Deep Sin & The Christian Soul

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5.19-21)

As I recently finished a Church Bible Study on the book of Galatians, those verses inevitably caused some discussion.

I mean, we’ve all to some degree engaged in most–if not all–of the items on that list at some point in our lives, right? Even if you’re a Christian.

So what does it mean to say “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”?

As we discussed it, we arrived at the answer many of us come to if you grew up in the Church: these scary statements only apply to those individuals who have these “works of the flesh” as a pattern of their life to such a degree one might be able to say that the sins have “dominion” over them. That answers it, right?

Not really. Because there are Christians who find themselves in seasons–days, weeks, months, decades, even–where these sins are their practice over time, seasons where these sins have a very real sense of dominion over them and their lives.

And, this isn’t theoretical or theological for me. To be honest, I myself am coming out just such a time.

. . . . . 

I wrote the above words a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I’ve only sunk deeper into the bewilderment of this season I’m coming out of. How does a Christian understand a period of time in which they’re given over so deeply into self-absorption, sin, and hurting of others? I’ve sat on this question, mulling it over, letting it ruminate within me to see what fruit it bore. I’ve wanted to figure out a nice, tidy answer to this post–for the sake of both others and myself.

And alas, I have been found wanting.

In the end, why do we/I ask such questions? Control? Minimizing our shame? Explaining our wrongs away? Emotionally masturbatory navel-gazing? Intellectualizing or theologizing sin so as to disconnect from the depth of pain that would come if we really saw ourselves and what we’ve done?

Probably all of the above (again, at least for me).

Ultimately, this walk with God isn’t that complicated. We’re called to love God and love others. We/I fail in that simple task repeatedly–even to dramatic, painful, extreme, and sustained degrees. And, yes, also to a million lesser, little degrees. In short: we’re terrible even at this grand, beautiful simplicity.

And that’s anticipated. Whenever God gives a law, he assumes failure, sin, and disobedience and provides a way to maintain relationship. This has always been the case with God, not just since all the Jesus stuff. Therefore even with the simple call to love God and love others, our failure is factored in.

But that’s just the divine perspective–how God might be thinking about the Christian who is in the fog of sin, failure, and weakness. To be frank, though: as beautiful as that idea is, it’s not exactly helpful to me in processing my own unique period of profound sin against God and others. For that, I turn to ground-level human stories of how people processed this as they related to God and themselves.

When you do, you see that over and over again people in the Scriptures just acknowledge and lament their sin, and ask God to move on their behalf. There’s no deep analysis of “why”, nor dissecting what was going on in the human heart, nor anxiety over what was theologically happening at the time.

It seems that those scary verses like the one from Galatians aren’t meant to guide your understanding while you’re in the midst of a season of profound soul-sickness, but to either prevent others from falling prey to such sickness or explain why others “died” in that sickness.

In other words, the identity of one joined to the life of God is not defined by whether or not they fail (even in big ways against others), but whether after that time of failure, chaos, and sin, they come back. If they at some point (even decades down the road) return to their senses, then I think we can say in hindsight they’ve belonged to God all along.

We see this throughout the history of God’s people. For example, Moses was no less God’s chosen and beloved deliverer of his people even as his anger and violence kept him from the Promised Land. Of course, the disciples themselves belonged no less to Jesus even as they denied him. Paul was no less joined to Christ even as he “did what he didn’t want to do and didn’t do what he wanted”.

But some of the other stories are deeply offensive. Abraham was no less chosen by God even as he distrusted God’s word and committed horrendous acts of sexual violence against an African slave-woman. Isaac was no less the son of promise even as he pimped out his wife to save his own skin. David was no less God’s own, even as he famously had an affair and killed the woman’s husband to hide it.

On one hand, I don’t like that. These men abused women and exerted their power and sexuality in a way that harmed others deeply and profoundly. On the other hand, what do I do when I act the same way? What do I do when find myself at that place where I have done what I never thought I’d do? How do I process it when I find myself having crossed lines and committed injustices that I find so deeply unacceptable and offensive in others?

This story of belonging to God even during horrendous acts of pain against others has to be offensive, because at some point, we will act in a way offensive to many of our own most deeply-held personal convictions and sensibilities.

I say that not to be dramatic, but I genuinely think that all humans, at some point in their lives, will find themselves at that place of sitting among the ruins of former beauty asking, “what on earth have I done? Did I really do this? Is this even real?”

And when that happens (not if), a precise theological understanding of our soul’s state during that season is not what will sustain us. All we can do is confess, lament, feel the pain deeply without intellectualizing it, and ask for God to move on our behalf, knowing he probably won’t do so right away; there’s a strange alchemy that needs to happen in the soul during such a time. And it’s never on our timetable. All we can do, it seems, is follow the example of Micah 7:

I will look to the Lord,
    I will wait for the God of my salvation;
    my God will hear me….
I must bear the indignation of the Lord,

    because I have sinned against him,
until he…executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
    I shall see his vindication.

While that doesn’t answer all (or really any) of my questions, it’s enough to help me go to sleep tonight and continue walking tomorrow into increasing light, freedom, discipline, repentance, and wholeness. And I think, at least for now, that’s enough. And for that, I’m grateful.

Pastor Billy Sigudla

God Our Great Deliverer

Our heavenly Father is the giver of every good gift. His mercies are vast, powerful, and real. His love has the ability to completely overwhelm and satisfy every one of our needs. Everything he gives us satisfies, transforms, and leads us to abundant life. As we spend this week stirring up our affections toward God, allow your heart to become soft and open. Allow his loving character to draw you close and provide life to every dry and weary place in your soul.

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“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.”

Psalm 32:7

Our God, who delivered Daniel from the clutches of ferocious lions, David from countless pursuers, Israel from the entire nation of Egypt, and Lazarus from three days of death, promises to deliver us from whatever schemes the world has set against us. 2 Samuel 22:2-4 says, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”

When we call upon the Lord our God, he works in mighty, mysterious, and perfect ways. God is perfectly able to do any and every work it takes to deliver us. Whether you need deliverance from sin, affliction, lies, or sickness, God has the power and desire to deliver you. He is both mighty and loving. He is both mysterious and real. He is both servant and King. And he sees your need and longs to meet you exactly where you are.

What enemy comes against you today? What stress, circumstance, sickness, or sin seems to have entangled you? The Lord says to you, “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16). Hold fast to the hand of your heavenly Father. Don’t just put your head down and muscle through whatever circumstance is before you. Instead, call on your Great Deliverer, place your hand in his, and allow him to guide you, equip you, and empower you for whatever stands in your way.

God loves to take the very circumstance that seemed insurmountable and use it to reveal to you the reality of his power and love. He loves to take the walls of Jericho that seem to stand between you and your dreams and cast down the enemy that you couldn’t defeat on your own.

Psalm 32:7 says, “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.” God is surrounding you with his shouts today. The question is, will you have the patience and faith to pause, open your ears, listen, and follow wherever he leads you?

Spend time in prayer allowing God to deliver you, protect you, comfort you, guide you, and give you peace.

Pastor Billy

 

Sanctification in the Holy Spirit

The word “sanctification” typically renders images of fire, struggle, pain, and toil in my mind. It makes me think of my own sin and wonder how I could ever be transformed into a sanctified child of God. I believe sanctification is one of those words commonly used within the church but often misunderstood. We might understand the definition of sanctification (the process of being made or becoming holy), but I don’t know if we have fully grasped God’s plan for the process. I don’t know if we’ve been taught on sanctification in light of God’s grace.

1 Peter 1 gives us wonderful insight into God’s heart for the process of sanctification:

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:1-9).

The first thing we see in 1 Peter 1:2 is that sanctification is “of the Spirit.” Sanctification comes from God working in us, not from our own strength. In fact, Scripture is clear that righteousness is ours as the result of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” And 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” Sanctification comes from God’s work and power. In our own strength we can’t produce anything like sanctification because we have no holiness within ourselves. But in the Holy Spirit we have access to a vast, deep well of righteousness and godliness. Through Christ we’ve been made clean, and through the work of the Holy Spirit we are growing up into a life of holiness.

1 Peter 1 is most definitely clear that sanctification is a tough process. Dealing with our sin will never be easy. But it is a process full of the work of our merciful God (1 Peter 1:3), and it always results in rejoicing (1 Peter 1:8).

If you desire holiness, righteousness, and godliness, seek out relationship with the Holy Spirit. Open your heart and mind to his work. Allow him to reveal to you the dark places of your heart that have yet to be touched by the capable, loving hands of the God who formed you and knows you. Allow him to heal the wounds and brokenness that have tied you to the world, which you’ve been set free from through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Sanctification is ours by God’s grace and mercy. Spend time in prayer allowing God to deal with your sin and lead you to a life of rejoicing and joy where only sin and sorrow dwelled before.
Pastor Billy Sigudla

Those Who Mourn

JESUS, YOUR GOOD SHEPHERD AND DOOR

Jesus said that He is the door of the sheep. What did He mean? Well, a sheepfold during Jesus’ time had no door which could be opened and closed. The door of the sheepfold was just an opening. In this kind of sheepfold, after the sheep had entered it, the shepherd would sleep at the entrance. The shepherd became, effectively, the door of the sheepfold.
When Jesus told His disciples, I am the good shepherd, John 10:11 He also assured them emphatically that He was the door of the sheep. He was telling them and us, Inside My sheepfold, My sheep are always safe, completely protected and kept close under My watchful eyes. And since I am just at the entrance of the sheepfold, nothing, not even the muffled bleat of one of My own, can escape My ears. Also, nothing evil outside the sheepfold can enter and touch My sheep without first coming through Me for I am the door of My sheep.
So when the fight of life comes knocking on your door and when panic threatens to rise within you, see yourself doubly protected! He is both the good shepherd and the door of His sheep. As your good shepherd, He gave His life for you to redeem you from poverty, sickness and every other curse.
As your door, He keeps out everything evil that He has redeemed you from. Because He shed His blood for you, you are covered and protected within the sheepfold by a blood-stained door. Disaster, destruction and death must pass over you and your family because of His blood on your door. Remember that on the night of the first Passover in Egypt, the destroyer could not enter the houses of the Israelites because of the blood of the lamb on their doors. Exodus 12:13 and 23
Today, you can live life untroubled and unafraid, knowing that Jesus, your good shepherd and door, protects and preserves you and your family. No evil will befall you or your loved ones because He is your dwelling place and refuge!

Have a blessed Long weekend

Pastor Billy
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17 March Billy Birthday

I thank God for allowing me to see my 32th Birthday celebration I call it #resurrectionBirthday

#Ezekiel16:
62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD:
63 That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.

Thank you Jesus my saviour

 

Message from Dad  Pastor John Sigudla on Facebookbila

Pastor Billy Sigudla on Twitter

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God is Asking, “Where are You?”

Sometimes it is easy to read about Adam and Eve’s failure in the garden and think, “How could they disobey like that!” But the reality is that this is not Adam and Eve’s story alone. It is our story as well. We make decisions on a daily basis that dishonor God. We disobey His commands, take charge of our own lives, and become Lord of our own ring. Then like Eve, we try to cover up our shame and even attempt to hide from God.

Do you know the first question God asked in the Bible? After Adam and Eve hid from God, He asked – Where are you? God knew exactly where they were, what they had done, and what the enemy had stolen from them. However, He decided to remain in relationship with them and begin the process of restoration, which was completed on the Cross of Calvary.

He asks the same question of us today, “Where are you?”

I think “but God” are the two most beautiful words in Scripture. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). When did we become a sinner? The first time we sinned? No, we were born sinners and that sin is what separated us from God. While we were yet sinners, He became the perfect sacrifice for us, not to cover our ugliness, but to cleanse us forever–once and for all.

Salvation Army Officer, John Allen once said, “I deserved to be damned in hell, but God interfered.” God interfered, intervened, and intercepted our death sentence. He sent His Son, who paid the penalty for our sin, and all we have to do to receive God’s pardon is to accept His wonderful gift.

How do we accept God’s gift? “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9).

When you accept Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior, you are freed from the penalty of sin (spiritual death and eternal separation from God), and He gives you a new living spirit. “Salvation is moving from living death to deathless life.”

Why did God do this for us? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. And whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

When you become a Christian, your dead spirit comes to life, and you become a new person. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the apostle Paul promises, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We were crucified with Christ and now we live in Him (Galatians 5:20).

Have you accepted God’s incredible gift? If not, He’s still asking, “Where are you?”

Prayer

Dear Lord, Thank You for your great love for me. Thank You for calling me by name and asking, “Where are you?” Thank You for sending your Son to pay the penalty for my sin and save me from eternal separation from You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Leading Simply

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When a leader leads simply, he or she gives clarity for a chosen path to help others reach a desired vision. Action and outcome needs to be communicated in such a way that everyone involved knows their part for reaching the ultimate goal, and this communication is the leader’s responsibility. Complexity is the enemy of clarity and the larger an organization grows, the greater the need for continued clearness. Leading simply by choice may alleviate confusion and provide greater focus for an entire team.

Leading simply requires you to work deep and wide. Your influence should go deep to the needs and reach many with the redemptive work of the Kingdom. Leadership is about influencing people to grasp on to the vision, and that happens by leading simply and with focus. Invest in the team that will help to navigate through the vision by valuing their role.

A vision will require you to carve out a distinct culture that reflects the needs that only your gathering of Christ followers can meet; it sets your church apart. If you’re a leader, ask yourself, how are we as a church going to add value to the lives of the people we encounter every day? It isn’t about making everyone happy as they enter through your building doors, but instead, it is about bringing value to their lives. The influence of a strong leader requires not only a person who executes and champions the vision but also a leader who can take the time to invest in the conversations of those they lead. Opening the minds of those in their community and taking the time to not only hear but also to listen will help to further the vision. Understanding a church culture and refining the ability to truly listen to others is essential to simple leadership.

Let’s examine one additional benefit from leading simply – power. Power comes from simplicity and a true leader will need to take time to refocus and remember why they are in their current leadership role. Every church can make a spiritual mark on its community, and a strong leader will be able to see where the church can make a difference. This is the environment where God has placed your church to serve, so within your position of leadership, can you identify how God is calling you reach others? This is a powerful position to be called to and it’s integral that a leader is able to refocus and realign him or herself with simplicity in leadership while navigating multiple opportunities for a congregation.

In the Quietness the Lord speaks the Loudest

As a leader, listen to how God is speaking to you and explore what He might be calling you to this upcoming year. What are three things you can do to step further into where God is calling you to lead deeply and wider? What are the risks you’re willing to take to give up your plans and be prepared for whatever He has in mind for His church?

Stripping away the complexities of leadership and slowing the pace will require patience, maybe even long suffering as the answers are not revealed quickly. On a regular basis it is essential for a leader to look back to the initial questions of “What are we doing?” and “Why are we doing it?” and just as important, “Where do I fit in?” Everyone needs to have a game plan and know their place on the playing field. It keeps focus and clarity; and the end goal should always be in site. These three simple questions can keep a leader focused in almost every scenario.

Growth will require a leader to return to simplicity. Leading simply will calm the chaos, streamline the what, where, why and how we lead, and perhaps reap a harvest of changed lives for the Kingdom.

God Speaks in Solitude

 

 

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

–Psalm 46:10

 

Solitude—a time set apart where the rush, noise, and anxiety of the world fall mute on the ears and heart of a child of God completely lost in the peace and presence of the Creator. Solitude is a time to be with your heavenly Father, free from the distractions the world offers us at seemingly every moment. We are made for consistent time spent in solitude.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Weight of Glory, “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” Most of us have grown accustomed to what truly does amount to being “starved” for solitude. We never fully realize how great our need is to be alone with our Sustainer. Let’s take some time today to recognize our need for solitude and then learn how to best practice solitude on a daily basis.

You can know that you need solitude for one reason—Jesus needed it. All over the New Testament we see examples of Jesus going off on his own to pray. One example, Mark 1:35, tells us that Jesus, “rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark . . . departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Jesus, who practiced perfect communion with his heavenly Father while here on earth still needed to spend time in solitude. Jesus, who loved parties, loved people, and was God and man simultaneously, needed time alone. If he needed it, you and I can be sure we need it. When God incarnate was up against his hardest task, the Crucifixion, he didn’t just toughen up and get through it. He spent time alone in the Garden of Gethsemane in conversation with his heavenly Father. He needed solitude to accomplish his purpose here on earth and so do you and I.

Solitude is life-giving. It’s necessary to the Christian spiritual life. Richard J. Foster said, “Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment.” Solitude is one of the most important and life-giving spiritual disciplines. If you want to hear God, you must practice solitude. If you want fortitude in your life, a steadfastness that surpasses your circumstances, you must practice solitude. You are designed for time spent in the quiet, simply being with your heavenly Father.

So how can you best practice solitude? The first step is finding a place where you can spend time with God free from distractions. Find a place where you know you won’t be interrupted. If you live with others, find a time when they will not be around or awake. If you live alone, designate a place and time that you will spend in solitude free from any distractions. Second, give yourself an amount of time to spend with God just being in solitude. It could be ten minutes or an hour. Spend this time free from reading, free from worship or prayer unless solitude leads you to those things. Madeleine L’Engle said, “Deepest communion with God is beyond words, on the other side of silence.” Solitude is a point of deep communion where words aren’t required in light of God’s glorious nearness.

Take some time today to practice the incredible discipline of solitude. Be patient with yourself. Be patient with God. Fill the emptiness of silence with the satisfaction of God’s presence. Your heavenly Father loves just simply spending time with you, enjoying deep communion with his crown of creation. You are his child. Climb into the comforting and sustaining arms of your heavenly Father today as you enter into a time of solitude.

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