Tuesday, July 21, 2015

7 Christian Principles to Grow Your Faith:

Building a Stronger Trust Series

Part 5 Godliness:

Over the past four weeks, our insight into Apostle Peter’s teachings of adding principles to faith (2 Peter 1:5-7 NKJV) enlightened us with its wisdom. His keen understanding of virtue, knowledge, self-control and perseverance allowed us to see how they make us more faithful. Through adding them into our Christian actions, we prepared ourselves for his next affirmation-- godliness. 

Contain in the pages of the Bible is where we find sanctity. The Old and New Testaments filled with commands designed for living in God’s will. Without understanding the Lord’s outline for living in His Kingdom, then we won’t know Christ. And eternal life isn’t possible.

When I pondered over godliness many thoughts entered my mind. Unconditional love topped the list, and Peter included this in his message. Kindness was another high ranking attribute and again on Peter’s list of unwavering faith. The next two parts will highlight those.

Then forgiveness and selflessness crowded my mind. Those two Christian essentials shape our spiritual lives. They are the outer expressions showing the inward godliness from a life centered in Christ. Those around us are embraced with holiness from receiving the godliness behind our action. Because of practicing them our faith is anchored in God’s truth radiating to the world righteousness.

Forgiveness is soul food for the heart. We learn forgiveness from God Himself. God’s forgiveness is comforting, uplifting and full of grace. When God forgives, He touches us in a profound and powerful way. Our closeness with Him intensifies and though we may be undeserving His love is overwhelming.  

It’s easy to let go of our hurt by those we cherish. To forgive the ones we love doesn’t take much effort. Acceptance of their sinful ways isn’t hard.

The real lesson in forgiving trespasses comes in those relations with people we despise, dislike or irritate us. It’s tough to forgive the folks who annoy us.

We meet them in our families, at the job, in social events and on the streets. They are unavoidable. When they harm us, we internalize the injustice deep inside our souls. Our heart latches onto the wrong blocking the godly act of forgiving.

We don’t want to let go because their mistreatment is unwarranted, and we hold on to the pain.  Our bitterness increases when we ponder over their unfair treatment. Failing to forgive is casting the first stone for we have forgotten each of us are sinners. Remember, God won’t forgive us until we forgive others. (Matthew 6: 14-15)

Unforgiving leads to a hardened heart robbing us from serenity. God is watching how we treat others, and until we let go of our wrongfulness towards them, we continue to suffer. Forgiveness isn’t condoning their sin. It’s living in the likeness of Christ. The unrighteousness of others isn’t ours to judge. We leave it in God’s hand. Our responsibility is to do the will of the Lord and place our faith in His perfect justice.

I am grateful to Christ for working with me and teaching the essence of forgiving. When I walked in darkness (before my salvation) my reaction towards being hurt was full of hate, anger and bitterness. “Get even” was my motto, and I assassinated their reputation through slander.

So when God rescued me and Christ saved me I had to amend those wrongs. Then part of my repentance forgave them. Today I have improved upon forgiving others. I still struggle with forgiveness, but learning its value is worthwhile. Through forgiving my faith is stronger since I know Christ guides me past my limitations and into godliness. Every time I rely on God the impossible becomes possible.

Selflessness is a rewarding way of serving God, Christ, and others. Again, we learn unselfishness from God. The Lord is our greatest teacher, and His selfless actions are incredible. Our Father planned for us before our conception and gave us life without reservations. His gift was free, and we had no choice.

Another way God shows selflessness is through His death, resurrection and Ascension back into heaven. Christ grants salvation to anyone who is faithful and makes it available to everyone (Titus 2:11).

Humility paves the way to a life full of giving without expecting a return. Altruism removes self-recognition where the motive for giving is pure and unselfish. When we can sacrifice personal desires for helping the welfare of our neighbors, then our faith is strengthened.

And we walk away from those encounters with a renewed spirit knowing we acted in godliness. Good deeds are a necessity and an example of a faithful follower. God designed it this way, so we can help each other in acts of generosity.

The Lord will show you where to take part in unselfish giving. God knows your strengths and places you in the best position to maximize your effective giving. That means you have to be ready and by devoting yourself to Christ, you are prepared for selfless service. The Lord will direct your selfless path.

I’m learning to give more of myself. My life is simple. Not being married allows me to spend time away from work offering personal resources to the causes. I let others know I’m available to help and God uses me to share the Good News. When I pray for others, I ask God to do His will in their lives before He does it in mine. As the results from those actions I have a renewed and the Holy Spirit is noticeable.

Godliness is a lifetime of devoting ourselves to Christ’s divinity. The more we live in God’s will, the better holiness becomes a working part of our faith. Christ has redeemed us from our sins and presented us with God’s new Covenant. And what we do with it has eternal consequences. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

7 Christian Principles to Grow Your Faith:

Building a Stronger Trust Series

Part 4 Perseverance:  

We have reached the halfway point in this journey through brethren Peter’s teaching on building a stronger faith. In the first three parts of this series, our discussion covered virtue, knowledge and self-control. As we continue to practice those our faith broadens, and we draw closer to God.

Peter now discloses perseverance and for good reason.

Peter’s experience with the power of persevering came in his three denials of Christ (Matthew 26: 69-75) during Jesus’s arrest. After the cock crowed once, and he remembered Christ’s prediction, he had a choice. He reached a crucial crossroad; continue to deny the Savior or persevere through repentance. He chose the latter and reconnected with Christ. As the result of his effort to right himself the church developed. It was time for fulfilling Christ’s command to share the Good News.  

And today we are bonded together in that same church ministered by Jesus.

Perseverance is a driving force behind faith since it takes persistent effort to keep seeking Christ in times of trouble. Life isn’t trial, free, and tribulations happen to everyone. Unbelievers have problems, but they are absent from the Lord Jesus Christ. Through God’s grace we have the Messiah. Christ’s impact is profound.  

We use perseverance daily to meet our personal responsibilities. For example, a mother’s maternal instinct motivates her to care for her children. She finds the strength not to lay in bed and gets up to care for her child. She doesn’t let personal desires get in her way.

Employment has similar actions to take in meeting financial obligations. Life’s circumstances push us to make money so we can offer food and shelter. We could quit, but we trudge through the monotony because homeless isn’t a choice. Other areas of our lives, we do the same. We are eager to find ways to improve the quality our lives.

Salvation is incredible. The moment we show Christ the same determination He teaches us God’s values. When we channel our will to live over to God’s care He promises us a place in His kingdom. The Lord’s key for entrance is accepting Christ as the way to eternity. That makes our lives spiritually, useful and whole.

Prayer is an excellent measuring stick of how perseverance plays a key role in growing faith. Sometimes praying over issues takes time. Every one of us experiences waiting for God’s answers. It’s through constant prayer, we realize the Lord has heard us. We find peace over a troublesome problem or our judgment of others changes. Those are just two results from our willingness to keep praying. Behind every answered pray is God’s grace.

 My struggles with the narrow way help me turn to Christ. I try my best to stay willing and seek God in my daily affairs. (Proverbs 3: 5-6). Reliance on Christ is incredible. He has made it worth living, and that motivates me to continue picking up my cross.

Pride, anger, and other sins try to dominate my heart but through exerting my actions in God’s will they disappear. Through Christ, the bondage of sin takes a backseat and humility paves the way to an unshakable faith. Knowing my life isn’t perfect perseverance allows me to sleep with a clean conscious. I wake up the next morning renewed.

Perseverance anchors many Christian principles including those in this series. Every one of them needs to be practiced fervently. Active faith evolves and is infinite. Our final resting place is heaven. Don’t give up keep relying on Christ and experience the impossible.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

7 Christian Principles to Grow Your Faith:

Building a Stronger Trust Series

Part 3 Self-Control:

We have discussed the first two Christian principles from Apostle Peter’s message (2 Peter 1:5-7 NKJV) on growing faith. We understood virtue as a way of doing right by eliminating wrong. Then we saw Christian knowledge as the bridge to God’s wisdom. Those spiritual attributes are the first two building blocks to an unshakable faith.

Obedience will strengthen your faith more than you realize. Through God’s wisdom our knowledge of good and evil increased. We come up close to the destructive forces that want to turn us away from Christ. Those evil entities are real, and we see them exposed every day on the news, radio and The Internet.

Discipline allows us to stay firm on God’s word and receive Christ’s protection. Then we understand the Apostle James truth “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Have you experienced the devil fleeing from you?

Discipline isn’t easy. It takes persistent effort to deny ourselves and follow Christ. The evil one continues to look for weakness in our faith and entices us with temptations. The lack of discipline always loses the spiritual battle. 

Often the toughest place for self-restraint is over the small stuff. We are quick to use our limited strength in overcoming problems we are not equipped to handle alone. Here is how pride steps in and keeps us from asking Christ for guidance. Sin is sneaky and disguises itself  causing more problems. Our molehill now has become a mountain. 

The most efficient way of controlling ourselves from pride is turning to Christ at the start of the troubles. It’s through humility that the devil will flee because he can’t overpower God. Satan couldn't overcome Christ in the wilderness. And when we discipline ourselves by placing Christ above everything, then our protection is not from earth.  

How can we expect to enter God’s kingdom 
Without discipline?

Self-control isn’t a one time effort. It’s a daily exercise of faith. There is no way to master it yet provides the greatest defense against sin. God is watching our actions and takes notice of the way we resist unrighteous attitudes and behaviors. In our adherence to God’s commands, we receive grace. And this leaves no excuses for us not to praise and glorify Him.

Before my salvation, discipline was non-existent. I lived my life in the fast lane. Impulsive decisions were the way I lived. Often I took action on the first thought and followed the wrong direction. Self-will was out of control, causing conflicts between me and others. Bewilderment was a constant occurrence and despair engulfed my soul.

I’m grateful to announce things have changed. Through Christ, I have been reborn. Today self-control is as essential to my spiritual welfare as are food and water to my physical survival. Without the proper nourishment my body suffers and without discipline my salvation is incomplete.

The more I practice obedience; Christ purifies my heart. My personal sacrifices I’m learning to make are crucial to my Christian walk. I enjoy making the changes God is showing me to take. Surrendering myself to Christ and letting God take control has revolutionized my life. Discipline has been an essential ingredient in my transformation.

The neat thing discipline brings to the forefront is the fruitfulness it bears. For example, when we want to be dishonest and act in honesty, integrity is the fruit of the labor. God leaves His holy impression with the person receiving our truth because we used self-control. We have followed the will of the Lord and showed righteousness. When we deny ourselves, behave and live Christ-like our faith becomes unwavering.

 Opportunities arise each day to practice discipline. Our personal experience with God has shown us the cunning ways sin creeps into our lives. Remember, we are on the road to eternal life and exerting self-control in the flesh prepares us for heaven.

How does self-control help you in your Christian walk?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

7 Christian Principles to Grow Your Faith:

Building a Stronger Trust Series 

Part 2 Knowledge:

In the series opener, we discussed virtue and its relation to faith. We discovered the ways it strengthens our faith and the benefits it brings to our Christian walk. Virtue by itself isn’t enough. To continue growing our faith, we need to go further. Stopping at this point limits faith from reaching its maturity.

Our next step is knowledge.

God created everyone with the ability in reasoning right from wrong. Our Father wants us to understand so we could keep His truth. The Lord knew our minds needed to store and remember His commandments. And His gift of knowledge allows us to comprehend the crucial elements of His parenting.

The freedom of choice God allows is astonishing. He never forces Himself on us, but places us with opportunities where we must choose Him. Knowledge is incredible for it adds insight to our saved lives.

Similar to free will knowledge is a two edge sword.

There is a significant difference between self-knowledge and faith-knowledge.   

In the secular world, we get an up close picture of self-knowledge. Unbelievers thrive on personal importance and intelligence. They believe self-reliance will carry them through everything. Their lives on the outside appear content, but in their hearts are hardened. They respond to life in prideful ways. And when troubles arise, they aren’t wise because Christ isn’t a part of their life.

Another noticeable flaw is their misuse of intelligence. Their perception of the mind is focused on themselves and centered in self-will. They try to place themselves above others and rely on their knowledge to solve problems reserved for God. This demonstration of superiority causes conflicts and blocks out Christ. They use intelligence to figure out old age perplexities, but lack the wisdom in understanding human limitations.

Our experience testifies to the destruction caused by relentless sinning. Our advantage as Christians is Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, we discover the way out of darkness. The Lamb of God has given us the remission of sins. God delivered us from evil and Christ saved us from spiritual death.

Before salvation, we lived in darkness. We were unaware of the subtle ways sin penetrates the soul, hardens the heart and corrupts the mind. Our Messiah promises us once we are reborn Christian-knowledge emerges, and we find God’s wisdom. Then God exposes the narrow way. We understand the path to eternal life and no longer want to rely on ourselves. God’s plan far outweighs anyone we can come up with on our own. We are blessed to have an unconditional loving Father.

Lukewarm Christians (Revelations 3:15-16) have a similar problem as the unbeliever. They have fallen out of God’s favor because their faith is complacent. Spiritual knowledge has eluded them for they are self-deceived. Their belief has shifted from God’s truth and entered a false sense of security. To be rejected by Christ is fatal!

The actions of devotion, prayer, meditation and living the will of God’s unlocks the door to wisdom. Those actions incorporated into your everyday life make you available for the knowledge of Christ’s teachings. We don’t have the wits necessary to stay in God’s kingdom.

It’s through our desire to seek God that we become wise. The more we absorb God’s word into our minds the better we become at remembering our eternal responsibilities here on earth. A continual conscious contact with Christ ensures you the strength to take the correct actions in living a holy life.

It’s fascinating the way this has unfolded in my life. My refusal in placing Christ above everything prevented me from receiving God’s mercy. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from those dark periods is without Christ I’m foolish. Alone, I don’t have the spiritual makeup necessary to make wise decisions. My individual resolutions to problems are disastrous.

It wasn’t until I understood the urgency for life in God’s kingdom I abandoned myself to Christ. And today, when I fall it's easier to pick myself back up for God, is the center of my life. Every day I spend quality time with God because life gets worse without Christ.

Knowledge evolves from faith. There is always something new to learn. The strength it brings to our Christian faith is manifested through humility. A key ingredient of a humble life is remaining teachable. It’s wise to stay receptive to God’s commands for faith will have the spiritual nutrients to grow. An active and mature faith brings everlasting results.

None of us is perfect, nor are we smarter than God. We need Christ’s constant wisdom. Without it, we are aimless, deceived and isolated. With it, we know we are on the right road to heaven.