Friday, 28 April 2017

Who Is Responsible?

Proverbs 7:1 My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you.

      I have been teaching a class on the responsibility we have as individuals for our spiritual growth as well as our emotional, mental, and physical well being. We do represent the kingdom of God and we have the Spirit of the Lord within us. Rom. 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 
      Why do we have such a hard time living victoriously since the word of God says the resurrection power of God lives in us? It seems we live in a blame-shifting society and it has become the responsibility of others for our outcome in life. The Twinkie defence has become mainstream and is now leaking into church life. Statements like "It is the pastor's fault I am stagnating in my Christian growth. The loud music makes it too hard to praise and worship." have become frequent excuses and so on it goes.
      Taking responsibility for our actions is the only way we are going to grow from glory to glory. If we do not take ownership of our actions, then we will always be at the same place repeating the same old thing that got us the negative result in the first place. We will look for someone or something to blame because the spiritual results in our lives will be hit and miss with missing most of the time. 
      We see this blame game happening when God asks Adam if he had eaten from the tree of good and evil. Gen. 3:11b Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou should not eat? Adam blames God personally and also blames the woman for his own choice of eating the forbidden fruit. Gen 3:12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it. The woman blames the beguiling serpent. Gen. 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 
      I'm not saying I would have done any different in Adam's place. What we see is that sin causes us to shift the blame and responsibility of our sin onto others. It seems to be our default nature. However, if we are in Christ we are no longer of that old spirit and we can now come clean because the blood of Jesus washes us from shame and blame.
      The Lord invites us to come to Him as quickly as possible when we have made a wrong choice in life. When we sin, God, says to come to Him and confess it the moment we realize we have missed the mark. Heb. 4:16 Therefore we should come with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need. We are invited to fess up and take responsibility for what we have done. If we do God is faithful to forgive us right then and there.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 only way to grow is to admit errors and learn from them. The only way to learn from the mess-ups in life is to take ownership of what we have done, what we are doing, and what we will do in all areas of life. Then we can move forward as mature people of God and become proficient in keeping the words of the Lord stored up within our souls.
      Prov. 7:1 My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Who is responsible for my life choices? I am responsible. God has given me a free will to choose Him over the insipid fluff the world offers twenty-four-seven. Since we are responsible for what we do in life, let us come boldly to the throne of God and admit our need for His mercy and grace to help us grow in Christ. Blessings.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Courage For The Day

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous run into it, and is safe.

      John Wayne said, "Courage was being scared to death but saddling up anyway."
      In the Scriptures, God admonishes us to be courageous or to take up some courage for the task at hand. Josh. 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. Being courageous is a choice and an obedient action on our part. It seems like we have to step up to the plate and be courageous and believe that God will honor our courage by faith.
      When we look around us and see all the terrible world events taking place day after day, we can become disheartened by all the bad news. If we keep focusing on all that is wrong in the world, we will be overcome with discouragement and forget the blessings of God in our lives. The Lord is mighty and strong and has overcome the world. However, we must stay close to God and run to Him in times of weakness.
 Prov. 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous run into it, and is safe.
      The Lord is continually trying to lift us up and out of our circumstances so that we can experience the power of victory through Christ. God asks us to be of good courage and keep going forward toward our eternal reward. Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. 
      We often look for some way of staying courageous in God, but all we have to do is be courageous one day at a time. God asks that we find the courage needed for the day we are living in. Matt. 6:34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. If we can find the courage for the task of the day, we will overcome the plan of the enemy.
       Hezekiah was facing a formidable foe from Assyria. The people under King Hezekiah were outnumbered and outflanked on all sides. Hezekiah had to remind the people that God was on their side; therefore, they could take courage in that fact. Once they got their eyes on the solution and took their eyes off of the threat, courage began to flow out of their faith. 2 Chro. 32:7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. I love the last part of that verse. "And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah." Wow! Rest came from their faith and was poured into courage.
       It will take real courage for us to make it in this life. Every day brings different challenges and we will need a constant supply of God-like courage to help us choose what is right and to do what is asked of us by the Holy Spirit. The world is getting boulder and outrageous in behavior and louder in demanding more sinful rights. We will need the courage of God in our hearts to speak out in love and be a blessing in this earth. The name of the Lord is a strong tower and we can take courage for the day in that fact. Take courage saints! God is good.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Dark Secrets

Proverbs 9:17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

      The above proverb is interesting because stolen and secret deals seem sweet and pleasant until the truth of this next proverb kicks into motion. Prov. 20:17 Stolen bread tastes sweet, but it turns to gravel in the mouth. Dark secrets in one's life can cause everything in life to taste like dirt.
      When my son was in his first year of college, he was asked by some of his friends why he got along with his parents so well. He said it was easy because he had nothing to hide from them. Being his dad, I have to say when I heard about this I thought it was a very mature answer. What he was saying made perfect sense because there were no dark secrets separating us from each other. Dark secrets resulting from sin, guilt, and shame keep family members, friends and co-workers separated from each other. 
      God has taken down the walls of separation by the blood of Christ. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Even a dark secret cannot separate us from God if it is confessed to the Lord. Rom. 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
      What is often not seen by people who walk under the burden and weight of a dark secret is the moment the dark secret is out in the light the secret and the devil has no more power over the person who has been carrying it. It literally dissipates and loses its power.
      Why does the enemy of our soul try to get us to be afraid of fessing up? It is the devil's plan to keep us ashamed and walking with a guilty conscience in fear of what others will think or feel about us. Yet under that deception and duplicity, we are showing ourselves to the world we are not our true selves. We become who we really are when we are fully unloaded of all the pretense and stuff that keeps us protecting our fallen and false image. 
      Prov. 13:7 Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor. With all this pretending going on, no one is actually living. Jesus came to give us our true lives back and to live them fully in Christ. John 10:10b I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
      Joseph's brothers were carrying a big dark secret for a long part of their lives. They had lied to their father Jacob saying Joseph had been killed by a lion, when in fact the brothers had sold him into slavery. Gen. 37:31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?” Ouch! I don't know how you feel, but what a cruel and deceptive thing to do to a father. 
      These brothers lived with a terrible dark secret for years until the day Joseph was resurrected, so to speak, as the head over Egypt. The day of reckoning had come as it always does in life. Num. 32:23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out. The family was reunited after the lie and sin had been exposed. There was no more power in the dark secret once it had been brought out into the light of day.
      If you are walking around with a dark secret that has kept you down and under circumstances, then it is time to bring it out into the open so that you may be free in all that God has for you. John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. Let the light of the Lord into your situation and see what the Lord can do. Blessings.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Buyers Beware

Proverbs 23:23 Buy the truth and do not sell it-- wisdom, instruction and insight as well.

      Caveat Emptor is a Latin word that describes the basic law of buyer beware. It is the basic premise that the buyer buys at his/her own risk and therefore should examine and test a product himself/herself for obvious defects and imperfections.
      There is a smorgasbord of beliefs and belief-systems available to us on a daily basis that we can buy into. Buying into these beliefs can be rewarding or harmful to our soul, spirit, and body. People can without much thought gravitate to a belief system regardless of sound reason. Bertrand Russel said: "If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." Col.
 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 
      Jesus said to beware of false prophets because we could end up devoured by a system that is destructive to our lives. Matt. 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. As the definition of buyer beware says, "That the buyer buys at his/her own risk and therefore should examine and test a product himself/herself for obvious defects and imperfections." We should be doing the same thing when it comes to all the philosophies and beliefs offered to us throughout the world.
      In the same way we look at a product to buy, we ask questions concerning its authenticity, reliability or true quality. Is this made of real wool or are there other inferior products mixed in? Does this pass the litmus test? Why then do we just believe anything that comes along without asking the same questions for the health and nurturing of our souls? We have all seen or heard of an entertainer with a one-hit sensation interviewed and asked his or her belief concerning God, life, or a truism. Many times their answers are shallow and in some cases just plain mindless dribble. Within hours people start spouting the same dribble regardless of the soundness of what was said. 
      Beware of these momentary and sometimes fashionable beliefs that float by on the whims of a person with no depth of soul. Beware of all the opinions that have no substance or eternal validity. Anyone can say anything and claim it to be of value. Phil. 3:2  Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! 
       Jesus took a lot of time in His teachings to let us know that we should beware of the direction religious leaders are taking people in their beliefs in God. We should test the spirit of the teaching against the word God has given us. 1 John 4:1 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. 
      Jesus warned of the hypocrisies that were prevalent in the teachings of the leaders of the law. We are instructed to beware of false doctrines that make their way into our hearts like leaven expanding into a wrong belief. Matt.16:6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” In other words, buyer beware.  
      It is not difficult to discern when someone is blurting out nonsensical statements like "There is no God." We can quickly reason what the word says and God thinks of this empty statement. Psalm 14:1a The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. It becomes more difficult for people when the subtleties and nuances of false teachings are disguised as forthright and ordained of God. Sometimes traditions become sacrosanct and holier than God in some places, causing hardships on people that God never intended to happen.
      It was grace that got us into the presence of God and it will be grace that keeps us there. Jesus is saying to exercises our minds and hearts when all kinds of ideas and thoughts are offered to us. Let us use our free will and conscience to buy what the Lord has for us. Love, peace, and joy on an eternal scale. Praise the Lord. I will take that any day. Blessings.