fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Do You Fear Judgment?

God's wrathDo You Fear Judgment? by Julie McAllen

I am not sure what hell is, but I do know there is such a thing as being completely separated from the presence of God. There is judgment, I just don’t know exactly what that looks like. I do know that if anyone admits that they are under that judgment, then they have not yet understood the good news of how God yearns to save us from condemnation. In other words, God would rather us NOT go to hell.

16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

When a man fears he’s going to hell, he knows he stands condemned already. Do you want to escape that judgment? It’s totally your choice. There is no good deed you can do to gain life. There is no amount of money you can send to any church or charity to gain life. God long ago made the way for you and He is still waiting for you to take the gift. Re-read the scripture above. What does it say the way to eternal life is? Does it say you have to perform some good deed? NO! Does it say you have to “pay” in some way? NO! What does it say? It simply says to believe in Jesus. The good news is that while we deserve to be punished for every bad deed and every bad thought we’ve ever had, Jesus ALREADY took the punishment for our sins.

8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God is not waiting for us to clean ourselves up first so that He can forgive us. The truth of the Bible tells us that while we were still sinning He forgave us. Yes, because He loves us. We all are sinners, every one of us. We all can come up with things we’re ashamed to admit we’ve done, said, or thought about. Our thoughts condemn and accuse us. But God desires a relationship with us so much, that He was willing to sacrifice His life to balance the scales of justice. Sin DOES require a payment.  A sacrifice must be made. You can choose to pay with your own life and take all the punishment on yourself…or…you can go to God in prayer and tell Him you know you deserve the punishment, but you accept that Jesus Christ took it for you. His blood was poured out for you. And when you understand that love, something happens! You trust these words:

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1, 2)

13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:13-18)

Do you fear judgment? Do you want to be free of the law of death? It is simple. Go to God, admit you are a sinner, accept the forgiveness He’s already paid at the cross, and ask Him daily to guide you into His truth. He is faithful, open your heart to Him and He will provide. He loves you. To further illustrate the point, a story in the Bible tells this beautifully. There were two men who were on their way to hell. They both mocked Jesus as he hung on the cross dying. But one man had a change of heart as he looked at Jesus.

38There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:38-43)

One man admitted his sin and knew he deserved punishment. The other continued to mock God. Which one are you? Why would Jesus promise paradise to such a sinner? What good deed could that man do to prove his worth? He was dying that very day, he couldn’t go to church or give to a charity to clear his name. So what was it? He admitted his sin, he confessed it to Jesus and believed in his heart that the righteous one (Jesus) was dying for the unrighteous (himself, a sinner). We stop mocking God when our eyes open to this. Praise God, it is His grace that saves us. This is the word of faith. This is the gospel.

8But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”(Romans 10:8-13)

This is my way of showing love to you as love has been shown to me. God loves you dearly and does not desire for you to die in your sins. Trust His truth today and you will be with him in paradise.

Keep Yourself In God’s Love, Julie

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November 9, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Leave Room for God’s Wrath

Anger Leave Room for God’s Wrath by Julie McAllen

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Ro 1:18-25)

God’s wrath. How is it that God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven? This thought kept going through me as I read Romans chapter one: People KNOW when they’re sinning, The Spirit does the teaching and convicting. Yet we burn with rage against those who sin against us and want to reveal our own wrath. We feel like such victims when treated so casually. We’re angered that we have to work so hard at forgiving and putting up with one another as the Bible instructs us to do. It can even make us upset with God for teaching us to “turn the other cheek” when we feel some of our wrath would work better. But Romans reminds us that God’s wrath is already being revealed. Sinners are convicted in their own time. God is all around in the creation and has made Himself known. And it is GOD, yes, GOD HIMSELF who “gives them over in the sinful desires of their hearts.” God allows us all our time of sinful rebellion. We all were once enemies of God. And yet, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro 5:8).

1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Ro 2:1-4)

It is so easy to judge the sin of others and feel our rage claiming “but they know better! Why are they so vile toward me? So rude?” We must leave it in God’s hands. His hand is upon them, why should we accuse, blame, and judge? He knows, and He is the one who “gave them over” to pursue the desires of the flesh. Did someone else’s anger, judgment or accusations bring you to your senses? More likely God called you out by His grace, love and kindness. Romans 2:1-4, then speaks to us. Therefore, you have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else.

And what does our wrath and judgment say about our attitude toward God’s grace? “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

God’s KINDNESS led you to repentance. Do you trust HIM enough to lead others?

18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
(Ro 12:18-20)

Satan is the accuser of our brothers (Rev 12:10). We know who accuses us day and night for our own sins, and we know who gets others to join him in accusing us. Therefore, we have no place accusing others. To do so is siding with our sinful nature. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9) We learn the sufferings of Christ in leaving room for God’s wrath.

Look at Our LORD! He submitted even to death on a cross. He was spat at and insulted, beaten and nailed, left to die. And he prays “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” How far from perfection we are!!! It is much easier to give in to our own wrath and side with the accuser who does not want God’s kindness to lead God’s enemies to repentance. Knowing this, Satan uses US as accusers who feel enraged at those who sin against us. Yet Jesus taught us to pray, “Father, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Prayer is our weapon and our challenge. Prayer is Spiritual. Therefore, it is no wonder our flesh battles it and would prefer to work it out in our rage or our feelings of self-pity in being the victim. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)!!! In humility we pray, Father, forgive those who know not what they do! Father, we are your servants. We will walk through this valley knowing you are at our side. We are willing to do so and we are able to do so in your strength. Empower us and conform us into the likeness of your Son. In the name and strength of Jesus, amen.

Pray that God will convict your enemies. Cease from your own wrath. When God’s hand is upon them, they spit at Jesus, not you. They mock Jesus, not you. Trust in God to work all things out. Meanwhile, bless His Holy Name for allowing people in your life who challenge your ability to love as He loves. ” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5:44-45) Remember how He kept Pharaoh in existence to show His own power and glory? He may be keeping this person in your life to show His power made perfect in you as He strengthens you to do His will and not your own. Let us try to live at peace with those who persecute us and leave room for God’s wrath, not our own.

In the Old Testament, the prophets did proclaim judgment and wrath was physically administered, but now the weapons of warfare are spiritual. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:3-5)  In prayer, we bring every sin before Him and leave it there. And while we’re there at the cross, we bring the sins of our people knowing that Christ died forgiving them “while they were yet sinners.” He sees their sins, we pray for the Spirit’s conviction in them and we allow God to bring it about–even as they continue in their sins.

Discouragement and anger toward our neighbor is nothing new. Christian’s are not immune to these feelings. But God’s made provision for us to overcome the world and find encouragement in being united with Christ.

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Phil 2:1-11)

We look to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith and what do we see? The wrathful God pointing fingers? The victim who spent his time saying “why me?” He had both those rights to claim and yet, he humbly served, took the beatings, and while dying undeservedly PRAYED for his enemies. How far from perfection we are!!! But we live in hope and continue to pray that God conform us into the likeness of His Son. That is the whole REASON He saved us. We are a new creation, we don’t need to go back to the world’s way of accusing, repaying evil for evil, or feeling victimized. We trust in God and leave room for His wrath.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

August 29, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , | 2 Comments

Who Am I? by Casting Crowns

I happened to be listening to this song and started singing along with the words.  At an particular moment, I stopped to realize a verse in the song that I found so profound (although I’ve heard this song many times).  “Who am I that the eyes that see my sin would look on me with love and watch me rise again?”  I thought to myself how insignificant I am compared to the 6 billion (plus) people on the earth and all of God’s other creations, that He considers me His own.  I thought you would enjoy the song, too.  God Bless.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , | Comments Off on Who Am I? by Casting Crowns

RSVP Required

ISAIAH 55:1-13

thanksgiving-feastGod’s people in Isaiah’s time were going through a period of spiritual hunger. While in Babylonian captivity, they didn’t have God’s protection, blessings or spiritual sustenance. However, Isaiah was inviting them to return to their Maker.

 1“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;  And you who have no money come, buy and eat Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.
    2“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,  And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,  And delight yourself in abundance.  3“Incline your ear and come to Me Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
    

Isaiah invites everyone!  This invitation was to eat and drink of God’s goodness to the point of fullness. I especially love the fact that those who wished to accept the invitation didn’t have to bring anything along for entry to the spiritual banquet. God’s grace comes free – a gift to us. So many times we feel we have to work to earn grace; but God had only one requirement for the Isrealites (and for us today) – repentance.  Along with repentance comes the acknowledgement of Christ as our Savior. God’s grace comes as a result of having been redeemed through the blood of Jesus; this gift of grace is given freely.

 

 The food and drink being made available is God’s spiritual truths and blessings. Unlike the spiritual junk food the world offers, God’s food is satisfying all our needs. Today, we hear of economic decline, loss of  jobs and homes, families under attack, etc… We’ve become an anxious and panic stricken society. However, this is not the case with those who have taken advantage of God’s invitation to feed at His spiritual table. Those who are spiritually well-feed have a healthy outlook on life because their thinking involves faith in God; they rest their hope on God’s promises and do not give in to fear or anxiety. Spiritual junk food is toxic to the body and the mind and is destructive to the spirit.

 

 6)Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

 God’s people were admonished to seek the Lord. Why? Because of their sin, they were far removed from God’s presence that in order for them to experience God’s blessings again, they would have to search him out. Calling upon Him “while He is near” didn’t mean that God would grow impatient and eventually depart. The uncertainty is not with God, but rather with those who need to be calling upon Him. If they continue to resist God, their hearts will eventually grow hard toward him and the end result will be disastrous. Having a heart hardened for God totally removes Him from being in the place He can be found.

 

     8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.  10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

 One of the promises we can rest on is that God forgives freely. This may seem like a casual thought until you have experienced total forgiveness by God. His plans and holiness surpass all human comprehension. Verses 8-10 help us to see that we don’t always have to understand His way – they are too great! God is not looking for analysis, but worship that rests on knowing He is a keeper of promises.

 

 11So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty,Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.  Verse 11 is probably my most favorite scripture in the bible. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I remember God’s promises to me (and this verse), knowing He will deliver me.  The message Isaiah was conveying to God’s people was that although they were in a fallen state, God would still keep the promise He made to Abraham. The nation needed to know that God would be faithful to His word; yet, undeserving and unworthy, Judah would be restored.

 

The book of Isaiah is a wonderful book in that so many of us have either been in “captivity” or may be there right now in their lives. God’s people were delivered; He kept His promise to them to restore them to a great nation once again. Instead of being in spiritual starvation, they experienced an abundance of blessings.  We’re invited to the same banquet; will we RSVP?

May 8, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , | Comments Off on RSVP Required

A New Beginning

ISAIAH 54:1-10

42-16482893While damaged caused by sin may at times be irreparable, we can look forward to a new beginning after having repented and received God’s forgiveness. The blessings that come from being reconciled to the Lord are (among many) a peaceful heart and the help to endure the consequences caused by transgression.

The nation of Israel also had reason to celebrate a new beginning. The Babylonian exile of Judah in 587 BCE didn’t mean that God no longer regarded them as a chosen people among other nations. Rather, it was just the opposite. God is a keeper of promises; He promised that Abraham’s seed would be blessed and the messiah would come from his seed and that of David. Although Judah was in captivity, Isaiah Chapter 54 depicts a time when God’s people would be reconciled to Him. In the meantime, Judah would be considered a “barren one” during her captivity.

 1(A)Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
         For the sons of the (B)desolate one will be (C)more numerous
         Than the sons of the married woman,” says the LORD.

2(D)Enlarge the place of your tent;
         Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
         Lengthen your (E)cords
         And strengthen your (F)pegs.
    3“For you will (G)spread abroad to the right and to the left
         And your descendants will (H)possess nations
         And will (I)resettle the desolate cities.

Barrenness was a considered a disgrace for a woman during bible times.  Not being able to produce a child was comparable to someone useless, unproductive and unworthy; it was considered a curse or punishment from God. Judah was “barren” in a sense that she couldn’t produce fruitage.  However, Isaiah prophesied that Judah would rejoice again; God’s promise of reversal of their dreadful state and of restoration would be realized; they would again be returned to usefulness.  They will have to expand their tents due to the numerous residents in their land.

4“Fear not, for you will (J)not be put to shame;
         And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
         But you will forget the (K)shame of your youth,
         And the (L)reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
    5“For your (M)husband is your Maker,
         Whose name is the LORD of hosts;
         And your (N)Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
         Who is called the (O)God of all the earth.

Many people remain in guilt and don’t allow themselves to be reconciled to God – they remain in widowhood, producing no fruitage. God’s people have no reason to feel ashamed or disgraced.  Being a widow in Isaiah’s day was just as humiliating as being barren, but God promised to restore even the widow. He will give her a Husband, one who will forgive her and redeem her. Letting go of the grip of barrenness is only achievable by repentance. Only then can the Holy Spirit work in us so that we feel God’s peace through his forgiveness.   There is shame and disgrace associated with rebellion, but once you experience God’s mercy, you’ll no longer remember the disgrace; shameful pasts and failures are left behind.

 6“For the LORD has called you,
         Like a wife (P)forsaken and grieved in spirit,
         Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”
         Says your God.
    7“For a (Q)brief moment I forsook you,
         But with great compassion I will (R)gather you.
    8“In an (S)outburst of anger
         I hid My face from you for a moment,
         But with everlasting (T)lovingkindness I will (U)have compassion on you,”
         Says the LORD your (V)Redeemer.

I especially love these verses in Isaiah because it paints such a portrait of a compassionate and merciful God. When we sin, we feel deserted and wounded in spirit. God hides his face from us in that he removes his protection and guidance. Our Father is not a dictator; he would never force us to obey him if we choose wickedness over Him.  He thus departs from us in love. However, He promises to take us back and restores us to Him if we turn back from sin.

9“For this is like the days of Noah to Me,
         When I swore that the waters of Noah
         Would (W)not flood the earth again;
         So I have sworn that I will (X)not be angry with you
         Nor will I rebuke you.
    10“For the (Y)mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
         But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
         And My (Z)covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
         Says (AA)the LORD who has compassion on you.

We have a new beginning in Christ; we’re no longer in disgrace or fallen. The peace we experience from being reconciled is wonderful; nothing compares to it.  Let us celebrate the One who called us to repentance and restoration and let us celebrate OUR NEW BEGINNING.   Amen and amen.

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A New Beginning

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