Soul Saving and Spirituality


Is the church’s single-minded emphasis upon rescuing souls hampering the growth of the church?

For many individuals this will seem like a very controversial question and whom would say that obviously the more souls that are saved, the larger the growth of the church. However, I would like to question that assumption and suggest that this mindset hampers an individual’s spiritual growth.

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5 Important Truths we Forget


As a Christian in America, I can easily become distracted from the important things. I’ve been realizing how easily I can forget important principles and truths from Scripture. So, I’ve compiled a quick list of 5 things we Christians often lose sight of and forget: 

  1. “My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus name” ~ Cornerstone, Hillsong Worship
    1. All too often we put our hope in something other than Christ. I often put my hope in the political outlook or in a candidate. Many people put their hope in finances or in having a good job. Others put their hope in relationships. Let’s remember to put our hope in Christ first. “Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” ~ Psalm 130:7
  2. “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” ~ 1Peter 5:8
    1. As human beings, we have a disadvantage of not being able to see the spiritual realm. Because of this, we often forget that there is a spiritual war being fought all around us. God’s angels are valiantly fighting the Devil’s minions in an epic war. Our disadvantage is that we are a part of the war. But, being unable to see it makes it very difficult to participate. We need to be aware that the Devil is trying to destroy us and is constantly out to oppress us with his demons, and to tempt us with sin. We need to take of the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and use it daily in our fight against evil (Ephesians 6).
  3. “This world is not my home, I’m here for a moment…I’m bound for glory.” ~ Bound for Glory, Vertical Church Band
    1. Those of us who live in the Western world, and in a first world country, probably struggle with this concept more than those who don’t. Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven (Matthew 19:27). It is very easy to let the comforts of our lives, and the good gifts God has given us, to become too comfortable for us and for us to trust them for our salvation. We need to remember that we are only here for a short time, and the comforts and joys in heaven will far outweigh what is good here! Let’s fix our eyes on things above (Colossians 3:2)!
  4. Persecution is a Privilege, Suffering is a Given
    1. We are guaranteed to suffer in this life (1Peter 4:12-19). God tells us throughout Scripture that difficult trials that we face are given to us in order to refine us and mold us to be more like Christ. We need to redefine how we think of “good”. Rather than it being what we deem as enjoyable and comfortable, we need to realize “good” means whatever draws us closer to God. We also need to realize that not all of us will be given a chance to experience hardcore persecution. Scripture teaches it is a privilege. Some of us will sigh in relief… But we need to remember that “a good follower of Yesu (Jesus) is like the ox – ready either for the plow or the alter, for service or for sacrifice.” ~ Safely Home, Randy Alcorn pp.347
  5. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ~ Ephesians 6:12
    1. The political authorities in this world who are doing evil, the mean kid at school, the bad cop who is racist, all of these people are really just puppets for the Devil. They have souls, and Jesus died for them. Our fight is not with them; it is with the Devil. So let’s pick up our Sword, and our quiver of Prayer, and not spend our time fighting them, but fighting the enemy.

 

The Gravity of Temptation


The danger of sin is that anyone can fall, no matter how spiritually strong they are. Danger is not in making the big mistake, but rather making the small ones leading up to the big mistake. We should not be worried about being presented with a big sinful temptation and falling into it, but rather the indifference towards sinful patterns leading up to the temptation (not to say when you are tempted you are sinning, but rather when you fall to the temptation, perhaps you had been sinning prior.)
 
Take King David for example. His big mistake, was arguably his adultery with Bathsheba. David didn’t randomly give into sin… He ALREADY had been giving into sin. He was supposed to be out fighting with his men, not staying home. Had David been presented the temptation in any other situation, I believe he would have resisted the temptation and not committed adultery. But he gave into temptation earlier and thus numbed his heart towards the Holy Spirit, so that when the next temptation came, and one on a larger scale, he did not respond to the dulled voice of the Holy Spirit.
 
Applications to this are many. We need to not only pray that God will deliver us in time of great temptation, but also ask his help to say no to the small temptations. This is why I believe we need to bring EVERYTHING to God in prayer. Not just the big things, we need to bring the tiny, small things to Him too. Perhaps this is why Paul urges us to pray without ceasing.
 
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

CHARACTER QUALITIES CHRISTIANS SHOULD LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE


As Super Tuesday rolls around…What Character Qualities should Christians be looking for in the Presidential Candidates?

 

When Moses was appointing leaders to officiate over the Israelites, his father told him to “look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe” (Exodus 18:21, ESV)*

Jesus tells us that a good way of knowing if a leader is trustworthy is a fruit test. “By their fruit you will recognize them…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-17)

*- All scripture is in the New International Version unless otherwise specified.

 

LOOK OUT FOR BAD FRUIT

Jesus warns his disciples of leaders who look good on the outside, but on the “inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25)

Greed

A greedy person will say to himself “I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones” (Luke 12:18) rather than giving to the poor or to God.

Jesus tells us that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

Self-Indulgence

Bad leaders will enjoy being rich and popular: “walk around in flowing robes”. (Mark 12:38)

They enjoy and indulge when they “have the most important seats” and the “places of honor at banquets”. (Mark 12:39

“They devour widow’s houses”. (Mark 12:40)

And their talk and “prayers” are for “a show”. (Mark 12:40)

 

A GOOD LEADER WILL DISPLAY GOOD FRUIT

  • Hate pride and arrogance” (Proverbs 8:13)
    • “A wicked man puts up a bold front, but an upright man gives thought to his ways. (Proverbs 21:29)
  • Hate “evil behavior” (Proverbs 8:13)
    • “A man who commits adultery lacks judgment” (Proverbs 6:32)
    • “He who sleeps with another man’s wife” will not “go unpunished” (Proverbs 6:29)
  • Hate “perverse speech” (Proverbs 8:13)
    • None of their words are “crooked or perverse.” (Proverbs 8:8)
    • “he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19)
    • “A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.” (Proverbs 11:12)
    • “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:25)
  • Integrity “guides them” (Proverbs 11:3)
    • Unfaithful followers walk in the ways of “duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3)
    • Speaks truth and does not lie (Proverbs 12:19)
    • “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint
  • Has a “wife of noble character” (Proverbs 12:4).
  • Has patience and “great understanding(Proverbs 14:29)
    • A quick tempered man displays folly” (Proverbs 14:29)
    • “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension” (Proverbs 15:18)
    • “A patient man calms a quarrel.” (Proverbs 15:18)
  • Honor the Lord with your wealth” (Proverbs 3:9)
  • Does not acquit the guilty
    • “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.” (Proverbs 17:15)
  • Acknowledges God in everything
    • “in all your ways acknowledge him” (Proverbs 3:6)

 

LITMUS TEST

Jesus warns that false leaders “do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:3)

As you decide to vote for a candidate:

PRAY THAT GOD WILL OPEN YOUR EYES TO TRUTH AND THAT YOU WILL NOT FALL FOR DECEIT

“Save me, O LORD, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.” (Psalms 120:2)

 

A Prophet Without Honor


Matthew 13:54-58
“54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

So true isn’t it? How often do we let our ‘picture’ of Jesus get in the way of letting us experience Jesus for who he is. Jesus’ neighbors had a preconceived notion that Jesus was a carpenter’s boy. They let this image get in the way of his ‘new’ identity: the fact that he was (and is) the Christ. They couldn’t mold the deity picture to the carpenter boy picture. If only they had done it backwards it would have worked. If they had seen Christ as a deity first and not as a carpenter first they could have painted the picture together and may have been able to find everlasting life. I wonder how often we cannot accept something because of our lack of perspective and how often we let God be smaller than he really is. I heard someone say that if you do not believe that God could have created the universe (agnostic speaking) then your [idea of] God is too small.

John 10:1-10


John 10:1-10

 

In verse one, Jesus warns his disciples of false theologies, salvations, and leaders. They are the ones who bypass the gate and climb in some other way. These men, women and ideas are thieves and robbers.

Then Jesus goes on (verse 3) to describe how his disciples will know him. “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [of the sheep pen].” But, he goes on to say that the sheep follow him, “because they know his voice”. This is very important, because it reminds us that we need to passionately pursue Christ’s voice. We need to learn to listen and recognize his voice.

In verse five, Jesus says that his sheep “will never follow a stranger”. This is because they will “not recognize a stranger’s voice”. Rather than being confident that you will never follow a stranger, we should focus on following Jesus. For if we can recognize his voice, we will recognize the fallacy in the stranger’s voice. Therefore we should test every teaching and “hold on to what is good, [and] reject every kind of evil” (1 Thes. 5:21-22).

In verse seven, Jesus essentially states that He is the only way to heaven. There can be no multiple ways to get to heaven because everyone must “[enter] through me” and he who does this “will be saved”. This is a very important point and one that we all should strive to focus on, for “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:14). Though this path is difficult, Jesus promises us that we “may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10) if we follow him and enter through The Gate.

SON of GOD

Video


“Now, the larger-than-life story of The New Testament gets a larger-than life treatment in the stand-alone feature SON OF GOD. Told with the scope and scale of an action epic, the film features powerful performances, exotic locales, dazzling visual effects and a rich orchestral score from Oscar®-winner Hans Zimmer. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus as the film spans from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. It marks the first motion picture about Jesus’ life since Passion of the Christ, released ten years ago.” -http://www.sonofgodmovie.com/home.html