Friday, November 25, 2016

Back on the Rock

"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!" - Psalm 40:2-4

Being a hiker, this passage really stands out to me. When you're out in the wilderness, it is very possible that you could fall to your death if you slipped into a large pit; you have to avoid stepping in miry bogs, and you feel the stability of rocks under your feet. Even those who are not outdoorsy can still feel this imagery; sometimes we feel as if we've slipped into a mental bog that we cannot escape on our own, and at some point in time, we have all been dead in a pit of spiritual destruction.

Let us be thankful and continually praising God each day that He has saved us from that destruction and set us upon His firm foundation. Know that He is equally capable of pulling us from the miry bogs of sin and despair. Believe it. Hang onto it. Don't be afraid to share it so that others can know. Trust God, and never allow yourself to pridefully believe that you are the only one who can rescue yourself.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sin and Temptation (is there a difference?)

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." - James 1:12-15

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - Romans 3:23

Two facts: 1.) We all have temptations which draw us towards particular sins. 2.) All of us at some point have sinned by giving into those temptations.

Those temptations can manifest themselves in a myriad of ways; we can be prone to a bad temper, discontentment, or gossip; we could be lustful towards other people, whether they be the opposite gender or the same as us; we can even have strong urges towards theft, manipulation, or murder. The list can go on and on! It isn't a sin for us to have such temptations plaguing us in our lives- it is, in fact, unfortunately normal, due to humanity having a sinful fallen nature. It does, however, become sin when we act upon those urges that pop into our minds and cause us to break God's law.

A frequent problem I notice among Christians (and have even had myself!) is to take note of the more obvious types of sin and temptation we see in others' lives and decide in our heads (and sometimes even out loud) that, "Nobody who does that could be a child of God." But what right have we to do that? We may be tempted and sin in different ways than other people, but remember, James 2:10 states that "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." What's that mean? You and whoever you're looking at are in the same place. Stop trying to hold a moral high ground and pray for both them and yourself. Treat them how you wish to be treated, no matter what kind of person you observe them to be, remembering that you're both people made in the image of God. Be a genuine example of true Christlike love. Encourage positive change in them, and even more importantly, be changed more and more to the likeness of Jesus yourself.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Post-Election Post

Once again, it is the United States’ election season. At the time of my writing this, we are four days away from the day that the votes will be tallied and we will learn who gets to be the new head of the USA. As always, people are freaking out, and many of them are my fellow Christians. My question is, why? 

Yes, things will be different, and no, we may not always see eye to eye with the things that the candidates want to put into action. But why should we fret about it? History states that God takes care of His people, and that He knows when they need Him.

“God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:24-25) 

Yes, God knew. And while He did let them remain in unfavorable conditions for a considerable period, still, he came to their aid when the time was right. He always takes care of His people- we can see it all throughout the Bible. 

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, that was just talking about the children of Israel. We aren't born of them.” If so, let me remind you that those of us who are saved in Christ count as much as they do:

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:11-13)

Remember, friends, it's all going down just how God intends, no matter who you just found out is going to be in charge of the country. Whatever happens, no matter how much you dislike things, God is still there for us and working it all to His glory.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Be Thankful For Everything?

It’s November, and as Thanksgiving draws nearer, I’ve begun to notice people online trying to be more aware of the blessings they have experienced over the past year and focus on the good in their lives. But what if we have had a hard year? Do we just try to tune out most of the events of the past months and go into a tunnel-vision focus on particular things that we enjoyed? Or is there something deeper we ought to consider as we wander through these dimly lit portions of life?

Recently, I encountered this verse in Thessalonians; “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). That's tough. In ALL circumstances? Really? Yep, really. It's not any easier for me than it is for you, believe me. But it's the truth, and on top of that it is a command from God. But how can we do this? Certainly not by our own power.

We must pray that God would help increase in our trust in Him, and remember what the Bible says of His character:

"The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds." (Psalm 145:17), 

"The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all." (Psalm 103:19). 

While we may not be thankful for the specific undesirable circumstances we end up in, we can still give thanks to God that He is using those events as part of His plan, and that whatever it is, in following with his character, it will end well and allow us to in some way glorify Him.