Why do I keep on sinning?

None of us have the ability not to sin! The Bible teaches, first, that a superhuman spirit, the devil, is in rebellion against God and all he represents. The devil and his allies will do anything they can to get you to join their rebellion by rejecting God’s will for your life.

Second, there’s the world we inhabit. When the first people yielded to the devil’s temptation, they brought evil into the good world God had made. Now we live in an environment that is simply not going to encourage us to put God first, as he commands.

Finally, there’s our own nature. Like the world, we human beings are a good creation of God that went wrong very early in our history. Now there’s corruption within us that makes it impossible for us to offer God the perfect obedience that he demands and deserves. Our inner corruption means that the devil’s and the world’s temptations will strike a responsive chord within us, making it hard for us to say “no.”

Above all, please be sure that Jesus’ sacrifice has won God’s forgiveness for your every sin even the ones you can’t seem to shake. Second, know that Jesus also won for us the gift of the Holy Spirit, who creates a new self inside us. This new self wants to please God with a holy life. It’s locked in mortal combat with our old self, who wants exactly the opposite; and sometimes the old self still gets his way.

You might say there’s a dogfight going on inside every Christian. You could also say that the idea is to feed the dog you want to win, and starve the other one. Keep feeding your new self on God’s Word, and watch what happens!

My Weak Faith

The first line of an old Christian hymn asks for “a faith that will not shrink.” That seems like an odd way of talking about faith shrinking. It’s the way my faith sometimes feels, however.

News stories report on people who have great faith and who are heroes. Somehow, I don’t seem to be a likely candidate.

The Bible paints dramatic pictures of “heroes of faith” Abraham, Moses, David. I can’t picture myself comparing to them.

My faith seems timid and uncertain; not heroic. Sometimes I even conclude that faith and church and religion work fine for some people, but they’re not for me.

I need to stop looking at my faith and look at Jesus instead.

Every Christian’s faith “shrinks” sometimes, but Jesus stays strong.

A father once brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus and asked if Jesus could do anything. Jesus told him, “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23). Nervously, excitedly, the father exclaimed: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief”(Mark 9:24)!

What matters is not so much how strong my faith feels, but what my faith rests on.

I may have very strong convictions that a bottle of drain cleaner will make my sore throat go away. Actually, it will make me sicker instead of better.

The correct medicine will assist in making me feel better, even if I don’t have much confidence in it.

Martin Luther said once that we are all “equal in Christ through faith.” Luther knew that Abraham, Moses, and David all had a stronger faith than he did, but it was the very same faith in Christ.

Faith is a gift God gives us, and whoever believes in Christ receives Christ’s blessings no matter whether he receives them with a strong faith or a weak one.

Am I all alone?

A survey by Psychology Today found that 50% of those surveyed report feeling lonely during a given month. Is it safe to say that some of those surveyed may be Christians? Do Christians experience loneliness? Yes, they do.

What is loneliness? In their book, Survival Guide for Being Alone, Terrell and Koehler III describe loneliness as coming from within and can affect every part of our feelings, thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and, most importantly, our Christian faith. One might say that loneliness comes from an inner need to be intimate and to “connect” on several personal levels (mentioned above) for the purpose of feeling safe and secure.

What causes loneliness? Many factors can precipitate loneliness. Factors such as: death, divorce, being single, physical/mental illness, breaking off of a relationship, being away from friends, family and home or maybe not having friends, family and a home.

Where do we turn when loneliness leads to despair? As Christians, we look to God and His Word for strength, guidance, comfort, and peace.

  1. Philippians 4:13
  2. Psalm 73:23, 24, 28
  3. Matthew 11:28
  4. Philippians 4:6-7

What else can be done to combat loneliness?

  1. Keep a journal – helps to process some of the difficult emotions surrounding loneliness.
  2. Write a letter or phone a friend – preferably someone close and whom you can trust.
  3. Take a more active role and participate in your Christian congregation – use the gifts God has given you.
  4. Exercise.

With God’s help and direction – take some risks – challenge yourself.

Pray.

How do I find a friend?

Be a friend. It’s that simple and that hard.

I have to believe I have something to give. My attention, my time, my concern. Maybe a friendship develops out of a shared task as I help others. Maybe somebody is going through hard times and I get in the habit of sitting down and listening to them.

I have to take the first step. For me to wait for someone to be my friend is as effective as holding a cardboard sign on the street corner, “Will work for a friend.” Taking the initiative takes a little guts and courage, but if I believe I have something to give to others, I will take the first step.

Finally I have to recognize I will learn more about myself than I ever wanted to. A friend is somebody who shows you who you are, with all the warts and wrinkles. A friend is somebody who can pop all your presumptuous bubbles and still like you, love you, and your feelings for them don’t change, either.

All those things were at work in Jesus. He knew he had something to give and he was never stingy in giving his time and attention to others. He took the first step. When nobody wants to do the dirty work, he would get up and do it. When somebody was under the gun, he stood up for them.

And with Jesus, he tells me more about myself than I really want to know, but in telling me about myself, I become more than I ever could be. And it is never as a judge, but always as a friend.

Maybe that’s why the Bible says, “We love him, because he first loved us.”

I Just Don’t Fit In

It is not fun when other people seem to be more comfortable socially than you are. It’s downright depressing. It’s especially bad when other people point it out, don’t you think?

There are billions of people in this world. You don’t care what most of them think about you. But there are certain people whose opinions are very important to you, right? Whose opinion is most important?

The clear answer to that is God. God’s opinion of you is absolutely most important. He’s smarter than anyone, he’s more powerful than anyone, and his opinion of you has eternal consequences. So what’s his opinion of you?

He says, “I created you. I redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you. You are precious and honored in my sight” (Isaiah 43:1-4). Because of the work of Jesus, God thinks you are extremely cool.

Anyone who tries to exclude you or make fun of you is dumber than God. But when you are secure in his love, that makes you sad for those people, not angry. God loves them too, and they don’t even realize that they are to reflect his love.

The special things that make you who you are–those things are precious to God. Some of those unique traits may even make you a little uncomfortable socially. But God has a plan to use those things to his glory in your life, regardless of how comfortable you are. There are people who will come into your life and will appreciate those special things about you. Can you wait?

In the meantime, don’t be mean in return. Be kind, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13).

Why Are They Talking About Me?

It is spooky when you walk into a room and friends say, “We were just talking about you!” Instantly you are on your guard.

Sometimes you get the feeling that the people talking about you are not your friends. You enter a room and the conversation dies. Either their eyes don’t meet yours or they try to stare you out of the room so they can get back to ripping you apart.

Why do people do it? Either you are very interesting to them (unlikely), you are envied by them so they want to take you down a notch or two (perhaps), or they derive malicious pleasure from jerking people’s chains, and you are the topic of the day.

It’s going to happen. King David once lamented, “With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause (Psalm 109:3).” There was a lot of talking behind Jesus’ back, talk that led to his betrayal and execution. So people are going to talk about you.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

If they are interested in you, they will, once they get over their shyness in being around such an wonderful person, come out of their shells and talk to you. Talk to them first. Life is too short to wait.

If they are envious, don’t worry. Nothing they can say will affect who you are and what you do.

If you are the target of the day, turn the other cheek and ignore them. That’s what Jesus did. He had more important things to do than worry what they were saying about him. He had a world to save and he did it. He can give you the power to live above those who talk behind your back.

Why Doesn’t Anyone Like Me?

Harley Davidson motorcycles were always the choice for rebels and outlaw bikers, but the company softened its approach for a time. For a time the company chose a marketing strategy that distanced itself from this rebel image in an attempt to appear more wholesome and “American” (maybe like apple pie and hot dogs)!

Harley Davidson stumbled close to bankruptcy, however, and found itself reembracing its legendary connection with rebelliousness. The strategy worked. Everyday Americans really wanted to see themselves as part of another world. They felt unashamed to strap on their leathers and rumble off on their Harley.

There’s a message here for you, whether you’re a bike buff or not. The Bible teaches, “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:16-17).

When the world doesn’t like you, it can be a sign that you’re doing the right thing, the will of God.

A teenage girl breaks it off with her boyfriend because he’s got sex on his mind, and the whole school makes jokes about her. A young man considers joining a Christian church against the precedent set by his unchurched parents, and they threaten to write him out of the will. A star member of the soccer team misses a tournament game because of a church conflict and is benched for the next game.

Like a Harley owner, when you are different you embrace another world. In that world love, forgiveness, and peaceful comfort provide safety and security, mercy and meaning for those who wish to live in it – both in this life and the next. That world is God’s world of grace.

God would like it very much for you to live unashamedly in his world, day by day, by trusting in his promises. And there are many people, in this world but not of this world, who already live there. They like it and they’ll like you! One place you can find them is at a local church referred through this website.

But I Need It!

Appetite is a good thing. Without it, you die. But appetite can also be a bad thing because with it sometimes we eat too much and get heavy and slow and have heart attacks.

An appetite for things is also not wrong. There is nothing wrong with a stroll through a Walmart store looking for things we need for our lives. But appetite can get out of control, even in a Walmart store.

This danger is exemplified by the statement, “But I need it!” With this appetite in view God warns, “For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:16,17).

There are things that we absolutely need. We need food and clothes and shelter and air to breathe. There are many other things like that we need, which our Father in heaven wants us to have to sustain our lives and our happiness. But these things are not the most important things that we need. Jesus talked one day to two friends of his in their home. Martha thought getting supper and getting the house cleaned were things that she “needed” to do. Mary on the other hand thought she needed to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41).

Our Father in heaven says to us, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).

That makes it simple. To the statement “But I need it!” there is a Godly response. Only one thing is needed. Please don’t think that is too simple. When the world passes into oblivion and we stand at God’s judgment throne Jesus will be all that we need. To know Jesus as the only one who provides good for us in this world and the next is the only thing we need.

There are things we need. We truly do. Body and soul need things. Our challenge when faced with the statement “But I need it!” is to know what God says we need.

He will always be right, and, insofar as we listen to him, so will we.

Enemies

Do you have enemies? Join the club! If you think it’s possible to live life without enemies, you are only fooling yourself.

Jesus lived a perfect life, but he still had enemies. People were constantly plotting to discredit and kill him. Matthew 10:36 says that in some cases “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

It is still good to avoid making enemies.Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

But the real question is what to do with enemies once you’ve got them. The Bible is clear on that too. Jesus teaches his followers, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44); “do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).

How is that possible? Don’t human beings naturally fight back when they are attacked?

The only time you will have the strength to love your enemies is when you are still secure despite being attacked. The only way to have perfect security is to get it from Jesus himself.

Jesus had many human enemies, but because he loved them, he defeated the most menacing enemies that all humans face: sin, death and the devil. Jesus defeated sin for us by refusing to sin in the face of temptation (Hebrews 4:15). He defeated death for us by rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). By his perfect life and his rising from the dead, he defeated the devil for us as well (Hebrews 2:14, 15).

What Jesus did in our place gives us security. It gives us peace. The love he showed us is the only love strong enough to give us the desire and the ability to love our enemies.

Do you have enemies? We all do! Now you have the opportunity to reflect the love of Jesus in your life, also and especially to your enemies.

Who is my neighbor?

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus once said. But who is your neighbor? Good question.

Someone once asked Jesus that question (Luke 10:29). He responded by telling the story of a traveler who was mugged. Two “respectable” members of the local ethnic majority passed him by on the side of the road. But a third passer-by, a member of a despised ethnic minority, stopped, helped the traveler, and paid for his hospitalization (Luke 10:30-35).

Who was the real neighbor? The one who showed mercy (Luke 10:36,37).

Kind of scary, huh? Do you have to stop for every roadside wreck now in order to be sure of going to heaven?

There is no person alive who has treated his or her neighbors perfectly. Everyone has some selfishness in them. Do we have any hope of heaven?

Not on our own. But there is someone who has treated all of his neighbors perfectly. That person is Jesus. He never sinned once. Everything he did was for other people, not for himself. When it came time to die, Jesus could have chosen not to. But in a last, unselfish act, he died in our place to take the punishment for all of the times we have neglected our neighbors.

Even today, when Jesus sees us mugged on the road of life, he stops, helps us, and reminds us that he has paid the price for us to go to heaven. He has made us more than just his neighbors; he has made us his children.

Who is your neighbor? Jesus. Be glad!