Being a Christian and claiming Christianity are two different points of view. Christianity is not all about “Praise the Lord” and “Life is Great” because it is not… Christianity is not a state of mind; it is a state of being.A true believer suffers for many reasons as a result of their decision to follow the Lord. That person is constantly and consciously attempting to follow the lead of Jesus and that is impossible to do. And, because of this attempt, that person is besieged with all sorts of negative and evil influences trying to persuade that person to give up. The New Testament is filled with stories and warnings concerning this very aspect of Christianity. And when we do succumb to these satanic pressures, we feel a sense of guilt and shame that we would not have felt if we were not so dedicated to our commitment.
Certainly, there are times when our Lord grants us a miraculous event in our lives, but for the most part, we are waiting for our supplications to be answered. Televangelists tell us of all of the wonderful things that are about to happen in our lives. Riches, fame and happiness are about to fill our lives according to them, just as long as we buy their books or send them money or some other device to get us to support them. This does not mean that all of these people are corrupt in what they are doing, but many of them are and their following is tremendous. However, true believers know that this is not the case. We should not expect or even ask for things that we do not need but just desire. We are guaranteed all that we need, but not all that we want. And, it is not up to us to decide what it is that we need.
There are many that claim Christianity and feel good because they believe that they are saved but then go on about their lives giving no thought to their commitment. But a true believer suffers because of their own inadequacies as well as feeling the pain of all others that they know and love. They place others before themselves and sacrifice their time and resources to help others in a time of need.True believers do not live a “normal” life. We have been taken out of this world but must still exist in an atmosphere of greed, immorality and corruption. It is not easy… But, there is a good side to this story and a very happy ending. Those that remain committed and faithful until the end will receive the reward of being with our Lord for eternity. That makes it all worth everything else that we must go through on this earth.
We must never forget that the people that were so excited about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the “Praise the Lord” people, that some of these same people were screaming to have Him killed on the very next day. We are warned about the falling away prior to the end and this could be happening now…. The point to consider is that there are some that cannot fall away from something that they never truly had. But, for the faithful, when we meet our Lord and know that He will be there with us for eternity, then it is truly the time to “Praise the Lord”
1 Corinthians 1:10 “Now, I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
It seems that misunderstanding this statement by Paul would be difficult to do, but obviously there are many that have…. Understanding the lessons and commandments given to us is not a matter of interpretation. Personal opinions are not acceptable and there should be no such thing as having an open mind concerning biblical doctrine.
2 Peter 1:20 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”
Based upon these two biblical statements, we must conclude that every denomination of Christian churches have disregarded this doctrine. Believing that whatever the groups that anyone attends is biblically correct only leads to complacency and eliminates the possibility of self examination. We must all adhere to only biblically correct instructions in order to expect consideration at our end. It should concern all who claim Christianity and cause them to explore their own personal beliefs to certify that those beliefs are in alignment with that which the Bible tells us. We are warned many times that there are few that will advance into the kingdom of our Lord, and we should be certain that each of us will be one of these chosen elect. Unification of all denominations into one single Christian church will only begin by one member at a time making the decision to adhere to true and unaltered biblical doctrine.
No one knows when their time will come when we must present our case to the Lord. Thinking that there is enough time to begin to pay attention to the truth of the Word at some later time could be a poor and disastrous decision….
The Bible is the source of all information that we will ever need in order to successfully travel through this life. The Old Testament, which is not studied by many Christians, gives us much insight into the nature of man. The New Testament gives us solutions and instructions as to our reactions to the nature of man as exemplified by the life and actions of Jesus. Every story that is offered to us is filled with many different bits of information, but in order to grasp the greater meaning of the story, it requires reflection upon what is being told. An example of this, concerns the story of the lame man at the pool in Jerusalem as told in Mark, Chapter 5.
After reading this story and giving thought to the events, we find that there is much more here than what appears of the surface. We find that the man had been disabled for a long period of time, thirty eight years. We find that he could get himself to the pool and the possibility of being cured, but could not make the final step without help. We do not know how long that he had been there, but we know that it was for a long time. We also know that in all of the time that he was there that no one assisted him into the pool and ultimate healing. We see that no matter whatever the circumstances that took place which prevented him from reaching his destination that he never gave up hope and continued on trying in spite of the frustration that he must have felt. And finally we see that he was cured by Jesus which was not the way that the man had thought was going to solve his dilemma. The man did everything that he thought may help him, but the final result was in a way by an event that he had never considered.
So we see by this one story that there are many lessons to be considered. The man had faith that he could be healed and remained true to that faith no matter what happened to diminish his convictions. He never gave up hope and eventually he was cured, but in a way that he had never imagined. This is great lesson for us all to help us understand that the Lord will assist us in His way which may not be what we had expected. Having predetermined notions of how our problems can be solved can only lead to disappointment. All we need to do is ask our Lord for His help and then get out of the way and wait for Him to complete the solution.....
The answer to the question as to whether all of the problems in the world are caused by satanic activity and influence is simply, yes…. We know this by what is told to us from within the Bible.
Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nether shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
We see here that when Satan is removed from the equation of our lives that all of our problems are removed with him.
However, we can do something to help ourselves until that time comes. We can rebuke the efforts of Satan against his attempts to influence our lives now.
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Examination of this statement reveals that there are two conditions to be accomplished in order to have Satan flee from us. First, we must submit ourselves to God; and second, we must resist Satan. Many will claim that they do both of these conditions, but they would be denying the truth of their own actions. No one totally places themselves in submission to God all of the time, but that does not mean that we do not try. We can also claim that we resist Satan, but that would also be untrue. Although we may resist his efforts to influence our lives, there are many times when we allow him in for that brief time when we want to indulge ourselves with our own personal desires. These aspects do not make us bad Christians; they make us human…. We do not have the power to overcome Satan, but we do have the power to ask our Lord, Jesus, to do it for us, but we must want Him to in order for Him to intercede.
We should recognize our own responsibility for many of the troubles in our lives because we have not followed the instructions given to us from within the Bible. We should also realize that we get no credit for doing things right, but we do get credit for trying to do things better….
The problem with being in denial is that the person is not aware of it and therefore unable to understand and correct that predicament. In that connection, if anyone in this country does not see what is happening by our government leaders is most likely in denial… The latest point of interest is the announcement by the White House that if people know of anyone or receives e-mails from anyone using language that is critical of the President or other government officials that the person should notify the White House of who the offending person is….This action is only one of a growing list of extremely frightening actions taken by this Administration that are not only illegal but unconstitutional. These aspects seem to make no difference to the elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives who have done nothing to control these actions or even question them. This nation was built on certain principles and ideals that have been ignored to the ultimate detriment to us all.
The Constitution is the basis for our governing bodies who take an oath to uphold the principles contained within the document. We find however, that this oath is meaningless to these officials regardless of their political persuasion.And so, since the language within the Constitution contains the words “One Nation under God..”it becomes the responsibility of every Christian to take control of the situation that our leaders have neglected. Since unification of the Christian church may or may not take place, it then becomes the responsibility of every individual Christian to seek assistance from the Lord in order to stop the detrimental actions of our government. Each of us, regardless of our political affiliation, should offer our prayers to our Lord for guidance and correction for the leaders of this country.
Denial is a very powerful problem, but it is also the responsibility of every Christian to help those who do not see the incredible negative actions taken by our government to convince those that are experiencing denial to see the truth. We are the light of this world and we must accept this task because we are told to by the teachings of Jesus. If we claim Christianity then we must act on that claim and do those things that are expected of us from our Lord. The actions of the Christian community may very well be the only hope that we have….
The definition of the word “worship” is to adore or pay divine honors to a deity; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.It also means to engage in religious services and offer prayers. These definitions seem to suffer from intensity when we consider with whom we are concerned. Different groups tend to have various rituals with which they believe is their notion of worship. Some groups wave their arms or jump up and down which apparently to them is a form of worship. There are many other rituals or actions that have been adopted by various groups, some of which are rather strange when we consider them as a form of worship. However, all of us fail to some extent when we attempt to worship our Lord because we cannot comprehend the Being that deserves our adoration.In many cases, we give more in terms of worship to our movie stars, athletes and rock stars than we do to God.The other problem is that we do not know how to show our respect and adoration to our Lord, and so we sing our hymns and repeat our prepared prayers at services because we do not know what else to do…..
However, there is another option that may solve the problem of how to worship God. It is just to pay attention to Him….The Bible tells us of the actions that man takes that pleases Him as well as displeases Him. It is no secret that we must discover in order to find out those actions that we must take that He hopes that we will take for us to achieve salvation; and there is much information concerning His will for man. All that man has to do is follow these instructions and it clearly show the reverence that we have for God. There are many aspects of life about which the Bible speaks that have become inconvenient from us to keep. And so, we must decide from three options as to how we will approach these requirements. We can keep strict adherence to biblical doctrine; we can disregard the requirements; or we can alter the words of the Bible to suit our own personal desires. The amount of changes to the words of the Bible clearly indicates that man prefers this option, and there are also many the merely disregard the doctrine. If each of us were to honestly examine our own lives in relation to biblical teaching, it would be hard to find many that could claim that they really pay total attention to the teachings of the Bible.
We are not speaking about sin, but we are speaking about honest attempts at trying to adhere to biblical doctrine. We have all experienced times when we may be talking with someone and we realize that the person with whom we are speaking is not paying much attention to our words. If we consider our feeling at those times and relate that to God, we may begin to understand that just paying attention to God and His teachings and expectations from us is the best form of worship that we can offer….
If we consider the fact that the Bible contains all of the information necessary for us to live a peaceful and contented life, it would be foolish for us not to use these ingredients to produce the harmony in life for which we are all searching. There are only two things that we must do to bring us to this end. We must use the information provided for us; and we must get out of the way of allowing the Lord to give us this manner of life. If we want to discover the reason that our life may be filled with unwanted aspects, all we have to do is look into a mirror. We create our own problems because we do not understand or know that we need to do nothing but allow God to do those things that He has promised us. We can reduce all of the promises of God concerning our lives into just two statements made by Jesus.
Matthew 10:30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Clearly, our Lord knows everything about each of us. In fact, He is aware of aspects of our being of which we ourselves are not aware.
Matthew 6:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself…..”
Here, we are being told not to worry or even consider about the future. Worrying never changed a single thing in life and so it becomes a totally useless exercise. It does, however, create stress and tension in our lives.
It is essentially impossible for man to make a valid decision on his own. The reason for this is because man only knows that which he knows. He is not aware of what he does not know, and that aspect will cause his decisions to be incorrect. At some point in time, something that man has not considered will enter into the decision which will make that position wrong. Although, we do have the ability to adjust, some times these adjustments are costly. God tells us many times that He will take care of us, so it becomes foolish for us to interfere with that promise. Many of us say that we trust in God, but then we go about our lives making decisions without asking His advice. This type of action does not demonstrate absolute faith in the words of God, and can only produce greater stress within us because of the errors in judgment that we make. It is not an easy thing to do, but the more we rely on our Lord, the easier it becomes. He will not let us down or disappoint us in any way because He is not like us.
1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
The key word in this statement is “all” of our concerns. We are being told that we can trust the Lord to take care of “all” of our problems…..All it takes is faith, and we know that it is impossible to please God without our show of faith….
It is true that the Bible is still the best selling book ever written, but it may also be the least read of all books sold. It is astonishing how many people own a Bible but have never read it. The Christian Bible contains both Old and New Testaments, but many Christians do not read the Old Testament part. It is essential reading in order to grasp and understand the lessons offered to us in the New Testament. An example of this would be the statement in Matthew 27:51 “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;….” upon the death of Jesus. Without knowing the Old Testament system, the reader would have no understanding of the importance of these words. The veil was placed between the people and the room in the Temple called the Holiest of Holies. Only the High Priest could enter that room and only once a year in order to seek forgiveness from God for himself and the people. The veil being rent indicates that at the death of Jesus, now all people have direct access to God. The study of the Old Testament also gives us understanding of why and how the atoning death of Jesus redeems us from punishment for our sins.
The reason for the death of Jesus is surprisingly not totally understood by many who claim Christianity. Claiming Jesus as our Savior without knowing what that represents is like buying an airplane without knowing how to fly it. Releasing someone from the punishment for sin was actually a result of His atoning death but not the reason for His death. Jesus was fulfilling the requirements of Old Testament conditions for the commission of sin by the people of the world. Sin was forgiven by certain sacrifices or actions for sins that had been committed. Future sins were not included in the sacrificial action which placed the person in jeopardy until the appropriate atoning action was taken.
As we read through the Old Testament, we are given the explanation of sin and the punishment for committing the act. We also see that after time moved on that the people began to place less emphasis on these conditions and stray away from fulfilling the requirements. We are essentially doing the very same thing today when we alter the meaning of biblical lessons in order to fit our own agenda. Man has not changed in their position to overlook requirements if they interfere with personal desires. However, our Father was very much aware of the nature of man and knew that at some point that He would have to step in and save us from ourselves. And so, He offers up the only perfect sacrifice in order to justify all that believe in the fact that the sacrifice of Himself would fulfill the requirements of His Law for the remission of sin.
The crucifixion of Jesus was just the method by which He was killed, but it fulfilled the Law of God given to the Israelites as they left Egypt. The actual sacrifice did not forgive our sins, but believing, in faith, that this atoning action redeemed us from the Law is the aspect that allows us to become righteous in the eyes of our Lord. Believing that Jesus existed; That He was God in human form; that He died in order to totally and finally fulfill the sacrificial system of the Old Testament Law; and most importantly believing that this action is sufficient for the remission of punishment of our sins puts us into a position to now fly the airplane…. If anyone believes anything other than these elements of truth, they will just crash and burn…..
It should be no surprise to anyone that it is impossible for humans not to commit sin. Although there are varying degrees of sin, it is all sin and the difference has no impact on God. Prior to the atoning sacrifice of our Lord, man could not achieve eternal life in paradise with sin on their soul. The Jewish sacrificial system would cleanse people for past sins, but not for future iniquities. The ultimate sacrifice of Jesus cleared the way for total redemption from this system and now a true Christian will not be condemned for our sins. The degrees of sin are simple. There are intentional sins and there are unintentional sins. There are also sins we commit because we are not aware that the action is a sin. An example of this would be that we did not follow the instruction of the Bible as to what is expected from a Christian. We are told to adhere to all civil laws regardless of the fact that we may not agree with these civil requirements. However, we must place the Laws of God above the civil ordinances. So, because there are speed limits on all roads, and we sometimes exceed these laws, we essentially commit sin. This may seem frivolous; nevertheless without the atoning action of Jesus, we would not have been able to reach paradise because of this simple sin. God forgives every sin that we commit, but do not think that He forgets them….
Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
So we see that our sins will be reviewed, but we have already been forgiven by the blood of our Lord. However, from a human point of view, this review in front of all to witness will most likely be somewhat embarrassing for each one of us….
Another aspect of Christianity that is sometimes overlooked is the fact that we have been given the Spirit when we become a child of God. The Spirit lives within us and becomes a part of our being. In fact, it is witness to all that we do…. We should consider that fact when we sin willfully. It is there when we lie, it is there when we steal or cheat and it is there when we commit an immoral act. Enough said……
The Bible is the only source of information given to us from God…. Every word is true and every word has meaning. The interesting aspect of the Bible that some do not understand is that the Book was written directly to each individual who reads it. This miraculous characteristic means that every person who reads some chapter or verse will receive from it exactly what they need at that particular time. That same person can read the exact same chapter or verse at some later time and receive a slightly different understanding because the difference is what they need at that later time. The levels of understanding are endless; and a person will never reach total understanding no matter how many times they may read the Book. It will answer every question that we may have and will give us proper guidance in all situations in which we find ourselves. But there is a problem….
First, we must assume that God would not allow His words to be altered. In fact, He states in the last chapter of Revelation that if any one changes a word, that their name will be removed from the Book of Life. And so, we can believe that each time that the Book was translated into a language for the first time that the translation would be inspired. After that translation, we can assume no inspirational activity because it would not be necessary. In the case of English, we must rely on the King James Version as being accurate. The revised editions may be easier to read but they eliminate the miraculous aspect of the Book. The revisions are merely the opinions or understanding that the person had at the time of the writing. These alterations, although they may appear to be minor, are possibly removing the deeper levels to which we can reach from within the original. And this brings us to another problem….
There are so many different denominations and so many different versions of the Bible, the only result can be confusion. We must consider that the author of confusion is Satan. Every Christian should be able to go to any church anywhere in the world and hear exactly the same lessons and doctrine, but this is not the case. A nonbeliever can ask a question of many Christians and receive differing answers from each, and this is not a good thing because it only tends to confuse the nonbeliever. And, this confusion may prevent that person from achieving salvation. It is a method of Satan and should be recognized as such and corrected. There is one God and there is one truth…..