Month: May 2015

The Consequences of Unconfessed Sin

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Sin. It’s lethal, disastrous, wreckful, deadly, and it’s like a virus. If it’s ignored or unattended for too long, it will get worse. For example, the common cold is a curable virus. There are notable signs and symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and fever that inform your body to rest and drink plenty of fluids. However, if you don’t take care of yourself, the cold can lead into pneumonia and become fatal. The same is true when we allow the virus of unconfessed sin linger in our hearts and minds.

When the prophet Nathan pointed his finger at King David and told him his sins were known by God, it shook David to his core. He was ignoring the signs and symptoms of his sins for a while, but no longer could he hide the fact that he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah.

David later realized the consequences of unconfessed sin and wrote about it in the Psalms. First, he experienced physical distress. He said “When I kept silent my bones grew old through my groaning all day long.” How many of you have experienced physical distress when you don’t confess your faults to God or others? When you hold guilt inside, it’s like shaking up a soda can with the top on. It will eventually blow up.

I remember when my brother and I got into a heated argument when I was in college. I got angry with him and tackled him on the ground. For the next couple of days we didn’t talk to each other. I felt like my insides were being eaten alive by guilt and stress. My pride kept me from admitting my fault, but the pain of our fractured relationship motivated me to repent. Finally, I confessed my sin to him and God. I felt like David who said, “Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones that you have broken rejoice.” When we confess our sins, it not only brings healing to our souls, but it brings restoration to those whom you have sinned against. Today, there are only three people that I can talk to on the phone more than an hour: My wife of course, my Mom, and my brother Brian. I am so grateful that our relationship has been restored.

Perhaps you’re at a place in your life where your prayers seem to go nowhere. You pray, and it appears that God does not hear you. Could it be that you have unconfessed sin in your life? The Psalmist states, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Any sin harbored in our lives will build a wall between us and God.

The Word of God says in 1 John 1:9 “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.” This is why he sent Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus died for all sins, past, present, and future. So if you find yourself praying and not receiving answers, examine your heart before God. Ask him to reveal any unconfessed sin so that you might receive forgiveness and then press onward.

What are some benefits to confessing our sins to God and others? When we confess sin to someone it is no longer ignored but brought into the open. A brother or sister can keep you accountable and help you get through whatever struggles you are facing. When we confess sin, it becomes reassuring when you find out that others are also struggling with that same sin. You are able to relate to each other more.  Lastly, confession helps you realize you have a close connection to God and have received His grace. What can be better than knowing your relationship with God is healthy as a result of your honesty and integrity before Him?

You can pray or confess sin where you are.  You don’t need to go to a confession booth or consult a priest. If you are a believer you have direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ. He is our High Priest, our Mediator. I encourage you to pray to Him now and share your burdens. Amen.

An Authentic Life is an Authentic Religion

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Photo Credit: Patheos

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” -James 1:26-27

Do you walk the talk? Do you practice what is preached? These are common idioms used in everyday language to express a key word: authenticity. Authenticity is what the world is searching for. A leader. A genuine person. Someone who can back up or prove what’s said with action.

Finding an authentic Christian is a rarity today. I know a friend who currently lives in Kentucky. He does practice what he preaches. As far as I know, everyday this man witnesses to hundreds of people at the bars, to strangers in downtown Louisville, and finds opportunities to preach at major sporting events. He takes the great commission both seriously and literally: To “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mk. 16:15).”

I remember one evening we both went to witness downtown on 4th street live, the entertainment center of Louisville. It was a cold night. A couple of drunk people were waiting outside an ATM machine, obtaining money to spend it on booze. My friend walked up to them and said, “Hello, how are you all doing?” “Would you like to hear the good news of Jesus?” They immediately responded: “We don’t want to hear that religious non-sense.” Then they started cussing at him. My friend had a great response after they yelled in his face. “God bless you,” my friend said, with humility.

What a great example of taming the tongue. He could have been upset but instead his thoughts and attitude were aligned with the will of God. Because he lived a genuine Christianity, he could show these unbelievers that his faith was real. I think they were shocked to hear his response. Unfortunately, they didn’t stop and talk with us but my friend definitely left an impression. These unbelievers will have to give an account to God for the opportunity they wasted to hear the gospel from a man that showed grace and love.

In the last verse, James makes it clear that a pure and undefiled religion is to visit widows and orphans in distress, and to be unspotted from the world. Why do you think the Apostle James specifically mentions this group of people? Because those without parents or husbands were and are a needy group of the church. Throughout the Bible, God takes care of the fatherless and the widows. In Isaiah 1:17, it states: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

No one took care of orphans and widows better than George Muller (1805-1898). Mr. Muller was a Christian Evangelist from Bristol, England. He cared for 10,024 orphans in his life and was well known for providing 117 schools for the underprivileged. His reputation for taking care of the poor got to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their worth. However, Muller knew that every human being was infinitely valuable because of his theological knowledge of God. He wrote a diary in his well-known book Delighted in God, about trusting in God’s provision through prayer. Here is an excerpt:

July 28, 1874—”It has for months appeared to me, as if the Lord meant, by His dealings with us, to bring us back to that state of things, in which we were for more than ten years, from August, 1838, to April, 1849, when we had day by day, almost without interruption, to look to Him for our daily supplies, and, for a great part of the time, from meal to meal. The difficulties appeared to me indeed very great, as the Institution is now twenty times larger than it was then, and our purchases are to be made in a wholesale way; but at the same time, I am comforted by the knowledge that God is aware of all this, and that if this way be for the glory of His name, and for the good of His church and the unconverted world, I am, by His grace, willing to go this way, and to do it to the end of my course. The funds were thus fast expended; but God, our infinitely rich Treasurer, remains to us. It is this which gives me peace.

These two examples: Taming the tongue and taking care of orphans, are a sign that an individual has given their life to the Lord. These “good” works do not save us, but are an overflow of being forgiven by a loving God. It’s only when we come to the knowledge of the truth, confess our sins, and ask God to save us that we have a pure and undefiled religion that results in taming the tongue, taking care of the needy, and living a holy life.

 

7 Traits of a Healthy Christian Disciple

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What does a healthy disciple of Christ look like? How do we fulfill the great commission? Are we called to evangelism, discipleship, or both? These are good questions that each of us should be asking ourselves. It was made clearer to me today when our Senior Pastor, Keith Treadway, preached on this topic: 7 Traits of a Healthy Disciple. I think you will find it to be a valuable resource for your Christian walk.

1. A healthy Christian disciple has a passion to know Christ (Ps. 42:1; Phil. 3:7-11). A disciple should have a lifelong desire to get to know Jesus better. This is the whole reason we exist: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Moreover, a healthy disciple should have a lifelong striving to become more like Jesus. Reading the Bible, prayer, and growing in our understanding of theology is good, but unless we share this information with others, we are not becoming more like Jesus because He constantly shared this good news with unbelievers!

2. A healthy Christian disciple displays authentic transformation (Rom. 12:1-2). If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Same is true for the Christian lifestyle. Someone who has been born again and regenerated by the spirit of God will produce fruit of joy, love, peace, patience, etc. You will know a true Christian from a false convert by the way they live. Genuine Christians have a desire to choose the right thing and not allow the culture, but rather the Bible, to influence their minds.

3. A healthy Christian disciple is a seeker of biblical truth (Ps. 119:9-11; John 3). We are in a spiritual battle. God calls us to put on the armor of God, to carry our sword, which is the word of God. It’s vital for us to meditate on what is good, true, and noble. It’s also imperative that we memorize Scripture. Why? Let’s say an individual asks you, “How can I get saved?” You should be familiar with particular verses: “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” or “You are saved by grace through faith, it’s a free gift.” A healthy Christian is prepared to give an answer to the hope that is in them.

4. A healthy Christian disciple is a disciple-maker (Mt. 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:2; Dt. 6:4-9). What an important trait. When I was a swim coach, there were times when I would get in the water and show them how to do a proper flip turn or a jump start off the blocks. As Christians, we need to be coaching or discipling another individual how to live the Christian life. Jesus told us to be “fishers of men.” If you know anything about Fishermen, it doesn’t do any good for them to go to fishing conferences, buy bait at Bass Pro Shop, or talk strategies on how to fish, without ever fishing. In the same way, we need to be growing in our understanding of Christ while teaching others to do the same!

5. A healthy Christian disciple is connected, accountable, and involved in the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13). The local church is the nucleus for a healthy cell. It’s a necessity. Jesus said that He built the church, and not even the gates of Hell shall prevail against it. Why then, do you suppose, are there so many individuals today who aren’t involved in their local church? I think it’s a misunderstanding of what Jesus taught. People today think Jesus was an anti-religious, do-it-yourself kind of guy, when in reality, this is the opposite: Jesus went to the synagogue every Sabbath (Lk. 4:16). Yes, he spoke out against the hypocrites of His day, yes he radically transformed the law by interacting with the Gentile people, but nevertheless, Jesus was deeply connected to the body of Christ. He developed godly relationships, encouraged accountability, and exercises His spiritual gift. The best way Christians can use their talents and grow spiritually is in the confines of a local church. End of story.

6. A healthy Christian disciple has compassion for others (Isa. 1:17; Matt 9:35-38). Jesus never turned a blind eye towards the needs of others. He was always an active part of the solution. We ought to mimic his lifestyle. As Christians, it’s a pure and undefiled religion to visit the widows and orphans in distress. To have compassion for the needy and love on the unlovable. Pray that God’s holy spirit will stir in you the compassion for the lost. British missionary C.T Studd once said: “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” That’s compassion!

7. A healthy Christian disciple is a generous, joyful giver to God’s work (Prov. 11:24-25; 2 Cor. 8:1-15; 2 Cor. 9:6-7). A healthy disciple of Jesus Christ will give their time, talents, and treasures back to God. They will understand the verse that says, “Do not store up your treasures on Earth, where moth and rust can destroy it, but store up your treasures in Heaven.” When we invest in people and eternity, there will always be a return. Jesus said that His Word will never return void. If we invest in the stock market or in earthly treasures, there is no guarantee. Many people lost half of their savings during the stock market crash of 2008. We are only certain of one thing: No one can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus. Invest in that!