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Entries in Gospel (5)

Thursday
Oct052017

Don't look now...

Don't look now but it appears certain persons have crept in unnoticed. Yikes! It's a bit unnerving to think of people creeping around trying to blend in and go unnoticed. They appear good but are up to no good. We hear about such people all the time on the nightly news. Friends and family shocked when they find out what the "creepers" been up to. 

Recently, we traveled to small-town Illinois to go to the fair and attend some dirt track races. As we walked up and down the midway, it was such a blessing to see so many families out enjoying the food, rides, races, and near-perfect weather. Children were running ahead of and lagging behind their parents. Groups of teens were enjoying not being with their parents.

Oddly, I kept thinking these children and teens were easy prey.  These same thoughts flooded my mind this weekend as we gathered in with other families to watch sprint car races in central Pennsylvania. Adults fixed on the races while kids were running around and teens enjoyed a night out together.  Easy prey.

One evening after a late night of racing, my husband and I decided to go for a middle of the night breakfast! Something we used to do all the time in our younger days. Sitting in a diner at 2 AM we wondered who we were and why in the world we were eating breakfast rather than sleeping when I noticed several groups of teens sitting in the diner with us. It appeared they had been to a dance or function as they were all dressed up and had corsages. The majority of the teens were girls, but there were a couple of guys. So cute, young and possibly unaware of the dangers that could be facing them at 2 AM. Easy prey.

I normally don't walk around with this mindset. I'm usually in the moment and unaware of my own surroundings. I don't look for or expect to find "creepy" people lurking around. That's exactly my point in writing this blog. Furthermore, I certainly don't expect to find "creepers" in church or among those who call themselves Christians. Until I started reading the book of Jude.

Y'all...certain persons have crept into the church and into Christian circles unnoticed. These are bad, bad people. How is this possible? Well, they talk the talk, but they don't actually walk the talk. In fact, according to the book of Jude, they aren't Christians at all but, because they can talk the talk, they fit right in - unnoticed. And guess what? They don't look creepy. How concerning is that?

Here is how Jude describes them and how we can recognize them:

  • They use the grace of God as a license to sin.  Especially when it comes to sex and money.
  • They are like
    • Clouds without water carried along by winds or like autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead.
    • Wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam.
    • Wandering stars for whom shameless darkness has been reserved forever
  • They are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts, speak arrogantly, flattering people to gain an advantage, cause divisions, are worldly-minded.
  • They are devoid of the Spirit.
  • These people deny Jesus as Lord and want others to do the same.

Here's the thing...don't expect them to verbally deny Jesus as Lord. No, they won't do that and they won't get others to do that. What they do and encourage others to do is to deny Jesus by their behavior. They deny God's word especially when it comes to sex and money. They encourage others to do the same. How many churches do you think have been divided over issues regarding sex and money?  Far too many. Here's another thing...if you and I don't know what God says in His word for ourselves we are at great risk. Our faith is at great risk. The faith of the next generation is at risk.

Remember, they have crept in unnoticed. Why they could be excellent communicators, charming, funny, smart, a leader followed by many, relatable, helpful, look good, and by all outward appearances be an awesome spiritual mentor. But, they are devoid of the Spirit.  

Okay, now look.  Do you see them? Can you identify them? 

If you and I do not know God's Word, we cannot earnestly contend for the faith. Plus, these "certain persons" are believable and have the influence and potential to cause doubt, division and many will stumble and will be in need of being snatched from the fire. They do this by picking and choosing what in God's word is truth and what was is no longer relevant for today - especially when it comes to sex and money. This is called relativism and its crept into the church unnoticed. How is the possible? As I sit this morning and ponder all this, there can only be two explanations:

1.  We don't know what God's word says for ourselves, so we don't know the difference. 

2.  Or, we know the difference and yet choose not to contend earnestly for the faith (conviction of truth).

I don't mean to sound harsh, but there is no way that we could have gone from a Christian society to a post-Christian society if we'd all been fighting earnestly for the faith (conviction of truth). 

So, does this mean we are to roll up our sleeves and duke it out with those in our churches who preach another gospel or use grace as a license to sin - especially when it comes to sex and money?  Are we to scream and holler during church business meetings?  Are we to call out on social media all those we believe have crept into the church?  Actually, here's what Jude says we are to do:

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

If ever there were a time for us to be getting serious about knowing God's word for ourselves it is certainly now.  May we build ourselves up in our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit and keeping ourselves in the love of God. If we do these things, contending earnestly for the faith will the natural outcome.  We will be merciful, loving, joyful and passionate contenders that might look like Faith and Football

If you want to learn how to dig out truths from God's word for yourself, message me. I'd be happy to help you. I can also pass along two books that you might want to add to your library.  Pray asking the Lord to give you desire and hunger to know Him and His ways through His word and keep praying.  He will answer that prayer, and soon, you'll be able to contend earnestly for the faith!

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins

Living by the Book, The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard G. Hendricks and Willaim D. Hendricks

 

 

 

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Saturday
Jun232012

Show me the marks!

The question is:  "Sally, what marks do you have for the gospel?"
Mark:a visible impression on a surface, as a line, spot, scratch, dent, or stain; a noticeable or lasting effect; imprint.
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul has a list of sufferings - things he endured as a result of his faith in Christ, proclaiming the gospel and speaking truth. Each suffering left a mark - an impression or imprint and as I read through Paul's list, I am deeply moved and challenged.  Paul's "marks" are:
· Labors
· Imprisonments
· Beaten times without number
· Often in danger of death
· Stoned 3 times
· Shipwrecked
· Frequent journeys
· Dangers from rivers, robbers, countrymen, city, wilderness, sea, false brethren
· Hardship
· Sleepless nights
· Hungry & thirsty
· Cold and exposed
· Daily pressure due to deep emotional concern for the churches

I am challenged by Paul's willingness to suffer - even unto death - for the gospel. The truth is, a real believer or follower of Christ suffers and will bear marks for the gospel.  So, I say I believe?  Show me the marks.

Pondering this truth in my heart.


Saturday
Apr072012

What is passion?

Webster's online dictionary says this about Passion:  The sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death  It goes on to define passion in some other ways like:  intense, driving or overmastering feeling or conviction; a strong liking or desire or or devotion to some activity, object or concept.But the first definition positively, absolutely gets me.

It was Christ's passion to suffer and die for mankind.  
Wow.  Can I just repeat that?  It was Christ's passion to suffer and die for mankind - for me.  For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son...  Okay, I'm seeing these truths - thinking these truths but I have to be honest and say, this kind of passion is beyond what my human brain can wrap itself around.

Watching the movie the passion of Christ is so, so sobering because it shows in very graphic detail just how much Christ suffered. And, according to Scripture and historical details about Roman scourging, it was even worse than what we see in the movie. Tears well up in my eyes....He did nothing to deserve this kind of punishment and suffering.  But, it was Christ's passion to experience this - to suffer and die for me. Oh my goodness...on my goodness. Such truths are too marvelous for me.  I sit here in startled silence for a minute and then the words of the apostle Paul come to mind....


"...Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:5-11

Now, that's passion.  Without this kind of passion - the passion of Christ - life is nothing.  Oh dear God - give me - give anyone reading this - passion like the passion of Christ. Put within us Christ's passion to proclaim His passion - the gospel.  Give to us Christ's passion so that we might passionately guard the gospel and passionately live lives for Christ even if it means suffering to the point of death.

Monday
Apr022012

Well, I do declare!

As I gather my thoughts, it's Palm Sunday, and I've been intentionally thinking on Jesus and what I believe.  So, what do I believe?

· The penalty of sin - which must be paid - is death
· I am a sinner worthy of death
· The penalty for sin was paid by Christ
· He died for my sins, was buried and raised on the third day
· Salvation is a free gift from God (saved by grace not works)
· I must believe in my heart and accept Jesus as my Savior and Lord
· Believing in my heart means my actions, my changed life lines up with my confession of faith or words
· I have eternal life, I am sealed in the Holy Spirit and all my sins forgiven

Just typing these truths causes my heart to start singing... "Jesus paid it all - all to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain, I'm washed as white as snow." My heart swells with gratitude and as I slow down long enough to savor these truths and remember...God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on my behalf, so that I might become the righteousness of God in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). Wow.

Well, I do declare!  Jesus is Savior and Lord.  He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What do you declare?

(John 1:123:16Romans 3:103:23-245:85:126:2310:8-131 Corinthians 15:1-8Ephesians 1:13-142:8-9Hebrews 9:22James 4:171 Peter 2:243:181 John 5:11-12


Wednesday
Apr292009

The Gospel!