Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Faith and Works

Recently Jordy posted about faith and it got me thinking about faith and works.

This can be a confusing subject when you begin talking about faith and works... but it's important to talk about.

First off, what is faith? Well, Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. "
Faith is believing in what you can't see.
What are works? Well, the ones that I'm talking about are basically good things that you do.
Now let's dive in.

Sometimes people get the idea that our good works can get us into heaven. Let me tell you straight out: Nothing you can do on your own can get you into heaven. Someone could go to church every Sunday, read their Bible everyday, have tons of scripture memorized, serve in the church in some way, and STILL die and go to hell if they don't  trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Hell isn't something we like to talk about, but it is very real.
So, if we can't get to heaven by doing good works then how do we get to heaven? You can find the answer in Romans.

Romans 10:9-10, "If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation." 
Later in verse 13 it says, "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

It's really simple actually. People often try to over complicate the Bible - and while parts are confusing then the overall message is simple.
God created the world and it was perfect. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sin entered the world. That sin separated us from God. God sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins, taking our punishment onto Himself. He tore down that wall, that separation, between us and God. He raised from the dead, conquering death. Jesus is coming back again one day.
That's the gospel. The question is, do you believe it?

If you believe that Jesus died on a cross for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead, and if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. Have you ever repented of your sin and confessed and believed that Jesus died on the cross for your sin?

In the Old Testament the Israelite's were under the law... they had to make sacrifices and obey all these laws. But when Jesus  came He brought the New Covenant. Now we can have redemption through Jesus.
Galatians 2:16, "Know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified."
We can't be saved by anything we do on our own. We can't be saved by our works.

So where do works come together with faith into all of this? Well James talks quite a bit about this in James 2:14-26.
We are only saved by faith through grace.
 Ephesians 2:8, "For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift."
We then desire to do good works because of our love for God. We desire to do things for Jesus. The things we do for Jesus shows the evidence of our faith. If you say you believe in Jesus and do things contrary to that - are you really a follower of Jesus? When you love someone you want to do things for them - it's the same way with Jesus. When you love Him you want to get to know Him through His Word and you want to serve Him and do things for Him.

Matthew 5:16, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."

Our works put our faith into action. When you have really have faith in Jesus it's evident through your actions. Your actions and words reflect who or what your heart belongs to. So we do things that reflect Jesus - to bring honor and glory to His name.

Jesus didn't just come to earth and say He is the Son of God. He showed it through the things He did, the places He went, the words He said. (John 10:31-39)

Romans 11:6, "Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace."

You can only be saved by faith through grace. You cannot be saved by anything you do on your own - not by any amount of works you do. Only by faith in Jesus Christ.We do good works as evidence for our faith out of our love for Christ.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Deception Covered with Perfection

It's that desire that keeps flitting across your mind. It's the slight tug inside you feel. It's the thing that keeps repeating itself in your head. Temptation. Even after we repent of past sin and move on it seems to chase us down. Temptation comes in different forms and at different times. It's different and unique to each person.

John 10:10, "A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance."

Satan only wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He looks for your weaknesses and attacks them. He tempts you to do what is wrong. He's cunning, clever, and evil. He will twist the truth into lies to try to get you to do something. It's like in the Garden, he tempted Eve with the fruit and twisted the truth to convince her to disobey God and eat the fruit. Deception covered with perfection. He's a master at lying and tempts you. How can we stand against him? How do we not fall into temptation?

Matthew 26:41, "Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

While deep down we don't want to fall into temptation, our sinful side is weak. Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons against the Enemy. We need to pray that we don't fall into temptation. Jesus told His disciples to stay awake and pray but they didn't, and as a result Peter denied Jesus three times. When Jesus tells us to do something we need to do it... we need to pray that we don't fall into temptation. You can be as firmly set in your mind that you won't give into temptation but without Jesus you will fall because your flesh is weak. We need to pray.

Never fight temptation, flee from it. If you try to fight it you'll most likely fall to it. Flee from it. Depending on what the temptation is it can be hard to do. If it's to yell at someone exit the room. If it's to go to a certain place on the internet busy yourself doing something else. Don't give temptation an opportunity to take root.

In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert. And how did He reply all three times? With Scripture. It's important to know Scripture so that you can tell the difference between truth and the Enemy's lies. And if you're being tempted with something look up Bible verses for it and try memorizing them - so that when you're being tempted you can just repeat those verses.

Sometimes we're able to defeat the temptation, yet sometimes we fall for it. One time, well, many times, I fell for temptation and I didn't realize it at first ... then slowly God gently showed me but I lived in denial of it... trying to use rationalize with myself that it isn't really sin. Thankfully God is gracious and forgiving.

Being tempted is not a sin. Everyone goes through temptation at one point or another. If you are being seriously tempted then don't be afraid to go to a fellow believer in Christ who you trust. And pray and memorize Scripture. Flee from temptation.

What are some ways that you've overcome temptation? What are some scriptures that have encouraged you in that area of temptation? Is there some way that you're being tempted right now but haven't wanted to admit?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Getting Real

Sin. We know what it means and talk about it in general terms... but do we ever dig deep? We can all admit that we sin sometimes - but do we really think about how we're sinning and repent?
We're quick to judge other people for sinning yet we often turn a blind eye to our own sin. We don't like to talk about our sin, we don't want to examine our lives too closely. It's difficult to confront our own sin.

We all sin. If you say you don't then you lied which is a sin.

Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

What is sin exactly? Sin is doing anything against God. God is good and anything apart from Him is bad. 1 John 5:17, "All unrighteousness is sin."

Alright now let's get real. It's tough to do this because getting real means your flaws and sins are exposed. But that's okay and that's good. We try to cover up our sins, but eventually they are always exposed.
Ephesians 5:11-14, "Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light."
Look at your life, look really closely. What is something in your life that needs to change? Sin often disguises itself as something fun or cool... but it's not. It may be fun and give you temporary pleasure but it's going to go away. In Jesus is true joy that's eternal. Is there something in your life that takes priority over God? If there is it's a idol and idolatry is a sin. I've struggled with that before because I didn't realize it, and when I did I didn't want to admit it. While the thing may not be wrong it becomes a sin when you place it over God because then it turns into a idol.

It's really easy to sin. It's a lot easier than to do what's right and good. Especially when you think no one will know about it. It's easy to let your thoughts wander to where they shouldn't go, or go somewhere on the internet that's wrong, and it's easy to reason with yourself that it isn't really sin.
The internet is useful and can be used to share the Gospel... but it can also be used to sin. Social media is a good platform to share about Jesus and enables you to keep up with friends, but it can also be used to sin. Books are amazing and I love to read, but not all books are good for you. Movies are fun to watch, but is the content good? Friends are great but are you gossiping with them? Phones are really handy to have but do you spend too much time on yours? These aren't easy questions to answer because we've perfected how to use logic to convince ourselves that it isn't sin. We don't want to give it up. It's fun, it's cool, it gives you a sense of delight and danger, it makes you happy. But those feelings go away as quickly as they come.

So what now? Our sin and shame is out in the open... what do we do about it?
Joel 2:12, "Even now— this is the Lord’s declaration— turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning."
Turn back to Jesus. Repent of your sin - repenting meaning to completely turn away from it and towards God, not going back to your sin again. You may be filled with shame, you may not want to admit your sin since it's too painful, you may want to run towards the false security of darkness... But Jesus is waiting for you with His arms wide open. It's never to late. He loves you as you are right now. He didn't die for you because you deserve it, because quite honestly we don't. He died to save you because He loves you!
Romans 5:6-8, "For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!"
Jesus knows your heart, He sees your flaws, sins, and shame, He knows how you feel this instant, and He's loves you despite of it all!

The thing is, you aren't alone. We ALL sin. We mess up time and time again. Even the people we look up to most sin. David is known for having a heart after God's, for defeating Goliath with God's help, and for being a great king. But he messed up big time. In 2 Samuel 11 it tells of his sin... he lusted after a married woman, slept with her, she conceived a child while her husband was off to war so David killed her husband to cover it up, and then married the woman. That's the gist of it at least. In the next chapter God sends Nathan to basically expose David's sin. David genuinely repents. There were still consequences to David's sin though. The child that he and Bathsheba had died. Our sin doesn't just effect us, but all those around us and there are consequences to our sin. Psalm 51 is a beautiful Psalm that David wrote after these events, asking God to forgive him and give him a clean heart.
That's what we are to do. We sin, but we should repent and ask God to give us a clean heart.

Okay so I'm sure that's a lot to get down. This post was difficult to write because it hits so close to home. Examine your life... what sin do you have? Repent of your sin and turn to God. Don't be afraid to do so, He still loves you and wants to forgive you.
I read a quote recently that said, "The bigger the view of my sin, the bigger the view of the cross." That's true. While it feels uncomfortable to see our sin out in the open we see the cross more clearly, understanding why Jesus died for us.

Mark 1:15, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!"

What things in your life have you put before God? In what way have you sinned but didn't want to admit it? How do you turn away from sin? What's a favorite scripture concerning repentance?
Don't be afraid to get real with yourself.

Let's turn to Jesus and strive to live for Him.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Seek the Lord (Poem)

I want to seek You in the quiet,
and seek You in the noise.
I want to seek You in the joys,
and when life's getting me down.
I want to seek You through it all,
when I fly or when I fall.

I want to seek You in the chaos of this life,
and seek You in the calm moments.
I want to seek You when I feel broken,
and when You make me feel whole.
You are in control, that's a definite fact I know.

I want to seek You Lord,
through prayer and through Your Word.
I want to seek You when life is tough,
and when it's going good.
You are always enough.

Help me to seek You with all my heart.
Help me to give You all my broken parts.
Help me to love You with all of me,
for You're the One who set me free.
Help me to find You somehow.
I'm going to seek You right now.


It's easy to get caught up in life and to make excuses of why we don't fully seek God... I'm not pointing fingers or judging, if I were, the first finger would point at me.
The thing is, sometimes we go through times of waiting, or struggles, or growth - but through all of those times we should still seek God. It's hard to seek Him when it seems like He's not listening, or in the noise and chaos of life... but when we truly seek Him we'll find Him.
Some ways to do this to to spend time in His Word and prayer. It's hard to find time to  really get into God's Word, if you try you'll find time. You may have to cut back how much you read your book or how much TV you watch, etc.... but in the light of eternity isn't it worth it?

There are going to be times where you seek the Lord and you can see Him clearly, but there will be times when you have to search really hard to see Him. Sometimes it's not in a big way. Maybe He won't open the skies to talk to you but maybe He's gently showing you the way through a Bible verse that you've been thinking about recently, or encouraging you through a fellow believer in Christ. Often we don't see Him when He's right in front of us.
Remember, He's with you always.

Let's seek Him with all of us, and strive to love Him with all of us.

Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

1 Chronicles 16:11, "Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always."

Psalm 27:8, "My heart says this about You, "You are to seek My face." Lord, I will seek Your face."

Colossians 3:1, "So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God."