Wednesday, August 25, 2010
"Purer in heart O God, help me to be. - That I thy holy face, one day may see. Keep me from secret sin, reign though my soul within. Purer in heart - help me to be."
We're all familiar with the words and music of this song. We sing it often. But this should be something that we pray to God about on a regular basis. We should definitely be praying for a purer heart, but more specifically, we should be praying that God help us remove the "secret sin" from our life...
Most likely, there are things about your life that not everybody knows about... and some of those things may be weaknesses that only you and God know about. Let's face it, it's very easy to sin when nobody else is around. We think that nobody will find out about it. - That's what Satan wants us to think. Truth is, God knows about it - and that should be more embarrassing to us than any of our friends/family finding out about it.
Defeating our secret sins is something we need to be avidly trying to do. Obviously one of the most effective ways to do this is prayer. If there's something that you're struggling with in your life, pray to God about it. But don't just pray when you're lying in bed - say a prayer out-loud to God - being specific about what you're struggling with. It helps to hear yourself say it.
Another thing we need to take advantage of is our Christian brethren. We are so blessed to know so many people who will lovingly support us. We often think that we can't tell anyone about our struggles because they might look down upon us or laugh at us - that is not the case. James tells us in James 5:16 to "Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for each other - that you may be healed." We hesitate to talk to others about our personal struggles, but if we hope to get better - this is something that can definitely help.
We tend to not worry too much about our personal sins - since we're the only ones who know about them... But secret sin does just as much damage to us and is something we have to get out of our lives.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Since it's been almost 2 months since I last posted a blog entry, I thought this to be a fitting topic for the first entry in two months.
As Christians, there are so many times when distractions begin to lead us away from our God.
Now, I've never played for a basketball team, but whenever I go to a basketball game and it comes down to the final minute, I always wonder how the players must be feeling in those last few seconds. For the player with the ball, I imagine there are tons of distractions going on - you've got other players to worry about, other teammates shouting at you, your coach yelling at you, you've got the time to look up at - not to meantion all the fans in the stands yelling and waving at you... it's probably very difficult to stay focused on the basket.
We as Christians have to stay focused on "the basket" - which of course is our main goal of Heaven. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul gives us a warning that our struggle is with the dark world. Think about the example of Samson - he had a mission - a CLEAR mission - but he let himself become distracted with a woman. It's very important to remember that we can't be focused on the will of God while being focused on ourselves.
God needs and deserves our full attention. Satan is trying to divert that attention toward him... and we give it to him when we become caught up and focused on ourselves and the cares of this world.
We have to stay focused on God and his commandments. Keep your eyes on the basket.
Friday, June 25, 2010
We can't and we don't always get EXACTLY what we want. And unfortunately, this can sometimes make us question whether or not God is hearing our prayers. As Christians, we can be confident that the Lord is hearing all our prayers. - We're reminded of this several times throughout the bible. One example of this is seen in the 34th Psalm where we see verses like, "I sought the Lord and He heard me..." and, "The poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him and saved him from all his troubles."
But we have to understand that just because the Lord hears our prayers, doesn't mean they're always going to be answered the way we want them to be and as fast as we want them to be. Our prayers must have the bottom line of "let THY will be done." - It has to be about God's will and not our own. We cannot and should not impose our will on God.
We should always be examining our timing and we should know that God will sometimes delay. He does this to challenge our faith and allow us to modify our requests as well as to help us develop patience and endurance and trust in Him. We always need to be mindful that it's not about us - it's about God. He is not our servant - we are His and we should be patient when it comes to our prayer requests to Him.
Monday, June 7, 2010
One of the areas we usually study before we take on the waters of baptism are the requirements for being a disciple of Jesus Christ. One of those requirements is "giving up." And no, not give up like "throw in the towel..." - As a Christian, we need to be prepared to give up EVERYTHING in this earthly life for God. A lot of really GOOD people have a difficult time with this concept... Think about the example of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-23. Here's a man who had fit many of the requirements that Jesus was mentioning to him - except for one. When Jesus tells Him that in order to be a follower he must go sell everything he owns, he becomes very sad because he knew he had so much... We have to understand that we cannot hold on to ANYTHING this world has to offer us.
We cannot be putting anything in front of God. - Not our possessions, or our families. or ourselves... Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24-25 "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever his life for me will find it..."
Sometimes we just need to be reminded of why we're here. - What our purpose is.. We're to live for Jesus. We're to bring more souls to Him. It's not about money. It's not about possessions. It's not about fame... It's about getting to Heaven and bringing as many souls as possible with us.
So as you evaluate your own life - have you "given up" yet? Or are there still things you're holding on to?
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
How often do we stop and reflect on how amazing God is? Unfortunately, I think we sometimes fail to recognize God's greatness until something good happens in our life. It shouldn't take an ACT of greatness for us to realize how amazing our Lord is. Let me suggest that we think more often about the goodness of God. Whether you stop and think about the earth He created, the fact that He knows everybody in the world He created, the amazing structure of our bodies and how they work, the fact that He could love someone who sins against Him over and over, the fact that He sent His son to die for those sins we commit, or whatever it may be - we need to think about those things more often.
What happens when we think about God's goodness on a regular basis is this; we lose the desire to commit sinful acts. When we have a true and grateful confidence that God is good, it will win the war against the wickedness that tempts us.
As you start and conclude your day today, let your first and last thoughts be a reflection on God's goodness. It's a perfect way to begin and end your day.
"The LORD is good, He is a stronghold in the day of trouble. And He knows those who trust Him." - Nahum 1:7
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
In life, we're faced with a lot of difficult, stressful, and challenging times... Times where we feel like we don't know the answers to certain questions or don't know how to act or what to do... In these times of stress and confusion, we should be praying to God to help us obtain wisdom.
Prov. 4:7 tells us, "Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore, get wisdom. And with all thy getting, get understanding." This scripture first gives us a reminder of the importance of wisdom. It's the "principal" thing. It's vital to our existence. The writer here then tells us that we need to get it. And how do we get wisdom? What can we do? James tells us in James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to Him." If wisdom is something that we want to have (which it should be), we should be making sure that we're asking God for it. We also gain wisdom and understanding by studying God's word daily - and this is something we all should be doing.
When we consider the affects that our actions and decisions can have on our lives we must practice wise choices. Don't' be neglectful to search the scriptures, communicate with other knowledgeable people and to pray to God for direction that is needed to handle your life situations and circumstances.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Today we live in a period of time where it's very easy to give up. People give up on school. People give up on their jobs if they're too difficult or stressful. People give up on their marriages if things aren't going exactly the way they want them to go. And unfortunately, when times get hard, people give up on their faith in God.
People give up their faith because;
1) They forget how important our goal is - to save ourselves from spending eternity in Hell. When we lose sight on how wonderful Heaven is going to be, it's easy to just want to give up. But we have to remember that Heaven is better than anything we could ever imagine - with no pain and no sadness. Paul tells us in Philippians 3 to "Forget the things that are behind and press on to the things that lie ahead."
2) People want to give up because they don't receive enough encouragement from others. As Christians, we need to make sure that we're uplifting our fellow brethren. Hebrews 10 tells us to exhort and encourage one another and Hebrews 3 tells us that we need to do this daily. It's important for us to do this for one another.
3) People want to give up because they forget the teaching of God's word. But we should remind ourselves of scriptures like Phil. 4:13 " I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me..." and 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you."
On our race to the finish line, it's important for us to NEVER give up.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Lord is our Shepherd and what does the Shepherd do for us?
- God is a Shepherd that gives us comfort. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures." A picture of comfort is painted in this passage. The Shepherd will comfort us in times of trouble and worry.
- God is the Shepherd that calms our soul. "He leads me beside still waters" - This is where we see a sense of calmness in a time of chaos. Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 5:7 to "cast all our care upon Him, because he cares for you."
- God is the Shepherd who restores our soul and our spirit. The world has a way of bringing us down to the ground. - Our Lord will pick us up and restore our spirit in those times.
But why does our God offer us calm and still waters and why does He restore our soul? - Because He wants us to live with Him forever. Because He's a true Shepherd who doesn't want to see any of His sheep go astray.
Let God be your Shepherd.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Unfortunately, there are things that we do in this life that we regret. I can sit here and think of quite a few things that I regret doing... But our lives shouldn't be the kind that are full of regret. On the other hand, we should start trying harder to do the kind of things that we KNOW we won't regret.
I've come up with a few things that we'll NEVER regret doing. These are the types of things that we need to be filling our life with - if we do, we'll never have to wonder whether or not we did the right thing.
1) Fill your heart and your mind with the Word of God - it only teaches you righteousness. Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your Word in my heart so that I may not sin against you." If we have God's Word filling our hearts and minds, we'll be less likely to give into sin and we'll never regret that.
2) You'll NEVER regret being present for every church service. Unfortunately, it's very easy to take worship services for granted. Sometimes we say, "I don't necessarily HAVE to go this Wednesday night... I mean, it doesn't really ever say in the bible that I have to worship on a Wednesday..." Hebrews 10:25 tells us, "Let us not give up meeting with one another - as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another..." Our goal is to get as close to God as we possibly can and church services are a great opportunity for us to have that.
3) Mark 16:16 - We'll never regret taking that major step in our lives of becoming a Christian. We receive so many spiritual blessings when we obey the Gospel and it's something that we'll never regret.
And going along with that...
4) You'll never regret staying faithful until the end. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:58 "Be steadfast... knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." Our work is going to pay off one day. And we'll never regret working hard and doing the best we could possibly do.
5) Finally, and quite simply, you'll never ever regret putting God first in your life.
What percentage of your spiritual potential would you say that you're using? Would you say you're using 100% of it? 50% of it? Or maybe only 10 or 15 % of it...?
God has made us all to have incredible spiritual potential. Though we may not all be born to be Gospel preachers, He still wants us to evangelize - and He has given us the talents and abilities to do that. But sometimes we get in this habit of saying, "That's not really my job... I'll leave that up to somebody else..." And those are the times we're only displaying 10 or 15 % of our spiritual potential.
Using 100 % of your spiritual potential is to be constantly searching for souls as well as ways you can tell those people about the wonderful Gospel. Using your spiritual potential means participating in worship services, it means visiting those who are sick, it means calling those who are spiritually failing, it means exercising forgiveness when a brother or a stranger wrongs you.
How much potential do you feel you have? How much of that potential do you feel you're using? How can YOU exercise more of it?
Don't let your spiritual potential go to waste. Let's start using it more!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
"In everything with prayer and supplication, let your requests be known to God..." - Phil 4:6
We could probably all improve our life if we spent less time worrying. Why do we worry in the first place?
- Life is hard and stressful and sometimes bad things CAN happen.
- We can't tell the future - sometimes we get nervous about the things that lie ahead.
- We're not in control, and that makes us worry.
Solution: Matthew 6:25-34. In that passage, Jesus tells us that we shouldn't worry about our life - because our Heavenly Father KNOWS what we need in our life.
There's some things we should keep in mind about worrying that could help us worry less!
1) Recognize that worry accomplishes absolutely nothing. Somebody once said, "Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair - Lots of energy and you don't GET ANYWHERE!" Proverbs 12:25 tells us, "An anxious heart weighs a man down."
2) Put the first things first. We worry and care too much about the wrong things. - Sometimes it seems like we have our priorities mixed up. We need to be more focused and care about the things that really matter - like God and His kingdom.
3) Substitute worry for trust! We need to trust in God for everything. He's going to take care of everything - we have no need or reason to worry.
It's very easy to get worried about things... but it's not healthy - spiritually or physically. Let's stop worrying so much and focus more on trusting God.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
A lot of people say imitation is the "highest form of flattery." It's always really fun and entertaining when we see somebody imitate and act like somebody else. I always think about Dan Aykroyd doing his Julia Child impression on Saturday Night Live back in the '70s. He probably spent a lot of time watching and studying her - making sure that the imitation was as close as possible to the real person.
As Christians - we should ALL be practicing an imitation of one person. Spiritually, we're called to imitate our God. Paul says in Eph. 5:1 - "Be imitators of God..."
In order to be imitators of God, there's some things we need to do. First of all, we need to always be showing love - just as Christ showed love. Christ displayed His love to everyone He came in contact with - do we do that same thing?
Secondly, if we're going to be imitators, we've got to learn more. - We have to be STUDENTS of God's word. That means reading and studying it daily. - And not just reading it, but DOING what it says. - Like James says in James 1:22 - "Be Doers of the word, and not hearers only..." If we're going to imitate God, we've got to learn - and do - what His Word says.
And Thirdly, if we're going to be imitators of God, we need to make sure that our behavior is pure. We need to get sin out of our lives. Any sin that we have in our life, is going to keep us from fully imitating Him. - So we need to make sure our hearts are pure.
Imitating God is not just a suggestion - it's a necessity.
Friday, April 9, 2010
We all live very BUSY lives. There's hardly ever any moments in our life where we find ourselves having nothing at all to do. We have schedules, hobbies, jobs, school, work, - things that take up our time. But where does God fit into that busy schedule? Do we make sure we make studying His word and praying to Him a part of our daily schedule? Sometimes when we get busy, we tend to not pay too much attention to detail or doing as much as we NEED to be doing.
Paul tells us in Ephesians that we need to make sure we're walking circumspectly - which is the accuracy that comes from extreme carefulness. We need to be paying close attention to detail. Think about what Jesus said about the gate. You're not going to find the way unless you're determined to find it!
We can't let ourselves get too caught up with the things of this world. Think about what Paul says in Philippians 3 - He forgot the things of the earth. There's only one thing that this walk is for. - The one thing is to keep the one thing the one thing.
The point of all this is this; that we need to make the best of our time and make sure we're making time for the things that really matter. Sometimes we need to step back and re-evaluate how we're using our time to make sure that God is right in the center of it all.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Peter and Paul both wrote quite a bit about self-control in their letters. Both of them always mention it as a trait that we should be practicing. Sometimes (in some translations), we see the word temperance used. Temperance has to do with having the strength to do what is right.
In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul is talking about practicing the things that are of the fruit of the spirit - "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."
Self control is something that makes us realize that there is something ABOVE ourselves. In Peter's second letter, he says if we LACK self-control (among other things) - that we will be short-sighted, even to blindness. But if we practice these things (self-control, knowledge, Godliness, perseverance) - we will NEVER be unfruitful or barren in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Self-control shows respect to God and shows him that we long to please him.
When Jesus gave His sermon on the mount, He told us that we need to love our enemies.
The reality is that we all have an enemy(s)... The challenge is to overcome feelings of spite and hatred toward those people. We must be the bigger person. - We have to be "heavenly bound" in an earthly place. We must respond to evil with good.
When it comes to our feelings of anger toward enemies... well, we have to overcome those feelings. We have to counteract them with feelings of love and good will.
3 Things that we should think about when we need help loving our enemy;
- Remember the example of Jesus and how He treated His enemies.
- Keep difficulties in perspective and pray about them.
- Refuse to allow OTHERS to control YOU.
If you have an "enemy" in your life, pray that God will help you overcome that trial and help you love that person.
Monday, April 5, 2010
A verse caught my eye this morning as I was turning the pages in my bible to get to a passage of scripture. It was the last verse in the book of John;
"And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."
I guess I've never given much thought to this verse... But isn't it amazing to think about? Don't you want to know what those things were? Think about the first time you ever heard the story of Jesus turning water into wine or feeding the thousands with the 5 loaves and 2 fish or giving sight to the blind... These stories are so amazing! - And to think there's hundreds upon hundreds of more stories just like that! One day, we could have a chance to hear those stories - First hand! That's amazing.
Just another thing that should make us want to get to Heaven!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Paul writes in Galatians 6:1-5;
"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself - lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in one another. For each one shall bear his own load."
In this passage, Paul gives us some wise words of how we need to handle the burdens of our fellow brethren in addition to our own burdens. We know that we have a responsibility to help and encourage other brethren - and as Christians, we try to do that as much as we can. However, sometimes, we get so caught up in the lives of others - that we forget about our own. Paul reminds us in this passage that we must keep ourselves in check and "bear our own load." These are both areas that we could probably work on in our Christian lives.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Remember the feeling you had when you first obeyed the Gospel? You were "on fire" for God! You felt as if nothing could stop you and all you wanted to do was serve God and learn more about His word. Has your flame "died down" since then? Has your desire to learn more about God lessened?
What can we do to develop our desire again? Here's a few suggestions;
1) Remember your life source. (1 Peter 2:1) If we don't crave the word - then we've forgotten. Remember how spiritually blessed you are - Heb. 12:5 - God's word is JUST as powerful today as it was when we first obeyed.
2) Eliminate sin from your life. When you're filthy, you take off your dirty clothes and put clean ones on - do that with the sin in your life. Sin will keep you from the bible but the BIBLE will keep you from sin!
3) Admit your need. (1 Peter 2:2) When a newborn baby cries, it is longing for milk - they KNOW they need it. We should long for the word because we KNOW we need it.
4) Lastly, we have to PURSUE our growth. We cannot become spiritually malnourished. Remember was Paul said in 1 Timothy? - " ... you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following."
We need to constantly be nourished on the words of faith.
Are you content spiritually? We should never be... We should always be trying to build up our desire.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
One final thing that should make us NOT want to sin is the fact that sin's consequences are eternal, and they can cause us to miss Heaven.
It's important to know that our sinful actions can have serious consequences. We're warned of this by Paul is 2 Thess. 1:7-10. When we sin, we put ourselves in danger of having to face the wrath and the vengeance of God.
That verse also warns us of the possibility of missing Heaven. We can't let sin stand between us and getting to Heaven. There are so many glorious things waiting for us there one day and we'll be so sad if we miss out on them.
The thought of missing Heaven should be something that stays in our mind and drives the desire to sin out of us.
Last night we looked a little bit about why we shouldn't want to sin because it hurts the One who loves us.
Another reason why we shouldn't want to sin is that it cuts us off from God.
When we sin, we're walking in darkness and John tells us in 1 John 1:5 "God is the light and in Him there is no darkness at all. - If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. "
Is. 59:12 tells us; "But your inequities have separated you from God and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."
It's a scary thing to thing about us being cut off from God when we sin... but that's the truth. There's absolutely no way that we can walk with God while practicing sinful activities at the same time.
We also know and remember what Romans 6:23 tells us about this subject: "For the wages of sin are death." This is a spiritual death which will be an eternal death in Hell - which God will have no part in. The thought of being eternally "cut off" from God's love should drive the desire to sin right out of us.
Let us always think about how awful it is to be cut off from God and His love.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
It's very easy to fall into temptation. Let's face it - it's something that we deal with everyday. Sometimes, the temptations are more trying than other times - and somedays, we're able to withstand them without any problems.
But I was trying to think of some ways that I could make it easier to resist the temptation to sin... And I'll share a couple over the next few days.
The first reason why I should want to resist temptation is:
I know sin hurts the One who loves me the most. Obviously God doesn't want to see any of His children fall - and when we do, it definitely pains Him. We often lose sight of the fact that God has feelings that can easily be hurt - like ours (Gen 1:26 - we were made in His image).
We need to reach the point that we WANT to avoid sin at all costs because we know how much it hurts our Lord to see us fall. John 3:16 tells us that He loved us so much and He gave us His only son so that we could have the chance of Heaven one day. And yet, we still hurt Him over and over again by transgressing His law.
more to come...
Friday, March 19, 2010
Proverbs 26:11 says, "As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a man repeats his own stupidity."
How true is this verse! The thought of a dog throwing up is not a pleasing one... And if you've ever seen it happen - it's not pretty to see either. Well, the thought of sin should bring the same kind of reaction as a dog throwing up... It's disgusting.
But how often do we sin or do something that we know is wrong, feel really guilty afterward, and then let ourselves do the sin again a few days/weeks/hours later? That's exactly what this verse is talking about. When we repent of our sinful actions, we need to commit to that and fully repent - and not return to that sin.
So let's not be like the dog that returns to his vomit... if/when we sin, let us see how horrible and disgusting that is to God - and turn completely away from that.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
David wrote in Psalm 37; (paraphrased) "Do not fret because of evil doers. Nor be envious of the workers of inequity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good... Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord and trust also in Him. And He shall bring it to pass... Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him... Do not fret - it only causes harm. For evil doers shall be cut off - but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth..."
There's a lot of wise words in this Psalm from David. It's very easy to become distracted by other people in this world. We see other people prospering and driving fancy cars and living expensive lifestyles, and we say, "Man. Why can't I have/drive/live like that?" And sometimes those thoughts consume us... and we lose sight on what is really important. David is saying here that we shouldn't put our focus in the people around us... but we need to be delighting in the Lord and committing to Him - and everything we need will be taken care of. It's a refreshing and wonderful thought that we need to remind ourselves of every now and again.
We can't love this world. We can't love stuff. We can't want to have somebody else's lifestyle... But we can and we NEED to be loving God and fully committed to Him and His Will for us. That is what is going to truly make us happy.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Prayer is about God - not about us. Too often, when we pray, we are only concerned with our own wants and needs and wanting God to hear those things and take care of them. The desires that we bring to God in prayer need to be desires that have to do with His Glory, Purposes, and His Will.
It's very easy to say a prayer to God and ONLY talk about ourselves in that prayer. "please be with me... Please help me... Please give me... Please forgive me..." However, it's a little bit more difficult to say a prayer where we ONLY talk about God and His goodness.
Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
To "seek first" this Kingdom of God, it means that we lay aside our own demands and simply trust God to give us what we need. He knows what we want. He knows what we need - and He's going to take care of those things. In the meantime, we need to give Him the glory and praise He deserves.
Let's try to be less selfish when we pray and let's try to focus on what God wants us to be praying for.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
As Christians, as we attempt to grow spiritually each and everyday, - a good part of our growth comes from being reminded of what we already know. Of course we need to be studying and learning new things and facts about God's Word, but the truth is that most of us already know most of the things that are needed to have a relationship with God. What happens though, is that we don't always KEEP THOSE THINGS IN MIND - so it's very important to "refresh" our minds.
Think back to days of high school or college - and remember when you had a test in a certain subject. Most likely, you studied quite a bit for that test or exam - and probably did well on it. Now, if you were asked to take one of those same exams today, would you remember anything? - Most likely, not so much... because you haven't been refreshing your brain on that material.
That's what happens with our spiritual knowledge. We all study/have studied God's word before. And we probably know it fairly well. However, like any other material we study, if we don't constantly refresh ourselves and study it over again, we're more likely to forget it and not apply it to our lives.
Peter says in 2 Peter 1:12 "For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you." So even Peter knew the importance of being spiritually reminded on a regular basis.
Studying God's word on a daily basis and reminding ourselves of things that we probably already know is so important. We become foolish when we think we know God's word "well enough." There's always more to learn and we can always use a reminder.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Matthew 22:36-38 ""Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to them, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind - This is the first and great commandment.""
Sometimes we lose sight of the fundamentals in our life. - A main one being our love for God. We must learn to love God more each and every day. Loving God means praising and glorifying Him - in everything that we do. In our thoughts, our words, our actions - everything we do!
Loving God means we have an obedience to His will. John 14:15, Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." and then in verse 21, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. - And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
How do we manifest our love for God? - We do it through praising and glorifying Him, in keeping His commandments and obeying him, and ALSO through loving the Truth. 2 Peter 3:18 says, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..."
We show God our love by growing in the knowledge of His Word and meditating on it daily.
We need to let God know how much we really do love Him.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Proverbs 27:19 "As in water, face reflects face, So a man's heart reveals the man."
You ever hear the saying, "Your true character is who you are when nobody else is around?" I believe that statement is very accurate. It's easy to appear one way to somebody or a group of people and then act entirely different when we're by ourselves.
A very common problem that a lot of Christians face is this; they have no problem acting like a die hard - true hearted Christian when others are around, but when they're alone, they tend to not act/think like a Christian at all. We need to work hard at not letting this happen in our lives.
If we are displaying to others that we have Christ in our lives, we need to be true to that - at all times (not just around others). We need to closely keep ourselves in check when we're alone to make sure our hearts and minds are staying true to God.
Our hearts reveal who we are - we need to have a heart that is on fire for God.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
As I was sitting here this evening contemplating about what to write - I really couldn't get my mind off of a situation that I was faced with in the last couple days. This is certainly going to be different than my usual entries, but I thought that somebody could maybe find it encouraging - so here goes...
Recently, I auditioned for the main role in a short film about a guy named Shepard. I ended up getting the part and committing to the role. Over the weekend, there was a table read in which all the cast got together and looked over the script. At the table read I noticed that there were a couple scenes in which my character had to say the words "hell" and "dammit." Obviously I immediately got uncomfortable about what I had gotten myself into.
After I got home from the table read, I felt sick about it and all I kept thinking was, "What do I do about this?" After taking the afternoon to think about it, I decided to email the director. In my email, I expressed my concern about the issue - letting him know that I felt uncomfortable swearing on or off camera. I asked him if it would be possible to just change the few lines that had cursing it in and just go from there.
The director finally got back to me late this evening. His said in his email that he decided to re-cast the role of Shepard. It was definitely not the reaction I expected but immediately I felt a burden lifted from me. Even though he sounded rather disappointed in me, I knew that I had done the right thing. To the world, something like this seems ridiculous - and I'm sure it did to him. But as Christians, things like that need to be a big deal. - they need to be an immediate "red-flag." They need to make us uncomfortable.
Nothing is worth sacrificing our spiritual integrity for...
I hope and pray that my email and my stance on the issue will maybe have some kind of influence on the director and crew - you never know.
I apologize for the different format in tonight's entry, but like I said, maybe it can be an encouragement to somebody.
Friday, February 26, 2010
We often think about our own wants and needs and we occasionally think about what other people want and need - but what about God? How often do we think about what He wants and needs? Well theoretically, God being what He is doesn't NEED anything - but that doesn't mean that there aren't things God wants and desires...
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 "But I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."
What does God want? - Well, that's simple... He wants our hearts to be fully devoted to Him. The greatest thing that we can give to God is our hearts.
We often associate this verse in 2 Corinthians with giving up for the collection plate when it's passed around on Sunday mornings. But I think we can relate it to anything that requires us to give - our time, our attention, our hearts, etc... Paul also tells us in Phil. 2 to do everything without complaining and disputing.
Like I said, God wants our hearts. He doesn't want hearts that are half devoted to him and half devoted to the world - He wants us to be FULLY devoted. And He deserves that from us. We need to make sure that we're giving God what He wants.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Paul writes in the 58th verse of 1 Corinthians 15, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord - Knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
As Paul draws close to the end of his letter to the church at Corinth, he wants to stress the importance of knowing that we have victory in Jesus Christ and that our work for Him will not be in vain.
As Christians, we need to be solid as a rock. Our foundation needs to be firm. We cannot be moved by things like temptation or sadness or wicked desires... We have to stay grounded and steadfast in our faith and in our actions.
Sometimes, it's easy to think, "What am I even striving toward... I'm putting forth so much effort and not seeing any results." - Paul knew there were going to be people who felt this way - that's why he wants to stress the fact that our labor for God is not in vain and the things we do for Him will not go unnoticed.
We need to be Christians who are grounded in our faith and will stand strong in the face of whatever comes our way.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, I will praise His word. In God, I have put my trust. I will not fear - What can flesh do to me?"
These couple of verses from Psalm 56 are such a good reminder for us. Sometimes, we tend to worry too much about our physical state and worry about what people could do to us... We sometimes need to be reminded that God is always on our side and will protect us.
Let us always trust in our Lord.
Monday, February 22, 2010
As Christians, we made a life-lasting (and life-changing) commitment to follow our Lord. However, sometimes we get a little side-tracked and move that commitment to the side for a moment. This is something that we shouldn't allow to happen in our lives.
Our commitment to the Lord is something that we need to be evaluating everyday. It's something that needs to be at 100% and if it's ANY less than that, we have a problem and we need to fix it. God doesn't want half-hearted or "lukewarm" commitment - he wants everything we have.
So as you start the day off today (or if you're wrapping up your day), stop and ask yourself how much of yourself you're giving to the Lord. If you think it's low, pray for God's help to get back on the right track. He deserves all that we have. Let's give full commitment to Him.
Friday, February 19, 2010
One of the most amazing things about our relationship with God is the fact that He forgives us for our wrongdoings. And not just that He forgives us once or twice - He continues to forgive us of our sins as we repent.
John tells us in 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of those sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
It's hard to fathom something so amazing like God's grace and mercy. It's hard because we know what it feels like to have somebody do wrong to us. And when somebody wrongs us, it's DIFFICULT to forgive them... God, on the other hand, doesn't hold grudges or give ultimatums or anything like that... He knows our hearts wants us to get back on the right path and get the sin out of our life.
We need to be practicing forgiveness in our own lives each day... In knowing that God forgives everybody for their sins and unrighteousness, we have no reason or right not to forgive those who have sinned against us. Like I said, It's difficult - but it's something that we as Christians must do. We must forgive others if we ourselves want to be forgiven.
Praise be to God for cleansing us of our sins and let us pray that He will give us the strength to forgive those who have wronged us.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
It's more than likely safe to say that we pray everyday. Some of us may pray more than others. Some of us may pray more at a certain part of day or in certain situations. And sometimes, some of us only pray when we need specific things... The key words there are "only when we need..." Why is it that sometimes we neglect God until there's something we need and then we acknowledge Him? As Christians, we need to focus more on thanking God than asking God.
Now don't get me wrong, God expects us to ask Him for things - He knows we are going to and He knows what we need. However, He also expects (and desires) our thanksgiving.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul tells us, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, WITH THANKSGIVING, let your requests be known to God."
God deserves so much praise for the things He has given us. We are amazingly blessed with so many wonderful and beautiful things. We need to be careful that we don't become greedy or spoiled and that we don't take these things for granted.
Next time you pray, try (it's more difficult than you think) to say a full prayer to God without asking Him for anything. Instead, construct your prayer on thanking Him for the blessings He has given to you. It's something that we should do daily.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
In this day and time, many people seek for a way to protect themselves against things that war against the mind and body. Unfortunately, most people just look for worldly ways to protect themselves - like weapons, self defense, etc... But in all truth, the thing that is going to protect us more than anything else is God's word. The verse above tells us that the contents of God's word are sharper and more powerful than a two edged sword.
As Christians, we need to be studying God's word everyday and preparing ourselves to use it. Eph. 6:17 also tells us that it's our "sword," and we need to take it on as we put on the full armor of God.
Take the Word of God with you everyday.
Paul gives us some wonderful advice in Galatians about what we need to do if one of our fellow brethren is having difficulty.
Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
As Christians, we have a responsibility to look out for our fellow Christian brother or sister. Unfortunately, most of the time, it's difficult enough to take care of ourselves and monitor our own spiritual lives - however, restoring somebody else is something that we always need to be mindful of and trying to do. - But let's also be mindful of what Paul says in the latter part of verse 1 - "be mindful of yourself lest you also be tempted." We need to create a balance in our spiritual life of guarding ourselves against sin but also restoring our fellow brethren who are caught up in it. Let us pray that God will help us do that.
Friday, February 12, 2010
In our lives, we often strive to be the best at things... We work hard to be the best at our jobs that we do, or at certain activities or hobbies or sports... And we sometimes tend to focus on those things and making sure that we excel in those areas and don't focus very much on the more important things in this life.
Jesus says in Mark 8:36; "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" Jesus knew the appeal that worldly pleasures had and would have to us and He wanted us to know that they're not worth it... They're not worth pursuing - because they won't last.
Solomon also knew a thing or two about this in his writings in Ecclesiastes. He constantly reminds us in that book that everything in this world is vanity but the thing that we really need to be pursuing is wisdom from God. Eccl. 10:10 says, "If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength, but WISDOM brings success."
My favorite verse about wisdom comes from James 1:5 where James tells us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally without reproach, and it will be given to him..."
We don't need earthly possessions in this life.... The truth is, they won't make us happy - we'll only want more. However, wisdom is something that we all need to be striving for. We need to be praying for God and asking Him to give us wisdom in our daily life. - It'll definitely be a benefit to us.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
There are certain things - personality traits/qualities - that we have to be careful of acquiring. One of the biggest ones - and one of the easiest ones - is laziness.
Laziness is something that we all deal with from time to time... We all have days where we would rather stay home and lay on the couch and watch television or just lay in bed all day. Laziness is something that is talked about quite a bit in the bible - especially in Proverbs. There are many texts in Proverbs which speak about the general undesirability of being a sluggard (6:6-11). Truth is, sluggishness and laziness is more than just a minor character flaw, it's something that can kill us spiritually.
Hebrews 6:11-12; "We desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
In our life as a Christian, we have to be sure that we are diligent and active - not lazy. Let us guard ourselves from this dangerous quality.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
In Hebrews 12, the writer urges us to "Run the race that is set before us - setting aside all the things that weigh us down." As Christians, we need to constantly be making sure that we're running that race to get to Heaven.
In order to run like a champion, there are some things we need to realize:
First of all, we need to remember that we're pursuing a purpose. - Our purpose is to run the race and to one day FINISH and get to spend eternal life in Heaven. However, we need to realize that we're not in competition with other Christians. - But rather, we're in competition with the Devil and with our own desires and we HAVE to beat them.
Secondly, we need to prepare. Hebrews tells us to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily ensnares us."
And Thirdly we need to remind ourself that there is a prize at the end... Sometimes we get discouraged because we think that we'll never "get there" and we have a hard time keeping it in our minds since it isn't tangible. However, we need to remind ourselves that the prize we're pursuing is worth it all and we just can't miss it. It will definitely be worth it.
Are you running towards the prize?
Monday, February 1, 2010
In Jude's letter, he reminds us in verse 20-21 to maintain our faith in our Lord.
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life..."
As we travel through life, we need to make sure that God is our number one "travel companion." As Christians, we have to be prepared to fight, contend, defend - all for our God. - When the truth of God is attacked, it is time to fight for the faith. In the face of danger, Christians should not be caught off guard... And if we keep God with us, we won't be caught off guard. The challenges we face in life are great, but so is the God who is able to keep us from stumbling.
God is reaching out His hand for us to take Him along with us in our daily journey - let's make sure we do.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Ps. 18:1-3 "I will Love you, O lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer: My God, my strength in whom I will trust; My sheild and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies."
David had it right. He realized that he couldn't do anything without God. He realized that he needed God with him every hour. We're all familiar with the hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour" - But the message of this song couldn't be any more truthful. When we think that we can get by without the aid of our Lord, we've become greatly mistaken. We need God each and everyday in our lives. Without Him, we can do nothing.
Next time you pray, tell God how thankful you are that He is in your life. Also, tell Him that you couldn't do anything without Him and that you need His help everyday.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
1 Peter 3:15; "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meakness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than doing evil."
This passage reminds us of the importance of always being ready to talk to others about Christ. One of the reasons that we DON'T talk about Christ more often is because we feel we don't know enough and don't want to risk somebody asking us a question that we don't know. - Well, this is something that we need to fix! This verse is teaching us that we need to ALWAYS be ready to give an answer to somebody who asks. When somebody asks us WHY we believe WHAT we believe - we need to be ready to give them an answer!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Hebrews 6:19; "This hope we have as anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil."
As our world changes so quickly and times get hard, people start to have a hard time holding on to hope. It's easy to worry. It's easy to stress out. However, we have something that we need to be reminded of - our anchor that is firmly grounded.
The Lord is our anchor and will never ever move. He's a steadfast and immovable God and we can always hold on to him.
As others around us show signs of losing "hope," let us take that opportunity to show them how happy they will be when they find that hope again in our God - the anchor.
Monday, January 18, 2010
MARK 8:34; "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
What a passage! I read this passage in Mark 8 about 3 or 4 times tonight - just letting it sink in. There's so much here in this passage that we need to take to heart. So many people in this world struggle with the question of, "Why are we here? What is the purpose of us being here?" Luckily, we as Christians know why we were put on this earth and what our purpose is here - however, it's easy for even us to lose sight of that purpose. It's extremely easy to get caught up with the cares of this world. Everybody wants the best jobs, houses, cars - well, simply, everybody wants money. BUT... As Jesus says here - "What does it profit if a man gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" If everybody in the world read this verse to themselves at the beginning of each day and the close of each day, we'd live in a much happier world. THINGS don't matter. MONEY doesn't matter... Our souls DO matter.
This verse really all comes down to priorities. We need to always make sure our priorities are just how they should be. This is a daily task and it's very important to not overlook it . For, as the verse says, we don't want Jesus to be ashamed of US when He comes back....
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Everyday we're faced with temptation from the devil. Sometimes it's easier to resist Satan's temptation than other times. But somedays he gets us when we're feeling weak and then he causes us to stumble.
Sin is the only thing that separates us from God. - And there are some ways that we can stay out of it.
1) We have to remember to make God's word a part of our life. God has given us the wonderful blessing of being able to look to His word whenever we want. Unfortunately, we don't do it as much as we should. His Word has the answer to every problem that we could possibly encounter in our life - and we need to take advantage of being able to study it.
2) We have to remember the danger of flirting with sin. In addition to that, we need to remember that God is always watching us. Sometimes we do things because we feel God can't see us... When you're tempted to sin, do you think about the fact that God knows and will see what you're about to do?
3) We have to remember that sin carries a price. Sin can do bad things to us - it can wound us. It carries a price even when it doesn't destroy us. Just because our actions don't have immediate consequences, doesn't mean they're going unnoticed by the Lord.
Try your hardest to follow these steps in order to resist sin in your life. We'll feel much better after we resist temptation than how we would have felt if we had given into it.
We do not know when the Lord will come back - for He shall come as a "thief in the night." - We don't know the time nor the date when this is going to happen. This is something that we all definitely know and have read about already. However, it's good to have a reminder every once and a while (or everyday) that this could happen at any moment.
If the Lord came back today, are you living your life the way you should be living it? Do you have sins that you need to repent of or business you need to take care of? Think about everyday as the possibility of being your last - and let that thought be reflected in your life. The coming of the Lord could happen at any time - do we fully realize this?
Let us not be ashamed of what we're doing when He comes back.
*Everyday that the Lord DOESN'T come back, is an opportunity for us to save more souls!*
Monday, January 11, 2010
How we chose to spend our time is completely our choice. We need to realize that everything belongs to God. Time is a gift from God;
James 4:13-15 "Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."
Everyday is a beautiful gift from God. God has set time in its place and He is the master of time - He gave it and He can take it right away. Sometimes we view time as a burden and not a blessing. We become burdened with the things that really don't matter at all. We need to focus our time and energy on the things that really matter - like glorifying and pleasing God.
Sin makes us spiritually sleepy and Paul tells us in Romans 13:11 to "Wake up! Because time is fleeting and salvation is closer than when we first believed." Living a life of sin takes too much of our precious time. Live for the Lord.
You know what's sad? - Over a lifetime of 70 years, we spend only 1 year in worship. We need to order our life and get our priorities in line. Get Satan out and arrange your life to make God your top priority!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Its easy for us to forget that when things go well for us - there is someone who is upset and wants to bring us down... 1 John 5:19 - Satan doesn't just sit back and watch God's work be done.
As Christians, Satan is always going to try to bring us down. He wants us to do evil and he wants us to turn away from God. As Christians, we need to always be on our guard against this.
There are so many ways that Satan will try to get to us. He knows our "weak" areas and that's always where he starts. But he also knows the areas that we are strong in - and tries to attack us in those areas. The danger is that we tend to neglect those areas. But we have to remember the warning, "Let he who thinks he stands take heed - lest he fall."
As Christians we have to constantly be on our guard and remember that Satan never rests - he is always trying to bring people down. Watch out for him.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
While Jesus is giving His sermon on the mount, He tells us that we are to be shining lights in the world and the salt of the earth.
We have an influence on people whether we know it or not. We need to realize that we have the power to change the world that we're living in. We have the responsibility to be the light in this dark world. People are looking for spiritual illumination - are we there to give it to them?
Why is it important for us to always let our light shine? Well, if we do, when people have questions about religious matters, they will most likely come to us. Our actions should always be glorifying our Father in Heaven.
Even when we are having bad days or we're not "at our best," we always have to be mindful of our character because, whether we know it or not, we are influencing others.
Don't lose your salt - always try to be a light in the world.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
As you know, the winter Olympics are right around the corner. All the athletes that participate in the Olympics want the gold medal. So in return, all the athletes have great discipline. If you're going to succeed in anything, you have to have great discipline. If we're going to succeed spiritually we have to discipline ourselves and pray and study every day.
There are a few things we should try and do:
1) We need to raise the bar for ourselves. If we want to feel a sense of accomplishment, we have to raise that bar and discipline ourselves. We live in a maze of mediocrity where everybody settles for less - don't have a settled state of mind! Paul didn't run with any uncertainty (Phil. 3:14)
2) We need to learn pain before pleasure. Hebrews 11:24 says;
"It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin."
In the moment, all discipline SEEMS painful - but later it yields a great reward.
3) We need to learn to consider BEFORE crisis occurs. We need to learn how to make advanced decisions. You don't get to do it over again - you only have one chance. If we wait till we're in the moment, it will be so much harder to resist temptation. Foolish decisions trap us in a dead end (Gal. 5:22-24)
As Christians, we should be striving for spiritual "gold" each and every day. But in order to reach that gold, we have to learn to discipline ourselves.
Monday, January 4, 2010
What does it mean to "Just Preach Jesus?" - The Apostles did nothing else but preach Jesus.
Acts 8:35 tells us, "Then Philip opened his mouth... AND HE PREACHED JESUS."
Sometimes, when we think of trying to lead others to Christ, we get a little overwhelmed with what we need to teach them - so it causes us to not teach at all. But when it comes down to it, it's simple. We just need to preach Jesus. When we preach Jesus, we preach everything that is necessary for salvation.
Preaching Jesus results in belief - whole hearted belief. The kind of belief that changes lives. So when we have the opportunity to teach others, we need not be overwhelmed - we just need to focus on preaching Jesus.
We can preach Jesus even through our actions - We are Christians named after Jesus Christ. When others look at us, they need to see Jesus Christ living in us.