Category: Bible Reflection & Challenge

Real Joy of the Heart

Real Joy of the Heart

The issue I have seen in the lives of many believers is that they don’t live like they have real joy in their hearts. They have Christ in their lives but they do not seem to be experiencing real joy that is found in Christ alone.

Bible Verse: John 16:22 (NKJV)

“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”

Reflection and Challenge

In context, this verse is a part of a conversation between Jesus and His twelve disciples. Jesus was trying to prepare them for His crucifixion, but they were not getting it. They wanted more clarity and Jesus understood this very well.

But Jesus also knew that they needed more than just information; they needed their hearts and mind to be prepared to endure the crisis that was coming. They would be very sorrowful but only to have a sudden change of heart. Because God, by His grace and power, will turn their sorrow into joy.

While the crucifixion and all that went with it seemed like a bump in the road or some kind of obstacle to overcome on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, it was exactly how the plan would be fulfilled.

God Transforms our Sorrows into Joy

There’s a principle laid out in John 16:16-22 and that is this: God brings joy to our lives, not by substitution, but by transformation. Jesus’ illustration of the woman giving birth makes this pretty clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy.

In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain. Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it. And so it is in the Christian life: God takes seemingly impossible situations, adds the miracle of His grace, and transforms trials into triumphs and sorrows into joy.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning

As Spurgeon put it, “It is most remarkable and instructive that in their sermons or epistles the apostles do not appear to have spoken of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ with any kind of regret. Although the Gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, we hear of no such grief after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost.”

Their extreme sorrow of heart was changed to joy of heart after they realized Jesus rose from the grave. When a person gets saved, he receives a completely changed heart and he can actually experience real joy.

Unlike just happiness, joy is a heart attitude. It cannot be artificially manufactured by great circumstances. Read the middle phrase again. “Your heart will rejoice.” Do you see the root word joy in rejoice?

When Christians Lose Their Joy

The last phrase of John 16:22 says, “True born again Christians cannot lose their joy” (paraphrase). But why are there so many Christians who are like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh? No enthusiasm, gloomy, depressed, or just going through the motions.

I realized that I am talking about people’s heart since I can’t see their hearts. Actually, it’s possible. We can tell what’s in peoples’ hearts by the way they live their lives. Because what’s in their hearts is how they live.

Throughout the Bible, it says that what you actually believe in your heart will show. So if we don’t act like we have found real joy in Christ, perhaps God hasn’t changed our hearts in salvation yet.

Going Through the Motions

Don’t just go through the motions because your denomination says to do so. I have been called “happy go lucky” and “carefree,” because I have a joyous song in my heart.

Unbelievers can’t understand because they don’t have that joy. If you have joy in your heart, it will show in worship, praise, lifestyle, attitudes … EVERYTHING.

Please inspect yourself and find out if real joy is in your heart. If it is, praise God. If not, find out why. You won’t regret it.

Waiting for the Coming of Our Lord

The world today does not want Jesus Christ or His church. The world is rejoicing while we are suffering, longing for our Lord to return. In fact, all of creation is suffering “the pains of childbirth” because of sin, awaiting His return (Romans 8:22)

While the immediate application may have been to the sorrowing hearts of the disciples, the ultimate application is to all of God’s people as they await the second coming of Jesus Christ.

To us, it seems like a long wait, but God does not measure time as we do (2 Peter 3:8). And while we are waiting, we must deal with our trials and hurts on the basis of transformation and not substitution, if we expect to mature as Christians.

How to let Your Light so Shine

How to let Your Light so Shine

Being a dedicated Christian is not easy. Even more so because our society is not a friend to God nor to God’s people. But as a Christian and believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are exhorted by the Word of God to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

In Conflict with the World

Whether we like it or not, conflict exists between us and the world. Why? Because we are different and have different attitudes from the world. As we read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we find that they represent an outlook that’s radically different from that of the world.

And here are just some of those differences:

  • The world praises pride, not humility.
  • The world endorses sin, especially if a person gets away with it.
  • The world is at war with God, while God is seeking to reconcile with his enemies and make them his children.

Letting Your Light Shine

The Bible tells us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), which gives us not only a great compliment because Jesus claimed that title to Himself when He walked this earth (John 8:12; John 9:5) but also a great responsibility to be light-givers.

Our concern should no longer be ourselves and we should stop living only to ourselves. Rather, we must focus on having someone to shine to and do it sincerely and lovingly. It’s high time we live up to what God has called us to do when we received His light.

The purpose of light is to illuminate and expose what is there. To properly put it to use, light must be exposed and allowed to reveal everything that’s hidden in the dark. Therefore, a light hidden under a basket is no longer useful.

Sure, there will always be the strong temptation for Christians to hide their light in order to avoid drawing the world’s attention to them which in effect would “expose them to the ill will of such as hate the light” (Bruce).

Be a Light to Everyone

The idea of a lampstand in Matthew 5:15 gives the sense that Christians are to be intentional about letting their light shine and let them so shine among all men. Jesus was inferring that the light that will shine from us is “good works.”

During Jesus’ ministry, He went about “doing good and healing everyone who was oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). Jesus simply did good everywhere He went, no questions about that.

What about us? What kind of good works are expected from us? The fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Having these character traits manifested in our life is a great indicator of the intensity of the light that we received from Christ.

How to let Your Light so ShineHave you heard the story of a young boy who refused to go home even after the Sunday church service has long been over? His mother took him with her one Sunday to church because no one was at home to be with him. After the service is over, he didn’t want to go home.

The mother spent hours convincing him but he refused and held on tightly to his chair. This caught the attention of the minister who approached them and asked what was going on. The mother was quick to reply that her son is having his usual tantrums and does not want to go home.

The minister smiled and asked the boy why. The boy replied, “I do not want to go home because at home my mother is treating me badly. Since she is much nicer to me here, I’d rather stay here for good.”

A sad story indeed! Christians are supposed to be light-givers first and foremost to their immediate family. A lamp is put on a lampstand in order to give light to all who are in the house (Matthew 5:15b). Here’s a quote from Spurgeon:

Bible Verse: Let your light shine

We are to be looking for ways to let our light shine in greater and broader ways which should start in our homes. Jesus wants us to live visible lives not for men to see how good we are, nor even see us at all, but in order to draw attention to the beauty of God’s work in us.

The object of our shining before all men is for them to see God and His grace in us and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16b).

Our Story, Our Purpose

Every born again Christian has a story. Every born again Christian has a purpose. Both your story and your purpose are given to you by God. And let me tell you, “No two Christians are the same.”

Many times I have been impressed by how God uses others. In turn becoming jealous and envious of them, rather than praising God. Many times I got critical of other Christians not doing enough for God. I realized, however, that both of these responses are wrong, so wrong.

How to let Your Light so Shine

We have to understand that God has blessed all of us, His children, with a specific story and purpose. That is the light or message God has given to each one of us and we must USE IT.

The demoniac had the opportunity to learn directly from Jesus but Jesus told him to go back to the Gadarene people and tell them what God had done in his life.

The Bottom Line

We can praise God for whatever story and purpose God has given to us individually. There is no purpose to be envious, jealous or critical of other Christians because we are not them. God has a purpose for you to do.

Don’t concern yourself with the purpose of others because that is not your business. Go live your life as a testimony to what God has done in your life. At the same time, expect some oppositions and persecutions as a result of living as God wants you to live – to let your light so shine before all men.


*Acknowledgment:

My sincerest thanks to Michael Heilman, one of the authors/contributors of this website, for helping me come up with this article topic and also with the last 2 parts of the article.

Life is War

Life is War

Watching the movie “Indivisible” made me realize even more how life is like war. The harsh realities of war can really take a toll on the mind, on family and friends. War is difficult and there is nothing easy about it.

Bible Verse: 1 Timothy 1:18-19a (NKJV)

“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience.”

Reflection and Challenge

Timothy was a young man who responded to Christ’s call to help build His church. Along with Titus, he was one of the apostle Paul’s special assistants in the churches that Paul had founded.

Timothy was brought up in a religious home (2 Timothy 1:5) and had been led to faith in Christ by Paul himself. This explains why Paul called Timothy “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2).

But in spite of his close association with Paul, Timothy was easily discouraged. So Paul wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy to encourage Timothy to stay on at Ephesus, to explain how a local church should be managed and to enforce his own authority as a servant of God.

The Soldier’s Task

It was not easy to serve God in pagan Ephesus. The city was devoted to the worship of Artemis, the patroness of the sexual instinct. Her lascivious images helped promote sexual immorality of all kinds.

Paul had done a great work in Ephesus during his three-year ministry, and so the “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). It was not easy for Timothy to follow a man like Paul! Not to forget, Satan has his workers in the city, for wherever there are spiritual opportunities there are also satanic obstacles (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

Life is War

But Timothy was a man under orders, and he had to obey. The soldier’s task is to “please the officer who enlisted him as soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4), and not to please himself. Furthermore, Timothy was there by divine appointment: God had chosen him and sent him. It was this fact that could give him assurance in difficult days.

Engaging in Spiritual Warfare

As children of God, we are currently in a spiritual warfare. We all live in a war. We all have our own trials and struggles. I remember saying just a few days ago that life is difficult. Between money and bills, relationships and breakups, addiction and peer pressures; they are all difficult. Some might have a depressed attitude or “Woe is me” kind of attitude because they feel alone in their war.

That is the wrong way to look at it. Everyone has problems. Each individual might have a different set of problems but we all have them. Even Jesus had trials. Jesus suffered and died. You cannot be more human than that.

Hebrews 4:15

But Jesus has always responded to those trials with the right attitude and did not sin. Jesus loves you and can relate very well with what you’re going through more than you can imagine. Have you accepted His free gift of forgiveness?

Interestingly, I just finished the series on the Christian Armor (which will be published here very soon), but I missed including “why” we need the armor. Let me just say that this armor is not just for spiritual battles but it also affects how we respond to everyday life.

In the Face of Trials and Struggles

Knowing that everyone has their trials and struggles should affect how we respond to others. At the beginning of the movie “Indivisible,” the spiritual leader came alongside those individuals that were hurting and encouraged them because he loved them and cared for them as God loves us.

Jesus is the perfect example of love and encouragement. It does not matter what you have done; Jesus will take you back. After becoming a Christian, we are supposed to be like Christ. Are you that encouraging?

As the movie continued, God used that spiritual leader to see spiritual fruit in others. You never know how you could affect the spiritual life of another individual. Don’t waste the opportunity to bring someone closer to God.

Everybody Needs Encouragement

As the movie was ending, I was also reminded that spiritual leaders are not immune either. The spiritual leader in the movie had to be encouraged by those he had encouraged. We are all responsible for those around us. Nobody is too high up that we can’t encourage them.

Like Timothy, nobody is immune and so we all need encouragement. Timothy was so devoted to Christ that his local church leaders recommended him to Paul, and Paul added him to his “missionary staff” (Acts 16:1-5).

Yet Timothy was easily discouraged and needed encouragement which Paul gave him in this letters.

One way to think about the sequence of development that we experience in the Christian life is that we begin as “Timothys,” with the goal of growing toward “Paul-like” maturity. Even Paul started out as a “Timothy,” stunned by God’s interruption of his life on the road to Damascus. He suddenly needed an older, wiser believer to walk him through the first steps in his new life, and God assigned that task to Ananias.

Concluding Words

Just for the fact that Jesus is also human, you cannot tell me He does not appreciate hearing us say, “Thank you” or praising God for all He has done and is doing.

If you are God’s servant, called by the Spirit, obeying His will, then you can “stay with it” and finish the work. Having the assurance like Timothy had that you are here by divine appointment, chosen and sent by God, will enable you to “fight well in the Lord’s battles” and finish the work.

How well are you encouraging your team members in this war of life?


*Recommended Resource: 

Indivisible: One Marriage Under God, 50 Devotions
By Robert Noland

Indivisible: One Marriage Under God is a devotional that offers hope and encouragement to anyone in a challenging season of marriage. Based on the movie Indivisible – the true story of an Army chaplain and his wife who rebuild their marriage – this devotional offers 50 entries that include an inspirational message, a Scripture passage, a prayer, guided journaling, and a “Take Action” challenge.

An ideal gift for military couples, newlyweds, and those who want to strengthen their commitment.

Jesus, the Rock of My Salvation

Jesus, the Rock of My Salvation

The Bible tells us that God is the Rock and He is the only rock on which we must build our lives (1 Samuel 2:2). Did you know that the title “Rock” is a Messianic and a divine title?

In Psalm 18:2, David called God “my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my strength in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Jesus claimed to be the Rock, and thereby claimed to be both Messiah and God.

This is also clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” When we recognize Jesus as Messiah and Savior we place our lives on Jesus, the Rock of our salvation.

Building on a Solid Foundation

All buildings must be placed upon a strong, solid foundation if they are to endure. The same is true with our lives; if we are to build an enduring life, we must place it on a sure foundation.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus gives an illustration of the two builders, the wise and the foolish, who both undertook to build houses. Both of them persevered in building, both finished their houses, and to a considerable extent achieved the same design. (See also Luke 6:46-49.)

Indeed, each house looked the same from the outside. But the real foundation was hidden and was only proven when the storm came and the floods arose. The house that was built on the rock stood firm while that which was built on the sand fell with a great crash.

Jesus, the Rock of my Salvation

A man’s character can be likened to a house. Every thought is like a piece of timber in that house, every imagination a window that could be well or badly placed and every habit a beam. All these are gathered together and decide how that house is constructed.

Unless one builds his character on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word, he will surely be swept away by any storm or flood that will come.

How Strong is Your Foundation?

The storm and the flood represent the trials of life. Often times, the trials of life descend upon us either through our own lack of character or because of events in the world. Is the foundation of your house strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the horrendous events of the end times or even your own weaknesses?

Time and the storms of life will prove how strong one’s foundation is, even when it is hidden. It’s pretty easy to assume that this or that person’s foundation is strong based only on what we see on the outside. But we may be surprised when we see who has truly built upon the good foundation.

We are warned that the foundations of our lives will be shaken at some time or another, both now during difficult times and in the ultimate judgment before God. That is why we must test the foundation of our life now rather than later when it is too late to change our destiny.

Where did the foolish builder fail? Definitely not in deliberately seeking a bad foundation, but in taking no time to consider what kind of foundation he was to build upon. He wanted to avoid the hard work of digging deep to ensure a strong foundation and also took a short-range view.

In the end, his fault was not an error of judgment, but thoughtlessness and inconsiderateness.

Staying on Jesus the Rock

For years my grandfather used to say, “Stay on the Rock.” That saying had a literal meaning but I believe he meant it to have a spiritual meaning as well.

Jesus is the Rock; the only true Rock. He is our firm foundation. A rock does not move or change and the truth is that Rock. Jesus is the Truth as John 14:6 says, but are we staying on the Truth?

There are two conditions to stay on the Truth. One, listen to God and His word. Many unbelievers and Christians refuse to listen to wise counsel. They could not care less about what others say, because they are good enough. Their hearts are full of pride.

Jesus is the Rock of my Salvation

Jesus uses the adjectives wise and foolish. A wise man is a listening man. Not filled with pride. The Jews had disdain for the Samaritans but in spite of that the good Samaritan in Luke 10: 30-37 had compassion on a Jew that was robbed and beaten.

Everyone is our neighbor. How much love do we have for people? Everyone has been robbed and beaten by sin. Everyone needs a friend. Why can’t we be friendly?

The second condition to stand on the Truth is to live your life according to the Truth. Doesn’t that imply applying Scripture to our lives? Doesn’t that imply reaching out to those steeped in sin? Or praying for those that are hurting?

It does not matter where people have been, they are still people that need God’s love. Are you a wise or foolish person as Jesus described in Matthew 7?

Obedience to the Word

Our Lord’s emphasis in His illustration of the wise and the foolish builders is on obedience. It is not enough to simply hear God’s Word and call Him “Lord.” It is necessary that we also obey what He commands us to do.

Our profession of faith in Christ will ultimately be tested, and obedience to the Father’s will is the test of true faith in Christ. True faith does not say, “Lord! Lord!” as if believing but then disobey the Lord’s commands (Matthew 7:21).

*Related Article: Blessing Through Obedience

It’s easy to learn a religious vocabulary and even memorize Bible verses and religious songs and yet not obey God’s will. Those who are truly born again have God’s Spirit living within them and will enable them to know and do the Father’s will.

Those who have trusted Christ and have proven their faith by their obedience will have nothing to fear. Founded on the Rock, their house will stand. But those who have professed to trust Christ but have not obeyed God will be condemned.

Closing Thoughts

Many times, seemingly good people seem to build their lives well and wisely in terms of money, friends, material possessions, etc. And while all these things seem good to the human mind, their end can be disastrous without a Rock foundation.

Some people build on their religion or on their church; others build on an organization, on themselves or on another person. But if we are to build a lasting life we will have to build on something more solid than mere humans or ourselves.

We are to build on a firm foundation, Jesus Christ, the solid rock of our salvation!

Like Faith and Practice

Like Faith and Practice

Recently I heard the phrase, “Like faith and practice.” The context was one church would not associate with another church because they did not practice their faith in the same way. I can guarantee you that is the complete opposite of brotherly love. That borders on hate for your fellow brothers and sisters. Not to mention it is anything but humility.

Bible Verse: Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

Reflection & Challenge

I believe that loyalty is a key ingredient in any friendship. We all want and need someone to count on, especially in difficult times. But we should also beware of acquaintances that always often praise us and tell us what a good friend we are.

True friendships do not depend on such antics – especially if this person wakes us up to do it! Yes, love is always sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs but at the same time, true friends will always say the right thing at the right time in the right way.

Sharpening iron with another iron involves striking, friction and sparks. In the same way, a man can be used to improve and develop his friend, but it may happen through a bit of friction and sparks. And when this happens to us, we must not shy away from critical and constructive criticism.

*Related Article: Why Not Just Friends

We need Christian friends to not only pray for and with us but also to listen, counsel or rebuke us when needed. But sometimes a friend’s counsel may not be perfume but acid. Sparks may fly, but God will give us the light that we need.

Let us not forget that wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:6). We usually learn more by disagreeing than by giving in and refusing to say what we really think.  Ephesians 4:15 says that we must always “speak the truth in love.”


Taking Independence Way Too Far

The problem with “disagreeing” is that some people tend to go too far. Do you know that independent Baptists pride themselves for being independent of any church hierarchy? Each individual church makes their own decisions without influence from other congregations. I believe that is biblical but can this independence be taken too far?

At what point do we sacrifice our pride so that we are able to rub shoulders with Christians that have different views? Or does our independence help us build echo chambers because we don’t allow differences of opinion or practices to challenge our beliefs?

Then I thought about it. Jesus told us to love even our enemies in Luke 10:25-37. But many Christians today tend to look down with their pointed noses on other believers because they live differently. The same is true of churches. They have their own list of church rules or standards and try to force them on other people or churches.

Like Faith and Practice

Why do some Christians and churches feel superior over others who do not hold to the same standards as theirs? Should we only consider brethren those who live their lives exactly the way we do? Someone once asked Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias why there are so many sects or denominations of Christianity.

And this is what he said, “Unity of belief does not always mean uniformity of expression. What ultimately determines whether one is a Christian is if they know Jesus in their heart.”

In this video, Dr. Ravi Zacharias explains how unity in beliefs does not always mean uniformity of expression using Roman Catholicism as an example.

Closing Thoughts

Romans 14:12 says we are accountable to God. This we are only responsible to Him as well. We have no right to tell others how to live their lives or to think we are better than a different body of believers. Personal standards of individual believers are just that personal. They are only between the individual and God. Isn’t it time we stop hating our brethren and living out the love of Jesus?

As the Jews hated the Samaritans, we are doing the same thing over petty practice differences. Are we not playing for the same team? This individual I know even admitted “like faith” between the two churches.

At what point are we going to love our brethren and local bodies to the point of trying to encourage and sharpen believers that are different from us? Isn’t it time to lay down our differences and actually work together? What a novel idea?

Man’s Opinions vs. God’s

Man’s Opinions vs. God’s

It is human nature to seek approval from those people around us; especially those people we value the most. Why? Why do you care about what other people think? Why do we base our value on what others’ opinions are?

Bible Verse: John 1:11-12 (NKJV)

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Reflection and Challenge

When Jesus came into the world, why did the world reject Him? Because they didn’t recognize Him. It sounds strange that when God came to the world He created and to the creatures made in His image, the world did not know Him.

That is because they were spiritually ignorant. Jesus is the “true light” (John 1:9) – the original of which every other light is a copy – but the Jews were content with the copies. They were taught that because they had Moses and the Law, the Temple, and the sacrifices, they had all they need.

They did not comprehend that all these were just shadows of the coming fulfillment and completion of the Old Testament religion. Sadly, their ignorance arose from their refusal to value and listen to God’s revelation of Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

Man’s Opinion vs. God’s

Some might say, “I don’t need to prove anything to you.” But the fact remains that people generally value man’s opinions over God’s. We care more about what other people think and say.

There are different terms for this definition, but what does God call it? God calls it the “fear of man.” It is human nature that we are far more interested in what other people think that what God thinks about a matter.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Trusting Jesus is also the same as fearing God. When you seek God by trusting Him and valuing what He has to say through His revealed word, that is Godly fear.

Man's opinions vs. God's

Ecclesiastes 12:13 implies that it does not matter what anyone says about you if you are doing God’s will. If those people around you cannot value you based on God’s criteria, you don’t need them.

Some “spiritual-sounding” Christians might say that we have no value because we are dirty, rotten sinners that don’t deserve anything good. Well, that’s true. But that is not the whole picture. It does not take into account that every person was created by God and Jesus came to earth to save them.

If God did not value you, He would not have done that.

Always base your Value on the Truth    

After watching the new movie, “Captain Marvel,” I was reminded that every person bases their life on lies. But if we ever base our value on the truth, we will be set free and nobody can take that away from us.

This is what John 1:11-12 is all about. Since the Jews wanted to believe the lies rather than Jesus, those that believe and live according to the truth found in Jesus, God gave the Holy Spirit and they become heirs of God.

It does not matter what anyone says about you if you are right with God. If you are born again, your Dad owns it all. You are an heir to all the wealth, power, health, a perfect body, etc. Maybe we don’t have those things now, but the Holy Spirit is the down payment of all the blessings to come in the future.

Man's opinions vs. God's

I must admit that life is not at all easy. We all face trials and when that happens, it gets easy for us to get distended off of Jesus and our eternal home with God. When we get distracted by the shallow opinions of others, we are selling ourselves short for a temporary friend.

Jesus should be our best friend. He will always be there for us, to encourage or challenge us depending on the circumstances.

Closing Words

Let me just say that you and you alone are responsible to Jesus for your actions. So live up to your full potential by living according to His words.

Instead of caring more about what other people think, tell them about God’s wonderful gift of salvation. Are you loving people in general? Are you being patient with others? Are you encouraging other believers to use their spiritual gifts? Are you learning more from God’s word?

If we are living according to God’s word, we won’t have time to concern ourselves with the opinion of others.

God bless!

When Christians Play With Fire

When Christians Play With Fire

We all know that when we play with fire we can get burned; we might even die as a result. But why is it that there are Christians who play with fire?

Bible Verse: James 1:15 (NKJV)

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

Reflection and Challenge

Disobedience gives birth to death, not life. For a sin to mature may take years; however, when it does, the result will be death. This progression to death is an inevitable result that the enemy (Satan) always tries to hide from us, but we should never be deceived about.

If we would only believe in God’s Word and envision this final tragedy, we would not yield to temptation.

The world is burning. Anyone with half a brain can see that evil is rampant throughout the world and it is totally consuming the world. That is to be expected since the world enjoys their sin. They don’t realize they are hurting themselves and will end up in hell if they don’t repent.

When Christians Play with Fire

But that is not the real problem. The real problem is lightless and saltless Christians. You’re probably thinking those are not even words. You would be right.

Well, Paul made up words in the New Testament too. So I am in good company. That is why I use them; use them for emphasis. Lightless, saltless Christians are oxymorons. They should not exist. There are too many so-called Christians that live oxymoronic lives.

*Related Article: Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life in Christ

Nominal and Carnal Christians

Are there such nominal and carnal Christians? It is true that all Christians are still sinners and they will struggle with sin, but I am referring to the completely ineffective “so-called’ Christians that claim God but don’t live the way they should.

People call me judgmental for questioning whether these type of individuals are even born again because the Bible says there will be evidence of salvation (Matthew 7:15-20). As a born again Christian, we are going to live like it. We don’t get to claim to be a follower of God while enjoying our sin.

When Christians Play with Fire

God saved us to change us into His image. Holier, sinless, righteous and exhibiting a changed life. As much as sin is consuming this world, it will also burn weak Christians. Sin is a choice. We choose to play with fire.

This is a personal matter between you and God though. God does not teach a church or pastor to give us a laundry list of standards. Your personal standard of holiness, that is going to change over time is just that PERSONAL.

Pastors have no business telling you how to live. The Holy Spirit is our only perfect, unbiased guide. All people are biased toward their personal standards. That means we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit when most aren’t.

Final Thoughts

Satan’s strategy in temptation is to convince believers that the pursuit of their corrupt desires will somehow produce life and goodness for them. So in order to effectively resist the deceptions of temptation, we must always remember that Satan only comes to kill, steal and to destroy (John 10:10).

We all struggle with sin. We all need this reminder occasionally. We all need to talk to God about it. Why not talk to Him now?


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Why Not Just Friends?

Why Not Just Friends?

Over the last few years, I have come to realize the phrase “just friends” is a lie. In the modern vernacular it actually means “just acquaintances.” Most of the time for me, after getting put in the “friend” zone, I never hear from or talk to them again. That is not a friend. That borders on an enemy.

Bible Verse: Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV)

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Reflection and Challenge

While it’s usually true that “a multitude of counselors” assures a wise decision, at the same time, we must avoid running from friend to friend asking for advice. This may indicate that we’re trying to find somebody who will tell us what we want to hear!

We need more than friends; we must have a friend who will stand by us and “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We can tell a “real friend” by how close he or she is in adversity.

My Story

I am a Christian millennial, but I do not understand why we are putting off marriage or even just friendship. If my assessment is accurate, Christian singles classes always have two cliques: the boy clique and the girl clique. If I didn’t know any better, the Red Sea has been parted.

In my previous post, I shared about my failed relationship with Jo Ann and how I ended up brokenhearted. So now that I have reentered the single category again, my dad gave me some wisdom. “Start as friends.” He heard that from Christian counselors.

They are not talking about the “just friend” category though. You wonder why the homosexual and lesbian population is exploding, all of our friends are of the same sex and we have forgotten how to have relationships with the opposite sex.

One aspect of this problem is we have forgotten how to be friendly towards the opposite sex. Isn’t it interesting how friendly and friends have the same root word?

That is where Proverbs 18:24 comes in. Jesus is the perfect example. If you are a born again Christian, Jesus is supposed to be your best, best friend even if you are a woman. Jesus knows everything about you. Do you have any opposite-sex friends that know everything about you? Doubt it.

Why Not Just Friends

This is why I try to be an open book to everyone. The problem I come across is so few people want to read me. That would mean they would have to be friendly to get to know me. I am not talking about chit chat or small talk either. Nobody gets to know anyone with those.

Another example would be the numerous times that my sister and I have been mistaken for being husband and wife because we spend a lot of time together. Whatever happened to a male and female spending quality time together without assuming a serious relationship?

Honestly, I believe women are way better at conversations than men. That is why I have way more female friends than male friends. You cannot have a good friendship without in-depth conversations.

As I said before without in-depth conversations, we end up judging a book by its cover, because we have no idea what their pages say.

We all have a story to tell. If you listen to theirs, they might listen to yours.


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Lessons from the Broken Hearted

Lessons from the Broken Hearted

All relationships take work. The only way relationships can work is if two people have unconditional love for each other. I have learned several lessons from the life of a brokenhearted man like Samson, the last several weeks during and after my broken relationship.

Bible Verse: 1 John 4:18-19 (NKJV)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”

Reflection and Challenge

If you want to get to know someone, get to know their heart as Matthew 7:16-20 says. Not only can you see whether they are saved or lost, but also how carnal or godly a Christian they truly are.

That does not tell us how we should respond to those that don’t love us back though. I truly believe Samson loved and trusted Delilah and was not afraid of the consequences of that trust.

The Transforming Power of Love

As did Samson believe the love of God would transform Delilah, I believed God’s love would transform Jo Ann, the woman I loved. Between the entire book of 1 John, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 you cannot get a clearer picture of what unconditional love looks like in real life. These verses imply all brethren, not just Baptists. Jo Ann is a Mennonite.

God is pleased that Emily Myer’s testimony is being broadcast across the world on the 700 Club platforms. The 700 Club is a Charismatic organization. Some Baptists have absolute disdain for them for the doctrinal differences.

As Proverbs 10:12 says “Love covers all sin.” Can love cover everything else like differences, quirks, doctrinal differences, and practical differences???? God did not have any expectations when we got saved. Why do we have compatibility lists, which are just expectations for our significant other, friends, and family?

Romans 5:8

I will tell you why. It’s pride! When we say we can’t love someone too different or too opposite, we are actually saying we won’t, because can’t means won’t. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says that is comparing them to you, which is not wise. By the way, I have compared myself to others for years.

We lose the blessing of showing unconditional love and being blessed in the process. I know I have been blessed these last several months. I’ve told a few people that I knew Jo Ann did not love me, but I did not care. I love her anyway because in my heart God would change her heart eventually.

Isn’t that what Jesus did for us according to Romans 5:8? He was willing to wait till we got saved. That takes a lot of humility.

Loving Others Unconditionally

Love is never about us. I think it is interesting that God wants us to love all the brethren like this as well. Marital love is about selfless, sacrificial love given to somebody of the opposite sex that you will never fully understand for the rest of your life.

In our own strength, that should not scare us, it just humbles us. As 1 John 4:19 says, only God can enable us to love. We as people can’t love unconditionally.

As in the case of Samson, I handed my heart to Jo Ann, then she stabbed it with a knife. God handed His heart to us, in His Son, but we stab it every time we sin. We need to consider that.

I have no doubt Samson believed his love and trust for Delilah would lead to her conversion. Most would say that was foolish. (I know I have been called a fool too.) Then why is he in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. God used him in a mighty way in spite of his “lack of wisdom” as some might say.

Ultimately God used Samson to destroy the Philistine nation. He would not have had the opportunity to kill so many if He attacked the city because everyone would have fled. God used him to push down the house. Why did the Philistines keep him alive? Because God was not done with him yet.

In Closing

Let me just sat that this breakup has been one of the most painful things I have experienced but it has taught me a lot. We tend to focus on others’ weaknesses and faults. But that does not mean God can’t use their faults. We all have our faults. Why not use them to make you humble.

I have learned all of these lessons in the last few months during and after my relationship. I hope you can learn something from the broken hearted like Samson and I.

God bless you!

 

What About The Unbelieving?

What About The Unbelieving?

God has promised His people a new heaven and a new earth. The old creation must make way for the new creation, if God is to be glorified. Jesus said this event will occur when “the world is made new” (Isaiah 65:17). By then, God’s eternal purpose in Jesus would have been accomplished and so as Ephesians 1:10.

The overcomers shall inherit the Kingdom of God: the new heaven and the new earth and will enjoy a special relationship with God. What about the rest of the unbelieving world? What will happen to them? They shall not inherit God’s Kingdom!

Bible Verse: Revelation 21:8 (NKJV)

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Reflection and Challenge

Is cowardice enough to send a person to hell? L. Morris says John here isn’t speaking of natural timidity, but of that cowardice which makes a person to ultimately choose himself and his safety over Christ.

Many Christians today say that they believe the Bible, but don’t live the way they should. If we truly understand the seriousness of our sin and the cost for Jesus to pay for our salvation, you would understand the consequence of being an unrepentant sinner. That is true for yourself and everyone else. Do you truly believe it?

Ephesians 1:10

The book of Revelation tells us what will happen in the end: God wins! And those who thirst for Him will be given freely from the fountain of life. This will all happen when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven (Revelation 21:2). That should be very encouraging for all Christians, but also very humbling. The most important fact about the city is that God lives there with His people.

On the other hand, those who reject Jesus and become apostates are specifically prohibited from entering the New Jerusalem. All of those unrepentant family members, friends, coworkers, and everyone else that did not accept Jesus as their Savior will have to face God and pay for their sin in the Lake of Fire for eternity. Once in, you can’t get out.

The Lake of Fire

Hell or “the Lake of Fire” (Revelation 20:15) is a witness to the righteous character of God. He must judge sin. Hell is also a witness to human responsibility, the fact that people are not robots or helpless victims but creatures able to make choices.

God does not send people to hell; they send themselves by rejecting the Savior (Matthew 25:41; John 3:16-21). Hell is also witness to the awfulness of sin. If we once saw sin as God sees it, we would understand why a place such as hell exists. So to think that people I know could spend eternity there is heart-breaking.

Just seeing how the entire world is falling apart makes me wonder if the end of the world is drawing near. Nobody knows when they will die. Are you prepared to meet God?

If we truly believe that people you know could spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, won’t it affect how you relate to all the people around you?

Have you given them the Gospel? Do you pray for them? It is worth thinking about since every person will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. How does that affect how you live?