bible

If We Love God, Silence is Not An Option

As we prepare to celebrate another anniversary of our nation’s founding and with the news of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage, I can’t help but reflect upon how drastically our nation has changed since my childhood. Freedoms—like the freedom of speech, religion, and the right to bear arms– that our God-fearing founding fathers sacrificed their livelihoods and even their lives to obtain, and that I and many have long taken for granted, are under attack and before long could be just a memory. We are definitely living in a day when that which is evil is being called ‘good’, and good is being called ‘evil’. (Isaiah 5:20) It is growing increasingly difficult to speak out against gay marriage in our nation without being accused of being intolerant, a bigot, a ‘hater’, or worse. As several florists, photographers, and bakers can already attest– and perhaps many more of us will find out– it can be very costly to take God at His Word and to refuse to condone ‘gay marriage’ —which in fact is an oxymoron since God created marriage and defined it as being between a man and a woman. (Genesis 2:24) Regrettably, the fear of real or imagined reprisal from family, friends, or even the government, is causing some professing Christians to remain silent on the subject of ‘gay marriage’ and the LGBT movement.

Others remain silent because they lack knowledge of what the bible has to say about the subject–whether because they are ‘unchurched’ or have not personally studied it or because their pastor avoids preaching on the topic; some are confused and not sure what they believe because what they hear in the mainstream media from certain religious leaders, politicians, Hollywood stars and other media personalities contradicts what they have been taught to believe and they do not feel confident that they know how to respond to this crucial issue which has temporal and eternal significance.

It is time that we as the Church—Jesus’ Bride– speak up and stand on and for the Word of God!

Rather than acquiescing to the accusation, “Who are you to judge someone else’s lifestyle?’ Christians need to make it clear that we are not judging anyone! We need to assert that we are not expressing our opinion. We are just agreeing with God, the Ultimate Judge, and what He has clearly stated in His Word regarding both the sanctity of marriage and the sin of same gender sexual relations. (I wholeheartedly agree with those who say we must not remain silent on what God has to say about sexual relations between heterosexuals who are not married to one another either!)

Rather than remaining silent when people assert that a person who claims to be gay was born that way and has no choice in the matter, we need to speak the truth in love that since the fall of Adam and Eve ALL of mankind has been born with a sin nature and we will continue in our sin unless we receive a ‘new’ nature. We need to share in love that it is only when a person receives a ‘new nature’ by being ‘born again’ through faith in Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross that ANYONE—‘gay’ or ‘straight’; male or female; rich or poor; black, white, yellow, red; or whatever else might distinguish individuals from one another—can have the power to overcome the temptation to sin. Praise be to the Lord Who gave us both the power to resist the temptation to sin and the power to overcome the penalty of our sin, which is death, through the power of the Holy Spirit Who is at work in all who put their faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross!

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. 1st Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

We need to make it clear that the sin of homosexuality, being a lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, or any other choice regarding sexual behavior is not the ‘unforgivable sin’. The ‘unforgivable sin’ is refusing to receive Jesus’ free gift of salvation. Sin is the name God gives when we ‘miss the mark’ and disobey or rebel against His Word and His will.

So why should we focus on this particular sin? Why are we considering this sin rather than any number of other sins like fornication, adultery, lying, drunkenness, gluttony, or gossip? Because this sin– which not so long ago was considered ‘abnormal’ even by the American Psychiatric Association – is now being promoted as an acceptable ‘lifestyle’, even one that is to be embraced and celebrated. Those who label it ‘sin’ are increasingly under attack and considered to be an abomination, and pressured to adopt the culture’s view.

Why is it critical that we label sin for what it is rather than calling it our ‘choice’, our ‘lifestyle’, a ‘disease’, or something else?

First, we can call something anything we wish but our calling it something else does not make it so. Only God Who created and rules the world has the authority to call something sin, and He has already written in the bible what sin is. It is rebelling against Him and going against His Word. Both the New and Old Testament make it clear that same gender sexual relations is sin because it violates His commands and His will.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22 (See also Leviticus 20:13)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 (See also 1st Timothy 1:9-11; Romans 1:18-32; Jude 1:7)

Secondly, if we ‘misdiagnose’ something we won’t know to take the necessary action to remedy the situation. For example, if I have swallowed something poisonous, I need to know what it was I swallowed in order to take the appropriate antidote. Similarly, I must go to the Great Physician Jesus, Who alone has the power to save me from my sin. If we do not label sin for what God clearly states it is in His Word, then rather than humbling ourselves and going to Jesus to receive the forgiveness that He promises to all who confess their sin, we will continue in our sin and ultimately receive the penalty that our sin deserves—death and eternity in hell. In other words, if we refuse to acknowledge that our sin is indeed ‘sin’ we will not realize our desperate need for a Savior Who alone can deliver us from our sin.

Can you imagine being around a person who you know has an incurable disease and not telling them that there is an antidote for it if you know there is one? Could you stand by and do nothing as they or others celebrate the person’s condition because they are ignorant of its fatal nature? Would a loving person say or do nothing if it was in her power to share the antidote that alone could save the person’s life?

Then how can we as Christians be silent when we know that belief in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross is the ONLY way that sinners can be saved? Wouldn’t remaining silent when you have the ability and God’s command (Matthew 28:19) to share the necessary way for salvation be the ultimate act of ‘hatred’? And wouldn’t remaining silent also be an indication of your lack of love for God Who sacrificed His beloved Son Jesus to be the ‘antidote’ for sin?

Are there some who oppose gay marriage who hate those who are homosexual and lesbians? Regrettably, I am sure that there are some. Most grievously some of them claim to be Christians and to represent Christ. But there is a large number who oppose gay marriage who does so because first and foremost they love God and know that if they love Him they will support and obey His commandments. (John 14:15, 23)

Secondly, they share God’s love for those who are homosexual, lesbian, and bi-sexual and it grieves them to think that if those who have succumbed to that sin do not repent of it that they will spend eternity in hell. Those who truly love God and share His heart of love for others who are caught in sin—any and every kind of sin– will feel compelled to speak up and share the redemptive power of the gospel with them. They will also pray for them and not deride them. Have you extended the love of God by sharing the gospel with anyone you know who has been taken captive by the sin of same gender sexual relations or anyone who has bought our culture’s lie on the issue?

The real ‘haters’ are those who hate God and want to do away with the commands He has provided in the bible for our good because He loves us and knows what is best for us. They hate those who represent God and His Word because they have been deceived by Satan and falsely believe that those opposed to ‘gay marriage’ want to keep them from something good, rather than wanting to protect them from that which is harmful to them and displeases God.

When God created the world, after He made Adam He said that it was not good that he be alone. So He designed the perfect helpmate for him, a woman who Adam named Eve. A woman who God designed in every way—including physically–to complement, or complete man. Then God gave them the joint assignment ‘to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth’. That was an assignment that neither could do alone; they needed each other. Clearly, God did not choose to put two men or two women together as two of the same gender could not have fulfilled His command to reproduce. God knew that the very best helpmate for man was woman, and that man was the very best helpmate for woman. Not just for reproductive purposes, but in His infinite wisdom He created them in His image– both men and women– to reflect different aspects of the triune Godhead and to assume different– but equally vital– roles. His plan for marriage was for man and woman to be united as one flesh, and to reflect the mystery of Christ’s love for and oneness with the Church. (Ephesians 5:22-35)

As Our Creator Who made us for His pleasure and glory (Isaiah 43:7), God alone has the right to define what marriage is, which He did in the beginning when He created man and woman for oneness and fruitfulness. Throughout the bible God reaffirms the role of marriage and the importance of family, and throughout the bible God consistently addresses the issue of same gender sexual relations as sin. His design for marriage and family has not changed, nor has His Word regarding same gender sex. Unfortunately, mankind has not changed either. Like Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden who doubted that God’s Word was for their protection and for their good, we too think we know better than God and we too rebel against His perfect word and will.

Satan’s successful ploy in the Garden of Eden was to get Eve and Adam to doubt the legitimacy of God’s love for them when He restricted them from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God was very clear in His instruction; there was no equivocation or room for doubt. Yet, Satan appealed to the desire of their eyes and the lust of their flesh. Rather than calling upon God to deliver them from their temptation, they gave into it. Unfortunately, all too often that has been the story of mankind ever since. Rather than believing that God loves us and that every command He gives us is for our good, we have doubted His love and falsely assumed that His commands are to keep us from something good rather than to protect us. Those who are caught up in the sin of same gender sexual relationships have bought the same lie that Adam and Eve did: the lie that God’s Word is not to be trusted and that they know what is better for them than God does.

God warned Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed His command that death would be the result. And it was. If people today rebel against His Word and do not repent and turn to Jesus, they will face the consequences of their sin too, which is death. (Romans 6:23) There will be consequences not only for those who themselves rebel against God, but also for the nation that turns its back on God’s commands (Psalm 9:17; Jeremiah 13:25; Ezekiel 14:13), which is also why we as Christians should be concerned about the direction of our nation and vocalize our opposition to laws that are made which are contrary to God’s commandments. We also must pray for those who have been taken captive by this sin to be open to hear God’s Word, and pray that we who know and love God will lovingly and boldly share with them how they too can be delivered from the power and penalty of sin and enjoy the peace that is only found in a life surrendered to God’s will.

In His love and mercy God made a way for Adam and Eve—and all of us who inherited their sin nature– to be fully reconciled to Him, a Holy God. The question for each and every person regardless of their sexual ‘orientation’ or ‘preference’ is the same: Will you accept the free gift of deliverance from death that God has provided through trusting in Jesus’ death in your place on the cross, or will you choose an eternity in hell by rejecting the free gift He has provided? Will you live your life in rebellion against God’s commands, or in submission to them?

In this nation we have enjoyed the privilege of sharing our faith without fear of being fined, imprisoned, or facing physical suffering. We cannot be certain of how long we will continue to have that privilege; hostility toward Christian values in this country is growing more intense and increasing at an alarming rate, as is global persecution. I believe that you and I and all believers are at a crossroads where we are going to have to choose between the fear of man and the fear of the Lord. Are we going to stand on and for the Word of God, or are we going to bow down to ‘political correctness’? Do you love the applause of men—as the Pharisees did (John 12:43)—more than the praises of God? Are you more concerned about offending a Holy God or of offending people who are ignorant of God’s Word or who purposely rebel against Him? Do you love yourself and your comforts more than you love the souls of those who will perish for all eternity if they do not turn to Jesus and repent?

God has put governmental authorities in place that we are to respect and obey. However, as we see from the example given in Acts 5:29 after Peter and John were told by the authorities that they were not to declare the gospel, Peter responded, “ We must obey God rather than men.” Is that your conviction too? Think how different history and even your life would be had the apostles remained silent because they were unwilling to face persecution for the sake of sharing the truth of God’s love and His commands in a hostile culture. The Holy Spirit in them compelled them to share the gospel regardless of the cost. Are you listening to and following the leading of the Holy Spirit, or are you responding to the world, your flesh, and the devil that conspire to keep you silent?

Jesus told us that if we followed Him that we would be persecuted; that we as His servants are not above our master who willingly suffered and laid down His life out of obedience to the command of His Heavenly Father. If we are persecuted for remaining faithful to God and to His Word our response should be the same as Jesus’: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Jesus also said, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10) Have you considered that the greatest blessings of your life may be found in the days ahead in a culture that wishes to silence you, but desperately needs to hear the gospel message that you have been commanded to share? If you love others– and especially if you love God– silence is not an option.

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Unashamed

My daughter came home from attending church the other day and shared with me her frustration with preachers who make altar calls at which time they say something to this effect: “Now, with eyes closed and every head bowed, raise your hand if you wish to accept Jesus as your Savior.” It is a frustration that I share, and I strongly believe that this practice—and the underlying belief behind it- is one of the reasons for the ‘lukewarmness’ that pervades our American churches today. This method of ‘saving souls’ does not date back to scripture; rather, it began in America in the 1800’s. Besides the obvious concern that this practice isn’t scriptural, it also easily leads to the impression that people should be ashamed to profess Christ as their Savior. What possible reason is there for such a discreet method of inviting people to accept Christ as their Savior other than the concern that the person might be afraid to profess his belief in God in front of others? Think of it: sinners in a church service surrounded by others who profess to believe in and trust in God, given the impression that they have something to hide if they want to be aligned with God. How absurd it is—and grievous— to think that sinners who deserve hell and damnation for their rebellion against a Holy God should be encouraged in a church to feel fearful before men for aligning themselves with God, the very One who loved them so much that while they were yet sinners, He died for them. (Romans 5:8)

unashamed-3
unashamed-3

We have not been called to fear man, but only to fear God and to fear Him above all else. “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25) We also need to remember the words of Jesus Who said, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26

Can you imagine Paul or any of the early disciples sharing the gospel and making such an altar call that involves no public profession of one’s faith? Do you think that such a practice is consistent with Paul’s words recorded in 2nd Timothy?

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace… But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (italics added) 2nd Timothy 1:7-9, 12-13

In nations where hostility toward the gospel is the rule, people who receive the gift of salvation and are baptized into the faith are aware that being aligned with Jesus might well cost them everything, including their physical life. In contrast, in America, we all too often assure people that they are ‘saved’ just because they raised their hand at a church service. First and foremost, although we are called and commanded to share the gospel and to make disciples, only the Father can draw anyone to Jesus. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44) God alone is able to save; He alone knows the hearts of people and whether or not they are indeed disciples. Yes, Jesus’ death on the cross was all that was necessary to pay the price for our sin. However, in order to obtain salvation you must believe in Him (John 6:29), and a true belief in Jesus will lead you to repent of your sins and to follow Him.

Jesus would not have told us to count the cost of following Him if all we had to do is raise our hand to be considered one of His followers.

Listen to Jesus’ words written in Luke:

“Now great crowds accompanied him (Jesus), and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’…So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (italics added) Luke 14:27-29, 33

Before we ask people to raise their hands in church to indicate that they want to receive Jesus as their Savior, shouldn’t they know what it means to be a disciple of Christ? Shouldn’t they know that it will cost them dying to their old life— a life filled with selfish ambitions and worldly desires (Luke 9:23)— and in exchange they will receive the power to live the only life worth living…a life dedicated to the glory of God and filled with His peace, joy, and love ?

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

'As You Wish'

360_dvd_princess_bride_1113
360_dvd_princess_bride_1113

One of our family’s favorite movies is the romance-comedy adventure Princess Bride, a tale of ‘true love’ between Wesley and Buttercup. Wesley, a poor farm boy woos the beautiful Buttercup by responding to her every request with, “As you wish”, and happily complying with her request.  Wesley’s response to her every desire demonstrates to Buttercup that he loves her, and eventually she too falls in love with him.

That movie —and far more importantly the cross of Christ—illustrates to us the essence of ‘true love’:  it is self-sacrificial and always moves the one who loves to action that proves that love. 1st Corinthians 13, the ‘love chapter’ in the Bible gives us a picture of agape love, the kind of love God has toward us and has called us to have for one another. I love what Rick Renner, author of Sparkling Gems from the Greek wrote regarding the meaning of agape:

‘Agape occurs when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, or appreciates the value of an object or a person, causing the viewer to behold this object or person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation.  Such great respect is awakened in the heart of the observer for the object or person he is beholding that he is compelled to love it.  In fact, his love for that person or object is so strong that it is irresistible.  Agape love knows no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high and deep it will go to show that love to its recipient.  It will even sacrifice itself for the sake of that object or person it so deeply cherishes.  It is the highest form of love…self-sacrificial that moves the lover to action.  Not self-seeking; looks not at how much it can get, but for what it can give.  Compelled to love, regardless of the response of the recipient.”

Were you convicted as you read that definition? I sure was! And I thought of how many times I have not demonstrated ‘true love’ for my husband. I realized that it is often how I respond to the  ‘small’ things’ that reveals the true condition of my heart and whether I am self-demanding or self-sacrificial, whether I love myself— or him— more.

As I meditated on agape love, the following came to my mind as ways we can demonstrate love for our husbands in the ‘everyday’ situations of life:

  •  Cheerfully, without quarreling, and without delay  do what your husband asks you to do. Don’t roll your eyes, sigh, or in other ways verbally or non-verbally indicate a lack of willingness to comply with his request. Instead, smile and have an, ‘as you wish’ attitude as you cheerfully submit to his request. If your husband has shared with you something he’d like you to do and you haven’t yet done it, ‘Just do it!’ For example, my husband appreciates it when I ‘unclutter’ my side of the bathroom.  That’s not a priority for me, but I have learned (it’s taken 34 years, but it’s finally sunk in!) that my cleaning up is a small but important way I can show my husband that what is important to him is important to me.
  •  Seek his blessing regarding doing something that’s important to you.  This may sound old-fashioned and ‘modern-day’ women may balk, but this is essential if you desire a harmonious, joyous marriage. Soliciting your husband’s approval for something you want to do demonstrates love and respect for him. In contrast, if you just go ahead and do what you want to do— or insist on doing something despite your husbands’ objections—it communicates that you do not value your husband’s viewpoint or your respect for his God-given role as the head of your household. For example, if you want to go to the movie with your friends, ask your husband if it’s all right with him if you go rather than telling him you’re going out.
  • Express an interest in your husband’s interests and activities, whether it be his job, hobbies or his dreams.  Listen with your heart as well as with your ears to what he says. Ask your husband’s viewpoint about something that’s important to you and really listen to his response. Make sure if he gives you an opinion that’s contrary to yours that you don’t belittle him and tell him all of the reasons why he’s wrong. Seek to hear ‘his heart’ and the ‘whys’ of what he believes; be intentional about affirming him. If you disagree about something, seek to find a place of agreement. At all times remember it’s more important to be in ‘right relationship’ than it is to ‘be right’.
  •  Take the initiative to do those things that you know your husband appreciates without him asking you to do them.  For instance, I know that my husband appreciates it when I  make his favorite meal or give him a back or foot massage; those are just a couple simple ways for me to demonstrate that I treasure him. You know your husband best and what would be the very thing that might please him.

The little things we do on an everyday basis may seem insignificant, but they can have an enormous impact in communicating that we love, respect and cherish our husbands. That is not only what we are called to do, but also a joy to do when we love. It also cultivates the soil in which ‘true love’ will grow and flourish.

Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of a way that you can demonstrate respect— agape love— for your husband?

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Don't Want to Deny Jesus? Don't Be Offended.

The only “climate change” I believe in, is the “climate change” that is occurring in our culture towards those that hold firmly to the Word of God.  As the number of incidents where Christians are discriminated against are adding up, I believe soon they may begin multiplying!  Would you deny your faith?  Would you deny Jesus if your job was threatened?  What about if your house or children were threatened?  What if your very life was threatened?  “Deny Jesus, or else!…”

Scripture gives us a glimpse of our human frailty in this area when we look at Peter.  Here he is, bold, courageous and proclaiming that he would die before disowning Jesus!  Jesus knows their hearts and states otherwise.  Later, we know that Peter denied Him by his words, the others deserted Him, denying Him by their actions.

image

Then Jesus said to them, You will all be offended and stumble and fall away because of Me this night [distrusting and deserting Me], for it is written, I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.

But after I am raised up [to life again], I will go ahead of you to Galilee.

Peter declared to Him, Though they all are offended and stumble and fall away because of You [and distrust and desert You], I will never do so.

Jesus said to him, Solemnly I declare to you, this very night, before a single rooster crows, you will deny and disown Me three times.

Peter said to Him, Even if I must die with You, I will not deny or disown You! And all the disciples said the same thing. Matthew 26:31-35 AMP

First, we must consider that Jesus says to his disciples “you will all be offended and stumble.”

The dictionary.com definition of offended is:

1.to irritate, annoy, or anger; cause resentful displeasure in

2.to affect (the sense, taste, etc.) disagreeably.

3.to violate or transgress (a criminal, religious, or moral law).

4.to hurt or cause pain to.

5.(in Biblical use) to cause to fall into sinful ways.

When our government, schools, workplaces, communities etc. want to “kill” Jesus and anything that may slightly resemble Him (including you hopefully, if He resides in you), many of us may feel offended.  We must recognize that those who are offended, stumble and fall away.  Instead, as Mark 4:16-18 points out our faith must have roots!

And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy;

And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away.- Mark 4:16-18 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Why does Jesus tell us these things?

I have told you all these things, so that you should not be offended (taken unawares and falter, or be caused to stumble and fall away). [I told you to keep you from being scandalized and repelled.]

They will put you out of (expel you from) the synagogues; but an hour is coming when whoever kills you will think and claim that he has offered service to God.

And they will do this because they have not known the Father or Me.

John 16:1-3

Amplified Bible (AMP)

What can we do to increase our faith, grow roots and not become offended and “fall away” when Jesus our Lord and Spirit in us in under attack?

Seven times a day and all day long do I praise You because of Your righteous decrees.

Great peace have they who love Your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble.

Psalm 119:164-165

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Are you in love with His law?  Are you easily offended?  Do you praise Him all day long?

I pray that we all- “Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.” Col 2:7

Written by Jamie Shaver

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

How to Respond When Someone Hurts You

A dear friend of mine’s husband has disappointed and gravely hurt her by his unfaithfulness, and she’s been left with a gaping wound.   The enemy of her soul is doing his best to get her consumed with unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness— ‘settled anger’ –so that those sins will eat away at her and negatively impact her fruitfulness for His kingdom. I imagine you can relate to this temptation because you too have been wounded by someone else’s sin—no matter how ugly— and have heard Satan’s voice wanting you to rehearse over and over again every aspect of the sin that was committed against you.   It is when you have been wounded by someone else’s sin that you are extremely vulnerable to the attack of the enemy, and when it is especially critical that you ”guard your heart.” (Proverbs 4:23) You must fight this tactic of the Enemy to keep you in a place of anger and resentment as if your life depends upon it—because it does!

This does not in any way mean that the pain when someone deeply sins against you is not real. Oh, it’s very real! And, the closer our relationship is with the person who wounded us the greater the pain. God does not expect or want us to deny the reality of the pain. That would be like saying that if someone stabbed you in the gut it was merely a flesh wound.  If it were a physical wound, you would immediately seek medical attention and go to the Emergency Room.

Praise be to God that we have a Great Physician who longs to and is able to heal us when we have been wounded in our spirit! He says to us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.”(Matthew 28:11Amplified) Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted (Isaiah 61:1Psalm 147:3).

image

Jesus is a Physician Who totally understands how to deal with your pain because, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Jesus was betrayed, abandoned, and forsaken by His closest friends.  And He endured that pain— as well as the physical pain of crucifixion and the even greater pain of separation from His Heavenly Father—for my sake and yours. He can understand your pain like no one else does or ever could.

When you are tempted to withhold forgiveness from those who have hurt you, remember that Jesus fully understands your struggle.  Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

If we are not to succumb to sin when we have been offended, we must do as Jesus did when He was tempted.  He went to the Word and picked up the ‘Sword of the Spirit’  (the Word of God) so He could defeat the attack of the enemy (Matthew 4:1-11). God’s Word, the Bible tells us that Jesus on the cross cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) We have been called to follow Jesus’ example and forgive those who’ve hurt us too. In the deepest sense, they too have no idea what they arereally doing.  Apart from the grace of God at work in your life and mine, there is no sin that we are not fully capable of committing too.

When someone hurts you, look to Jesus, look to the cross!  “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3) Look to the One Who was ‘wounded for your transgressions’ (Isaiah 53:5), and respond as he responded.

Pour your heart out to Jesus and ask Him to give you His heart. Ask Him to give you eyes to see your offender as He sees you—eyes filled with love and the understanding that all sinnersare going to sin and all desperately need a Savior! Jesus’ forgiveness of your sin has allowed you to go ‘from death to life’; He asks you to be a willing vessel through which His Spirit can move and allow His forgiveness for the other person to flow through you. If you are willing to turn to Him when you are in pain and to ask Him to fill you with His love and forgiveness, He will enable you to forgive the one who hurt you, no matter the depth of your pain. God gives us the privilege of partnering with Him to help bring those who’ve offended us from ‘death to life’ by ‘forgiving as He’s forgiven’ us. (Colossians 3:12-13)

Are you aware that after someone hurts you deeply that you are extremely vulnerable to and must guard yourself against Satan’s attack to take you captive to the sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment? Are you willing to take your pain to Jesus and allow Him to bring healing to you and to give you the power to ‘forgive as He’s forgiven you’?

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Do You Have The 'Right To Judge'?

It’s been said that the most quoted—and I’d say misunderstood—scripture is Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” The Pope recently has made headlines because of his use of this scripture. People so often want to use this verse to say that we as Christians should have no discernment or right to speak against what anyone else says or does. Interesting, because even saying that ‘others don’t have the right to judge ‘is in itself a ‘judgment call’. Those who believe that Christians should never ‘judge’ reveal they don’t understand the full counsel of God’s Word. Every person who’s ever lived makes ‘judgments’ every day, throughout their day. The only issue is upon what basis are those judgments made. Wise, ‘righteous’ judgment can only be made if you submit to the ruling authority of God, Who is the Creator and Sustainer of the World, and use His “rule book’, the Bible.

Let me give you an illustration that I hope will clarify the subject of Christians ‘judging’. The other night while my husband and I were watching a Braves baseball game on TV I missed a controversial call when I briefly left the room. When I returned, I asked my husband what had happened and he shared with me the umpire’s—in this case, the ‘ruling authority’s— call. It didn’t matter at all what the players or fans thought was the right ‘judgment call’; the only thing that mattered was what that the umpire determined to be the right judgment, a judgment he made based upon the rules of baseball.

Image
Image

Just like with the umpire in that baseball game, God alone has the right to determine what is right and wrong, good and evil. When we as Christians state what God— the ruling authority or “umpire” of the world— has already declared in the Bible to be true, we are not ‘judging’. Instead, like my husband who relayed to me the umpire’s call, we are just repeating the judgment that already has been made by the ruling authority.

How does a baseball fan know if the umpire’s call is right or wrong? They have to know the rules of the game of baseball, don’t they? Similarly, we can’t know whether something is true or a lie unless we know God’s “rules of the game” as revealed by His ‘rule book’, the Bible.

Christians have been commanded to go and make disciples throughout the nations (Matthew 28:19). To do so certainly involves instructing them in what God has clearly revealed in the Bible to be ‘good and evil’ so they can know what are the righteous things they are to pursue and the evil things they are to flee. (2nd Timothy 2:22) We as Christians have an obligation before God to share the ‘rules of the game’ found in the Bible with others. He commands us to ‘expose’ the ‘fruitless deeds of darkness’ so that they are made visible or known (Ephesians 4:11-14) in order that people will flee the wrath that is to come. (Luke 3:7; 1st Thessalonians 1:10)

Granted, we who know Him must first “remove the plank from our own eye, so that we can see clearly and be able to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. (See Matthew 7:1-5). We remove the plank from our own eye when we choose to humble ourself and confess our sin to God, relying upon Him to ‘forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’. (1st John 1:9) After that—and only after humbling ourselves, being cleansed from our own sin, and realizing our own position before a Righteous yet Merciful God, are we able with clarity and love to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.

God’s Word also makes the distinction between that which are indisputable and non-disputable matters. In the Bible God has made it clear that there are some things that He rules as indisputably evil, or that which we are not to do. For example, he has clearly stated such things as the following to be sin: idolatry; murder; stealing; coveting; adultery; fornication; homosexuality; drunkenness; gossip; pride; and greed. His Word on such matters is the ‘ruling law’ for mankind, and we as Christians are to follow His ’rules of the game’ and in love share them with others. However, there are also disputable matters, such as what is appropriate to eat or which days are to be considered sacred, and we have been commanded not to judge fellow believers or quarrel about such things. (Romans 14)

So if someone says to you, “Who are you to judge?” Tell them you are just sharing with them what the Judge of the Earth (Psalm 94:2) has already determined to be right and wrong. Let them know with your words— and mainly with your heart— that your love for them compels you to share what the ‘rules of the game’ are with them so that they can be ‘winners’ rather than ‘losers’ in the all important ‘game of life’. And make sure you do so with love, not focusing on the disputable matters but only on that which is clearly stated in God’s Word.

Do you know the ‘rules of the game’ as found in the Bible well enough to know if others’ are making their judgment calls based upon man’s opinions or God’s laws?

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Studying God's Word

Have you ever read the bible and found yourself wodering “What does that mean?” or thinking “Now I’m totally confused!”  Don’t lose hope.  God’s Word is alive and we can be certain it is the will of God for you to know, understand and apply His Word to your everyday life.  Choosing to study God’s Word is different than just reading the Bible.  You can read the bible without studying it, but you can’t study the bible without reading it.  So here are some tips on studying God’s Word.

Begin with Prayer: Pray that God will speak to you through His Word; that He will help you discern the meaning; and use His Word to produce fruit in your life that will bring Him glory.  Pray for wisdom. God has filled us with His Spirit (John 14:16-17) who speaks to us, leading and guiding us into all truth (John 16:13.)

Read the Bible: Set time aside daily to read God’s Word. 

Talk Back and Ask God Questions: The bible is God-breathed, and if you come across a passage in scripture that you don’t understand, stop reading, and share your thoughts with God.  There have been many times that I have said out loud, “God, this makes no sense to me, what does this mean?”   God is faithful!  He can reveal the meaning.  There have been times when God answers my question immediately through other scriptures that I read that day.  Other times I will be in church and the pastor will have a sermon which explains that verse in detail and my question is “finally” answered, or other instances when I take my questions to a godly source for counsel. (a mentor, bible teacher, or commentary)

Ask Yourself Questions: What does this scripture teach me about God? What does this passage teach me about the church, world, myself, or my desires/motives? What do I need to confess and/or repent of? What have I learned from this passage that will help me focus on God & His glory? What action is God asking me to take?

Search for Answers: I use tools like biblegateway.com, gotquestions.org, and blueletterbible.org to do word/topic/question searches and read commentaries.  If I sense that God is telling me I’m acting prideful, I will do a “word study” by looking up the words: pride, humility, self-centered, humble, arrogant, etc. in a search tool like biblegateway.com to learn more verses that may help me understand better what God has to say about a particular topic or theme. Take an active part in finding the answer to questions you ask both God and yourself while reading His Word because that’s the best way to learn and “own the truth for yourself.”

Participate in Bible Studies: This has helped me answer many questions and learn much more about God, His Word and what it says. 

Memorize: “Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul” Deuteronomy 11:18, KJV.  When you begin memorizing scripture you are putting it in your heart where you can later rely on it for wisdom and guidance.  This helps you to better know God’s Word and how to apply it daily.

Attend Church: Hearing the Word preached in a message is another way to study, learn and apply God’s Word. 

Apply what you learn:  Take action and apply God’s Word to your life.  When you begin to “do” the Word in your life, it will take your experience and knowledge of God and his precepts to a new level.  2 Timothy 16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  

Experiencing the truth of God through applying His Word is a life-long study habit that is sure to bring glory to God, and bless you and those around you!

Written by Jamie Shaver

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?