"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship" Rom 12:1. God has given us talents and skills, he opens doors for us to use them and replaces our fears with strength. When you feel inadquate, you have failed God because he works on our behalf despite us and our weakness of mind and spirit. Who has made your body? Who has formed your mind? Who sustains it? Lord, I will not be afraid but trust you, as I offer my body in sacrifice to you. Take the impatience I have with myself and others and give me a confidence in your ability to use me. Do not be afraid of being sacrificed!
"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" Job 41:11 quoted in Rom 11:35. When things do not go well with us, why do we cry out as if we deserve no trouble? We admit He has plans for us, that He is all-knowing, that He is our sustainer. We repeat them like trained phrases, yet we still complain in our distress, showing ourselves waivering in faith. "Who knows the Lord's mind? Has he come to you for advice? For from Him, through Him and unto Him are all things!" You are made by God, saved through Jesus and your life is to be a living sacrifice to Him. So again, why does a sacrifice complain? We are to be consumed to Christ.
"Therefore come out from the world and be separate, touch no unclean thing and I will recieve you" 2 Cor 6:17, 18. The world of sin, we are not to go along with thier mindset of desires and live for this life. Another life is promised and all it's benefits if we will wait. He is not saying to come out and be separate literally, how will we ever bring anyone to Jesus? We cannot count on them aimlessly wandering our direction. They understand us only by our love because we do not speak the language/actions of the world. God's love takes us out of the world to put us back in. I must make Jesus my motive for "touching the unclean" then I am not unclean, and as long as my heart is not wrapped up in the world, I am not of it. Do be separate in heart and deed by abiding in Christ but do not be separated from His lost sheep.
Dare to Forget
I watch this video when I have fallen into boredom or disbelief that God can get me through some of my days. Watch and behold... the is our God, OUR GOD!
Be Separate but not Separated
Granted to Suffer
Granted to Suffer
"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" Phil 1:29. It has been granted to us to have faith, I use to think I was doing God a favor by having faith in Him, not so, it is our privilage. Why do I wonder at the loss in my life? Loss of money, education, opportunity, relationship or property? Why have I not expected it like the coming seasons of trial and faith? It is scary to wonder if God is really in control. When bad things happen to us and we don't understand, God is either a tyrannt or not really in control like we thought He was if He is a God of love. What is our interpretation of love anyways? Are we really qualified to define it as properity and blessings? "but also to suffer for him" is granted to us. We do not grant "bad" things to ourselves, but if we are going to be granted faith we must also expect suffering. How did the disciples interpret the pivotal point of the cross, the Ultimate Love Act, could they possibly understand what God could do through that act of tyranny? It looked like God was not in control but in that act, He took control back, and so do we when we bear with affliction though we do not understand and trust God.
"We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end confidence we had at first" Heb 3:14 and "Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him" Heb 2:8. And this is what we are granted, to hold firmly to the confidence that we experienced when Jesus first thrilled our hearts. But the kicker is that we still do not see any of this yet we are to believe everything is held in His hand. Does that means He hold chaos and pain in His hands? Oh yes my friends, holding someone in your arms doesn't take the pain away, Jesus' mission was for our spiritual suffering, which we are never to be subject to again. We are granted to suffer because we hold the confidence of Jesus even though we do not see that He has everything in control. We hold verse 14 firmly because verse 8 is right. As now, I do not feel held, or like the one who is supposed to hold my life is holding it the way I think He should, I do not now feel it but I will at the appointed time. I will know that Christ holds everything and as He holds me I am granted the privilage of suffering as He did. Two friends do a military style half marathon with obstacle courses in mud and rain for one of their birthdays, in a sense they paid alot of money to freeze, get electricuted and dirty. They "granted to suffer" the marathon together, as should we this marathon of life.
I Have A Plan
I Have A Plan
"For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans to prosper you, not to harm you; to give you a hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11. Notice that God says through His prophet in this letter that HE knows the plans for the future. I was in my hotel room pondering the directionlessness of my life (so it seemed to me) and started to feel that I was behind somehow, that I needed a plan, maybe I'm not taking enough initiative. We all wonder at times if we should do this or that, or if we missed something, not so, our God is not first-come-first-serve kind of God but loves us SO much that we will all have a fair chance to choose HIS way, we won't be missing this flight. We would have to choose to do so. He says "I know the plans" not you will understand or even know these plans. When someone asks to borrow money from me, I take a quick inventory about how well I know that person's integrity. We have to have a relationship in order to trust them. That is just with money, how much more do we have to trust with our life's plan? Do you know God enough to trust him? Is it enough that God knows the plans?
"In those days, when you pray I will listen. If you look for me in earnest you will find me when you seek me (with all your heart)". Jeremiah 29:12-13. Not many read the rest of this promise from God to His exiles, there is a condition to the promise that is not contingent on the existence of the promise. In our days of percieved exile, we are to feel the need to pray and know God hears us. We are to seek Him earnestly with ALL our hearts, not wait around for Him to convince us of His love and existence. God's promises are freely offered to us, but they cost our devotion and hearts to the giver which is an expensive price to pay. No one can buy devotion, however, it is the VERY LEAST we can do when we considered how steep a price God paid in His Son at just the chance we would choose Him. Just the chance to have a choice. God is in control, but never of our choice. God knows the plans He has, of course we do not know His plans, we're still working on trusting Him everyday. God knows, we will not nor can we plan like Him. Right now in my life, being a responsible hard worker, yet no job, I wonder if God even has a plan fo rme because I percieve that my career needs to be taking off right now. Do I know God enough to trust Him, and trust Him enough with my future?
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me" Matthew 25:34-35. What is precious to God? Our prayers? Sure. Our devotion? Sure. But our love towards others who are stubborn, poor by their own fault, dirty in speech or clothes, those living in sin, if we have compassion and do good towards them by thought (keeping their reputation) and deed, God said "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, when I make up my jewels." Malachai 3:17. We like returns on our investments of money and time, visible results when we invest in these types of people. But just as God asks for 10% of our income whether we know or agree on how its used, so does God and HIs angels greatly rejoice at every kindness shown others even if they don't join our church. Some will suck you dry if you are not doing it God's way, some have to be left alone for a few months but never give up on others, for in a sense, it's giving up on God.
Freedom and Salvation
"Come! Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life " Revelation 22:1. Freedom is not free, as we say in our patriotic way. Salvation is free so it must be cheap, NOT so! Just as someone else gave their life so we coulde have a choice in this country, how much more of a price was paid for our salvation? Freedom to choose, freedom to not choose. The freedom we have in this country is available to us if we want to live here, so it is with the Christian walk, we have salvation freely, as long as we obey and live in Christ. We cna't demand the same kinds of freedoms in other countries and we have to live where the freedoms exist. Friends, same with Christ, if you are going to have that free/paid for gift, you must live by faith in God's country, a loving friend who by faith lives in the world but is not overcome with being of it. God will guid on how, but He wants us to know that He is all about choice. We are free to choose Him and free to choose the world and He wants everyone to be able to make that choice no matter how much they have to pay for it or not. That is why salvation is free, but you pay with your obedience in love.
John 3:16 speaks
"For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16. What is easier to desire? To abandon a sinful life or to abandon heaven? If we abandon a sinful life we gain promises of eternal life and a peace that passes all we know and understand is possible. Abandoning heaven is also abandoning the due praises of angels, an omniprescense, the title of God's child and perfection forever. What can this Being do to cause us to desire Him anymore?! He just wants to show the universe His great love and experience that with us. No one coaxes us to abandon the desire for God except ourselves by our human nature, yet a stronger outside influence of the Holy Spirit coazes us to leave our sinful life and we still struggle. Why? We know our enemy is defeated, yet we let the battle rage. How hurtful to God that is but in His love, He STAYS our title as His children till we rip it from Him by our heart's motives. Dig deeper than what your actions portray and see what you find?
How Dare You Judge Yourself
"For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Matthew 7:2. If we judge people based on what holy or unholy acts we see them perform we do not have the love of Jesus. It shows that we believe God judges us like this as well. And if you do "good" words in order to feel saved, instead of those feelings resulting from our love of God, then you want others to abide by these same standards of behavior you hold yourself to. This is what Paul meant when he said "you do not go along with God's way for you are using your own ways to get right with God" Romans 10:2-3. Only the Holy Spirit has the right to burden the heart, we should not, even if we see it. We might unnecessarily burden one, when God wasn't ready to burden them. Romans 14 says "we will each give an account to God of himself" whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Focus less on pointing out someone's stumbling blocks to themselves or others, but keep your eyes to yourself and reach out blindly in love. Let God burden you and triple check your motive before you say anything in correction. For we are to correct and teach each other, but we have forgotten that it is only effective in love. Remember that we are to communicate God's love more than his commandments, For it was these laws that condemed us so that we could be saved, and that, by love.
What Good Has Your Faith Done?
"The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. Ande because of this I rejoice... stand firm in one spirit contending as one man for the faith of the gospel" Phillippians 1:18,22. I am starting to see my true condition and the condition of the world. More disunity because people demand thier way and watch out for themselves beyond discernment into the realm of expression. "He/she doesn't agree with me, they said this or that, I don't need to put up with that I'm not talking with them anymore" perhaps we may then gossip about our predicament. Immediately, there is a wall put up for us and those who hear us speak. What about when we talk about who we think God is and argue about His ways? Paul is begging us to see the results of loving Jesus should cause us to desire uniting with others in full acceptance and love regardless of if they think like us. What good has our faith done when it only witnesses to those of the same? O Lord, send workers into your harvest and unite us under your blood. Forgive us for misusing your truth for we are far from it when we have to be right. My soul hurts for the disunity and unlove around me. I repent for my own contribution and pray for the church, your body. Please help us O Lord.
What Good Has Your Faith Done?
"If any of you have encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with His sprit, if any tenderness and compassion then make my joy complete, having the same love and being one in spirit and purposel" Phillippians 2:1, 2. I sat next to a man on an airplane that was hungry for the gospel and had the message of Love in His heart, but he did not believe unity with existing churches were important. In fact, he encouraged me to leave the organized, heirarchy that I was serving in, the Adventist church. He said they were all founded without love which is a huge and dangerous assumption to make. How can I be like-minded with this man? Then it hit me, I must unite with him over Christ being my savior and recount his mercies and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit's prompting. By chosing my words carefully and not shutting him down with unsolicited advice, I was able to have the same love and be one in spirit and purpose with this man, the Love of Jesus. Connect wherever you can and don't assume where you are to lead someone spiritually. What good does my faith do if I cannot be one with others? The proof of Jesus in you is seen by your love, love can never hurt anyone's feelings.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” 1 Peter 4:8. Above all, above our daily routine, plans, above being holy and doing right things, love others in sincerity. Think of Rehab, above all, she showed love and faith though we would consider her a major sinner. The thief on the cross lived a life of sin, but showed love towards Jesus and that saved him. Your heart! That’s the “all” he is talking about. Have you ever told someone, “I can tell your heart isn’t in it”? Don’t let that be said of you. This, by no means discounts the laws of God that we are to follow, but it shows us that when you live by the Spirit, we will naturally want to love God and we try to find what will do that. You can tell when you are welcome in someone’s presence by how they act. Make sure you are hospitable in atmosphere, a safe place to be around. Aren’t hugs, or the equivalent, wonderful communicators? Do we give a list of requirements before we embrace someone? No! And Jesus is represented by our hands and feet, and looking at his life on earth, he “dined with sinners” and yet was considered Holy. Can we love that freely without making ourselves feel better by pointing out sin? How much more should we, as sinners, embrace each other in our differences? He embraced with grace first, then when people knew they were loved, they listened. Mary Magdalene, Matthew, Paul were received the grace embrace before they converted. Jesus loved the sinner, not the sin. Jesus loved the woman tricked into adultery and kept her from her punishment NOT because he condoned it, but to show to conditions of the heart. Love blindly without feeling it is your right to convict!
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law" Romans 13:8. We have a debt that we can never stop paying on, we will never fully pay it off. What Jesus has done for us does not only make us in debt to Him but to others, he has transfered much of what we owe him to a debt to love others. Love must be sincere and then it fulfills the law! How powerful, that means that when you've attained this love, you can say you're fulfilled all requirements? Paying this debt of love will never deplete your accounts if you do it right. More than our sacrifices and offerings, he wants us to love others. "Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings... Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good;And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly,To love mercy,And to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:6-8. Again, love fulfills the law in that the 10 commandments are a law of loving God and loving your neighbor.
"I Love You" complex
"Love must be sincere, hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves" Romans 12:9. What is love? What do we understand it to be? We say we love our dogs, we say we love that book, we say we love our family. But are we always sincere? Do we love things we shouldn't? Love is a strange thing, it does sacrifice for its recipiants but out of true deep motivations of love going beyond actions. Someone close to me said recently "I don't want you to do that for me because you don't want to". I was apaulled because it was a big sacrifice for me to do the thing, but this person wanted my heart to be in what I did for them. Did Jesus want to die? Yes He did! I'm sure the pain of doing what was painful was overshadowed by His Great Love for us. Really try to find a reason to love those in your path, find ways to defend them to your judgments. Go straight to the heart and honor the person and if you honestly can't find something to love, don't pretend or sacrifice to make yourself feel better
"I Love You" complex
"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit (humility, sincerity), a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" Psalms 51:16-17. Get the heart right first before you try to do the "act" of a loving heart. I think of presents for people, a good gift is one from the heart, one that costs our affections. You can sacrifice the same thing twice, once with your heart behind it and once just to feel better about yourself, and have them mean two different things. The true meaning then, is unseen in the heart expressed through the gift. Our God sees us as we see our children when they bring us gifts, even a weed flower means more than a bouquet someone helped them buy. Don't disconnect your heart from your sacrifice of love to others!
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and His paths beyond tracing out!" Romans 11:33 (Doxology). A call to let God be the judge and give the benefit of the doubt as you would to your friends and family. Once there was a man who saw a prostitute everyday he passed by a certain street. One day he paid her pimp to have a night with her, he took her up to the hotel room and he told her to lay down and sleep while he watched her have a good night's sleep. She didn't understand but her weary body gave into rest and after a full night, she awoke and he was gone. She left prostitution and cleaned up her life! Many people would assume he sinned not knowing what went on. Even if all evidence is staked against someone, be God's advocate for the person starting in your mind, this will influnce how you speak of them to others. God is the most nonjudgmental judge I know. Need I say more than the woman caught in adultery?
Why not What
“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone” James 2:24. Abraham wasn’t considered righteous until after he offered Isaac as a sacrifice, his deed of the seed of his faith. It wasn’t enough to mean to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, there had to be a follow through or at least our best efforts. It was only then that scripture said “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” Genesis 15:6. Why do people say then that all you must do is believe without focusing on proving by your works? Anyone can pretend for a while but time will find them out and prove that the works were not genuine faith. Also because works alone made the Jews miss Jesus as Savior, and faith alone is just talk. One produces the other, they are mutually exclusive. You can do works but they are not true works. You can work in selfishness or in love, motives tell all and only God is the motive reader. Judged by ‘the why’ no ‘the what’.
“When you ask you do not have because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” James 4:3. This verse points out the secret to every answered prayer… a heart cry. Synonymous with motives! Basically he is saying not to blame God for not answering your prayers if you pray without a heart cry or with wrong motives so you can do what you want. We cannot determine what’s best but the One who “knows the plans he has for you” does. If you aren’t talking from your heart there is no one to answer, it is fake. If you don’t have right motives, ask for them first before you ask for what you want. Why else would God answer a prostitute over a Pharisee? Motives and heart cries.
Motives vs. God
"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" Phil 1:29. Is this verse saying that believing and suffering are on two opposite ends of our enjoyment spectrum? I was talking with a friend about looking for evidences for my faith and this dear friend asked me why I was looking for evidences for things I already had choosen to believe. This question bothered me throughout the day and when I addressed it, this text came to mind. It has been granted to us to believe, it is a privilage to believe, to hope. We should not think that our faith impresses God, that He should lower his prizebox of blessings for us because we believe. Jesus lived a sinless life so he could die in our place, that is not from the prizebox. We forget that faith in Jesus saves us, not just the fact that we have faith. "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."Isa 64:6. I am not saying that blessings don't result from doing the best we can, I'm saying we shouldn't make a spiritual forecast based on how things are going. We cannot control God with our 'mighty' faith, and spiritual things don't work the same as earthly things. When we are good here on earth, usually it pays off. But our heavenly payoff for faith in Jesus is in heaven.