Every Day a Friday

Joel Osteen’s latest book is about being happy. Osteen cites a recent study that found that “happiness increases 10 percent on Fridays . . . I challenge you to let every day be a Friday.”

The book takes you through seven ways to increase happiness in your life so you can “choose happiness.”

Since the weekend is coming, people decide to be happier on Friday, why not make that choice daily?

I am not opposed to a Christian telling people to make every day a Friday, but there is irony in telling people to make every day a Friday because Fridays are so happy.

There’s this pivotal event that happened on a Friday according to Christian tradition. On a certain Friday, commonly referred to as “Good Friday,” the Son of God, a man of sorrow acquainted with grief, suffered and died for the sin of the world.

If Osteen told people to make every day a Friday just like the Friday Jesus had on Good Friday, I’d be all for this book. We should die daily, take up our cross, put to death the deeds of the flesh and be crucified with Christ. I’m all for that message.

Instead, Osteen takes the humanisticly pleasing message “celebrate yourself!” and choose to be happy. Imagine if Christ had read this book on Maundy Thursday? I can think of more happy ways to spend my Friday than dying on a cross for others’ sins.

Pharisees, Publicans, Prayer and You Part 3

We all know we are justified by our faith in the shed blood of Christ. Unfortunately, faith has come to mean less than was originally intended. Faith is not merely saying you believe something, faith is the act of doing what God says. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Faith is essentially a heart matter. An inner conviction that I need God for everything and this inner heart conviction is then spread throughout the body and all that the body does. Thus, James can say we are not justified by faith alone (even the demons believe) because true faith brings along works.

This weakened view of faith (that it is proved by my words and nothing else), has overspread Christianity. We base our assurance of salvation on remembering the day we “said the prayer.” I have launched on the sinner’s prayer in the past. Salvation has, no doubt, often begun with a prayer, but remembering that you prayed is not a biblical test of salvation.

The publican who said “God be merciful to me a sinner” went to his house justified. I preached a message on this once, throwing in Matthew 12:37 for good measure, “by thy words thou shalt be justified,” and Romans 10:9-10–those who believe in the heart and confess with their mouth are saved. And “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

What we say matters. Our justification is based on our words. I got in trouble with this message because our justification is by faith not by words we say! Ironic that those who found fault with this logic were the same folks who think a sinner’s prayer grants salvation.

Consistency is a real pain in the neck. God’s Word is consistent. Any evidence of inconsistency rests solely on our shoulders. Let us be careful with our applications of God’s consistent word.

Pharisees, Publicans, Prayer and You Part 2

Pharisee’s prayer is made up of self-congratulation, “Hey God. Look at all this cool stuff I do. I fast, I tithe, I don’t do sins like that heathen publican. Aint I grand?!”

The publican stands far off, not lifting his eyes to heaven, and begs for mercy as he sees his sin.

Not long before this prayer-parable is shared, Jesus talked about servants who did their job not getting praise, but rather just doing the job because that’s what the job is.

“when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

There is no praise for doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Servants who faithfully serve know this, they don’t look at doing what is required as something special.

Pharisees think everything they do is worthy of praise. Humble people don’t even see the good they’ve done, they see their sin and any good they may have done is merely out of service to God their Creator and Savior.

Matthew 25 seems a great commentary on this passage. Jesus tells them to feed, clothe and give drink to those who are hungry, thirsty and naked. The wicked say “Hey, totally, I know, when didn’t we do that for you?”

The righteous, upon being told that they did all these things, say, “What? When did we do that?”

Pharisees notice every little thing they do that hints at being good; humble, righteous believers don’t think they’ve ever done enough.

Our spiritual works, are they for the praise of God or for the praise of you? Your answer to this question, not just in word but in action, determines your eternal state.

Pharisees, Publican, Prayer and You

Jesus tells a parable about a Pharisee and a Publican praying in the temple.

The self-righteous, religious Pharisee thanks God he’s not like other men, especially not like that evil publican guy.

The publican doesn’t lift his eyes and he stands far off, humbly saying “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

We like to bash the Pharisee. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Don’t brag about your religious works. Don’t carry on about how you’re better than others. Don’t pray like a Pharisee.

We may not be as humble as the publican, but at least we aren’t like a Pharisee.

There is irony in this application.