Christianity 201

January 9, 2018

Four Characteristics of a Faithful Christian

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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Once again we’re back with Shane Idleman, founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. This is Shane’s mission statement when preaching:

“To bring Centrality and Relevance to Jesus’ words. To understand theology in a deep, yet impacting way. To compare and contrast biblical truth with error. To allow the power of the gospel to truly shape and challenge hearts so that deep, meaningful change takes place…to magnify The Message.”

To read this at source on the church blog, click the title below.

Characteristics of a Faithful Christian

Although many godly traits are attributed to faithfulness, these four are vitally important. How can we increase faith and serve God with all of our heart? Here are just four ways:

1. Holiness is a priority. Charles Spurgeon rightly noted, “There will be three effects of nearness to Jesus—humility, happiness, and holiness.” If these three are not present, hard questions need to be asked: “Do I have a rebellious spirit? Do I love the things of the world more than the things of God? Have I let bitterness and pride set in?” We have to fight for holiness…our relationship with God is dependent upon it. Holiness produces faith and spiritual power; carnality produces faithlessness and a life void of spiritual power

Carnality gives God “His due” – a few hours on Sunday – but forgets His call to “come out from among them [the world] and be separate.” Holiness is a fire burning deep within. Do we stoke the flames and increase the heat or continually put them out? We are so “stoked” when it comes to the things of the world, but why not the things of God?

Carnality quenches the fire of the Spirit and dries up the rivers of living water. We cannot love both Christ and this world. A carnal Christian does not pray, really pray and seek the heart of God. A deep prayer life exposes facades and crushes hypocrisy. A carnal Christian does not worship, really worship in total abandonment. Deep, penetrating worship cannot take place in a carnal heart until repentance takes place.

You won’t find those who are carnal at prayer nights or worship mornings, but you will find them spending much of their time at Cinemark and the Mall. Check your calendar and checkbook. Where are your priorities?

If this is you, allow God to awaken and restore: “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

Do you desire peace and joy again? Simply return to God: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Full surrender is the fertile ground for seeds of joy and peace.

2. God’s Word is the source of authority. A faithful Christian is not continually looking for advice outside of God’s Word. Too often we look to Merrill Lynch for financial advice, a local nail salon for marriage counseling, and guys at work about how to prioritize our lives. Look to God for the final say – He is the “Wonderful Counselor.”

3. Reliance on God’s strength, not man’s. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9). God will often break us down in order to build us up. He’ll take away our strength – what we have been trusting in – so we look to Him, and Him alone. The refiner’s fire involves fire and heat. The waves of change involve being plummeted, tossed, and turned: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).

God reminds, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” God is always the fourth man in the fire (cf. Daniel 3:25).

4. Keep His Word despite setbacks. Faithful Christians keep the course regardless of the storm…regardless of the criticism…regardless of the heat. We must teach perseverance. Many theologians are divided on the timing of the rapture, or if it will occur at all. Telling people, “Don’t worry. You’ll be out of here before it gets hard,” is inconsistent with those who are suffering in other countries. And it does not prepare people for tribulation, challenges, and difficult times. One thing we do know for certain is that Christ will return. In Rev. 3:11 He says, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” The message of hope is always urgent.

Christian Heritage Fellowship offers a riveting example of why we should not wait to share the good news:

On Sunday night, October 8, 1871, D. L. Moody, preached to the largest congregation that he had yet addressed in Chicago. His text that evening was, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” At the conclusion of his sermon he said, “I wish you would take this text home with you and turn it over in your minds during the week, and next Sabbath we will come to Calvary and the Cross, and we will decide what to do with Jesus of Nazareth.” Then his song evangelist, Ira D. Sankey whose hymns are sprinkled throughout most evangelical hymnbooks, began to lead in singing the hymn, but Sankey never finished the hymn, for while he was singing the rush and roar of fire engines whistled by the church on the street outside, and before morning much of the city of Chicago lay in ashes. To his dying day, Mr. Moody deeply regretted that he had told that congregation to come next Sabbath and decide what to do with Jesus.

Turn, or return, to Him today. We are not even guaranteed tomorrow.

August 17, 2015

Manifestations of Spiritual Pride

Matthew 7:20 NASB “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21a“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…

Matthew 23:27 HCSB “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity.”

Proverbs 16:18 ISV Pride precedes destruction; an arrogant spirit appears before a fall.

 

This is from Wade Burleson at Istoria Ministries. Click the title below to read at source.

Spiritual Pride Is Seen By Its Fruit, Not Its Root

One of the greatest American theologians in our nation’s relatively young history – at least compared to Europe – is the brilliant Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).

Edwards once wrote an article showing the eight characteristics of spiritual pride, a disease he says “is much more difficult to discern than any other corruption because, by nature, pride is a person having too high a thought of himself” and therefore one afflicted would be unable to see it.

Edwards writes that pride “is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgment, and the main handle by which Satan takes hold of Christians to hinder a work of God.”

Since pride is “so secretive, and cannot be well discerned by immediate intuition of the thing itself,” it’s best, says Edwards, to “identify it by its fruits and effects.” Edwards then proceeds to name eight characteristics of spiritual pride.

  • The spiritually proud person is full of light already and feels he does not need instruction, so he easily despises instruction and the offer of it.
  • Spiritually prideful people tend to speak loudly and often of others’ sins – like the miserable delusion of hypocrites, or the deadness of some saints with bitterness, or the opposition to holiness of many believers – and always finds fault with other saints for their lack of progress in grace.
  • Spiritually proud people often speak of almost everything they see in others in the harshest, most severe language.
  • Spiritual pride often disposes persons to act differently in external appearance, to assume a different way of speaking, countenance or behavior to be seen and praised by others, whereas the humble person never sets himself up to be viewed and observed as one distinguished.
  • Proud people take great notice of opposition and injuries, and are prone to speak often about them with an air of bitterness or contempt.
  • Another pattern of spiritually proud people is to behave in ways that make them the focus of others, coming to expect deference from others and forming an ill opinion of those who do not give them what they feel they deserve.
  • One under the influence of spiritual pride is more apt to instruct others than to ask questions.
  • As spiritual pride disposes people to assume much to themselves, so it disposes to treat others with neglect.

Surprisingly, Edwards sums up his examination of the fruit of spiritual pride by making a statement worthy of consideration by us all:

“We ought to be very careful that we do not refuse to discourse with carnal men because we count them unworthy to be regarded. Instead, we should condescend to carnal men as Christ has condescended to us.”

That there’s some heavy, thoughtful mental food for those of us who are living in a culture of carnality. Before we speak a word of condemnation about those we perceive to be in sin, we might want to take stock of Edward’s keen observations.