Consumer or Participant: A Difference In Faith

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

As I finish typing this post, some of the finest young men I know are lining up for a cross country track meet.  They have put in hours of practice, arranged their schedule to perform the best they can, and they are ready.  Hearing their mile times, encouraged me to start running again to get in better shape.  While I fully intend to cheer them on at their races, I cannot get in better shape by being a consumer of running, I have to actually participate.  I have to put on good shoes and get out there, and go running.  Likewise, in our faith, while it may be easier to sit in the stands and watch Christianity play out around us, the real joy and real calling is not to consume, but to participate.

The western church is facing a crossroads, attempting to discern its identity amidst a changing cultural milieu.  With a growing number of people questioning faith, beliefs and the very nature of truth, people are seeking to ensure that the Gospel is appealing and attractive and the Gospel can be watered down to “not offend” or make people uncomfortable and leave.  The tension is growing whether the church will entertain the people into membership or whether the church will empower and equip the people to go out and serve.  As those who seek to be disciples, or followers, of Christ, we are called to be participants in our faith, not merely consumers.

Consumeristic “Faith”

The allure of “consumeristic faith” is strong simply because it feeds our own personal ego.  It promotes a belief system where we are the subject of our faith.  We believe that the church must provide for all of our needs.  It must be the exclusive means of feeding us that requires no preparation on our part. The music should meet my personal preference and as I praise God, I must feel Him for it to be a legitimate worship session.  Feelings serve as the litmus test for the legitimacy of our faith expression as everything is turned inward.

01-Consumer-or-Participant-Quote1Yet, it also has a subtlety to it that permeates through every part.  We may go on a missions trip, but we do so hoping to “get something out of it” rather than seeking to advance the kingdom of heaven.  We worship God in hopes of hearing from Him, instead of simply praising Him for who He is. Even when we should be serving, our faith is morphed to still be self-serving.  A consumeristic faith is one that seeks only what the church and what God can do for them as we sit about passively, never truly engaging in the life that God designed for us.  Jesus never stood for this type of faith.   In fact, his modeling and instruction showed us the opposite.

Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

– Matthew 20:26-28

01-Consumer-or-Participant-Quote3Having a consumeristic faith was never the ideal expression of our faith.  Consumeristic faith may feed our narcissistic flesh, but it is this same flesh that is paving a gentle, comforting path to our destruction.  As God calls us to put to death our fleshly desire (Romans 8:13) we come alive to the Spirit of God in us that serves.  Our faith cannot be relegated to having a “spiritual” (read as emotional) encounter on a Sunday morning but is designed to be expressed through every avenue of our life.

Participatory Faith

We have the distinguished honor and privilege of moving beyond the pews and into the world.  As we are touched by the hand of God, that same hand works through us in the lives of others. When we encounter unbelievers, we do not have to take them to church so pastor can bring them to Jesus.  Instead, we can simply tell them about Jesus.  The Spirit inside of us works through us, through our testimony, to show them a real expression of Jesus Christ in a real community.  We can come together as a church to study the Word, grow together, equip and empower one another, but then we all go out and radically impact our surrounding culture.

“In a very real and sobering way, we must actually become the gospel to the people around us—an expression of the real Jesus through the quality of our lives.” – Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 114

01-Consumer-or-Participant-Quote2We do not have the burden to live a participatory faith, we have the honor of playing on the team that already declared victory.  Through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, victory is assured.  Our faith is meant to be lived out and our culture is meant to be engaged.  Our clarion call is clear; “Jesus saves.”  Armed with this good news and empowered by the Spirit, we can get in the game. Victory is assured.  Our God has won. Our invitation is to participate.

Luke 1:39-56 Responding to His Coming

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

With Elizabeth pregnant with a miracle onvichild as a blessing and gift from God, Mary went to see her relative and check on her pregnancy.  After all, both of them had miraculous conceptions.  If anyone would be able to understand Mary’s situation, it would be Elizabeth.  So Mary traveled while pregnant (admittedly not the last time she would do that). As Mary approached, unborn John the Baptist lept for joy within the womb of Elizabeth.  The Savior would be she mankind was near and coming soon! What other reaction would there be but utter and total excitement.

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”” – Luke 1:39-45, NIV

To read through the whole encounter with Mary, Elizabeth, John, and Jesus, feel free to go to Luke 1:39-56. The encounter with the mere presence of God left Elizabeth and even John changed.  In our day, we can view our coming together in church, our devotional times, and even hearing from God as a routine experience or one of inconvenience, seeing the parts in our lives that need to change.

Excitement Over Boredom

03Luke-Quote-1As Mary approached, carrying the Savior, John lept for joy in the womb of Elizabeth. Even unborn, there was a understanding that this child was The Savior. This Savior was coming to save mankind and redeem us all from our sins. This was a moment of freedom and joyousness of being graced by the Savior!

Yet, for us, in our daily lives, we can go into our encounters with Christ. Our routine dulls our senses. Through rote repetition, we treat our quiet times, our bible studies, our Sunday services as ornaments to our lives nothing more. This escapes the whole point of Jesus Christ as Immanuel, God with us. We have the honor and privilege of regularly approaching the throne room of God and with confidence! For a perfect God, we have open and full access! Our encounters with Jesus Christ are moments for celebration and joy!

Blessing Over Inconvenience

03Luke-Quote-2The coming of the Savior would not be an easy coming. It would be marked by an overthrow of the current system and even an overthrow of death itself.  There would be moments of conviction, hurt, and pain. Mary and Elizabeth probably knew this in the back of their minds as they are both carrying children. Yet, despite all of the coming difficulties, the coming of Jesus was a blessing.  For all the trouble to come, Jesus would save the world. Any encounter with the Living God, even one marked by conviction, is a blessing. Our God is with us.  What more blessing do we need?

I prayed for God to bless me once, hoping, honestly for cash. Instead, over the next seven weeks, it felt as if the sermons preached on Sunday were aimed specifically at me. At the end of it, I was reminded of my prayer for blessing, only to understand that the blessing was the encounter with God. As difficult as the sermons were, I heard from God and God’s word impacted me greatly. This is nothing short of a blessing.

 

As the two women sat there, pondering the coming years, seeing the first signs of the coming world, the story was beginning to unfold.  The new Savior would come to repair the universe and bring His people to himself.  Jesus would repair the very core of the world.  As the Savior comes to bring new life, the new life in the wombs of the mothers rejoiced.

Luke 1:26-38 The Impossible Faith

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

By this time, Elizabeth is six months into her pregnancy. The woman who was unable to have children had conceived a child and the story of Zechariah’s muteness no doubt accompanying the story. For all that seemed to be a miracle, this was only the beginning.  John would serve as a herald for the coming Savior.  The Savior remains the focus.  For that, an Angel visited Mary calling upon her faith.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” – Luke 1:26-27, NIV

In that moment, the life of a young girl changed radically. She would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit who would be the Savior. From all accounts, Mary was in her mid to late teens and was being told she would bear the Savior of all mankind. Her response to being told that she would bare the Christ is astounding.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. – Luke 1:38, NIV

In that moment, faced with an impossible pronouncement, Mary exhibited a faith that saw and a faith was blind.  There was no argument, no disbelief, but a relenting to the will of God.  When God gives an impossible situation, we must likewise have an impossible faith.

A Faith That Sees

When Gabriel appeared to Mary, she inquired how she could become pregnant.  After all, she was still a virgin.  She was not doubting but merely seeking understanding.  The Angel Gabriel recounted to her the story of Elizabeth’s own impossible pregnancy.  The one who could not conceive was six months pregnant and undoubtedly showing. Yet, Mary hadn’t seen anything yet. God could work miracles through Elizabeth.  Now an even greater display would occur.

FaithThe stories of God previous work embolden Mary’s faith.  God hand fully displayed His power and the impossible became possible.  Where God had worked a great miracle, we can have faith for the impossible miracles that God calls us to.  The display of God throughout the ages emboldens our faith, with all the uncertainty accompanying it.  God calls us to the impossible. Yet, we know God can provide because we have seen Him do so in the past.  The past declares the impossible acts accomplished by the hand of God and exhorts our faith for the future.  Nothing can limit Him!

A Faith That Is Blind

Yet, for all the evidence in the past, Mary’s pregnancy would be beyond explanation.  She understood everything behind what was being said.  She understood that she would in some circles be seen as a harlot.  She understood that Joseph, her fiancé would view her as having committed adultery.  She understood that others would not believe her.  A story of conceiving by God is frankly, to some, inconceivable.

FaithMary, despite the impossible, showed a blind faith.  For all the doubts, cautions, and challenges that she would face, she submitted to God.  I’m sure she understood that challenges that laid before her, but she probably had no idea how she would get through them.  All she knew was that the Lord was guiding her and the Lord would provide. Faith, while seeing the work done in the past, is largely blind, not seeing what lies ahead.  It removes the false certainty we pretend to carry and forces us to close our eyes and allow ourselves to be carried.  Our call to follow God at heart lies in trusting Him through uncertainty because He is God and He is good.

 

The stage for the change of the world is being set.  The angels proclaimed the coming of a new era and the coming of the Savior.  Clearly, God is hard at work and is moving through the world preparing the way for the greatest rescue story ever told.  Luke begins his Gospel with a presentation of faith in the coming of our Great High Priest who would shake up the foundations of the world.

Luke 1:5-25 Zechariah’s Call

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

As the Gospel of Luke opens, we jump right in to the action, anticipating the Savior and Great High Priest who would sacrifice His life for us. The people had gone through a period of silence from God and almost a steady constant silence. Life became slow. The people went through the motions of their habits becoming numb to their ineffectiveness.  They craved God, wondering where he was but growing numb to the silence.

Enter Zechariah. A priest, chosen by drawing straws to go in the temple and perform the priestly duties. To him, it was just an ordinary day. However, God has a habit of taking the ordinary and transforming them into something more. In the midst of the mundane, the timing of God was perfect and His hand would be revealed.  Of course, God had been busy during the time of silence, and now the time was right for greatest rescue mission of love to begin.

Zechariah would be the father of John the Baptist.  The angel Gabriel revealed himself to Zechariah and told him everything that would happen by the hand of God through John the Baptist.  Yet, for some reason, despite the appearance of Gabriel, Zechariah doubted and Gabriel removed his power of speech from him.

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” – Luke 1:19-20

As you read through Luke 1:5-25, you can’t help but see the faith of a high priest waiver amidst the sight of the supernatural.  From the life of Zechariah, we can ask ourselves a few questions.

Do You Expect?

For Zechariah, this was a normal day.  The priest chose him, randomly, by casting lots to do the normal duties.  It was a normal day during a normal time.  Nothing spectacular happened just the normal duties continuing during a time that it seemed that God forgot.  Yet, God spoke.  Not only spoke, but moved.  Where the world seems silent, God began to change the very fabric of nature and existence by preparing for the coming of a the Savior.

Gospel of LukeSpiritual drought is real and happens to all of us.  We all go through times when we don’t feel the presence of God as strong as we have in the past.  Or we don’t hear God in our prayers as much as we expect.  When we feel the spiritual drought we must remember that God is still moving.  We can trust that God will be able to speak to us through any difficulty for no difficulty is bigger than Him.  We can go through our day expecting to hear God speak to us knowing that He is always moving.

Do You Believe?

Zechariah, out of everything he was experiencing, still doubted.  His first instinct was to doubt all that would be done by his son to usher in the coming Savior because he doubted God could even provide a son!  Where Elizabeth had been barren, Zechariah had stopped thinking a son was even possible.  When Gabriel spoke this grand miraculous plan, Zechariah did not even think it was possible to have a son.  Yet, the word from God was clear.  Zechariah would be a Father and his son would be significant for the world.

Gospel of LukeNo matter what the circumstance, we can believe that God can do what He says He will do.   Believing God can be difficult because it involves trusting blindly with no reassurances or evidence.  God does not need to prove himself.  God has a whole history of doing what He says He will do. We should remember that history when presented with the promises of God.  When we are presented with the impossible by the hands of God, we can believe that, in God, all things are possible.

 

This story is only the beginning.  As Luke, the physician writes to Theophilus, the coming of the perfect sacrifice is underway.  Luke begins with the breaking down of the old covenant system as we see the lapse in faith of a priest give way to the coming of our Great High Priest and our Perfect Sacrifice.  Zechariah will be the father of the herald of the coming Messiah.  The whole system is changing.   The Savior is coming.

What It Means to Have Faith

by Jake Lytle
by Jake Lytle

Faith is one of the hardest parts about our religion or any religion.  How can we tell what is really there and what isn’t. God has a plan for each and every one of us that is carried out in a complex but unique way each and every day of our precious lives.   To have faith in faith, so to speak, can take a lifetime to understand. It’s only through God’s master plan that he provides us with something greater, beyond what we, as people of God, can see.

For every person on earth there is a different plan. You know the saying “from all walks of life”? People come from all over, and over the course of their lives they carry out the plan in which God blessed upon them. But having faith that God has given you the right plan, now that’s a different story.

In the Bible, Hebrews talks about how that it is important accept that God has blessed you with the right plans.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth… These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.Heb 11:1,13,39-40

Hebrews 11 talks about a group of men who lived by God. These men later die without all the things in life they wanted. They sought after the fullness of God’s plan, by faith, knowing that God’s way was better than the things they desired or wanted.  They held their faith throughout their daily lives and looked to it for their future.

Faith For Today

FaithAll people have that moment where they wish they could just go back in time and redo something. Whether it’s fixing a mistake or doing something that you forgot. These are only some small instances but in life God makes certain things happen, both good and bad. He does this because he has a set plan for us. A plan that is best for us. When we stray from God’s plan, He is always right there to put us back on track. We will gain a new perspective on life when we have faith in the plan God has given us. Faith will reassure us that when things happen that don’t go your way we can know that those things are happening for the greater good. These things are happening because God loves us and wants the best for us.

Faith For The Future

Another concept that this scripture presents it the fact of knowing nothing about your future, all we know is our past and our present.  Our future is very unpredictable. One thing we can be sure of is the fact God is in control of our future and we need to learn to accept whatever he has in store for us. Whether good or bad, having faith in what God gives us is the best thing you can do for yourself. For example, when you are going through a tough time in your life you can have Faith in God that no matter what is going on in your life it’s all part of Gods plan for you. Not only should you use faith for the acceptance of God but you can use it as an element of comfort that eventually there will be an end to your troubles.

FaithRemember the awesome love that God has for you and He will always do what is best for you. It might not always be pretty, it might even hurt a little, but understanding that God created a life and plan for you is key. Life can be a dark and lonely place, but by faith in God, know that He will be there for you.  He will take your hand and guide you through life exactly how He had planned it.

Prayer During Heavy Times

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

After the month of July, my heart is, frankly, heavy. In the past few months we have seen multiple terrorist attacks as ISIS continues to target the innocent.  Immediately, we have seen the politicization of these attacks to match whatever beliefs that the particular party feels without actually addressing the hurt of the people.  We have seen news agencies twist the facts to spin a particular viewpoint and the political leaders fall to disunity and petulant name-calling. It was during this time, I felt a strong sense to be in prayer.

To be completely honest and transparent, while I knew this was a time for prayer, it for some reason didn’t feel like enough.  I wanted to do something.  Join the police.  Join the military.  Something.  Anything.  So I sat there, gradually becoming overwhelmed by the state of the fallen world feeling powerless to do anything.  I couldn’t help the victims in any of the tragedies.  I didn’t have a political voice to steer the country.  All I had was prayer and it didn’t feel like enough.  I wanted to leap into action and single handedly steer the ship and right the wrongs of society but was impotent to accomplish that.

PrayerIn my own weakness and vulnerability, I began to pray.  I prayed for God to heal my heart and give me peace.  In that moment before, I had a lapse of faith.  For that moment, I felt that prayer could not do anything and needed my immediate action. I would have to be the superhero that would save humanity.  The reality of the situation is that prayer, when it is all we have, is enough and the best thing that we can do.  If I put my faith in a sovereign God who can do all things, then I can have faith that He is Lord over even the darkest moments.  During those times of crisis, to walk through every day, remember that God is God and we are not.

God Is God

There are a vast number of times in the Old Testament where God reminds His people that “I am the Lord your God” who delivered them from Egypt, Ur, and every other captivity they faced.  Usually he reminded them in the face of new challenges that seems insurmountable.  During that time, God reminded them of all the times that look like they would perish but that He prevailed.  God would not let His people be demolished.  God would prevail because He is sovereign and omnipotent, ruling over all and able to do all things.

With our world facing the trials that it is facing, God is STILL God and God has not relinquished the throne.  The world has seen tougher times, but do not fear, because our God has already conquered death itself.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

– Philippians 4:6-7, NIV

We can bring our prayers and our requests of even the heaviest of times because we know that our God is greater.  Ultimately, we relinquish the control of the situation from our hands into the hands of someone greater than we are.

I Am Not

PrayerI am not God, nor can I be God.  Compared to the vastness of the glory of God, my power falls tremendously short.  When we try and strive on our own to accomplish the will of God we will fail simply for the fact that we are trying to be something we are not: God.  The will of God can only be achieved as the hand of God reaches through our own.  As the world goes through all the vast and complex situations, the best thing I can do is to place it all in the most capable hands.  Being completely honest and transparent, those hands are not mine.  Those are the hands of God.  When I bring things to God in prayer, I know they are in better hands.

So, as the world tension rises, I will do the best thing I know to do.  I will pray.  I will pray for peace among those God made in His image.  And sometimes, I will sit, overwhelmed at the state of things.  And sometimes I will cry.  Yet I will do all these things knowing that I am in the best hands possible, crying out to be held by a mighty, sovereign God.

That is my prayer.

Words: Narrative and Worldview

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

As we have looked at our words we have seen the power that they hold. The old adage of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” frankly just isn’t true. Words have the power of life or destruction based on what we represent with them. When we misuse our words and misrepresent Christ by what we say, our words can have a lasting effect on a person and shape the narrative of their life.

For many years, and to an extent, even now, I had body issues from the words of a coach that constantly reminded me of how big I was. Looking back at my high school pictures, I can see now that I wasn’t nearly as overweight as I previously thought. Through their words and the worldview they held, they constructed a narrative.

Our narrative should fuel our worldview, yet often times we reverse the two.  Instead of shaping our worldview based on reality, we attempt to shape our worldview by telling a specific narrative. Nowhere is this more clear than during an election year. We see people who have already decided their reality and speak their story based on the confirmation bias of everything that supports their worldview. Pundits twist facts to match the story they want to tell.  Situations are spoken of based on the ideas they already hold.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

-James 3:9-12

Narrative and WorldviewOur words should match the reality of the God who changed our life.  What we say should reflect that reality.  The narrative of God in our lives should shape our worldview. The words we use stem from our worldview and our worldview should be shaped by the narrative of a Christ-centered story told throughout our lives. Jesus is truth.  When we speak the truth and tell our true story, we declare the story of Jesus Christ and represent the hope to the world.

Shape Your Worldview in Christ

Previously, we talked about Christ as the source of truth.  If we are trying to establish the way we see the world in the truth, we must root our story in the person of Jesus Christ. Our outlook should not reflect the hopelessness and hatred that the world so easily wants to spread. But our narrative rests in the love and hope that comes from a loving God who gives us hope.

Narrative and WorldviewUnless the reality of Christ shapes our worldview, we will quickly descend into unbelief, hopelessness, and self-centeredness. Only an outlook of life that has its foundation in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ can we see the beauty of His creation and love for other people.

Tell The Gospel Narrative

The writer of Psalm 78 understands the important of sharing this story not only to those around them but also to keep the story going.  The story of what God does is vital for the survival of the people.  The story shows the people that God has been with them throughout history and will continue to do be with them.

We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.

– Psalm 78:4, NIV

Narrative and WorldviewGod is weaving a story through the tapestry of our lives.  There is a greater story at work of Jesus’ divine intervention for the salvation of His people.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection provides us with a hope for the future.  We have a hope in the story of Jesus Christ told through history and through our personal lives.  Our words, instead of gossiping, lying, or cursing, can reveal what God is doing in our lives, bring glory to God, and reveal the hope of God to others.

Questions for Thought

What story does my life tell? What worldview do my words reflect through what I say?  Leave a comment below or email thegospeloutpost@gmail.com.

Words: Truth and Lies

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

Anyone who says that they never lie is probably lying.  This skill often presents itself first in childhood and, oddly, without much training beforehand in doing it.  The only positive about this is that little kids are notoriously bad at it and are quickly found out in their lies.  Yet, for a thing we associate with children, adults are not immune to the temptation to lie. Sometimes we lie to get out of consequences for something we did.  Sometimes we lie to knowingly mislead someone.  Mainly, we do it because we are trying to advance ourselves at the expense of the truth itself.  We create a reality other than the one actually exists for our own sake.  But speaking lies never actually works.  It seems that it is only a matter of time until the truth comes out.

 

When we tell lies, we uplift ourselves above the idea of reality. We miss out on an opportunity to represent Christ to the World.  Even more, we miss out on the freedom that comes from truth.

Representing God With Our Words

TruthJesus embodies the very idea of truth.  Nothing can compete with the actual truth, because actual truth is the purest representation of reality.  Therefore, truth cannot exists apart from the truth that is given by God.   Speaking the truth serves to represent God by having the respect and honor for others to be honest.  There is the love of God in our desire to speak the truth to someone.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

– John 14:5-7, (NIV)

Leading peole astray with falsehood ignores the fact that Jesus openly described himself as the truth.  Spreading lies speaks words that do not carry the presence of God in our words.  When faced with the opportunity to lie, we are also faced with the opportunity to represent the truth of God to the people.  To represent the God of truth in our world, our words must embody the truth.  If Jesus is the truth, then as we stand in the truth, however confronting it may be, we are representing Christ.

The Freedom of Truth Over Lies

At the core of speaking the truth is God’s desire for us to be free.  The Gospel does not exist as a set of rules for a person to arbitrarily follow.  God does not create rules for the sake of rules but out of His love for us.  The same applies to speaking the truth.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

– John 8:31-32 (NIV)

TruthThe idea behind the commands to speak the truth does not restrict us but sets us free by the grace of God.  There is freedom in Christ and freedom from lies and the enemy they come from.  There is freedom is not having to live a life counter to reality.  There is freedom from having to feel as if we have something to hide or be ashamed of.  For a God who knows us fully and completely, we have nothing to hide and no reason to lead other astray.

Truth is freeing. Lies are oppressive.  Just as Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, by the grace of God we are freed from the lies of the enemy and from needing to deceive others.  When given the chance to advance ourselves over even the idea of reality, we have the opportunity to be the shining light of the grace of God to those around us.

Questions for Thought

Where do I have the opportunities to stand in the truth of God this week?  Where is my biggest temptation to lie and how can I overcome it?  Leave a comment below or email thegospeloutpost@gmail.com.

The Power of God’s Grace

by Jake Lytle
by Jake Lytle

God’s Grace, what is it exactly. Some may be confused by topic. What does it mean? How does it work? God’s Grace is an intangible sign of God’s love for each and every one of us. It, like God’s presence is all around us and is here to provide people with the peace they deserve. It also provides the same peace to people who don’t deserve it at all.  Banner-Quote-1God’s Grace works this way because God believes that all people, good or evil are the same through God’s eyes. God’s Grace in other words is very forgiving.

There is a story about a man who was dying in his hospital bed, nearing the very end of this life with a few days left. This man had never been to church, had never valued or worshipped God in his life. As the man lay in his deathbed he became terrified, not because his life was nearing an end, but because he had no idea what was going to become of him when he dies. So he made the sudden decision to call to for help. His son called him priest. When the Priest showed up at his door he was overwhelmed with emotion because now he would be blessed with the knowledge and love for God. So when this man dies he can now know that there is a heavenly place waiting for him.

Banner-Quote-2Even though the man only valued God for the last week of this life, God loved this man just as much as any other Christian on earth. That’s why God’s Grace is so amazing.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what your past relationships are with God. God will always accept those who come to him.

A man in the bible by the name of Isaiah does a great job preaching about the endless love that God has for you and how God shows that love through his Grace.

“Yet the lord longs to be Gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show your compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him. – Isaiah 30:18, NIV

So what exactly does this scripture say? Isaiah makes it very clear that God is willing to wait until the very last second of a human life to accept those who believe in him. Like that man whom waited till the very week of his death to accept God, and all other people who wait to accept God, his Grace is forgiving enough to accept all people, no matter what.

Grace is also sometimes confused with another term called karma. Karma is the idea that you get what you deserve. But God’s Grace works in the exact opposite way. By grace you get what you don’t deserve. In the man’s case he may not have deserved God’s love, but since His Grace is so loving, the man is saved and forgiven of his sins.

Banner-Quote-3That is what Isaiah means by this scripture, not all people are perfect. God is patient. He waits for the perfect time to accept a person whether they are 5 years old and just learning about God or they’re 90 years old and wish for God’s love for the first time.

It is amazing to know how much God loves you. Even if we don’t know it, we are people of God at some point. The bond you have with him can change throughout your live. It’s always comforting to know that you can be in the darkest place with your relationship with God, but with his Grace he will be waiting with arms wide-open to accept you again and again. That’s the overwhelming power of God’s Grace.

Words: Gossip

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

We have all been the subject of gossip at one point or another.  We find out people have been talking about us for a prolonged period of time.  Having heard what they we saying about us, we walk away dejected.  We feel hurt and dejected knowing that our “friends” would talk about in that way and benefit at our expense.  Our friendship is strained and love that we shared with our friends seems weakened. What is worse is that, more than likely, we have gossiped about someone else.  A story of something someone did is too great to pass on even though the story only serves to embarrass that person.  Regardless of the consequences or how it would make our friend feel, we gossiped.

Gossip is deadly for our relationships with one another.  If we truly believe that words have the power to create life, as they did at the beginning of time, then we know the destructive potential they hold.  We know that we can stir up a person or people to love or hate based on how we speak.  When we gossip, we are setting ourselves up as being better than others, or avoiding a conflict with the person we are taking with.

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. – Proverbs 16:28, NIV

I have found that we do not need help in destroying relationships.  At our core, without the redemption of Christ, we are highly skilled at destroying unity and loving relationships, even friendships.  The temptation to laugh at the misfortune of others is too high for us.  Words may be powerful and unable to be tamed by man, but we can submit our words to Christ and seek to build our relationships with one another. Gossip does not have the be the source of our conversation with other people.

Exalting Other Over Ourselves

Where Gossip seeks to exalt ourselves at the expense of others, a Christ centered life exalts other over ourselves.  Jesus is the prime example of putting the needs of others above his own personal needs.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. — Philippians 2:5-7, NIV

03-Words-Quote-1-640Jesus could have very well came in condemned everyone according to their actions.  Instead, Jesus chose to take the consequences that we rightfully earned and placed them on himself.  Furthermore, Christ could have come into this world with the authority of a King, but for our sake, Christ came as a servant, seeking to ensure our eternal destiny with Him. Our mindset should be the same.  In the way that Christ put others before himself, we should put others before ourselves.  When we demonstrate love for others, we seek to lift them up in conversation, not to parade their faults in front of others.

Handle Conflict Directly

In other instances, we are gossiping as the result of a conflict with someone.  Rather than handling the conflict directly, we gossip.  The conflict only intensifies as we continually stir up the feelings driving the conflict but without any of the resolution.  We talk about others, why we have hatred for someone else, the things they do that bugs us, but never actually confront the idea.  Choosing to gossip the issue instead of handling the issue directly does not restore relationships, it tears them apart.  When we have an issue with someone, we should bring it to the person to work it out.  Sometimes, even a strong friendship needs to fight and work through the issue in order to go back to being friends.  It takes love and care for a person to confront them with your true honest feelings.  It takes ambivalence to talk about them behind their back.03-Words-Quote-2-640

 

Words have power to either speak life or destroy relationships.  Gossip may seem like a valid option to advance ourselves or passive aggressively handle a conflict, but it does not display the nature of God. Where Gossip disrupts love and relationships, God brings restoration and redemption.  When we talk with others, it is important to watch our words in regard to how we speak of others.  We refuse to Gossip because of the grace that God has shown us by wiping us clean of our sins and bringing us to wholeness.

Questions for Thought

What was a time that you were the victim of gossip?  How do you think that it feels for others when people gossip about them?  Leave a comment below or email thegospeloutpost@gmail.com.

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