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.

Psalm 25 – God’s Steadfast Love

God is steadfast in his love for us and by his love we are saved, renewed, exalted, and used to build the Kingdom of God. Each of us has a part to play in reaching the lost. The more we give our life to God and follow Him the more we will become like him in everyway which will not only change our lives but the lives of those around us.

Making Fasting a Priority

What a great God we have! Thank you Jesus for the love and compassion that you lavish us with. Thank you for laying down your life for us while we were still sinners. We praise your holy name. Your ways, though seemingly backwards at times are always what we need. Who are we to second guess what you have told us or what your Holy Spirit is leading us to do or to change in our lives. We are still influenced by the enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy us, but by the help of the Holy Spirit we are able to stand strong and even when we fall we are so thankful for your grace upon us. Thank you Father, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

God is so good! God has been revealing some things to me over the past few days as I have been fasting and they are bringing about more joy in my life. I cannot explain exactly what they all are because quite frankly I do not fully know, but I do know that I feel lighter and more joyful. He has revealed an impatient heart which quickly leads to anger. He has shown me areas in my life in which I have been selfish. He has gotten me back onto a budget once again, this one is really difficult for me. He is breaking down barriers to worship and revealing my heart for Him more than I ever knew before. I am being filled with His compassion for people, some of which I do not even know. God is so good!

I look forward to what else God will reveal to me and my family as this fast continues. The last time that we fasted for guidance in our life He called us to abandon a job in New Jersey that we were supposed to start within a week of His plan being revealed. We had all of our belongings packed up and we were ready to go. (Prior to this time we had not sought out what God would like us to do, we were just doing what we thought we wanted to do.) The word came that we were supposed to stay in Missouri, where neither one of us had a job, and not go to New Jersey. So we did.

At the time we did not realize that we were supposed to stay in Missouri so we started looking for jobs elsewhere, all the while God was laying out a foundation for us right where we were. He took care of us and has continued to take care of us and we are so thankful. It is scary sometimes to follow blindly, but when we get used to it we learn to trust God because He really does know what we need and where He desires for us to be. So when I say that I look forward to seeing what God has to reveal to us yet I really mean that I am anxiously awaiting. I have so enjoyed the increase in joy so far and the revelations that He has given thus far, even if some things are a little challenging, and I look forward to drawing closer to Him still.

If you have never fasted before I would like to take a quick moment to encourage you to do it. Matthew 6:16-18 says,

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

I was reluctant to write about fasting while I am still in a fast, but I felt strongly that I was supposed to share the increase in joy that God has given me so far. Fasting used to be a common practice and as Scripture states it is an expectation that God has for us. “When you fast…” is very different from “if you fast.” A couple years back we joined into a fast as a church after learning more about fasting and I have been sold on it ever since. It is all about growing nearer to God, and even though often times we receive things from God during a fast the greatest thing that we could receive is to draw nearer to God and to know His heart for us. There is nothing more encouraging than knowing that God cares for us and loves us, even though we mess things up so often in life. So if you have never fasted before I encourage you to pray about it earnestly and fast as long as you feel God has told you to fast, and if you have not fasted for a while then maybe it is time to see if it is time to fast again and draw nearer still to God.

God bless you all and may His face shine upon you today and until the end of time.

Love and Obedience

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exo. 34:6). “…God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Deu. 7:9). “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psal. 36:7). God’s love is powerful, more powerful than anything that we could possibly imagine. It is life changing and is available to all which gives the Gospel so much power. Isn’t it amazing to know that the God that made the Universe, the God that created mankind loves us unconditionally!

It is absolutely true that “God is love,” but the message does not end there. The Bible tells of God’s glorious love for mankind, but it doesn’t just tell of His love. God’s love is available, but we can only access it through obedience and acceptance of His Son, Jesus Christ. Love is a powerful message, but it is not the whole message, because without obedience to and acceptance of Jesus Christ we do not have access to that love. Therefore, the message solely of God’s love is a false message. You do not get His love poured into your hearts unless the Holy Spirit has been given to you (Rom. 5:5). The Holy Spirit is given freely to those who love Jesus and keep His commandments (Joh. 14:15-16). Notice that Jesus didn’t just say that it is given freely to those who love Him; it was contingent on those who keep His commandments.

This image was originally posted to Flickr by jam343 http://flickr.com/photos/24841050@N00/2461973
This image was originally posted to Flickr by jam343 http://flickr.com/photos/24841050@N00/2461973
Love and obedience is the Gospel message and it is the only message that has any power, because without those two in combination there is no access to God. I know this might be contrary to what you have heard, because so many teach of God’s love and how much love He has for His people, but fail to mention that to be called His people we must be obedient to Him. This gives us a false sense of ownership as well as a false sense of inheritance. God is great and amazing and He is love. He has more to offer us than any of our praise could ever begin to relate to Him how thankful we are, but if we don’t truly understand our relationship in Him we are missing out and have been fed a message that is contrary to the Gospel and is not life giving. Sure it makes us feel good to know that God loves us and forgives us, but it requires our obedience and when we have failed to be obedient it requires our repentance.

Repentance is a sorrowful acknowledgment of our sins and it requires us to turn back to God and away from Satan. Psalm 7:11-16 says the following about God and repentance…

God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.

In this instance to repent literally means to turn back and to turn away from wickedness. Luke 13:2-5 says it differently it says, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” In this manner Jesus is telling the people that they must morally reconsider what they have done and to think differently than what they had before they sinned. This is a life changing decision; this is a decision to move from the wide gate to the narrow gate of Christ. “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mat. 7:13-14).

Jesus said the following, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (Joh. 15:10). He also spoke of His obedience to the Father in John 14:31, “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” Even Jesus was obedient to the Father and because of that obedience the world knows that He loved the Father. Jesus was perfect and thus His love is perfect which is why He bids us to follow Him. We on the other hand are not perfect and we never will be. Our lives our sin stained and without the blood sacrifice that Jesus provided for us we are not worthy of approaching the throne of God and He will never know us. God’s love requires our obedience, at least our honest and best attempt at obedience. He knows that we will fail which is why He sent us Jesus so that all who call on Him and abide in Him can be saved.

God’s love is a powerful message, but without obedience it is a message that leads to death for without obedience we are not able to receive God’s love. But don’t worry because Jesus said “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mat. 11:27-30). Will you accept the yoke of Jesus and see that His burden is light?

Father I thank you for your love and for your Son Jesus whom you sent to die as payment for my sins. I am a sinner and I need you God. I love you and chose to turn from my evil ways and follow you. I know that I will mess up though and when I do I will acknowledge that I did not follow your ways and my heart will be grieved. I will turn back to you God and follow you all of my days. I choose to be obedient to you God because your love is worth everything that I have. Accept me Lord and may my life be a testimony about who you are and the love that you have for the world. I ask this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

If this was helpful or encouraging to you please feel free to share it with others. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to make a comment. We all have a purpose and can be used to help others draw closer to God. God bless you in your journey to knowing Him deeper than before and accepting yourself with all of the qualities that God desires for you to have.