May 22, 2012

Judge carefully

Article first published as Trust No One! on Blogcritics.



"Trust no one" seems to be the motto of people today.  We cannot take people at their word. We are so judgmental, we automatically assume the worst of people.  My oldest son once said that when we look at people and decide who they are by what they do and not by taking the time to get to know them, it only makes us stupid.  I agree. I have seen it more over the past few years and it saddens me.  

We each need to consider that we all struggle with some kind of sin in our life.  No one is blameless (Romans 3:23).  Being judgmental is sinful and God warns us about doing so.  You would think that those who judge would heed God’s warning, For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Matthew 7:2 but sadly they dismiss it.

When we form our opinion of someone based on their actions or appearance, we are being judgmental.  When we assume we know motives because of choices made, we judge.  No one has ever walked in another person's shoes.  No one has ever lived inside of another person's marriage.  No one has ever lived within the walls of another person's home.  This being the case, no one has the right to make judgment calls.  PERIOD!

“He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be on you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”
2 Chronicles 19:6-7

All around us people tear apart other people because of judgement.  They condemn.  They gossip and judge.  It is like a cancer.  Why you ask?  That kind of sin, eats away at the human soul.  When you view the world and the people in it through judgmental eyes, you are the one who suffers.  You lose joy because all you can see is judgment.

Condemnation is not of God.  Those who condemn are being used by Satan to harm.  His mission is to steal, kill and destroy and that is what he does when we choose to succumb to his tactics.  He does his best to rip apart families and relationships. He uses our judgmental attitudes towards one another to accomplish this very thing. Those who condemn are great at pointing out the problem but cannot seem to help find a solution.  Condemnation points out failures and calls us losers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe as Christians that we are to hold one another accountable.  When we notice another brother or sister in sin, we should confront them in love and help them find their way back but I believe that is where our job ends.  It is NOT our job to condemn…but we do. Only God can change a heart.  ONLY GOD!  It is our job to love not slander.  It is God’s job to convict.   Conviction points us to an answer. Conviction reminds us that the blood of Jesus washed away our sins. Conviction is God’s job.

Jesus says, If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”  John 12:47  When we walk with Christ, we are free.  Not free to sin but free from condemnation.  It is Satan who uses our past, our scars and our regrets as ammo against us.  He uses those very things through those closest to us to remind us of our past. Those whom the enemy uses, becomes our enemy as well because even believes can be used by Satan to discourage other believers. Satan attempted this very thing by using Peter to try to discourage Jesus as He announced His impending death to His disciples.  

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Matthew 16:23

Because Jesus has the mind of God, He recognized the schemes of Satan but that is not always the case for us.  We do not have the insight to know when someone is being used for evil instead of good.  Someone we know and love approaches us with words and we take it to heart.  We think, “They know me and love me so they must be speaking truth.”  Guess what?  NOT always true.

We have to grab hold of truth and claim it!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.
 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” 
Philippians 4:4-9 

We must learn to think on what is true.  When we focus on God’s truth, there is peace.  When we focus on God’s truth our hearts and minds are guarded.  This is how we can test what we hear from others.  If is brings about hurt (not conviction) or doubt, turn to God’s word, HIS Truth and allow Him to speak.  Only God knows the heart.  Only God knows the hearts of those in our life.  It is not our place to make a judgment call based on what we see or hear.  Though we may not agree, we do not know the battles faced by others or the hurt they have experienced.  However, we do know that God loves them and we are called to love them as well.  We cannot love with God’s love if we love with a judgmental spirit.

I fully suspect I will receive some unhappy emails or comments after this posting but you know what, it needs to be said.  It needs to be addressed.  Judgmental people, both friends and family, have hurt me.  Judgmental people have hurt my very close friends.  People I love and care about have walked away from church because of judgmental  people.  I stated earlier that we as believers are to hold each other accountable.  That accountability extends to every sin, not just the ones that we consider “bad”.  Every sin, both great and small (in our opinion) nailed Jesus to the cross.

May 18, 2012

Straight Thinking

This was so timely for me this morning. Love how God knows just when I need to be reminded of His truth. He is so good.

Straight Thinking

by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Acts 23:11-22

Have you ever felt the ground move under your feet? Do you know what it's like to pitch from side to side in a small boat on strong seas? Have you ever had to run for cover, dodge bullets, or duck out of the way of advancing troops? Remarkably, some people around the world could answer, Yes! to all three questions. Most of us only imagine such scenes.

Still, everyone sooner or later faces the reality of feeling as if life is spinning out of control. That may describe you today. Left unchecked, fear will run its course and paralyze you to the point of helplessness. If you're not careful, you'll spend your days wringing your hands and obsessing over your encroaching circumstances. That will cause you to focus on what might happen instead of what God has promised.

Not Paul. He understood something about the sovereignty of God. That clear understanding allowed him to think straight and remain calm in crisis. That kind of straight-thinking calmness is rooted in the promises of God's Word. Take, for example, the promise in Psalm 46: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride" (Psalm 46:1-3).

Like Paul, we need to learn to think straight, even if the foundations of the earth shift beneath our feet. That takes a heart willing to trust His Word, submit to His plan, then deliberately and consciously relax.

If He was able to stir up four hundred and seventy-two earthly bodyguards to get Paul from Jerusalem to Caesarea, safely and securely, He will have no trouble getting you from here to wherever He wants you to be, safely and securely. After all, how many angels are there?

And by the way, when you think straight about all this, you'll realize you only need one.

May 11, 2012

Now Lord?


How long, O God, will you allow our enemies to insult you?
    Will you let them dishonor your name forever?
 Why do you hold back your strong right hand?

    Unleash your powerful fist and destroy them.

Psalm 74:10-11


Sometimes from my perspective, God’s timing is off.  It seems too slow.  I want to see Him intervene within my time frame and on my behalf. I am reminded though that what appears slow to me, from His perspective is perfect. I will admit it is very easy to become impatient while waiting on God to act.  There are times when He appears to be silent in the middle of my tragedy but it is important to seek out His truth through His history book to be reminded that He is always at work and right on time.  God will rescue when He knows that the time is right and it is in fact, the best time to move. When my impatience becomes too much, I will rest in remembering that God has the perfect schedule and though I cannot see it, I can be confident that He has not forgotten me. 

May 10, 2012

Cut Off or Pruned?


Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

John 15:4


Simply put, Jesus is the vine and we, those who claim to follow Christ, are the branches.  This leaves God as the gardener who prunes and cares for the branches allowing them to be even more fruitful.  Fruitful branches are true believers who live a surrendered life to Christ and in turn, bear much fruit. Those who are unproductive and turn their back on Christ are separated from the vine.  Fruit is not just about winning souls to Christ but it is living out a life that is reflective of the Holy Spirit being alive within us.  Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit consists of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When the Holy Spirit is within us these character traits can be found because they are the result of a life lived with Christ on the throne. Having the fruit of the Spirit in our life is nothing that we alone can do on our own. It is Christ within us and when we truly know Him, there is evidence in our life that He is the One that we follow and by following Him, we are fulfilling the purpose of the law by loving God and loving man. His presence will then be known in our lives because of the way in which we live and the fruit that our lives produce. 

May 9, 2012

Frustration turned Courage


 But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. 

Exodus 2:3






As a mom, I feel certain that Moses’ mother knew it was wrong to kill her baby boy.  I am sure she was frustrated and the situation had to be maddening.  She knew there was little that could be done to change the law of Pharaoh.  What choice did she have to save her baby but to hide him in a basket and place him in the river in hopes he would be found and saved?  What a courageous move.  God used her frustration and turned it into courage as she placed her baby in that river.  Moses was God’s choice for His future plans and her act of bravery placed Moses right into the house of Pharaoh.  Do we not all oftentimes feel surrounded by evil and frustrated from what little we feel we can do to defeat it?  When those evil times come, search for ways to work against it. Trust God to use your efforts no matter how small to wage war against the battle over evil. 

May 8, 2012

He will bring justice


The Lord comes forward to pronounce judgment
    on the elders and rulers of his people:
“You have ruined Israel, my vineyard.
    Your houses are filled with things stolen from the poor.

Isaiah 3:14

As I was reading Isaiah 3 this morning, I found it was filled with such doom and gloom until I reached the middle of the passage where I saw a glimpse of hope. I saw there was hope for the oppressed.  In due time, the righteous will obtain God’s reward while the wicked will receive their due punishment. Walking through life and watching the wicked prosper is so discouraging when you are trying desperately to obey God and follow His ways. This passage of scripture brings me hope as I realize that those who lead and bring about corruption will be held accountable before God especially if others follow their lead because corruption and false teaching eventually leads to the wrath of God.  As a sinner, I want justice in my own life and I am learning that justice is just as important to God because it is part of His nature. When the government or church leaders handle things in an unjust way, people suffer and those people who suffer are held back from worshipping God.  God holds His children in high regard and when His children are attacked, He brings about His justice.  We must remember though that when we stand silently by and do nothing to help those who are being oppressed, we are in fact, joining the oppressor and will be held accountable as well.  God is just!  Just keep holding on to His truth and in the end, in His perfect timing, He will reward those who have been faithful to Him!

Tell the godly that all will be well for them.

    They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned!

 But the wicked are doomed,
    for they will get exactly what they deserve.


Isaiah 3:10-11

May 7, 2012

Divorce: the Unpardonable Sin?

Article first published as Divorce: the Unpardonable Sin? on Blogcritics.

Artificial?


A friend is always loyal,
    and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 17:17



What word would you use to describe yourself as a friend?  Honest?  Trustworthy? Loyal? There is a huge difference between knowing someone and calling them a true friend. The greatest indication of a true friend is that of loyalty.  Too many people in this world are artificial friends meaning they are only around when the friendship benefits them.  True friendships imitate Jesus. We are to love as He loved. We are to love sacrificially.  It means making ourselves available to those we call friends in their time of struggle. It means sticking around when even when you are getting nothing back in return. It means listening, encouraging helping and giving.  It is the sacrificing of ourselves for the good of others. Pay attention to those whom you call “close friends” and gauge their intentions.  It is important to guard your heart from those who selfishly take but give nothing in return.  Loyalty is a true test of a real friendship that comes as a gift from God.