You are Your Brother’s Keeper

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Genesis 4 tells us about Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain became angry with his brother Abel and ended up committing the first recorded murder in history. He killed his brother. In verse 9 we are told that God asked Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain’s response was, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Ultimately God punished Cain for his sin.

Whether we want to admit it or not many of us ask the same question. Am I my brother’s keeper?

There is a bait in Christianity to have a lone ranger mindset. Instead of being involved in the body of Christ it is far too easy to isolate oneself. After all, my relationship with Christ is just between me and God isn’t it?

The reality of the matter is that we are commanded to be a part of the body of Christ.

For years I struggled with this command and wondered why it is so important to be involved in a church.

I believe that the reason so many of us are confused by this is because we have the wrong mindset toward the body of Christ. We think that it is all about us.

If the body of Christ is all about you and you are being hurt by it and feel that you would be safer at home it would make sense to just stay home. Likewise if the body of Christ is all about you and you are not being fed and feel that you could do a better job feeding yourself it would make sense to feed yourself rather than to waste time going to church?

Here is the key. The body of Christ is not about you.

Recently I was attending a Bible College and my professor made an interesting statement. In essence he said that we, the student body, think of that school as a place of peace but in reality it is a place of tension. It is a place that draws us to a position of devotion to Jesus, holds us in a position of devotion to Jesus and when we stray from that position it is a place that draws us back to a position of devotion to Jesus.

That statement got me thinking. My professor was right. That is what that Bible College did and that was why I loved it so much. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that that is not just the role of a Bible School but it is the role of churches, families and ultimately every believer.

Hebrews 3:12-14 says, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,”

We are to exhort one another daily lest any of our fellow believers be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

The body of Christ is not about you. It is about you pushing your fellow believers to Jesus. You ought to be that place of tension in your fellow believers lives that draws them to devotion to Jesus, holds them in that position of devotion to Jesus and draws them back if and when they become distracted.

We are commanded to be in the body of Christ not for our own sake but for the sake of the believers around us.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

This is what God intended for the body of Christ. He did not intend for us to look out for our own good but rather for us to come together with the intention of serving one another.

We have an enemy who is prowling around looking for someone to destroy. He desires to mislead and overpower us. The body of Christ, working as God intended it to work is our best defense against him. If one of us falls the rest can help him up. If one is being attacked the rest can stand with him and together they can overcome.

Am I my brother’s keeper? This question followed the very first act of murder. Rather than standing with his brother to aid and protect him as God had intended, Cain killed his brother. Many in the church today are asking the same question because we, like Cain, do not want to take responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is sad and dangerous. At some point every believer, no matter how mature will grow weary, distracted or discouraged. This is why we are commanded to be actively engaged in the body of Christ, exhorting and encouraging one another on in Christ.

Yes, we are our brother’s keepers. When a brother or sister falls may we be there to pick them up.

Never Alone

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Daniel 3:24-25 says, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

Who was that fourth man in the fire? Although some might argue that it was an angel, I would argue that it was Jesus. He walked and talked with them in the fire. He was there with them.

A Chinese pastor was thrown into solitary confinement for more than a year because of his faith. Day after day, week after week, month after month he crouched in a tiny cell hardly big enough to stand up in. He remained there in total darkness. There was no light, no human companionship, and no human conversation. It was just him and God.
When he was finally released, he had nearly gone blind from the long lack of light, his body was weak and fragile, but his face was radiant and glowing. He seemed to radiate with joy and peace. His Christian friends peppered him with questions, “How did you survive solitary confinement for so long? What was it like?”
The frail pastor paused and smiled. “It was like a honeymoon with Jesus!”

One beautiful thing about the Christian faith is that we serve a God who is with us. We do not serve a distant God but instead a God who is close. We serve a God who promises never to leave us and always to be there.

The God who was there in the fiery furnace is also here with us today. Why could that Chinese pastor have so much joy in the midst of so much suffering? Because his God was there with him.

What a comfort to know that we serve Jehovah Shammah—The Lord who is there.

Hebrews 11:32-38 says, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”

When we read the above passage we all want to be on the first list. We would much rather be among those who shut the mouths of lions and quenched the violence of the fire than among those who were tortured and killed.

However, the key thing to remember here is that all these people served the same God. He was Jehovah Shammah for all of them. He was there with them whether they were imprisoned or delivered whether they were stoned or set free.

Never forget the truth that whether you end up on the first list or the second God is still there.

Hebrew 13:5b-6 says, For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Because God promises never to leave us we can say with boldness that we will not fear. Because Jehovah Shammah is our God we can say with confidence that man has no real power over us.

Jesus said to Pilate, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” This is now true of us as believers as well. Men have no power over us accept that which God grants to them.

Why would we fear men when the living God is with us? He never changes. He is always the same God. He is always Jehovah Shammah, the God who is there.

 

Your Reputation

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How important is your reputation to you?

For most of us, our reputation is everything. We care what people think about us. We desire the good opinion of others.

Recently I was reading that beautiful portrait of Christ found in Philippians 2:5-11 and was absolutely stunned by what verse seven said.

I have read this passage hundreds of times. I even have it memorized but as I read it again I was deeply challenged and convicted.

Philippians 2:5-7 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”

Jesus made Himself of no reputation.

My reputation is important to me. It is too important. Often I struggle to obey Him because I care about what the people around me think.

Following Jesus often forces us to do things that make us look strange or even foolish to this world.

1st Corinthians talks about this a lot. Repeatedly, Paul tells us that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God and that the foolishness of God is wiser than men.

Following Jesus means embracing that which appears foolish to this world. It means being misunderstood. It means sacrificing our reputation as sane, normal, intelligent individuals.

That is hard for us. Naturally, as human beings, we protect our reputations. We want others to think well of us.

Why do we struggle with evangelism? Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. Why do so few people in the church share the gospel?

We are afraid of what people might think of us. Our reputation is more important to us than the souls of those around us.

Why do we struggle to stoop low and serve? Jesus washed his disciple’s feet and then told them that they ought to wash one another’s feet. Why is serving each other so hard?

Too often we do not like to be seen stooping and serving. It takes humility to serve well.

Why do we struggle to humble ourselves and let other people win arguments? Jesus commanded us to prefer one another. Yet the greatest problem in modern missions is that missionaries cannot get along with each other. Why is it so hard to get along with our fellow believers?

Too often it is because we care too much about being right.

We care about our reputations. And far too often we do not serve Jesus well as a result.

Jesus made Himself of no reputation. He, God Almighty, Creator of the Galaxies, God of Angel Armies, chose to give up His reputation and come into this world as a human being. He knew that He would be misunderstood, hated and persecuted.

Yet He came anyway because He loved us.

Jesus made Himself of no reputation because we were more important to Him than His reputation.

Are we willing to make ourselves of no reputation for the name of Jesus? Is He more important to us than our feeble reputations?

The Making of a Hero

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In 2011 The Kendrick brothers released their fourth film, Courageous. The movie opens with Nathan Hayes pumping gas. On his way to grab a squeegee to clean his windshield, he turns his back to his truck for just a split second. In that moment another man jumps into the truck and begins to drive away. Without hesitating for even a second Nathan sprints toward his truck, throws his upper body through the open window, grabs onto the steering wheel and begins fighting for control of the truck. When the truck goes off of the road and into the ditch it becomes clear that it was never the truck he was fighting for but rather his young son who was in the back seat.  The question would you have hung onto the wheel is asked throughout the movie.

Recently I was thinking about that question. We all want to be able to say yes. We would all like to think that we would be unselfish and heroic, risking life and limb for our families and friends if there was ever a need.

But as I was meditating on this I suddenly began asking a different question. Instead of asking would you hold onto the wheel I began asking are you holding onto the wheel.

Heroes are built in and through the mundane. If we are not willing to put the needs of others ahead of our own and act unselfishly in our everyday lives what makes us think that when there is a threat we will act heroically?

Too often we live lives of selfishness. We want to be heroes for our families and our friends but we wait for something big to happen forgetting that it is through the little things that we prepare for the big things.

David cared for sheep before he was entrusted with a kingdom.

This is how God builds us. He gives us little things and when we prove faithful in those things He entrusts us with more.

Are you holding onto the wheel? That is the question. Not would you have held onto the wheel but rather are you?

Are you holding onto the wheel in prayer? The Bible makes it clear that there is a real battle being fought in the spiritual realm. Are you fighting for your family your friends and your coworkers on your knees?

Are you holding onto the wheel in your daily life? Every day we have the opportunity to live unselfishly putting other people’s needs and desires above our own. That is what heroism is. Are you practicing unselfishness now?

The idea that we will be heroic when a need arises is simply a foolish notion if we are not practicing unselfishness now. As Christians, we are called to pour out our lives in service to others. That begins here and now in the little things.

We are called to be faithful in the mundane. How we live in our ordinary moments will determine how we will live in our extraordinary ones.

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:3-11

 

 

Contented In Jesus

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Beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, starved. These are only a few of the many difficulties that the apostle Paul faced and yet this is the same man who wrote in Philippians that he had learned to be content everywhere and in all things.

Although Paul lived an extremely difficult life, he stated that he was content repeatedly throughout Philippians. Most of us are not content. We live in comparative ease. We have houses, cars, food, clothing, and freedom and yet we are discontented. Why? How is it that the apostle Paul who lived a life of pain and difficulty could be content and we who live lives of ease and comfort are not?

Conventional wisdom would say that contentment comes through having everything that you want but as we look at the life of Paul it becomes clear that that is not the case. How then, do we become content?

I would argue that contentment, at least the kind of contentment that Paul had, contentment that is absolutely independent of circumstances, actually begins with discontentment but it must be the right form of discontentment.

Most of us look to the world and everything in it as our source of contentment. We look to material things for peace, fulfillment, and happiness.

In order for contentment to be constant and unchanging, however, it must be based upon something that is constant and unchanging. The only thing that is constant and unchanging and always will be so, is Christ.

This is why I said that true contentment begins with discontentment. In order to gain the source of true contentment—Jesus, a person must first become discontent with the world and all that it has to offer.

It is only when a person becomes discontent with the world that they will look to Christ.

In order to become truly content a person must be wholly wrapped up in and satisfied with Christ.

Paul was content in every circumstance he faced because his contentment was not based upon circumstances. Paul suffered through extremely difficult circumstances. While writing the book of Philippians, where he speaks of his contentment, he was actually in prison.

No. Paul did not base his contentment upon his circumstances. Paul’s contentment was based upon Christ. While circumstances may change, Jesus does not. Although everything else may be stripped from you no one can separate you from Jesus. Thus because Paul was content in Christ no matter what happened to him he was able to remain content.

So back to the question that I asked at the beginning of this article. How is it that the apostle Paul who lived a life of pain and difficulty could be content and we who live lives of ease and comfort are not?

Paul’s contentment was based upon Christ whereas our contentment or lack thereof is based upon our circumstances. This is why Paul, who lived a far more difficult life than most of us, could be content while we are not.

How can we become content?

We must become discontent with the world counting it all loss and recognizing that it is all truly worthless in light of eternity. Casting all the pursuits of the world aside, we must instead embrace Christ as our all in all.

If Christ is truly everything to you and you are completely and totally satisfied in Him it will not matter what difficulties trial or blessings come your way. If everything you have is stripped away you will have joy, peace, and contentment because you will still have Jesus.

Romans 8:35-39 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Too many of us call ourselves Christians and yet are not content in Christ. If you are a Christian, Christ should be everything to you. You should be totally wrapped up and content in Him. Paul was. Are you?

 

Embracing Weakness

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Recently I have been struggling with extreme exhaustion. I have been tired constantly. And I must admit I have done a good bit of complaining about it.

But as I was laying in bed at 5:55 PM because I was so tired that I could barely hold up my own head it hit me that this is an opportunity to embrace dependence.

I like to feel strong, capable and in control. Being exhausted strips you of those feelings but the reality is we are not really any of those things anyway. As Christians, we are called to recognize our weakness in order to embrace God’s strength.

We live in a society that glorifies independence. Believers, however, are called to live lives of dependence upon Jesus.

We must recognize that we can’t but He can.

Dependence is one of those ideas that is much more fun to philosophize about than to actually experience. No one likes to come to the end of themselves. Dependence demands that we recognize that we have nothing, that we cannot do it, that we need help.

And yet there is a beauty and excitement when you do come to the end of yourself and realize that God’s grace is sufficient.

It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that we tap into the power of God that has no end.

It is easy for me to complain. I have even thought, “Lord why did you make me like this. I could serve You so much better if you had made my body to run on less sleep.” And yet I am discovering that it is in this very weakness that I experience God’s strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.

In this passage, Paul is talking about a personal struggle that he actually pleaded with God to remove. God responds to Paul by saying, “My grace is sufficient.” Paul’s conclusion is that he will boast in his infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon him.

Our weaknesses force us into dependence upon Jesus.

We often think that we could serve God better without our weaknesses but God desires that we would depend upon Him even as we serve Him. Our weaknesses force us to depend on Him. They remind us of our need for Him.

Just like Paul, we should learn to rejoice in our weaknesses because God’s power is perfected in them. Therefore it is when we are weak that we are truly strong.

Annie J Smith wrote a beautiful poem that sums this up wonderfully.

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added afflictions He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

 

Facts or Feelings?

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Widespread oppression, unimaginable suffering, innumerable deaths. This is often what we think of when we think of Nazism. Reading about the horrors that occurred at the hands of the Nazis, many of us are heartbroken or even angry. How could something so evil be allowed to happen we wonder.

The Germans were a broken people. The First World War devastated their country. No longer was there pride in being German.

When Adolf Hitler rose to power and began rebuilding Germany he restored dignity to the German people. Rebuilding their roads and their economy, he became a hero in the eyes of German people everywhere. They wanted to believe whatever he said because he was accomplishing so much good on their behalf.

Wisely, Hitler did not begin his conquest of the world with armies or weapons but rather with endless propaganda backed up by his rebuilding of a war-torn Germany.

Adolf Hitler himself said, “if you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” Hitler proclaimed his lies long and loud and many people believed him. What he was saying sounded good. It felt right.

Had they compared it to Scripture they would have seen that it did not measure up but far too few people did that. It was a deadly mistake. How many millions of lives lost? How many millions of families torn apart? How many millions of people deeply scarred?

It is terrifying to realize that so many people were so easily taken in by lies. It is even more frightening to realize that many of them were Christians.

If it happened once it could happen again.

How can we prevent it?

Lies always sound like the truth or else no one would believe them. They always feel good or else no one would accept them.

We cannot assume that we will recognize a lie. It is dangerous to believe that a lie will feel wrong.

The only way we can know that something is true is by comparing it to the standard of truth—the word of God. This is what far too many German people failed to do. What Hitler proclaimed sounded good so they chose to believe it.

Many of the people in Germany at that time were Christians. But they were Christians who just once chose to believe something because it felt good rather than because the Word of God taught it.

What about you? What is your source of truth?

Many people look to their heart or to their feelings to determine truth but Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

We cannot look to our hearts or to our feelings for truth. We must look to the Word of God. We must bring every new idea back to Scripture and test it against the source of truth.

Believing a lie is dangerous. It is costly. As Christians, we have the source of truth. It may be uncomfortable and at times painful to test our ideas against Scripture but it is our greatest safeguard.

In Germany at that time, there was a small remnant of people who did not fall for the lies. There were many who believed and fought for truth although it was incredibly costly. They did not follow their feelings. They followed the word of God and we now consider them heroes for it.

What about you? In a culture where it is normal to make decisions based upon feelings and emotions are you going to choose truth? Do you follow your feelings or do you follow the Word of God?

 

Run to win

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If you were going to compete in a foot race how much extra weight would you want to strap to your back?

Without taking time to think about it your immediate response was probably “None!” and rightly so. We understand that extra weight would make it difficult to compete in a race in the physical realm. It would slow us down and cause us to tire faster.

If you are really trying to win a race, you are not going to load yourself down with a lot of extra weight. That would be foolish. You would be setting yourself up for defeat.

How often do we do that in the Christian life though?

Repeatedly throughout the New Testament, the Christian life is compared to a race.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In this passage, we are encouraged to lay aside two things so that we may run this race. We must lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us.

Far too often we focus on laying aside sin and forget to lay aside weights.

We go through our lives asking, “is this a sin?” Rather than just addressing sin, however, this passage encourages us to throw off everything that might hinder us in our pursuit of Christ.

As Christians, we should not be asking is this a sin. Instead, we should be asking does this hinder me from running? Is this weighing me down? Is this helping me to run?

We only have one life to live. Jesus died for us. Our only reasonable response is to live for Him and yet too often our lives are so weighed down and distracted by trivial things that we never discover what it means to live for Him.

This passage is saying that as Christians we definitely need to get rid of sin but we must also get rid of a whole lot of other stuff in addition because nothing is as important as running this race well.

Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India. She rescued and cared for hundreds of temple slaves and abandoned children while spreading the gospel all over India. During her teenage years, Amy made radical choices because she wanted to run well. As a girl from a wealthy upper-class family, it would have been normal for her to be obsessed with clothes and parties. Instead, she chose to throw those things off in order to work in the slums of her community.

Amy made 1st Corinthians 3:11-14 the theme and goal of her life. It says:For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.  If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.” 

Amy’s desire was to run her race well and build upon the foundation with gold silver and costly stones rather than with wood, hay, and straw.

How about you? Are you living a life that matters in eternity? Are you building with silver or with straw?

When asked what is the secret to great living Amy replied: “Entire separation to Crist and devotion to Him. Thus speaks every man and woman whose life has made more than a passing flicker in the spiritual realm. It is the life that has no time for trifling that counts.”

Elizabeth Elliot said of Amy Carmichael “The preoccupations of young [people] don’t seem to change much from generation to generation. But in every generation there seem to be a few who make other choices.”

The question for us today is are we living to run well? Are we running at all or has sin entangled us and stopped us? Do we spend our time trifling? Are we going to be among the few who make other choices?

 

But Lord—The Ultimate Oxymoron

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Someone once said that Christ is either Lord of all or He isn’t Lord at all.

For most of us, that statement brings a lot of conviction because we have areas of our lives that we have not fully surrendered to Jesus. Far too many of us are still clinging to control of portions of our lives.

The reality is however that the term Lord is an all-inclusive one. When you choose to make Jesus Christ Lord of your life it is all or nothing. If Jesus is truly your Lord and your Master whatever you have belongs to Him. If He is truly your King when He asks you to do something you will do it.

We live in a society of freedom and independence. We do not seem to understand the concepts of slavery or submission. If Jesus is Lord we are His slaves and a slave does his master’s bidding.

In our churches today we tend to glaze over this concept of slavery far too often. We like the idea that Christ has set us free from the bondage of sin. This is true and wonderful but there is another side that we must not forget or ignore. In Romans 6 we are told that we are either slaves to sin or to righteousness.

Romans 6:15-19 says, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!  Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.  I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

Romans 6 makes it clear that we cannot choose whether or not we will be a slave, we can only choose the master to whom we will be enslaved.

Either Jesus is Lord of your life or sin is Lord of your life. You will be enslaved to sin or to Christ.

Lord, Master, these are all-encompassing terms.

Is Jesus truly Lord of your life?

If you are still saying things like, “But Lord” you should ask yourself this question and seriously examine yourself to see. Far too many people claim Jesus as their Lord and master and yet still live lives ruled by their own selfish desires and whims, which are sin.

If this is you, repent.

In the church today we have tried to make Christianity as easy to swallow as possible. But the reality is that Christianity is not an easy calling. It is a call to come and die. It is all or nothing. Jesus is either Lord of all or He isn’t Lord at all.

 

 

A Time to Fear

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Over and over in Sunday School and church growing up, I heard sermons and lessons teaching that we should not fear. As I have matured in my faith I have come to the conclusion that there is a time when we should fear, a time when it would be utterly foolish not to fear.

David wrote in Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me;”

David describes a frightening situation and says that even then he will fear no evil.

Often we stop here. We reason that David said that he would fear no evil so we should not fear any evil either. But the next phrase is the key to the whole concept. David says I will fear no evil for You are with me.

If God is with us we do not need to fear anything. He is the Lord of Hosts, the creator of everything. If however, God is not with us we ought to fear.

Deuteronomy 32:30 says, “How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the Lord had surrendered them?”

If God is not with us it does not matter how strong we think we are we ought to fear. Even if one man is coming against our army of ten thousand we ought to fear. If God is not with us we are helpless and destitute.

However, if God is with us it does not matter how weak we think we are we should not fear. Even if an army of ten thousand were to come against us we should not fear. God is our strength, our defense, and our victory.

Joshua 23:10 says, “One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you.”

Recorded in 2 Kings chapter 6, the story of Elisha is an incredible picture of this reality. It tells us that the king of Syria wanted to kill Elisha the prophet of Israel. He sent a great army to find and destroy Elisha.

2 Kings 6:15-17 says, “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”  So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

If the Lord is with us we do not need to fear.

All throughout Numbers and Deuteronomy God tells Israel not to fear those nations that are bigger and stronger than them because the Lord is with them but God also tells them that if they disobey they should fear because He will not be with them.

If God is with us it is foolish to fear. If God is not with us it is actually foolish not to fear.

Abraham Lincoln said, “My concern is not whether God is on my side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.” This should be our concern as well.

We are often told not to fear but there is a very real need for fear. Unless we are on God’s side we ought to fear.

Therefore examine yourself. Determine whose side you are on and then fear or do not fear accordingly!