Faith Check

Today is a little bit of a faith check for you in your walk with Christ. 1 John 1-3 is chock full of encouragement to know God by following Jesus and that we can know we are doing this if our lives are evident of it. We can know that we are following Jesus if we are living in the light and if we are then we will have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all of our sin (1 John 1:5-7).

John reminded his readers that God is light and that there is no darkness within him so if those who claim to follow Christ are filled with darkness then they are fooling themselves. He also went on to say that IF we are following Jesus “then we will have fellowship with one another” (1 Jn. 1:7). This is expounded upon further when he said that

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness (1 Jn. 2:9-11).

If anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and anyone who hates a fellow believer is living and walking in darkness then is there a middle ground? Can we be indifferent towards one another and still walk in the light? If gray is a mix of white and black then if we are living in a gray zone can we truly say that we are walking in the light?

We were created to love God and to walk in fellowship with Him and with one another. When we fail to do this we are not realizing the fullness of God’s love for us nor are we able to fully live in the light that God has called us to live in.

1 John 3:18-24
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

Our reflection of the light of our Father is dimmed by the darkness that we live in. When we are not living our lives fully in the light then we become marred by the darkness and our lives are less pure. In other words, when we are in true fellowship with God it will be reflected in our lives.

Living lives that are fully devoted to Christ creates a faith within us that is revealed through our actions, through our attitude, and through our relationships. We will make time for others because of the overwhelming love of God who wants all to come to Him to be restored. We will no longer be indifferent towards others, but we will love them regardless and we will have enough faith to stand in the path of the enemy and to speak life into their lives.

Try as we might, we cannot truly know who God is without each other. Our knowledge will never leave our head to infiltrate our heart and our lives if we try to do it alone and we never be effective in telling others about Christ if we do not love Him with all of our hearts or if we do not love the one in whom we are telling. Love is a choice and our actions are a result of that choice.

What are your actions saying about your choice to follow Jesus? Are they saying that I am just in this for me or are they truly reflecting the light of the Father and saying that the Father’s love is within me and I will do everything I can to share that love with the world and to bring people back into a right relationship with Him?

Life is different for most of us in America because we do not live life in community. The majority of us do not live with our families so we do not understand the strength that comes from relying upon one another, nor do we value one another as much because we are conditioned to believe that if we want something then the only thing that is stopping us from getting it is how hard we work for it. How much more would our lives be blessed if instead of living for ourselves we lived for those around us? Not only would we be blessing others, but they would be blessing us and we would all grow closer to Christ in the process.

We cannot and must not do this alone and anyone who thinks that they can has been fooled by the enemy and is walking in darkness. Anyone who believes they can do it alone has already chosen to do it alone and is missing out on the fullness of what God has for them in their life. We all need to learn how to think about ourselves less and to think about others more and when we do we will see more of God’s truth in our lives.

Created for Purpose

Mankind was created on purpose and for a purpose. When God created the world he created light and then separated the light from the darkness to create the first day. He went on to separate the waters and to make dry land appear, and on that land he created plants and trees. He created different seasons in different places and placed stars in the sky along with the sun and the moon. He filled the waters with all sorts of living creatures and filled the skies with birds and told them to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen. 1:22). Then the following day he created creatures to fill the lands and he created man in His own image to “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Gen. 1:26).

God instructed man to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen. 1:28). God created man and immediately commanded them to be fruitful and increase in number, just as he had commanded the animals, but he also commanded man to subdue the earth. Man was immediately given a purpose after the creator of the universe “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). God placed him into the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. God created all the living creatures, but he brought them all to Adam to be named. Even though Adam was created he was created in the image of God and he shared a fellowship with God unlike any other.

Man was created to operate in relationship with God, but when man decided not to listen to God and sinned against Him the relationship was severed. Man was kicked out of the Garden where he was once given full reign and control over all things to care for them and to subdue them. On that day man lost more than he could have ever known. Today some things have changed for those who chose to follow Jesus because of His death on the cross. When Jesus died the veil was torn that separated man from God in the temple and because of this man is able to speak to God and to approach Him without going through a priest or a high priest because Jesus has become the greatest high priest and sits at the right hand of God the Father to intercede on our behalf.

With Jesus interceding on our behalf and the Holy Spirit guiding us in our lives we have the opportunity to enter into a place of communication and relationship with God. The relationship is certainly not what it was in the Garden and until Jesus returns it will not be like that again, but we are able to talk to God and to listen to Him in such a manner that we can live our lives to the fullest. The problem is that just as Adam chose to ignore God and to turn away from Him we do the same thing. We allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan who wants nothing more than to rob us of our glory and joy that can only come from the Father. Jesus told us that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10). If we want to have a full life we must follow Jesus and resist the temptations of Satan.

James 4:4-10
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

It is only by placing our trust in God and following Him that we are able to be near to God and to be who we were created to be. It is through our faith and belief in Him that we are able to recognize what He is leading us into, but the opposite is also true. When we fail to seek Him, when we turn our hearts away from God our lives begin to reflect something that God did not intend for them to be. We must keep our eyes set upon Jesus and trust in Him even during times of testing.

Hebrews 3:7-19
So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

It is our duty to encourage one another daily in keeping the faith so that none of us turn away from the Lord which means we have to be involved in one another’s lives and we have to be willing to speak out against acts that would be dishonoring to God. We need to encourage each other by reminding each other of what God has already done for us and what He is still doing in our lives. We must be willing to stand alongside one another when things get tough so that those who are going through trials do not have to carry the weight of the trial on their own.

Remember that Jesus came so that we could have life and have it to the fullest. What is stopping you from living your life to the fullest today? Where is your focus? Are you focused on seeking God and following Him or are you focused on something else? We each have a choice to make every single day and in each moment of the day whether or not to seek God and follow Him or not. When we do not we become separated from God and it is only by truly repenting of our sins that we will be able to begin to restore our relationship with God and with others. Thank God that by His grace through the blood of Jesus Christ that our sins have been paid for and that we can be forgiven when we truly repent!

Do NOT be Fooled!

Today’s message from the Word of God is a message of warning from Paul to the church in Corinth that should be considered prayerfully. Not all churches are being taught God’s Word or to follow God. Not all churches are being led by God’s children and if we are not in the Word of God we may not be able to recognize it. Satan is on the prowl everywhere and we must put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and be alert to the battle that is before us. If we do not we will be led astray because he is crafty and cunning and his message is a fanciful message of peace and love.

God is love…BUT…He also has a righteous anger for those who go against Him and His people. God is peace for the believer but he is fury for those who attack Him. We must constantly be alert of attacks and schemes of the enemy in our own lives and in the lives of those whom we trust and follow. Just because we are Christians or just because people claim to be Christians does not mean that we are not open to attack and we can be led astray if we are not careful. Here is Paul’s warning to the Corinthians…

2 Corinthians 11:1-15 New Living Translation

I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 3 But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. 4 You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

5 But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. 6 I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.

7 Was I wrong when I humbled myself and honored you by preaching God’s Good News to you without expecting anything in return? 8 I “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost. 9 And when I was with you and didn’t have enough to live on, I did not become a financial burden to anyone. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me all that I needed. I have never been a burden to you, and I never will be. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, no one in all of Greece will ever stop me from boasting about this. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows that I do.

12 But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours.13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

We live in a world where Satan is still allowed to roam and try to assert his control over us, but by the blood of Jesus Christ we have been freed from the power of sin that leads to death (Romans 8:2). Through God’s Word we receive understanding about the ways of Satan and because Christ has already defeated Satan we do not have to be overcome by the temptations of this world and that we can overcome evil by doing good (Romans 12:21).

When we accepted Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior of our lives we received the Holy Spirit and the mighty power of God, but we must learn to embrace and understand that power in order to effectively fight Satan and his followers. We must learn to see what the Father is doing, we must adopt His heart for others, His eye for evil, and His Spirit of truth and righteousness.

2 Peter 3:17-18
17 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

May God bless you as you learn His Word and understand the power that you have been given over the darkness that roams the world. May you be a blessing to others through that power as you open your eyes, and your heart, and your Spirit to all that the Father is doing around you and through you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

Set Apart for God

Today’s message is a little bit harder to swallow than most, but none-the-less it is God’s Word. In 2 Corinthians 6 verses 14-18 Paul is warning the believers in Corinth about partnering with unbelievers. First off it is important to realize that there were a lot of false teachers who were infiltrating the church and spreading a false message. They presented themselves as Christians, but did not bear the message of Christ. Secondly it is not saying to hate unbelievers or even to be harsh towards them. Instead it is about the believer and follower of Christ setting themselves apart from the world. It is about not being overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21).

As Christians we are exhorted to Love God and to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40) and by the blood of Jesus Christ we have been made holy for all time (Hebrews. 10:10). To be made holy means to be set apart to God. In the Old Testament the level of holiness determined who could enter the temple of God. Those who were unbelievers or non-Jews, for this example, were not allowed past the outer courts, Jew’s the inner courts, priests the Holy Place, and the High Priest the Holy of Holies and only once a year. The closer to God people got the more holy they needed to be. Luckily for us the curtain of the temple which separated man from God was torn when Jesus was crucified (Matthew 27:51) and because of that we are now able to approach God directly, but we are still to make ourselves holy, confessing our sin to God and repenting, when we approach Him. What that means for us today in regards to the following passage is that we must not team up with those who follow Satan, those who do not follow God, and we must remain Holy so that we can remain in close fellowship with God.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18
14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
“I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you.
18 And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

This does not mean we should not talk to unbelievers, but it does mean that we need to be on guard, it means that we must realize that as long as they choose not to follow God that they are considered enemies of God, until such a time that they choose to follow Him. Military personnel are a prime example of this. When deployed to a combat zone military personnel are often times out in the midst of the “enemy” sometimes the enemy is known and has a face, while other times the enemy is unknown and hiding amongst civilians. Military bases are generally more safe than being “outside the wire” or outside the confines of the base and less vigilance is needed within the confines of the base; however, when going outside of the base everyone needs to remain super vigilant for their own safety and for the safety of their team. That does not mean they are to be rude or mean to people, but it means they must be on guard because there could be someone waiting to cause them harm, and at the same time there may be others who do not want to be associated with the enemy.

As Christians we must be vigilant when we are associating with non-believers so that we do not become like them. We must remain aware that Satan is out to attack God’s people in any way that he can and he will use those who are under his control to do his work, even people that we might consider friends and family. We have been called to live a different life than those who do not follow God. Of course these people may be great people, but if they are not for God then they are against Him and we must be on guard when around them so that we do not go astray.

Being a Christian means that we must go out into the world in order to share the Gospel, but that also places us at risk. On the extreme side of things there may come a time when you feel as though you cannot minister to a friend and you may feel as though you can no longer be around them because of their refusal to accept God’s message, but only you can make that determination as you are so led by the Holy Spirit living within you. Remember it is our responsibility to spread the Gospel message to the world around us and when we place ourselves in the proximity of unbelievers we must not waiver in our beliefs and in our love for God. This is a hard place to be, especially for new believers and those who are weaker in their faith because when we first come to Christ and when we are not firmly grounded in the Word of God we can be easily led astray.

People should always be able to recognize that you are a Christian, even if you are with someone who is not. We are not to hide in our own little safe bubbles where nothing can harm us because then we are doing nothing to let the world know how great our God is, but we must be ever vigilant when we are in the world so that we do not become seduced by the ways of the world.

May God bless you today as you faithfully and courageously follow Him. May He keep you out of the hands of the devil even when you are in close proximity to those who follow his ways. May you be a light to a dark world to bring people to the only one who can provide a full and satisfying life, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen!

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

We are Promised New Bodies!!

Have you ever noticed that we live in an age where everything is made to be thrown away? This is very different from the way things used to be. Things used to be made to last, but now almost everything has a short lifespan. Instead of mending things we simply get the newest and best thing on the market: phones, televisions, appliances, clothes, shoes, etc. Unfortunately relationships are not much different these days. Most of us choose to be so busy that we don’t really have time to invest in meaningful relationships anymore. Sure we may check our social media to see how people are doing and probably send a happy birthday or quick message once in a while, but then it’s off to the next best thing.

There is one thing that exists that has not changed though. It is still just as reliable as it always was. That it is God. He is the same as he always was and His Word is just as good as it always was. Even though we may not invest the time into our relationship with Him as we should He is still there trying to have a relationship with us. He is still there waiting for us to recognize our need for him. He has proven himself over and over again to His people yet they still reject Him. As He led the Israelite’s through the desert on the way to the Promised Land He provided everything they needed and even made sure that what they had did not wear out.

Deuteronomy 8:2-4
2 Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell.

Just as God took care of the Israelite’s in the desert and provided them with clothes that did not wear out He has promised to do the same for us in eternity if we follow Him. All that we have now is wearing out, but when we die we will receive new bodies that will never wear out. All of our needs will be provided for and we will never be in want.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5
1 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

Isn’t it great to know that even though things are fading away while we are in our earthly bodies that we will receive new bodies when we are with our Lord? God’s provision is never ceasing as long as we follow Him. He cares for us always and desires to take care of us, and sometimes that means that when we disobey Him we must be disciplined. Verses 1 and 5 of Deuteronomy 8 state, “1 Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.” “5 Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.”

We have a good and gracious God who is very patient with us and end even though we mess up sometimes we can trust that He will continue to be there for us as long as we keep our focus on Him and off the things of the world that Satan is using to try to deter us from following God. By the blood of Jesus Christ we are able to be renewed in our relationship with the Father even when we fall if we will humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and turn back to following God.

May God bless you as you follow Him today and tomorrow and every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’