Friday, May 27, 2011

No Compromise.

I have been discouraged and disappointed more recently then any other time in my life. Why? Because Christians are not perfect.

Well, duh Joanna! Of course Christians are not perfect, nobody is except for God!
At one time or another every single one of us stumbles and falls, only to be picked up by the loving and merciful hands of the Father. I know that Christians are not perfect, but sometimes I subconsciously get the mindset that a real strong, solid Christian that I know must be perfect.

Recently I have had a front row seat to the trials and temptations that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have faced. While some of them endured the testing of their faith and emerged stronger and more assured of their firm beliefs, many of the people I am closest to have come away from a situation having compromised their carefully established standards and convictions. The ones that I thought would never in a million years let me down have faltered and given up their standards when the time came to hold fast to them!

Watching my peers and mentors, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ that I went to for advice and encouragement, lowering their standards to take what the world had to offer has disappointed and hurt me. The temptation to let my guard down is even greater when someone that I am close to has already compromised. Why even try? Compromise seems to have worked out just fine for them!

And in the many different areas that are easy to compromise in (relationships, media, books, movies, music, ect…) there are almost as many justifications for lowering standards!

He may have compromised his standards in his relationship, but at least he has a special someone…

She may wear stuff that shows a bit too much skin and draws too much attention to the wrong places, but did you see how everybody was looking at her?

He may have been dancing to a song that goes against everything he believes in, but he sure fit right into the group. And the tune was catchy…

She may have watched a movie with a bit too much language but hey, she said the story line was really good…

I have poured my heart out in prayer and cried out to my heavenly Father in confusion. Is it even worth it to strive for righteousness? Is it even worth it to try and stand alone when it seems like everyone else is falling to temptation?

After agonizing over questions that I already knew the answer to I finally went back to the truth, and ultimately the Word of God. The answer is Yes! It is worth it! Why? Because Jesus asks us to! And He doesn’t ask us to because He would like us to miss out on enjoyment here on earth, but because He knows what’s best for us! He knows that the momentary pleasures of sin won’t last, in the end they will steal precious purity and innocence from His children. And His children are satisfied in His righteousness, and only His righteousness.  

Sin looks so appealing. But don’t be deceived! Satan is a liar and the father of lies, and deception is his expertise. He makes poison look like a feast and one of his favorite things to do is trip up the Children of God and convince them to compromise their convictions and slowly adjust to those of the world. He sugarcoats forbidden things and convinces us that what we are doing is "not that bad" or even a “good thing”! But the sin of the world will never, ever begin to compare to the satisfaction that we have in Christ, it cannot fill you up! Only the joy that comes from knowing Jesus can satisfy you.

When I see a Christian compromising to suit the world the first thing I think is: "Why?"

Why would you pursue something so worthless when you have tasted the riches of the King? 
As a saved, born again Christian who knows the righteousness and holiness of God, Why would you clothe yourself in the rags of sin? You know that the momentary pleasures of the world are nothing compared to the eternal life you have received! Don't you remember who you are? What you are? You are set apart, called out, different! Did you forget? You are no longer part of this world! Why are you acting like it?

The Slippery Slope.

I read a book not too long ago by the name of Twilight (familiar?) I had to be convinced to read it in the first place because I was awfully wary of a book about "good vampires". It sounded, well, evil. But once I started reading it, I found myself liking it. In fact, I liked it a lot. It had an exciting and interesting story of romance and adventure and I couldn't understand why I hadn't read it sooner. I finished it in two days. It was loaned to me by a friend and my parents didn't know that I was reading it. I didn't think they would mind, I was smart enough to choose my own reading material, right? Well, about the time I finished it my parents noticed what I was reading and started talking to me about it. As soon as they started reminding me of why I was wary of it in the first place, I started feeling guilty.

In fact, I felt like I had been smacked upside the head with a two-by-four. I suddenly realized how stupid I had been! I was so ashamed of liking the book that I wanted to burn it. Something that I had thought to be so wrong and evil before, I had actually found myself becoming a fan of! When I had started reading it I told myself that I wanted to know what it was about so I could decide for myself if there was anything wrong with it, and instead I had gotten completely swept off my feet and forgotten my purpose for reading it in the first place!

Now, I know a lot of Christians that love the Twilight series, and I'm not going to go into all the reasons why I think it's wrong, if you disagree you can contact me and ask me why, but Twilight isn't my point. My point is, I was so convinced of my standards and convictions when I started I told myself that if it got bad I would put it down. But I didn't! I was so sucked into enjoying the book that I didn't recognize the flashing red lights when they were right in front of me. I let my guard down; I compromised my standards and convictions and only by God's grace was I able to have my eyes opened and see what was really happening.

Isn’t that how sin often works though? You thought that you would be strong enough to back away if it happened to get bad, but because you opened the door for it in the first place you couldn’t manage to get it shut again.  I am so thankful that our God is a forgiving God! Because how many other times have I done the exact same thing and without realizing it, gradually lowered my standards?

But even though we will stumble and fall into sins and temptations again and again, God calls us to righteousness, purity, and holiness. He requires us to be constantly striving after His standards. Not the world's standards, not our own standards, His standards. 

Please, as your sister in Christ, hear me out. Don’t compromise your convictions guys! It isn’t worth it! It isn’t worth the pain you will cause to your heavenly Father or the disappointment of your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you compromise you damage not only your relationship with your Savoir, but your witness to non-believers. Remember that you are a representative of Jesus Christ to a world that does not know Him.

Don’t chase after the rags of this world! Instead clothe yourself in the righteousness of Christ!

Proverbs 3:7
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Psalm 58:11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

John 14:15
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Joshua 24:14-15
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Psalm 26

Psalm 64:10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!

Psalm 5:12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Note: I’m sorry I haven't posted in a while.... I've sat down to write several times, but I just haven't been able to until now. I knew that I needed to write about what the Lord placed on my heart but I didn't want to because I knew this post was going to be a very painful one to write. Because even though all of the things I've posted about have been dear to my heart, I think this one hits closest to home.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Daily Bread

You wouldn't starve yourself.....Would you?

I have been told countless times to read my Bible. Everyday. Read your Bible every single day. Growing up in a Christian home and surrounded by believers I was always convicted when I heard that phrase. I would cringe, Read my Bible everyday? Well, I try really hard to.... Really I do! I'm just busy... I usually manage a couple times a week... sometimes... Isn't that enough? But my mental excuses never managed to work, deep down I knew that I was neglecting to be responsible about my faith.

I struggled with self discipline when it came to reading my Bible. I wasn't exactly sure why but it seemed that even when I managed to get everything else done, at the end of the day my Bible was still sitting on the shelf in the very same place that it was the day before, collecting dust. I always had a frustrating Sunday morning trying to find my Bible cause it had been so long since I last opened it. 

Can any of you relate, Christians? I don't know, maybe I'm the only one that struggles to have my "Daily Bread". But I doubt it. During a church sermon when the Pastor says "Have you read your Bible this week?" do you hear the sighs of frustration? Many times even the ones that did read their Bible that week still feel guilty because they didn't do it enough. Where did the time go? Oops, another day passed and you forgot again!

But WHY is it so important? Why is it such a big deal when you don't read it? Well, think of your closest friend. The friend that you want to spend all of your time with, the one that you do everything with. What would happen if you didn't speak to this friend except for an occasional "Hello"? What would happen if you never listened to or even wanted to hear from this friend? If you disregarded everything they said to you, what would happen to this friendship? It would die. Plain and simple. You cannot have a relationship with someone if you never talk to them! And if you never listen you won't know who they are. You won't understand their thoughts or actions, that person would be a total stranger to you. 

What is the Bible? The Bible is the word of God. The very words of the Creator of the Universe written for you, a love letter from your Savior! In order to understand and know who God is and who you need to be you have to read what he has written to you! You can't have that personal relationship with Jesus if you don't know who He is and you can't know who He is if you don't investigate His story, His teaching, and His truth. The Bible is so amazing! It isn't an ordinary book! It is the living Word of God. How amazing is that? The Bible has changed more lives than any other book, offering life and light in a world of death and darkness!

I know so many Christians, or those that claim to be Christians that do not read their Bible. Sunday is enough for them, maybe a midweek church service carries them through and they "get by". But are they growing? Do they truly Know Jesus? Or are they starving themselves?

Are you starving yourself?

Jesus, the One who died for you, the one that loves you with an unconditional, incomparable love has asked you to study His words. He desires your attention, and His simple requirement is to be your life's purpose! 

Christians, know this: The Devil does not want you to read your Bible. He doesn't want you to pick up your sword! In fact, he is totally OK with you owning a Bible.... as long as it stays on the shelf. But when you open it and read the living word of God, he can't stand it. When you are in the Word everyday studying it, pondering it, taking it to heart and *gasp* applying it to your life! That's when you become dangerous to the Enemy! He doesn't want you to live like Christ, He doesn't want you to Know Jesus, to have the incredibly intimate relationship with Him that is possible when you read your Bible! 

And when you don't read your Bible, and you don't pursue the wisdom and understanding of God, the Devil has won yet another battle. 

Sometimes I still slip up, I forget. I'm getting much better, but I have a busy day and I skip my Daily Bread, and my Christian walk falters. I miss the time with my King that I have everyday. I learn so much by opening His word everyday. The time with Him is so sweet.

I encourage you guys to open your Bibles! The more you do it the better it gets! I cannot stress enough how much you are missing in you life when you don't study and investigate the Word of God. Keep me accountable! Ask your brothers and sister in the Church if they're reading their Bibles. You have to feed yourself with the word, or your faith will starve. Don't skip out on this, it's much too important! 
Joshua 1:8
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Psalm 119:11
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 1:1-2
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law
 of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.