THE REED & THE WICK

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.”  Isaiah 42:3

How many of us, as Christians, have been living life on the “mountaintop”, only to have situations and circumstances in life to knock us off into the valley?  At one time we were standing tall and straight and then something comes along and now we’re bent over and can’t seem to find the strength to stand anymore.

How many of us remember a time when it seemed like our faith was like a huge bonfire?  Or maybe we could have likened it to a raging forest fire.  How many of us can look at ourselves now and our faith can only be compared to the tiniest flicker of light on the end of a candle wick, while those around us seems to still be a roaring fire?

Why does this happen?  Maybe trials and adversities come and throws a little water on that fire.  Maybe we look at ourselves and see the sin still prevalent in our lives and we become discouraged and that discouragement will diminish the fire that once burned brightly in our soul.  Or maybe our discouragement comes from comparing ourselves to someone else and we think because we’re not as “strong” in faith as they are, our “weak” faith might as well be no faith at all.  Or our discouragement may come from the disappointment of not being able to stay in God’s Word and in prayer like we should and that puts a damper on the flames of our faith.

While our faith may be like the bruised reed or the faintly smoldering wick, it’s comforting to know that the LORD will not “finish” us off.  We may be bruised, but instead of completely breaking us, He wants to heal us.  We may be a faintly smoldering wick, but instead of throwing water on us to completely snuff out the fire, He wants to fan the flame so that we can burn brighter than before.

There is a quote by Thomas Brooks that says:  “The weakest Christian is as much justified, as much pardoned, as much adopted, and as much united to Christ as the strongest, and hath as much interest and propriety in Christ as the highest and noblest Christian that breathes.”

The weakest Christian is STILL a Christian.  It’s easy to think that because we’re not like we used to be when we first came to salvation that maybe our salvation was not genuine.  Our faith is a gift given to us by God and it is a gift that He will never take back

We must remember that it is by God’s grace that we are saved, not by any works we do, and it’s God’s grace, not our works, that KEEPS us saved.  So, even though we may find ourselves not living up to our expectations of what we should be as Christians; even though we don’t see as much spiritual growth as we think we should; even though we still struggle daily with sin and our faith doesn’t measure up to those around us, our faintly smoldering (weak) faith is still faith and is still just as secure in Christ as those who have a raging flaming (strong) faith.

Thank you, Jesus, for keeping us secure even when we don’t feel like we are.

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God Knows

How many times have we found ourselves looking back and realizing, “It’s been 3 months since I’ve picked up my Bible and read it”?

How many times have we also realized, “Wow, I don’t remember the last time I prayed”?

How many times have we come to a point and thought, “I just don’t feel saved”?

How many times have we gotten to that point and thought, “Surely God doesn’t want anything to do with me now.  I haven’t read my Bible in weeks.  I haven’t prayed in a long time.  There’s no sense in doing it.  I don’t understand a lot of the Bible.  I don’t think God hears me when I pray anyway, so it’s pointless!”

Guess what?  God knows our short-comings.  God knows our imperfections.  God knows we aren’t going to get it right ALL THE TIME!  God knows we’re going to fail.  God knew all our failures, our short-comings, and our sins even before He spoke the universe into existence and yet He STILL chose to save us and call us His children.

God’s love for us never diminishes even when our love for Him seems to have grown cold.  He isn’t like an immature child who gets upset when we don’t give Him the same level of love back that He’s given to us.  He is patient.  Granted, there will come a point where He will say, “It’s time you put your focus back on Me” and He will allow circumstances to happen that will get our attention off worldly pursuits and back onto Him.

We should never use our emotions as a gauge for our salvation.  And just because He hasn’t given us understanding about something in His Word doesn’t mean He won’t ever give it to us.  As someone at my church said a couple weeks back, we are an eternal people.  We have from our first breath until forever to learn all we need to know.  If we don’t get it on this earth, we’ll get it in eternity, IF God so chooses to reveal it to us.

God KNEW we weren’t going to be perfect but He still loves us anyway.  And to think otherwise is to believe a lie.  So, why do we want to live believing the lie instead of running back to Him and live in the truth?

 

World Acting Like The World

Something I’ve learned over the years is that many Christians can be pretty haughty.  They are quick to point out the sins of the world as if they haven’t sinned themselves, but if every single one of those Christians were to have their inner thoughts played out on a jumbo screen for everyone to see, they would have to hide in shame.  I know I would.

Christians shouldn’t be shocked at how the world acts.  They are only acting according to their nature.  I’ve seen Christians berate non-Christians for acting ungodly.  Ungodly people are only acting according to their nature.  They don’t have it in their nature to act godly.  That’s like telling a lion to not hunt down and eat an antelope.  It’s in their nature to do so.

Many times when I watch Christian pastors and lay people on TV I cringe at some of the things they say about how we need more laws to curb the “sin” in our country.  We cannot legislate morality.  I don’t care how many laws you make, not everyone will obey them.  How many Christians go the speed limit every…single…time they drive a car?  I know I don’t!!  If speed laws don’t work, how can they expect other laws to work?  How many people still murder despite there being a law on the books that states it’s against the law to kill someone?  How many teenagers still gain access to alcohol and cigarettes even though there’s laws against them being able to purchase them?  Laws can’t make people act right.  Only when there’s been a spiritual change in someone can we expect them to live godly lives.

Telling a lost person to “act” better doesn’t get them saved.  We can act high and mighty and criticize them for their behavior, but we forget that we still sin ourselves.  Christians have forgotten that salvation is of grace, not morality.  It’s a gift given to us freely, not something we earn by doing good deeds.  So, if we ever find ourselves getting up on that high horse that we should just shoot and put out of it’s misery, we need to think about the sins we’re guilty of.  Every lustful thought, every unkind word we speak or unkind thought we think about another person, and every prideful word, deed, or thought we may have, are still sins and the only difference between us and those who are lost is that we have been given grace and forgiveness for those sins.  It doesn’t make us better than anyone else.  It should make us humble knowing that we did nothing to deserve that grace, not prideful and arrogant in how we treat those who aren’t Christian.  God didn’t command us to be their judge and their conscience.  He commanded us to love them.  Sometimes we may have to give some “tough love” and they may not like that, but through that love, we are to point them to Christ.

ELECTION vs. FREE WILL, PT. 1

hands-in-shackles

For centuries there has been a debate between the Doctrine of Election and man’s free will.  I grew up being taught about the free will of man in regards to salvation.  And although something about the teaching of free will just didn’t make sense to me, I still accepted it because it was all I was taught.  So which is it?  Are we saved through our own free will or were we chosen for salvation?  You can go into any number of American churches today and you’ll hear the preacher say something like, “You have a decision to make:  heaven or hell.  It’s your choice.”  Yet in John 15:16 Jesus says, “You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name He may give to you.”  Notice the first few words in that verse:  “You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you…” so now which is it?  Did Jesus choose us or did we choose him?  See the contradiction?  What about this verse, Acts 13:48, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” What is being taught in churches today doesn’t line up with Scripture.  There are several other verses which use the words election, choose, chosen, or any word synonymous with that:

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world

John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Mark 13:20 “And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.”

1 Thessalonians 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you.

These are just a few examples found throughout the Word of God how we are chosen by God.

Need more convincing?  Ephesians 2:1 says “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins”.  Here’s something to contemplate.  When Lazarus died (Mary and Martha’s brother) he lay in the tomb four days.  He was dead…..until Jesus called him to come forth from the grave.  He didn’t just decide four days later through his own will to get up off that slab of rock and walk out of the tomb.  Jesus called him by name and it was through that calling that Lazarus was made alive.  This story not only shows how through Jesus can the dead in body be made alive, but also only through Jesus is the dead in spirit made alive.

Here’s something else.  The Bible says in Romans 6:6, 6:16, 6:17, and 6:20 that we were “slaves to sin”.  If the Bible says we are “slaves to sin”, how is it that we have free will?  As a “slave to sin”, apart from Christ, our master is sin.  We are bound by our fleshly nature and we obey the desires of the flesh.  Through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the elect are redeemed.  We are set free from the bondage of sin.  Now instead of being held captive to sin and dead in our trespasses, we are made alive in Christ and we become His bond-servants living to please Him and to do His will.

In Romans 9:17-18 it says, “(17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”
(18) So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”
People will say that this is not fair.  Why would God have mercy on some and harden the hearts of others?  I heard a message a few weeks back and the pastor preaching addressed this same issue.  He stressed that if we want “fair”, then God will give us all what we deserve and we all deserve death and punishment for our sins.  None of us are worthy of the mercy and grace He gives to us.  But God demonstrates His love to us by giving us what we do not deserve.  God is Sovereign and He has a divine plan and whether we like it or not, there are those people like Pharaoh and Judas Iscariot who each played a role in His divine plan.  Judas was chosen as a disciple, not for salvation, but to hand Jesus over to the authorities to be crucified.  But some may say “what if a person doesn’t believe in God’s existence, how can they reject what they don’t believe in?  In Romans 1:18-20 Paul writes, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. “
All humankind are born with a knowledge of God because as verse 19 says, “that which is known about God is evident within them” They are without excuse.