Tag Archives: Christian

What I’ve Learned From the Book of Philippians #3

Last time, I told you I’d be writing about “Joy” in this post, but little did I realize how much there is to write about this uniquely Christian word.  I call it a Christian word, right or wrong, because it’s a word that I don’t find addressed much in any real way in the secular world, not by atheists, cultural elites, or all those people who seem to think it’s okay to tell me how to live and what to say, but can’t stand it when I have the nerve to smile at them, and simply say, “NO.”

To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot of people who live with a sense of joy, and, sad to say, this includes many people who call themselves Christians.  I can see and hear the protests right now, but don’t try to tell me that every Christian you know lives with joy because we all know at least one whose face would break into shards of glass were they to smile.  You know it’s true and so do I.  🙂

To me, there’s nothing sadder or more depressing than to be around someone who says they love Christ Jesus, and that He’s living in their heart, and yet, all you hear from the minute they start talking is all about their latest illness, ache, and pain.  Their discontent and unhappiness about this or that person, place, event, or idea.  Complaint about any and everything seems to be all they can talk about . . . even in church.

As an aside, I’ll tell you the easiest way to dissuade these people from trying to ruin your worship and the awesome experience of honoring and glorifying Jesus Christ is to wear them out, gently, by responding positively to every negative thing they say.  For example:

(I’ll call this woman, Gertrude, or if it’s a man, I’ll call him, Herman.  These are examples, folks, so please don’t take offense at my using a set of names that just came to me as I’m writing this.)

Gertrude: “I’ve been so sick this last week I just knew I was going to die (or something to that effect).”

You: “Praise the Lord He pulled you through.  Isn’t it wonderful how God can pull us through the worst of times, and look at how nice you look.  It truly is a time to be thankful to God, isn’t it?”

And so it goes . . .  The point being people who want to complain want someone who’s going to listen to their complaint, not someone who’s going to force them into thinking about how grateful they should be.   I’m not talking about the person who genuinely just needs to talk, but to those who are the habitual offenders.  The ones who constantly and consistently complain no matter what.  Call me mean, nasty, deceitful or a thousand other names, but when I go to church I want to worship God.  I want to honor and glorify Him, and isn’t that the reason why we’re going?

Now what has this to do with “Joy” you might be asking, and the answer is that “Joy” should be the expression of your heart to God for all that He is, and for all that He does in bestowing His many, many blessings upon us.  “Joy” is a far different thing than being happy because “Joy” is “in spite of” (Don’t ask me where I got that because I can’t remember, but I freely admit it’s not an original thought of mine.  I’ve read it somewhere before.)  It means that you choose “in spite of” rather than, “because of” and that’s a much greater thing, and I believe reveals something to the world and those around you that needs to be seen.

“Joy” is what the world needs to see, and what it should see when looking at the Christian life, and why shouldn’t they?  We have the most wonderful reason to be joyful, and to rejoice.  We have Jesus Christ.  We have the power of God living inside us, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of eternal life.  If that’s not enough to give us “Joy” on a daily basis, and the desire to share that “Joy” with everyone we meet, then I have to wonder what it is that’s going on in your life that you don’t feel and live with that sense of “Joy” in living your life in Christ.

Even in the midst of much sorrow, suffering, and tribulation, Paul never failed to live with “Joy” because he had what the Holy Spirit has given to each of us, but which we seldom acknowledge and seek to live out.  The inner-knowledge, and hope that springs eternally in being able to see beyond the moment we’re living in, and see and experience the glory we’ll share in living our lives forever with Him.

“The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, once scornfully said of Christians of his day, “I would believe in their salvation if they looked a little more like people who have been saved.  (The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 215.)”  There’s a lot of truth in that, I believe, and sad, as I am to say it, I think the reason there aren’t more Christians is simply because of Christians who don’t live out their lives in a tangible and experiential way.  I believe another quote by Philip Brooks addresses this when he says, “The religion that makes a man look sick certainly won’t cure the world. (The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 216.)”  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not knocking Christianity, but rather our display of it, and our living it in front of other people.  Too many Christians are exhibiting the symptoms of hopelessness and despair and this brings me back to the issue of “Joy.”

Do you have “Joy?”  Are you experiencing the healing that comes from living joyfully?  Are you finding the strength, feeling the peace, that comes from knowing that the Holy Spirit gives knowing that your life is in Christ?

Well, I’ve said enough for the time being, but I’ll leave you with this last quote, and it’s one I’d like you to give some thought to.

“Joy is not a luxury or mere accessory in the Christian life.  It is the sign that we are really living in God’s wonderful love, and that love satisfies us ((The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 216.)”

My question to you is does it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Thought on America, The Beautiful…

I used to think that everyone knew the words to this song, but I’ve learned that there are a lot of people anymore who have never heard it, or even know that it exists, and sadly it’s mostly young people and children that give me a blank stare when I mention it. Speaking for myself that’s a sad thing, almost as sad, as the fact that the God mentioned so lovingly and tenderly in this song is almost as forgotten and unknown as the song. Even the title sounds other-worldly, as if it came from another country (or planet) instead of from this country that I’ve always loved so much because it represented the very best of what people who love God, and believe in hard work and freedom could achieve.

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but it feels a lot more lonelier than it used to in believing that we were indeed, “America, The Beautiful.” What was it that made America so beautiful, that made it the shining beacon on the hill, that shone a light so bright that people all over the world wanted to come here?

Let’s think about this for a moment…. Hum…

Perhaps, it was freedom, but was it the same kind of freedom we have now?

Was it the freedom to be openly drunk, vulgar, and stupid that was the draw?
Perhaps it was because they could come over here and have no opportunity?
Maybe because there was no reward for hard work?
Of course there’s always the chance that they came over so they could be told how to worship?
Then again, maybe it was so that they could practice every perversion known to man…
Or promote every kind of filth imaginable?

I’m probably being too harsh and unfair, huh?

Hold on….there’s more…You don’t want to leave yet, do you?

Maybe they came over here because they wanted the chance to be poor, and be taken care of?
Or so that they could get a quality third-rate education where they could be told what to think instead of learning how to think for themselves?
I know…it was so that they could come to a place where human life is treated like it’s trash and thrown away…
No, that couldn’t be it, could it?

No, they wanted to come here so that they could have the freedom to be irresponsible, immoral, dishonest, and disrespectful, and the opportunity to shun any and every thing that might be restrictive to their right to be so.

Is that why this song was written, sung, and beloved by countless generations of Americans?

Somehow, I don’t think so, but when you live in a country where people are idolized for being vain, and vulgar; and where sports and athletes are worshiped, and power and money are the end goal; where the liberty to be and to live a life that honors God, that respects hard work, that believes honesty and sincerity and integrity are still vitally important, and who believe that the Bible and the U.S. Constitution are still two of the best documents ever written are despised, but being liberal, and all-embracing of anything that strips a human being of their dignity and self-respect is looked upon as the highest ideal of man; where people use “Christianity” as if it’s a room deodorizer and anti-perspirant, and where leadership and responsibility have been replaced by eloquence and Charisma then I guess you can call it just about anything….

For me, I’ll call it what I think it is… a country that has lost its way because it turned it’s back on the Great God Almighty who STILL rules over all the nations and leaders of the world, and who is STILL in control, and who is STILL working His plan toward its ultimate fulfillment…

For those of you who don’t particularly care for this post, it’s okay. I don’t hold it against you. Unlike some people I still respect your right to disagree with me. You’ll have to pardon me for being so outspoken I was raised in “America, The Beautiful!”

Just in case you missed the reference, here it is below for your viewing pleasure.

America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

Here’s a bonus for reading this all the way through….

A Quote To Meditate On….

For those of us who have had a passing thought on the quality of their prayer life, and of wondering how to know the will of God as most of us have or do from time to time I’d like to share this.

“Doing God’s will, and having His Word abiding in us, is an imperative of effectual praying. But, it may be asked, how are we to know what God’s will is? The answer is, by studying His Word, by hiding it in our hearts, and by letting the Word dwell in us richly. “The entrance of Thy word, giveth light.”

To know God’s will in prayer, we must be filled with God’s Spirit, who maketh intercession for the saints, and in the saints, according to the will of God. To be filled with God’s Spirit, to be filled with God’s Word, is to know God’s will. It is to be put in such a frame of mind, to be found in such a state of heart, as will enable us to read and interpret aright the purposes of the Infinite. Such filling of the heart, with the Word and the Spirit, gives us an insight into the will of the Father, and enables us to rightly discern His will, and puts within us, a disposition of mind and heart to make it the guide and compass of our lives.

Epaphras prayed that the Colossians might stand “perfect and complete in all the will of God.” This is proof positive that, not only may we know the will of God, but that we may know all the will of God. And not only may we know all the will of God, but we may do all the will of God. We may, moreover, do all the will of God, not occasionally, or by a mere impulse, but with a settled habit of conduct. Still further, it shows us that we may not only do the will of God externally, but from the heart, doing it cheerfully, without reluctance, or secret disinclination, or any drawing or holding back from the intimate presence of the Lord.”

E.M. Bounds, (The Necessity of Prayer)

Can You Find The Source of These Quotations?

If you like a challenge, try this. All these quotations are taken from the same source. Hint: I’ve mentioned before.

“God’s rules of action are immutable and therefore what He did to one company of His people He will do to others of them. God is Sovereign but yet He acts according to His unchanging Nature so that from one of His proceedings we may infer the rest.”

“God gave you all Covenant blessings in Christ Jesus according as He chose you, in Him, from before the foundation of the world. God saw you in Christ as His elect, His Beloved, His redeemed and therefore for you He prepared a kingdom which you inherit through His Grace. If you have now the confidence to believe in Christ Jesus and to say, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His,” then you shall know that in grasping gracious blessings you do but come to your own!”

“Beloved, who among us knows all that is ours in Christ? He is a case which is all ours, but we do not open its doors and take out all its treasures! Our possessions in Christ are very wide but we need to be bid, like Abraham, to lift up our eyes to the north and to the south and to the east and to the west, that we may form a clearer idea of the goodly land which the Lord our God has given us! We see the blessings of the Covenant but do we feed on them as we might! Do we drink deep into them and is our soul satisfied as with marrow and fatness by them? I fear we do not”

” it is your high privilege to have access to the Mercy Seat—but do you use that access and come often and boldly to the Throne of Grace? Do you avail yourselves of your opportunities? Do you make the utmost use of prayer?”

A Thought On Being Religious and Self-Righteous

Sometimes what I think we as Christians need to do more of in this world we live in is to be honest and truthful, rather than be religious and self-righteous. I’m sorry, but I’ve read too many posts lately where the authors talk as if they’ve already arrived rather than that they’re on the journey.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll tell you I’m on the journey. I understand why “Christianity” is under attack, but the truth is that in some cases self-proclaimed Christians bring the attacks upon themselves.

I’d love to sit here at my computer keyboard and write the words, “I’m sin free,” but I’d be lying. I’d love to tell you that I don’t struggle daily with trying to die to my own selfish desires, my own wants and needs, and that I do and make the right decisions without fail, but once again I’d be lying.

I’ve read posts where people claim you can lose your salvation. I don’t know where they get that. If you can lose what God says He has given you through His Son Jesus Christ then He’s not much of a god, and I can understand why people would reject a god who can’t save you completely and totally.

Well, I’m here to tell you that my God can and does. The question isn’t whether my God can and does save me completely and totally? The question is whether I’m going to believe that He can and will, or do I think I can save myself?

Listen, friends, there’s a lot of people, and people who claim to be Christians, that wouldn’t and don’t know any more about God and loving God than an earthworm would know about lasagna.

The fact of the matter is that too many people think that they’re doing God a favor by loving Him. They work themselves to death trying to please Him, and stand up for Him, and try to do His job for Him. They walk around and make long posts about hating the “sin” yet so often it’s the sinner who ends up feeling the hatred.

Let me tell you, I need God. He doesn’t need me. I need Him daily, minute by minute, hour by hour. If I’m left to my own devices I’ll do the wrong thing almost every time, and even when I’m trying to do the right thing I can still mess it up.

I’ll tell you that there’s a lot about God I don’t know nor understand. You ask me how many verses I’ve got memorized, and I’d be having a good day if I could quote more than 3, and I couldn’t give you a theological or historical perspective on the Bible to save my life.

You ask me why the Bible is the Word of God? What proof do you have? Here’s my answer. I know it’s author. I know what I was, what I am, and what I’m becoming. I know that Jesus Christ died for my sins past, present and future, and that every time I look up and around I see His witness staring back at me. I know the Bible is true because I’ve seen it’s truth lived out in my life and in the lives of countless others.

I’ve sinned, and there’s not a day goes by in which I haven’t had to confess my sin. Sin doesn’t mean you don’t know God or that He doesn’t know you. It means you have deliberately, knowingly disobeyed God and His divine law. If anyone tells you that they aren’t guilty of that then you’re either looking at a liar or the Lord Jesus Christ, himself.

There are many “Christians” who will tell you that once you become a Christian you’ll be happy. They’ll tell you that God wants you to be rich. You just have faith and claim what you want in the name of Jesus and it will be yours. You name the lie and you’ll find a “Christian” somewhere who’s either deliberately said it or said it in ignorance of God’s Word. I’m sorry, and I’m sure I’ve offended someone somewhere, but truth is truth, and some people should be offended.

The reason I’m writing this is because I want you to know that God loves you, but you have to receive that love. The truth is that Jesus Christ died for yours sins, but you have to acknowledge and confess your sins, and ask Him to come into your heart and be your Savior. Friend, you cannot save yourself. Nothing you do past, present, or future based upon your own effort will make any difference.

There’s nothing you can do or have done that will separate you from the love of God except for one thing….the sin of unbelief.

Please don’t feel that you’re not good enough…know that you aren’t, and you don’t have to be….Please don’t feel that you don’t need Jesus… You do, and one day you’ll know it…. Please don’t be discouraged by failure…. We’ve all failed, but Jesus never has or will….

Come to Him where you are as you are…

From “Morning Thoughts” by Winslow

“Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Timothy 1:9

THERE is an external and an internal call of the Spirit. The external call is thus alluded to: “I have called, and you refused;” “Many are called, but few are chosen.” This outward call of the Spirit is made in various ways. In the word, in the glorious proclamation of the gospel, through the providences of God-those of mercy and those of judgment-the warnings of ministers, the admonitions of friends, and, not less powerful, the awakening of the natural conscience. By these means does the Holy Spirit “call sinners to repentance.” In this sense, every man who hears the gospel, who is encircled with the means of grace, and who bears about with him a secret but ever-faithful monitor, is called by the Spirit. The existence of this call places the sinner in an attitude of fearful responsibility; and the rejection of this call exposes him to a still more fearful doom. God has never poured out His wrath upon man, without first extending the olive-branch of peace. Mercy has invariably preceded judgment. “I have called, and you have refused.” “All day long I have stretched forth my hands.” “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” He reasons, He argues, He expostulates with the sinner. “Come, let us reason together,” is His invitation. He instructs, and warns, and invites; He places before the mind the most solemn considerations, urged by duty and interest; He presses His own claims, and appeals to the individual interests of the soul; but all seems ineffectual. Oh, what a view does this give us of the patience of God toward the rebellious! That He should stretch out his hand to a sinner-that instead of wrath, there should be mercy-instead of cursing, there should be blessing-that, instead of instant punishment, there should be the patience and forbearance that invites, and allures, and reasons!”-Oh, who is a God like unto our God? “I have called, and you refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded.”

But there is the special, direct, and effectual call of the Spirit, in the elect of God, without which all other calling is in vain. God says, “I will put my Spirit within them.” Christ says, “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.” And in the following passages reference is made to the effectual operation of God the Spirit. “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.” “The word of God which effectually works in you that believe.” Thus, through the instrumentality of the truth, the Spirit is represented as effectually working in the soul. When He called before, there was no inward, supernatural, secret power accompanying the call to the conscience. Now there is an energy put forth with the call, which awakens the conscience, breaks the heart, convinces the judgment, opens the eye of the soul, and pours a new and an alarming sound upon the hitherto deaf ear. Mark the blessed effects. The scales fell from the eyes, the veil is torn from the mind, the deep fountains of evil in the heart are broken up, the sinner sees himself lost and undone-without pardon, without a righteousness, without acceptance, without a God, without a Savior, without a hope! Awful condition! “What shall I do to be saved?” is his cry: “I am a wretch undone! I look within me, all is dark and vile; I look around me, everything seems but the image of my woe; I look above me, I see only an angry God: whichever way I look, is hell!-and were God now to send me there, just and right would He be.” But, blessed be God, no poor soul that ever uttered such language, prompted by such feelings, ever died in despair. That faithful Spirit who begins the good work, effectually carries it on, and completes it. Presently He leads him to the cross of Jesus-unveils to his eye of glimmering faith a suffering, wounded, bleeding, dying Savior-and yet a Savior with outstretched arms! That Savior speaks-oh, did ever music sound so melodious?-“All this I do for you-this cross for you-these sufferings for you-this blood for you-these stretched-out arms for you. Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest-Him that comes to me, I will in no wise cast out-Look unto me, and be you saved-only believe. Are you lost? I can save you. Are you guilty? I can cleanse you. Are you poor? I can enrich you. Are you low sunk? I can raise you. Are you naked? I can clothe you. Have you nothing to bring with you-no price, no money, no goodness, no merit? I can and will take you to me, just as you are, poor, naked, penniless, worthless; for such I came to seek, such I came to call, for such I came to die.” “Lord, I believe,” exclaims the poor convinced soul, “Help You mine unbelief.” You are just the Savior that I want. I wanted one that could and would save me with all my vileness, with all my rags, with all my poverty-I wanted one that would save me fully, save me freely, save me as an act of mere unmerited, undeserved grace-I have found Him whom my soul loves-and will be His through time, and His through eternity.” Thus effectually does the blessed Spirit call a sinner, by His especial, direct, and supernatural power, out of darkness into marvelous light. “I will work,” says God, “and who shall let it?” (marg. turn it back.)