Say no to sin

Proverbs 1:10  My son, if sinners entice you,do not consent.

Who are your friends?  Whose approval do you seek out?  If your friends don’t encourage you to do the will of God, don’t listen to them.  It can be quite a struggle to do the right thing sometimes because we all want to be liked, but likeability is not listed as a biblical virtue.  Sometimes, as the saying goes, the right thing is not the popular thing.

All around us, we’re being enticed into sin.  The TV ads try to sell us on it, the popular culture flaunts it, and sadly some churches even embrace it or excuse it.  But there’s only one voice that we should be following, and it’s the one of Him who created us.  God knows what’s best, even if we think sin will be fun for a while.  He cares for us and has a plan for each one of us.

The truth is that sin only appears pleasing and in the end it leads to death and decay.  Following the Lord is where we find true joy and true fulfillment.

A fellowship of believers

The Church

Hebrews 10:24-25  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where we belong in this world.  We can find ourselves tossed aside by society if we’re not pretty enough or cool enough for the world’s standards.  We have to meet the criteria of whatever group we’re looking to be accepted by in order to have a shot.  But in God’s family, there’s always room for the outcast or the downtrodden.

In fact, sometimes it takes feeling the rejection of the world for us to turn to God, and when we do, we find a Father who has His arms open wide.  There are many churches and many denominations and it’s not accurate to say that all of them are as accepting as Christ is, but in general the church is where we find a home where His love is shown.  The fellowship of believers is where we can find the love, encouragement, motivation, kindness, and correction the world lacks.  Each believer is equipped to minister to others in some way, and everyone has a place where they fit in.

God’s overall plan is fulfilled through His Church (outwardly) and the body is meant to minister to each other (inwardly) for this plan to be accomplished.  Our mission isn’t just to go “out there”, but also to tend to those “in here” so that each of us can be better at what we’re called to do.  Healing, hope, and love are found in Christ’s Church.  This was His plan.

A choice to make

1 John 2:15  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

You know from Jesus’ own words that you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).  If you’re fully devoted to God, you can’t be devoted to this world.  There are good things in the world, after all, God created it.  But He created it for His glory and when we devote ourselves to the creation instead of the Creator, we find ourselves in sin.

There are a lot of tempting things all around us.  Things that, if we allow ourselves to be distracted, can consume us.  Possessions can possess us and desires can overtake us.  There’s only one way to overcome the world and it’s to follow the One who overcomes the world (John 16:33).  The One who created and sustains it can use us while we’re here on this earth, but only if we choose Him over all of this.

There are no regrets to be had if we pass up sin.  The things here that seem so wonderful are fleeting, they’re dying.  But when they’re all gone, the Lord will endure through all eternity.  His love never fails.

Christ’s body

The Church

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

The Church – we are many, but we are one – united in Christ.  Though the Church is made up of many individuals, each has his or her own part in making up the body of Christ.  Each member is like a part of a body, fulfilling a specific purpose to the greater purpose of the body as a whole.

Why do we gather as a church?  To carry out the work of Christ in the world.  To bring glory to God.  He has commissioned us to go out and do His will and bring about His purposes.  When we unite as one, we have strength in numbers, we have unity, we have a greater plan.  In our unity, God works in us and through us, just as He works in and through us as individuals.

In each of us, He gives skills and abilities.  In the corporate body He puts those skills to work, directing us right where He wants us.  Often we pair with someone whose skills complement our own and our effectiveness is doubled, as two strands of rope are far stronger than one (even better with a third – God).

United as a body, we are an unstoppable force in the world for the cause of Christ.


The voice of a man

Joshua 10:12-14   At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”  And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.

What would you pray for if you knew God would hear you and answer?  What would you have the faith to believe Him for if you knew, with no doubt or fear, that He was on your side?

The story of Joshua praying for the sun to stand still in the sky is often centered around his bold prayer and God’s answer, but shift your focus just for a moment back on verse 8 of this story.  Notice that before Joshua had the bold faith to pray for a mighty miracle, he heard from God.  The Lord told Joshua that He was on his side and that Israel would win over their enemies.

With that knowledge, Joshua was able to pray with complete faith, knowing that God was with him.  We too can be courageous in our prayers if we first hear from God that He is on our side.  Are you living for Him?  Is He on your side?  Consult God’s Word and find where He wants you.  When you are there, He is fighting on your side, and your voice too will be heard.

———-  So what would you pray for if you knew He would answer?

Christ’s bride

The Church

Ephesians 5:25-27  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Of all analogies given in Scripture to describe the relationship between God and man, maybe one of the most peculiar is that of husband and wife. Christ is the groom and we (collectively, as the Church) are His bride.  Why is this comparison used to speak of our relationship with Jesus?

First of all, any analogy that tries to capture God within human understanding fails.  God is not just like anything we have knowledge of.  But He is kind of like a husband who loves his bride and would do anything (DID everything!) for her.  The best attempt we have at coming close to understanding God’s love is a healthy marriage relationship where there is mutual love.  Christ gave everything, His own perfect life, for His bride.  He sacrificed it all that we might be reconciled to God.

We, His bride, are made spotless (here’s the white dress) to be presented at the marriage (Christ’s return).  He’s made a covenant with us that will never be broken and He remains faithful.  His love never falters, never fails.  His love is true.  And His love is for us.  We await the perfect wedding day to come.

Work out your salvation

Philippians 2:12-13  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Though we can’t earn salvation through good works, not all of the effects of salvation can be seen immediately in us and we’re called to persevere in our faith and “work out” our salvation.  As we progress in our walk with Christ, God works in and through us.

At the point we would call conversion, we do become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), our old nature dying and our new nature being in Christ.  It’s through persevering faith, though, that we really take on the new attributes of a Christ-follower, the fruits.  The Holy Spirit works in us “to will and to work for His good pleasure”. This means our very desires begin to change because of God’s work in us.  We don’t just change because we think we’re supposed to change, we change because we now desire to do so.  Our wants begin to align with God’s will and purpose.

When we follow Christ, we take on His plans as our own and God has us bring about His will by transforming us to be more like Him.

Three in One – God revealed

The Trinity

Deuteronomy 29:29  The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Anyone who’s ever tried to understand the triune nature of God knows that it’s a difficult task.  It’s even harder to describe than it is to understand.  People have attempted many different ways of describing God over the centuries and all of them fall short.

The water analogy (God is like water:  it exists as liquid, solid and vapor) fails to capture the nature of God because H2O cannot exist as water, ice, and steam simultaneously and each of these three has different properties.  God is simultaneously Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each contains the same essence.  The candle analogy (Father=candlestick, Son=light, Spirit=flame) is even worse as each fail to coexist with each other in a way that would even come close to a picture of the Trinity.  Likewise analogies like the courtroom (which gives a good idea of the roles of the Trinity in judge, bailiff and defense attorney) cannot capture the triune nature of God because saying that all of these make up “one court” is nothing like the oneness of our God.  Analogies fall short because God is above our understanding.

We have a tendency to think that we need to figure everything out, that there is somewhere out there a perfect analogy to show just what our God is like.  But God is not like anything in creation.  He is God.  And it’s ok to not understand the mysterious things about Him.  But when He reveals something about Himself, it’s worth taking note.  Through the Scriptures, God has revealed that He is Three in One, and we do well to believe it to be so.  All of the details of this fact may remain a mystery, and we need to be willing to accept that God is more complex than we could ever understand with our finite minds.  If He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be much of a god.