The Journey Thoughts

December 30, 2016

Throughout my life as a believer, I have observed some things that at first
were troubling, but since have turned to understanding.  It's not that I
have accepted errant behavior, but rather, it's the behavior that always
seems to come out of a person as criticism.   The book of Romans tells us a
lot about this behavior, and if we are willing to study Romans, we will find
out that criticism is not acceptable in God's eyes, but rather the attitude
of love.  I know that some will say that's just emotionalism, but let's look
at what our primary duty is before God.  In the thirteenth chapter of
Romans, Scripture tells us this: "Do not owe anyone anything, except to love
one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The
commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not
covet; and whatever other commandment - all are summed up by this: Love your
neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is
the fulfillment of the law."  Romans 13:8-10  But then, Paul writes in the
Spirit to the churches: Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another.
Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother's
way." 14:13 Then: "Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the
weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one
of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even the
Messiah did not please Himself. On the contrary, as it is written, 'The
insults of those who insult You have fallen on Me." 15:1-2  Yet through all
of this we find ourselves often criticizing those believers who don't act or
talk like us.  Some are weak, and therefore, have to act almost lawful to
justify their behavior of righteousness before God. Others will trust, even
when their belief is different in non-salvation ways, from other believers.
We want to love, but it's hard to love someone who doesn't love you back.
Yet, are we not called  to love, without the condition of being loved in
return.  So I find that in my desire to love all other believers, even when
their walk is not like my walk, I can do so without criticism, because I am
loving with the love of Christ, not the love of self.  For when I judge
others by myself, they always come up short, and I realize that I am
conceited, filled with self-righteousness and not love.  But how do we take
a stand for that which we believe?  Every person who believes has a
conscience before God on his/her behavior as a believer.  Even though I
disagree with some, If find that I have to walk a line of love for Christ's
sake, and still try to be the example of Christ-likeness to others, even if
I get criticized for it.  I have come to realize that I have to stand before
God for the way I behaved as a believer. I have to stand before my Lord, who
loves me unconditionally, and explain the unloving heart that I so often
have for those who don't walk the same as I walk.  Yes, I will be
responsible for that which I teach, but all teaching should point to the
Lord, and the Lord is the teacher, through the Spirit.  I will be judged on
the sincerity of my heart before the Lord, and the love that I have for
others, not the judgment that I have for others.  So I try to be as
transparent as possible, not for the sake of strength, but for the need of
the Lord to be the One who puts all things together for me to walk and to
teach. Transparency to show my weakness and need of Christ to live in me,
and not me to live in a law.  So I will keep on loving, and I will take the
stand of faith, in love,  even in the face of criticism, for I am compelled
to love, and to teach love above all else, for without the love of Christ,
nothing else matters, for we will have reverted to living the law, with
growing criticism of others who don't live the law with us.

Pastor Andy

Heavenly Father, I know my heart wants to criticize, but please renew it
again today, to show me how to love like You do, without conditions, to
those who seem less worthy of our love.  Help us to remember that You love
us that way, for we are not worthy of Your love, yet You love us.  I pray
for clarity of mind and thoughts, that Your word will be alive within me,
and that my thoughts will remain on You.  I pray for those who struggle with
loving like You do.  I pray for us to be renewed today. I pray for those who
through illness, injury, insult, or sin, find it hard to pray.  Lord, please
strengthen them.  I pray even now for: Don, Dwight, Lynn, Sammie, Michele,
Carol, Gene, Terry, Angie, Isabel, Pam, William, Carrie, Ada, Rheba, Mary,
Veronica, Douglas, Fritz, Dan, Dillon, Tara, Kristena, Kristen, Don,
Carolyn, Mike S., Barbara, Candace, Meredith, Abe, Ramona, Ben, BJ, Ida, JV,
Nada, Eva, Kelly and her son, Corbin, Robert, Pat, Ryan, Fred, Dotty, Scott,
April, Tracy, Abraham, Elijah, Japheth, Matt, Liz, Matt, Bethany, Mike,
Megan, Jeff, Laura, Tim, Carmello, Kaitlyn, Alex, Ken, Lynette, Patrick,
Kathy, Jennifer, Montella, Nancy, June, Pastor Berkey, Harriet, Shelbi,
Fisher, Marlaina, Cynthia, Loren, Mike, Pam, Clara, Jerry, Gary, Diane.
Lord, please guide our paths today, as we seek to honor You, with our action
and our speech, and heal us Lord in Jesus name. Amen.

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