Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Shake the Dust Off Your Feet..."

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared a photo that dealt with a current moral debate. It was completely wrong, and had a horrible misuse of scripture. I wanted to speak up because it broke my heart that this photo was going around giving such a false impression of God’s Word. I had a whole argument built up, backed up with scripture. Yet, Facebook malfunctioned that night and I was not able to send it to them.

That night, something dawned on me: most of the verses in my argument were ones I had given to them before in previous conversations. I shared God’s word and tried my best to encourage them to change. That night, I knew then that this person does know the truth. They just don’t want to change, or are too afraid, for whatever reason. That is such a scary pill to swallow because they are forfeiting their soul.

As the adage goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

The truth is, you just have to let people go sometimes. This is difficult for me because I care about others so much. I have had a few people tell me in the past that I care too much about others and that I should stop. On one hand, they are right-I can’t let it wear me down. On another hand, it goes against my nature and who I am at a deep level. Much of what I do is because I want to help others and encourage them.

In the end, we have to remind ourselves that people have free will to live as they wish. Arguing God’s word will get you nowhere most of the time. We need to make sure that when we talk about it to others that we are coming from a place of love, honesty, and gentleness. At that point it is in their hands. To get to the point of arguing with someone will only serve to push them away further.  Jesus instructed the disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” when they came to a place that refused to accept God’s word. (Matthew 10:14)

 I am sad when I’m not able to lead others to Christ, which I know many of you feel that way as well. Often, whether it be a situation with a friend, or issues with the world as a whole, there is usually only one solution: prayer. If you are about to teach someone the gospel, or you already have and they did not accept it, take it to God in prayer.

James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man holds great power.”

You never know how God is working (Eph. 3:20). For whatever reason, a person’s heart may not be at a point that they can accept Him, and need more time. Maybe they never will come to Christ. Either way, you can never go wrong praying. Not only can it help to bring about change, but it will also build your faith as His follower. It helps Christians to let go and relieve them of some of the burden. Isn’t awesome that our Savior bears our burdens with us? (Matt. 11:28)

Do what you can, the best that you can (Eccles. 9:10) and let God handle the rest. If you do your best and others exercise their free will, do your best to move on and give His word to someone else. Take comfort in the fact that God has your back.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Freedom Isn't Free

On Memorial Day, we take the time to pay respects to those who have fought for us and all of our freedoms. Those men and women who have lost their lives for our nation deserve the utmost respect for their sacrifices.

Our Lord said, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Jesus understood this better than anyone. He did just what He stated in the verse above. He loved everyone in the world so much, that He was willing to die for us.

At the beginning of our nation, our founding fathers fought to be free from a government which sought to control everyone. Jesus fought spiritually for us to be free from Satan’s oppression of sin—if we choose to love and obey him. (Romans 6:7-9)

His sacrifice was so great that He claimed the ultimate victory over sin (Romans 6:8-10). While the victor has been declared, all humanity now has a choice which side they will choose: the winning side, or the losing side. There is no middle ground to stand on, or fence to straddle. These belong to Satan.

For us to be free, we must make a choice. The Christian life requires sacrificing those things that hurt God. Do we want God in our lives to the point that we’re willing to do whatever He asks? Because that is what it takes! (John 14:15, 21-24, Matthew 10:37-40)

The world so often pushes things that we deem important, but in view of eternity, mean very little: love (romantic), money, jobs, social status, and sex. Not to say that any of these things are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but are we using them in the way God intended us to have them?  Also, just because we want these things, doesn’t mean we should have them. That is what gets people in trouble spiritually-people think they are entitled to something and so therefore they do anything they can to get it.

On the warfront physically, and spiritually, you’re not entitled to anything. As a matter of fact, for soldiers to be victorious, they must remove all selfishness and realize that the cause is much bigger than them.

“Finally, my brethren, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against principalities, against powers, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication for all the saints…” –Ephesians 6:10-18

It’s not about us. It’s about God, and sharing His message of salvation to mankind (Mark 16:15). Just as a soldier in a war, we as Christians must learn that God has given us a great task to fight for and to endure, no matter what happens (Revelation 2:10, 1st Timothy 6:12). There may be times when we may be afraid or be uncertain of what to do, but God will always fight with us and give us strength (Exodus 14:14, Philippians 4:13, 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10).

The truth is, freedom isn’t free. It isn’t free because to gain freedom, we must realize that we need to put away selfishness and pride to obtain it. Whether it is our freedom we have in our nation, or that we have in Christ, we must realize that freedom for both came with a price. We must never forget that.