Tag Archives: love

What do you enjoy about Christmas?

For children, Christmas is frequently a time when they enjoy receiving gifts. The gifts are frequently toys or games that they have been wanting. The gifts come from parents, grandparents, teachers, leaders of the various activities in which they are involved.

As we get older, we enjoy the gifts from a special someone. They could be our best friends, the person we are dating at the time, or some other person that has a special meaning to our life.

As adults, we enjoy the gifts from our children or family members. We especially enjoy the company of our families and friends. We enjoy eating together, watching sport events of Christmas programs where our children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren are participating.

As we grow older, the things that we enjoy about Christmas seem to move from material things to relationships that we develop over the years.

God wants us to enjoy a relationship with Him.

In the Old Testament when man sinned, there was a price to pay for those sins. The price was the shedding of blood of an innocent animal. People were required to go to the high priest to make these sacrifices.

The animals that were sacrificed were animals that did not have any blemishes. In other words, they needed to be “perfect” animals or in some cases doves. In most cases, they were sheep or lambs. The sacrifices were made to please God. People were required to obey the commandments and laws that God gave them. There salvation was based on what they did or did not do.

Making a sacrifice was something they were supposed to do when they had sinned against God or the fellow man. However, one day that changed. God loved us so much that he wanted us to be his children. He wanted to have a relationship with his children. He wanted the love of his children. He was going to send a sacrifice that would be for everybody. He was not going to force this relationship on people but rather have them love him willfully.

God had a plan. He was going to send his son Jesus down to earth to show His love for us. Jesus would be born as a baby and experience life on earth. He was going to show people how to love. Jesus taught us about his father and what the Father’s will was for his children. Jesus taught us who God is.

Jesus lived a perfect life while on earth. He did not live to have a high self-esteem; he did not live to please other people; he did not live to condemn the world. Jesus lived to do the will of his Father. Everything Jesus did was the will of his Father and not his own will.

After a short life on this earth, Jesus laid down his life for our sins. He became the perfect sacrifice. However, unlike the sacrifices made in the Old Testament, Jesus was raised to life again. JESUS WAS VICTORIOUS OVER DEATH!

Because Jesus was victorious over death, we who believe in him will be victorious over death also. We will be able to live eternally with our Father in Heaven! In eternity, we will no longer experience sickness, disappointment, separation, etc. We will have an eternal relationship with God the Father. We will be coheirs with Jesus. Everything that the Father has will be at our disposal. What a wonderful gift God gave us that first Christmas morning!

There is only one way to receive the gift of eternal life with God the Father. In John 14:6, Jesus said that He was the “way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

You cannot receive the gift of eternal life just by knowing who God is, by belonging to a certain church or religious cult, by living a good life; you can only receive eternal life through Jesus Christ.

God does not want us to be selfish and keep this gift for ourselves; rather He wants us to share this unending gift with everyone we meet. God wants our lives to be a demonstration of who He is and not who we are.

This Christmas remember and enjoy the real reason Jesus came that Christmas night. Because Jesus came on Christmas and became the perfect sacrifice for our sin, we can live in peace even when the world seems to be falling apart and people fear what the future holds.

Jesus gave his followers these promises:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4(NIV)

Later in that same chapter, Jesus said:

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27(NIV)

Over 65 Years ago, I accepted the gift of salvation made possible because Jesus was born, lived, and paid the price for my sin. Over those years, I have experienced disappointments, losses, persecution, loneliness, financial loss, times of physical difficulty, yes, and even times of war. However, through these times, I have felt the peace of God that he gives to those who believe in Him.

This Christmas season accepts God’s gift of salvation. Experience the peace that only God can give.

Merry Christmas

NOTE: all scripture in this blog were downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com December 13, 2015

Where is love?

Years ago, before common core math was implemented, I had an algebra class in high school. In that class, we were taught that If (A + B = C), and if D = B, then A +D will also = C.

1 John 4:8 and 16 tell us “God is love.”

In the early 60s, we took God out of school. Students were no longer able to use the literature that our forefathers used as their primary text book. Children were forbidden to hear the historical writings of our ancestors.

Since the early 60s, God was taken out of schools, God was taken out of the public arena, God was taken out of government, and God was taken out of the military. In addition, in our attempt to be politically correct, God was also taken out of our speech. Most recently, we have attempted to keep God out of marriage.

In algebra, if A + B = C, then it is also true that A = C – B. Now if A = me, C = my life, B = God, and D = love. ‘me’ = ‘life’ without ‘God’. Since B = D, it is also true that ‘me’ = ‘life’ without ‘Love’.

Now people wonder why kids are bullied, why kids disobey parents, school officials, and other authorities. If my algebra teaching was correct, what we have done is take ‘love’ out of school, take ‘love’ out of public, take ‘love’ out of government, take ‘love’ out of our speech and take ‘love’ out of marriage.

Anytime we begin life by considering only “me”, we will end with a life without God and without love.

As a country, we do not need more gun control, more bullying policies, more social workers, more psychiatrists, more counselors, more juvenile correctional facilities, more jails, more police officers, or more government. What we need is more love. For us to get more love, we need to put God back into our lives.

Ironically, when the Bible – God’s word – was taken out of school, society wanted more love. This was the hippy age and we had songs like “Love, Sweet Love”, “I’m Still in Love With You”, “Never My Love”, and “I’ve Been Loving You too Long (To Stop Now)” etc. . Society was looking for the meaning of love. Love was being defined as not having anything regulating your behavior rather than accepting God into our lives.

God defined love when He crucified His only son to pay the price for your and my sins. Love is what God did when he adopted you and me as his own. Love was restoring the relationship that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned. Love is preparing an eternal home in heaven with God. God demonstrates love as ‘giving’ and not ‘getting’.

Love is available to everyone. There is enough love to go around. Love will never end. Here is what the Bible says about love:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13(NIV)

It is time to put love back into our lives.

 

NOTE: Scripture used in this blog was downloaded 8.26/15 from: Biblegateway.com

Finding Yourself or Finding God?

We live it a society that has many artificial foods. Each product is intended to be just like the genuine product. In fact, they even use a name that indicates that you cannot tell the difference between the two products. When many of these products are tested years later, the results of the test show that the product may in fact be harmful.

Christianity is no different that these foods. There are people who will try to convince you that you can become god. Many of you have heard the phrase “I can do all things.” People will tell you that it is in the Bible so it must be true.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) Paul says: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. When you read the entire text you will find that Paul is giving God the credit for all that God has allowed him to do. However, the message that people like to hear is: “I can do all things by my own strength.” This makes them feel important. They believe they can do anything they want to do.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3(NIV)

Being focused on self and wanting to be god is not a new concept. It has been around since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Today people are still listening to Satan’s argument. However, if we want to know real thing, we will find that the opposite is true; we cannot do anything without God’s strength. The Bibles says if we want to know the real joy of following Jesus, we must deny ourselves, in other words, we must become nothing and let Christ become everything.

Luke says it this way in Luke 9:23-26:

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:23-25(NIV)

What are the results of following your fleshly desires and doing whatever you please?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21(NIV)

What happens when you sacrifice your fleshly desires, and follow God’s leading?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26(NIV)

Throughout the Old Testament, God shows the results of His power and the results of man’s power. Repeatedly God overpowers fleshly man. For instance, in the story of David and Goliath, Goliath is thinking that he could do whatever he pleased. He thinks he is infallible. His daily routine was to come before Saul’s army and dare them to kill him. However, when David saw Goliath and heard what Goliath was saying, David was determined to slay the giant.

God had been with David when a lion attack his sheep and again when a bear attack his sheep. David had experience God’s power in his own life. He knew God would give him the strength to slay Goliath.

David got permission from the King to stand against Goliath. This is what David said to Goliath after Goliath ridiculed him for being only a little boy.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47(NIV)

David did kill Goliath. He did not kill the giant because he was god and could do it in his own strength. He did it because of the strength of the God of Israel.

Throughout the Gospels, the writers tell of God’s power through the life of His son Jesus. After the death of Jesus, God showed his awesome power by raising Jesus from the dead, thus overcoming death. It is because God gave Jesus victory over death that we will be able to live forever in Heaven. There has never been another person who has been able to overcome dead.

God has shown His love to us by sending His only begotten Son into the world that we may have eternal life. If we cannot believe the power and love that God has already shown to us, we will never have the eternal satisfaction of being reconciled to God for eternity. Adam and Eve were satisfied for a very short time as they tasted the forbidden fruit, but guilt soon took over and they hid from God.

Trust God with all your actions. Rely on His strength and not your own strength. God gives you hope for tomorrow but following selfish desires only brings hopelessness.

 

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog have been downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

The Rainbow

I find the rainbow to be an interesting symbol, especially when the rainbow is associated with the same sex marriage decision made by the Supreme Court.

If one were to study Genesis 6-8, they would find that the world had become corrupt. The women had been forced into co-habitation relationships. The people had turned to their fleshly desires. They had forgotten that is was God who formed man in his image. Their thoughts were evil all the time. The world had become so evil that God wished he had never made man. It appears the way society was acting then is very similar to the  way society is acting today.

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:1-8(NIV)

Noah was the exception, however. God found that Noah was a righteous man; a who still believed in God regardless of what society was doing; Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God chose Noah to save the world from their sin. God did destroy all the people of the world, but He saved Noah and his family. God also saved two of every kind of animal and bird.

God had a plan. God talked to Noah and told him to build an ark. Noah worked on the ark for 120 years. While Noah was building the ark, the people ridiculed him. He still trusted God and kept building the ark. God made a covenant with Noah saying that God would protect Noah, his family, and two of every kind of animal.

God gave the world 120 years to repent but the people did not improve their behavior. It continued to deteriorate. The flood came but Noah, his family, and a representative male and female animal from each kind were safe inside the ark. The people, who continued to sin and followed their fleshly desires, were destroyed by the flood.

After the destruction of the people who followed the fleshly desires of their heart. God caused the water to subside. The water subsided and God gave Noah a reminder of the promise God made with Noah, that he would never destroy all living creatures with a flood again.

Why then, would the rainbow be used to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to force same sex marriages on all states? Is it a reminder to people that we can either accept God, or reject God? If we reject God, God will turn us over to our sinful behavior, and we will die in our sin (See Romans 1:18-32). On the other hand, if we accept God, we will follow God, and will have eternal life with him.

The rainbow is a reminder of the covenant God made with Noah. Circumcision was a reminder of the covenant that God made with Abraham. The communion cup is a reminder of God grace offered to us. It represents the blood of Christ shed for us. Jesus paid the price for our sins. He made it possible for us to have eternal life with God.

When you see the rainbow, remember God’s love for us. It was so great that He sent His Son to die for our sin. He freed us from the guilt of our sin just as he promised.

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog were downloaded from  www.biblegateway.com

Does a Heterosexual Marriage Guarantee a Godly Marriage?

Over the past decade or two, there has been much debate about same sex marriages and heterosexual marriages. There have many well-intended arguments for, and against same sex marriages.

However, I believe there are some heterosexual marriages that are just as displeasing to God as homosexual marriages. In our society today, we have many couples who married because of what they could get out of the marriage. They wanted love on their terms; they wanted security on their terms; they wanted success on their terms; etc.

In Ephesians 5:21 Paul tells us: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” It is possible to have a heterosexual marriage, but still refuse to submit to each other. Many well-intended marriages turn into ‘control’ duals. Each spouse wants to control the other spouse. They gather all types of ‘ammo’ to use against their spouse. They become so concerned about the faults of their spouse that they fail to see their positive traits. The things that bought them together soon become the things that drive them apart. Why do they drive them apart? It is because they do not want to surrender control to someone else. They would rather criticize each other than surrender control of the marriage.

Many of the statements that marriage counselors hear from a spouse when counseling them, are incomplete. They tend to leave off a very import phrase at the end of their complaint. They should add this phrase “…the way I think it should be.” I hear wives complaining about the husband not being the spiritual leader. But the wife fails to follow the spiritual leading of the husband because his leadership is not what the she thinks it should be. Husbands cannot lead unless they have someone follow them.

On the other hand, many husbands expect their wives to become slaves. Many husbands tend to abuse their wives. They tend to treat their wives as their personal servant, doing all the things the husband wants done. If the wife does something differently than the husband expects, the husband will complain about it, making the wife feel like she did something wrong.

These husband and wife issues are natural occurrences. When God disciplined Eve for eating the forbidden fruit, He said that the woman’s desire would be to control the husband but the husband would rule over her. (See Genesis 3:16)

The Bible says husbands are to love their wives “just as God loved the church and gave himself up for her.” The love that Paul is telling about in Ephesian 5 is a “giving” love and not a “getting” love. God wants marriages to be a loving relationship; a relationship that puts the other spouse first. God also wants both spouses to follow His guidance through the Holy Spirit.

When the husband and the wife follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, they become a cord of three strands. It becomes a marriage where husband, wife, and God have a mutual purpose. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” This is the only type of marriage that will be pleasing to God. It is a Godly marriage. It will be a marriage filled the happiness and the satisfaction that couple desire.

NOTE: Scripture quoted in this blog were downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

Same Sex Marriages: What Christians Need to Know

In the beginning of John chapter 8, Jesus is presented with a situation that was intended to get him into trouble. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. John 8:2-8(NIV)

At the time of this event, teachers of the law and the Pharisees were responsible for caring for the widows. This was a very important task. The women of this day were responsible for being their husband’s wife. They were not permitted to become secretaries, clerks, waiter, etc. There was no place for women to earn money. Consequently, if a woman lost her husband, she also lost all of her financial support. These widows had two choices: they could starve or they could become a prostitute. To prevent people from being put into this position, the leaders of the Law and Pharisees were responsible for caring for these women. When Jesus said that the person who had not sinned could throw the first stone, he knew that this group of people would feel the guilt for their actions. They fully understood what Jesus was telling them. They were negligent in caring for widows. Today, we have a very similar situation that is taking place in our society. There are Christians who are to failing to teach their children what the Bible says and what it does not say. Older women and older men are instructed to teach the young men and young women what is right and what is wrong. Our failure to teach the young men and women right from wrong has caused people to reject Jesus. Most of what is written in the Bible was written for Christians – people who have accepted Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb that died to our sins. When we read about how Christians should behave, we automatically apply it to people who are not Christians. We also make the mistake of telling non-Christians that they cannot go to heaven if they take part in certain behaviors. First, it is not up to Christians to determine who does, or does not go to heaven. It is God’s gift of grace, accepted by faith that will get us into heaven. We cannot earn our way to heaven by doing or not doing certain activities.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10(NIV)

There is nothing that we can do that will take that gift away from us or that will make it bigger or smaller. This gift is a gift that is given to those who believe in Jesus Christ. The gift is the same for all people regardless of their past. God will not force his gift on anyone, but he has made it available for everyone, regardless of his or her sexual orientation. Faith and grace are not the same! If we fail to do what God wants us to do, we do not lose our free gift of grace. We receive grace when God receives us just as we are. He knows that we cannot live sinless lives by ourselves. Our faith, on the other hand is something that grows as we learn to follow Jesus. Likewise, it diminishes (or dies) as we fail to follow Jesus. Included in our free gift of grace, is the Holy Spirit who dwells in our lives. The Holy Spirit guides the Christians actions. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to live. It even teaches us who we should choose for a marriage partner. God’s plan for marriage has not, nor will it ever change. Only the secular definition of marriage changes according to the wishes of the people. Faith does not force us to behave in a given manner. But rather, our actions are an indications of our faith. If a person does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in his/her life they are incapable of living by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, your only choice is to follow your fleshly nature

 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13(NIV)

Christians should not expect the non-Christians to behave like Christians. In fact, we are to love them ‘as Christ loved us’. Changing how people behave is the work of the Holy Spirit, not Christians, or anybody else. People are born in sin. Every one of us started with a fleshly nature. Included in that fleshly nature, is the potential of becoming a gay or lesbian person.

 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:21-32(NIV)

In this passage of scripture, the writer is telling about the behavior of people who have not accepted God’s gift of grace. The writer never says, however that these people can never accept God’s gift of grace. Our behavior is the result of who we are following. When we follow our fleshly desires, we do those things that help us feel better at the time. We do the things that our flesh desires to do. However, if we crucify our fleshly desires, and are led by the Holy Spirit as Christians are instructed to do, we do things like love our neighbor, live in peace, joy, and happiness.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:16-26(NIV)

A person’s behavior is determined by who they are following. As a Christian, it is our responsibility to demonstrate God’s love to those who are not following the Holy Spirit. It is our responsibility to love other people. Love never forces itself on anyone.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:6-16(NIV)

Are we like the Pharisees and teachers of the law mention at the beginning of this blog? Do we want to throw the first stone? Why would someone want to be a Christian if we fail to live like Christ? If you are a Christian, go love someone who is in need of God’s love. Do not condemn them because they are behaving the way God said they would behave. God gave them over to their fleshly desires. God, not man, let them have their own way. Note: All scripture used in this article were downloaded from: http:// biblegateway.com

Controlled by the Holy Spirit…or Selfish Ambitions?

God’s desire for all Christians is that they be filled with the spirit and to live like Christ lived while he was on earth. In Galatians 5:13-26, Paul compares the behaviors that result when we follow our flesh (selfish desires) with the behaviors of those who are being led by the Holy Spirit.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:13-26(NIV)

When you compare the list of behaviors of those following the flesh (self) with the behaviors of those who are following the Spirit, you will see there are more behaviors listed for those following self than there are behaviors listed for those who are following the Spirit. Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, orgies, and the like are behaviors that are characteristics of people who ‘God has given over’ to their selfishly ambitions. (See Romans 1) These are also activities that we are told to resist. So if we are loving the one and only God the way He intended, we will not display these behaviors. In other words will be no spiritual counterpart to those behaviors Paul says that the Spirit and self are in “conflict with each other”. If you remove the behaviors for self that result from God giving us over to our selfish desires,  you will have nine behaviors left in the list. These behaviors are opposites.  In other words, we are moving either toward selfish ambitions or toward being filled with the Spirit. The pairs of behaviors are:

  1. Hatred v. loved
  2. Discord v. joy
  3. Jealousy v. peace
  4. Fits of rage v. forbearance
  5. Selfish ambitions v. kindness
  6. Dissensions v. goodness
  7. Factions v. faithfulness
  8. Envy v. gentleness
  9. Drunkenness v. self-control

Using a continuum with the nine behaviors of flesh on the left and the nine behaviors of the Spirit on the right and a rating of 1-10 between the two behaviors, you should have something that looks like this.

FLESHLY BEHAVIOR

RATING

SPIRITUAL BEHAVIOR

Hatred

1

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

10

Love

Discord

1

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

10

Joy

Jealousy

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Peace

Fits of rage

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Forbearance

Selfish ambitions

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Kindness

Dissensions

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Goodness

Factions

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Faithfulness

Envy

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Gentleness

Drunkenness 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Self-control

  Using the continuum, you can search your own heart and determine where you are in your Spiritual walk as it pertains to the nine behaviors listed.

(EXAMPLE:  suppose you display hatred about half of the time and love about half of the time, you would put a mark on 5 or 6.)

Use this procedure to evaluate your behavior on each line until you have completed all nine behaviors. Are you following flesh or Spirit?

If your evaluation yield “5” or less, perhaps you have not crucified the “flesh with its passions and desires” and are following your fleshly desires.  In the areas where you are rated low, you should pray that God will help you sacrifice your selfish desires and help you grow toward a Spirit filled life.

Repeat this evaluation process periodically. Then compare your current assessments to your earlier assessment to determine if you are moving toward spiritual behavior or fleshly behavior. Do not compare yourself to another Christian if you want to become like Christ because Christ is the standard that we need to use.

I would suggest that you start with the behavior that has the lowest rating. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding this behavior. Then read passages of Scripture that deal with the behavior and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in determining what will help you have a better rating, or in other words what activities will help you become more like Christ.

NOTE: In the event you are consistently between “5” and “6”, you are in the same place as the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. You are only lukewarm. However, when you are “filled with the Spirit” you will have a consistent rating of “10” in all behaviors. God’s desire is for us to be “filled with the Spirit.” We cannot become like Christ if we are following our selfish desires.

Scripture used in this blog have been downloaded from Biblegateway.com.

What is the Best Way to Change Our Government?

The Bible tells us about an incident that happened hundreds of years ago. It is a situation much like what we in the United States are facing today. The incident is the time when Goliath, a Philistine  was insulting God’s people, the Israelites. He was making a mockery of God and His people.

The Israelites stood their ground each day as Goliath came out to challenge them to send someone to fight him. They would listen to the giant and cowered in their position, afraid the end was near. They were afraid to send someone to kill the giant, Goliath.

This went on for several days until David came to the scene to see how his brothers were doing. While David was there, Goliath came out to ridicule the Israelite army and God. But when David talked to his brothers about it, they got upset with him when he asking them why they didn’t kill the giant.

After David’s discussion with his brothers, King Saul called for David. Here is their conversation as recorded in 1 Samuel 17:32-37

 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 1 Samuel 17:32-37(NIV)

The king then tried to dress David in his own armor, but it was too heavy for David. David was not used to wearing armor, he was used to trusting in God for protection. So, David asked to go in the shepherd clothes because he was used to wearing them; that is what he wore as a shepherd.

Frequently when we come upon a difficult situation, we try to address the situation using the tools of the world, like the king wanted David to do. We think that the armor will protect us rather than trusting God to protect us. The problems we face in the United States today is that we are trusting in a political party to save our country. However, both political parties are wearing political clothing. They both use the same tactics to gain personal control of government, just like King Saul wanted David to do. The King wanted David to wear the same type of armor that both armies were wearing. But David wanted to wear the clothing that God had prepared for him. David knew that this battle was a spiritual battle, not a political battle.

The problems we have with government are not caused by political parties, they are cause by sin. You cannot use political jargon to counteract spiritual problems! If you want to change this country, first humble yourself before God then do what God wants you to do so that God can be victorious. Don’t be like the Israelite army and just stand there while the government continues its downward slide. Trust God and do something, just like David did when he trusted God.

If you are not willing to submit to God, then you might just as well get used to the country deteriorating as you prepare for  your final destination. However, if you are willing to submit to God, you will begin to experience peace, hope, and love as you prepare for your final destination. You will be able to see God making the changes, when you are willing to let Him make the changes.

NOTE: Scripture used in this article was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

How Christ-like are You?

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)

When people think about being like Christ, they frequently look at the thing Jesus did early in his ministry and not his whole ministry. What did Jesus do?

  • Fed the poor and homeless
  • Cared for widows
  • Healed the sick
  • Loved the unlovely
  • Prayed
  • Sacrificed fleshly pleasure

We frequently do the first four things on our list, but fail to do the last two. Several times in the Bible it records that Jesus prayed:

During busy days, he prayed.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:6(NIV)

Jesus prayed before he began  the day.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35(NIV)

Jesus prayed for other people

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32(NIV)

Jesus prayed for all believers:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20-26(NIV)

Jesus prayed that God would be glorified

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. John 17:1(NIV)

But the most important prayer was when Jesus sacrificed his fleshly desire to do the Father’s will. In fact, this was so important that he prayed the same prayer three times. Jesus was struggling with his fleshly desire.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 (NIV)

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matthew 26:42(NIV)

So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Matthew 26:44(NIV)

The primary thing that Jesus did was to glorify the Father. To glorify the father, Jesus had to sacrifice his fleshly desire and do what the Father asked him to do.

If we are going to glorify the Father as Jesus did, we also need to pray for God’s will.  We need to sacrifice our fleshly desire so we can do the will of the Father.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)

If we are going to feed the poor and homeless, care for widows, heal the sick, love the unloved; we cannot follow our fleshly desires. When we do these things in our own way, we are only doing a legalistic act to show God how much we love him but in reality we are seeking our glory…not the Father’s glory; we a providing an inferior  love, an inferior  joy, an inferior  peace, an inferior  forbearance, an inferior  kindness, an inferior  goodness, an inferior  faithfulness, and an inferior  gentleness, and an inferior  demonstration of self-control.

The only way that we can provide genuine, spiritual fruit is when we have sacrificed our fleshly desire and determined to do the Father’s will. Do you really want to do the Father’s will or do you want people to see how “Christ-like” you are?

NOTE: Scripture verses in this article were downloaded from Biblegateway.com.

 

Are You Getting Anything out of Church?

Would you open a bank account and begin making withdrawals without making any deposits? Would you blame the bank  for your problem, then switch to another banks every time your bank account reached a zero balance? James and John had problems with their role in proclaiming the good news. (Mark 10:35-45) They thought they were the best workers Jesus had, so on this day, they decided to ask Jesus if they could sit by his side in Glory. Our work for God is not for the purpose of improving our position with God. We are to work so that God gets the glory, not us. If you are looking for a church where you can improve you position before God by being an ideal church member, you are not going to find one. When you accept Christ as your savior, you cannot find a better position! You have been adopted by God and become his heir! Here is what Jesus told James and John in Mark 10.

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:41-45(NIV)

You see, if you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, you need to become a servant and a slave. You need to sacrifice your life so God can use you as a servant. Sunday morning church service is not about getting something for yourself, it is a meeting of God’s servants! Purpose of a Church Here is what should happen in church. Church is about giving of yourself. Here are eight things you can give in church.

  1. Give Glory and praise to God.

Ephesians 1:3(NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.   Revelation 4:9-11(NIV) Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 14:6-7(NIV) Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” 2 Corinthians 9:13-14(NIV) 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.

  1. Give Encouragement to other believers

 I Thessalonians 5:11(NIV), Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Romans 1:11-12(NIV)  I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.   Eph. 6:22(NIV)  I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.   Colossian 2:2-3(NIV) My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.   Titus 1:9(NIV) He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.   Titus 2:6(NIV) Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.  Titus 2:15(NIV) These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

 3. Give Time.

Acts 15:33(NIV)  After spending some time there,(at the church at Antioch) they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.   Acts 26:29(NIV) Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these. chains.”   1 Peter 4:2(NIV) As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God

 4. Give service. (Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8 both record Jesus quoting from Deuteronomy 6:13  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’)

Ephesians 6:7(NIV) Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, Joshua 24:15(NIV) But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  Acts 20:19(NIV) 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6(NIV) There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

  1. Give tithe/offering/gifts

Malachi 3:10(NIV) Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.   Luke 21:2-4(NIV)  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Matthew 14:19-20(NIV) 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, …

  1. Give Your burdens

Matthew 11:28(NIV) Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   Galatians 6:2(NIV) Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.   Hebrews 13:17(NIV) Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

 7.  Give your Mouth

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.   Psalm 66:16-20(NIV) Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God,  who has not rejected my prayer  or withheld his love from me!   Psalm 109:30(NIV) With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.   Romans 10:8-10(NIV) But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

8.  Give Your Love –

Matthew 5:43-48(NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. 2 Corinthians 8:23-24(NIV)  As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.   Ephesians. 4:15-16(NIV) Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 1 Thessalonians 4:10(NIV) And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,…

  Results of your giving. 1.  Become one with the Father

 John 10:16(NIV) I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 12:20-23(NIV)  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

  1. Become one with the body

Romans 12:4-5(NIV) For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Ephesians 4:11-13(NIV) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Perhaps the reason it is so difficult for us to find a church that you “get something out of”, is because our account is “overdrawn”? What better time is there than now to begin making deposits in church, God’s body of believers.