Monday, December 16, 2013

How Deep is Your Comittment?

Hebrews 11. This chapter is well known for  certain verses such as, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen" and "Without faith it is impossible to please God".  However, tonight I decided to dig deeper and I read through the whole chapter and boy, was I amazed by what I read.

This chapter names some very influential people in the Bible who exhibited some crazy faith. Among those named were Noah, Moses, Abraham, Rahab, and the list goes on. Many of these same people endured some harsh/trying times while keeping their faith and being obedient to God.  They were beaten, made fun of, placed in prison and even put to death. However through it all they remained faithful.  The part that really blew me away was v 39, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised...". I know what you are thinking. You mean to tell me they went through ALL of that and did not even receive the promise? Some might say, Oh heck no. I'm not about that life. However, their actions are truly commendable. How so you may ask. Well, as it states they did not receive the promise BUT they died fighting for others to receive the promise.  They did not grow weary in well doing.  They remained faithful to One who promised.

Just because they did not receive what was promised does not mean they did not see the hand of God at work in their lives.  Verse 33-35 says, "... who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection".  This clearly shows us that the power of God can be manifested if only we are obedient to His will for our lives.  When we demonstrate that we have an unshakeable faith in God, He in turn shows up and rewards us.  I'm sure this all propelled them to be even more faithful.  They were committed to God. We have to ask ourselves that question.  How deep is our commitment towards Christ? Would we obey His command if we knew we would not inherit what was promised at the end? Would we give up in the midst of it all because it seems like the promise is never going to come? Today I encourage you to obey and have faith like these courageous men and women mentioned in this chapter and throughout the whole Bible.  Keep pressing forward remembering that He who promised is faithful.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Clothe Yourself

"12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."Colossians 3:12-14

This portion of scripture talks about how we as believers should behave among each other. Some of the characteristics mentioned were humility, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, etc. It is important that we show each other all of these things and more because we are the example for those outside the four walls of the church. 

If we have no compassion for each other how can we show it to those who really need it? 

If we can't forgive our brother or sister for something they may have done to us, how can we preach forgiveness to the visitors?

If we are not accepting of the flaws of our fellow brothers and sisters how can we accept and embrace the flaws of those coming in searching for something more??

If we can't display humility among those who have seen our transformation from what we were to what we are now, how could we possibly demonstrate to visitors that it's a humble and broken heart that God looks for and desires to make whole again?

Portraying  these characteristics amongst the church folk (or among anyone for that matter) may be difficult sometimes. But as Paul says in verse 17,  we must strive to remember that ALL we do is unto God.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Suffering with a Purpose

In our Christian walk and in life, we go through trials that bring us such pain and sorrow. These trials can come in the form of family members “stabbing” you in the back, vicious rumors being spread about you, false accusations from people you thought were for you, etc.  We sometimes sit back and wonder, “How could God allow me to go through this? How could he allow me to hurt so much?” Well whenever I find myself asking these questions, I think of God and how He suffered that we might live.  He was talked about, rumors were spread about Him and even worst, he was beaten and nailed to the cross to die for our sins.  After thinking about this, our suffering does not seem that bad after all, huh? The problem is that we do not look at our suffering from God’s point of view.   
From our point of view, all we can see is pain, hurt, and sorrow, however from God’s point of view, there is a purpose behind our suffering.  1 Peter 2:20-21 says, “…But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps”. You may wonder how can suffering be a good thing? Well this verse explains it all.  It all depends on what you are suffering for. If you are suffering for spreading the gospel but people reject you, its ok. If you are suffering for telling someone the truth after they asked for your advice but instead they turn around and make you the villain, it’s ok.  Suffering for good is what God likes to see.  It is what we are called to do.  He set the example for us when He died for our sins.  He suffered all the things we suffer today but probably a million times worst. I can’t even begin to fathom being nailed to a cross to die for people who do not care about me and what I have to say. Honestly, I would probably say, “Whatever, Where ever they end up is their business”.  Thank you Jesus for not taking on that mentality.  He instead endured the suffering so that we could receive grace and salvation. 
When we suffer, there is always a purpose. If your vision is to see the kingdom of God expand with people who have received the gospel, then you must endure some pain. You must suffer.  In expansion there is pain but you must endure this pain in order to birth the promise that God has for you. The great thing about suffering with Christ is that you are ALWAYS victorious at the end.  No matter how bad it may seem, you will always have the victory.  As the verse says God set the example. He was victorious in the end. People thought that that was the end of Him when He drew His last breathe.  I’m sure many threw a party (ok maybe I’m not sure). One thing I am sure about is that after enduring the pain and the suffering, He rose again with power and shut the mouths of all who did not want to believe. Just as Jesus was victorious, we will also be victorious.  So the next time you are down and wondering why you are suffering so much in the midst of trying to do well, remember that you are suffering with a purpose and that the reward in the end will be greater than what you went through.