The older I get, the more convinced I am that I am going to surely fail, fail miserably as a matter of fact, in my attempt to be perfectly Christ-like. We all know, or should know, this is just not going to happen. However, as we also know, it is our job to humbly and consistently keep trying and striving to emulate our Lord and Savior. There are all kinds of expressions to describe this rather unique occurrence in the Christian experience: everything from “backsliding,” to falling off the wagon, to suffering a setback, or simply falling down. In each instance, I think the Christian’s obligation is to weather the storm and reverse direction, or more aptly put, “get back up on my feet again.” I don’t know about you but one of the hardest things for me to do is to know I’ve blown it with regard to Christian behavior. I have maintained an un-Christian attitude for longer than I should — held onto my anger too long. Or, I’ve enjoyed someone else’s misfortune much too much. You see when that happens, because I profess and believe the good news of the Gospel, I do understand what is supposed to be inherently good and what is not. Yet I’ve acted or reacted outside of the parameters of what I know is good, Christian behavior. At this point I know I’m in trouble, because I indeed do know better. It becomes hard and kind of embarrassing to ask God for forgiveness, when you know He knows that you do know better.
For me that’s pretty tough. It’s like stealing and having to confess to your mother, or, being caught cheating and your punishment was delivering the bad news to your mother by a note from your teacher. For those of you who have had to carry such burden, I’m sure you understand that sinking feeling as you have exhausted every excuse possible in a vain attempt to delay the inevitable. The moment of truth has come. You’ve got to tell Mom. Stay with me for a moment and relate this situation to having to tell God. You know that He already knows. It is then absolutely necessary and incumbent upon me or you to stand up, “‘fess up” and proceed down the only road that makes sense, with the full knowledge that you will be okay. The Lord still loves you. Getting through that whole process has always been very difficult for me because, I believe what I’m feeling is generally stupid and certainly clear about knowing better. When you’re a Christian, you do know better. I don’t know which is worse: knowing better or having to tell God that you knew better. The good news is, God knows what’s in your heart. It is His measure of who you are and who you are in relation to Him that really matters. It’s because of that, that God knows you are repentant, just like your mother knew you that you knew better because she raised you. She also knew you were truly sorry. It remains the only basis for forgiveness.
For me it still remains an uncomfortable exercise to square my shoulders, assume the position faced down in reverent prayer and enter into the domain of my Father and reveal that kind of failure. Each time it happens, I’m reminded that God did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners of which I am one, regardless of how enlightened I might think I am. Remember this the next time you review the day and realize how much better you could have behaved. May God bless and keep you always.
There have been countless volumes of space and dialogue devoted to Jesus’ blood contract with us that many suggest freed us from the bondage of original sin. “…and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the Earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…” Revelation 1:5.
My question to you, then, is how do you master sin? How do you control your sin as opposed to having your sin control you?
Is this even possible? Is sin for you not sin for me? Some would have you believe sin is a behavior that politicians and governments laid down as moral laws to keep humanity in check, preserve order and maintain control over the masses. They point to different cultures and customs that are acceptable to one nation and gut wrenchingly wrong to another.
My point is there are sins of all kinds and as Christians they take on one of two dimensions, i.e. sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. But isn’t there a universal acceptance of what is moral and what is immoral? But for the Christian, isn’t morality a barometer for sin? Aren’t there rules about sin that are etched in stone and never change?
It really shouldn’t be complicated at all. It seems that living morally, righteously, living in between the lines rather than outside of them, is a struggle matched only by trying to understand the true meaning of life. Now I know this is not easy. But the question is, is it worth it to try and master your sins or, more poignantly, your sinful nature?
I don’t know about you, but trying to live without sin is a recognized and acknowledged impossibility. The beauty here is we know God is a God of another chance. It appears that the key is attitude; yours, not God’s.
That attitude will eventually dictate the outcome. If your attitude is God-centered, if it is founded in humility and vulnerability in relation to God, if remorse is real, then mercy will be forthcoming.
With the right attitude, then, sin can be mastered, if not controlled. Confess. That’s right! Confess them to God. You see, confession to God is not like any other confession I can think of. That’s because you can’t lie to God, because the truth in this instance can’t hide. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all righteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9.
If we can really get this, the reward then is eternal life and peace. It requires faith, which requires belief, which requires a daily resolve to choose against sin in favor of the Lord. Now if you believe this life is all there is, then I might understand deliberate sinful pursuits. If you believe in more, then sinful mistakes are just that; mistakes made, not ever with God in mind. “But if anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the father in our defense — Jesus Christ.” 1 John 2:1. Given this fact, it’s not so hard to imagine the eternal outcome. Just remember, some rules are indeed etched in stone.
May God bless and keep you forever.
It is no secret that my favorite passage in the Bible is Matthew 4: 1-11. To me it’s good versus evil, up close and personal. On one side the devil incarnate; on the other Jesus the Christ. When I read this I am reminded that God’s plan is pretty precise and more than obvious to those willing to seek him first. After 40 days of fasting in the desert, Satan offers Christ “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” We should all give pause and realize the power the devil has to tempt each and every one of us as we go about our daily lives, essentially on his turf.
The truth be told, Lucifer and the Lord hung out in heaven. You could call them boys; that is, until Lucifer got the big head and was banished to the physical real. In this confrontation of all confrontations, once Jesus rebuked him for the third time, Scripture says, “Then the devil left him and angels came and attended (to) him.” So, once Christ withstood and overcame the temptations, God then delivered unto him all that Satan had offered and more.
When you get this, then you’ll realize, it was Christ’s birthright anyway. Now, if I follow this correctly, the devil probably knows the Bible better than we do. He understands what tempts us, because he knows what pleases God. They were roadies, remember? Then it stands to reason that I’m a much easier target than Jesus and so are you.
My ruination won’t necessarily require the promise of the whole world and all of its splendor. But since I am made in the image of God, perhaps the key to my ultimate salvation might be to surrender all that I have and all that I am to him, who is my Lord and savior. It’s his anyway, right? That way, I won’t fall into the trap that suggests it’s mine and I have the right to more. By doing so I should be able to see the devil coming with the intention of fooling me into believing life can and should provide me with more than God has already blessed me with. If (and that’s a big if), I can see the devil coming, just maybe I can position myself to withstand the need to have my wants and desires satisfied by sacrificing the integrity of my soul for momentary gratification.
Trust me. I do understand there is a difference between temptation to sin and a test of faith. What I’m hopefully shedding some light on is how simple all this appears to be when looked upon from a spiritual perspective rather than an earthly one. Once Jesus answered each one of Satan’s successive temptations with… “It is written,” (1) Matthew 4:4 “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (2) Matthew 4:7, “It is also written, do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (3) Matthew 4:10 “Away from me, Satan! For it is written, worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” …then the devil left and the angels came.
The key to getting on the other side of temptation seems to be to walk in the Word consciously, so you can understand that ‘just saying no’ to the devil is an absolute guarantee of getting all that you desire and all that you need from life.
In order to do this, we must realize how cunning Satan is in getting you to see, or not see that he is the source of your temptations. When in doubt, shout. Call upon the name of the Lord and eventually Satan will be replaced with angels also ready to attend to you. Last time I looked. It was all your birthright too. “Seek ye first the kingdom and whatever it is that you desire, you will have and more…
May God bless and keep you always.
Every now and then, more now than then, I fall into the trap that lets me know my faith walk needs work. I do realize that I am in a constant state of effort and often come up short in what I believe should be a sincere attempt to “do it right.” At these times, I am more than a little frustrated, because I can find numerous opportunities to be more Christian, as I am forced to acknowledge even more instances of un-Christian behavior. Every day I can see things that I should have done with more compassion, people whom I should have engaged from a more Jesus-like perspective and certainly thoughts that really have no business running through the mind of a so-called practicing child of God. If I think about this long enough, it can really become depressing. Flawed I am and flawed I will always be.
One of the beautiful things about prayer in this instance is its unique ability to open one’s eyes to the wonderful nature of God’s eternal love for his children. Before Being Saved (B.S.), it really didn’t matter how I responded to my own insensitivity, cruelty or petty jealousies. My ego was still intact. I would survive, because if nothing else, I am a survivor. After being saved (A.S.), however, it really began to matter how I navigated this thing we call life. From that perspective, things like honesty, integrity, compassion, simple courtesy, truth and even the ‘f’ word, forgiveness, all, came into play. Once you’ve been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, you cannot react to this world as you once did. Scripture is clear on this. When the day of the Lord comes, we have an obligation to meet it with what I trust will be enlightened behavior; behavior built upon the foundation of love and kindness. What I’m speaking about is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Through prayer, it becomes obvious where individual improvement can be achieved. I can’t write the entire Scripture, but read Ephesians 4:17-5:21 and you’ll begin to see a hint of how you can and should live. The truth is God expects your best effort. He admires and loves your diligence in seeking his face. It’s sort of like following footprints in the snow and a huge snowstorm develops. The footprints remain because they were placed there by Christ. Regardless of how fierce the storm gets, our job is to stay the course. If you know this, then you can’t feel good about reckless behavior or an unforgiving spirit. The point is, you know better. The truth is, God knows that you know better. Prayer keeps and puts everything else then into divine focus. “You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24. I can do this. I have to at least try. If I fail today, I can try again tomorrow. You can also, because it’s still all about the grace of the Lord.
May God bless and keep you always.
As many of you know I am in total awe of the concept of time when looking at how man calculates time and how God looks at time. The phrase I heard from the pulpit one Sunday morning still resonates with me. “An emergency in your time does not necessarily mean an emergency in God’s time.” I am reminded that time is a precious blessing and if we are enough, sometimes a moment can indeed last forever. If we could only adjust our thinking to this fact, then a moment could last a lifetime and living in that moment would be well, truly special. I believe we’ve all done it, even when we didn’t know it.
The question of the day is can you imagine a moment lasting a lifetime? My point and what I’m trying to get at is the reality of faith that knowing God is forever. Have you ever had a moment when you found out something was absolutely true? Can you remember the moment you fell in love with someone, when you knew there was no Santa Claus or when you found out somebody didn’t love you? It probably didn’t happen over a period of time. More than likely, it happened in the blink of an eye, a touch of a hand, a smile, a hug, a glance, maybe just remembering a series of events. Whatever it was, I’m sure the “knowing” manifested itself as instant conviction when you became aware of the real deal. If you could capture that moment and hold on to it, then you would begin to see what I’m talking about. If you could measure time in that moment, I believe you might see a little of what eternity might look like.
Time passes but that moment lasts forever. It remains in your mind from a positive point of view, fond memories; from a negative, it can be haunting nightmares. We are taught that God loved us before we even existed (in our conscious time), that is, before we were born. God’s love for his people is a universal truth. His faithfulness cannot be questioned. I would like to take a moment and try to illustrate what happens in that moment that we try to be faithful back to Him. Wouldn’t it be awesome to live in the moment of your own salvation? I mean stay in the exact moment that you found the Lord. I can’t speak for your experience, but I know mine was incredibly deep. For an instant, for one fleeting moment, I knew without question that God was the answer to everything. I knew that I knew that I knew. The emotional turmoil that followed was overwhelming. Guilt, sorrow, anxiety, helplessness, fear and above all love, all, came down on me at the same time. To be honest, it scared the hell out of me and heaven took its place. They say when you’re about to die, your life flashes before your eyes. I’m here to witness to you that the same thing happens when you’re saved. Your old life flashes before you in preparation for the new one to come. It really is a joyful experience. Lest I digress, back to my original question. Can you imagine a moment lasting a lifetime? If you can look into the moment of your own salvation, I believe it’s the first step towards comprehending the difference between God’s time and your own. I know I’m on thin ice here but that moment of salvation gives such insight into the meaning of faith. How long does it take for a thought to occur? How long does it take to replace a lie with the truth? One might say in no time at all or some might say time is irrelevant. I choose to believe that time, God’s time, is forever, here and now at this very moment. In order for me to make sense to myself on this, I just try to remember the moment of my own salvation and know that it was in the makings forever. Remember your own faithlessness? Now concentrate on your moment of faithfulness.
May God bless and keep you always.