Sharing by: Pam Crawford
Too important to skim. Read when you have time to absorb the content. Be blessed.
One night the Lord Spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid: keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.
1 Corinthians 16:13
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
Guilty By Association - Part 1
The tide is turning for those in America who embrace the Christian faith. The waves have been in motion for many years; however, lately it appears that some are on a fast track to shake apart anything vastly associated with Christianity. According to the BBC, “Christianity is the world's biggest religion, with about 2.1 billion followers worldwide. It is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who lived in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago.” Christians, if we are the largest world religion, why then is there such silence as GOD is being ushered off our soil?
For those who profess Christianity, it is important to understand that Godly convictions are under attack here in America. Bible teacher Howard Hendricks says "A belief is something you will argue about. A conviction is something you will die for." If you remotely stand upon the Word of Truth you can expect persecution and opposition, it’s now a fact of life. I never thought I would live to see Americans martyred for faith on American soil, but it could very well be coming in our lifetime. Religious freedoms are being stripped away every day.
The act of conforming to the standards of popular consensus and embracing a worldview that is in direct conflict with the Word of God is not just happening outside the church. Many professed believers in God are succumbing to the pressures of a society bent on having it their own way. I am personally flabbergasted by the number of individuals in my own circle of influence who claim to be Christ followers (Christians); but hold to the mentality that a woman has the right to do whatever she feels is right with her own body, thus they argue for abortion. Then there are those who are strong pro-life supporters and they will fight that full throttle; but wane when it comes to standing against sexual immorality. I know people defending adulterous relationships and others who want to justify using illegal drugs because it will ease their pain.
Today if you’re not on board with “everybody has the right to love whomever they please or whatever makes them happy," then you are the one considered intolerant, hateful and cruel. If you dare to bring God’s instructions into the discussion or debate; you get the infamous statement “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Really? Is that it? Is that all we have?
Are we really going to overlook the example of Jesus Christ? Yes, Jesus did love the sinner, but He never condoned the sin. In John 8:11, there was a woman caught in adultery. Jesus did not condemn her, but instead told her to “go and sin no more.” In John 5:14 Jesus tells the lame man that was healed “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” These are just two examples of many statements throughout the Bible that show that Jesus does not condemn the sinner, but He does not condone their actions either. His goal is always reconciliation to God through obedience to His Word.
To bring sin to the attention of a brother/sister is not wrong. It's not being judgmental to help another see that they may be living contrary to what God desires for His children.The Bible is a historical writing provided to God's creation to help us align our lives to His Holy instructions. Galatians 6:1 says "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted." According to the Life's Application commentary: "No Christian should ever think that he or she is totally independent and doesn't need help from others, and no one should feel excused from the task of helping others. The body of Christ - the church - functions only when the members work together for the common good. Do you know someone who needs help? Is there a Christian brother or sister who needs correction or encouragement? Humbly and gently reach out to that person (John 13:34,35)."
With a gentle heart I urge repentance in this very day. Until we repent (turn from) that of which does not align to God’s instructions for His Children, we remain in sin. You can't know what God expects of you unless you open the Word of Truth for yourself. Everyone has the capability to ask God to help them discern His Word in their own life. We are told that sin separates us from the Father (Isaiah 59:2). Sin offends a Holy God. In John 14:6 we are told that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Without accepting Jesus and that of which He taught, we can expect to forfeit what He offers, eternal life.
Allowing the Word of God to penetrate the heart is the beginning of something big. Matthew 7:13-14 tells us "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for many who chose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it." He was not saying that becoming a Christian is difficult. He was indicating that there is only one way to eternal life with God the Father. He was telling us that only a few will decide to walk that road and do it God's way.
My prayer is that "few" will become "many" in this day. Friends, living God's way may not be popular, it might not align to the worldview of our culture in 2014; but in the end, popularity, customs, traditions, and worldviews will not be the thing to usher you into Heaven where Jesus now resides (Acts 2:33). Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven! Why? Because the Word of God says so and history affirms that a man named Jesus of Nazareth was beaten and crucified at Calvary. His body was taken down from a blood stained cross and laid in a guarded tomb. On the third day the tomb was empty and witnesses who saw him alive afterwards were martyred for sharing that truth. I don't know many people that are willing to die for a lie. Or is it possible this is God's truth?
I am guilty by association to the Creator and proud of it. I believe that "In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is and that nothing exists that he didn't make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:1-5.) To believe in Jesus means I must allow Him to change everything in me that does not align with His character. This is a lifelong process called sanctification. It's not easy but oh so worth it.
[sangk-tuh-fahy] Show IPA
verb (used with object), sanc·ti·fied, sanc·ti·fy·ing.
to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.
to purify or free from sin: Sanctify your hearts.
to impart religious sanction to; render legitimate or binding: tosanctify a vow.
to entitle to reverence or respect.
to make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing.
Let us heed to these final words found in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus was exposing people who sounded religious with no relationship to him. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
On the last day it won't be our religious acts or the good things we do that bring us into God's presence. It will be our personal relationship with His Son, our reverence and respect of Him. You can't know someone if you don't invest time in them. The way we know Jesus is through the written Word. Open it today and be enlightened. If you don't know this Jesus I speak about, there is no better time than the present. Invite Him into your heart. Ask Him to be Lord over your life and allow Him to show you the way. If you find yourself "guilty by association," praise God! Now, consider sharing this light forward.
In Christ by grace,