For years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did. A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution. I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?
Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”
I’ve never worried about that shoe again.
Did you inow . . . Continue reading
By James Corwin
James blogs over at DirtyHands.com
Which commandment do we all break?
Typically for the sake of clarity we condense and number them. Different groups of Christians number them slightly differently. I won’t get the why and how of that now. It’s interesting but not important to the overall question. This is how I learned them.
- You shall have no other gods. (no idols)
- You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
- Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
So back to that first question. Which commandment do we all break most often?
I’ve heard many people say it’s numbers 9 and 10; coveting. Living in an affluent North American context this is obviously a problem. Our whole economic system would collapse in about ten seconds if we all gave this one up. After all our economy is built on consumerism; buying things. Companies spend literally billions of dollars to make you want what is not and in some cases should not be yours. But coveting isn’t the most frequently broken commandment.
Few people ever say it’s numbers 5 or 6. The reasoning goes like this, “Sure some people do murder or commit adultery. But those are the outliers. Most people don’t have serious issues with these two.” That reasoning works unless you happen to consider what Jesus says about numbers 5 and 6 in Matthew 5. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” And, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you everyone who looks at a woman (or man) with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” OK. So, seen in that light numbers 5 and 6 are broken more often than we would think at first. But they still are nowhere near the commandment we break most often.
The commandment we all break is the first. “You shall have no other gods.” Martin Luther once said the fundamental problem in law-breaking is always idolatry. In other words, we never break the other commandments without first breaking the commandment against idolatry. (A Treatise on Good Works parts X, XI) Let that sink in a moment. In his explanation of the first commandment he wrote, “You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” And so anything that you fear, love, or trust more than God has become an idol for you.
When a person steals and breaks the seventh commandment, they have already broken the first. Their desire to have what they stole grew out of a violation of the first commandment. They did not fear, love or trust in God above all else. And so to fill their desire they took what was not theirs. And you can go down the list like that with all the other commandments. Each violation can be traced back to a breaking of the first commandment; “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Idols aren’t only or necessarily funny little statues made out of wood or metal that the unenlightened people of the past prayed to, but that we have outgrown. An idol can be anything. Anything you fear above all else. Anything you love above all else. Anything you trust above all else. The gods of today that vie for God’s place in your life are so ordinary and commonplace that many of us don’t even give them a second thought. The false gods of today don’t go by the name of Baal, or Molech, or Ashtoreth. They are our retirement funds and bank accounts, they are our homes and our families, and they are our countries and our smartphones. And we do our bowing and kneeling to them with our schedules, our credit cards, our imaginations and our work.
Yes, we all break the first commandment. And we break it often. The good news in all of this is that the Big Ten were never meant to be a checklist to get into heaven. God doesn’t attach a percentage to them and say, “If you keep them 90 percent of the time, or 60 percent, or 40 percent, then I’ll let you in. No. They do detail how God wants us to live. But in trying to keep them we learn not only the depth of our sin, but also our utter incapability to keep them.
Once Jesus was asked by a young man seeking to justify himself, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus expertly opened the young man’s eyes to the idol that was standing between him and God. The thing he feared, loved and trusted above all else was his wealth. He walked away sad, unable and unwilling to give it up. The disciples, watching from the sidelines, and realizing their own failings said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus responded, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:16-30)
Yes we break the first commandment most often. We break it every day. How should we respond? By repenting and trusting in Jesus, the one who from the cross said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Editor’s Note: When I read this post on Shannon’s blog, I left her a comment saying everyone needs to read this message. In my opinion it goes to the heart and soul of the solution to many of our world’s social ills. Enjoy.
By Shannon Moreno
Blogger over at Revelations in Writing
Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” – (John 4:7,9-10)
I so appreciate this exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. He models for us how we can break down social and cultural barriers, and approach people where they are. Though society would have deemed her unworthy – to acknowledge, let alone speak to – Jesus approached her directly and spoke to her face to face. He was kind, honest, and offered the hope she had so long been looking for. As followers of Christ, we are called to do likewise. Our job is to break down barriers that society deems necessary, and show the world that they are not. We must touch the “untouchable“, love the “unlovable“, give voice to the silent, and meet the needs of those without. So many are misunderstood, misrepresented, and labeled as a result of their circumstances. May we be the ones who answer the call to love our neighbors as Christ has loved us – no barriers, no limits, just love.
Shannon is a long-time devoted blogger since 2011. I read her thought-provoking posts regularly. Shannon is a career teacher and coach and is raising two teenage boys. which in and of itself is a full time job. Read her posts on her blog at https://revelationsinwriting.wordpress.com
Leftist, Feminist Lesbian Professor Now A Pastor’s Wife Continue reading
By Rob Morley
Co-founder of Light and Life Ministries
While I don’t necessarily advocate demonstrations, nor do I support anything less than love for individuals who practice homosexuality, I like the truth in the caption which is a translation of one of the banners: “Say stop to raping our morality under the name of freedom”
You see, many Christians have become confused and soft in their stance toward the sin of homosexuality. While on the one hand many see it as sin, on the other, they indirectly consent to it through not wanting to take away people’s rights to practice their “sexual orientation”. This is further fuelled by the notion that in order to be loving we should “live and let live” as long as it doesn’t affect others. But, is the negative effect of even a monogamous committed homosexual relationship only confined to the two involved?
Let’s consider who gets affected by someone practicing a homosexual lifestyle. Firstly, he is sinning against God and himself by denying the Creator’s design for his life. Then, just like with adultery and fornication, anyone who practices homosexuality is automatically causing his partner to sin and be missing out on God’s plan for his life. Finally, and what is often overlooked, he is sinning against the community by being a very likely, although not necessarily intentional, influence on others to do the same.
By allowing people to have homosexual relationships, whether monogamous or not, they become billboards that reinforce the idea that homosexuality is a viable lifestyle. Effectively we create an environment where other people can be more easily influenced into the same sin. Many people may fall as a result of the appeal that homosexuality may have on their sinful nature, while others may fall to the deception that homosexuality is a normal social way of life.
The permission to practice homosexuality, along with its promotion in the media and the prolific nature of the practice, can confuse and entice many vulnerable youth and adults into embracing what they may never even have thought of. Let alone the influence that it is having on kids growing up in this environment.
A few weeks ago a teenager who is very close to me and who has grown up in a Christian family and environment spoke to me of how he had wrestled with the question of his own sexuality and whether or not he was homosexual. I wonder to what extent the prevailing climate of open homosexuality that exists in this world has been an influence on his thinking.
As the ecclesia we need to be a clear voice of truth to a broken world. Love is telling the truth!
Seriously causing others to miss out on God’s best may be part of the reason for God’s harsh wordsEditor’s Note: Rob and Tina Morely co-founded Light and Life Ministries, a teaching ministry in the body of Christ helping people to understand and effectively apply God’s word, the Bible, as it relates to all of life. “While reaching people with the gospel is essential,” Rob said, “the goal of the Great Commission is to have effectively discipled believers. The Bible deals with all areas of life, but if not taught properly, believers remain ineffective for God’s kingdom in those areas.”
and punishments for this crime. These seeds are sown all around. But woe to those whose seeds germinate! And, anyone who condones this practice is an accomplice. “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! (Luke 17:1).
I have a very dear family member who has lived an open homosexual lifestyle for years with one partner. I love both him and his partner and recognize that their sin is no different to mine. Our difference before God is not that I am not a homosexual or that I don’t sin anymore, but that I was given a free pardon for all my sins, past present and future, and am now joined to Jesus. My sins and wayward nature are not held against me anymore and although I still easily sin, it’s not in my new nature to continue in it. And, God wants to do the same for them.
I don’t condemn any homosexual just as I don’t condemn any adulterer, but I do want to warn against the destructiveness of participating in this lifestyle, both to individuals and societies. It’s not the Creator’s plan for anybody!
Finally, some may need to repent of practicing homosexuality, others of supporting it, and others of not loving those practicing it. Whichever it is, God is willing to forgive.
You can contact Rob or Tina Morley via e-mail at email@example.com
So, what do YOU think? Your opinion matters.
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Is this you? You wish your life was better than it is. But there’s this problem. This problem is keeping you from enjoying a better life. Continue reading