Stone-cold Christians

Are you a stone-cold Christian? Have you a cold and callused heart? Sometimes we have to take a long hard look at ourselves to see ourselves for who we really are. Take some time today to search your soul and see if you’ve left your first Love, Jesus. I don’t know about you but I believe that our Church is full of stone-cold Christians who’ve left their love long ago. And, even worse, they’re unaware of it. They think they’re following in Jesus footsteps when they obviously aren’t. But because they’ve been blinded to their spiritual state they can’t see the truth; they need to change.  Ask yourself this, are you one of them?

Think upon these things…

When our school’s Scripture Union committee was doing some training Rick Hill encouraged us to put ourselves through a spiritual MOT.  I suggest you do the same! Put yourself under the microscope so to speak.  Right now use the Word to weigh yourself up… Read Matthew 23:1-31 and see if you can spot where the religious leaders went wrong?  Are you guilty of the same mistakes?

Take this test to see if you’ve lost your love for the Lord. Are you into habitual rituals? All too often lukewarm lovers replace their relationship with Jesus with rigorous religion. You would think that when a Christian goes cold they leave the Church, but this isn’t always the case. Some carrying on ‘serving’ in spite of it, because they want to maintain their reputation. Do you go with the flow? Stone-cold Christians are people-pleasers first and foremost; they care far more about what others think instead of God’s decree.

Ask yourself?

Have you replaced your relationship with Jesus with nothing more than religion? Do you serve out of love, or nothing more than a sense of loyalty?

Keep on questioning yourself… Do you share your Saviour with those around you? Stone-cold Christians are both careful and cautious. They aren’t “risky” in their religion. Do you compare yourself to Christ? Lukewarm Christians compare themselves to anyone and everyone except Jesus because they know they don’t imitate Him. Or, if you really want you could learn the hard way and hear God say, “I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:4 NIV). It’s your choice. You can either own up to it now or end up paying for it for all of eternity.

Are you a gluttonous giver? Do you give out of your greed, expecting a pay-back for your pay-packet? Read Mark 12:41-44 before you go any further. It tells the story of the widows offering. The rich gave out of their wealth and Jesus found it less than impressive. Why? Because they gave out of their gluttony.  Something that bugs the life out of me is that we give God strict boundaries to work within.  When God told us to tithe a tenth He didn’t mean that was tops! And when you give, give for His glory; don’t expect to reap a reward on this earth.  Getting back on track, here’s another question. Do your sins upset you? Sin doesn’t bother stone-cold Christians one bit because they’re flexible in their faith, they allow themselves leeway. Our sins grieve God so we should take them seriously. If you’re wondering why just think about it. Our sins sent His Son to carry our cross. Sin is serious business that must be dealt with.

Here’s another one for you. Do you limit your love? Some lukewarm lovers give God strict boundaries to work within. An inch over it is unreasonable of God to ask, in their eyes. Do you love yourself more than your Lord? If Jesus takes second place you’ve got a problem. In Deuteronomy 6:5 we’re given the commandment to love God heart and soul. If you’ve been honest in answering the questions I threw at you and you’ve owned up to being cold, here’s what you have to do. Say sorry, and make a change. God will get to work, “the LORD your God will circumcise your hearts… so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (Deuteronomy 30:6 NIV). When you hand over your cold and callused heart God will “give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you… take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV).

Heart-cry…

Heavenly Father, after examining myself I can see that my heart isn’t always wholly after You.  I can see that sometimes I’m cold and uncaring. Help me to take my sin seriously and make a change. Take this cold and callused heart from me and give me a heart wholly devoted to You in place of it…

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Role-reversal

The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:17 NIV)

The Sovereign comes before the servant. We’re all well aware of it, so why can’t we accept it? Why can’t we get on with our job and let God do His? I’m awful at this. I try and take control, taking over the Throne. Being lord of my life is never as fun as I think it is though, because when you shove God off to the side things don’t go quite so smoothly. Lesson learnt? We should stop playing role-reversal!

Ask yourself?

Are you ever tempted to take control?  Pride is the root cause of this. In what ways can you be made more humble?

Role-reversal isn’t uncommon. Summing it up, it’s basically where we try and climb, competing with God. We try and step into His shoes and weasel our way into His role. Sometimes I catch myself at this. I think I’m so superior. There I am thinking to myself how great I am and what a great job I’ve done, when I realise I’ve stepped up a rung. There I go again, going up in my own eyes. God always brings me down with a bump. Here’s what He warns, “no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:16 NIV).  It hurts at the time but it’s what I know I need to hear.

Think upon these things…

Even though role-reversal appears to be a small sin it can do serious damage. Guard yourself against it.

Luke 18 should set off an alarm bell in your head even though it subtly talks about God’s Sovereignty. Jesus narrates the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, “two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:10-13 NKJV).

It’s quite a contrast isn’t it?! One worshipped self while the other worshipped the Sovereign. My first thought was what an idiot the Pharisee is. Then I realised that I share his story, I too praise myself instead of giving all the glory to God. Jesus justified the tax collector, saying that he who humbled himself will be exalted. Let it be a lesson to us.

Bible-bones

Read over Luke 18:9-14.  Pay attention to verse 9, “He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men.”  Jesus was talking to the religious who thought they were righteous.  As you read over the passage answer these questions:

In what attitude did the Pharisee come before God?

Compare this to how the tax collector approached the Most High.

Which man was justified, and why?

This one takes a bit of thought. What are the differences between being religious and being righteous?

Here’s one that will put you in your place. Whose shoes do you stand in?  The Pharisees, or the tax collectors?

Here’s what this all adds up to; there’s only room enough for one on the Throne. Don’t let self stand in the way of God. When you’re so full of yourself you aren’t leaving any room for God to work in your life. We have to shift from self-centredness! If we don’t, God will bring us down. “The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of man humbled” (Isaiah 2:17 NIV). Listen to what comes next: – “The Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:17 NIV). We’ll be humbled on Judgement day so we should accept it now and apply it to our lives. Only one can rule, so who’s it going to be? The Sovereign or the servant?

Ask yourself?

Are you guilty of the same sin? Be careful not to set yourself up on a man-made platform. God is our foundation so He’ll be forced to bring you down if you’ve raised yourself up.

Heart-cry…

God on High, I admit that sometimes I try to take control.  Right here, right now, I’m accepting that You’re Sovereign and I’m Your servant.  Help me to accept Your rule, whatever that may be…

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The Unseen is Eternal

Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)–[which will bring you] unto life eternal.” (Jude 1:21 Amplified)

If you take Heaven out of the Bible, the rest of its message is without meaning. If you think about it, what else would we be working towards? If Heaven is a land of make-believe, a tall tale Jesus told to keep us quiet, then there’s nothing left to live for. But thank God that Jesus was a man of His word, one day everyone who is found to be in Him will walk through Heaven’s gateway and be able to call it Home.  Thank God that the grave leads to a new beginning, life outlasts the grave.  Take confidence in the fact that God has prepared a Home for all who love Him.  That’s a promise, there’s no question about it.

Now, we know that God will bring everything that is unseen into existence, what God has chosen to conceal will one day be revealed!  2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) says it straight, “so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  It’s fair to say that our “invisible” works will one day be plain to see. This is why we have to live with infinity in the forefront of our minds. Whether we like it or not each and every one of us leaves a living legacy behind.

One day we will have to give an account to the all-seeing and all-knowing God. Before the Judgement Seat of Christ we will have to give an account of every secret sin, be it in word or in works.  You can’t ignore the fact that you can’t run from your past.  If you didn’t confess Christ or serve Him with your time, attention and talents you’ll have some explaining to do on that day!  Here’s a frightening thought, “nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13 NIV).

Ask yourself?

Are you living with infinity in the forefront of your mind?  What have you done for Jesus today?  Have you been giving Him your time, attention and talents?

You can go through life trying to ignore it, but we’re all held accountable to the Almighty. Every secret sin will be out there for all to see. We won’t be able to justify our actions anymore. When we try to turn a blind eye, never forget that nothing has escaped the attention of the all-seeing God. This is what God has to say. “I am watching them closely, and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from me” (Jeremiah 16:17 NLT). I will echo it, you can’t hope to hide from Him, so it looks like you’ll have to face up to the fact.

Now I’m not saying all this stuff so as to depress you. Rather I hope and pray it spurs you on to do greater things for God! Why does it matter so much to me? When I stand before God I want to be able to stand tall, knowing that I ran this race without holding back an inch of myself. I want to give Jesus my all instead of some lame attempt at this life.  Your popularity and pay-packet won’t get you through those Gates. Knowing and loving Jesus is the only thing that comes into the equation.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The unseen is eternal.  Everything else will come to nothing.  Everything that is short-term will be short-lived.  So why don’t you leave a legacy of love behind? After all, it’s the only thing that will outlast this life-time.

Ask yourself?

We’re to leave a legacy of love behind. Jesus did, and we all know that we’re to live by His example! Always remember that the unseen is eternal. Every day we have here on earth should count for the Kingdom.  Ask yourself this- if you were to die today and look back over your life could you honestly say that you spent it well?  Is it time to make a change?

Heart-cry…

Eternal Father, help me to never forget that the unseen is eternal. It’s all that truly matters both now and for all of eternity.  A half-hearted attempt at this life is not enough, You demand my all, and with Your help I intend to give it…

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Tuning In

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11-12 MSG)

The story of the Lord appearing to Elijah has got to be one of my all-time favourites.  Read it for yourself. It’s found in 1 Kings 19:9-13.  I love the way God communicates with us.  You would expect God to thunder wouldn’t you?  The last thing you’d expect God to do would be to whisper.  When in fact, this is exactly what He does!  This is how He grabs our attention. He speaks into the silence, as softly as He can.

Unfortunately God’s still small voice can be drowned out these days. Pray that you would become sensitive to His whisperings. You have to train your ears to hear what the Spirit is saying.  In today’s reading you can see that God gave Elijah a word, but it wasn’t in the wind. It wasn’t in the earthquake either. God wasn’t found in the fire, but in “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12 NIV).  It’s so easy to drown Him out. I’m often guilty of this.  Once I was sitting watching the telly and God spoke to me in a whisper. I didn’t recognise His voice and I didn’t respond.  It was several weeks later that I realised He had been talking to me.

Here’s a story to illustrate my point. My dog, Peggy-Sue, has a stubborn streak in her.  She’s as blind as a bat but she’s in denial of the fact.  One day when I was walking Peggy across our fields she wouldn’t come when I called. I had had enough and wanted to go home, but Peggy decided to run the other way (probably on purpose, seeing that she’s so stubborn). I was yelling at her like crazy, “Peggy!  You may be blind but you’re NOT deaf!” That’s when the Spirit gave me a nudge; nothing more, just a nudge.  My outburst really spoke to me. We too may be blind to the invisible but we’re not deaf to the inaudible, believe it or not. We may not be able to see God in all His glory, but we can hear His voice speaking to us softly in the silence.

I used to hear God so much more in days gone by, but not so much now. Why, you wonder? Because I hate silence, I can’t stand it. I won’t sit in it any longer that I have to. I get really fidgety and awkward, even in God’s Presence. I always feel that I have to pray out loud, which is so wrong. Even at a prayer-room recently I could barely stand being alone. My prayers flowed so much more when one or two where with me. The reason I struggle so much to pray into myself is because I can’t stand the stillness. Back in the olden-days, before I had an I-pod, I could pick up on His whisperings so much easier. Now, well, He has my music to compete with. Even in the car there’s a war within me. Do I turn on Radio One or do I sit in the silence and invite God in? Unfortunately it can go either way.

A word from the not-so-wise- don’t try to fill every void. Leave some silence for God to speak into. I’ve started to switch off my I-pod when I go for a stroll, put down my book every once in a while, and turn down the TV. It’s my way of trying to tell God that I’m open. I’m tuning in to His music instead of mine. I suggest you do the same.  When you tune in to what God has to say you’re getting the message out loud and clear that you’re choosing Him above all else. Don’t put a silencer on what God has to say. Give God back His voice.

Think upon these things…

If we have our own music blaring how do we expect to hear God’s song over it?  Turn off that telly, switch off your phone, and don’t you dare pick up that I-pod! Limit your use, and listen up!

Heart-cry…

Dear Jesus, I’m praying that Your Spirit would speak volumes. I’m open to your leading, I‘m listening out for You…

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