Bible Blogging Christian Church God Ministry Scripture

Sunday Scripture

If you praise and worship God, and you love Him with all of your heart, and you say wonderful things about Him, and you bow down to Him, and you pray to Him, but then you don’t love all of His children out there – believers and non-believers – then your walk doesn’t line-up with your talk.

There’s a lot of great wisdom in the Book of James. Wisdom we need, so that we can use it out there. I preached a year-long sermon (once a month) during much of 2018. It was my first message series as a preacher. I learned a lot from that series. With each new sermon I got closer to God’s wisdom.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you ?  Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you ?  (James 4:1)

So the former non-believer James – the author of the Book of James – was a Teacher, a Preacher, a Pastor, and an Apostle. He was the head of the New Testament Church at the time. He’s writing to the Jewish Christians – scattered among all the nations. These Christians are fighting amongst themselves. They’re fighting with each other. They’re fighting with others – including non-believers. There’s not a lot of peace going on there.

That’s one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit – peace. Remember – Christ said on the mountainside, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

So as the church’s leader at the time – James “The Just” – (one of his nicknames) – justly reprimands the children of God – the church body. He calls them out on their squabbles, and he tells them why they are at war and not at peace.

You see they are still following the wisdom of the world rather than the wisdom of God. They don’t trust God fully. And if they don’t trust God fully – then they just don’t trust Him. They were just like the non-believers of the time. James couldn’t tell them apart.

Fast forward not quite 2,000 years into the future, and what do we have in the world today ?  We have Christians inside God’s Kingdom who look and act no different than non-Christians of the world. We have churches squabbling internally about silly things – mostly non-Biblical things. We have megachurches looking down on small churches as irrelevant or insignificant. We have small churches chastising megachurches as secular or worldly. We have churches competing against each other rather than uniting with one another. We have religions and denominations – and their respective manmade rules – working against each other – and writing each other off as heretics. We have church leaders preaching on how much we sin – and how much the world sins – as they get caught in years of sin. We have Pastors and Preachers who write-off other Pastors and Preachers because of what they say, what they don’t say, or what they believe.

No wonder non-believers and non-followers of Christ walk away from us rather than towards us. The hard truth is that many of our neighbors out there love God, but they don’t care too much for His followers – because of what they hear and see from us.

I speak from personal experience here. I felt that way up until 14 years ago. I’ve always believed in God’s existence. Even when I didn’t follow Him – I’ve always believed that He was real in some form. I didn’t know much about Him, but I always knew that He was there – somewhere. But I didn’t care so much for God’s people and for God’s churches. That is – until I became His follower – and then – 5 months later – became part of His church body.

In my first year on this fantastic journey – 2006 into 2007 – I began learning about the God that I always believed in. I soon fell in love with God – first – before family – before friends – before coworkers – before my job – before everything else in my life – before everything else in the world.

I joined a church family (during the 3RD weekend of January of 2007), and I found other people – right here in my town – who were just like the new me. I immediately started learning more about God alongside my new brothers and sisters of my new church family at the time.

I learned that God commanded me to love everyone – genuinely – believers and non-believers alike. I don’t think that a lot of our neighbors out there know that we love them – and that God loves them – unconditionally – eternally. We need to do a much better job – as God’s church body – in getting that message out there to the world.

In these last days we have disorder and evil of every kind. But all is not lost. I truly believe that God’s Kingdom continues to expand. God’s Kingdom is not shrinking. Don’t believe those who say it is. God’s Kingdom is expanding. It’s expanding because of the arms, the hands, the legs, the feet, and – oh yeah – the mouths of His disciples (that’s all of us) – here on His creation.

God’s Kingdom is expanding here in the U.S. and all around the world. If you watch a lot of TV it may look like evil is winning. Don’t fall for it. I believe that the devil is retreating and losing the war. The devil is a loser. He’s a liar, a thief, a murderer, and a destroyer.

We do so much better – when we follow God’s Wisdom rather than the world’s wisdom.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Bible Blogging Christian Church God Life Ministry Scripture

Sunday Scripture

In Galatians Paul writes about how complete the work of Christ’s death on the cross was for our salvation. God’s work was complete. Nothing more was needed to be added to His work. God’s work was perfect. In an instant – all of our sins – past, present, and future – were wiped clean – forgotten about – when Jesus took those sins to the cross to die.

For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the lawyou have been cut off from Christ !  You have fallen away from God’s grace. (Galatians 5:4)

For you have been called to live in freedom – my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead – use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

I could stop right there and talk about that, but there’s this next verse that wraps all of this up in a nice blunt manner. Paul doesn’t hold back in his letter. Paul warns:

But if you are always biting and devouring one anotherwatch out !  Beware of destroying one another. (Galatians 5:15)

What a perfect verse for these turbulent times that we’re living in today. We are indeed biting and devouring one another. We are destroying one another. We are doing the work of the devil. Love is lacking in this world.

Beware of destroying one another. Beware of the ways of the world. Beware of legalism. Paul fights legalism all throughout his letter to the Galatians as well as many of his other letters in the New Testament. Legalism is probably the sin that we commit the most on our day-to-day journey. We commit this sin more than we ever did before we were saved. YES – legalism is a sin.

“But Chris I’m confused. What do you mean by legalism ?  Aren’t we supposed to be legal – and obey God’s laws – God’s Commandments ?  Isn’t that legalism ?  How can that be sinful ?  Tell me more !”

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

See when we’re being legalistic we’re being prideful. We’re full of pride:

“Hey look at me. After just 2 years of being saved by God I’ve quit drinking, I’ve quit smoking, I’ve quit eating junk food, I exercise, I see a Doctor every 3 months, I get regular labwork done, I don’t get angry anymore, and I love everyone – even the people that hate me !  Oh yeah and I also listen to Christian music all day, I read the Bible every day, I write sermons on Saturdays, and I go to church every Sunday !  You should do the same. God loves me for doing all of these things !  He’ll love you too !”

Sounds terrible – doesn’t it ?  I mean those are all good things, but nobody wants to hear all that stuff. I would never say any of that stuff – aside from using it as an example in this message to make my point. My fellow believers and followers of Christ – the world out there doesn’t care what we’re doing – or what we’ve stopped doing – or what we’re against – or what we’re opposed to – or what we believe in – when they don’t even know us. None of that stuff saves the world out there. None of that stuff saved me. Christ saved me. All of that other stuff came to be as a result of Christ saving me.

The world out there needs to know that God loves them more than they can only imagine. The world out there needs proof of that love. It is not enough to tell someone that God loves them, and then walk away and tell them to have a nice day. They need to see and feel and experience that love from us. That’s what disciples do. We are all called to be disciples.

So Paul was strongly against legalism. The legalist picks and chooses the rules – the laws – the Commandments – that he or she feels comfortable with obeying. You know – the easy ones. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet: “I’ll take some of that, and a bunch of that, and a whole lotta that Good News – but none of that hard-to-digest stuff over there. I don’t agree with that law over there – or that one – or that one.” The legalist – in all of us – conveniently neglects – or even ignores certain laws at times – such as loving the Lord with all your heart, or loving your neighbor as yourself.

We need to be aware of two types of sins – the sins where we did something that we shouldn’t have done – and – perhaps more common – the sins where we did not do something that we should have done.

Each of us has an idea of what sin is, and it evolves over time. What I thought sin was when I was saved – is not the same as what I think sin is now – nearly 14 years later. Our idea of what sin is should align with Scripture. Sometimes we make up new sins that aren’t even in the Bible. And we try to avoid those sins. And when we do avoid those sins we become proud, and we think that God is happy with us: “Look at me God. I’m not doing that anymore !”

There’s that pride right there. Pride is a sin. You sinned by trying not to sin. See you can follow all the “rules” – all the “laws” – and yet completely miss out on Christ. He didn’t even know you.

We want God to know us. He already loves us – no matter what. We must love God. We must love our neighbor as our self.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Bible Blogging Christian Church God Ministry Scripture

Sunday Scripture

This is My command:  Love each other. (John 15:17 NLT)

“The most important commandment is this:  ‘Listen – O Israel !  The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NLT)

Live a life filled with love – following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us – a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5:2 NLT)

Christ loved us so much that He took away the punishment that we so deserved by dying for us on the cross. That sacrifice alone obligates us to love everyone. It’s his top two commandments, but they are not independent of each other. They are really one integrated commandment:  Love Him / Love others.

There was not much love in my family growing up, and even once I grew up and was on my own there was not much love in me. I didn’t know what love was. I thought I did, but I didn’t. My heart, soul, mind, and strength was warped by the world and blinded by the enemy. It wasn’t until salvation began 14 summers ago that I began to discover love. I learned what love is by turning away from the world – and turning towards our loving God. I finally realized that I am capable of truly loving others.

“If the world hates you – remember that it hated Me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. (John 15:18-19 NLT)

It’s so easy to say and do what our family, our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers, complete strangers, Internet, Radio, TV, and Movie stars, politicians, and other leaders are saying and doing. Believing and following and blending in with the world around us is simple. It’s automatic. You can do that without even trying.

But obeying Christ can be difficult at times. It can even seem impossible. Personally it’s harder than anything I’ve ever experienced before Christ. But with Christ all things are possible, and the results are surely worth it !  The results are based on a life and death decision. I choose to follow God Almighty – Lord of Glory – rather than the physical world. The world has let me down over and over again. God has never ever let me down. He never will.

There are people in our world – within eyesight – within hearing range – within our immediate circle – and in this world overall – that just don’t like us anymore – because we’ve publicly accepted our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into our lives. They just don’t want to have anything to do with us anymore. They don’t want to associate with the loonies – the nutcases – the radicals – the extremists – that we’ve been labeled as believers and followers of Christ. Those are just some of the milder labels that the world has given us in its hate. You and I and my closest brothers and sisters on this journey have been called all of these words (and much worse). We’ve been placed in a box or a basket – perhaps even a basket of deplorables. That’s fine. Christ loves us always and forever, and that’s all we need. All we need to do is to just keep on loving and praying for everyone in the whole wide world.

I urge you – first of all – to pray for all people. Ask God to help them, intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.  (1 Timothy 2:1 NLT)

Pray for all people – not some people – not just the believers and followers – not just our family and friends – not just the people that look like us. Pray for all people, as all people are God’s children.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries