Some Christians believe it is their duty to go to church, hear the preacher talk about God, sing a song or two about God, and then conduct life as they desire. The Bible gives a different description of how a Christian is supposed to live. In the book of James, it says to get rid of all filth and evil, and humbly accept the word of God because it has the ability to save a person’s soul (James 1:21). There is an action that is required within this verse. Yes, there is faith that receives the Word of God, but there is action to get rid of filth and evil. Christians are not to be hearers only, but people who put action to the Word of God or that person is only fooling themselves (James 1:22). This point is so important to God that He inspired James to write this down for everyone to read and understand. Obedience is so important that the writer of Hebrews describes Jesus as the perfect High Priest that became the source for eternal salvation for all those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). God desires for people to know Him, love Him, and obey Him. God does not desire this to be a dictator but a good Father that wants a real relationship with His children. Not all people are the children of God. Only those that obey God are His children (1 John 2:3-6). Having been born on the planet earth does not constitute a person having a relationship with God, but submitting to and obeying God makes a person a child of God. The Apostle Paul, again inspired by God, wrote to take note of anyone that refused to obey the Word of God and warn that person of their disobedience (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). Christians must read the Word of God, pray, go to church, and also obey God. These elements create the formula for a true walk with God. For some people, there is a desire to obey but another person begins to hinder them from obeying the truth of God (Galatians 3:1). This should not be the testimony of any Christian. Christians must obey God no matter the cost. For many people the cost is someone talking about them, having to say no when sinful people want them to say yes, or declaring their love for Jesus when it is unpopular. People will either obey one of two options: sin or God. When a person has a true walk with God sin does not reign in the mortal body (Romans 6:14). Christians are to obey the Word of God and practice holiness. Whoever a person obeys is who they belong to (1 John 3:3-8). This is why it is important for Christians to obey God. Christians must declare and display love and commitment to Jesus Christ in these last days or He will deny them before God reflecting their eternal choice (Matthew 10:33). May Christians obey God by living out His Word, praying, and being faithful to His house, the local church.
Everyone throughout time, since the fall of Adam and Eve, has been born in sin (Romans 5:12). Mankind has become lovers of their selves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, heartless without natural affection, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, reckless, haughty, and lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4). Many people live their lives by performing the works of the flesh which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, being rude or disrespectful, lack of acknowledgment of God, witchcraft, having hate, love to fight or debate, being jealous, looking for revenge or to injure, strife, not agreeable, substitute the truth for personal preference, ill-will, murder, habitual intoxication, rioting attitude (Galatians 5:19-21). The Bible says that those who conduct these acts will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21). Those that choose to not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God are on their way to Hell for eternity (John 14:6, John 3:18). Sadly, some people think that religion is the answer.
Religious people have an appearance of God but they deny, reject, and refuse Him to have any power within their lives (2 Timothy 3:5). Being religious is not what God is looking for. God is looking for people to humble themselves and pray to Him in seeking forgiveness for their sins (John 3:3,7). Religion is not the answer.
So far, one can see that there are a plethora of sins that can keep a person from getting into Heaven. THERE is GOOD NEWS. God is the answer. Having a real relationship with God is the answer. Jesus Christ died so anyone, anywhere, can be forgiven of their sins (John 3:15, 1 John 2:1-2, 1 John 1:9). The plan of salvation is easy as believing in the heart and speaking with the mouth (Romans 10:9-10). It is by faith that a person is born again of spiritual nature (Luke 7:50, Romans 3:28, Romans 5:1-2). Once a person declares that Jesus is the Son of God, He died for their sins and asks Jesus to forgive them of their sins, they are released from the bondage of sin. It is up to that person to not submit to sin again (Romans 6:12-13). This does not mean that a Christian is perfect or never sins for the rest of their lives but it does mean that they do not live in sin. When sin takes place they instantly ask God for forgiveness and make the wrong right again. Realizing the power and liberty of now being a Christian there is a relationship with God that must be maintained like any other relationship.
True love for God will create expressions of love not from a sense of duty or obligation but from a desire to display love (James 1:21-22, James 2:18). A relationship with God should change each Christian to look more like Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 12:1-2, Titus 2:11-12, 1 John 2:28-29). That is the heart of being a Christian is to be Christ-like. Have you asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins? Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2) so confess your sins and make Jesus your Savior today.
The Southern region of the United States is called the Bible belt. This is both a good and bad reflection for those that live within this area. It is good in the regard of using the Bible as the metric of guidelines of living life yet bad in the aspect of many became religious very quickly in using the Word of God to think that action or knowledge equals a relationship with God. The Apostle Paul writes that Christians are to test or examine themselves and their faith in God through their relationship with Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). He also states that Christians should do what is right whether they appear approved or not (2 Corinthians 13:7). These verses reflect that one’s appearance before other men is not the heart of what God is looking for but a person that does what is right because they know and love God.
Many religious people will do what looks right to have a reputation of knowing God or being the Christian everyone expects them to be. This type of person has a form [the appearance, formula, fashion but not genuine] of godliness, but they deny [contradict, reject, refuse, renounce] the power of God from working within their life (2 Timothy 3:5). Religious behavior shuts off the kingdom of God not only in the lives of the hypocrites, the religious people, but they, in turn, shut others off from the kingdom of God by their actions affecting the people they interact with (Matthew 23:13). Jesus even describes many people will prophesy in His name, cast out devils in His name, and did miracles in His name but He tells them that He never KNEW them (Matthew 7:22-23). The Son of God, Jesus, specifically says that religious acts will not get a person into Heaven but knowing Jesus as Saviour and Lord in a true relationship leads to a life in right standing with God.
Religious facades teach other people how to act and speak Christianese but not the heart of God and how to have a relationship with Him (Isaiah 29:13). The true heart of God is to know His Word, know how to live a holy life, but most importantly to know Him (James 1:21-25). Religious people seek perfection in appearance while God desires relationship. God gives those that love and walk with Him grace to cover their imperfections yet expects them to live holy lives that give Him glory and honor (Ephesians 2:8-10, 1 John 1:3-9). Although God does expect obedience to Him and His Word, He wants our hearts to love Him and desire a relationship with Him every day. Christians should not be religious but have sincere love for God creating a sincere love for one another (1 Peter 1:22). Sincere love does not present hypocrisy or a façade but a genuine relationship. May Christians not be religious any longer but know, serve, and love God with all that is within them (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5).
All of mankind is worthy of honor in some regard. Every person is not required to have the same manner of honor but should have honor according to their character or their position. At the very least as a creation of the God Almighty (1 Peter 2:17). Due to all of mankind being worthy of some level of honor does not constitute there must be a relationship or interaction with everyone. Some people can only be honored by praying for their souls to be born again or their repentance (Romans 12:9-10). Christians are to honor others and be kind in love. Love does not make excuses or condone sin, but love confronts sin, believes in the best, and endures (1 Corinthians 13). Honor works similarly. Honor does not stand for perversion, filth, or sin but can still be manifested through prayer for salvation or repentance, fasting for a move of God within that person’s life, or evangelizing the person that is not in right relations with God (Romans 2:10).
Honor especially belongs to those that do what is right as opposed to evil. The Apostle Paul discusses God will give glory, honor, and peace to those that do what He says and lives a holy life. Honor should be given to those that are older (Leviticus 19:32). This is a command given within the Mosaic Law. This element has become a missing ingredient within most of today’s society. Honor was a staple characteristic within many nations, especially America not so many years ago. As the last days have come, people have become self-absorbed and give honor only to themselves or only to those that do the same things they participate in, especially sin. This should not be the testimony of the Body of Christ. Christians should have a love and honor for everyone although this may look differently depending on the circumstances.
Honor within marriage is another area the enemy has attacked to destroy what God has established (1Peter 3:7). Many would say that this verse is sexist or not politically correct, but the heart of this verse is for the husband to be the protector and provider. God made man and woman differently so the honor will look slightly different as well. Husbands should honor their wives to protect them, provide for them, and lead them as the head of the household. Wives should honor their husbands as leaders, protectors, and providers (Colossians 3:18-19, Ephesians 5:28-29, 5:33). An honored husband should feel confident to lead, that he has the help of his wife, and strong in protecting what he has been given from God. A wife can help a husband feel these characteristics or she can make him feel worthless and useless. Much like a husband can make his wife feel like a queen or worthless. In either role, a spouse should honor their mate because they are a gift from God. This assists each person in the marriage to feel fulfilled and honored which reduces the temptations to seek attention from an outside source. God instituted marriage with honor being a key element within the union. Honor for one another and honor as a couple to God in fulfilling the call that He has for them as a team.
From the Bible, a person can see how God desires for all of mankind to be honored in some way, but every method will be different according to that person’s relationship with God and that person’s relationship with others. May Christians especially have proper honor to all men according to God’s Word.
As God is to be honored, so must the things of God be honored. If a president were to be honored yet his home or other things associated with him were not honored how much is the president truly honored. This same principle can be applied to God. How much does a person honor God if God’s house is not honored (Psalm 26:8)? Christians should honor the things of God because of the association between those things and God. The house of God should have honor from all those who love, serve, or fear God. If God’s presence is in His house there should be honor there. When low lights, snacks, gimmicks, and games have to be used in gathering people that gathering is not a church but a social club. What fellowship does God have with darkness? He doesn’t (Acts 26:18). Why do some churches choose to have darkness in their sanctuary? What holiness and hope of Jesus Christ do snacks, gimmicks, and games give? None (2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Peter 1:15-16, 1 Thessalonians 4:7, John 17:17, 1 Corinthians 11:34, Psalm 39:7, 71:5, 119:114). The purpose of the church is to reflect God, not culture.
In Matthew 21:12-13, these verses display that when there is a dishonor for the house or things of God Jesus has the right to throw the dishonorable people out. The issue was not the process of moneychanging but instead the greedy sellers' manipulation of those seeking to honor God with sacrifices. In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter charges believers to sanctify (set apart) God in their hearts. If God is honored within the hearts of His people the things of God will be honored. The house of God will be honored, the people of God will be honored, and the Word of God will be honored by producing a holy lifestyle that is pleasing unto God.
In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, the Apostle Paul is telling Timothy to continue in the things of God. If Timothy did not have honor for the things of God he would have failed this command given to him by his man of God. Part of this conversation discusses the Word of God that is profitable for doctrine (living a holy life through teaching), reproof (exposing, convicting sin), correction (adjusting to increase accuracy), and instruction in righteousness (what is right, the act of doing what is in agreement with God’s standards). Lacking an honor for the things of God will negate a love for God (Ezekiel 22:26-27). These verses display that dishonoring the things of God reflects a dishonor for God. This issue became so deep-rooted within the people that the leaders began to destroy the lives of others for financial gain. The origin was defiling God’s instructions and holy things.
Honor must be established and kept within the hearts of God’s people. Practicing honor should be a lifestyle of every Christian to keep a right attitude not only to God but to the things of God (Psalm 71:8). This is the responsibility of all believers to keep a heart toward God and not allow the enemy to begin a division by declining honor for the things of God leading to a lack of honor for God. Small increments will create a big impact over a period of time. Christians must discern even the small things that attempt to creep in to create this division. May churches and Christians honor God to be the light (Ephesians 5:11, John 8:12, 1 John 1:6-7) to shine bright in giving the love, hope, and the holiness of God to an unholy world.
Within the last 20 to 30 years, honor has not been taught as a staple characteristic to have within families, friendships, or work relationships, but especially for God or the things/people of God. Honor is defined as a good opinion, to revere, fix a value upon, esteem, to find precious. Everyone will honor things or people in their lives to some degree, but many will dishonor everything else out of selfishness. God established honor, so honor must be given to what God says deserves honor. There are elements to honor. One element of honor is humility. When a person humbles himself honor has an entrance into that person’s life (Proverbs 18:12, 15:33, 14:31). Humility allows a person to think of others in a manner that lifts up while not putting down oneself as worthless. Having this attitude allows the occasion for others to honor the humble person due to honor being given first through humility. Not only is humility an element of honor that assists in seeing other people or things as valuable but also allows others to honor the humble person. Humility gives and can receive honor. Humility, when coupled with the fear of the Lord, brings riches, life, and honor (Proverbs 22:4). Christians should give honor and be honorable to receive the promises that begin with humility.
Wisdom is another element of honor. Wisdom begins with fear or reverence of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) which reflects there is an association with God even if it is not one based on salvation but only respect toward God. This can be noted from pagans of yesteryear not living by God’s Word but still having respect or honor toward the things of God or the people of God. Christians should have the most honor for others and the appropriate things out of any group of people in the world due to their wisdom (fear/reverence) and love for God (Proverbs 3:35, 26:1). Honor should be present within the lives of every Christians not as a necessity, but as a characteristic that is birthed from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Having the wisdom to know what deserves honor and what does not is an important key to life (Proverbs 4:8).
Self-control is an element of honor. This fruit of the Spirit from self-discipline gives and receives honor. In these last days, there is a major absence of self-control which explains part of the lack of honor (1 Thessalonians 4:4). Self-control reflects maturity and wisdom which is worthy to have honor given to it when working with humility and wisdom. This element also allows holiness to be present when applied to the spiritual aspect of a person’s life. It regulates emotions, desires, actions, and thoughts of a person’s life when used correctly. Regulating thoughts include what deserves honor and what does not deserve honor (Proverbs 1:7,9).
To live an honorable life the elements of humility, wisdom, and self-control must be present. Christians should have these elements working within their lives producing honor automatically. This is indicative when Christians lack honor in their life for others or are not worthy of honor themselves. One must examine their life to understand which element is missing creating a lack of honor. The concept of honor extends beyond the Christian faith for anything that is held in high respect or distinction. Knowing what God says about honor supersedes any other model, especially in the lives of Christians. Let us honor what God honors to be in biblical order.
Many Christians today need the grit and determination to hold onto their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The word determined means to be decided, resolved and settled. To be a determined Christian is to be resolved and settled as a Christ-like believer of God (Proverbs 4:25). When faith should cry louder, culture, the enemy, and the world promote silence. Christians should be more like blind Bartimaeus who was determined to cry out unto Jesus (Mark 10:46-52). In this passage, even though the crowd began to tell Bartimaeus to be quiet he began to yell louder for Jesus to intervene in his life. When Jesus bids Bartimaeus come to him, the first thing Bartimaeus does is takes off his outer garment. He was laying aside the garment that reflected his shame, his filth, and his history of what had defined him. This required determination to not remain the same. Laying off the outer garment in today’s time can be displayed by laying aside sin (Romans 6:23), getting rid of all the hindrances and distractions (Hebrews 12:1), or letting go of where a person is and moving forward by becoming a Christian (Ephesians 4:22). Believers must be determined to get as close as they can to God through His Word, prayer, and a holy lifestyle. It is not by works that a person is saved but a love for God and an appreciation of being born again should create a desire to express love in action.
Christians must also be determined to not bow to the idols of this world or culture. Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not bow or worship the image created by man, Christians should not bow to the lawlessness or perversion of culture today (Daniel 3:4-30). Being determined not only includes becoming a Christian but also remaining a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and enduring to the end to be saved (Matthew 24:13). The spiritual enemies in today’s time strive to distract and pervert as many believers as they can. One key to not being distracted or tempted above the ability one has is truly looking and believing whole heartily in God (1 Corinthians 10:13). God is there to give strength and help those who rely on Him to conquer anything that comes (1 John 2:13). Christians are also well able to do anything that needs to be done for the kingdom of God (Numbers 13:30, 1 John 4:4). He gives strength and every resource to do what He calls Christians to do.
Knowing that Christians are supposed to be fixed on God and His Word is the key to being dedicated (Psalm 119:15). One of the biggest distractions is the flesh in a person’s life that desires the sinful nature (Galatians 5:16-17). Determined Christians must walk by the Spirit to live according to the plans and purposes God has for each believer (Jeremiah 29:11). God created mankind to walk with Him and fellowship with Him (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 5:24, Genesis 6:9). If the enemy distracts Christians he gains spiritual ground. Many issues within the current culture and time reflect years of the distraction and silence of Christians. May current Christians be determined to stand for the Word of God, the presence of God, and the kingdom of God to be the victorious soldiers He has called them to be.
The heart of every Christian should be to have a relationship with God. As a Christian, a person is to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Christians are to be lamps that burn light reflecting an active relationship with God. It is our job as faithful Christians to keep our lamps burning continually by studying the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15), praying (Ephesians 6:18), being faithful and active within the local church (Hebrews 10:25), and following the commandments of Jesus (John 14:15). If a Christian has a religious heart that lamp will burn for a while and then will go out due to not being continually refilled by God. Having a continuous supply of oil keeps a Christian burning and ready for use by Jesus.
Matthew 25:1-13 tells of the parable of the ten virgins. During biblical times, the friends of the bride (the virgins) would gather along the path of the groom (bridegroom) who would travel in retrieving his bride from her family’s house to take her to his home. Jesus speaks about the ten virgins to relay how Christians respond to the calling of the bridegroom (verses 1-2). There were five wise virgins which means they were judicious in practical affairs, discreet or circumspect, sober, and careful in providing for the future. These five are more than just smart, they have a spiritual aspect that is lacking within the five foolish virgins.
After the call of the bridegroom’s coming was made all the virgins got up from sleep, trimmed their lamps, and were doing something to get a fire burning (verses 6-7). The act of trimming the wick is an external work of laying aside things that oppose God (sin and distractions), but on the inside, being empty of oil displays the lack of refilling that is received from God via a true relationship with Him.
In this passage, it is displayed that the foolish virgins were used to not carrying oil with them regularly. The need for the oil was not a necessity until they were being left behind. Many people only seek God when they need something from Him. These foolish virgins were not diligent in having an abundance of oil to be ready to meet the groom at the appropriate time. All Christians must be ready for Jesus’ return.
The wise virgins could not give of their oil but told the foolish virgins to get their own. The foolish virgins knew exactly where to get the oil but neglected to do so while the opportunity was present. Everyone is accountable for their own light and being prepared to not only meet the bridegroom but to stay diligent in preparation.
Christians are commanded to walk with God (Colossians 2:6, Galatians 5:16). In walking with God, some people can become less focused on a relationship with Him and become religious through action with a lack of heart. Part of this religious heart is the lack of diligence (steady, earnest, devotion) in maintaining a relationship with God. Christians must engage their hearts to love and walk with God every day. If a person cools off for God, they make Jesus want to vomit (Revelation 3:16).
Just before giving the parable of the virgins Jesus says that each person must endure to the end to be saved (Matthew 24:13). Christians will only endure life by knowing God through studying the Bible, praying, being faithful and active within the local church, and following the commandments of Jesus. May every Christian be diligent in keeping the faith through an active relationship with God.
There is an important role within the local church that many people overlook, the local pastor. Most people fail to understand that the local pastor is a gift from Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). The local pastor is given to mature the people of God in the things of God. In many passages of the Bible, the words used for pastor and shepherd are the same. This reflects local pastors are supposed to be shepherds to the sheep of the church. God gives pastors according to his heart to feed with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15). What if a person does not have a pastor? What is that person missing from God due to not being under the pastor God has for them? Pastors can provide peace and safety to the people God places under them within the local church (Jeremiah 23:4). Every Christian benefits from having a pastor. Even pastors should have a pastor to feed them the Word of God, give wisdom, and provide safety from spiritual enemies.
David, one of the most famous shepherds of the Bible, is a great example of what happens when people submit to a captain (like the local pastor). In 1 Samuel 22, David is in the cave of Adullam (which means testimony) and 400 men, not including their families, go to submit to him as their captain. Each of these people was either distressed, in debt, discontented or a combination of each. When these men submitted to David they became mighty men of valor with some having their names recorded in the Bible for their acts of overcoming situations within their own lives (2 Samuel 23). What if these men did not submit to a spiritual leader? Would they and their families have been saved from the issues they were in? Even if they could overcome those issues how much longer would it have taken without the leader God ordained to help them? If pastors are a gift from Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11), why would anyone not take their gift and mature in the things of God? Many reasons come to mind such as laziness, rebellion, ignorance, religiosity, etc. but only Christians that do not have a pastor can truly answer for themselves. Not only is it important to have a local pastor but to submit to the one God has ordained for each person’s life. Think of the process David had to use to challenge these 400 men to push them in training, teach them to understand different subjects, and also help them grow in various areas of life. This is the true calling of a pastor. One saying of pastoring could not be more true, “If your pastor does not know your name, you do not have a pastor”. Many Christians will say they go to church or have a pastor but this is a religious answer to keep the false appearance of being a Christian when the truth states otherwise.
Now a challenge to pastors. Be the man after God’s own heart to lead the people much like David. Was David perfect? No, and neither will any pastor because they are still human. This does not give an excuse to not do the job God has called every pastor to fulfill. Be the feeder of the Word of God, the protector of God’s sheep, and the captain to challenge the people of God to become mighty men and women of valor for the glory of God. Every pastor is not called to shepherd the world, but to pastor the local church God has ordained him to lead.