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Friday, April 1, 2016
What marks a christian?
What marks a christian? As I look upon my life I started to think in what ways do I show that I am a Christian ( a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ). Is it that I go to church most Sundays? Is it that my speech does not contain those so called bad words? That I give money to charities? That I try to act 'good' ; following most laws.. Or that As we know that doing all those things are good... but they are only a small part of what marks a Christian. For even people that are not believers can do these things 'good' things and some even better than us believers; with the exception (maybe) of going to Church. This a big topic. We can talk about knowing them by their fruits and how much what type... their walk... their trust... their prayer life... their occupation... For us we look at the external thing we can see and do. That seems to be our focus the things that are seen by men and the things that are heard by men. What is this one aspect of being a Christian that I am leading to? One that is over looked, put aside and even think is being done... that is forgiveness. forgiving people (person) who have hurt you, done things to you, said things about you, dislike you, despises you... if you have acted badly. More over when you have not acted badly. Or even worst when you are doing the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One more more over, that it is another Christian. When we are hurt by someone... it hurts it is not comfortable... words hurt. No matter what you think words hurt and can hurt deep long... Here's the deal not many are ready to ask for forgiveness when they do things. Verbal deeds are even easier to discard... We all sin, even as Christians we all sin. We all need to ask for forgiveness. Now here is the big thing that marks a Christian. that we forgive! Christians are to forgive just as God forgives us. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God." Eph.2:8-9. Grace, unmerited favor. You forgive not because one deserves it. You do it to show grace as God showed grace to you. Forgiveness also involves mercy. Mercy involves the stay of judgement, taking away of the penalty. taking away of the guilt; setting one free if you will. Just like it never happened. Restored! Now that needs to be something that is part of our thinking; the forefront of our thinking. Ready to forgive. Ready to forgive our spouse, our children, our parents, brothers sisters, other Christians, friends, co-workers... What marks believers? their ability to forgive over and over. What makes our God so great... Is that He is a forgiving God and that He paid the price for our sins... through Christ. You see forgiveness requires that you pay the price. That you give up you right... forgiveness is not easy, but it is freeing for the two; one receiving and the one giving. Matt. 6:12 "And forgive us our debt, as we also have forgiven others debt." Mark 11:25 "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions."
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Love requires hard work
So many times we hear people say that they love you. We even say to family, friends, workers and fellow Church members that we love them. Or on the other hand we do not say those important words. Husbands don't tell their wife that they love them. Fathers don't tell their sons that they love them, nor their daughters. We verbalize love sometimes and sometimes we do not. Some find it easier to say 'Love you' to people but to say those words to the ones dear and close, those words are so hard to say. It seems that we are all mixed up when we try to verbalize love. One thing for sure is that your wife needs to hear those words, " I love you". Your children need to hear those words, "I love you". There seems to be power in those words. The feeling of being loved, is a great thing. Now to verbalize love is a need; that we all need to hear; and a need we need to express. Love is so much more than those 3 words of "I love you". For those words need to be back up with actions. Love is so much more than words! Love needs to be told, but actions need to behind those words. In our study on love we learned that love requires action. For 'I love you' without the proper action of love is just an empty phrase. A phrase of no meaning for the substance, the 'work' behind it is missing or done a miss. Love requires work, hard work. This work, the work of love seems to never end. Yes the work of love never ends, for every day love needs to be given. Every day we need to demonstrate love verbally and in deeds. Especially when the one receiving love does not deserve, appreicate the actions of love. Love requires hard work!
Friday, May 23, 2014
Peace part 2 'The start of peace'
Last week we started to look at peace; did not mention that it would be a two part devotional. Last week the focus was more on a corporate/national if you will. Or even a local Church. Now peace has also to do with us as individuals. It is what is going on inside while we are home or alone... I am not saying that it does not go toward work .... outside the home... But it would help us if we will focus on at home or being alone. For here is when if you are honest with yourself you will know if you have the peace of God. Last week we said that peace involves tranquility, quietness, harmony and freedom from disquieting thoughts or oppressive thoughts or emotions. We did not talk about that this peace involves one's mind and emotions. Let us begin with the idea that one can just leave work relationship/problems at work that we can just stuff them/hide them... or that the relationships/problems of the day can be buried inside forgotten if you will. Oh some are doing that know and it seems to be working, eventually they will catch up with you... and who knows... for some or many it is not good. We all need to learn how to quiet our minds and emotions so the peace of God can prevail. So many times I hear people say that their mind is going 'a mile a minute' or that they cannot focus... they seem to be elsewhere. Also many times we see people who's emotions run wild, saying, 'I am emotional person'... for us men we need to quiet our emotion of bursting out, anger... One more for the mind thinking ill will toward someone(s), also how about hatred. The first part of peace is to have peace with God. Now this is done by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior... recognizing that He paid the price for our sins... and He will forgive us of our sins, all of them if we confess to Him. There is no other way to have peace with God. So as many have done turn to Jesus and accept Him... For if you truly do this your life will change and one of those changes will be no more toiling over is there a heaven, am I going, am I being punished for... and so much more. For God and Jesus has so much for us... Now if you have done the first part it becomes easier to do the second. That is to live in peace with others. For our minds, if we follow Jesus. will start thinking of His ways... Some of our bad habits will change to good ones... also some of these words will start manifesting more in our lives, more powerfully than ever before. Grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, tenderness, kindness, helpfulness... Now I have been a believer for many years, let me tell you I would not want to think of what I would be like without Jesus. For anger needs to be kept in check it wasn't without Jesus not that I am perfected in that area. For the things of the mind need to be kept in check we need Jesus also for that; it is so easy to go off and start thinking not such good things..."stinking thinking". But with Jesus we can change, a change that is so different than what we all have tried and tried... Now I am not saying it is all easy... for we still need to make choices. Phil.4:4-9 "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanks giving let your request be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally Brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." You see we need to have peace with God, which gives us peace within our self, which allows us to have peace with others, which allows us to have peace when all around things are in turmoil.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Peace in times like these
As we continue our study we come to peace the next part of the fruit of the Spirit. When we think of peace more than often it is in contrast with war. Which is part of the definition of peace. Peace is much more than that, for how can nations be at peace with each other... and still harbor hatred toward each other... Peace is tranquility, quietness, harmony, and freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. First concept of peace is quietness, tranquility. For we can have peace even in times of war... For in times of great trouble... we need to remember and do Psalm 37:7 "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him, fret not yourselves over one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devises." Isn't it hard to be still before God? To wait for Him to act? So many times we go forth thinking that God is acting... while He is still back there waiting for us to be still. We tend to jump up and start doing, fixing... while go says to be still, wait. Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." For if we are too busy... not being quiet... we miss the knowing that God is almighty, all knowing... That He does care, is in control . For us to be in harmony with God we need to be still. We need to stop take the time to focus on God/Jesus. For when we truly take the time to be with God, learning of who He is... Then we can understand how He wants us to live. And the bible starts to become more clear and His words more precious... I remember a friend sharing at bible study about the apostle Paul. He said if he was the apostle Paul he would have stopped after being stoned the first time. But Paul was in harmony with God and continued on, through more beatings, and being stoned again even in prison he kept on doing God's work. For us we need to focus on God taking the time to be still. For our readers in the Ukraine My prayer go out to you all in your times of turmoil. May you all be strong and stay strong in the Lord.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Joy the 2nd part of the Fruit of the Spirit
The next part of the fruit of the Spirit is joy. Now joy is an emotion some might use happy, to describe joy. As happiness can be part of joy; joy is more than happy. For happy has to do with emotion of circumstances / situations... but other circumstances/ situations could bring sadness another emotion. Joy though can be in both, for the Christian. For joy is not that we have an attitude that things can only get better or at least this has not happened... In the old testament joy is expressed when a child is born, marriage, pleasures in marriage, provision of the harvest, feasting... As we read the Psalms we see that joy is linked to the works of God and the hope that is in God. Which brings us to the New Testament. Let's go to Mark 1:9-11 this is when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Verse 11 "and a voice came out of the heavens 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'" This is joy, see our God is not a God without emotion. In Luke 1:46-48 Mary the mother of Jesus says this "My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." What we all need to know is that our joy is in Jesus the Son of God. In John 15 Jesus teaches about abiding in the true vine and at the end He says, "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that my joy may be made full." For us our joy comes from Jesus and our joy is in Jesus. Remember it also involves what Jesus has done for us... Who He is... Where He is... What He will do.. What He says we are... One last thought in James 1:2-3 "Consider it all joy, my Brethren, when you encounter various trials(temptations), knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have it's perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." So for us as Christians joy is not only in the good times our joy in Jesus goes through the bad times also knowing that it is to be doing a work in us... Do you have Jesus? Are you letting the joy we have in Him show? One more thing when someone is going through various trials... do not Judge... look down upon... condemn.... but realize that God is working in their lives... Show joy and pray for them...
Thursday, April 24, 2014
fruit of the Spirit Love
The fruit of the Spirit is what we are going to look at next. Now one must remember that this the fruit of the Spirit not the fruit of us. For we can do things... that are like the fruit of the Spirit. It is not that people cannot do those things or have those things in some way; but if it is in their own ability there is something lacking. Yes there is something lacking no matter what one thinks. The list of the fruit of the Spirit is in Gal. 5:22-23"But the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, against such things there is no law." In Gal. 5 it talks about how the flesh and the Spirit are set against one another. It also tell us when we are following the flesh, it's not good. With that we need to keep this question at the fore front of our thinking, "Am I walking, following the Spirit?" The first type/part of the fruit(for there is only one fruit) is love. Now we now that love involves alot of things and also involves not doing things. For we all just went through 1Corinthians 13: 4-7 in earlier devotionals. Love is kind, patient, is not, does not, is not, does not, does not, is not, does not but rejoices in truth, bears all, believes all, hopes all, endures all. So we need to do those positive things of love. Those negative things which are not totally listed are things that hinder the positive or what make the positive action being done amiss. So as Christians the Spirit will be working in you to follow/ walk by His guidance, and if we are following(I am going to include listening) then our love will be more powerfully felt... more that fits needs... we will also know that sometimes doing things that seem fitting... might not be what the Spirit wants you to do. For me a lot of times the Spirit has me praying, yes praying in the back ground. For sometimes showing love has nothing to do with physical action... filling needs...
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The King enters with great joy
The King enters with great joy... Last week was Palm Sunday; when Jesus went to Jerusalem riding a donkey. People were laying down their coats and palm leaves, with singing of praise... Proclaiming Him king... Can you picture this in your mind hundreds or thousands of people lining the road. Luke 19:28-44 It is hard to imagine that in a week's time that the same city would be yelling crucify him. What happened? Oh we could say that this was God's will and plan... but really what happened to all those proclaiming "Blessed be the king Who comes in the name of the Lord" Yes, I know that it was a different era if you will and resistance to authority... could cause great pain and even your life... Now let us fast forward to our era, many of times we see the same thing happening in individuals. They accept Jesus as Lord and Savior... but weeks, months or years later something happens. Oh they say they still believe... but they do not go to Church, nor read the bible, nor take time for prayer, nor do they worship Him daily... It's like they seen the King one day and forgot about what they have seen... 2 Cor.13:5 "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test." Are you in the faith? This is something we need to be asking ourselves. Do you realize that Jesus is in us? That the Spirit of God is in us teaching us... That is the Holy Spirit. Eph. 1:13-14"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory," John7:7-14"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; concerning judgment , because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak of His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of mine and disclose it to you." Also look at John 14:15-26 Now the Holy Spirit has a lot of tasked if you will, now one of those tasks is to convict the world of sin(us also as believers) now if this is all you hear from Him, you need to examine yourself make sure you are in the faith. For He has a lot more to show you! That would be the gift of the Spirit for one which we will be going over the next few weeks.
Monday, April 7, 2014
The Gospel and the Holy Spirit
We've just finished with the love chapter, Cor. 13. During which we mentioned that we all need God's help to love better... Which is a true statement we need God's help. So how do we get or attain the help of God? The first is to reply in a positive way to the Gospel. Now the Gospel is the good news of His Son Jesus Christ. That we believe Jesus is the son of God(The God of the bible), John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." So when we refer to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, it is what is written in the 4 books of the bible; Matthew, Luke, Mark and John. Those books are where we learn about the Gospel of Jesus; what He has done, who He is, what He will do... one thing that He does is to send us a helper, the Holy Spirit; John 14:16"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. The Spirit of Truth...." Now this is for the ones who believe in Jesus Christ. This is how we get our help from God. This where the fruit of the Spirit comes from. Do you have the Spirit of God in you? If not it is time to believe in Jesus, this is how the Spirit come to each of us. Now we have to be listening to the Spirit, which is another big topic. So simply put we need to hear the Spirit not only convicting us of sin, but also directing us through our day. One last thing prayer; James 1:5" If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who give..."
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Pathways of love
Pathways of love. As we continue to work on love we need to realize that being kind leads to other ways to show love. That being patient also leads to other ways of showing love. That rejoicing, bearing, believing, hoping and enduring love also leads to more ways to show love. That these are gate way if you will to other ways to show love. For some of us this is a hard concept to realize; for we have shown the other(s) types of love without being kind or patient... Now those others of love are mercy, goodness, sympathy, giving, helping, including, affection, providing, protecting... and forgetting and more. You see when we think of love we usually think of the latter. Yes, those are ways to show love but one needs to have the foundation if you will for it to be real. We can be helping someone physically and at the same time having negative thoughts... For the helping is good but without kindness, patience... our helping is just a shadow of the real. Think about it. Have you helped someone, and you did it just because... Have you given to someone and had those thought that if they would... How about sympathy, have you given a sympathy card... and had thoughts of ____. How about forgetting a hurtful action. Oh how we do try that instead of really forgiving. If the foundation of our love is right then those actions that follow will be so much more meaningful... so much more effective... and hopefully they will point to our Lord Jesus. For without Him we struggle to show love properly if you will. With that let us all still work on showing love. For next week we will continue with love with going over the fruit of the Spirit.
Monday, March 17, 2014
A reflection on love
We have been working on how to love, how to love people... The last few weeks we worked on patience, kindness and rejoicing. So the step back that we are taking is to reflect on how we have been doing with loving in these ways. Let me share with you some of my reflections and insight. All of us grow up in different families... fathers and mothers who taught us or showed us things about life... and that would include love. Now with that we need to recognize that some have not had an upbringing that showed love in the right way... while some have had that good nurturing. As for me well I fall in the middle of both groups, maybe toward the lower end of not being showed love the "better way". Yes my parents loved me... just like many parents love their children... but there is that disconnect of not knowing how to love or how to do actions of love. For instance when one get's married you hear that love takes 100% and !00% that it is not a 50/50 thing. But do we really understand that? Well we say I love my wife 100% reasoning that we do things for her... not knowing what love really involves. As for marriage I would say that love involves doing those things we learned and more with special desire if you will. Back on track, you see if you are not being patient then you are not loving or showing love. You are showing something else and that else is not good. If you are not being kind to someone then you are not show/giving love you are giving something else and that else is not good. If you are not rejoicing with, then you are showing something else and that else is not good. I started to think about how I related to my children when they were young, you know you learn different things about raising children... good things but it seems that the most important part was not taught. That of showing love, showing patience, being kind, and ... even in the mist of acts of wrong in our children. For it is so easy to lose our patience and not to be kind... when we are dealing with them in times of "trouble..." and when that happens other things take the place of love. Oh how we might control our anger, sometimes... the thing is that the basics of what love is, is not being shown... hence no real love. Even when we are dealing with our children in the mist of discipline we need show the things of love, acting with patience, kindness... Oh how I wished someone would have taught me how to love earlier on in life! You see you are either loving, or maybe just not doing anything or you are doing things that are not loving and hopefully not things that are evil. Truly I want to love my wife, love my children and to also love others. With that let us keep on working on the three areas of love we have been working on, hopefully this will help us all to love more.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
This week we will continue to work on love. Last week we introduced kindness. We will still be working on kindness this week; also we will still be working on our patience too. Last we I made a comment, "even people who are prompt... need our patience." The fact of love is that people need love. Did you get that? People need love and you need love. Now with that we will continue on working on giving the love people need. If people need you to be patient, understanding then you give love that shows patience... If someone needs you to be kind the you show kindness... What I do want us to understand that sometimes we need to show multiple types of love in situations. The next act of love that we are going to introduce is that of rejoicing with truth. In our devotional for this we focused on when one tells the truth; confessing if you will, we should rejoice and forgive. Also we looked at the motives of someone(good will, truthfully doing...) when someone is doing something.... and it goes a muck. What I want us to do is to look at the word rejoicing; but remembering that we need to rejoice in truth too. So many times we lack rejoicing. Someone does something... a good deed we should rejoice, someone accomplishes something we should rejoice. God blesses someone we should rejoice. someone is happy/rejoicing we should rejoice... Even if it seem ordinary, of little importance... The bible is clear, "rejoice with those who rejoice". Romans 12:15 In fact the bible is full on people rejoicing. Psalm 118:24 "This is the day that the lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." So let us have a heart of rejoicing and a heart of being glad. So now we are to be patient and kind and rejoicing(also rejoicing in truth); let us work on all three this week.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Patience and kindness
As we continue working on acts of love, we will introduce the next part to work on. The last two weeks we have been working on patience. This is a hard area to work on; for some of us it even seems like our patience was tried... even people who are on time, prompt... seemed to need our patience. Our next part of love is kindness. Now we are still going to work on patience but now we are going to put kindness into the mix. So you need to be patient... and you are ... but you are holding in your reactions... showing patience but leaving the situation before you lose it... Now we have love is kind. So now we need to put on kindness too. That means sometimes you can't just show a little patience and leave... for love is also kind. Kindness is compassion, gentleness, helpfulness, forgiveness... It is too an action. With that being said now we need to be patient and willing to be helpful. One thing that involves kindness is time, taking the time to listen to be helpful... It is more than just saying kind words... it is that those words have power, for the one we are being kind feels your kindness, they feel/believe it is real... Kindness may also involve substance; things or money... even a helping hand. So this week with our patience show kindness. Also let us all show kindness to people this week!
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Acts of love
Acts of Love We have been going over the love chapter and last week we were working on patience. That we would extend patience to someone. Now with trying over the years to work on biblical truths; there is one thing I know. That would be that some of us had a hard go of it and some of us were really put to the test. We live life here for years without thinking how to act or been acting the same way of our parents... or even not have embraced biblical actions of love... for in the "church" that it is taught it is not practiced or shown. So last week with patience, how did you do? No matter how good you have done... we all need to remember that we need the help on our Lord and Savior Jesus. Some of us can do well with patience, that they are already a "patient" person... but even so we all need the help of Jesus. So how do we get this help? That we would ask for it in prayer. Yes prayer; Lord Jesus help me, I need it for ________ situation and/or dealing with______. James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously without reproach, and it will be given to you." "Lord I need you help in this situation now, I need you wisdom how to act, how to be patient... " One word of caution, do not believe that if you ask God for wisdom once in an area... that it is all you need. For we need God every day...we need to go to Him every day and more. Yes I do believe that God can give great wisdom all at once... but have not met a person or heard of one, except Solomon. So let us this week still work on patience but with God helping us, daily, hourly... remember to ask Him!
Monday, February 10, 2014
but the greater of these is love
"but the greater of these is love." It is very interesting that these three characteristics are what are to abide. As you know we do manifest a lot more characteristics. In the beginning of the chapter 1Cor.13 it talks about deeds, works... that without love are meaningless. Love is so important, that God has put it to the forefront of everything we can do; and if it is not then the things we do are amiss, not totally right... We here so many times that God is love! But God is a lot more than just love, He is righteous, He is just, He is jealous, He is forgiving... and He is loving. This love is what over shadows the rest. You see love is an attribute that needs to be first. And if it is then grace, mercy and forgiveness can abound. Without love we react in a so called "strict" way. Someone is driving their car and they go 1 mile over the speed limit, you the officer tickets them, no room for error. You forgot to do something, trivial that could be done anytime, condemnation... No room for error, no room for failure... You see love is what breaks down the harshness of life. With what we have learned about love, that it is to be at the forefront of all we do; let us all start doing acts of love together. That each week we will have a way to demonstrate love to someone. So let us go back to the first of what love is, that is love is patient. So this week let us all work on patience. In the home, outside the home and at work. Let us extend patience to someone or ones.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Last week we talked about faith. A common term used in churches... but a term that is not fully grasped by a lot of us. Even I find myself going on before God in situations... instead of bring it before Him in prayer... and waiting for Him to work. Enough on faith. Our next characteristic is "hope". Now hope is to desire or expectation of something. It is a future thing... Now last night I have hoped that the Denver Bronco's and Payton Manning were going to win the Super bowl. Well as you know that did not happen; in fact it was not even close to happening. Now this is a demonstration of what hope is. But sadly this is how most people have their hope. Their hope is in games of chance, peoples performance, of groups, of nations... Our hope as Christians is in Jesus Christ. For the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. You see He was dead and rose from the dead... And if He can raise Himself from the dead we put our hope in Him to do that for us... Now that is part of what we hope as Christians. Now take our faith and mix in hope! Hope becomes stronger and faith becomes stronger. Now we must realize that we are not making up our own things... Instead we are trusting the things that are written in the word of God, the bible. So when we as Christians are looking forward we look forward to those things that are written in the bible and those things we have hope in. We also put our faith in the one(s) who are mentioned in the bible, that would be God, His Son and the Holy Spirit.
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