Friday, 23 February 2018

Raising The Bar

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.

      Vision gives us the strength to go for it! Keeping the vision going or keeping it at the forefront of our lives takes courage and discipline. As the Proverb says, it takes restraint. We can look at the job restraint does as a guard rail that keeps the vision on the track it is to take. 
      However, walking along in our faith with no vision will create a loosey-goosey type of walk. The lowest common denominator becomes normal because our thoughts and doctrines become unrestrained. No vision, no substance! Know your vision and you will know what to do. Isa. 30:21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you, a voice will say, "This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left.
      How do we keep the vision God has put within us ahead of us in life? We raise the bar to a place where we need God to help us reach it. The human condition is lazy at best and pathetic at worst and cannot be depended upon for raising the bar to God's standards.
      Many have become so insipid in their Christian walk that they are stubbing their toe on the bar they are walking over because the bars of achievement have been set so low that no effort is needed to attain a vision.

      Lazy faith, lazy spirit, lazy hearts, lazy attitudes - call it what you want - the bar of our Christian walk will have to be set higher. We need to line up our hearts and thoughts with God's because He is the author of our vision. Isa. 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
      Can we depend on the vision God has put within us? Can we raise the bar to where God ordains our life to be? Yes, we can. Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. God saw me before I was alive; therefore, I can go forth and give my strength to the vision of God for my life. I can raise the bar of expectation and achievement in Christ because the Lord is with me. Deut. 31:6 Be strong and courageous; don't be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.
      I recently had to raise the bar for my health. I had been faithful to walking every day and playing racquetball twice a week for years. I could not seem to get through this health wall, no matter how faithful I was to this routine. I was talking with a strength trainer where I play racquetball and he said that I needed to up the game, so to speak, because my body had become comfortable and used to the routine I was on. He actually said, "You are going to have to make your body scream like a girl to trick it out of its complacency." That sounded drastic to me but I said, "By the grace of God, I'll do it!" 
      For the next fifteen weeks in a row I got into heavy weight training three times a week, racquetball twice a week, running in the snow or a park path two times a week and walking twice a week, then floor exercises every other day when at home. All these exercises overlapped and kept me going as I determined to reach the bar that was so high for me personally that I needed God to help me get to it. Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
      About the ninth week of this new bar-height regiment I was reaching for, I broke through the so-called health wall. By the end of the fifteenth week, I felt good enough to raise the bar again and set up a new routine for the next fifteen weeks. It looks like a lifestyle change is coming, even though I am sixty-four years young. I am happy I did it because I am going to keep heading forward. I have the momentum. Oh yah, there were quite a few times I was screaming during the fifteen weeks of concentrated workouts.
      What am I saying? Raise the bars in your life, no matter what you are doing or going through, and get busy with living.
 Deut. 30:19 Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!
      Stop putting the bars so low you end up tripping over them because you no longer see them in front of you. Start speaking out some visions to the Lord that will make your heart happy. An unrestrained lifestyle will only bring complacency and a place of unmotivated existence. Put some Godly vision in your backbone and step forward in faith and shout, "I can do this in Jesus name!"
 Prov. 29:18  Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law. Just go for it!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Forgive Yourself

Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

      Someone said, "You are led by your spirit or your wounds."
      Forgive yourself, because God already did. The hardest person to forgive in life is often yourself because you know your own heart and your own shortcomings. You also know the damage and resulting wounds from the choices you made in life that are now affecting your soul. We make personal judgments about ourselves from the wounded part of our soul, rather than the healed part of our spirit that came by faith. 
      We have to accept the fact that we are forgiven and there is now no condemnation for ourselves in the same proportion that is available to all the people who have accepted Christ as Lord. Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
      I do not know why we are harder on ourselves than God is, but we often are. I am not sure how the Apostle Paul forgave himself but he did, even with the history of his memories. Paul had been responsible for the death of Christians and carried that knowledge in his heart. However, after Paul had received Christ as his Lord he goes on to declare that he has wronged no man. 2 Cor. 7:2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. What allowed Paul to say such a thing when his own history said different?
      The forgiving power of the blood and sacrifice of Jesus was the first thing Paul got a hold of in his heart. The second thing was being able to accept the full redemption of that work within his heart and life. Paul could say by faith no matter what had happened in his past life or present ministry - to forgive the past and move on to the future by faith was the power of the resurrection of Christ now working in his soul. 
      He could forget the past and move forward in Christ every new day because he had forgiven himself. Phil. 3:13  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
      How we move forward in our Christian walk is largely determined by how we accept the forgiveness of God and apply that forgiveness to our lives. Trusting the finished work of the cross by faith on our part is the first step to personal forgiveness and freedom. The word says that we have known and believed the love that God has for us. Might this be the problem? We can believe God loves others, but because we know ourselves we find it hard to believe He could love us? 
      This is just a tactic the enemy of our soul uses. Satan has used this lie on all people throughout history. The devil is a liar and will always lie to us about the love God has for us. John 8:44-B When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
      It is time to forgive ourselves of all the things that have wounded us. It is for these very wounds Jesus died on the cross. Our hurts, wounds, sicknesses, and sins of all kinds have been paid in full by the love, blood, and sacrifice Jesus gave us. 
      It is time to stop being led by the wounds and festering injuries of your past life and allow the healing balm and resurrection power of the Holy Spirit to heal your soul completely. By faith, let us enter into the fullness of grace that was given to every man who accepts the gift of forgiveness. Yes, forgive yourself, and bless the Lord for it. Amen.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Our Dishonorable Honorables

Proverbs 18:12 Before his downfall a person’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

       Numbers 32:23 But if you don't do this, you will certainly sin against the LORD; be sure your sin will catch up with you.
      There have been some nasty fallouts within all political stripes and parties this week in federal and provincial politics. Accusations of past indiscretions, sexual misconduct, and inappropriate behavior has come out of the closet in full force. Our honorable members of parliament have found themselves on display, 'fessing up to dishonorable life choices they made within their elected positions.' One of the members who has expressed shame and disappointment said, "No wonder the people hate politicians, because all they see are a bunch of crooks and creeps!" 
      I do believe there are a lot of members of Parliament who truly try and are doing their best to make things better for the people they represent. God wants good government because He asks us to uphold the law. Rom. 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 
      It is hard to be forthright and pure in the eyes of the public when these members live in a fishbowl, so to speak, where everyone on earth has an eye on them and a ready opinion of their lives and character. I know I would not want the job because I am not always so politically correct. So, therefore, I have to take up the call God expects of me and that is to pray for our leaders. 1 Tim. 2:2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
      We have to stop and think that if we as individuals need prayer on a daily basis to get through our week or even our work day, then how much more do these members need prayer to get through their day? I realize that the integrity bar per se has been set so low these days that people in leadership are stubbing their toe on the bar as they walk over it; therefore, anything seems to be acceptable.
      The prayer we are to ask God to accomplish in these parliamentarian's lives is that the bar of ethics would be raised and followed. This can be done by faith because God can change their hearts and lead them. Prov. 21:1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. Lord, God, help them raise the bar of ethics and due diligence to a place where they see a need to rise up to greatness and become the leaders they are intended to be. 
      When we pray for our leaders and God moves on their hearts, there is a fruitful reward. We shall prosper as the land and leaders prosper. Jer. 29:7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. 
      When we pray for our church or political leaders and ask God to move upon their hearts to help them repent and work accordingly with the wishes of God, our land and nation will be healed. II Chro. 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.      
      It seems to me that praying for our honorable members and leaders of all kinds has nothing but upside because of all the blessings that come to us when they succeed in their calling and work. Perhaps if more of us used our mouths for praying for our leaders rather than slandering them to death, the dishonorable ones would be weeded out by God and the honorable ones would go forth. 
      Maybe that is what God is showing us these days. It is God who is in charge and we need to pray that the purging going on will keep cleaning house and we can have a blessed nation. Psalm 2:10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Pray the dishonor out and the honor back in. Blessings.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Worthy Of Adoration

Proverbs 31:31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.


      Adoration: Love and respect (someone) deeply. Worship; venerate. Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
      Who but Christ is worthy of adoration? The words in a praise song struck my heart this Sunday when I heard myself say with conviction, "I will adore you." Yes, that is something we can all do. We can say from our grateful hearts, "I will love and respect you Lord Jesus for who you are and for all you have done for us." With enthusiasm, I will love the Lord with all my heart, mind, strength, and soul. Psalm 18:3-a I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised.

      To adore oneself is hubris and to adore a person or an object is idolatry. Adoration is meant for God and Him alone. No one - not even an angel is worthy of God-like adoration. Satan tried to steal the praise meant for God by trafficking or taking a cut of it for himself. Eze. 28:15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16a Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. 
      This sinful act made Satan a corrupted, power hungry, fallen angel with egoistic and lustful cravings to the point of sinful insanity. Isa. 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. What gall the devil had to think he could overpower God who created him in the first place. What a loser.
      Who is worthy of adoration? Not the devil who kills, robs, and destroys, but rather God who gives life and gives it abundantly through love. The Lord saves, heals, forgives, and restores our lives with the promise of a blessed eternity, living with Him in the fullness of His love. God chose love for us even when we did not love or want Him. Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What more can God do for us to demonstrate His love? He chose to love us before we accepted His perfect gift - Christ crucified. Yes, He is worthy to be praised and deserves all the adoration that can ever come out of our heart.
      We live in a fleeting world of frivolous stuff and ideologies. Nailing something down that has real life-giving substance is becoming difficult to find and even recognized when it does come by. God's love and promises have maintained the integrity from the beginning of creation. We can count on all God has said to mankind because it is God saying it. He does not lie. 2 Cor. 1:20 For all the promises of God are "Yes" in Christ. And so through Him, our "Amen" is spoken to the glory of God.
      A soul being saved through the sacrifice of Jesus' life given on the cross is still a mighty miracle that is beyond our understanding. Only God can give us the miracle of this incredible new life in God. Your soul or my soul accepting Jesus as our Lord is an incredible miracle, because we know where we came from before we met Christ the Lord. Honesty makes us clearly say we were headed for a no win, death-ridden eternity. We were utterly lost and dead in our sins. Give Jesus the adoration due Him for all He has done for us. Lord Jesus, "I adore you and I thank you for the love you have lavished on me." Amen!