Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2:15 (NKJV).
We are called to be set apart for God and to not conform to the things of this world, however, it seems more and more that people who profess to be Christians look so much like the world it's hard to tell them apart.
Being a Christian is so much more than just saying, "I believe in Jesus." Being a Christian means following Jesus, and obeying the word of God. If our lives are going to change the lives of those who do not know the Lord, then our lives cannot be like the ones who do not know the Lord. We are called to be set apart, to be holy, to be pure in our speech, our dress, and our actions. We are called to be like Jesus, not like the world.
There is a way that seems right to man, but it's end is death (Proverbs 14:12).
Conforming to this world is doing the things of the world. Going to R-rated movies, drinking alcohol at the club with friends, dressing the way that people in this world dress, using vulgar speech, telling off-color jokes, participating in activities that everyone else does, having sex outside of marriage, living with someone you're not married to, and the list goes on. I know people who profess to be Christians who think nothing of going to the casino and gambling. I know people who profess to be Christians who still smoke and drink. On social media I see pictures with lots of cleavage, and more, that are posted by people who profess to be Christians. I see people who profess to be Christians conforming to the ways of this world by participating in the things of this world, by going along with things that the Bible strictly opposes, because when you don't take a stand against the world then you are standing for the world.
The Bible says, "Be holy for I am Holy" (1 Peter 1:16). That may seem impossible but it's not. We are not to conform to this world, we are to conform to what the Bible tells us is right and pure and holy. We might not achieve Holiness in this life but we are to strive for it. We are to put away the things of this world and to walk the walk and talk the talk the way that Jesus did.
Sitting in a church on Sunday does not make you a Christian any more than sitting in your garage makes you a car. Following Jesus and obeying the word of God is what makes you a Christian.
I hear people complaining all of the time that they go to church on Sunday yet their life is not blessed. Blessings do not come from sitting in a church. Blessings come from living out a Christian life every single day of the week. A Sunday Christian will not have a blessed life.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
The Root – The Shoot – The Fruit
~ One ~
In The Vineyard
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
~ * ~
My sitting room is decorated with wall hangings depicting vineyards, grapes, wine, and my favorite has this verse on it. Everything that I am as a Christian is in these eight verses. It defines who Christ is to us, who we are to Christ, and how we are to live as His children. I spend several minutes every day reading just these verses, and since I have to pass by the sitting room to get to the laundry room, I always take the time to pause and look at what I have chosen as my inspiration for not only the room, but for my life.
I would like to be able to say that I have always used these verses as my guide in life but that just isn’t so. Like fine wine, I had to age a bit to be able to understand the simplicity of God’s word and how to apply it to my life. I wasn’t raised in a godly home but thankfully, I had a godly grandmother whose influence from those summer visits stayed with me.
Life can be complicated and as such, I believe we make God and His word just as complicated. I know I did. However, after years of making a mess of my life, I finally decided there had to be a way to get through my years on earth that didn’t hurt quite so much. I came back to the One I knew had been there all my life even through the messes I had made, the trouble I had borrowed, the people I chose to associate with. God had never left nor forsaken me (Joshua 1:5), it was I who had left God. And although He had always been there, He did leave me to my own defenses until I finally gave up in the knowledge that my defenses were pretty flimsy at best.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
How quickly we tend to forget that kind of all-encompassing love! How quickly we pull away and try to do everything on our own, in our own way. We were never intended to live apart from God. We were never intended to be thrown under the bus of life. Quite the contrary, we were intended to live life fully. To live life loved beyond measure, (John 10:10). To live life safely in the arms of God.
We were created in the image of God in both body (Genesis 1:27) and in spirit (Ephesians 4:24). We have a God-shaped hole inside of us, yet we spend our lives trying to fill that hole with everything but God! We use sex, drugs, alcohol, rock stars, movie stars, music, sports, fast cars, wealth, food, everything under Heaven except that which we were created for – God.
None of the things of this world can fill that hole God created within us that yearns for Him. Romans 12:2 tells us to not be “conformed to this world,” yet, from the time we can crawl, we are fascinated by the things of the world. Not all are bad of course, it’s human to want things but it’s how we use them, and what we use them for, that defines its worth.
Having money isn’t bad. We all need money to live but when money becomes all we think we need, and it becomes all we seek to have, our intentions have gone haywire and money has become our god.
Listening to music isn’t bad. Music is pleasurable, relaxing, motivating and part of our being that God put inside of us. But when we begin identifying with lyrics that do not magnify the Lord, or draw our attention away from the important things in our lives, then we’ve made music our god.
Food is a good thing. We need to eat to stay healthy but when we allow food to become our focus, our bodies begin to rebel. We gain weight, arteries harden, and diabetes can develop, along with heart problems, high cholesterol, and a myriad of other maladies. Food has become our god.
The list goes on. Anything that takes our focus off of God is not good for us. Our spirit weakens, our lives get out of control, and we lose our sense of direction. God is our magnetic north and His Word is our compass. Anytime we allow ourselves to wander off of His course, the life path He has planned for each of us, our lives become something other than what God wants for us. In order to stay on course, we need to be firmly grounded in God’s Word. That is the root of our existence. Without a good root system, nothing grows strong.
Anyone who has ever tried to grow plants, flowers, or a vegetable garden, knows that there is a process to getting what you want out of what you plant. When you grow plants, you expect green healthy stalks and leaves. With flowers, you expect tulips from tulip bulbs, roses from rosebushes, and from a vegetable garden, you expect each type of vegetable to produce its own fruit.
But you don’t just toss bulbs or seeds outside on the ground and wait for them to grow. You till up the ground, you might have to bring in good soil if you live in an area like I do. The ground is mostly rock, and what soil we have is red clay, so we had to build up garden beds and bring in soil to fill them. The soil has to have water and fertilizer to be healthy enough for the plants to develop a good root system. But they also have to have plenty of sunshine, which is why we plant in springtime and let the vegetables and flowers grow through the hot part of summer, and then harvest in early fall.
Another part of being a gardener is knowing when to prune. When I go out to water my garden, I check the plants to make sure there are no bugs eating them, no aphids present, and I have to sometimes prune back some of the leaves and branches so all the fruit can get plenty of sunshine. Our spirits are like that too. If we don’t get plenty of God, His Word, and fellowship with other Christians, we become like the fruit on the bottom of the plants. They grow but they never get quite as ripe or sweet as the other fruit because they don’t get the same amount of sun until we prune off some of the leaves.
Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.”
Have you ever seen calves in the fields? They run and leap about like they are so happy just to be there. And when the Lord shines on us, we should leap about with that same kind of joyous abandon! The Lord is our sun. He shines on us with goodness and mercy.
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