After my post last week, not only did I receive a lot of feedback but also experienced several more examples (with my own eyes and through other's eyes) of how we let the world slowly fade us. I thought this called for a part 2 on this topic. Here are some that I witnessed or heard about this past week:
• Friendships - we often say it is okay to hang out with someone who is not good for us (is a bad influence, opposite gender, etc) because it won't hurt us or influence us. We make excuses like we've been friends with them for a long time or maybe we'll be a good influence on them, or he's a guy but I have boundaries. While this might be true, I think you can see how hanging out with the wrong person, can slowly change how you view things in the world. Or the situation can change all of a sudden and you wonder how you got there (made a bad choice, ruined your marriage, ruined someone else's marriage). It could be as simple as a phrase that your friend says that you adopt as your own. What they said was funny, so you think you can say it once to be funny, but then it because a part of your vocabulary.
• Parenting - we often cut our children slack when they don't have first time obedience. If we continue to say things several times before enforcing punishment (or before giving in), what does that teach our children about the world? It teaches them that if they whine long enough, they'll get their way...or that they have several chances before discipline happens. We should be enforcing first time obedience. And we should be their examples by obeying God the first time around. It's been a hard week for parenting for me. No more counting to 3...not more lost tickets...if there is delayed obedience, there is a consequence. Further we follow what the world views as good parenting. Everyone seems to have their own opinions on parenting and no one is afraid to give parenting advice. Who are we listening to? The world? or the word of God?
• Having that "only going to do it once" mentality - I kind of talked about this last week but one big thing that I saw as an example was the Casey Anthony trial. You flip on the TV and it's all over. You think you'll watch just a minute of it, but then you watch an hour of it. The world ropes you in...you form an opinion, you talk about it with others, it sort of consumes your life for a little while. This could be any TV show. Or facebook...I'm just going to check a few statuses, then it turns into a 1/2 hour of facebook time...does this happen to anyone else but me? Or maybe a man who says "I'll just look at that website once"...turns into many times because he didn't get caught which turns into a porn addiction. The list goes on when we think of this "only once" mentality.
I found it no coincidence that Pastor Scott had a similar message on Sunday (7/10). It could be I needed to hear this information more than once, but I don't think I am the only one...just sayin'! A common theme of his messages has been "Building His Kingdom" and not the worlds. On Sunday we looked at James 4:1-12 on how to experience Unity in Relationships. I talked with Pastor Scott about his message and he agreed to let me summarize using the notes I took. He also agreed to be my very first official blog guest/writer (later in the post!).
He asked us the question:
1) What is the source of quarrels and fights? 4:1-6 (New Living Translation) reads: "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don't you realize that friends with the world makes you an enemy of God? I will say it again: If you want to be a friend to the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has packed within us is filled with envy? But he give us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say (in Psalms) 'God opposes the proud but favors the humble' ".
So where do the quarrels come from? They come from:
• v. 1 Passions/evil desires within you - within yourself and within your community. Our passions get the best of us because we want what we want!
• v. 2 Murders/Kill - not necessarily meaning really kill or murder...but possibly just a destructive hatred; getting rid of any obstacles that get in they way of our all consuming desires
• v. 3 All consuming desires - we don't have because we don't ask and when we do ask we ask with wrong motives because we want only what brings ourselves pleasure.
• v. 4 Friend of the world = Enemy of God. When this verse called us adulterers - in this case in means against God, not in marriage. Choosing the world over God.
• v.5-6 God is against those who will not follow Him. He gives grace to the humble.
Answer? Look to the Lord to be satisfied...not the world.
2) How do we experience unity in relationships? (4:7-12). It reads "So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?"
You can experience unity in relationships if you know (according to these verses):
1) How and when to submit
2) How to resist the devil - who comes to steal, kill and destroy. If you resist him, he will flee. Beth Moore says in her study "Faithful, Abundant and True" that "Jesus Christ not only tells the truth, He is the truth (John 14:6). Therefore, when we walk away from the truth, we are walking toward the agenda of a dangerous enemy with a plan to kill, steal, and destroy"
3) How to draw near to God - He will draw near to you; Don't ignore Him or wait until an emergency
4) How to mourn over sin
b) Have a realistic opinion of yourself and be emotional over it as a result - mourn, wail, sadness over sin
5) Humbly submit to the Lord
If we win the inner battle we will win the outer battle (with others). There is one caregiver and judge (and it's not you:). So don't destroy or injure others. First guest blog writer Pastor Scott says "some suggest that the idea of not judging your brother means that you can never correct him. This would be contradictory to James very strong words of correction just in these very verses. Rather, when it comes to correcting a brother or sister, two questions are paramount—1) What does the Bible say? The scriptures must inform all of our relationships, and we cannot ignore the call to care for our brothers and sisters; 2) What is our goal in our correction? Here we must be clear that we want to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our goal cannot be to put a person in their place nor to relish in their wrongness and our rightness. Rather, the goal is always restoration, reconciliation, and a deep awareness of our own humble standing before Almighty God. Galatians 6:1-3 is helpful here."
He goes on to say "There are three important assessments of our own hearts when we are having quarrels and fights. 1) Am I an adulteress? That is, am I being unfaithful in any way toward my God?; 2) How “in the world” am I? That is, how am I allowing this world’s values and system to affect my thoughts and actions? (The “How ‘in the world’ am I” question comes from Dr. Robert A. Cook; see link here 3) Am I humble or proud? Those who ignore God’s Word and will or defy it will always find God resisting them."
Are you embracing the world's system? I loved this "definition" of the world that Pastor Scott gave. The world - a system of thought and activity that is geared toward self pleassure.
You'll notice that I finally changed the tip of the month. This is a phrase I came up with in our bible study last week. We, amazingly enough, are talking about the same topic in my weekly bible study. The question was asked: Why do we forget so quickly how able God is? I said "because we know the world better than we know the word". The world shows us how bad things are...it shows us that we can do it on our own - that we don't need God or anyone's help...it shows us things and tells us things to make us doubt the ability of our God...it tells us that God doesn't care about our small little problems. But the WORD doesn't tell us that at all. It says not to lean on our own understanding (Prov 3:5)....that in all things, in prayer and petition, bring our requests to God (Phil 4:6)...that he freely gives us all things (Romans 8:32)...that God has dynamite power that never runs out (Eph 3:20-21), and that he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Priscilla Shirer says that "We can needlessly suffer anxiety due to our unwillingness to hand over our requests and petitions to God." No wonder there are so many of us with anxiety issues...we are refusing to hand over EVERYTHING to God. So what's the most basic thing we can do to have unity in relationships in this world (going back to Pastor Scott's message)? Pray about them! Kay Arthur and Beth Moore remind us that it's only going to get worse in end times when it comes to people. Look what 2 Timothy 3:1 says "the last days there will be very difficult times" because of PEOPLE, not circumstances. Matthew 24 shows us examples of circumstances we will face in end times, but 2 Timothy shows us it's people that will make life so difficult...we will be deceived! "For PEOPLE will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!" (2 Tim 3:2-5). It's going to be hard to have unity in relationships in a world like that! And we wonder "why can't we all just get along?". Look what the world is doing to our relationships. How has the world changed your friendships? Even more important...how has the world changed your marriage? Of if you aren't married...how has the world changed your view of marriage or who you will consider marrying - what does the world view as important in a spouse? Those are some tough questions we must think about, pray over, and give over to. I'm going to leave you with a question that Dr Robert Cook would ask you:
How in the world are you?
Titus 2:12 "It (the word) says to say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this PRESENT age..."
Matthew 5:14 "You (God) are the light of the world"
1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world or anything in the world"