It’s in the fine print

We’ve all been there. When you sign a contract thinking you know what you’re getting, but in fact you don’t. That contract that left out the fees. That olive oil that was 95% canola. That used car that wasn’t really represented properly. The world is filled with liars, crooks, and people who just shade the truth a little. And it’s easy to get bamboozled if you don’t read the fine print.

Salesmen like to point the way to the so called “benefits” of trading what you have for their merchandise, and they always seem to leave out drawbacks. It’s just the same way in our spiritual lives. From the earliest record we have, Satan advertises that eating the fruit will make Adam and Eve, “as gods, knowing good and evil.” And he was right. What he decidedly lied about was all the repercussions that would bring.

Eve was deceived and tempted, and Adam fell.

Even today, Satan loves to advertise sin as something that will bring pleasure. And it does, even God says that sin brings pleasure for a season. But in the end it brings complete destruction. That was in the fine print.

Just like your financial life can be destroyed if you make decisions without considering all the consequences, your spiritual life can be destroyed as well. If you look at the world, Satan and those deceived by him will tell you to enjoy this sinful pleasure or that immoral desire, but in the end it brings destruction.

God tells us very plainly. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 No hidden fees, no fine print, it’s all in the open. Choose God- Choose life. Choose sin- Choose death. It’s that simple.

I challenge you, next time some unrighteous thing seems like fun, or the easier way, remember how things really are. Remember the truth of God’s Word and choose life. God’s looking out for your interests, and He wants you to live an abundant life. Won’t you choose Him today?

“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:8

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Take the path that the world has labeled insane

Contemplate the fact that when God calls you to serve Him, He calls you to deny your own flesh and the entire world system that surrounds to follow Him while changing inwardly to the point of bringing death to your most intimate and base desires. When you realize that, you conclude naturally that you need God’s help in order to follow Him.

In Philippians 2:3, God commands: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;”

If we think about what is natural for an unbeliever, and what people without Christ do, we find that almost everything that is done by unbelievers IS done through strive and vain glory.

Worldly people spend their lives complaining, competing, worrying, bragging, arguing, fighting, and living in agitation.

If you live your life constantly looking out for yourself and trying to prove yourself and make sure you get “what you deserve,” then you are living like the world. Your lifestyle is not only one of disobedience, but also one of incredible stress and agitation.

God says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory. . . “

How are we to live then?  We are to live in “lowliness of mind,” while we “esteem other better” than ourselves.  When you’re humble, you don’t have anything to prove. If you consider someone to be better than you, then you aren’t concerned if they think the same. And if you deny your desire for vain glory, and live to see God glorified, then you never need to obsess over whether or not the credit is going where it’s due. God will get all the glory no matter what. Just a side note: Living humbly is living peacefully.

 

Gods’ command to us is to conclude that our benefits, and our comfort, and our pleasure, and our fair share of (whatever we “deserve”) are all inconsequential to the Glory that God deserves. The next few verses in Philippians 2, call us to have the mind of Christ and humble ourselves to the point of death.

Unless you’re facing martyrdom for your faith, I don’t think God is calling you to literally die. It’s a word picture. Think about it, does anybody want to die? Most people want to live. In fact, if a person desires death, they are usually unstable.

God’s calling to us: to deny ourselves, would appear like complete insanity to the world.

In fact, God tells us that, “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18

So I challenge you, surrender to the call of humility unto death. Take the path to lowliness that the world has labeled insane. Choose to forfeit your “rights” and live a life of peace and obedience. You can’t do it by yourself, so God has promised to help you. All you must do is decide.

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13

Break the snakes

There are many good things in life that God gives us. He gives us certain things for certain times in our lives. Sometimes, the things that God has given us, loose their effectiveness. They were great for a time, but now God wants us to continue on. One example of something that lost its effectiveness was the brazen serpent in the Old testament.

You see, at one time, the Israelites were very disobedient and ungrateful to God. God allowed judgment to come upon them in the form of deadly snakes. When the people repented, God told Moses to make a brass snake. Anyone who looked at it, would be healed as a result of their obedience. (Numbers 21)

Years later, the Israelites still had the brass snake. You might think, Oh, thats nice, they have a piece of their history. But that was not all. They had started to worship the snake. They were burning incense to it, and treating it like a deity. God was not pleased, and when Hezekiah destroyed it because of their worship, God was pleased. (2 Kings 18:4)

Hezekiah looked at it and called it, Nehushtan or a thing of brass. Hezekiah had a proper view of the brass snake. He called it a thing. An item. It had no importance. God had used it in the past, but it was God that was special, not the thing He used.

Perhaps there are some brass serpents in your life. Think for a moment, what has God used greatly in your life? What has he used to help you grow the most? Perhaps it was a book you read, or a speaker you heard? I know in my life, I have often elevated people or tools that have helped me in my walk with God. Some of my attitude was a healthy respect, but there were times when it was in a sense an actual worship.

I would like to challenge you, if you find yourself in need of anything, realize that it is God that you need. When God works through your pastor, dont allow yourself to worship him. Look beyond the creation, and see the Creator who is the true provider. Dont ever ascribe worship or anything like it to Gods creation. God alone is worthy of our worship.

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2

Stepping out lately?

We will always have friends at college or the workplace, or at some other place. Many times we have friends of convenience. Its nice when theyre around, but its no great loss when theyre gone. Successful friendships dont happen by accident.

Marriages do not endure without commitment. Parent-child relationships dont continue after the child is an adult unless an effort is made on both sides. Relationships take work. A good friend of mine likes to sing a song that says, Ill start walkin your way, and you start walkin mine. In truth, thats friendship. Effort that is made on both sides.

So, what about your relationship with God?

Are walkin His way? Or are you walking away? James 4:8 says, Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. As Christians, do we really think about what God did for us. Do we realize? Think about this, God died for you before you were ever born.

He definitely put the effort in. What else is greater than to die for a friend?

Now its your turn.

Will you make the effort? Will you decide to grow closer to God? Hes waiting for you. Hes calling out to you. Hes watching you. Waiting for you to make the slightest move towards Him.

Wont you make an effort to cleanse your life of sin and have an intimate fulfilling relationship with your Creator? The God of the universe loves you. Hes waiting to have a closer relationship with you. How long will you make Him wait?

Holden with the cords

Have you ever been tied up? It’s not a usual pastime, but sometimes it happens. Maybe it was a magic trick or a prank by one of your friends or some other odd happening. Maybe you’ve never been tied up, but have you ever felt helpless? Like you couldn’t do anything. I mean, your hands were tied. It’s not a good feeling. We don’t like to lose control of our situations, or ourselves.

As Christians, we can choose to relinquish our control of ourselves to Christ, or to Satan.

I once saw a man allow himself to be tied up by a single sewing thread. He easily broke it. Later, he was bound by two threads. The number of threads began to multiply until the man could not easily break them. He had given up his control.

Proverbs 5:22 states, “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.”

Notice the wording of the second half of that verse. It literally means that the wicked man will become bound by his sin. It is almost like every sin is a thread that he chooses to be bound with. Eventually, he is held fast, and he is in bondage.

It’s easy to disregard sin as something small. I mean, sometimes sin doesn’t seem so bad. We don’t feel like we are violating anything. It just seems to be a simple alternative than something we’d rather not have or do.

I would caution you: sin, no matter how harmless it may appear, is serious. Every sin committed, especially deliberately, sets a pattern of disobedience. In the end, sin will bring death.

We have a choice. We choose between God and Satan, life and death, love and hate.

I would encourage you, make the right choice. Decide today to view sin as it really is. Turn from every and any instance in your life. Ask God to help you revolutionize your mindset so you see sin just as He sees it. If you are in bondage to sin, ask your heavenly Father to give you grace and to teach you how to live in the victory He bought for you with His blood.

Thousands of years ago, the people of Israel had the same choice we have today. You must choose every day, what will you choose today?

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” – Deuteronomy 30:19

A blessing for a child, a lesson for us all

Remember the time that the people brought the children and the disciples rebuked them? It’s found in Mark 10:13-14. It says,

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Verse 16 was interesting however, “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” I never quite realized it, but the people had brought the children to Jesus so He could lay his hands on them and bless them. Why? The idea of desiring someone’s blessing isn’t really found in our culture today. I mean, really? Blessing . . .

Thinking again about the situation, I’m sure some of them knew He was God, but most of them just thought he was a prophet. (Matthew 16:13-14) So what is so special about a blessing from a prophet?

My contemplation ended when I surmised (yes, that’s a fancy word for guess) that these people understood the power of words.

Looking at the lives of the patriarchs, we find that both Isaac and Jacob blessed their descendants before they died. This blessing seemed to carry on beyond their lifetime. The blessing of these great men changed the lives of their children. In another place in the old testament, a king offered a large sum of money to a guy named Balaam (Numbers 22). The king wanted the guy to curse Israel. God intervened, and commanded Balaam to bless Israel instead. Apparently, the patriarchs, an ancient king, new testament Jews, and even God regarded the spoken word as a powerful thing. So, my thought for you today, is that maybe we should value the words that we speak. Maybe what we say is important.

After all Proverbs 18:21a says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue:”

I would like to challenge you, think about the words you speak. Are they encouraging, positive, and loving? Or are they complaining, backbiting, hateful, and cursing? No matter who you are, your words have power, and they cannot be unsaid. I would go so far as to say that you will decide your future by how you govern your mouth. Will you ask God to help you use your speech to His glory?

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouths: but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29

Are you spiritually sane? (Part 2)

Continuing the story of the man in the Gadarenes, we find in Mark 5:5 that this man was cutting himself with stones and crying night and day. He was tormenting himself. In that same idea, how often do we torment ourselves with our sin.

We decide not to live the righteous life that God has provided for us. We consistently live in sin that is destroying us and tormenting us night and day. God has clearly defined the punishment for such behavior. Galatians 6:8 says, "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;" and we find in 1 Corinthians 6:18 that "He that comminteth fornication sinneth against his own body." If we persist in sin we are destroying ourselves just like the maniac in Scripture. We work corruption in ourselves through sin, and if we sin after the manner of fornication, we are literally sinning against our body.

I would like to challenge you, don’t persist in sin. When you insist on living a sinful life, you are working against yourself. You are destroying you body and destroying your spiritual life. Christ has great promises to those who live after the spirit. Let us ask God to teach us to walk in the Spirit!

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." – Galatians 5:16

You can choose your sin . . .

Have you ever told a little white lie? There may have been a situation where you thought that it was the only solution. You said to yourself, “It’s no big deal. It can’t harm anyone.” You may have stretched the truth, left part of it out, or simply told a blatant lie. Your lie may have gone unnoticed by man, but it did not go unnoticed by God. Whatever your noble or ignoble reason for the lie, it was sin, and sin always has its consequences.

In 1 Samuel 21, David told a lie. He told a Ahimelech, a priest, that He had been sent on urgent business by the king. David was not aware of the consequences of his sin. He thought that the little white lie he had told would go unnoticed. It did not. Later, in 1 Samuel 22, when Saul came to the priest he demanded an account of what had happened. As a direct or indirect result of David’s lie, 85 priests were murdered, as well as countless others. David’s sin did have a consequence.

We can tell ourselves that we are different. We can say, “Oh, but David was a king. His actions counted more.” But that is far from the truth. Galatians 6:7 reads, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Whatever sin we participate in, we have open the door to other sin. If we think that we can tell a “small” lie and not reap the consequences, we are lying to ourselves. We will reap consequences, and as with David, others may also.

Galatians continues in verse 8 with these words, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” If we choose to sin, no matter how “small” we think the sin is, we will reap the consequences. However, if we choose to resist the flesh and follow after righteousness, we will reap the abundant life Christ has for us.

I would like to challenge you, sow to the Spirit. If you have a sin that you regard as small, don’t allow it to remain in your life. It will bring consequences that are far out of your control. As a wise man once said, “You can choose your sin, but it is not often that you can choose the consequences of it.”

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”  -James 1:15