Posts Tagged ‘Lord’

“…but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 NIV)

Picture a large meadow of yellow flowers bowing to a gentle breeze. This golden pond of beauty is densely populated on the outer edges by trees that stand stoic throughout the course of time. The summer sun hangs lazily alone in the afternoon sky against a canvass of aqua blue. The air is punctuated periodically by God’s curious creatures that fly about on cue — assuring the casual observer that life is more than worrying about the next event.

But that’s not all.

The sound of a rushing river nearby captures the essence of energy as it follows its familiar path toward the open sea. All marvel at its ability to remain constant. Nothing stops its flow. Its strength is undeniable. Its will, undeterred. The river beckons those who are thirsty to partake of its power to quench. For the filthy, it calls them to bathe in its capacity to cleanse. For everyone who seeks healing, it invites them to take a leap of faith and jump in.

Similarly, Father thank you for being the ever-present river of life in our lives. May the richness of your presence flow from us to others so that they may see your mercy and grace. May those who feel discouraged or depressed find supernatural strength in your heavenly reservoir of love.

forwardYet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62 ESV)

One of the greatest challenges for every Christian is to follow Jesus and pursue His purpose for our lives without looking back.  Imagine trying to drive a car on the highway while looking the whole time in the rearview mirror; you’d be challenged to stay in your lane and avoid a collision.  Jesus’ illustration of plowing a field would have made perfect sense to his listeners living in an agricultural context.  If a farmer did not focus on what is ahead but was distracted by what was behind or on the periphery, it would be impossible to plow in a straight line.  The ox and plow would certainly veer off course.

Both positive and negative aspects of our lives have the potential to become distractions:

  • Past successes.
  • Past failures.
  • Internal insecurities.
  • External circumstances.
  • Comfort & security.
  • Even meaningful relationships.

It’s interesting that the man who wants to follow Jesus is distracted by something that we would consider a positive: his home and family.  Jesus is letting us know that even something that’s a huge blessing in our lives can become a distraction if it becomes more important than pursuing Jesus and His purpose. As we continue to seek Jesus, we must constantly be aware of the potential distractions in our rear view mirror of life. There can often be a tendency to look back and remember the good, instead of the great in front of you with Jesus.

How can you look ahead and refocus on Jesus and His purpose for you?

eraseHow many times have you done something you know was wrong, but you justified it by just saying, “God will forgive me?” If you’re like most Christians, you’ve done it more than once, but most people will publicly deny it. So this morning we’re not going to ask for a public admition, we’re just going to take a look at why it’s so wrong, and he Bible says about it.

So what’s the problem with asking for forgiveness after you’ve committed an act you knew was wrong? The biggest issue with repetitive sin is that is shows that we have a lack of the Holy Spirit. If our walk with the Lord is the way it should be, then our desire to sin is either easier to resist, or it doesn’t happen as often. Now this doesn’t mean we’re beyond hope, it means that we need to ask Jesus to point out the areas in our lives that need spiritual attention. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to come into that black part of our heart that still craves the sinful nature, and to replace it with the healing and love of the Lord. When that part of our heart is replaced, it becomes easier to resist the sins that the flesh finds so enjoyable.

I’m sure there will be people who look at this blog and start thinking about people they know who are guilty of repetitive sin. To those people, I say to look into your own lives first. Romans 3:23 says that we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so we need to examine our own lives, because I can almost guarantee that all of us commit some sort of repetitive sin.That doesn’t make us beyond the point of no return, it means that we are all sinners, yet eligible for forgiveness because Jesus gave His life so that we could have a second chance.

This blog isn’t aimed at anyone but myself. I woke up this morning and the Lord laid it on my heart to discuss this issue that is so seldom talked about, but incredibly important in our Walk with the Lord. He laid it on my heart that I need to search my soul and Him to replace the dark spots I’m trying to hide, and replace it with His love. It’s a hard thing to do, but I encourages us all to give it a try… Let me know how it works out for you…:)

 

Below are some great scriptures and how they can help you understand and get over repetitive sin.

 

1 John 3:6-10 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

 

Romans 7:15-25 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. …

 

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart
2 Timothy 2:22

Youthful lusts are not limited to physical attraction. They include excessive desires for popularity, acceptance, worldly success, or academic achievement.

The lusts that Paul warns us against are any of the short-sighted cravings of youth for personal pleasure or gain, rather than for personal godliness. Youthful lusts include any hunger or ambition that distracts from our pursuit of true righteousness, faith, charity, and peace.

Interestingly, Paul is not content with our fleeing youthful lusts; he commands us, alternatively, to pursue hard after (the word “follow” is very strong in the original language) a pure-hearted devotion to God. We will not experience the vibrant, joyful, fulfilling Christian life until we are not only trying to avoid sin but are also seeking after Christ.

And one of the greatest encouragements for people as they pursue Christ is to follow after him with those that call on the Lord themselves out of a pure heart. Good friends are a great help to the Christian life, and are especially crucial when you are young.

So, young people, remember to flee away from sinful temptations, follow after Christ as your Lord, and look for good friends who will pursue Christ with you.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

When you are stuck in sin, what are you compelled to do? Are you compelled to engage other believers and prayerfully work through sin’s power in your life? Hopefully that is the case, but for many believers we urge ourselves to withdraw, retract, and disengage from those who would walk through our sin with us. This is the last thing we should do! It can be embarrassing admitting we have messed up.

Let us remember, as Christians, we are called to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16).  This is not an irrational rule meant to shame us into compliance. Contrarily, it is intended for our benefit and building one another up in love and grace. What we seem to forget is that what we struggle with others have or do as well. Our Christian brother or sister has already been through what we have and can be there to help us through it. Don’t let pride keep you in sin!! We may be grieved by our sin but continue to live in it because we aren’t confessing it and being sharpened in our fight against it. Repentance is much more than feeling sorry about our sin, it is literally turning around and going the opposite direction.  Rather than living in the dark and returning to sin, confess your sin to a brother or sister and stay accountable to him or her. When this happens, you will find you both become sharper, more useful tools for the Lord.

Who sharpens you?

giftI hate to sound like I’m putting a damper on the millions of people having a Merry Christmas, but please don’t forget the ones that aren’t. I have a friend who gives up her Christmas Eve to spend time in a nursing home over 100 miles away so the residents there will have someone by their side. I think a lot about this gesture and wish more people would do something like this, because there’s nothing worse than being on the outside world of being alone looking through the window into the house of someone surrounded by friends and family. I humbly ask your forgiveness for sounding like such a gloomy Gus, but I just want us to remember those who wish they had someone to spend Christmas with.

For those people who are feeling alone and depressed at this time of year, here’s something to think about. It is my prayer this Christmas that you can rest in the reality of Christ! I know from personal experience that no matter how challenging the circumstances, how discouraged or how lonely you may feel at Christmas, God truly loves you and is with you wherever you may be. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us’.” Matthew 1:23 Will you take time this Christmas to believe that God is good, that He loves you and that He is with you? Will you place your burdens upon Jesus today? Christmas is about God’s unfathomable love for mankind and His everlasting gift of His Son, our Lord and Savior, JESUS! “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 I know that it can be hard getting out of the circle of sadness and back into the light of the Lord, but with the help of the Lord, you CAN do it. Let me know if I can pray for you, and I’ll be there for you.

Let’s remember that giving and receiving presents is an awesome feeling, but remember that Jesus took the route of humility, of being born in a manger with just Mary and Joseph, rather than in the spotlight. He did it for the least of the people. Make this Christmas extra special by starting a tradition that makes someone else feel good. A stranger or a family member, it doesn’t matter. Fel free to enjoy your Christmas with the ones that bring you joy, but don’t forget the ones that may stretch you a bit, that will be your giftto yourself.

 

  • Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

  • Luke 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

  • Matthew 1:18-24 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

  • Luke 2:9-14 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

  • Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

  • Luke 2:1-20 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to his own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:  ” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”  Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”  After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

mangerScripture doesn’t specifically command believers to celebrate Christmas–there are no prescribed “Holy Days” the church must observe. In fact, Christmas was not observed as a holiday until well after the biblical era. It wasn’t until the mid-fifth century that Christmas received any official recognition.

We believe celebrating Christmas is not a question of right or wrong since Romans 14:5-6 provides us with the liberty to decide whether or not to observe special days:

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks (Rom. 14: 5-6).

According to these verses, a Christian can rightfully set aside any day–including Christmas–as a day for the Lord. We believe Christmas affords believers with a great opportunity to exalt Jesus Christ.

First, the Christmas season reminds us of the great truths of the Incarnation. Remembering important truths about Christ and the gospel is a prevalent New Testament theme (1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:5). Truth needs repetition because we so easily forget it. So we should celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Christ and to marvel over the mystery of the Incarnation.

Christmas can also be a time for reverent worship. The shepherds glorified and praised God for the birth of Jesus the Messiah. They rejoiced when the angels proclaimed that in Bethlehem was born a Savior, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). The babe laid in the manger that day is our Savior, the “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Matthew 1:21; Revelation 17:14).

Finally, people tend to be more open to the gospel during the Christmas holidays. We should take advantage of that openness to witness to them of the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. Christmas is chiefly about the promised Messiah who came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The holiday provides us with a wonderful opportunity to share this truth.

Although our society has muddied the message of Christmas through consumerism, myths and empty traditions, we should not let these distract us from appreciating the real meaning of Christmas. Let us take advantage of this opportunity to remember Him, worship Him and faithfully witness of Him.