Friday, December 31, 2010

One Year Stronger Because of You

I’m incapable to express how I feel
The way I miss you is just that real
I can’t portray it with words, it’s too far past my mind
But I know everything happened in God’s due time


Sometimes I still can’t believe that you’re gone
Sometimes it just seems like a bad dream
But through the days and the months and everything that went on
God showed me why you had to leave

The time had come for me to be tested
It was time for me to grow
So He saw fit, and it was time that you rested
Some things inside me, He had to show

The morning prayers, daily Proverbs, putting Christ as Head and Lord
Yes, you showed me Jesus was the only way
So when you left I got stronger, and leaned on Him more
Not giving up, never going astray
Encouraging others along my way!

So thank you, thank you, thank you, Janet, Mama, My Love
For the Christ centered example you showed me
You set the stage so that when He called you on above
I could trust Him more, and even keep my sanity
And live more abundantly!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Be Better...For Real This Time

So here we are again. The end of December has arrived and a new year is approaching fast. I can hear it all already…. “I’m going to stop smoking” “I’m losing 30 pounds” “I’ll handle my money better this year” “I’m working out three times every day!” “I’m going to get back in church”… and the list goes on and on. New Year’s resolutions. Empty promises to one’s self that fade away by March at the latest. New Year’s resolutions sound good, but there is one big problem with them...


New Year’s resolutions suck!!!

Why? Well I’m so glad you asked. First off there is nothing magical about the new year that will “get you going” so to speak. January 1 is just another day. Second, resolutions are usually promises that we make to ourselves and try to maintain ourselves, which is impossible because we are too weak AND we don’t know what we need. Every aspect of our lives and every plan should be led by God through the power of the Holy Spirit. So instead of making resolutions we should endeavor to be our best all year-round in Christ. With that the following are some tips on how to make life more fruitful and therefore more effective in God’s work (the only work that will last for all eternity!).

Get right with God- At first my initial point was going to be “Plan for your future,” but then the Holy Spirit brought to mind Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV):
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
paths.
This familiar verse tells us that if we just follow God and live the life that He wants us to live, then God will show us the way. He will order our steps. But the “in all thy ways acknowledge him” part is where it gets rough. Before you take more time to consider what the future holds for you ask yourself this “Am I right with God now?” If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ you must receive immediately! This comes only through recognizing that in God’s sight you are a sinner and that His Son, Jesus, died on the cross to pay the penalty for you. Until you truly believe and accept that you can never be right with God (John 14:6). For you who are already saved, check yourself. Search and examine yourself to see if there is anything outstanding in your life that does not please God (and don’t try to fool yourself because God knows everything). Whatever you identify that needs to be removed, confess it to God and ask for His forgiveness. The next step is absolutely pointless without doing this one first.

Plan for the future- Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says:

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy
is he.

Plain and simple, without a vision you can not be successful. Without a vision there is no life. To get somewhere in life you must know where you are going. After getting right and staying right with God, He will give you a vision, if not several. The vision may seem small at first, but that is only because you can’t handle the rest yet. Pray daily and ask God to reveal what it is that He has for your life. He has great plans for all of our lives, but it is up to us to go through with them. So when you know that He has something for you to do, go for it. If the vision seems far away or too lofty then ask yourself “what can I do now?” or “where can I start?” Start making smaller goals to reach the higher goal. Implement step-by-step plans to make your God given visions and dreams a reality. Examples:

*If you know you want to buy a car you would first figure out what kind or type you want. Then you would come up with a savings plan to get your money together.


*If you want to be more financially responsible, ask God for wisdom and guidance. Then take time to make a budget and plan for your expenses.


*Say, if you want to make a career or academic move. You would need to update your resume, apply for open positions, apply for school, or prepare for school placement tests.


*If you really wanted to improve your relationship with God you need to examine yourself first. Then make a plan or schedule for your prayer time, meditation, and bible study.

Figure out what God has for you, and then go for it. Otherwise you are just wondering through life aimlessly. It is just like walking through a pitch black room you have never been in before. You need ample light and the correct guidance or else you will keep stumbling and falling with no direction. And thus, continue to live in pain.

Love, Love, and More Love!- This is the key. In order to effectively and truly improve your life you must experience God’s love. This godly love is known as the bond of perfectness (Colossians ch.3). 1 Corinthians chapter 13 says this love is greater than faith and hope. We are commanded to love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. We are also commanded to love others in the same manner that we love ourselves (Matthew ch.22). How can we do this? The world is such a crazy place and life is so stressful! However with God all things are possible. In the midst everything happening around you God’s love can wrap you up and intertwine with your soul. This love will comfort you on the inside like nothing else can. Because God is all powerful and all knowing He can take care of you like no one else can. He will give you peace and joy beyond human comprehension, even during life’s most challenging times. Oh there will be tough times, but He will give what you need to make it through IF you trust Him.


The only way to grow deeper in love with somebody is to get to know them, to spend time with them. With God this is done through Bible study, prayer, and meditation. Jesus is the living Word (John ch.1) so when we study the Word we learn more about Jesus, how God relates to man, and the plan God has for our lives/humanity. Prayer is talking to God, but also listening. We must spend time talking to our Lord and listening to see what He has for us. Meditation is essentially taking time to think on God’s Word. So when you read some scripture don’t just say, “Oh,that was nice” then close your Bible and move on, but take time to think about the passage of scripture you read. What was it really saying? How does it apply to you?

Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) says:

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand
their own way?

There it is clear, straight, and simple. God has the plan for your life and you can not understand your life’s plans alone. You are not made to understand by yourself. You need to tap into God’s love and wisdom by faith. So drop the empty promises and trust God for everything!

Reflection Points and Questions
  1. Are you right with God?
  2. What things in your life may be separating you from God?
  3. Do you seek your own will in life, or God's will for you?
  4. Has anything you have tried on your own ever really worked?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Enjoy Your Life

This one will be short and sweet. Life is very demanding. Life can also get very busy. The older we get, the more activities we get involved in. The more we mature and progress through life, the more commitments we end up with on our plate. If we do not pay close attention to ourselves, we can start drifting through life "on empty" so to speak. It is funny how many of us do this. None of us, however, follow this principle anywhere else. When driving a car we keep watch on our gas tank level. The closer it gets to "empty" we obviously know we have to go get more fuel soon. None of us expect our cars to just keep running even after all the gas is gone. So why do we expect our spirits to keep running on empty? Christians live in a crazy world. When striving to focus on Christ, we must continually take time to regroup and refuel. Otherwise we end up letting life live us instead of us living our lives!

So what happens when we literally do forget to refuel our cars. We end up stranded, stressed out, and exhausted. Have you ever seen someone stranded on the side of the road or pushing their car to a gas station? Most often they look tired and annoyed. If we don't take time to refuel with Jesus that is how we end up. We become tired all the time, annoyed by everything/everybody, angry for no reason, and just plain worn down. To avoid this occurrence, and it can be avoided, here are some simple steps to living well:

Devotion -Talk to God EVERYDAY, in the morning if possible. Take some time to read scripture and pray even if it is only five to ten minutes. Jesus prayed early in the morning (Mark 1:35)

Prayer- Prayer does not have to be on our knees with our eyes closed. We can pray all day any day. The Bible actually tells us to never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17). You can talk to God anytime and anywhere about anything; concerns, to thanks, requests, or just telling God that you love Him.

Have a team- This spiritual life is tough so you must have a group of committed Christian friends to help you along. We are one body in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). Therefore we must work together to help each other along.

Bible study- The Bible is God's Word. The Bible is God's instructions to us for living this Christan life fruitfully and effectively (2 Timothy 3:16). The more you read and learn the more you will become closer to God and your desire will increase to live for Him.

Last but not least....Have fun! Take some time in life to do what you want to do. Do what makes you laugh. Do what makes you smile. Go out, take a vacation, or just take some time to do nothing. There is nothing wrong with a busy/productive life, but we all need time for rest, relaxation, and fun.

Jesus wants all of us to live our lives abundantly, or to the fullest extent possible. Through Him we can actually do so. If you just trust in Him, follow Him, and listen to what He says, then He will take care of the rest.

Enjoy Your Life!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'll Show You Scary



Well, this time of year is upon us again, Halloween. An interesting day to say the least. Although Halloween is celebrated in different ways across the land, there is usually one attitude that promotes celebrations everywhere. This would be the idea of scariness. From serial killer movies, to telling ghost stories, and haunted houses, the idea of fright fills this day. In meditating on a topic for this month I asked myself, “what is the scariest most frightening thing I can think of?” Several thoughts passed through my mind such as killers like Freddy Krueger and being in a cemetery at night. Then even more abstract ideas came about like some people who have a fear of heights or clowns. I even thought about many of these movies that are out around this time of year that glorify demonic activity (and boy are those scary!) In the end however the absolute scariest most frightening idea that crossed my mind was living life without Jesus Christ!
I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home. I’m twenty-four years of age and I have been saved for twenty years. In that time, like most people, I have had some hardships to face. Through it all, however, God was there to comfort me, guide me, and protect me.
Jesus speaking in a popular verse, John 10:10 (KJV), says:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
This is definitely true, while Jesus is offering life to the fullest the devil (the thief) is out here roaming the earth seeking and searching for people to devour (Job 1:7, 1 Peter 5:8). With that thought in mind I want to highlight a few situations in my life to show how scary life without Jesus is.
No. 1 I shall start at the very beginning. I was raised without a father. Observation and statistics show how detrimental life can be for young boys growing up without their fathers. They are more likely to be unsuccessful in life. Growing up I was never involved in criminal/gang activity and the like, although the opportunities were present. There were many times where I wanted an outlet to release my anger and stress of growing up with so many questions and concerns. Like most teenagers I did some things I shouldn’t have, but overall I learned to lean on God more and more and become a successful Christian man.
No. 2 The next event would be a house fire my family endured when I was sixteen years old. I’ll never forget the pain and torment I felt that morning as I watched everything my family owned burned down to the ground. I started to cry and scream as anxiety and anger absorbed my soul. Then, all of a sudden, an unexplainable calm took me over. It was the Holy Spirit spoke to me and helped me realize that God was in control, material things do not matter, and what was really important was that all my family members were safe. He calmed me down and kept me calm to point where I had a new outlook on life and a new passion to live for Jesus Christ.
No. 3 The third would have to be the passing of my mother. Her death was unexpected and very sudden. Here I was a young man with no father. I loved my mother with all of my heart and soul. One day she was here the next she was gone. When I realized what happened, feelings took me over that were surprising even to me. Instead of sorrow and sadness I was overcome with joy! Once again the Holy Spirit comforted me. He helped me realize that for Christians to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). He showed me that she was in the very presence of God and that she would never feel any pain again. He helped me understand that this experience would help bring me closer to Him of I would just learn to lean on Him. He had me to remember that all things work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28). The joy that God gave in that time allowed me to be a blessing to so many other people and therefore helped me understand God comforting power and omniscience much more.
Any of these situations in my life could have played out differently if I did not have Jesus. I could have fallen into depression. I could have become addicted to drugs. I could have become angry with God. I could have given up in life. Any of these could have eventually led to suicide. Moreover, if I (or anybody) were to die without Christ in my life I would spend eternity away from God’s presence instead of with Him in Heaven. This place, known as Hell to some, is referred to as follows:
A place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30)

A place of everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
A place where men are tormented with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8)
A place where fire is not quenched (Mark 9:44)
A bottomless pit (Revelation 9:2)
A place of no rest (Revelation 14:11)
A lake of fire (Revelation 20:14)
A place of hopeless of unsatisfied desires (Luke 16:24)

Can you honestly think of anything scarier than that? I know I can’t! Without Jesus life is nothing but pain and destruction in this life and for eternity. Get to know Jesus Christ personally. If you know Him as your savior, tell others about Him! Remember Hell is not just scary, Hell is real…

Reflection Questions
Do I know Jesus for myself? Is have I accepted Him as my personal savior?
(link to becoming a Christian http://www.sbc.net/knowjesus/theplan.asp)
If I were to die right now would I go to Heaven or Hell?
When troubles come, do I run to God or to the vain counsel and satisfaction of the world?
Do I spread the gospel of Jesus Christ like I should?
Do I understand salvation well enough to tell others about it?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trust God

Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) says:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
paths.
Easier said than done, right? Here God’s Word clearly and plainly tells us that if we trust God and follow Him, then God will take care of the rest. Why, then, is it so hard to really trust God? So many of us think we trust God or claim to trust God, but when adversity arises we crumble. Life can be very cruel at times. We often go through losing loved ones, financial crises, sickness and disease, relationship troubles, divorce, and the list goes on and on and on. In particular my family has just lost two members in the span of roughly nine months. I’m sure many of you are going through trying situations as well. These are the times where we must continue to trust God, although our situations persuade us not to. How can we really trust and believe God in times like these? Hopefully and prayerfully, the following points will help you and strengthen you in learning to trust God more and more.

God’s record- A serious question every Christian must ask his/her self is; "has God ever failed me?" If you are real with yourself the answer is an emphatic, “NO!” or “Never!” As Christians, when we look back over our walks with God we will see that there was never a time when God did not come through. There may be times where it seemed as if He wasn’t going to or we did not understand what was going on, but in the end we realized that God was always there taking care of business for us.

Even when we are wrong and try to run away from Him, God still loves us and provides for us. Who else will love you like that? Nobody, that’s who. Any Christian who is totally honest with themselves will remember SEVERAL times when they were not even trying to please God with their lives and He came through for them anyway. This is ultimately displayed to us in the famous verse John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

When times get tough remember that God loved us so much that He actually DIED for us and He has never failed us before. Who wouldn’t TRUST a God like this?

God’s motive- So even though we know that God has never failed us before, often times we still have trouble trusting Him. As we just saw, John 3:16 tells us that God loves us. He loves us so much that He gave His very life for us through Jesus Christ. This love that God displays for us is the motive behind how and why He takes care of us. To better understand this, one must realize that the love God has for us is not the love that humans express for each other in friendships or romantic relationships. The love God has for man is known as Agape (Greek word) love. This love is an unconditional love. This love only comes from God. The Bible tells us that God is Love (1 John 4:8). We also know that God is always Faithful and He is always True (Revelation 19:11). God’s very nature is holiness, perfection, purity, and love. Therefore He always has our best interests in mind; even when we act like we do not care about ourselves.

God’s Mind- Although we can understand some things about God’s nature, importance must also be placed in realizing that in this life we can never fully understand God. The Word tells us that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not are thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). His mind and His ways are extremely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). Man’s most intricate processes and advancements are much less than inferior to the Lord. We also know that as Christians, everything works together for our good. Romans 8:28 (KJV) tells us:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to
them who are the called according to his purpose.

So we can believe that everything in life happens to better us (directly or indirectly), although we do not know why sometimes. Christians fully understanding God would be like an infant or a toddler trying to understand ALL the actions of their parents. Little children do not know why parents restrict them sometimes or take things away from them. They do not know why parents have to leave sometimes to go to work or handle some other business. They have no idea about work, insurance, bills, etc. Sometimes parents have to let their children go through adverse situations (time out, grounding, other punishment) to teach them a lesson. Sometimes parents must take things away from children (privileges, bad friends, unhealthy habits/activities) to make the child a better person. Through it all, they come to understand that their parents love them and are taking care of them. They know that they have a place to sleep, enough meals every day, and clothes to wear. When they are sick, their parents take care of them. When they need something, it gets taken care of. This is how we must be with God. Many things He does or allows to happen do not make sense to us. However, because we know all things work together for our good, we can still trust God because He knows better than we do.

If you are finding it hard to trust God remember that He loves you unconditionally. He IS Love. If you are a child of God (a Christian), then everything that happens in life is happening for your good! Let go of the apprehension and trust the all-wise, almighty God today!



Reflection Points


1. Do I place God as the Head of my life ALL the time? (Matthew 6:24)


2. Do I expect God to work in His timing or my own? (2 Peter 3:8)


3. Is there anyone or anything that comes close to deserving my trust as God does? (Psalm 8:1)

4. How many times has God came through for me when I turned my back on Him?


5. Has God ever failed me before? If I THOUGHT He did, was it because I was outside of His will or not receptive to His plan for me?


6. If God really loves me enough to sacrifice His Son, how could I not trust Him? (Romasn8:32)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Give God Your All!

God is a truly awesome God. As we all know He has performed many great wonders throughout time and still is today. From the creation of this world to parting the Red Sea to Jesus’ resurrection and even us just having life at this very moment; the list goes on and on. This is the God that we all want to know and have a relationship with. He is the blessing God, the merciful God, and the forgiving God. However this is just part of God’s nature toward us. God also wants to be our Lord; our Master, King, and Ruler.
Romans 12:1-2 (KJV) says: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

God wants our entire lives to be sacrifices to Him. He wants our all to be an offering to Him and His will. As Christians our lives can be much easier if we would just give our all over to the Lord. And by all I mean EVERYTHING. This includes our thoughts, actions, desires, motives, attitudes, talents, resources, habits, problems, your body, and the list goes on. God wants all of you. This is much easier said than done. Here are some major hindrances I feel stand in the way of many Christians strengthening their relationship with Christ.

Influences- Just about all of our actions start in the mind. We think about doing something, then we do it. Sin is conceived in the mind before it becomes action (James 1:15). So often as Christians we end up doing things we know are wrong repeatedly and then wonder why. This can come from us putting ourselves in situations and around people that breed an environment to do what is wrong. Even if we love Christ, if we are constantly listening to, watching, and reading things that glorify and uphold actions and mindsets contrary to God’s will, we will have these thoughts in our minds. Obviously, these thoughts will sometimes become actions. Often times these things may not be as blatant as we would expect. For example, many sitcoms/movies show unmarried couples living together and having sex as ways to reach “new levels” in their relationship. While this is not necessarily “bad” (illegal, unsafe) by worldly standards, we know this is wrong in God’s sight and therefore it is sin. Another major theme presented all around is reaching Heaven or true happiness through one’s good actions or good works; which is blatantly contrary to true salvation which can only be attained through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Maybe we get confused and swayed in our relationship with God because everything going into us is pulling us away…

Time- God wants the total person, including our time. Am I saying that we should spend every waking moment praying and in church? No. However, we should make time to spend with God every day. Reading His word, meditating on it, and praying to Him. We should pray all throughout the day. The Bible tells us to never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Even with our other activities we should make sure that our time is going towards things that God approves of. Being idle, bored, having nothing to do gives way for the devil to attack your mind which leads to wrong. Make sure your time is spent engaged in productive activities that are productive and please God. More importantly, make sure you spend time with God especially early in the morning and before going to sleep.

Success- Christians, as well as everybody else in the world, can get caught up in the world’s views of success. We can end up chasing money and living for money, which really is living for evil (1 Timothy 6:10). In other cases we can have plans for our lives that are not necessarily wrong. We may have a certain profession, location, etc. that we want for ourselves. However it may conflict with the plans that God has for us. Then if we choose to do one thing knowing that God has something else for us, then that becomes sin as well. At the end of everything it comes down to one simple question; who do you think has better plans for you; yourself or God?

God has great plans for every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11). After we receive Jesus Christ as our personal savior, we must then continually yield ourselves over to the will of God. Through prayer and bible study we can continually know Jesus more and let Him take more and more control of our lives. Therefore if we let God truly be our Lord (Master and Ruler of our ENTIRE lives), we can walk into the great plans that He has for us and be blessed immeasurably. In order to make this a reality there are two key factors that must be in play here; devotion and discipline. Spending time early in the morning with God gives us renewed focus, vision, encouragement, and direction for each day. Any good and intelligent athlete stretches before working out. And talented singer warms up before a performance or practice. The best and brightest students study and prepare before tests. Before we go out into the world each day we must talk to God! Take some time (at least 10 minutes) to read some scripture and pray in the morning. You will be amazed at how this affects your day. Let’s not forget about discipline. To receive what God has in store for us we must follow what we already know. We must have discipline to stay away from distractive people, places, and things. We must do away with immoral and sinful thoughts as soon as they arise before they grow and thrive in our minds. We must live our lives in the manner Christ has called all Christians to (Colossians 3 is a good example).
John 10:10 (KJV) says: The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The more we continue to live life half in and half out the enemy will continue to wear us down, but when we seek Christ totally, He will give us life abundantly (to the fullest!).

Reflection points

  1. Do I spend enough alone time with God each day?
  2. What people in my life are helping in my Christian walk? What people are holding me down?
  3. Does my favorite entertainment source (books, tv shows, websites, magazines) put thoughts/desires into my mind that are contrary to God’s will?
  4. Are the plans I have for my life in line with God’s?
  5. What other influences in my life are contrary to God’s will?

After spending some time on these points you may realize that there are some major changes that need to occur in your life. MAKE THEM! Give your whole life over to God and experience the greatness He has for you! Yield your whole self over to God and pray for His strength as you let go of sinful influences. Let it all go and live your best life!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Be Ready!

Many of us want to be blessed abundantly. We want God to give us higher positions, new jobs, new relationships, and the like. What some of us do not understand, or at least do not recognize, is that with more blessings comes more responsibility. When we have prayed and made request s to God, while we are waiting we must be aware of two things. He has not given us what we asked for because we either do not need it or the time is not right yet. Sometimes the Lord has to take us through a maturation period before we can handle some of the blessings He has for us.

One of my favorite scriptures in regards to how God works in us is Hebrews 13:20-21 (KJV):

20Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

21Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This shows us that God works in us the way He sees fit, not the way we do. This is something like an earthly parent who wants the best for their child. The parent will make their child work, like volunteering or chores, to understand responsibility, the value of money, the benefits or hard work, etc. Once the child has proven they can handle more responsibility, the child will then be rewarded. This is how God works in Christians; His children. Although situations may not be pleasurable to us, God knows they are necessary.

These are the time periods where we are supposed to lean on God more and more. Think about how many times you or someone you know as a child received a new responsibility (a car, able to work after school, a pet, etc.). Along with that, think about how many times someone has received a new responsibility and ruined or neglected it. Think about a time God may have given you new responsibility and you ruined it…

Often times a child will not receive more privileges and responsibility if they have not shown they can handle the responsibilities they currently have. Why should you be able to use the car of you won’t take out the garbage? Why should your curfew be extended if you won’t even wash the dishes? While we are praying for God to make some changes in our lives we must also continuously search ourselves to see if we are ready for new challenges. How can we balance new relationships if we can’t handle the ones we have now? How can we deal with a higher position if we do not show competence in the one we have now?

Romans 8:32 (KJV) tells us:
32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

We know that God loves us and can give whatever He wants when He wants. However, He wants to be ready for the new responsibilities that come with new blessings. Bottom line: If you have asked God for something make sure that you can handle it! Follow the commandments you know God has for your life! Study your Bible and pray to God often! Strive to know Him more and more everyday!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Real Deal

The world is full of false promises, false hope, and false religions and faiths. It seems like there is a new religious group springing up just about everyday. With so many different religions, all claiming to be the truth, how do Christians know what is real? Especially with so many people seeming to add or modify to the requirements of salvation, how do we know what teachings to believe? The book of Jude addresses these issues and the solution he gives might seems sort of surprising. In the book of Jude, which is only one chapter, verses 3- 7 read (NIV):
3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written aboutb]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[b] long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lordc]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[c] delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

Here we first see how important this matter really is. Jude wanted to write to these Christians about salvation, but the matter of false teachers was more important at this point. These matters needed to be addressed immediately! How could he write to them about salvation if their views about salvation were being distorted? He mentions here that these false teachers, or godless men, have secretly slipped in. We must remember that deceivers will not jump up and say, "Hey, I'm trying to trick you!" No, they will be slick about it. Therefore as Christians we must always be on the lookout for individuals teaching matters that are contrary to God's word.


An amazing point that came up in Sunday School was stated as follows, "False teachers will not always be some man or woman in the front of the church speaking from the podium. They can also be in the form of a song, television show, movie, and the media in general." Just think about it. If there are certain musicians, shows, websites that you constantly watch, then you are learning whatever values and lessons that are being displayed. Just because you don't realize you are learning does not mean you aren't. Arguably, it could mean you are learning even more than a classroom setting, because it's fun.

Later in this section Jude brings up examples some who were punished for not following God's commandments. The Egyptians (Exodus 14), the angels that deified God (2 Peter 2:4), and even two whole cities (Genesis 19). From this we can see that these false teachers will be punished. So ask yourself in all aspects of your life; who am I following? Those who will be rewarded, or those who will be punished?

So now that we have a better understanding of false teachers, how do we avoid them? Later, in verses 17-23, Jude says:
17But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." 19These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

He tells us that there will be those who follow the fleshly desires and not the Holy Spirit. However we are to obey God and learn more about God by following the Holy Spirit. How? Jude tells us here to do this through faith, prayer, and keeping ourselves in God's love. We can do this through prayer, bible study, devotion, and surrounding ourselves with other serious Christians who are striving to please God in ALL areas of their lives. The more we follow God and study His Word, the more we will understand His Word. As we continue to understand His Word more and more, we will be able to recognize teachings that contradict God's Word.

Some people try to study every religion and faith that exist in the world so that they can compare what is right and wrong about each. As Christians, we know that the Bible comes from God (2 Timothy 3:16) and that God's Word is faithful and true (Revelation 21:5). God's Word is always right. Therefore when we study what is correct and true and gain a deep understanding of it , when something incorrect comes along we can detect it and get away from it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

God On The Go

This life can be very busy. We can be overwhelmed by our jobs, school, organization, clubs, etc. Sadly many Christians fall into this same trap. Our lives are filled with all our various activities and other people, but we forget to put God in the proper place in our lives. FIRST!!! This is where the title comes from. We make time for everything and everyone else, then we fit God in when we can. Let us look for one of the parables of Jesus from Luke 14:16-24 (KJV):
16Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

17And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

18And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

19And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

20And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

21So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

22And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

23And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

24For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.


Our text tells us about a man who was having a banquet or a feast. The man had his servant invite several people to the banquet. When the time had come many of the people gave excuses as to why they could not come. The man had his servant go invite the poor and beggars to the banquet. Even after that there was still room at this banquet because so many people had given excuses for why they could not make it. Of course, the man who put on this banquet was very upset.

Jesus used parables sometimes to get his point across instead of telling his points directly. We can take the overall message from this story and apply it to our relationship with Jesus Christ. We always have an invitation to spend time with the Lord and strengthen our relationship with Him, but how often do we really take advantage of it? So often we put everything else first in our lives and God last, knowing this is wrong.

We pray on the go in the morning or fall asleep praying at night. The only time we read our bibles or study is when we're at church. We call on the Lord when we feel like we need the Lord! The crazy part about all this is that God is the one who gave us everything we own, our abilities, and our activities we are involved in. Therefore if we are going to put something last it should one of these other things and certainly not our Lord. Let’s look at a popular verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount- Matthew 6:33 (KJV):
33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We have no need to wonder if God will take care of us, none at all. If we recognize Him as our primary need He alone will take care of the rest.

I gave the example in my Sunday School class: how would you feel if you got the chance to meet the President. Even if you don’t like his actions/views it would still feel good just to say, “I met the President!" Someone who is very power, influential, and important and in a very high place took the time out to spend time with you. That would make you feel special.

Well we know that there is no one more powerful, influential, or important than Jesus and He always has time for us. Do not be like the people in this parable that Jesus told. Take advantage of the "feast" that has been given to you. Yes once you are saved you are guaranteed eternal salvation in the next life. However, there is an amazing relationship that can be experienced in this life with Jesus Christ. Thank God for giving His Son for you. Take advantage of that gift through prayer, bible study, devotion, and putting God first in EVERYTHING YOU DO!!!
Romans 8:32 (KJV) reminds of how much God cares about us and how He will take care of Christians:
32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back to the Basics

We all know what important day is coming up; Easter. Many of us know it as Easter, but I wish it was better known as Resurrection Day. This is where it all starts; the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every real sermon ever preached, every post I write, and every message spread in Jesus’ name should flow into to this foundation. Let’s look at a very familiar verse, John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Simple as that. Jesus Christ died for YOU. Think about how loving and astounding that is. God; the Master and Creator of all, the highest and most supreme power, the omniscient One, sent His Son to the world to die just for YOU. Sin is the wrong that man does and this sin separates man from God. This is why God sent His Son to die for us. Jesus took the blame for our sins! (That’s Love) Therefore if you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for your sins and rose three days later, then you are saved; you are free from the penalty of sin (hell). You are now a Christian because CHRIST LIVES IN YOU!

At the end of this life YOU will spend eternity with The Lord in Heaven (paradise). Until that day, however, the rest of this life can also be very fulfilling and rewarding. A sincere yearning and desire to know Christ more and more along with prayer and bible study will develop a relationship with Jesus that no other relationship can compare to.

When times get rough, just remember who is on your side. When it seems as if no one loves you; remember that Jesus loves you so much that He died just for you! When it seems as if you have no friends; remember that Jesus is always your friend. When times of pain and suffering arise remember that just as Jesus physically died and rose again, Christians have died to sin and have a wonderful new life in Christ! He will lead us and guide us through every situation.

During this Easter time and all year round remember what being a CHRISTian really is. Remember what the base of our faith is all about. Be abundantly thankful for the greatest gift ever given. Let us remember that we cannot repay the Lord, therefore we owe Him our lives. Let the love of Jesus grow in your heart and continue to spread the good news of Jesus everywhere you go! Don’t forget where it all starts!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

First Love

So we’re wrapping up February, Valentine’s Day was just a few weeks ago. The day where people celebrate their loved ones. We go all out to buy balloons, cards, candy, stuffed animals, and the list goes on and on. So many people try so hard to express their “love” for others. This time is filled with make-ups and break-ups. Bottom line, we go above and beyond to display affection for those we love the most. Sometimes people try to make amends for past mistakes or misunderstandings. Oddly enough, all year round many Christians break God’s heart consistently and don’t even care. Why do so many of us try so hard to please man? The world continues to disappoint, misuse, and mistreat us. God is supposed to be the Head of our lives, our one true Love, our FIRST Love.

The song says, “Oh how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.” I think about the way most of us treat others who have been nice to us. Usually if someone has been really nice to us we will go out of our way to return the favor. If someone has done something for us we feel an obligation to do something they need or ask for. How much greater should we feel this obligation when it comes to Christ? We know that Jesus gave His very life so that we may be saved. He loves us so much that He laid His life down. We can never pay God back for this gift. This being the case, we must give our entire lives up to the Lord. How many times do you remember to get someone a gift, card, etc because they gave you one on the last holiday/occasion? How many of us want to work really hard and save to buy gifts for our aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents who made a way for us? Let us have this same attitude towards the God of our salvation.

Often times so many of us put all of our money, time, and everything else toward other people. When we do this we ignore the Lord. When we ignore God our focus in life is ruined. Therefore we seek people and things that are wrong for us. This causes a cycle of constantly being hurt and unfulfilled. On the contrary we know that God is love. God truly loves us and He only wants the best for us. If we make our lives a display of love toward Him; He will never let us down. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says it this way:


5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own
understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make
your paths straight.


Basically if we put God in the proper place in our lives as our first Love, He will take care of us. Everything won’t make sense or be easy, but He will still take care of us through it all. Sadly, the other option is to try and find real love ourselves through the finite knowledge man has, as opposed to the omniscience of our Lord.

1 John 4:7-21 (NIV) says:

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who
loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know
God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his
one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is
love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning
sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought
to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God
lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13We know that we live in
him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and
testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If
anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in
God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made
complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment,
because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect
love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears
is not made perfect in love.

19We love because he first loved us. 20If
anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who
does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not
seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his
brother.


God is Love. Jesus came to show us the way; to show us how to love. This is why we must live lives in Christ as well as let Christ be displayed through our lives and actions. If we rely on our own feelings thoughts, emotions, etc. then we will never really know how to love other people or even ourselves. This life is unfulfilling because it is not led by the only One who can truly fulfill us. However if we let Love lead us, then we have no choice but to be fulfilled. If we live in Christ and let His love be shown through us, we will be satisfied spiritually instead if being hurt by chasing after the pointless and superficial. Even when people mistreat us and disrespect us, we can still show love if we let Christ lead us. This is how we lead folks to Christ, as He did when He was on earth, by not coming down to the level of those who wrong us.

We owe our lives to God!!!

He will never hurt us like the world WILL!!!

God is the only one who can show us how to truly love!!!

COME BACK TO YOUR FIRST LOVE!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

JLAglory

Many people seem startled and confused at how I have reacted at the loss of my mother. Some even feel that at some point I will break down when I totally grasp the situation. Obviously, I feel differently. While some feel I have not fully accepted the reality of my mother’s death, I know that I understand it abundantly more than most. Janet Lillian Armstrong is with the Lord now. She is in Heaven with God; basking in His glory. Words can not explain how amazed I get when thinking about what it must feel like to actually be in His presence. The glory of the Lord is so much greater than great. His glory is more amazing than amazing. God’s glory is so powerful, so awesome, and so radiantly wondrous that it is beyond human comprehension. Let me give you some examples…


This is shortly after the Lord assured Moses that He would go with Moses and his people on the way to the Promised Land. Exodus 33:17-23(NIV):

17 And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."

18 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."

19 And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

21 Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."

Even Moses, whom the Lord highly favored, was only allowed to see His “back parts.”
Here is another instance after Moses was speaking with the Lord on Mount Sinai. Exodus 34: 29-35 (NIV):

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.
33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

I like to look at this as “second hand glory.” This wasn’t even the Lord. Just after prolonged communication with the Lord, Moses’ face was so radiant, so shiny, and so outstanding that his people were afraid of him. The glory was too much for them.

Here is part of the vision of the Prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel 1:25-26 (NIV):

25 Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 26 Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, [f] and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

All I can say is “WOW”. This is just amazing and only a glimpse of the true glory of God.

Here is an interesting example from the New Testament. Acts 9:1-9 (NIV):

1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.

"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.


It was daytime, yet a light shined so brightly that Saul fell to the ground. It was bright enough that Saul was even blinded. At this point Saul was against Christianity, yet He still referred to Him as Lord. This experiences was so powerful it eventually converted Saul into the Apostle Paul; a great preacher for Jesus and writer of many New Testament Books.

Jlaglory was a common username for so much because it reflected her passion and fervent desire for the Lord and to be with Him one day. This desire (that all Christians should have, by the way) is now fulfilled. This is why I am not sad! This glory that my mind may only begin to understand; she’s in it! This radiant, awesome, wondrous, exuberant being….she is with Him right now! Simply stated, I am overjoyed for her.

For a while I was speaking of my mother in past tense. I loved her, she was my friend, etc. But then I realized that she is not gone forever. I still love her, she still is my friend. One day her, myself, and all of God’s children will all be together in God’s glory. Here is something all Christians can look forward to.

Revelation 22: 1-5 (NIV):

1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

NO PAIN! NO PROBLEMS! NO HUNGER! NO SLEEP!
JUST PARADISE FOREVER!
GLORY! GLORY! HALLELUJAH!!!