It would have been enough…but God…

4 04 2010

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:12-13

This past few months have been among the roughest in my walk. I have gone astay so far that I did not know if returning was even an option. It was not for lack of trying; I tried to resist temptation constantly and failed. And, in my weakness, darkness filled my heart. A sense of loss, fear and death filled my soul.

Amidst all this turmoil, Phil. 2:12-13 arose over and over. I knew that I was on to something, but I did not know what. I was greatly trying to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. Yet, the harder I struggled, the more I failed and despaired. My faith wavered and even my desires turned almost fully away. But the ache in my chest grew.

I hated myself and condemned myself and even spoke death over myself. The question of whether or not I have fallen from grace had surfaced over and over. So fear began to become a way of life. I saw the fruit of division, lust, and anger growing in my life.

I got down on my knees and cried out. I told God that I don’t even have the words to express the weight on my chest. I admitted what I have done and told Him honestly that I knew better. I lacked even the will to do good– and that unless He moved in, I would continue on my path.

I confessed that I lacked trust in Christ and I have not been living in or receiving his forgiveness. I asked for that forgiveness and I asked for the grace to receive it. I needed God to put faith in me and the will to even stop habitual sin. I have never been this broken.

I began to see the sin in my life and it’s ramifications. Just how wrong and gross it had become. I hated it. But I still knew that I would not stop unless god delivered me—I tried, I failed, and I lost hope.
Then the scripture Rom. 5:6 came to my mind “6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Then Phil. 2:12-13 came back to mind, and it finally dawned on me. That I have only been living the first part of the verse. I began to grasp that the second part of that verse fulfilled the first—that the verse was more like an if/then verse. Once we try to live righteously with fear and trembling–we will realize that we are powerless. Then we are able to accept that “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

You see, in Rom. 7 Paul had this struggle with sin and cried in despair that he found himself doing what he hated and was trapped. He cries out “24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

And the answer—“ 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” he continues further in Chapter 8 “32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” and he talks about God’s steadfast love.

When it comes to weakness in faith, we realize that it is God who is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). Even our faith (if it can be called ours) to trust in Christ comes from him! He does not want to give us strength. Instead, he himself wants to be our strength. He did not want us to merely find salvation, but he wanted to become our salvation.

It would have been enough for God to send His law. It would have been enough for him to speak to us through His prophets. It would have been enough when he parted the Red Sea. It would have been enough when He sent His Son for our sins. He not only did all these things, but he gives the grace and faith we required for receiving the sacrifice.

But isn’t that just like God! He is the righteous judge, on one hand, that demands the death penalty for sin and the loving father, on the other hand, who pays the penalty himself! He gave his son—how much more will He give you the faith you need?

If you find yourself in despair, and you don’t even think you posses the will to turn from temptation. If you feel you have blown it and you cannot come back from the pit…You are right! You cannot turn on your own. You need the grace (which means the power of God) to move in you. Go before him right now and call to him…I dare you.

Remember that there was a man who came to Jesus and said “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). And that was enough. Jesus was more than willing to make up the difference.
He promises that he will never turn away from a broken person (Ps.51:17 + Is. 57:15+ Matt. 12:20). And God ain’t no liar!

The point is that salvation is from the Lord and it is not by might, nor by strength. It is by his spirit. With man, it is impossible but with God, all things are possible.

Now, “The LORD bless you
and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
Num. 6:22-27

Amen and Amen,
Luke

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Seek the Face of God and Be Made New

6 05 2009

I have recently come to the realization that sometimes, as sheep of God, the most dangerous predator can be one another. We are meant to love and encourage one another, but so often our targets are set firmly on our own brothers and sisters in Christ. What good does it do anyone to pick at faults and always dwell on the negative? There is a time for exhortation, but let us exhort in such a way that we are looking towards a future state of beauty rather than always dwelling on the current state of inaptitude. Let us set the sights of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to a higher goal.

It is often necessary to see our own weaknesses if we are to grow, but when dealing with others’ weaknesses it is necessary to show them how glorious the hope of our calling is! Yes, we may be failing miserably. Yes, we may be falling horribly short of the life we should be living. But if we at once apply ourselves wholly to seeking the face of God we will soon find that the Holy Spirit has transformed us to such a degree that those who knew us before will wonder at the transformation. “Who is this?” they will ask. “They’re not themselves anymore…”
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Old things have passed away, and look, new things have come!”

-Sean





Who are you? The story of Jacob and Esau

27 04 2009

 

etwog23

Jacob and Esau were the sons of Isaac in the Old Testament, and Jacob was the younger of the two. When their father Isaac was dying, he asked Esau to get food for him and then he would bless him. As Esau was out to get the food, Jacob and his mother conspired to steal the firstborn’s blessing from Esau. (Gen. 27)

Isaac was nearly blind, so Jacob came to Isaac pretending that he was Esau and had his father bless him. “I am Esau,” he lied.  When Esau returned, he realized what had happened to him and was out for blood. So, Jacob fled to a distant land.

Years later, Esau was going to confront his brother Jacob. Afriad, Jacob despaired. Before they met. Jacob litterally wrestled with God and said “I wont let go until you bless me” (Gen 32:26).

Then G-d said, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then G-d blessed him and said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Gen 32:26-28).

Do you see what happened. Jacob lied and stole his brother’s blessing, claiming that he was Esau. He was living falsely. When confronted with G-d and contending for G-d’s blessing, G-d asks for the truth. “What is your name?” He admits that he is Jacob.

We are similar. We all fall short, but G-d is faithful. When we come to him and admitt to the darkness in our own hearts, he is faithful to forgive (1John 1:9). This requires us to humble ourselves before him and admit our guilt, and turn away. He is faithful to forgive and give us grace to overcome through Christ.

My prayer for you is that you feel really bad about your sins and the darkness in your heart. And that you bring it before G-d and, through Christ, be cleansed.

Just a thought,

Luke





Tear Your Hearts, Not Just Your Clothes

27 04 2009

Hebrews 3:15 – “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works for 40 years. Therefore I was provoked with this generation and said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My anger, ‘They will not enter My rest.'”

In the words of God to the Israelites we see a stern warning, which the author of Hebrews repeats to members of the Church of Christ.  It is not a warning to more closely observe the Jewish festival days, or to more consistently offer burnt sacrifices, or to more stringently keep the niceties of the law, but rather it is a warning to the Israelites to not let their hearts wander away from God. The festival days, the burnt sacrifices, and the law were all gifts from God to the people of Israel, but they were meant to be outward demonstrations of the attitude and desires of the very heart of Israel.

So what are signs that a person has gone astray in their heart? The answer may be summarized in one word:  rebellion.

Deuteronomy 29:19-21 – “When someone hears the words of this oath (Mosaic covenant), he may bless himself in his mind, thinking, ‘I will have peace even though I follow my own stubborn heart.’  This will lead to the destruction of the well-watered land as well as the dry land.  The LORD will not be willing to forgive him.  Instead, His anger and jealousy will burn against that person, and every curse written in this scroll will descend on him.  The LORD will blot out his name under heaven, and single him out for harm from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this book of the law.”

To rebel against God is to disobey God, but what does that have to do with the heart? Christ said in John 14:21, “The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” If we love and trust God we will keep His commands. If we have truly surrendered our hearts to Christ then His Spirit lives in us and empowers us to live righteous lives.

Romans 8:12-13 – “So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Many people have a desire to know God and many people have a desire to live righteously, but very few people possess in their hearts the all-consuming passion to live righteously for the God who they love that so marks the Spirit filled life. The hard hearts of humanity resist wholly surrendering to God as if it were a plague because humanity has, ever since the fall of man, sought its own good rather than that of God. Is your heart hardened against God? ‘Repent and live!’ says the Lord. 

Joel 2:13 – “Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the LORD your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster.”        

  -Sean 





You’re Everything!

27 04 2009

lifehouse_everything

If you haven’t seen this video, watch it. If you have, watch it again. It’s so powerful. I cry every time that I watch it. The youth at my church reenacted this skit at church this morning

Everything

Now that you have watched it…what do you think? My tears always start when I watch the girl straining to get back to Jesus. I think it shows how we cannot free ourselves from sin and temptation on our own. Our best efforts still leave us being tossed amongst our sin and struggle, regardless of what our sin may be. As Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” It’s very easy for us to get caught up in the ways of the world without even realizing. One moment the girl is dancing with Jesus, the next she is dancing with a guy that is supposed to symbolize sexual impurity. We need to admit that we struggle and that we can easily be pulled away. None of us are above temptation.

     My tears turn into sobbing when I watch Jesus holding back the sins from touching the girl. What a tangible way to see Jesus taking on our sin! Sometimes I think we lose sight of the suffering and sacrifice paid on our behalf. His sacrifice freed us from the prison of sin that we got ourselves into. Jesus was victorious and still will be in the days to come. We should live in freedom knowing that we are on the winning side. The girl’s black shirt is removed and leaves her in a white shirt to represent the cleansing of Christ. Despite her sin, she is restored and dances with the L-rd again. The same thing can happen to us if we will simply surrender. Ready to be new? “17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from G-d, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that G-d was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though G-d were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to G-d. 21G-d made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of G-d.” -2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Not only does Christ save you, He wants you to have an abundant life, becoming more righteous and being a part of His will. Walk in victory knowing that He has won. Live in gratitude because of this sacrifice. 

All I want,

Mere

 





This Week in Brief…

24 04 2009

newsbrief-703120Here are the headlines for the week (April 19th, 2009) We have alot of high priority stories. A mysterious flu, a posible leader who will rebuild the temple, wars and rumors of wars. Not a really bright and sunny week, sorry for the downers in the news…

(Matt. 24:6-8)

 

***OUTBREAK!!!**** Mysterious Pig Flu hits the sene as 1000 people are infected. CDC said its too late to contain. May be the begining of pandmeic… Full Story  2nd Story

This story came out the blue this friday morning and seems the top headline in most media outlets. The Bird Flu scare didn’t seem to come so sudden nor spread so rapidly…  I’ll keep you posted.

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Netanyahu: U.S. Must Stop Iran or We Will Full Story
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is putting President Barack Obama and the world on notice: if nothing is done to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Israel will be forced to launch a unilateral attack to destroy it. “Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The Middle East is incendiary enough, but with a nuclear arms race it will become a tinderbox,” he said. 
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REBUILD THE TEMPLE!?!?! Full Story According to the Jerusalem post, influential leader (and possible future PM of Israel) Moshe Feiglin, said last week that if he was elected prime minister, he would try to rebuild the destroyed temple in Jerusalem. Although he is all but ruled out for PM in this election, he looks like a likely candidate to replace the next one. The rebuilding of the Temple is a HUGE development in prophesy as the end times cannot come about until it is built. This would also cause a huge incident between Israel and its Islamic neighbors… Keep an eye on this, we may be watching something much bigger than it first appears.

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God actually shows up to a church service (much to the surprise of the congregation) Full Story

Unlike most posts in this section, this story is really a spoof. I put it here because it is kind of close to reality. Do we really expect god to show up?

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 World renown pastor and prophet, David Wilkerson, predicts “An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen that is going to be so frightening, we are all going to tremble – even the godliest among us.” Full Story  

Normally, I would pass up such a story as a crazy “end is nigh” prediction, but Wilkerson has been even keeled over the many years of his ministry and many of his prophesies have been dead on. He has always been adamant on not being called a prophet stating that: “I am just a watchman on the wall.” This recent prophesy also seems to correlate to similar prophesies from Mike Bickle and others… As he said, “Do with the message as you choose.”

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President claims that America is “Not a Christian Nation” Full Story Here

Only two responses:

 1)Does he have a right to make this claim?

2) Is it true?

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