Fighting For Truth Within God’s House

Dear friends, although I was making every effort to write to you concerning our common salvation, I considered it a necessity to write to you to encourage you to contend for the faith delivered once and for all to the saints. (Jude 1:3, LEB)

Way back in the first century, Jude had planned to write fellow believers concerning their common salvation. However, he had to change the topic because “certain men have slipped in stealthily” (v. 4) to spread destructive heresies.

When we read an instruction to “contend for the faith,” we typically think of preaching to the world and fighting for God’s truth in an ungodly society. But Jude is talking about the need to do this inside the church. And if they were dealing with problems like this back in the first century, you can be sure we’ll be facing them today as well.

A List of Wickedness

Jude said that we need to fight for the faith even inside the church because of ungodly people who sneaked in. As the letter unfolds, he explains in detail what sort of things these people were doing. It’s a long list, but I think it’s an important one to look at in detail. Read more

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Am I Blending My Worship of God With Things That Don’t Honor Him?

Does God care how we worship Him? Some Christians today say (or act) as if He does not. Too many people today ignore parts of the Bible, try to over-rule God’s laws, and adopt extra-Biblical practices in worship. And they really don’t think He’ll mind.

The problem is, God actually does care how you worship Him. If you’re not following Him the way He says to, then you’re not really following Him at all. He is “a jealous God” and He does not accept half-hearted or divided affection. You can’t honor Him by worshiping in ways He does not approve or if you’re also trying to worship something else. It’s not good for us to have divided loyalties or identities. We need to find wholeness in seeking our Lord the way He desires us to seek Him.

Really Get To Know God

Paul tells us that all the things which happened to ancient Israel “were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11, WEB). One place where the story of Israel is recorded is the book of Hosea. God used Hosea to warn Israel what would happen to them if they continued to break covenant with Him by blending pagan religions with their worship of the One True God, or “Yahweh” to use His proper name (Ex. 3:14-15). Unfortunately, it’s a message that’s relevant for churches today.

I’m not saying all churches, and certainly not every Christian, is deliberately blending other religions with their faith. But I do think it’s something we should be aware of, and on-guard to avoid. We need to make sure we’re not ignoring parts of His inspired word, rejecting His law, or blending pagan religious practices with our worship. Read more

Great Is Thy Faithfulness, O Lord. But What About My Faithfulness?

What happens when only one person in a relationship is faithful? The one who’s committed might be able to hold some kind of relationship together, but there won’t be the sort of closeness and trust they long for. There will be heartbreak, conflict, and disunity.

It’s pretty obvious that faithfulness has to go both ways for human relationships to work well. And we don’t approve of the sort of people who would say, “You have to be faithful to me but I don’t have to be faithful to you.” But have we ever thought something similar in our relationship with God?

We expect God to be faithful to us and keep His promises to shower us with blessings, never forsake us, and welcome us into eternal life. But do we expect ourselves to be faithful in return? We should.

God Keeps All His Promises

God is faithful. He is Ehyeh asher Ehyeh — I AM who I AM. We can count on Him existing forever as Himself, the faithful one who does not change (Mal. 3:6).

If his children forsake my law, and don’t walk in my ordinances; if they break my statutes, and don’t keep my commandments; then I will punish their sin with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. But I will not completely take my loving kindness from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail. I will not break my covenant, nor alter what my lips have uttered. (Ps. 89:30-34, WEB)

God is never going to break the promises He’s made or stop trying to restore broken relationships. But His promises include consequences if we are unfaithful to Him. We can’t just go about living however we want and assume it doesn’t matter to God. Our actions affect our relationship with God and can even destroy it, though His commitment doesn’t change.

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Even If You Don’t: Holding On To Hope In Dark Times

We know God can do anything. So how do you react when He doesn’t do something that you beg him to? When your loved one isn’t healed? When your heartbreak feels unbearable and then something else piles on top of that? When you just don’t know how to go on, yet you have to anyway?

I’ve been going through a rough patch emotionally, especially over the past few weeks but really for a few months now. And I feel like God has thrown me some songs as “lifelines” in this time. First it was “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe and more recently it was “Even If” by MercyMe.

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

I didn’t much want to sing this when it popped into my head. Actually, I couldn’t at first since all I remembered was the “But even if you don’t” line. But I looked the song up, grasping for some hope to anchor my soul, and after playing through it a few times I could breath and pray again. I’ll admit, though, that there was still a part of me crying out, “Why?” when I thought about Him choosing not to take away the sorrow and hurt. And it’s okay to do that. As my counselor said, God is big enough to handle it when His kids are frustrated with Him.

Hope is one of the key things that gets us through the times when we’re frustrated with God and don’t understand what He’s doing. And it’s something I don’t think we talk about enough. Paul tells us “faith, hope and love remain”  (1 Cor. 13:13, WEB). They’re all three virtues that aren’t going away, but we talk about faith and love a whole lot more than hope. Which is a shame, because hope is something that’s very much needed in this world. Read more

Shield Of Faith

Our God has an Adversary. And when we choose to walk in a relationship with God, Satan aims his attacks at us as well. Jesus’ work on the cross ensures Satan’s defeat, but for now the Adversary is still active in the world and fighting against God’s people.

Knowing that He has called us into a battle, God makes sure that we’re well equipped to stand against spiritual wickedness. He offers us His own strength and clothes us with appropriate armor. The first three pieces of this armor are the Girdle of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, and the Footwear of the Gospel. They’re all vital, but there’s something particularly important about this fourth piece.

in everything taking up the shield of faith, with which you are able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Eph. 6:16, LEB)

The King James says, “Above all, taking up the shield of faith.” Whichever translation you use, the emphasis is clear. The shield of faith is needed all the time in everything we do and we must make using it a high priority.

Shield Of Faith | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

The One Who Shields Us

This is the only reference to shields in the New Testament. They’re mentioned quite often in the Old, though. Many of these references speak of war and soldiers, for shield and spear were standard weapons (1 Chr. 12:8; 2 Chr. 14:8; 25:5). But there are also many versus like this one:

God is my rock in whom I take refuge; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge. My savior, you save me from violence. I call on Yahweh, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. (2 Sam. 22:3-4, WEB)

Comparing God to a shield shows up several times in David’s writings (Ps. 3:3, among others). God also describes Himself as Abraham’s shield (Gen. 15:1) and all Israel is told Yahweh is “the shield of your help” (Deu. 33:29, WEB). It is a symbol of protection held by a capable defender. Read more

The Incredible Reasons God Gives Us For Not Being Afraid

It’s all well and good to say, “God doesn’t want you to be afraid,” like we did in last week’s post. But that doesn’t actually help much with getting rid of our fear. Even knowing He’s patient with our fearfulness doesn’t take the fear away.

Thankfully, God’s doesn’t just order, “Fear not,” and leave it at that. He offers specific promises that give us tangible reasons not to be afraid. And when we are fearful, those promises can help us overcome to act in faith despite our fears. This past week, I went through the Bible looking for all the reasons God gives for us not being afraid. There are many, but I’ve sorted them into four main categories:

The Incredible Reasons God Gives Us For Not Being Afraid Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Photo credit: HarveyMade via Lightstock

God Is With You

Before Moses’s death, God inspired Him to share these words with Israel:

Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for Yahweh your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6, WEB)

The number one reason we have for living without fear is that God Himself is with us. And not just as a church or a group of people. Individuals can also receive this promise, as did Isaac (Gen. 26:24), Joshua (Josh. 1:9), David (Ps. 23:4), Solomon (1 Chr. 28:20), and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:8).

Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. (Is. 41:10, WEB)

God promises not to let us down or leave us alone. That means the most powerful being in existence is at your side through everything. He doesn’t leave us to figure things out on our own nor abandon us in our struggles. Read more