christical

Inspired by Jesus. From a Christian. For the Christian and anyone else who bothers to listen.

James 2 July 4, 2013

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 7:42 pm

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Today I’ll be going through the second chapter of James. The epistle of James was written as a guide for Jewish Christians regarding the duties of the Christian life. The letter discourages sins such as speaking falsely, discusses social issues like showing favoritism (as you’ll read today), and encourages demonstrating patience in every situation.

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. A-ha! See, I told you we’d discuss favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Judgements fill the human mind: we judge whether a situation is safe, we judge what clothing is appropriate for the day. It’s not a sin to simply make a judgement; however, it’s not Christlike to discriminate among people by only looking at their appearance or their wealth (or lack thereof).

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? Jesus was born to an unmarried woman and a carpenter in the backwaters of the area. But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? As a nation in general, we realize this, but we change nothing! Half of the people believe that our problems are caused by need and too much poverty; the other half believe that our problems are caused by greed and consumerism. In need versus greed, we reach a stalemate, and very few are willing to open their minds and try to do something about the problem!

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. The law is the law. In God’s eyes, a  lawbreaker is a lawbreaker. Someone who breaks a law against someone breaks a law against God, because by breaking a Law, we disobey God.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Look at the part in bold. This doesn’t mean that our salvation is defined by what we do. No way! It means that if we aren’t willing to forgive, then we’re not thinking like God. If we’re not with God, then we’re resisting God. If we’re resisting God, then we’re not “saved”.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. We’ll have the Jesus stickers on our cars and the cute little keychains, but does the Gospel do in us if we don’t act it out in our lives? The answer: nothing.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Of course someone will say this.We try to set ourselves apart. The world blows up our self-esteem and tells us everything will be fine and dandy if we’d just “Be ourselves.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. They will know we are Christians by our love. The demons know that God exists. It’s what you do with the knowledge that sets you apart as a Christian.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. See, it’s not works that saves us, it’s faith. But the Gospel is good news that inspires action. If you want to selfishly keep it to yourself, take a look at your priorities and see if you’re hearing the Gospel clearly.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Happy fourth, American readers!

–JFG

 

Bible Dipping—Deuteronomy 8:5 June 28, 2013

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 5:51 pm

Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

God is a realist.

He has to be, if you want that infinite love to be real.

Most people hate seeing themselves as ugly and sinful.

We’re pupils who can see everything except ourselves.

Sometimes we look into a mirror called the Law. It shows us our ugliness and our sinfulness. We see our imperfection, and we hate it.

God doesn’t do this to be mean. No, He does it to knock down our walls so we let love in. He shows us our need and then He fills it.

The cost of sin is death. However, though our body dies, as Christian, we will live on in Heaven, much longer can any memory can preserve us. And though our ugliness is all too evident, we are made beautiful in Christ’s blood. His sacred heart is our fountain of youth; it restores us when we feel like we cannot go on.

We are broken, but God puts us back together with His comfort. He says that life will go on. He promises that He is always with us.

If He chastens us for our good, then I want Him to chasten me plenty, because I know that the correction He provides will make me more like Him.

—JFG

 

Ecclesiastes 7 May 10, 2013

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 9:41 am
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Happy Friday, everyone! As the week culminates in the events of today, we can see how God has worked in us this week to show love to others.

I’m surprised I haven’t touched this series in a while. Today’s chapter 7 in Ecclesiastes.

A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Your reputation serves you better because it lasts, unlike a cut on your skin.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart. If you feast, you become drunk and don’t learn anything from the experience that will help your faith. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember why you need Jesus.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure. If you don’t live for the party, then you’ll live more fully.
It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man
Than for one to listen to the song of fools. Again, by hearing the serious side of things, you’ll become more spiritually mature.
For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.
For oppression makes a wise man mad,
And a bribe corrupts the heart.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.
Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. Today is a gift. Have no anxiety about anything that will come today, but release your worries to God.
Wisdom along with an inheritance is good
And an advantage to those who see the sun.
For wisdom is protection just as money is protection,
But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors. Money can be a danger; wisdom is a safeguard because it helps you stay safe in life.
Consider the work of God,
For who is able to straighten what He has bent?
In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him. God causes all things to work together for good. Our sin blinds us so that we do not know everything about God, but one thing we do know is that He is good.

I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them. Wisdom brings sorrow. Unfortunately, it can drive people to search frantically for meaning, which is what brought Solomon’s downfall. At the same time, some wisdom is good. If you live in wickedness (or without God), then you will die, and there will be no heavenly reward.

Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others. There is no righteous man who never sins. Jesus tells us that we cannot see clearly because of the plank in our eye. I believe that this passage serves to keep the righteous humble. Nobody’s perfect–both the writer and God realize this. I’m glad we have salvation then!

I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it? I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness. And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her. The writer wanted to know the depths of the world. He learned that it is better to leave the body behind on earth than to leave the soul behind in sin. By living for God, we can avoid being permanently trapped in our sin.

“Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.” This may point to the Messiah. He knows of one perfect man. The part about not finding a righteous woman may be in reference to his numerous wives and concubines (that none of them are role models of godly women).

–JFG

 

What Is God Like? November 2, 2012

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 10:01 am
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What is God like?

Many Christians will answer this question by spouting off a few buzzwords. But we really can’t understand God. He is quite beyond our realm of understanding. To answer the above question, we must first ask: How do we know that God exists?

First, I’d like to say that humans are born believing in God/a god. Atheists are made, not born. Atheists are usually talked out of believing in God, whether it was through themselves, through a conversation with someone, or through writings of others. Am I right? If you’re not convinced, then consider that no explorer ever found tribes of atheists (*smile*). If humans require food, it is logical to believe that food exists. So, if humans require a God/god, then, following the same logic, it is logical to believe that God/a god exists. I use the term “god” loosely. Everyone has a god. It’s what they most cherish having and most fear losing. For some people, this is God. For many, it is the world’s possessions.

Now that I’ve told you about believing in God, we can work to try to understand this God. I consider God as having six basic attributes:

  • All-powerful, also known as omnipotent. God is powerful. He is always at one hundred percent of His energy. He can do anything doable. It is important to remember this. For instance, God cannot sin. If God were to sin, He would not be God. Likewise, He is unable to make a rock so big that He cannot move it. His only limit is Himself.
  • All-knowing, also known as omniscient. Not only is God powerful, but He knows how to use His power. He knew what color shirt you were going to wear today while the earth was still void. You’ll like the Hebrew translation for “formless and void”: Tohu wa-bohu. Why use boring words to describe the earth before creation? Now you know: it was tohu wa-bohu! But I digress. This is also associated with free will. God gives you the choice to make certain decisions, and knows all the different ways in which your life could turn out as a result of it.
  • All-present, also called omnipresent. God does not exist in the sense that the world exists. He is self-sufficient; God does not depend on anyone or anything. Humans require a place to exist in order to exist. By calling God omnipresent, we mean that God is not limited by space. Everywhere for God is “here”. Mind-boggling? Yes, God is like that fairly often.
  • Eternal, also called everlasting. Similar to the above explanation, this means that God is not limited by time. Every moment for God is “now”.
  • Just. God is morally perfect. He gives sinners what they deserve. He is impartial and fair. He seems like a good guy to have on your side. But remember that you’re a sinner. God is just. That means that you will have to pay for those sins. The price for sin is death. But go to the next point and I’ll tell you the good part about this.
  • Merciful. God forgives us today through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Since He is merciful, he will release us from our punishment of eternal death.

God is just and merciful, always, all at the same time? How is that possible?

Thus comes the great unanswerable question of our time. The answer cannot be fully understood, but we know that Jesus somehow is the reason. Whatever happened that Friday afternoon when the curtain tore and the earth shook, it happened in the same way that God is able to be both just and merciful.

One day, we can follow His example. I’ll go a little bit into becoming like God over the next few posts.

Have a great Friday.

–JFG

 

Favorite Words Jesus Said October 27, 2012

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 12:08 pm

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But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34A NASB)

My favorite words of Jesus are some of his final words. As He hung on the cross, about to die, He asked God to forgive His tormentors because they didn’t understand what they were doing.

I think what Jesus was asking God to do extends past the people who were there that day. Maybe Jesus also asked God to forgive us.

Think about it. If you were perfect, then you wouldn’t need Jesus. Your imperfection was on Him and on the cross. He took that inner filth of yours to the grave with Him. All of this happened because we can’t understand why we still fall into the patterns of doing wrong. We can’t even begin to fathom what kind of love that is, that someone would willingly give themselves for all people because they love all people.

Unfathomable? Yes. But even still, we don’t need to avoid what we can’t understand. By seeking God and wanting to work with Him, you become a little closer to Him every day.

Amen.

•JFG

 

Verse on Love October 23, 2012

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 8:55 pm
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Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 NIV84)

When is it enough?
People say, “You should give generously.” “You should always be as kind as possible.” “you should love people.”

One problem: If we are living in a world of “should”, how can we ever expect to get into the reality of “is”?

The simple answer: to love as Christ loves us.

So what does that entail?

It’s more than 10% every Sunday. It’s more than reading your Bible. Gosh, it’s even more than the one (or six) hour(s) you spend inside of a church per week.

Loving as Christ loves you is giving your all, body, soul, and mind, for Him to use, strengthen, and even take away.

When you give yourself to Him, it shows. Suddenly, you realize that the world is bigger than you are. Good works were once done because God wanted or didn’t want you to do it. Now, that partly still applies, but good works are done now also because you start to consider the betterment of the community of believers.

I know what you may be thinking. “Oh, great, The Jesus Freak Girl is going to tell me what I should be doing. What a hypocrite.”

Instead of doing that, I’ve decided to take up a little challenge with you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to tell at least one person a day through the end of the month that Jesus loves them, and so do you!

You can tell anyone this. Reach out and get creative! I’d love to hear about how it goes.

•The Jesus Freak Girl•

 

Favorite Bible Hero October 22, 2012

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 9:27 pm
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To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV84)

My favorite Bible hero was Paul. Even though he started out being a zealous Jew (going so far as to murder Christians), he ended up writing the famous Epistles. He also mentored Timothy, who is one of my Biblical role models.

The story of Paul shows us that God is truly omnipotent. He worked in Paul’s life. Have you let Him work in yours?

Follow up: Listen to Matt Redman’s “Your Grace Is Enough”.

•JFG•

 

 
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