Sharing Christ with Others

God’s invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen in His Creation (Revelation 4:11). This takes away a person’s excuse for not believing in Him as their Savior.

We instinctively know that there is a God and that we should serve Him with all of our emotions, mind, choices and physical strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

Yet, so many do not honor God or appreciate Him. They pursue futile activities, endless philosophies and fruitless enlightenment and their hearts darken further with each passing day. They think they are wise, but they are actually very foolish (Romans 1:20-22).

Authentic Believers trust in, rely on and believe in Christ even if we end up suffering for the sake of His righteousness. We learn to explain and defend our beliefs to those who ask us about the hope we have in Him.

Yet, we never impose our beliefs on someone who is clearly not interested in them (1 Peter 3:14-16). There is no point if the Holy Spirit is not drawing them to God. We never badger anyone about coming to Christ.

We share Jesus with gentleness, respect for the listener and a good conscience; even if someone slanders our good name or reviles our good behavior in Christ.

We are created for God’s glory and service, and we will spend all of eternity worshiping our worthy Lamb who was slain in our place. For now, we live for His glory while we dwell on this earth and do only those works for which He created us to perform (Ephesians 2:10).

Prayer:
Father God, break the yoke of bondage that our flesh feels to sin and replace our weaknesses with Your strengths. Help us to decrease so that You may increase. We praise You as our living Lord and thank You for giving us Your Spirit to abide within us all the days of our life.

You are the only one worthy of all honor, respect, praise, glory, wisdom, might and blessing. We look forward to joining the myriads of angels already around the throne in singing Your praises (Revelation 5:12). Lead us to share Christ with those whom You are drawing to Yourself.

Thought for the Day:
The abiding Holy Spirit teaches us to follow His lead as we share Christ with friends, relatives, associates and neighbors; so that we do not push too hard, ignore their body language or fail to read the feelings of their soul in their eyes.

A Changed Attitude

At any given moment of the day, when we least expect it, circumstances arise that cause fear and despair to darken our attitude. Heaviness shrouds our spirit and joy flees in retreat.

Eventually anger may arise to shield us from impending pain and we explode and strike out at those around us. For the smallest offense, we react with severe sharpness that leaves the other person cut to shreds.

Our soul pours forth a storm of abuse that drenches the recipient to the point of drowning! Then we feel guilty for over-reacting and causing someone else pain and unhappiness.

Our anxiety and depression deepen and we withdraw into a stoic abyss. James did not believe in his half-brother’s deity until after His resurrection.

However, God used James mightily to further His Kingdom in Jesus’ footsteps. He remembered things Jesus taught and shared them with the Body of Christ both then and now.

One very famous concept was something very similar to what the apostle Paul taught. James reminds us that when we are tempted to sin, we can consider it a joyous time.

This occurs because we know without a doubt that when our faith is tried, the circumstances allow God’s Spirit to use our faith in Christ to work patience into our life.

As we learn patience, we lose much of the anxiety and grief which circumstances used to spawn in our life. Life is much simpler; we want less of this world and more obedience to His Spirit.

We realize that regardless of issues we are experiencing, we have need of nothing. God is our supply, and He has everything in His control (James 1:2-4).

Prayer:
Father God, You are the same Creator who made the majestic mountains, the depths of the sea, the myriad of galaxies in the heavens and the variety of species of plants and animals on this earth. You also have a wonderful plan for each of us, filled with love and peace through our Rock, Jesus Christ.

Most people prefer to make our own rules and live according to the dictates of our own heart, rejecting You for much, most, or all of our life. Some of us totally spurn Your offer of love and lead a hate campaign against You. Others attempt to earn our salvation by our good works.

A few of us will receive Your free gift of salvation through Christ (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Even then, we look to You to forgive us each day for transgressing against Your will and way for our life.

Thought for the Day:
As we allow God to sanctify our carnal nature, we grow into a more mature Christian, exhibiting the fruit of His Holy Spirit and having the nature of God as we readily and fully surrender to God’s sanctifying process.

Quietness and Confidence are Our Strength

 

The proud and haughty think only of themselves. They have a superior attitude and demean others in order to make themselves greater in their own sight.

 

They gossip, backbite and bully people; thinking they are wise and better than anyone else. Some people really believe this, but some are insecure and hide behind this mask (Psalm 131:1).

 

It is only as we are quiet before the Lord that He can search us and teach us to know our own heart. He tries us and knows our thoughts. He sees the wickedness within us and leads us to His everlasting truth (Psalm 139:23).

 

Our soul is like a little child within us – frightened, demanding and careless. As we learn to trust in the Lord now and always, we rest in His loving arms (Psalm 131:2-3).

 

We wait in hope by faith, and God gives us His Son of righteousness as our salvation (Galatian 5:5). We rest in His secure hope and safety (Job 11:18). Courage and strength fill our heart as we hope in the Lord (Psalm 19:7; 31:24).

 

God is our help and shield (Palm 33:20). We never feel ashamed, even in hard times, because we have patience and rejoice as we pray to and trust in Him and worship His holy name (Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:3).

 

God reveals to us the mysteries of the riches of His glory through Christ who dwells in us, and gives us a living hope of dwelling with Him for eternity (Colossians 1:27).

 

We do not even have to worry about what we will eat or wear. As He cares for nature, He provides even more for us. Worry cannot add an hour to our life or an inch to our stature. In fact, stress from worry reduces the quality and quantity of our life (Luke 12:22-26).

 

Only as we cast all of our cares on God’s strong shoulders can we truly enter into His rest. He will never let us fall (Psalm 55:22). He is our light, our salvation and our stronghold, so we have no need to fear (Psalm 27:1)

 

Prayer:

Father God, this world often terrifies us; but the fact that You will never leave or abandon us gives us hope, strength and courage (Deuteronomy 31:6). You hold our hand, help us and redeem us (Isaiah 41:13-14; Proverbs 29:25). You are our refuge, strength and ever-present help in any times of trouble (Psalm 46:1, 118:6-7).

 

You surround us with Your holy angels and protect us from threats and trouble (Psalm 34:7; 1 Peter 3:14). As we call on You, You free us from all of our fears and You fight for us (Psalm 34:4; Deuteronomy 3:22). Nothing will ever separate us from Your love – not even the power of Satan and all of His demons (Romans 8:38-39).

 

Thought for the Day:

Whomever dwells in the shelter of God Almighty will rest in the shadow of His wings; we climb into Him as our strong tower and refuge and are safe. – Psalm 91:1-16

 

 

The Perfecting Work of Patience – Part 2 Entering God’s Rest

 

The only striving the Bible encourages us to do is to strive to enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:10-11). We do not use self-effort to arrive at any other phase of our Christian walk.

The reason we have to strive to enter into God’s rest is that it goes against our natural human tendency. Our pride and rebellion spur us on to do things our way, and submitting to God chafes our soul – our mind, will and emotions.

We want to feel accomplished and to believe that we earned the degree or trophy or crown of glory by our hard work and effort. The truth is that we will throw our crowns at Jesus’ feet, because we will finally realize that He, not us, earned and deserves them (Revelation 4:10-11).

In our free will, we can choose to disobey God’s Spirit at any time; but then we reap the consequences of sin, as well as discipline for our disobedience from our Father who loves us a His children (Hebrews 12:4-12).

On the other hand, attempting to discipline our self to walk in good works and obedience to God’s Word is often fruitless and counterproductive. The more we strive toward perfection the more our flesh draws us back into sin and rebellion.

We can only walk in perfection as we rely on the promises and Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Peter 1:4). Our obedience to God is both inspired and empowered by His Spirit within us (Philippians 2:12-13).

“Let patience have her perfect work” (James 1:4-8) is not telling us to be patient or to get patience. It is simply telling us to submit to God and to allow patience, which is a fruit from the Holy Spirit, to do its perfecting work in us (Galatians 5:22-23).

This takes all the stress out of life for us. We walk in freedom and joy, with God’s peace in our heart regardless of circumstances; knowing without a doubt that God has a seed for a miracle in the midst of every trial.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that our part in our spiritual walk is simply to surrender to the work of Your Holy Spirit in our life. We are but a lump of clay, and You are the Master Potter (Jeremiah 18:1-6; Isaiah 64:8). You are our Alpha and Omega and You give us Your living water as we thirst for You alone (Revelation 21:6).

Teach us that the Christian walk is not about self-effort, but about submission to You first and foremost in all areas of our life. We concede to You in everything we think, say and do; and You direct our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). We walk in Your ways now and serve You for eternity in Your new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1).

Thought for the Day:
By trusting in God to save and to perfect us in every way, regardless of the circumstances of our life, we enter His rest and remove all stress from our life.

The Perfecting Work of Patience – He Who Began a Good Work

Is our salvation and sanctification our responsibility, or is it the work of God’s Spirit within us? Some will say, “We are to work out our own salvation.” (Philippians 2:12) Others will counter with, “It is the Holy Spirit who gives us both the desire and the power” to do that (Philippians 2:13).

Most people agree that salvation is through grace by faith; but believe that we have to work for sanctification (Ephesians 2:8). Yet, the foolish Galatians were reprimanded by Paul for attempting to perfect themselves through their own self-efforts (Galatians 3:1-3).

Paul was amazed that they actually believed they could sanctify their life by their works. Paul constantly reminds the early Saints that nothing in our Christian walk is by works, because then we could boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God is not interested in our ability, but in our availability to His Spirit. The works of the flesh can only be crucified by the work of the Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16). We live and walk only by the Spirit of God; otherwise, we spin our wheels and end up exhausted (Galatians 5:25).

We boldly claim that we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13); but when we put the emphasis on “we” can do all things, we fail time and again. We pull our self up by our boot straps until they are totally worn off.

This verse is actually saying that we cannot do anything except “through Christ”. When we completely capitulate to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to both save and perfect us, we enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:10).

It is the Spirit, not our self-effort, which transforms us from one stage of sanctification to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18). Even the armor of God, which Paul encourages us to wear, is the work of God’s Spirit in our life (Ephesians 6:10-18).

God’s Spirit transforms our mind to the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2). He also renews our character with the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4). He who began the work of salvation in us, will continue to perfect us through His work of sanctification (Philippians 1:6).

Prayer:
Father God, we humans do not want to admit that we are helpless without a Savior. We want to believe that even if we cannot save our self, we can attempt to perfect our self through our diligence and self-discipline by obeying Your Word.

Remind us that we can do good works only as we abide in the faith of Christ within us (James 2:17). We could not justify our self by keeping the law and we cannot sanctify our self through self-effort either. Keeping the law never gave us life prior to salvation and there is no way that walking in obedience to the law can perfect us after salvation. Without Your Spirit doing the sanctifying work, we are totally lost and undone.

Thought for the Day:
When we do choose to obey, the desire and ability is generated by God’s Spirit within us; God has a perfect plan for our life, and we find it only when we walk in the Spirit each moment of the day (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Our Infinite God

Through the cross of Calvary, Jesus reigns victorious over death, redeems sinners by grace and sets our feet dancing through life (Psalm 30:11). He has specific plans for our life and leads us, provides for us and strengthens us to do His will (Philippians 2:12-13).

Those who refuse to believe in Christ actually condemn themselves to an eternity in hell. The choice is ours. God does not force anyone to believe.

He simply offers the Gospel as our opportunity for salvation. What we do with His gift is our choice (Romans 6:23). God redeems people from every family, tribe, society and nation of the world through the blood of Christ.

We are all one family, one Body, one Temple of God’s Spirit. He transforms us into kings and priests to serve Him on this earth (Revelation 5:9-10). He allows us to dwell together in unity under His government (Isaiah 9:6).

God connects us all by a common thread of the cross of Calvary. We have brothers and sisters from centuries past and from every community on earth. We will have quite a time in heaven getting to know one another.

We are all one in Christ – one Trinity and one Body, with one purpose for eternity. God’s Spirit dwells within us all, unifying us, guiding us, counseling us and interceding for us through feelings, which at times we cannot even put into words (Romans 8:26).

We live a life of pardon, protection, provision, promise and privilege. Our infinite God reigns supreme in our finite existence, providing us with hope, renewal and everlasting life.

God restores our soul (Psalm 23:4) by healing our past and giving us hope for the future. He gives us absolute Truth through Christ and His Word, and helps us to focus on what is important in this life and the next.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for the fellowship which we enjoy with Your Trinity every moment of every day. Your eternal promise restores our equilibrium and keeps us walking on the straight and narrow road. Keep us ever faithful regardless of our circumstances and teach us all things by Your Spirit (1 John 2:24-27).

Help us to see that daily study of Your Word keeps us centered on what is truly important in this life and the next, with faith in Your faithfulness through the uncertainty which faces us every day. Give us Your strength to stand strong in adversity and erase our doubts with Your truth.

Thought for the Day:
Whatever distracts us from total dedication to and dependence on God is our enemy, regardless of how good and innocent it appears at the time.

Healing from Life’s Trauma

Life in this perverse and dark world is evil at best and cruel and unthinkable at its worse. The atrocities perpetuated on one human being by another without conscience is wounding and debilitating.

From a one-time event to repeated and ritualistic abuse, we tend to bury this pain in our subconscious mind and often refuse to revisit it or we may deny its existence. Yet, it influences every moment of every day of our life.

Traumatized in body, mind and emotions, we separate parts of our self and bury them in the past, moving forward with any self-respect and reality, which we can find.

We survive by erecting walls, hiding behind anger, staying in a protective mode to prevent future real or imagined abuse. We cope through any means available, even addictions and defense mechanisms.

As Christ strengthens us from within and becomes the focus of our life, this pain loses some of its strength. God’s love covers a multitude of sin perpetrated against us and helps us to forgive and move on.

He brings these issues to light along with the lies, which Satan plants in each trauma. He speaks His truth about each memory and situation and completely sets us free from bondage to these memories. ( http://www.theophostic.com )

As God reveals any issue which may keep us in bondage to sin, Satan, the world, the flesh and our past, we recover the bits and pieces of our self, which litter our past and God heals them and molds them back into our life as productive pieces of who we are today.

Prayer:
Father God, You see the secret pain of our past and desire to search us and to heal the pain which causes our current fears, depression and anger. You lead us into complete healing by Your Spirit to live whole and complete lives unhindered by the pain of our past (Psalm 139:23-24). You make us a new creation, created by Christ Jesus for good works to further Your Kingdom on the earth (2 Corinthians 5:17).

You bring an article, a sermon, a Bible verse, a song, a comment by a friend or enemy to open those wounds, remove the splinters and to allow us to heal from the inside out. We bring our troubled thoughts to You and rejoice as You lead us to the freedom only You can provide both now and throughout eternity.

Thought for the Day:
The Holy Spirit is God’s wonderful Counselor who operates on the infected splinters embedded deep within our soul and frees us from the source of the infection, healing the wounds and making us whole.

A Brand New Creation

We are not children of God until we actually receive Christ’s saving work in our life (John 1:12). Regeneration is the lovely word, which describes what happens to us.

Jesus plugs us into His power supply and charges our battery. What we were blind to before we received His to salvation is now more than obvious to us (John 3:3).

He makes us a new creature and everything about us changes for the better (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to God instead (John 16:8).

Through regeneration, we turn from unrighteous decisions and live and walk in God’s truth and righteousness (Roman 6:1-2, 15; 2 Corinthians 7:10). Everything we think, say and do is motivated from our desire to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Living in continual sin proves that we do not know God’s Truth and that He does not live in us (1 John 2:4-6; Romans 3:23). However, Salvation is just a prayer away (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9).

It is a free gift from God, which we cannot earn for our self, but was earned for us by Christ’s willing suffering of the horrendous death on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

God plainly sees all that we do in secret. He rewards our righteous deeds and disciplines us for our transgressions; because He loves us and does not want us to reap the degradation of sin any longer.

His desire is for us to walk in step with His Spirit every moment of our day. He has a perfect plan, which will unfold for us as we patiently obey His Word (Ephesians 2:10).

Prayer:
Father God, You intended for us to enjoy Paradise from the beginning of time. When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, we lost the benefits of living in Your presence. Bereft, we comb the earth looking for the fulfillment, which only You can supply.

Once we come to Christ, You restore our link to You and You will also restore to us the blessings of Paradise in eternity. In the meantime, You bless us with Your presence, make all things new and lead us by Your Spirit as You give us the desire and the power to walk in Your Salvation and Sanctification (Philippians 2:12-13).

Thought for the Day:
Once God convicts us of our sin, our lost condition and our need for a Savior, we accept His free gift of restoration through Christ’s grace and by faith in His faithfulness.

Heavenly Throne and Earthly Footstool

In this modern era, we depreciate God in every way. We see Him as the little man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. We tell Him what to do, berate Him as a child, and show our disdain and anger toward Him.

We forget that He created the entire cosmos. Mankind discovers more and more galaxies with each new powerful telescope and probe, which we send out into space.

We continually discover plant and animal species which we never knew existed. We see the magnitude of His glory in nature; and yet, this does not change our respect and honor for our Creator (Romans 1:20).

Today, God deigns to dwell on earth in the hearts of Believers (2 Chronicles 6:18). We cannot possibly hide from God. He sees our thoughts, words and deeds. He desires our pure and holy worship (Jeremiah 23:24).

People refer to a building where the church meets as the “House of God”, but this is far from the way God sees it (Acts 7:38). Heaven is His throne and He uses the earth as His footstool (Isaiah 66:1). The most elegant cathedral cannot contain Him.

He is our King and the ultimate Ruler of the Universe (1 Timothy 1:17). He stretches out between the vast expanse of time and space and interacts with His creation throughout the ages.

His Lordship and holy Presence should cause us to fall on our face before Him in humility, gratitude and praise; rather than to shout false accusations at Him, demean His character and blame Him for that misfortune which Satan causes on the earth.

God is totally engaged in each individual life and works by His Spirit to bring His truth and revelation to people in each generation since Adam and Eve. There is no reason for us not to love and honor Him with every breath we take.

Prayer:
Father God, what house could we possibly build for You (Jeremiah 7:4)? There is no way to contain Your essence in a building made with human hands (Acts 7:49). The heavens cannot even contain You, because You defy space and matter (1 Kings 8:27). You hold the universe in one hand.

Yet, Your eyes are on each one of us, judging our works and considering our needs, providing for Your children through Your magnanimous love and care (Psalm 11:4; 1 Peter 5:7). We give thanks to You that there is no good thing, which we need that You are not willing to provide for us (Philippians 4:19).

Thought for the Day:
God fills both the heavens and the earth and is not limited by time, space or matter; yet, He also revives the heart of the humble and penitent, and energizes our spirit with His Spirit as a down payment for all He has prepared for us both now and in eternity. – Jeremiah 23:24; Isaiah 57:15

The Lost Art of Grieving

Loss is a part of living; but grieving is a lost art. We do not want to face the pain, so we stuff it inside, wallow in self-pity and depression, and ignore the one safety valve God gave us to overcome the deep abiding sadness we carry around with us every hour of every day.

If we would allow Him to, our God of all comfort would fill us with His joy and peace as we trust in Him. He enables us to overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit within us (Romans 15:13).

People usually ignore us when we are grieving, because they do not know what to say. They may want to speak to us but cannot decide how to word their feelings. This is common and we do not need to feel insecure.

We can simply say, “I am not sure what to say, but I want you to know that I care about you and that I am here for you in any way that I can be of help.”

We tend to use phrases like: passed on, passed away, graduated to heaven, went to be with the Lord, etc. Using the word “died” will allow the grieving person to realize that it is okay to refer to their loved one in that same way.

We can express our concern by sharing our sorrow that they are experiencing this loss. “I am so sorry for your loss. I really care about you. How may I help you?”

A simple, “What do you need from me right now?” or “What can I do for you?” are appropriate ways to offer help, because they show you support them during this time of grief.

Do not tell the grieving person that their loved one is in a better place, or that they will get over their grief in time, or that this loss was part of God’s plan, or that you know how they feel. Instead, ask them, “How are you feeling right now?”

You do not need to remind them of all they still have to be thankful for or that they can find comfort in the fact that their loved one really cared about them.

Do not tell them what they should feel or do. Let God direct their steps in His timing and way. If they ask you, then start your comment with, “Have you ever considered …”getting a part-time job”, “volunteering at a shelter”, “helping us with our children’s ministry” (in the office, on workdays around the building).

The worst thing you can say is, “It is time to get on with your life.” You could say, “God still has plans for your life and He will show them to you as you are ready.”

Everyone has a different way to grieve and different time frames in which to do this. Some take longer than others. Some never get over the intense feelings of grief and it shapes their future life.

Many friends forget about the grieving person once the funeral is over. That is when the person needs us the most. Take them shopping, to get their hair done, or for a quiet walk in the park on a pleasant sunny day.

Take them a hot meal, but do not stay to watch them eat it. Offer to buy them some groceries or to do their dishes or wash a load of laundry. These basic needs often get neglected when we are grieving.

Send cheerful cards, invite them to a movie or over to your house to join mutual friends for dinner. Do not force them to be outgoing or cheerful. Just allow them to silently enjoy your company.

Honor their requests, don’t push your ideas on them, but ask them, “What would you like to do this week?” Do this regularly for the first year after their loss. Be patient and don’t push them. Love them with the love of the Lord.

Prayer:
Father God, knowing what to say to a grieving person is so nerve wracking and our ineptitude is paralyzing. Teach us how to comfort. Give us Your Holy Spirit’s wisdom for how to minister to each new grieving person. Put Your ideas in our mind, inspire our creativity with Your ideas on how to be a special blessing to this grieving friend, relative or church member.

We also ask that You comfort us in our grief. Help us not to wallow in self-pity but to rise and shine with each new day and to seek Your will in each new moment. Help us to realize that You have plans for us that do not include our loved one; and that we still have purpose and meaning for our life in You.

Thought for the Day:
Give a bereaving person the gift of your time and attention.