Happy 2017 to everyone… my fourth blog entry of the year runs along similar lines as “Drink and be merry….” from January 6th, 2017. I’m not sure if I’ll get many comments or even people who will read this (save one or two) due to on the topic at hand. Now here’s the obligatory “I’m not judging anyone nor am I trying to rile anyone over this subject matter” statement! I simply ask that you read through to the end and then make up your own mind on whether or not you agree with me or have struck a chord in your thought process that wasn’t previously there, okay? Here we go…
Pastor and Author John MacArthur Jr. says “as our love for Jesus, increases, there should be a corresponding decrease in worldly desires, for if there is no visible change in our lives, can we really call ourselves a Christian?” What say you… ?
As I look first at myself, my thoughts and my actions and as I spend time around other Christians, I see behaviors, actions and language, some not necessarily sins, exhibited that make me think “hmmm, are we as serious and intentional in our relationship with Jesus and in being a Christian as we ought to be?” This observation over the last number of years is why I am writing this post… I give you the word Change …
Change… a frequently used word that we all use. The word “change” as defined on www.dictionary.com reads as, in part: “
The main point of this post is geared to ask the Christian…
- Have I continued to take a spiritual inventory of my thoughts, actions & words after trusting in Jesus?
- Am I allowing God to hone, sharpen & smooth the off kilter & rough things in me?
- Is it still offensive & bothersome to me when I sin and see others sin?
- Does my time/knowledge of scripture & my desire to pray continue to grow?
- Has serving too much & participation led me to a place of complacency?
- Am I a stronger Christian than when I first came to faith in Jesus Christ?
I will say this… wrote down the bullet points above, they really made me take a reflective look at my life as a believer, for I have not answered yes to all of them… so please pray for me. Change in attitude, behavior, life style, character, integrity, humility, response to culture, crisis along with how you speak, the language you use and how you treat others plays a huge role in you being a living example of how God calls us to live in this life as a Christian.
I understand some will grow and get closer to God over time and more things will exit their life that don’t belong anymore. Things that clash with the teachings of, commandments of Christ and orthodox biblical truths, but understand a “real” change occurs at the moment of salvation. Now, it doesn’t always, but many times a surreal emotional experience will happen at the moment when someone surrenders their life to Jesus that is very overwhelming. You don’t have to have one, you may not have had one nor is it a negative thing if you didn’t have an emotional response. Every born-again Christian I know has a different story… my point is that at the moment of decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, there will be an awakening inside of you, in your heart and in your mind and you will know that you have been changed!
When a person living a life separated from Jesus and comes to that monumental epiphany that they are a sinner, are in need of rescue, reaches out to asks Jesus into their heart and be their Lord and Savior, there will be a colossal change inside of their heart and mind. They will do a 180 degree turn in how they speak, think and act. Some things may take a while to transform, however, the whole of who they are, how they see themselves, how they see others and most importantly, how they see God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is absolutely new, mind-blowing and undeniable.
Another occurrence that takes place in the born-again Christian after coming to faith in Jesus Christ is that the reality of the Bible, the truth of the scriptures as the infallible, inspired word of God and how spot on it can speak to most situations we will encounter in life become mind-boggling clear. This is another proof that once you’ve become born-again, your eyes are made wide open, most of the things and ways of the secular world are exposed and a veil is lifted from your eyes. You now see things the way God sees them and how scripture describes the world to be.
One thing I work at and pray about is to not to sin intentionally. By nature we all sin, however, there is a big difference in intentionally sinning or the premeditation of sin and not sinning purposefully. Intentionally sinning is mapping out how, when and where you will commit a sin and then completing the steps and bringing it to fruition. Purposefully not sinning is say seeing a beautiful women and thinking “what a pretty lady” and instead of not leaving it at you think ‘oh, I’ll just gaze a bit longer…’ and that gaze turns into a longer and longer gaze, then your imagination begins to wonder and go deeper… however, that was not your intent, you just weren’t being sharp with bouncing your eyes away initially and it turned into something that was not your intent.
To God all sin is the same no matter the offense. What we have done is to arrange the different sins categories, levels and degrees of sin. I think this is partially why we all are so judgemental towards others and say “I’m glad I’m not like them or man, look at how sinful they are.” If I see some Christian I know and something seems odd or out of place, I do my best not to jump to conclusions and give them the benefit of the doubt. Other times, it is quite clear that what they are doing or what they’ve said isn’t a good thing, possibly sinful and I begin to pray on whether I feel led to intervene or wait, pray and then talk to them.
One spiritual gift I have is “Exhortation” … words used to persuade, inspire or encourage someone… mainly encourage. There have been times when I’ve felt led to confront a brother or sister in Christ and speak to them about the offense or situation I saw them in. It is always with gentleness and love, never an attack. The end result has always been positive with the person being thankful that I spoke to them. That word of encouragement has always inspired and cultivated a positive change for the better without fail. Praise the Lord.
I first say this to myself… I understand that we all have portions of what we say, do and act upon that can always be refined and made better. For instance, talking about escapades with alcohol, smoking, curse language, celebratory comments about those whose character is questionable at best, television shows or movies that have content that we as Christians shouldn’t allow to influence our lives needs to stop… especially when verbalizing any of it takes place at church. I understand much of this refining takes place over time, but it seems as if too many of us have very little concern in being sanctified and separate from the world! I am no prude and get a little irreverent myself at times, but the things I witness make me offended and wish I wasn’t around it when they takes place.
Another concern of mine is when the things I mentioned about happen around me, those who engage in these behaviors appear to have a lack of understanding that you should be careful and considerate and not to talk or do things around another Christian that would cause them to stumble back into an old haunt or habit that was to them a sin. It’s probably not cool or a good thing to drink, even if you have freedom and not bondage to do so, around someone who had issues with it in the past or was a former alcoholic? Though the idea 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 is regarding eating food offered to idols in front of a brother who is offended by or will be weakened by it being offered to them. I cannot help think that if we could ask him, Paul would have a problem with apply other definitions to this portion of scripture ie; “if anyone is offended by you drinking alcohol or some other thing you do, then don’t do it in from of them.” It makes sense to me that this would be the right thing to do so be aware and know who you’re hanging out with.
My church talks about being real with yourself, God and others and I believe that should be a truth we all embrace. I know that some of what I speak aren’t biblical sins. Some of what I’ve mentioned are personal preferences, things that make me frustrated because they are issues I struggle with that others don’t and they aren’t always careful to see if everyone in the group is okay with all of it.
This is my challenge to all Christians… do all things unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23) and be aware of the language you use, the images you project, the subject matter you speak on, the jokes you tell, the movies and shows you watch, how modest your attire is for guys and girls especially, where you go on the internet and the influence on you of the people you associate with when in the presence of other Christians…. are you getting my point? Why not take inventory of who you are and what you are about often? You’ll really see a difference if you become more intentional in monitoring those things in your life.
Well kids, that’s it for this entry. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you… based on Matthew 7:12 … and think about how you can bless others for in you doing so, you might have someone say “Wow, I’ve noticed a big change in you… what is making the difference?”
Peace, love and good happiness stuff in Jesus,