8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
– James 4:8-10 NLT
We need to make up our minds are we for the Lord or are we for the world. How long will we waver between two opinions? This was the recurring problem that the children of Israel had.
21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.–1 Kings 18:21 (NLT)
Since we know that God is God, we need to allow Him to be Lord of every part of our life. He will accept nothing less. We need to repent of our sins and God will restore us. God does not wink at sin and He doesn’t have a list that ranges from “little” sin to the “biggest” sin. He puts liars in the same category with thieves and murderers. We need to allow Him to “create in us a clean heart and renew a right Spirit within us”. Unconfessed sin in our lives breaks our relationship with God. We are still saved but until we repent, God is unable to bless us the way He longs to. We need to humble ourselves before Him and allow Him to cleanse us and revive us again.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.–1 Peter 5:6 (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.– 1 John 1:9
Once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, God’s Spirit comes to abide within us. He will lead us in the path God has chosen for each of us,if we are willing to follow. But, we are not going to become sinless over night and we shall never become perfect in this world. There will always be a struggle between our flesh and our Spirit. Nevertheless, our salvation is secure. Does this mean we won’t fail? No, of course not. If we could do this on our own then Jesus would not have had to die on the cross. God knew even before He redeemed us that we would fail, He is not surprised by anything we do, because He is omniscient. But, because He loves us so much, He is waiting with open arms for us to repent and return to Him. He is always faithful and just to forgive us when we ask. He cleanses us and restores us over and over and over again. We are His children and He cares deeply for each of us.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
2 Tim 2:11-13 (Voice)
11 Here’s a statement you can trust:
If we died with Him, we will live with Him.
12 If we remain with Him, we will reign alongside Him.
If we deny Him, we will be denied by Him.
13 If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful,
For He is not able to deny Himself.
We must determine each morning to put away our carnal, fleshly desires and live for Jesus. As Jesus said to Cain in Genesis 4:7 If you do what is right, you will still be accepted, but if you do not choose to do right, sin is at the door, it desires to have you. The phrase, “sin is at the door” indicates that if we refuse to repent and do what is right, we will continue down the wrong path and sin will eventually control our minds and our lives. If we wish to have eternal life and reign with Jesus, we have to remain faithful to Him. Faithfulness requires a working knowledge of God’s Word. If we hide God’s Word in our hearts, we will follow after goodness and righteousness.
16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. — Malachi 3:16 NLT
“and the Lord listened to what they said.”
It is both comforting and frightening to understand that God hears every word we say and knows every thought that we think. It is frightening to think that the King of Kings hears some of the things we say to each other. Our unkind remarks and thoughts that we have surely displease Him. They are a sin in His eyes. We must pray that we never get to the point that our consciences are seared over and we are not convicted of our foolish remarks. We must learn to fear God in the correct way. The fear that we should have of God is a feeling of respect and reverence that is so deep that it causes us to be in complete awe of Him. It is comforting to know He hears when we pray and knows our thoughts when we just think a prayer. Think a prayer? Yes, we have those times when we don’t verbally pray but, instantly, a thought that serves as a prayer crosses our minds. It is also comforting to note that God records the names of those who revere Him and always meditate on His name. It is also comforting that He says nothing about recording our sins, just our names. Thank God for His mercy that He does not give us the punishment we have earned, instead He gives us grace, a gift that we do not deserve.
23 “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you. 25 But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.” — 1 Samuel 12: 23-25 NLT
I would like to urge and encourage each of us to keep on praying for our nation. Pray that our current leaders will lead us in paths of righteousness so that we can return to being “one nation” instead of a nation divided by greed, selfishness and ethnic differences. Pray that we will stop being Americans separated by hyphens. That we will all just be Americans. A nation divided cannot stand. Pray that the voters will be led by the Holy Spirit and vote for those that will continue to lead us back to God. Pray that there will be a great renewal that starts in each of our hearts and spreads throughout our communities and our country.
Let each of us remember the many great blessings that God has poured out on this country and teach those things to future generations. If we refuse to humble ourselves before God, as individuals and as a nation, we and our country will be swept away. Pray that God will be merciful to us just as He was to the Israelis.
44 You will know that I am the Lord, O people of Israel, when I have honored my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” — Ezekiel 20:44
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. — Eccel. 7:20 NIV
Verses like the one above are meant to encourage us not to give us an excuse to “do it my way”. Mr. Sinatra was a great singer, but the writer of that particular song had some bad theology. We all fall, but we don’t stay fallen. I am encouraged by Paul whose claim to be the “chief of sinners” could be contested by some of us in today’s society. He clearly knew who he was, Whose he was and where he was on his journey. He lets us know that he is not there yet, but he is on his way and he is determined to arrive there.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 3:12-14 NIV
”Forgetting what is behind” is the example Paul sets for us. That is a hard thing for humans to do. But, if we don’t practice that, then satan will use those memories of our failures to condemn us and make us feel unworthy to approach God and ask for His forgiveness. If we allow this to continue, we will soon become beaten down with guilt. Condemnation is from the devil, conviction is from the Holy Spirit. Rebuke satan and his condemnation. Accept the conviction of the Holy Spirit and ask for His forgiveness. Accept that forgiveness and “press on toward the goal to win the prize”.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
— 1 John 1:8-10 NIV
No, we are not perfect, but we are being perfected day by day.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.—Romans 12:14 NIV
Praying for and blessing those who persecute us is hard. The flesh wants to scream, strike back and get revenge. Paul tells us this is a constant battle and we know from our own experiences that that is true. Why? Because the flesh wants what it wants and it doesn’t give up easily.
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.–Romans 7:18,19 NIV
We were born in sin into a sinful world. We are constantly tempted by the things we see, hear and read. That old father of liars, satan, knows where the chinks in our armor are and he pokes at us through those holes continuously. We are taught the “it’s all about me” philosophy on a daily basis. “You’re okay, I’m okay” is a lie from the pits of hell. No one is okay without Jesus and no one can do Godly things without the leadership of the Holy Spirit. As long as we live in this old decaying tent of flesh, we will be tempted and we will have to fight a daily battle against those temptations. But, God has not left us alone to do this, He has made provisions for us. There is always a way out.
12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.–1 Cor. 10:12,13 NIV
15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.–1 Peter 2:15-17 NIV
Jesus instructed each of us to “render unto Caeser that which is Caeser’s” and that we must do. We need to pay our taxes in an attempt to keep our nation free. We need to obey the law to prevent chaos. But there is a line we cannot cross. It might have been legal for the money changers to conduct business in the Temple (at least, it was allowed by law), but it did not keep Jesus from chasing them out of the Temple.
Dr. James Dobson said: “We will render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but in no wise will we render unto Caesar that which belongs to God.”
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.–Gal. 5:1 NIV
This nation is on a path to become a slave to greed and lust. Whether it is an individual or a nation, that path is a dead end street.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.–James 1:15 NASB
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”— 1 Cor. 10:23-26 NIV
We are born with a free will, but as we get older we realize that our choices are controlled by our fleshly desires. If we wish to be truly free, we need someone to free us from the bondage of sin and fleshly desires. Jesus came to do just that, When we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, we are free indeed and can choose to do whatever we please. We have the right to do anything, but we will soon learn that that attitude is not pleasing to God because He realizes that not all things are good for us or the body of Christ. Some choices are destructive and harmful to ourselves and others. As we mature in our spiritual walk, we start to understand that our love for Him should constrain us from making those bad choices. Yes, we can eat anything and we can do any thing. But are those choices beneficial to us and the Kingdom? The Kingdom of God is not about our fleshly desires, it is about serving others. We should show our love for God by loving others and showing that love by our actions.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.–Romans 14:17,18 NIV
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.—1 Cor. 1:18-21 (NIV)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
God raises up and God brings down. He uses those that the world rejects to accomplish His purposes. The world has access to more information in a few seconds now than we use to be able to get in weeks. But more and more information without the wisdom to use it is dangerous. To non-believers, Christianity is frustrating. They wonder how people believe in a God they can’t see, while at the same time they believe in all kinds of “gods” that are of their own making. Pride keeps people from believing in Jesus because once we believe, we become accountable to Jesus for our actions. So, God allows those that refuse to humble themselves to continue in their sins.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.—Romans 3:28-32 (NIV)