Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are you a Christian?

Matthew 7:21-23 - "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Who do you suppose Jesus is talking about in those verses? Could it be you? How would you know? Do you test yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5)? I compiled and expanded on a checklist of questions from a sermon given by Todd Friel in Bethel, Texas. (You can find the sermon audio here) I encourage you to honestly examine yourself in the light of Scripture by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Do I like hanging out with other Christians? Is there a special relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ? Am I involved in a local body of believers (church)? (I John 1:7- But if we are living in the light of God's presence, then we have fellowship with each other.)

2. Do I know that I was dead in my sin, an enemy of God, and that my nature, apart from Christ, is wicked? This is more than “I have a God-shaped hole in my heart” - this is “my heart was wretched, prideful and blind”. (I John 1:8 - But if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.)

3. Do I obey the commandments of God? Do I strive to be obedient to His word? (I John 2:3 - and how can we be sure that we belong to Him? By obeying His commandments. If someone says, 'I belong to God,' but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth.)

4. Do I love the world? Do I delight in the things the world offers? Think music, friends, clothes, stuff…Are money or movies or food or relationships more important to me than Jesus? What am I striving for? If it isn’t the glory of Christ, it’s worldly. (I John 2:15 - Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you.)

5. Do I know who Jesus Christ is? Do I worship the Jesus of the Bible? Is my theology about Him based on the Word of God (this is not the Jesus of the Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Latter-day Saints' Jesus, the Muslim Jesus, the Jesus of Eckhart Tolle, etc)? (I John 2:23 - Anyone who denies the Son doesn't have the Father, either. But anyone who confesses the Son has the Father also.)

6. Am I excited about going to heaven, and seeing Christ? Not because I am tired and weary from this life, but because I have a genuine excitement at being face to face with my Savior? (I John 3:2 - Yes, dear friends, we are already God's children, and we can't even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns.)

7. Do I love my brothers and sisters in Christ? Am I growing in love for them? (I John 3:14 - If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life.)

8. Do I love to learn from the Word of God, and hear preaching and teaching? Do I read my Bible? (I John 4:6 - But we belong to God, that is why those who know God listen to us.)

9. Do I intentionally share my faith with others? (I John 4:15 - All who proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God have God live in them and they live in God.)

10. Do I persist in sin? This is not, "Do I sin?" We all sin. This is, "Do I see my lifestyle as God sees it? Do I have remorse over things that I keep doing that don’t please God? Do I share these things with God and others so that I can turn from these sins?" (I John 3:8 - When people keep on sinning it shows they belong to the devil.)

Please hear this: the Christian walk is about direction, not perfection. Perfection is God’s eager gift to us through Christ, and we know for sure that we have bowed our hearts to this gift if we are being directed by His Spirit in how we choose to live our lives.

My prayer for myself and you is that we would cherish Christ, the Lord and Creator of the never ending universe, who came to this earth as a Man to show us how powerfully and passionately God loves. He wrote words of warning so that we would never have to experience, for all of eternity, His promise to judge unrighteousness.

Please honestly examine yourself, in light of God's Holy Word. If you have not truly repented, please do so right now. If you need to stop living a lifestyle of immorality, abandon it and turn to Christ, who is mighty to save.

Let me know if I can pray for you, or minister to you in any way.

*this is an edited version of the post from this morning, if you happened to catch that one

Monday, January 25, 2010

Treasuring Him

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Spurgeon

We should be careful to keep the stream of meditation always running; for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. ~Charles H. Spurgeon

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There is a Way That Seems Right...

Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 both say the same thing: There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

One thing I've learned is that if God repeats something, I need to pay attention! This proverb floats around in my head a lot. Lately, its been floating around double a lot.

There are a few things in my life that are challenging my "gospel centered" sensibilities. Meaning, I want to scream, throw things, call people names, yell something mature, like "nanny nanny boo-boo," and kick them in the shins. Yes, I AM feeling like a spoiled 8 year old in my life right now. Because people are saying things to me that are unkind, and are representing me in ways that are untrue, in public. You know, so other people can read and see and think poorly of me. And it makes me ANGRY.

So I go on these tangents, in my mind, about how right I am and how wrong they are and how if only they would apologize, then we would all be fine. But then this proverb dings me in between the eyeballs. No matter how right I think I am, I might not be.

And I don't want to be right in my own eyes. If I am wrong in His eyes, I want to know it, so I can change. And so I pray...Lord, help me know where I am wrong, because I don't want to be right, in my own eyes. I want to be right in HIS eyes. Because His are the only eyes that matter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Spurgeon

To keep chaff out of a bushel, one sure plan is to fill it full of wheat; and to keep out vain thoughts, it is wise and prudent to have the mind stored with choice subjects for meditation: these are easy to find, and we should never be without them. ~Charles H. Spurgeon

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Spurgeon

A man who wants to see a country, must not hurry through it by express train, but he must stop in the towns and villages, and see what is to be seen. He will know more about the land and its people if he walks the highways, climbs the mountains, stays in the homes, and visits the workshops; than if he does so many miles in the day, and hurries through picture galleries as if death were pursuing him. Don’t hurry through Scripture, but pause for the Lord to speak to you. Oh, for more meditation! ~Charles H. Spurgeon

Thursday, January 7, 2010

But the LORD was pleased to crush Him

Isaiah 53: 10 - But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief;

I've struggled with this verse since I first read it. I have never quite been able to understand how it would be pleasing to God to crush Christ and make Him a guilt offering for our sin. I mean, it would make more sense to me if the verse said, "But the LORD was exceedingly sad to crush Him, putting Him to grief." That makes sense to me. But that's not what the verse says. And I've had a hard time getting that to jive with my ideas of what should and should not be.

Until the week after Christmas.

I took the girls to a local park that has a display of LOTS of Christmas lights and a fun carousel that my toddler has discovered and loves to ride. All of these things are quite a distance from the car, and my routine is to park, put the baby in the stroller, and let the toddler walk with me. This works really well, as I can push the stroller with one hand and hold the toddler's hand with my other one, if necessary. All was well and good, until we got out of the car and were halfway to the carousel and I realized it was colder than I had anticipated before leaving the house, and I had under-dressed the baby.

We got to the carousel and rode it (a few times, if you must know). When I went to put the baby back in the stroller, I knew I could not leave her so under-dressed and cold. So I covered her with my jacket. It was very cold, and within a short time, I was miserably cold.

BUT, I was pleased that it was me that was cold, and not her. The colder I felt, the more pleased I was that she was warm. I found my heart not only willing to suffer for her comfort, but eager.

It struck me in that moment, what this verse means. Since Christ is God, it is true to say that God was self-sacrificial, taking our sufferings on Himself, and it pleased Him to do so, because He knows we could never bear the weight of His punishment that is due to us, outside of Christ. I can imagine that the worse the suffering got, the more pleased He became, because of His great love for us, and His intense desire to spare us from His righteous wrath against our sin! I pray you can feel the weight and significance of this, even if you do not have a relationship with Christ.

(And if you do not have a relationship with Christ, I pray that you would stop what you are doing, and ponder this truth, and seek Him while He may still be found! He suffered and died in your place, and He waits for you to turn to Him. I pray you would not rest until you believe.)

I want to encourage you to ponder this verse and what it means in your life, that God took your punishment on Himself, and it pleased Him to do so. I pray it causes you to worship, praising His holy name!

Morning Prayer

This is a Puritan prayer that blessed me this morning.

Compassionate Lord, Thy mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge, ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know Thee as Thou art, love Thee supremely, serve Thee wholly, admire Thee fully. Through grace let my will respond to Thee, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Thy free love alone enables me to serve Thee. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Thy choicest gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.

O ever watchful Shepherd, lead, guide, tend me this day; without Thy restraining rod I err and stray. Hedge up my path lest I wander into unwholesome pleasure, and drink its poisonous streams; direct my feet that I be not entangled in Satan's secret snares, nor fall into his hidden traps. Defend me from assailing foes, from evil circumstances, from myself. My adversaries are part and parcel of my nature; they cling to me as my very skin; I cannot escape their contact. In my rising up and sitting down they barnacle me; they entice with constant baits; my enemy is within the citadel. Come with almighty power and cast him out, pierce him to death, and abolish in me every particle of carnal life this day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Spurgeon

I will do this at least every Sunday of January. May you be encouraged!

To believe a thing is, as it were, to see the cool crystal sparkling in the cup; but to meditate upon it is to drink thereof. Reading gathers the clusters, contemplation squeezes forth their generous juice. Meditation is of all things the most soul-fattening when combined with prayer.

~Charles H. Spurgeon