We do ourselves a great disservice when we focus on the sins and issues of those around us and neglect our own bouts with sin. Yes, it is easy to focus our eyes on others even though God is the only one who can the heart. This will always be detrimental to our spiritual growth if we refuse to seek God daily, and then look within to measure whether our steps are by faith and in obedience to God.
I think our biggest problem is that we lure ourselves into believing that obedience to a few things in God’s word through self effort makes us righteous. Common are the sins laid out in verse 9; we think…
· I don’t commit adultery
· I haven’t killed anyone
· I don’t steal
· I don’t bear false witness
· I don’t covet…
but the truth according to God’s Word is some can refrain from these things without having the love we are to have for our neighbor. And trust me when I tell you – don’t pat yourself on the back if these aren’t your sin issues because there are way more sins in our lives than we care to admit. Without the foundation of biblical love which 1 Corinthians 13 lays out as charity, all claims to righteousness are just acts of will-power, and God doesn’t reward works that are done outside of faith or His Spirit.
Verse 10 says plainly that when we really and truly love people the way God has told us to love people, not only are we fulfilling a law and command, but we are dead to sin by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in the way that we should go and behave. As our spiritual parent, there is nothing more beautiful to God than looking at his child emulate his character.
Verse 14 sums up the whole matter of chapter 13 which is this: when we walk in the Spirit of God we starve the desires and lusts of our flesh. Like our bodies, starve it long enough and eventually it shuts down and dies. This is exactly what we want to occur with our carnal-minded flesh.
Are you ready to die today?
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law… 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
In this Old Testament scripture, God speaks to the Nation of Israel about his plan to redeem them from their captivity in the future. Inspirationally speaking, God’s love for humans extends to everyone, and it’s why he sent his Son to die for our sins.
Our misunderstanding of God’s love leads us to question all the wickedness we see in the world. Why the death? Why the abuses against human life? Why doesn’t he make everything perfect like him? According to the scriptures:
God is longsuffering with people (Numbers 14:18; 2 Peter 3:9)
God is extending his mercy upon the lost (Ephesians 2:2-4; Titus 3:3)
He’s giving people time to accept his Son (John 6:44-45)
God is allowing the righteous (in Christ) and the wicked to coexist on earth (Matthew 13:29-30)
God has an appointed time for reaping the harvest of saved souls (Revelation 14:14-16)
Some have experienced hurt; others fear the possibility of heartache. But we must realize that God is the only person able to provide us everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) that is so perfect it casts out fear (1 John 4:18). When we place this level of expectation on another to love us, we miss the reality that they are only human – not perfect.
Shift your world view on what love is and seek God’s perspective. Pray for those who love you the best way they know how (parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and other Christians) and are trying to overcome their shortfalls. Ask God for his wisdom to know those who have no desire to learn or try and maintain a safe distance until they want to know God’s way to love.
Remember the kindnesses of the Lord. Failure is not on his resume. When he moves, it’s in his own timing; when he answers prayers, it’s according to what he purposes for us in the situation. Although we fail each other regularly-the Lord our God never does.
Sometimes we have to be reminded of the history found in God’s Word on his faithfulness toward those who are HIS, before we are able to remember his care for us during our lifetime. The best way to prick your memory is to read the challenges faced by the many children of God in the Bible who came before us. These His-stories unleash our temporary blindness and work to bring to the forefront our own historical memory stones of the works God has done in our life in the past. Just as he forgives us repeatedly for our shortcomings, he will deliver us from the snares we get ourselves into … if we REMEMBER…
And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
Genesis 30:23 KJV
Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.
Joshua 1:13 KJV
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Psalm 63:5-6 KJV
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:11-13 KJV
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Hebrews 13:7-8 KJV
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:” – Genesis 3:4
Look at where that got us. The God-created beings, Adam and Eve, were duped by the craftiness of one whom had fallen from great heights. [word to the wise: be careful around those who lose their lofty crowns… they can be venomous (full of malice & spite)]. Eve was drawn into the lie and Adam was enticed by the fruit the lie brought forth (sin).
Let’s be honest here. As much as many of us would say we hate liars, lying, and lies we, in fact, accept liars, lying, and lies because of the fruit it carries with it. We’ve even lied to ourselves to avoid facing the truth of our own character deficiencies.
So in 2020, amidst myriad lies and liars in a multitude of social, governmental, medical, and spiritual states, can we all face this truth:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Romans 5:12
We are ALL GOING TO DIE! And as fearful and harsh as that may seem to many, it is a truth that began over 6,000 years ago in a garden where a man and woman listened to the voice of a creation instead of the voice of their CREATOR.
God’s arms are STILL WIDE OPEN and ready to receive ALL who will accept the gift 🎁 of ETERNAL LIFE through His Son, Jesus Christ. And the beauty of it all is it requires the simplest act on our part:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Romans 10:9-11
I have recovered from many of the lies told me and the ones I have told myself. Yet, I have grown wise enough to know there is one lie we can’t afford to leave unchecked…
The pandemic hit American soil, and we ran for the safety and cover of the Stay-Home-Orders lockdown across America. Even the church had to close its doors, amid great protest. Fear entered hearts as working from home exposed the deficiencies in our picture-perfect existence. I marveled at how faith was, and continues, to be tested, especially in light of the part worshiping in a building became a defining factor for so many. The fight and lawsuits by “the church” demanding freedoms to assemble struck me as odd. Why? Because I was curious about the mindset behind the demand…
Did Jesus followers believe they needed to gather in a building to practice their religion?
Did Jesus followers believe there was a “vail” in their buildings that would protect them from the virus?
Did Jesus followers believe what scripture said about the times that would come, and that would precede Jesus’ return one day, to gather us to himself?
Had “worship” become something to be performed in a building, on certain days, in what is a Laodicean mindset?
All over the world, people were experiencing isolation and confinement to their living spaces. The world was attempting to slow the spread of the coronavirus. People were going stir-crazy. Parents realized teaching their kids wasn’t as easy as they assumed. Spouses realized their interrupted routines were now under a microscope that was revealing unpleasant things they had covered up by staying busy. Domestic abuse cases rose. Loneliness and self-identity issues hit hearts accustomed to camouflaging under the outer appearance no longer on open display. Other things were exposed as well. The need for changes. The need to reconnect. The opportunity to work on the bucket list buried in the back of desk drawers. The realization of how unprepared we are for a future with diminishing social, economic, and retirement resources and benefits. So many depressing things unless – we look on the bright side; the right side. That place from which our help comes!
I felt the pain, horror, and hatred recorded live in the George Floyd murder. It was final ignition to the powder keg that has been brewing in America. A divide supported and seemingly provoked by authorities who are supposed to be leading our country across a multitude of fronts. A mish-mesh of solutions parading across the nation. A sad example for a land touted as being the land of the free; a land of equality.
*All lyrics referenced above are the express property of the writer.
A brother-in-Christ, Dedrick Abbott, posted the below comment on Facebook. It’s a topic that me and my boss talk about all the time!
Dedrick Abbott1 hrFollowers of Christ should be more interested in building each other up than tearing each other apart. It is easy to be critical, but when we bear with others we enter into their story and the little things that cause them to act the way that they do. This is an opportunity for the church to be counter-culture to the world around us. We should try to value others for who they are and not simply for what they can do.
It’s true … the body of the church has played a pretty good role in causing this growing lean toward disdain for “church” followers of Jesus Christ. It’s true … a lot of churches have to make a greater effort in drawing the hurt, abused, fearful, confused and lost into our bosom (a familiar source of protection, security or affection) in our bodies of worship.
It starts, however, with INDIVIDUALS who truly love the Lord and who purposely DEMONSTRATE that LOVE person-to-person. It requires both the church-goer and the Believer to come to understand that not everyone is mature enough to operate in the will of God’s command that we love each other. Loving others in spite of their faults is a learned heart attitude that can only be grasped by those who truly have allowed God full access to their heart.
In all the years I attended church from my youth up into my young adult years, it took me until I was around 37 yo to recognize that not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, does God’s will. I learned that not everyone who attends church is a “Believer” who practices godly living. At the end of the day, I had to make up my mind to put my focus on God and not people. I had to stop allowing people to be the deciding factor in how, why, when and where I worshipped the Lord of my salvation.
The lessons taught me to make a personal choice to walk with Christ and focus on Him instead:
I choose to learn more about Him for myself – not accept second-hand knowledge
I choose to know Him – not just accept someone else’s experiences of Him
I choose to seek Him – not through a preacher or teacher but through His Word
I choose to serve Him out of my heart belief of His deity – not look to flesh for His image
I learned early in life that man was a sinful creature, flawed, and in need of a savior. It was in my immature and infantile stage as a Believer that I allowed the fallacy of man to cripple my relationship commitment and dedicated service to Christ. God kept reminding me through situations and circumstances that I needed His umbrella of love and protection more than man’s. Because of God’s patience, I was able to grow into the Woman of God I am today, firmly committed and settled in heart, mind, and spirit to stand firm in Christ alone. Christ is the umbrella that keeps me from being overtaken by the desires of my flesh and the enemy’s destructive vices.
I can tell you I spiritually feel like a young 20-something in Christ! My faith continues to grow stronger every day; I see the world for what it is—a battlefield for a spiritual kingdom that has already has been designated as the inheritance to the One who sits at the right hand of His Father – Jesus Christ.
It is true, there is much work to be done within and without the church, and it’s sad that those who need to make their standing in Christ sure are still busy looking outward instead of inward. For those doing their part, I say God Bless You and Keep You Strong on the path of His righteousness. The greatest prayer the Body of Christ can utter continually is that God would help us individually examine ourselves:
How is my relationship with Christ?
Who am I sharing Christ with?
What is my service lane in the Body?
Where do I exercise my servanthood to Christ?
When has my light brought others near to Christ?
Attitude is a huge deal when it comes to operating in the world as ministers of reconciliation and Christ representatives. It’s crucial in these last days that the Body of Christ gives more focus to redeeming the lost from the hand of our enemy and incorporate more of sharing Christ into our areas of purpose. Remember, the most important call on every believer’s life is the call to witness – to share the gospel of Christ with a lost world and bring sinners into the saving grace of Salvation.
Let us gather the spiritual tools that enable us to strengthen the weak and draw the hurting. I was hurt in the church many times. It took finding one person in the Body to love on me. My need for Christ helped me consistently get back up and go back into the Body. I came to understand by-and-by that at the Judgment Seat of Christ there is no finger pointing. Each of us will stand alone before our sovereign God while a panoramic view of our life showing the good – the bad – the ugly, and the abominable flashes before the heavenly hosts. That should make youshiver.
Church Body, we definitely need to get our act together so we don’t do more damage to the Body of Christ and God’s name. It might be better for some to become or remain “uncover Christians” so we don’t scatter those with a real desirous need of the Savior. What my brother-in-Christ spoke today should give all of God’s children reason to pause—consider their ways—and GET RIGHT CHURCH, because we will soon be going home!!
To my weaker brothers/sisters-in-Christ, to the hurting, and to the lost who have judged the Body of Christ – I’d like to make this suggestion: Find one person in the Body who demonstrates God’s love and care and then draw near to them. Most of the time this is called Discipleship in churches. They’ll help you grow in your relationship with Christ. I’ve seen process in action and everyone benefits, including the Church Body. The only way you’ll learn to stand in Christ in the midst of the spiritually immature is for you to seek to know Christ intimately yourself. Doing this will help you stand by faith as an individual while operating in faith corporately.
To admonish beforehand; To inform previously; To give previous notice; To caution beforehand
Forewarn (Strong’s Concordance):
To exhibit under the eyes; To exemplify (instruct, admonish); To show by making known future things
This I know because it has been foretold,
That in these last days, perilous times would come,
Where me, myself & I would be lovers of their selves;
Where the heart would covet, boast, and proudly ignore.
Where blasphemers rail against knowledge to disobey parents,
Unthankful for their welfare, and unholy in their cares.
Without natural affection, trucebreakers who falsify pacts.
These false accusers fill jails; incontinent slackers they are.
Under fierce attacks, they are despisers of those that are good.
Traitors who prey relentlessly, always heady in mischief.
Highminded, they are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
Delusional in their form of godliness, they deny the power of the source.
Beware my sisters, for they creep into houses to lead silly women captive;
Catering to those laden with sins and willingly led away with divers lusts.
Beware brethren of ever learning, when acts and deeds uncover
The inability to come to the knowledge of the truth,
Under the shadow of what is still yet to materialize …
4And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Luke 12:4-5
Lately, I find myself thinking more and more about the day when I will come face to face with Christ. I’m fairly sure I won’t be able to say anything! And, although crying is a release mechanism for me, I will have a glorified body, so I’m pretty sure that’s not an option.
It’s not just standing before him though – I’m sure of my salvation and it’s not in question. What I wonder about is if he’ll be pleased with what I’ve done with His gift over these 40 plus years, and if I have represented Him well.
Every time I think about it I remember a scene from the Bruce Willis movie “The Sixth Sense.” Toward the end, the little boy is finally explaining to his mom that he sees and talks to the dead. He tells his mom that his grandmother said her answer was “Yes” to a question the mother had. Asking his mom what the question was, the mother responds, “I asked if I make her proud?”
I only get one day at a time to make God proud. I know He doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but at the end of each day, my hope is that God is proud of something I did to magnify His glory. Daily, the thought of meeting my Savior face-to-face is a welcome desire. Yet, there are other moments when I ask myself if I am truly ready to stand in His presence?
Definitely a reflective moment worth more than just a cursory thought!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (KJV)
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
2: an area in which one fails to exercise judgment or discrimination
Your chest is on fire; your eyes burn with cloudiness; your breathing is labored. Your head hurts as swirls of darkness envelop you like a soft glove. You are rattled to the core and left feeling as if a sledgehammer has pummeled your chest. Surely you must be dying; surely the pain will be to your demise.
Tremors ripple throughout your body leaving you spineless. Your body, in slow motion, crumbles into a heap upon the floor. Using the last bit of strength you can muster, you wrap your arms around your body as you curl into a ball. As tears fall, draining you of any coherent thought, even death becomes a welcome idea.
You have just been blindsided by the blind spots in your life. While you were busy managing the multiplicity of life, you left yourself vulnerable to the attacks that are constant against those in Christ, and that which is common to the flesh. Sometimes, the greatest blind spot is to believe one is exempt from the very temptations and troubles that accumulate into lusts of the flesh, the eyes, and pride, even though God’s Word speaks to the contrary.
In our failure to stay spiritually and mentally alert through God’s Word and an active prayer life,complacencycreeps in like a tiny spider—unseen until its webs are anchored in the dark spaces our eyes did not see — and our lukewarm hearts did not feel. Blind spots take many forms: stubbornness, carelessness, laziness, pride, trust issues, scriptural starvation, spouses, work, multiple endeavors (spiritual & physical), worldly lusts, fear, ministry(ies), bitterness, fatigue, children, weariness, etc., etc., etc. Their development grows as one gets a little toocomfortable in their state of fellowship and worship with the Holy God.
Old Testament stories highlight this common breach in the life of those on varying levels of relationship with God. Nothing new under the sun, for there are many examples of strong beginnings of faithful servants who later falter and fall. A tour of the internet provides an increasing number of moral failures in our churches for our learning in these modern days. And, it is this faltering that creates the breach in our spiritual fortress. The story found in Nehemiah is a welcome reminder.
In learning thatThe remnant …left of the captivity…in the province… (were)in great affliction and reproach: (1:3), Nehemiah’s response provides us with a picture of one whose heart is towards God and God’s people, much like an uncompromising shepherd in this Laodicean church age. In short, verses3b-11is the hope of a heart for what God loves … his people. Note:
3 … the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, … 6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, … 11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: … and grant him mercy in the sight of this man…”
We are warned to remember the examples in the Old Testament by1 Corinthians 10:1-12– tonot lust after evil things, be idolaters, commit fornication, tempt Christ, or murmur. Nonetheless, when there are blind spots in our vision, the walls of spiritual protection fall, delivering our moral compasses into the hands of worldly versions of right vs. wrong, causing spiritual weakness and compromise.When I read “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Proverbs 30:12) or the warning cry of Isaiah 5:21- “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” it is like the slap of wet hands upon the face saying, WAKE UP! Ignorant I am not – I have fallen into several pits with scars to show. I suspect there may be more. So there is a great need to minimize more damage by banishing complacency, and opening my eyes and ears. It is as good a place as any to start – at least for me.
The walls are failing, the breaches are widening, and God’s people cannot afford to abandon theirposts#2.
Lord, wipe away the haze from our eyes; open our ears to hear the crumbling of the walls that we may turn our hearts to you again. Though our fortresses are weakened by decay, help us arm ourselves with the building materials of your mighty sword (Hebrew 4:12) and vanquish the enemy of our flesh. Keep us from getting lost in the fabric of a busy life, that we may fortify the kingdom of God and secure the breaches with armed watchmen upon thy walls.