Fact – Christians Mess Up!

How many times do you hear people judging the Christian faith based on the way Christians act? I admit, I get really discouraged sometimes when I see Christians act in an un-Chrsit-like way and it is very easy to fall into the trap of judging the whole of Christianity based on Christians and then I am reminded that I am also at fault for not meeting that standard. Have I not messed up too? None of us can meet that standard and this is what makes Christianity different than other religions. Other religions are based on works; what I do determines my identity.

Christianity is different, our identity is not based on what we do or didn’t do.  If there is no grace then we are all doomed. Christians mess up. Christians are not perfect. Christians are no better than anyone else. The only one who is perfect, holy and righteous is Jesus, and it’s only through him that Christianity is defined, not through the actions of other Christians. If we had to live on a merit system, I would give up. If Christianity was based on what I did or am going to do, well I’d just throw in the towel on the whole thing. I could never hope to meet that standard.

So what do we really want? Are we judging Christians? Are we saying well if that person is a Christian why did she do that, or why did she say that? That’s not very Christian? Do we expect Christians to be perfect? If this is how we are viewing Christians then we need to turn around and look at ourselves and measure ourselves by the same manner? This is where it gets uncomfortable. We like mercy and grace when it’s coming our way but we don’t give it out so easy. I would venture to say that everyone would like to not be judged entirely on what they have said or done. I know I don’t. I have said and done some really stupid stuff. I want grace. I want mercy. That’s exactly what Christianity offers, if offers grace and mercy when I don’t deserve it. It offers the slate being wiped clean. Instead of God seeing all my mess ups, He sees Jesus right in the middle who took my place as the condemned. Instead of me on trial. Jesus went on trial on the cross. All I am asked to do is accept that free gift of exoneration. I don’t have to carry those chains anymore.

All around us we see  broken people. I am one of those. Churches are full of the sick, full of the broken. If we are looking for Christians to have it all together then we will be sorely disappointed. If your faith is based on how Christians act then you won’t be a Christian long. If you are waiting for the Christian church to be perfect, you will be waiting forever.

Simple Solution – Take your eyes off of the way Christians act as the representative of all Christianity and put your eyes on Jesus instead. He is the only reason and representative. If we take our eyes from him, we are going down a slippery slope. What sustains your faith? Is your faith built on sand or on the ROCK?

It’s only through the cross of Christ that we can have hope and for that I am eternally thankful!

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The Righteous Will Stand

When I was a toddler, I recited Psalm 1 to my Sunday School teacher. I could barely talk but I was able to memorize the words by watching my dad’s mouth when he preached. I didn’t understand what I said at the time, but that scripture has resonated with me all my life. It was a seed planted that truly has grown.

I am making an effort to go through the Psalms and praying through them. I was delighted of course to start with the familiar Psalm 1. Even though I know this scripture so well, I still get refreshed by it every time.

In todays culture the line is getting blurred more and more as to what is righteous and what is sinful. If you read through Psalm 1 how can you be confused?

The righteous WILL stand. No matter what, this is a promise. The righteous WILL overcome. This doesn’t mean we won’t go through rough seasons and suffering, but in the final analysis the righteous WILL stand.  Prospering doesn’t necessarily mean our health and wealth but something much greater than that. We have God on our side, so who could be against us. It’s all being worked out for His good. No power can defeat us ultimately even when by the world’s standards sometimes it might seem like we are being defeated. There is a bigger plan and God has it under control. His ways are higher than our ways. Lean not to your own understanding, but instead acknowledge Him and his ways. When we do this our thinking becomes much clearer.

So who is righteous?

  • Doesn’t walk with the wicked. We are to be set apart from the worlds ways. Seek after holiness.
  • Delights in the law of the Lord day and night. Christ is our first love.
  • Bears fruit. Our lives should be bearing fruit for the world to see that we are different so in turn God can be glorified.

Footnote – Its our righteousness through Jesus that is our firm foundation not on our own merit. Our good doing apart from Christ is not good enough.

In contrast who is the wicked? They will be none of the things above and the Psalmist describes the wicked like this;  they are driven away by the wind and they will ultimately perish. There is no firm foundation in anything they say or do, they do whatever the wind drives them to do at the time. We all know that winds come and they go. There is no stability and when there is no firm foundation when the wind comes the house falls down.

In our nation we elect leaders in public office, we are either going to elect  leaders with a firm foundation or those that get driven by the winds. Depending on who we elect will depend on whether our nation falls when the winds come or stands strong no matter what comes our way. We can’t elect the right leaders though unless the people who are doing the voting, seek righteousness. It really does start with you and me, the people.

Lord, help me to walk in your ways and not to stumble.  You are my delight. Keep the fire burning day and night. Help me to bear the fruit of your Son Jesus so that all that I come in contact with will see you. In everything I do may I prosper for your name’s sake.

In Jesus name

AMEN

What is Giving Our Best to God?

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:14,15

In the beginning of the chapter the Psalmist describes a picture of the people of Israel making prized animal sacrifices to God(as was done in the Old Covenant), they are good but not what God really desired.

What is giving our best to God? The Israelites were concerned with giving the prized bull or venison. God says, though these things are good, do you think that this is what I need? They were caught up in thinking this is what was the best. It says “sacrifice thank offerings.” When I think of the word sacrifice, I think of giving when there seems no way to give or when it involves trust and faith. Its real easy for a millionaire to give $100 but a whole other thing to someone who just made a $100 days wages and decided to give that away. Which one seems more of the sacrifice? How about the widow’s offering in Luke 21. Jesus said this woman gave more than all the others. The others gave out of their abundance but she gave out of poverty and gave all she had to live on.
Apply this to our own thankfulness, of course always having a heart of thankfulness is the way we should be, but how easy is it to be thankful when all is great; the “sacrifice of thank offerings” comes when we give thanks when things don’t seem so good. The apostle Paul says “give thanks in ALL circumstances.” Giving this sacrificial thanks and praise requires faith and trust in God and this comes from the heart.

God doesn’t need your money or your good deeds, or your willingness to sit in the pew on Sunday morning. These are all good things but they are not what God looks at. I Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord doesn’t look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”
God wants us to give thanks and praise from a heart full of Jesus. Good deeds should be the result of a thankful heart, but sometimes good deeds are used as a way to get to God. There is only one way to the Father and it was a gift and his name is Jesus.

The verse continues on saying “fulfill your vows to the Most High.” The Message translation says serve High God with a feast of kept promises. This is important passage because when we genuinely care and love someone we make sure to let our yes’s be yes and no’s be no. The day we said “Lord I am yours. I turn from my ways,” we told our King I choose you and I say no to my sinful self. God honors and loves our faithfulness to keep our promises.

The last part of the verse is Gods promise to us. When His children call on Him, He will deliver in times of trouble. He will always deliver. God is saying I am not going to let you leap out and let you fall. Our sacrifices and kept promises will be honored by the most High. He will always reach out and make a way when we can’t conceivably find a way. It requires full dependence on Him. This is where He wants us to be. He delights in our willingness and faithfulness to trust Him completely. His desire is a relationship.

So go ahead and give your best to God! Give Him everything you have. He won’t let you fall! He always makes a way.

Lord, I am thankful for all you are and all you do. You sustain me. Help me to show more sacrifice in my thank offerings, so my trust in you will grow. Let my yes’s be yes and no’s be no. I seek to serve you. Lord I know that you are faithful to your children to deliver in time of trouble, you will deliver and I will honor you.

In Jesus name,
Amen

In His love,

Johanna

Bad? Me? Naah. 

Compared to him, I’m a saint. Compared to her, I really have it together. What about all the good I’ve done, doesn’t that count for something?

The Bible says, “there is no one good, no not one”

Do we really believe this? I have a hard time believing it sometimes. Proverbs 21:2 says, “man’s ways are right in his own eyes, but God looks at the heart.” I want to only look at the good or find the good within myself. It’s a weights and balances right? I’m not all that bad. The good outweighs the bad right? The truth is God doesn’t operate this way. He doesn’t keep points on our goodness. He also doesn’t keep points on the badness. We have all missed the mark. None of us could do enough good to meet God’s standard. We are all sinful in need of redemption. Jesus is our redeemer. All he asks is for us to accept the gift of salvation offered through his grace.

What would ever posses us to not accept this amazing free gift?! Idols. Idol of pride. Idol of power. Idol of control. Idol of success. Idol of money. Idol of approval. We have to lose the idols and admit our nothingness and our need before the free gift seems of any value to us. Some people claim they have received the free gift but I think maybe they are carrying around a gift card that needs to be cashed in. They are carrying around the gift card as an option but they are still holding on to the precious idols. They like having the “Jesus gift card” with them, but they aren’t fully convinced of its real value.

Oh dear Lord help those that are struggling with being a “card holding Christian.” Help them cash that card in. Go all in, holding nothing back. Give up the idols. They will do nothing but devour you inch by inch and rob you blind of all the eternal riches, fullness, and joy that only comes through Jesus.   Don’t let your idols be your demise.

Lord help me to seek you and you alone casting all else aside that would hinder the work of your Spirit.

CS Lewis said,

When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less.