Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Lost Meaning of Thanksgiving

Have you noticed?

Thanksgiving has changed.

Decades ago this Holiday meant a time for our country (USA) to stop and give thanks for the nation. Most businesses closed their doors so they could spend time with family and express gratitude for each other.

I remember a time when walking into a store and saw a big display of Thanksgiving goods. Every section of the store had many choices to buy Thanksgiving nick knacks. I felt connected with Thanksgiving.
This tradition still goes on, but it has lost its punch.

Today the misuse of Christmas has taken preference. Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving night. Stores are displaying Christmas stuffs before Thanksgiving Day. Cities are decorating their streets with Christmas lights the week before Thanksgiving.

It’s not surprising this change has occurred. The USA has gone astray from the spiritual principles their founding fathers set for guidance. They included God in separating themselves from British rule.

In the Bible, we are taught to be watchful. It warns us how the evil one uses the world to destroy the godliness of the human soul. Satan uses family destruction against God is. And the United States government has opened the door for the devil to play havoc in the family.

Abortion (1973) and same-sex marriages (2015) are facts of the unholy direction the United States has taken. That is a sign of how the Devil uses man laws to abolish the family sovereignty of God. Those laws have destroyed human life (Exodus 20:13) and God’s intended purpose of marriage (Genesis 2:24). And no human power can reverse their devastating consequences. It’s up to God.

Remember, we are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are His gift and cannot afford to live outside His commandments. The narrow way is tough to follow for it takes abiding in Christ to stay on heaven’s path. God’s wrath is real. Sodom and Gomorrah reduced to ashes and the great flood of Noah’s generation wiped out the world population (2 Peter 2:5-6). God’s verdict to disbelief is eternal damnation.  

God has blessed me with a family full of love. Each year we gather in Carrollton, Georgia to celebrate Thanksgiving. My family isn’t small. I have four brothers and four sisters. Mom now eighty-six, and dad gone ten years. Six of us will be in attendance along with many nieces and nephews.

Preparation for such a large gathering has many challenges. My sister-in-law is terrific for she prepares most of the meal. Her selfless service is wonderful watch. And I can see God working in her spirit. I’m grateful to be a witness of God guiding her life.

As Christians, we know it’s imperative to place God above everything. We understand giving thanks to God is daily. Our walk with Christ is an hour by hour commitment and not reserved for times of emergencies. Faith without works is fruitless and a setup for disaster.

May Christ be your guiding Light in these dark times.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Evidence of God’s Living Spirit

Everywhere we turn the proof of God is obvious. It’s in His creation of humans, other creatures, the earth, and universe. 

But the evidence doesn’t stop at His creations.

The underlining reality of God is His divine presence. God made us in His image and placed His spirit inside our souls. Every human being is God’s creation, but the choice to experience His living Spirit is up to Him.    

No one can force God to show Himself. Adam and Eve couldn’t nor Noah, Moses or Ruth. The same for John the Baptist, the Twelve Disciples and Paul. You can’t, neither can I.

The essence of God is the elegance of His grace. When Adam and Eve sinned and fell from God’s favor then the way He showed Himself to humanity changed. This original sin gave birth to faith.

In the Old Testament, you will find different ways God tried to teach His people faith. Noah’s generation didn’t understand and found out God’s mighty wrath. The Israelites continued to struggle with faith and held captive several times for their indifference towards Him. God used prophets as guides, but to no avail. Their inability to grasp faith blocked them from God’s Spirit and set in motion His new covenant.

From the beginning, God’s plan included Christ (John 1:1-5). It’s our Messiah who gives us spiritual life so we can live in God’s Spirit. God made Christ as the sole entry into His kingdom and faith in our Messiah opens the door to heaven.   

Real faith is humbling oneself before Christ. A simple belief isn’t enough for even the Pharisees believed God’s existence. And Jesus exposed the Pharisees as disbelievers. So faith goes beyond the knowledge of God.

Faith is sacrificing personal interest, trusting God’s plan and living in the body of Christ. By abandoning ourselves over to Christ’s care without reservations, we receive God’s grace and the gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8). Once God saves us, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit and experience God’s undeniable presence.

Now filled with God’s Spirit, we find an inner strength beyond our own. We are given the courage to continue picking up our cross, abiding in Christ and living in God’s will. This keeps us in God’s Light, and we know our suffering doesn’t compare to the way Christ suffered on the day of His crucifixion.  

Placing God above everything, loving others, forgiving those who hurt us and selfless service is the evidence of a Spirit-filled soul. Those spiritual attributes radiate to others the way God lives in the life of the faithful.  

I used to live an unsaved life. Everything revolved around me, and my self-serving motives dominated my actions. I was a drunkard, womanizer and ungrateful. The results from living in spiritual darkness killed my spirit and left me suicidal. I wanted to die, but God rescued me.

The Lord saved me, and I’m forever grateful for His mercy. I no longer live in blindness for Christ has shown me the eternal light. God’s Spirit revived my soul, and Christ’s death washed me clean. The evidence of God’s presence renews my faith and inspires me to live holy. God leaves me no excuse not to glorify Him.  

The proof of God’s living Spirit is both internal and external. A life centered in Christ soften the heart tames the tongue and renews the soul. The actions of a Christian show the righteousness of God. God is inescapable.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

 Building a Christian Character

The greatest way to show the world God is alive is centering ourselves in Christ’s sovereignty. A life anchored in God radiates to others a Spirit full of love, forgiveness, and selfless service. A real Christian’s character manifest the way Christ lived when He was here on earth. So it becomes our responsibility to abide in Christ, pick up our cross and stand firm on God’s word.

The essence of a Christian is for Christ to use His faithful believer as a living witness to God’s truth. To the believer, this means unity in the body of Christ. And for the unbeliever, it’s an up close look (1 Peter 2:12) at the impact God has in relieving the pains of sin. This truth doesn’t speak in words. It is lived in spiritual action.
Building a Christian character is an essential part of a believer’s conviction. It has two key components. First, it includes a sanctified life where faith in God through Christ removes sin and makes us holy. The other is an edified life full of God’s mercy, grace and a continual willingness to grow more Christ-like. They are as crucial to a Christian’s life as are air and water are to our physical survival.

Sanctification begins with God’s gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Here, God has blessed us with His mercy and is pleased with our faith. Glorifying God through trusting in His word is favorable to Him. God wants to save us and does if our faith is in Christ (John 14:6). The Lord preserves our souls so we can glorify Him in heaven. Without this gift, our room in His house doesn’t exist, and we end up in the fire of Gehenna.

Once God saves us, then He anoints us with the Spirit of truth (John 14:16). God uses the Holy Spirit as undeniable proof of His existence. You will know the time it happens for the purity of God’s presence is overwhelming, astounding and extraordinary. Satan can’t match the indescribable love God brings to you. This is a transcending soul changing experience with heavenly rewards. 

It’s the Holy Spirit that unites us to God and Christ as one and completes the Trinity. Here we become spiritually whole, and our souls spared from God’s wrath. God is astonishing and allows us a way out of sin and into His eternal care. And the original sin, Adam and Eve committed washed clean through the baptism of Christ’s resurrection (1 Peter 3:21).

God’s grace is remarkable, and that motivates us to improve our spiritual lives. A willingness to grow under spiritual lines is the backbone of edification. Humility plays an integral role in a holy life. One quality of an edified life is staying teachable and being humble means we learn from Christ’s divine wisdom.

Alone we can’t overcome sin. Our willpower is useless for we don’t have the spiritual muscle required to win the battle over evil. Satan is cunning and uses subtle ways to convince us to walk away from God. This is the reason we can’t afford to become complacent.

Complacency is being satisfied with our current spiritual progress unaware of hidden dangers. Evilness is a patient foe waiting for an opportunity to destroy us and by staying spiritually stagnant the door to disaster swings open. One of the greatest defense against our adversary the devil is to continue strengthening our dedication to Christ. Jesus has defeated evil and for us to have His protection means we must be diligent in our Christian actions.
Now we have a general understanding of the characteristics of building a solid Christian foundation, then we can see the need to continue to improve. And God makes His affection so irresistible we want to continue building our eternal lives. 
 Isn't God incredible!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Embracing Christ

Embracing Christ begins at the cross. An acknowledgment of the Crucifixion of Jesus isn’t enough for understanding its relevance. We have to absorb His reason for suffering. Here we need to concede to our innermost selves the eternal significance of Christ’s death. 

 Faith in Christ goes beyond proclaiming His existence. Yes, spreading the Gospel of Christ is essential, but we must go further. We need to anchor our mind, heart and spirit in God’s will. (James 4:8) Failure in doing so prevents us from receiving the Lord’s gift of salvation.

Christ left us this warning:

“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

God’s will is simple and requires an up close and personal commitment to Christ. Abiding in Christ takes endurance, self-control, and vigorous action. It’s giving Christ our full attention by setting aside time each day and embracing His holiness. This means placing our personal commitments on hold and humbling ourselves before Him. Peter understood the urgency of devotion.  

It’s easy to lean on Christ during good times. But the world is full of temptations, injustices, and unsaved souls. Sometimes life doles out troubles we are incapable of handling alone.

Loss of a job, the death of a loved one and physical illness are everyday occurrences in life. Difficult people, being hurt by others without cause and rudeness are encounters we can’t avoid. And without Christ’s intervention our lives get worse.    

Our response to those tough parts of life is where God looks at our faithfulness and takes notice. The real trial comes when we put forth the spiritual effort and still suffer. Here our trust in God through rigorous faith pays a spiritual reward. We need to remind ourselves, our eternal inheritance came through Christ’s pain. (1 Peter 1:3-7)

Every time we overcome problems with Christ’s help our ability to live righteous increases. Christ removes the weakness of the flesh and strengthens our souls. The mercy of Christ renews our spirits and keeps us thirsty to continue drinking from His eternal well.

The greatest way of preventing the evil one from taking us away from God is to center our lives in Christ’s body. Satan flees from God, for he knows Christ has conquered sin. Embrace Christ and watch the devil run for cover. (James 4:7) 

Salvation in the flesh isn’t the end of suffering, but knowing the freedom God supplies in times of tribulations. We are directed to rejoice in our pain giving glory to Christ for saving our souls. Embracing Christ in the midst of troubling circumstances is favorable to God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)

God will release us from suffering, but we need to be patient and remember He works in mysterious ways. Our Father never leaves the faithful in darkness and keeps His promises. 

God makes embracing Christ is so satisfying it becomes our number one priority. We lose interest in selfish things and become selfless servants eager to give than receive. Our lives become useful, meaningful and whole. And we understand the spiritual condition of our souls outweighs our personal interests.

The best way I can testify to the peace God brings in times of suffering is the death of my dad. I was grief stricken and overwhelmed with sorrow. Here I faced the reality of losing a loved one. Christ took my hand and walked me through the negative emotions. The Lord eased the pain and freed me from the chains of sadness. God’s grace sustained me, and I’m forever grateful for His compassion.

We have discussed suffering as a way to embrace Christ. Many more opportunities are available. Pain isn’t the only way. The Bible is full of scriptures directing our actions to conform to God’s will.  Through the Holy Spirit, we know Christ is real. God makes sure He is alive. Embracing Christ isn’t mastered for it’s a daily effort in preparing ourselves for heaven.