Truth is never out of style

I think it’s safe to say we all know weird people, and Normal is just a setting on the dryer. People are strange. They have idiosyncrasies, sometimes very original ideas, and overall have different versions of common sense. But there’s the weirdos who just stand out from everyone. Maybe you can picture that caricature from your favorite TV show. Like Kramer from Seinfeld. The person that stands out as more weird than anyone else. Keep that image in your mind, and let’s go to Matthew 3.

In Matthew 3, we find one such character who stands out radically. His name is John the Baptist.

The Bible tells us that, “John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”

I’m going to invite you to come to the conclusions that Matthew didn’t mention this because it was the fashion at the time. Or that locusts and wild honey was everyone’s daily dietary regiment.

John the Baptist was a weirdo.

And Matthew was making sure you knew that. John’s weirdness didn’t stop him from helping multitudes of people. People flocked to him because he spoke the truth, and he wanted them to get right with God.

Isn’t that amazing?

It doesn’t matter what the fashion of the day is, Truth will never go out of style. God’s life-changing power will never be outdated.

I challenge you to take away two ideas from this picture.

First, God is willing to use people no matter what their fashion is.

And also, We should never reject a message solely because of a messenger. Never look down on someone because you think they do not follow fashion, or you think they’re really weird. If they speak the truth, hear them!

And one more thought, maybe you are that person who is a little awkward, maybe you don’t fit in well, or never seem to look the way people want. Know you’re not alone, and know that God wants to use you! God has a message for you to bring the world. He’s looking for people to proclaim it! He doesn’t want a picture perfect brand representative, He wants someone who will speak boldly for Him.

If he used John the Baptist in all his weirdness, I’m sure he can use you or I! 🙂

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand . . .  Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”  Matthew 3:1-2, 5-6

 

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Do you even shed a tear?

I remember being told as a child to remain quiet out of respect to the mourners. I wasn’t supposed to laugh or joke, or run around with other kids at the funeral. I was to mourn with the family who had lost someone special. I’d like to share something with you about the time of mourning that each of us must have in our lives. It’s a command in scripture, a command I think we often forget.

In James 4:6-8, God gives a recipe for revival. God explains that if we want to grow close to Him we must humble ourselves, resist the devil, and purify our lives of sin. Okay great! Sounds simple to me, if we will just do these things, then we will be coming close to God, He will come close to us, and we’ll have a great relationship!

But, it doesn’t end there. Verse nine gives another command, or ingredient if you will. The verse reads, "Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness." That’s not a verse I like to spend a lot of time in. It’s not something that we like to talk about. Weeping over sin. Mourning our loss of service to God. Coming face to face with the seriousness of the sin that separated us from our loving Savior. It’s not fun. But there is hope.

1 John 1:9 reads, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God says that he will forgive us and cleanse us if we simply confess. Isn’t that amazing? But what is confession? Is saying that we’re sorry really enough?

Many people think that confessing our sin is simply saying, "Oh, I lied, please forgive me. I stole, forgive me God. I was lazy this afternoon, forgive me." The word confession means "to say the same as." So, in essense, God wants us to say the same thing about that sin that he would. Do we speak of sin, or think of it, as God does? When you make a decision to turn from sin, do you take it seriously? God isn’t interested in His servants having a flippant attitude towards sin, sin that was so serious, that it’s atonement could only be brought about His death on the cross. Sin is serious.

My friends, do you take sin seriously? Or do you acknowledge your sin and make a half-hearted decision to change later. I am very guilty of treating sin as something of no consequence, but God commands us to view sin as He sees it. He tells us to mourn over it. Do we mourn? He tells us to weep. Do we even shed a tear? When you confess your sin, take a moment to realize the greatness of your offense and what it cost Christ.

I’ve said it multiple times now, but sin is a serious matter. When you repent, it’s a time to mourn, it’s a time to weep. Take the time to mourn. Don’t simply mention how you’re sorry and then pretend like nothing happened. Realize your guilt, and acknowledge it. Then, afterward, rejoice in the Lord. God promises to forgive you once you have confessed your sin. You don’t have to live in guilt. Weep, but realize that joy comes in the morning, and your God will always be ready to forgive and cleanse a contrite heart.

Surviving the valley

Whenever we experience a spiritual high, we can expect a low. It’s the way of nature. Things go up, and they go down. God is always constant, and He remains faithful, but our motivation or excitement for serving Him will wax and wane. Let’s say this a different way. We should always have the joy of the Lord, but that joy will not keep us from experiencing sorrow.

The Christian life is like surfing. You ride a wave, and you wait for another wave. Sometimes you have to swim back out to the high seas. You won’t always be riding a wave, so you need to learn how to survive when you’re not.

Proverbs 24:10 says, "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." Notice this verse didn’t say "if the day of adversity comes." It said, "If thou faint." You see, we don’t have a choice when it comes to the valleys we will encounter. We have a choice as to whether we will be strong in the Lord or not.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah had just came off a spiritual high. He had stood in faith before the entire congregation of Israel and called down fire from heaven. He then killed all the prophets of Baal. Later that day, he prayed that God would send rain in the current drought. God did. Then, Elijah raced the king’s chariot and won. Yeah, he was on foot.

You want to talk about a spiritual high, that was a spiritual high. A short time later, Elijah had a pity party and asked God to kill him. God talked to Him more than once and even sent an angel with special food to sustain Him. Elijah refused to repent. God eventually gave Elijah orders to appoint his successor. God was through working with Him. God chose another servant to accomplish His will.

Elijah failed to survive the valley. The consequence was an end to service.

We will experience times of hardship. Times of sorrow. Times of depression. But we can choose whether to succumb to our emotions and circumstances, or ask and receive God’s power to rise above them. We have the choice. If you’re going through a tough time right now, I challenge you, ask God to sustain you. He loves you. He wants to help you. Tell Him all your trials and cast your cares upon Him. He alone can lift you up and keep you through all the times of discouragement.

Further reading: Psalm 22 (Watch David’s thought patterns as he goes from depression to praise)

Are you wiping your mouth?

We will always be wronged by someone. Our friends are human. They will mess up just like we do. One thing that we do expect from our friends is an apology. I mean, they don’t need to apologize for everything, but sometimes we can’t have a good friendship until they recognize that what they did was wrong. It’s the same thing with God.

God wants us to have fellowship with Him despite how much we mess up. God does want us to recognize when we do wrong. Proverbs 28:13 says, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." If your friend decided he would just avoid the issue and never bring up how he wronged you, you would most likely have a problem with it. However, if he came to you and told you that he was sincerely sorry for what he did and asked you to forgive him, you probably would. Your friendship would most likely be repaired.

We see this truth so plainly in our earthly relationships. But how often do we fail to recognize the guilt we have in our relationship to our heavenly Father? Many times, we sin and try to continue our relationship with God as if nothing happened. God abhors evil. It is His enemy. How could we go on with our lives and expect to have a good relationship with God if we are consistently going back to sin? Do we really know how much God despises sin?

God often refers to us as the bride of Christ. In the old testament especially, God refers to sin and idolatry as adultery. He compares unfaithful Israel to an adulterous wife. Now let us look at Proverbs 30:20. It says, "Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness." If we continue in sin, and try to have a proper relationship with God, we are like that adulterous woman.

However, if we come before God in a broken heart, asking Him to forgive our trespasses, He will forgive us. When we understand how God hates sin, that promise becomes so much more meaningful.

1 John 1:19 says, " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

You can never have perfect fellowship with God until you confess and turn from your sins. Will you confess your sins to God today?