Resistance is not futile…

For those of us who are sci-fi junkies, you will recognize the reference in the title of this post to the Borg from Star Trek.  (Yes, I’m a mild Trekkie- but you will never see me dressed as a Star Fleet captain or attending a Star Trek convention.) Just so you know, the Borg were a race of cyborgs that sought to forcibly assimilate all of mankind into their rank.  They would always say “resistance is futile.”

That’s fiction, of course.  But we do face a real, unrelenting enemy who want to assimilate us into the sinful ways of the world.  He wants us to believe that resistance is futile.  He strikes us at our weakest points and tries to tempt us to sin and stumble in our walk with Christ.

Even Jesus was tempted by the devil.   Most of us know the story of Satan appearing to Christ in the wilderness and trying to lead him astray with three temptations.  You can read about this in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13.  What sticks out to me most about this story, though, is a detail Luke includes in verse 13:

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13, ESV)

Jesus did not resist the devil and never face temptation again.  Satan came back at an opportune time to try to tempt the Savior of the world again.  The same is true for us.  We should always be on guard because the enemy of our souls is always looking for an opportunity to attack us:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, ESV)

An enemy that cannot overpower you directly will try to repeatedly attack and weaken you over time.  This is the strategy that Satan loves to employ against the people of God.  If we do not work hard to persevere, we give the enemy an opening in our lives.

When we are repeatedly tempted and find it difficult to stay strong, Satan will whisper in your ear “give in; resistance is futile.”  But don’t do it.  As always, he is the father of lies.  Resisting the attack of the enemy is important.

First, know that the enemy will try to convince you that you cannot withstand his great power.  The truth is, God has equipped you for spiritual warfare so you can stand against the schemes of the enemy:

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:11-13, ESV)

Not only can you stand, you can send the enemy packing!  You are an overcoming child of God!  Jesus has already won the victory, and he has made you more than a conqueror.  Don’t fear the enemy- let him fear you!

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, ESV)

Satan lies to us and wants us to give us because it is perseverance that will see us through to the finish line.  Perseverance will keep us faithful to God and allow us to enter into glory.  If he can wear you down, he can lure you away from the faith.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13, ESV)

When we stand against the enemy and remain faithful to God, when we resist temptation and follow God’s plans instead, we deny the enemy a stronghold in our lives and we receive empowerment from God.  After Jesus rejected Satan’s advances, here is what happened:

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit… (Luke 4:14a, ESV)

God has a special anointing waiting for the child of God who stands strong and endures.  If you want to realize God’s incredible plans for your life, it starts with rejecting the plans of the enemy.  You can either give Satan a stronghold in your life for his wayward schemes, or allow God a stronghold in your life to accomplish his plans of prosperity, hope, and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).

Resistance is NOT futile.  Whose plans will you allow to come to fruition in your life?

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Spirit-Driven

“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.  And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” (Mark 1:12-13, ESV)

As I was reading this scripture, it was the powerful wording that caught my attention.  Jesus was not led, inspired, or even compelled by the Spirit to go into the wilderness.  He was driven.  He was forcefully moved forward by the Spirit that dwelled within him to reach the place he was called to go.

What a standard Christ has set for us!  Do we allow the Spirit of God such control in our lives?  Are we so surrendered that we feel forcefully compelled to go and do what the Spirit within in us speaks?

I take note, too, that the Spirit doesn’t always lead you to pleasurable destinations.  Jesus was driven to the wilderness to be tempted.  If we are to become everything in Christ that our Heavenly Father intends, we must face times of testing and trial to grow our faith and draw us into a closer walk with Him.  Just like a child experiencing growing pains, it will not always be comfortable.  But if we endure, we will find that God is refining us into something beautiful.

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Can women serve as Deacons?

At our last business meeting, the question of whether a woman could serve as Deacon was brought up.  At the time, I shared that women had served on the Official Board in the past and that there was nothing that prevented women from serving as Deacons in the church according to our current constitution and bylaws.

This has been a cause of concern for some in the church since that time who have a traditional interpretation of what scripture says, believing that the Bible does not allow for a woman to serve as a Deacon.  One very well meaning person asked me how I justified this from scripture.  I told them I would get back with them with a thorough response.  Another called to express concern that we were wandering from scriptural standards that men must submit to women.  Others have expressed concern, and others have wondered silently and in the background.

I want to discuss this scriptural issue, explaining why I believe that female Deacons are permissible in the Bible,  Before I begin this discussion, though, I want to set up some fair groundwork for this theological discussion:

  1. Those that have expressed these concerns are not trying to be sexist.  In fact, both men AND women have expressed concern about women serving as Deacons.  This is not a war on women on their part.  They are not trying to be mean or divisive.  They have a sincere concern that springs from an honorable desire to make sure we act in conformity with the Word of God.  Nothing more, nothing less.
  2. For myself and many who find it appropriate to have a female Deacon, we have equal concern that the precepts and principles found in the Word of God be followed.  We are not “liberal Christians” who are trying to ignore scripture and make up our own rules.  We agree that we must conform to scripture, but our interpretation of scripture differs from those who believe this practice not to be biblical.
  3. It doesn’t matter what has been traditionally taught, it only matters what the Bible actually says.  If the traditional teaching is in accordance with scripture, it should be held to and treasured.  If it is not, it should be cast aside as rules made by men that weigh down the freedom that we have in Christ.
  4. We are allowed to disagree.  We don’t have to have the same opinion about what the scripture teaches, as long as we take an honest look at God’s Word and do our best to serve Him in the way we believe that the Bible instructs us.  We can have this disagreement and still serve together in the body of Christ, lift one another up and encourage each other, and- yes- remain part of the same congregation.  This article is for the purpose of expressing why we believe this practice is Biblically & doctrinally sound to those who have raised questions and concerns.  This is in no way an attack on those who hold the traditional view, merely an open dialogue and a closer look at what God’s Word is speaking to us on the subject at hand.  I would ask for your prayerful consideration of the position laid out here.

First, we should understand one issue that complicates Biblical interpretation.  The fact is that translators have to apply their own interpretation of a scripture during translation because a word in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic will not have an approximate English equivalent or can have multiple meanings.  This is true in the New Testament concerning the Greek language.  Whenever you see the word woman or wife in it’s various tenses, it is the same Greek word.  The same is true for man and husband.  The translator had to apply his or her own interpretation of a scripture to determine whether to use the marital terms or the gender terms.  This is not the translator’s fault;  we have multiple English words for one word in Greek.  But a translator’s interpretation is not what is inspired- it is the actually word in the original language that is inspired.

Translators have a tendency to use the more traditional interpretation of scripture, sometimes in direct contradiction to the context provided in scripture.  A great example of this in 1 Corinthians 14:34, a scripture that I believe is errantly used in very traditional circles to say women cannot preach:

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

There are several key contextual evidences that indicate the appropriate interpretation here is “wives” and not “women.”  They are as follows:

One clear evidence is what follows in verse 35 (emphasis mine):

If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

The reference to husbands (“their men” or “their women” is always indicative of husbands and wives) is strong scriptural evidence that the related term “women” should have been translated as “wives.”

Another key contextual evidence is when verse 34 says women should remain in submission “as the law says.”  Understand that there is nothing in the law of Moses that says all women should remain in submission to all men.  Numbers 30 indicates that wives are under the spiritual authority of their husbands (and unmarried women who live at home are under the authority of their fathers).

As further evidence that women were in fact allowed to speak in the church, turn your Bible back three chapters to chapter 11, when Paul talks about women both praying and prophesying in the church!  All contextual evidence points to a translation of “wives” rather than “women” in this scripture.

Now, since I’ve opened this can of worms, let me very briefly try to close it without going into the further discussion that this could merit.  So let me say:

  1. Yes, husbands do have spiritual authority over their wives.  They are responsible to God for the spiritual direction of their homes and are responsible to lead.  Wives answer to the spiritual authority of their husbands and husbands answer to the spiritual authority of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:23)  Of course, men, you are not called to dominate, but to lead through serving (Mark 9:35, 1 Peter 5:3), lay down your life for your wife (Ephesians 5:25), love her as yourself (Ephesians 5:33), be understanding (1 Peter 3:7), honor her (1 Peter 3:7), and practice mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21).
  2. Paul was not punishing married women in 1 Corinthians 14 when he says they were not allowed to talk!  This chapter focuses on order in the church (1 Corinthians 14:33,40).  Paul said that “if they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home” in a period of history where men would tend to be educated and women would not.  Instead of causing disorder by speaking up and asking questions in a church service, they we to ask their husbands at home so that they could gain understanding.  As a Pastor, I can appreciate that people don’t stand up and ask all kinds of questions while I’m trying to preach!  But I digress.  Back to the question of female Deacons.

The fact is that a female Deacon is mentioned by name in the Bible:

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. (Romans 16:1, NIV)

If you are reading a different translation, you may see the word “servant” here instead of Deacon.  However, the word that has been traditionally translated as “servant” in this scripture is the exact same word that is translated as Deacon in 1 Timothy chapter 3.  The title “Deacon” is literally the word “servant” in the original Greek.  Other translations, such as the NLT, ISV, and GWT, also use the word “deacon” here, and some other translations that use “servant” note that this can be translated as “deacon” in the footnotes, such as the ESV.  The only real reason not to translate this word as Deacon is tradition, which arose during a time where they simply would not have considered a female for leadership based on society’s attitude toward women.

The strongest argument used against women as Deacons is the scripture in 1 Timothy 3 that describes the position:

In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
(1 Timothy 3:8-13, NIV)

“Women” here is traditionally translated as “wives”, but the translators of the NIV and other modern English translations have started to use “women” instead because they recognize that merely mentioning men and women in the same scripture does not necessarily qualify translating those words into “husbands” and “wives.”  In fact, the NIV footnote on the word “women” in verse 11 here provides further explanation (emphasis mine):

1 Timothy 3:11 Possibly deacons’ wives or women who are deacons

While some translations have held to the traditional interpretation of wives in this scripture, an equal number have simply used “women” instead.  Take a look here.  In fact, the Weymouth New Testament goes as far as translating this word as “Deaconesses.”

One argument people make here is that this cannot refer to women versus wives because the same restrictions are not applied to women.  For example, there is no reference against “not indulging in much wine.”  This argument doesn’t hold water, though, because you are then implying that it is okay for a Deacon’s wife to be a drunkard!

So why mention women?  That question is easily answered.  Misogyny has existed in many societies for thousands of years.  It was necessary for Paul to specifically mention women in this scripture so they would be included, considering the attitude of so many societies before, since, and after that time, even to this day.

The real crux of the matter is that Paul cannot be excluding women as Deacons in 1 Timothy 3 yet commend a female Deacon in Romans 16:1.  Textual criticism demands that the traditional interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:11 cannot stand.  Equally powerful is another assertion about gender made by Paul, one that is fitting to conclude this article:

All Are One

For additional information, see the Assemblies of God position on women in ministry.

The Power of One

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note!  Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her.  (Jeremiah 5:1, ESV)

In Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the coming judgement against Jerusalem, a picture is painted of the Lord sending Jeremiah to search the streets of the city, seeking out even just one righteous person there so that God may have reason to show His people mercy.  The implication, of course, is that there was no righteous person to be found.

What was grave news for the inhabitants of Judah in Jeremiah’s day ought to provide encouragement and strength for the believer in our day.  Had only one righteous person been found, the nation would have received mercy instead of judgement.

You may at times feel like you are the only one fighting the good fight.  You may feel alone.  But there is tremendous power in just one child of God who stands for righteousness.  God can bring mercy to many by your faithfulness.

Moses repeatedly stood in the gap for the rebellious people of Israel in the wilderness when God was ready to pour out His judgement for their unfaithfulness.  Because He dared to entreat God for mercy, lives were spared.   The nation of Israel was spared.

Will you dare to be that one who stands for righteousness in a sinful nation?  Will you dare to be the intercessor who stands in the gap for a lost and dying people.  You may be one, but you are never alone.  The power of the Holy Spirit of God, who can do more than we ask or even imagine, lives in you.  He can effect mercy for many through the faithfulness of one.  Dare to be that one.

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Because you prayed to me…

When the king of Assyria sent a message to Hezekiah king of Judah threatening to conquer his kingdom, Hezekiah went into the temple, spread out the letter before the Lord, and prayed.

Isaiah the prophet sent a message to Hezekiah after he had prayed telling him that the Lord would deliver Judah from the king of Assyria.  This message from the Lord started with these words:

Because you have prayed to me…
(Isaiah 37:21, ESV)

Think about that for a minute.  God acted, but not because He already knew what was going on.  Not because He already saw.  The Lord came through for Judah because Hezekiah prayed.

Are you still waiting for God to see your need and act?  You will never see an answer if you do not sincerely seek Him in prayer.  This is what the book of James tells us:

You do not have because you do not ask God.
(James 4:2, NIV)

It really is that simple sometimes.  We wonder why God has not helped us, but we have never taken the time to express our faith in Him by seeking Him out in prayer.   God loves you and desires to do good for you:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  (Matthew 7:11, NIV)

The truth is that God answers the prayers of His children.  He watches over you and listens when you pray:

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. (Psalm 34:15, KJV)

Jesus spoke this same truth, elaborating that asking is more than just mumbling a prayer, but truly seeking God:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  (Matthew 7:7-8, ESV)

Our God desires to bless us.  He hears our prayers.  Don’t miss out on your blessing because you fail to ask!  God desires to make good things happen in your life:

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Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

(Psalm 150, ESV)

If we get no other message from Psalm 150, we should understand the three words that it repeats again and again- praise the Lord.  This is what we were created for- to have a loving relationship with our Creator where we honor Him and He blesses us.  The psalmist opens and ends with these words- “praise the Lord”- and we should take them to heart.  He continues:

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!

Realize that the worship of God will be our eternal occupation.  What we do here in the earthly sanctuary is what we shall do in the Heavens- lift up the name of Jesus.  This life is mere practice for the one to come.  We are to worship and exalt God here and now and for all eternity.

When we speak of worship, most people think of the songs we sing.  This absolutely is worship.  But worship is equally what kind of living sacrifice of praise we choose to be.  Worship is not just our songs, but our words and our actions.   It is our duty and should be our pleasure to honor God with the entirety of who we are.  The psalmist continues:

Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!

We understand well enough that we should praise Him for what He has done.  But we are also to praise Him according to His excellent greatness.  The greatness of God is immeasurable.  Accordingly, our worship ought to be immeasurable, unceasing, without end.   Our lives ought always to center around His exultation.

Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Our worship ought to be passionate, exuberant, celebratory.   The idea that worship has to be stoic or starchy is not found in the Word of God.  On the contrary, God was worshiped with every instrument available, with shouts of joy, with singing, with raised hands, with dancing.  We have so much to be thankful for, and the world should be able to see our love for Christ and our joy from knowing Him.

This psalm ends with these words:

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Take a moment to inhale.  If you are still able to accomplish this task, you are called to worship and exult in Jesus.  Are you that living sacrifice of praise?  Beyond singing songs of worship in a church service, do your words and deeds show Jesus to the world?

Lord, we pray that you would be exalted in us.  Let the words of our mouths, the state of our hearts, and the actions we take bring glory to You.  Help us without fear to boldly celebrate who You are and what You have done, lifting up Your Name and shining with Your light.  Amen.

Behold, You Are Beautiful

Song of Solomon is a unique book in the Bible.  Originally a bridal song between Solomon and a wife whom he loved dearly, we understand it now as a symbol of the relationship between the body of Christ, the bride, and Jesus, the King.  the voice of the others or the friends can be understood as the host of Heaven.

With this understanding, we see powerful imagery of the passion God has for us and the passion we should have for Him.  Throughout, we are reminded that our relationship with Him should be vibrant, active, dedicated, passionate, and consuming.  We are not practicing religion; we are in a loving relationship with our creator.

Some wonderful truths come to light as we read through this book.  The first is this:  He sees beauty in us.

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful”
(Song of Solomon 1:15, ESV)

With as much as we talk about sin and brokenness, we forget this truth:  God looks upon you and sees something beautiful.  He delights in you.  You are his beloved and He values you greatly.  The bride- that’s you and me- responds in turn:

“Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful.”
(Song of Solomon 1:16, ESV)

Our God delights in us.  He looks upon us and calls us beautiful.  Do you delight in Him?  Do you gaze at His beauty in prayer, the His Word, in fasting, in meditating on His goodness?  Do you delight in Him?  We ought to be passionate about the One who dared first love us and who gave Himself for us.  There is no love like His:

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4, ESV)

A banner would be raised when an army went to war.  It was a rallying point for those fighting in battle.  When scripture says that “his banner over me was love,” it means that He rallies around us.  He fights for us and with us.  He is driven by His love for us.

He also brings us to His banqueting house.  He blesses us.  He doesn’t just meet our needs- He fills us with good things.  In His love and mercy, it is His desire to gift us good gifts, the desires of our hearts.

Christ loved us so much that He died for our sins, while we were yet sinners.  He looks on you and says you are beautiful.  You have great worth in His eyes.  He says this of us, His bride:

“How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights!” (Song of Solomon 7:6, ESV)

Are you in love with Jesus?  He has a great passion for you.  Are you returning it?  He longs to know you, to love you, to be loved by you, to call you His own.  The bride in Song of Solomon describes meeting with the King and responding to Him in this way:

There I will give you my love.  (Song of Solomon 7:12, ESV)

Will you respond to Christ with the same love He offered you?  Will you lay your life down for Him?  Will you proudly live for Him and proclaim your love for Jesus to others?

Because I do what’s right…

I had a conversation with a young man today about Christ.  He’s not sure if Jesus is who He said He was.  He’s not sure if there is a God.  I told him that this is the most important question to answer in life:  if there is a God, are you ready to meet Him?  I explained to him that we cannot earn Heaven- it is only available through the forgiveness found through faith in Christ and His sacrifice for our sins.

This man’s response was the same as most people in the world today:  I try to do what is right, so God should be happy with me.  I explained that we all have sinned and our “rightness” is still wrong in the eyes of a perfect God.

This is, though, the attitude of many people throughout the world.  Even in the church, people think they earn God’s favor by doing what they think is right.

But what is right?  To the hedonist, pleasure at any price.  To the Islamist extremist, murder.  To the religious person, it may be rituals or attending worship services.  One man’s sin is another man’s right.

In the book of Proverbs, we are given this bit of wisdom:

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.”  (Proverbs 21:2, ESV)

In other words, what we think is right doesn’t matter.  God’s standard of righteousness is all that counts.  He weighs the hearts of men.  And, without Christ, He finds us lacking:

“None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, ESV)

And again, we are told:

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6, NIV)

We can’t please God on our own because of our sinfulness.  And that sin bears a heavy price.  But what we can’t overcome by our own righteousness we overcome because of Jesus:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, ESV)

For those who have accepted Jesus, God no longer looks at us and sees our wrongs.  He sees the righteousness- the “right-ness”- of Jesus, God the Son:

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22, NIV)

How shall we gain Heaven?  How shall we be saved from Hell?  By our own righteousness?  By our own perfection?  No!  Only through the forgiveness found in Jesus.   Only by the price He, the perfect Son of God, paid for our sins- the wages of death.  By faith in Him, and in Him alone, are we saved:

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9, NLT)

Psalm 101 – Walking with Integrity

Psalm 101 gives us a beautiful picture of what it means to follow after God.    This Psalm’s first four verses reads as follows:

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
    to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
    Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
    within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
    anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
    it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
    I will know nothing of evil.

In these verses, we find direction on what is means and how to follow God in this life.  Five key points are given to us:

1) WORSHIP God.

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
    to you, O Lord, I will make music.

The life of the Christian should be marked by worship.  Our very purpose is to bring honor to the name of Jesus Christ.  This means worshiping Him in song, but also with our lives.   The way we conduct ourselves should be a life song that gives Him praise.

2) meditate on the WORD.

I will ponder the way that is blameless.

To walk with integrity of heart, we must look to God’s Word to keep us on the right track.  It is our direction for life, our manual, our blueprint.  His word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path.

3) WALK in His way.

I will walk with integrity of heart
    within my house

It is one thing to know what God wants, and another thing to do it.  We need to be doers of the Word.  This means walking with integrity- following God the same way when everyone sees or no one sees.

4) WATCH what is worthwhile.

I will not set before my eyes
    anything that is worthless.

Scripture tells us that the lust of the eyes is one of the aspects of our flesh that leads us astray.  Paul tells us to think about what is excellent our praiseworthy.  And Jesus tells us that the eyes are the lamp of the body.  Are we letting in the light of Christ or the darkness of sin by what we look at?

5) WORK for the Lord.

I hate the work of those who fall away;
    it shall not cling to me.

Either we serve God with what we do or we walk in the ways of this world.  We must hate what is evil and hold to what is good.  Conduct yourself as if you labor for the Lord and not men- because you do!  Your life is what can show His light!  Don’t loves the deeds of this world.  Labor for the cause of Christ.

These five points illustrate what it is to be a God-serving Christian of integrity.  How does your life measure up to this standard?  What do you need to change to live a life more pleasing to Him?

The Great Exchange

“For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. (Psalm 38:4, ESV)

Sin is heavy.  Our trespasses against the law of God way us down.  We cannot stand before God under the weight of our own transgressions.

The good news is that Christ has provided for us a grand exchange.  He takes the heavy burden and gives us a new one;  His burden is easy to bear.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30, NIV)

We who where weighed down by sin and weary have been given rest for our souls by Christ.  He takes the heaviness of sin and replaces it with a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.

This exchange occurs simply enough.  We offer God our sin and shame.  He takes our broken offering and gives us something beautiful in return.  He gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:3, KJV)

Everything has a cost.  In the case of salvation, our cost couldn’t be better.  We must surrender to him that which has weighed us down and destroyed our lives.  In return, he gives us the eternal joy of the adoption of sons- we are children of God.

King David, the author of Psalm 38, arrived at this same conclusion.  He offered God the sacrifice that pleases Him most- a repentant heart.

I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.  (Psalm 38:18, ESV)

God is in the business of change.  He makes broken hearts whole.  He takes hurt and provides healing.  He takes away our sin and shame, instead clothing us with the righteousness of Christ.  there is no stain so deep that He cannot wash it white as snow.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9, NIV)