Posts Tagged With: grace

Listen to God

“Has God indeed said?” These are the very first words spoken by Satan as recorded in Genesis 3:1. They were words not intended to question what God had said, but to manipulate and twist what God had intended in an effort to cast doubt on His love. To clarify, God’s original statement to Adam was, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16). Yet when Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, he didn’t go to Eve and try and deny that God spoke those words, he just mischaracterized them. He used the very scriptures God had spoken, but he completely twisted what He had said. Cunningly, he questioned whether God had really meant what He had said to Adam. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

When Eve was tempted by Satan in the Garden, Satan used God’s own words intended for love and protection and distorted them into a negative prohibition designed to cast doubt on God’s graciousness. He effectively misrepresented God’s words, which led Adam and Eve to question God’s love for them. Thus, he was able to substitute the truth with his own lie and got Adam and Eve to believe God was holding something back from them. Through his deceptive ways, Satan took God’s positive invitation to eat from every tree, misquoted the Bible, and then turned those elements of truth into a justification for sin; “What a snake!” you might say. No pun intended.

As the story progresses, Adam and Eve having now sinned before God for eating the forbidden fruit, felt shame and tried to hide from the Lord. But as any loving father, God called out to them, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). As the Bible states, God is an omnipresent God; He’s “All-Knowing.” Therefore, God wasn’t calling out to them because He didn’t know where they were. But His intention was for Adam and Eve to confess what they had done so they could make things right. For God cannot forgive a sin that has not been confessed. Yet this is how many Christians live their lives today.

Have you ever played hide-and-go-seek with a small child? They are so innocent that you can go show them a hiding spot, go back to the tree and begin counting, and what will they do… they’ll literally go hide in the exact spot you just showed them. That’s what it is like when we try and hide from God. Just like in the case of Adam and Eve, God wasn’t looking for them for He already knew where they were. He was looking for them to confess. And like Adam and Eve, when we sin, God already knows what we’ve done and where we are.

Unfortunately today, Satan is still up to his old ways. Now instead of the Garden of Eden, he has infiltrated our pulpits. And once again he has manipulated God’s Word and twisted it into a wayward version of the truth. He has created an epidemic that has saturated the American church for the last twenty to thirty years. It’s an epidemic of “Perverted Grace.” As John Bevere states, “The grace taught and believed by many of our churches is not real grace, but a perversion of it. This is the result of overemphasizing the goodness of God to the neglect of the fear of him” (Bevere 95). When the doctrine of love and grace is overly emphasized and not balanced with the doctrine of obedience and repentance, what we see in the American church today is the result. And it is an error of God’s perfect plan for our lives.

We have “Changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Romans 1:23). Yet even more frightening, is that while we are still listening to Satan’s old lie, “Has God indeed said?” now we have become even bolder in our disobedience. Unlike Adam and Eve, many Christians today are not even trying to hide their shame and sinful ways anymore. Where Adam and Eve once feared and hid from God, we now see man making brave statements like, “God is my friend, He understands my heart” or “I love Jesus, He’s gonna forgive me anyway, so what’s your problem?” This false sense of grace and goodness has led to “sin rationalization.” A rationalization by which sin is not repented of, but stemming from a group of “Cultural-Christians” that filters “God’s Word and commands through their own culturally influenced thinking” (Bevere 22). And as sin is more rationalized, a false sense of security occurs within the believer. The person trapped in the bondage of sin begins to convince themselves that since they haven’t been caught or punished, then God must be okay with it. But know this, as God showed when looking for Adam and Eve, He is never okay with sin. And no matter how you try and rationalize your actions, God says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

I’m often amazed at people that think they are fooling God. They will know that a specific scripture states something is sinful, yet they will try and use a scripture that is taken out of context and try and condone that sinful nature. They will use a scripture like “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). There are two things wrong with this statement. First, it says love covers over, it doesn’t say love covers up your sins. Secondly, when people use this verse, and I have had it used on me, they fail to realize that the verbiage states a multitude of sins, it does not say ALL. If this is you, STOP! You are not fooling anyone, and you are surely not fooling God. If you believe that the Bible is the ‘Infallible Word of God,’ then you can’t believe for a second that it will show you it’s okay to sin. In fact, His Word confirms, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:13-14). It’s that same lie from the devil cropping up all over again…

God doesn’t want your excuses, He just wants YOU. Now don’t get me wrong, God’s plan for your life is not some rigid pathway based upon unrealistic performance in order to receive His blessing. Actually the Bible says all of God’s laws are about righteousness and peace. By righteousness it’s referring to the blessing of things working out right. But it’s not talking about a rigid type of righteousness that if you do one small thing your salvation is at stake. However, it is asking you to do your part. And that begins by His call to alignment. Aligning ourselves with His Word, His ways, and His law. Maybe your sitting there thinking, “Well that seems pretty rigid, and pretty narrow.” The Bible says that, “The gateway to life is very narrow” (Matthew 7:14). But believe me, it’s not saying that you are just creeping along two narrow walls hoping to get by. God provides us with enough elbowroom to maneuver in. We’re not confined in some straightjacket that makes it impossible to move around. But He does want us to follow His desires. It’s learning to understand that we can’t decide to do whatever we want and expect that things will always work out because they seem right in our own eyes.

In His Word, the Lord has provided guidance, and it clearly shows that God has pointed out the limits. And that’s what He ultimately wants from you… To live life to it’s limits! But to do this, you’re going to have to do your part. God intends for each one of us to use our own judgment, our gifts, our talents; He was the one that gave those things to us. Furthermore, He didn’t set these limits as a way to control your fun. His Word simply points out these limits and says, “Don’t go past this limit, because when you do, things will begin to deteriorate, and life will get a lot messier.” Yet it never fails, there are always those who try and put God to the test. They go about life saying, “Well I think I can navigate through that. I’m an adventuress soul.” And to you I say, “Well lot’s of luck. Go ahead and make the attempt.” Because no matter how long you seem to manage on your own, remember judgment delayed is not judgment denied, and eventually there always comes the place of the back firing.

If you are reading this and feel as if you’ve been allowing Satan to whisper to you, “Has God indeed said?” I want you to fear not. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To “confess” means “to agree with.” So when we confess our sin, we are agreeing with God and His ways. Take the time to pray and humble yourself before the Lord. Let Him know that you repent of your sins and no longer wish to try and hide from Him in the Garden. Just like Eve, you too have a choice. You can either continue listening to the master of all lies, or you can finally reject him and just Listen to God. 

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Bevere, John. The Fear of The Lord. Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006. Print.

Categories: Daily Living, Forgiveness, The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Forgiving Yourself: Is Your Past Controlling Your Future?

“I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). As a pastor, I have seen the same look on the faces of people almost everyday of my spiritual walk. You know the one, that look that someone carries when it seems like they have something to prove. It’s a contradictory look of sorts; for they hear about God’s forgiveness, but they just can’t come to grips with accepting it. For forgiveness to them is still viewed as something that has to be earned, not freely received. It’s a look I know all too well, for I wore it upon my face most of my adult life; walking mile after mile in those same pair of shoes.

Many of us have made such poor choices in our lives that we actually allow the regret from these decisions to now rule over us. Essentially, we are allowing choices from our past to now control our future. While some of life’s decisions are soon forgotten; some of them have such lasting impact that they change the way we see people, how we view ourselves, and ultimately messes with our emotions; sometimes throughout our entire lives. In a sense, these poor choices keep us in a state of confinement in our own private prison. Maybe, you used to be an exotic dancer, had an abortion because you were to young, got divorced, feel like you weren’t the best parent, or even sold and engaged in drugs. The list of sins are so numerous and diverse for a reason; Satan wants nothing more than to make you feel like you’re not worthy of God’s grace. The fact is, Satan knows of your full potential as God does. So to combat this, he tries to keep you in a state of never-ending doubt and insecurity.

Perhaps the main reason we are still living in this prison of resentment is because we allow Satan to keep us bound by one of his most powerful restraints; guilt. Guilt keeps us in a constant state of feeling dirty, powerless, unworthy, and eventually steals away the glory and faith that we should be placing in our Savior Jesus Christ. It’s like on one hand, you believe in freedom, yet the resentment still keeps you so bound up that you don’t know how to choose. And why is this? Because we’ve created a fragmented version of the person we believe that we should be; moreover, a person that God won’t love unless…

Admittedly, you and I are lying, deceiving, thieves who unquestionably deserve to inherit the lake of fire. But when we turn to God and allow Him to come into our lives and work through us, our future is forever changed. Let me assure you, true followers of Christ don’t care about your past, and neither does God. Remember He created you, just like He created me. Therefore if anyone knows we’re not perfect it’s Him. But for some reason we are so afraid of losing control and allowing God to find out what we’ve done that we just won’t let go. News flash! He-Already-knows. He knows you made some mistakes, but who hasn’t? If you could, I’m quite sure you would do things differently. But then again, sometimes going through pain is the only way many of us will ever learn. Have you ever wondered why things both good and bad happen to people? It’s because God create each if us differently? And this is because He wants to use each one of us to accomplish something distinctive. Ironically, we as Christ followers spend more time anguishing over wanting a “do-over” in our lives that we fail to realize that through Christ’s death, He in fact has already provided that to us.

No matter what your past holds, you can never fall so far away that you can’t get back. It’s never too late and nothing is so bad that you can’t change who you are. That’s why Paul was so adamant that we know God’s view on love. God’s love for us is so unshakeable that Paul wrote in his letters, love, “keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6). When we are truthful with ourselves and let go of our past, our Heavenly Father rejoices for He knows that we have placed our faith in Him. Our own perceptions determine our actions, and choosing to let go of your past will have a direct impact on how you perform in the future.

God is a God of grace and forgiveness. Look at the life of King David. In the Old Testament, David’s life is detailed regarding his sin with Bathsheba, his defiance before the Lord, and his conspiracy to have Bathsheba’s husband murdered. Yet, what we can learn from this is that while David’s transgressions are never simply swept under the rug, we can see how God’s grace is abundantly provided to David in future references. In the New Testament, David is referred to fifty-nine times; yet, his past transgressions of murder and conspiracy are never mentioned. Why? Because while David’s indiscretions and poor choices are recorded in the Old Testament, through Christ’s blood in the New Testament, God’s forgiveness for our sins are forever.

If we allow it, there will be no end to the obstacles that our past places in front of us. Satan has a vested interest in keeping us from fulfilling of our dreams. Did you know that one of the primary reasons people never accomplish their dreams is because they allow their pasts to stop them? As you sit here reading this, I want you to ask yourself this question, “Will my past mold me, or will my future mold me?” The Bible does not say that we must be happy about the poor choices that we have made; yet, it does say that we are no longer controlled by sin’s power for we are born anew! The Bible says that when God forgives us, He “remembers our sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). So let me encourage you. It’s time to let the consuming fire of God come in and burn away the troubles of your past. Let the ashes fall wherever they may. Now is the time to come back from wherever you have been and kneel at the foot of the cross and at the feet of Jesus. For at the foot of the cross, you can change who you are.

This does not mean that our omniscient Father in Heaven forgets our past because He forgives us. Rather, He makes the decision not to dwell upon our sin. In our daily lives, when our former sins come to mind, we have a choice. We can choose to dwell upon them (which leads to guilt and resentment), or we can choose to draw our eyes to Heaven and the God who forgave us and praise Him for it. Dwelling on our past is only beneficial when it reminds us of the magnitude of God’s forgiveness for our sins; thus making it easier for us to forgive others, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33).

One of my favorite sayings is, “Don’t allow your past to become a crutch; but use it as a ladder to help elevate your future.” It’s time to finally let go of your past; “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). No matter how bad you believe your past is, know that God is not done with you. The only thing that is stopping you from having that fulfilled life in Christ is YOU. Now is the time to let go, let God, and claim your Victory!

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Forgiveness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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