Christian Living

Learning Spiritual Insights

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At a church I attended some time ago there was one guy who would say things about me, and to me, that sounded like veiled criticisms. It had the same affect on me as fingernails on slate—it was really irritating. His words came out as feeble attempts at joking jibes, and this was a constant thing. But underneath it all, I could detect a hurt feeling, as if I made him feel a little “less-than.” I didn’t realize this in the beginning, but thankfully I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and He is super wise. Cutting me down, while making it sound as if he was only kidding was a way for the poor fellow to express what was going on inside, without anyone calling him on his badmouthing.

Lots of people suffer insecurities, and often those feelings will rise to the surface in both word and actions, often distinguished through facial expressions and body language. These feelings, though usually unfounded, do stem from legitimate needs that are not being met: such as the need for self-worth—healthy self-esteem. Sometimes there are deep rooted emotional injuries from childhood that have never been addressed, hence, have never healed.

At first, his words hurt my feelings and stirred a bit of anger. My knee jerk response was to let fly right back at him with a wittier slam than his, and being a writer I’m quite able in that respect. In fact, I actually did that, and later felt really bad about it. So I repented, and then told the man I was sorry for saying what I did.

A couple days later, while in prayer, God’s Spirit of wisdom showed me that there were underlying hurts and heartaches in that man—some past trauma at the root of the problem. This is something God teaches us to do—be discerning. The Lord has even given us His Holy Spirit so that we’ll have the power to know and understand things that are going on in the spirit world, in our own spirit, and in that of others, like my criticizer. God knows all things, even our most secret motives, and often He shares needed information with us, if we will remain open to receive it. God then affords us the power to respond in the right way, with discernment, discretion and healing love.

God has taught me to pray about everything, and this was one of those things I definitely needed to talk to the Lord about. For one thing, I had to be certain I wasn’t saying or doing things that would perpetuate this man’s feelings of some form of inferiority.

“Lord, why does he feel that way in response to me? Have I said or done something wrong to him?”

Well, as usual, God did not answer in the way I wanted or expected Him to. Perhaps I was hoping for something like, Oh no, you’re fine, Sheldon. It’s that man’s problem and he should not be talking like that.

But instead, I was simply given direction as to what I should do. I sensed God speaking inside me. You may be wondering, ‘How do I know it was God talking?’ Because it’s not what I myself would have thought of, or done in response to the situation. And, it was in keeping with God’s very nature of love and compassion. And, it was in harmony with other things that, as my educator, God has instructed me to do in the past. I’ve already told you what my own human response was, which came from the sin nature. Yes, I’m still growing, but so are all believers.

The Lord said something to the effect of “Ask him to do something for you—something that you don’t know how to do yourself.”

Hmm, that makes sense, I responded. Yes Lord, I will. It’ll make him feel better-than, instead of less-than, and I’ll get a lesson in humility.

“Now you’re thinking,” is what I believe the Lord was saying at that point.

As it turns out, the guy is a whiz with computers, and I owned a laptop that had crashed. Fixing it would require a set of skills that are completely out of my purview. Now I can fix a car and sell it too—I can write some pretty fancy words and even pitch some woo. But when it comes to computers: software, malware, Tupperware; all that jazz, I have to leave it to those nerdy types with skinny necks and pocket protectors who look as if they may take over the world some day.   Sorry about that, I got distracted by my funny bone.

He did a great job fixing my laptop, for free, and he even gave me a beefed up hard drive. That guy was tickled rosy to show me how smart he was, and I made sure to stoke that sensation in him. Ever since that day, he has stopped criticizing me and sometimes he even asks me questions about the bible. I think he and I are becoming friends outside of church too. Now, if I can get him to open up about his past, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to counsel him, and get him to seek the Lord’s help in addressing whatever the root of his dilemma may be. God sure does know what He’s doing. All I have to do is pray, then listen…and then do.

Blessings.

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Waiting in Hope

waiting

 

Leading Israel’s army, Joshua waited seven days for something to happen as they marched around the walls of Jericho. It must have felt like a silly thing to do, but this is what God had told them to do. Their patient trust was finally rewarded as the walls fell down, just as the Lord had promised. Without the hope that faith secures, waiting on God can often seem a difficult task, and can give rise to doubts. But that’s only when we’re not operating in faith.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the promised pregnancy with Isaac in their old age. God had promised to make David king over all of Israel, but it wasn’t until waiting about 18 years before that happened. The Jews waited centuries for Messiah to come, but then He came. For ten days, Jesus’ disciples waited in Jerusalem for the power of God’s Holy Spirit to come. My own mother waited for several decades for her prayers to be answered. But finally, I fully surrendered my heart to Christ.

A person who lives in submission to Jesus Christ is someone who is often called upon to wait. And yet there are many good things we can be doing while we wait. Waiting time is not wasting time. With eager anticipation we all wait for Jesus to return and take us to our home in heaven. Yes, these are things that, as Christians, we must learn to do well—trust, hope and patiently wait.

 

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

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Alcohol For Christians

alcohol

According to Google, among the most frequently asked bible questions have to do with what it says about drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and getting tattoos. Today I’d like to focus on the first one: Alcohol.

Let’s say I drank a couple fingers of 18 year old Macallan scotch. Have I sinned? Answers from pastors around the world are as plentiful and varied as the shoes in Nick Cannon’s closet. But we can’t settle for fallible people’s opinions. As believers we want to know what God has to say, and so we look to the bible under the Spirit’s guidance for answers. After all, God is the one we want to please.

 

If you wonder how God feels about you drinking, I strongly suggest you take a moment right now. Pause from reading this post, and pray—ask God for discernment and clarity on this issue once and for all. And then continue reading. My own prayers before, and while preparing this post, consumed much time, and I fervently sought the Holy Spirit’s counsel. The optimal means of gaining absolute certainty on this, as with any issue is to prayerfully excavate truths from the bible under the Spirit’s direction. I’ve provided several passages from which I hope to offer perspective. But you may want to buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy ride with a few switchbacks along the way.

 

Is alcohol evil and sinful? No. But what we do with alcohol can be sinful. So, is drinking alcohol sinful? Yes and No. Clear as mud, right? Stay with us.

 

It’s a no-brainer that ALCOHOLISM IS SIN. Just about anything done in excess is sin, e.g. gluttony. A myriad of passages condemn being a drunken sot, or a glutton.

“…nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1st Cor. 6:10

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 1 Peter 4:3

 These are but two out of a plethora of passages that unequivocally identify drunkenness as sin.  So if we habitually get drunk…then yes, it’s sin.

 

I’ve included bible quotations that cover both the pros and cons of this most ancient of beverages. As with all spiritual issues, we must also look to passages that do not mention alcohol specifically, and yet, they set a spiritual precedent.

 

The following verse mentions wine, and we must apply it correctly, viewing it through the lens of the bible in its entirety. Scripture interprets scripture.

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts. Psalm 104:14-15 (emphasis mine)

God created the earth primarily as a habitation for mankind. He told us to subdue it, to manage and utilize it. God wants us to enjoy what He has blessed us with—it’s all for our benefit and enjoyment.  Other verses, however, give strong warnings that expose the dangers of drinking too much wine. Anything, when combined with human weakness can become sinful.

In this last passage, the Holy Spirit indicates that alcohol, specifically wine, gladdens our hearts. It has the ability to make us glad or happy. But we can’t simply drive in a peg right there, or wave that verse around as validation for drinking any time we get the urge. There are other considerations—it doesn’t always make us glad, in fact, sometimes it can make us sad. The devil is in the details. Here’s another positive verse.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Eccl. 9:7

Honestly, I don’t yet feel qualified to exegete that verse—I never fake it when it comes to passages I’m not real solid on. I included it only because I was led to do so.

 

Jesus & Wine

We’re all familiar with Jesus’ miracle of changing water into wine at a wedding celebration in Cana of Galilee. (See John 2:1-11) Throughout the bible we see wine used in joyous celebrations. Can you imagine how good the wine Jesus made would taste?

Many well-meaning, but woefully misguided people of God have assayed to perform a little miracle of their own. They attempt transforming the wine of this passage to mean unfermented juice. Come on now, let’s stop trying to change what the bible says. It says wine—it means wine. Jesus drank wine, but this in no way makes it right for everyone to do so in every circumstance.

 

I remember my strict grandmother who attended church every time the doors were open. She was a very devout Christian woman, for which I am deeply thankful. But I was surprised when I learned she took a glass of Mogan David wine before bedtime to help her sleep.

Medicinal Value

In Paul’s first letter to his protégé, Timothy, he advises him to “Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” 1 Tim. 5:23

Here, we see that alcohol has medicinal uses that God approves of. It’s also good for use as an antiseptic, killing most every germ and bacteria known to man. But alcohol also kills skin cells in your; mouth, throat, stomach and digestive tract, and we know that habitual use damages internal organs.  As the redeemed, we are now the temple of God, so we want to respect our bodies and take good care of them. We’ve already established that God has given us many things from the good earth to utilize, but we must do so wisely. Remember, alcohol can be a slippery slope, and that’s why we get so many differing answers. There are several spiritual precepts we should consider before we opt for a bottle of Bordeaux, or whatever kind of scamper juice you happen to choose.

 

In Christ we have freedom—liberty. Under grace we are freed from the written code, and now obey God out of love for Him. The Spirit of Christ resides within believers, affording them the power of God—to give them power over sin, so they have the capacity to live godly, pleasing Him while conforming to Christ.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1st Corinthians 10:23-24

 

Enter the Law of Love!

During my spiritual infancy I heard a great sermon on the Christian’s freedoms by Chuck Swindoll, and then another by Charles Stanley. Subsequently, I read books by both men about it. “Liberty on a Tightrope.” The title itself is revealing—sometimes it’s a real balancing act to know when it’s okay to exercise our freedoms. It requires wisdom and discernment that can be procured only through a close relationship with Jesus. Yet our sin detection is based upon love, and I’ve learned that love has many faces.

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. Romans 14:21

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. 1st Corinthians 8:13

I’m simply going to say, “That’s love,” and allow those two verses to speak for themselves. They are commands that we are to take literally and very seriously.

Here’s a PDF for an excellent article on this subject of our freedoms, and those who would deny us our freedoms. It’s by an astute Doctor of Theology: “Tyranny of the Weaker Brother.”

 

Caution: speed bump ahead! Do you have your seatbelt buckled?

Sinning Against Conscience

When our consciences question whether or not what we’re doing is sin, we should take heed. Whatever you believe to be sinful, for you, it actualy becomes sin, no matter what it is. If I think it’s a sin but I do it anyway, it is sin. Even if some misguided person believes using musical instruments is sinful, for them it’s a sin to use musical instruments. To do so would go against their God-given and God-governed conscience. They believe it is wrong and yet choose to do it anyway. That’s called willful sin against the conscience. Personally, I know God approves of musical instruments, so for me, I can use them with a clear conscience. For me it is not sin, and the same goes for alcohol. But out of love, I will not do so in the presence of a weaker brother or sister in Christ who thinks otherwise, or else I could cause them to violate their conscience, and sin.

 

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16


God knows our hearts and our consciences. When we’re saved, the Holy Spirit directs our consciences, but we must remain attuned to Christ for this to be so. We can be deceived by false doctrines. We can be lured into participating in something that could tarnish our testimony for Christ. Or, we can have our freedoms chained up by wolves among the flock. And… Heaven forbid that by my drinking, I should embolden a brother or sister in Christ to drink, who has been enslaved to the old loony-juice in the past.

 

Consider this. Though slight, just one ounce of alcohol impairs our judgment, enervating our decision making prowess. We are commanded to be self-controlled. How can we be certain we’ll know when to stop drinking? If you’re going to indulge, you may want to determine the amount before you drink. If you’re at home, pour your set amount, and then put the bottle away.

 

Grandma used to say, “All things in moderation.” We shouldn’t be given over to anything, or to anyone, except to God. It’s easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we’re controlling our drinking when it could be the other way around. Again, we are to exercise self-control. It’s difficult enough to control our fleshly urges without having our commitment weakened by alcohol. We’re talikng about a fruit of the Spirit here, meaning, that God’s Spirit helps us maintain control so we can follow Him. “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) The Spirit provides for us the genuine article, not the false relief alcohol provides.

 

I cannot tell you whether or not using alcohol is okay for you, unless you are an alcoholic, and then it IS sin. This is something that’s between you and the Lord. He will give you the answer that’s right for you, as an individual. You will need wisdom and spiritual discernment. And you must consider all the variables, of which, I’d like to add one more.

 

Idolatry

When I turn to other things instead of to God when He has all we need (peace, joy, comfort, etc.) it is a form of idolatry.  If I turn to alcohol to help alleviate my hurt feelings or depression, anxiety, or because I’m angry, instead of seeking God’s provision for relief from these, then I’m turning to an idol. Anything we put in the place of God is idolatry. He provides peace and joy, security and wisdom and guidance and anything else we could ever possibly need. Every so often, that may include a tall glass of wine. Always seek God’s counsel on all decisions in life, and at all times. The following verse illustrates the truth of these things.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…”(Ephesians 5:18).

Noteworthy in this verse is the fact that our beloved comforter, Holy Spirit, provides for us the supernatural gifts of joy, contentment and inner peace. It is, however, often that believers have not yet learned how to call upon these helps, and will instead reach for an artificial means of feeling better, like drinking alcohol.

The following is straight from the bible’s book of wisdom.

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Proverbs 31:6

 

When experiencing deep grief, the loss of a loved one, you’re dying, or when enduring tremendous pain, God has provided a little additional relief in alcohol. This verse appears to indicate we can use (but not abuse) alcohol for these purposes.

 

In conclusion

We’ve disclosed how wisdom, discernment and self-control, coupled with personally seeking God’s counsel make all the difference in discovering what’s right for each individual. Sometimes drinking alcohol is sinful, and other times it’s not. Alcohol is sin for some, but not for certain others who may lose their self-control by drinking. There are benefits of drinking and there are many hazrds of the same. So I pray I’ve left you with some pertinent truths to ponder. As you take this issue to the Lord, ask Him for enlightenment concerning each of the variables we talked about.

 

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. Proverbs 20:1

 

God Bless You!

 

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Trust & Obey

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All people have short comings—we are fallible beings, and that’s why it’s sometimes difficult to trust those who may have rule over us. But with God it is much different. He never makes a mistake. The Lord is perfect, holy and filled with love. 

 

“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29 KJV) 

 

What have I gotten myself into?  That was the predominant thought in my mind at basic-training for the Army. A drill-instructor was demonstrating his control over the men under him. On the roof of a three-story barracks, the drill-sargent ordered a young private to dive head first onto the rocky ground below.  

 

Without hesitation, the trusting soldier took two steps towards the edge, bent his legs for the leap, and sprang up and out to his certain death. Swiftly the Sargent reached out and grabbed the back of the private’s breeches and belt, catching the soldier just in time. 

 

My second thought: There’s no way Id obey such a futile and dangerous order. Observing the imperfections and failings of superior officers stimulated the rebel in me. I didn’t follow every order I was given as a soldier.  

 

Yet, years later I grew very close to my first love. He’s now my Commander in-Chief: Jesus Christ. It wasn’t always easy to trust Him the way that Private trusted his drill-instructor. I have learned, however, of God’s perfect love for me, and of His all-knowing and all-powerful nature. I can trust my life to Him. He’s not a man, who might make a mistake, or tell me to do something futile or foolish.  

 

There are times I don’t understand the Why of a command from God. But I can obey with confidence, knowing He has my best interest at heart. His purposes are flawless.  

 

Thank you, Lord, for your wise leadership. In hindsight we’ll always see the wisdom of trusting and obeying you in all things. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

 

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Be With Me Lord

Be with me Lord

The darkness of night surrounds me

Like smoky tendrils its spectral fingers grip

My courage is but a flicker, a spark in winter’s cold

Remain with me and proffer strength

I am but dust without Your Spirit, Your might

So small a thing was I, a lonesome soul adrift

My father’s son, born of Adam’s fallen race

A simple man who loves your truth, your word

When your Son bought me by your grace

You gave to me a name, and to my spirit, wings

Stay with me Lord—finish making me

That a giant I may be

In Christ my Savior

By this love that you have spawned

The One who works such fruitfulness in me

Be with me Lord, until the day has dawned

 

 

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Gore & Love Intersect

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“The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 

 

As a boy of ten years, I kept a scrapbook filled with images of lions and tigers hunting. Many of them depicted gory kills. Several decades later, I can still picture the blood covered faces of those vicious beasts. One day my mom happened upon the bloody pictures I’d been saving. Understandably, she became concerned that I might be turning into some sort of twisted, sadistic kid. Blood has a tendency to make us recoil in horror. But my fascination had to do with a compulsion to understand death.

 

Many old Christian hymns include references to the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. Here’s one example—an old favorite performed by some promising musicians. “Nothing But The Blood” 

 

It’s the blood of Christ which cleanses us from our sins. What picture could better display the awful consequences of sin upon the world than grisly blood? God has a good reason for the use of blood in the bible. The blood used in the old sacrificial system of temple worship was a foreshadow of the blood of Christ. Justice demands blood.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it drastically changed mankind—even the earth was changed by a curse. The consequences of sin are exceptionally horrific. “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a  

And, God says that life is in the blood. “For the life of a creature is in the blood…” Leviticus 17:11a  

And so, spilled blood is synonymous with death—and death is the penalty for sin.

 

As a lasting and stark expression of sin’s staggering cost, God clothed Adam and Eve with dead animal skins. This signified the horrors that the world would experience as a result of sin. Sin brought with it; sickness, war, a curse, slavery to sin, and death for every person since Adam and Eve. Some of the animals changed from herbivores into carnivorous creatures—the images of which I kept in that childhood scrapbook.

 

God has taught me that I should be aghast and horrified at the prospect of sin. It should make me shudder in horror—the same response one would have to a bloody, gruesome death.

But it’s in man’s fallen nature to trivialize sin, rather than to acknowledge its true devastating make-up.

 

Because of God’s awesome love for you and me, Jesus allowed His own blood to be spilled, taking that awful death penalty in our place. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, (from John 10). The macabre sight of His blood flowing down to puddle in the dust, proclaims God’s monolithic love for you and me. Do you see the importance of the blood? If not, you do not yet understand the way of salvation that God has provided for us. His blood equals love, atonement, propitiation, forgiveness and salvation.

Bloody gore and love intersect at the Cross of Jesus. ©

 

Below is Alan Jackson singing  Are You Washed

 

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Children Need Acceptance

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Most folks hate these social ailments, which often act as triggers for disparaging tragedies.

Bullying, shaming, varied prescribed medications and illicit drug abuse, among other uglies, have been blamed for a tremendous rise in teen-aged suicides. Another horrifying stat is how many children become active members in violent youth gangs, or simply develop behavioral issues. It’s my belief that teen suicide and gang involvement are two maladies that share roots in the same detriments.  

Results (of polled police departments) contradict the long-standing perception that gangs are primarily an inner-city phenomenon. Granted, the prevalence is highest in large cities, with 74 percent of those jurisdictions acknowledging the presence of gangs. But suburban counties aren’t far behind, at 57 percent, which is considerably higher than small cities (34 percent).”—Healthy Children Organization 

Come back to this link to an organisation in-the-know: Healthy Children Org.

 

It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. There are many teens who find no other escape from their heart wrenching emotional agony than ending their own lives. It’s like a bandit stealing off with the soul’s sense of self-worth—as a valueless object to be discarded by society as worthless. Many suffer this malady and spiral down into deep depression, even developing physical illnesses. Some of them become criminals, maybe even psychotic killers.  

 

Below’s a link to just one of thousands: News reports on teen-aged suicides. There’s just as many on the increased danger of children joining street gangs. But you can come back to this later. 

Teen-Suicide

 

Imagine feeling that nobody wants you, nobody loves you—you just can’t seem to find any place where you fit in, a place to belong. It’s a hollow ache. Have you ever experienced being totally convinced there’s no group of people anywhere with whom you could have a sense of belonging? Street gangs prey upon young boys and girls who have this belief and offer them a sense of acceptance and camaraderie. Sometimes, it’s excitement and action that draws kids into gang life. But their emotional and social needs are legitimate. A healthy Psyche’ includes a sense of belonging—everyone possesses a need to be loved.  

 

I watched several videos of little orphan children from all over the world, many of whom lived on the streets. They were picking through garbage bins trying to find something to eat. Their little melancholy faces stirred my heart—I wanted to break down and cry. But some orphans reside at orphanages or missions. At least they are fed a little. All of them apparently have the exact same hope of acceptance, and to have a family. They need to belong somewhere, with someone—other souls. Love is a fundamental need. 

We have an extensively vast foster care system here in America. Dismally, many of the people who serve as foster parents only do so for the money. Unscrupulous ones even use the orphans as a free labor force, treating the children like slaves, as objects to be manipulated into profits. 

 

What do you suppose every orphan hopes for? 

 

That’s right, to be adopted by someone who will love them, protect them, and give them a home, and care for them. Someone who will give them a place to belong. Just one person to accept them would be enough, but better a group of people who would say “You’re one of us!” What they need—what they hope for, is a family. 

 

Well then… 

 

When a couple has a child born to them they have no way of choosing what that child will look like. They can’t even choose whether it will be a boy or a girl. Parents try to teach their children moral values and rear them in a way that they’ll turn out to be good people, but there are no guarantees about that either. So, I want to share something with you about ADOPTION.  

 

Those who have been adopted have been chosen over other people. There’s a whole lot of children to choose from. That makes a child feel very special. Adoptive parents have looked out across the whole world at the many thousands of orphaned children. Think of it, out of all of them, they choose YOU! That makes you pretty special. 

 

To God, all of us are just like young Children. 

 

My point here today, besides drawing attention to these social ills, is to highlight a stellar fact. If you trust the God of the bible, and you have made Jesus the Lord of your life, and you’ve taken Him as your Savior, then:  YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN BY GOD TO BE ADOPTED INTO HIS FAMILY. 

 

I’ll begin an explanation, but then, I’m asking us to follow the reasoning of the selected scriptures provided below. 

 

When you’re born into a family on earth your parents cannot choose you, you’re just born to them. But God knew all about you before you were ever born, and He chose you to be His child. (Later on, read Psalms chapter 139.) 

This, and other passages reveal that God knew everything there is to know about you, before He chose you. And the following scriptures assure us that God did in fact, select us, and it tells us at what point in time He did so. 

 

For He chose us in him before the creation of the world… He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. Ephesians 1: 45.  

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NLT 

Jesus said, “For the Father himself loves you dearly, because you love me and you believe that I came from God. John 16:27 

 

So what is it to love Jesus? What does it really mean to love Christ? He tells us. 

 

Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. Let that part sink in for a minute.

Then it continues: 

And I will love them and will reveal myself to each of them.” John 14:21 NLT 

 

Think about this: How has Jesus revealed Himself to you? 

 

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Ephesians 2:19 

 

When we are saved, or, born again, we’re born into the family of God, and that’s what the bible is talking about when it says He adopted us. It also calls us “Children of the light.” 
 

Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 1 John 3:9 

 

Now then, what are some of the benefits a child receives by having a family? 

I’ve listed several of them. We’ve already established that they will be loved. 

 

LOVE 

 

Provision for every need 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19. 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-26  

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11  

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10 (There’s many more). 

 

Protection  

Psalm 144:2, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”  

“The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” Psalm 121:8  

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10  

“(You) who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:5  

 

Inheritance  

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17 

“The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” Psalm 37:29  

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32  

“And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:12
  Romans 8:32 Eph. 1:18, 

 

Security  

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8: 35 

 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-39  

And Jude 1:24 “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.”  

 

There are other benefits too, of course, such as guidance, wisdom, a name, and lots more! 

If you’re not already a part of God’s wonderful family, you can be! Feel free to contact me via Email at Penman4u@gmail.com. I will be happy to share with you how to do that. God Bless You. I hope you enjoy this version of a great old hymn as much as I did: “The Family of God.” 

 

Categories: Addictions & Suicides, Christian Living, Faith, Family, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Never Ending Journey

On this spiritual journey of faith in Christ Jesus, it is often difficult to locate mile markers to know how far we’ve come. But looking back over the past several years, it’s exciting to see the obstacles to our goals that have been overcome.

trail

For instance, on my journey of becoming more like Jesus, I can see myself forgiving others just a bit more easily than I did a couple years ago, and that’s very encouraging to me. This process of sanctification, or being made holy will not be complete for any of us until Jesus returns.

 

When others, who don’t want me to achieve anything at all, show their evil contempt by their actions and treatment of me, it doesn’t ruffle my feathers as easily it used to. Of course, I still have a very long way to go. But I cannot take any of the credit for my growth, not at all. Every good change that has taken place in my character has been done by God, simply because I asked Him to help me. He’s given us who are saved His Holy Spirit to help us along on this arduous trek —all the way home.

 

As I pondered the specific things that I’ve learned along the way, and things God has led me to do, so that I’d continue growing spiritually, several things became apparent. It became noteworthy that others just might be helped if I were to share some of what God has led me to do. That’s why I’ve put together some bullet points as an easy to use checklist each day—simple. though vital reminders that need to stay with us. It is my prayer that someone out there will be blessed by my sharing them.

 

 

Spiritual Health Tips

(A Bakers Dozen)

 

  1. Confront (face) the issues in your past that hurt you, with Christ as your Counselor—He is your healer, not time! If you don’t, your past can be very harmful to your future. 
  2. Ignore the naysayers and those who criticize you. Listen only to what God says about you. 
  3. Replace all negative thoughts that come into your mind with good, positive & constructive thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)
  4. Your happiness & satisfaction are found in Christ alone, so, don’t seek them anywhere else. Examples: finances, relationships, social status, etc. He will give you those too…when it’s time. (Luke 9:23)
  5. Don’t expect everyone to understand the mission God assigned to you, and, be on guard against those who don’t want you to succeed—avoid them when possible. Rarely, but sometimes, you must act in order to be vindicated. (John 21:22)
  6. It’s your journey, but not yours alone: Jesus walks it with you. (Hebrews 13:5) 
  7. Encourage others who are on their journey with Christ, help them, walk beside them for a while. Offering your hand will strengthen both their walk of faith and your journey—be kind. (1 Thes. 5:11)
  8. It’s okay to not know everything—wise people always seek counsel and they ask many questions. (proverbs 15:22)
  9. Acknowledge your flaws, while working to overcome them in the strength God provides. Everyone is flawed, everyone has weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect except God. (Proverbs 16:18)
  10. Live one day at a time. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) 
  11. Never compare yourself to anyone on earth. Compare and measure yourself only by Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:29) 
  12. Humility is difficult to maintain & requires supernatural assistance from the Holy Spirit, and yet it is a key to great spiritual power. Secretly performing kind acts of service is a good exercise for developing humility. (Matthew 6:1)
  13. Smile, and don’t be so critical of yourself, Jesus loved you long before you even knew His name. (Psalm 143:8)

 

You already know the Christian disciplines of daily prayer and bible study, fellowship often with other Christians, and all the rest of them. Say a prayer for me as I continue my journey, and I’d be pleased to pray for you as well. Blessings.

 

P.S. We love you too. crop graceme

 

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hello 2018

image

It’s another year, already? Just the other day I saw this really old looking fellow and wondered how fast time was going by for him, and then I realized, Hey, I went to high school with that guy! It made me feel older than the Dead Sea.

 

Gone are the times I’d wake up New Year’s Day and recall wearing some woman’s bra as a headband while showing off my lack of dance skills the night before. It was no fun worrying over what other ways I may have played the fool while too drunk to remember.

 

Just like lots of folks, I used to jump on the band wagon with all of the New Year resolution stuff, and more often than not I failed to keep my resolutions. Some of the most common determinations people make are things like; lose weight, quit smoking, spend more time with family, or complete a long procrastinated project. I seemed to do okay for a month, maybe two, and then other things always usurped priority, leaving my resolutions to fizzle out like a dud firecracker. But since Jesus has become the focal point of my life, I have only one resolution which remains a constant every year: to be more like Him.

 

Experts say that making resolutions is a good thing. It causes us to take a good look at ourselves, and register an internal inventory. The worst jerk in town just may wake up to the fact he’s a numbskull and decide to do something about it. As evidenced by the huge self-help genre of books, I think all of us have things we’d like to change and that probably should be changed. The key is in staying motivated to make the improvements so that our commitments can maintain impetus. A good way to accomplish this is to mark one day every month on our calendars to revisit what it is we said we wanted to do. Perhaps a goal map would be in order to chart our progress, just as with any goal.

 

By definition a resolution is a determined course of action, or, the state of being resolute.

 

As followers of Jesus we must often renew our decision to die to the old sinful self; that we may live for God, following the leadership of His Holy Spirit. Even the Apostle Paul found it necessary to “die daily” (crucify his self will), so that Christ could be better formed in him. That fits nicely with another definition for the word: resolution; it’s the one used in photographyThe fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image.

 

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are predestined by God to be conformed to the “image” of Jesus Christ, His holy Son. (Romans 8:29)

The onset of a new year is a great time to take a good hard look at how well we’ve been representing Jesus as His ambassadors here on earth.

How fine tuned is the image of Christ in us? Do the people we come into contact with see Jesus in the details of our lives?

As we look to our hearts, do we see a high definition image with good resolution of the holy Son of God?

 

Hopefully we will reflect on how well the image of Jesus was portrayed in our lives over the past year. Though we should do so every day, this is a good time to renew our resolve.

 

I hope you’ll pray this short prayer along with me.

“Lord Jesus, help me to become more like you over this next year. Please set Your Holy Spirit to work on me. Your word promises that God will continue the work of sanctifying me and maturing me in holiness, until you come to take me home and fully complete that work. Forgive me for times when I saw something else as more important than spending time studying my bible and praying. Father, help me to yield myself moment by moment to You, so that Christ may be seen through me with fineness of detail throughout the coming year, amen.”

 

One day the image of Jesus will be perfected in us when we shall be “Raised incorruptible.” (1 Cor. 15:51-58)

 

But until Jesus returns, let’s joyfully continue renewing our resolve to walk in the Spirit in close communication with our Lord, so that His image may shine forth, reflecting His light of truth and His love to the world.

 

May your resolve be strong. Happy New Year!

 

Categories: Christian Living, Current Event, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Broken To Become Whole

break

Brokenness in the Christian experience can refer to bad and harmful brokenness, but more often it refers to a necessary state of dependence upon the Lord. This is a very good type of brokenness.

In her book The Broken Way Ann Voskamp testifies about the benefits of becoming openly broken together—of being transparent with each other about our brokenness and our weaknesses. She says there’s winsomeness when we are vulnerable together. Another woman who is from a long line of farmers was conversing with Ann and proclaimed how she clearly comprehends this brokenness as being like a seed.

In John 12:24 Jesus teaches the following.

 “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat fall to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds.”

 

When we can allow ourselves to become openly vulnerable with each other, the seed hull breaks open to germinate in the nutrient rich soil of God’s word as it is discussed in a group setting such as a bible study.

 

“A yielded life, surrendered to God yields the most.”—Ann Voskamp

 

If we hope to be glorified we must be crucified with Christ and die to the old self-life, as Paul so succinctly expounds.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

 

This is in perfect union with Jesus words in Luke 9:23 “…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves…”

As excruciating as death sounds to human sensitivities, it is required. It is the secret to receiving great spiritual power for renewal and transformation, which, every soul of great faith has received from God’s Holy Spirit imparting the new life within.

 

This brokenness or death to the old self is clearly counter cultural. The world’s way is to avoid suffering, pain and brokenness. Here again, we see the upside down ways of God’s wisdom compared to the world’s perspective and beliefs.

 

How do I live my life surrendered to God, dead to self and alive in Christ? It is by my willingness to be broken by God. It is humbly accepting that I do not know, and God does know, so I must surrender my mind to Him. The world itself is broken, and yet, God is able to break the brokenness of the world and create a new wholeness, a new life which produces more of the same.

 

When a seed or kernel is planted in the ground it must break open, and then the embryo breaks through the earth to rise up and become a stalk of wheat with a full head of kernels. Because the seed yields to brokenness, the seed eventually produces many more seeds.

 

And so in our lives, as we prayerfully learn from the scriptures, humbly yielding every thought and each area of our lives to Christ, He brings to life in us ten times more than we have surrendered.

 

“…We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

 2 Corinthians 10:5b

 

If we could only see with His eyes how puny and haggardly the things our old lives cling to actually are, we’d drop them like glowing embers. During this maturing process, God does give us sight—light to see how destructive those things of the old life really are. We begin to lucidly perceive things from a spiritual perspective, and then wonder how we could have been so blinded by our old fleshly desires.

 

The Spirit will tell us to let go of that putrid practice, that immature way of thinking, that old disparaging habit, our pride. He will say, “Here, take these diamonds and emeralds instead.” Because, what God gives in return is worth exceedingly more than what we must surrender to Him. We could compare allowing ourselves to be broken with scrapping an old jalopy and exchanging it for a shiny new Rolls Royce. And to giving up a position as the janitor of a company in order to become the CEO of that company. And with trading the strength of a deathly sick Pee Wee for the strength of Sampson. And to trading ignorance for wisdom, knowledge and discernment. And to handing over our ticket to the lake of fire in exchange for a ticket to paradise. But without allowing ourselves to be broken and remade, we will not receive any of the good things God has to give us. We must become Broken Vessels.

Broken Vessels By Hillsong

 

If we hope to truly live we must put our old sinful nature to death, while nurturing the new life we have in Christ. We do so through prayerful study of God’s word, fellowship with Godly people, removing worldly stimulus, and all the rest of what the Spirit of God leads us to do. See you up yonder!

For more on Brokeness in relation to the Christian experience see this post and others from the site I received the opening image from: Sovereign Grace

Categories: Bible, Books, Christian Living, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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