Is it a sin?

The bible is God’s Living Word and it always amazing to find how every passage and verse still speaks to all the things we go through even now, centuries after it was written. Even though most of the broader and more specific sins are covered in the bible, we sometimes find ourselves thinking of certain things we do and wondering if that’s a sin. We may ask trusted ministers at our place of worship or Google Christian forums online to discover whether something is a sin.

According to James 4:17, it really is a case of “if you have to ask honey…” then it probably is. If we feel unsettled about our actions and pray about it and can’t get peace; if we do something that we’re constantly thinking about and wondering if it’s sinful even after seeking answers from whatever sources; then for us, it may be a sin. For example, some people may say it’s okay to tell white lies to protect another person’s feelings, we may even rationalize it in our own minds that it’s innocent and for the good of another. But if in our hearts, WE know it’s not right, then no one, not Google, nor our minister, will be able to give us peace in that regard; we’ll constantly be questioning and seeking and searching

Some sins it’s easy to categorize universally and say yes it’s a sin but others it will be for each individual to know in their heart whether it is or it isn’t. If we take the example of sexual sin for example, the bible has clearly labelled certain things as sexual immorality and therefore wrong but what about other grey areas that it doesn’t mention quite as precisely such as masturbation, for example, or doing everything but full-on sex with a non-married partner. There are no clear “thou shalt nots” with these issues. One may search online or in literature or seek spiritual guidance from an elder in the Lord (pastor, minister, prayer partner etc) and get different answers that do not satisfy the soul.

What I think counts ultimately, if you’re engaged in something that you feel deep down isn’t right and bothers you, then it is unnecessary for you to continue to debate it and feel unsettled about it. Let’s not try to play smart and be just Christian enough to pass within “the boundaries” of not sinning. The Holy Spirit within us convicts us so that we, for the most part, can tell right from wrong. We should be living abundant, joyful lives in the open, not shady lives where we’re always straddling the barriers of what is and isn’t sin.

Maybe truly, the behavior in question isn’t sinful, but if we feel like it may be, then we need to examine whether the Spirit is guiding us away from a path that might consume us and lead us to actual sin. Maybe making out with a committed (non-married) partner isn’t a sin, but maybe one may feel unsettled about it and question it’s sinful nature because they know it could lead them down the path to sexual sin etc.

If knowingly, we do what feels wrong to us, no matter the perspective of the world as to how innocuous it is, then for us, it’s a sin. This verse gives us the simple answer, if YOU do what YOU know is not right or just as bad if you DON’T do what you KNOW is right, then it’s a sin.

James 4:17 AMP
[17] So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.

He who’s always got your back…

No matter what we’re going through, be it a season of struggle or affliction, we need to remember that God ALWAYS has our back. The truth is that God has a plan for each and every single person- an amazing plan filled with excellent and magnificent intentions far beyond our greatest imagining.

Sometimes when we’re going through things and we’re praying and it seems we’re getting no answer, it’s easy to lose hope and begin to believe God has forgotten us and this is even though we have the gift of His Salvation and His Holy Spirit AND we know His Promise that we are already victorious in Christ Jesus over our circumstances. The people of Israel in Jeremiah’s time had NONE of these assurances and Promises in Christ and yet God reminded them that because of His Love, He had only good intentions for them and these intentions would be realized after their season of struggle.

Therefore through everything we go through, we should know that God’s fabulous plan for each and every single one of us will prevail whether in this life or in the next, and so, we are already victorious in Christ Jesus. There is a Master Plan and our Loving, Heavenly Father knows it even if we don’t, so we are not going through our struggles blind. We have the light that is Jesus with us. So all we have to do is keep asking, keep seeking and keep praying and God will deliver us and manifest in us His Magnificent intentions in our life. So let’s keep the faith.

Jeremiah 29:10-13 AMP
[10] For thus says the Lord, When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My good promise to you, causing you to return to this place. [11] For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. [12] Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. [13] Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me as a vital necessity and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

We will prevail…

I meant to post this yesterday but internet issues and distractions meant I missed a day. Nonetheless, I will prevail over obstacles, tech and self-made and share. This particular verse is one of the ones I think I need to remind myself of often as a Christian. Because of God’s Amazing Grace, protection and provision, we often take for granted our comfort zones and begin to think this world is perfect. God didn’t promise us a trouble-free world. This verse is a reminder of that fact. An imperfect world can never be trouble-free. 
However, what God DOES promise us is that even though affliction, trouble or evil may come our way, He will redeem us, rescue us and deliver us every single time. Therefore, we should call on Him, standing on His promise to be there for us every time and believing that He will deliver us just as He’s said. God does not lie and so we can have full confidence that He will deliver us as He has promised and will always be there for us through our troubles with His Deliverance. Though troubles may come away or affliction, attack or sickness, God Almighty, will ensure we prevail ultimately. Our deliverance is as certain as the fact that God will be with us through everything. Our victory may be in this life or in the next, but either way God has promised us deliverance and we will prevail.
Psalm 34:19 (MSG)
Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.
Psalm 34:19 (KJV)
Many are the afflictions of the righteous but The Lord delivereth him out of them all.

I don’t DO Christian, I AM Christian…

I was reading online reviews of a devotional I was thinking of buying and one criticism of the devotional in question was that it focused too much on feelings and on the emotional aspect of our relationship with God and not enough on doing and getting away from the focus on ourselves to focus on others. A man of God (a priest specifically) was actually the leader of this criticism and so it carried some weight with me and I didn’t just brush it off and it’s something that’s made me think ever since then. 
As a Christian, what’s more important: doing good works that show God’s Love out in the world, or focusing on building a personal relationship with God? I know these two are not mutually exclusive and a mature Christian should be able to manage both at the same time ideally. But if it comes down to it, which is more a priority? Which will lead to the other? And does one help the other? If I focus on good works and sharing God’s Love with others, does that draw me closer in my personal relationship with God? OR if I strengthen my prayer and meditation (on God’s Word), does that inspire me to get out there and do good works that will show God’s Love to others.
I think ultimately, it’s a hard call to generalize which is better. It is my view that ultimately, it’s not what we do that saves us or makes us worthy of God or His gifts and blessings. What we do has very little to do with it. God is not looking for the best Christian or the most pious person or Mr. Charity or Ms. Do-it-all. If our Salvation and God-intended blessings came by deeds, very few or none of us would be saved. God knows our hearts and our minds and sees our actions and it’s not because of those things He saved us. Rather, He saved us IN SPITE of those things. Our salvation and blessings in Christ is down to God’s love and amazing mercy on us. Our role now is not to just do good things so we can be seen as good people worthy of God or because it’s the “Christian thing to do,” but to live a life of faith: believing His Word and Promises and living our lives according to that Word. God has a new purpose for our life and it’s not to fill it with deeds (Martha-style) but rather to fill it with faith and trust in His Guidance from His Word (Mary-style) and join in the work Christ already started on earth: letting the Glory of God shine through Him. When we do God’s work, let it not be because we think those acts are what makes us good Christians,  let it rather be because we are showing love and continuing God’s work on earth; let it all be to the Glory of God.
Ephesians 2:7-10 (MSG)
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d donethe whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Can We All Just Get Along- Ever-Loving Love…

I was thinking that since yesterday was Valentine’s Day, I should have written about love. But then it’s so easy to express our love and appreciation for people on the one day a year that we’ve built up to be the day where we celebrate the love we should have for one another. Even the meanest bosses on Valentine’s Day may share flowers or chocolate amongst their staff. We feel obligated to sow love on Valentine’s day and so we do, then the day after we put aside the real love challenge that God has commanded us to take up of loving others and showing it every day.

Maybe the Valentine’s Day honeymoon is still on today or this week. Maybe we can still show love as long as it’s easy and we’re all getting along. But what of when we rub each other off the wrong way? Sometimes it’s hard to keep harmony with those close to us when they hurt our feelings or we feel slighted or put down. Our instinct is to give as good as we get and stand up for what we see feel are our rights when we fe disrespected. God wants us to be better than this. To put love Above pride and hurt feelings and try to keep the peace with those around us. He wants us to return insults with blessings and turn the other cheek. To not just want peace with others and pray for it but to do the dirty work and actually exercise patience and love when it’s difficult to do so. Everyone can keep the peace when people are loving and respectful to them. As Christians God respects us to go the extra mile of having love and compassion for those who hurt within themselves enough to lash out at us. Let us be quick to forgive, apologize and not need to be the one who has the last word if it will keep the peace.    

1 Peter 3:8-11 AMP
[8] Finally, all of you should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing with one another, loving each other as brethren of one household, compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble). [9] Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing from God–that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection. [10] For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days good–whether apparent or not keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit). [11] Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right. Let him search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!

The best prayer in the universe…

This world is not an easy place for any of us. How nice it would be if as believers, our paths would be smoothed, we’d be universally loved and accepted, we’d face no temptation and our faith would never be tested. How nice it would be if life on earth would be like the life we’re expecting in heaven where God’s glory would be all around us and everything would be perfect with no sin, illness or death. 
Jesus knew that this world wasn’t like that at all. He knew that we will face challenges and persecutions. He knew that living a life of faith according to His Word would bring mockery and judgement from the world. He knew we would face affliction and temptation, that there would be moments where we stumbled, maybe even fell into sin. 
But because of His awesome and amazing love, Jesus prayed for us to God the Father. He did it in front of the apostles perhaps so that we would know the depth of His love for us and trust in His promise to intercede for us always to the father. In John 17 below, we can see Jesus’ love for us as he speaks to the Father on our behalf and asks for His Mercy for us and His Protection, His Blessing and Guidance. 
Jesus had the human experience and so he understood completely the challenges we would face. People often go to pastors, priests, reverends, friends etc to pray for them through times of affliction. There’s nothing wrong with praying with others (where 2 or more are gathered…) but let us not also forget that the best friend we have, the most powerful, most well-connected One we know is and has always prayed for us, especially those who believe. Do not despair, no, not ever, because just as you’re praying for yourself, Jesus is praying for you as well, and He knows exactly what each and every one of us needs. 
John 17 (MSG)
Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor. You put him in charge of everything human So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, The one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth By completing down to the last detail What you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor, The very splendor I had in your presence Before there was a world. [6] I spelled out your character in detail To the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; Then you gave them to me, And they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, That everything you gave me is firsthand from you, For the message you gave me, I gave them; And they took it, and were convinced That I came from you. They believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world But for those you gave me, For they are yours by right. Everything mine is yours, and yours mine, And my life is on display in them. For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world; They’ll continue in the world While I return to you. Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life That you conferred as a gift through me, So they can be one heart and mind As we are one heart and mind. As long as I was with them, I guarded them In the pursuit of the life you gave through me; I even posted a night watch. And not one of them got away, Except for the rebel bent on destruction (the exception that proved the rule of Scripture). [13] Now I’m returning to you. I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing So my people can experience My joy completed in them. I gave them your word; The godless world hated them because of it, Because they didn’t join the world’s ways, Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways. I’m not asking that you take them out of the world But that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world Than I am defined by the world. Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I’m consecrating myself for their sakes So they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission. [20] I’m praying not only for them But also for those who will believe in me Because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, So they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, And give the godless world evidence That you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me. [24] Father, I want those you gave me To be with me, right where I am, So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me, Having loved me Long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, But I have known you, and these disciples know That you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them— Who you are and what you do— And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them.