Tag Archives: peace

How Can I Get Salvation?

You may be driving around the car dealerships one day when you notice a brand new Rolls-Royce at the dealership. It is your favorite color; has all the features you would ever want in a car; and if you owned it, people would really think you were somebody. However there is one problem, the price tag is more than you would earn in a few years.

Since you cannot afford the car, there are two options you could consider: You could steal the car or you could convince someone to buy it for you as a gift. If you stole the car people would think that you owned it. They would really think you were important. For a short time you would be able to drive it around and enjoy all of the features the car had to offer. However, the enjoyment of having the car will be only temporary. It would only last until the cops catch you with the stolen car. If you accidently damaged the car, it would not really matter since it really is not your car.

On the other hand, suppose someone would agree to buy the car for you. You would first of all have to accept the offer then you would have to acknowledge who paid for the car. You would also make sure that your name on the car title. If the person buying the car for you was a very special person, he may even offer to pay for the maintenance of the car and for any damage that may happen to it in the event you had an accident.

The gift of salvation is like the car. God has a custom plan just for your life. It will include every feature that you would ever need.  

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19(NIV).

In addition to your gift of salvation, you would be able to experience love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Salvation, just like the Rolls Royce, cannot be bought with your own resources.

Since you cannot buy God’s gift of salvation, you would have two options. First, you could try to steal your salvation. You could make people think that you were a Christian. You may tell everyone that you are going to heaven when you die. You could give large sums of money to charity. You may enjoy some of the benefits but they will be only temporary. There will come a day when you must answer to God about your stolen salvation. Matthew 22:11-13 describes the person that tries to steal his salvation.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 22:11-13(NIV)

If you stole your salvation or tried to buy it with your own resources, you would not experience true love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The most you enjoy would be fake love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. However if you ever found yourself wanting to do something that was not Christ-like behavior, you could tell those people involved that you really weren’t a Christian. You could enjoy your sin for a short period of time until you needed to answer to God.

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:25-26(NIV)

Worst of all, a stolen salvation leads to eternity in the Lake of Fire with the Devil.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10(NIV))

The good news is that Jesus paid the price for you salvation. But just like the Rolls Royce, you need to accept the gift and acknowledge that Jesus paid the price.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:35-36(NIV)

When you accept God’s gift of salvation, God records your name in the book of life. This assures you that Jesus paid the price for your salvation and that God’s grace was sufficient for your salvation. You will also be spared from going to the lake of fire.

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15.(NIV)

Because your name was written in the book of life, you will spend eternity in heaven with God.

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27(NIV)

Many people believe they can earn their own way to heaven. They believe they can do whatever they please and God will still accept them in heaven. It is true that Jesus died for everyone but only those who accept the gift of salvation will be accepted.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10(NIV)

Are you going to steal your salvation or are you going to accept the gift of salvation that has been made available to you through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection? The choice is yours. If you accept God’s gift of salvation, you will bear the ‘fruit of the Spirit’.

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.  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 5:22-26(NIV)

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

Does the presidential candidate have to be a Christian?

I am amazed at the lack of faith among Christians today. We approach the Presidential election as though God’s hands will be tied if we have a non-Christian president. In our own eyes we cannot see what will happen to this great country that we love. In other words, we believe that if we cannot see it, then God cannot make it happen.

When was the last time you read the book of Hosea? God tells Hosea in Hosea 1:2 to “Go marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” God puts people into power that He wants to use to discipline His people.

How many times in the Old Testament, did God put ungodly leaders into power? Did God forsake His people when the leader was an ungodly leader? God’s power is not limited by who is President. If your god is limited by man’s power, it is time for you to get a different God.

The truth is, as a Christian we want to have “easy sailing”. Even Jesus’s followers wanted ‘easy sailing’. Jesus told them in Matthew 10:34(NIV):  “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Heaven was not designed for whips. Heaven is for the faithful who have trusted in Christ as their Savior.

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39(NIV)

God wants us to put our faith in Him and not in our government. God did not assign us to judge the spiritual convictions of our presidential candidates. What God did assign us is to vote for the candidate that God wants in power. For you to understand who God wants in power, you must have a relationship with God and be filled with the Holy Spirit so you know who to vote for. When we vote for the person God wants as president, God will do the rest.

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17(NIV)

 

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

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

Is Jesus Your Savior or Your Lord?

A savior is someone who saves us or delivers us from evil and destruction.

In the Old Testament, the people were looking for a savior. God was their savior. He was their refuge during times of trouble. The Children of Israel would make sacrifices for their sin. In the book of Leviticus you will find the instructions for these offering.

A spotless lamb was frequently brought to be offered as a sin offering. The price for sin was the shedding of blood.  When the lamb was slayed, it was paying the price for the sin committed by the person bringing the offering.

When Jesus left his heavenly home to come to earth in human form, He was the lamb that would be slayed for our sins. He was the spotless lamb whose blood would be sacrificed for the sins of the world. He blood paid the price for our sin. This offering was for everyone who believed that Jesus was who he claimed to be.

Because of God’s grace, everyone can have salvation. They can be delivered from their sin.  This deliverance is a gift that people can receive or reject. When people accepts this gift of salvation, they are considered Christians. They have accepted Jesus as their Savior.  If they reject this gift, they will remain in their sinful condition. They will continue to be headed toward destruction regardless of what Satan tells them.

Near the end of Jesus ministry on earth, he told his disciples that he was going to send an advocate. This advocate would work on our behalf to keep us free from sin. He was like having Jesus with us full time. This Advocate is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third part of the trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that communicates with our inner spirit. This communication takes place in the spirit realm. In other words, the Holy Spirit hears our utterings and interprets them into the “spirit language” which he then presents to God on our behalf.

When we accept this gift, we receive forgiveness of sins and an advocate with the Heavenly Father. This means we have accepted Jesus as our Savior.

The communication we have with our Heavenly Father is a two-way communication. The Holy Spirit not only takes our requests to God, but he also brings God’s word to us in a way that we can understand what God the Father wants us to do. He has given us the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us understand what God is telling us in the Bible. Since the Holy Spirit is communicating on a spiritual level, He takes the words of the Bible and interprets them to the spirit language that enables our spirit to understand the message from God and to do what he is telling us to do.

Since the Holy Spirit is interpreting the Bible for us, it does not matter what translation or language we have because the Holy Spirit is telling us what God the Father wants us to hear.

What we do with the information the Holy Spirit gives us determines who has Lordship of our lives. In other words, our response to the Holy Spirit determines our Lordship. If we respond favorable to the Holy Spirit, we are allowing God to have lordship over our lives. On the other hand if we continue to do what our inner spirit wants us to do, we ourselves have the lordship of our life. Frequently these people tend to allow Satan with his lies to control their lives because they lack God’s protection. Their lordship belongs to Satan.

In Ephesians 5, Paul tells us:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.(Ephesians 5:12-20(NIV)

In our human spirit, we see things that we think will bring us happiness and peace. Frequently they do bring happiness and peace for a very short time. Satan, who also works as a spirit, is trying to get our spirit to see only the pleasure, and not the consequence of our sin. He leads us further and further from God by giving us very short times of happiness that frequently led us into more loneliness and dissatisfaction. He leads us to a place where we fail to see any hope for the future.

However, If we listen to the Holy Spirit, we will experience a lasting joy, a lasting peace, and a constant companion. It is as if Jesus were walking right beside us as a friend, keeping us from sin.  It is like He is holding us accountable for our actions.

In Galatians 4, Paul tells us we must crucify our flesh with its passions and desires.

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 5:22-26(NIV)

If Jesus is our Lord, we have crucified your fleshly desire. But until we have crucified our flesh with its passion and desires, we are unable to have Jesus as our Lord. Christians are to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. By keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, we have accepts Jesus as our Lord. This is what Jesus wanted all of his followers to do. This is what Jesus did while on the earth. Jesus did the Father’s will and not his own will.

What is your answer?  “Is Jesus your Savior, or is he your Lord?”

Having Jesus as your Lord does not mean you are sinless. You will still be prone to sin. However, having Jesus as your Lord will cause you to walk away from sin rather than toward it. Jesus as Lord will give you joy and peace.

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

Who is Controlling the Church?

While reading Dr. Ron Welch’s book: The Controlling Husband, I was reminded of some of the churches I have the opportunity to visit, observe, or read about. Ideally, our churches belong to God.  He is the one who should be in charge of our churches, in the same way that He should be in charge of our marriages.

In Dr. Welch’s book he tells about three major keys to control: Intimidation, Narcissism, and Selfishness. How do these keys play out in the church? Intimidation can take on two different forms: violence and physical actions. In a church, we may hear statements like: “If the preacher don’t stop medaling, I am taking my money to another church.”;  “If they don’t put that little table that my Great great aunt donated 70 years ago, back in the foyer I am taking the table and leaving the church.”; or “I donated a lot of money to this church, I should be able to say what goes on here.”; Etc. These statements are merely intimidation in an effort to control the church. When money or furniture is donated to a church, it should be given to God. Once it is given to God, it is no longer ours to control! If we give to the church with the intent of controlling the church activities, then we really haven’t given the donation to God. We have merely invested it in our own fleshly desire; we have given it so we can be comfortable in church. How can we give gifts to God and not let God run the church?  Malachi 3:8-10(NIV) says:

 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 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.”

Giving to God should not be taken lightly. When we try to control the church with our money, we are keeping control of how that money is used. This is the very same problem that Ananias and Sapphira had in Acts 5. They promised to give God all the money they received from selling some property. After they sold the property, they decided to keep control of some of the money. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Acts 5:2(NIV). As a result of this action, both Ananias and Sapphira were both struck dead! When we fail to surrender our tithe and offerings completely to God, we become dead spiritually. We do not trust God with our donations. We want to control what happens in church. We are following our own fleshly desires. When enough people fail to surrender their tithe and offerings to God, the church will become dead. It will be of no value to God! It is simply a place where people have invested their money in an effort to appease their guilty conscience regarding their giving to God. It becomes a place where, through intimidation you force people to have the exact same beliefs that you have regardless of what God says. Another way of controlling the church is with our voices. We dominate the discussions of the governing body of the church. We raise our voices if someone opposes us; we cut off their comments without hearing what they have to say. In fact, I have seen people send threatening emails to the people who oppose their ideas or actions. Some church members use manipulation to control the church. They befriend the pastor or church leader so they can control the message that the pastor has for them. They threaten to withhold something if the message is not what they want to hear.  They may even try to bring other people into the church to help the control how the church is run. They vote for church leaders based on how they will operate the church. They are not interested in choosing people who are try to do what God wants done in church. In fact in many cases, they don’t want God to control the church. Rather than controlling the church, our emphasis should be on reaching unity and maturity in Christ. We should be building up others rather than ourselves. God made His grace available to everyone, not just us. Listen to what Paul said to the Ephesians in chapter 4 regarding what we should be doing in church:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 11 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. Ephesians 4:2-7,11-13(NIV)

Rather than control the church, we should follow Paul’s advice and work to build up each other so we may have unity in Christ. NOTE: Scripture used in this blog were downloaded from: www.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

Brothers

In Genesis 30:23-24 the writer tells of the birth of Joseph. Joseph was a special child of Rachel and Jacob. He had only one brother and ten half-brothers that were born to Leah, Jacobs first wife.

These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 1 Chronicles 2(NIV)

Joseph was a very special child to his father Jacob. However, to his brothers he was a ‘daddy’s boy’. He was also a dreamer and was having dreams that indicated he would be rulers over his brothers. In fact Jacob had a special, colorful robe made for Joseph. Of course, this made his brothers jealous.

The brothers obviously didn’t believe Joseph. In fact, Genesis 37 tells of  how the brothers treated Joseph. As you recall, Jacob sent his son Joseph to check on his older brothers who were herding the family sheep.

When the brothers saw Joseph coming, they decided this would be a good time to get rid of this dreamer for good. The plan was to throw him into a pit to die. But then some Midianite merchants came by and they decided to make some money on the deal and sold Joseph.

They needed a story to tell Jacob, so they took Joseph’s coat of many colors and dipped it in blood. They could show Jacob the blood and tell him that a wild animal must have killed him. For several years this seemed to have done the trick.

Well the Midianite merchants sold Joseph to one of Pharaoh’s officials. However, after a series of successes and upsetting trials along the way, Joseph was made governor of the land. (Genesis 42)

Jacob was faced with a drought and sent his older sons to Egypt to buy grain. What the brothers didn’t know was that Joseph was the person they were to buy grain from. However, Joseph recognized his brothers and asked about Benjamin and he wanted to see Benjamin.

After Joseph worked out a scheme to get all the brothers together, he told them who he was. He forgave his brothers and was united with his family again. He then invited his family to come live in Egypt until the drought had passed. Joseph was indeed ruling over his family.

There was another family that had a special son with four half-brothers. But this family had sons that were conceived by Joseph and a special son, who’s name was Jesus that was conceived by the Holy Spirit. (See Matthew 1:16)

We don’t hear a lot about these brothers but Matthew 13:55 indicates that Jesus had four half-brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.

These brothers were no different than Joseph’s brothers. We read in John7:2-5(NIV):

But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.John7:2-5(NIV)

There came a day when Jesus sent his son into the world to check on his children. They didn’t believe who he was. The wanted to get rid of him because he claimed to be the Messiah. They crucified him on a cross. Jesus was put into a grave, just as Joseph was thrown into a pit. But God raised Jesus from the dead and put him in a place of leadership, in the same way that Joseph was taken from the pit and placed into leadership.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8(NIV)

You see, Jesus appear to his brother James after his resurrection and James realized who Jesus really was. As a result of James believing who Jesus was, he became a pillar in the church, and wrote the book of James. This small book of James talks about temptations, warning the world of sin, and telling them to follow Christ. In fact, James was martyred in AD 62, because of his faith in Christ.

We can be born and raised in a Christian home, but that doesn’t guarantee we will believe. Everyone must come to a point in their life where they see Jesus for who he is and what he has done. We can be brothers but until we accept Christ personally, we are blind to the truth just like the brothers of Joseph and Jesus were blind to the truth.

Are you suffering from a ‘drought’ in your life? Perhaps now is the time that you need to turn to Christ and accept the gift that he has for you? God’s desire for you is to restore you to a place of fellowship with Him. He wants to give you love, peace, and hope. Are you ready?

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIVunless otherwise noted.

 

The brothers obviously didn’t believe J

Knowing the Will of God

When people first accept Christ as their Savior, they have a desire to please God by doing His will, in other words doing what He wants them to do. We all want to know the will of God as it relates to our lives. Many times we pray and say that we want God’s will to be done.

In the model prayer that Jesus gave his followers, it says:

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13(NIV)

For us to know God’s will for our lives, we must sacrifice our bodies.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-3 (NIV)

Paul’s Epistle to Thessalonica Paul explains a ‘living sacrifice’ as becoming ‘sanctified’. When we are sanctified, there a certain things that we avoid so we can do know God’s will. One should note that the things we should ‘avoid’ are called ‘sin’.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;  that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;  and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (NIV)

Before we were even born, God knew we would be inclined toward sin. And because we are inclined to sin, God gave us the Holy Spirit. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps us from sin, not our own power.

Because our power to overcome sin comes through the Holy Spirit, we are warned not to quench the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19(NIV): Do not quench the Spirit. When we try to live by our own strength, we are quenching the Spirit.

In 1 Peter 4:1-11(NIV), we are given these instructions on how we should live if we want to know the will of God.:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:1-11(NIV)

If a person wants to know God’s will, God must be number one in their lives. The ten commandments teach us that there is only one God and we are to worship Him only.  We are not to let anything interfere with our love of the God. We are to love Him with all our heart.

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)

When we pray for God’s will, are we truly seeking glory for God or for seeking glory for ourself?

There is another aspect of knowing God’s will that is also important. When we ask for God’s will, we must also act on that will. Sometime we keep asking for God’s will until we can justify doing it the way we want to do it, rather than the way God wants us to do it. The Bibles says we act in faith, not on emotional feelings.

In Habakkuk 2, it tells about Habakkuk waiting on the Lord to answer a complaint of the people.

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 2:1(NIV)

God answers Habakkuk with some instructions for Habakkuk. God makes this statement in verse 4. “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” Habakkuk 2:4(NIV)

Knowing God’s will for our lives is not based on our personal feeling. We may pray for God’s will for an eternity, waiting for a feeling that may never come. There is a point at which we must step out in faith. It is a point at which we take the truths God has given us and step out in faith, believing God’s truths.

Paul refers to Habakkuk, when Paul says:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,  just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17(NIV)

Knowing God’s will for our lives is not complete until we take that step of faith. When we take that step of faith, we have Godly peace in knowing that our action is God’s will.

James says it this way:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:5-7(NIV).

In other words, when we seek God’s will for our lives, we must act in faith without doubting God’s will for our lives. If we are waiting for a feeling, it may never come, but when we step out in faith God gives us peace.

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 14:27(NIV)

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.