The Struggle

For some, the struggle to do what is right is a daily fight. This struggle includes making wise decisions, being considerate of others, standing up for justice, doing what God says to do, and do it well. Why is this struggle so great?

The struggle to do right is greater because it is so much easier to give in to temptation. It is easier to think and act selfishly. It is easier to cuss someone out than to think about how to say what you want to say. It is easier to go along to get along than to stand on principles aligned with God’s Word.

 

If the struggle to do right was easy, many people would be saved and living abundant lives. But it is so much easier for people to live unsaved, without thinking about the consequences of their action, and how what they do impacts others. Since there are so many people struggling to live–without fear, without concern about finances or what the economy will bring or what the politicians will do, we know the struggle is real, we know there are people who have yet to find peace with Jesus, who are yet unsaved.

 

Lord Jesus, help us in our struggles to do what is right and help others to do the same. Help us to fight the good fight of faith in you, not self. Help us to resist the devil and watch him flee from us.

Confidence and a Clear Conscience!

“We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you.” (2 Corinthians 1:12 NLT)

When Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, he was reminding believers that he and the other disciples had lived life–with holiness as the foundation for living–and they could say it with confidence and a clear conscience–having no need to be ashamed of the life they had lived. Can we say the same?

If we were writing a letter to encourage someone to live a holy life–according to God’s Word–could we say what needed to be said with confidence and a clear conscience? Considering the fact that the apostles who had a relationship with Christ before He ascended and even after–especially those who were in “the upper room” when the fire fell from heaven, were walking spirit-filled lives–do we even have a chance to measure up to their standards?

While we may not be able to proclaim doing all that they did, we should have our testimony–how we arrived at a place where we believed and were saved. When we share our testimonies–sincerely and without fanfare–we can have confidence of what we say and with a clear conscience–knowing we are not trying to scam anyone into believing Christ Jesus–we can effect life changes for many.

If we share–how we were once lost and guilty of indulging in any and everything we thought we wanted–and with our experience, understood what it meant to be in need of a Savior–came into the light, confessing all we had done and repenting of it–people can relate and have hope for themselves or their loved ones. “The blood of the lamb and our testimony” offers hope of salvation to all who are willing to hear and receive.

Imagine–for a moment–what life would be like for you and others if–after knowing the Truth, you continued along the path you were taking. How much different would life be right now? If someone had not shared the Gospel with you, where would you be? If you had not recognized the need to change–how many lives would have been affected–negatively? Would you have a clear conscience now or would you be riding guilt (some go through life so burdened with guilt that they carry it with them wherever they go) through life?

We can have a clear conscience and say with confidence that we are living life with holiness as a foundation–when we look to Him who is able to accomplish all things through us.

Are You Calling God a Liar?

“If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” (I John 1:10 NLT)

Touchy, touchy subject for all who claim to be perfect –or some such nonsense!

There is a philosophy–by some religious groups–that believes “we are sinners” and will always sin. And then there are those who proclaim that–“we have all sinned” (at some point in time), but with confession and repentance (turning away from sin) our desire to continue in desire in sin is squelched.

Teacher-mode! If we look at the verb tense in the verse of scripture–the clear indication is the present perfect tense--have not sinned–meaning we have, but are not currently doing.

So, if we say–we have not sinned–never committed any act against God’s Word–we say God is a liar and wasted His time–coming down in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the person of Jesus, to save us from ourselves! He came to save sinners–not perfect people–but those who know truth and yet make decisions to do what is wrong anyway!

Sin–is a self-indulgent act of non-conformity to God’s Word. Self-indulgent–an act to appease/gratify self–knowing that it is wrong, but doing it any way. Sin–is not a thought (contrary to popular belief), but an act that is the result of wrong thinking. We seldom do anything without thinking “it” first. Therefore, if we think it, we can change our thoughts before we act. Once we commit the act–contrary to God’s Word–we have committed sin.

If we confess our sins–admit to the wrong-doing and turn completely away from acting upon our selfish desires, He cleanses us from unrighteousness (falling out of right-standing with Him), forgives us and tosses our sin into the sea of forgetfulness, remembering them no more. However, His forgiveness is not a “pass” to keep sinning! If we keep sinning, we are making a mockery of the grace and mercy He extends to us.

God is not a man that He should lie–so let’s not call Him a liar, by saying–we have not sinned. We have all sinned, but because of His mercy and grace, have the means to get back into fellowship with Him--when our relationship with Him–convicts of us our sin. If we are not in relationship with Him–we have no conviction of our sin–and therefore we are not His and He cannot forgive–what is never confessed.

If we don’t know what God considers sin, we truly have need to study The Word and get living right with Him.

 

Where Do Your Loyalties Lie?

“Love the LORD, all you godly ones! For the LORD protects those who are loyal to him, but he harshly punishes the arrogant. So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!” (Psalm 31:23,24 NLT)

When the world appears to be falling apart all around us, many wonder–why is God letting this happen? Every day–we hear about tragedies–genocides, homicides, suicides, hatred, violence, people starving, people homeless, people dying from lack of drinkable water, and appropriate medical access–all of this is happening all around us, everyone is complaining, but not many are doing anything about it.

Are those of us who are “godly ones” loving God? Are we loyal to Him or are we the arrogant?

Just because we say, “we love God” if we are not doing, Love, we lie. There are many who say they love Him and many more who deny His existence. In order for us to understand what befalls us in life, we must understand where our loyalties lie.

There are some people who would never betray their job–they are there every day, on time, going above and beyond their job description in order to amass the attention of those who can help them move up.

There are those who would never betray a gang member–they want to impress and are determined how loyal they are by doing all the stupid things the gangs say do–kill, assault, steal–whatever it takes.

There are those who would never betray a spouse–doing everything they can please them even when they are being abused–emotionally, physically, and verbally–they are loyal to a fault.

There are those who would never betray a friend–they keep their secrets even when they shouldn’t, they will lie for them, cheat for them, always looking for ways to demonstrate their loyalty.

Are we as determined to demonstrate our loyalty to God as we are to other people? Yes, we need people in our lives–who are godly people, but they should never take the place of God in our lives. It is He who provides us everything we need and in some cases–He even brought that spouse, or job or friend into our lives, but the minute we develop a relationship with the people–we forget about our loyalty to God. When we forget about being loyal to God, stuff happens and if we’re honest with ourselves, we have no need to wonder why.

When our loyalty to people supersedes our loyalty to God–we stop interceding in our prayer life, we stop caring about others that are not in our circle, we look at the homeless and hungry and say, “that’s too bad–I’m praying for you.” We would rather look the other way than get involved with legislators who have yet to prove they know how to legislate for the benefit of all people. Our loyalties are limited to the circle that encompasses us and there is no room for God. This is why we see tragedies all around us.  We have misplaced loyalties.

When our loyalties are to God–He protects us–but the arrogant–those who think they don’t need Him or have to acknowledge His existence, are the ones who are beyond His protection.

Where do your loyalties lie today?

 

 

 

What Will You Get?

“Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites.” (Colossians 3:24,25 NLT)

If we would just remember that there is a consequence–good or bad, positive or negative–for everything we do, many of us would make better decisions and be prepared for what we get in life–good or bad.

We cannot expect “rewards” for doing things that will generate negative or bad results any  more than a child should expect a reward for bad disobedience or negative behavior. But some do–they think–they can do whatever their flesh dictates and still receive blessings from God. They have forgotten (if they ever knew) what God expects from us and or even that there is a “reaction for every action” and the reaction is not always pleasant.

How do we know? People choose to settle differences of opinions with guns instead of discussion. People choose to engage in drug and alcohol addictions instead of dealing with the issues they face–hoping to hide from them. People engage in dangerous and unhealthy sexual activity that leads to increases in sexually transmitted diseases and death. People choose to do all those things that are ungodly and yet expect positive results.

When we look at our society, what do we really see? A generation of people who just want what they want and never consider the consequences of their actions–for themselves or others. We have lawmakers who create laws that lead to more foolishness because they’re more concerned with gaining the support of voters rather than creating laws that protect all citizens. Legalizing the use of marijuana will only lead to more problems as we have already seen–just the beginning–not the end of the tragedies that will result. Legalizing the sale of fireworks better left in the hands of experts lead to tragic results every year and yet–lawmakers are more concerned with the tax dollars paid on the sale rather than the lives that are endangered. What will their end be?

God is not mocked and He knows the heart and motive of every decision made my lawmakers that contradict His Word–laws made under the influence of the evil one–who hates God and all God has created. The lawmakers have been blinded by “political correctness, popular opinion, and greed” and the laws they legislate are not for the good of all people, but only a handful–of special interest groups. Those same groups–will lead nations straight to the pits of hell with their desire to appease flesh and not God.

If we obey God in all things–loving one another and therefore rendering ourselves incapable of committing acts of sin against one another–we have an inheritance that we can expect as our reward.

If we do not obey God and continue to do whatever we want or whatever our flesh craves–we will also receive that reward–for disobedience and we will have only ourselves to blame–because we chose to ignore God.

What will you get?

 

A New Song!

“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful” (Psalm 149:1 NLT).

While the older songs–written out of experience, torment, and hope–are good, every day we live, in our right minds and have use of our limbs, should ignite in us a new song of praise for all He is doing in our lives!

So today, this is my new song:

Oh Lord, how I love that You love me,

Giving me chance after chance to live right before You,

Reminding me of Your Word throughout the day,

Never allowing me to forget–that my life–is all about You!

When I woke, wracked with pain, You spoke to my heart,

And I heard You say, “Relax, I’m right here.”

When I thought I saw death coming for me,

I heard You say, “Not yet–you have much to do.”

So, now Lord, I praise You, for Your love,

I praise You for Your mercy and grace,

I praise You just because You’re You

And I’ll praise You, all the days of my life,

Just because of who You are!

 

Lord, I pray this song of praise is acceptable to You and that You will receive it as a living testimony of what is in my heart as I strive to live for You and honor You in all that I do. In Jesus’ name, I pray and thank You for all You are to me.

What Can Your God Do?

“I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means—that it is the LORD who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it. “Present the case for your idols,” says the LORD. “Let them show what they can do,” says the King of Israel” (Isaiah 41:20,21 NLT–Read entire chapter for context).

The prophet outlines for the Children of Israel what God will do for them and then tells them why–“The Lord has done this” and then–he tells them the false prophets to “present the case for their idols” –false gods.

For those of us who know and have experienced the miracles of God–healed when sick, raised from the pits and lifted to greatness, understand how the poor are fed when all hope appears to be lost, we know that it is The Creator God who is capable of making a way out of no way.

But there are those who “worship idols”–athletes, celebrities, spouses, jobs, all manner of things and people who have not “created” from nothing–anything. They have not created mountains, oceans, the sun or moon, or anything else that we can see–from total nothingness. There are some who have manufactured things from the things already here, but they have “created nothing” and people worship them as gods.

They have no case to present because the case–before God–would be flawed and full of holes so wide a person could fall through them. Mortal man–demonstrates foolishness at the highest level–when they worship things created by the hands of man, giving them more power than Creator God. 

I don’t know about your god, but my God is awesome!  He can move mountains, hide me in the rain, shelter me in the valley, heal me when I’m broken, deliver me from the desires of the flesh and lift me when I’m down for the count and raise me to greater heights than I could have ever imagined. He can open doors, no man can shut, and close doors no man can open. He gives sight to blind and makes the lame to walk. He provides whatever I need when there is no provision and He never leaves me alone–He is always with me! Hallelujah!

Now, what can your god do?

If your worship and praise is reserved for the idols of this world because of their fame or fortune--how will you present your case to the Living God who will judge all we do, one day?

According To His Truth!

“Teach me your ways, O LORD that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever”(Psalm 86:11,12 NLT).

How long has it been since we asked God to teach us–His ways–according to His truth?

This is probably why our society is in the shape it is today! We have not asked God to teach us anything, but have been willing to listen to any and everyone who has something to say that–sounds good. And then we wonder why–we don’t hear God speaking to us. If we don’t know His voice, how can we hear Him?

The only way we’ll ever understand when God is speaking and when people are speaking (their version of truth) is by knowing what He has said in His Word. This cannot be said often enough. If we know His Word, we’ll know His voice because He will not say anything contrary to His written Word! This is why Jesus said through John, “My sheep know my voice and another they will not hear (or listen to, or obey).”

Until we determine, collectively, to hear and obey His voice–our prayers are in vain. It is not that He does not hear us, but that we cannot hear Him or choose to ignore Him when we hear Him because sometimes–what He has to say–we just don’t want to hear.

In verse six of this Psalm, the psalmist is asking God to hear his prayer and then goes on to tell Him all of the wonderful things He is to him. Is that what we do or do we just ask–selfishly for those things we want?

Prayer–our communication with God–should not just be about asking for things, but praising Him for who He is to us and our gratitude because He is who He is!

If we want to see a change in our society–change worth having that eliminates the hatred and violence–then those of us who know Him and will hear His voice when He speaks–need to know how to pray, hear, and respond;  know His voice and obey!

Prayer changes things, but only when those who are praying are willing to hear and obey and then do things, according to His Truth!