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Striving or abiding?

As humans, we like control. Seeking control keeps us feeling like we’re on top. Large and in charge. Nothing wrong with being a leader—the world can use them, particularly those with moral fiber and who seek after God’s heart. But often we struggle and strive to control things that are not ours. Namely, our own lives. Controlling our lives too tightly can make us lose control.

Being godly does not require striving or to be controlling. Organization and orderliness notwithstanding, to be controlling means you have an excessive need to be the boss. There are things out of our control that can only be dealt with by God. One of those things is our sanctification.

In John 4:14, Jesus says, “… whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

God wants our cups to be filled with the water of His will and design. This is something we don’t need to strive after. Jesus died that we should be free of stressful striving. We only need to trust and abide in Him and be controlled by the Holy Spirit.

We don’t have to strive to be good before God. He only asks that we abide in the source of the river of living water—the fountain and the one true source of grace and mercy, which is His love. Your cups will then be filled even to overflowing as you are watered from the fountain. No stress or striving… just abiding.

It can be a lifetime process to let go of our controlling desires. It begins on our knees to confess and be still before a gracious and loving God, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

A new creature

We all  may struggle at times in the flesh. Whether by word or deed, our choices are not always fruitful. Don’t let Satan get the victory for we belong to God now, and it is by his strength that we can overcome our own fleshly weaknesses. The first step begins with turning over our struggles to the only wise God and Savior, our heavenly father, and allow the Holy Spirit to work within us.

This time of year brings many to make New Year’s resolutions which not long afterward come to nothing but empty words. People want to make a change or turn over a new leaf; however, what they really need is to turn over a new heart.

For the Christian, making a change is sometimes gradual and, like Apostle Paul, we need to remember that it’s a destination. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 3:14 ), and “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 ).

Real change comes only from the Holy Spirit working to change us. Leaning on the spirit to guide and deliver us from sin and evil is a sure thing we can depend on. Change hurts because we are sometimes stubborn and afraid to move out of our comfort zone. Let’s continue to press on—not for ourselves—but to honor the Lord in word and in deed, renewing our minds to seek His will in all things that he may be glorified.

What kind of faith do you have?

To what do you ascribe your faith? Most would say they have faith in things that make them secure. The Hebrew word for faithfulness literally means “firmness”; figuratively, it means “security” and “fidelity” is the moral definition.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:3, Apostle Paul appeals to the believers and reminds them that “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (NAS). Faithfulness is an essential part of who God is (Psalm 89:8; Hebrews 13:8) and it is multi-faceted. He demonstrates this to us in several ways. Through his faithfulness, God not only protects us from evil, he sets limits on our temptations, forgives our sins, and sanctifies us.

While God has faithfulness covered, our faith in him has different facets as well. There are different ways to ascribe our faith to God:  Faith as belief, faith as commitment, faith in our waiting on God, and faith in him as our refuge.

God’s faithfulness is the pivot upon which turns his whole purpose for humanity. God calls and then through his goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4; 1 John 1:9). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The better we truly know God, the more we will want to trust, imitate, and rely on him. We cannot be faithful to our Lord without a total commitment to him as the most important thing in our lives. By having the right kind of faith, it will produce righteousness in us in contrast to pagan faith in one’s self, which leads to unrighteousness.

God’s faithfulness is the pivot upon which turns his whole purpose for humanity. God calls and then through his goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4; 1 John 1:9). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The better we truly know God, the more we will want to trust, imitate, and rely on him. We cannot be faithful to our Lord without a total commitment to him as the most important thing in our lives. By having the right kind of faith, it will produce righteousness in us in contrast to pagan faith in one’s self, which leads to unrighteousness.

Life’s not fair–so what else is new?

 

Because of the cross, who of the saved can demand any other fairness in light of the unfair exchange of life that granted you an eternal one?

Looking to the world to assure your worth, value or joy? Looking to man to assuage your distress? There’s unfairness everywhere. No one has cornered the market on that. The deeper the pain, the more there is to give over to the ONE source of hope and joy. It’s Jesus.

Jesus is the only hope for mankind. Remaining in the struggle as a way to blame everyone else for your lot in life is a waste of precious time. Why not cling to Jesus? He’s overcome the world.

New Year… new self

Happy New Year!

Do you live in the past? Do you dwell on former mistakes or missteps? It’s easy to do. Though, God’s word tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV), “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

In life, we may struggle at times in the flesh. Whether by word or deed, our choices are not always fruitful. Don’t let Satan get the victory for we belong to God now, and it is by his strength that we can overcome our own fleshly weaknesses. The first step begins with turning over our struggles to the only wise God and Savior, our heavenly father, and allow the Holy Spirit to work within us.

This time of year brings many to make New Year’s resolutions which not long afterward come to nothing but empty words. People want to make a change or turn over a new leaf; however, what they really need is to turn over a new heart.

Making a change is not always easy and can come gradually. In he words of the Apostle Paul, we need to remember that it’s a destination. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 3:14 KJV), and “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 KVJ).

Only the Holy Spirit can affect a real change. Leaning on the spirit to guide and deliver us from sin and evil is a something we can depend on. Change can chafe because we resist moving out of our comfort zone. Let’s continue to press on—not for ourselves—but to honor the Lord in word and in deed, renewing our minds to seeking His will in all things that he may be glorified.

 

Global warming is chilling…

To think that man is capable of ruining the earth is pompous.  Global warming is the new reality to some. Really? I thought the earth has been experiencing the ups and downs of temperature change since time began.

While we need to be good stewards of our land, the mindset that we suffer from some kind of catastrophe in the making is ludicrous. God is in control of our planet–nothing man can do will change that.

The greatest hoax to come to America by the likes of the few elitists who wish to make money and instill fear in people is this chatter about global warming. The scare mongering they’ve engendered has stirred up the masses to a frothy brew of ignorant name calling and useless fervor.

I believe people are concerned more with God’s creation than God himself. The Lord God, whom we just celebrated this Christmas, will take down this whole planet one day and it will no longer be. Imagine that. I would be more concerned about the price we will pay if we do not put our faith and trust in the almighty, the CREATOR. The rest is talk and speculation.

What does Jesus want for Christmas?

 

Every year, we hear the classic music of old time crooner, Bing Crosby. We’re familiar with his smooth vocals—particularly the song where he’s dreaming of a white Christmas… “Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.” Now that Christmas is almost here, we can hear his immortal words once more.

We also hear about what those nearest and dearest to us want for Christmas. How many times have we been asked through the years:  “What do you want for Christmas?” If a child wants a new toy or gadget, his parents will often say, “Wait until Christmas.” What do you want for Christmas? Do you expect to receive it? Hang on, Christmas is only a day away.

In a quiet moment this Christmas Eve while wrapping our presents or preparing tomorrow’s Christmas meal for our families, there’s something we can ponder. We can muse on higher ground and ask ourselves what the Lord may want this Christmas.

In the book of Micah, the question is asked of the prophet 700 years before Christ came to earth:  “Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

Micah 6:8 states: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

While there was no room for Jesus in the old Bethlehem inn, may it be different for him today. May you find room for him in your heart. For that is the only room he desires… and all he wants for Christmas.

Jesus is the Reason

When the Judean shepherds were out in the field feeding their flocks by night, they met angels who told them about baby Jesus’ birth. Out of all of the people on the earth at the time, the announcement was first made known to them—the lowliest of society’s outcasts.

Born to be King of Kings, our Lord and Savior’s earthly birth began in a lowly stable; his bed, a manger—an animal’s feeding trough. The Lord of all creation, who became our Immanuel (God with us), came to rest among the animals because there was no room for him in the inn.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’” (Luke 2:10-12).

It’s unfathomable how much love it took to go from Heaven to earth and become flesh for no other reason than to fulfill his father’s will and die for mankind to live.

The mystery that is God incarnate and everything about his story is above and beyond our finite comprehension, though we believe. It’s a mystery even the angels desire to look into (1 Peter 1:12). He always was and always will be; however, God stepped from infinity into time to please his Father. Our father’s love could not be kept in Heaven; his love is too large.

By his love, he sent his son to earth to seek and save those who were lost. By Jesus’ very birthplace, it shows just how meek and lowly he is, and there is no one too despised or rejected that he will not bring into his fold.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14).

 

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We are what we eat

In the Sermon on the Mount, found in chapter five of the book of Matthew, the Lord gave eight beatitudes, or blessings, to the people. In verse six we find, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

What do you hunger for? As believers, we know that riches, honors, and the pleasures of this world amount to little when it comes to God’s kingdom or even our own true joy. For the momentary pleasure these things may lend, the happiness factor doesn’t really satisfy for very long. The new car “smell” is only for a short time. Vacations come to an end. Even food and water can carry us only so long before we need to replenish ourselves.

In speaking of God, St. Augustine once said, “Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee.”

The universal traits of the human heart include the desire to seek out something to fill our restlessness. Unfortunately, many of us, even after being saved, can look for this completion in the wrong places. What we’re searching for is only found in Christ. That is where we are fully whole, established, complete, and satisfied.

While some may wish to find their own righteousness in what they do, say, or stand for. True righteousness, the one that fulfills and sustains, is only imputed spiritually through the bestowment of the Lord. Self-righteousness, piety, and one-foot-in-the-world mentality will not be blessed by the Lord, and those who seek these things still remain starved and wanting.

In the words of John Piper: “If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

We truly are what we eat.

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Exalt much?

King David came a long way before writing some of his psalms, particularly Psalm 34. Through his exploits in battle, some became jealous of his exalted name among the people, namely King Saul, which led to David’s fleeing to Gath out of fear. He attempted to live there without revealing his identify but was soon discovered. When King Achish learned of David’s identity and reputation as a soldier, he seized him. While under house arrest, David began to dwell upon his situation. Realizing the danger he was in, he made a pretense of being insane to obtain release.

David looked back upon these events and came to understand that he acted out of fear of man and not out of fear of God. He was humbled before God and wrote Psalm 34 to praise him for deliverance in spite of his deception and sin and also to teach the principles pertaining to the “fear of the Lord” which David learned through his painful experience. David acknowledges he should have trusted in YHWH (the Lord).

Now he promises to persistently praise his God. His praise, even though it stemmed from a specific life event, is ongoing. David is committed to praising God at every opportunity and at every turn. Just as we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), David promises to praise without ceasing.

At all times, in every situation, under every circumstance, before, during, and after trials, as well as in the blissful days of utter joy, to bless the Lord is never out of season. His praise should continually be in our mouths. What a blessed state to have our mouths full of God’s praise.