Stephanie Amber's Blog

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Remove the evil person. June 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephsweat @ 4:21 am

I guarantee this might offend some people. However, it’s mostly coming straight from Paul’s mouth, not mine. So if you have an issue with it, I’d like to hear your opinion, but your issue is really with Paul, not me.

I Corinthians 5 (you might want to read it first)

We tolerate way too much.
the drunkard
the adulterer
the homosexual
the sexually immoral
the greedy
the thief
the abuser
the cheater
(vs.5-11)

We’ve come to say that if we don’t tolerate these things, then we aren’t showing Christ’s love or acceptance to them. However, we’ve missed a major point. The issue of acceptance isn’t if a person carriers one of these labels, the issue is if a person who is one of these things carries the label of Christ as well. If they are a believer, then it should make a difference in how the church treats them.

Paul specifically says that if a believer INDULGES in these sins we should not even associate with them (vs. 11) and we should “remove the evil person from among us” (vs. 13).

But as any of us could testify to, that goes against so much of what we have been taught, have experienced, or have seen in the church. The church, Christians, have become way too tolerant of so many issues. Not only are we tolerant, but we’ve accepted them.

Paul uses an example of a man who is “living in sin with his stepmother” (vs.1). He blatantly and specifically says “you should remove this man from your fellowship” (vs. 2). But like most things I believe there is reason behind this. It wasn’t just to be mean or push this man away. Throughout the rest of this chapter, I saw three different reasons for getting rid of these “evil” people.

1) So that they will eventually be saved.
“Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day Lord returns” (vs.5).
Not only does getting rid of this man benefit the church, but it benefits him as well. If we continue to accept and tolerate a person’s sinful nature, why in the world would they ever change??? It’s when we are shaken or our world is rocked a little that we realize we need change. It isn’t up to us to fix them and make all things right. We have to learn to let go and trust that God knows what He is doing in dealing with His children. It may take awhile for any change to take place at all. They may continue in that sin for quite a while. But that’s where God gets to do the messy work. He isn’t just going to abandon His child. They need to get to a point where they don’t depend on people and no longer have anyone else to turn to. They won’t reach that point if we continue to accept and tolerate their sin. They have to come to a place where they are face to face with God.

2) So that their wickedness will not spread.
“Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are” (vs. 6-7).
This is pretty self-explanatory. I don’t think I really have to expound on this. We can’t let their sin or evil ways affect or spread into others in the church.

3) So that Christ’s sacrifice will not have been done in vain.
“Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth” (vs. 7-8).
Christ did not sacrifice His life so that we could continue in the ways of the world – wickedness and evil. He died so that we could be a part of something new, something greater. He died so that we could experience sincerity and truth through Him and fellow believers, not deception and evil.

The chapter goes on to explain that this is not the case with unbelievers. We can’t judge them. But we can judge the one who calls himself a believer. The unbeliever doesn’t know any better, so how could we judge them? For some reason the church seems to have it backwards. We seem to accept the believer and their sin, yet shun the unbeliever and their wicked ways. How dare we ignore someone who doesn’t even know the truth. Who are we to judge them?

This is a touchy subject, I know. It’s an issue the church ignores. We definitely don’t follow it. When is the last time we made someone leave the church because of some moral issue? When is the last time we didn’t judge a non-believer because of their lifestyle?
What else are we ignoring in Scripture?

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Greatness June 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephsweat @ 7:02 pm

Everyone wants to be great, wants to do something great. It’s very rare to find someone who just wants to be mediocre, to just get by. I’ve honestly only heard one person say this. A friend of mine recently said, “I just want to find myself in the middle – not great, but not bad – just getting by.” To me, it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. And most importantly it goes against everything we Christians believe in.

In today’s world, everything is about finding balance, finding a middle ground, “moderation in all things”. But the Word tells us to love with everything , to always forgive, to flee from all types of evil. To not just be mediocre, or “lukewarm”. We are called to be great. To be passionate. To be on fire. To be consumed and drenched by and in the Spirit. To not withhold any praise and glory to Him who deserves it all. To not be anxious about anything , to do everything with out complaining. There is no middle ground when it comes to following Christ, it is either all or nothing. Yet we run from any extremes.

He won’t tolerate being half-hearted. And that goes with everything we are called to. We often confuse greatness with being great and doing great things in the worlds eyes. We find our greatness by comparing it with someone else’s greatness. But God never called us to compare ourselves with each other. He calls us to our own greatness. No one else’s. And that is in everything we do.

Whether we dedicate our lives to raising kids or making music.
Whether we write books or teach kids.
Whether we are doctors or lawyers.
Whether we sit behind a computer or camera all day.
Whether we are evangelists, missionaries, or pastors.
Whether we are into politics or social justice issues.

No matter what it is we dedicate out lives to, we are called to greatness.
But that still isn’t the point.
The greatness isn’t about us.
It has nothing to do with us.

It’s about making Him great.
Showing His greatness.
When we are great it shows the greatness and faithfulness of our God.

We say we want to do all things great for God. Especially this generation of Christians. We all want to change the world. We all want to make a difference. We all want to leave some kind of impact on the world. But why? Will that be our evidence that we have achieved greatness? Does that show in some way that we were better than others? What benefit is it to us in the end?

It doesn’t benefit us. And that’s why greatness isn’t about us. Greatness is making God’s name greater. Some people touch thousands of lives, others only touch the lives of the people around them. But it isn’t any less greater. You can’t compare greatness. Do we say we want to be great for God so that his greatness really will be shown or so that we will have some sense of satisfaction and achievement of doing good?

The greatest thing we can do are those things that bring glory to God’s name – no matter how large, small, or insignificant it may seem. We all have a part – whether that is changing 2 lives or 2,000 lives.

We can’t fall short of being great for Him if we’re truly following Him and being obedient.

Live out your own greatness. Not anyone else’s.

 

Soul vs. Flesh

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephsweat @ 6:42 pm

I’m jealous.
I’m insecure.
I’m lazy.
I’m selfish.
I draw a fine line between actually being humble and appearing to be humble.
I’m full of pride, yet completely empty of confidence.
I want to regret nothing, but find an excuse in every challenge, in every risk.
I don’t want my life to be safe, but I make a point to be comfortable in every day life.
I long to be vulnerable and close, but close up and shut others out.

I want nothing more to love my Savior completely and fully, but find ways to fill every moment with something else. Even at times dreading my time with Him.

Why am I so backwards?
Why is it everything I want most, I want the least?
What is the point of this constant soul vs. flesh war.
Who wins in the end?
Does it even matter?
Is it too important to not give up? To keep fighting. Keep struggling.

As soon as one conquers, the other cries out for mercy, and the other usually gives in… making for a nasty and unending cycle. Strengths and weaknesses are complete opposites of each other… making for no final victory.
Maybe that’s the point of death.
Final victory!
All souls win in the end, over the physical at least.
And that’s the key. The most important thing of all.
The soul always wins.
The point is what it wins. What it will gain.
Either it will be Heaven or it will be Hell.

So like the Word says, my struggle is not with this world, but with those things unseen. The things fighting for my soul. This flesh is fleeting – and all it desires, will one day be dead.

What won’t die, ever, is my longing to be with Christ – both in Heaven and Hell. That will never change. So while there is no conquering here, I will live so that my heart and soul not only long for Christ, but gain Him as well.

 

Take it and Seal it. January 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephsweat @ 12:13 am

Here’s my heart Lord, take it and seal it.
For your will.
Your way.
Your purpose.

Let it be.

All fear covered by your power.
All feelings of inadequacy trampled by who You are.
All complacency erased by your call.
All lack of self-esteem wiped away by your love.

All of who I am surrendered to all of who You are.

 

Jesus. December 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephsweat @ 6:15 am

Genesis 1 gives an account of creation. The beginning of time as we know it and the creation of heaven, earth, animals, and people. Colossians 1:15 explains how everything was created through Jesus. He existed before all else and he rules over all things. Before the Bible, before the Old Testament even speaks of him, before man could give him a name, he was the Creator of all things and ruled over everything. He was with God. He was God.

He was there through the lives of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Joseph, David, and Solomon. He was giving the words to the prophets Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Malachi, and Joel.

We often think of Jesus’ beginning as the time he entered history, when he became a part of history. We fail to realize he created and ruled over history. That is what makes his entrance into humankind so unique, so humbling.

He lowered himself. He gave up his rights, his authority. He gave it all up to become fully man, to enter this world physically as a baby to a young virgin girl and a humble carpenter. The one who “made thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world” (Col. 1:16) was now “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger because there was no room for him” in the seen world (Luke 2:6).

He was human.

He lived.

He ate. He drank. He cried. He laughed. He traveled. He had brothers, sisters, and friends.

But he also turned water into wine. Walked on water. Gave the sick their health back. Healed the cripple. Healed the blind man’s eyes and the deaf man’s ears. He raised the dead and told adulterous women to “go and sin no more.”

And he was rejected.

He lived. And he died.

Because he knew we would continue in our sin.
Because he knew we needed to be saved.
Because he wanted all people to live with him for eternity.
Because he loves us that much.

“He was led like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). He was bruised, whipped, crushed, pierced. He wasn’t even recognizable as a man.

The One who created and ruled the earth, whose birth seemed unfit and humble enough, was now dying the most shameful, painful death.

Not fit for a king. Not fit for love. Not fit for a Savior.

And though evil had thought it won…
While Satan believed he was tasting victory…

Death could not hold him down. Like he had done to others, he himself would not tolerate the grave. And for awhile more, he still chose to stay on earth and do “many other things” and “if they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:23)

And now we know who he is. What he is like. What he was willing to do for us. What love looks like…

But there is still yet to be another victory. Another victory for this man who is now…

“…wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and hair white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes like flames of fire. His feet like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thunder like mighty ocean waves. Seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two edged sword from his mouth. And his face like the sun in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:13-16)

He has returned to his throne and “he is coming soon” with a “reward to repay all people according to their deeds.” He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13).

And to all people his Spirit says:
“Come. Let anyone who hears this, Come. Let anyone who is thirsty, Come. Let anyone who desires, drink freely from the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17).

He doesn’t care who you are. He doesn’t care what you’ve done.

And that is what Christmas really is about. It truly is about this man, this being, this ruler, named Jesus, who is so much more than just a baby, so much more than just human, so much more than just his death.

A Christmas Carol. Santa Claus. And everything else… They have nothing on this man.

And that’s only the shortened, amateur version 🙂

 

Obedience December 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephsweat @ 2:37 am

Numbers 20:8, 11-20
“…and the Lord said to Moses…’As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water.’ Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out…But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”

1 Samuel 15
(vs 2) This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared…(3) Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation – men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys.
(9) Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs – everything in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality. (10) Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.”
(20) Saul insisted, “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal. (24) Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded.”

Obedience is key to following the Lord. It is more important than sacrifice and offerings.
Disobedience will cost you greatly. In Moses’ and Sauls’ case it cost them their position, their leadership. If they couldn’t follow God precisely, then God didn’t trust them to lead his people.

Moses was too dependent on his rod, rather than where the power came from – God.
Saul feared his people, more than the One who put him in leadership over those same people.

What do we depend on more than God? What do we fear more than God?

Are we more willing to sacrifice than to be obedient to Him?

Both of these great leaders essentially did what God asked. They both had good intentions. And they even got the same results –
But they didn’t do it the way that he asked. They didn’t follow him wholeheartedly.

Being obedient means being obedient with every detail; leaving nothing out!

1 Samuel 15:22-23
“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings and sacrifices
or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
and stubborness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the
command of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

It is so vital to know His voice and Spirit – and to be obedient all the way. Leaving out no detail.

 

Once Again.. Finally. December 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephsweat @ 4:19 am

I wrote this about 4 months ago and just randomly came across it. I love looking back on different things in life and seeing where they have brought me now. I love seeing how he brings us out of things and into something so new…

Once again, he has heard my cry, my prayer, my plea.
Once again, I’m found in his arms, consumed by his love.
Once again, I’ve been saved from the wilderness.
Once again, I see joy and the fulfillment of his promises ahead.
Once again, there is nothing I desire more. Nothing I know I need more. Nothing I want to be surrounded by more.
Once again, I lay down my bitterness, my pride, my loneliness, my heartache, and my confusion.
I lay down all my sin to be found in His presence, to say He is worthy.
To once again say, you alone are worthy.

I’ve been running around in circles. I’ve been trying to hide. Hide from myself, from others, and most importantly from my God. It was just all too overwhelming and I didn’t want to be the one to screw it up, so I just abandoned it completely. I abandoned my life completely.

But He is so good, and he is so patient, and I finally see how wide his arms are opened just waiting to embrace me…

I’m finally feeling peace and joy in my heart again.
I’m finally finding a smile on my face again.
I’m finally seeing how worthy he is again.
I’m finally wanting more and more of him again.
I’m finally running straight ahead rather than in circles.

I’m thankful for the painful desert times, where I felt like my one true love was never to be found. Looking back I now realize he was and still is teaching me a great lesson. All I need is him. It can’t just be something I say or know to be true, but it has to be something I learn to be true and believe with all my heart.

Money won’t answer my problems.
A job won’t provide for me.
The ministry won’t save me.
Worship songs won’t invite the Holy Spirit in my life.
Friends won’t fulfill my loneliness.
Prophetic words from man won’t decide my future.
Encouragement from man won’t sustain me.

I’ve tried all these different avenues to reach the heart of God, forgetting that there is only one. While these are all good and needed things, they are not the source to my God. Jesus Christ is. He’s the one who suffered so I could reach the Father. He’s the one who intercessors for me and cries out for mercy on my life. He’s the one who sacrificed his crown and throne to be flesh. He is the One who has already payed it all and is pointing directly to the Father.

Taking the pressure is off isn’t found trying to do things my way. We think the overwhelming call of holiness and righteousness that he has placed on us is too much. Too much expectation and pressure, so we say we’ll do it our way to rid that pressure.

We’re forgetting the pressure is taken off when we say to Him:
“Lord, this life is Yours, Have Your way.”