Friday, July 25, 2014

God's Transforming Power


God’s Transforming Power

2 Peter 1:3
  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Romans 12:2
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 has given to us everything we need to know about life and godliness in His Word. This is a strengthening form of power, an intimate knowledge of God which our faith is built upon. Our Lord wants us to know and understand that He is sovereign over every situation, and that sin’s power must be diffused. None of us can overcome sin’s power by simply renouncing it; telling sin to go away. To simply determine not to think wrong thoughts or not to do sinful acts, will only reinforce them in our mind. Sinful habits are broken by replacing them with the Word of God. True freedom comes when we fill our mind with God’s thoughts. The renewing of the mind occurs through the Holy Spirit’s transforming power and consistent study and meditation of Scripture.

We must identify the harmful thoughts and actions we struggle with and know we have all the spiritual equipment we need to track down every thought and destroy the strongholds that can destroy us. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: ( For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, [of the flesh] but mighty [divinely powerful] through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). 

Thinking in generalities is not good when dealing with fantasies, imaginations, speculations, or attitudes. Identifying specific harmful thoughts through the truth of the Word of God is the weapon we need to use to destroy the fortresses formed in our mind. This is true spiritual warfare. Believers are not instructed in the NT to assault demons or Satan, but we are instructed to attack error with truth. That is our battle strategy. Declaring war on our thought life means we must set time aside to begin our plan of attack. We need to memorize Scripture that deals directly with our specific sinful thought patterns. We need to pray that God will help us to resolve to choose Him, rather than the sin. This is using God’s artillery correctly and to our advantage.

How does God’s Word transform your life? Through the Gospel of Christ, the transforming power of God sets your sinful, captive soul, free. He gives you hope in knowing you can do all things through Christ which strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). The confidence to realize nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), and that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). You need to consciously commit your mind, opportunities, and time to Christ and thank Him for the life He has so graciously given you.  

Thought: The more we meditate on the Word, the more clearly we see areas of our lives that need to be changed. Do not be discouraged by the frequency of the same temptations. If you have lived a long time with sinful thought patterns, the strongholds of your imagination will not be so easily brought down. You must realize that you are not merely confronting yourself, but the  forces of evil as well. Satan’s most used weapon against you is discouragement. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Life is Unfair


Life is Unfair

Daniel 1:1-5
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.  And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.

 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.

How many times have we heard a little child or even an adult say, “That’s not fair?” We all have experienced things in our lives that we could say were “not fair.” In the book of Daniel, God gives such encouragement to Daniel’s three young friends, and to Daniel, when the land of Judah is sieged and taken captive by the Babylonian Empire. There is nothing fair about being uprooted from home, taken away from ones family, or removed from the way of life that these young men had been accustomed to living. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah all faced difficult times and even though they obeyed God, they were not protected from God’s judgement upon the people of Judah. Just because we name the name of Christ and call ourself a Christian, does not mean that we will be protected from unfair treatment or from the pain and consequences of another’s sin.

Daniel was a victim of the judgement of God brought upon the children of Israel and was controlled by a powerful group of unbelieving people. Daniel didn’t remain a victim in this foreign land, but believed God completely and followed the will and plan God designed for his life. He believed God could protect and deliver him from this terrible situation and God did. He delivered Daniel from the unfair treatment and gave him freedom in the midst of enslavement.

Daniel never gave in to the powerful authority figures over him even though he knew he might suffer for his faith. He purposed in his heart not to conform to the ways of the king and responded to the authorities over him with conviction and courage. Daniel could have reacted in doubt and fear when facing the lion’s den, but he trusted God instead; believing God could do anything but fail.  Daniel was delivered from one difficulty after another when he acted upon his faith and believed God to be in complete control, because his faith gave him strength to endure any trial. “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength (Isaiah 40:28,29).

Thoughts: As a Christian, we need to understand that we are able to overcome anything, if we remember the wonderful riches of our salvation. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” God has given to us, “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3). The word precious means: there is nothing like them, they are utterly unequalled. We possess a precious faith based on God’s precious promises–––what more could we ask for!

When you feel like life is just not fair, remember; God controls all the details of your life and puts all things together for your good and His glory. Are you thankful even for the things that seem seriously unfair? “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Have you forgotten the riches of your salvation? This is a reminder of how great your salvation truly is even during the seemingly unfair trials of life. How tragic the consequences of life are when you have forgotten God’s unequalled promises or, have never known what true salvation really means. (If you are struggling with knowing about a so great salvation, please contact me, I would love to share the gift of the gospel with you.)



Friday, July 11, 2014

Responding in Anger




Responding in Anger

Ephesians 4:31,32
 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, (loud yelling or screaming) and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice (vindictiveness, a strong desire for revenge): And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Growing up, my brother, was a very angry child and brought much pain and sorrow to our home. As he grew into his teenage years, his anger increased and he became abusive to my mother and me. I was five years younger than my brother and terribly afraid of him. There were times when I became ecstatic over him being taken away to Juvenile Hall or even later, to prison. This sounds a bit harsh, I know, but to a little girl, the pain was very real and I just wanted the torment to stop. His anger took him places he didn’t want to go, mainly, prison and caused him countless years of unhappiness. Fighting, arguing and a lack of self-control were horrible characteristics that he possessed and later introduced him to an unrestrained and dreadful way of life. Outraged with anger, he nearly killed a young man with a knife; sending him to prison for a considerable length of time. 

I was not a Christian growing up so, the words, “I hate you!” were honest feelings I had towards my brother. Of course, they were wrong, but they were real-life feelings I didn’t know how to respond to. The fear and anger I experienced, brought out feelings of desperation, torment and tremendous guilt. I entertained hateful thoughts towards my brother and was plagued with regret and fear. Not knowing Christ or having His gentle hand upon my tender wounded soul, caused my heart to suffer bitterness and resentment. No forgiveness, no freedom from bitterness or resentment ever came until I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He removed the sin of bitterness and resentment; putting a new song in my heart towards God. The Holy Spirit taught me to forgive and my new life in Christ produced a love for my brother that I had never anticipated or  ever experienced. 

After trusting Christ, I wanted to know, “Can a Christian biblically handle anger?” The answer, of course, was, “Yes!” A Christian needs to see God in their trials; realizing He is in complete control over every circumstance and person that enters their path. Nothing happens by mistake; neither does God make any mistakes. 

We handle anger biblically by communicating with those who have offended us to solve the problem. We cannot allow what has bothered us to build up resentment in our hearts and lose control. We are to attack the problem and not the person–––remembering to never let the sun go down while we are still angry. (Ephesians 4:26-27).

Anger is a sinful result of a prideful self-will. Only by pride cometh contention (fighting arguing, anger): but with the well advise (wise counsel) is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:10a). James tells us to submit ourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from us. We are to draw near to God, and He will draw near to us. (James 4:6b-8). 

Angry people can certainly destroy the atmosphere of a home. Children growing up under this type of influence will learn how to show anger and later become angry adults. Fathers and mothers are never to provoke their children to anger. Definition of provoke: evoke, cause, annoy, give occasion or motivate a child to anger. But, parents are to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD. (Ephesians 6:4). 

Do not make friends with angry people or allow children to be influenced by them because, they can learn their ways and be trapped by what they have learned. Proverbs 22:24-25 ~ “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”

Thoughts: Overcoming a temper is not accomplished overnight. But through prayer, Bible study, and reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit, ungodly anger can be overcome. Just as we may have allowed anger to become entrenched in our lives by habitual practice, we must also practice responding correctly until it becomes a habit itself. If someone has hurt you, offended you, or abused you, the biblical response to all offenses is forgiveness. Forgiveness relieves you from the tormentors and sets you on the path of repentance, restoration, and recovery. Whether you are the angry person yourself, or the one that anger has mistreated, Christ is still the answer. Put your faith and trust in the Lord and give your anger to Him to control. Obey the command to forgive and let the offender off the hook; to set your captive heart free.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thank God for Freedom


Thank God for Freedom

Galatians 5:1
 Stand fast therefore in the liberty (freedom) wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Dear Lord,

There is no greater feeling of liberation than to experience the freedom from sin and death that You have provided for me through Jesus Christ. Today my heart and my soul are free to praise You. For this I am extremely grateful. Forty-one years ago, I was “Born Again” by the power of God working in my life. This was the first truly free Fourth of July celebration I had ever experienced and I will forever be thankful.

On this Independence Day, I am reminded of all those who have sacrificed for my freedom, following the example of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Let me never take my freedom for granted, physically or spiritually. May I always remember that my freedom was purchased with a very high price. My freedom cost others their very lives. Thank you, Lord, for giving the ultimate sacrifice, Your perfect sinless Son for a sinner like me.

Lord, today, bless those who have served and continue to give their lives for my freedom. With favor and blessing meet their needs and watch over their families. Help me to live my life in a way that glorifies You, Lord. Give me the strength to be a blessing in someone else's life today, and grant me the opportunity to lead others into the freedom that can be found in knowing Christ.

Amen!

Many songs, poems and quotes have been written to express the love and appreciation we have for this country. We are proud to be called Americans and need to pray for this country, the land that we love. Songs about America are written with God’s blessings in mind: “God Bless America” and  “America the Beautiful,” express the truth of God’s grace shed upon this land. 

 ~ Famous Quotes ~

Defending freedom ~ "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." — Abraham Lincoln 

On God's side ~ "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side." — Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s most beloved presidents, has numerous books written on the subject of his religious life. When one reads Lincoln's presidential speeches and letters, filled with his references to the Bible and showing his dependence on prayer for God's guidance, it is difficult to comprehend why anyone would perceive President Lincoln as anything but a man that sincerely relied upon God. By the end of the Civil War, Lincoln had demonstrated sincere faith in the guidance and judgement of the God of the Bible. In Lincoln’s brilliant Second Inaugural Address, delivered six weeks before his death, he demonstrated a mature opinion of Divine Providence. Lincoln did not doubt that it was God that controlled man's destiny, not man himself. 

Thoughts:  I want to express my sincere appreciation to my God for allowing me the awesome opportunity of being an American and for the wonderful life He has given me in Christ. I am free from the bondage of sin according to Galatians 5:1, and privileged to live in the land of the free. Though the men and women that have given their lives for freedom were not my personal friends, I thank them for their extreme sacrifice and for their love of liberty. The sacrificial death of Christ upon the cross was an expression of Jesus’ love for us and evidence of His selfless compassion. Through His unselfish example, Christ gave to us, “So great a salvation.”