Disagreements in Christian Life

facebookIf you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. – Galatians 5:15

It is unbelievable at times to see how even believers can disagree. One side sticks their feet in and the other side does also. No one is budging or willing to say they are wrong, both are right! Or so they think. Disagreements also happen in marriages, Churches and ministries.

The world is helplessly divided as people have strong opinions on so many different topics and choices in life. These strong beliefs people have even come to the place where hurtful actions are taken against each other because of our desires to be right and have our own way (James 4:1).

Many people are divided and hurt over differences in the body of Christ also as the Apostle James wrote to believers who were “warring” against each other. All these differences result in hurt lives, divided believers and the world looking on in shock and amazement at this scene. When we can claim to believe in the greatest news in the world that men can be freed from their sins and point to this life-giving Saviour but in the same breath speak evil of our other brethren that have been redeemed we bring a reproach to the world.

The beautiful opposite of disagreements is agreement and unity. Our Lord says: That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21). St. Clement of Rome in AD 90 said, ““Love admits no schisms: love gives rise to no seditions: love does all things in harmony.”

Christ is not divided neither is his body should be divided. When we humble ourselves and pick up our crosses we choose the low way below disagreements. It takes 2 brothers to argue and debate, but a humble brother will not answer back. Choose today to be an agent of peace and humility, this is pleasing to the Lord and allows His body to be beautiful to Him and the on looking world.

Advertisements

Sharing the Sorrows of our Lord

facebookStay here and keep watch with me. – Luke 26:38

We sometimes guage Christian life and spirituality in terms of what have accomplished or what we have done for God. One over-looked feature of spirituality is that of sharing the very heart of God. One almost revolts at the thought of such intimacy or closeness to God, but our Lord calls his disciples to stay with Him in his deepest hour of sorrow. Have you ever thought to ask God to share in his sorrows and heart for a broken humanity? If you were in Gethemane that night would you accept the call to watch with Jesus?

Our Lord at times is seeking those who will simply “watch and pray” with him. Not seek great things in his name or big goals but to simply be at his feet, caring about how the Lord feels. In some way to minister to the very Lord himself. The Old Testament priesthood had this element of ministering and appeasing the Lord himself. While our Lord in the incarnation came into humanity he was touched and ministered to by the tears and the hair of a forgiven woman. As the world grows exceedingly worse in sin and evil, God’s heart breaks even more for those he died for. Will we minister to the Lord’s heart in such times when evil itself seems to triumph? When last has your heart been broken on the inside for those around you who were lost and without the hope of Christ? When last has a tear dropped from your eye for those who are on their way to a Christless eternity?

There is a simple song sung in a Christian community that can be perhaps the echo of the Lord to our heart today: “Stay with me, remain here with me. Watch and pray, watch and pray. My heart is nearly broken with sorrow. Remain here with me, stay awake and pray.” Will you hear the Lord’s voice today? He is still waiting for you.

Intimacy and the Worship of God

facebookAs the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. – Psalm 42:1

Julian of Norwich was a medieval follower of Christ. In a day of darkness where form so easily took over any sense of believers intimacy with Christ, she wrote a classic volume on knowing God’s love. A quote from her writing says, “God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself; for Thou art enough for me.” She came to the experience the wonderful way of seeking God alone for only Himself. She understood that in intimacy with God she found life and peace itself. This again is the heart and core of worship and secret to a life of fullness and fruitfulness.

Recently when re-reading the book of Revelation, I saw again the wonderful picture of what our end goal is in Christian life. St. John recounts the majestic picture for us, “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne” (Revelation 5:6). The thought that struck me was that Christian life itself, its purpose, goal and meaning comes down to this one thing: “The wounded Lamb.” This is the centerpiece of the heavenly throne room, the living Christ, the resurrected Christ. He is the one we see and the Throne of God where the heavenly Father sits. Oh what glories are at His right hand. This, dear believer, is our goal and our ultimate purpose, to know this God, this “Lamb.” To find our satisifaction in Him alone. The entirety of heaven revolves around the person of God and should not our earthly lives be the same?

As Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22), we also should desire that inner life of fellowship with God. God had always sought for fellowship with man and intimacy even when Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:8). The wonderful truth for us today is that God can be found and known. This can happen for us in any walk of life, in any situatiion, whether a dungeon cell or in the most beautiful Church sanctuary. God not only desires but allows Himself to be found by us. This finding of God can happen in the quiet contemplation of a cell or the in busyness of life. Yet it is too easy to miss Him and find ourselves filling life with even times of christian songs, bible readings and even prayer. God is missed in these things because He is not sought for but only treated as an end for our own means. We can sadly seek God to appease our guilty conscience alone, ask for temporal help and blessings, attend Church simply to check it off on our list of moral things to do. This is the picture of coming to a stream as the Psalmist potrays but then not being willing to drink of its goodness. A parched dry tongue, not willing to refresh itself in the very person of God who can only satisfy the longing of the soul.

Christian life always begins this way, when we see the great sacrifice of the cross of Christ, the wounded Lamb. We fall on our faces in worship in thankfulness for His love towards us. Daily we cannot help but praise and thank God, not because we have to but because of experiencing His love and person. But sadly as life passes along, days become weeks and months become years. We are prone to wander from the place of intimacy, of worship, of seeking God alone. Perhaps this is a reminder for you or perhaps today this is God calling back to you saying, “My son, my daughter, come back to Me. Spend time with Me. I have longed for your fellowship and adoration.” Then again our eyes will brim with tears and our hearts will fill with love for the One that we will eternally be praising around the very throne of God.

Forsaking the Love of God

1421159573_114170_1000x667x0
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. – Revelation 2:4

Over the years we hear many explanations of the reasons why our Lord spoke so strongly to the Ephesian Church about their loss of their “first love.” Our Lord summed up the entire Old Testament in one sentence, paraphrased: “Love God and Love Others.” This love has action and proof to it. Intense and sincere devotion to Jesus Christ will produce a life of godliness and good works. Jesus was calling his Church back to practical worship, godliness and a denying of worldliness. They had hatred of evil, endured persecution in their society (Revelation 2:3), were able to spot false teachers and doctrines (Revelation 2:2) and even hated the major evil doctrine of the day taught by the deacon Nicolas (Revelation 2:6). Yet slowly love of pleasures were mingling into their affections for Jesus Christ alone. They passion they had for Him and Him alone was beginning to wane. Their looking to the cross and seeing the “lover of their souls” was something that lost its luster at least for a moment.

Nicolas began as a full-hearted believer full of the Spirit of God (Acts 6:2-6). Yet slowly through self-importance he went away from the teaching of the Apostles and formed his own teaching and way. David Wilkerson says of Nicolas of Antoich, “The church fathers had two cardinal rules for believers – do not eat meat offered to idols and avoid fornication. Nicolas evidently fathered a doctrine that led to idolatry and fornication. The society of that day winked at sexual promiscuity. Nicolas and his followers invented a doctrine of false security that eventuated in mixture with the world and an undercurrent of sensuality in their teaching.” Clement of Alexandria said of the Nicolaitans, “They abandoned themselves to pleasures like goats, in a life of shameless self indulgence.”

How do we not lose and forsake our love for the Son of God:

1. Look to Him alone for nothing else but Him. It is God that is our goal, not success, money, fame or anything else the world can offer. Give God your love and worship.

2. Pleasures are always fighting us for our affection for Jesus Christ. Our worship for Him must overcome and let Him be our satisfaction not passing worldly pleasures.

3. Look to the cross. It is there you find meaning, fulfillment, peace, joy and life eternal. Meditate on the cross. Daily thank the Lord for His death.

4. Look to yourself more then others. Instead of seeing others faults, look to your own. See the apostate deacon Nicolas in the early church as a warning sign to look inward in your own life. Are you submitting to what is the apostles doctrines today? Are you believing what the Church has always held to or are you trying to make your new teachings and ideas? The road to apostasy always begins with the separation from the people of God which leads to a leaving of God Himself.

5. Love others, find ways to do good to others. Think of others more then yourself. And you will find peace.

Praising Jesus Everyday

facebookPraise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – 1 Peter 1:3

Sometimes our life seems to spiritually become foggy and we lose sight of what really matters. Pressures, trials, circumstances come in like weeds crowding out the very purpose and reason why we exist. When we lose sight of the cross, when we begin to lose our desire to praise and thank the Lord, we can know that we are failing to really focus on the matter of first importance. Christ was the one that became flesh, who shared our humanity. He suffered and died, and God resurrected him. He is our hope, our sure foundation, our mighty fortress, our promise of eternal life. Our response must be praise, thanksgiving, a singing of hallelujah. As St. Peter opened his epistle with “praise” we should also begin each day with praise to our God.

There is a wonderful chorus that goes: “Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Ha-Hallelujah, Ha-Hallelujah, Ha-Hallelujah, Ha-Hallelujah, Ha-Hallelujah.” Take time even now while reading this short mediation to praise Jesus, He is longing for your adoration. Look again to the cross, see its beauty and glory. Glorify the risen saviour who paid so much for you. Thank Him who died for you. Heaven will be filled with praise and thanksgiving. God is looking for worshippers in the work of the Lord. It has been noted by godly men that we sing songs about God but our need is to sing worship to Him. Jesus deserves and desires this attention and focus. God alone our goal and sight. Look to Him today, take time to praise Him. This will be our heavenly occupation, enjoy it now.

Keys to Being Set Free from Unforgiveness – Greg Gordon

facebook

Freedom is something we take for granted. But talk with a man who was behind prison walls for most of his life. He will say that every breath, or sight of a blue sky, brings joy and excitement. Some believers have lived in bondage to unforgiveness and have almost forgotten the peace and joy of a life that forgives others.

The Good News of Jesus not only sets our consciences free from dead works and sins committed in the past, but it can also keep us clean and free of bitterness and unforgiveness in the present.

We will look at two keys to being free: blessing others and praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Blessing Like Joseph

Many of us have heard the dramatic story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. This young man was abused and sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He suffered greatly in prison and in other circumstances. Finally, in an amazing turn of events, God brought him to a great place of prominence where he became one of the most powerful people in the known world. Many of us have had terrible things done to us in this life, and if we have not, just wait, it is coming.

This world is full of hurting lives that have been sinned against in great ways. Joseph had a terrible thing done to him. His brothers even contemplated murdering him in the beginning. Now he was in the position and had the power to exact perfect vengeance to them. But what did he do? He forgave them completely. He actually was in such a place of realizing God’s grace that he did not even bring up any of their sins and details of what they did. He just wanted to bless them! Jesus teaches us to bless our enemies (Matthew 5:44), to bless those who curse us (Luke 6:28, Romans 12:14), to “never avenge yourselves” (Romans 12:19). Joseph does not tell his brothers that he was the “one you sold into Egypt” to condemn them. Rather, he really wanted them to know he was their brother and that he loved them greatly still. How do we get to the place where we can bless others in the body of Christ who sin against us? How can we even get to the place where we can forgive enemies and bless them?

We are called to forgive but blessing seems like it’s too much. When we forgive at times we still secretly hope they will be exposed or judged for their sin, or that, at the judgment seat, they will get what’s coming to them. Such thinking is not forgiveness but a form of vengeance masked in a guise of spiritual humility. When we truly forgive someone as Christ forgives us, we need to come to the place where we can bless them and desire God’s blessing also on their lives.

Do you realize God will actually bless your enemies and pour his grace and favour on their lives?

Think of someone that you have ought against. Picture their face. Do you want that person to be blessed? It takes brokenness to bless others who hurt you. Joseph went through terrible circumstances but God was bringing him to a place of nothingness where he could share in the sufferings of Christ and have the heart of God. In the end when we bless and forgive others we will be blessed by God himself. God wants to anoint those who are free from bitterness in their Christian lives.

Perhaps its as simple as praying a prayer to God, “Lord please bless that person” (The person’s name).

 

Reciting the Lord’s Prayer

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Many godly believers in the past have recommended praying the Lord’s prayer multiple times a day. In many Church traditions, every Sunday the Lord’s prayer is recited. In the underground North Korean Church, they put emphasis on reciting the Lord’s Prayer together.

One of the benefits of this practice is that you can check your heart daily to see if you have any unforgiveness towards someone since our Lord shows us that we should expect God to forgive our debts as we also have done to others. Some brothers and sisters claim that they do not have unforgiveness towards an individual but their actions show they do have this poison still lurking within them.

The Lord has forgiven us and does not hold or accuse us over sins that have been forgiven, but when we say we forgive others, we still hold their sins to the light. Such is not true forgiveness. Only God is the one that can truly help someone that has sinned. When humans try to fix a problem without God it ends up getting much worse. When we forgive others, we also release ourselves from bondage and open the door for God to bring healing to our heart. When we hold onto bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness, we can suffer throughout life with problems and end up hurting ourselves much more.

John Chrysostom says,

“Just as maniacs, who never enjoy tranquility, so also he who is resentful and retains an enemy will never have the enjoyment of any peace; incessantly raging and daily increasing the tempest of his thoughts calling to mind his words and acts, and detesting the very name of him who has aggrieved him. Do you but mention his enemy, he becomes furious at once, and sustains much inward anguish; and should he chance to get only a bare sight of him, he fears and trembles, as if encountering the worst evils. Yet for the very torment resulting from the thing itself we ought to forgive the offences of those who have aggrieved us. What can be more senseless than the man, who both here and there brings punishment upon himself, while he thinks to be revenged upon his enemy?”

The Amplified Bible translation says, “Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14). You cannot have forgiveness towards others and gossip about them.
To bless is to speak well of them; to curse is to speak in a wrong, accusing way. When we carry resentment for feeling we have been unfairly treated by another in the body of Christ we end up putting ourselves in harm’s way as well as hurting others. Unforgiveness is spiritual filthiness, a poison for your soul, a prison of torment. Forgive and give the individual to God and even have the grace to love and accept the individual again.

Being Set Free

Sometimes in life we live in such pain or have such ailments and problems that the thought of being free of it seems absurd. We start to normalize that which is abnormal. To hold unforgiveness is abnormal and, perhaps, through reading this short volume you have seen this afresh. Do not let the enemy of your soul, Satan, speak his lie that you cannot forgive or be forgiven.

Review and start to practice these steps daily:

1. Consider the coming of the Lord and that we should not be caught in unforgiveness with others (James 5:9).

2. Remember how much Christ suffered for you in the flesh and how we mar and hurt our Lord himself when we hold to bitterness (Ephesians 4:30-31).

3. Think on how much you sin and how terrible your sins are, judging yourself, not others (James 4:11-12).

4. Choose to bless (Romans 12:14) those who hurt you, praying for them and asking God to help them and show his grace to them.

5. Daily (perhaps 3 times a day), say the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) out loud with meaning.

6. Choose not to slander to speak evil of anyone (Colossians 3:8).
Prayer

Lord, we come to You honestly with a broken heart, realizing that we have held things against those whom you have fully forgiven.

Your servants in the Bible have gone through much greater problems than we have ever had to face. You saw them through their trials and difficulties, hurts and pains. Thank You for Your promise that you have forgiven all of our debts as we forgive our debtors. We choose today to forgive those who have hurt us in anyway.

Give us the ability to choose to always forgive and release others. Please bring back the peace in our life that was filled with bitterness and hurt. Help us to stay close to You and not stray in our hearts. We pray for the grace to find freedom from all forgiveness in our lives.

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit Amen.