Christians Need to Judge

It upsets me when people throw around verses like “Judge not that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) or “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7). Some don’t even try to be spiritual as they blurt out, “We all sin. No one’s sin is worse than another’s.” No wonder the church is in the state it’s in today!

Most of the time, I challenge people to deal with the sin in their own lives. Instead of being flippant and accepting the fact that “We all sin” and “No one is perfect,” we need to be crying out to God to show us where we are failing and change our hearts so that we can be perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). I understand that we will never attain perfection while on this earth, but if we do not repent, we will not be the overcomers that Christ has called us to be, and we may end up missing a glorious eternity with Him.

As you grow in your own walk with the Lord, you will develop discernment concerning others that are faltering and, in spite of popular opinion, it is not wrong to judge those who claim to have a relationship with Christ but are not living in accordance to that claim. Matthew 7:20 says that “By their fruit, you shall know them.”

In 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, Paul tells us:

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person (emphasis mine).

That sounds pretty judgmental to me.

As I write this, I realize that some will accuse me of being self-righteous and arrogant. I don’t know how to keep from sounding that way. The fact is that I grieve when I hear of Believers who have walked away from God or who still claim to be His child while they give in to their selfish indulgences regardless of who they hurt. I pray for them with tears sometimes. But it is not wrong to refrain from listening to teaching by someone who does not exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. And when you think, “Yeah, but I do that same thing,” that’s when the Holy Spirit should convict your heart. Just because you do the same thing does not make it OK.

Our refusal to call sin what it is is why each generation gets further and further from the Lord. Our culture no longer understands what it means to be a follower of Christ. They are told that, if they ask Jesus into their hearts, they are born again when in reality that does nothing except provide a false sense of security for those who don’t want to surrender everything they have in exchange for the life that Christ promises to His true servants.

I admit that I am upset right now. I’m tired of platitudes and cliches being tossed around by people who don’t seem to have a clue what Christianity is all about. Our biggest problem is not that the church is judgmental. The bigger problem is that it doesn’t judge. It wants to accept everyone and, in doing so, it is “loving” people into Hell.

I am not claiming perfection. I am well aware of areas that I need to grow in, and I expect that God will continue to show me more. But I want to make sure that I am being taught by people who are growing in holiness as they seek to love God with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength. I want to surround myself with those who want to please the Lord in everything that they do. I want to be an example to others who are looking for a reason to believe in Christ. I don’t want to settle for people who have the same faults that I do. Sure, I can bear with those people, knowing that God is continuing to do a work in both of us. But I want to encourage everyone to keep running the race. Be faithful. When you fall, get up, repent, and keep running.

I often recommend The Walk of Repentance Bible study because that is the heart of the Christian life. If you are comparing yourself with others, Scripture says that that isn’t wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Instead, God’s Word should be your guide. Galatians 5:22-23 is a good place to start, but the whole Word of God will tell you what is acceptable to God and what isn’t, regardless of whether or not it’s currently accepted in society.

In summary, I encourage you to definitely get the plank out of your own eye before dealing with the speck in your Brother’s eye (Luke 6:42). Don’t be like the pastor who preached strongly against adultery not long before being caught with a prostitute. No, this is not about hypocrisy. It is about raising the standard, explaining to your children the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, sin and righteousness. It is about challenging others to raise the bar with you. If you know someone who struggles with the same sin you do, see if he or she is open to being your accountability partner so that you can both find freedom from that sin. I am not advocating that everyone begin to look down on others for their shortcomings. Not at all. But I am saying that it is not wrong to confront professing Christians who are living in sin. Perhaps in doing so, you will save them from the fire (Jude 1:23) instead of being partially responsible for their demise (Ezekiel 3:18).

CD Report: Glorious God (Lauren Talley)

Back in 2019, Lauren Talley released a couple of worship CDs. I reviewed the other one shortly after they came out, but this one is worth mentioning too.

I am not a fan of the praise and worship genre, but there are good songs within the genre, and Lauren has chosen some good ones.  Some will be familiar to you and some may not, but they will all bring you into the presence of Jesus.

Songs included are: Glorious God, What a Beautiful Name, Mercy Tree, The Heavens Are Telling, Let the Glory Come Down, Jesus at the Center, Jesus Only Jesus, and A Wretch Like Me (which Lauren wrote).

Sunday Has Arrived

 

Jesus’ followers just experienced the worst weekend of their lives. They were going about as normal, celebrating the annual Passover, laughing, joking, and probably even arguing a bit, and now their mentor and closest friend had been brutally murdered. That must have continued to hang over them as they observed the Sabbath. They had to stay home on that day and do no work, which included going to check on the tomb of their beloved. As soon as Sunday rolled around, however, a couple of women did go to the tomb and were shocked to find the stone rolled away from the entrance with no body inside. They ran to tell the disciples who thought there must be some mistake! So Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves. The women were right! This could only mean one thing: Jesus had risen! He promised He would, and He kept His word once again! Reactions varied from different ones who heard the news. Some believed while others doubted. I imagine I would have been in the latter camp. How could a man who was so obviously dead come back to life? And yet He did.

No one alive back then could have imagined everything that Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished, but praise the Lord, because He lives, we too can live. He left us an example to follow, to be holy as He was holy. He showed us how to pray, how to be led by the Spirit, and how to rebuke self-righteous Pharisees when necessary. If He had remained dead, His followers would probably not have written down His works. There would be no need for us to study Him. Sure, we could take note of Him being a good man, but He was so much more than that.

As Sunday draws to a close, I would like to challenge each of us to examine His life, to learn to live as He lived, to love as He loved. Let’s strive to be more like Him than ever before. Let’s make sure that, as far as we are concerned, He did not die in vain.

The Darkest Night

The trial continued throughout the night. I imagine this was unusual. In ordinary circumstances when the masses wanted a person dead, I expect that it didn’t take long to convict him, but this trial was different. Historians say that Pilate was not a nice man. He was a Roman. He delighted in torturing and killing Jews and yet there was something about Jesus that made him hesitant and so he stalled, hoping to find a way to release him. At one point, Pilate reminded the crowd that they could choose to release one prisoner. “Whom do you want me to release to you?” Pilate asked. “Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” To Pilate’s amazement, the people asked for Barabbas to be released. A known criminal to be set free while a man whose only crime was honesty was sentenced to death. Although Pilate didn’t like it, he was a coward and so he finally gave the command for Jesus to be crucified.

Crucifixion has to be the most horrendous form of torture and death which was ever invented by any regime, but this was the means by which Jesus would suffer. I’m sure my readers are familiar with everything that took place between the trial and the crucifixion. If you’re not, you will find it detailed in every Gospel. Matthew 26 may be a good place to start.

As hard as it was for Jesus to go through everything He went through, I expect the worst part is going through all that and people not caring. Sure, more people may attend church on Christmas and Easter than any other day of the year, but that is to appease their own conscience. It has nothing to do with gratitude for what Christ has done for them. They don’t seem to recognize, as Rusty Goodman put it, that “had it not been for the old rugged cross … then forever my soul would be lost.” Jesus didn’t die so that we could be happy and live in ease. He died so that, when we surrender to Him, we can be holy and have eternal life with Him.

Every year around the new year and my birthday, I take time to ponder my life and ask God to show me areas that I need to grow in. Easter is also a good time to examine our hearts in light of God’s Word and make sure that we are living as He desires us to live, that our hearts and minds are pure, and that we are fully surrendered. I don’t believe that we can do those things too often. It’s easy to get into fleshly ruts instead of seeking to be daily filled with the Spirit.

Let’s not fritter away this weekend. Like most of you, I have things to do tomorrow, but I plan to set aside a time to focus on Jesus, the life He lived, and the purpose of His death. I want Him to continue to change me into His image so that I can be a light for Him. I hope that is your desire as well.

 

Photo by Duncan Sanchez on Unsplash

A Dark Night

April 1st. A day when many are pulling pranks on friends and family while others are reflecting on the night Jesus and the disciples shared before He was crucified. Maybe your day has included a little of both.

I can only imagine what Jesus must have felt like eating with His disciples, full of heaviness concerning what the next morning would bring while His disciples were totally oblivious. It wasn’t that He hadn’t tried to prepare them. He had. But there was no way that they could grasp the gravity of the situation.

Maybe they thought that He was being overly dramatic. Maybe God in His mercy kept them from understanding what was about to take place until they absolutely had to know. Regardless, His words about dying and leaving them seemed to go through twelve ears and out the others. Jesus must have felt so alone sitting at supper that night.

More amazing than anything was the fact that, when they asked Jesus who it was that was going to betray Him, He told them, and they totally missed that too.

A while later, He and eleven of His disciples went out to Gethsemane. He allowed Peter, James, and John to go with Him a little further and asked them to watch and pray with Him. I expect that they still didn’t grasp what was happening or they probably couldn’t have slept. Here Jesus was surrounded by His closest friends, but He was functionally alone during His greatest trial. He woke them up a couple of times and then finally let them sleep, knowing they would need their rest to get through the days ahead.

I can only imagine the terror they felt when they were rudely awakened by an angry mob wielding swords and torches. Peter sprang into action, taking his own sword and cutting off a soldier’s ear. He no doubt thought this was when Jesus would rise up and overthrow the Roman government, with some help from His followers of course. But He could not have been more mistaken. Instead, Jesus told Peter to put his sword away. Then He healed the soldier’s ear!

Later that evening, as Peter was in the distance, trying to see what would become of Jesus, he denied three times that he had known the One that he had once called Lord. After hearing the rooster crow, Peter’s heart smote him, and he wept in remorse. Judas, on the other hand, realizing that he had made a grave mistake, went out and hung himself. Jesus would have graciously forgiven Judas, but instead of asking, Judas ended his life.

Scripture doesn’t record where most of the other disciples were at this point. I expect they had gone into hiding. And who could blame them? The Romans were not a people that one would want to spar with. If they arrested Jesus, it wouldn’t be long before they would go after His followers.

And so the evening ends. Jesus is on trial, His followers are scattered. One disciple is dead, and one is full of remorse. Surely, things can’t get any worse. Or can they?

Becoming Mature

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” ~Proverbs 16:9

For as long as I can remember, I have not liked change. This includes change of plans. If I know that I cannot do something that I’d really like to do, I can usually deal with it. If I am planning to do something and then something comes up so that I can’t follow through with my plans, it is really hard for me to handle. In the last few months, I have had several changes to plans, and yet it has been obvious that God was redirecting. This does not always make it easy, but I find that He is giving me the grace to accept His will which is not always what I had planned.

It is easy to sing “Take my will and make it Thine,” but it is not easy to mean it. Deep down, the majority of people still desire to have their own way. “I surrender all” becomes something we think we mean until we are asked to do so. I have learned, however, that true joy comes from following the Lord regardless of what He asks.

Years ago, someone told me that maturity is when you can laugh at yourself. At the time, I thought I’ll never be mature then. But now I often tell on myself when I do something stupid as I can see the humor in it. And you know what? People really don’t love me any less.

It’s fun to watch children as they desire to get bigger. Some moms get a tape measure to track their child’s growth. I expect the child doesn’t realize how big he is getting until he compares the mark on the wall that measures his current height to the line which was made a year ago. So it is in spiritual growth. I know for myself that I get frustrated by the areas in which I am not seeing progress, but every once in a while, I realize that I responded differently to a situation than I would have once upon a time, and what rejoicing there is as I thank the Lord for continuing the work that He has begun in my life.

I don’t know where you are at in your Christian walk. Maybe you are full of overcoming victory. I expect some are discouraged by the lack of growth that they see. Whatever you do, do not give up. When you fail, acknowledge it, ask for forgiveness and help to conquer that area, and move forward. Maturity does not mean doing everything perfectly, but it does mean responding appropriately. I am still being stretched. My routine is currently disrupted. I continue to seek God daily for wisdom about the plans I’m making this year. I expect I’ll have more plans I will need to change. But I trust that I am growing in all of these and that He who began a good work in me will complete it (Philippians 1:6), and He will do that for you as well.

Second Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  ~2 Timothy 1:7

I wish I could quote this verse to everyone who is fearful these days. Whether it’s fear of getting COVID, fear of losing a loved one, or worry about how they are going to pay bills, fear is running rampant and, unfortunately, some are turning that fear to blame. Blaming friends, the government … anyone they can think of in order to let out some deep-seated frustration and anxiety. I understand where these emotions are coming from, but I encourage you to turn that fear into prayer. God is able to meet every need beyond what you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). The problem is that we don’t often ask.

David Livingstone trod the dangerous jungles of Africa because he believed that nothing could harm him until it was God’s time to take him Home. I agree with his assessment where Spirit-led children of God are concerned. If you are seeking Him and His Kingdom, you must trust Him to complete the work that He has begun in you. God is not obligated to protect you from your own foolishness, but He will lead you in the paths that He desires you to go and will give you peace in the midst of your storms if you will but look to Him to do so.

Please know that I am not making light of your situation. I am not even saying that you don’t have a reason to be concerned. I just want to encourage you to turn your fear and anxiety to prayer and trust. God is able.

You Are Making a Difference

I don’t know about you, but I often wonder if I am impacting anyone’s life. I feel like I do my best to encourage others and hold a standard in order to be an example but, at the end of the day, does anyone notice or do they just pass me off as a crazy lady? I expect many times that it’s the latter, but lately, I have been reminded that people really do pay attention more than it may seem. Humanly, it would just be nice to receive proof before I’m lying in a cold grave somewhere.

If you’re a parent, it can be especially tiring as it seems like everything goes into your child’s ear and out the other, but I expect that they are catching more than you realize. It may take 20 years for you to see how much influence you really had, but I imagine that it’s there just the same.

Maybe you are trying to be a light to your work or community. Don’t stop. I know the battle can be weary and oftentimes thankless, but your Father in Heaven is watching, and He will be glorified through your faithfulness.

Walking in the Spirit is not always easy, but it is vital. You have been placed where you are for a purpose, and that purpose is to bring glory to the Father. This comes through exhibiting fruit that only He can give: peace, joy, love, gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control. Every time you give into the flesh whether it’s through your language, your attitude, the tone of your voice … you are discrediting the God that you profess to serve.

So, my friend, I want to encourage you to keep pressing on. Don’t give up. Don’t become discouraged. You are most likely making a difference more than you realize. Let’s pray that those who come behind us find us faithful. And let’s continue to encourage each other to love and good works.

CD Report: Who We Are (3 Heath Brothers)

I first heard this group by watching the National Quartet Convention’s live stream. People talk about family harmony, and I admit that there is not much that I like better.

Dream Small reminds us that it’s not only the big things that matter. Every little thing that you do for Christ counts in eternity.

If you’ve forgotten who you are in Christ, you need to listen to This Is Who I Am.

They included an a capella version of the hymn It Is Well.

Smell of Smoke compares the trials we go through to the deliverance of the Hebrew boys who “didn’t even smell of smoke.”

“It’s not about thinking less of yourself, but thinking of your Self Less.

I Believe You is a timely song. No matter what anyone else says, we can cling to the words of our Father since every word He’s spoken is true.

Moms will appreciate the Mother’s Day Song.

We Choose Life is the first strongly pro-life song I’ve heard since Gold City recorded “Only God Knows.”

Other songs include: Give It to Jesus, No Matter What, and Shake in His Shoes.

Make Your Requests Known

Have you ever prepared for a vacation, praying fervently that it wouldn’t rain so that your family could make the most of the beach or monuments or whatever else you had planned? While you prayed against the rain, I can imagine someone in that same region praying for rain to cool off the summer or water the drought. This is how I feel when I pray for our president and against some of the laws that he wants to institute. While I ask God to keep some things from coming to pass, I know there are others who want these things to take place. So, what should I do? Stop praying since whatever will be will be? I don’t think so.

Philippians 4:6 tells us:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

I feel like that is God’s message to us in this season. Do not fear the future but, instead, talk to God. Let Him know what concerns you and boldly pray against the things that you know do not please Him or even the things that would present a hardship for your family. If there are things you would like to see happen, ask Him for those things. There’s a reason that God is called a righteous Judge. I can picture him in Heaven, listening to the petitions of one side and then hearing the cries from the opposing side. I expect that sometimes He weighs His decision based on the fervency of the prayers. But, ultimately, He answers according to what is best for His children in the long run, and that which will most completely accomplish His plan.

I have friends who are happy with the way the election turned out while others think this is God’s judgment and are preparing for the End Times. Regardless of which camp you are in, I hope that you will not become complacent. Our work does not end at the polls. We need to daily make our requests known, striving to be led by the Spirit instead of being guided by fear. When you see answers to your prayers, rejoice. Thank Him for those answers, but don’t stop praying for our leaders. Pray that God will guide them and turn their hearts to Him. And don’t view those who see things differently as your enemy. Christians need to band together and encourage each other while seeking to be a light to a dark and depressed world.

 

Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Top