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.’

Don’t be a Stumbling Block

Yesterday we saw that God desires our love for Him and for others above knowledge.  Today we will look deeper into what Paul was teaching.  It is true that God desires for us to love Him and to love others, but that does not mean that He doesn’t desire for us to gain knowledge and understanding.  He absolutely desires for us to know all there is about Him and His decrees, but above that He desires for us to not become a stumbling block for others because of our “superior knowledge” (1 Cor. 8:10).  Paul said,

1 Corinthians 9:19-27

Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.  When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ.  When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law.  Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.  When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from the law so I can bring them to Christ.  But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ.  Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.  I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training.  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.  Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Paul, who had experienced Jesus like no other had and who had great training in the Word submitted himself to others in love so that he could lead them to the truth that can only be found in Christ.  He put himself in the shoes of others so that he could speak to them and interact with them in ways that they would understand.  He did not let his knowledge get in the way of others knowing who Christ was, instead he humbled himself and spoke in love and humility.

Often times we think that we can win others to Christ by knowing enough about the Bible or about God, but that is rarely the case.  Paul could have argued anyone to Christ through his knowledge if anyone could have, yet he chose to love them and to speak to them in ways that would speak to them the best.  We have the opportunity to do the same when we are talking with others.  We can have all the knowledge there is in the world, but if we do not love others our message will fall on deaf ears.

So seek to learn all that you can about God, but do not let your knowledge overshadow the love that you have for others.  We have each been given a unique set of stories through which we can share the love of Christ with others.  We have been given living proof that God loves us and that He changes lives.  Share your story, love others, but above all love the Lord your God who loved you while you were still a sinner by sending Christ to die for you (Romans 5:8)

May you be filled with overflowing joy as you encounter the Lord today and share life with others around you.

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.’

Knowledge or Love? Which is Better?

1 Corinthians 8:1-3
Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Man has a desire to learn and to gain knowledge and understanding about things, but when love is sacrificed in pursuit of knowledge or put aside to pursue knowledge then nothing has been gained. In a world that is becoming increasingly more disconnected with one another we need to stop sometimes and realize that it is love that God desires. He desires us to follow Him, but He desires us to follow out of our love for Him. He also desires for us to love one another.

Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Knowledge is good, wisdom is better, but love and to be loved is the desire of God’s heart and man’s heart. Take a moment to slow down today and to really love people. Put aside your differences and the reasons you may not like one another and love as God has called us to love.

May God bless you today as you bless others.

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.’

Lukewarm Christianity is Repulsive

Revelation 3:15-17

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

I don’t want to be accused of being  lukewarm in my faith. I don’t want to be spit out by God. I’ve spent too much of my life being lukewarm thinking that I could have the best of both worlds but that’s impossible; we are either for God or against him. It is impossible to only be partially for him.  We are either of the world our we are of God.

Can you look at people who are hungry and continue walking past? Can you pass a homeless person on the street and do nothing? Can you witness a child being harmed and stand idly by? Can you stand in a group of people and laugh at immoral jokes? Can you speak badly about a co-worker? Can you curse at the cars around you in traffic?  Can you make fun of people our talk down to them? Can you go about your day with no regard for the people around you?  If you can do these things then can you really call yourself a Christian?

Life is full of choices, we make them all throughout our day. We make choices to be with God or to be against him, there is no middle ground. To be lukewarm is as good as being against God. All it does is demonstrate to the world that God is not worth following with everything we have. It shows the world that we are no different then they are and when we chose to live like this we have chosen to ignore our inheritance and have returned to the self pleasing ways of the world. I cannot live like this and I will not live like this.

There are too many being people in the world who need to see, to know, and to experience God’s love, grace, and power. There is too much at stake to be lukewarm. People are dying everyday without knowing who God is and I don’t want it to be because I was more concerned about self preservation than saving their life.