Truthful Tuesday: One Faith For All

his-love-is-too-great-to-permit-a-sinful-lifestyle-that-enslaves-his-children

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

His love is too great to permit a sinful lifestyle that enslaves His children.

Scriptures of the Day:

Ephesians 4:5-6

“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”

1 Corinthians 8:6

“But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.”

Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

John 14:6

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

Matthew 7:13

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Tears fill my eyes as I see Scripture after Scripture telling of only one way to be saved and contemplate the goodness of God that He would make a way, yet so many refuse to accept God’s goodness.

In our pride, we would like to have our way. We think we know best. We think we are deserving of salvation because we are on the throne of our souls.

The standard shifts to accommodate all, yet then no standard remains at all.

It seems fair that we should be able to create our own religion and beliefs, our own list of dos and don’ts. The humanistic philosophy that everyone should be included and everything should be tolerated and allowed seems to make sense. One size fits all. But we, the Created, are not in a position of telling the Creator how things should be done.

In our desire to justify our sin and make ourselves acceptable before a Holy God, we crave a standard that is relativistic and pluralistic. In this thinking, we believe all can be saved. But what is this salvation? Salvation from our sins, not a salvation that allows sins. A great salvation that would cover over our sins but also transform our hearts and minds to be like His.

God is not unloving to have a standard. He would be unloving not to. To have a clear understanding of our need of a Holy God is kind. Further, it is not exclusive to say there is one way, it would be cruel to lie and say all paths lead to God. They simply don’t. God’s word says it over and over again.

There is one Faith, and this is not an ecumenical statement, not a pluralistic view, but a call to the reality that we have One God and One Faith. So simple, yet so many stumble over this reality.

In His incredible mercy, God extended salvation to the entire world, but many miss it. For fear of judgment from the one true faith, people flock to their brand of religion that fits their personality and what they want, when all they would have to do to be accepted is believe and admit that they are unholy, in need of salvation from our Holy God, and ask God for forgiveness.

The one Who laid down His life to bear our iniquity – every single sin – that we could stand in His presence and know our Father – His love is too great to permit a sinful lifestyle that enslaves His children. He paid too high a price to set us free. Too big a sacrifice to allow us to believe in a religion that is a lie, which requires us to try and earn our own salvation. He already bought us with His own blood.

“Jesus paid it all. All to Him we owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, but He washed us white as snow.”

Oh God, may everyone who reads this posting today know that they can be saved and accept Your salvation. Open the eyes of all who read to know that they are loved and cherished and don’t have to live in sin any longer. Remove the liberal view which tries to condone our lifestyle and justify self. We are sinful, wretched, lost without You. Thank you, oh God, for your free gift of salvation which cost the life of Your beloved Son, our Savior!

The Eyes Have It

Photo Credits creepypasta.wikia.com

Photo Credits
creepypasta.wikia.com

Genesis 9:22-25 (NET Bible)

22 “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. 23 Shem and Japheth took the garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in backwards and covered up their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his drunken stupor he learned what his youngest son had done to him. 25 So he said, “Cursed be Canaan!  The lowest of slaves he will be to his brothers.”” 

Job 31:1 (NIV)

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”

Matthew 5:28

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Genesis 19:26

“But Lot’s wife looked back longingly and was turned into a pillar of salt.”

Psalm 119:37

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

We live in a visually heightened society.  Eye candy is everywhere and it can become overwhelming.  The perception is that the images flaunted on the covers of magazines are perfection and should be our aim.  I confess – I am one of those who flips all of the magazines around when standing in line.  I want to protect my eyes as well as my children’s. Of course sometimes the back of the magazine is just as bad, if not worse, then the front.  Sigh.  I also have taught my children from an early age to look the other way when walking in the mall and passing an ungodly store.  It has become instinct now to do so.  Why take such precautions? Conviction.  Fear of God.  Obedience.  Awareness of the need to make no provision for the flesh even if it is not currently a temptation.  In humility, I know it could be apart from God’s grace.  Vigilance offers sweet reward and protects us from calamity.

Even with protective measures in place, we can all stumble across something we wish we hadn’t.  It is what we do in those moments that can set the course for moral victory or failure.  Ham must have felt that the discipline was a bit extreme for his child and future generations to be cursed from one peek.  There are many commentaries on this, but a parent knows his child’s heart.  The foolish, wicked response Ham demonstrated revealed what was in his heart.  Perhaps this was already evident in his son, Canaan, as well.  The curse did indeed extend through Ham’s son Canaan, whose descendants eventually populated Sodom.

Even if we are not involved in an impure lifestyle, do we condone it?  Lot’s wife also looked longingly with her eyes at what she was leaving when God was burning up Sodom and Gomorrah.  Scripture does not say that she was participating with the moral filth all around her, but her eyes were also the source of her demise.  I would have wanted out of there in a big way.  The flames from the sky would not have been the only reason, but the flame of lust all around.  The company we keep can also greatly impact whether or not we walk in purity.  I think the moral decay was probably already apparent before Lot’s neighbors were banging his door down to sexually violate his house guest – and he offered his pure daughters instead.

The sins of the father do not have to be duplicated in future generations.  Noah’s discipline could have been a turnaround and produced repentance and righteousness.  Revelation of the action being sinful is actually grace.  It is ignorance and a culture of impurity unnoticed that breeds moral depravity extending down the family line.  If only we could see what the momentary indulgence of the eyes does.  The effect is profound – a wife unloved while her husband gazes on images which have no life, just to satiate his lust.  What a waste.  Families falling apart because parents do not teach their children to guard the eye gate, which our very life’s direction can be altered by.

There is nothing new underneath the sun.  The same sins which threaten to undo our society were the same vices thousands of years ago – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life.  Compromise can slip in almost unnoticed.  It might be an item of clothing – fashion that maybe is a little revealing, but we can rationalize it away and accept it as appropriate.  It might be allowing certain media or programming in your home, which fosters ungodliness and worldliness.  God help us to not just abstain from impurity, but to cultivate purity.  No matter what our past, today can be a new benchmark of holiness and chasing after God’s heart instead of the world’s cheap substitute.  Past mistakes do not have to be a harbinger of the future.  They can instead serve as a guide of what to avoid and an impetus to walk faithfully with God.

Lord, help us to keep our eyes open to Your ways and to recognize sin in our lives.  Help us to devote our eyes only to worthy things which bring You glory.  Amen.

Worshipful Wednesday: The Sweet Surprise of God’s Boundaries

Photo Credits www.bard.edu

Photo Credits
http://www.bard.edu

Psalm 119: 1-16

1 How blessed are those whose actions are blameless, who obey the law of the Lord.  2 How blessed are those who observe his rules, and seek him with all their heart, 3 who, moreover, do no wrong, but follow in his footsteps. 4 You demand that your precepts be carefully kept. 5 If only I were predisposed to keep your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed, if I were focused on all your commands.  7 I will give you sincere thanks, when I learn your just regulations. 8 I will keep your statutes.  Do not completely abandon me!  9 How can a young person maintain a pure life?  By guarding it according to your instructions! 10 With all my heart I seek you.  Do not allow me to stray from your commands!  11 In my heart I store up your words, so I might not sin against you. 12 You deserve praise, O Lord!  Teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I proclaim all the regulations you have revealed. 14 I rejoice in the lifestyle prescribed by your rules as if they were riches of all kinds. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and focus on your behavior. 16 I find delight in your statutes; I do not forget your instructions.

One person looks at rules and boundaries as an outdated suggestion.  Another sees them as something to aspire to, but impossible.  Yet another recognizes the wisdom in restraining oneself and the ironic pleasure self-denial brings.  It is possible to walk with God with the boundaries He has set – He would not command it if it were not so.  The decision to set boundaries in our lives does not just happen, however – it is purposefully planned and carefully carried out.

I was saved at the age of nineteen when the LORD placed on my heart to stop dating.  Peers thought I was crazy and labeled me everything from “miss purity” to a “lesbian” to being worldly.  Wow – I could not be all three things at the same time – what was I?  I was a new believer who recognized the present world system of dating was not godly.  I waited on the LORD and trusted Him for a mate.  I learned what it meant to place boundaries in my life and made mistakes but gratefully waited until my wedding to consummate that covenant.

Since then, I have experienced betrayal and now wear the scarlet letter “D” – something I never thought I would wear.  Yet walking through those dark waters has taught me more than my former skepticism of those who have also tasted of the scorn that divorce brings.  Despite following the path God set, I could not control the other person’s decisions or actions.  Forgiveness came but so did consequences.  Since that time, I have gone through the process of courting again and remarrying.  Boundaries that I had when I was younger were once again in place, only this time it was more difficult.  It was easy to maintain those boundaries while married, but when single again I had to learn all over again what that should look like.  Finding anyone who had waited until their wedding was seemingly impossible and excuses are readily available for failure – we are only human, after all.  Rationalization is an easy find, too.  It is a natural behavior to deem a standard too difficult and try to make an easier solution – that is our flesh.  But God’s Word gives a prescription and method that is altogether beautiful and truly freedom.

Excuses, rationalization and an ungodly culture make it difficult to obey boundaries set by God, but there is a treasure in this passage which shows us the path to victory – guarding purity with God’s instructions.  Time and culture changing do not affect God’s standard.  Instead of resenting the limitations, the Psalmist actually delights in the “lifestyle prescribed by Your rules as if they were riches…”.  Wow – what a perspective.  Satan loves to deceive us and trick us into thinking we are missing out – well, we do miss out on sin and its vicious consequences when we elect to live our lives God’s way.  The Psalmist cherishes the boundaries and keeps them with several means: he meditates, focuses on, delights in and does not forget God’s instructions.  I have to admit the forgetting part is more difficult as I have gotten older, but makes me appreciate why the Israelites had to repeatedly remind themselves to obey – our natural disposition is to disobey.

Now I have teens and young adults in my home going through the process of establishing boundaries and walking in purity.  It is a delight to walk beside them and counsel them and they benefit from my obedience and mistakes, too.  Despite the natural degradation that occurs from generation to generation, I have heard an admirable goal of a parent is to have the next generation be even more righteous than the one that went before it.  May it be so.

Maybe you have not ever had boundaries and it is scary to contemplate beginning a disciplined life.  Maybe you have failed and don’t want to have boundaries for fear of failure again.  Even though the Psalmist himself (a man after God’s own hear) knew what it was to fail, too, he recognized his folly and chose to redirect his life toward God’s boundaries.  He did not seek popular opinion or look to his own thoughts to form his standards.  He put forth God’s standard of holiness, knowing he himself could not maintain or attain to it, save the grace of God.  But he did not stop there – he set boundaries in his life and adhered to them tenaciously.  He began anew.  So can we.

Lord, help us to walk in the liberty that boundaries bring.  May we walk in integrity and not make provision for the flesh, nor excuse our sin.  You made us and know the best way.  May Your Name be praised forever and ever.