Nothing wavering

Faith is such a simple thing, and yet oftentimes it seems to be so difficult. Faith is something that God demands of us as His followers. He says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

In order to come to God, we need to come in faith. We need to realize that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. And in that statement comes the idea that we will seek Him diligently. If the King of all the Universe says He will reward you if you seek Him diligently, and you believe Him, how could you decide not to seek Him?

Having true faith in the reward, brings us to work for it.

Have you been seeking God lately? Have you been seeking Him diligently?

If not, you may want to check your faith. Have you spent time in the Word? Are you truly believing in His vision for your life? Do you need to pursue Him more?

I know for me, I definitely need to.  It is far too easy for me to become lax in my eagerness to seek out God.

One more part of this faith is having it without wavering. James 1:6 says, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” Here James is talking about asking God for wisdom, but the faith aspect applies to any time we ask God for something.

God tells us to ask in faith, without wavering.

Think about a person who wavers, if they are unsure of everything, or if God will answer, why would it glorify God to give them anything? When they get it, they will not glorify God or praise Him for His goodness. They will not see that the answer is from God. They will not point others to Christ.

God is jealous for the glory He deserves, and what’s more, He wants His gifts to bring us closer to Him. He wants us to come to Him without wavering. He wants us to see Him as the source of all goodness and reward. That is why He asks for faith in Him.

So I invite you, search the scriptures, build your faith, refuse to waver, and see God’s reward for diligently seeking Him.

It doesn’t matter what you need from Christ, wisdom, grace, understanding, or simply help. If you’re tired, if you’re weary, if you’re lost- go to Him.

He is the source of everything we need. Won’t you seek Him without wavering today?

Right desires, right conflict

Countless songs, articles, speeches, and books have been given about the stupidity of war. War is dumb. War is insane. War is useless. What is it good for? Our society, though it is secular, recognizes that war is often petty, useless, and completely damaging. We are quick and apt to point out the problems of wars between countries.

But what about wars between individuals?

We find ourselves in wars amongst ourselves all the time. That passive aggressive person at work you try to get back at. Road rage and wanting that parking space. Fighting with siblings, spouses, or parents. Fighting for our own selves. Warring for our pride, our wants, and our desires.

These should not be.

James 4:1 says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?”

War and fighting usually come from lust. They come from unholy desires. Instead of giving everything to God, we desire to hold back something for ourselves.

But how then, you might ask, should we correct evil, or fight for right? War is not always wrong when it is fought against tyranny and wrongdoing.

And yes, you are right. Corrective action is needed with people and with nations. Sometimes discussion is necessary, and sometimes violence. All of this should come from a right desire. A desire to protect the helpless. A desire to promote justice. A desire to help someone live a better life.

When your desires are right and you are seeking peace and restitution, your conflict is correct. But when it comes from a desire to promote yourself over another person or in spite of them, your conflict is petty and useless.

War over lust, pride, and egos is worthless.

Conflict with right intentions is what we must seek.

“You!” “Don’t harden your heart!”

You know the stereotypical grumpy old man. He complains. He criticizes. He backbites. He always has something negative to say or comment- and if he doesn’t- He settles the mood with a disproving grunt. Grumpy old men weren’t born grumpy. They became grumpy.

It took time. It took years probably. And it took choice.

One day at a time, a young man decided to be bitter. He decided to be unthankful. He decided to be critical.

He chose that life, one small choice at a time.

The Bible calls out to God’s people repeatedly, especially the people of Israel. “Harden not your hearts” Hebrews 3:8

We see this phrase, and similar ones repeated often.

Somehow I had always read over this without thinking. Without realizing what it was actually saying. It was a command.

“You!” “Don’t harden your heart!”

I seemed to imagine that a persons heart became hard over time by default. Like a rough life, bad background, and less than perfect upbringing caused a person to develop a hard heart.

While those may play a part, that isn’t the real cause. Individual choices make for a hard heart. That cranky complaining old woman is that way because she decided to be so. And so is that sweethearted hospitable woman you know. That sweet old man is kind because he chose kindness. And the grumpy man is grumpy only because of His choices.

We all have hard times and unfair circumstances fall on us. And some more than others. We aren’t doomed to be a product of our circumstances. We can choose to live a virtuous life, one filled with love and kindness.

When God called out to the Israelites, He was asking them not to reject His call to serve and worship Him. If you are a Christian, praise God you have answered that call. But you are not done there. God calls on us to do many things. To live selflessly. To forgive others. To give to the poor. Every command is a calling from God.

“You!”

“Don’t harden your heart!”

Lofty looks will bow down

Have you ever spent time with a person who only wants to talk about themselves. They are only interested in their own accomplishments and experiences, their own life and interests. They’re annoying to be around right? And you probably wonder how boring their life must be if all they have to talk about is themselves.

Well I have another question for you. Have you ever been that person?

You get to the end of the night and you realize you never invested in anyone. You never asked someone about their day. You didn’t care enough to try to share the conversation.

I know I have.

It’s not a good feeling when you realize how uncaring you can be. How disinterested in the lives of others you can be.

In Isaiah 2, God speaks of a time when He will reign in the earth. He makes it clear that such pride will not be tolerated.

“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.”

God’s perfect plan is that He is to be exalted. That is the only acceptable way for us to live.

But you might ask, “How could I exalt God in my conversations with other people?”

In Matthew 25:34-40 we find a fascinating glimpse into the way God will judge the world. When people are waiting to receive reward, Christ tells them, that the goodness they showed to His children He counted as goodness towards Him.

If they gave someone a glass of water- essentially they had given a glass of water to God. If they gave someone clothes, they had given Him clothes.

It’s truly a fascinating thought.

So let me pose to you the idea. If you were talking to Christ, would you monopolize the conversation? Or would you let Him speak? Would you speak only about your day and your experiences? Or would you ask Him about His?

This is in turn how we are acting when we treat His children with so little regard. Taking the time to consider God’s children and the love they might need is an integral part of considering and exalting God.

So let us strive to love others in the little things. Take the time to consider others. Think about what they might need from you more than what you want.

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Phil 2:4

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” – Matthew 25:40

When God’s left out

Being left out is never fun. I’m sure everyone can remember a time when their friends made plans without them. Or maybe there’s a party that everyone’s going to except for you. All your work buddies are going out to eat after but you. You can feel rejected and ignored when these things happen. You can feel unloved and unconsidered.

So how do you think God feels when we do the same to Him? I’m not suggesting you save an empty seat at a party for God, or send up a heavenly invitation. I mean including God in your plans. Factoring Him into your life.

James 4 says, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain” It’s referring to people making plans with their life. They are so sure, they are so proud. In the next verses it says, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

We should be including God in our plans.

He is the author of this entire universe. He is the king of our lives and the creator of our beings. We owe Him everything. He has died for us, bought us with a price, and redeemed us out of sin and destruction. Do we not owe Him everything? Should we not consider His plan for us when we prepare for our futures?

I challenge you, acknowledge God in all your plans. Keep Him in mind when you prepare for the future. Don’t accept everything you decide as settled. Recognize and respect God’s perogative to alter any and all preparations you have made. Accept His leading, and you’ll be glad you did.

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Diversity in unity, found in Christ

Throughout our times we find much division. Just as any time in history the world is divided by all sorts of conflicts. Years ago, most of the world was divided by geography. People identified with the land they were born with. As time as gone on, we now identify more with religion, political ideas, food diets, health regiments, phone brands, hobbies and sports. Some of these divisions are petty and light-hearted, some run very deep and are the most malignant of divisions.

In Christ, we are one. Those who are Christians can gather with no sort of divisions between them. True, practicing Christians who love one another have no such wars or fightings among themselves. This really struck me when I was reading Galatians. In Galatians 2, Paul is speaking about false doctrine. He was preaching against some heresy that was in the church, specifically the preaching of following the old Jewish law.

In verse 3, he says, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:”

Paul was a Jewish  man and a Pharisee at that. He was the Jewish religious elite. He also was a Roman citizen. And he was preaching and traveling with Titus- who was Greek.

This wasn’t something that was necessarily spoken about, or mentioned a lot. In fact, it seemed perfectly natural, his only mentioning of it was because it was important to the conversation. Otherwise, it didn’t need to be mentioned. Christ had unified them, there was no need for discussion about their backgrounds or culture or race.

This is Christianity, this is true Christianity. Christ said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35

It doesn’t mention nationality, it doesn’t mention race, it doesn’t mention politics. It just says “have love one to another”

If you have added anything else, you’re doing it wrong.

 

When your friends arent there for you

I happens. You may be going through the worst time in your life, and your best friend doesn’t seem to care. They skip out on lunch, forget plans, never notice how down you are . . . They’re absorbed in themselves and they forget to care for you. In those moments, your response matters greatly. You can wallow in self pity and weakness, or you can rise above.

Jesus had his friends fail Him at the worst time in His life. And yet He still loved them. We found the account in Luke 22. Jesus is submitting His will to the Fathers. He is about to go to the cross to be crucified, and He is in great agony. He tells the disciples.

“And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”

Did you notice how Jesus was concerned about them? He didn’t say “pray with me for moral support” No, He told them to pray for their own sakes. Even at the most agonizing part of His life, He was still caring for them.

In the next verses we see how much agony Christ was in. It says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” His body was under so much stress and torment from the inner turmoil He faced that His body was mixing blood with His sweat. Within the next few moments, He came back to the disciples.

“And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,” They were sleeping for sorrow. Their own sorrow. They weren’t concerned about Him necessarily. The word sorrow could be translated exhaustion. They were tired, so they were sleeping. They had not a care that Christ was under so much pressure.

Christ’s response?

“Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”

He was still concerned about them. He never faltered in His selflessness. He wanted them to live a life free of sin and failure to temptation. He loved them.

I don’t know how I would have reacted in such a situation. I probably would have felt hurt, betrayed, uncared for, or unloved. I might have become angry, or started and argument. But Christ? He was loving them. He had forgotten about Himself and His needs. He was completely fulfilled by the Father, ready to pour out Himself and love those around Him.

Is that how you are when friends betray you or disregard your struggles. I would ask you to pray and ask God to help you become a better friend. Ask Him to teach you how to love others even it would seem that you are the one who needs the most help or support. Don’t be a martyr, or be afraid to ask for companionship when you need it, but don’t allow other’s actions to bring you to selfishness.

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippians 2:4

Be afflicted, and mourn

What comes to mind when you think of humility? Think of the actions or lifestyle of a humble person.

Is it graceful? Is it poised? Does it exhibit class and refinery?

I believe most of us would say yes to all those questions. Humility is the epitome of etiquette and grace, charm and affableness. Humility- putting others above oneself- is at the very core of politeness. People who exhibit humility are in every way leading the world in manners and conduct.

Humility is respectable.

Humility is graceful.

Humility is poised.

Humility is also commanded by God. In James we are told, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10

Such a wonderful promise. Just before this promise we find another such comforting verse. It says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8

This verse really describes what is necessary in our lives. Drawing nigh to God, and cleansing and purifying ourselves. In between these verses is a verse that I often notice as overlooked.

It doesn’t sound pleasant, and it’s not such a wonderful comforting idea. But it is absolutely essential to understanding humility.

It says, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”

Take a moment and read that verse a second time.

Does that sound like the victorious Christian life? It may not, but it definitely is.

It probably doesn’t sound like a chapter of our lives we want put on display. Being afflicted, mourning, weeping- these are all things that are nothing close to pleasant. We would’t show that side of us to the public, we wouldn’t feel so happy about posting about that on social media.

 

In essence, the path to humility is frought with unpleasantness. It is far from picture perfect moments. It is a stranger to comforts and pleasant feelings. The path to humility is affliction (hard toil), is is weeping, and it is mourning.

The Bible tells us to Humble ourselves in sight of God.

We put that on plaques and signs in our home. Do we read it with joy and forget what it means? Humbling yourself in the sight of God is not something you can do without being changed. It requires surrendering your pleasant and happy thoughts, and getting down to see the filth that you really are.

Giving up your dignity.

Weeping over your sin.

It is for the moment grievous, but for all eternity is is supreme joy.

God says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

If you are willing to mourn over your sin, and be afflicted over it; God will raise you up.

Won’t you humble yourself today?

Wake up and pray!

“FAILURE TO FOLLOW SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS!!!”

The Chief Petty officer screamed at a cadet. I was glad I wasn’t him. This was the third time he was repeating that phrase. Someone in the company had messed up something excruciatingly simple. I was so glad it wasn’t me. I remember hearing that phrase all through the military youth boot camp I was a part of. Over and over they repeated it. It stuck with me- to this day. How simple our lives would be if we followed the simple instructions we are given.

Have you ever been told to do a specific thing- and then you do the opposite?

Your teacher: “Make sure you study hard.”  You: *Don’t study*

Your boss: “Don’t be late to this meeting”     You: *Come late*

Dentist: “Brush your teeth!”  You: *don’t brush*

Being human can be difficult. But we don’t have to make it more difficult. A lot of times we know exactly what we need to be doing- and we don’t do it. This leads to all sorts of issues we never had to face otherwise. We knew what was needed. Why didn’t we just do it?

In Matthew 26 we find just such an occasion. Jesus tells His disciples to watch and pray. And that word watch, means to stay awake and to be awake. So he literally says to them, “Stay awake and pray with me.”

The reason?

So they wouldn’t fall into temptation.

If you know the story of the disciples in Gethsemane, you know they all fell asleep- more than once. Jesus came back to find them sleeping – three different times. Later on, when the temptation came, they all fell. They ran away from Jesus like scared rabbits. They denied Him and were in fear for their lives, instead of standing in faith.

All because they didn’t follow simple instructions.

A lot of our lives are like this. How much temptation of lust, pride, fear, and selfishness could we avoid if we simply would remain spiritually awake and pray. I mean, when’s the last time you struggled with self control immediately after genuinely praying and studying God’s word? It’s kinda hard right?

Isn’t it interesting how the Christian life is so simple. Pray. Humble yourself. Ask God to teach you. Pray some more. Meditate on God’s word. Study the scriptures. Encourage one another.

Nothing is that hard. Nothing requires exhaustive study and contemplation.

And yet, like the disciples, we struggle.

I challenge you, whatever simple things you are failing to do. Find them, and do them.

Watch and pray.

Stay awake and pray.

Don’t let your life take whatever course is comfortable.

Stand up. Stay awake. Pray.

You will avoid so many struggles, if you do.

And also much cattle

I don’t know about you, but other than wishing my dog would be in heaven, I always imagined that the animals were pretty unimportant. Yes, you can call me heartless, but I always seemed to think that since the animals didn’t have souls (or so I think) that they were just as unimportant as the rocks or anything else in the landscape.

The Bible teaches us differently. On several occasions, God mentions the idea that He values animals.

One classic example is Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” God speaks of sparrows, an animal that we do not regard worth much at all, and God says that He notices every time one dies. The King of the universe notices when a bird dies. That’s powerful.

Another time, God is speaking to Jonah about Nineveh. He says, “And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”

God doesn’t want to destroy 120,000 people if He doesn’t want to. And did you catch the last part- almost like it was thrown in at the end? He didn’t want to destroy the cattle. God cared about the herds of cattle as well as the people.

In proverbs 12, we find, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” I think in this verse we find the summary and the application of this thought. As a god-fearing person, we should treat animals with respect.

Yes, God created them for us to use and enjoy, but we should not use our authority and dominance for cruelty. Christians should be at the forefront of many causes for treating animals with respect. I’m not speaking of refraining from eating meat, which was allowed and commanded in many places(1, 2, 3, 4), but there is a decency with recognizing that animals do have worth. And not just to us, but to God as well.

Animals should be treated with kindness. It’s one way we show our respect for God and His creation.

I challenge you, take a moment to consider if there are ways you can honor God more but treating the lives of His creatures with more kindness or respect.