Success

Power to Spare — Part 2

Welcome to the life giving words of God that we will be using in this post. I hope you’ve read part one of this series. Reading the book of Colossians will help you to understand the context of what we’re talking about—living in the power of the risen Christ!

be-prepared

In our Colossians text we find an empowering master key, both for conquering sins of the flesh, and for practicing godly relationships in the church, the home, the workplace, and the world in general. Here in Colossians the Spirit in essence is saying: 

To win against sin, live in light of your new identity in the risen Christ. 

 

  1. As Christians, we all battle against the sins of the flesh. 

Occasionally you’ll meet a dear saint who claims that he lives above all temptation and sin. That he or she has learned the secret of victory, where they abide in Christ to the point that sin is never a problem! They intimate that they have no more temptation, and they always respond correctly, with never even a wrongful thought. I wouldn’t purchase a used car from a person who says that. In order to disprove their claim, just talk to those who live and work with them. You’ll no doubt hear a different story.  

 

I pray that every one of us is able to admit our continuing need for God’s grace and mercy, and confess that we fight a daily battle against the sins of the flesh. These sins are mainly what Paul has in mind when he directs us in Col. 3:2 not to think “on the things that are on earth.” That phrase is repeated verbatim (in the Greek text) in verse 5, where Paul tells us (literally) to put to death our members “that are on earth.” He goes on in 3:5 & 8-9, to list many sins that we may struggle against: immorality, impurity, fleshly passion, evil desire, and greed, along with; anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lying. Paul wouldn’t tell us not to have our minds characterized by these sins, and to put them to death, if we were not going to face some battles concerning these things.  

 

Through the new birth (regeneration or salvation), we are radically different than we were before. We were once enslaved to sin, but Christ has set us free—free to choose the things above and walk in the Spirit, rather than being controlled by the lusts of the flesh. Our old nature, however, was not eradicated! It’s up to us to seize upon the power made available to us to resist temptation by walking in the Spirit, which is relying on God’s power. It is great news that we are no longer bound to obey the demands of the flesh. As Christians, we have to actively fight against these sins, BY living in the victory that Christ won for us. Though we still sin at times, that’s not what we want to do—we want to be holy as He is holy. Our hearts and minds have been redeemed, so that we now want what God wants. And that brings us to the question: How can we be more obedient to the One we love? 

 

soldier

 

  1. To win the battle against sin, we must understand our new identity in Christ.

 

These verses are very Christ-centered. Paul mentions “Christ” four times in four verses. There are two sides to our identity in HimFirstly: 

 

  1. We died with Christ.

In Colossians 2:12, Paul states that we were “buried with [Christ] in baptism.” And then in verse 20 he says that we died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, which I believe refers to a rules-based approach to God. Now again in Col. 3:3 he explains, For you have died Jesus wants us to understand that when we trusted in Christ we became identified with Him in His death. (See, also, Rom. 6:3-11; 7:4, 6; Gal. 2:19-20; 6:14.) 

 

The problem with this truth is that I don’t feel dead toward sin, or to the world. In fact, to be honest, when I am tempted to sin (which is often), my old nature feels very much alive and well! There’s a strong inner desire to indulge in sin because the sinful flesh is still in my body waging war against my mind, but it’s not in my spirit. So then, what does it mean that I am dead to sin, in Christ? And how can this help me to overcome sin in my life? 

 

One answer lies in our remembrance that death, in the Bible, never means cessation of existence, but rather, it means separation. When we die a physical death, the soul is separated from the body. To be identified with Christ in His death means that I am separated from the power of the flesh, from the power of sin, and from the grip of this evil world. I am now a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, so that I do not have to obey the sinful laws of my old country, of this sinful world. 

 

I like using the illustration of a man who was a citizen of a country which had imposed a 6 p.m. curfew, but then he moved to the United States and becomes a citizen there. He’s no longer under that old curfew law. But because he has lived under that old law for so long, he still may feel if he’s bound to keep it. But the truth is, he’s not. He died to that old law and its power over him so that he now can live under the new laws of freedom that characterize his new country. 

 

Here’s a different analogy of the same principle. I grew up sort of country, so I’ve seen a lot of old cars sitting up on jacks in people’s yards. If you’ve ever seen a car with the wheels off the ground, you know that (if it runs) you can step on the gas pedal and the wheels will spin like crazy, but the car doesn’t go anywhere. The wheels are separated from the ground. When you’re tempted to sin, your old nature may get all revved up and make a lot of noise, but we now can say, “My old nature died with Christ—I am separated from its power.” It has been rendered inoperative, so that it doesn’t have to go anywhere! As Paul says in Romans 6:11, “Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” 

 

Therefore, it’s not a matter of feeling dead to sin, but rather it’s a legal fact. If we’re joined to Christ by faith, we’re one with Him in His death. We’re divorced from the old life, which was like a tyrant, keeping us in sin. But now we’re married to a new husband who gives us new life and freedom from sin. But we didn’t just die—we have new life! The stellar flip side is this — 

 

  1. We have been raised up with Christ to the right hand of God.

 

Paul mentions this in Colossians 2:12-13: 

… having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. 

 

Now, again in Col. 3:1 — “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” In the Greek text the word “if” does not imply uncertainty. We can be certain. And Paul is writing that God wants us to consider the implications of it. Like being united with Christ in His death, being raised up with Him is not a matter of feeling, but one of fact. When Jesus was raised from the dead, if by faith we’re in Him, we also were raised. 

 

Being raised up with Christ teaches us that salvation is not a matter of human decision or will power, but rather of God’s mighty power imparting life to us back when we were dead in our sins. Salvation is not making a resolution to kick our bad habits to the curb, or to clean up our act. It rather involves the life-giving power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. It means, as the Puritan, Henry Scougal, put it, “The life of God in the soul of man.” It means that we are so united with Christ that He is our life! Col. 3:4 says When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
 

Just as a branch draws its life from the vine (John 15:1-6), so we must live in dependence upon the supernatural power of the risen Christ. We place no trust in our own human strength or will power, as if we merely receive a little help from God now and then when we think we need it. It means living in union with the risen person of Jesus Christ. He is our new identity. 

 

(To Be Continued)  Have  a Power packed day in Christ! God Bless You.

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Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Devotional, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Power to Spare — Part I

Applying God’s power to our point of contact with the world around us may not be as complicated as one would imagine. I want to address an aspect of Christ’s sufficiency that we don’t hear about as often as other facets. This post is the intro, or part 1. But first let’s talk about a super powerful truck — The Shockwave!

Shockwave

I’m a man who appreciates powerful engines, so I get all revved up when I come across copious horsepower. And when a truck is involved it’s like icing on the cake. So I was surfing around on YouTube and found a video about the “Shockwave Jet Truck.” It runs over 300 mph and races against fliers at airshows. This hulk on wheels holds the world record in the quarter mile for trucks, where it reached 256 mph in just 6.36 seconds. That’s some real power right there! This beast also holds the world record for top end speed in full size trucks, reaching 376 mph as recorded by Guinness Book of World Records. At 36,000 horsepower the Shock Wave has enough power to accelerate at three Gs vertical, which is just as much as the Space Shuttle! (wow emoji)

Okay, so the builders might have gone a little overboard in creating such a super-truck. But this is a great illustration for the power God makes available to every believer. Christ is much more than sufficient for every task, situation or circumstance.

The Bible teaches that God provides everything that you and I may ever need.

God has all the power we will ever need and plenty more to spare, for any and all the issues we find ourselves having to face.  

 

Colossians is a great book for studying this subject!

 

*NOTE* — I urge you to read the book of Colossians in preparation for the truths I will be presenting in the next couple of posts. Some really dynamic stuff will begin in the next post (Part 2). I will provide some of the verses written out here for us (NIV), yet not all of them.

 

Colossians 1:11— “…Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,” 

The “all” in the above verse indicates both; the different kinds of power we’ll need, and the fact that the supply is beyond ample.

 

At present I have friends whom God is empowering to face cancer. Numerous others have lost loved ones, and others friends are dealing with poverty. One of my ministry partners added that God provides us with the power of wisdom, direction and purpose. God gave Sampson physical strength beyond our imaginations. Today we find ourselves living in an age when we need the power of courage to stand up for truth, and to proclaim God’s word to a lost and dying world. God empowers the words we speak, and there are plenteous other ways that God empowers us, of which time would not allow us to exhaust.
In the same way that a 36,000 horsepower jet engine is so ridiculously over juiced in a land vehicle, possessing more than enough power to propel a truck, Christ’s power is far above commensurate. He empowers everyone who places their trusting faith in Him—affording us the dynamic, engaged through faith, at the split second of need—that we may live a victorious, transformed life.

 

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules…?” Colossians 2:20 Whenever I read that “we have died with Christ,” I would sometimes scratch my head in wonder. I know the Bible says that I’m dead to sin, but I don’t always feel dead to it. Often I may feel kind of faint to it, but it’s difficult to feel completely dead to it. In light of this reality, what does it mean to consider our old selves dead in Christ? And how can we apply these scriptures to our battles against sin in a practical way?

 

Paul addresses this issue in Colossians 3:1-4 — Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (underscore mine)

 

First mentioned is how we who are saved have died with Christ, and then is added the corresponding truth: that we’ve also been raised up with Him. Paul also gives what, at first glance, sounds like rather impractical advice. “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth.” Paul is saying, To be capable of operating in the sufficiency of Christ—to have our works empowered by God here on earth, we need to be more heavenly minded, instead of so earthly minded.

 

To understand our text, as always, we need to view it in context. In the previous verses, Paul had been exposing the rules-based, asceticism of the false teachers—the Judaizers. Of whose false doctrine he says, is “of no value against fleshly indulgence.” In other words, observing those things from the law has no power to actually help us in our struggle against sin. In fact, the law only exposes our sin and makes it more difficult to always do what pleases the Lord. So he’s first showing us what does not work—what has no power to help us live in obedience to God.

 

Then in verses 5-9 we are exhorted to put to death the members of our body with regard to a list of sins that characterize the flesh—our old life. Scholarly Paul then elucidates the qualities that characterize those who’ve been redeemed. It’s quite revealing that now, instead of giving us the precise good virtues, he takes us straight to their application in our earthly relationships.  He utilizes some common relationships we find ourselves dealing with on a day to day basis: between wives and husbands, children and parents, and then between workers and bosses—how they should relate to one another (Col. 3:18-4:1). Finally, in chapter four, verses two through six, he exhorts the church to prayer, and to wise witness. He concludes the letter with a lengthy personal section in verses 7-18.

 

In the book of Colossians we find an empowering master key, both for conquering sins of the flesh, and for practicing godly relationships in the church, the home, the workplace, and the world in general. Here in Colossians the Spirit in essence is saying:

To win against sin, live in light of your new identity in the risen Christ.

 

That’s our intro. —For the sake of keeping these posts as short as possible, I’ve divided this study into three separate posts. Because I know your time is valuable. But if you think it’s important to have every single tool that God has to give us—if you feel it’s urgent that we learn how to live victoriously in Christ, then I pray you’ll visit for the following two posts as well.  Within the next couple days I will post part 2, and then within another couple days, the third and final part of the study. Be sure you’re set to receive notification when new posts are presented. Thank you and have a super power packed day!

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Foundation of Communication

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The Foundation of Communication

Is there someone you always seem to disagree with? You could be right. And we all love to believe we are right…right? But often we are wrong, and it takes a very mature, confident and wise person to admit when they are wrong. But usually it’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about the truth coming into our lives to provide clarity, lead us toward success, bring happiness, and to benefit those we love.

 

If you are only concerned with being the one who is always correct in their understanding, you will never be considered a wise person. It is towards the goal of being and remaining wise people that I have included the following information that I gleaned from professionals in various fields: Psychologists, Sociologists, Ministers of Christ, best selling Authors, Scholars and Great orators. What I present here may sound too rudimentary and basic, because it is foundational to good communications skills. And yet, the majority of our populace appears to be ignorant of these simple facts.

 

Some of my most profitable friendships have been cultivated from what began as disagreements. Often, after truly listening to, and understanding a person I had formerly disagreed with, I had to say, “I was wrong and you were right.” Wow! The respect those simple words garner is amazing. People respect you and trust you a whole lot more if they have heard you say those words. When we can acknowledge the times we are wrong, people will realize we are genuine—the real deal. I have made lifelong friends who now serve as wise counselors for me, and me for them, simply by humbling ourselves enough to improve our communication skills and begin to really hear, listen and comprehend, and even experience the feelings of the other guy.

When being good listeners we employ everything at our disposal: Eyes, ears, minds, and also our hearts.

We must learn to respectfully ask questions. Ask for clarification! Don’t simply guess what they meant by what they said, ask them. We could simply ask, “What do you mean by that?” This leads both parties to clear communication. The very same people I formerly disagreed with have now come to me for advice and for counselling. Whereas before, we seemed to always be at loggerheads.

But first I had to learn how to keep my flapper shut long enough to allow the discernment that God’s Spirit offers, to lead me. You don’t have to answer right away! Sometimes you might want to wait until the next day to answer. Many things require no answer, no rebuttal, and no response at all.

 

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” –Doug Larson

 

Whatever your occupation, you will become much more successful when you improve your communication skills. But we will never be good communicators until we learn how to listen and decipher what a person is really saying. All too often we only think we understand what is being spoken. One reason for this is that our minds tend to jump forward to what we believe they are saying, or are going to say, based on the first several words or the first few sentences. Multitudes of people either stop listening and/or interrupt the speaker before they’ve had a chance to lay a foundation for what they hope to relate. But the crux of what a person wants to communicate comes towards the END of their discourse—ALWAYS!

Usually people will automatically believe they disagree with what is said by certain people, because they have never really listened to them in the past. Instead of hearing the entire message and then mulling it over, they are forming a rebuttal while the speaker is still talking. They are convinced that the person is disagreeing with them. This reveals just how insecure they are with themselves. People fear being wrong, and they fear looking bad. Some folks are so insecure that they are shattered and feel devastated just because another person might know something they did not yet know, or the other guy had a better idea. Sadly, what people do in an attempt to avoid looking bad, actually has the opposite effect.

One of the ugliest blights upon the earth are people too arrogant to consider an idea that originated outside themselves. To the mature soul, memories of youthful arrogance are a source of stinging embarrassment.

 

I still love the following ancient little rhyme.

“A wise old owl sat in an oak. The more he saw the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Now wasn’t that a wise old bird?”

 

Listening well is the first step in becoming a great communicator. It will help us not only in conversation, but it is also the cornerstone of learning to become a great public speaker. Listen and ask for clarification, understand, craft your answer well and then speak. It’s a simple formula that’s been around since before Plato and Socrates, and both of them knew and used this formula as they spoke to huge crowds, as well as in their writings.

 

“Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening.” –Jeanette Winterson

Listening is done with more than just the ears, also employed are the eyes and especially the mind. In fact, good listening is actually PERCEPTION.

“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.” –Robert Baden-Powell

 

Notice how the way we feel towards a particular person or how we feel about any particular subject always throws a rusty wrench into the cogs of communicating. Our feelings should never enter into the equation of practicing good communication skills. Our feelings, if allowed, will stymie our understanding every time. If you’ve done much study of human behavior, you know how strong emotion and reason do not play well together. When communicating we want to allow intellect to rule over emotion. Powerful feelings can block a person’s access to higher reasoning and intellect which takes place in the frontal cortex of human brains.

 

“Never allow emotion to hijack what could have been a highly profitable conversation.”–SB

 

Good communication skills are a monolithic topic and there is much we could discuss. But these basics are an essential beginning point. Without them we would be dumber than a bucket full of hollow rocks. We would miss out on many blessings, friendships, and lose access to wisdom we could have made our own. That’s why it is my prayer that this little post will inspire folks to do some research, study, and learn how to become better listeners than we already are.

By the way, Jesus never has to worry about misunderstanding what another person says. He sees directly into every heart and He knows our motives and our every thought.

 

“Even before I have formed a word with my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely!” Psalm 139:4 

 

Blessings

 

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They Say Nay Nay

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“You’ll never amount to anything.” That’s what Mrs. Robinson, my sixth grade math teacher told me. Thankfully, I rejected her hasty assessment of my potential. That “F” stood out on my report card like a rebel flag at a civil rights march back then in the sixties. Math was my worst subject, until I determined to learn it on my own at the library, and learn it I did. But that was not to be the only time I’d hear demeaning and destructive words. I was told, “You are worthless.” And, “You will never succeed at anything.”

 

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When a child hears these types of statements, before long they start believing them. Mark was a camper at a youth facility in Lake Aurora Florida where I served as a counselor and was learning a few skills I’d need later on as a minister. At thirteen he’d given up on himself after being programmed to believe the naysayers. I praise God for giving me the words he needed to hear. He had said, “I just don’t have what it takes.”

It took some time. But after a lot of loving positivity, and having people around who believed in him, Mark grew into a confident and productive man. Breaking out as an artist in screen printing, he now has two thriving businesses and has written several books, one of which hit the top ten list. And that man can weave a sermon together like a beautiful tapestry.

 

“Never allow someone who has given up on their dreams talk you out of yours.”

 

It takes a special kind of ignorance to tear a person down with words. When it’s a teacher they could be speaking from frustration, because they were not capable of conveying the information to others. But in all fairness, let’s try to delineate their problem. I’m not one for assigning labels to people, and yet some turn into verbose demolition specialists; I call them psychologically deficient naysayers. Someone has hurt them in a similar way, and so they perpetuate the problem. We’ve all met someone like that at one time or another. Maybe they were a relative, a church leader, or our boss, perhaps. Understand that those pitiful people have a false idea about themselves. Consider their feelings of insignificance—most of them believe themselves to be failures in life. To compensate for their “less-than” estimation, they seek out others to tear down, verbally assassinating people’s sense of self-worth.

 

But thank God for His words of truth!

 

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Cor. 9:8

 

I like the adage that says, “God don’t make junk.” The Lord does not create worthless people; everyone is significant in His plan. Oh yes, some people are more gifted than others and are lifted up into the lime light. There are souls who have made tremendous contributions to the world. This is their time to shine.

But one day there’s going to be a whole lot of unsung heroes—little guys who are going to shine brighter than those who seek glory in this life on planet earth. Yes, the tables will turn. The world’s unknown humble servants will receive greater rewards and higher positions in eternity than the famous and affluent stars of today. Most of our high profile do-gooders receive the bulk of their rewards during this life below. Just think, if a soul seeks accolades from the world, they are considered by God to have already received payment in full for all the good things they have done.

 

Jesus talked about this several times, such as in Matthew 6:1-6. The first verse reads, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Matthew 6:1

 

Another time Jesus said, “Many who are the least now will be the greatest then. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.Matthew 19:30

 

BUT WAIT, there’s more good news for the seemingly insignificant people of the kingdom of God. You see, God uses you in ways you may never detect until eternity. For all you know you may have saved a stranger’s life simply by smiling at them or treating them with respect. If you’re a Christian there are times of which you are not aware, when God has used you in the fulfillment His plan. And what about all of the people you have prayed for? Done them a good turn? Spoke a bible verse to them?

 

Our job is to put our heads down into the work, rather than strutting around with chin in air and a swelled up chest demanding recognition. Trust God. If you’re not receiving the recognition you deserve, you are far more blessed than the big heads.

 

WAIT FOR IT, because there’s even more good news.

 

God has also promised to give us the desires of our heart when we take delight in the Lord. He promises blessings to us in every way and will grant us favor among the right people. All of this is, of course, contingent upon fulfilling the requirements He sets forth in order to have His favor rest upon us. The bible is clear on these areas: Do whatever the command is and you will receive such and such: current rewards. There are certain things we are not to do, and our obedience brings rewards in this life as well as in eternity. Do not do what we are commanded to do (love your neighbor, for example) and you may have to lose what you already have at present.

Every man’s work will be tried by fire. (See 1st Corinthians 3:11-15)

I happen to love words, syntax and plot twists a lot more than I do crunching numbers, so math was never meant to be my thing. I receive a good deal of pleasure and fulfillment by encouraging others and teaching bible. I love to inspire and to edify. So, here’s a question I hope everyone will consider often, as we live by faith in Jesus.

 

What significance do the things I accomplish on earth have in eternity?

 

If it has importance only in this life below, it’s not very important at all. If I am an important person only during my life on earth, I’m of no real significance. But If we are in Christ, and our hearts are set on Him, He will cause us to become fruitful, productive and of everlasting value. You are an important part of God’s eternal plan.

When they say “nay-nay,” just smile, and think of eternity. And then prove them wrong.

 

 

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Christina Grimmie

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There are already enough articles online that give all the particulars of this saddening event. This is not the time for that: for going back over the grisly details. We are not going to mention her killer, except for the fact that he was a stalker. And that afterwards he turned the gun on himself, and he, too, is now gone. We will never in this life have the opportunity to ask him “WHY?!”

It was June 10th 2016 when a million hearts were shattered as a young star was shot and killed after a performance at The Plaza Live in Orlando Florida. A blazing star soaring ever higher, Christina Grimmie was just beginning what looked to be a very promising singing career. On season six of The Voice she came in third place. Who could ever forget her mesmerizing performances and the way she could bring a smile to our hearts? Beautiful, sweet and innocent with the face and voice of an angel—such a waste. Maybe.

Christina was not just another pretty face and voice who was certain to do great things in the entertainment industry. She was also one of ours, a sister in the Lord Jesus. Perhaps God had a spot to fill in His heavenly choir that had been prepared just for her? But one thing is certain; all of us who are in Christ will one day see Christina again. With Jesus we have a hope that can never be dashed against the jagged rocks of disappointment.

But for today we grieve, we mourn, though not without hope as the world does. So let’s take a few moments to honor Christina Grimmie—a life cut short before she had a chance to show us what came next. We can only imagine.

But we remember…

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In case you missed this episode of 48 Hours detailing the horrors of having a stalker, which includes a segment on Christina Grimmie, as of this moment it is still available. See the link below. Please offer your thoughts on how our current stalking laws could be improved. Thank You.

48 Hours Episode

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Be Prepared

be-prepared

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” General Sun Tzu

I keep a slogan hung on the wall above my desk where each morning it reminds me of how important it is to start the day out right. It is the Latin slogan “Carpe Diem,” which means “Seize the Day.”

Though I’ve not yet reached dinosaur status, I’m far enough along to note how the longer one lives the more time seems to accelerate. The exceptional brevity of this life is especially noticeable when we juxtaposition it against eternity. There’s a sense of urgency to make the best use of the smidgen of time we’ve been allotted to prepare for the real life that is yet to come.

There have been days when I felt so rushed to get somewhere, or to accomplish what needed to be done that I neglected my quiet time with God. I was just now mentally comparing that forgetfulness with taking off on 200 mile drive and forgetting to fuel up the car. Those days never went the way they should have. I was not plugged into my source for all things needed, and my focus was all wrong, because I began thinking horizontally instead of vertically. It doesn’t take very many days like that to understand the seriousness of approaching every day under God’s direction, with eternity in mind.

Living in a sin cursed world makes it so easy to forget who we are in Christ Jesus. I need to prepare for whatever each day holds by first consulting the one who already knows what lies ahead.  Whenever I start out right I am more joyful, at peace and confident. I get more accomplished, and can see great purpose and significance in everything He leads me to do. It’s the best way to really make the day count for something. Even if it’s your job to scrub toilets, you can do the best job possible and make them shine, because you are doing it for the Lord. Whether I am teaching a class, building something, or simply cleaning up my dog’s poop off the side of the road, it is for Jesus, and that gives it importance. What a tremendous difference our perspective makes! When I remember to pull into the spiritual fueling station of God’s word, I am more productive—I can really seize the day!

One of the things I’m reminded of each morning as I read my Bible and pray, meditating and listening to God, is that I am a child of a king. We will one day reign with Him. We don’t have to fear what may lie ahead. Besides, we know there’s a subtle and powerful adversary out there just waiting to try and trip us up. Since we know it’s coming, it is prudent for us to prepare to face temptation. Only a fool would go into battle against a Goliath like Satan without careful preparation, having some form of protection, and a weapon.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” SunTzu

In Ephesians 6 we are told of the gear we’ll need to do battle in the spiritual sense. Yes, you’ve heard of this before. It’s called “The Armor of God”. We first show up and then suit up. Verse 11 tells us: Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Let’s briefly review each piece of armor. And please remember that if any one of these are missing, that’s the precise place where you will be attacked. The devil is a seasoned warrior—he knows how to take advantage of the slightest weak area in our defenses.

The belt of truth. God’s word, the Bible is our sure source of truth. When we are grounded and founded in His truth we don’t have to fear. It is difficult to deceive someone when they know the truth. We ourselves do not deceive; instead we reflect the light of God’s glorious truth.

The breastplate of righteousness Once Christ justifies us in the sight of God and His righteousness has been imputed unto us, we guard our righteous status. We do not return to the filthy sinful ways of the world that we have been cleansed from. This requires remaining in constant contact with the water of God’s word which cleanses us daily. We need that daily cleansing because we are going to make mistakes.

Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, We must always be ready to share with others how they too can be reconciled unto God. We must carry the Gospel message of salvation to the world. We must be able to share with others the scriptures which pertain to how we are saved.

 

Shield of faith, Faith is the catalyst that activates God’s power in our lives. Power to resist temptations and power to live a joyful and peace filled life. Faith is our shield against the attacks of evil: Believing completely and then acting based upon that belief.

The helmet of salvation, We must first be saved, establishing our citizenship in the Kingdom of God, which includes a myriad of benefits. We must confess our need for God’s grace and receive the gift of salvation by placing our faith in Christ Jesus and in His work at Calvary and at the grave. Our response to salvation is then obedience to Christ (We did say He is now our ‘Lord’, right?). We do so out of love and appreciation.

The sword of the Spirit, The sword of the Spirit is the word of God, alive and active. It is sharper than any two edged sword. It penetrates even to the dividing of the soul and spirit, the joints and marrow, it judges (discerns) the thoughts, intentions and attitudes of our heart. God’s word is a very powerful weapon against evil, in defending righteousness. But never use it against God’s own people. We learn to skillfully use God’s word to build people up. (But there’s also a time to tear down.)

We must carry God’s word in our hearts and minds if we hope to be victorious over the adversary’s schemes. Every day we must fine tune our focus in the light of a close relationship with Jesus Christ. The more time we spend with God, seeking His presence, the more power we assimilate into our lives. God is all-powerful. We need that power in our lives. It is a rough, tough world out there. But we don’t have to face it alone. Here’s a handy checklist.

  1. How is my focus today?
  2. Are my spiritual eyes open and perceptive to the underlying causes and effects going on around me, and within me?
  3. Did I spend some quality time with my sweet Lord today?
  4. Did I read my Bible and take it into my heart?
  5. Did I speak with Him and seek His counsel, His wisdom, and His purpose for me today?
  6. Did I start out clean and fresh, asking God to forgive my sins of yesterday?

If I’ve done all these I’m ready to:

CARPE DIEM – SIEZE THE DAY!

 

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What God Wants to Teach Us

Over the past two weeks I’ve been diligently seeking God’s will for the next phase of my life. I’m still praying over some aspects of what He is leading me to do. It is exciting to know that God has a plan for my future and for your’s as well. Jeremiah 29:11 states the following. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Whatever God has in store for you and I, we can rest assured that He is leading us towards great success! I’ve been doing a video series on godly success on YouTube. And because I’ve been so occupied with the other things God is leading me to do, I’ve neglected this blog. My apologies for that, and I plan to do all that is in my power to make it up to you. I have some excellent posts in the works. For now, I wanted to offer this 3rd video in the series, “Journey to Success”. Stay Blessed!

Journey to Success 3

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How-to: Be Successful (Step One)

SUCCESS 1

Do you hope for tried and true steps to lasting success?

Which work for every worthy venture on planet earth?

You want it to be clear and easy to understand?

“What’s it going to cost me,” you ask?

Here’s the entire cost up front: A little of your time & attention, and a lot of effort. That’s all it costs.

If you are reading further, I suppose you’ve decided to invest a little time and attention. So let’s move on to our efforts.

  1. TRUST IN GOD
  2. Be Willing to Change
  3. Be Determined & Persevere

Step one: Defining Success.

 I have a certain friend who loved to flaunt what he felt was his success. He had more money than most anyone else in our circle of acquaintances. He had more material possessions, and he had a great deal of influence in the world. He also had lots of associates who held him in high esteem. The sad part, however, is that he was not/is not happy; in fact he suffers great depression. Recently, the Lord allowed his entire life to come unraveled. His wife left him, his dog actually died, and his business was in the toilet. God was vying for this man’s attentions, and trying to teach him what real success is all about.

“When our ideas of success are contingent upon bank balances, popularity, influence over others, titles, or any other worldly endeavor, it is extremely temporary! Our success will be as fictional as Marvel’s superhero character, The Flash. Those temporal things can end in a blink of The Flash’s eye.”

Just as with my sad friend, most people today believe the definition of success that the world programs us to believe. We’ve heard it ever since we were toddling around in diapers. “You can do anything you want to do in life.” We are told “Just believe in yourself and try hard enough.” Here in America it is often billed as “The American Dream”. We’ve been taught things such as: “You can even be the President of the United States.” Or, “You can be the best.”

Right out of the starting gate we are programmed to think from an egocentric perspective: It’s all about me. But these notions are diametrically opposed to God’s outline of success for every individual on earth.

When our ideas of success are contingent upon bank balances, popularity, influence over others, titles or any other worldly endeavor, it is extremely temporary! Our success will be as fictional as Marvel’s superhero character, The Flash. Those temporal things can end in a blink of The Flash’s eye.

For Christians, even our identity is bound up in who and what Christ is. Our lives are centered on and around God (theocentric). Instead of struggling to be the best, where our efforts are zeroed in on ourselves, it’s all about Jesus. Our efforts are to serve Him, and to exalt Him in the best way we are able. We make Him the best instead of striving to make ourselves the best. Accordingly, when we do so, God elevates us to the best that we can be. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1st Peter 5:6
When we discipline ourselves to conform to God’s way of doing and thinking, He rewards us with success. But exactly what is God’s idea of success?

We will be offering God’s definition of success in increments, because success involves many things. It affects every area of our lives, including our finances, our station in life, our popularity, and more. We’ll discuss each of these in turn. But first let’s look at the most prominent characteristics of biblical success.

Success is taking the talents, skills and gifts that God has blessed us with, and putting them to work in a way that does the following.

  1. Trusts God
  2. Brings Glory to God
  3. Increases (Returns a Harvest)
  4. Keeps us Busy

This is not being the “Master of your own Destiny,” as we are taught by the world. Our destiny is in God’s hands, and we must trust Him enough to do things His way. In the Parable of the Talents (Mathew 25:14-30) Jesus indicates the criteria by which our lives as Christians will be measured.

In this teaching Jesus shows 3 servants, representing 3 children of God. There are three for a reason. The first two receive exactly the same rewards (verses 21 & 23). But they were given different amounts to work with. One had been given 5 talents to work with, and the next servant was given 2 talents to work with. The third servant received 1 talent to work with. The first man went to work with what his master had given him, five talents. He increased what he’d been given to double the amount. The second also put his 2 talents to work and doubled them. The one who produced 5 more talents received the exact same reward as the one who produced 2 more talents.

The third servant did nothing with his talent. He hid it in the ground until it was time for the Master to call upon all three of them to give an account of their labors. This is what each one of us must face: A day of reckoning, when we will be assessed for how well we used what God gave us to work with. It’s not the amount that is important. What we do with what we are given and how we use what we are given is what will be gauged. Jesus could have employed only two servants in his illustration, but he didn’t. He used three servants to show that just because one servant has more money, more talent, more skill or greater gifts, it makes no difference on the Lord’s measure of success. God’s expectation is the same for all of His servants and children. We are to use what we are given to the best of our ability for His glory and not our own.

Paul gives a good talk against the world’s egotistic and egocentric idea of success in 1st Corinthians 4. Look at verse 7: For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

How can we boast about having something that somebody gave to us? That’s like the kid at school whose parents are rich. And he or she think they are better than the other kids because they have more money, better clothes and an expensive car that daddy bought for them.

Let’s not think for a moment we are throwing out the good advice of being a hard worker. This is essential if we hope for success. But God is the one who gave you your brain, and your ability to think. Do you have a good head for business? That’s great, but God is the one who gave it to you. Do you work hard? Excellent! But God is the one who gives you the strength to do so. Besides, working hard is simply doing your duty. God gave Adam work in the Garden of Eden as a blessing, to give him extra purpose, and responsibility, without which no one can be happy.

Success is also being happy and satisfied as we accomplish what God has assigned for each of us as individuals to do. While at the same time, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. Now that, my friend, is step one for SUCCESS!

To be continued…

 

Categories: Faith, Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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