FROM THE HEART
Relevant blogs about living as a Christian in the world today.
We can have God’s best for us, when we study the Bible, enter into the Lord’s presence, and have fellowship with Him through prayer or praise and worship. Praying only short prayers, on the run and reading a few Bible verses now and then, is not what our heavenly Father expects from His children. We will reap what we sow and that may be a long chain of failures and desperate moments. Why? Because it takes time in God’s presence to open our spiritual ears to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say, and if we do not seriously study the Bible, we cannot know our Heavenly Father's will, to be able to react and pray accordingly. God respects our free will and does not force us to spend time with Him. The Lord teaches and warns us, through the Holy Spirit and His Word, but we must choose to do His will. Whenever we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can make the right decisions that the Lord blesses and helps us live the abundant life that Jesus Christ came to give us (John 10:10). Jesus told the Jews who did not believe that He was the Messiah, that in searching the Scriptures we can learn what we need to know about Him.
It is interesting to note that the Jews knew that eternal life could be found in the Scriptures, but they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the incarnated Word, the way, the truth, and the life. The truth sets us free only after we know it, and this knowledge only comes from time spent in study and fellowship.
For Jesus to truly be our Lord, we must spend time with Him. Parents know how painful it is to only see their teenage children when they need money, and even then, only for a minute, because they are in a hurry. Why would we think that God is pleased with us when we give Him only crumbs of our time? Unfortunately, not even going to church is always a time dedicated to the Lord, because thoughts, worries and emotional problems can distract us, and we fail to enter into the presence of the One we should honor. If we sing without paying attention to the words and do not mean them wholeheartedly, then the time of worship loses its purpose. If we do not pay attention to the sermons, they cannot touch our hearts and help us change for the better.
We want to spend more time with those we truly love. When we are in love with Jesus, we want to know Him more and more. Jesus is the Word and He reveals Himself to us, through the Bible. Studying the Word not only gives us vital information about how to live right for God, but also transforms us, by renewing our minds, helping us change our attitudes, values and the way we perceive life, relationships, make choices and recognize what is beneficial or not. Jesus not only wants to be our Lord and Saviour, but also our friend. He wants us to share with Him what makes us happy and what hurts us, what we like to do and what we don't, but still must be done. I can say from my own personal experience that when we ask the Lord, He can even help us learn to enjoy doing what we used to hate. With the Lord, not only is life easier, but it is also much more beautiful and really worth living.
When everything around us seems to fall apart, hopes and dreams seem to crumble and the future seems darker than ever, we still have the strongest and most secure anchor in Jesus Christ. We are just travellers on this Earth and our goal is to make it to where Jesus is, in eternal heaven. There are many verses that encourage us to focus on what awaits us after we leave these physical bodies, so we can more easily overcome the challenges and difficulties of life. Jesus has taught us what to do when we go through trials, by what He told His disciples the night before His arrest and crucifixion:
We can remain calm in the midst of life's storms, only if we choose to keep our emotions in check and not let them take control. We cannot do it on our own, but we are not alone! The Father and Jesus live in us through the Holy Spirit and if we pray, He helps us. We can have true peace only if we receive it from Jesus in our spirit, through the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read of the “fruit of the Holy Spirit” in our hearts, and the list begins with “love, joy, peace.” All of these are interdependent and mutually supportive. Jesus tells us to choose not to be troubled, by having faith in Him and in Father God, and knowing that our heavenly dwelling is being prepared in the most perfect and wonderful place possible, to spend eternity with our Lord. Only through Jesus can we reach heaven. If we sincerely love the Lord and seek to keep His commandments, we can be sure that He loves us and lives in our hearts.
By quoting the Old Testament, Jesus summed up God’s Law with two commandments: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37b-40). Jesus came to be love for us. He brought out the deeper perspective of the moral law given through Moses, from a list of “you shall not…,” to the law of love, which makes us to no longer want to sin. If we love God, we will not break the commandments concerning Him, and if we love our fellow man as ourselves, we will not do anything that may hurt others, and as a result, we may keep all ten commandments. True love makes us choose to please God and to treat people as we would like to be treated. (“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 7:12)
We know that we truly love God, when we choose to do what we know He prefers and pleases Him. We also know that we love our neighbour as ourselves, when we treat others as we would like to be treated. God's love penetrates the whole being of the one who truly receives it and will affect his thoughts, emotions, words, and actions. None of us have remained the same, after being touched by God’s love. The change becomes more and more obvious to those around the born-again person, in their speech, behavior, acts and decisions.
In conclusion, love is the path to happiness, blessing, and the abundant life that Jesus desires for us to have. When we love, we are kinder and more tolerant of those around us, we forgive more easily and are not so easily offended; all these are keys that open the door to happiness and fulfilment. Obedience to God does not necessarily involve love, but sincere love leads to obedience and submission to what God prefers, and we do it willingly. The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we want to do what pleases Him, and as a result we become happier and more confident in knowing that His will is always best for us. Nothing the Lord asks of us is to our detriment, even though our flesh often complains. Because we want to do God's will, we no longer want to live led by our carnal nature and its lusts, but rather by the Holy Spirit, who knows what is best for us and helps us to do what pleases God. We are called to continually choose to do the will of God, which is good, pleasing, and perfect.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We all go through challenges in life, but at different times we react differently to similar situations. The way we respond, to what hurts us is affected by other variables in life. Some of which we cannot control, because they are the effect of the actions (or non-actions) of others, but there are also factors over which we have control, simply because they are directly related to us. Because God has given us free will, He never forces anyone to do what is right. The Lord speaks to our hearts and warns us when what we plan to do is wrong, but we decide whether to obey Him or not.
If Jesus Christ, who had no sin, learned obedience and was perfected through suffering (Hebrews 5:8-9), how much more must we go through multiple sufferings to learn to control our rebellion, selfishness, doubt, and anything else that stands between us and God, so that we can grow and mature spiritually.
We do not like to suffer or go through hard times. Because we live in this sinful world, where pride makes us believe we are great when all is well, suffering has the role of bringing us "down to earth," to realize that without God we are weak and unable to accomplish anything. We cannot even take our next breath without God’s help! But, praise God He is in us all the time and we can do all things He has called us to do, in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:4)!
What strengthens us when we desperately cannot see any way out of the trouble we are in, or we do not believe that we will ever be made whole again? Let us never forget that the devil “does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy,” while Jesus came “that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). If we truly know that all evil comes from the enemy and that God wants what is best for us, we can handle the difficulties we go through much easier.
It is important to see things in the right perspective, when we face trials and tribulations, as well as in any of the facets of life. If we fear suffering and believe that the Christian life is only joy, success, and nothing can ever harm us, then we are certainly victims of the lies of the devil. Jesus did not promise us such a life here on earth. Perfect joy, happiness, peace and fulfilment, we will experience only in heaven, after we leave these physical bodies with all their problems and weaknesses.
If Jesus was rejected and mistreated by those who had the devil as their father (John 8:44), why would we believe that we would be treated any differently by those who are not God’s children, today? The Lord has warned us that we will suffer in this world.
If we look at suffering as an opportunity to see the manifestation of the Lord's love and goodness in our lives, knowing He will surely bring us "out of dire distress, into a broad place” (Job 36:16), it will be much easier for us to go through what the devil has planned for our destruction. We must always remember that, just as the Lord never forsook us in the past, He will not now or in the future either and “no one is able to snatch” us out of God’s hand.
What should we do when we find ourselves going through a hard time? The first step is to identify the lies that the devil whispers to us, that are the opposite of God's Word, and then firmly declare the truth. We need to declare out loud that we know that God loves us, that He values us, and that He will surely help us as He always has. By declaring God’s truth out loud, we hear it from the most credible source for our brain, and that is our own voice. As a result, we strengthen our faith, and instead of being despaired, we trust the Lord that He is for us, not against us. We can declare Bible truths such as: God is good, His goodness has no end, His faithfulness is new every morning, He loves us with a perfect love, and will cause all things to work together for our good, because we love and obey Him.
The “light affliction,” which Paul was referencing, lasted two decades, but because he put it in the right perspective, in relation to eternity, he could say that they lasted just a moment. We have all experienced hardships, which because they lasted longer than we expected, we feared they would never end.
Recently I had an experience that the enemy wanted me to believe was the most terrible, that it will never end and that nothing would never be the same afterwards. In such moments, because we are discouraged and we suffer, it is hard to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That is why it is easier to believe the lies of the evil one who wants us to doubt the love and help of the Lord, so that we lose our hope and faith and fall into the pit of despair. If we go through an illness that makes us unable to think logically, and we are not rooted in the truth of God’s Word, we may suffer greatly. Even if we fail to realize that the enemy is the source of discouraging thoughts, despair, fear, and doubt, if we have a living relationship with Jesus, we will not believe the lies for very long, because the Holy Spirit reminds us that God is good, loves us, and wants our best, even if we don't feel His presence. Sometimes while we are being tested, we no longer feel the presence or love of our Heavenly Father, because His desire is that we rely on the truth of His Word, which tells us that “He does not leave or forsake us” and that nothing can separate us from His love. A simple but truthful sentence can lead us from despair to victory, and this is, “Lord, You are good!” If we begin to tell the Lord how much we love Him and how grateful we are that He loves us, it will not be long before the Holy Spirit reminds us of other wonderful experiences, when the Lord has given us victories and brought us out of even more difficult situations than the current one. If we spend time daily studying and memorizing God's Word, the Holy Spirit will remind us of the verses we need to fight the devil's lies with and get through the hard times.
Sometimes while we are being tested, we no longer feel the presence or love of our Heavenly Father, because His desire is that we rely on the truth of His Word, which tells us that “He does not leave or forsake us” and that nothing can separate us from His love. A simple but truthful sentence can lead us from despair to victory, and this is, "Lord, You are good!" If we begin to tell the Lord how much we love Him and how grateful we are that He loves us, it will not be long before the Holy Spirit reminds us of other wonderful experiences, when the Lord has given us victories and brought us out of even more difficult situations than the current one. If we spend time daily studying and memorizing God's Word, the Holy Spirit will remind us of the verses we need to fight the devil's lies with and get through the hard times.
Mankind's greatest fear is death. But we already know that for a true Christian, death only means to leave the physical body and to instantly be in the presence of the Lord, where there is no more pain and torment. When we realize that we should not fear death, many other fears lose their effect on us, and it will be way easier to keep our peace and joy. Jesus shows us that the only fear we should have is the reverential fear of God. It is the fear to not sin against the One who has done and is doing everything for us and who deserves all our love, honor and obedience.
When we become convinced of the truth of Paul's words, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain," we will not fall so easily into the snares of the enemy. And if we do not fear death and know that the Lord is with us in every situation, and that "He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4), we trust that God’s help will come in His perfect timing. The Lord is never late and never early, but does everything exactly when it is needed.
The following verses strengthened me the most, during my recent tribulation:
Jesus is full of mercy and compassion, and He understands us because He too lived in the flesh and was tempted just like us. He experienced life in this world, but He never sinned. That is why He could be the perfect sacrifice to saves us. It means a lot, to know that we can “boldly” approach the Lord, who has absolute power and gives us "grace," that meets our every need. Jesus, our High Priest, fully knows what we need and will help us at the right time, if we have faith that He will do it. Also during my recent tribulation, the Lord helped me, as always, to the glory of His name, and I know He does the same for you. Let's choose to trust the Lord based on what the Bible says and not on how we feel. God's Word is the truth, and we can be sure that the Lord does not lie and is always there for us, in the bad and good times of life.
How many of us have fallen for the lie of the devil, that it is okay to have unforgiveness? How many of us have personally said, or heard another say, “you just do not know how wrong they did me” or “I hope God punishes them for what they did to me” or “they ruined my life” or countless other similar statements?
Let us seriously consider the heart of God on forgiving and being forgiven. There was a day when Jesus was approached and asked how we should pray. What is commonly known as the Lord’s prayer is recorded in two of the Gospels.
It is also recorded in Luke 11:2-4. The very next words that Matthew recorded of Jesus saying, is a matter of life and death!
The message of the Lord pertaining to the seriousness of forgiving others, is recorded in other places. In the parable about the talents, Matthew 18:23-35, a man was “forgiven much” but refused to forgive another man “of a small debt legitimately owed him.” This resulted in the master saying unto him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." – Matthew 18:32b-35
Our Father, generously and with His whole heart, has given us His “mercy and grace” for a multitude of sins and He does not take it lightly when we “refuse to give mercy and grace to others.” And the Lord provided that forgiveness for us out of love, mercy and grace, before we ever asked or were sorry. How dare we think that we can hold a single sin or error done to us, or even a boatload of wrongs from someone, and that it is okay with God. Consider what the Lord told Peter in the following verses.
This does not mean there is a limit of 490 times. It was a way of saying to keep on forgiving someone. When we pray “forgive us as we forgive us others,” it is very serious. In essence, we are praying, “to be forgiven in the manner, as we are forgiving others” and therefore if “we refuse to forgive,” our “forgiveness is refused also.”
To think we can hold grudges and not forgive others, and still go to heaven, is a lie from the devil. If we believe this lie, we will still go to hell. The measure of mercy and grace we give, is the measure of mercy and grace, God gives us.
If we have ought with anyone and it seems totally justified and we refuse to forgive them, even if they never even ask for it, we must realize that it will cost us eternally. By “demanding justice” instead of “giving mercy,” we are “requiring justice” upon ourselves and voiding the mercy we could be receiving.
We can go to church, read our Bibles, pray and even do good works, but if we refuse to forgive someone, no matter how bad the wrong is, we better be prepared to pay the eternal consequences.
This message might seem harsh, but time is of the essence. Everyday wasted believing the lie of the devil, that it is okay and justified to not forgive, is robbing us of the mercy and life that Jesus has for us and if we die in such a state, eternal death and hellfire awaits us.
If you are struggling over an issue, ask the Lord for help. Get counselling if need be, but make the choice to forgive and ask the Lord to help you continue doing so. It is not a onetime thing. At some point, a word will be said, an emotional reminder will come up, and one has to choose to keep forgiving. Eventually, one will even be able to pray for the one that did them or their loved one wrong, just as Jesus did on the cross (Luke 23:34). This is the kind of love that can only come from God, agape love. And the Holy Spirit is with us to help us love in His manner. In our own flesh, I believe it is almost impossible, but with God, it is totally possible.
The Lord never asks us to do something that He is not willing and able to help us do! The Holy Spirit is with us to help us live the life that the Lord has for us. There is nothing like having the slate clean between us and God but it is natural from time to time to fall into a snare of the enemy and for us to have to realize it, repent and ask the Lord to help us get back to where we need to be.
Prayer: Lord, help us to never let anything come between us and You. Please forgive us for the times we seriously fall and the little times too. Help us to forgive, and even love, as You have forgiven and loved us. And please help us in the days ahead to keep forgiving. We need Your help in every way, every day. Thank You Lord for Your mercy and grace and for the opportunity to pass it on. In the Name of Jesus, amen.
What do we do when the answer to our prayer, does not come the way we asked or wanted? Do we give up? Do we get mad at God? Do we toss our faith in the Lord, out with the garbage? How do we still believe for the rest of our prayers?
These are serious questions that every Christian must deal with. We must first ask, do we really expect God to answer according to our wisdom, or His? We know all too well, that we can only see in part and that the Lord sees all and in past, present and future tense. We also know His ways (agenda) are not our ways. We know He loves us and wants us to bring our cares unto Him. But we must trust that His agenda and wisdom are better than ours.
Maybe the answer is not, “no.” Just because the answer does not come exactly as we ask, does not mean His answer is no. For example, most of us pray for healing for ourselves and loved ones many times in our lives. We know God wants the best for us. We also know accidents happen in traffic, yards, sports, homes, work and everywhere else. We know genetics and diet can open the door for issues. Life happens. And we call on our Lord for healing and help. There is no doubt most of us prefer instant miracles. And there is no doubt many of us have received them. But most of the time, healing comes in time. If healing does not come that fast, then we can know there is a reason. Sometimes, the ailment is the one that will be the final one.
Do you remember this verse?
Many times in life, we believe our actions, or our parents actions, are the cause of an illness. And maybe, sometimes, it is true. But consider the answer of Jesus, about the man who was born blind. Sometimes, God allows these types of things, because God wants to work through the circumstances for His reasons.
The Amplified version says, “… he was born blind in order that the workings of God should be manifested (displayed and illustrated) in him.” This helped and taught the former blind man, and many others of that day. For those who had hearts to believe, it increased their faith. For those who had “hard hearts” toward God, their hearts grew even harder. And for all of us who have read this testimony with the leading of the Holy Spirit, have had our faith touched also. It spoke to all who saw and heard about it. It spoke to the religious leaders who where against Jesus. And their hearts and actions were displayed, for all who saw how ugly they treated the healed man and his parents.
We can rest assured that the following verses are true.
Many of us are glad to know, stand on and quote that last part of this section of verses, that all things are working for good for us, who love God and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). But consider what precedes that part. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to help us in our weaknesses. He has come to help us pray and intercede for us “according to the will of God.” This is important!
So how does it happen? It happens when we pray according to the Lord’s direction or leave the answer to our issue, completely up to Him. For those baptized in the Holy Spirit, with the gift of tongues, we trust the Holy Spirit is supernaturally directing our words and prayers. At other times, for us and for others, our humble cries from our hearts are heard before God, via the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, and He is in and with us. He relates our prayers to the Father.
Perhaps the following verse is not often viewed pertaining to prayer, but it certainly can and does apply.
We need to approach the Lord with respect and humility. At times, over the years I have heard people pray rudely to God. Demanding things of Him like a toddler would to a parent. If you were God, how would you answer such prayers?
If you are a child of the Lord, His ears are open to you. But we can know, our Father is not raising brats! When a person is disrespectful to God, he should not expect anything but correction. In the Lord’s mercy, He looks past a lot of our error, but in time, He certainly expects us to mature.
Naturally, there is another simple reason our prayers would not be answered in the way we asked. Sometimes we ask “amiss.” Asking God to bring vengeance on someone we should be forgiving and praying for their mercy or salvation could be a big one. But there are many other ways we can ask amiss. Unforgiveness of others can impede our relationship with God and even cost us eternally, if not dealt with.
Not only is it important to forgive others, but the Lord says we need to get their forgiveness too.
The measure of mercy we give to others, determines the measure of mercy we receive from God.
God will not be mocked, we will reap what we sow. If we are willing to receive the Lord’s mercy, we must be willing to give mercy also. If we do not forgive another human being for something they did once, twice or even a thousand times, why should God forgive us of our multitude of sins? God does not allow us to receive His pardon and then not be willing to forgive others. The result is that if we err in such manner, we are asking for justice of others (some of us even demand it of God), so that if that is the way we want it, then justice is what we have to receive also. This asking or demanding of justice about someone else, means mercy is no longer available and voids the pardon of Jesus for the one showing no mercy.
Jesus has shown us the way to pray with what is popularly called, “the Lord’s prayer,” but many of His personal prayers are recorded in the Gospels. He always prayed according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and kept the Father’s heart and will in mind. Even on the cross, Jesus prayed “Father forgive them for they no not what they do.”
Jesus Himself, never had to ask the Father for forgiveness, but we certainly need to. Salvation means picking up our cross and following Him daily. This means heeding the correction and conviction of the Holy Spirit at all times. We must not let sin come between us and God. We need to keep humble and clean hearts.
Anyone that believes and says a person only needs to repent at the moment of salvation, has been blinded by the devil. The whole problem with sin, is that it separates us from God. To be close to God, means keeping sin out as much as possible and when we err, to repent of it as fast as possible.
There is another hindrance I know of to our prayers and that involves how we treat our spouses. In the following verse, it pertains to how a husband treats His wife, but we can rest assured, that a wife is also accountable to the Lord on how she treats her husband.
Sometimes we have to go on blind faith, rejecting the circumstances and pressing on for the answers we need. The Lord is the very one who taught us about the persistent widow who kept coming before an evil judge with a petition. The judge ultimately wearied from her persistence and granted her the petition she sought (Luke 18:1-8). Sometimes also, we have to speak directly to the mountains in front of us ourselves (Matthew 21:21).
When it comes to prayer, the bottom line is that it is up to us to pray. And it is up to God, how He answers. There is no doubt that if we pray godly prayers with the direction of the Holy Spirit, we will see the best results. If we are in one accord with the Lord, we will be living right and praying right. And as such, we can pray and let it go. The answer is up to the Lord. In His time and according to His ways, He will answer. Praise the Lord, that He is all-wisdom, all-knowing and loves us with a pure heart. We can trust in Him, with all our cares because of who He is.
Have you ever felt like you were on top of it spiritually, and then before you knew it, blew it completely? Have you ever been driving to or from work, maybe even listening to praise music or Christian radio, and then someone aggravated you in traffic and you completely lost your cool? Have you ever been having a great day, to come home and have a child or spouse push your button the wrong way, and perhaps they had no idea they were even doing it? So many times in life, I thought I was winning in my daily walk and then, in one or two little conflicts, I quickly found myself in sin or distress!
It is easy not to sin when things are going our way. The question is, how much of things not going our way, does it take for the ugly to come out? Most people can be easygoing and happy when things are going their way. The challenge is, can we keep our composure and joy, when things go awry?
King Solomon, in Proverbs, recorded much great wisdom. Here is a great proverb.
Some of the people that I have looked up to, the most in life, are the ones who could keep their peace in the storms, their composure and joy when things went wrong and good attitudes, even in the midst of adversity and trauma. But if we look to the ultimate example, Jesus, we can see how He kept it all together, no matter how the devil tried to tempt, test or befall Him.
Can you imagine, how the devil wanted Jesus to fail in His mission or how bad he wanted Jesus dead? From the time, the prophecy came from the Lord to the devil about conflict that would come from the seed of Eve, the devil was on guard about it.
Have you ever wondered what really happened with Cain and Abel? Cain was the first seed that Eve gave birth to. Don’t you think the devil was after Cain to befall him? A seed that would come from her, would be part of devil’s demise. The devil worked hard to bring the fall of man and next he worked hard to wreck their family, especially with their offspring. I believe he worked hard on Cain to keep him from being on the right path. And perhaps he saw that Abel was good seed and was a serious threat too. By getting Cain to kill Abel, he eliminated “two birds with one stone.”
Eventually the devil realized, that they were not the seed to worry about. But at the time of Christ’s birth, the serpent of old, was waiting for the Messiah. How many children died in Bethlehem, because the devil was directing Herod?
How long do you think it took, for the devil to figure out that Jesus, came through Mary and was being raised by she and Joseph? Can you imagine the opposition and friction, he used to try to frustrate Jesus and get Him to sin?
After Jesus was baptized in water and Spirit, He spent forty days in the wilderness, fasting and praying.
Jesus had brothers who did not believe in Him, He had a religious establishment that opposed change. It had fallen far from the pure relationship God wanted with the Jews. I believe the enemy worked overtime, to try to frustrate Jesus and get Him to sin. I also believe the devil worked overtime, to get people to turn on Jesus, as individuals and in groups, that when he could, the devil would try to turn them into mobs against Jesus. Such as the time in Nazareth, when the people in the synagogue turned on Jesus and wanted to throw Him over the side of a nearby cliff (Luke 4:28-30). The Lord handled all these situations victoriously.
Jesus is the greatest example for us to follow. He has shown us how to keep our peace in betrayal, in being falsely accused, in being turned on by our families, our churches (in His case, synagogues/Temple) and so much more. His strength was not short-lived. He did not faint in the day of adversity.
I think we can all see why if we look. Jesus stayed in one accord with the Father. He never broke that union. He constantly sought the will of the Father and told us, that, that was what He was doing. Every time we sin, we break the union we have with the Lord. His grace helps us get back to where we should be, but when we choose our own will over God’s, then we are choosing to break that union. Doing so hurts God being able to abide in us and us in Him. Jesus never did that. Maybe we cannot be Jesus, but we all can do better!
We can all see that Jesus took time out to replenish. Ministering to others is draining. Going to work is draining. Solving problems is draining. Taking care of children is draining. Hearing the hurts and problems of others, is draining. The only way to overcome being drained, is to be replenished. If this world had its way, it would have us working and staying busy, 7 days a week. The Lord made the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath. That day off is for replenishment. Restoration. We need it daily also, but especially the one day set aside. Anytime we get drained and exhausted, we need to be replenished and restored. And we all know, that when we are in an exhausted state, this is when getting the victory is the hardest.
The world may know about positive thinking and getting rest, but one will never learn in secular schools that we are spirit beings. And these beings inside us, direct the rest of us. Our human bodies must eat, drink and stay fit, but the world will not teach us about the inner man, eating, drinking and staying fit. This spiritual person, needs the Lord. He needs the Holy Spirit and to be able to hear Him. If we are to abide in Jesus and He in us as in John 15, this is spiritual. The trials and challenges of this world are not for weaklings. And choosing the Lord at a single moment in life is not enough. We have to daily follow Him and His leading. We must grow in His Word and direction. If we do not want to faint in the day of adversity or let the enemy trip us up in traffic or heated situations, then we need to be internally strong. Like Jesus. In one accord with the Father, asking for direction from above and then obeying that direction. We must eat, drink and even work-out spiritually unless we want to be weak in our spirits and fail. Our pastors or parents cannot do it for us, our spouses or even the Lord. The choice is always up to us. Let’s stay replenished. Lets’ stay and grow in union with the Lord. Let’s follow Jesus and the examples He set for us.
Is anyone accountable for their actions in this day and age? If not, most of us do not usually mind helping in letting them know, or everyone else know, what they did wrong and what should be done about it. Why is it so easy for us to see the wrongs and faults of others, rather than our own, and not see the wrongs of the ones we love or think highly of? An old saying, says “love is blind.” It seems our love for others, and own self-love, can surely be at the root. Self-righteousness also can truly be an integral part of this type of mess.
What is a critical spirit? Is it one that is merely critical of others or is it that attitude, coupled with self-righteousness? As humans, we seem to have two modes, true humility or self-righteousness. Another old saying says that when we have one finger pointing out, we have three pointing back toward ourselves. Why are we so willing to receive God’s grace, but at times, not willing to give grace to others? Could we ever do each other more wrong, than what we each have done to God? I cannot imagine all the sins of my life compiled and then added to Jesus’ suffering. And He forgave me before I ever repented and even while I was so hard-hearted toward Him.
Every born-again Christian has a huge choice to constantly make. To walk according to the carnal nature or according to the new, born-again, godly nature. Only when the born-again spirit rules over the fallen carnal nature, are we walking correctly. That carnal nature, is the nature of the devil. Many people, including within the church, believe we are still born in the godly image of God. I do not believe that at all. I believe Adam and Eve were created in the godly image of the Lord, but when they chose to sin, their good and pure nature died and they took upon the fallen nature of the enemy. As their offspring, we have all been born with a fallen nature. When we believe upon and yield to Christ, repent and turn from our wicked ways, we become born-again and the Lord takes us from darkness into the light. We no longer want to be slaves of sin, but sons of righteousness. Our spirits become born-again with the godly nature, but we still live in bodies with the fallen nature.
It is the fallen nature, that desires to be impatient and self-righteous while criticizing others. The nature of Christ is the opposite, it deals with the wrongs of others, but from a place of love, grace and humility.
When we choose the way of Christ, we are helping the kingdom of God. When we choose the way of the flesh, we are helping the kingdom of darkness. When I catch myself, “playing the blame game,” I stop and say to myself, do I really want to be part of the devil’s team?
The Lord said to the woman that He helped keep from being stoned, that He did not condemn her and to go and sin no more.
Jesus said He did not come to condemn us. If the Lord Himself did not, then who are we to do it to each other?
The Lord said we were condemned already. Only when we come to Him, do we escape eternal condemnation.
Who is the condemner? Who is the blamer of all of us? Our own actions condemn us and the devil is our great accuser.
Once again, we all have that ugly side of us within the carnal nature. And when we succumb to it, we are aiding and abetting the enemy. We can do better. We can be the ambassadors of Christ. We can build others up instead of tear them down.
1 Peter 4:8, is taken from an Old Testament verse found in Proverbs which says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12). If we take a closer look at the verse in Proverbs and consider the verse before it, we can glean more. For study sake, here it is in the BBE version.
The “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians has much to say about “agape love” which is true love. This is the kind of love God is and has for us. It is the kind of love He wants us to have for each other.
As Christ is the head of His body, we as His church, are to follow the Head. That is what a body does. The Lord has shown us the way by how He lived, taught us with the truth of His Word and sent His Holy Spirit to live within us, to empower us to be able to accomplish His commands and directions.
One day, I was judging someone’s salvation in which I was saying that I believed that there was no way they were a Christian, and I believed they were hell-bound. Merciful sakes, I was quiet just enough to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. I felt like the Lord asked me who I was to make that determination. A whole download of conviction and humility came with that admonishment/correction from the Holy Spirit. We must be careful how we believe in our hearts and speak with our mouths about such matters. We are not God and we do not even know for sure what He will do with us. Where in the Bible does it give us the right to make eternal judgments about each other? It does not. We can carefully make judgments about situations we face in life, without judging each other like we are God. This is terribly important. The measure we judge by, is the measure we will receive.
Not only are we exhorted to speak in ways that build up instead of tear down, but we are to forgive each other. We are to share grace, as we have been given grace from the Lord.
We are even supposed to at times, confess our sins one to another. How can we do so, if we have to be in fear of the reproach of others?
As Christians, we all tend to drift off the right path sometimes. Sometimes we even go too far. But the important thing is to get back on the path. The Lord is closer than our breath. When we repent, He is quick to forgive. Thank You Lord that You never leave or forsake us. May we always be faithful to You and never forsake You either.
Life seems to be getting more complicated and we seem to be hearing more and more bad news. There are so many things that could cause us to fear, that we must increase our efforts to rejoice and stay faithful. But the Lord knows best about whatever we are going through, and that is why there is so much encouragement in His Word, that is applicable, regardless of the historical period in which anyone lives. The verses below are timeless in such manner.
If we study God’s Word, we learn that God is love and He wants what is best for us, even more than we do. If we choose to live in obedience to the Lord, we can have the most beautiful life, because we can fulfill the plan that God created and equipped us for.
Because we are the Lord’s children and have His light, we can be sober and know what is happening not only around us, but also in our hearts and minds. In the first verses of 1 Thessalonians 5, we are warned that the Lord Jesus will come as unexpectedly and suddenly, “as a thief in the night,” the comparison referring to the element of surprise. Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming,” in Matthew 25:13, as well as in Matthew 24:32 and Mark 13:32. Based on the signs of the Lord's coming, which we read about in the books of Isaiah, Joel, and in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we can know when the coming of the Lord is near, but no man will know the exact day, much less the hour when Jesus will appear on the clouds.
That is why we should be spiritually awake, always seeking to put on “the breastplate of faith and love," and to protect our minds with the "hope of salvation," as a helmet. Faith in God is the only shield that can stop the arrows of doubt and the lies of the devil. We are also the ones who choose to love God and people, and to receive the love that the Lord has for us. If we want to understand the love of our heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit will reveal it to us. A good way to get to know more about the dimensions and depths of God's love, is to pray as the apostle Paul prayed, in Ephesians 3:14-21.
Because our mind is a battlefield, in which the enemy can slip thoughts of doubt, discouragement, temptation, and more, trying to get us to fail and forsake the Lord, we need to continuously have “the hope of salvation" as a helmet to guard our minds. The helmet is meant to protect what we think. If Jesus is our true Lord and we are convinced that His sacrifice is enough for our salvation, then we are saved. The Lord will never leave or forsake us, as He has promised us in so many Bible verses. But, we can forsake the Lord, because He does not force us to become or stay His. Therefore, we must persevere and endure to the end.
The light exposes everything that is hidden and can harm us. We do not solve any of our problems when we try to "hide them under a rug" or ignore them, on the contrary, whatever we do not take care of will cost us later. We are the ones who must choose to take and protect ourselves with the “breastplate of faith.”
We know that that God's purpose for us is to succeed, and always remain His. Jesus chose to die for our sins so that we may be with Him forever. This truth is the most wonderful and powerful encouragement for every Christian. Let us not forget that God created man so that he will have a people to be with Him forever!
Therefore, let us not be afraid and never doubt the love of our heavenly Father and that He will always take the best care of us. Jesus chose to die for our sins, to redeem and reconcile us with God and He lives in the sincere hearts of those who made Him Lord and live to please God. We are never alone and no matter how hard the circumstances are at certain times; Jesus is always with us and will always see us through. If we can say like Paul, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21), we have nothing to fear. Physical death means instantly entering into the presence of the One for whom we have lived, and for Christians, the One is Christ.
Let us not forget that,
Whatever the Lord taught the disciples, is still very useful for us too, no matter what age we live in. Jesus did not give the same instructions to the disciples, every time He sent them to minister, because the factors involved, differed from situation to situation. In Luke 9, we read about Jesus sending out of the twelve disciples to preach about the kingdom of God and to heal the sick, after they received “power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases" (v.1). At the beginning of chapter 10, we read that after a while, “the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go” (v.1). At this time, the Lord reconfirmed to them that He would take care of their needs and then He continued with another important teaching that was beneficial for them, and it is still beneficial for us today.
Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, as born-again believers, we have the real peace of the Lord, which is, “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” This peace is not just a feeling of peace or a greeting. According to the “Thayer’s Greek Lexicon”, the original word for “peace,” from Luke 10:5 means “security, safety, prosperity, felicity (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous).” So, the greeting actually means: “Let peace and blessedness, come to this household.” But only those who are “of peace,” who have a good heart can receive and enjoy this spiritual peace. That is why the Lord said that His peace will remain where we enter, if there is “anyone of peace,” who is sweet-spirited and hospitable. We all know that God is omnipresent, meaning that He is present everywhere, but this form of His presence, only manifests where His children are.
It is wonderful to know that our presence, as temples of the Holy Spirit can change the spiritual atmosphere when we go places. You may ask why this statement is not always true. Whenever we have a pure heart and we desire for the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence in and through us, those around us will notice, even if they do not understand what is different about us.
We are called to bear the presence of the Lord and the fruit, that the Holy Spirit produces in us, wherever we go. The more we are aware of this truth, the greater our impact will be on the lives of those around us. Also, our lives can be so much easier and peaceful, if we realize that because of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, we can change the spiritual atmosphere wherever we go. I think we can all say that there are places where we go happily, where we feel good and things go smoothly; and also the opposite, there are other places which we prefer to avoid, because we feel pressure, sadness and where nothing there seems to go right. From the following verse, we learn the cause of darkness and oppression in certain places:
That is why it is so important to keep our hearts pure (to ask for forgiveness as soon as we sin) and to equip ourselves with God's armor (Ephesians 6:13-17) to win the spiritual battles, as bearers of the peace, love and joy of the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus said something else very important:
No matter how spiritually mature we are, if we continue to enjoy close relationships and spend a lot of time in dark places with those who are not God's children, it may cost us dearly. There might be times when we have no other choice, but to be in such places, but if we trust God and pray for a way out, the Lord will help us. Jesus has said that we should cut off all ties with those who continue to reject Him, so that we will not be drawn back into darkness. It seems a drastic measure, but it is necessary. We cannot afford to flirt with sin, if we want to have the peace of Jesus. The more we love Jesus, the less we like the things that we used to like and do with the worldly friends we used to have. If we continue to long after the sinful way of living, we have a problem and we need to come before the Lord and ask Him to show us what we have not given up to and what we need to change. The Lord is faithful and will help us, because His desire for us is to succeed and be His forever. Thank You Lord!
Let us not forget that the peace of the Lord is in us wherever we go and we can enjoy its presence as we let the Holy Spirit to lead us and ignore the thoughts and emotions of our carnal nature.
Has anything good ever come from worrying? Have you ever solved any problems when you focused on the negative aspects and could not see the way out? The Bible teaches us the opposite approach, which is the most effective way for solving all situations.
These verses are easy to say, but not so easy to do, aren’t they? Let’s consider the previous verses:
To be able to always rejoice, we must continuously choose joy over sadness, discouragement or any negative emotions. "Rejoice" is a verb, which implies our action. We are able to rejoice more as we make the choice to smile even in difficult circumstances. It also helps to realize that it is valuable wisdom to resist thoughts and thought patterns that make us sad. We can also avoid conversations and situations that rob us of our peace.
Gentleness is the opposite of harshness, anger and a companion of joy. Jesus is the perfect model of gentleness and meekness. He always had the right heart and attitude, without sinning, no matter what His circumstances were. The Bible shows that people came boldly to Him knowing that He would to treat them kindly.
Most of us realize that there is no point in worrying and suffering over things we cannot change. It is true that it is important to realize and consider our mistakes, so that we do not repeat them, but we only hurt and torment ourselves with thoughts like: "if I would have only done this or only that..." or "if they would have only done this or that...". If we pay close attention and guard what we think, we can reject negative, and destructive thoughts, that bring no good, and instead, choose to meditate on what is constructive, beneficial, and true, according to Scripture, we can be so much more happier.
The apostle Peter tells us to cast all our concerns upon the Lord, because He cares for us in all areas of life:
God loves us unconditionally and always wants what is best for us, even more than we do. The Lord wants us to give Him all our worries. We know that there is no problem that He cannot solve for us. The Lord wants us to give Him our worries, to trust that He will solve them, and to be obedient to His directions and ways in handling things, so that He can work in our behalf. The child who has a loving and devoted father, does not doubt his protection, help and care. If an earthly father inspires his child to have so much confidence, how much more should we trust in the care of our heavenly Father, who is Almighty and for whom nothing is impossible or too difficult? When we love God, we seek to please Him, and we can be sure that He takes care of everything we need, because through. faith, the promises from His Word become real in our lives.
The apostle Paul shows us what we should meditate on, so that we may enjoy our daily lives.
When we respond to circumstances in our flesh and not lead by the Holy Spirit, the result will be stress, confusion and worry. As we choose to focus on what is good and right, we can resist the negative emotions, because the key to peace is not in what we feel, but in what we think.
How can we be free of the fear that comes from focusing on the problem that worries us? The most effective way is to find the Bible verses that solve the problem or show the truth of Scripture on the subject. What we think produces the emotions we feel. If we want to have peace and joy, it is up to us, to make the effort to stop negative, destructive thoughts and choose to think about what Philippians 4:8 says to think about, or to do as the following verses tell us to do:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
There is no doubt, that these verses are very personal to anyone who reads them. Recently, they have taken a deeper meaning to me.
Could it be that the Lord is not just asking us to take His yoke, but is asking us to “switch yokes”? The yoke that comes from the bondage of sin is a heavy yoke, a very, heavy yoke. And whether one is lost and yoked up with sin and the devil, or a Christian that a pitfall sin has found its way in (especially if it is a secret sin), the load is heavy!
We are all born into sin, meaning we are all born with a fallen nature. Only when we become born-again, do we go from darkness into the light. We go from “sin lordship” to “Jesus lordship.” When we go from the darkness into the light, we literally become new beings in Christ. Now, inside us, is the nature of Christ and the residence of the Holy Spirit. I remember, that before I became a Christian, I thought I would die if I became a believer, not being able to cuss, or in having to turn the other cheek. But an amazing thing happened when I gave my heart and life to the Lord, I no longer wanted to cuss or return evil for evil. A clean heart that exudes clean conversation, that glorifies the Lord, became my desire, and it is a privilege, to turn the other cheek. It is the least I can do for the One who not only took it on both cheeks, but His whole body for me.
The wonderful thing about being yoked with the Lord, is that He is strong and good-hearted. He wants to keep us from being overwhelmed. He is forever with us, to help us. When we were lost, we did not seek the Lord’s help, but faced our troubles with any other resources we could find. And the enemy (the devil and his host) were always there to help us fail, trip us up, feel miserable, etc. Any benefits the devil ever offers anyone, are short-lived and damaging. And just for the record, anyone who ever thinks the devil is their friend, is sadly mistaken. For every soul hurt and destroyed, to enemy, it is a strike against God.
The freedom we have, that comes from being forgiven, and staying that way, is the greatest relief and joy I believe anyone can ever have. When we fall into a habitual sin, or a pit resulting from a sin or trauma, we find ourselves being heavy laden again. Only when we take the Lord’s offer, on the way up and out, can we truly get “unyoked” from it, and back to where we belong, with the Lord leading the way. When we are yoked with Jesus Christ, it is a happy yoke, a yoke of relief. Real life is found in the purity of the relationship with our loving Lord. A dreadful life is found in rebellion to Him.
To “those who labor and are heavy laden,” the Lord offers “rest for our souls.” The Amplified Bible says, “all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened.” I looked up the words “labor and heavy laden” in the original language, and it seems to mean those who are fatigued and weary from carrying a heavy load. If a person has already given up self (sin) lordship to Jesus, they know well what this means. If not, a person really needs to get to the point where they realize the truth of this. Any yoke we share with anything or anyone besides the Lord, is not going to go well, even if it glitters like gold at first. Sooner or later, any other yoke besides the Lord, will fail us. Once we shuck that yoke and take the yoke the Lord offers, we begin true life! We find the “rest for our souls.” The meaning of “souls” ranges from heart, spirit, to mind. I think that without the Lord, we get weary mentally, spiritually and even physically, in looking for our own solutions and with the results we get ourselves into. But, with the Lord’s yoke, and Him leading us, we can rest in knowing that His love and goodness will always see us through.
The Lord says He is “gentle and lowly in heart” and to “learn from Him.” If the One who has it all and owns it all, is gentle and humble… how much more do we need to learn from Him. The Lord has given us His Word, sent us His Spirit and is closer to us than our own breath. He offers to teach us His ways and even help us to follow Him.
Does this mean we never get into trouble? Perhaps we struggle with forgiving someone in a horrible wrong-doing or struggle with our weaknesses, such as alcohol, drugs, other bad habits, sexual temptations, temper issues, etc. I guarantee you, that if you live long enough, you will be tempted in all areas that you might be weak in! But I also guarantee you, that the Lord makes a way for those who call upon Him and to resist temptation. If we seek His help, He is faithful to help us. He truly is a good, good Father. As long as we keep “getting back up,” we are not defeated! But we must not do it, in our own strength. We have to stay yoked with the Lord’s help and leadership. We have to listen and learn from Him, about how to overcome life’s issues.
The choice is to carry our burdens or take Him up on His offer. Praise the Lord, for the reward is rest for our souls! Praise the Lord, for we do not deserve His grace and goodness and yet He blesses us. Hallelujah, His call goes out to all, to “whosoever will,” just as His love does.