Clogged Arteries

The last several weeks have been an adventure of sorts for me.  It all started for me the first week of November.  For about a week I had been feeling extra tired and weak, so I knew that I was fighting something in my body but what I didn’t know.  Then it was on the first Monday of November that I developed a discomfort high up in my chest, a feeling I associated with something like bronchitis.  The discomfort was constant and consistent in its intensity throughout the day, and then by evening time I began to feel very tired and weak.  Again, I was just thinking I was fighting congestion of some sort.  Well, very early Tuesday morning I woke up with the same discomfort as before, but now I couldn’t get comfortable in bed,I was drenched in sweat, and I felt like I was about to pass out.  It was at this point that I told my wife I needed to get to the hospital, but I couldn’t get to the car, and therefore I ended up having a ride by ambulance to the hospital located just two blocks from our house.

On the way to the hospital, the paramedics told me that my symptoms did not reflect an issue with my heart, but that they couldn’t say for sure one way or another.  At the hospital, many tests were ran trying to identify what I was experiencing and what was causing it.  All the tests they ran indicated my heart was not the issue, and they were getting ready to discharge me with a diagnosis of acid reflex or something like that, but before discharging me they wanted to run one more test a third time. The first two times they ran the test, the results were fine both times even though the second test results were a little elevated.  When they ran this specific test a third time, not only had the results elevated even more, but it had elevated into a“grey” area, and this result told them that something was definitely going on with my heart.  At this point it was decided that an exploratory heart catheter would be best to help identify exactly what was going on, with the hopes that they wouldn’t find anything.

You’re probably asking why I’m telling you all of this, but there are a couple good reasons for it that I will share as we continue.

When they went in through my wrist to check my heart, they discovered two things.  The first thing they discovered, and not necessarily in this order, was that one of my arteries was100% blocked, and a second artery they refer to as the “widow maker” was 60-70%blocked.  The second thing they discovered was that I was on the verge of a major heart attack if they hadn’t gone in when they had.  They opened the one artery that was 100% blocked and put in a stent, but they left the other one alone at the time hoping medicine could take care of it.  Needless to say, less than 24 hours after being discharged, I was back in the ER with chest pains which gave me a helicopter ride to another hospital in another city down the interstate.  It was then that they went in a second time to put a stent in the “widow maker” artery.

All this which took place within one weeks’ time, though it still wasn’t the end of the adventure.  As I looked back over the previous events and how everything transpired, seeing God’s fingerprints all over the situation, I realized something that had a spiritual parallel.  When I went into the hospital the first time, my symptoms were not typical of a heart issue, but those symptoms were the catalyst through which they discovered the more urgent issue with my heart.  Sometimes people go through situations and experiences that propel them to seek the assistance and counsel of pastors.  Perhaps it’s a marriage that seems to be falling apart, the death of a loved one, financial collapse, children making bad decisions, or bad medical reports and health.  They seek the help and counsel of a pastor regarding what they are going though, only to find out that a more urgent issue needs to be resolved first, either the person needs to surrender their lives to Jesus and/or deal with unconfessed sin.  Sometimes in our lives, it’s not the apparent issues that need to be dealt with, but rather those issues are what propels us to identify and deal with more important issues in our life and in our hearts.

A little more than a week after being discharged the second time, I found myself in ER again and after seeing something was going on with my heart,they transported me to another hospital in a neighboring city.  They did another exploratory heart cath to identify what was going on, but this time the results were good, and they were positive for the future with instructions on how to deal with the symptoms.  Between the second and third time I was admitted into the hospital I learned something that really surprised me.  Several years ago, I had been told that I had high cholesterol and was only told to change my diet and attend some classes.  Well, I did attend the classes,but not much changed regarding my diet. It wasn’t until the past few years that I really began to change my diet to benefit my health, primarily focusing on the high cholesterol.  So, it was exciting to find out that the tests they ran the first time I was in the hospital showed that my cholesterol numbers were normal, with the exception that the HDL was a tad low.  Apparently, all I had been doing the past couple years, all naturally and without prescription medicines, had paid off in getting my cholesterol down.  What was surprising to me, though, was when I found out that there is nothing outside of medical procedures that one can do to unclog arteries.  Did you catch that?  Even though I had made changes to reduce my cholesterol, there was nothing I could do on my own to unclog the arteries, and that it would require a medical procedure. My cholesterol had been reduced to normal numbers, but I still had clogged arteries that could become fatal to me at some point if not properly dealt with.  The danger and threat to my life had not been diminished because I made good changes to my life, and in fact it was only because the doctor did an exploratory heart cath at that moment in time that they could see I was on the verge of a major heart attack that could have taken my life. 

You see, I knew that my cholesterol was bad, and I thought that if I could make the necessary changes in my diet then I would be okay.  I then thought of people who realize for whatever reason that they need to make changes in their life, good changes that would benefit them.  I also thought of many who decide to make positive life changes by attending and getting involved in a church, or for that matter a charitable organization of some sort, but they are not dealing with core issues, issues that could still prove fatal for them spiritually.  Spiritually speaking,every single one of us is born with an issue that condemns us to an eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire, and that issue is sin.  It doesn’t matter how good and moral you are,or how many positive and charitable things you do or support, or even how involved you are at church, if the issue of sin has not been properly and adequately dealt with in your life then nothing is changed for you eternally speaking.

As I began to make changes to improve my health and get my cholesterol where it needed to be, I felt good knowing I was doing something good and positive.  For the most part, everybody feels good when they do that which is good and positive, especially for the benefit of others.  This isn’t something that only followers of Jesus experience, but rather mankind in general feel that even though their good works are not centered around Jesus.  This is something that God has hardwired within each of us, but when we are self-centered, selfish and prideful we become blinded to this truth.  This is why there are some people who openly reject Jesus but still are considered good and morally solid individuals.  It is for this reason that people who are not Christians like to get involved with charitable organizations and churches, because it makes them feel good when they are doing things that help and benefit others even if they don’t embrace the beliefs of that organization or church. However, just doing good and positive things does not deal with the eternally fatal issue locked up within each person, and it’s something they can’t take care of on their own.

Spiritually speaking, sin is the spiritual plaque within our spiritual arteries.  We are born with it, and the more we sin the more plaque gets built up within our arteries, yet there is nothing we can do of ourselves to remove it.  It’s not enough that we change the way we live, trying to be a good and moral person,because in doing so we convince ourselves that we are okay when in fact we still have spiritually clogged arteries that threaten to send us to Hell. It is only through salvation, the repentance of sin and the surrender of one’s life to Jesus, that not only is sin removed but also the plaque buildup within our spiritual arteries, and it is then that the hope of eternity in Heaven becomes a reality we can embrace.  And to keep those arteries clean, we need to be quick to repent of sin and seek to honor Him in all our ways.

Doing good and positive works is not enough to change our eternal destination.  On the outward we may look good to others, and inwardly we might even feel good knowing we are doing good things for the benefit of others, but if sin has not and is not being dealt with in our lives, and if our lives haven’t been surrendered to Jesus to be lived for Him, then we are just as dead in sin as we were in the beginning and destined to an eternity in Hell.  Don’t let your good works and deeds be in vain, knowing that they in themselves have no bearing on your eternal destination.  Give your life over to Jesus, all of it, asking for His forgiveness and seeking to honor and please Him in all your ways, and from which good works and deeds will naturally follow. 

Don’t try to change your life by making good decisions and being good and moral in the sight of others.  Change your life and get your blood cleansed and your arteries unclogged by surrendering your life to Jesus first and foremost, and then He will be the reason for the change with eternal rewards for you.

John Johansson


The presidential primaries are nearly complete and we have a pretty good idea of who the main candidates will be for the November elections.  That is if one doesn’t get indicted and arrested for various charges, and the other one doesn’t fall victim to a potential war within the party seeking someone else to represent them.  One of these two candidates is believed to be a liar and a traitor to the United States of America, and the other candidate is believed to be a liar, a prejudiced, racial, and immoral person with deceptive and unethical business practices that could possibly involve fraud.  No wonder people are frustrated and disappointed with the selection of candidates to vote for, at least candidates that have a legitimate chance of winning.


Someone recently mentioned how bad this election process, including the campaigning, has been leading up to the November elections, and a thought crossed my mind.  We want prayer regarding the upcoming elections, and that God will raise up someone who will represent Him and fight for Biblical values, but this election is a reflection of our society and how far from God it has gone.  If that is the case, then it only stands to reason that this election will have nothing to do with Jesus or Biblical values since this country has effectively pushed Him out of everything else.  Our society has been actively working to remove even the mention of Jesus’ name wherever they can, and have in turn been pushing policies and agendas that clearly contradict the Bible with an attitude best described as “spitting in the face of God”.  What arrogance and pride we as a country have embraced, and then we wonder why this election process is in the shape it’s in.


One of the things that has been going on that I find so funny in a not-so-funny way, and it’s only getting worse and building in intensity, is how each of the two truly remaining candidates, both proven to be frequent liars, are attacking the other candidate for their lying and deceptive ways.  That’s what you call, “the pot calling the kettle black”.  We see this behavior within our society practically everywhere we look.  For some reason people can find ways to justify and rationalize their behavior and lifestyle, but when they come across someone else basically doing the same thing they are quick to judge and be critical of them.  We live with the idea that we’re exempt from having to live by any standard of values or morals, yet we are quick to nail someone else who doesn’t live up to the standards we think we’re exempt from.  Does that fit the definition of “double-standards”?  It’s bad enough when our society works that way, but when it’s in the church that’s a really bad thing.


I remember growing up and hearing people complain about hypocrites in the church, using that as their excuse for not going to church or giving their lives to Jesus.  Perhaps you’ve heard the same stories?  Someone could be in church praising and worshipping Jesus every Sunday, but every Friday night they could be seen in a strip club partying it up and frequently sharing “dirty” jokes to others throughout the week.  Or the one where someone doesn’t want to hire the services of a Christian or Christian company because they have seen or heard of their deceptive and unethical business practices.  And we wonder why society is the way it is?  Where are the ambassadors of Christ who are not only representing Him to the world around us, but upholding Biblical standards showing people there is a better way of life in Christ than what they are seeing in the world around them?


It seems to be more and more commonplace for us to hear of ministers that will preach very adamantly against one or more specific sins, only to find out later that they have been secretly doing the very things they have preached so strongly against.  This isn’t the case with all ministers, or even the majority of them, but nonetheless it is out there.  This sort of thing causes people to be cynical of ministers, grouping all ministers into the same hypocrisy of the others.  The Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:17 that judgment begins in the house of God, and if He needs to He will expose the sins of the unrepentant child of God in order to bring them back into right standing with Him.  This applies to all Christians, whether or not they are ministers.  Hypocrisy is rampant within church circles.  It’s not an issue of Christians, especially fairly new Christians, learning over time what it means to be children of God and how we’re to live in a way that honors God and accurately represents Him to the world around us.  The issue is more around those who know, either from reading and studying the Bible or hearing the truth of the Gospel be proclaimed, choose to discount what they know to be the truth to continue living in sin.  No matter how you want to justify or rationalize it away, even to the point of grasping a form of teaching that claims through grace it’s okay to continue in that sin, it still falls within rebellion against God and can have very significant consequences on one’s relationship with God and their eternal destination.  How can we be critical of others hypocritical behavior and lifestyles is we are living hypocritical lives ourselves?  Does that mean we have to be perfect?  No, but it’s both how we deal with that sin in our lives and our attitude about it that makes the difference.  Do we humbly approach the throne of grace with repentant hearts, which includes turning from that sin, or do we just try to justify and rationalize why we are going to continue in it?  Perhaps we try to justify it citing the negative aspects of turning from the sin, at least the negative aspects in the natural realm while discounting the negative aspects of continued rebellion against a holy God, our Father?


Are we living lives of hypocrisy, being critical of the behaviors and lifestyles of others while discounting, as though we’re exempt, the same behaviors and sin in our own lives?  Are we the “pot calling the kettle black”?  This should not be the case.


Reflections.  What we are seeing in this election process is a reflection of our society, and in some cases the hypocrisy within the church.  Before we get upset about what we’re seeing in the campaigning for this election, lets first take a step back and take a good hard look at how it’s a mere reflection of our society, and perhaps our own life.  Let’s be careful we’re not “the pot calling the kettle black” if we’re living with compromise in our life as a Christian.  And if we are living a compromising life contrary to Scripture, Biblical values and morals, and to the heart and nature of God, then it’s time to repent of such and turn from it.  Otherwise, what we are seeing in the world around us, and politically, is merely a reflection of where our heart is in relationship to Christ.




John Johansson (Pastor John)

[thrive_leads id=’457′]

Forgiveness of Sins

Here is the third of a series of blogs I will be putting out to help us prepare for the soon return of Jesus for His Bride. If you were to give a name to this series of blogs I would have to call it “The Rapture Prep” series. This isn’t so much a series on explaining the rapture and what it is or is not, but instead the focus is to help us prepare for His return. The previous two blogs of this series was called “Recalibrating Our Thoughts” and “Are You Watching?” In this blog I want to address the subject of forgiveness.


To begin with, Jesus mentioned forgiveness a number of times in the New Testament. Many try to discount them citing that they were teachings before He died and resurrected, but these are not teachings to ignore. In fact, these teachings of His were different from what we find in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we continually read of people asking God for forgiveness, or asking for forgiveness on the behalf of others, but very little instruction was given for people to forgive others. In fact, instead we read of what many live by “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”. So, why would Jesus call people to change the way they lived in regards to forgiveness if it was going to be invalid in about three years? This doesn’t make any sense.


Jesus’ teachings actually raised the bar on how we are to live. In the Old Testament the people were judged and deemed righteous or not based on their words and actions, but Jesus took it to a new level when His focus was on the heart and its attitudes and motivations. Nowhere do we read of Jesus telling us, before or after His resurrection, to disregard any or all the commandments. What we do read is that He gave us two commandments to live by, and He further went on to say that the law is fulfilled in obeying the two He gave us. In the Old Testament, a person could hide to a point what was actually in their heart and present themselves as righteous, but in the New Testament we learn that God now looks right past our words and actions and focuses on our heart. There is no hiding from Him, and while we may be able to keep others from seeing sin in our heart or the wrong attitudes and motivations of the heart, we cannot hide these from God.


What Jesus was teaching us was definitely based on the relationship we could have with the Father after His ascension. We could never really call God Father until we had relationship with Him through Jesus, but Jesus teaches us to call God Father, something we couldn’t do before. Jesus taught a message of love and grace that we can’t really do apart from the Holy Spirit, especially towards those who hate, despise, or take advantage of us, but He also taught a message of obedience to Him and His commandments. Jesus would mention what the law would say, and then He would tell us to live it in our heart and not just in word or action. For example, He mentioned the law that says not to commit murder, but He raised the standard when He focused on our heart and that any hate we may have for another is the same thing in the eyes of God.


Having said that, we need to remember what Jesus said in regards to forgiveness. He indicated that we are to forgive others, so strongly did He make that point that He went on to say that if we don’t forgive then the Father will not forgive us. In what we know as the “Lord’s Prayer”, even then Jesus makes the statement, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others their trespasses against us”. Some argue that this does not apply to us since it was prior to Jesus’ resurrection, but that is far from the truth. Jesus was teaching us how to pray when He would no longer be with us. This is especially evident, as we indicated earlier, because He taught us to call God “our Father” in the same prayer, something we could not truly do until after the resurrection when relationship with God was made possible.


When we look at the parable of the unforgiving servant we learn something more about forgiveness. The point of a parable is to relay a truth that might not be otherwise understandable by the hearer, and Jesus is making a point in this parable that we need to learn. In this parable the king represents God, and the servants represent Christians. At a designated time the king decides to settle accounts with his servants. One of his servants owed him a VERY significant amount of money and the king was going to sell him, his wife and children, and all that he had to pay the debt. The servant begged for more time with a promise to pay back all that he owed. The king had compassion on him and forgave him his debt. This same servant went out and found a fellow servant who owed him penny’s by comparison to what the king forgave him of, and after demanding payment laid hold of that other servant and had him thrown into prison. Later word came to the king of what this servant did, and he was grieved and called for him. The king called him a wicked servant, who after being forgiven of much did not share the same compassion towards another that the king had given him, and the king then sent him to the torturers until he paid all. Jesus concludes with telling us that God will do the same for anyone who, from their heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.


Again, some argue that this doesn’t apply to us, but it does. It reinforces what Jesus has already told us, God will not forgive us if we don’t forgive others their trespasses against us. This is not typical Old Testament teachings, but instead New Testament teachings for the dispensation of grace we would soon be living in after His resurrection.


You know, something else that crossed my mind a few years ago. In the Lord’s Prayer we are told to pray, “forgive us as we forgive others their trespasses against us”. What if God were to really forgive us as we forgive others, not just in whether or not we forgive, but if we have conditions and/or requirements that must be fulfilled before we are willing to forgive? How many of us would want God to forgive us on the same basis that we forgive others? Scary thought.


One more thing. We know that Christ’s death was sufficient to pay the debt of all our sins, past, present and future, but how is that applied? Was asking God for forgiveness when we accepted Christ as our Savior sufficient to the point that we no longer have to ask for it? Some argue that since we asked for His forgiveness of our sins when we got saved, then we no longer have to worry about asking forgiveness of sins since it was already covered. This way of thinking is inconsistent with Scripture. Yes, His death was sufficient for all the sins we have or will ever commit, but that doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge sin in our life and ask for His forgiveness of it later on in life. When John, the disciple of Jesus and His Apostle wrote in 1 John, he makes the statement “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Did you notice anything about this? One, he says “if we confess our sins”. He is including himself when he says “we”. If we no longer have to ask for God’s forgiveness then why is John including himself in that statement? He’s not saying it as something from the past, but instead the present and the future. He also does not indicate that the sin was already forgiven, but that it would be forgiven. The forgiveness given us by God through Christ is only applied to the sin in our life that we acknowledge and ask His forgiveness of.


Also, the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 12:1, speaking to Christians and himself, that we are to “lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us …”. The writer here is basically telling us to get rid of the sin that we get caught up in so easily. In Romans 6 it is very clear that we as Christians are not to continue in sin even though we are under grace. The Apostle Paul tells us that as Christian’s sin does not have dominion over us since we are no longer under the law but under grace. But, he also tells us that even though we are under grace we are not to continue in sin, and that we become slaves of whatever we submit ourselves to. To repent of and ask forgiveness of sin in our life means that we are to turn from that sin and no longer continue in it. That’s what true repentance is about, to turn away from sin. This is where we return to 1 John 1:9 where we’re told if we confess our sin, which involves acknowledging it, asking forgiveness and turning from it both in our heart and actions, He is faithful and just to forgive us. We are so blessed to have that assurance.


So, in conclusion, Jesus’s death was sufficient to cover all our sins, past, present and future. While at the point of salvation all our past sins are covered, any sin we do afterwards needs to be acknowledged as sin with the understanding that we need to ask for forgiveness and no longer continue in that sin. To refuse to do so shows a prideful heart that doesn’t see the need to acknowledge it, much less turn from it. Even though we do live under grace, it is very clear in scripture that we are not to continue in sin as we will then become the slaves of it. Just because we sin does not automatically or immediately result in broken relationship with Jesus, but it is clear that if we continue in sin with a heart that says it’s okay to continue in it we run the tremendous risk of dying spiritually. Paul is clear in Romans 8 that Christians living according to the flesh will die spiritually if they continue in it. Prior to salvation we are all spiritually dead, so Paul’s words about those living according to the flesh dying is in reference to Christians who had become alive in Christ.


When I was in high school someone I know stressed something to me, and that was the fact that unlike the Old Testament that was focused on words and actions, the New Testament starting with the teachings of Jesus focuses on the heart with its motivations and attitudes. Where is your heart? This is what God is looking at. As we see the return of Jesus for His bride getting ever so close, it is now more important than ever before that we make sure we place our sins under His blood through acknowledgment and true repentance. Just because there is sin does not mean we will miss the rapture, but if our heart finds ways to justify staying in sin then we do run the risk we will be left behind. I don’t want that to happen to me or to you. Praise God for salvation which gives us the opportunity to no longer live in or be in bondage to sin! Let us live worthy of such salvation!

Attitude Is Key

The other day I was watching someone on TV that made an interesting comment. In his attempt to describe the relationship Christ calls us to with Him, he indicated that once we receive salvation anything that is done in the body is pretty much meaningless, good or bad.  He went on to say that if a person receives salvation, they could go out and sleep around to their hearts delight and it would have no bearing on their relationship and position with Christ.  He did say that to do so would be simple stupidity, but he reiterated that it would not change their relationship with Christ and also implied that their eternal destination is secured.  There is something definitely wrong with this picture, and the Apostle Paul had something to say about this type of mentality.

In the time of Christ and the Apostle Paul, the city of Corinth was the bustling place to be, a trade center it was also a place of much moral depravity and was well known for it. It was in this setting that the Apostle Paul went there and started a church with the good news of the Gospel.  We have two of the three letters Paul wrote to this church in Corinth, letters that brought encouragement and direction as well as strong judgment and corrections regarding some of the behaviors of this church.  One area that he addressed in his first letter to them involved a mentality that is shared by the minister I mentioned in the first paragraph.  It is in I Corinthians 6:12-20 that we see Paul’s position regarding sexual immorality.

To make his point Paul starts off by reminding us of the liberty we now have in Christ, a liberty he cautions us about in Galatians 5:13 where he tells us not to use our liberty as an opportunity for the flesh. The Apostle Peter also gives the same instruction in I Peter 2:16, telling us not to use the liberty we have in Christ as a cloak for wickedness.  Both Paul and Peter acknowledge the liberty we now have in Christ, but they also tell us not to use it for the benefit of our flesh or as an excuse or covering of wickedness in our life.

Later in the sixth chapter of I Corinthians Paul begins to address the sexual immorality that was prevalent in Corinth, specifically within the church in Corinth. The Christians in Corinth had adopted a view, the same as what the minister I was watching the other day is embracing, that their salvation was spiritual and what they did in and with their bodies had no effect or bearing on their relationship with Christ.  As a result, the Christians in Corinth were involved in a variety of sexual immorality and thinking nothing wrong with it in regards to their relationship with God.  So, Paul needed to set things straight by letting them know that their thinking was all wrong, and that in fact what they did sexually with their bodies did have an effect on their relationship with Christ.  Paul goes on to say that our physical bodies are members of Christ, and that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  He then reminds us in verse 20 that we were bought with a price, and that we are to glorify God in both our body and in our spirit.

In Romans 6, Paul talks about our relationship to Christ and the place our bodies have in it. In I Corinthians 6 Paul mentions giving our members to a “harlot”, and how that should not be so, but in Romans 6 Paul takes a more general approach to this subject.  To keep this in context, we need to remember that Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome, and as such tells us that it applies to us as well.  In this chapter in Romans, Paul starts off with a couple of questions, “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2 NKJV).  He goes on in this chapter talking about yielding our members to sin or to righteousness, and that we become slaves to whatever we yield to.  As Christians it is our responsibility to yield our members to righteousness and not sin.  That doesn’t mean we will never sin again, but it means that we are now free to not sin if we are led by, walk in, and live in the Spirit.  Just because we become a Christian doesn’t mean we’ve lost our free will to choose who or what we will yield to, it’s just that we are now able through the Spirit to resist sin and not walk or live in it anymore.

Paul continues in Romans 8 talking about two different kinds of Christians, those who are led by the Spirit and those who are led by the flesh. A popular verse, Romans 8:1, while I realize that some translations of the Bible omit part of it, many read and cling to the first part of that verse, and forget about or give little heed to the remaining part.  Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 NKJV).  As you read through this chapter you will see how Paul is comparing both the life and end results of both types of Christians.  Some try to argue that those that Paul refer to as walking and living in the flesh are not Christians, but if we are raised to life with Christ because we were originally dead in our sins, how can a non-Christian die if they were never given life to begin with.  The end result of a life led and lived according the flesh is that they will not be called the children of God and will die.

I admit, I am someone who tries to live and do things right, described by some as someone who is “by the book”, but I will be the first to say that I’m not perfect and have on many an occasion blown it either knowingly or otherwise. I am well aware of God’s grace and forgiveness and seek to extend it towards others, and I’m okay with that.  I’m not perfect and sinless, and I don’t expect others to be either, but there is something that concerns me.  It’s not so much that someone has blown it, or even if it was in a big way or not, but it’s the attitude of the person that can be very telling and disconcerting.  It’s one thing for someone to stumble or fall in their walk with Christ only to get back up and “brush themselves off”, asking and being grateful for God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness with a genuine desire to not do it again, whatever “it” is.  What is disconcerting is when someone that knows they’ve said or done something they know is wrong only tries to make excuses for it, adopting some type of rationalizing that “makes it okay” to blow it.  These are people that need to take a real attitude check for themselves as it becomes an issue of attitude and motivations, specifically in regards to their own walk with Christ.  Are they serving God because they want to, or are they doing so out of obligation or because it’s the way they were raised?  When a person wants to serve God first and foremost simply because of who He is and what He’s done in their life, they’re not looking for ways to justify or rationalize wrong behavior.  Instead, they’re looking with gratitude for how they can please Him in all they do, simply because they love Him and want to.  When we try to make excuses and try to rationalize what we’ve said or done, that sends the message that we’re still being very self-centered, looking more to please ourselves than the One who made salvation available to each of us.  It’s is during these times that we are actually being led by our flesh and not by His Spirit, which Paul addresses in Romans 8.  Do we want to live being led by our flesh, or by His Spirit?  It’s all in the attitude and motivations.  Even I have to check my attitudes and motivations at times, making sure it’s pleasing and acceptable to Him.  How about you?

The return of Christ for His bride is so close that we could say it’s imminent, and that stands to reason all the more why we should take an inventory of our attitudes and motivations regarding our walk and relationship with Christ. Are we truly living for Him, or for ourselves?  Just because we get our attitudes and motivations right doesn’t mean that we will have “obtained”, as we should continually be looking to become more like Christ.  How do we do that?  We do that like the Apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 6, yield ourselves and the members of our bodies for righteousness and not for sin and the flesh, an ongoing task.  When we talk of our members, it’s not just our hands, arms and legs, but it’s also our eyes, ears and mouth, as well as our thought life.  Are we more concerned about pleasing Him or more concerned about pleasing ourselves and others?

It’s in the attitude. Maybe it’s time to do an inventory of your attitudes and motivations for living for and serving Him?

“Yes, But God Understands …”

“Yes, but God understands …”   I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone say that to me or to someone else.  Every time I hear someone say that something inside me just cringes.  Let me explain.

Have you ever talked with someone who admitted to sin in their life, though they may call it a “vice”, only to follow it up by saying “but God understands”?  Some who I’ve talked with over the years, people who consider themselves to be good people, have acknowledged a sin or “one vice” in their lives with no plans on giving that up on the premise that God will understand.  Understand what?  They have the mindset that because they are for the most part good people that God will understand if they keep that one sin, “vice” or bad habit in their life.  You know, I believe God will understand, but I don’t think it is as they think He will.  Let’s take a look at a couple other instances where people may make comments about God understanding them before we see exactly what God understands.

Another instance that I’ve heard people comment on God understanding them is in regards to Church attendance, or the lack of it.  I’ve heard people say that the reason they didn’t go was because they needed to run their boat to keep it in good working order, and that God would understand.  Some have said something to that effect regarding a sporting or other special event, a hobby or form of recreation, or even because their too tired or worn out to go because of their schedule.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is necessarily a sin to not go to church, but the sin could be found in the reasons and motivations we have for not going.  When someone mentions or explains why they are not going and follows it up with “but God understands”, for me that raises some red flags.  How about you?

The last instance I will mention that I’ve heard this phrase used, and I’m sure you can think of many others, is in the area of tithing.  I’ve heard many people explain that while they believe tithing is important, they will go even further and say God will understand if they don’t tithe.  These are classic “yes, but God understands” moments.  While they may say tithing is important, they will go so far as to say “but God will understand” if you need to put food on the table or pay some bills.  It sounds right and noble, and while this may feel right does that mean it is right?  Yes, I do believe God understands the predicaments we may find ourselves in from time to time, but I also believe He understands it in ways that we don’t give much thought to.

So, when someone states “yes, but God understands”, what does God understand?  Does He understand as they think He does, or is He thinking something different?  One underlying thread seems to be at the core of these statements, that being we value ourselves and our opinions more importantly than we do God and His word, and that there is an expectation God will understand and “bend” things to our way of thinking.  That is a scary place to be in if I may say so.  It’s a high-risk gamble of sorts.

When we’re talking of sin in our life, sin that we really have no plans on giving up, and explain that God understands we are saying something to God.  Our assumption is that since God knows we are humans in sinful flesh living in a sinful world, He will understand if our lives are tainted by “one or two” sins or “vices”.  After all, God can’t possibly think or expect us to live holy and perfect lives?  He’ll understand.  Oh, He understands.  He understands that the sacrifice He made through His Son and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit in your life to help you be victorious over sin is of lesser value to you than the sin you’re hanging onto.

When we’re talking about our reasons for not being faithful to the House of God, only to say that “God will understand”, we’re assuming for whatever reason that corporate worship and sharing of the Word with fellow brothers and sisters of Christ is not that important to God.   We also assume that Gods desire for us to have fun and “enjoy life” is of greater importance to Him than the 2 or more hours assembling together with the brethren on a Sunday.  God understands.  He understands that His instructions through the Apostle Paul to not neglect the times that the brethren assemble together, especially when we see the day of His appearing coming closer, are being ignored and not heeded.  God wants us to have life and have it more abundantly, but if our pursuits of ‘enjoying life’ conflict with Him, His will and His rightful place in our lives, which includes heeding His instructions, then it’s possible He’s been replaced by another ‘god’ in our lives called ‘life’.

And finally, when we try to say that God will understand when we don’t pay the tithes, we’re assuming that He understands our situation and will cut us some slack.  After all, surely He would want us to pay our bills and especially keep food on the table, right?  Well, of course he wants us to pay our bills and to keep food on the table, but not with what is rightfully His.  He makes it very clear that we rob Him when we don’t pay our tithes, and nowhere does he produce a list of allowed exceptions to that.  There are some who argue that God no longer expects us to give Him tithes, but their arguments for that are weak and not scripturally sound.  I’ve seen how some have twisted scripture for the purposes of trying to justify not paying tithes, and that just show where their heart is.  For example, some argue against giving tithes based on the recorded account of Jesus in regards to the temple tax.  Well, that doesn’t hold any weight when one realizes that the temple tax was entirely different than the tithe.  People were required to pay a fixed amount each year towards the temple and the various activities and maintenance required of the temple.  Tithes were not a fixed amount, but were a percentage of the first fruits each person was required to pay God.  Have you ever noticed how tithes and offerings are referred to?  When referring to tithes, we are to bring and to pay the tithe, but for offerings we give it as an offering.  Did you see that?  There is a difference in possession.  When referring to tithes, we bring it to Him because it is His from the start, but when referring to offerings they are something we give in addition to the tithe because it is ours (the remaining 90%) to give.  So, when we refuse to pay tithes, or we come up with a reason for not giving it, we are not only robbing God from what is actually His, but we are also saying we don’t trust Him to take care of us and have a prideful thinking that we can do it on our own.  We wouldn’t have what we have if it wasn’t for Him.  God understands that when we take and use what is rightfully His instead of giving it to Him in His storehouse (the local church we should be a part of) we have also in some respects made it an idol or used it for something that is an idol in our lives.

So, when someone says “yes, but God understands”, we need to try and understand it from Gods perspective and not our own, or theirs.  What does God say in His word?  Are we putting words in Gods mouth, or are we saying God didn’t really say or mean what He said?  We need to be very careful with this.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that God is not compassionate or understanding, because He is, but sometimes we use the fact that He is as an excuse to allow or justify decisions or mindsets that are clearly contradictory to Him and what His word says for us.  If that’s been you, I encourage you to re-evaluate yourself and make whatever adjustments to your mindsets and way of thinking to come into alignment with God and His word.  Time is short and He’ll be here for His bride very soon.  Don’t delay.

Verified by ExactMetrics