My ways are higher than your ways…

Why we do what we do….

When we stand for righteousness, the unsaved world sees that there is a line, a definition to what we believe–and “believing” is not a mental word, but a matter of the heart.

They see that we stand on the righteousness of God.

But when we compromise, the unsaved world loses sight that there is a clear definition of right and wrong. The world gets confused by our actions as Christians, because we say we believe one thing, and we act another, or we tolerate things that are against the law of God, even though in our heart we don’t believe in them. “It’s okay for them, but not for us” we say.

Therefore, they call us hypocrites because we don’t stand by what we believe–what at least we say we believe.

But Grace.
Because while we were yet sinners, Christ came and died for us.

But once we knew better, we started to live differently. We started to deny our old way of living, and chose instead to follow what our heart told us was true and good and pleasing and acceptable to God.

But dare to ask yourself the question–before you knew Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior, did you see the clearly drawn line between what other Christians deemed was right and wrong?

Did you say to yourself, like I did, “if I become a Christian, I will have to give up __, __, ,__. “.

That’s the way I thought. I knew it was going to *require sacrifice* on my part. That’s because God stands alone from any other “god”. He desires to give us life and joy, abundantly, but first we must be willing to sacrifice our life on the altar like Issac.  Not physical life, but just everything else 🙂 And yet, still be willing to offer our very physical bodies as sacrifices if that is what He chooses to use to redeem someone else.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

He is set apart. He is holy. He requires us to be set apart, too. In fact, He even does this for us as part of His sacrifice when we submit our lives to Him. When He covers us under His shed blood, He sets us apart from the world and it’s lusts.  And because we have a changed heart, along with that comes new thinking patterns. New thought processes.

Because I saw a clearly defined line in right and wrong, that’s why I was so hesitant to do it. I thought to myself “she doesn’t have any fun anymore” “she can’t watch horror movies anymore” “she can’t listen to____music anymore” “she has to listen to that Christian music all the time now–how boring”. ” I sure hate it for her that she can’t have any fun and she’s not free to do whatever she wants.” “I think I’ll wait until I am about to die, and then I’ll ask Jesus into my heart as I’m going out.”

Boy am I glad I didn’t! Boy am I glad and thankful that He called to me a long time before that!

Because it wasn’t a matter of one simple prayer. It was a matter of counting the cost. I had to be willing to be broken. I had to be willing to lay down everything and choose the way of the cross.

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Luke 14:28

I actually said “the prayer” on more than one occasion. To no effect. Because I was not willing to give up what [I thought] I had. I was not willing to lay down my life in exchange for His life that He so freely was going to give to me.

I was scared of that transition. I didn’t know how freeing it would really be! I didn’t know that giving my life to Jesus would be the happiest, best day of my life that I wish I could relive–over and over and over again! Except that I *can* live it over again–every day.

Because every day I get up, I choose to devote my life to Him, and to following His ways.

But I know too, that I am a mirror of Christ to the world. Or at least, I am called to stay set apart—by being “in the world, but not of it”. And that means I must stand for whatever is pleasing to Christ, regardless of what everyone else around me wants or thinks.

You know why? Because I care about their already-lost souls more than I care about their temporary happiness on this earth. I know that if I stand for what is pleasing and honorable to Christ, they will see that a relationship with Christ is not something they can “add” to their already full schedules. Rather, it’s something that will take precedence over anything and everything else in their life, for the rest of their life and into eternity.  Not to say that everyone is going to spend every waking moment writing and talking about Jesus—hardly.

But that they will see that I choose what is pleasing to my God rather than what is pleasing to my own flesh, or other sinful, fallen humankind, because I cherish my God more than I cherish this world. In fact, I am not of this world–so there is nothing here that will satisfy me as completely as pleasing Him, and being in His presence.  And it is that future time that I look forward to every day.

I think we oft get focused on the wrong aspects of what Grace is all about. So many say “doing this sin_____ (fill in the blank with anything), will not send you to hell”. Grace covers us.

Well, yes we live under the new covenant of the Grace of Jesus’ shed blood on the cross. However, because we have a new nature, a divine nature that now lives inside of us, we automatically want to please God. Because it’s God that lives inside of us and He wants to do what is right.

However, we do have a war going on within us, a war that we did not know before Christ. A war between our fleshly, sinful nature, and the Spirit of God within us.  Our flesh still wants its way. We still desire wrong behavior and wrong actions, even when the Divine nature within us desires better behavior, actions, thoughts. So we have to choose who we are going to listen to, who we will follow. The Holy Spirit, God within us, or our sinful flesh nature?

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Galatians 5:24

We have the power to overcome and crucify our flesh nature with the Holy Spirit, but are we choosing to? And if not, we ask ourselves why. Has the world become more important to us than Christ Jesus? Have we in our own minds succumbed to narcissism?

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please               (Galatians 5)

As Christians, we must choose to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the desires of the flesh, and thereby not give the devil a foothold.  Because when we let compromise start ruling our actions, even in the name of Grace, we are taking Grace for granted and the world no longer sees a clear picture of what it looks like to come to Jesus.

They start thinking they can just “say the prayer” and they will go to heaven. But it’s not that simple. Coming to Christ is the hardest thing I’ve ever done—and thankfully I didn’t do it alone!  He was there to help me do the hardest part–breaking me so that i could be in a place where I was willing to lay my every desire at the foot of the cross, and ask Jesus to be the Lord of my life.

I knew what that meant.  It knew it meant that I would no longer be choosing my own ways of thinking about and doing things. Because I knew my ways were contrary to God’s ways.

How did I know? Because I had a friend, a sister, who was an excellent example of Christ in action.  I watched her actions carefully for 8 years (think you aren’t being scrutinized as a Christian? think again!), and even on multiple occasions, I tried to trip up and get her to abandon her God and His ways, ‘if only for a brief minute’.

“Oh what would it hurt” I asked myself, and probably told/asked her the same thing, on more than one occasion. “You can do this. What would it hurt?”  Her response was always the same.  It always had to do with not wanting to bring dishonor to her God, Jesus Christ, her Lord.

What would it hurt? Well, I may have never come to Christ if she had been disobedient and given into the ways I wanted. Because I wouldn’t have seen Christ as the center of her attention, her ultimate priority, any longer. I would have discredited Him, and probably turned up my nose at the thought of her trying to please Him.  I mean, if it didn’t matter in the little things, why would it matter in the big things?

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  Luke 16:10

But little did I know at that time that I was being a test of her faith. (I felt horrible later, but was also so very grateful that God kept her and gave her strength to not give in under even the smallest of temptations).  I didn’t know it then, but I was under the control of Satan–as we all are until we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.

Little did I know how much it would impact me for years to come–that one simple act of her saying that she would rather follow God than to take that one free meal (that wasn’t mine to give).

Little did I know that through those small, but faithful acts, she was proving to me that her devotion to God could not be bought.  That her life was devoted to God, and she chose to live her life as a sacrifice to God, and that nothing I said or did could distract her from her focus on Jesus Christ, her Lord.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  Romans 12:1

And throughout the years, I became more and more intrigued by “just who was this God she believed in?”. And I wanted to know Him more and more.  The intensity with which I wanted to know Him became more prevalent with each passing act of obedience.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.   Isaiah 55:9

I say all this to say that when we, as Christians start picking things apart and saying “well that sin won’t send me to hell, because I am a child of God and I am under Grace”—well, we might be missing the point of it all.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

Is it our desire to honor God in our thoughts, our words, our actions? Is our ultimate goal to honor Christ, and thereby draw others to Him, by our willful obedience?

If we are nitpicking things just to justify ourselves, we might be falling into the temptation to take His grace for granted, and thereby reduce the chances that others see Him in us, in our actions, our thoughts, our ways.  –even in the small things.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!  Romans 6:15

I knew that when I gave my life to Christ, it would mean living under the authority and conviction and power of Almighty Father God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I would have to be willing to give up any preconceived notion that my life was in my control and I had things altogether.

But to do so willingly, without knowing what was on the other side of that line, was the scariest thought ever. Because it meant complete, utter surrender. It meant no longer being in control. It meant giving up control of my thoughts, actions, words, and everything to God–and I thought that would be the most boring thing ever!

Hahaha!  How deceived I was!

There is NO better place to be than under the blood of Jesus!! 🙂 🙂  Than to live my life utterly surrendered to Him!  I could not have EVER imagined the love that He has filled me with!  –and that He continues to fill me with when I surrender to His will for me, living in obedience to Him.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 1John 5:3

I haven’t fallen out of love with Him yet, and I pray that I never do!!

I pray for my love to be increased and for Him to work through my life and to be His vessel to reach others who are far from Him–like I was. And for them to see, by my actions, and words and thoughts that I am devoted to Christ first and foremost, more than anyone or anything else.  And that I live for Him.

My life is not worth living if Jesus isn’t my Lord and Savior.  I want them to see that my devotion to Him cannot be bought, cannot be sacrificed by the government’s authority or any other person’s authority.  Because I live under One Authority, and that is the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  And I wouldn’t trade it for anything!  That my Jesus is just that Awesome, and I don’t want to dishonor Him because He gave His very life for me, and I love Him so!

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1John 4:10

We love, because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19

The day that I surrendered my life to Jesus, and was washed in His blood, will forever be engrained in my mind. And every day, I am thankful for the many ways in which I was shown, and continue to be shown, the love of my heavenly Father and my Lord, Jesus. I’m so grateful that He sends His Spirit to live inside of me, because I could never overcome my flesh nature in my own strength. I’m so grateful that He comforts me with His love, His all sufficient love and grace and mercy!

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