Pleasing God

As Christians, we are not saved by good works; we are saved by grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards us through the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. He paid for our sins, and when we accept that payment we receive redemption. To redeem something, such as a coupon, it must be acted upon. So we’re not save by Christ’s sacrifice until we see our need for it and then accept it.

However, once we become Christians, our works are very important to God. They are evidence of being a child of God. I’ve written before that a stingy Christian is an oxymoron. We should be the most caring and giving people in society, and for the most part we are. It pleases our Heavenly Father when we do good works:

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Shallow Pleasure

Outside of Islam, the greatest threat to America is our national debt. The amount of money our government spends on trivial and unconstitutional entitlements is the product of a deep-seated malady. Americans have a stuff problem, otherwise known as materialism.

Of course, material goods on their own are not bad. Goods and services produced and provided for are needed for a society to flourish. It is the engine to a free economy. So I am not talking about the private sector when looking at our nation’s woes. I am talking about when government tries to pick winners and losers in a free market economy.

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The Gift of Liberty

Regardless the candidate for president, no man or woman can save America. No man or woman can make America great again. No man or woman alone is trustworthy enough to not have to be under constitutional checks and balances. No man or woman has all the answers to the needs of our nation. That is the description of a king or queen. We threw off the tyranny of king during the American Revolution.

What many voters, regardless the candidate, are seeking from whom they support is some form of kingship or soft tyranny. Our government was designed to not allow one person to have that type of power. Somehow we believe if it is our guy or gal then they will not be corrupted by the power and stay on the straight and narrow. As James Madison once said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

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A Matter of the Heart

A stingy Christian is an oxymoron; or at least it should be. If Christians merely obeyed God’s command to tithe, it would radically change the world. Statistics I found online in a Relevant Magazine article show that only ten to twenty-five percent of a normal congregation is made up of tithers. Furthermore, only 1 out of 20 Americans tithe, with 80 percent of them giving only 2 percent. Finally, Christians tithe 2.5 percent in these abundant times, whereas during the Great Depression they gave 3.3 percent.

In his article, Mr. Holmes goes onto to described the impact the church would have if we were to tithed as commanded. He further states that giving is not a money issue; it is a heart issue. When I finally began to tithe as I knew that Lord wanted of me, it changed my heart. However, it didn’t change it about money; it changed my heart about materialism.

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Profitable Words

So now the Republican Presidential Primary race has gotten personal, where a political action group opposing Donald Trump posted a tasteless tweet about Mr. Trump’s wife. Mr. Trump responded in kind by threatening Ted Cruz’s wife and then posted a classless tweet about Heidi Cruz. This is why Ronald Reagan once said, “Politics is supposed to be be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”

The nastiness of our national dialogue has descended into the sewer, in no small part because of social media. People who would never think twice about saying something to a person’s face, eagerly posts vicious and vitriolic words. I understand that our politics has always been dirty, but now we’re like pigs in a sty. We no longer notice the mud.

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Despairing of Relief

Author and Pastor John Ortberg tells the story of when he first began his preaching ministry, no less than five minutes into his sermon, he would pass out cold. He would just faint right in the middle of his message. He jokingly says this is not a good attribute for an aspiring preacher. Thankfully he’s overcome this tendency, although the feelings do arise at times.

While physically fainting can be an intimidating condition to deal with, spiritual fainting is an even greater obstacle to overcome. Whenever tribulation comes, we can either fight through it or faint because of it. It all depends on our spiritual strength:

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Being Right

One thing that has become painfully clear in this election cycle is that those who describe themselves as evangelical may have those type of values, but they are not living them out. We can say we believe something, but if that belief does not translate into behavior, then we are only fooling ourselves. Our children and colleagues can clearly see the difference.

How does one not live out that which he or she says they value? They do so by not having a biblical worldview. A biblical worldview is only attained through devoted study of Scripture. Scripture is to be read, taught, and meditated upon so that it has the chance to take root in our hearts and thereby into our consciences. That is why the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy thusly:

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Finding Firm Footing

Fear is overcome by faith. That which we fear can make us forget that which we trusted. Anything in life that is dangerous can bring fear. Whether it be a dangerous hobby such as rock climbing or hang gliding, or dangerous work such as law enforcement or the military, fear of danger is lessened with faith in our equipment and training.

So how do we overcome fear of the unknown? For example, we look across America and see defeat and depravity seemingly ruling the nation. We allow this fear to cause us to make decisions that are biblically indefensible and logically incoherent. How do we get back to our national motto, “In God We Trust?” We remember who God is:

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Rest for Our Souls

One thing I’ve learned about other Christians and myself during this election cycle is too often we see things through our own eyes instead of eyes of faith. We fear what man is and can do to us, thereby no longer fearing God and rejecting His will for our lives. We trust in our own strength and wiles instead of seeking deliverance and forgiveness from God.

Some have given up. They believe there is no hope for America and are waiting for God’s judgment to fall on our nation. This defeatist attitude comes from weariness and a misplaced focus on man. Too many churches across America have checked out of society to the point that the church as a whole is no longer sought out for its take on current issues.

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Facing Our Sins Squarely

One of the more concerning things I’ve heard Donald Trump say is that he has never sought forgiveness from God because he’s never seen a need to. This is not exclusive to Mr. Trump; I myself once believed this. So did most Christians before they saw their need for Christ. As much as I needed Jesus Christ to save me, so does The Donald and all who believe as him. This is not my political opinion; this is what the Bible teaches:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)

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Saved from the Snare

Fear is one of Satan’s favorite and most effective weapons. Whether it is fear of the future, fear of the unknown, or fear of man, our enemy wants to entrap us with our own fear so that we do not trust the Lord in all things. The devil may wrap fear in the illusion of pragmatism, but it is still fear. It is relying upon our own wisdom instead of obeying the Word of God. Solomon connects this dichotomy:

“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

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Opposing the Truth Instead of Promoting It

In this election season, like never before in my lifetime, religious freedom is under attack and promises are being made by many candidates to protect it. While this might be comforting to some, the track record of political promise keepers is reason for doubt. Even if we do elect a president who will defend religious liberty, eventually Christianity will be persecuted worldwide. This is not my prediction; Jesus Christ predicted this:

“You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:18)

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Abandoning What We Know

Anger and fear are two emotions that can overtake our lives and bring us to destruction. There are cases of righteous anger and healthy fear, but usually those are not what consume us. Our imaginations can be preoccupied with fret, worry, and thoughts of revenge that lead us down the wrong path. Those paths always lead to wickedness:

    “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.” (Proverbs 4:14-15)

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The Obvious Crashing Over Me

The Christian group Building 429 has a song titled, “Glory Defined,” and the second stanza really caught my attention the other day:

It’s always the simple things
It’s always the obvious, that crashes over me
It’s always in front of me
It helps me to remember
That this is what I lived for
And I can’t wait

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The Unbecomingness of Worldly Ambition

Ambition is not a bad thing. Ambition is what motivates us to set and reach goals. However, worldly ambition is quite another thing. Worldly ambition can make us overly self-confident, deceitful, and not fit for the kingdom. A Christian who is driven by worldly ambition is an oxymoron. Jesus explains:

    “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:13-17)

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The Refiner’s Fire

Imagine living your life as though God is always watching you. What would your life look like? You might think I’m being silly because we know God is always watching. However, I didn’t say imagine knowing God is always watching you. Imagine living your life as though God is always watching you.

Having head knowledge doesn’t always translate to heart knowledge. If that were true, I think most of the problems facing humanity would disappear. We live our lives as though God is not watching, otherwise we would not commit a large majority of our sin. We consciously live our lives as though God is too far away to notice.

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Pure in My Own Eyes

Self-righteousness is a dangerous trap to fall into. Satan tries to get us to believe that we are not as bad as God’s word and our conscience show us. We love to compare ourselves to others, becoming the ultimate plank-eye. We have x-ray vision that allows us to find the speck in our brother’s eye and have become immune to the plank in ours. The Bible has a remedy for this:

    “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits.” (Proverbs 16:2)

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Another Jesus

Try doing a poll on religious beliefs by asking the following question: “To you, who is Jesus Christ?” Now that can be an excellent question if you are trying to witness to someone. However, to gather opinions on who people believe Christ is, that can be very revealing.

The Barna Research Group did a study on the “5 Popular Beliefs About Jesus,” and the findings while somewhat encouraging, overall they are quite disturbing. The encouraging part is 92% of Americans believe Jesus was a real person. However, barely half of adults believe Jesus was God. The most disturbing finding is that 52% of adults believe that Jesus committed sins like other people. Many Americans believe they will go to heaven because of their good deeds.

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Altered Plans

If you were to put your ear to the future, that crashing sound you would hear is 1 out of 4 New Year’s resolutions being broken. The amazing part of that statistic is that it is that low, even though only 45% of Americans actually make resolutions. So why do we fail so frequently? We fail at shaping our futures because life happens.

Imagine setting up a business venture or even a mission trip. You have your plan all set, you’ve even raised money and hired a staff. Then while you’re just getting ready to launch, you have a dream in which God is telling you to not go forward, but in an entirely different direction. Would you obey or would you fret about altering your already set plans? The Apostle Paul actually faced a similar situation:

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Seeking My Own Desires

When I want to get my own way, I make sure no one is in my way. What I mean is I don’t seek the counsel of others; in fact, I avoid it. The Bible warns against such foolishness:

    “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1)

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