Saturday, June 27, 2015

7 Christian Principles to Grow Your Faith:

Building a Stronger Trust Series

Part 1 Virtue:

Faith is more than a simple belief in God. It’s a conviction so powerful it changes one’s heart. Nothing matches the experience of God’s presence. The Lord made it one of a kind, bringing the greatest impact to a believer’s life.

But faith without works is dead. See (James 2:14-26)

There are many scriptures bringing truth to the Apostle James message. This series will focus on the Disciple Peter Second Epistle (1:5-7 NKJV). Peter’s wisdom of adding virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love with faith is essential to salvation. Each of them when practice by themselves brought good results, but interwoven together an unshakable trust in God emerges. Those seven crucial spiritual actions are the backbone of a life centered in Christ.

Today we will focus on virtue. The Random House Webster’s Dictionary defines virtue as conformity of one’s life and conducts to moral and ethical principles. The Old and New Testaments support this definition and the entire Bible concern itself with conforming the mind, body and soul to the absolute truth of God.  

Virtue begins with humility. Pride is our biggest obstacle robbing us of God’s grace. The enemy tells us self-will is the answer, but hides the troubles associated with a prideful lifestyle. When we humble ourselves before God, then Christ uses our surrender against the evil one. Satan can’t penetrate Jesus’s armor.

When Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation, their conduct toward God changed. They discarded God’s perfect rules and became afraid of the Lord. Their disobedience cost them the Garden of Eden. This had a ripple effect throughout the centuries and is felt today. That is one reason we need to continue seeking Christ.

The Lord has given us a way out, and it’s His son Jesus Christ. Through our commitment with our Messiah, we find the real meaning of virtue. Christ holds the key to a life filled with holiness, righteousness, and godliness. Those Christian traits take effort on our part to sprout and grow.

The principles Christ makes available are both moral and ethical. Our Daily Bread starts with devotion. Worship is where Christ opens our hearts to God and cleanses our sins. The glorification of God places us in the best position in receiving His mercy and praising Christ brings forth grace.

Adherence to Christ’s commands is not an overnight matter. It’s a lifetime of dedication and acted upon one day at a time. Sometimes an hour by hour reliance is needed for the many hidden tribulations rise throughout a day. Sin is more constant and powerful than us, but acting upon Christ’s teaching takes them away. Living one day at a time makes it easier to follow God because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Christ opens the door to His values, but it’s a two-way street. God expects us to do our part. In the eyes of Christ our actions count. It begins with offering our lives to God without reservations. Then we discover surrender pays big dividends.

Humility paves the way so Christ can change our mindset, purify the heart and cleanse the soul. Our need for an eternal place in God’s kingdom outweighs the short-lived promises of the world. With God as our number one priority, we welcome opportunities for change and virtue attaches its self to faith.

I’m amazed the way God intervenes. In the midst of my misconduct, unethical behavior, and defiance Christ haven’t given up on me. The moment God shows me the disobedience, and I take corrective action then His mercy emerges. Christ has made eternal life so wonderful that I want to draw closer to Him. So virtue keeps me grounded in God’s word, and I understand the need for continual change.

Maybe your experience with virtue is different, or it doesn’t fit into your faith. We can agree our future is bleak without Christ. Another truth, we know is by God’s grace through faith we are saved (Ephesians 2:8) and receive the gift of Christ. God’s anointment of the Holy Spirit is an uplifting experience with everlasting results.  It’s our responsibility to grow our faith and virtue is there to aid us.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Isn’t God wonderful?

One mystery of God is being allowed the freedom of choice. Everyone is born with this choice. Freewill is a gift and holds the key to an up close and personal connection with God. Our experience coupled with Christ’s teachings proves we need the Lord every day, yet God leaves it in our hands to decide.

The moment we are attentive to God’s call and seek our whole life changes. There is no greater connection with the world than the one the Lord allows us to experience. Living in God’s Spirit will give the strength to sustain a world riddled with wickedness and places us on the road to eternity. 

When God introduces us to Christ, our entry into His kingdom is opened. We know this truth: Jesus told him; I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) 

Until one can accept this reality, hope for an eternal future is unavailable.

Once God anoints you with the Holy Spirit, the essence of salvation is understood. Eternal life is still elusive without the Holy Spirit. Our Father uses the Holy Spirit as the means to let us see the truth between salvation and an unsaved soul. The LORD made this experience one of a kind. Nothing comes matches its impact. It’s an awakening full of His glory and one with everlasting effect.

Have you felt the Holy Spirit? Or do you continue to experience the Holy Spirit? Is it daily?

Now armed with God’s facts, it becomes our responsibility to pick up our cross and walk with Jesus. It’s not how many times we drop the cross that matters to God. It’s picking it back up and trying that gets God’s attention. Failure to do so is fatal!

God promises us this: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

God’s faithfulness never ceases! He always follows through with His word. The Lord is perfect and never walks away from faithful followers. You can always count on Christ, but the ride isn’t free. The price is sacrificing the flesh.

How willing are you to deny yourself for the Lamb of God?

Our Father’s first calling is but a beginning, for faith without works is dead. Just recognizing the Lord’s voice isn’t enough to overcome the trials and tribulations hidden from our vision. A persistent reliance on Christ and vigorous action on your part keep you on the road to eternity. Nothing less will do for the enemy uses inactive faith as a tool for evil purposes.

Apostle James in his Epistle clarified it this way: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in the mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:22-24)

Sometimes I share the Gospel, but fail to live it. And the people around me notice my behaviors don’t match the words I speak. They hear me pass judgment on others, become irritated over matters and complain over life. Then they experience anger and fear running wild throughout my attitudes. In those times, I’ve returned to the darkness and have forgotten Christ’s Light of godliness.

But once my conscience exposes the disobedience, and I correct it, then God shows mercy. Through repentance the Lord forgives. And allows us to discover this: “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:25) 

Every time I act on Christ’s commands the blessing are abundant and my life is full of love. Then an incredible peace enters my soul, and the Holy Spirit becomes noticeable.

As we grow more active in faith, our ability to humble ourselves before Christ increases. Then we discover humility isn’t what we expected. It far exceeded everything we could imagine of living a life centered in selflessness. God makes humility so desirable we enjoy serving the needs of Christ and others. We don’t miss letting go of personal preferences for God renews us with heavenly treasures. Another quality of humility is remaining teachable. To know Christ on a deeper level involves learning and without staying docile we stop growing.

There are so many ways God interacts with us. Those are a few. Even though our relationship with Christ isn’t the same we can agree, God is the reason we exist.

Isn’t God remarkable!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

God Is

There is no greater gift than God’s love. Our Creator gave us life for free. It cost us nothing. The Lord created us in His image so we could have a personal consciousness with Him. But, to receive His blessing of love we need to embrace Him without reservations. Halfhearted efforts are fruitless, for God wants our undivided attention.

God never forces Himself on us, nor demand we believe. The Lord calls on us, but provided freewill where choosing Him is the entry into His kingdom. God’s mystery, of choice may never be understood but without it eternal life is unattainable.  

Our Father is diligent with His patience, unconditional in love and forgiving through mercy. The Lord is abundant with grace, powerful in healing and compassionate to His children. God knows everything.

His judgment is fair and just. He delivers us from evil and saves us. Our Father is glorious, righteous and understanding. God is protective, caring and holy.

Christ is the Lamb of God, the New Covenant and gatekeeper to heaven. Our Messiah is triumphant in the face of wickedness, victorious over Satan and the remission of sins. Jesus is King of Kings and Prince of Peace.

Christ is the Redeemer, Son of the Father and anointing of the Holy Spirit. God’s Son is selfless, giving and generous. Jesus is eternal.

You can’t find heaven in the fast lane. Its road is narrow and hard to navigate. Without Christ, it remains closed. Discovering the green light leading to salvation takes faith, trust, courage and self-sacrifice. Willingness is the vehicle needed to stay on the eternal terrain for the path to God’s mansion requires action.

There will be times when failure raises its ugly head, and we lose favor with God. But your steadfast trust in Christ during those times become stepping stones to a deeper faith. Every time we fall and become willing to pick up our cross, then the Lord steps in and comforts us. Then we realize God added His wisdom, and we learn the value of living in His kingdom. 

Reliance on Christ is the way and with His mighty strength temptations take a backseat. Unlike any other, this strength stops impulsive behavior that the enemy uses to keep us disobedient to God’s commands.

 As we grow with Christ, an uncompromising set of Christian standards develops, and the quality of integrity emerges. There are many distractions outside the God's kingdom and we are too weak to fight them off. Spiritual integrity is standing firm on God’s truth regardless of the sinful influences the world offers.  

 Through humility, we experience God’s Spirit alive in our hearts. We discover the real meaning of life where glorifying and praising the Lord becomes our passion. Christ leads us to a way of living pleasing to God, and the rewards are divine. Nowhere else can we find our true purpose in life. Jesus makes our lives whole and is the link to God.

The Lord’s love guides us to the Spirit of forgiveness. And those around us experience God’s unconditional love. When we let go of the wrongs done to us, in regards to those we struggle to love, it's a  reflection of Christ living in our hearts. The experience of giving forgiveness leaves an impression on them because the courage it takes in letting go comes from God. Here we are being used by Christ as an example of God’s ultimate truth.

I am grateful for the way God has unfolded my life. Those experiences mention earlier are the ways God has allowed me to find His truth. My past filled with disbelief yet the Lord changed my heart. Devotion has been the key. Prayer, meditation, and church are the outlets God has provided for me to continue seeking. I have learned each day is given. It’s my responsibility to live each day, according to God’s will. Even though I fall, short repentance brings me back on-board with Christ.

Your experience with God, Christ and salvation may be different. But we both can agree God is.

Friday, June 12, 2015

God’s Relentless Patience

God never gives up on you. He has a plan for your life. No matter how faltering we become, the Lord’s patience is in the shadows. We may never grasp the full scope of God’s mysteries, but our personal experience testifies with His forbearance.

God stands by and waits. The moment we humble ourselves the door to His grace swings open. Through repentance, Christ blesses us with mercy and God embraces us with forgiveness. It’s from living in the Lord’s will He expresses His delight with unconditional love!

In my past God was working behind the scene. I’m astonished, because, I should have died, or suffered physical and mental damage. Alcoholism, car crashes, and a serious suicide try should have done me in, but God had other plans.

Do you remember the first time when God silenced everything and made Himself known?

I do. It was in the summer of 1985. Working in the front yard planting flowers for my mother the earth came to life. The soil is filled with God’s Spirit and for the first time I understood He was real. He made my world stop and got my undivided attention.

Later that day the Lord had another experience for me to meet. It happened when I was driving my car. When I came around a curve the sun set in the middle of the road. The bright orange color glowing from its core captivated me. Stunned by this moment, God’s essence emerged in a profound way.

God had showed Himself, yet He knew this wasn’t enough. His plan for my life included periods of time when I lived in darkness and suffered the consequences of disobedience. Isolated, afraid and alone; He waited and watched my every move.

The darkest moment came in 1992 when my life spiraled out of control, and I attempted suicide. During this incident, God showed patience and protected me from death. (To gain a better insight of this suicide try reading the article “God’s Undeniable Love”)

Another major incident when God tolerated my disobedience was an eight-year escapade of drunkenness. Alcohol became my master and from 2003 to 2011 my spirit suffered. Sometimes the Lord called on me. He tried to help me take notice, but the thick dark blinders covering my eyes blocked His light. And the Lord waited for the precise time to rescue me.   

Every time I didn’t see His handy work He showed perfect patience. But God did not let me perish. One day the despair had gotten so intense I found myself on my knees praying. Then, without contemplating I hit bottom. The Lord quit waiting and disclosed Himself. So, on June 10, 2011 I drank alcohol for the last time.    

This time the Lord introduced me to Christ. God anointed me with the Holy Spirit and everything changed.  Jesus’s impact is eternal. I have accepted Him as my savior and the gateway to heaven. I know the changes He has made in my heart, mind, and soul.

Today I understand God is patient and problems are temporary. Troubles are an opportunity for spiritual growth, and Christ holds the eternal solution. Another crucial lesson I’ve learned is the Christian actions I take when I’m waiting for the Lord’s answer. Faith in action during good and troublesome times builds an unshakable trust in God.

God is incredible!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

God’s Remarkable Gift:
The Mind

One of the greatest gifts God has given us is our mind. Embracing God with the mind places it in His hands so He can purify our thoughts. To connect our minds with Christ goes beyond an occasional thought. It’s a daily and a conscious effort to ponder on God’s truth.

The Lord’s unique design of the brain includes two distinct functions.
In the physical sense, it connects the other parts of the body. The brain sends out commands for the heart to beat, lungs breathe and blood to flow. It activates the nerves pinpointing pain. We don’t have a role in the way the brain works.

The other purpose is for retaining and processing information. The Lord understood, we need to store His knowledge. So He created the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind.
This astonishing ability where we can know about our surroundings and store data is incredible. God is remarkable! The Lord thought of everything.

There is a reason our Father separated the two. God’s gift of free will puts us at a turning point. The Lord never forces Himself on us. We have a choice. And it takes a mental decision on our part to follow Christ.
You know God wants to be placed above everything. And centering His word inside your mind is the key.

There are different types of meditation. Most of them are geared toward emptying thoughts from the mind. But the meditation the Bible teaches is bringing God’s word into the mind.

Christian meditation is essential in developing a spiritual mindset. In Joshua 1:8 God showed to him the benefits of “The Book of the Law”. Another scripture is Psalm 1:2. It highlights meditation as a way of pleasing God.

God has provided us with an abundance of prayers and scriptures to pursue with the mind. To ponder on the Lord’s word is to engage the mind with His truth. And the primary aim becomes putting put right doctrine inside our subconscious.

I have gained a deeper connection with God as the result of meditation. My spirit uplifted, and my heart radiates with God’s love. The Holy Spirit dwells within my soul, and Christ presence is present.

One of my favorite prayers to meditate on is the Prayer of Saint Francis.
When I pause after each verse and receive its message, my mind opens. I’m able to receive the wisdom from the words. The more I meditate on this prayer, the better I become at living in God’s will. As the result, I find myself closer to the Lord. In return my ability to love, forgive and serve others increases. The spiritual energy I find keeps me active in meditation.

The Prayer of Saint Francis is optional. There are countless Christian prayers at your disposal.

Meditation is neat, and it never gets old. It brings God into our minds. No matter if you are a seasoned veteran or new to meditation God wants our minds.