Friday, November 28, 2014

Integrity: Standing Firm On God’s Word

   One of the keys to a faith that works under all conditions is standing firm on God’s Word. The spiritual warfare going on in the world today isn’t surprising. Throughout history and in all centuries there have been many people stirring up false accusations about God.

   They refuse to accept the truth about creation. Christ has made it clear that no one will know the time when He returns and separates the just from the unjust. It will come like a thief in the night. Sound Christian actions based on Christ characteristics will prepare you for that time.

   There is no better protection from God’s wrath than accepting Christ as your Savior. It didn't matter when Christ saved you the only thing God wants is your active participation in remaining in salvation. Half-hearted efforts avail nothing.   

    Christianity is all about proper presentation and integrity is living by an uncompromising set of Christian principles. Real integrity is unshakable because it is taking a stand for righteousness especially under persecution. So, the more you are centered in Christ, the better you will become at staying spiritually grounded under all circumstances.

   Living with Christ will prevent any person, place or world event from destroying your bond with God. You may experience discomfort or have trouble adjusting to them, but the Lord ensures those who are willing to stay faithful won’t be gravely affected. This is great news and an incredible display of God’s gracious love.  
   Most of the Apostles faced fierce condemnation from carrying the Christ message to the corners of the world. Their faith never faltered because the Holy Spirit shielded them from the evil one. They possessed Christ’s perfect courage, and nothing man did to them changed their stance.

   If you are willing to turn your will and life over to Christ without any reservations, you too can find the same position as the Disciples. Abandoning yourself to Jesus makes all the difference in God’s eyes. God takes care of those who abide in Christ. As the result of your faith, your life will take on a new meaning filled with purpose and usefully whole.  
   True believers know that Christ can defend Himself. The Bible has many examples testifying to God’s mighty strength. Let’s look at Moses. Here the Lord used him with Aaron’s aid to lead the Israelites out of captivity and into the promise land.

   Every time Pharaoh refused to obey God’s request the severity of God’s wrath intensified. The ultimate price Pharaoh paid was the death of his son, and all Egyptians became terrified of the power of God. The only option left for Pharaoh was to free God’s children.

   In your journey with Christ, you will discover there is no need to argue, get upset or convince anyone to become a believer. Proclaiming the death of Christ and professing His resurrection with others is a part of God’s will. We have to follow that command in order to continue growing spiritually. Integrity will allow you to share and exemplify the truth of salvation and understand that Christ is the one that saves lives.    

   Earnestness, honest, and faithful action are essential in building a solid character firmly planted in salvation. Without those spiritual qualities, there is no way any individual can find eternal life. They are the main ingredients in sincerely trusting Christ under all conditions and circumstances. Those indispensable principles combined radiate the essence of integrity to those around you.

   Another excellent benefit from living soundly with Christ is the way people gravitate to you. Others can count on you because they know you are true to your words. Your actions in following, applying and learning to live in the footprints of Jesus demonstrates to God your personal integrity of placing Them above anything else in your life. In return, you will be blessed with the gift of discipleship.  

   Now that we have a basic understanding of spiritual integrity, then it becomes our responsibility to improve our ability in fostering its fruitfulness. The only way we can accomplish that is to let go and let Christ control our lives. We will be amazed how our whole outlook on life has changed and found an abundance of heavenly treasures.  

Question for today: What does integrity mean to you and is it beneficial to your personal relationship with Christ?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Narrow Way: The Right Way

How do you stay on The Narrow Way?

   The road of redemption is a beautiful and a wonderful way of traveling because it is the path Christ built for you to meet God. Its scenery is appealing both visually and consciously, and your spirit will awaken to the Lord’s transcendent grace. Christ will give you all the directions needed to find and remain on the narrow way. All you have to do is be an active part of His life.

   That highway is available to anyone who picks up their cross and walks in the footprints of the Messiah. Your decision to travel down the freeway of eternal life was set in motion the moment Christ accepted you through the Holy Spirit. God chose you to be a part of His kingdom, and the Savior will ensure you a place in God’s world.

   However, the condition of your vehicle (soul) will determine how smooth or rough the ride. Do you find yourself always needing a major spiritual overhaul or have you grown enough with Christ that a tune-up keeps your heart in good working order. Are you easily frustrated over the uncontrollable circumstances life doles out or do you adjust to those situations with faith and courage.

  Here is where the rubber meets the road and separates real believers from unbelievers because faith works in foul or fair weather. In other words, relying on Christ in good times prepares you when the tide turns and difficulties arise. God responds to continuous work not procrastination and faith without action is useless.

What stops you from maturing spiritually?

   My biggest stop sign is pride. That five-letter word is a stumbling block trying its best to draw me away from the straight and narrow. There are many masks it hides behind, and every one of them ends in deception. Ego is Easing God Out, and this always leads to a dead end because I am lost without Christ.

   It doesn’t matter if I am behaving selfishly or seeking some personal recognition from a good deed. The results are the same and are a prime example of my disconnection from Christ.

   The more willing I am to surrender my will and life over to Christ’s care and protection, the better I become at sidestepping pride because humility is the antidote to self-centeredness. One of my greatest assets in practicing humility is acting selflessly by setting aside time and helping others without expectations.

   I am grateful Christ has revealed to me that when pride enters my heart all I need to do is pause and humble myself to Him. When I do this, the results are phenomenal and inspires me to spend more time with Him.

Do you have a danger zone affecting your trust in Christ?

 I do. One of the most dangerous places for me to live is in complacency. I never knew this four-syllable word could cause me so many problems. In the year 2000 without realizing it, my approach with God became complacent. I began drifting away from the Lord, because I felt safe enough to stop giving Him my best efforts.

    Unconcerned with the consequences from my lack of Christian action was my undoing. I believed I was protected, and no harmful circumstances could affect me. Boy was I wrong. The next eleven years of my life consisted of bitterness, hopelessness, and misery. Divorce, alcohol abuse and living life in the fast lane took me away from Christ, and God waited patiently for me to stop rebelling.

   One day, in June of 2011, I found myself in so much despair I started praying. God decided to intervene and answered that prayer. The Lord delivered me from the bondage of self and sent Christ to save me. When I became willing to humble myself to Jesus and confessed my wrongs, then He laid down the path for me to follow. Today my life is filled with many spiritual gifts, and I am careful not to take for granted what has been so graciously given to me.

Where do you find your Christian road map?   

   Living with Christ will allow you to stay focused on the right way and avoid many of the potholes hidden from the driver’s seat. The Lord will steer you in the right direction and shield you from the wreckage of reckless or careless maneuvers. The Messiah will guide you through all the twists and turns along this long and winding road.  

   Christ’s driving instructions come from God. The Bible is the only road map with the correct route to eternal life. There is no better Manual for rightful living than one the one God has designed. Every detour you will need in staying on the right track comes from a life centered in Christ. You will not be let down because God makes no mistakes, and Christ is not an accident.

   Maybe you have a different outlook on the narrow way. None of us are exactly the same and God uses His unique way in getting our attention. The Holy Spirit allows us to agree that the narrow way is real, and Christ teaches us the difference between rightful living and the dangers of disobedience. The only thing that matters in God’s eyes is that we are faithful in following Christ.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Spirit of Forgiveness

   The spirit of forgiveness is a powerful Christian characteristic demonstrating to others the difference Christ makes in living a saved life. Here believers and unbelievers come face to face with God’s perfect love.

   The key in unlocking its fruits comes from applying God’s Word. Growing more Christ-like, our minds, hearts and souls become an instrument of His will, and we discover how pointless it is to hold on to bitterness. The wisdom behind this act of brotherly love is not by accident, but granted by God.      

Do you remember a time when God forgave you?  How did it make you feel?  

   I do. One day I was sitting in my car, and God distinctly spoke to me and said “I forgive you.” Usually, the Lord is more subtle in revealing His voice, but this time He profoundly got my attention.

   It was serene, freeing and incredible. I felt my soul being cleansed, and understood the significance of this experience. I shed a tear and thanked Him from the bottom of my heart. Right then, I knew God wanted me to know how much He loved me, and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude emerged.

  The biggest reason we should forgive others is God Himself. If He is so willing to forgive us, then there are no excuses in returning the favor to those who hurt us! God father’s us and letting go and loving others, regardless of what they do is learn from Christ. It is pleasing to the Lord when you forgive, especially the tough ones where you are deeply affected by the sin of another. 

What type of forgiver are you?

   In our journey with Christ, we will know that there are different degrees of forgiving. The type of wrong inflicted, the offender and severity of the infraction will determine the actions needed in finding peace in the turbulence.

   When the person responsible for the opposing behavior is so painful, it seems impossible to find a forgiving place in our hearts. No matter how injurious those unpleasant situations are, the will of God is to forgive (The Lord’s Prayer) and leave the judgment in Christ’s hands (Matthew 7: 1-6)     

   It is easy to forgive those whom we really love, trust and like. Our courage in discarding the discomfort from their wrongful action is readily available because we are accepting of their ways. Even though we disagree with their damaging conduct, we understand their human nature and are willing to clean the slate. There is not a lot of efforts required in forgiving those we have affection towards.

   The real challenge is forgiving someone we really dislike or despise. That is where we will find the type of forgiveness that lies in our hearts. Here, under these conditions we will know the strength of our spiritual well being.

   Do you cling to “justifiable anger” and feel you have the right to continue being sore for an injustice?  

   No one is immune from anger. We all get angry, and Christ doesn’t expect us to be free from getting mad. It is in our emotional DNA to become upset when someone acts out inappropriately and causes us harm without provocation. God knows this and understands that initial reaction.

   However, when we take it beyond this point and internalize an ill feeling towards our neighbor, then we cut ourselves off of exemplifying Christ’s commandment of loving our enemies. In the Gospel according to Matthew (5:43-48) the Messiah clearly and directly explains the correct way of responding to our adversaries.

   It may take you a while in reaching the point when, you are blessed by God’s grace and released from your discord. The Lord will relieve you from the disturbance, but you have to be an active participant. There is no magic wand or crystal ball that will soften your heart. Devotion and dedication are essential in finding serenity from an unforgiving spirit.

   Only Christ can provide you the strength, strong enough in overcoming the wickedness of evil people. Prayer is its key and perseverance is critical in God’s eyes. The Lord is pleased when you keep seeking Him through thick and thin. Giving up before He performs His miracle in your life would be a mistake.

    We have to remember the Messiah has a different timetable in providing us the freedom from our emotional baggage. Christ does assure us that if we walk in His footprints anything is possible, including forgiving our worst enemies. God takes care of us for as long as we stay willing, able and ready in carrying out His will.

   As we continue maturing spiritually, our ability to forgive increases because the guidance we receive from Christ is an essential part of salvation. No matter how seasoned we become there is always room to improve on our Savior’s commands.

   Maybe you have a different outlook on forgiveness. Leave a comment and share with me the way you forgive. I would love to learn from you. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Selfless Giving: Following The Lead of Christ’s Compassion

   One of the greatest Christian responsibility is selfless giving. When Christ accepts us into salvation through the Holy Spirit, we tap into His compassion. Our hearts become open, and we develop a sincere desire to help the welfare of our neighbors. We become acutely aware of the suffering of others, and God inspires us to get involved with the needy.

   In this media driven world, it’s increasingly apparent for Christians to unite together and help the thousands of people who struggle with making ends meet. God uses the news, internet and social networks as a reminder of the many who don’t have the means in meeting their basic needs for human survival.

   Starvation, homelessness and curable diseases are widespread daily occurrences affecting men, women and children around the globe. So many people are living in poverty, and the resources available to them are limited. There is always a need to add others who can help the cause. Maybe there is something you can do?

   The best way any of us can share with those living in poverty is the actions we take in helping them. Giving is a commitment because words are meaningless when it comes to caring for the needy. Good intentions only materialize when implemented. As a result of following Christ’s direction, He places us in a position to be of maximum service to others.

   By volunteering your time, resources and efforts you bring Christ’s compassion into the lives of the less fortunate. This up close experience with God gives them hope and the expression of relief on their faces are worthwhile. Making a difference in someone's life is uplifting, meaningful and part of God’s will.

  You don’t have to look far in finding an abundant amount of opportunities available for your services. There are missions, non-profit charities and local establishments specially designed to provide food, shelter and medical help. Your church is an excellent place to discover many of those charities.  

   The internet has an enormous library of information on finding those organizations. Whether local or abroad, there are opportunities for anyone wanting to get involved and lend a helping hand. If Christ is willing to set aside time to save us then there are no reasons to be blind to those in the greatest need for food, air and shelter.

   All of us can do something to ease poverty. We may be limited due to a number of circumstances. Selflessness has little to do with quantity. It’s the quality of giving that matter to God. No matter how large or small the contribution Christ will distribute it abundantly.  

   Remarkable things happen from God when you follow His command and give of yourself to help one of His children. Compassion will fill your heart, and the Holy Spirit will inspire you to continue giving selflessly. You will know real brotherhood and want to grow closer to Christ.

   The wisdom needed in finding your niche in selfless giving is found through your reliance on God. Everything in our Christian journey centers in the Lord and God has a specific plan for each one us. Christ will guide you where He sees fit in using you to help the poor. Your preparation is critical.

What are some of the things you do in helping others?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Power of Glory

   We are truly blessed! God freely gave us the gift of life and through Christ the only passage into His kingdom. The Lord’s strength is more powerful than evil. The Bible contains many testimonies of those truths and points out His only request is for us to place Him first and follow the Messiah’s teachings.

 Once Christ accepts us into salvation through the Holy Spirit, then it becomes our responsibility to praise, thank and glorify Him. Failure to do this brings an unrelenting suffering and exclusion from eternal life. Until we come into agreement with God, His grace is out of reach.

   When we study the Bible in regards to glory, there are two distinct ways we are to understand it. First is God’s glory and the other is our glorification of Him. The Lord’s glory is powerful and will always bring us His grace. When we glorify Him, we are in accordance with the First Commandment by demonstrating our commitment in placing Him above anything else in our lives.

  The separation of the two Testaments was designed by God because He never gives up on calling His Children to know the truth. They both contain valuable lessons in living a glorious life. Their merit has held true throughout all centuries. The only difference between them is the New Testament has the only road to the Father’ mansion, and that is through Christ Jesus.

Old Testament

   Before the coming of Christ and in the days of the Old Testament the Lord worked through men and women to communicate the manner in which to glorify Him. He also demonstrated the power of His glory. In those days, there were plenty of clear and precise scriptures attesting to His words of praising and glorifying Him.   

   In Noah’ generation man’ lack of praising, the Father was their undoing.  In God’s grievance over the wickedness of mankind, He decided to destroy all living creatures. It was no accident that God chose Noah to provide the strength to right the wrongs of humanity.

  Noah was righteous and obedient to our Creator, and God experienced his glory. In return, the One who presides over us all, gave Noah the keys to His kingdom with the responsibility of repopulating the earth. This cleansing of the earth was God’ covenant with Noah. (Genesis 6-9)

   Another excellent example in the Old Testament of God’ glory is Moses. The Lord’ compassion for His people was set in motion when He got Moses attention with the burning bush. The Creator had decided to answer the prayers of Israel and designed a plan for their freedom. The Lord used him to lead the Israelites out of captivity and into the promise land.

   Moses with Aaron’ aid took on the difficult task of confronting Pharaoh about freeing God’s people. This challenging feat required Moses to act in faith and follow the Lord’s direction regardless of the circumstances. Pharaoh’s failure to acknowledge God’s glory was catastrophic to Egypt. This display of the Lord’ power placed fear in the people of Egypt and devastated Pharaoh.

   Every time Pharaoh refused to adhere to God’ request the severity of the consequence intensified. The first nine plagues was not enough to convince Pharaoh to allow the departure of the children of Israel. The price Pharaoh paid was the death of his son before he would set free the Israelites. (Exodus 5-12)

   In Psalm 86:12 David left us this: “I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forever.”(NKJV) Here he revealed the proper approach needed in order to glorify God. Paying homage to the Lord without any reservations opens the door to His eternal dwelling place. This honoring of our Creator is not a one time deal, but a lifetime commitment. The more we worship Him the difference He makes in our life radiates to those around us. This attraction or rejection from others is the Lord’ way of exposing the truth of His word.

   The experience that Noah, Moses and David had with God’ glory are the same. They heard the Lord’s calling, acted in faith and trusted Him to carry out the will of the Father. The resolution to those situations was a direct result of God’s mighty strength. We too will find the same truths. The only requirement is our undivided attention to our Father.

New Testament

   The message of the coming of Christ came through the Prophet Isaiah. God used Isaiah to reveal a new path to heaven. God promised never to destroy the living species roaming the earth (Genesis 8:21).  Many of God’ people still did not live according to His instructions and the Ten Commandments were not enough to soften the human heart.

   So it was time for the Lord to implement an up close and personal involvement with humanity. God delivered the world with His only begotten Son and this new covenant with the world is still in place today. There is no doubt that the only way to the Father is through Christ and in order to glorify the Lord, we must pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

   In the Gospel of John, the Messiah left us this (John 11:40) “….Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (NKJV) Here Christ was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. Martha his sister was grieving and doubtful. This powerful message from Christ reinforces that faith in action always brings God’s glory. Faith is the cornerstone in building an unshakable personal relationship with God. It is only by applying faith that we can trust Christ and find a spiritual courage, strong enough to withstand the worst cards life has to offer.

  Let us look at a verse that explains the essence of Christ’ death, resurrection and ascension. In the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, he shared this: (Romans 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NKJV). When Jesus rose from the dead, this gave birth to salvation. His selfless sacrifice removed the debris blocking the way to God’ kingdom. Christ’ death was for the remission of sin. Salvation did not abolish sin, but provided a way for repentance and God’s forgiveness to penetrate the soul and purify the heart.

   Every time we act out and misbehave, our ability to glorify God ceases. Our Father loves us so much that He has given us a daily opportunity to seek forgiveness and live in Christ footprints. We have to be a willing participant by taking action and continue building Christian character. All the Messiah is waiting for is our desire to rely upon Him in all our affairs.

   The Bible says, defines and provides the steps needed to give and experience God’s glory. We have only discussed a few of the many Bible references about the importance God emphasizes about worshipping Him. The focal point of praising God is that it is not a noun but a verb. In other words, we have to be active in expressing it because knowledge is limited, but wisdom is powerful.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Everlasting Happiness

   What makes you happy? Is it long lasting or short lived?

   Everyone has the ability of being happy. God designed every man, woman and child with the same emotional DNA. Our Father allows us the freedom to choose the way we live. Believers and nonbelievers can find contentment. So the question becomes what makes happiness everlasting.

   The biggest stumbling block in finding happiness with weight and depth is pride. When we rely solely on self to be content, it is short lived because we have attached a personal agenda to it. We can easily fall for false joy because we live in a world that continues to preach self-reliance will bring us enjoyment. However, the ineffectiveness this type of living generates is God’s way of exposing the discord the world is without His aid.   

   Pride is the master of deception and will blind us from real joy. This spiritual killer entices us to chase after material or prestigious bliss by promising us satisfaction but leaving us desiring more. It leads us to believe we have complete control over the events of our lives, yet we become discontented and fall deeper into despair. Living in an unsatisfied state of being is a direct result from failing to embrace God.

   Humility is the antidote for pride. When we humble ourselves before Christ, a whole new outlook upon life emerges and a shift in what brings us happiness surfaces. Humility leads to gratitude, and when those are working together, there are many cheerful occasions.

   The two focal points that are the cornerstone for happy, joyous and free living are devotion and selfless service. Those deriving out of living a righteous life through adhering to Christ divine lessons. The heart becomes purified from placing Jesus first and following His way of interacting in the world.

   As we open ourselves up to the Lord the difference He makes shows up in our thoughts, actions, attitudes and behaviors. Christ in return uses us to selflessly serve our neighbors, and we became usefully whole. Happiness is the outward expression of the inner joy Christ brings to those who follow Him.

   Everlasting happiness only comes from walking in the footprints of Christ. The biggest room in the world is a room for improvement. There is always room to improve living a Christian life. God makes no mistakes, and Christ never fails us. Praising and glorifying God will always bring joy. Christ is its key.