Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Not Always About Us

As human beings, we want things to go our way - It's human nature and it's something that we often expect. However, when things don't go our way, we tend to get upset and down hearted and we let that show to others. In fact, a lot of times what ends up happening is that we end up thinking so much about ourselves in these situations and we forget about someone very important - God.

Think about your personal prayers to God. When you pray, are you basically just asking for things from God to benefit yourself or are you making sure you acknowledge him and take time to praise Him for what he's done? Now just think about your thoughts during the day... Do you think about God on a regular basis and include Him in your decisions? Or do your thoughts mainly consist of what's best for you and what will make you the happiest?

We're put on this earth to praise God and do His Will and lead other souls to Him. And selfishness can sometimes be one of the BIGGEST factors standing in the way of doing that. In fact how often do we move God aside to accommodate OUR wants and desires? - i.e. missing church on a Wednesday night because of a personal conflict or missing a devotional or a bible class because of something else going on? - And trust me, I'm as guilty as any. (Did I mention I tend to write about things that I'm dealing with?)

The fact is: God needs to be THE #1 most important thing in our life. If we put Him first and seek His Will, everything else will fall into place. .

Paul says in Romans 1:21 "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." - We can't let this happen to us. We have to get God into our life - just KNOWING Him isn't enough...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Be a good example

In the entry yesterday, I mentioned that if we love others we will be able to lead others to Christ. That made me think throughout the day today - and throughout the course of the day, I've been thinking a lot about how to effectively lead others to Jesus. As Christians, we have the responsibility to preach the Word to others and lead them to Jesus (Mark 16:15-16). I think something that we don't always realize is how much we teach people through our actions.
I've had people at work recently pull me aside or have a conversation with me and tell me, "You know, you're different from everybody else here - you don't ever curse or joke about dirty things like everybody else..." That really made me stop and think to myself, "Wow, I didn't realize people were paying that much attention to my actions." It's so true though - people are always watching you. We have to use that as an opportunity to be a good example to them.

Today's lesson is a very simple one - though not the easiest. Be a shining light to others.
Paul tells us in Philippians 2:15 "That you may become blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine as lights in the world."
This verse tells us that we cannot be like the rest of the world and that we need to stand out and shine as lights so that other people can see the Lord and his goodness. When we act Christ-like to and around others - they will take notice and it will prick their hearts. Be sure to realize that people are always watching and are always influenced by our actions.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Forgiveness pt. 2

Today I'm not really going to write too much more about forgiveness - I'm just going to elaborate on something that I touched on in my entry yesterday; loving others.
Love is one of the greatest blessings that the Lord has given to us. We are so blessed that A. He loves us and B. That he's given us the ability to feel love and give love to others. But are we picky with who we give our love to? Do we just show love towards are husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, family members, friends, etc - or do we display love to everybody. As we know, Jesus commands us that we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Let's face it, we live in a world where hatred is a common thing - and sometimes its easy to "be one of the crowd" and find people who we judge or don't like.
I think one of the best ways to check your attitude towards others is to turn to 1 Corinthians 13 and ask yourself some questions from the aspects of love that Paul lists. For instance:
Am I kind to this person?
Am I envious of this person?
Am I parading myself around this person?
Am I rude to this person?
Am I provoked by this person or am I thinking evil about this person?
The scary thing is that I can look at that list and have a picture in my head of people I'm envious of or people that I'm not particularly kind to... How about you?
I think we tend to sit back and claim that we have a love for everybody, but when we really think about it and get down to it - it's not as good as we think it is.
We have to show love to everyone just as Christ showed loved to us and by doing that, we will lead others to Him.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


One of the most amazing things in the universe is the Grace of God.  It's something that we as humans can't quite comprehend - how the LORD could send his only Son down to this earth to die a cruel and horrible death - all so that we could be forgiven of our sins.  And because of that death, our sins can be washed away.  
So when we think about what God did for everyone on this earth - sending His Son down - and when we know that because of Him we have this amazing blessing of forgiveness of sins - why is it so hard for us to forgive others?  Personally, I can think of several times in my life when I've held a grudge against somebody or a time where I've not been able to forget a wrong-doing someone did against me.   Isn't that awful?  To think that God will forgive ANY sin that we ask of him (or anyone asks of him)  and here I am having trouble giving up a grudge against somebody...  That's definitely not Christ-like.  
Christ teaches us to love everybody.  He also teaches us that in order for US to have forgiveness, we must first forgive those who have sinned against us.  
In Luke 17:3-4,  Jesus says, "Pay attention to yourselves!  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in a day, and turns to you seven times saying, I repent, you must forgive him."  
I don't know about you, but this is definitely an area that I struggle with.  I've been in situations before with people who have done something to me and later apologized for it - and it was hard to forgive them the first time!!  - Now if they had keep doing that wrong and kept coming back to ask for forgiveness from me, I imagine it would only get harder and harder to forgive them.
I know it's sometimes difficult to forgive somebody when they sin (especially if it affects you),  but as we try to seek God and do His will, this is an area where we have to be like Christ in.
Think about Christ in His worst condition - on the Cross.  Here he is in a horrible horrible bloody condition, and he still asks His Father to forgive those who were killing and mocking Him.  He definitely was displaying his love for his enemies.  
We can learn A LOT from Jesus Christ - and forgiveness is one of those things.  Let us remember that in order for us to be forgiven of our OWN sins, we must first forgive others when they sin against us.  

Thursday, September 24, 2009

To Be Purer in Heart

Our hearts reveal our true character.  Proverbs 3:27 tell us, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."  What does this mean exactly?  Well, I think it pretty much means whatever feelings we have in our heart and our mind - that is what our true character consists of.   Have you ever met somebody that everyone thinks very highly of?  - People feel like this person is genuinely nice and sweet to everybody and some people may say, "Oh that person just has such a good heart."  And that's probably true -  Those people that are nice and kind to everybody have that kindness in their hearts and it is reflective in their actions.  
How many times have you gone to worship God and you're sitting in church singing the song, taking part in the Lord's supper, listening to the sermon - but your heart is not in the worship?  - Your heart is just somewhere else completely?  I can't deny that I myself have been guilty of this... 
This is unacceptable to the Lord.  He doesn't want us to worship with hearts that aren't fully involved.  Anybody can go to a church service and sit there and not listen or participate.  And you know, that person isn't going for God - that person is just going so that other people won't think he/she's fallen away or off doing something else or for some other selfish reason.  
We are so truly truly blessed that we have the privilege to worship God and our hearts should want to do so and be involved.  
Christianity is about having a pure heart.  A heart that thinks or feels no hate.  A heart that feels only love for others and for God.  A heart that longs to worship God and do His will.  A heart that hates sin and the disasters it can cause.   
In Matthew 5:8, Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  Look at that passage again.  Read it over again and again till you can say it back without looking at it and keep that engraved in your mind.  Jesus doesn't say, "For they shall be able to talk to God.."  or "They shall know God..."   He says, "They shall SEE God."  
The thought of being able to see God - to look upon His face - is incredibly amazing.  This is something we cannot miss out on.   
Try and clear your heart of any evil that is in it.  If there is a sin that you keep going back to, get it out of your life completely - right now, it's still there in your heart.  If there's a person you're feeling hate toward - start praying FOR that person - because the hate is building up in your heart.  If there's jealousy in your heart, pray that the Lord will take that away from you so that you're heart can be free from all covetousness.  
Make your heart pure.   If there's anything hindering you from having a pure heart - figure out a way to get it out.  Pray about it, talk about it, etc.  We have to make ourselves pure.  
The Lord wants us to have pure hearts that desire to follow him and do His commandments daily.  And if we do, we will get to see Him one day.   

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Be Diligent

Being a Christian isn't an easy thing to be - by any means.  With it comes responsibilities, persistence, mocking from others, etc.  So many people use the term Christian very loosely though.  It has basically just become a way to describe somebody belonging to a particular religious group.  In fact, most people don't realize that being a Christian means being a "Devout follower of Christ."  
Sometimes, however, I even find myself falling into the same category as the rest of the world - where I forget that Christianity is more than "just a title."  I have to remind myself that being a Christian takes dedication and action - not just verbal affirmation.  It's something that takes daily focus and diligence.  
Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:15 "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  But shun profane and idle babbling, for they will increase to more ungodliness."  
The word diligence means to pay close attention to something - it means to be earnest and persistent.   When you think of following Christ and His teachings, would you be able to say that you're diligent and persistent and earnest about it?  - Or do you just "give it your best shot?"  
If we're going to take on the responsibility of being a follower of Christ, we have to pay close attention to what that means and be diligent about applying it.  
Paul mentions "being ashamed" in that verse.  If we had to have a face to face conversation with God and he asked us to tell Him how we felt about our our work, would we be ashamed?   I think it would be hard not to feel a little bit of shame... 
The point is - being a follower of Christ and serving God require hard work.  But that's the responsibility we took on when we became a Christian.  We must be DILIGENT Christians.  We cannot be lazy.  Being a Christian isn't a one-step process or a one day event - it has to be a part of every day of our life.  
Let's be diligent about following Christ and serving God.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Did You Pray Today?

The average person lives a busy life: An 8 hour (or longer) work day, driving too and from work in traffic, cooking dinner, taking kids to school, picking kids up from school - while trying to find a little bit of time for self somewhere in the middle of all of it.   So where does God fit in to this picture?
Ever since I was a little kid I've seemed to have days where I become incredibly busy.  I've always got something on my mind and most of the time have some kind of stress to deal with.  - I'm not really sure why.  But I remember as a little kid when I would have these days, my mother would always stop me and say, "Have you prayed yet today?"  And honesty, I was never able to give an affirmative answer to that question.  And as soon as I took a break from what I was doing and went off somewhere and spent a couple minutes talking to God, the stress and the burden seemed to be lifted considerably.  And that is true to this day.   I myself work in a stressful environment with a very busy schedule and there will be days where things will just not be going right.  And I'll think to myself, "What's the deal?  Why am I feeling this way today?"  But then I'll realize - "I haven't prayed yet!"  
Prayer is one of the (If not THE) most valuable tools we have.  The power of prayer is INCREDIBLE.  Prayer is our way to communicate to the ONE who made us.  It's our way to vent to Him, cry out to Him, thank Him, ask Him, and so on and so on.  So if prayer is such a wonderful tool, why don't we use it more?  
The truth is, we live in a selfish and busy world where many people feel that they don't "have enough time" to pray.  Here's the deal, when you're life becomes so busy that you find yourself putting God aside in order to take care of other things, you need a life adjustment.  God should never be put on the "back-burner."  
1 Thess. 5:17  - Paul writes "Pray without ceasing."  Don't stop praying.  Ever!  A common misconception people have is that they feel they have to have a specific reason to come to God in prayer.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  If you're driving in your car and you take notice of a beautiful sky or a pretty field, stop and thank God for creating a beautiful world.  One of my favorite things to do while driving on a long trip is to turn the radio off and just start talking to God - about whatever is on my mind.  It feels so good to be able to do that and to have faith that the Lord is listening to you and hearing your prayers.  

When Paul talks about putting on the whole armor of God in Ephesians the 6th chapter, he mentions in verse 18 that we need to be praying always.   Pray always!  Pray everyday!  When you wake up in the morning - Pray!  Give God thanks for blessing you with a safe night.  When you're driving to work - Pray!  Ask God for the strength to be a good example and a shining light at work.  While you're at work/school - Pray!  Talk to God when things get busy and ask Him to help calm you down and put you at ease.  When you eat lunch/dinner - Pray.  Stop and thank God that He has blessed you with food.  The point is there is never a BAD time to Pray.   God is always there.  He's always ready to listen.  And He's always ready to answer our prayers. 

Have you prayed today?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Everyone Will Face God

There are roughly 7 Billion people living in the world today.  And the Lord knows every single one of them.   He knows each one's name.  He knows each one's thoughts and cares. And he knows each one's struggles.  How amazing is that?   - The fact that God can know and care so much for YOU and make sure that YOU have everything you need to survive while doing the same for everyone else in the world.  However, on the other side of this lies the fact that one day God is going to judge each and everyone of us - all 7 Billion of us!  
And God, being the just God that he is, will judge each one according to their works (1 peter 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout your stay here in fear.)  
There's a certain trap that we as Christians tend to fall into every now and again.  We begin to think, "Im a good hearted 'Christian' with good morals - I'm all set..."  So we then let our guard down and welcome certain sinful activities into our lives.  We begin THINKING to ourselves, "Well, I know this thing isn't that good to do - but I'll just ask for forgiveness later."   This is exactly what Satan wants us to think.  And whenever we let ourselves do this, we're giving Satan the upper hand.   The writer in Hebrews warns us in chapter 10:26 "For if we sin willfully after we received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."  We can't just go about in our lives sinning and sinning just thinking that God will forgive us.   It doesn't work that way.  
Paul gives us this warning in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10;  He says, "Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.   For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."  
God sees every single thing we do.  He knows every thought we think.  He hears every word we say.  And He will judge us according to each of these things.  We cannot hide from God and we cannot escape His judgement.  
2 Peter 3:10 "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night..."  
We do not know when God will come back and bring forth judgment on mankind.  In fact we have no idea.  But as Christians, we must live our life with the thinking that each day could be our last - that we could be judged at any moment.   
If the Lord returned right now - would you be ready?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

True Integrity

Most people in the world today can agree that integrity is an adherence to moral and ethical principles.  Sadly, we live in a world today where moral principles are slipping away.   Fewer and fewer people have spiritual morals that guide them in the choices that they make.  
Even "Christians"  will put their morals aside in order to fit in - whether it be in the work place, school, or even at home.  One of the traits of a follower of Christ is true integrity.  Many people will say they have integrity but when faced with peer pressure or a risk of being made fun of, they will put it aside in order to fit in.  I myself have been guilty of this, as I'm sure you have been too.
We have many biblical examples of people who displayed excellent integrity.  
In the book of Daniel we are introduced to 3 characters; Shadrach, Meshach, & Abed-Nego.  As the story shows us, these three men were threatened with a horrible death if they didn't bow down and worship the golden idol that King Nebuchadnezzar had made. 
Daniel 3:15 "... but if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace."  
Stop for a minute and put yourself in their shoes.  If somebody wanted you to do something you knew was wrong and they told you, "If you don't do this... I'll throw you in a pit of fire..."   What would you do???  
This is how Shadrach, Meshach, & Abed-Nego responded:
v. 17 "If that is the case, OUR GOD whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us from your hand, oh king." 
And as we remember the rest of the story, that is exactly what God did - He delivered them out of the fiery pit.  One important thing to see is the great rewards that were brought about from the three men's integrity.  
Because of their integrity and faith, God delivered them, but in addition, their integrity led Nebuchadnezzar praising God.  
Here is today's lesson:  When we are put in a situation to sacrifice our morals and principles in order to fit in or make somebody else happy - DON'T DO IT.   Now I'm sure a lot of people will have some kind of argument like, "Well, sure I don't agree with the things my boss does or says, but in order to get ahead at this company I have to agree with the things he says!"   
Take a step back for a second.   Who is more important in this world;  your boss or your LORD and Savior?   There is nothing more valuable to us than our souls.  And when we put our integrity aside we run the risk of our inheritance in Heaven.  Don't forget; if we miss Heaven - we've missed it all.
Always be true to God - and just like with the 3 men from Daniel chapter 3, there will always be amazing results.