No Turning Back

You can’t afford to go backwards. You have too many people following you!

My pastor said these words this morning, and they seared my soul. We tend to think that what we do is our own business and only our own business. We think wrongly.

The Bible refers to us as being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. We are. As Christians, we can never forget that we are being watched. We are being watched by those in the church. We are being watched by those in the world. But we are not merely being WATCHED. We are being FOLLOWED.

There are those who simply watch me, I’m sure, but there are others-often I don’t know who they are-who are watching me and following my example. If I’m walking in the right direction, setting them a good example, great. If I’m not, their blood may well be on my hands.

It’s a sobering thing to consider, this influence that we have. What if we consider something to be perfectly fine, but someone watching us believes it to be sin? Drinking is a good example here. Many Christians see nothing wrong with drinking while others consider it sin. If one who considers it sin is influenced by one who considers it not sin and chooses to drink, then in his own heart he has committed sin. Who is responsible for his sin?

Paul addresses this in 1 Cor. 8:10-13. His context is eating food offered to idols, but the principle remains. See, in particular, verses 12 and 13. [AMP]

And when you sin against your brethren in this way, wounding and damaging their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

Therefore, if [my eating a] food is a cause of my brother’s falling or of hindering [his spiritual advancement], I will not eat [such] flesh forever, lest I cause my brother to be tripped up and fall and to be offended.

I cannot afford to do anything but move onward, forward, with God. I truly can’t afford to go backwards, to backslide, to drag my feet-or even to do something that makes it appear that I am. If I do, and if in doing I lead others to do likewise, I can get myself in a heap of trouble.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

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Just as the Lord had Commanded

In reading Exodus 15:16-32, we see one phrase repeated many times.

…just as the Lord had commanded him.

Moses is setting up the Tabernacle and we see in these words that he has learned a great truth. We aren’t called simply to do what God tells us to; we are called to do it “just as the Lord has commanded.” It is for us to live our lives not by our own standards, but by His.

Because Moses paid such close attention to God’s commands…

Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.

Oh, that we could reach this place!

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

The Next Show Starts In…

You walk in the door carrying your take-out coffee and get offended when you’re told you’ll have to leave it outside. You let your cell phone ring repeatedly. You let your child wander around. When you can tell it’s getting close to the end you start gathering your stuff together, and right before the official end you walk out the door.

It’s all pretty standard behavior in a movie theater, but I’m talking about church. I’ve seen all of this through the years, and much more, and it sickens me that we’ve reached a place culturally where such behavior is acceptable (by some) even in God’s house.

People leaving during the altar call is the worst. There are souls hanging in the balance. If we really are Christians we should be praying for those around us. Unfortunately too many seem to think they’re in a theater and the altar call is like the credits: Let’s leave now to beat the rush.

Celebrating Jesus anyway!

Tammy C

In the Word

 

I once read that Smith Wigglesworth, who had a phenomenal ministry, never read any books other than the Bible.

On the one hand, this is hard to conceive. The amount of material that was available to the avid reader, even in his day, is staggering. Could one really turn aside from all of it? On the other hand, the Word is so rich, so full, that I often feel like the time I spend in it is too short, that my morning alarm going off is a rude interruption.

And I have seen evidence, in me, of what Wigglesworth talked about. He contended that faith is based on knowledge of Who God is, and that we gain this knowledge as we are in His Word. In fact, he said, “if you see imperfect faith – full of doubt, a wavering condition – it always comes of imperfect knowledge.”

That makes so much sense! My faith is stronger today than it has ever been. Yes, it grows as it is tried and strengthened, much like a muscle grows under the same conditions, but it grows as it does because it is rooted in my ever-increasing knowledge of Who God is.

Staying in the Word really is a necessity for the one who wants ever-increasing faith.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

One in a Million

Christian, born-again one, think about how precious you are to God.

Consider a loving earthly father. He values all of his children, would give his life for any one of them. If all but one walks away, however, the one who remains becomes especially precious.

Since God created man, most of His creation has turned away from Him. If you count all those who were destroyed in the flood, it may well be that only one in a million has been true to Him.

You may well be one in a million, and that makes you VERY precious to your heavenly Father.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Know His Voice

Jesus told us that His sheep would hear His voice, know His voice, and follow only His voice. When you’ve been following His voice for a long time, this is obvious and easy, but what do you say to the new convert, the one who asks, “But how do I know His voice? There are too many voices in my head. Which is His?”

The easy answer is that you learn like a baby learns to hear her mother’s voice–by listening and hearing it over and over. That’s not enough of an answer, though. We’re hearing voices all the time. Our flesh speaks constantly. the devil has his say. Voices from the past intrude. Then there is God, usually speaking softly, as a patient Father, trying to get our attention.

One of the first indicators that you’re hearing God’s voice is that it’s obviously not your own. You know what I mean, you think a thought and, startled, ask, “Where did that come from?”

The next step is testing the voice. Does what it is saying line up with God’s Word? (Yes, knowing His Word is vitally important for this reason and many others.) If it doesn’t, you know it’s not God.

As it was with your parents, the more you actively hear God’s voice the more you know it. With this in mind, when I was first learning to actively listen for God’s voice, I played solitaire.

Yes, I’m serious. I would sit down to play solitaire with God at my side. I asked Him to tell me what moves to make and, even when they seemed wrong to me, I made them. It was a great self-check, because when I really did as He told me to at every step I almost always won. Being analytical, I checked myself occasionally, intentionally playing without His help. As I did, I discovered that I wasn’t really improving that much as a player; I’d clearly been getting inside information.

Hearing His voice over and over in the safe environment of a simple game made me KNOW His voice. After that, following it in my day-to-day walk was relatively easy. Perfect practice makes perfect! Why not practice hearing His voice today?

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Hallowed be Thy Name

When you put a bumper sticker on your car, people associate you with whatever that bumper sticker represents. Did you cut them off in traffic? They’re probably disparaging your preferred university. Even worse if you’re a Christian, when they see you behaving badly while driving a car that labels you as a Christian or a member of a certain church, they are quite possibly using your behavior as an excuse to judge God and your church.

You think I’m kidding? I know someone who will not put one of her church’s bumper stickers on her car because she’s heard, too many times, “Those ______ drivers are some of the worst on the road!” She doesn’t want to risk her driving reflecting badly on her church, so she won’t advertise where she goes.

I think of this sort of thing often as I pray the Lord’s Prayer. I wear the label “Christian” and, whether or not anyone around me sees that label (And they do!), I know there is a multitude of other witnesses both angelic and demonic that do. Even more so, God does. God’s name is holy, and my desire is to always, even in the privacy of my own thoughts, reflect His holiness, not giving the devil or man any reason at all to judge God poorly based on ME.

As I pray “hallowed be Thy name,” I renew my commitment to keep His name holy, to do nothing to sully or stain it. I remind myself that every little thing I do and don’t do DOES matter, and that even a moment of giving in to the flesh can have a terribly negative impact on people around me, putting a wedge between them and my God and, yes, between them and my church if they know where I go. What if my church is the one God has been calling them to and my actions make them turn away? God has said in His Word that He holds me accountable for such things!

I’m human, and I fight my battles with flesh in all its forms just like every other human does. I fail Him and the people around me all too often, but when I realize I have I hit my knees, repent, and get back up even more determined to get it right the next time.

I do it because His name is holy and I am well aware that I have a responsibility, that my part as a Christian is to always do my best to respect His holiness.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C