the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few

Monday, January 23, 2012

LOVE each other

In the past 12 hours 2 verses have come to my attention, through my SOAP Ephesians study, and through Erasing Hell, by Francis Chan...

Ephesians 1:15-16
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you remembering you in my prayers. 

Matthew 5:21-22
You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgement.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.

Francis Chan (Erasing Hell) gives this commentary about Matthew 5:21-22
Have you called your brother a fool lately? On a blog? On facebook? Have you tweeted anything of the sort? 
So often these hell passages become fodder for debate, and people miss the point of the warning.  Jesus didn't speak of hell so that we could study, debate, and write books about it.  He gave us these passages so that we would live holy lives.  Stop slandering one another, and live in peace and brotherly unity.  Jesus evidently hates it when we tear into our brothers or sisters with demeaning words, words that fail to honor the people around us as the beautiful image-bearing creatures that we are.

Wow, God.  That was timely.  You see I have felt pretty attacked lately by fellow believers whose views vary slightly from mine.  I have not slandered in retort.  BUT OOOOOOH how I have WANTED to.  I have really really wanted to.  I have written the words in my head.  Put together with the Ephesians verses this is the heart change I have come away with.

~Love ALL saints.  Even when it's not easy.
~Give thanks for each other.  EVEN when you don't want to.
~Pray for each other.  Prayer keeps the enemy at bay.  We need to lift each other up, instead of cutting each other down. 

Dear Lord, I am guilty.  I may not have vocalized it, but I have thought it.  Lord help me to have a tender heart.  Help me to lift my fellow Christians.  Help me to Love all Saints.  I give thanks for each of your children and the different ways you have sculpted us.  Help us each to hear YOUR voice, YOUR call, and obey YOUR will.  Help us to be a reflection of your heart.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

Footnote:  There is a difference between cutting each other down and holding each other accountable...
One is done in frustration and anger.  One is done in love.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Erasing Hell

Because Francis Chan could not put it any better, here is an excerpt from Erasing Hell that sums up what I have been learning through GOD's Word. 

Jesus chose strong and terrifying language when He spoke of hell.  I believe He chose to speak this way because He loves us and wanted to warn us.  So let's not miss the point:  He spoke of hell as a horrifying place, characterized by sufferring, fire, darkness, and lamentation.  I believe His intention was to stir a fear in us that would cause us to take hell seriously and avoid it at all costs. 
I was a bit surprised at how many harsh statements Jesus made about hell.  It probably caught me off guard because I am so used to people emphasizing His words of blessing, not His words of warning.  Some of His words may have shocked you, but I would like you to consider the following thought:
We are bound by the words of the Creator, the One who will do what is right.  The One who invented justice and knows perfectly what the unbeliever deserves.  God has never asked us to figure out His justice or to see if His way of doing things is morally right.  He has only asked us to embrace His Word and bow the knee, to tremble at His word, as Isaiah says (66:2) 
Don't get so lost in deciphering that you forget to tremble. 

I HIGHLY recommend this book.  It is BIBLICALLY referenced and has just left me in trembling awe of God.  It has made Hell, a place that I have mostly ignored, a place of reality in my faith.  Instead of pushing me away from God it has drawn me closer.  Hell is a scary place.  And our God loves us so much, that he gave us THE way out.  Jesus. 

See also:  Matthew 18, Matthew 25, Mark 9, Luke 16, Matthew 10:28, 2 Peter and Jude...  and oh my there are so many more...