Will The Real Christian Please Stand Up!

Recently, I tried watching a movie called “Dial-a-Prayer” about a troubled young woman who is sentenced to community service by working in a prayer call centre. I say “tried” because I could only stomach about 1/2 hour of it before I turned it off in disgust and frustration. I am sick and tired of the media portraying Christians as insincere, money-grubbing, Southern-style Bible thumping losers who don’t really believe in what they are saying!!

I am well aware that there are people who call themselves “Christian” but whose words and deeds show that they are anything but a Christian. These people leave a real bad taste in my mouth.

So, how can one person tell if another person is truly a Christian? As Joyce Meyers says, it’s not by how many Jesus pins and bumper stickers they display.

First, one must understand the meaning of the word ‘Christian’. It is derived from the Greek word ‘Christianos’ meaning ‘followers of Christ’. And the word ‘Christ’ comes from the Greek word, ‘Christos’, meaning ‘anointed’ (in this case, by God). So a Christian is a person who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, the one who was anointed by God.

Act 10:38 … how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good, and healing all those who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him.

God anointed Jesus with God’s own holy spirit power so that Jesus could carry out some very important work

Luk 4:18, 19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Joh 17:26 And I made known to them Your name, and will make it known, so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

Jesus was sent to proclaim good news (forgiveness of sins and salvation through faith in him), to heal, to deliver, to bring freedom, and to teach about God’s great grace, mercy and love.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, ‘a Christian’, we should be following his example. We should be teaching what he taught – the grace of salvation through faith in Jesus. We should be doing what he did – healing the sick, delivering the captives, helping the poor, etc. And we should be doing all of these things in the manner in which Jesus did – with mercy, compassion and love – all without judgement. (I am working on this)

You can’t rightly call yourself a Christian if you are not doing these things, or if you are doing them, but not in love. The true spiritual state of a person is evident in their words and deeds.

Luk 6:44 For every tree is known by its own fruit.

1Jn 2:3 And by this we may be certain that we have knowledge of him, if we keep his laws.
1Jn 2:4 The man who says, I have knowledge of him, and does not keep his laws, is false, and there is nothing true in him:
1Jn 2:5 But in every man who keeps his word, the love of God is made complete. By this we may be certain that we are in him:
1Jn 2:6 He who says that he is living in him, will do as he did.

So, who is a Jesus-following Christian? A person who desires to fulfill the following qualifications:

Luk 10:27 And answering, he said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and [love] your neighbor as yourself.

1Jn 4:15 Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God.
1Jn 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God has in us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

It’s about time we lived up to the name!

Blessings

 

 

 

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Marital Bliss

Son 2:16 My Beloved is mine, and I am His;

Today, I celebrate the fourth anniversary of my second wedding to my wonderful hubby. That probably sounds a bit confusing but you see, I have been blessed to be able to marry the same wonderful man twice – once in a garden in June before God and once on a bluff at sunset in August before Man (to make it “legal”). For me, the first ceremony of our coming together before God was the more important of the two.

When I tell people it is our fourth anniversary, they often tell me, “Well, I guess the honeymoon is over now!” I would like to state categorically that the honeymoon is most definitely NOT over! How sad it is to think that most people believe that after only four years of marriage it is to be expected that the relationship has settled into some sort of hum-drum existence!

I remember an aunt who once announced that she had been married for 25 “blissful” years. Now that sounds good on paper but you would have had to have seen her facial expression when she said it. When she spoke the word “blissful” she rolled her eyes, gritted her teeth and grimaced rather than smiled.

It would seem that many people share her feelings about the state of marriage – that matrimony is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. And I must confess that marriage can be unholy deadlock rather than holy wedlock if both spouses are unwilling to submit to God’s plan for marriage. I speak from a previous unhappy experience!

God never meant for marriage to become such an “unholy union”. He never designed that special relationship between a man and a woman to become a selfish power struggle – the “my way or the highway” or “if you don’t like it you can just leave” attitude.

As I am writing about marriage in the Christian context and using God’s written word, the Bible, as my authority, I want to make it clear that when I am talking about marriage I am talking about the holy, sanctified union of one man to one woman. God created Mankind to be male and female and he created the female to be the partner of the male.

Gen 1:27 And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him. He created them male and female.

Gen_5:2 He created them male and female, and blessed them. And He called their name man in the day when they were created.

God created the man, Adam, first. God noted that Adam did not have a suitable helper or mate so God created the perfect mate for Adam, a female whom Adam would name Eve.

Gen 2:20-22 And Adam gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field. But there was not found a suitable helper for Adam.  And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept. And He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh underneath. And Jehovah God made the rib (which He had taken from the man) into a woman. And He brought her to the man.

God formed Adam from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7) so God could have done the same thing to create a woman as Adam’s mate, yet God decided to do something very special by making the woman using a piece of Adam’s own body. This literal action held an important symbolic meaning – that a man and a woman joined together as husband and wife were to function together in unity as one body in their hearts, souls and minds.

In the beginning, Adam recognized this special relationship.

Gen 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man.
Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.

This is how God originally created the marriage partnership to be: the wife was to be the perfect kind of helping partner for her husband and the husband was to regard the woman as highly as he regarded his own body. They were both to acknowledge one another as being an inseparable part of each other.

A simple yet profound formula for a happy marriage. Oh how far we have fallen from that ideal!

Contrary to today’s culture and popular opinion, marriage is an honourable state.

Heb 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all,…

God’s Word gives us the simple recipe for a happy marriage:

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Yes wives, we are commanded by God to submit ourselves to our husbands. This can be VERY scary – especially if the husband is not walking rightly with God. However, if the husband is obedient to God’s command to love his wife with complete unselfishness and in total self-sacrifice, submitting to our husband is a blessing and not a chore to be feared. So hubbies – obey the following command:

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, …

Jesus gave up any self-interest. He was willing to do anything – including suffering persecution, shame, humiliation, torture and death – for the sake of his love for the church – God’s children. This is the kind of love that husbands are commanded to have for their wives.

Wives are called to be obedient and respectful towards their husbands. Husbands are called to put away all selfish desires, be willing to sacrifice all, and to love their wives with all their might.

This marital instruction is repeated again in Colossians:

Col 3:18 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as is becoming in the Lord.
Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter against them.

God instructs husbands that they should give honour to their wives. He also states that a husband and wife should acknowledge and regard one another as both holding the wonderful position of being joint-heirs with Christ.

1Pe 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live together according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel, the female, as truly being co-heirs together of the grace of life, not cutting off your prayers.

Marriage is not about how much one spouse can get from the other; marriage is about how much each spouse can and should, be giving to each other. When each spouse is more interested in giving of them-self to the other, rather than in receiving, you are in a win-win situation. When both spouses live to bless one other, both are blessed. That is how the honeymoon continues. That is marital bliss.

Blessings

 

Birch Trees

I love trees and I used to think that birch trees were one of my favourite species. For me, birch trees, more so than maple, conjure up the idea of Canada. As a school girl, I learned the traditional Canadian folksong, “Land of the Silver Birch”:

Land of the silver birch
Home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose
Wanders at will

I love how the white bark gleams in the sunlight and how the leaves turn to golden coins in the Fall.

I always thought that I would love to have birch trees in my yard – until I moved to a house with birch trees in the neighbour’s yard! Birch trees produce both male and female catkins. After the male catkins have done their thing, the tree sheds them and they create a thick carpet resembling millions of dead and desiccated caterpillars. The catkins clog our eavestrough, get tangled up in our windshield wipers and plaster our car, looking like caterpillars that have committed suicide.

After that first onslaught, the female catkins then proceed to gaily dispense BILLIONS of seeds and seed bracts, which may look picturesque as they flutter down – like a golden shower – but which cover EVERYTHING with a thick layer resembling chunky sawdust. Said seeds and bracts stick to shoes, feet, clothing, and hair and end up leaving a solid trail, like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, all through the house. Diligent sweeping of patio, lawn-chairs, steps etc. proves to be an exercise in futility because as soon as your back is turned, a fresh batch of seeds is gently cascading down over everything once again. (I think I can hear the birch trees laughing at me behind my back!)

The only good (?) thing that I can say about those birch trees is that they regularly shed an ample supply of twigs and branches on our driveway, which, if we don’t mind constantly raking them up, provides us with an ongoing supply of kindling for our campfire.

I don’t know how something that looks so appealing can be such a detriment to society at the same time!

I think that we can get caught up in this type of conundrum in our Christian lives as well. We are drawn to things which, on the surface, may appeal to us but which may actually be causing us harm. We follow the teachings of someone because we like the way they look or sound. We may follow someone because we are impressed by all those “official” bits of paper they hold with all those fancy initials behind their name. We can follow someone because we think that they come from an apparently popular church with a large congregation. Or maybe that person has a successful TV ministry. “Dynamic”, “Charismatic”, and “Sincere” are effective drawing cards and history is filled with such people; people who have led others to ruin, destruction and death.

But if we are to be informed, knowledgeable and wise Christians, we need to scratch the surface of that lovely veneer. We need to look deeper to find if there is any truth, God’s truth, in what is being said and taught.

Pharisees stood on street corners proclaiming their righteousness, but Jesus described them as being tombs filled with dead bones.

Mat 23:27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

They looked good on the outside, but they were rotten, spiritually, on the inside.

Mat 23:28 Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Someone may look and sound good on the outside, but their heart can be rotten and evil.

Mat 12:34 Offspring of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

So, how can we tell if someone is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” or if a teaching is false? We do it by diligently reading and studying the Word of God and by asking God to give us His holy spirit to give us Godly wisdom, knowledge and counsel. When you are knowledgeable about God’s Word, which is His revealed will, and you are filled with His holy spirit, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” Joh. 8:32

1Co 2:12 But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.
1Co 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Don’t be fooled by appearances – apply the following:

Study:

2Ti 2:15 Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Search and rightly divide (interpret):

Act 17:11 And these were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things were so.

Compare:

1Co 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Meditate:

Jos 1:8 This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it by day and by night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely.

Ask God:

Mat 7:7 Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.

If, instead of just judging by a pleasing appearance, you are diligent in doing the above things, you will be able to discern evil from good and you will never fall into the unsaved, sinful state again.

Heb 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, even those who because of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

2Pe 1:10 Therefore, brothers, rather be diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things, you shall never fall.

Blessings