- Doctor: You had twins, a boy and a girl, and they are both fine. Luckily, your brother named them for you.
- Woman: Oh no, not my brother! He's an idiot! What did he name the girl?
- Doctor: Denise.
- Woman: Well it isn't so bad, and what did he call the boy?
- Doctor: Denephew.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV)
It is often easy for us to get all fired up about Christianity when somebody makes a rude comment or insults our faith, justifying it as ‘righteous anger.’ Yet what do we know about righteousness? We are sinners who were once dead to our Lord Jesus Christ; it is only by the grace of God that we were born again.
These two verses are not a call to arms; Peter is not asking us to sharpen our swords and take up our shields. On the contrary, he tells us that, while we SHOULD be prepared to give an answer to everyone who questions or doubts our faith, our answers should always be gentle rather than aggressive, respectful rather than condescending. We ought to be humble in our answers, remembering that Jesus is our only salvation, so that no one would have justification to attack our beliefs.
Though it is difficult not to become hot-headed in conversations such as these, we must always keep a clear conscience; the phrase, ‘Think before you say it’ comes to mind. Rather than answering quickly and passionately, we should weigh our answers and respond exclusively with Biblical truth rather than mixing in our own human assumptions. No matter what we do, remember first and foremost to revere Jesus Christ in thought, speech, and action. Earlier in the passage it talks about witnessing to unbelievers through our behavior (although in a different context), but the gist of it is to totally revere and submit to our Lord and Savior so that we would be counted worthy of suffering for His name :)
Soli Deo gloria.
P.S. I’m getting fat from Irvine food… good thing I’m coming back today -.-”’
“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” 1 Peter 2:19, ESV
Consider it a joy and privilege to suffer injustice; placing your trust in God while enduring trials is a form of sanctification, and brings glory to God. Just as Jesus did not retaliate or curse the people who condemned him, scorned him, spat on him and ridiculed him and crucified him (even though he did nothing but good), we should have perfect confidence in our sovereign Lord that he will deliver us. This isn’t to say that we should treat God to be a quick fix to our problems… but when we are MINDFUL OF GOD in our unjust suffering we can endure it joyfully for His glory.
Furthermore, we should “consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2, NIV). I’ll leave you with this passage from Acts that really convicted me to consider my attitude towards suffering:
“and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:40-42, ESV)
Soli Deo gloria.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16a, ESV
One of many lessons from this school year: Christians aren’t meant to ride solo.
Now I’m not talking about marriage (obviously Paul would have liked it if everyone was single), but the Bible consistently refers to the church as the BODY of Christ made up of MANY members; we are a eukaryotic multi-celled organism, not some sad prokaryote! (sorry for the biology reference) We are meant to fellowship with other believers and grow together as siblings in Christ.
We are also meant to resist sin together. You’d be hard-pressed to find any Christian who believes that they can fight off temptation all on their own; and if someone claims they can, then they probably have a pride issue (take it from someone who does). There is so much power in gathering with even ONE other believer; “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matt. 18:20, ESV)
Spiritual accountability is important. This is how you recognize and confess your sins, and also where you find encouragement and support from fellow soldiers who have fought or are fighting the same battles. I definitely felt uncomfortable at times telling others about temptations I’ve faced (and fallen for) or struggles that I’ve been going through, but James promises us that with this accountability there is healing. Your brothers (or sisters) will fight right alongside you and make sure you keep pressing on even when it’s difficult.
Another lesson I’ve learned this year: prayer is crucial (I’m being awfully introspective these days, aren’t I). James tells us that not only should we confess our sins to one another, but we should also pray for one another! God hears our requests and will give us the shield of faith to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one, and peace in Him knowing that we have a God who is victorious over sin and who is watching over us.
Keep fighting the good fight of the faith, but fight it together.
Soli Deo gloria.
Before I start to take a look at a passage today, I just wanted to tell everybody something…
I am a sinner. I have an impure heart and a wandering mind. I desire the things of this world and turn away from the face of the one true God, whom I know yearns desperately and jealously for my soul. He wants an exclusive relationship with me, but I’m still having affairs with Satan. I am proud, selfish, rude, impatient, envious, deceitful, lustful, and all things besides.
Lately, I’ve been doubting myself, whether I’m truly saved by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross 2,000 years ago, or if I’m just fooling myself and trying to grasp at something that is beyond my reach.
But in spite of all my insecurities and doubts, I know that God is faithful, that he loves me and is jealous for my soul. I know that he desires nothing more than for me to draw near to him, and when I do, he will draw near to me.
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6, ESV
So let me correct my opening statement: I am a sinner in need of GRACE. When I look at how much I sin even in a single day (not to mention how blinded I am with pride and arrogance to not even see the full weight of my sin), there is no way that I would ever be able to follow God’s commands to the letter; I was doomed to eternal separation from God from the beginning.
But my prayer is this: that I would be humbled daily and submit to God; that I would resist the schemes of the devil and flee from temptation; and that I would draw near to God so that he may draw near to me! I pray that he would give me faith to believe in the name of the Son of God, so that I may know that I have eternal life.
Soli Deo gloria.
P.S. I apologize for all the self-centeredness in today’s post, but I felt like I needed some time to reflect on what I’ve been going through lately. May God crush my pride and keep me humble ;)
P.P.S. Good luck on AP’s/finals!!!!!!! Colossians 3:23-24 :)))
“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:5b-6, ESV
My first thought when reading this passage was, “Oh shoot…”
Why? Because it’s true! (well, it IS the Word of God) Even though the tongue is such a small part of the body, in many ways it is even more powerful than the strongest arms or the hardest abs or the agilest feet. It has the power to affect people’s hearts, and can reach much further than arm’s length; it can set on fire “the entire course of life.”
The tongue can be an extremely potent tool of destruction. I am reminded daily of how sinful I can be in my speech, insulting others (even if jokingly) or gossiping or lying; and some of this can affect people! I’m not being prideful or anything in saying that people pay attention to what I say, but even my Facebook statuses can sometimes hurt people… we need watch what we say, because we are called to be witnesses to God in our speech.
On the other hand, the tongue can also be used for righteousness, to edify the church, encourage fellow believers, and praise our Maker :) But James points out in v.9-12 that though both blessing and curse come from the same mouth, this should not be the case. We are called to be loving in everything that we do and say. Our speech should always glorify God, so that we may show the continuing work of His love and mercy in our lives :)
Soli Deo gloria.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:28, ESV
Since it IS Mother’s Day, I just wanted to reflect on what my mom has done for me these past 18.5 years (dang that’s a long time to put up with me…). Since coming to college, I realize just how much my mom has loved me, cared for me, provided for my every need (and then some), and just been one of the most awesome people in my life. On top of being the principal of an elementary school (in a shady neighborhood, no less) she maintains the household and puts food on the table for our family of five.
However, it isn’t always fun and games; there are times when my mom and I get into arguments, and neither of us is willing to back down… of course, most of the time my mom is right and is really just looking out for my best interests; and when she disciplines me, I know she does it in love! But through these times, I see how much patience she has for me, and even though I may push her away she still loves me.
Ultimately, this has shown me that if my mom, an imperfect and sinful person, can love me so much and show so much concern for my wellbeing, then how much more can a perfect, loving God do so? Yet how much more do I push away my Lord and Father in heaven, who has loved me and knew me even before I came into existence?? But through my mom I’ve learned that no matter how much I push her (or God) away, they will always fiercely hold me tighter. And that fact makes me want to love them back all the more :]
I believe that my mom is a good witness of God’s love and mercy to me and my siblings (though she can be a little bit unreasonable at times), and I am happy to say that, no matter how little time we have here on earth to spend with each other, we will be worshipping God in heaven for all of eternity together :] Thank you to all the moms out there for doing what you do!
Soli Deo gloria.
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” James 2:10, ESV
Wow. This verse is pretty heavy… “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in ONE POINT becomes accountable for ALL of it”… if we claim to adhere to all of God’s commandments and ways, yet fail in ONE place, trip up in ONE small area, we are condemned, because we have broken the law. Consider what the gospel of Matthew says: “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48, NASB) I think I’ve talked about this before on this blog, but to be perfectly honest (no pun intended) I’d forgotten about it. We are called to be perfect as God is perfect, called to hate sin as God hates sin, to love as He loves and to be merciful as He had mercy on us.
If you think about it, it’s impossible. We are WAY too prideful and lustful; there’s just no way we can do it on our own. Yet God had mercy on us! “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 3:23) He showered His love on us and, by His unending grace, gave us faith to believe and be saved. It is astounding how much grace God pours out on us every single day of our lives!! I can’t even begin to imagine it. Had we tried keeping with all of God’s laws, we would all be hell-bound. But God became incarnate, coming down to earth in human form as Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, and if we repent and believe in Him, we become citizens of heaven :)
It’s always refreshing to be reminded of the Gospel, and how much we really need God’s grace and mercy :) In fact, every day should be filled with the Gospel as we live our lives loving as God first loved us!
Soli Deo gloria.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22, ESV
Short, sweet, and simple; yet this verse packs a lot of meaning: that we be active in our faith, rather than just passively (and contentedly) listening to the word of God. We should be constantly imbibing the Word and having it mold our stubborn, unrepentant hearts into a heart full of God’s wonderful grace, a heart that truly loves our Father in heaven. It says in Psalm 119:11 (ESV), “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Though we know that it is impossible for us (on our own) to not sin against God, those who genuinely respond to God’s grace will be repentant and be resolved to fight off sin and to love others.
I know that I am an extremely hypocritical person; how can I say all this, yet not practice it myself?? I feel like I’m only a hearer, and sometimes I’m content with just knowing a few verses from the Bible… but I pray that God would bring me back to the reality that there is a spiritual war going on right now and I need to be sharpened, I need to be equipped with the full armor of God. I pray that I would have a heart of constant repentance, because I am a sinful creature in need of God’s grace every single day!
Soli Deo gloria.
P.S. I think I may continue doing this ‘verse of the day’ sort-of deal… I hope that anybody who reads this would be encouraged as I have been encouraged by these same verses :] Also, I’m going through the New Testament right now and just started James today, so expect a lot of verses from James in the next few days ;P
“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Hebrews 12:4, ESV
How many of us claim to be active fighters of sin? How many of us declare that we hate this world, that we have put off the old flesh and put on the new? I would hope that all Christians could say this with confidence…
I know I can’t. I stare into the ugly face of sin on a daily basis, yet all I see is a charming, beautiful, attractive complexion. I do not flee. I do not even resist. I embrace it. I toe the line between righteousness and damnation, and often feel the thrill of temptation, the delight of worldly pleasures lying before me…
How dishonoring and disrespectful, how spiteful and bold am I to spit in the face of God, and his Son’s sacrifice on the cross, and say, “I don’t need you!” God showers his GRACE and MERCY upon me every single day, every single moment of my life, and yet I still run to other things and serve other masters.
But a friend of mine reminded me this week not to dwell on my sin… Satan can ruin us through the guilt and shame of our own sin, so we must be constantly reminded that Jesus paid it all; he died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty of our sins in full!
“Because of the Lord’s great love, WE ARE NOT CONSUMED, for his compassions never fail. THEY ARE NEW EVERY MORNING; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion, therefore I will wait for him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24, NIV
I have faith in God that he will triumph over sin. I trust in his grace that he will provide for and watch over me, and that “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV) And so I encourage every brother and sister who sees this to be secure in your salvation and to take hold of the eternal life that you have, and until we see God in heaven and are perfected in righteousness, to keep fighting the good fight of the faith and enduring to the end :)
Soli Deo gloria.