Saturday, January 26, 2013


I'd like to share a little bit about peace.

I want to start with probably one of the best verses on the subject, Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ok, first off, probably the most obvious thing is: 

Not being anxious is a command. 

So, if we're Bible-believing Christ-followers, we have to recognize that anxiety, fear, and worry are sins that separate us from God. Jesus went to the cross to remove not only the punishment for committing those sins, but also to remove them from our life entirely! We need to repent when we worry. To come to God, ask for forgiveness and then start living without anxiety in our lives!

And right off the bat, just to cut off thoughts of "I can't," Philippians 4 is the SAME CHAPTER that has the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." You have NO EXCUSE. (Sorry for the caps, it's just really important that we let those thoughts go.)

Isaiah 26:3, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."

Perfect peace! This means no anxiety in your life! It's possible! Don't believe this lie that says you have to worry.

Also notice that:

Peace is linked to trust in God.
Peace is an absence of fear, anxiety and worry.  

2 Thessalonians 3:16, "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all."

One of the names of God is the "Lord of Peace." In our search to know God better, do we know Him as the Lord of peace? How many times do we call Him by that name? 

And notice that the peace isn't temporary, not a band-aid. "Peace at all times in every way." That's pretty intense!

And to go back to the first verse, the Lord of Peace gives us peace that "transcends understanding." His peace will get you scratching your head thinking, "You know, this is a situation when any self-respecting person would be frightened and intimidated, but I'm not! That's crazy! That doesn't make and sense!"

1 Peter 5:6-7, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."

Many times fear keeps us from exercising the fruits of the spirit. This is especially true with peace. Out of fear we want to hold on to our anxieties, trying to control what happens to us so that we don't get hurt. When we inevitably do get hurt we hold on even tighter believing it will save us next time. It's insanity.

Notice that this verse connects peace with humility. Being anxious is prideful. It's saying that you have the power to affect things by being independent from God.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Obviously "You will have tribulation" isn't one of the most joyous promises of the Bible, but notice that it's surrounded on both sides with the assurance that God is in control, and we're not supposed to worry. Peace isn't the absence of hardship or heartbreak. It's the God-given ability to cast those cares on the only one that can actually do something about them.

So you're thinking, "Ok, I'm ready for the peace, where do I start?"

1) Peace is a fruit of the spirit. You CANNOT have real fruit without being connected to the vine. If you're talking with God on occasional weekends and holidays, you're stuck with the anxiety you've got.

Get into the Word, build your faith and trust in Him. Start writing down your interactions with God. Sometimes we pray for something to happen, and when God steps in miraculously, we don't even notice, much less give Him the credit.

2) Isaiah 26:3, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you." Start working on your thinking. If you're always thinking, "I'm all alone on this, there's no one to help me out." You're going to have a hard time not being afraid. Begin to think, "The God that created the universe is literally on all 4 sides of me right now. He's got my back. He goes before me. He's at my right and left hand."

3) Ask for it! Begin to ask God for His peace just as fervently as you ask for the difficult situations in your life to change. Exercise peace by relying on God in more tough circumstances. Most people don't need situations to change as much as they need the peace of God to get through them. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Spirit and in Truth

So much of following Jesus can feel like this sometimes. You know you're supposed to be going one way, but somebody you heard about went too far that direction. You're supposed to take this certain path, but someone else got distracted and subsequently lost when they took that turn.

I almost want to make a series of blog posts about the "Pendulum Swings" of Christianity. Two important truths that sometimes get pitted against each other by those trying to live righteously. 

Why not. I might never add to this series again, but at least I tried. 

Pendulum Swing #1 - Spirit and in Truth: Being changed by a radical encounter with God while being grounded in the truth of God's Word. 

I'm going to begin with the latter.


"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2nd Timothy 2:15

Being a radical, effective, relevant Christian doesn't mean ignoring the Bible. Jesus didn't throw out the scriptures when He came into town. He said that He came to fulfill them. He was constantly in the temple revealing truth in the scriptures. He quoted the old testament 78 recorded times. He spoke from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, and Malachi.

"I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You."

The Bible is actually the only offensive weapon given in the armor of God. It can divide soul and spirit, and it judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. I'm gonna say that it's pretty important.

In our effort to avoid hypocritical and stale Christianity, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep the Bible.


There's a lot of buzz going around about religious "experientialism." Which is a fancy word for the desire for a "spiritual high." There's a real danger in seeking an experience with God without also being grounded in good doctrine. But to those that reject all experiences with God in fear of being floppy and emotional, I say that the experience with God is just as important as memorizing scripture. It's not an either/or thing. 

Moses' life was changed when he had his burning bush experience with God. Paul's life was changed when he had his encounter on the road to Damascus. 

What's the deal with the transfiguration? That seemed like a pretty powerful experience that strengthened the disciples faith in this Jesus they were following.

I think the reason the Pharisees strayed so far from God's Will was because they only knew the law of God. The words of God. But not the face of God. 

They were missing the heart of God. 

Moses said, "Show me Your glory." 

David said, "I will see Your face."


It's not that we need a balance between having an experience with God and knowing the truth of His Word. We need both desperately. If you're missing one, chase after it! If you're doing good in both, go deeper! Worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Great And Precious Promises

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen. 

What are you in faith about? What are you hoping for? What evidence do you have in your heart that your eyes haven't quite seen yet?

God has promised us so many things if we just put our faith behind them.

"And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires." 2 Peter 1:4

From the verse above, it looks like we can't share His divine nature without His promises. You want to know how complex His nature is? Well, there are over 3000 promises in the Bible. I'd say that's a lot to share in!

What promises are you leaning on today? 

Are you believing to overcome obstacles?
"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Are you believing to encounter God?
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

Are you believing for righteousness?
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." 

Are you believing for rest?
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Are you believing for wisdom?
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

This is just 5 promises. There are thousands more.

This is why it's so important to memorize scripture. We can't just lean on what we glean from a 35 minute message each sunday. We've got to be deep into the Word each month, each week, each day. Can we honestly say, Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path? Or are we trying to walk by another light?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Extra Extra! Both Heart And Skill Needed To Join Worship Team!

The purpose of a worship team is to create an atmosphere where people can easily worship God together.

What is the criteria to use when selecting members to be on your worship team? 

With the vast variety of church situations that exist - small, large, conservative, expressive, newly formed, long-standing - the question of, "Who should serve regularly in leading worship" can be a tough one. 

This answer won't be perfect for every situation, but hopefully it can get people thinking in the right direction. 

1) Saved - In most situations the pastor is the only person who has more stage time than the worship team. In fact, I've been to services where the worship team is on stage for most, if not all, of the service.  The worship team is the example for the rest of the church. All should be in perfect unity about the reason why they are here: honest worship to an almighty God. 

I don't believe you can be in unity when members of your team are unsaved, unbelievers. It's not about great music. It's about setting an example in honest praise.

How good it is when brothers dwell together in unity!

2) Heart - The second thing to consider is the heart of the musician/singer you're considering bringing on. They have to realize they they are performing the part of a mirror, reflecting people's attention to God 100%. The point is not them, the point is focusing our attentions on Jesus Christ. Any distraction from that goal directly contradicts the mission of the worship team. 

A teammate with immense skill but an incorrect heart and motivation will always cause problems for worship leaders. Worship leading is different than every other form of music performance. It's not about how the music sounds. It's not about how the team looks. It's about connecting with God. 

The amount that the church connects with heaven equals the amount of success the worship team achieves. If the music is terrible but the church is able to be fully engaged in worship then it's a win.

3) Skill - Psalms 33 says to play skillfully for the Lord. David had a specific group of 4000 musicians that were well trained to worship 'round the clock. It's important that every team member has the skill to keep from being a distraction. 

Sour notes, poor dynamics, or incorrect chords almost always draw the attention of people in the congregation.

Even a person with a good heart can be a distraction if their level of competency isn't adequate. In fact, in most cases lacking in skill makes the musician even more focused on the music, as to not mess up. 

Ideally, every member on every worship team would have the ability to be 100% focused on God and still play their instrument well enough as to not distract. 

What are your thoughts on this?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Old Faithful

I was teaching some of my students about the fruit of the spirit this week. You know, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? And we spent a little bit more time on faithfulness than I had originally planned.

What is faithfulness? One side of faithfulness is being full of faith, believing for something against all odds. But looking at some of the other fruits in the list, I'm more inclined to believe that faithfulness is sticking with one's commitments to God and their community.

Being faithful means being consistently trustworthy. Like Old Faithful here.

And what's cool about the fruit of the spirit is you get it for free if you're abiding in Him!

Some examples of faithfulness in the Bible:

"Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against Thee" (Scripture memorization)

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some" (Church attendance)

"Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints" (Constant Prayer)

So many times we have excuses for not being faithful:

"Man, I've just been so tired this week with school starting and this new job. It's really taken a lot out of me." Doesn't the Bible say somewhere about believers being able to run and not grow weary, walk and not faint? Yes it does.

"I'm sorry I wasn't able to help out like I said I could, I've just had so many other things come up this week." I think one side of being faithful is the ability to not make promises you might not keep. Let your "yes be yes" and your "no be no." It's alright to say no to something if you can't be committed to it. Don't be guilted into making promises you can't keep.

"Sorry I'm late, getting the kids in the van was rough, couldn't find the diaper bag and there was so much construction on the way and..." Usually this is how excuses for being late go. It's never just one thing. It would be a powerful witness to an unsaved world if Christians developed a reputation for being on time every time. This means you'll have to risk being early *gasp* to meetings. You'll have to make fewer commitments.

One of my friends says that if you are five minutes late to a rehearsal, you're putting your five minutes ahead of everyone else's five minutes collectively. If there are 11 other people on your team, that's potentially an hour of wasted time.

I realize that this sounds harsh. I get it.

But being faithful when it's uphill is just as powerful as being loving when it's uphill.

Being faithful when it's difficult is just as important as being self-controlled when it's difficult.

Being faithful during extreme circumstances is just as rewarding as being peaceful in extreme circumstances.

So resist the urge to give up when you're bored. Resist the urge to move on before your commitment is fulfilled.

But the bottom line is: abide with Christ and faithfulness will follow.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Godly Speech - Part 2: The Bad Stuff

Yesterday we talked about a few things that are present in Godly speech. Let's dig a little closer into what bad speech is and how we can avoid it.

#1 - Lying (...and covering it up)
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, 
Is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, “I was only joking!”
Proverbs 26

Everybody knows - THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS - and sometimes the King James  English leads us to believe that God's just not ok with cases of perjury. Almost like we have to break an oath on a Bible to be really lying. The truth is that if your motives are deceitful, if you're telling anything other than what accurately happened, you're bearing false witness.

This is really hard, I know. Right now I'm watching everything I say to try to remove all exaggeration from my speech. This means if there's a pile up on the side of the road and I think there are three cars but I say "4 or 5" to make a better story, I'm in sin. If I'm mad at someone for frequently being a few minutes behind and I say, "You're always late" when in truth they have been on time twice, I'm in sin.

#2 - Gossip (...but arguing that it's the truth)
A perverse man sows strife, 
And a whisperer separates the best of friends.
Proverbs 16

Every time that I can remember catching someone gossipping their answer to me is, "but it's true!" I believe gossip is a separate sin than lying. Sometimes they go together, especially lying by exaggeration, but more often than not there's a grain of truth to gossip. Gossip is talking negatively about someone when they are not there. Gossip is telling secrets that shouldn't be told (Proverbs 11:13).

#3 - Crude language (...but not as bad as it could be)
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, 
which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5

Crudeness is a symbol of coolness because coolness has become equal to a relaxed view of God's standard. People who use crude language forget that God is present everywhere. If they were aware of His presence their speech would become a lot cleaner. Proverbs says, "The tongue of the righteous is choice silver." And I think it's because the righteous know God.

David was aware of God's presence and His attitude was, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

When your thumb catches the door do you need profanity to come out of your mouth? Or are you doing it because it feels good to say? And while you're arguing about which words are worse than other words, which words are ok and which are not, you're letting the worldly culture decide what God likes and what He doesn't.

Foul language is like a spot on a formerly spotless lamb. You can't be spotless if you have a spot, no matter how faded or greyed-out the spot is.  (Don't worry, God is good at getting out stains)

Just a thought, the verse above gives a substitute for fowl language. Is it possible to give sincere thanks when sudden pain or sadness occurs?

So in closing, I'd like to address a likely response. To those saying I'm dwelling too much on the letter of the law instead of the spirit, I say don't throw out the law because it's not convenient or inspiring. To those saying that we're under grace instead of the law, a new covenant instead of the old, I say that the standard increased the moment Jesus said it did. It's now not only the actions of our hands and lips, but the condition of our heart that matters. I love how the English Standard Version translates Matthew 5:19.

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever relaxes the commandments. Are you like me, with a tendency to justify your sin? Remember that God calls you to be holy, just like He is holy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Godly Speech - Part 1: The Good Stuff

Speech is very important to God. If you read in Proverbs, you'll find out very quickly what kind of talk is pleasing to him.  These are all verses just from the 16th chapter of proverbs:

Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And they love him who speaks what is right.

The heart of the wise teaches his mouth,
And adds learning to his lips.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. 

An ungodly man digs up evil, 
And it is on his lips like a burning fire. 

A perverse man sows strife, 
And a whisperer separates the best of friends.

Today I want to talk about the good speech that's supposed to come from our mouths. Tomorrow I will talk about the bad speech.

#1 - Encouragement (...even when things don't meet your standards)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, 
as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4

It's not a blessing when you discourage people. If someone has a dream or a calling, don't take it upon yourself to be the practical, level-headed one. You should come along side them as their full of faith friend!

God's default attitude is not pessimism. It's not apathy or dismissal. We don't surprise Him when we succeed, He was rooting for us all along! So when you're talking with people You need to have the same posture. You need to be encouraging the dreams of the people around you. God said those who delight themselves in Him will be given the desires of their heart! God will fulfill the desires He has given.

#2 - Joy ( every circumstance)
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, 
but heartache crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 15 

I know you have ten excuses for why you're in a bad mood today and it's just a phase and you'll get over it once that problem at work gets solved or your visiting family goes back home, but have you thought that maybe the enemy has figured out how to deprive you of strength to stand? You lose your joy whenever something stressful comes up, you think the devil doesn't notice? The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength. It's our energy to get up and walk out of valleys instead of just staying there moping. 

The worst part is when you've been de-joyed you get frustrated that people want to talk about how good God is. Don't fall for this trick! You've got to believe that when you put on joy you'll gain the strength to fight.

This is in the speech post because the Bible says out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Most of the time negativity is simply a lack of joy.

#3 - Praise (...all the time)

I will bless the LORD at all times; 
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; 
The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, 
And let us exalt His name together. 
Psalms 34

I heard someone say that God doesn't get any glory for something He's done for you unless you tell someone about it. We sing all the time, "I give You glory" but the truth is God's glory is in who He is and what He's done.

We talk all the time about what our favorite sports team or actor did. The when the Olympics arrive we'll all be talking about the amazing things the athletes are accomplishing. We can very easily spend more time praising people in the news than we do praising God.

Jesus said that if He is lifted up He will draw all men unto Himself. This was a picture of the cross, but I also believe that it was a spiritual picture of our strategy for reaching the lost and drawing Christians closer to Jesus. When we talk about Jesus and lift His Name and reputation up, He gets inside their hearts and tugs them towards Him. The Bible says we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. The blood has been shed, now we need to tell somebody about what God has done!

Monday, July 23, 2012


Tori and I were talking today at our go-to date spot, Applebees, and we started talking about a few different types of people, categorizing them by their average conversations, or what you expect to hear when approaching them for conversation. We laughed at the predictability of conversations we've had, but the people we really admired were people that we knew, if given an opportunity, would talk about Jesus.

There are some people that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you get into a conversation with them, you know you'll be talking about the things that God is doing. They're the type of people that put pressure on you to be more Christ-like with phrases like, "What's God doing in Your life?" a question for which they have a ready answer.

I want so badly to be someone like this. I know David was this kind of person. He said "I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips."

What the world has taught Christians to do is internally police itself against these type of characters by telling you that talking about God isn't as interesting or as inviting or as cool as talking about cars, movies, sports or music. We've invented phrases like "Jesus juke" to shun people that bring God into everyday conversation. We've gone so far trying to be relevant that we're stopped talking about God because we might accidentally slip into our Christian-ese accent.

Godly speech will always be relevant. Praise and honor will always be relevant.

Proverbs says, "From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits."

What people say satisfies them. You can hunger for a certain type of speech coming out of your mouth. The sweet-tongued gossip craving another juicy morsel. The complainer craving the tart taste of negativity. The addictive proporties causing them to forget about real sustenance. Try letting the fruit of the spirit flow from your mouth. Talk with love and joy. Respond with patience and peace. You'll find that your appetite for junk-food conversation wanes, while your deep hunger for kingdom commentary will keep life echoing from your tongue.

So my question for you is,


Monday, April 16, 2012

4 Ways To Be Fearless

Fear has two meanings.

The first one we usually think of is an insecurity. A worry about something or someone. This fear has to do with not knowing what the future holds and expecting, at least in part, that things are going to turn out disastrously.

The second type of fear is the fear that we are to have towards God. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Remember that we can't throw out this part of the Bible just because we want a God who doesn't care if we sin. This is not the fear I want to talk about today, but I feel it's fitting to address this before moving on.

The first type of fear is the type that Christians are commanded in scripture not to have.

Deuteronomy 31 - Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. 

1 Chronicles 28 - Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all your work is finished.

Psalm 27 - The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 41 - For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Notice that every time God tells us not to fear, there's a reason. There's a promise. These are the types of promises God has for us:

Joshua 1 - Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you ... No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

Jeremiah 29 - For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 11 - Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Philippians 4 - And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8 - No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

When we're walking in fear we're choosing not to remember and trust in the promises of God. Worry means we're not trusting in God. Let me put it this way, If we hold onto our fear, we're deciding that God either can't take care of us, or is choosing not to.

Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."

Satan wants us to focus on our past failures and project them as fears. This usually sounds like this: "I can't do that because my vocal range is too small. This one time I was singing in front of people and my voice cracked at the high note in the song. I'm not the right person for the job." 

Knowing the promises of God for you would drive out fear like this, "Yes, I can do that. I've made mistakes in the past but I know that God is for me and that I can do all things because Jesus is giving me strength. Regardless of if I sound perfect or not God will use me to reach out to people, and God deserves my best in this opportunity."

Notice that the past mistakes had no power over the person who was confident in God. When we talk about our mistakes instead of what God did through us we're giving the devil praise for distracting ourselves from our calling.

You're not called to sing well. The calling is to sing well so that God can be glorified.

Singing is just one example. This applies to everything. Wether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. (1st Corinthians 10:31)

So how do you combat a spirit of fear?

2 Timothy 1:7 - God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind

1) Recognize that the fear you have is not from God. You don't deserve to be fearful. You can't impress God with how big your problem is. You can't convince Him to let you fear. That spirit of fear is rooted in Satan's plan. You need to get it out of your life!

2) Take hold of the power that God has given to you. You have the grace of the Holy Spirit that enables you to boldly (meaning without fear) accomplish everything that God has for you. You can stare the enemy in the face because you were given the power to stand firm. Read Ephesians 6 for a full description of this power to stand.

3) Walk in love. Perfect love casts out all fear. A soft answer turns away wrath. Love your enemies and pray for those you spitefully use you. Responding with love and generosity in a situation where there's anger or lack can turn your fear into joy.

4) Use your sound mind. Don't be irrational. The sensible thing to do when the enemy of your soul is grossly outnumbered and out gunned, has already been defeated by the power of the cross, and is just shouting lies at you is to ignore the lies, and focus on the God that has already provided for all of the needs of your spirit, soul, and body. God has been faithful and He will continue to be faithful. Don't be irrational and think you have to fix everything yourself.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Character of God: Holy

Last week we took a look inside what it means that God is love. I believe this is important to what we are meditating on this week, which is the holiness of God.

There are more references in the Bible to God being holy or righteous than there is of God being love. God's holiness does not diminish His love, and His love does not diminish His holiness.

Just as His love demanded a response from us, His righteousness demands a response.

"He who has been forgiven much loves much."
"Be ye holy as I am Holy." 

Read with me this passage from 1st Peter, which is titled "Living Before God Our Father."

"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear."

There are a lot of truths in this passage, let's dig a little deeper.

1) - "Be sober." When we interact with God our Father we're not meant to be flippant of light. His holiness is meant to be sobering. His holiness demands a response filled with respect and awe. Later on in the chapter it talks about the sacrifice of the precious blood of Jesus that has been spilled for our redemption. We're walking in sin when we enter His presence without the context of His sufferings.

 2) - "As obedient children." A loving father and His obedient children is the relationship we're meant to have with God. His love manifests itself in grace: an unmerited or undeserved favor. It also manifests itself in disciplining. This next passage will blow your mind if you let it get inside you:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."

Love, Sonship, Fatherhood, Chastening, Respect, and Holiness are all linked together!! You cannot have a loving father without his disciplining. And you cannot truly love God without respecting Him, obeying Him, and fearing Him.

3) - "Not conforming yourselves to your former lusts." You don't get to be adopted into the Kingdom and keep your sin. The whole Bible is full of rebuke for those that claim to want to follow God but continue in sin. The Bible is described as a two-edged sword, capable of dividing our soulful nature (our feelings and thoughts) with our spiritual nature (the part of us that wants what God wants).

4) - "He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct." Yes, God's standard is high. Yes, the law is impossible for anyone but Jesus to walk out blamelessly. But God doesn't just wink at our sin. He calls us to be holy just like Him! Bear in mind these are all New Testament verses. Even in this new covenant we're still supposed to be holy!

5) - "Judges according to each one’s work" Anyone who tells you that God will not judge you is not telling you the truth. Take a look at 2nd Corinthians 5:

"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord"

When Jesus comes back it won't be an option to arrogantly say, "Because of Jesus' sacrifice it doesn't matter what I did." This verse says that we're going to receive something in return for all of our good deeds, as well as all of our bad. And I find it appropriate that the writer of 1st Peter goes into the "terror of the Lord" just in case you missed the mood in which you should be taking these things.

6) - "In fear." Take a look at what the Bible has to say about Godly fear:

Psalm 111:10: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.

Proverbs 1:7: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 10:27: The fear of the Lord prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. (The fear of the Lord will make you live a long time!)

Psalms 112 takes a good look at what the fear of the Lord looks like.

His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Don't let your ideas of what you think holiness is put God in your little box. When He asks you to remove sin from your life don't call it unloving. When He forgives and gives you mercy for the sins you've committed don't use it as an excuse to sin more. God's holiness will never fit into your idea of what holy is, just as God's love will never fit into your idea of what love should look like.

So how do we walk this out?

Tip #1 - Ask God to make you holy as He is holy. Once you became a Christian God cleaned you of all unrighteousness. Now it's your turn to be devoted to the kind of lifestyle that will keep you in that state of holiness! The Psalmist did it like this in Psalms 139: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

Tip #2 - Worship God in the beauty of holiness. (Psalms 96:9) Holiness is beauty to God. It was the spotless lamb that had everyone's attention in the book of revelation. Ask God to reveal to you the beauty of His holiness, and worship Him for being Holy. God is worthy of worship just because He's holy, regardless of the things that He does, so this is something that you can worship Him for even if it seems like your circumstances aren't the way they should be.

Tip #3 - Stay rooted. Stay locked into the Word of God, which is sharper than any two edged sword. If you are living in sin, the Word of God will root it out quicker than anything. And it's a strategy of the enemy to keep you as far from the Bible as he can keep you.

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