Do you really know the Gospel message?

God created everything. He created this earth and everything in it, including you and me. He created us in his image meaning we are smart, we are willful, we have emotions, and we have an internal compass that helps us intuitively know right from wrong even if we were never taught these things. God created us to be holy too, because He is holy. Holy means to be set apart, to be pure. We once were fully 100% holy and pure. But remember, God made us willful and smart in his image. Even though he created us, we somehow decided we knew better. We were deceived into thinking we could control our lives without God; that we were right, and his commands to us on how were were to live our lives were optional, so we did our own thing. We went left, when God clearly asked us to go right. 

That one decision to live outside of God’s will (the rules he set for us) caused us to no longer be pure. We were now on our own. No longer able to be with God. We willfully separated ourselves from God in a selfish act of desiring to be our own master, our own god. Through this departure from God brought massive consequences of sin. No longer were were following the righteous will of God, but the sinful will of our own flesh. Sin became the outpouring of who we are. Sin, while often thought of as an act, is the essence of who we ARE. Sin is our state of being. Sin means we are no longer holy, we are separated from God, on our own, living for ourselves 100% of the time. 

This sin state of being has horrendous ramifications. It manifests itself in different ways for different people. For some, sin shows in big ways that we all know and hate such as murder, rape, and grand theft. However, for the majority of us it manifests in small ways, such as white lies to get out of a parking ticket, stealing office supplies from our work, “borrowing” music and movies illegally on the Internet, cheating just a bit, or a lot on our taxes, making false insurance claims to get a better outcome, gossiping about a friend to make ourselves look better, all in an effort to live a life that seems to be free but is full of bondage. Sin is a lifestyle marked by self-serving behavior. Again, sis not an act, but it is who we are. It is the very fiber of our being.

If you were to vote for a new judge for the Supreme Court Justice, I would bet you would not vote for one who uses the slogan, “Vote for me, All go free!” That would defeat the purpose of a judge. We want the most impartial judge. Our souls still cry for justice when we, or a fellow human being are wronged. God is the ultimate Judge. He created you, He created me. Because He created us all, that means He has ultimate ownership, authorship, and He can do what he likes with us regardless of what we think because that is fair. When I create art, a meal, a child, I am in charge. I am the authority over that creation. I decide where it goes, what it does, and how it moves forward. I am in an authoritative position over anything I create (within moral reason with a child, but I hope you get where I am going here). 

It is the same right of God. If you agree that God is the Creator of this world, including you and me, then we must agree that God has an authoritative right over all of His creation. Ultimately that is why sin is considered, by the vast majority, to be a bad thing. It must be punished. Sinful acts are an outpouring of our sin nature. Our desire to be in charge and our desire to do what we want rather than what God, our Creator has asked us to do, deserves punishment. We do not deserve a get-out-of-jail-free card simply because we are “pretty good”. He is holy, yet we are no longer holy. We cannot be in the presence of God without judgement. There needs to be a reconciliation in order for us to be right before God again. A created thing that goes rogue, deserves to be found and put down. We deserve death, which would be our jail sentence. That is what Hell is all about. Hell is our prison cell. We get a glimpse of what it is in the Bible, and believe me, you do not want to go there. Just a few descriptive words about it are enough to make your skin crawl: eternal damnation, weeping, gnashing of teeth, eternal fire, unquenchable thirst. This jail cell is where we are all headed for eternity because of our separation from God. 

Here is where the reality of our state gets wildly interesting and almost too incredible for words. God is love. He is not just loving, He does not just love us, but he IS love. He is the very source of love. He knows we are weak. He knows we need Him. He knows our flesh is strong. He stepped in and did the one thing we could never do. He came down to live among us perfectly. He sent his only Son, Jesus, God in the flesh, to live a perfect life. Something none of us could ever do. He lived literally a perfect, sinless life. He was our proxy. Then, in an inconceivable act of mercy and grace, He died the very death each and every one of us deserve to die. He was guiltless. He lived the life we never could only to die the death each of us should. Death on a cross. A horrendously humiliating, excruciatingly painful and draw-out death. He reconciled my life, He reconciled your life to God through His death. He paid our penalty. He satisfied the Judge. He stepped in for us!

As if that were not enough, Jesus came back to life. He defeated death. He defied nature. He is a living proof of what we get to experience some day. It almost seems too good to be true! It seems like a great fairy tail. But it is real. The veracity of the Bible, the actual life, death, AND resurrection of the man Jesus has been documented and proven even by those outside of the Christian faith! So why are there millions upon millions of people who still don’t believe and may never give their live to Christ? Our sin nature is so deeply rooted and woven into the fiber of our souls that we want it not to be true. God still gives us a choice. He still gives us our will. Our will wants to satisfy ourself. Our soul cannot and will not bow to another. The throne room of our hearts already has someone firmly seated on it’s seat: ourself. There is hope, however!

God calls His children. One by one, His Holy Spirit convinces and convicts us of our sin, of our need for holiness and righteousness, and He presses on our heart the very heavy burden of our sin and need for judgement. The Holy Spirit works in us, quickening our heart to desire after God’s heart. He shows us the reality of our sin and the glory and splendor of what it means to be free of that burden. The simple yet profound act of placing our life in the hands of the Almighty God becomes a 180 degree shift from self to God. We must turn from our idol of self and turn to a life where Jesus is the only One able to sit on the throne of our heart. We must raise the white flag, admit that we were wrong, seek forgiveness from our sin, and admit that ownership is not ours, but our Creators. We must trust fully in Jesus. We must follow hard after Him knowing others will despise us. As a follower of Jesus, we now recognize the futility of living for our “self” and realize the beauty of a grace and mercy-filled life of living for God. 

Friend, if you are on the wrong side of this, I implore you, by the mercy of God, to get reconciled to God. Place your trust and faith in Him alone. Turn away from your sin and yourself and turn to God. The peace and love and mercy and grace will wrap around your heart and give you courage and strength to follow hard after Him. There is no magic prayer. There is no “ticket to Heaven” only to go back to a self-serving life. If you have raised the white flag, read the Bible. That is how God speaks to us. Pray all the time, talk to God, ask for Him to forgive you of your sin. Ask Him to give you faith and wisdom to do His will. Share with others what you have found!

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Are You Actually Kidding Yourself Straight to Hell?

1 John 1:6 ESV
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Fellowship was a word not used by the secular writers of the day. It meant to have intimacy with God. This was a foreign concept to both the Jews and those of other religions. But Christians understood the gospel meant that they now have access to the Father through the Son. The literal and figurative veil was torn at the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The resurrection and the following receiving of the Holy Spirit guaranteed and sealed their fellowship. The Holy Spirit is our internal guide. He is our Truth. Our True North. We might “say” we are intimate with Jesus. We might even go so far as to “say” we love Him and think He loves us back. The give-away that this warped sense of reality is, in fact, not true is when someone who claims Christ as the one they follow also practices unrighteousness.

The word here in Greek is περιπατέω which is transliterated as peripateō which means to walk, however the Hebrews used this word to mean the conduct of one’s life. I realize that we often speak of ourselves or others as having lost their way. But John is clear when he says if someone says they are a Christian but the conduct of their life is counter to God’s word, then they are not a Christian. At. All. I will say it again, as I have said in multiple other posts: Satan has had thousands of years to perfect the art of deception, and you better believe he is excellent at his craft. Don’t believe the lie he is telling you. Start looking at your life through Truth. Through what the Bible has to say. Please do not lie to yourself thinking you are better than the next person. What are you holding on to? While you may be a “good person” what does that actually mean? I want to give you some solid examples rather than leave this up to interpretation. Here is a very short list of typical claimed-as-non-sin “sins” people commit in entitled America who call themselves Christians but are actually not.

TYPICAL LIE #1
You are sleeping with your girlfriend or boyfriend. (I am going to expand on this first one just a bit so you can see what I mean). You have somehow justified this law as either antiquated or you are engaged or in the eyes of God you are already married.

I remember having a long conversation with an older man in my neighborhood who identified so strongly with Jesus and was extremely involved in his church. He was divorced with kids and was dating another woman from his church who was also divorced with kids. Somehow in the conversation he mentioned three things. 1. They are living together. 2. Yes, they are sleeping together but they said vows to each other so in the eyes of God they are married. 3. They are not getting along so he thinks he is going to break up with her soon. WHAT??? I could have just let it alone but I called him out on his obvious erroneous thought process. He has believed so many lies and was living one HUGE lie after another. He sort of ho-hum agreed with my rebuke and I never saw him again.

Another person in my life believes it is OK that they are sleeping together because they are getting marred and have also stated some sort of private vows. Not only is that unbiblical on several levels, it is also an issue because they were sleeping together LONG before they ever even started to talk about getting married. She agrees to disagree with me.

A friend of mine believes the man she is marrying will “come around”. She says he promised to come to church with her and she is hopeful he will get saved soon. She also says that she can walk down the isle, say her vows, and then ask God to forgive her for going against His word by becoming unequally yoked. How are all these lies are becoming truths? Satan is just that good. She is no longer speaking to me.

TYPICAL LIE #2
You call yourself a “cussin’ Christian”
What does THAT mean? Well, you say bad words. Often. Or perhaps you use the Lord’s Name in vain and really don’t think much of it. Sorry, you are living a lie.

TYPICAL LIE #3
You chase money. You tell yourself it is not money that is bad, it is the LOVE of money. While yes, that is true, it is still a lie. If you are chasing money and using that line to back up your idol, then again you are living a lie.

TYPICAL LIE #4
You are a prayer warrior. Your gift is not evangelism. You leave that to people who are gifted at talking to strangers or who are gifted at sharing the gospel with others. Usually that gift is for pastors and people in full-time ministry. Again, a HUGE lie. We ALL are commissioned to spread the gospel. ALL.

TYPICAL LIE #5
You consider yourself a normal Christian but you have friends who are Jesus Freaks. You reserve that name for the really intense Christians in your life but that is not you at all. You fit in. Your way of witnessing to others is by not being crazy, because who is really going to respond to that anyway, right? LIE!! Being a Jesus Freak does not mean being out of your mind crazy, it means living a life that is counter to how the world lives. Living based on the Bible. Yes, that would most likely put you in the Jesus Freak category, but not in the, stand-on-the-street-corner-holding-an-end-of-the-world-sign crazy. Make sense?

TYPICAL LIE #6
You attend church, you read your Bible as often as you can, maybe a few times a week, maybe every day if you remember. You go on short term missions, or you tithe or give offering to the church. You made a profession of faith when you were 13, you got baptized and you are from a Christian church. I realize not all of this describes you, but some of it may. Christianity is not a checklist. While you may do all these things, they do not, in and of themselves, make you a Christian. Check your growth. Check your fruit. This lie is one of the BIGGEST there is.

2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

The HUGE Lie about Christianity

There is a HUGE lie that is going around in regard to the picture people are painting about Christianity. “Come to Jesus, and you will find rest!” “Let Jesus into your heart because He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” (skip to the bold to understand why I am writing about this.)

These benefits sound amazing right!? Well, truth be told, and you know I love me some truth pills, all of that could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is the exact opposite! Jesus GUARANTEED we would have troubles in our earthly life if we chose to follow Him. I will concede, however that those statements above about finding rest, and there being a wonderful plan for your life are 100% true and 100% taken out of context. Your rest will happen in eternity. Yes, there is great peace in trusting in Jesus and knowing our final destination, however actual physical rest here on this Earth was never promised. Yes, He does have a wonderful plan for you, but it won’t be what you think of as wonderful. You won’t get the perfect job, marry the perfect person, and have a perfect life. As a Christian, that just won’t happen. Sure there will be times of great joy in this life. Be sure that God not only loves you, He also LIKES you. He will give good things to you. He will shower love on you. HOWEVER, He wants you to GROW! You will not grow unless you suffer and experience hardships. There are over 100 verses in the Bible that talk about hardships and suffering specifically for God’s children. At the end I have listed a few to give you an example.

But get this! Not only are there hardships and sufferings that God allows and sanctions in your life to help you grow, degree by degree, but there is another, quite infuriating hardship that we must endure. If you are a sideline Christian, you most likely will not experience this. If, however, you are an “all-in” fully sold out for Jesus kind of person, then you better bet you will experience this and if you don’t you should worry and question why you are not.

WARNING: This may be upsetting.
If you are a sideline Christian, I am going to challenge you to figure out what that means. Sideline Christians typically consider themselves sort of lukewarm. They may call themselves “Cafeteria Christians” or “Carnal Christians” or my favorite, “Cussin’ Christian.” My heart breaks for you if that is you. There is no room for this type of Christianity ANYWHERE in the Bible. If you consider yourself a sideline Christian, consider with all your being your actual salvation. Really study this and figure this one out. You may not be a Christian. Please read my testimony to see what I am talking about. I considered myself to be a “Cafeteria Christian.” While I did not use that phrase, when someone described it, it made perfect sense. I cherry picked all the stuff in the Bible I liked. The stuff I did not understand or felt was antiquated (really just meant for people back then, and couldn’t possibly mean for me, such as women not being able to be pastors) all this “stuff” I literally shoved out of my self-created religion.

So, where am I going with this? The closer you are to the Target, the more you will get hit. By whom? Satan and his henchmen. The Target: Jesus. All those fallen angels are wildly upset with the fact that their fate is sealed. Their one and ONLY goal is to get people messed up. They have a very skilled two-pronged approach.

    1. Get people to THINK they are Christians when they actually are not. (see Matthew 7:21-23 ESV) No really, LOOK IT UP, this may be describing you!
    2. Get the actual Christians so distracted with trial after trial, persecution after persecution, that they will not be as effective witnesses and therefore less people will come to Christ and obtain the very thing they are no longer able to get: eternal salvation.

I am writing this today because in June of this year I decided to go to a different church with my husband that was more his pace. After an entire summer being away from my church and not really involved in the new church at the request of my husband I can tell you not only was it the worst spiritual growth I have had over a 3 month period, but it was also the easiest from the spiritual battle perspective. No major trials, no major suffering, after a full, and I mean FULL 2 years of major trials, one after another every 2-3 weeks something new hitting me hard. It was exhausting, but I was also ON FIRE. I was witnessing to everyone, serving in any capacity I could, I was growing, and thriving in Christ but being beaten up literally by the world. 

I even questioned why I was getting off so easy this summer. I was nervous at the fact that God was being so silent in my life. I knew in the pit of my stomach it was because I was not as close to the Target as I am when I am at my old church. The spiritual battle is palpable at that church. I even started getting nervous about the possibility of going back because I knew I would be starting the battle again. I would be growing more and Satan does not like that, so I am sure I have some new henchmen assigned just to me. Then, on Sunday, I declared to two of my friends that I am coming back to my church since my husband has not been coming with me to the new church as promised and I never want to force him to do anything. That is not my style. Monday morning I start a potentially life-saving Periscope daily broadcast going through 1 John, one of the most convicting books in the Bible and then later that morning, I get hit with some major tax news that put me into a tail spin. Tuesday, today, my son got punched in the eye and sent to the principal’s office (soooo not like Jacob AT ALL) and I got hit with a lawsuit for imagery infringement (those of you who know me, know I am a big contender for image usage rights, but this one was an honest mistake and I am now facing legal action.) Needless to say, here we go again. Pile it on! In this life, as a sold out servant of Christ, you better believe I am going to be bombarded with distractions and suffering from Satan’s minions. But I will COUNT IT ALL JOY! I know I must endure. I must learn. I must grow. And soon, YES, very SOON, I am going to see Him face to face and for that I hold my hope close to my chest. For THAT my hope is secure.

If you find that your life is pretty easy and things tend to always go your way, I would re-evaluate where you are with your salvation and your relationship with Jesus. We are all on different paths and all have varying degrees of faith and ways in which He teaches and leads us. I look around at my friends who clearly are not Christians based simply on their lifestyles, yet they claim Christianity. Guess what? They have it pretty good. Their life is not spiritually attacked and they may be blessed in ways you and I will never be. Just remember, this may be the best they ever have it. I really REALLY want you to take time this year and evaluate your life. Evaluate your sanctification. Do a fruit audit. Get right with the living God. He may come back way sooner than we all expect!

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (Philippians 1:29 ESV)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.(Romans 8:18 ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV)

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV)

Do you Keep Stuffing your Hole?

jenosullivan_20131103_0025_webIt’s Christmas time and under our tree are a ton of wrapped presents. Our 5 year old is going out of his mind every day wanting soooo sooo badly to open his presents. He is so present-crazed that when we go to the store to pick up bread or other items we need he is willing to spend his saved money from past birthdays to buy small items to ease his discomfort. The desire is so strong I almost feel bad for him. Almost.

My pastor, Pastor Mike Fabarez, used this sermon illustration this past year about babies and I think it is so relevant to this topic. Have you ever seen a baby suck on anything that comes near their mouth? They will suck on anything. Your hand, your keys, the pillow, the floor, your nose. They are looking for the thing they desire most: milk. It is instinct. We have a same guttural desire that we were all born with whether we like it or not. We were all made in the image of God and we all desire him at our core even if we do not know what to call it. I have heard it said to be that we all are born with a “God-Shaped Hole” in our hearts and that until we find God, or more precisely God calls us, we constantly stuff other things in the void in our lives. Think about it. Are you ever really truly satisfied?

Do you find yourself saying to your friend, spouse, parent, or self “If I could just have that (fill in the blank) then I would be happy.” I hear it all the time and used to say it all the time. I always desired the next great purse or car or home. I remember being a kid wanting this or that and seeing that as I got older the items on my list grew bigger and bigger. Have you ever gotten caught up in the “Secret” craze, creating “vision boards”? Mine had a private jet, a butler and chef, a huge estate, and all sorts of other items that I truly believed if I obtained those things THEN I would be happy. Guess what? If you go ask someone who has all those things on the surface they will say they are happy, but if you knew them well they most likely would still feel like something is missing.

Are you able to honestly asses your desires? What gifts are you getting this year for the holidays or your birthday? Would you be willing to give them up? Do you need them so badly that you would justify keeping them? I am not saying the items themselves are bad and that if you do have a private jet then you are not saved. What I am saying is that if your desires for those things or the things themselves become idols in your heart (meaning you are desperate to have them or keep them) then you may want to re-evaluate your relationship with God.

The phenomenal thing about having a true relationship with God is that you feel utterly complete. You lack nothing. There is nothing in this world that you need anymore. Literally. Your lifestyle, your things, your relationships, even your own life becomes inconsequential to God’s will. To put it plainly would you be willing to do any or all of the following if God asked you to. Remember, these are just hypothetical but please make an effort to fully visualize each scenario.

  1. You are called to quit your job and work at an orphanage in the inner city.
  2. You are called to sell your house and move in with a family member to donate most of your money to charity.
  3. You are called to sell your entire shoe (or bag, or baseball card or whatever you collect) collection to help a family down the street who lost their job.
  4. You are called to leave your kids and your spouse indefinitely to go on a mission overseas.
  5. You are called to go to a country and spread the gospel where Christianity is outlawed and punishable by death.

If you are justifying these examples by saying something like, well my husband would never let me do that and God tells me I must obey my husband then you are putting God in a box. Believe me, if God wanted you to leave your kids and husband to do something for him, he would sanctify the decision by making your husband desire you to do it too. God lines up peoples hearts even if they are not his. He uses and animated every single person on the planet. You may also say you are too afraid. Well, read Jonah and see how things turned out for him. His heart was truly messed up and he battled God the entire way even after he relented and did what he was told.

Be honest with yourself and test yourself. Determine what you are unwilling to give up. Ask God to help rid these things and that he would reveal himself to you. What a joyous release it is to not have to ever try fitting anything else into the God-shaped void that was in my life. My heart is overflowing with joy and true life-breathed completeness that I never thought possible!

Shalom!

Snowfall in Israel, a plea from God?

Today’s Daily Bible Reading in Amos chapters 4-6 is so relevant in light of what is happening this very day in Israel. With the worst snow fall in over 50 years and many being evacuated from homes not prepared for weather like this I wonder if Yahweh (God) is trying to, yet again get the attention of His people. I pray every day for revival in Israel. With over 6 million Jews living in Israel and an estimated mere 20,000 Messianic Jews let us all pray for Yahweh to continue to reveal himself to His people and that they would soon find their Messiah in our Lord Jesus Christ! Revive your people O Lord!!! Bring them back to you!

לחשוף את עצמך לבני עמך יהוה

(Reveal Yourself to your people O LORD)

Maranatha!

Are you a “Politically Correct Christian”?

Yeshuah Jesus Yahweh is SalvationHow do you feel about Jesus? While this may seem obvious, let’s unpack the idea a bit more. OK, so you are a Christian. What does that mean, exactly?

  1. You love Jesus.
  2. You believe in Jesus.
  3. You have put your faith and trust in him.
  4. You have turned from your sinful ways and toward righteousness.
  5. You go to church.
  6. You volunteer.
  7. You pray.
  8. You read your Bible.

That is great! Welcome to eternal salvation. Well… hold on. We have been going over in our Friday discussions, week after week specific things that may or may not validate your salvation even if you do all the above mentioned “Christian” activities. So, this one is simple. How do you feel about Jesus? Your first thought might be, “I love Him.” Now put yourself against these scenarios:

  1. You are at work, you are on your break at your desk reading your Bible. How do you react when you hear someone coming?
  2. You are at a restaurant with friends. Do you pray before a meal or do you pass it up for lighter conversation?
  3. Do you ever pray for an extended period of time with another friend out in public?
  4. You are at work in the lunchroom. Do you pray before your meal in front of everyone or do you quietly pray in your mind without anyone being the wiser?
  5. You are at a social event and someone you have never met asks you what you do. Do you bring up your reason for living by bringing up Jesus or do you talk endlessly about what you do for a monetary living?
  6. You are at the park with a friend who is definitely not a believer (make it more real and imagine your Muslim, gay, lesbian, or outspoken atheist friend), and you casually tuck your cross necklace into your shirt before you see them.
  7. You are at your kids school picking them up and you get into a conversation with another mom. Does the name of Jesus ever come into your conversations day after day?
  8. Generally speaking how often does the name Jesus enter into your daily conversation with everyone around you? Never I bet if you are honest. A very few of you will answer “All the time.” Praise YHWH for you and your boldness!

We sing songs about “Jesus, only Jesus” but then are afraid to mention His name in mixed company for fear we will lose our jobs or lose that friend or lose respect. We think in our hearts I cannot wait to see the face of Jesus shining like the sun, but then can’t seem to say his name to others during our day.  Is this how someone treats someone they love? When you are in love you want to shout it from the mountain tops. When you find your spouse you cannot wait to introduce them to everyone and anyone. When you have your first, second, third, twelfth grandchild how quick are you to whip out those photos of them even to perfect strangers? But Jesus? No, that is not politically correct. It’s sad. More importantly it may mean eaternal damnation.

Ask yourself: “How do I really feel about Jesus?” The world sends thousands of signals to us like little darts all intended for us to dislike or even hate Jesus. We are in a literal battlefield. If only we could see what the angels can see. Take a look at what the Bible says about it.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5, ESV)

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33, ESV)

Based on personal experience, I thought I was a Christian but realized I was actually ashamed of Jesus. I was the politically correct “Christian.” I praise YHWH for showing me my folly. Pray about this one, my friend. Don’t be ashamed of Jesus! If this convicted you even a small bit, please read through the other Fruit Audit topics to the right.

Maranatha!

James 1:16 “Wanderer from God”

Wanderer from God

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. – James 1:16 (ESV)

This short verse is a transitional verse, however, there is much to be learned from it. “Deceived” in Greek expression means to go astray or wander. Deceived in our present day language seems to have less impactful weight than it did in James’ time. They may have thought of Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
A sheep wandering off for me today has less weight than a shepherd of James’ time because I don’t fully get the scary thought of that. I suppose I need to consider what they considered and fully understood: if I wandered off I would get slaughtered by a fox. It was my choice to wander. Lesson to be learned: Be careful not to blame God for my sin.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14
James 1:15
James 1:16

James 1:15 “From Desire to Death”

From Desire to Death

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:15 (ESV)

Desire is used in the feminine way here based on the Greek word and therefor closely relates it to that of a mother. In Proverbs the loose woman who lures her prey into the depths of shoal is set in contrast to the wisdom also depicted as a woman. See Proverbs 8:32-35 This goes to James writing style to relate back to verse 5 which helps tie it all together. He leans heavily on his readers intense Jewish knowledge of the Old Testament to catch his every meaning. This allows him brevity. To put it simply, desire itself is not a thing to fear, however protecting yourself from conception is key.

And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, – Proverbs 8:32-35 (ESV)

As James relates this female analogy, I cannot help but expand on it. Conception only happens when we get in bed have sexual intercourse. That is the most intimate form of communication known to humans. Outside of marriage it is a sin, so looking at it from that perspective how do we “protect” and “shield” ourselves from sin? Looking back on verse 14, I know to understand myself first and what makes me want something or causes me to react. When I know my triggers, I can stave them off more readily. This means staying out of certain circles of friends, not going to certain events, reaching out to different people, and constantly asking myself to be quiet and humble.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14
James 1:15

Fruit Audit ~ Do You Love God’s Word?

I was going through life as a “Christian” and the one thing that bothered me the most is that other Christians always said they loved reading God’s Word. Pastors would often preach that when you become a Christian you would thirst and hunger after the word of God like a newborn baby thirsts and hungers for his mother’s milk.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 2:2-3, ESV

I don’t know about you, but I just was not getting it. Sure, I read my Bible a couple times a week. Every once in a while I would “commit” to reading the Bible every day. That always lasted about 5 days. I remember the longest I ever consecutively read my Bible was 34 days. You’ve heard it said that to create a habit you have to do something every day for 21 days. I remember vividly thinking “I’ve done it! I’ve created a habit of reading my Bible!” Only to fail on day 35, 36, 37, 38, 39….. Oh shoot, was I supposed to be reading my Bible? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME!!!! Oh the shame. But really, who else knows other than me, myself and God? On I went stumbling through reading (or not reading) my Bible.

So, there you have it. I was convinced that I was doomed to always be burdened with the chore of reading the Bible. I knew it was supposed to be enjoyable and I knew I was supposed to be refreshed by it, but honestly I just wasn’t. Here are a couple verses in the Bible that told me something was wrong.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, – Romans 7:22, ESV

David said it perfectly in Psalm 19 as seen below and I still did not get it.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; – Psalm 19:7-8, ESV

David made it sound so simple and pure and revitalizing and joyful and enlightening… but for me it was sometimes just boring. I could hardly understand the stuff I read and the things I did understand seemed antiquated or impossible to put into practice. But still I tried. I even prayed as Tozer did for God to open my mind to understanding. It worked sometimes but I knew deep down I was missing something. Something no one could answer for me. Perhaps I was just dumb. My college educated brain was too stupid to understand the Word of God.

And lastly I got to John 8. 😦

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” – John 8:47, ESV

There was my answer. Hindsight is 20/20. I did not realize it at the time, nor could I have predicted the outcome. After 25 years, thinking I was saved and struggling terribly through the Word of God, practically beating myself up with my lack of love for God’s Word, I now understand fully that I was not actually converted. You may take issue with this controversial thought. I can tell you, however, with absolute certainty that the very thing I struggled with has become a complete and utter joy in my life. The Word of God, now that I am truly a “new creation” has been opened to me like I never could have imagined. I literally cannot get enough of it.

The best way I can illustrate this idea is from the perspective of being a mom. Before I had a child people would tell me all the time that my life would change in ways I could not even imagine. “Oh the wonder! Oh the joy!” or so they would say. I remember thinking, all these people are nuts! I love my life and no child is going to change it THAT drastically. Sure it would be different, but all these moms who keep blabbing on and on about motherhood were close to making me puke at times. Flash forward to the day I have my baby, then flash forward 5 years into motherhood and I get it. I drank the “juice” and know EXACTLY what they are talking about. If you don’t have kids yet, this won’t make much sense to you, but if you do, this is what it is like when you become a true converted soul, fully and wholly consecrated to the Almighty Father and LORD Jesus Christ. The Word of God is literally life. I cannot get enough of it now.

With all of that said, you may be wondering about your own salvation and may even want to find out on a deeper level if you are truly saved or have just been in love with Jesus, in love with what Christianity offers, in love with the community, but not fully and 100% devoted to Christ. It is OK to test yourself. Paul asks us to do it.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! – 2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV

Don’t get crazy and start freaking out just yet. This is not meant to scare you but it is meant to give you a reality check. I recommend checking out some of the series below as well as heading over to the Fruit Audit section on www.HolyJustLove.com. Be blessed and be confidently assured of your salvation. It is an amazing thing!

James 1:14 “Lured into a Trap”

Lured into a Trap

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. – James 1:14 (ESV)

We find in verse 14 that again James uses common language that relates to people’s every day lives with fishing terms and hunting terms. It is sort of like our thousands of baseball analogies. This adds to his personable nature and ability to relate to his reader. The word “lured” was a word at that time meant to describe the idea of an animal being lured into a trap. The word “enticed” was a fishing term which meant to catch with bait. To put this verse in different words, everyone has their own personal struggles and desires. We need to be aware of our triggers and not fall into the ideas and thoughts and things that look too good to be true.

So, that leaves me to answer a very important question. What do I struggle with? What am I easily lured and enticed with? For me it’s the need to be right. The desire to “know better” than everyone else. The desire to be perfect. God has been at work chipping away at these things in my life. What are your struggles? How do your stay true to who you are and more importantly to God in the eyes of the world? How do you keep your credibility with people and also show them God through you? How do we stay salty to those around us. Salt when it looses is saltiness is useless, but also consider that salt when it is too salty is detestable.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14