Day 17: The Christian Culture

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our hope cannot be in people, or in a church. It has to be in Him alone.

Scriptures of the Day:

Philippians 2:19-21

“19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 12:14-15

“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled.”

Sometimes our hope can be stolen from an unlikely place. Paul is not mincing words in this passage. To say that all the believers except Timothy sought after their own interests is astounding. Of course this is one verse of many and Paul often spoke with great encouragement about the believers he was working with. Perhaps in this season in particular, he did not “feel the love” from the believers surrounding him.

I confess I have wanted to avoid this topic, but it has played such a big role in my healing as well as in my suffering. It is the elephant in the room that we want to avoid, but needs to be discussed in the hope of healing hearts who have been wounded by spiritual abuse or the Christian culture gone awry.

The first time I stepped into a church that was alive with joy and hope and fervent praise it felt like coming home. This is what it was all about – coming together and rejoicing in this new hope we had found. Church has been rather boring growing up – I did not know the LORD and we rarely went to church.

But then God saved me and I went to an amazing church (http://www.gracecov.org/), unlike any I had ever been to. There were exciting times serving in campus ministry, helping to start a church plant and serving on the worship team. Sweet, vibrant times of discipleship, fellowship and growing in the LORD.

When I was persecuted for my new faith, church was a refuge, the believers all surrounded me and it was family. Sometimes you wish you could bottle up the joy you have from one church experience and open it up from time to time when needed.

The church can serve as a great catalyst and cultivator of hope, but it can also serve as a place of great pain.

The pain is worsened by the fact that church is a place where we come for hope – a place where we know we are all accepted by Christ – but not necessarily by other Christians. When a Christian sins, it just hurts worse. It is not expected, but maybe it should be.

When we understand that the church is a place filled with sinful people, we clear up our disillusionment with the church. There is no perfect church and people sometimes can be prideful, selfish, legalistic, used as tools by the enemy.

Sometimes when life crushes our hope, we run to people or to the church as our refuge. This can be a source of inspiration, but it can also be a place of great stress and sorrow.

When my children and I were suffering greatly, we felt isolated and judged at church. The church simply did not know how to handle our situation. At the time it was very painful, but now I understand that they were just ill-equipped. Sometimes people meant well and sometimes they tried to manipulate us. It really messes with your mind when the body of Christ is not very godly. But God.

Jesus brings healing and opens our eyes to realize that our hope cannot be in people, or in a church. It has to be in Him alone. As we walk through life and encounter seasons that threaten to destroy us, we need to be in God’s word foremost and to find like-minded believers who will stand with us. The others who seek to kick us when we are down, or judge us self-righteously – we can forgive them and realize they are misinformed and focused on earthly matters. Sometimes we, too, are small-minded and need grace.

The Holy Spirit can help us to get over our shock from snubbing, gossiping, jealousy, anger and rejection that come from believers. All of us are desperate for the grace of God and need to keep the main thing the main thing – being a beacon of hope to the world that desperately needs Jesus.

The church is not perfect, but the bride of Christ is indeed beautiful. Christ redeemed her and He will complete the work He has begun in her. Letting go of the judgements of man and embracing the acceptance we have in Christ offers a hope that never ends.

Stay where you are planted and help encourage the culture within your church to be one that pleases God. This song by Twila Paris is such a reminder of Who the church is. How Beautiful. Love one another – Christ bled and died for us all.

Lord, help us to keep our hope in You alone. Everything else disappoints, but You never do! Help your church to rise up and be loving and accepting, able to provide the hope You have given so abundantly.

Thoughtful Thursday: Purposeful Parenting

Parenting Purposefully

Photo credits: John Florbant

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When our children come to know God as their Savior, they understand that walking in obedience is not a punishment, but a blessing.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 78: 5-8

“He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them. 7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands. 8 Then they will not be like their ancestors, who were a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that was not committed and faithful to God.”

Parenting advice from the Father of all creation is worth listening to. In fact, it was not just advice – but a command. God knew the importance of remembering His activity. We are desperately wicked and constantly need a compass to point us toward Him. Our children are no different. When we remind them of the wonders God has done, we point them to the One Who is greater than us – the only One worthy of worship – Who is able to guide them and be their constant companion through this life .

Worshiping One Who is greater than ourselves keeps us from worshiping lesser things that cannot save. When my children were little, I would read Scriptures to them before they could understand a word. When they were old enough to understand, we began devotions and bible studies together. I was always amazed at how the Holy Spirit would guide me as I taught my children. I did not have to be super organized – I just needed to open His Word and study it with them.

The Lord placed home education on my heart as the means to achieving what He had asked me to do – to raise my children to know Him. Not to be religious. Not to be outwardly obedient and inwardly disobedient, but to know what it meant to walk with God.

I got so much flack raising my children in the LORD; that they were damaged because they were home educated, that they were “missing out”. They did indeed miss out. On a lot of extra junk that would have burdened them. We have enough troubles in this world, let alone ascribing to the belief that parents need to let their kids “figure it out” on their own.

God is telling parents to be purposeful in their parenting, to make sure their children know what He has done for them and this world that He loves – with the purpose of them having confidence in Him. This confidence becomes a living faith that knows God is their ever-present help in times of trouble.

When our children come to know God as their Savior, they understand that walking in obedience is not a punishment, but a blessing. Choosing a life of walking after the flesh only leads to deep sorrows and God wants to spare us that.

Parenting is not for wimps, and God knew we would need His wisdom to be able to raise His children for Him in a way that pleased Him. He also knew we would need to examine ourselves regularly to be able to see clearly enough to recognize sin in our own lives as well as theirs. Parenting a path full of battles when we choose to go against the flesh and raise our children God’s way, but it is a battle worth fighting and He already won the war for us.

Lord, help us to be godly parents who never give up mentoring our children with Your love and truth. Cause the hearts of our children to crave righteousness and may they be faithful to raise their children to love you, too.

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Author | Speaker | Worship Leader | Singer

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Truthful Tuesday: To Know Him is to Serve Him

Serving and Knowing God

Photo credits from 924jeremiah.wordpress

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Knowing God means we begin to have His heart for His people, particularly the poor and needy.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 22:16 (NET)

“He upheld the cause of the poor and needy. So things went well for Judah.’ The LORD says, ‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.'”

Righteousness cannot be attained by good works, yet valid faith cannot exist apart from them. The life hidden in Christ is one that seeks to follow after the Spirit, walking in obedience to God, which will undoubtedly involve service to others.

Christ, Who reigns over all, chose a path of humility and service. His followers will do the same. Seeking to understand the real need around Him, Jesus met people where they were at and ministered to the physical and spiritual need of all people.

When we examine ourselves in light of Scripture and the example of Christ, we will always come up short, but that does not mean we replace the standard of Christ. The plumb line of Jesus reveals our desperate need of a Savior and His costly salvation exposes our inability to ever be able to adequately thank Him for His free salvation.

Christ simply asks that we believe and do what we see Him doing – serving others. Knowing God means we begin to have His heart for His people, particularly the poor and needy.

The same things that burden Him become our mission. In His infinite wisdom, God knows we need to serve others. Our flesh is preoccupied with self, while so many unmeet needs surround us. Knowing God makes all the difference in our service to and for our King and is a witness to the world that our God is living and we belong to Him.

The Holy Spirit within provokes us to do righteous deeds – not to earn our way to Heaven, but because we know God and love Him.

Religion can attempt to do the work of God and make great strides in helping people, but it can never achieve inward heart change. Serving others from a relationship with God is not self-motivated by achieving glory for ourselves or securing a spot in heaven, but fueled by a zeal to please God and initiated by the living Holy Spirit within us.

Ultimately, when we are serving God’s people, we are serving Jesus. Our service to our King might be radically different from person to person. One might be poor materially while another might be poor in spirit. Being sensitive to our Master Who instructs us how to serve, we become the beautiful hands and feet of Jesus, affecting His people for eternity. How blessed are the feet who bring good news!

Lord, help us to see where You are working around us and to join You. May our hearts burn with compassion and may we be poured out for Your glory alone.

Thoughtful Thursday: Shameless Promotion

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Judge the content, not the cover.

Scripture of the Day:

Mark 8:38

“For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


In an age where social media is booming with messages all vying for our attention, the motivation for such massive propaganda should be considered.

What drives a person to want to post incessantly? The many platforms for engaging socially on the internet are dizzying. The vain pursuit of following and unfollowing that some partake in to increase “followers” of themselves is superficial if it is void of relationship and has no eternal merit, if not for the Messiah. So, should we engage in it at all?

Knowledge is increasing substantially in the last days. If we want to reach this generation, we have got to be able to communicate where they are at. There are dangers and many pitfalls in putting yourself out there, but just as Christ went to where the tax gatherers were to lead them to Christ, we, too, have got to go where the people are and live our lives for His glory.

As ambassadors for Christ, we put forward His message. We can’t use his picture, but in a visual world that looks on the outward, people are curious to see who it is that is speaking. It is in that moment that how we live and who we point to that makes all the difference in the world.

There are so many unwritten rules that surround the social media world. Self promotion (gasp) can be assumed if you put messages out there with your name, business or ministry. But when our identity is in Christ and we are propagating His truth, it is not self promotion but God glorification. It could be the very message a soul desperately needs to hear that we type and send out into virtual space.

When people see the weak vessel pointing to the One Who is greater, it gives them pause to praise. Not because the person is superhuman, but because that person admits their need for a Savior and proudly associates him or herself with Christ.

So, then, what is the purpose of gaining more followers? Influence. To share the love of Christ with as many as possible with the message that God has placed in our hearts. Our personal experience with Him is not about us, but about what God can do with messes.

Judge the content, not the cover. The outside fades away, but the inside lives on forever. If the message is all about God and testimonies of what He has done, then we should get behind and encourage such a message. Don’t worry about who is following who or trying to look like we are more than we are. It is not a popularity contest but an opportunity to put Gospel content out to an ever-growing audience that is being pummeled with deceptive and truthful messages, trying to discern what is life. Be the voice for Jesus. Anyone following us is ultimately following Him.

When we consider all of the people out there spreading messages, encouraging godly content is essential. We need to be the light of the world called to share the Gospel. If we shrink back and are ashamed for fear of man’s judgment, untold numbers of people will never hear the message he placed in our heart. Jesus is looking for real “followers” who don’t just subscribe as followers, but live out His message for the world to see.

Lord, thank You for every opportunity we have to spread Your fame. Help us to be faithful witnesses, wise and pure, proclaiming Your great salvation – for You are worthy!

 

Freedom Friday: Gospel Across Cultures

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The hand of God is moving the people of this world so that they may hear of His great love.

Scripture of the Day:

Exodus 23:32-33

“You must make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

The nations have been brought to our doorstep – the beautiful melting pot of the United States. Nations that did not have the same freedoms in their own homeland can now have access to the freedom in our land – for such time as this.

The tremendous blessings of having such a diverse culture are many, but there are also many dangers. Primary among the flaws of such a culture is the possibility of adopting false gods. God sought to protect Israel from such idolatry and in our desire to accept all people, we must guard our hearts from the same danger to our faith.

We are called to love all people, yet not embrace their gods. They have been brought to our home and we have an opportunity like no other time in history to reach these people with the love of Christ. People who could not formerly hear the good news in their country are now free to do so. People who could not share the Gospel in their culture now can.

What a sovereign God who would use all circumstances in our times to bring people to Himself. May we be faithful to spread the freedom we have found in Christ to all who come to our land. The fields are ripe.

Lord, You are amazing! Thank You for drawing people near to You. Help us to be Your hands and feet, propagating the Gospel to anyone who has ears to hear.