Struggles, The Word

Pierced To The Division Of Soul And Spirit

Hebrews 4:12, 13 “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

God and His Word are the most powerful forces at work in the life of every man. No one can hide from them, and everyone must ultimately respond to them. The force of God’s Word was working mightily in my life these past few weeks, violently revealing that which was decidedly hidden from my sight. It threw my soul into upheaval, shattering the thick walls that my sins hid behind. For months, possibly a year, I had fostered a passion which dishonored my Savior, my God. I believe the desire was godly when it was young, but it grew so large and so fast, for a long period of time it outweighed my love for the Lord. I had exchanged the object of my life worship, my Redeemer, for my own self-erected golden calf. I did not truly love the One who was pierced for my transgressions; I loved that which pleased me. My mind and heart were ruled by it, so much so that a day did not go by in that period of time without it occupying many of my thoughts. Sure, I learned much about my God and even still honored Him in this time, but the majority of my heart was not given to Him. This idol of the mind extended its grasp into many areas of my life, including how I looked at my brethren, how I conducted myself at church functions, and how I behaved in my own home.

But praise be to the God Almighty, for His strength is greater than our weakness; His love is stronger than our hate; His grace is more than sufficient for the depth of our depravity. Three weeks ago, the living sword which is the Word of God made a divine incision, and cut loose the web of sin my soul had weaved upon itself. I realized through the reading of Scripture and the teaching of the mature in Christ, that something had obstructed my love for the Lord, and I had chosen to store it away, to remain apathetic to it. This realization shattered me to the core, and it demanded action. Matthew 16:24, 26a “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. … For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” I knew this imperative of Christ well, yet I had chosen not to practice it. I loved my Savior more than anything but this idol, and I desired to follow Him, but I refused to deny myself.

One of my favorite songs is called Give Me Christ Or Else I Die. Its chorus is so written: All unholy and unclean, I am nothing else but sin, on thy mercy I rely, give me Christ or else… I die. How could I sing with passion the words, “Give me Christ or else I die,” if I refused to live for Him? About the time the Lord brought His Word to bear upon my heart concerning my idolatry, my youth group sung this, and my heart sank within me, convicted of hypocrisy. I knew then that I was not living for the Lord. I was broken over this sin, saddened because I was looking for satisfaction outside of the Word of God, and outside of Christ. My soul was grieved, for I had led other beloved followers of Christ headlong into sin. The Word of God is truly piercing, and when one is struck by it, the pain can be severe. Thankfully, though, the joy brought about by its sanctifying work is greater.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

In this trial, my Father has disciplined me, and He continues to do so. Hebrews 12:11 “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  Trials and discipline are not to be mourned, for they are gifts of God, not curses. The Father is training me for greater service to Him; He is teaching me to find my satisfaction in Him, and Him alone. I am learning to love my Father more than myself or anything else. Another passage of great impact throughout this trial and before, is Psalm 73:25, 26 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” God is enough, and as Psalm 73 goes on to say, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.”

This trial is not over; no, it is a struggle that will continue for quite a long time. It continues in the mind. I must be careful to guard against the treachery of my heart and mind. I must follow Paul as he says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.

 My final thoughts are of thankfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  If not for His faithfulness to provide grace, I would have never seen my sin, and if not for the strength which He supplies(1 Pe. 4:11) I would not have been able to fight it, as I must continually. In the end, though, it all comes back to our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 4:13-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need. 

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Struggles, The Word

I was going to make a post on this same subject, but I agree with everything Sierra has said. I have very little to add, as this is basically an echo of my own thoughts. J.C. Ryle spoke well in reference to pride and humility – “Remember how often Scripture sets before us the excellence of a humble spirit. How strongly we are warned “not to think of (ourselves) more highly than (we) ought to think!” (Rom. 12:3) How plainly we are told, “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know!” (1 Cor. 8:2). How strict is the command, “Put on humbleness of mind!”(Col. 3:12). And again, “Be clothed with humility” (1 Pet. 5:5). Sadly, this is a garment of which many seem not to have so much as a scrap.” – J.C. Ryle was very insightful in regards to pride. So, we know we are to practice humility; how do we do this? Where should we look? Christ Himself was the perfect example of humility. It was His defining characteristic when He was on earth. In Philippians 2:3-8, Paul speaks to this, saying: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The glorious Lord Jesus Christ, whose image we are to always be conforming to, is the complete and perfect example of selflessness, obedience, and humility. We cannot honor God without humility, for actions seemingly God-glorifying will only be tainted by impure motives of self-righteousness; pride, the very sin that cast Lucifer from the presence of God.

As Sierra said, when the Lord blesses us, we are to boast in Him, and Him alone. It is our responsibility to do so, and we should at all times, especially in suffering. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 11:21-33. In verse 30, he says, “If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.” Boast only of the sufferings and trials Christ has placed in your life, and by His grace, allowed and strengthened you to conquer. Please read and consider Sierra’s post. Examine yourself; where does pride exist in your heart? In what ways does it manifest itself in your life? For it does, the reader can be sure of that.

Anchored Soul

Psalm 34:1b-3, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

2 Corinthians 10:17-18, “But He who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.”  

Who am I, a sinner ravaged by selfishness and pride, that God would look upon me with grace and magnanimous favor? All that I am, God has given. And yet, have I learned to boast in Him for His blessings? When will my heart glory in the only One worth bragging about? Boasting. My heart will always boast. But in whom is the question to be answered…

God is reminding me that He is the only…

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Struggles, The Word

53,310,843

53,310,843 – This is how many children have died during the first 37 years of the American holocaust. Roe v. Wade marked the beginning of a new era. An era where, in the “Land of the Free”, “One Nation Under God”, murder became legal. A time where mass murder can be be performed in silence. This is a horrendous sin before our God, and those who practice it are only building a pile of evidence to be used against themselves on judgement day.

12,800,000 – This is the max estimate of how many humans died in the Nazi holocaust. A little over four times as many people have died from abortion compared to what is called one of the most terrible events to occur on earth. Yet, abortion is legal in America. This is wrong, and it has to stop. We must keep in mind, however, that nothing can be done apart from the sovereign hand of God working in our government. We must also remember that our Father has allowed this, so it is ultimately happening for His glory. This is a video by Ray Comfort about abortion, and it is amazing. Please watch it, spread the word, and pray for our nation.

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Struggles, The Word

Love As He Loves You. Forgive As He Forgives You.

To all of you who were wondering, the reason I haven’t made a post in a while is because I have been struggling. I’ve been struggling against the sin of the flesh, and it’s been harder than anything I have ever dealt with aside from when I first believed. Praise be to God, for He is strong when we are weak! The only way I can overcome these sins that infect my thoughts and actions is through Christ, as Colossians 1:13 and 14 say:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Oh, His beloved, precious Son, how I long to look like Him! I thank and praise my Father for giving me such hard times, because when we suffer and overcome our sin through Him is when we tend to grow the most.

My struggle was with three sins in particular: jealousy, bitterness, and selfishness. It all starts with the way I view my friends. For the longest time, I have viewed the majority of my friends as the world views them: sources of pleasure, wanting all of their attention to feel good about myself, feeling important, or even loved, in an ungodly way. What was this view of my friends coming from? Selfishness. I did not pursue relationships with them so that they would be built up in Christ, or encouraged by me to follow Him with more of a passion. If I may pause from the story to challenge you. Examine your relationships, your friendships. Have you sought out friendships to encourage the other person in Christ? Or have you chased them because that other person made you feel good about yourself. What about your love relationships? Have you truly kept Christ at the center of that relationship, so that the one you love will look more like Christ in every aspect? Or have you pursued that person they made you feel loved, important, beautiful, or handsome, as the case may be. Please, examine closely. If looking more like Christ is not at the center of your relationship, and it’s goal is not the glory of God, then your friendship with that person at this moment has no eternal benefit. What matters in the end of all things? That, in your life, you glorified God in all things. So glorify Him in your friendships.

So, as an effect of me not having my friendships centered around the right thing, when someone else came along, who was another close friend of mine, and stole the spotlight from me, what do you think my reaction was? Jealousy. The point of my relationships with these people was my own pleasure, so when a friend came along who was more entertaining than me in almost every way, my reaction was jealousy. When he was there, my friends ignored me for him. He deprived me from feeling good about myself. I tried to change how I acted, so that I could get that prideful feeling from my friends again, but it didn’t work. I was still ignored, and that made me angry. I wasn’t content with Christ, with how He had made me, and I still desired that prideful feeling I got from my friends so much.

But, I was also committing another sin towards this person in response to past sins committed by him. Bitterness. I forgave him for what he did, with my lips, but hadn’t truly forgiven him in my heart. I felt a festering bitterness towards him for what he had done, and this made it hard for me to even be around him.

Through help from my parents and the careful examination of God’s Word, I saw my sin, and I saw what I needed to change in my actions and thoughts toward my friends. Love. I need to love them as Christ loves them. As Christ loves me. Forgiveness. I need to forgive them as Christ has forgiven me. If I am to be like Christ in everything, then I should not be hesitant to pour out forgiveness upon my friends. Christ forgave me of my vile sins against Him, an eternally holy God who loves me, by dying on a cross for my sins. So why should I be so hesitant to forgive a friend who has offended me? Here are some passages that have encouraged me, showed me my sin, and what I need to do to combat that sin. I have put off the sin, and now I put on Christ’s love, and forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8a: 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 3:12-14 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

I pray that you who are reading will examine yourself according to the Scripture here, and that you will be able to see through the Lord where you have failed, and where you have done well. If you have failed, repent, and pursue Christ’s righteousness, love, and forgiveness. If you have succeeded in these things, rejoice, give the glory to God, and continue to excel still more.

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Struggles

You’re Not Afraid?

I would like to share with you, reader, a struggle I have been dealing with for a very long time and have only recently overcome(through God’s grace and with His help).  As you know, if you have read my About page, I am a lover of music.  When I was an unbeliever about 4 years ago,(I was about 12 at the time) I was under many strong ungodly influences, and came to enjoy listening to artists such as Linkin Park, Tenacious D, Papa Roach, Disturbed, and more recently Dr. Dre and Eminem(the list of  “bad” artists goes on, these are just a few examples). You see, I had this filter for bad music. Here were my two rules: No music that talks about bad things(unless it was catchy), and no music that had swearing in it(unless it was censored, or also really catchy).  As you can probably tell, this filter didn’t work so much.

So as the years went on, I was “convicted” on and off about secular music, and would get rid of it, then get it back.  Then a few months ago, when I was really struggling with listening to music by “bad” artists, but not necessarily music which talked about bad things, I was reading in Philippians, and these verses really convicted me.

Philippians 4:7,8 7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 8  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Does music which has sexual implications reflect what is honorable, right, and pure?  No it does not.  Does music which swears reflect what is lovely?  Nope.  Should I even be listening to songs which are by artists who are not of good repute?  No, according to this passage in Philippians, I should not.

Now, I’m not saying that listening to secular music is always a sin. I still listen to some secular music. But, only music which is not wrong, does not speak of that which is wrong, generally what you would call the “neutral” stuff.  For example, a song called “This” by Darius Rucker.  It speaks truth, and has good morals, and if it was written by a Christian artist, you wouldn’t question it as a Christian song.  But when speaking to others about music, and mention of a secular song that I like comes up, what I say is different. I say I listen to that song, not that artist. Because if I say I listen to that secular artist, I am supporting someone who is not of good repute, and that would directly violate the quoted passage.

This has been a big struggle for me, and I know that I will still struggle with it.  But with Christ’s help, I can overcome such struggles to grow in my walk with Him and reflect Him better.

Before I finish with this subject, I would like to address an artist whom many new and growing Christians who are also music enthusiasts struggle with listening to.  Eminem has been on top of the music charts for about as long as he has been rapping. He has great skill in the music he makes, and I respect him for that, but he uses it for the worst purposes.  I pity him, because he has gone through so much difficulty in his family, and in his early life, yet is blind to the free gift offered to him by Christ. Instead, his response to the trials in his life is anger and rage at others for what has happened to him and for what he has brought upon himself. The Bibles description of him is found in Titus 3:3:

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

I have made a habit of praying for this man, that someone may be able to bring him the gospel, and that he would accept it. Here is a song describing how lost he is in his own words. This song is clean, listen to it if you so desire. The only reason I am adding it is because after I heard it, it gave me more of a desire to pray for this man, and I grew more somber in my thoughts toward him. It is basically a dialogue between him and his daughter Hailie, whom he is separated from. He sees his mistakes, yet still believes he is going to heaven. http://grooveshark.com/#/s/When+I+m+Gone+clean+/dzghD?src=5

I hope that you will pray for this man, that he will accept the gift of eternal life which is freely offered to him.

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