Oh, My Word! Did You Hear Why…

he stopped coming to Sunday School?  she quit working in the nursery?  they are moving their membership?  they removed their kids from youth activities?  she wants nothing to do with the church anymore?  Let me tell ya…

There’s a bevy of reasons why people do what they do.  Legitimate reasons.  And yes, some folk use anything as an excuse to do nothing.  However, many come to churches today and see a white-washed extension of the world they want to escape.  When people come to church, most seek a place of hope, of love, of kindness.  They do not want a place filled with division, sniping, and whispers.  They have plenty of people in their lives who pretend to care, who are judgmental and condemning.  They need sincerity, acceptance and genuine love.  Instead of Light, they see shadows of God’s love. The psalmist understood this all too well when he said:

“They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip,and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.” Psalm 41:6

Ever had that happen to you?  Ever share your heartache, your burden, your failings with another in confidence, only to have them spread it all around? 

It’s a sad thing when Christians carry tales and negativity.  A faithful disciple of Jesus Christ resists the temptation to gossip and share tidbits of inflamatory or confidential information.  Even when the information is true, it is not wise to share it with others.  It hurts the body of Christ.  It stomps on the toes of the Bride of Christ.  It steps on the hem of her gown as she walks down the aisle to her Groom and tears apart the collective body of Believers.  It stifles the fragrance of mercy and grace she carries in her bouquet.  It clouds the radiance of her joy, love, and hope.  It smothers the truth of God with a veil of deception and hindrance. 

Gossip.  Tale-bearing cloaked as sharing is gossip when one does not have another’s permission to share.  It hurts.  It crushes the spirit.  It impedes Christian growth.

Have you found yourself as the target of gossip and whispers?  I pray you find someone with whom you can feel safe.  I pray you lean on them and do not allow one or two to destroy your faith in all.  I pray you understand and know that people (even Christian people), are not God.  Jesus loves you as you are.  He will help you and keep you and give you strength to carry on in the midst of every trial you have.  While you may not be able to trust some people, you can trust God.

Lord, help us not to fall prey to the baser qualities of our nature.  Help us quench any desire to divulge knowledge that may harm the body of Christ and color His bride with talk that serves no good purpose.  Let us prepare our hearts for the day of Your return and seek to walk humbly in Your sight until then. 

© Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011

Re-Establishing Our Boundaries

What do we partake in, in this life that is not wholesome and good? What things do we allow into our hearts, homes, and lives that is impure?

It’s so easy to make concessions in life. We rationalize that that movie won’t hurt to watch just one time or that “hit” music has a good beat so we can ignore the words. But instead, we are letting our guard down and starting to desensitize ourselves to right and wrong.

“I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.”  Psalm 101:3

If God does not or cannot approve anything that is vile and He will have no part in it – what does that mean for us if we choose to let it into our lives? We are supposed to stand out from the rest of the world. Be different. Set apart. If we listen to the same music, read the same books, wear the same clothes….how are we setting a standard? How are we setting boundaries for our lives that God would want for us?

I know it’s hard. I have to reevaluate where I stand…often.  I’ve felt uneasy about certain decisions and then had to go back and tell my children that we were making a change and that I was doing it based on my morals and values.  It’s so easy to go off the path that God has in mind for us.

I want God to look on me with approval. I want Him to take part in all that I do in my life. In order for that to happen, I have to let my faith not just take up a section in my heart, but invade it and flow out to every area of my life. It has to be the scope of which I filter everything that I take in.

We can rationalize and give in all we want to the things of this world. But God has clearly set the standard for our lives.  It’s time to start regaining the territory we’ve allowed to be lost and realize that we are better off without listening to that music, wearing those outfits, or watching those things. It’s time we start feeling better about who we are as people; knowing that we are regaining a purity that has been so easily given away.

Vile is a strong word. Let’s not let anything into our homes or hearts that God could ever construe as vile. For if we do, we can’t expect Him to be a part of it….or of us.
~ Dionna Sanchez is a freelance writer. You can contact her at madetomom@yahoo.com.

Bible Verses On Freedom

Below are some Bible verses that relate to freedom we have in Christ. Freedom can be defined in several ways for different individuals. Some people are in bondage to fear, to sin, to other people, to circumstance. Through Christ we are assured God delivers, rescues, frees, and releases Believers from all kinds of chains: be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. I pray you find some verses here to help you understand the freedom God offers you. Feel free to add your favorite verse in the comment box below.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

When we struggle to accept the freedom we have in Christ. When others need to be encouraged to rest in Christ and not the laws of man.:

“Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?” Acts 15:10

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.” 2 Corinthians 1:10

“In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and He answered by setting me free.” Psalm 118:5

“Since the children [are human], He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy Him who holds the power of death– that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15

PRAYERS for deliverance, rescue, and help:

“Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.” Psalm 25:20

“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior! He is the God who avenges me. . . who sets me free from my enemies.” 2 Samuel 22:47-49

When Others Cast Doubts:

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance– now that He has died as a ransom to set them free…” Hebrews 9:15

“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Galatians 3:22

“The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials.” 2 Peter 2:9

“Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you are a shield around me, O LORD…From the LORD comes deliverance. Psalm 3:2-3, 8

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

“For He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight. Psalm 72:12-14

“When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors He will send them a savior and defender, and He will rescue them.” Isaiah 19:20

Security in Christ’s Freedom:

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15

“With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.” Proverbs 11:9

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

“But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” Malachi 4:2

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5

Examples of God’s Deliverance and Faithfulness:

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 God saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace to show His watchcare and power to deliver.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 God freed Joseph from the pit and raised him up in Egypt to high authority with Pharoah in order to save Israel from famine and certain death.

Why God Rescues and Sets Me Free:

“Because He loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for He acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91:14-15

“For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him would have everlasting life.” John 3:16

How To Receive this Freedom In Christ:

ASK God: “Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.” Psalm 6:4

THEN: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

BELIEVE: “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

GOD PROMISES: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

UNDERSTAND: “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Colossians 1:22

I pray you read these verses again and again and gain consolation through the freedom offered you in Christ Jesus….the comfort available…the peace afforded…the sufficiency in God’s grace.

Compiled by © Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011

Who tempts me?

“13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” – James 1:13

A few months ago we began a curriculum with the middle schools I work with that revolved around temptation. The series was kicked off by an individual we were hoping to train up in our ministry. There was a question about halfway through the lesson that asked the students “Where do temptations come from?” It shocked me when one of the students raised his hand and said “From God.” But, what was even more painful was that many around him agreed. I waited to see how the individual leading the discussion would handle the situation and he skirted around the uncomfortableness. There are sometimes in our lives where we are to correct incorrect theology and this was one of them.

We cannot blame God for the temptations in our lives. It is not God that tempts you to visit an inappropriate website. It is not God that tempts you to give in to an addiction. It is not God that gives you the idea to cheat on a test or paper. It is our selfish desires. It is our selfish desires to be in control. It is our selfish desires to experience physical pleasures. It is our selfish desires to be accepted that tempt us, not God.

Choosing NOT to Sin

“3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” -1 John 5:3-4

Growing up I was never the type of kid that caused a lot of trouble. For the most part I did what I was told and tried to do it to the best of my ability. I was, and still am, a homebody. So much so that my parents never had to set a curfew for me because I was never out past 10PM.

There was one time that I found myself standing in a shop and the only person in the shop was the owner of the store. He was taking some boxes out to his vehicle parked out front and I knew I was the only person in the store. I was pretty young and remember thinking that I was the only one in the shop and I could take anything and put it in my pocket and no one would ever know. The owner was gone for several minutes and I stood there contemplating whether to do it or not. I was just about ready to do it when the thought crossed my mind about how upset my parents would be if I got caught. So I didn’t.

An important part of the story is that I didn’t want to steal because I knew my parents loved me and they would be disappointed and hurt that I chose to steal. The same should be true with our spiritual lives as well. We should choose not to sin because we know how much God loves us, not because we’re afraid of getting caught.

There’s no sugar coating it; God knows when we mess up.

When we sin we’re caught every time. When shouldn’t choose not to sin because we’re afraid of the consequences, going to hell or getting punished. l chose not to steal because I loved my parents so much and I knew it would hurt them. When I apply the same way of thinking to my relationship with Christ it makes sinning a little more painful.