Why Do We Suffer?

Mental illness is a difficult topic for just about everyone. People who don’t have mental illnesses don’t understand what it is like to endure the kind of suffering that comes with mental illnesses. People who don’t have physical disabilities or disabilities of any kind don’t understand what it is like for people who have disabilities. People who don’t get physically ill very often don’t know what it’s like to have a weakened immune system.

It’s quite easy for them to say that God is punishing you or that you didn’t have enough faith or didn’t meet some requirement and that’s why you’re sick- physically or mentally. It’s much harder for someone to empathize with someone whose experiences in life are so drastically different from their own. Things are easier for them and they can’t fathom things that they do every day without thinking being difficult or nearly impossible for people who have a chronic physical or mental health condition.

God creates miracles every single day. The sun shining in the morning. The moon glowing at night. These miracles give us light, and sure, they can be explained by science, but that doesn’t have to take God out of the equation! God created science! God created the birds of the sky, the fish of the water, and light and energy and herbs and plants! All of these things are things that God created for you and me and everyone else on this planet to enjoy and care for as stewards of this place we call home.

Sometimes, God does perform miracles to cure diseases and save our lives when it isn’t His Will for us to die. Sometimes, He will answer our prayers by removing the thorns pricking our sides, but sometimes He won’t take them away.

It’s so very easy to throw your hands in the air and wail about how God doesn’t love you or you wouldn’t be suffering. It’s so very easy for people who don’t have a chronic condition or disability to declare with derision that you just need to try harder, work harder, pray harder, believe harder. It’s so easy to lose faith and to lose hope that God is even listening. Giving up is so easy.

But God never promised that our lives would be easy. In fact, there are many times in the Bible where Christ and the apostles tell us point-blank that our lives are going to be hard. It wasn’t sugar-coated in platitudes and promises that we would never be sick if we just pray hard enough. The truth of the matter is this: because we have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, we are going to suffer. We would have suffered if we didn’t choose to follow Jesus, but it would have been different.

We are guaranteed to suffer whether or not we believe in Christ, but those who believe have hope in Christ because He promised to return for us to take us out of this world and to give us an eternity in peace with Him.

So, if God loves us, why does He allow us to suffer like this? Why does He allow us to get sick or to stay sick for the rest of our lives?

God Uses Suffering to Teach Us.

Suffering- physical and mental or emotional- is a tool that God uses to teach us and shape us into the people He meant for us to become. He doesn’t want to hurt us. He allows things to happen to us that may be unpleasant so that we can learn valuable lessons from them which make us better people, better Christians, and better examples for others in our lives.

1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

-Romans 5:1-6

God Uses Suffering to Strengthen Us and Our Relationship with Him.

God made me who I am today by allowing me to endure difficult situations from growing up with my mother who had schizophrenia to coping with anxiety and major depression. With each difficult experience, I have been made stronger. I have grown by the grace of God and now I can help others who have been through similar situations. I can show them that no matter how bad things get, eventually things will get better.

Our lives ultimately may be short and full of trouble, as stated in the book of Job, but God wants us to rely on Him and to trust Him. He provides for all of our needs according to His will. Paul describes in his second letter to the Corinthians “a thorn in the flesh,” which troubled him. He prayed over and over again for God to take this suffering from him, to give him a happier life, but God didn’t. Why?

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

-2 Corinthians 12:9

Like many others, I have wondered and asked myself (and a close confidant) “why are things still so hard? I have done everything I can to cope. I take my medicine as prescribed, I have chosen to try a different path in my life because the paths I had been walking just didn’t feel right, and I pray to and trust God to provide for me. Why aren’t things better? Why am I still suffering? Why do I still have my anxiety and depression?”

And at the time, I was on the verge of tears, because I wanted, more than anything, for God to take the proverbial thorn out of my side. I needed the verse I quoted above more than I realized at the time. “My grace is sufficient for thee” can be a hard pill to swallow because no one wants to suffer. I don’t want to suffer. Paul didn’t want to suffer. Even Job questioned God and asked why he was allowed to suffer everything he did.

God Uses Suffering to Help Us Empathize With Others.

Ultimately, in this life, we are going to suffer. We will get sick. Some of us will get sick with chronic conditions that will never go away. Some of us will have medical conditions from birth that we have to face every single day. We will get hurt physically and emotionally. Through these unpleasant events, experiences, and conditions in our lives, God teaches us to empathize with others. It is one way that God makes us equals to each other.

Have you ever talked with a friend or loved one about something unpleasant you experienced and then got comfort from them saying “me, too?” Admitting our sufferings, trials, and experiences to one another opens the door to healing, comfort, and empathy for one another.

We will suffer. There will never be a time before Christ returns for His children in which there is no suffering in this life. But we can help one another through suffering and God will comfort us through our suffering.

To be quite honest, I feel quite inadequate in writing this post. I honestly feel like nothing I’ve really said here is enough. It’s tempting to just not share this at all, but I know that these are things that need to be said and I know that this is the kind of thing that I needed to hear many times in my life. Even though I feel uncertain about it, I am sharing this anyway, because God will use this in His way, even if I haven’t covered this topic completely enough or am otherwise insufficient in expressing what He has placed on my heart. This post went through like three different titles as the Holy Spirit moved me in a direction that was completely different than the direction I was going in when I started writing this post weeks ago. Yes, this post has been in my drafts for almost a month.

All of that being said, I have collected a few blog posts and articles that I will be linking below that will further illustrate the points I have tried to make here. Hopefully, these links will help.

How God Uses Pain to Help Us Grow

Five Truths About Christian Suffering

Christianity Promises Suffering and Persecution: Here’s How to Prepare

The Christian’s Response To Suffering For Christ (1 Peter 4:12–19)

Is There Purpose to Suffering in the Christian Life?

When We Suffer: A Biblical Perspective on Chronic Pain and Illness

Tim Keller on Enduring Suffering Without Losing Hope

Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering?

6 Truths About Christian Suffering

 

 

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Reflecting on What Christ Did for Sinners

Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian faith. During this time, we celebrate the sacrifice that God made for us and the resurrection of His Son- and the promise that, in time, He will also resurrect those who believe. It’s important that we take the time as Christians to really reflect on what God did for us. It’s so easy to get caught up in the parties and the games and the media and ourselves, but we really do need to take the time to really talk about what Christ did for us.

It is also easy to just sum up His sacrifice with a blanket “He died for us.” That doesn’t nearly cover what Jesus endured to atone for our sins and open a path to Heaven for us. All of mankind is flawed and all of us sin. Even with the best intentions, we still sin and God knows that. He suffered and died for us because He loved us that much.

Jesus was ridiculed.

Jesus was mocked because people believed that, if He really was the Son of God, God would save Him from His death. What they did not realize at the time was that God could have saved Jesus from death on the cross, but He chose not to because God came to earth as Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Jesus could have called for the angels to pluck Him off the cross and carry Him home to Heaven, but He didn’t.

Jesus Christ died for them because He loved them and they didn’t understand it. They added to His suffering and He quietly endured it, knowing that His death and resurrection would open the gates of Heaven for all humans- His children whom He loves so dearly.

 63And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. 64And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? 65And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.

Luke 22:63-65

Jesus was sentenced to death while a murderer went free.

There was a tradition between the Romans and the Jews where the Jews could collectively ask for one person to be released from prison and spared death. Barrabas was a criminal who actually killed someone. Jesus Christ had gone from city to city healing the sick and sharing His wisdom to teach His children how to live a godly life. He was leading by example.

The Jews chose the murderer, sentencing Jesus to death. Even Pontus Pilate, the governor who ultimately sentenced Jesus to death, had reservations. He didn’t want to execute Jesus, but he had to.

17Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

Matthew 27:17-20

Jesus was beaten.

Luke 22:63-65

Matthew 27:29-30

Jesus had a crown of thorns placed on His head.

Have you ever pricked your finger on a thorn? It hurts. Now imagine someone making a big crown of thorns and putting it on your head. It would hurt, wouldn’t it? Jesus endured it anyway, though, because He loves us.

29And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!30And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

Matthew 27:29-30

Jesus carried the object that killed him on His back all the way to Golgotha where He was to be executed.

It’s bad enough that the Jews rejected Him and sent Him to be executed. It was even worse that He was mocked and beaten, but then, they went a step further. Jesus Christ carried His cross all the way to Golgatha- Matthew and Luke mention another man that was asked to carry the cross. So, Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus with the cross, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Jesus carried it.

Imagine it happening to yourself. You’ve been sentenced to death. And on death row after your final meal and last confession, the executioner opens the door and hands you a box containing the chemicals and the tubes and the needles that were going to kill you.

Now imagine it during the time of Christ when crucifixion was a common, cruel method of execution. You have been sentenced to death and then your executioners walk you outside and tell you to pick up a large wooden cross and carry it on your back all the way to the place where they were going to kill you.

I find that horrifying.

 16Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

John 19:16-18

Jesus was nailed to the cross.

They didn’t tie Him to the beams of the cross. They physically took metal nails and drove them through his hands and his feet to pin Him to the cross before raising Him up to die. This was not a painless death. It wasn’t a quick death. It wasn’t a merciful death.

His body was hanging on a piece of wood by his hands and feet so high in the air. The gravity was pulling on His body. If you have a pierced ear and the earring gets tugged, it hurts a lot, right? Now imagine that kind of pain as gravity tugs on your whole body while you hang on a cross and are held there by nothing but three large nails. It’s so much worse than pulling on an earring, isn’t it?

“And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.”

Matthew 27:35

Jesus was given vinegar instead of water when He asked for it.

28After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

29Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

John 19:28-29

 

Jesus took the punishment for the sins of the entire world, past, present, and future all at once. He took our punishment so we could have a chance at going to Heaven.

 8Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

2 Timothy 1:8-11

Jesus died for us.

30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

John 19:30

But that wasn’t the end of it.

Jesus didn’t just die for us and our sins. He was physically resurrected and He came to the disciples to reveal to them that He lives. He promised us a “Comforter,” which is the Holy Spirit. He promised to build a place for us. He promised to return for us.

This is our hope: that Christ will return for us and take us to heaven to be with Him for eternity.

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

If Jesus was not physically resurrected, then His death was in vain. If Jesus was not resurrected, we have no hope. That’s why taking some time to really reflect on what Jesus endured and what He did, the importance of His resurrection, and His promise to return again is so important.

It’s so easy to put yourself on autopilot and, even though you don’t actually forget, you don’t appreciate Him. I’ve been there. It’s so easy to just simplify it and leave it at that: Jesus came, lived a good life, died, came back to life, and went to heaven and will be coming back one day.” This statement is entirely true, but saying it so simply and not thinking about the implications of each part of that sentence doesn’t remotely begin to express Christ’s love for us.

All of the other details from rituals to interpretations are just details. The little differences that separate each denomination of Christianity from the others are just the little things. What really matters is Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, and His promise to return for His children. He is the foundation of our hope. Without Him, we have no hope. Like Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

Happy Easter, my siblings in Christ. I hope you have a happy holiday and God bless you!

As a housekeeping note: the bi-weekly posting schedule will not change. The next scheduled update will still be on April 5th, 2018. 

Exhaustion and Anxiety

Given the title of this blog, I spend a lot of time pointing out the positive- the promises God has made to His children. There is always hope. However, I don’t want you, dear reader, to think that I’m trying to say that if you believe that Jesus Christ is God and our Lord and Savior you’ll never be tired or sad or sick. But despite these trials of pain and fear and sickness and utter mental and spiritual exhaustion, we have hope in Christ.

I was diagnosed with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder eight years ago. I’ve made a lot of progress and I’ve recovered a great deal, by the Grace of God and through the science that He gave us to create anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications and through talk therapy. I am utterly exhausted much of the time, but I know that God has a plan and that He will provide for me and all of my needs. It just gets hard sometimes and I feel like I’m drowning in anxiety and fear that I can’t control. If I could turn the anxiety off, I would, but I can’t.

God knows that we are going to get tired. He set an example for us Himself when He created the world. He took the Sabbath to rest and wants us to do the same. God never gets tired, but He did it to show us the importance of taking time to slow down and rest.

It isn’t easy to pick up and keep going. Anxiety is no joke, but it doesn’t mean you’re not important or that you’re never going to learn to cope with it. In the case of generalized anxiety disorder, it may never go away, but that doesn’t mean that God won’t help you get through it.

1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5: 1-6

 

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Disease and Faith

Sickness, illness, disease- these are naturally occurring phenomenon that we, as mortal beings, cannot avoid. Everyone gets sick sometimes. It’s unavoidable, no matter how much preparation you make or how careful you are. You can take good care of your body to reduce how much sickness you experience by taking vitamins and supplements or prescribed medication for your condition, or both. Sometimes you can reduce your risk of disease by taking preventative steps, such as taking a vaccine like a flu shot. Sometimes you get sick anyway.

But does that mean that God is punishing you?

I don’t believe so. The reason why I don’t believe disease is a punishment is because God is a loving, merciful God. He sent His Son to die for us so we would not have to be punished for our sins. “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.  As long as we ask for forgiveness and trust on the Lord, He will have mercy on us and love us forever, no matter what.

So why do we get sick?

God created the most amazing ecosystem on this planet we call home. He created everything and anything that is “man-made” was made because God gave us the ability to make these things. Everything that is man-made is made because God allows it via His Permissive Will.  God created everything and all things coexist according to His design.

The light from the sun feeds the plants of the earth. The plants of the earth feed the animals and people while also creating oxygen so we can breathe. The animals that eat plants are eaten by us and by other animals which live off of meat. Insects, fungi, and scavenging animals eat animals and people that are dead. These things die and we all return to the earth that God has made. As early as Genesis Chapter 3, we are told that mankind was made of dust and that one day, we will all return to dust. It really is a circle of life that moves all of us, because God willed it to be like this.

So what makes people sick?

Viruses, bacteria, allergic reactions, and build-ups of substances in the body which eventually harm or kill the person they’re in. God created all of these things. The substances, the viruses, the bacteria, the allergens: God made all of these things, just like He made you and me. I don’t know why He created bacteria and viruses or allows us to develop allergies to things like pollen and animal dander. I suppose we’ll understand when we get to Heaven to be with Him.

My pastor/priest/deacon/religious leader/religious family member or friend says that if I just pray really hard and have faith, I won’t get sick.

This is absolutely, 100% FALSE. Never, EVER in the Bible does God promise that we will never get sick if we just believe in Him. If you know of a verse that says this in the Bible, share it with me, but I’m really certain that there is no such verse in the Bible. He makes many other promises about how He will answer our prayers and He will provide for us.

My pastor/priest/deacon/religious leader/religious family member or friend says that if I pray really, really hard and we all pray really hard, I’ll get completely, 100% better.

God works miracles. He really does. Sometimes, He does cure people of serious conditions that would otherwise take their lives. We pray and He listens. But that doesn’t mean that every single time He will work a miracle that cures you of your ailment. Sometimes, we have to take medicine or go to a doctor or a specialist or a hospital for treatment. Sometimes God cures us and answers our prayers through these things instead of an instant miracle. Sometimes the medicine, vaccination, or medical professional is the miracle that God gives us to answer our prayers.

Sometimes, however, we don’t get better. Sometimes we develop a terminal illness and we die. It’s sad. It hurts. We don’t like being sick and we don’t want to die. But we will all one day die- until the day the Lord returns and takes us from this world, of course. Whoever is living when Christ returns will never feel the sting of death, but the rest of us will feel it. But death only stings. It is not permanent, because this is the promise of His return and our resurrection through Him.

Why?

Why do we die, or why does God allow us to die? Or why do we suffer disease and illness? Because God’s permissive will allows it and God’s design of this world involves this circle of life. Everything is interconnected. I don’t know God’s reasoning. I can’t understand why God allows things to happen, but I can accept them as God’s Permissive Will and I can accept this planet and the ecosystem we live in as part of God’s Perfect Will. It’s God’s universe. It’s His rules. We just have to follow them.

Then, if I get sick and die, then it’s my time to die.

This statement is true, but only in that when people die, it’s because God wills it via His Perfect or Permissive Will. If you get the flu, God gave us tools to treat ourselves and to keep us alive for longer. If you choose not to use the tools God has given us the ability to create, then that’s your choice, but I won’t stand here and tell you that it’s the right choice and I won’t say that you are predetermined to die because you get a sickness that is treatable and has a cure that you refuse to take.

God allows us to be stupid. That’s why Adam and Eve were able to partake of the forbidden fruit. They could have refused and took it on faith that they should not eat it, but they did eat the forbidden fruit and were cast out of the Garden of Eden. God allows us to hurt ourselves and others through our choices and decisions. Because God gave us Free Will and the choice to follow Him and love Him or to not, we can be stupid. But we can also be smart.

It is possible for God to work a miracle and protect you from disease and cure your ailments, but that doesn’t mean God always will. Sometimes He uses others and other things as vehicles for His love and mercy and providence.

Medical science is a gift from God. Don’t reject it because someone tells you that faith alone is enough. Faith and God’s protection and love go a long way, but sometimes He expects us to protect ourselves. He gave us the ability to reason and create. He gave us the technological advances that we have. He wants us to protect and love ourselves and others using the tools He has given us. Don’t spit on one of the gifts God has given you just because you don’t understand or because someone told you that medicine is evil and will make you sick. God gave you the ability to understand and learn and grow, too. You can make decisions for yourself based on empirical evidence and on faith.

 

Thank you for reading! If I left something out or you have a comment, please let me know in the comment section below! I really do welcome your input. I am learning, too. Let’s continue on our journey of faith together. See you next week!

Some housekeeping stuff before I end this post:

To balance out my workload and relieve some stress on myself, I will be changing the weekly update day to Thursday from Tuesdays after this week’s post. The next post will be on Thursday, March 22, 2018. The way my schedule is right now, everything is due to be posted on Tuesdays and my deadlines for work are almost always on Tuesdays, too. This will help me balance it out so I can continue writing content and offer encouragement, solidarity, and love to you, my readers, and to glorify God to the best of my ability. Thank you for your patience and understanding. God bless!

No In-Depth Post This Week

This blog is very important to me and my faith and my God are very important to me. As such, I loathe the idea of not giving God my very best and writing my usual weekly post this week would not give God the glory and adoration He deserves. I’ve been sick for several weeks and managing my responsibilities has been more difficult of late. I am just too drained to write an in-depth post this week. Fortunately, the antibiotics are kicking in to make me feel better, so I’ll be right as rain in no time.

There are many great resources and some amazing blogs relating to Christianity out there- many more than I initially realized and that is a great comfort to me. As someone who lives in an area where worship is more about status and approval than it is about Christ, I often find myself feeling lonely and isolated. Through this blog, I have found people who think like me and people that I can relate to, which is a real gift from God.

Thank you for coming by and for your patience and understanding. God bless and I’ll see you next week!

Stop Using My God to Further Your Hate and Political Agenda

My grandfather always said to never talk about two things with people: religion and politics. His reasoning being that people would be insulted and offended and get angry if you talk about these things. However, I disagree with my grandfather: we must talk about religion and politics.

Discourse, calm and intelligent discourse, is necessary to heal the divisions in our country and in our churches. You don’t have to have a Harvard degree to have an intelligent and informed conversation with someone about Christ. Read your Bible and follow it and use it to guide your path and the conversation will be much easier. God will give you the words that you need, if you are prayerful and mindful enough to notice what He would have you say.

Just because you feel like you need to say a certain thing doesn’t mean that God wants you to say it. It could be your prejudices and human nature railing against someone who is different. That’s why it’s so important to take a step back and think about what you want to say before you say it. Consider it in the light of the Bible and what our Lord and Savior would say and do. Would He approve of what you’re saying? If not, maybe you should reconsider it before you say anything.

The title of this post, “Stop Using My God to Further Your Hate and Political Agenda,” refers to all of the politicians and people who use God as an excuse to hate people. If you are going to claim to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, before hundreds or thousands of people- or even just to one or two people!- then at least try to walk the talk.

As I mentioned in a few previous posts, our actions matter, no matter how small. Any action that pushes people away from God, especially people who do not believe in Jesus Christ, is a terrible offense that could result in that person or people going to hell for all eternity. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you don’t want that for anyone, not even your worst enemy! Mistakes happen and sometimes we say and do things which are wrong and bad and God will always forgive us, but that doesn’t mean that we should willfully do these things!

Many conservative Christians are Republicans in the United States, and that’s okay. Many Christians are also Democrats, which is also okay. Some Christians are neither, which is just as okay as the previous two groups. We will always have differences of opinion; it is human nature and everyone will always have an opinion that is based on their life experiences. That isn’t a fault. Let me repeat: having differing opinions and being different isn’t a fault.

Jesus was different and had different opinions than the Pharisees. He saw corruption and wrongdoing in the Temple and He did something about it! He saw people in need and helped them instead of walking the other way.

Jesus came for sinners. That’s every single human being on this planet.

Think about the things you’re saying and the things you support. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and accept that you voted for a candidate for president who has himself said that he has never asked for forgiveness? Especially when this same man says and does so many hateful things while espousing Christianity and taking advantage of the Christian population? It makes me angry, so angry to see and hear God’s children declaring that Trump is a good Christian and that he is better than his opponents- ANY of his opponents from either side!- because he is a Christian.

There is a difference between going to church and taking communion and believing in Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit. If you, dear reader, believe that being a member of the church, going to church every single day, being baptized by the preacher, or being really, really good your whole life is enough to get you into heaven, I urge you to take a moment to consider this:

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

7If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

13And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

15If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:6-21

Also consider this verse:

6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1: 6-10

It’s really hard to just pick a few passages on this topic. Here is two  more and the rest will be link references:

9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:9-10

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 2:38

Some other references to being born again, being forgiven for sins, and salvation are in the following passages:

Romans 6:6

2 Corinthians 5:17

I know some denominations focus less on a single-salvation experience and more on living a godly life. Some have things like Communion and Confession as rituals. Those are important, too, but Communion is not what saves your soul. The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ and asking for forgiveness of your sins from Him and confessing that He is God is the only way to salvation. Different denominations place more emphasis on baptism, but ultimately, even they don’t say that baptism will guarantee that you will go to Heaven. They believe, if I am not mistaken, that Baptism just opens the door- you still have to believe and love God and ask for forgiveness.

If you have never ever asked for forgiveness of your sins and confessed that Jesus Christ is the one true God, then there is no time like the present. It is the difference between Heaven after death and an eternity in Hell. I say this with love, because I don’t want to see anyone go to hell. I’m not saying this in a spirit of scaring you into believing, either. I’m just stating the facts as written in the Bible.

If you are a Christian and believe on the Son and have asked for forgiveness, then you are a child of God and you have the promise of eternal life from Jesus Christ and He always keeps His promises. But we have a responsibility as His children to reach out to those who don’t know Him. We must pray for them and we must love them. You can disapprove of something someone does without hating them or mistreating them.

Arm yourself with the Word of God and the helmet of salvation. Inspect your views and compare them to the Holy Word of God. Didn’t Jesus Christ dine with sinners? Didn’t He love us before we loved Him? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring people into the fold that they may come to a saving knowledge of His grace?

As such, isn’t it our responsibility to hold our leaders and peers responsible for their actions and words? I won’t try to tell you who to vote for. There are plenty of Democrats and plenty of people in other political parties who are like President Donald Trump- they claim to be Christians, but it’s just a front to get your votes. Don’t let them fool you or deceive you, because we are better than what they would make us out to be.

3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

 

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

1 John 4:1

 

3If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

4He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

5Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

1 Timothy 6:3-5

 

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jude 1:4

Do not be misled, my beloved siblings in Christ: there are false teachers out there. I’m not saying this to scare you or upset you. I’m saying this so that you will be aware and cautious and prayerful. I implore you to read your Bible, because we must arm ourselves with knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ or else we will be easy to mislead. We must know and believe the Word of God.

And please, if you are a Christian, don’t use God as an excuse to mistreat someone, because doing so is an insult to His Son, our Savior. Don’t spit in the face of your God, for He is worthy of praise, love, and reverence.

Thank you for reading. If you have any comments or anything to say on this topic, please feel free to let me know in the comments section. If you disagree with me, tell me so. Let’s discuss and reason with one another about our God and glorify Him. If you think I left something out, please leave a comment below. God speaks to all of us in His way and sometimes we are the tools God uses to help our fellow believers.

See you next week!

The Importance of Being Christlike in Our Everyday Lives- and How to Do It

Hello again, dear reader. This week’s topic sounds like a no brainer: “Duh, Alice, of course we need to be Christlike every day” and then there’s that little caveat, “but no one is perfect. We can’t be Christlike every day.”

I’m not saying we’re perfect or that Christ expects us to be. He came to die for us so we would not be punished for our sins. If it was possible for any of us to be perfect, God wouldn’t have come to Earth as Jesus Christ and He didn’t need to die. He gave us free will, which means we can and will make mistakes and do things that are bad sometimes. It’s okay if you make a mistake. God will always love you, but you must ask for forgiveness and be sorry that you did the thing you did that was a sin.

In many Protestant churches, there is this idea of salvation that says “once saved, always saved.” I believe that once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and accept that He is the one true God, no one and nothing can separate you from the Holy Spirit which He sends to dwell within us. However, this truth has also been misconstrued and turned into a crutch.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter if I sin and do something bad. God will still love me and He knows I’m imperfect.”

This attitude is appalling, to be quite honest. Any and every sin is worthy of death, as stated in Romans Chapter 6, Verse 23. To trivialize it is to trivialize the death of our God on the cross. We should strive every day to live as Christlike of a life as possible. If we make a mistake, it is okay, but we must never trivialize it and develop the attitude that it just doesn’t matter and you can do whatever you want. We must strive to be Christlike.

There is a saying that I heard from some of my elders in my home church that goes like this: “You may be the only Bible someone ever reads.”

“But Alice, I’m not a Bible!” Don’t be like that; you know it’s a figure of speech. The idea of that statement is telling us that how we behave affects how others perceive Christianity and how likely they are to develop an interest in our faith. That means the way you and I behave will influence the likelihood of another person giving Christianity a try.

How many times have you spoken with a nonbeliever and they said something about hypocrisy in the church? What about how they had a bad experience in the church because someone hurt them or frightened them or was a terrible person altogether? Or perhaps how they were too embarrassed to ask questions and really try to learn about our faith? Or perhaps someone criticized their sexuality or different life choices? Perhaps they didn’t feel safe in the house of God because His children hated them over the color of their skin, their gender, their ethnicity, sexuality, or the mistakes they have made in the past.

What if somehow, sometime, you were the person that pushed someone further away from God? I can imagine no more terrible thing than that. Just thinking about the way I, personally, have behaved in the past that may have pushed someone further away from God makes me feel sick and ashamed, because our actions and how we hold ourselves matter. People are judging and making decisions about Christ based on our actions.

We are free from the bonds of sin, but nonbelievers are not. We have the promise of eternal salvation, but until they accept Christ, nonbelievers do not.

Your actions could very well be the difference that determines whether someone goes to Heaven or Hell.

I’m not saying we can control other people or force them to believe or that we should try to do either of those things. I’m saying that we need to take the time and reflect on our behavior each day and ask ourselves “Have I behaved in a way today that glorifies God or have I behaved in a way that is shameful and reflects poorly on my faith and my God?”

Nonbelievers and young believers are looking to us for guidance. Don’t be a stumbling block. Don’t push people away.

Here are some Bible verses to consider as we go prepare to go our separate ways for the week:

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

James 5:20

Jesus Christ Himself commanded His disciples (and us!) to convert others to follow Jesus Christ in Matthew Chapter 28, Verses 18-20.  This isn’t a suggestion. It’s a commandment, because refusing to witness in some form or outright pushing someone away from Christ can be the difference between Heaven and Hell for someone who doesn’t know Christ and God wants everyone to be saved. He gives each and every one of us a choice, of course, but He doesn’t want the people He created to be destroyed.

9But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.10For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:9-12

In Christ, through His death and resurrection, we are free from the bondage of sin. That means we won’t go to hell, even if we make a mistake and sin against God. But anyone who doesn’t know Christ and have a relationship with Him is condemned to eternal separation from Christ after death. Others will model their behavior after us and use us as an excuse if we give them the ammunition to do so.

10But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11For it is written, [As] I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

13Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in [his] brother’s way.

– Romans 14:10-13

Let’s all make an effort to live in a way that glorifies Christ, because He is more than worthy of it. We are His children and we are what the world sees of Christ. Don’t stifle the Holy Spirit which dwells within you. Let Jesus shine through you to the world that others may come to know Him.

As always, if you have a comment of any kind to make, please feel free to leave it below! If you disagree with me, that’s fine! I want to hear what you think and we can talk about it! If you agree with me, that’s also fine! This is a safe place for us to comfort, encourage, and teach one another.

Thank you for reading and have a great week!