Christianity 201

September 30, 2010

Level Ground – Brian Doerksen Live Worship Experience

We spent the late morning and early afternoon viewing a two-hour worship video event from Brian Doerksen.    He is best known for songs such as, Refiner’s Fire, Come Now is the Time to Worship, You Shine, Today (As For Me and My House), Light the Fire Again; and many, many more.  I’m a huge fan of his Today DVD, and was not disappointed by his newest take on producing a worship video.

You know the criteria for good worship DVDs right?   Great worship songs.   A tight band.   Memorable song introductions.    Good camera shots of the audience and worship team.

Forget all that.   On Level Ground – The Live Experience, Brian focuses on the idea of intimacy in worship.   He brings together a much smaller group of people to a barn located on a B.C. nut farm.   These are people he and the worship band are doing life with, and as it turns out, he introduces about a dozen of them and allows them to tell their salvation story, or as he puts it, their “grace stories.”

Suddenly, Brian’s friends are your friends.    You can worship along with people you know, as the smaller crowd means recurrent crowd shots of the same individuals.

Ooops!  Let me qualify what I mean by “crowd shots.”   There is no crowd.  No audience.   The band is placed on the floor of the barn interspersed among the worshipers.   No musicians are on a stage or platform.    The title song reminds us of the saying that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross;” and the arrangement of the musicians on all fifteen songs stands as a reminder, a reinforcement of this principle.

Welcome to the place of level ground
Welcome to the place where grace abounds
We all need mercy
We all need mercy
Welcome to the place where none can boast
Welcome to the place compassion flows
We all need mercy
We all need mercy

This particular DVD is available in the U.S. through Integrity Music.

Sometimes we approach the worship time in our churches with grand expectations or preconceived ideas as to how that time should play out.   Perhaps there are other contexts in which worship might take place.   For years I’ve wrestled with all the implications of John 4:24 —

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. (NLT)

God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.  (The Message)

I don’t pretend to fully understand all the possible implications of ‘worship in spirit and in truth,’ but I know that heaven will reveal worship as we’ve never imagined.

Read a review of Brian’s book on the subject of worship, Make Love, Make War here.

September 29, 2010

The Trouble with “Visionary”

I’m currently reading an interesting little book (pun intended) titled  The Strategically Small Church by Brandon O’Brien, released in August by Bethany House.   I’ll do a full review on the book on Friday at Thinking Out Loud, but I thought I’d share with you this interesting take on trying to force a vision to materialize…

When we forget the principle of the mustard seed, we risk forcing our own vision of the church, or the prescribed vision of experts, onto our congregation.   In our efforts to live the narrative of success, we view the small church not as God’s mustard seed, but as an obstacle to be overcome.   We then rely on our vision to bring about the success we desire.   We do this at our own peril.

Disturbed over the gap between the church in Acts and the German church in the late 1930s, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote Life Together to explain genuine Christian community.   In the first section of the book, the person who comes under the fiercest attack is the pastor Bonhoeffer calls the visionary, the person who has “a very definite idea of what Christian life together should look be and [tries] to realize it.”  Bonhoeffer has strong words for the visionary, for the person we might call the “expert” in Christian community:

The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others and by himself.   He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly.   He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together.  When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure…. So he becomes first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.

September 28, 2010

It is Not Death to Die

About a year ago Tullian Tchividjian posted a very heartfelt and very anguished article about the feeling of walking in to the hospital and seeing his father hooked up to tubes and other apparatus.

…as I reminded my dad last night (hoping–believing–that he heard me), for those who are in Christ, the best is yet to come. The day is coming when God will satisfy our deepest longings and fulfill our highest dreams. He’ll wipe away all our tears and end every frustration. He will, in the words of J. R. R. Tolkien, make “everything sad come untrue.” He’ll right every wrong and correct every injustice. The day is coming when we’ll work and play and worship forever, with no more sin, no more sickness and disease, no more failure, no more pain, no more death. There is coming a day when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and we will reign with him forever and ever (Revelation 11:15).

I ended my time last night with my dad praying with him and singing a hymn that has brought me deep comfort in these difficult days as I watch my dad suffer–a hymn that speaks loudly and clearly of the hope we have in Christ: “It is not Death to Die”…

This is that song:

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God

It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just

It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

Original words by Henri Malan (1787–1864).

September 27, 2010

Personal Growth Questions

I ran this piece from Perry Noble on Friday at Thinking Out Loud, but it bears repeating here.   To expand this into a richer study, click on the Bible Gateway links for each scripture verse.

#1 – Am I reading my Bible for information or transformation?  (James 1:22-25)

#2 – Am I allowing people or circumstances to steal the joy that Jesus promised to me?  (John 10:10)

#3 – Is there anything in my life that God is consistently dealing with that I am trying to ignore?  (Ezekiel 14:1-5)

#4 – Who are the people in my life that God has placed around me for the purpose of me sharing Christ with them and/or inviting them to church?  (II Corinthians 5:16-21)

#5 – Is there anyone I need to apologize to?  (Ephesians 4:25:27)

#6 – Is there anyone I need to forgive? (Ephesians 4:32)

#7 – Is there a sin I need to confess to others and ask for help? (James 5:16)

#8 – Am I fully utilizing the gifts and abilities that God has blessed me with…or am I simply choosing to waste my life?  (I Peter 4:10)

#9 – Do I know more lines from the movies [or popular songs] that I love than verse from the Bible that I read? (Psalm 119:11)

#10 – Is there anything going on in my life privately that, if it became public, would cause me and/or the body of Christ to be embarrassed? (I John 1:9, James 5:16)

September 26, 2010

The Seven Letters in Revelation

Seven letters to seven different churches that existed when John received the vision, right?

Zoom out a little.   There were a dozen or so well-established churches at the time.   Maybe, as the pastor at the church we visited this morning suggested, the choice of “seven” means that these letters have application to the whole church.

Zoom back in.   Some people teach that the seven churches represent different ages of the larger church over different eras.

Zoom in again.   Churches like the seven so-described exist today.   If you’ve been around you could put different names next to each letter.

Zoom in more.   Even within an individual church, there are often different sub-groups to whom these different letters might apply.   Or maybe they represent different stages in the history of that local church over time.

Zoom in tighter. These letters have application to each one of us.   Maybe the message to the church at Laodicia is pertinent to you right now.   Or maybe you’re at a Sardis or Ephesus point in your Christian life.

Zoom in!

…Here’s a bonus for you today…

If you didn’t grow up in church before the 1960s, here’s an example of the kind of visual presentation you missed out on!   (But it’s actually a good summary, too.)

Click the image for original source site.

September 25, 2010

Would I Believe?

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:24 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here’s another thought-provoking post from author and musicians John Fischer’s new blog, The Catch…

What does it mean to believe? For all practical purposes, “believe” has come to mean, “believe like me.” And the more I thought about this the more it seemed that believers had come to represent the opposite of what they should be.

What if believing meant that I had to be open to more ways of understanding truth than I have now? Would I believe?

What if believing meant I had to admit to being wrong much of the time? Would I believe?

What if believing meant I had to hang out with people who think differently than I do? Would I believe?

What if believing meant that no one was my enemy – I had no one to fight but the devil. Would I believe?

What if believing meant that my sin was far more important for me to deal with than anyone else’s? Would I believe?

What if believing made things more complicated instead of more simple? Would I believe?

What if believing didn’t explain everything? Would I believe?

What if believing was more about questions than answers? Would I believe?

What if believing meant I had a lot to learn? Would I believe?

What if believing meant I had to change? Would I believe?

What if believing meant I had to love all the people I currently hate? Would I believe?

What if believing meant exceeding my capacity to give back? Would I believe?

What if believing meant coming in last? Would I believe?

September 24, 2010

Sunder Krishnan: Pray Big

Well, here we go…

This is the longest post ever on Christianity 201; twenty-five minutes long in fact.   Not everyone will stay with this.   But even if you only give it ten minutes I think it will give you much to consider.

Sunder Krishnan is the pastor of Rexdale Alliance, a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in the northwest suburbs of Toronto, Canada.    This was filmed by 2100 Productions, the media division of InterVarsity at IV’s student missions conference, Urbana.

And let me be honest; I’m posting this partly because I want to come back and watch some of it again.

September 23, 2010

We Are The Redeemed, We Are The Ones Who Are Free

This song by Steve Fee’s band is a little hard-edged compared to other worship songs here, but I really do love the power of this song. This isn’t an original video, but I really like the “in your face” lyrics; in fact, this is exactly the CGI I would do for this song.

Yeah we shine we shine the light of God
And when we speak we speak with words of love
And when we dance we may get a little wild
‘Cause we’re the people of God
Yeah the people of God

And when we sing we sing the angels’ songs
The ones they’re singing around the throne
Yeah yeah we worship the King
With ev’rything that we are
‘Cause we’re the people of God
Yeah the people of God yeah
The people of God yeah

We are the redeemed
We are the ones who are free
And we belong to Jesus
We are now alive
And in this world we will shine
And we belong to Jesus

And now is the time for the people to rise
Lift up a shout ev’rybody cry out
Raise your voice shout out a noise
Dance a dance of joy

Where the Spirit of God is freedom reigns
So come on come on
Throw off your prison chains
We’re liberated by a King
Only freedom remains
For the people of God yeah
The people of God yeah

We’re living in a kingdom that will never end
We’re living in the power that defeated sin
So come on ev’rybody
Let your praise begin
Jesus is alive and He’s coming again

(Yeah we’re) going into all the world
We’re carrying the light of Jesus
And we shine we shine in the darkest place
We shine

© 2007 Louie Giglio | Steve Fee

September 22, 2010

Speaking on God’s Behalf

Today’s post is from Keith Brenton who has been writing at Blog in my Own Eye since 2004.  This first appeared in August under the title, Speaking for God.

“We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent.” ~ unofficial motto of (most) churches of Christ.

“Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff – and nudge me when I’ve said enough!” ~ prayer of the probably mythical old preacher

“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” ~ 1 Peter 4:11a

Isn’t this one of the heaviest burdens carried by those who truly desire to speak for the Lord? Whether preaching, teaching, writing a blog, or just conversing about matters religious with a friend?

How do we know when we’ve stopped speaking for Him and started rattling off our own perceptions about what He’s said?

Isn’t it pretty important to stick to what He’s said?

And after all, aren’t there plenty of powerful speakers with advanced degrees in biblical studies who don’t agree on what He’s said?

I wonder from time to time if this doubt isn’t one of the most powerful tools Satan has in shutting us up about the Savior. I wonder if it’s one of the un-discussed root causes for preacher burnout and parishoner abandonment of evangelism.

I wonder if we’ve made the gospel more complex than it is.

Would you like to know what gives me hope when I try to write or speak on the Lord’s behalf – however imperfectly, humbly, and haltingly?

“Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:3

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people!’” ~ Acts 4:8

” … for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” ~ Matthew 10:20

The Spirit of our Father speaks through us. We just leave it to Him. It happened just as Jesus described it to His followers. And Paul writes to Corinth that it still works that way. It’s a simple message (“Jesus is Lord!”), delivered in a simple manner, through simple people like you and me. No advanced degrees required; just the Holy Spirit speaking through us.

And all we need do is ask for His help.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ~ Luke 11:13

You can even ask for that help to be given to others:

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” ~ Ephesians 1:17

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” ~ Colossians 1:9

I have resolved to take a new approach when disagreeing with others about scripture, or when trying to argue toward a common understanding of God’s message, or whenever I feel compelled to speak for God. I’ve resolved to pray for the Holy Spirit’s discernment for all parties involved, including (especially!) myself.

I can be as opinionated and pig-headed and closed-minded as anyone else I know. I need to be more open-minded … no; not so much that my brains fall out, but so much that His Spirit can fall upon me. I need to make room for God’s understanding, even if it pushes my understanding out through my nose and ears.

So I’m asking you to pray the same thing for me.

~Keith Brenton

September 21, 2010

What Would He Say?

Today a classic.   My father always had multiple copies of this poem in his Bible.  I was sorry to see that one of the last copies had fallen out and gotten somewhat trampled, so I decided to make it today’s post in order to preserve it for the ages, so to speak.

Christians live looking forward to the imminent return of Christ.   While certain prophetic markers have yet to fall before that can happen, some believe that they are stacked like dominoes, and when one goes, the others will follow quickly.   Besides, the second coming per se may not happen tomorrow, but who’s to say when he could come for me?

If He should come today
And find my hands so full
Of future plans, however fair,
In which my Saviour has no share,
What would He say?

If He should come today
And find my love so cold,
My faith so very weak and dim
I had not even looked for Him,
What would He say?

If He should come today
And find I had not told
One soul about my Heavenly friend
Whose blessings all my way attend,
What would He say?

If He should come today
Would I be glad — quite glad?
Remembering He had died for all
And none, thru me, had heard His call,
What would I say?

Unfortunately the author’s name is torn off.  The one online version (containing an error) has it credited to Grace Troy.    This is a kind of sentiment you don’t hear much these days.   It’s strange that living even closer to the imminent return of Christ, we’ve tended not to think that much about it.

September 20, 2010

The Corinthians Love Chapter for Kids

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve never done a devotional post here with children in mind, but I really enjoyed what Missy did with I Cor. 13 at her blog, It’s Almost Naptime.

Love waits without complaining.
Love is always kind to others.
Love doesn’t want other people’s toys or money or clothes.
Love never brags about what it has or what it can do.
Love doesn’t think it is better than other people.
Love uses its best manners, always and with everyone.
Love says ‘you first’ instead of ‘me first.’
Love doesn’t throw fits.
Love doesn’t tattle, nor does it laugh when others are sad.
Love doesn’t think it’s fun or funny to break the rules.
Love never, ever lies.
Love always hopes in God. Love believes that God is good, no matter what happens.
Love is a true friend, no matter what happens.
Love lasts forever and ever.

Read more about Missy and her blog here.  Since I wrote it, Missy continues to rock the blog stat charts with lots of moms reading daily.

September 19, 2010

Deserts in the Streams

Today’s devotional is from a Canadian pastor, artist, and blogger I’ve referred to many times at Thinking Out Loud.   Enjoy this item from David Hayward, aka Naked Pastor…

I was talking with a good friend of mine yesterday. She was outside reading ‘Streams’, a devotional book that she loves. She was feeling very much at peace and content. She felt the Presence. She was happy.

Today she got some disturbing news and it totally upset her. We were talking about it. I said, “Unfortunately, the other half of ‘Streams is In The Desert’.

Easy to say. Harder to do. Maybe even impossible. It’s easy when you are in the middle of a stream to enjoy the stream’s benefits. But what about when you are in the middle of severe or chronic illness, in the middle of relational breakdown, in the middle of financial disaster, in the middle of misery, in the middle of the desert? Then what?

Remember. Remember what you read. (Hopefully, when you were reading and were struck by the truth of it, you didn’t just let it trickle over the surface of your mind. Hopefully you let it sink in and actually transform the way you think.) Remember how it informed your mind. Remember how you wished you’d known this during previous desert experiences. Remember how true it seemed to you then, and that you told yourself you would remember this truth even when the circumstances of life contradict it.

Reflect. Don’t just remember it. Now reflect upon the truth you acquired while in the stream. Once when I was extremely thirsty and finally found some water, I found the first mouthful and swallow of water uncomfortable and difficult. Same with the truth in the middle of extreme hardship. Sometimes it is uncomfortable and difficult to take. But knowing that you need it, receive it. Let the truth now nourish you. Meditate upon it and contemplate it in all its complexity. Trust that it is just as true now even when life seems to deny it.

Refresh. As you remember and reflect upon this truth, it will become more palpable to you. In fact, just as water tastes so much sweeter when it is sparse, so the truth just might have more of an impact upon your mind. I have experienced this first hand: the truth that transformed my mind yesterday in the midst of ease became even more true today in the midst of suffering. Truth has a way of shedding light on everything. Even the roots.

Truth is like a stream in the desert. Drink it in while you can. Let it sustain you even into the deepest parts of the desert. Carry it like a bottomless canteen, so that when times are more than difficult, you can find the refreshment it provides.

-David Hayward

Finding a picture to go with a post like this can be a challenge, but this time I had 18 to choose from; check out 18 Most Incredible Desert Oases.

And don’t forget to bookmark David at Naked Pastor.

September 18, 2010

We Pray to Him; He Prays for Us

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s a great post from Chin chin at the blog, Inspirational Life Quotes that really speaks for itself… I hope you enjoy this as I did today…

Whenever I ask Janel, my 4-year old daughter, to pray at night before going to bed, she happily says “Lord, i-pray Nyo po si mommy, daddy, Ate Kristel…. (Lord, please pray for mommy, daddy, Ate Kristel…)  I always tell her (maybe more than 10 times already) that we are the ones praying so we should say “Lord, we pray ….”  But, then, she continues to pray using such words.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about it and I believe she is right in some sense to pray using those words.  There are 3 instances in the Scripture which I have found saying that Jesus or the Holy Spirit is praying on our behalf.

The first is in 1 John 2:1-2 which says

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

This passage says that when we sin and we confess our sins, we receive forgiveness because Jesus, the Righteous One, speaks to the Father on our behalf.  Being the one sacrifice who atoned for our sins, Jesus turns aside God’s wrath taking away our sins.

The second is in Hebrews 7:24-25 which says

…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Cindy Trimm, the author of The Art of War for Spiritual Battle, mentioned  that we should always remember that “Christ died for us and He ever lives to make intercession for us.  We cannot beat the devil, but Christ has already defeated him.”  So,  when we come to God in prayer, He is always able to save us because Jesus, acting as high priest, is always on the job to speak up for us.

The third passage is in Romans 8:26-27 which says

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Have you experienced times when you feel overwhelmed that you don’t know what to pray for? Have there been times when you suddenly, out of the blue, remember someone and you feel that you need to pray for him but you don’t know what to pray for?

This passage says that during these times, the Spirit is able to help us in our prayers, interceding for us with wordless sighs and groans that words cannot express. It’s like a pregnant woman travailing from the onset of contractions to the birth of the child.  Though we may not be sure at all what we are groaning about, the Spirit searches our hearts and mind and intercedes for us the way God wants him to. I have read of many testimonials of people praying this way that led to miracles in the lives of people they love.

It is amazing what a right relationship with Jesus can do in our prayer lives.  We are assured that He is forever interceding for us so that we may always live a victorious life.  The thief [devil] may have come to steal, kill and destroy, but because of Jesus, we experience life to its fullness.

Source link to Inspirational Life Quotes

September 17, 2010

God’s Unfailing Love

Today’s devotional is from David W. Fisher at the blog Pilgrim Scribblings.

God’s unfailing love is something I can’t understand. It’s beyond me!

Just like His mercy and His grace, the fact that Abba loves me passionately in spite of my sin is one of those things that will take me all of eternity to understand, to grasp.

Paul, writing to the Ephesians, told them that “it would take the ages to come” to show us the exceeding riches of His grace.

This isn’t something we understand overnight. I takes a lifetime plus eternity to fully understand His lovingkindness.

Thank you Father for Your unfailing love. May my love for others be patterned after Your unconditional and unfailing love for me. Grant this O God, through Your Son, Jesus Christ. AMEN!

Graphic: Inspirational Christian Wallpaper Photographs

September 16, 2010

Sin Is Poised for Attack

Maybe it’s because I’ve been meaning to repost another devotional from Daily Encouragement, or maybe it was just the cat picture (which I’ve also borrowed) but I especially appreciated Stephen & Brooksyne’s thoughts yesterday on the first mention of temptation in scripture…

“Sin’s Desire”

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it'” (Genesis 4:6,7).

Dottie in barn doorOver the past year our sweet little cat Dottie, now nine years old, has had a change of personality.  When making extended trips our neighbors look in on her to see that she has adequate food and water, but last summer she pulled quite a surprise.  After Marion spent time giving Dottie some TLC and reassuring her that her family would soon be returning she then turned her back and walked toward the door.

Suddenly out of nowhere she heard a loud swish and then felt the heavy pounce of a furry animal complete with clinching claws and teeth that clamped like a vice grip on her leg.  Obviously Dottie didn’t want our neighbor to leave and she let her know it in the most unfriendly fashion.  Interestingly she planned her attack when Marion was least expecting it with her back turned away.  Now when she or Doug looks in on our “innocent” little cat they don’t turn their backs. They watch to see that she doesn’t position herself into a crouching position since they want no surprise attack again.

Dottie’s aggressive behavior brings to mind our Scripture text where God warns Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door…”.  It is the first recorded conversation God had with Adam’s descendants and is a timeless truth with perpetual application to each generation. Every believer would do well to heed God’s warning and make this personal application:

“Sin is crouching at my door and Satan wants to have me.”

This is the first record of temptation and sin among Adam’s fallen descendants.  It provides a pattern of how sin works in the lives of all of Adam’s children and reveals the tragic consequences for the transgressor, Cain, and all his family.

As I note the progression I see a caution for my own life as a redeemed believer.  I am again so powerfully reminded of the need to stand firm in my faith. I must call on God for His sustaining grace to resist the sin that results when I give into the daily temptations Satan hurls at us.

“If you do what is right.” God has revealed His will for our lives so we can know the right way.  We have many other Scriptures telling us the right way, “He hath showed thee…” (Micah 6:8); “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21); “This is the will of God…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).  Truly His “Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

“Will you not be accepted?” Foundationally being accepted by God begins by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. This is God’s appointed means of beginning to “do what is right.”  Then we pursue the things of God and grow in His grace and knowledge. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

“But if you do not do what is right.” God’s warnings are expressions of His love. When we violate God’s will as revealed in His Word, we give the enemy a foothold into our lives for further activity and progression of sin.  A grim outcome is revealed in Ephesians describing the latter stages of this progression: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19).  With the flood of evil, pornography and perversions of all sorts sweeping through our world many are at this stage. Deeper and deeper depths of depravity can be expected and the evil acts that accompany it.

“Sin is crouching at your door.” The word for “crouching” conveys the posture of a four legged animal as it prepares to attack its prey. That’s the nature of sin and its crouched position is persistent. We must ever be alert, practice self-control, and stand firm, for our “enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

“It desires to have you.” Sin continues its desire to enslave you and me. A foundational step in overcoming sin is realizing this. You do well to recognize the enemy’s tactic since he desires to have you as well.

“But you must master it.” In the New Testament Paul wrote, “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). In the pursuit of godliness we must, by God’s grace, master our sinful nature, something as descendants of Adam we all must do.

We often hear the phrase, “No one is perfect” and, yes, that is true.  Only God is perfect.  But we can be a righteous people if Christ lives in us, if we apply the Scriptures to our lives and commune with God through prayer, and if we resist the “charm” or deceit of our enemy.  Stand firm, my brothers and sisters.  Resist the enemy who seeks to do evil and engage the Holy Spirit who seeks to mature us in the faith.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Next Page »