Excuses, Excuses

As a teacher, I often am responsible for correcting students during recess time, in order to keep them as safe as possible. While some climbing on the playground equipment is good and healthy and is to be encouraged, climbing on parts of the playground that are not designed for that purpose, and/or participating in certain forms of wrestling horseplay is dangerous and needs correction. 

Several students have apparently decided that they need daily reminders not to engage in unsafe play. Invariably, these same students always immediately interrupt the correction with some sort of excuse as to why they were engaged in this behavior, why they believe the playground rules that are posted on the wall don’t apply to them, or quickly put blame on another student. I grow tired of the daily excuses offered by students who know better.

How often do we who are believers give God excuses for our bad behaviors despite knowing what He commands us to do and not to do, even knowing that His commands are for our own benefit? 

Even the blessings He has prepared for us are pushed aside when we offer excuses for not listening to the Lord. There are consequences – sometimes immediate, sometimes in the future – for our excuses. “But they all alike began to make excuses…For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste My banquet.” (Luke 14:18,24)

Rather than offering excuses for why we would rather live life our own way instead of God’s way, let us realize that the Lord has our best interest at heart, and put His priorities ahead of our own. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Obedience brings true blessing.

Advertisements

“Be.”

I decided to make my own summarized list of wonderful things we should be according to the Sunday sermon text for this week. The passage is Phillipiane 2:1-11

  • Be like-minded
  • Be loving
  • Be humble
  • Be others-focused
  • Be self-less
  • Be interested in others’ interests
  • Be content with your current station in life
  • Be a servant of others
  • Be obedient to God’s will for your life
  • Be glorifying to God

While all of these should be present, I suggest we begin going down the list this week, focusing on doing our best at one thing at a time.

In The Light

IMG_5456

My husband and I were talking about this concept before heading to church, then this passage was a part of the main sermon text today.

 
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” – 1 John 1:5-6

 
Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Demons recognize Who Jesus is; the Devil himself quoted Scripture to Jesus. Quoting Scripture, whether in or out of context, doesn’t make you a Christian.

 
Being saved by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and following Him with a sincere, albeit imperfect, heart makes you a Christian.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:7-9

What Do You Do When Killers Are On The Loose?

If we didn’t realize this already, recent news events should show us that there are people out there who have evil intent and carefully plant to hurt and/or kill other human beings. Unfortunately, this world does harbor some psychopathic killers, some of whose actions are not discovered for years, even decades or longer. It’s good to have discernment and common sense so that we are more likely to make it through this life healthy and whole. However, we cannot live in fear. God is so much more powerful than any crazed, adrenaline-filled human. In fact, if you’re not in a right standing with God, the Bible warns that you should be very afraid:

“‘ I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him Who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!'” – Luke 12:4-5

Human violence to the body has nothing on the power of God against the soul! If, however, you are truly in a relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you can rest assured that this powerful God will protect you and not allow any evil to happen to you outside of His will.

“‘ Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.'”

He sets limits on what any evil force can do to a person who follows Him. Job’s story confirms this:

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘ Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.'” – Job 2:6

Any evil/hardship brought our way is under the sovereign control of our mighty God. If God is for you, who can be against you? Trust that He can and will protect you from harm.

“And he said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?'” – Luke 12:22-26

We must rest in that and be alert to our surroundings while maintaining trust in God day-to-day. Let us not waste time worrying over what could happen, but rather focus on the mercy and grace and protection offered to us by God.

IMG_6776

Genuine Love

In a world of “fake nice” people, show genuine love and concern for others.
In Romans 12, we see that in order to be genuine in our love of others, we must:

  • Abhor/shun what is evil
  • Hold fast/tight to what is good
  • Show brotherly affection
  • Outdo others in honoring them
  • Be diligent in your zeal/passion
  • Be fervent/steadfast in spirit/soul
  • Serve the Lord
  • Rejoice in hope
  • Be patient in trials/hardship
  • Pray continually
  • Help others who have needs
  • Show hospitality

Romans 12:9-13

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

Personal Liberty

Luke 11:39-41

“‘Now then,’ said the Lord, ‘you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the One who made the outside make the inside as well? But give as alms the things that are within you, and you will see that everything is clean for you.'”

  • True allegiance to Christ brings freedom, not bondage.
  • Sacrificing yourself (the attitudes of the heart and more!) brings liberty.
  • The Lord created both the mind and heart in addition to the body, so He desires His followers’ true commitment to serving Him, not just the physical actions of worship and service.
  • When the mind and heart are given over to Christ as Lord, the body’s actions will naturally follow.

Arm Yourself!

Luke 11:21-22

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must take care to guard our heart with the full armor of God, that we may be prepared to fight against heresy and even the subtle ideologies that go against what Jesus had said in His Word. We must be well-acquainted with what the Bible actually says in order to take a stand against the lies that Satan throws our way.

Ephesians 6:10-17

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth fastened around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed, and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Even Jesus had to use correct Scriptural context in order to shut down Satan’s misquotes of Scripture.

Matthew 4:1-11

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. “If You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “All this I will give You,” he said, “if You will fall down and worship me.” “Away from me, Satan!” Jesus declared. “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered to Him.”

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – Proverbs 4:23