So much has been deeply on my heart lately that I feel I need to share. Yesterday as I was sitting in church, I knew God was speaking directly to me because everything that Pastor Tim was talking about God had been talking to me about all week. God even answered some of the questions I was asking Him last week. It was so amazing to me I got goosebumps on my arms from just hearing it cause it was like he was reading my heart.
I absolutely love the church I grew up in. I love the people, I love the pastors, I love the way I feel when I walk in the doors, its like a second home to me. I have had some deep moments with God inside of that building. But I realize now that not everything I was taught there was accurate. Although we claimed to be non-denominational looking back, my church was very religious more so than spiritual. And don't get me wrong, most of the sermons our senior pastor taught were amazing and I never doubt his love or relationship with Christ.
I remember as a little kid I was taught the only way you could go to heaven was by asking Jesus into your heart and meaning it. But after alot of scripture reading and God speaking to my heart I don't believe this to be true. I was taught that other religions were wrong and that they may never go to heaven cause they didn't accept Jesus into their hearts. But to me here are mormons, Catholics, Lutherans, Jehovah' Witness' living their lives for God and yet we condemn them because they don't have our same beliefs. But here we are supposed Christians and we go out and drink, have sex, smoke, curse, and do many other sinful things but hey its ok cause we asked Jesus into our hearts that one day and yet we act nothing like Christians, you couldn't tell us apart from the atheists. I am in no way judging anyone cause I have been down a few of those roads myself.
I am realizing Jesus looks at your heart. Maybe you didn't ask Christ into your heart but you live to serve Him everyday and you try to follow His commands as best as you can. Of course, we are all going to fall short cause we are human and are always going to sin. But who are we to judge. Us christians have put ourselves upon this pedastal and look down all of those other religions and think we have the right to tell them they aren't going to heaven. Shame on us. I am just as guilty as the next guy to make that same mistake. I know at one point or another we have all done it.
Jesus talks clearly in the Bible about being lukewarm. In Revelations 3: 15-18 He says "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see."
In everything I do I want to make sure not only I do it out of my love for God, but with joy in my heart. When you truly love God you want to spend time with Him. You want to give Him everything he deserves and not out of guilt or to buy His love, but just cause we want to love Him. This brings me to the gift of tithing.
I have definately been one to suffer in this area in the past. I clung too tightly to something that doesn't really matter in the end. I am reminded in Matthew 6: 21 "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I know for me I don't want to just love myself and when I hang so tightly to ever dollar all for me, I realize that is where my heart is.
Another struggle I have had just real recently is how and where do I tithe. I always want to give joyfully cause I know "Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand," as it says in 1 Chronicles 29:14. Every dollar or every gift I have ever been given is a blessing from God. As all of the family was gathered around the kitchen table last night eating our dinner the topic of tithing came up. The family I nanny for are Catholics. As we were sitting there the dad was talking about "donating to the church". And I was like you mean tithing? And he was like oh yeah if thats what you people call it. Than he went on about how He didn't like to tithe because the church is not a non-profit organization. He went on and on for a bit and I said "It doesn't matter where your money goes. Its the point that you give it. God looks at your heart when you are giving. He replied with "Well my heart is full of cholestrol" or something along those lines.
This was a great lesson for me and the words I spoke are the words I needed to hear. I have been wanting to know where every dollar of my money goes before I give it. God knows where the money goes and its about your faithfulness to Him and He wants you to always make sure you know that He has given you every dollar. And if money is all you focus on, you will die miserably. I heard this great quote from Robert Murray M' Cheyne..
..."I am concerned for the poor but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you in that great day...I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudgingly at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money. Oh my friends! Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you, you will be beggars throughout eternity."
If you were asked today, where would your heart be? I no longer look at tithing as an obligation I look at it as this great joy. Everytime I find something new to give to I feel like I am a real part of something and actually making a difference in lives. I am all about missions. I love to give to people who are passionate about helping others and serving the Lord. Through my money I am able to bless people I wouldn't otherwise be able to. And through my time and community service I am able to serve others and give freely of myself without getting or wanting anything in return, I am learning true love. So when we give, no matter how much or how little God is always looking at our hearts of love.
Its all about love. Yesterday our sermon was about the issue of love and overcoming religion. We are taught as fundamentalist Christians to reach out to others in love, oh but wait not that group or them over there we are far too good to love them. God says to love Him first and to love everyone as much as we love ourselves, no exclusions.
I was in deep turmoil over the gay population in America. So I started doing a study. I was feeling in my heart something much different than I have ever been taught. I have a few gay friends and every encounter I have had with them I always come out happy and feeling blessed being able to see things from another side. I can honestly say when I see or talk to someone gay I always show them a ton of love, I wouldn't want to be them going through all of that persecution. But I also know on the otherside of that I have made fun of them in an innocent way not meaning to offend anyone by saying things "whats thats so gay". I know my intentions and my heart but they sure don't. I have gotten so used to say it, its hard to stop.
As I was doing my search on this topic, I came across a few different view points, one person was talking about how if God wanted gay people he would have made them so they could produce children. Yes it was a good point. But the more and more you do research on it, you soon find out nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about homosexuality. I believe if God were here today he would love them just as much as he loves us.
At church they were talking about how gay people are more open with their "sins". None of us have the power to judge them for we all have bad thoughts and probably have some lustful thoughts in our hearts as well. This week I definately learned that it doesn't matter who someone is we should love everyone the same. I think that if you start only looking at your own heart and loving everyone equally, you will learn alot not only about yourself but about them and their struggles too. We were made to love, thus show forgiveness, sympathy, and humbleness. Not one person is worse than another. Every sin is equal to God.
The greatest challenge is to start looking outside of religion and putting your focus on changing your heart and loving God. Let God be God. In the end, He is the one with the final judgement and our judgements of others will certainly not matter.