through the Valley of Weeping

Published January 23, 2017 by Dawn

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”   Psalm 84:5-7

 

Oh, the Valley of Baka. It’s on every Christians journey closer to the throne. The literal translation here is “weeping.” The Valley of Weeping. This valley is the place of trial and tribulations. Suffering. Let’s consider the whole scripture here for a moment:

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you” If I can throw in a parallel scripture, Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” So then, blessed are those whose strength – their joy, or heart’s delight – is in God.

“ … whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” What does is mean to be on pilgrimage as a child of God? It means to be ever drawing nearer. Always pursuing. Not standing still but moving closer and closer to the Kingdom. I love the promise this pilgrimage comes with. “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). Our Father – our King –  promises that when we begin our pilgrimage and endeavor to be near to Him, He will close the gap by walking in our direction as we walk in His. He is so committed to us.

“As they pass through the Valley of Baka …” It’s going to happen. It’s a part of the journey. There’s a place of deep suffering in every endeavor to draw near to the Father. It’s design is two-fold: it can either cause you to turn back, or cause you to become steadfast and determined to reach the Lord. Both parties have a purpose to the pain: Satan would have you turn and flee, chasing you back into the temporary safety net of the world. But God would have you press on despite the anguish into his eternal, loving arms. This Valley awaits all of us.

“… they make is place of springs …” Your tears are collected here, according to the precious words of David in Psalm 56:8. God is aware of them and they are not wasted. You see, these springs become a place of refreshment for those who come afterward. Those who walk the way you come will be drenched with the power of the Holy Spirit blessing your pain and suffering. Your tears provide an oasis for those who will be ministered to by your testimony. “the autumn rains also cover it with pools.” Your tears combined with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit raining down on the pilgrims behind you. The Valley of Baka is not a dry place. It is a place where those who seek God have a reprieve in their suffering. Trials and tribulations come there, but there abides also in that place the precious waters of the Spirit of God, called down as you pray and trust Him in this otherwise desolate place.

“…they go from strength to strength …” As you draw closer and closer to the Lord, you experience things that test your faith. Your desire for Him. Your commitment. Your love. As you withstand the enemy’s assaults, you become strengthened. Your spiritual muscles grow exponentially, and you are stronger with each assault. You are able to withstand more, believe more. Love through more. Seek God more. It’s often bitter-sweet because it doesn’t always feel glorious. Rather, it mostly feels like abandonment. But feelings are not always true. The Word of God is true, and it is to the Word we must cling if we want to make it through the Valley of Baka into the arms of God. He has promised, “He will never leave you nor will He forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).

“ … till each appears before God in Zion.” What does it profit a man to suffer these days? We hear of a grace that doesn’t require such a commitment. We can be saved and ushered into the kingdom without all this effort … or so they say. The truth is, this “gospel” is not the gospel of the Bible, but rather a New Age lie that requires no service from Christians. It requires no obedience or repentance. It requires nothing but acceptance of Jesus. But this is not the full Word of God. It is a half-truth. Grace without pilgrimage leads you nowhere. The truth is, pilgrimage which brings a believer nearer to God will take a believer far from the grip of sin. It will make a person dissatisfied with everything they crave in the world. It will take a person far from evil desires and fleshly pursuits because the nearer you come to God, the more sickened you become of the world. Of yourself. Repentance flows in this valley, and it is all the more harder to live here. You realize what it means to be “not of this world.” You are in pursuit of “a city with a foundation, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrew 11:10). This world no longer satisfies. Your heart, becoming more and more like Christ as you journey toward the Lord, pines for the throne of God and forsakes even the will of the flesh to have the heavenly promises.

We can avoid the Valley of Baka, but to do so is to accept that we will get no closer to the kingdom of God. We can avoid pain and suffering, but to do so is to decide against spiritual maturity in favor of comfort in this life. This life that is a vapor. When put next to eternity, it’s a life that counts for nothing unless our hearts are set on pilgrimage. If we do decide to pursue the Father in this life, we must accept that anguish and tribulation is part of the journey. We must press into the side of Christ and press on despite the pain, leaving pools of mercy behind for our fellow sojourners and making head-way toward the Kingdom.

 

 

Is Jesus a liar?

Published February 8, 2016 by Dawn

I was going to go to bed, but I know I’ll be up for hours to come thinking about this, and I just want to work my way through it. It’s been said that Jesus was inclusive, and loved everyone, which I don’t debate. What I do debate is the lack of address to Christ’s message on sin, and that in one of his most famous sermons Jesus revealed God’s exclusivity and ultimate dividing of the people into two groups: those on his right and those on his left (Matthew 25).

There’s such an emphasis on grace in today’s culture that is so liberating, but also deceptive. I believe in grace, and thank God for it daily. But I also know scripture, and one in particular throws a wrench onto the New Age grace. Hebrews 10:26 says very plainly, “if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

The New Age grace says “don’t worry about how you live your life. God has no standards anymore because Jesus died for our sins. We can live it up however we want, because there is no more condemnation.” Romans 8:1 says something to that effect, but Satan had twisted it into something untrue. “There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” But read further on and you will find in 1 John these truths:

“If we claim to have fellowship with him  and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6).

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him … Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:4, 6).

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so the he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:4-6).

”Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning since the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning because they have been born of God … Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother or sister” (1 John 3:7-10).

Do I understand that correctly?  That we are not all in Christ? That being in Christ comes with evidence so that we might know one another? I appreciate that about God. He told us we’d know one another by the fruits produced.

 

Those who are in Christ will live a much different life than the rest of the world. A true believer will not live in sin and justify their sin with the message of grace. That was never the purpose of grace. Jesus did not die so we could throw off all inhibitions and live a life of self-gratification. Many new Christians in Paul’s time had similar confusions and Paul told them over and over, “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! (Romans 6:1).

“Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31).

God’s standards, then, still apply. Not as a chain around our necks, but as a loving response. We were unable to fulfill the law before Christ. Now we are free from the bondage of sin and have the law as a loving reminder of what God desires of us. Now we are able to live by those standards because sin has lost it’s grip on us. So then, the sin that exists in our lives can be expelled!

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he wlll also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Sin, therefore, is a choice made against the better way God provides. It is intentional and devastating.

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness”(Matthew 7:23).

And it is right to say that Jesus was inclusive and loved everyone. He himself said, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). But Jesus did not say the world would not be judged. In fact, he talked a lot about the judgement to come.

Grace is not a cover for the sinful life. Grace is holding the door open that those who would come before the Lord for forgiveness of sin, a true act of repentance, might approach the throne with confidence. The person determined to live a life unto themselves instead of unto the Lord is hardened and will not approach the throne of grace at all. Because he doesn’t think he needs to be forgiven.

If the Word of God is true, and I believe it is, then Jesus is not a liar and neither is the Spirit of God that ministered the Word to the faithful men who wrote it. They all being in agreement, the liar is the man or woman who preaches a different doctrine than this.

Lord, give us ears to hear. Soften our hearts that we might perceive truth again, and give us discernment so that we can understand and rightly divide the word of God. We cannot understand it on our own, but we believe that your Spirit gives revelation. I pray that the blind will see and the deaf will hear your truth, Lord. We live in an age of compelling false doctrine, but I believe in the power of your Word to dispel the enemy’s lies. I thank you for revelation and I ask for freedom for captives today. Thank you, Jesus, for fighting for us. For dying to set us free and declaring that freedom over us again today. You are a tremendous blessing and a great savior. We love and magnify you. In your precious name, amen. 

God said, “Let there be chaos.”

Published March 9, 2015 by Dawn

“But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ ” –Genesis  11:5-7

 

Here’s the truth: God doesn’t want you to be able to do big and mighty things. Do you want to know why? Because He wants to be exalted in our hearts and minds, and big and mighty things are his “thing.” He doesn’t want nothing to be impossible for us, because he wants you to know that nothing is impossible in him. That’s where he wants you: in him. That’s what he created you for. So he is not okay with you thinking you’ve got this. He wants you to know he’s got this. Your independence is rebellion, friend. Because you were made to be dependent on a great and mighty God!

It is true that we come to the end of ourselves, that we strive towards the things God has spoken into our hearts. That we cry out and feel helpless. Because God wants to be your champion. He’s your hero. He’s fighting for you, asking you to come rest in him and let him do his “thing.” You strive because you’re trying to do it for him. Jesus is saying to you today, “Come away with me to a quiet place and rest. Give up striving. In quietness and trust is your strength.” Say to yourself, “God is God and I am not.” Give up the burden of accomplishing a monumental thing, whether in your own name or for the sake of God. He does all things well.