In this episode of the CrossTalk podcast Wes, Sam, and James discuss what it really means to put God first. How can you know if you’re putting God first? Is it a matter of priorities? Is it a matter of balance? This discussion might surprise you.Continue Reading...
Archives For God
But what does it mean to have faith? Is faith an irrational and totally emotional phenomenon? Does having “faith” mean throwing away all reason and logic?Continue Reading...
Under the Old Testament, many seemed to believe that all God really wanted was ritualistic obedience. They seemed to think that as long as they went through the motions, regardless of their hearts, God would be pleased. This mentality was certainly prevalent during the days of Isaiah, and of Christ (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8).
There are those with this mentality today; however, many seem to have gone to the opposite extreme.
Many today, seem to think God cares nothing about obedience and cares only about the heart. They say things like, “It’s impossible to say whether anyone is right or wrong in what they do, because we don’t know their heart.” These people believe God will judge, not based on what a person did or didn’t do, but based upon how that person felt about God.
Neither of these two extremes are biblical. And neither of these two extremes are pleasing to God. As you read through the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, you will find that what God really wants is YOU! He wants all of you. He doesn’t want just your heart, and He doesn’t want just your obedience. He wants everything. He wants heartfelt obedience!
Jesus certainly rebuked the idea that God would be pleased with ritualistic, heartless obedience. But, He also debunked the myth that God would be pleased with anything less than total submission to His will.
John 14:15 (ESV)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Matthew 15:7-9 (ESV)
“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.'”
Mark 12:29-30 (ESV)
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”
Although we will inevitably fall short of God’s will for our lives (Romans 3:23), we must acknowledge the fact that God is pleased with nothing short of a heartfelt effort to be perfect and holy (Matthew 5:48). It is only while we strive (in futility) for perfection, that we walk in the grace of God (1 John 1:7).
God has high expectations of those who come to Him; expectations of your heart and expectations of your obedience.
I love you and a gracious God loves you,
P.S. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Today there are hundreds, if not thousands, of false ideas about God. Sadly, many of these ideas come straight from those who claim to be teaching Scripture. In no particular order, here are 10 of the most popular myths about God today.
Each passage can be read by hovering your mouse over the reference. However, I encourage you to also read the context in which the verse is found.
1. God predestined individuals for either heaven or hell (John 3:16; 2Peter 3:9).
2. God is tolerant of sin (Romans 6:23; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Peter 1:16).
3. God is pleased with any kind of worship (Leviticus 10:1-2; John 4:24; Colossians 3:16).
4. God saves people when they pray and ask Jesus into their heart (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16).
5. God speaks directly and miraculously to individuals today (Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 13:8-9).
6. God is okay with denominationalism (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
7. God used evolution, over the course of millions of years, to create humans (Genesis 1:24-31; Matthew 19:4)
8. As long as people are sincere, God is pleased with their faith (Proverbs 14:12; Acts 26:9).
9. God is so loving that He couldn’t possibly send “good people” to hell (Luke 18:19; 2Thessalonians 1:5-10).
10. God is whatever you want Him to be (Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 55:6-9; John 4:24).
I love you and the God of the Bible loves you,
P.S. What other myths are popular today? Feel free to comment below.
No doubt you have a busy day ahead of you, we all do. But before things get too crazy, I want to encourage you to stop for just a minute and give thanks!
We have so much for which we should be thankful. But often, we take things for granted, and forget to thank the One who gave us “every good and perfect gift.” Everyday, we ought to stop occasionally, look around, and thank God for everything we can see.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Alright, you can go about your day. Just don’t forget to keep stopping, looking around, and thanking God.
I love you and God loves you,
I realize many people are passionate in their defense of mechanical instruments in worship to God. It is interesting though, how few have stopped to even question whether or not this practice comes from God or from man. If one simply studies the New Testament, I believe you will find that the use of mechanical instruments has no place in making music to God.
Put simply, the reason I don’t use instruments in worship is the same reason I expect a pizza I purchase to be topped with only the toppings I order. When I call up and order my favorite pizza from Papa John’s Pizza (a Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza), I expect to receive a pizza with Canadian bacon and pineapple. I will not be pleased if I receive less than this and I will not be pleased if I receive more than this. I will not accept a pizza with Canadian bacon, pineapple, and pepperoni. Pepperoni might be a fine topping, but if I have not asked for it, I do not want it.
This concept is so simple! When a person asks for something specific, then their silence concerning all other alternatives is prohibitive! Put simply, when I ask for a specific type of pizza I have automatically eliminated all the other possibilities concerning the type of pizza I wish to receive. There are a thousand alternatives to any given set of instructions, and it would be ridiculous for someone to have to exhaust a list of what he doesn’t want. All a person has to do is be specific about what he does want.
If however, I simply wanted a pizza and did not care what kind of pizza I received I could be generic in my order. I could simply say, “Bring me a pizza.” I could not complain then about the toppings which were on it because I did not specify want kind of pizza I wanted. This is a generic command.
The question then, as it concerns music in worship, is: was God specific or generic about music? Some are quick to say, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” (Psalm 100:1)! And they are right. That is a generic command. However, that is a generic command to the Jews under the Old Covenant. If you want to please God under the New Covenant, you better look to the New Testament. It doesn’t matter what kind of pizza I ordered yesterday. If I order a new pizza today, it is that pizza order that I wish to have followed.
When we read in the New Testament about music to God this is what we read:
Ephesians 5:19 (ESV) “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart”
Colossians 3:16 (ESV) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
The reason it is not right for Christians to use an instrument in worship is because God specifically instructed us on how to make music to Him; those instructions did not include the instrument.
Being radically Christian is about following God’s instructions, not man’s. Therefore give God what he’s asked for and be radically Christian!
The treasures which God lavishes upon mankind are the result of grace. However, there is something that mankind can earn…punishment. Because man has sinned, he has earned for himself the torment of God, not the treasures of God!
Becoming radically Christian means one must understand that God’s wrath is the only thing which is owed to us. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” If you are an adult human being, of sound-mind, you deserve eternal torment; not for the sin of Adam or the sins of your parents (Ezekiel 18:20), you deserve to go to hell for your own sins. By choosing sin over righteousness, even just one time, you have chosen to become a slave to sin (Romans 6:16). By choosing sin, you have chosen to separate yourself from God (Isaiah 59:2). By choosing sin, you have chosen to be an enemy of God (Romans 5:10). God has not chosen hell for anyone. Anyone who goes to hell will go there because they chose sin; and hell is the just repercussion of choosing sin. Some may think that hell is too harsh. Some may think that hell could not possibly be just or fair. They may think that a loving God could never allow His created beings, whom He loves, to go to hell. After all, “God is love” (1 John 4:8); how could He possibly create, and allow people to go to, a place like hell?
In order to understand grace, one must absolutely understand that God has been more than fair in the system that He has established. First, we must understand that God, in His very nature, is completely holy (Psalm 99:9). Holy means to be set apart from sin. It means to be totally, completely, and perfectly pure. So sin and God are very opposites in nature; they naturally separate from one another. Like oil and water, sin repels God. God did not create Himself to be holy and separate from sin; God did not create Himself at all. He has always been, and therefore has always been holy.
When God created mankind, His will for them was that they live in a perpetual state of happiness and joy with their loving Creator. God initially gave to them, not the world we see today, but essentially a heaven on earth. But for what purpose did God create man? Man’s entire purpose for being created and placed in the Garden can be summed up in three words, to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 10:31). This loving and mighty God created two human beings, gave them a wonderful and beautiful place in which to live, and gave them a simple mandate, glorify Me! This is the same expectation He has for all of His creation, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). However, the first two humans soon disobeyed this simple directive. Instead of glorifying God, they disobeyed God in order to gratify their own sinful desires. By disobeying God, they failed to fulfill the very purpose for which they were created to serve.
When a creation fails to fulfill its purpose, the creator has every right to destroy the creation. After all, if Ford Motor Co. created a car that could not be driven (the purpose for which it was created), Ford would be within its rights to destroy the malfunctioning cars. God could have simply destroyed man in the same instance that he first chose sin over obedience. God would have been within His rights, as the Creator, to destroy Adam and Eve the moment that they ate of the forbidden fruit.
However, because God is by nature loving, God decided it would be more merciful and gracious to banish mankind than to destroy them; so God “drove out the man” from the Garden (Genesis 3:24). This is one of the first glimpses we have into the amazing mercy and grace of God! Adam and Eve deserved destruction, but by grace they received life.
All mankind deserves torment and destruction, and there is a place where many will receive exactly what all mankind deserves. Jesus warns, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Hell is described as the place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). It is a place, we are told, that is an “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
Contrary to popular ideas, hell is not a place which Satan owns or controls; it the place in which Satan will suffer eternal torment. It was prepared for him and his angels because of his disobedience to God. Jesus says about Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). When we disobey God, we choose to be children of the devil. John writes, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (1 John 3:10). Children of the devil will, of course, “fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). Meaning, those who choose not to follow God will spend eternity in torment.
It may be discouraging to come to the realization that we deserve punishment, torment, and destruction. But this fact must be realized before grace can be understood. If one does not understand what he deserves, he cannot be thankful for the blessings he has received in spite of that which he deserves. He may grow to feel as if he has earned these blessings and not give the glory to God.
The contrast between those who realize the gravity of their sins and those who do not is seen in Luke 7. There, a “sinful woman” washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. Simon (a Pharisee), in who’s home Jesus was dining, thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). In response to Simon’s unspoken rebuke, Jesus said to Him, “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more” (Luke 7:41-42)? Simon, of course, answered that that the one who was forgiven the most would love the most. Jesus rebuked Simon for not showing Him the same love that the women showed Him. He conclude by telling Simon, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can be thankful for grace. Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can love God fully. Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can honor and glorify God.
I love you! A gracious God loves you! Have a wonderful day!