Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

There is something very important that so many billions of people are not catching onto in this world today. I’m not gonna hem haul around about it. There will be no soft spoken message, or apologies for hurt feelings. There is going to be brute honesty, and love…don’t forget the love…so here we go.

The simple, horrible, and disheartening fact is that without Jesus Christ in our lives, we are simply slowly committing suicide. Without Jesus Christ we are alone. There is absolutely no purpose in life. If we deny him the love that he deserves, if we walk through this life with absolutely no meaning, then we are simply waiting to die. There is absolutely no reason for us to live, laugh, or love. You see Jesus is it. He is life. He is love. He is everything.

Now of course this message is not so much intended for people who are walking with, and I mean truly walking with Jesus. That does not mean we should ignore it though. This should be motivation, this should be the jump start in our hearts…the words that inspire us to lead…to lead the billions of lost to the one and only savior Jesus Christ.

You see we are Christians. We were made to share Jesus Christ with those who do not know him. We were created to spread that gospel around the world. It does not matter what field you have been called into. It doesn’t matter if you are a minister or a banker. It doesn’t matter if you work at McDonald or a high school. We are models of our lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can never do enough. We can never bring in enough people. There is no quota on life. This is how we need to spend all of our eternity. Jesus loves us. He loves us so much that he would die for us. He loves us so much that he would come to this earth and die the most brutal death, just to prevent us from going to hell. That is a caring God. That is a caring savior. Jesus is so perfect. We absolutely have to share him.

Without us so many people will be condemned. They will spend the rest of eternity in eternal damnation. This is something we can prevent! We have been equipped! We know the story. We know what Jesus did to prevent this horrible fate! All we have to do is share it with somebody that doesn’t know. All we have to do is make a friend and tell a story that can change someone’s eternity…This won’t just change their lives, it will change their everything…it will change their entire existence. Jesus has given us the power to do this. We can do this…We have to do this…we have to.

Don’t let your friend slowly commit suicide. Don’t let them be one of the billions that end their time in this world, just to start an eternity in hell. I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but this is truly on my heart. This is something that has plagued me since I started to seriously pursue Jesus. He has laid this on my heart, and I pray that he lays it on yours too. This is so important, but I know that we can’t spend so much time trying to get people to walk with Jesus that we forget to walk with him ourselves. I also realize that all we can do is bring the idea to these people. We can in no way make them follow Jesus. If they decide to do this, it will not be because of us. All we can do is reach out and share. The rest is up to them, because Jesus is soooo more than willing…I just pray that we all try a little harder…that’s all it takes…

Last night I was watching a video of Paul Washer, a Southern Baptist pastor and missionary.  Washer is a bit of a Calvinist, so I don’t agree with him on everything.  But he makes some very good points.  He does a good job of emphasizing Jesus as the very center of our lives, but he rightly points out that if Jesus really is the center, it will be reflected in our lives.  At one point in his sermon he uses an excellent illustration.

Let us say, hypothetically, I’m going to speak at a Church in Fairmont.  Now let’s say I’m late, and as my excuse I say I had a flat tire. The lug nut fell off, and as I went to get it a 30 ton logging truck ran me over. That’s why I’m late.  Washer points out there are only two logical conclusions:  1.  I’m a liar.  2.  I’m insane.  It is impossible to have an encounter with something of that magnitude and not be changed.  Yet God is so much more powerful then a logging truck, and so many people claim to have encountered Him but there is no change!  What must we say?  We must say they are either 1.  A Liar, or 2.  Insane.

This is my confession, not that I haven’t encountered God, but that I’ve been compromised.  I spend time watching The Office laughing at the very things God hates.  At the same time I spend minimal amounts of time praying.

That’s not just spiritually crippling, it’s sin.  It’s adultery (yes, I mean adultery).  Is Christianity about a loving relationship with Jesus Christ?  Absolutely it is, but because I love Jesus I must hate those things that stand between Him and I.  Some people want to emphasize love so much that we ignore sin. We think God winks at sin.  God doesn’t wink at our sin because He loves us. He despises sin all the more because He loves us.

Because God loves us, He hates those things that harm us.  He hates murder, because it harms His children.  He hates theft, because it harms His children.  He hates sexual deviance because it ultimately harms us.  Some people propose that love leads to the acceptance of sin. I would say love leads to the exclusion of sin.  Love and sin are mutually exclusive.  They can not both be present at the same time.  We can not love God and love sin. We can love God and hate sin or we can love sin and hate God. But we can’t love both at the same time.

I can’t help but feel that much of Christianity is watered-down.  Think about it; Churches are splitting over the issue of homosexuality.  Before this century there was wide-spread agreement as to the morality of homosexual behavior.  But as soon as society starts to re-adjust, we give up and try to re-interpret the Word of God to make it fit what our society deems appropriate.  The Southern Conference of the American Baptist Church split from the main body a few years ago, and West Virginia almost joined the split.  Why?  Because the Southern Conference believed the main body was compromised in dealing with this issue.

On the opposite extreme we have groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, who are just as much in error.  Do I believe homosexuality is morally wrong?  Absolutely I do.  Do I believe God hates homosexuals? Do I believe we should ostracize people with that tendency? Do I believe we should shun them?  Absolutely not!  Because we must understand that sin, even sin we may not personally struggle with, is a problem of human nature.  I was born with a tendency to lie, yet no one protests at liar’s funerals.  And we shouldn’t, because that’s not how God desires for us to handle these situations.  Why is it that with a liar people from WBC would share God’s plan of Salvation, but with a homosexual they will say God hates them and offer no hope?

How skewed are we?  Why is it we listen to those that are theologically liberals, and those that are theologically legalists, but never to someone who rightly divides the Word of Truth and realizes that the whole Word of God works together to show us a more clear picture of God.

We don’t have a God of judgment or love; we have a God of judgment and love.  I would say a God who judges because of love.  Justice and mercy are not at odds. Jesus coming and dying for our sins was the greatest act of mercy and grace any of us have ever had done for us.  It is justice that demands payment for sin, and mercy and grace that provided the payment.  They are not contradictory, they are complimentary.

Once we start saying that God doesn’t care about sin, once we tolerate sin, we are in effect denying the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice.  If there is no sin, if God accepts anything, then why do we need a Savior?  If there is no justice that demands a payment for sin, then God’s demonstration of love towards us was a waste.

See, compromise leads us down a dangerous road.  Legalism is an equally dangerous road, because if all that is necessary for Salvation is works, then we have again invalidated Christ’s sacrifice. Legalism and liberalism are two opposite ways of arriving at the same place.

How does this relate to any of us today?  I know I’m compromised.  That’s why this bothered me so much.  I know I spend more time watching TV and movies then I do praying.  Prayerlessness is a sin of the most insidious kind because it requires we disregard the importance and necessity of fellowship with God.  And once we start on that path our thought processes begin to reflect the world’s. Our speech and behavior begins to reflect the world.  Our materialistic preferences begin to take precedence over God.

Christianity is a relationship; I don’t want anyone to misunderstand.  But our relationship with Christ results in a practical demonstration of being made into His likeness more and more.  Maybe we won’t keep listening to music that exalts the very things God hates.  Maybe we won’t keep watching movies, living by a culture, and spending money to entertain ourselves with the very things God hates.  Honestly, I don’t know where you are at.  What you need to do is something you must answer.  But the questions must be asked, a search must commence, and repentance must be made.

God bless!
Josiah

Now What?

Posted: January 19, 2009 by Josiah Batten in Christian living, Devotional
Tags: , ,

Over the weekend my sister introduced me to a game called “The Magic Pen.” Basically, you have a red ball or square, depending on the level, and you need to move that to a flag/several flags by drawing objects, ramps, balls, sticks, hinges, etc… Nearly my entire family got on a Magic Pen kick. There were 26 levels, and we had to beat them. Yesterday, I had some free time so I played, and I finally beat it. Then, I realized something. I have nothing to do now. What does one do once the challenge is conquered? I no longer have to prove that I’m smart enough to do it. That game means nothing anymore, and I no longer have any objectives or purposes regarding it. My one objective was to beat all 26 levels, and I did that.

Sometimes I think we begin to fear that we will arrive at that place in our relationship with God. We fear we will arrive at the place where there’s nothing left for us to do. We fear we won’t have much use anymore, and we’ll just have to find ways to occupy our time.

Thankfully, that day will never come in our lives on this planet. God has a plan for us. Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV)

It’s really amazing to think about. If we read all of Psalm 139, we read about how God knit us together in our mother’s womb, and about how God knew us before we were even made. We’re not a cosmic accident. God purposefully formed us, like someone building a Lego replica of the Empire State Building. God carefully placed each and every piece with a plan for the finished product. Some people have estimated that we are composed of so much that if we lined our atoms up one by one they would reach the moon. Isn’t that amazing? Do we honestly think God would spend all that time on us for nothing? I don’t think so.

I think God has a plan and a purpose for us. As we grow closer to Him we will discover that more and more. God designed us for adventure, for danger, for passionate pursuit. We should think of life as less like staying at a hotel and more like a hiking trip – we have God, we have what He has equipped us with, and we have each other. And we may have to hike up a hill on a path wide enough for just one person with no guardrails and a several hundred foot drop in between us and the ground… but it’s exactly those types of hikes that become adventures and which cause us to learn the most!

What if God has called us to be the Winston Churchills, the Abraham Lincolns, the Teddy Roosevelts, the William Wilberforces, the High King Peters, the Legolas and Gimlis, the Billy Grahams, the D.L. Moodys, the Audio Adrenalines, or the Martin Luthers?

Most assuredly, God has not called us to myopia, smug spiritual complacency and religious boredom.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” -Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV

God bless!

Josiah