The Hopeless Christian

hopelessA lot of times in life we have our peaks and we have our valleys. We have our times when nothing could seem to go better and we have our times when we struggle with doubt, questions, and a feeling of inadequacy. We find ourselves wondering is there hope in this seemingly hopeless situation. Is there a light at the end of this dark tunnel that I am going through right now? Isn’t being a Christian supposed to be easy, supposed to make everything better?

Here are a couple things to remember when you are going through a hard time.

1. Jesus had told us you will have trials and tribulations in this world, but he said take heart because he has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

– Yes we have things that happen in life to us, that don’t make sense. Some times things just happen, sometimes you make bad decisions for your life, some times you remove yourself from light, sometimes there may be an attack on your life because the devil wants to steal your joy, kill your ambition for spreading God’s kingdom and salvation, and destroy your opportunity at a life full of peace. But when we learn that with God we too are more than conquerors. God gives us the tools we need – His Spirit, His Word and Faith and the local church a community of believers to help encourage you – to be an overcomer. It is up to us to decide to put ourselves in better situations, even if it takes you out of your preconceived comfort zone.

2. God gives us direction in how to leave a life of anxiety and worry behind us and its so deep yet so simple. #TRUST

-It’s so easy to try and create our own path in life. To take matters into our own hands, as if we have it all together.

– Proverbs 3:5,6 ” Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.”

He tells us to seek his will, to seek him first, to trust in Him and in that trust comes our path in life to take. It can be a very hard thing to do, because with that comes patience on our part. In this day and age, we want everything to happen right now. I feel ya on that one, it can be hard, but just TRUST that God has a plan and when we put him first, you have him working things out for you better than you could have even imagined. That trust leads you step by step, he doesn’t show you the end right away, because obedience and trust in him are key to pleasing him by faith. With out faith it is impossible to please God.

-Phil 4:4-8 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

He tells us to lose the worry and pray to him about it and begin thanking him for your answer to your prayer and thank him for everything good in your life now and that he has already done and is going to do, that is where you find peace, is in his presence, is in your TRUST in him. He gives us simple instruction to clear your mind of negativity and focus on him and his attributes, and to TRUST him.

I’m sure that we have all been there. We lose sight, we get bored, we let ourselves think maybe we screwed up to big this time and God won’t and can’t use me anymore, we’ve given God 6 months of our life and we think everything is supposed to be awesome now but they haven’t changed enough so we quit. These are just a few things, among many others, that can hinder us from living a life filled with hope and with peace. I have been to the valley and I have been living life to the happiest, I can tell you one thing. You don’t have to have everything in your life be perfect, you don’t have to be a millionaire to find peace and happiness. That one true peace and hopefulness, that life of complete faith and TRUST in God is where that guaranteed truest of forms of peace and happiness come from. When we learn to put God first, and for real, not just I go to church, but put God first for real, when you wake up to conversations with him, you pop in a worship album and sing to him, you study his word and think on it, there my friend is where true peace, joy and hope for a better life come from.

I challenge myself and all of us to learn to trust God and that his plan and his time for your life are better than life without God and they are better than your own plan for your life. Let’s seek him first in all that we do and He will use us to change the people and the world around us! God bless, love yall, been a while – Jon

live and learn

live2So at the end of 2012, I want to talk to you today about reflection. Not getting down on yourself about all the failures, mistakes, or shortcomings of the year. But about looking at the past year reflecting on it, taking it in and learning from it. Something that I always say as a joke, but also very true is that “You live and you learn”. You mess up once, understandable, but take that experience and learn from it. Learn not to make the same mistakes over and over again. Really apply yourself, your will, and the strength and grace we have to overcome from the Holy Spirit to not making the same mistakes over and over again. Just like in life, when you overdraft by using your bank card when you don’t have any money, you learn not to do it again, or you get kicked in the hinder with a overdraft fee. A lot of times it is easy to get down on ourselves when trying to live this awesome Christian life for God and we screw it up by some sort of sin or mistakes, but since you made the mistake, go to God to ask forgiveness and he will give you a fresh start. Not only that, but you now have an experience in your life to learn from. Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning. He is always there to run to and to forgive any time we screw up (that’s not an excuse to sin, that would be another story, his grace isn’t a license to sin, but his grace is there to make us strong and to overcome.) This is a great time to reflect on the past year and learn from our mistakes and shortcomings and make the decision to change some things around whether that be overcoming an addiction, setting priorities straight, or just simply making more time for God and his call on your life. Yes, forgive yourself for your mishaps, but learn from them to not do them again. Ask God for grace and strength to keep strong and in pursuit of him. Know that when you do mess up, not to run from him further into darkness and sin, but run to him for he is there with open arms to receive you and love you and direct you.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

Phillipians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”

Forget the sins the you have committed, don’t dwell on them and let them drag you down, instead, you have learned from your mistakes, now strive forward towards God and keep your eyes on him. We all have a past, maybe even the past year that we want to forget, and we can do just that, give it to God and let his mercies cleanse you and make you clean, now that you are clean, run towards God and his plan for your life.

My challenge to you today is to reflect on what you have learned from life’s experiences this past year and declare this new year a time of dedication to God and his plan for your life. You have learned you can’t always do things on your own, you need God leading the way. You have learned that certain sins lead to certain results, but with God’s help we can over come that sin. You have learned that you feel emptier inside, because you haven’t given God the time of day when it comes to spending time with him and you aren’t pursuing his call in your life, so set aside that time daily to spend with him and follow where he leads. I challenge you to learn from this past year and decide what is right for you this year as it pertains to God and his calling and desire for you!

Running

As a Christian we are faced a lot of times with the reality of the battle of good and evil. Although this may sound cliche to some people, be aware that this is very evident and real in the lives of every human being. It also may sound way to deep or way over your head. The reality of the war, not against flesh and blood, but against  rulers, dark powers in this world, against evil spirits in high places (Ephesians 6:12). Think about it, how many times did the “Real You” want to do something and pass up on temptation and yet there were driving forces urging you to give into temptation. That is the battle that we face daily, that is the battle called “spiritual warfare”. Whether the temptation being smoking, drinking, sex, pornography, cheating, lying, drug addiction, shopping addiction even white lies, even the inward sins, like lusting after women, thinking up lies, strategizing how to get your self a promotion or ladies for you a boyfriend maybe, by ruining someone else’s reputation and so much more. These are all things that I am sure you don’t want in your life truly, but we battle with these things, and that is real. This is not what I am talking to you about today, I just wanted to lay some groundwork on the realities of what we face everyday and that is sin. It is all around us and we need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. We need to learn to yield to God and his word and his call to holy living. This is something that we need to strive for every single day!

    But trust me, I do realize that nobody is perfect. God knows that we are not perfect. There is another choice. That is after maybe you fall into a sin, there is a temptation to run from God and try to hide out in more sin, but let me tell you from experience that there is a better way! That is running to God for he is so merciful, so forgiving, so loving with open arms that he will pick you up like a father and tell us its ok, we can try again, I will never give up on you or leave you. There is a choice to either run from God or run to God, anytime we sin. I have done both in my lifetime, It is so much better to run to God. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. What that means is sin and guilt can weigh on you so heavily, especially when you are to the point where you know God has called you to a better life, when you know that God has a plan to use you for his glory. This is what I want you to realize today. If you screw up, God is not going to turn you away, God will not run from you, but he will be there with loving arms to grab you and hold you. We just have to choose to run to him rather than away.

1 John 1:9 says “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

God knows what we have done, but it is part of a healing process that he has set up, his ways are higher than our ways, that we should confess it to him and get it off of our chests and out of our lives. He is so forgiving!

Lamentations 3:22-23 says “22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

God has new mercies for us every morning. I am talking to YOU! You can start today a brand new day as if you have never sinned in God’s eyes. *Don’t live life looking to your past, look at life through God’s eyes and see the future he has planned for you and follow after that(that is good preacing right there haha)!God is looking at your past mistakes, so you shouldn’t either. God is looking at the new you and the you He know you can be through him! God is here to love you and guide you and forgive you. The Bible is full of scripture that talks of how merciful God is and we should find great comfort in that! So I urge you and challenge you to the next time you screw up and you feel like maybe you want to run from the situation or that you want to run from God and back into sin, just don’t! It is so much better to run to God and his forgiveness. He knows that you messed up, but that doesn’t mean he will ever give up on you. He loves you to much and will welcome you back with his eager love!

Now there is an issue I would like to address and that is that God’s mercy and grace does not give us a license to sin. He calls us to a holy life, he calls us to take up our cross daily and follow him.

Romans 6:1-2;15-18 says “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?………15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.”

As we see here, God’s grace is not a license to sin, but it is his grace that gives us power to overcome lives full of sin. Of course we are humans and we still battle against temptation, sin, and our fleshly desires and we will fall time and time again. But we are called to run the race and strive towards perfection. We are called to put off the old man and put on our new nature, we are called to be more than conquerors and put on the full armor of God so that we can be overcomers. God’s grace is not there for you to go out into the world and intentionally sin and think that its ok. No his grace is there for those who truly follow him, but obviously screw up from time to time. God knows your heart better than you know yourself. He knows your intentions and your heart decisions, so don’t try to sneak one past him! 🙂

    Another good verse to look at when talking about RUNNING to God and not from God is…

James 4:7-10 “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

    This verse tells us to resist the devil, it is only by God’s grace and power working in our lives that we are able to do this. God is our strength when we are weak. And then it says that when we draw close to God, he draws close to us! He will always be there for you, we just have to turn to him rather than run from him to truly experience his love that forgives and heals our guilty hearts. We are to humble ourselves before God. We need to take a real look at our lives and our hearts and be completely and totally honest with God, We are nobody’s, who deserve nothing without him. We need to be wholly surrendered to him, and then he will lift us up, he will pick us up, he will love us and show us how to love. I challenge you once again if you have messed up from the even the smallest way to the biggest way, Run to God, not from him. His mercies are new every morning, His grace covers you and is sufficient for you. His love holds you and never lets you go. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Run to him!