Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tearing my Heart

I know why the rapture didn’t happen on May 21. It’s because God is merciful, compassionate, slow to anger, and filled with unfailing love.

You see, the Day of the Lord is not something to look forward to. It’s a day of judgment and it’s not going to be pretty. He hates sin and will judge it. He hates rebellion and will punish rebels – that’s everyone who hasn’t repented.

But before He judges the world, He’s giving us time to prepare. 

I know that Jesus has already taken my punishment on Himself. But I also know that I still do things that God hates – I still sin. So I need to use the time He’s given me to turn away from sin and to Him. Now is the time for fasting, weeping, and mourning over my sin. 

When the Jews mourned, they put ashes on their heads and tore their robes. I need to tear my heart instead of tearing my garments. My mourning should be heart deep, not just on the surface. Most of the time I take my sin pretty lightly; most of the time I’m not conscious of how much God hates it. But when I read the scripture, I see it. He hates it so much He died to remove it.

We Christians walk a narrow path between God’s grace on one side and trying to please God on the other.  We know we’re saved and don’t have to try to earn God’s favor by not sinning. But we want to please Him by not sinning. I think passages like this one in Joel are reminders that even though we’ve been saved, every sin we commit is hateful.

God has already sent me a blessing instead of a curse. But He wants my broken heart so I can worship Him fully.

Monday, September 26, 2011


My pastor tells us that God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called. One way He does it is through the work of the Elders of the church. Their responsibility is to build up the church by equipping the rest of us to do His work.

Apostles are eye witnesses of Jesus’ life on earth. We learn about Him by their witness in the New Testament.

Prophets speak a message from God. We not only read that message when we read the Bible, but our pastors speak His message every week.

Evangelists share the Good News of salvation. Missionaries aren’t the only ones who spread the gospel. We hear it in our churches every week.

Pastors care for the life of the flock like a shepherd. They visit us, admonish us and counsel us as we need it.

Teachers explain the Word and ways of God. They help us dig deep to understand the really complex things about God. 

God created these positions to create unity in faith. The more our knowledge of Jesus grows, the more we will grow together. When the whole church is mature in the Lord, we’ll measure up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

In other words, Christians grow together. God has ordained leaders within the church to lead us, so if we’re not in a church, we don’t have anyone to guide us. We’ll likely lose our way.

I’m blessed to be in a church where I’m being equipped. The elders talk about what they’ve seen Jesus do. They speak messages from God, they share the Gospel and preach and teach the Word. They are concerned for my daily life. My church is growing and I think we are maturing. I‘m growing in the Lord and I see other members growing too.

My response, of course, is to do His work. That’s why He’s equipping me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gifts of Love

Here’s a list of some of the parts of Jesus’ Body. Whenever I see a list like this, I look for where I fit in it

apostles - nope
prophets - nope
teachers – of children and occasionally women
those who do miracles – not so far
those who have the gift of healing – don’t think so, but I pray for healing for others
those who can help others – don’t think it’s a gift, but I help out where I can
those who have the gift of leadership - sometimes
those who speak in unknown languages - never

Paul says I should desire the most helpful gifts. But I know what gifts the Spirit has given me and I’m not really wanting more. The ones I have are keeping me pretty busy. Since I know my gifts, I should desire to use them in the most helpful way I can.

TEACHING: I can help the Body in several ways with this gift. I can help others gain a better understanding of the Bible and of God’s ways. When we understand Him better, it will help us fulfill His purpose for us. I can also use it to teach the children of the church. As a teacher, I’m a partner with their parents. I’m helping them to raise their kids in the Lord.

HELPING OTHERS: There are lots of ways to help others. I can help meet their physical needs when they are suffering; I can help ease the burden when someone else has a big responsibility. I can show love by doing little things for others.

LEADERSHIP: I can use my organizational skills to encourage others to use their gifts. I can take the lead on programs that the church needs.

But no matter which gifts God has given me and how much I use them to help the church, there’s a better way. It’s love. When I read ahead to chapter 13, I see that the gifts are meaningless if they’re not motivated by love.

Love lasts forever, some of the gifts won’t.
Love is a way of life, no matter what gifts I have or don’t have.
Love should motivate the way I use my gifts and the way I live.
Love should be the way that I do everything.

I should use my gifts because I love God and the body.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sin in the Camp

God hates sexual sin. That’s hard to grasp in the world we live in. It’s so prevalent and so accepted, that I know I tend to downplay it. But the Bible doesn’t, especially among Christians.

But I don’t have a problem with sexual sin – or do I?

I watch TV and movies; I even read some books with sexual innuendo. My mind skips over the explicit parts and downplays what I’m seeing. When I stop to think about it, I realize that it can’t be pleasing to God for me to watch a scene with even a mild interaction between an unmarried man and woman. In fact, He probably isn’t pleased with suggestive language and sexual humor either.

Having acknowledged that, my response to this passage is still: Wow!

I can’t eat with someone who claims to be a believer but isn’t married to the person she’s living with? I can’t associate with Christians like that or with believers who are greedy, believers who put things before God, believers who are abusive, or addicted or cheating others?

Who’s left?

The church is full of sinners and I know I’m one. Should people not be associating with me?

There are a few things I need to remember before I hole up in my house and stop talking to other Christians.

It’s a hard teaching, but from the beginning God has demanded that His people be separate from the world. He knows that sin in the church spreads to the whole body. It needs to be removed like yeast in bread.

The Corinthian church was boasting about it. Maybe the guilty man had a great personality. Maybe he did a lot for the church. Do we close our eyes to a person’s sin because they have a gift they use to serve the church?

These instructions are corporate. Paul isn’t talking to individuals, but to the whole church. I must never presume to judge by myself. The responsibility belongs to the church leaders, the people God has put in authority.

As a church, we shouldn’t pretend there isn’t sin in the church. We need to recognize it, deal with it and start fresh.

As an individual believer, I should examine myself before God, apply His Word and make sure I’m not the one bringing sin into the camp.