Sunday, 19 May 2013
Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. - James 5:13
Could it be said that more faith is required when we find ourselves in trouble and God is quiet? When trouble arrives our prayers are honest, heartfelt and loud, our floor soaked in tears yet Heaven is quiet? Why is it that we pray most when afflictions come our way? When we find ourselves overwhelmed by our trouble and humbled by our helplessness, we seek God like never before; forgetting that before this day we neglected Him from Monday to Saturday.
Every believer must know that prayer is not something we reserve for our times of trouble; prayer should be such an integral part of our lives that a single day without it will leave our hearts in a state of deep longing for that intimacy with God, such that we will be sadden by how much we miss that time with Him and never again shall a day go by. Is this true in our lives? I know that my prayer life is pathetic, it barely breathes.
Does God ask those who are suffering to present themselves as cheerful? For them to pretend it does not hurt? Here, right here is the problem that is destroying the church family: our fear of what others might think of us if they find out about our suffering! We have churches filled and each heart is suffering more than the other but, they put on their Sunday cheerful best; church should look like an ER but we dress it up like an award ceremony. This does not change the fact that hearts are hurting and people need healing, they showed at the right place, the name on the door says ‘house of God’ why then is no healing taking place?
It would be the same as if I went to the Emergency Unit and pretended that my injuries were not real, if I sat there and pointed out the hurt I saw on other people, their injuries are external, all can see them, “Healer please help them” as I pat myself on the back; I keep on coming back to the hospital, week after week and refusing medical care. We look at others and see their hurt, we look at those who hurt them and somehow think ourselves better. I once heard a pastor say that we could search the slums, find the prostitutes and drug addicts and think of ourselves better, little do we realize that they are a mirror of us, that we are evil sinful creatures.
Something that is not preached as much as it should is that if God was just He would not forgive us. But wait, does not the bible say that He is a just God? Why in the world would He forgive us? Does it not also say that He forgives us? We who are sinful creatures, we who think that because we did not kidnap a girl and held her captive for fifteen years as we abused her every day, that we are “better,” that ‘those’ people deserve a just God but we don’t? We have to realize that we are the same, we are capable of the same! When we hear of unspeakable acts done to others, done to children, are we not filled with anger? How much more would a God who is fully Love and perfectly Good see these acts of sin? Sin is Sin. We forget that we are capable of horrible, horrible things, and that He is a just God.
Words are not enough to express the magnitude, the importance that is of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, without that moment when true love died, we would be lost forever. Now a Just God looks on to the risen Christ and pardons us, can you understand that? Yes our suffering is very real, be it physical, mental, money, spiritual, it attacks us and we suffer, but do we understand that the sin that caused this suffering, that very sin was laid on Jesus? Now think that the sin of everyone, everyone was placed on Him?
In suffering our prayers to Him come from a humble helpless place, and so do our songs of worship. When we are in a season filled with cheer our prayers should be as earnest as they were before, and our praises overflowing with cheer. As our situation finds itself in various seasons one thing is always constant, and that is Jesus. We don’t have to wait for a trouble season to come our way in order for our walk to grow. It can grow now and as we stumble and fall, He is always constant good in our lives, the sinless savior who died and rose again. Yes that horrible thing you did, that unthinkable thought you had, He forgave you and I.
Because He loves us.
Friday, 17 May 2013
Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment. - James 5:12
Most of us have the one friend who is always late, they are so good a being late that when you plan to go with them in order to avoid their tarty-ness they make you late. Their ‘yes I will be there’ comes with a small disclaimer that states *the arrival time is subject to change. Maybe we don’t realize it, but we might be that friend.
I remember my dad telling me that the only thing a man really has is his word, I always held on to that and I’ve tried my best to live with my ‘yes’ being ‘yes’ and ‘no’, be ‘no’, especially in my work ethic. By my current ‘looking for work’ situation it has not paid off the way I hoped it would. But I have failed so many times with people, and when I think about my spiritual walk with the Lord and how many times my “yes” was followed by an “I swear” and I was not true to my word as I broke my promises to Him, just thinking about that saddens my heart. Then when I saw my dad not be true to his word, It hurt more than the friend being late ever could, but I need to remember I have done the same to others.
After a while with walking with the Lord you reach a point where He places a mirror in front of you and you have to repent and keep on walking, stop when you see the next mirror. Picture this: on the mirror God is holding in front of us we write “I swear I will never sin against God again!” …the next time we find ourselves in front of a mirror it has something written on it, it is our own handwriting that says “I swear I will never sin against God again!” …I never want to think of how helpless would we be without heaven’s Grace and Love!
Here in California people have a tendency to make plans for things they will never do! "oh we should get together and watch Bob’s Burgers session premier at our place!!" a week later you show up at their doorstep, popcorn in hand, cold pepsi, and they have no idea why you are there, they don’t even remember what they said, even less that tonight is the Bob’s Burgers Premier! So what would anger you most, that they forgot about you? or the truth that they don’t care about the show as much as you do?
"God if you do this, I will never sin again!" ...we make deals/oaths to God and break them, it is funny if you think about it, we are making an oath with God when he tell us not to! –God I swear to You that I will sin again! Did we forget that to swear is a sin? James tells us "Above all things...do not swear" so it must be very important for him to elevate it. When we swear it challenge God’s name and authority. "Above all things swear not, for how can you expect the name of God should be a strong tower to you in your distress if you profane it and play with it at other times?" – Baxter
Maybe we think that by swearing to something it will add weight to our words, it simply won’t. If I were to tell my wife --I swear to you that I love you! All my actions previous to that phrase should have been enough, enough that those words were never in need to be spoken. If I tell you that I love you, but my actions have been completely selfish, my words may speak the right thing, but my actions show who I truly love, me.
The reason we have to swear is because our “yes” is not good enough, and our “no” is not strong enough, our “yes” lacks integrity and our “no” never knew he had it. It is when we are under suspension of a lie that we resort to swearing. We should live in such a way that when people talk about us they will know that our yes/no are always what they say they are. A lie covered in swears is still a lie, the truth needs no one to swear for it, for it stands alone, unmoved. Truth, this is what non-believers often complain about Christians, the lack of truth, that we fail to be true to our religion as it finds itself filled with hypocrisy.
The fear of what others might think of our truth often makes us hide it, and in our despair we swear by all that is good that we are honest Christians. The truth is I struggle with pride, I struggle with being lonely, with my dad breaking his promise, I struggle when I think about my ex-girlfriend, I hate that I can’t go one day without seeing something or somewhere that reminds me of her, I struggle with depression, I struggle when I compare my walk with others, I struggle when I’m afraid to be honest because of what others might think, that they won’t see honesty and yes my sin. I struggle in fully trusting the Lord in every area of my life. I struggle in letting God be my joy. I struggle in so many things, do you? ...or do we deny these things when we should say 'yes' i struggle with this/that, or we say 'no', all out of fear of what people might think.
The truth is that Honesty requires vulnerability, and maybe it seems unfair that the unbeliever can stand from afar and ask that of us; but those in God’s family need that from us as we need it from them, being vulnerable, being honest with each other should be a natural thing; it is not! because we are so busy hiding our truths that we don’t have time to show grace and love and are afraid others wont show us, oh but we swear that we show grace and God’s love.
The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night—a prayer to the God of my life.
Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. —Psalm 42:8,11
Thursday, 16 May 2013
Years ago i was involved in worship ministry, and recently i have been helping out this church plant and last night i heard something i have heard all my life, anyone who has been involved in worship has probably heard this:
--Lucifer was the worship leader in heaven, look what he has done with music, how he has used it to keep people from the Lord, people involved in worship ministry should be very careful about pride...
...as long as i can remember i have heard people say this, a good friend of mine told me later he also has heard it all his life and that he even asked his pastor --where is that in the bible? that Lucifer was the worship leader? ...pastor told him he would have to look it up, but that it was in there. I was wondering if anyone knows where this 'saying' comes from, without a google search. People always go to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, but after reading them, it seems like i can say that "Lucifer was a worship leader" is not biblical. Is there another verse i should have read?
It's one of those Christian sayings, similar to "when God closes a door he opens a window", or "God helps those who help themselves"...are those biblical? How much of our Christianity is based on things people say because on their own thinking and then attribute them to the bible without any biblical foundation?...so it's good to take a self look and realize how much of our walk with God is based on things people say, compared to what is actually in God's word?
Just wondering if anyone else has heard those? and wondered where they come from?
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is very compassionate and merciful. - James 5:11
I always had a hard time with people who attribute only the good things in their life to God, when anything good happens it is because God allowed that, and they praise Him for it. Praise is not heard from them when bad things happen, because somehow in this interpretation God is only in control of ‘good things’ happening, He appears to have no control over bad things? …this sounds like Prosperity based Christianity. “I was in a car accident and survived, God was watching over me!” what about the people in the other car who did not survive? Did God forget about them? He has the whole world in His hands, but some Souls slip out?
Can we honestly say that we could be happy to endure trials, pain and suffering the way Job did? To embrace these ‘bad things’ and not blame God for them? Do we count it joy to suffer for Christ? The Sunday school answer is –Yes! All this changes when our lives face a trial, be it physical, financial, spiritual or something so big that it seems powerful enough to weaken our faith. Sometimes the hardest trial is to watch a loved one live their own trial out and we find ourselves helpless. If our hope is that we will receive a blessing like Job did, our hope is in the reward when it should be in Jesus. Sometimes it takes the Christian a long time to understand that Christ is worth our devotion, even when things are ‘not fair’. Have we forgotten that He did not deserve to die for our sins? Have we forgotten what we as sinners deserve?
Job lost his health, his children, and during all this Job did not sin, and did not blame God for any of this, Job is a great example of patience and endurance for God. We hear of this man’s story and how in the end God blessed Him, so naturally as we face our trials we hope for the Job outcome. What if the Lord’s outcome for us is not an earthly blessing? I’m trying to get us to realize that maybe the outcome for the Lord will not be an earthly one and yes one we receive only in heaven, for Job it was earthly one, maybe for us it wont be. Job had no way of knowing that his blessing would be an earthly one, what if he told the Lord –I will only be faithful if my reward is double what I had and I receive it on earth! That is not obedience nor devotion, that is a contract.
What about John the Baptist? His last days where in a prison and he was beheaded. His outcome was nothing like Job. When we read about all the Martyrs in Christian history we are humbled by their faith in the Lord, and we overlook that they did not have a Job outcome because we are in awe of their faith while being tortured for such faith. The reward is Jesus, do we know that? I am blown away that we while on earth are able to commune together with other believers, we are able to read His word, praise His name, worship Him in song and in life. If we only had five minutes to live would we spend them worshiping the Lord? How often we take these things I listed for granted? While other places in the world have entire churches sharing one bible, ours gather dust and we leave Sunday church with our list of complaints about worship songs, the pastor, or our bad parking spot. Can we honestly say that we are willing to suffer for God even if our outcome is not like Job’s? The church has preached the Job outcome when it should be preaching the gospel that is Jesus. I have lived so much of my Christian walk wanting the Job outcome when I should be wanting Jesus.
There is a great danger when we forget what we as sinners deserve, because that means we have forgotten the price Jesus paid for our salvation. Embracing the Lord’s end is done by embracing Jesus, whatever He has for us, be it fair or unfair in our selfish human eyes is a plus, everything after that movement we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior is a plus.
When we wake up tomorrow, wherever we find ourselves, in whatever situation we are in, economically blessed by God or not, even in those places that it seems that heaven forgot about us; how can our hearts not rejoice that God has allowed us to breathe one more breath, how can our Soul not smile that we are alive and can praise His name! That because of Jesus our prayers can reach eternity, because of Jesus we are free, alive, adopted by heaven and we could care less if our outcome is Job’s or not, our outcome is Jesus, we are in need of nothing more.
My heart is simply overwhelmed by the mention of His name, and I am embarrassed that so much of my walk with the Lord has been based on the Job Outcome when it should have been based on Jesus.
Jesus loves your heart.
Sunday, 12 May 2013
Brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. See, we count as blessed those who have endured…- James 5:10-11a
There is this lovely girl who with all of her heart loves this boy, he has been nicer to her than any other boy, better than her father who left, her mother who is only mother on the birth certificate, she thinks to herself 'maybe if I sleep with him, he will really love me' …No one ever told her that if he loves you he will not sleep with you, he will wait until you both make a covenant with God and will love once married, under God he will love you because you are a gift from Heaven to Him and he your husband heaven’s gift to you; how could they know that these gifts are undeserved?
Are you familiar with the story in Hosea? Where God tells a man of God to marry a prostitute named Gomer and to be faithful to her as she continues to be unfaithful to him. Christians love to think of ourselves as the man/woman of God whom Heaven would call on us to serve Him, our prayers are filled with us asking Him to use us, what if He asked us to be like Hosea? …Is our faith strong enough to love someone what will betray us again and again? Oh how we love to think of ourselves as Godly people like Hosea, when the truth is we are exactly like Gomer, we happen to be very good a hiding it.
There is a ‘bible college thinking’ on marriage that is very wrong and has overflowed into the Christian community and it is this: the person you marry should be as strong as Christian as you are Spiritually. Yes I agree that we should not be unequally yoked, and “missionary dating” hardly ever works, when we ask God someone as strong as us don't we realize that what we are asking for is -God please give me someone that will be easy to live with. Yes it would be a huge blessing so find such a girl or man, now… how much of us think we deserve such a gift?
This bible college thinking leads men and women in a search for an impossible other half; women think they deserve a man who is like this and that, does this but not that, this tall, this talented... the problem is not this woman's list but on the fact she thinks she deserves such a Godly man. Men think they deserve this beautiful girl who loves the Lord, sings like an angel, wants her to be pure but not naive, and he also has a list of how she should be and act. Have we forgotten that we deserve hell? ...we don't deserve God's daughters or sons, look how we have treated them in past, we have used them for our own sexual wants, even the church has failed to hold marriage with the respect it should, just look at the divorce rate in the church. It has the audacity to say that gay couples cannot marry because it violates the sanctity of marriage? Divorce violates it, and the bible does say that God Hates Divorce. This is an whole another topic, but you get the point, we think we deserve this as we have all our reasons for thinking such thing.
The problem with this ‘thinking’ is when one of those bible college mentally types meets someone who is a new believer, who has not had years of experience on how to hide their sins, who was not aware of all these Christian purity rules and how we are so good at bending them in order to free us from guilt, “…it’s not technically sex, so we are ok”. This older Christian thinks because they kept themselves "pure" that they deserve someone who has done the same, they think of themselves as Hosea when in reality they are the Gomer in the story.
Men will never understand how women are just bombarded with self image things from a very early age. There is a huge danger in where they end up finding their identity: ...maybe you think that if you get beautiful enough that someone will love you, your identity is in your beauty, maybe your identity is found in being the hot girl all guys want, the successful business woman other women envy, the perfect mom, the legalistic ‘pure’ Christian girl who judges others. Is this the person God wants you to be looks like?
The person God wants you to be is so far from these things, He longs for you to find your identity in Him so that when people look at you, when you walk into a room they can see that you are wearing Jesus, in how you talk, in how you speak, listen, work, love, endure. It is because of Jesus that gives you strength to be a mom when you don’t feel like it, it is because of Jesus you can stay as a devoted wife to that useless no good man that is called your husband. Jesus gives us the strength face the impossible. It is because of Jesus that we can suffer and endure, because our identity is in Him.
Men, that girl you lusted for when you should have loved her is God’s daughter, she is a gift from heaven, and we should treat them as such. We should be Godly men who fear and love the Lord, who have His word on our hearts. There is nothing harder when every part of you is telling you to be selfish, and you even hear it from her lips –be selfish. What could be so important that you would say ‘no’ to this?
If our identity is in Jesus, we will understand what we really deserve and that He did not deserve to die for us, but He did. Jesus loves you so much! may your relationship with Him be in such a state that when you enter a room, His peace, wisdom, love, grace and mercy will be the only things seen as we speak in His name.
We would be fools to think that this can happen without us ever spending any time with Him.
You are loved