Believer is as Believer Does

Like a lot of movies, if you ask your friends what they think about the movie “Forrest Gump” you’ll hear one of two reactions. They either love it or hate it.

Regardless of what you think of the movie, there is one line that Forrest uses several times that makes a lot of sense. Any time Forest is asked if he’s stupid he answers with the famous line, “Stupid is as stupid does.” What he was saying was that someone only could call him stupid if he was doing stupid things.

Biblically, I can assume this statement when it comes to a true believer. You can do it to. If someone walks up and asks you if you’re a believer (by that I mean a true believer in Jesus Christ) you could answer, “believer is as believer does.”

The only way to truly know if someone is a believer is if it is lived out of their life. (Church attendance is not a way to know if someone is a true believer by the way.)

Jesus said it this way in the context of spotting false prophets:

“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-18)

Both James and Paul later write according to this teaching of Jesus. Paul states in Galatians 5 that Spiritual “fruit”, the fruit of the life of a believer, is as obvious as the “fruit” of the flesh.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

James teaches that it’s important that believers “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” (James 1:22)

Jesus, Paul and James are not teaching that you should act a certain way to try to “look like” a believer. As a matter of fact, the Bible has a term for that too; hypocrite. What is true, however, is that both you and those around you will know whether or not your a believer by what you do. Believer is as believer does.

You’ll never see me try this illustration in a sermon but here’s a video excerpt by Francis Chan that delivers this question: how many are true believers? Take a look:

The Complaint Department

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You may know the two Muppets in the above picture. They spent all their time complaining about what everyone was doing. I thought it was  a good image for this post.

I recently saw an interview with former college basketball coach Bobby Knight about his new book, “The Power of Negative Thinking.” Obviously, it’s a little bit of a play on words. Of course I remember some the “negative” results that came about by his actions late in his career and I’m not sure I want to try the principles he has to offer. (I just saw the news headline this morning of a college basketball coach who was fired for this type of conduct.)

Be that as it may, I can certainly demonstrate the implication of negative thinking and how quickly it can spread throughout an assembly of people, and it never begins innocently.

There is truth to Bobby Knight’s book title; there is power in negative thinking. It is very powerful.

Let me demonstrate from Numbers 11 the negative progression that results in the spewing of quail out the nose. (And you thought the Bible was boring!)

Though they’ve been led out of slavery, there are some in the multitude of people who are completely captivated by the difficulties of the journey. The book of Numbers records it this way, “the people complained…about their misfortunes.” I wonder if you asked any slave this question what their answer would be: is freedom in the desert better than slavery in a place of prosperity? Yes! But how easy is it to forget that!

Grumbling and complaining begins in those who have forgotten the truth of their liberty. I’m sure you wonder as I do how Israel, though God set them free from horrible slavery could possibly complain about their freedom. But they did. And it was destructive. (I’ll let you read Numbers 11 to see how destructive it was.)

Here’s some truths about complaining and negativity:

  1. Complaining and negativity tricks people into believing they’re captive when they’re actually free.
  2. Complaining and negativity is very, very contagious.
    • What started with “the rabble” became “weeping [of the people] throughout their clans.” It’s that contagious!
  3. Complaining and negativity is in the end, poisonous and destructive.
    • this is true for two reasons: first, it will render a person unable to see the truth and the good. Secondly, it will destructively divide a congregation of people. It’s that destructive!

So, how do we protect ourselves from the poison of complaining and negativity?

  1. First, remember that God is not in the business of negativity, He’s in the business of setting people free. (Negativity always leads to bondage.)
  2. Second, when someone wants to approach you just to complain, ask them not to do it. Don’t listen to complaining, nothing good comes from it.
  3. Third, remember. Remember that God is at work and listen to His Spirit. He never leads by complaining and does not divide with it.
    • That means if there is division, it’s not a work of God.
  4. Lastly, commit. Commit your life to the truth of the Gospel and glory of God. When you do that, complaining will have no place in your heart.

Want to read the Bible?

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Do you ever have a desire to read the Bible but don’t know where to begin? Or maybe, you want to read the Bible more but you struggle because you don’t have plan to keep you accountable. Well, I have a solution and an opportunity for you to read along with me. I always keep myself on a Bible reading plan, that I create myself, so I will always be consistent to read the Bible every day. Just the thought of being behind uses my OCD To motivate me to stay current!

So, each day, I’m going to publish my reading plan on the blog. There’s a couple of options for you if you want to participate:

1. You can choose to read Old Testament or New Testament.

2. Or, if you’re feeling a little more zealous, you can read both everyday.

The reading plan that I began today (I always set my reading plan by quarter of the year) consists of reading the Psalms and Proverbs through the quarter and reading Paul’s letters to the churches this month.

Here’s where your reading begins (If you choose to accept this mission):

Psalms 1 through 5

          – or –

Romans Chapters 1 and 2

Feel free to leave any devotional thoughts in the comments. Happy Reading!

Big God

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Deuteronomy 4:15-18

 

As Moses instructs the people of Israel, before they cross over in to the Promised Land, he reminds them of what they saw when they met God at Horeb.

 

Moses said to them, “Remember that you saw no form when you met God, you only heard a voice. What you saw was an unbelievable sight of smoke and fire but you saw no form.” [My translation] That was on purpose!

 

The warning that Moses gives to the people is to be very careful to not try to make God into a likeness of anything you can see on this earth. Don’t try to bring Him down to your size! YHWH is so much greater than that!

 

I guess it’s normal to try and bring God down to a size that’s not so “scary,” but this is a mistake. God has revealed Himself to us that we will know how amazing and how much greater He is than us. Knowing this reminds us that He is greater than His creation, greater than we are (part of His creation), and here’s the good news; God is greater than any problem we could ever face!

Be careful to leave our cosmic creating God as big as He is. He just can’t be brought down to our size.

 

Unlimited God?

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I’m preparing for my upcoming missions trip to Jamaica. I’ve been invited by my friend, and missionary, Cletus Titus to take a trip there and guest lecture in the Bible college which is something I’m very much looking forward to doing. Of course, I’m working on my lecture notes as I’ve been given the assigment of several topics within the realm of pastoral theology.

One of my assigments is the pastor in regard to government, politics and moral issues. The textbook covers the usual suspects in regard to morality: elections, politics, abortion, prayer in shcools and the public display of the Ten Commandments.

As an introduction to my lecture I wrote this statment:

The moral problems that we see in our country and culture are not stemming from a moral problem. The problem is spiritual. The problem with mankind is always, at its root, a spirtual problem. That being said, we will never fix the moral problems by addressing the moral problems but only by addressing the spiritual.

American Christianity has often failed at this. So many statements which are made reflect the fact that we still don’t get the above truth. So often, we hear statements repeated just because they sound good. (I’m not saying that I’m not guilty of this myself.)

One such statement that ran it’s course on the social media lately was that the tragedy that happened in the elementary school in Newtown Connecticut happened because prayer was taken out of the schools. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much a ridiculous statement. The sad part was that I saw a video clip of a professing atheist who actually got it right.

Actually, the atheist said something that makes a lot more since than what a lot of Christians have been saying. He said that what Christians were saying about the killings of the elementary kids in Newtown Connecticut had nothing to do with prayer not being in schools. This guy doesn’t believe in God but said something about Him that was absolutely true. I won’t get the quote exactly correct but is was basically that God could not be constrained by the lack of prayer in a school. He was right.

The atheist presumed that this meant God doesn’t exist. His assumption is, of course, incorrect but his statement is absolutely true. God is not bound by the lack of men’s prayer. It’s important that we not forget that. This truth doesn’t make me not want to pray, it makes me want to pray all the more. Why? because God, who is, tells me that I can pray; he tells me that I should pray!

Why did those children perish on that dreadful day? Because there’s evil in the world; that’s an undeniable spiritual problem. Why did God allow this to happen? Or, maybe a better question is why does God allow this evil to continue? Well, that’s not so easy to answer is it? Maybe it’s so others, hopefully many others will have the opportunity to be born into a right relationship with Him before He calls a halt to evil with supreme finality.

I believe God is, and I believe He knows what He’s doing. I also believe that all the moral problems that we see in our world are nothing more than a symptom. Our problem is spiritual and it will take a Spiritual solution to fix it.