People We Should Avoid

Romans 16:17 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

The Lord definitely emphasizes the important of unity.  God instructs us to identify the people that cause divisions and offences among the Church and then avoid them.  We are given a warning that there will be folks that will preach and proclaim a doctrine that is contrary to that which we have learned.  However; the problem with today’s society is that they don’t have any doctrine.  The concern that I have is the fact that people will follow anything these days without holding the trend up to the Scriptures.  The Doctrine we hold is what keeps us stable as well as unified.

Every Christian must understand that we are going to encounter people that have different beliefs.  I will go as far as to say no person completely agrees about everything.  So the question arises on where to draw the line?  Well the line is drawn when you can honestly say this person is headed down a path that will cause me harm, and could possibly cost me my life, testimony or purity.  When you identify these people, we must avoid them.

God does command us to avoid people.  Here is a list of people you should avoid:

1.      Avoid People that Gossip:  They will cause division quickly
2.      Avoid People that want to Argue:  A person that desires to argue all the time are more interested in pursuing conflict than harmony.
3.      Avoid People that Bring you down:  If some is always bring you down then avoid them.
4.      Avoid People that refuse to Agree to DisagreeIt is okay to disagree, but if you can’t get past your disagreement then it could cause major division. 

Today’s Challenge:  Identify people in your life that must be avoided.

Going Where Nobody Goes

Romans 15:20 “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:”

The desire of Paul was to preach the gospel to a group of people that have not heard the gospel.  America is full of ministries that are built on the fruit of another person’s labor.  While this is not entirely a bad thing, we must make sure our drive is to reach a section of people that have not heard it yet.  It should be our desire to reach the people that do not have a church experience. A ministry that has missionary mentality is going to reach all kinds of people.  A ministry that is driven to reaching the “unchurched” is going to appeal to other Christians.  However; we must remember that we are not going to successfully fulfill the Great Commission if we are reaching people that are already Christian.

Ministries today are full of “church hoppers”.  We need ministries that are filled with people that have only known one church, one ministry, and one method.  Paul wanted to reach those that have not been reached.  Please consider the desire of Paul in this verse.  To preach in a place and to a people that are in desperate need of the Gospel.

Today’s Challenge:  Remember that we have been commissioned by God to reach the lost.

Standing Before God

Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

This is one of the most sobering verses in all of scripture.  We are truly accountable unto God!  We are all going to stand before God and give an account of our lives to him.  God will hold nothing back and will not overlook one detail.  It is a hard thing to fathom the scope of this verse.  However; we must picture ourselves underneath the microscope of God’s eye.  He sees more than our actions.  He sees our intentions, he sees our thoughts, and he sees our attitudes.  Not only will God see these things, we will have to give an account of them.  This means we are going to literally have to explain ourselves before the God of all Glory…shaking yet?  I am!

We are not going to have any excuses, we are not going to be able to justify ourselves, so therefore, we will be completely exposed by the Holiness of God.   I have also have no doubt we are not going to be able to pass blame either.

Yes, that means we will not be getting away with the phrase “we are all sinners”.  The reason is because we will be standing before someone that is sinless.

I think the major principle the Lord is setting before us today is that we are all going to be held accountable.  We will have no excuses, we will be truly exposed!

Today’s Challenge:  What kind of explanation will you have while standing before the Lord!

The Power of Love

Romans 13:10 “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor:  therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Love is a powerful thing.  Love is the driving force of Christianity.  This verse teaches us the power of love.  The Great Commandment drives home the principle that if a person will love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, then it will take care of all the rest of the commandments.  The problem is that most of us do not have a clue how to direct our love.

We have directed our love toward selfish ambitions.  That means we love ourselves more than others.  Ever notice what happens when people experience a change that is actually productive?  They are so love with their own selves that they can’t celebrate the success that the change is causing.

If we truly want to fulfill the entire counsel of God then we must be driven by a love for others.  We must remove our selfish ambitions and attitudes and start loving people unconditionally.

This has got me to thinking about the American Church Culture.  It has become so much about me, my, and I.  The Christian that is driven by love is more concerned about them and those, rather than me and my.  This has convicted me as a pastor as well.  I hope that the Lord allows me the opportunity to be love driven and not church growth driven.  I want success, but if I was driven by love then I would want measure my success by the success of those I lead.

Today’s Challenge:  May the Lord help us to operate in love for others.

Normal Christianity

Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

This is one of those verses that make you really think about your temperature as a Christian.  Look back and think how many times we are have heard the words,

“I just want to be a normal Christian”

“I am just not as fanatical about things as you are.”

Yeah…I lost count too!

This verse puts the word “normal” into an entire new perspective.  A few years ago, I watch as a missionary walked out of a ten year career as a chemical engineer, and his wife walked away from a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology to sell everything and move to a foreign country.  I will never forget the words he said when he stood before our congregation they go like this, “There is no sacrifice to great for Jesus!”

You see that may not sound like normal Christianity to us, but according to this verse, that is exactly what normal Christianity is suppose to look like.  Truth is, we have watered down Christianity in America to just being a social club in our closest religious circle.  Most club members think they are really doing something for God by filling up a seat, and being a decent moral person.  Truth is, you are as sour, stale, and luke-warm as the majority of Americans that claim Christ as their Savior.  I frankly believe God is so sick at those that call themselves normal and in all reality they are way below normal.  Truth is, there is no radical, fanatic, and super Christian out there.  There is normal, and subnormal.  There is those that have laid their bodies down, lives, and futures down for God, and there are those that think they are doing God a favor by going to church and reading their Bibles.

My plea is that we all (including myself) wake up and realize the meaning of “normal”.  God does not take it lightly and neither should we!

Today’s Challenge:  Be a “Normal Christian”!

You’re Not A Mistake!

Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

GOD DID NOT MAKE YOU IF HE DID NOT INTEND ON USING YOU!  

God has a special design and a specific destiny for everyone He has created.  In other words, God has a plan for everyone.  Many times we find ourselves wishing we had the gift or calling of another.  This verse teaches us that the gift and calling God has designated for you is without repentance.  Meaning that you can’t reverse or change the way God designed you.  Just think about this for a moment.  When we become dissatisfied with our God given design we are telling God that He messed up…wait a minute…God don’t make mistakes.  God designed each and every one of us in a unique way.  Don’t get made at your make up or design.  Embrace the way God designed you, and then execute your design in such a way that will magnify your gift.  God did not make a mistake when he made you!  Here are some principles that you must understand.

  • You were Designed for a Specific Plan:  God gifted you in a way that only you can perform this task.
  • You were Designed for a Special People:  Realize that this calling and gift is given to you so that you can reach a person, or group of people that nobody else can reach.
  • You were Designed for a Supernatural Purpose:  God made you to use you!

Today’s Challenge:  Don’t wish your gift away.  If you will embrace it and execute it, you will blossom in a Kingdom Missionary!

How Will They Be Saved?

Romans 10:13-15 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!

Most of us are familiar with verse 13.  You know…it is the one used in the Romans Road”.  It is a key verse when sharing the plan of salvation with someone.  As you read this scripture you can begin to work backwards and see the thought process.  The end result is salvation.  Salvation comes through “calling on the name of the Lord”.  My problem is that we just assume this is going to happen.  It is like we pour out a message in a trough and hope some sinner is going to come by and eat what we are feeding them.  While we may feed some that pass by, we are letting some high priced food go to waste.

Basically, we are sitting in the four walls of our churches and letting our living water become stale.  We possess the cure for the world and for some reason we think people are just going to line up at the door of our church with the cure.  The problem lies in the fact that the majority of the world has no clue they are sick.  Matter of fact, ask most of them and they are doing just fine without Christ and the Church.

So how do we get the results we want?  A simple Biblical process is laid out in these verses:

  1. They must be sent:  We must learn to release our church members in the world.  Our ministries may take a different shape, but our message will be heard a lot clearer.  This is not just about sending missionaries out to foreign parts of the world.  This is about sending church members into the community to actually become the “salt of the earth”.
  2. They then preach:  A missionary with a message is a very power thing in the hands of a living God.  We must remove the bushel from our lights and start letting them shine in a world of darkness.
  3. They can then hear:  We are living in a day where we must earn a person’s ear.  We can stand on the corner and shout all day, but we must wonder if much of our message is falling on deaf ears.
  4. Once they hear it, they can then believe it:  The reason so many do not believe is because they are not hearing it.  Faith comes through hearing.  Now we can see how gaining the attention because very necessary.  If we do not have their attention then the chances of them believing are very unlikely.
  5. Once they believe they then call:  Believing causes them to turn to God.
  6. Once they call on the Lord, they are then saved:  Wow!  I want to see more of this.

Today’s Challenge:  Quit skipping steps 1-4 and start following God’s Plan for Salvation.  We will find it way more effective to align to God’s plan than Man’s plan.

Would You Wish This?

Romans 9:3 “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:”

We have all heard of selflessness, but this is taking it to an entire new level.  There is a tremendous amount of love and compassion behind this statement.  Paul is demonstrating a love for people that encompasses body, soul, and spirit.  Paul magnified the example of pure selflessness.  Paul had such a life transformation that he wished a curse upon himself over the souls of people.  Paul’s devotion for Christ translated into a devotion for people.  Because he loved Christ, he loved people.

I am convinced the reason we have such a shallow love for people is because we have a very shallow love for Christ.  True followers of Christ become so burdened about the souls surrounding themselves that make wishes such as this.

While I write, I am asking the question:  “would I make such a wish?”

If we get honest, our burden is about growing churches, building buildings, and putting marks on our belts. We have all the methods, but have zero mission.  We are so focused on maintain what we have that we have lost the vision for the Kingdom.

Would we devote our lives to such a cause that we wish a curse on our own, in turn to see such life transformations take place around us?

What is the problem?  – We have no devotion!

  1. We have degrees…but no devotion
  2. We have doctrine…but no devotion

Today’s Challenge:  Put your devotion in check today!

A Life With No Condemnation

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

If we were all honest with ourselves we would agree that throughout each day we experience a little or a lot of condemnation.  We are constantly facing condemnation every day.  Condemnation comes from many different sources….

  • It comes from others
  • It comes from ourselves

Regardless of where it originates, we can all say we experience it.  However; it does not come from Jesus.  Those that are “in Christ” are no longer condemned.  There are three key principles that will remove condemnation:

  1. Be in Christ:  Simply put…you must be saved.
  2. Walk not after the flesh:  Following fleshly desires lead to condemnation.
  3. Walk after the Spirit:  Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

There are going to be moments where you will be pulled in two directions.  The one that resembles God…go with that one!

Today’s Challenge:  Don’t let the decisions of your past, the decision to follow fleshly desires, and the decisions to disobey the Lord put you in a position of condemnation.  Live in Christ and walk after the Spirit!

Delighting in God’s Law

Romans 7:22 “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:”

When we read this entire chapter we will see that there is a battle raging.  There exist within each of us two laws that work completely against one another.  Those two laws are the Law of God and the Law of Sin.  The Law of God is holy, just and good.  It draws its power from the Lord himself.  The Law of Sin is carnal, wicked, and deceitful.  It draws its power from the flesh.  So no doubt there is a battle of two natures working constantly to prevail.  The war is raging within each of God’s Children.  I, like Paul, find myself knowing what I ought to do, and knowing what I want to do, but then in turn doing just the opposite.

Be honest…you do the same thing!

Now, the question becomes clear that we need to know how to win these battles.  The Lord is driving home a point that the law of sin no longer has to win.  Verse twenty-two gives us some insight as to how to experience victory over the decisions and situations that cause us to sin.  It is really simple…Delight in the God’s Law!  We must find delight in the Word of God.

The law of God was put in place to convict the sinner, but it is also there to protect the sinner.  Those that find delight in God’s Law are the people who experience the greatest of victories.

The desire to do our own thing must be thrown out with yesterday’s trash.  The desire to follow God’s guidelines must be put into practice immediately.  Most find delight in sin, because it pleases our flesh, as well as satisfies our flesh.  We must feed the spirit and starve the flesh.  Finding the delight in God’s law does both.

Today’s Challenge:  Delight in the Law of God.  Begin starving your flesh while at the same time you feed your spirit!  The one who is fed the most is usually going to be the strongest!