5 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN YOUR FAITH IS WEAK

When life is hard and trials seem to flood over us, we can easily feel like we are useless— maybe even worse than useless. Temptation loves to strike us in these moments. Doubts about God’s grace knock us down when we feel weakest. It is in those moments, when our faith seems smallest, that we need to have patience with God himself. We need to remember why we were created and that God gives something to us that can never be taken away. When your faith feels small, remember these five things:

1. God created us for his delight and joy.

Pain in this life is inescapable for anyone who wants to live in this world. Difficulties will always come. Nevertheless, we must remember to trust in God, knowing these hard providences are never in vain. God created you because he delights in you. He wants you to know him, delight in him, and love him even in the midst of suffering. God offers you a life of meaning and purpose. All good things come from his hand. His goodness never changes, even when we do (James 1:16–18).

Remember what a wonderful thing life is and how God created each one of us for eternal communion with him. Falling and failing cannot overcome his purpose for us and will never prevent his goal of having us with him in eternity (Rom. 8:32). Reach out to God when you fail, and earnestly seek his face in prayer. He will never deny joy and delight to those who seek it in him. Pray that he will convert your soul again and again to his love each morning (Psalm 23).

2. God pursues us when we fall.

Too often we attempt to use God to merely get things from him, or worse, we give things to God to get what we want. Yet, God often doesn’t give us what we want, because it would not lead to our actual good. When God fails to give us what we want, that is usually when we fall into temptation—when we want something too much. We may think that we need something or someone to find happiness and so we are willing to cut corners to get it. We are looking to use God for our personal happiness. God sees what we are doing but, nevertheless, pursues us.

God had compassion on us in our foolishness and folly. Our heavenly Father demonstrated his mercy by sending Jesus Christ, his Son to die for our sins (John 3:16–17). He knew we would fall again and again. Even when we pursued our own glory and happiness apart from him, he still sent his Son! He pursued us like a good father running after a wayward child.

God reached down to us in our sin because he wants to be with us and he prizes us. Christ took on the likeness of men in humility, being obedient to his Father even to the point of death, so we would be reunited with him (Phil. 2:5–11). The cross is where we see God’s reckless pursuit when we fall. He won us to himself on that day.

3. God still loves us when we fail.

Even when we continually fail, God still loves us. The good work God began in declaring us righteous by faith will continue until his last Word finalizes that restoration and perfection, making us just like his Son (Rom. 5:5Gen. 1:26). We will never enter into eternal judgment. Nothing can or will separate us from his love—nothing (Rom. 8:38–39).

When Christ died on the cross, his sacrifice made it possible for you to enter the very presence of God (Heb. 4:16). When the Father looks at us, he sees his Son and the life Jesus lived on our behalf. There is no blemish or spot, no sin or failing that can change his vision of us. The very thing we need and want, that we look for in the arms of so many other idols—God’s unconditional love—is what we receive as a gift of grace.

Just as Christ is in heaven at the Father’s right hand, so our inheritance of love can never be taken away. The Spirit of God is given to us so we might know that nothing will separate us from that inheritance. We can now approach God as his own children. We can approach this loving Father who loves and cares for his children even when we fail. We have been reconciled to God by Jesus’ death. How much more then will we be saved by his life?

4. God gives us himself in the gospel.

We often think of salvation as the entirety of what we get from God. He loves to forgive, I love to sin—could there be a better deal?  Yet, when we think of grace in this way, we miss the whole point. We often think of salvation as one thing over there, quite apart from our personal happiness right here and now. “Salvation” is religion and dealing with God, and yet happiness is something radically different. Or so we think. We look for happiness everywhere else, believing God is not very interested in those sorts of things. We cannot find happiness and so we get mad at God in our circumstances. But this gets at everything all wrong.

Grace is not a something. Grace is a someone. When God saves us, it is because he gives us himself. When God saves us, he is saving us to find true happiness and love. But God can only do that by giving us himself—which is precisely what salvation is. His unconditional love which is imperishable is what we were made and saved for. He saves us for an eternity with himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He can give us no greater thing than himself and that is precisely what he does by giving us his Son. In so doing, he actually gives us the happiness we were made for. As Augustine famously wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you” (Confessions, Book 1).

5. God provides us with a new delight in him.

If we truly understand that God gives us himself by creating us and by pursuing us when we fall and that he gives us himself again in Christ, we will see how God provides us with a new delight in him. Even when the flood waters of this world seem to drown us, God gives us himself again by the Spirit and speaks words which cannot be uttered, declaring God’s abiding love (Rom. 8:26–27). No chasm of sin or doubt is too deep for God to deliver us! We have a redeemer who delights in us so that we can delight in him. Christ would have us live life at his side and remember the suffering he went through to bring us to himself and the future hope of glory.

So when your faith feels small and weak, when you fall into temptation, when you doubt God’s goodness or grace, have patience with God. Remember that God gives us salvation and happiness, joy and delight because he has given us nothing less than himself— the triune God. He has given us eternal life. And so, remember, that when your faith is in this eternal God, it is never small or weak

Bad Mistakes BELIEVERS Can Make While Dating. 

Going Too Fast

Sometimes in my eagerness in dating, I’d move too fast. I’d start talking about a future together before we even had much time spent together. It takes time to get to know a person before thinking “she’s the one!” or “he’s the one!” Being single is a very lonely and hard place to be. People say the cruelest things, such as “why aren’t you married ye?” or “how come you’re still single,” not realizing how hurtful those words can be. Don’t be pushed into a dating relationship just because you’re lonely. Some of the loneliest people I know are married to a spouse that either they are not loved by or don’t love. This is a very hard place to be. Better to be single and lonely for a time than married for life to someone with whom you don’t want to spend the rest of your life.

Acting Too Needy

This is close to trying to make someone complete you. In other words, if we think “everything will be fine once I’m married and I change this or that,” we first need to be right with God. To find the right person, we must be the right person. It’s so easy to believe that once you’re married you can overcome your addiction to pornography, shopping, money, drugs or alcohol. People don’t change us. Our spouse can’t change us. Only God can change us (Prov. 21:1). Finding the right person is only good if they’ve found the right person in you!

Talking About the Last Person

If you are dating, by all means don’t bring up the person you used to date and fling that out in front of them, along with all of their shortcomings. If you’re married, then the last thing you want to do is keep bringing up your ex. That’s a complete turnoff to the person you’re dating. They might feel like you’re comparison shopping and comparing them to your last spouse or person you dated. Check the baggage at the airline counter; no carry-on luggage allowed.

Not Being Yourself

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be authentic. Be genuine. If you pretend to be someone else and they find out you’re not who they thought you were, you’ve likely lost them and they’ won’t be able to trust you anymore. If you’ve lost their trust, you’ve probably blown any chance in dating them. It’s okay to admit your shortcomings and faults. I think transparency is a strength. Even James said that we should confess our faults to one another (James 5:16). I don’t mean confess every single sin you’ve ever committed, but just be honest and upfront with them and say that you’re still a work in progress, just like the rest of us.

Compromising Your Faith

If you drink to excess and then have to drive with your date, you are sending a strong signal that you don’t care about them since you’re putting them at risk. You are also sinning before them. This includes dealing in illicit drugs or even abusing legal prescription drugs. If you compromise your values as a Christian, they will know that you’re not the right person for them. This also includes watching pornographic movies or those with excessive violence. If you are doing these things, you are not ready to date anyone. You need to repent and turn away from these things and to examine yourself to see if you’re truly in the faith.

Conclusion

The biggest mistake of all is for a Christian to be dating a non-Christian. Not only is this a bad idea, the Bible commands us to not be unequally yoked (or joined) together with non-believers. This is like mixing water with oil. The Bible commands us, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols” (2 Cor. 6:14-16). Of course, there should be absolutely no premarital sex (fornication) or “petting” at all (lusting in the heart). God will not honor such a relationship as this. Don’t make these very serious mistakes and God may grant you a godly husband or wife. That is my prayer for those of you who are single.

Common sins that often get ignored by Christians? Which ones can you think of? 

Bearing False Witness

We are still sinners, the Bible is very clear about this (1 John 1:8. 10), but we should not be bearing false witness to others. We can “stretch” the truth, but a half-truth is still a whole lie. I know I’ve done it, and I would imagine you have, too. I’ve been caught in a lie, and I’ve caught others in them, too. Most Christians repent of this and ask for forgiveness, but I also know a lady who claims to be a Christian and is a compulsive liar. This ought not be because this is one of the so-called seven deadly sins that God hates, and it includes being “a false witness who breathes out lies” (Prov. 6:19a), which is “a lying tongue” (Prov. 6:17).

Gossiping

This is one sin that God truly hates. It divides and destroys many churches and relationships, too. God says, “There are six things that the Lord hates [and] seven that are an abomination to him” (Prov. 6:16), including “one who sows discord among brothers” (Prov. 6:19b) because it destroys the unity which God is trying to create in the church. This was a huge problem within the Corinthian church, as Paul wrote that there should “be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10) because “a whisperer (gossiper) separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28b).

Stealing

We might not be robbing banks, but we can leave work early; have someone clock us in or out; or steal pens, paper, and even paperclips from work. If we aren’t giving it our all at work, then we’re stealing from our employer, who pays us the wages for which they expect us to work. Paul admonishes those thieves of property and time: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28). Paul rebuked the church at Rome by asking, “While you preach against stealing, do you steal” (Rom. 2:21)?

Coveting

This is the only sin that is listed among the Ten Commandments that nobody can see. You can covet your neighbor’s spouse; you can covet their brand new car; you can covet their house; or you can even covet their job, status, or position in life. Coveting is the one sin that Paul apparently had trouble with, as he wrote, “Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead” (Rom. 7:7-8).  When you covet, you tell God, “God, I’m not satisfied with what I have–I want more.”

Dishonoring Parents

I hear this broken frequently by people who talk about their parents when they’re not there and even after they’ve passed away. Once again, I’ve done it, but I stopped. I repented of this. You can dishonor your parents even after you’re an adult by the way you talk to them, by the way you talk about them, and by the way you treat them (or mistreat them). This commandment is so important to God that He placed it first in the six commandments that are horizontal (human to human). This is the only commandment that promises a longer life if obeyed but a shorter life if not. This is not simply an Old Testament law, as Paul reiterated it in Ephesians 6:2-3, writing, “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Paul directly quoted Deuteronomy 5:16.

Bonus Content

Gluttony

The Bible describes gluttony as sin, but most Christian’s would never approach someone about this in a million years. Maybe it’s because they fear a backlash from the person they come to, but gluttony does not always have to be about food. We can be gluttonous with food, clothing, movies, sports, the Internet, Facebook, Instagram, and self, devouring hours and hours of time while neglecting prayer and Bible study. Gluttony means you are always wanting more than what you need, so want always outweighs need, and need is never enough, so our addiction (to whatever it is) takes priority over a lot of good things in our life. Gluttony and idolatry are cousins.

Neglecting the Saints

This is a big problem in many churches. Recently, I visited a man who was in the hospital for a week and almost no one in his church knew it. He had pneumonia and was on a catheter, so I ask if there was anything I could do for him. He asked me to get his phone charger, some clean underwear, and his toothbrush and razor, so I ran to his apartment and came back, and asked if he had many visitors, and he turned to me and said, “You!” His own church members, once they all knew, never once visited him, and I could tell this hurt him. This neglect is sin because visiting the sick is a command of Christ (Matt 25:36), but very few Christians seem to understand that doing this for others is doing it for Him (Matt 25:40), or doing nothing at all for Him (Matt 25:42-43).

Conclusion

I used the Ten Commandments because every sin we can commit are contained within these ten. I could have also added putting others before God and taking God’s name in vain, but I would not expect Christians to openly do these sorts of things. Surely, we should not be lying to one another, we should not be gossiping about others, we should be giving an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wages, we shouldn’t be coveting what others have but be content with what we have, and we should be honoring our parents.