09 December 2012

Christians, what are we doing?

In today's study we will be visiting a very important topic in today's church. Some might find this sour or baseless, but, like I said earlier I will speak only the truth on this blog. We're going to talk about one huge reason people are rejecting Christ and what we can do about it. Sorry to say it, the blame for many of those reasons are to be laid at the feet of the church, and we are going to discuss one of those. Whenever I think of this topic, I am reminded of the song If We Are The Body by Casting Crowns. Please go give it a listen. Sorry for such a brief introduction, but I'm feeling a bit antsy to get to the study. With that let us pray:

Lord, we come to you as your servants and your friends. Lord we ask you to forgive our sins and we pour out our gratitude, because we know you will, because you have promised your grace to us. We pray that we might be enlightened by your mighty Word and may come to see the loving truth of Christ Jesus more clearly. We love you so much and to you we give all the glory. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray, amen.  

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (NKJV).

Matthew 5:43-48 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (NKJV).

Luke 6: 37 "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

I'm praying to calmly pass this message to you, brothers and sisters in Christ. I do not want to come off as the very Christians I am talking about. I, as all Christians should, wish to be seen as Jesus would want me seen. With that said. I need some questions answered:

Where in the Word are we told to condemn all homosexuals to hell?

Where are we commanded to call would-be-mothers who abort their unborn child words that I won't mention on this blog?

Where in the Word are we instructed to abhor our fellow men and women who do not agree with our views?

Where are we called to humiliate adulterers? 

I will answer all of those questions for you with one word: Nowhere. I'm not at all saying abortion, adultery, and homosexuality aren't sins, so don't go putting those words in my mouth. The point I'm making is that we are instructed to love those people. Who knows what they're going through, but one thing is certain, they are seemingly doing it without Christ, so let's introduce the loving Christ that we know.

Only God can ultimately pass judgment. James 4:12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? (NKJV)

Let us wander over to John 8. For those of you who don't know in this chapter an adulteress is brought before Christ, himself. Now, this woman wasn't just suspected of the shame, verse 4 tells us that she was caught in the very act. The men who brought her were trying to test Jesus to see what he would do. Jesus said to them in verse 7 "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone" (NKJV). Then one by one starting with the eldest of the men they all left, without throwing a single stone. Only Jesus, sinless, remained. And do you know what he did. He, the only one there with the ability to condemn her, let her go and instructed her to sin no more. 

There is much to be taken from this passage about the Pharisees and their plotting against Jesus, but we are here for another reason. We might not be throwing literal stones at people, but a lot of us do seem to think it is our place to condemn nonbelievers. Condemning others simply, as the Word has shown us, is not our place. Another point this passage brings out is the forgiving nature of Christ, our savior. I do understand that we cannot be exactly like Christ as long as we walk this Earth, but we can try our dearest and are expected to.

So how can we as Christians, who are not even acting in the way Christ has commanded us to act as a Church, expect nonbelievers to act Godly, when they have not been taught the ways of his truth, the only truth.

Today many Christians and churches seem to believe that a person should act Godly and then be afforded the 'privilege' of meeting Christ. I assure you all it is exactly the other way around. Once someone becomes a Christian and if they truly follow the Word of God, they will automatically start changing, through God. We cannot change the world when we throw darkness at the world. So let us shine our lights among this perverse generation (Philippians 2:15) Let us not hide our light under a basket (Matthew 5:15). 

We who know the Love of God should want to share the Love of God not condemn those who don't believe what we believe, if we do that, they will not want to know the Lord. Not knowing the Lord is the saddest thing imaginable. God has given me so many wonderful things, but there isn't one thing I wouldn't trade for his Love. If I could only experience God's Love locked away in a wet, dingy cell or have everything I have now without God's love I would put the shackles on myself after throwing the key in the Mariana Trench. Glory given to God, that isn't my fate. So, with that said Let us go and share God's great Love and Mercy, Jesus on the cross, as Christians and not as angry hypocrites.   

In closing, I hope this post talks to many people (To Christians I hope if you were condemning you find the error of your ways, and to the nonbeliever I hope you realize what Christ's Love really looks like). I love you all and pray for you all. Please remember those souls still lost when you pray, for the growth of his Kingdom is our mission (Matt 28:18-20), let us love them, even those that love us not (Matt 5:44).

Let us pray:

Father, thank you for your Son who you sent to save us, but not only that. Thank you for sending him to show us the error of our ways, Lord thank you for teaching us, through Christ, what true love is and showing us, again through Christ, how to bestow your love on others. Let us be slow or even halted to condemn and quick to witness your love. Let us remember how Jesus would act when we next see something that goes against your Word. Teach us to love those that would hate us. Thank you for your mercy, Father. We love you so much. In the mighty name, above all other names we pray Amen.

03 December 2012

Behaving like a Christian Romans 12:9-21

This is the first Bible study on this blog. The scripture presented is from the book of Romans and was written by Paul. The reason I chose this as our first study is that many Christians (all of us at times) simply don't act very Christian like. Our number one goal is tom through the Holy Spirit, bring souls to Christ. And unless we behave like we preach, we simply will fail to do that. Remember this is how we should act toward everyone, friend, foe, believer, or none believer. 

If you are a nonbeliever I thank you for being here and ask that you continue to read on and maybe you'll learn something that you didn't know about the Christian faith.

Let us open with prayer.

Dear Lord, we seek you humbled by your presence, and ask forgiveness of our sins against you, our fellow man, and ourselves. Lord we ask that you grant us an understanding of your perfect Word as we open our bibles for this study. Father I ask you that I stay true to your word as I give guidance on it. Father we thank you for everything and we love you so much. In the almighty name of Jesus Christ our savior, we pray, Amen.

Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good (NKJV). 

I'll quickly cover the first part of this verse, Let love be genuine. What is genuine love? The best example I can think of is Christ's example.  Christ went to the cross loving every man, woman, and child equally even the ones that would reject him, even the ones that beat him, and even the ones that wanted and ordered his crucifixion. 

Not only are we supposed to act like that, but we are to mean it. the word genuine means free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy; sincere; not counterfeit; authentic; real. So when you love do so wholeheartedly. 

We'll delve into the next part of this verse in later versus so we'll continue onward. 

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (NKJV)

The Greek word philidelphia is used when describing how to be kindly affectionate to each other (the writer, Paul was talking specifically to Christians). We are to regard our fellow Christians as we would our own brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, or parents, without even having to think about it.  

Romans 12:11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the lord; (NKJV)

Paul is telling the Romans that whatever they do as Christians to do it wholeheartedly, because everything we do should be to glorify God. Yesterday we discussed verse 10. This verse is telling us how we are to do as we are commanded in verse 10.

The word fervent literally means having or showing great warmth; hot; burning; or glowing. All who see should know who we really are, we should not hide are true identities as servants to the Kingdom of Heaven, but actually serve God wherever we go. 

Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (NKJV)

Many of us find it easy to rejoice when things are going our way, hard to stay calm during trying times, and only pray for a few minutes a day to ask God for that raise or quickly thank him for giving us everything without actually realizing that He actually gave us everything. 

What Paul is telling 
us to do here, for the most part, goes against our natural instincts. Rejoice in hope, when you're hoping for something that usually means that you don't have it yet, but here we're told to give God the glory even when we've yet to receive what it is we're hoping for; for Jesus is truly all the hope we need in this life. Patient during tribulation, for many of us some of the most trying times are waiting 20 minutes in a line, but here Paul is telling us to be patient even when you've been in prison for serving Christ and are chained up to a soldier for twenty four hours a day until you can finally get a trial with the emperor (as was the case with Paul when writing the epistle to the church in Philippi). And pray steadfastly; the word steadfast means firmly fixed in place or position; when we pray we are supposed to do it with complete faith, remember God gives to those who ask of him John 14:14

Romans 12:13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. (NKJV)

Let's break this verse down

To understand this verse, we have to understand what a saint is. A saint is anyone who calls upon the Lord (see 1 Cor 1:2 and Heb 10:14). I'm not saying that we always "act" like Saints, but through the grace of God we are given, though unworthy, the title.

In the first part of this v
erse we are called to see to the needs of our fellow believers in Christ. Whether it be prayer, food, clothes, or shelter we are to see to the needs of the church. We are one body, you wouldn't allow your arm to fall of if you could help it, now would you? So why would we turn our back on our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Hospitality literally meas "love of strangers". The next part of this verse is referring to travelers, strangers. When we open our doors to strangers not only are we giving to the needy, but we're also given the amazing opportunity to witness the love of Christ to that person. 

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (NKJV).

Well this verse is pretty straight forward. 

There are many definitions for the word bless, they all say pretty much the smae thing so we'll go with the one below.
Blessing someone or something is defined as asking for God's favor to be given to someone or something such as 'bless this house'

There are also multiple definitions 
for the word curse.
Cursing someone is defined as the expression of a wish that evil will befall on someone or something such as 'curse the very ground you walk on'

As Christians are mission as sojourners in a foreign land (1 Chron 29:15) is to bring people to Christ. That includes those who will go to extreme lengths to mock you, jail you, or yes even kill you. 

Whether it be enemy or friend every person who we bring to Christ we pray for, asking for God's blessing (in this case the blessing of Christ) to be bestowed on that persons heart, before they convert. So remember next time you don't want to witness to somebody, because of something they may have done to you or a loved one, that Christ didn't only die for the people who you or I like, but for the world (John 3:16) and not to condemn the world either (John 3:17) as so many believers in Christ do on a daily basis. But that is a study for a different day, hopefully soon.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (NKJV).

I like this verse as with yesterday's it is simple and straight to the point. I really like that about Paul, no beating around the bush. 
We've talked a lot about unity as we've covered these verses and so we'll continue to do so.

Being a part of Christian group, whether a church or a study group, means more than goi
ng to the same places and seeing the same events, it means being of one spirit (Phil 1:27).

Rejoice with those who rejoice. When someone comes to you with good news praise God with that person, congratulate them, don't rain on their parade, build a float and join their parade. 

Weep with those who weep. Girls, I have to give you props on this one, guys we can do a bit better. Being in the service I've shared a few tears with fellow sailors and marines. When you become part of something greater than yourself with men and women who are truly a part of your life just as much as your own family it becomes easier to do this, but Paul isn't telling us to do this with this person or that group. He says "with those". When somebody comes to you with an issue do more than listen (listen as well) and don't just tell that person you'll pray for the. Actually pray for them, better yet pray with them. 

Remember a family is what we (all Christians) are apart of, so let us start acting as a loving one.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another, Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion (NKJV).

Be of the same mind simply means that we should live in harmony with each other as Christians. This is another verse, out of many which point towards the unity of the church. I'd stress how important that is, but space dictates. 

Don't set y
our mind on high things, but associate with the humble. We are not to be so focused on the big house, next promotion, or the fattest bank account; not that these are bad things, but we are being told to make God our focus. The next part of this sentence is pretty straight forward, but hard to do in today's world, that is why one of the things we should pray for is who we are around.

Don't be wise in your own opinion. This sentence brings me back to Prov 3:5. This really speaks to me, and many of us I'd assume, simply based on our FB posts. Remember unless you know you're right, because it is Biblical, you truly have no idea whether or not you're right, but no matter what not any single one of us is nor ever will be as smart as our Heavenly Father. This verse isn't telling us not to seek knowledge it is telling us not to be conceded with that knowledge and don't fully trust in your own opinion but lean on God in everything.

Romans 12:17 Repay no evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men (NKJV).

Repay no evil for evil. This is something my sister and I really could have had more understanding with growing up. This is simply telling us not to seek revenge, even for the small things. It says no evil not the really bad kind of evil. Simply, you can not right a wrong, with a wrong.

Have regard for good
 things in the sight of all men. People watch people; people, for some reason, especially watch Christian people. We are supposed to treat people with respect, regardless of the way they've treated us. This is no easy task. Every time I've taken this route, the high road if you would, people have taken notice, likewise people notice the low road too. What I'm saying is that as Christians we should seek the high road simply for our mission of bringing souls to Christ and our purpose to love God and all of his creation.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (NKJV).

So what does this mean, it's okay to be at war? This verse tells us that if we are to war it will not be at our causing. God knows that there will be people who will be set in hurting us. The best example in the world I can think of off of the top of my mind is Israel. They suffer constant threat and even harm 
(bombings) from every border, but they wait and wait, they try for peace, they negotiate, they give, they sacrifice, until they are truly pushed over the edge.

Some of our enemies are just hellbent on ruining us and those enemies' minds can only be changed by God, there is nothing you can say that will change their mind, unless God is speaking through you. We won't always be able to avoid war or other confrontations, but we should try our best to avoid it.

Romans 12:19,20 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord (See Ps.94:1). 20 Therefor "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head (See II Kings 6:22-23) (NKJV)."

Give place to wrath. That doesn't mean become overrun by wrath It
 means allow the one who wrath belongs to to serve vengeance. Ps 94:1 says that vengeance belongs to the Lord. This isn't always the easiest thing to do, but we are given a perfect example from our Lord and Savior. When Christ was on the cross he could have easily called forth an army angels, gotten off of the cross, and put down all who killed him. He didn't he stayed up there for you and I. Also this is another very good example of an opportunity to witness to our enemy.

Feed him, give him drink. In II Kings we are given an example, I'll let you read it on your own, but the outcome was that the attackers from the north (Assyria) stopped attacking. In the military once an enemy is captured, he is not to be harmed, and not only that, but if he's been hurt he is to be healed to the best of our abilities. Man, what a better way to spread the love of Christ than to show it outright. These verses are pretty straight forward so I'll leave you with that.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome bu evil, but overcome evil with good (NKJV).

So this one is pretty straight forward. So instead of explaining the verse, we're going to see how we can do this very thing we're commanded to do. Before we can start overcoming evil we have to know how not to be overcome by it, for this lets look at Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed be the ren
ewing of your mind... The world as we know is full of evil, so seemingly the easiest way to not be overcome by evil is to not conform to the world but to the perfect will of God. Now on to the second part of 12:2 ...that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. So not only does this verse tell us how to not be overcome by evil, but it also tells us that by doing so we will overcome evil with good (the perfect will of God).

So now we'll look at how to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. First I want to point out that this isn't something you'll learn over night or over a month or even a few years, but this is something we have to commit ourselves to daily. So let's look at some things we can do to overcome evil with good and transform ourselves.

Not necessarily in the following order, but these steps will help.

1. Meditate on the word. To the rest of the world meditating means, for the most part, looking inside of yourself, not moving, remaining silent. Not for the Christian. When we meditate on the Word we are to not only read the Bible we are to study it, pray while we do so, and maybe even rejoice.

2. Pray fervently, faithfully, and with understanding. Without faith a prayer may as well be said to the tooth fairy or a dead star. Read James 5:13-18. I also say with understanding, because every prayer will be answered, but some may not be answered how we want them. Jesus willingly went to the cross, but before he did so he prayed asking the Father if there was another way (Luke 22:42) but in the same breath he said not My will, but Yours. We must understand that as much as we may want one thing God's plan is perfect and will ultimately take precedence over our wants.

3. Worship. That doesn't mean just sing at the beginning of church by the way. In everything we do we are to worship the lord (Col 3:17). We are to continually thank god and send praise and glory his way.

For such a straight forward verse we sure could talk about this for a while, so I'll leave it at that. 

God bless everyone, this concludes the study on 'behaving like a Christian'.

Let us pray.

Lord, thank you for your amazing and word always being faithful to it. Father we thank you for the understanding you've given us and ask that you provide us with the wisdom to apply what we've studied today. Father, we know we fall short of your word so, often, and seek forgiveness, but we also seek the ability to fall less and stand more and father we know that only you can provide us with the strength to defeat sin and love always as Christ. Father we ask that we'll know when we are not behaving as you have called us to, so that we might be fast to straighten our way and provide ourselves as a witness to your name. We love you so much and thank you for everything you've given us. We love you, in the mighty name, the name above all names, we pray, Amen. 

God bless everyone of you. If there are any particular verses in which you would like to see covered on this blog, please let me know in a comment.