July 26, 2010

Bold Obedience

If it worked, I would tell every Christian looking to get closer to God to "just do it;" to get in the Word, pray, and worship every day. I know, however, how useless that is to tell most people because it only ends up frustrating them that they're not doing those things and it starts to put a focus on the works and not the faith.

Today, I thought of a great thing to encourage people to do that's simple: whenever your pastor gives you a challenge (some will call it "homework") to do that week, do it. If they're a true child of God, it'll be something good that will actually benefit you to do. The thought to encourage people to do this came to me today after the service I attended: the man preaching (he was a guest speaker) encouraged us to memorize Psalm 23 that week, because it has only 6 verses (one per day starting Monday). My first thought was "I already memorize scripture, so I don't have to do that." Then I was immediately corrected by the Holy Spirit and reminded that the preacher didn't leave any excuses for us not to do it, no matter what habits we've developed (and perhaps let pride creep into).

Thus, my exhortation: do what your pastor challenges you to do. I have never made a habit of it up to this point, but when I think about it... why haven't I? There's no good reason not to! If a man or woman of God exhorts you to do something (and it probably won't be too complicated) then it's sure to be completely worth your while. I'll be memorizing Psalm 23 this week. Not that these works in themselves bring us closer to God, but He (because of his power and goodness) commands us to be obedient and rewards it.

Be bold and step out in obedience!

July 23, 2010

Godly Sorrow

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

-2 Corinthians 7:10
Paul has been writing to the Corinthians about a previous letter he had sent them that grieved them. It was a corrective letter, and when the Corinthians read it they were sad for the things they had been doing wrong (v8-9). Paul says that he doesn't regret sending the letter even though it grieved them, because of verse ten (although he says he did not enjoy it).

The benefits of the Corinthians' sorrow are outlined in verse 11:
See what this Godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.
Godly sorrow is healthy; in this context, the sorrow is sorrow from correction, so I won't overextend this into sorrow in other kinds of sorrow. Accepting correction humbly is a sign of wisdom found other places in the Bible as well (Proverbs 12:1 and 13:18 for starters).

If you're facing correction, don't waste time with shame (Romans 8:1-2). We learn some of our best lessons from our mistakes. While we shouldn't go out to make mistakes just to learn from them (that would be taking advantage of grace), we also can't change the past. We can learn from it, but that's one of the few useful things we can do with it. This Godly sorrow that comes from correction will grow a deeper maturity when we let it.

If you seem to learn the same lesson over and over again and are frustrated that your flesh drags you back to the same thing again and again (for me, a repeated one has been wasting large amounts of time on video games), just remember that Romans 8:1-2 is always true, no matter how many times in a row you have fallen, no matter if it was just in the last ten minutes, or if you relapsed after ten months of freedom from this sin...

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

July 12, 2010

Don't Wait

If Christians were persecuted in America (I'm talking large-scale), churches would be smaller, fewer, and much more cohesive and active. My evidence behind this is the early church as described in the New Testament and churches today that are facing persecution in countries around the world. I'm not here to say whether you will face true religious persecution in your future; I have no idea.

Here's my point: How would your faith change under persecution? You would either have to leave it completely behind or hold onto Jesus really tightly. You'd be praying and reading your Bible everyday, grabbing every chance you can get to pray and fellowship with other Christians, and you'd constantly be on the lookout to share your faith to the right people at the right time.

Do you want to have to make those adjustments if persecution happens?
32"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' "

-Mark 13:32-37

I'm living the next five minutes
Like these are my last five minutes
Cause I know the next five minutes
May be all I have
And after the next five minutes
Turn into the last five minutes
I'm taking the next five minutes
And start it all over again

-Next 5 Minutes by Steven Curtis Chapman