A Holy God

Our human penchant is to trust in our self-righteousness, natural talents and basic good heart to earn us a place in heaven, or at least to ensure that we are reincarnated to a higher life form.

The problem with this thinking is that our heart is deceitful and basically wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Even our best day falls short of God’s holiness and glory, which is the standard for residence in Heaven (Roman 3:23).

When we repent of our sin, ask for God’s forgiveness and surrender our life to Him, He gives us the righteousness, which can only come from Jesus Christ.

Jesus then abides within us by His Spirit (John 15:4). He raises our spirit, which is dead in sin, to walk in a whole new life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). This secures our place in Heaven.

That is why God sent the perfect Lamb, who never lived a moment in sin, to take on the sin of the whole world and to make us righteous like God through the sacrifice of His life (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus willingly laid down His life for us (Luke 4:29-30). He made the choice in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night before He was betrayed, to carry out God’s will (Luke 22:42).

He submitted to the excruciating scourging and death on the cross, not due to human weakness, but according to the spiritual strength He received while considering the glory that lay waiting for Him in Heaven (Hebrews 12:2).

The grace of God transforms us into a Temple made without hands, a dwelling place fit for a King (1 Corinthians 3:16). He uses what the world considers as foolishness to carry out the work of His Kingdom (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Our only honorable response to this is to submit to His will in our life, so that we will also be counted worthy to dwell with Him in His glorious Kingdom for eternity (Luke 21:36).

God created each one of us for a specific purpose (Ephesians 2:10) and will judge our works in this life in order to reward us in the next (1 Corinthians 3:13).

Prayer:
Father God, many people do not comprehend the elaborate tapestry You have woven over millennia of time in order to bring about the fulfillment of all things (Ephesians 1:10). They do not understand that You never send judgment without first sending warning.

The flood, the annihilation of generations of people and their possessions in Canaan, the crucifixion of Your own son and other judgments are puzzles and a stumbling block, which prevent people from surrendering their life to You. Yet, before all of these events, You gave mankind plenty of warning that You are a holy and righteous God and nothing unholy may dwell in Your presence.

Thought for the Day:
Jesus had no thought for Himself, but only love for a dying world lost in sin’s degradation.

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Our Identity in Christ – Part 2

Our reality in life has nothing to do with this world, and everything to do with Christ (Colossians 2:17). We are risen with Christ, our life is now hidden in Him and He is our whole life (Colossians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

In Christ, we enjoy all of the assets of insight and understanding, which we need in this life (Colossians 2:3). We are planted and nurtured in Him (Colossians 2:7). Through Christ in us, we have His character and nature in us (Colossians 2:9-10; 2 Peter 1:4)

Due to our union with Christ we give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18); we have the promise of life, faith, hope, and love (1 Timothy 1:1, 14; 2 Timothy 1:1); and we stand firm in our assurance in Him (1 Timothy 3:13).

As we gain our identity from our union with Jesus Christ, we can laugh at our short comings and find our fulfillment in the fact that He abides within us. We take our focus from our self and keep it on Christ.

Our identity in Christ leads us to lose interest in this life and in accumulating wealth and possessions. Instead, we turn our focus on spiritual matters and furthering God’s Kingdom now and for eternity.

We spend every waking moment praying for the lost and sharing with our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors about what Christ does in our life each day.

Many will reject us, but some will have spiritual ears to hear what God’s Holy Spirit is speaking to their heart through us (Mark 4:9). We will have the joy of watching another sinner, saved by grace, come to completion in Christ (Colossians 1:10).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for making it possible for us to be part of Your family for eternity. We know that Christ paid a horrendous price as a man on this earth to make this possible. We give Him all the praise, honor and glory as the Lamb slain before the formation of the earth (Revelation 13:8).

Remind us that sharing with the world about Your glorious provision in our life is such a small price to pay for all that You have given us. Give us the courage of our convictions to share our faith and Your faithfulness with everyone we meet.

Thought for the Day:
In Christ, our joy overflows. – Philippians 1:26

God’s Plans in Our Losses

Living life as a good person does not guarantee our earthly success or our place in eternity (Galatians 3:21). Beliefs founded on humanistic philosophy may change our life and give us temporary relief, but it does not last for eternity. Only the Word and Will of God are entirely righteous and true (Psalm 19:9). God is patient with our unbelief, because He does not want anyone to die in their sin (2 Peter 3:9).

He walks with us through every valley and gives us His joy as our strength (Psalm 23; Nehemiah 8:10). For instance, after 22 years of marriage, the love of my life decided that he could no longer live with my Italian emotionalism. A wall of constant misunderstandings stood between us, so he determined that there was no option for us but divorce. I was shocked and in disbelief; yet, I did not want to live where I was not loved.

God proved that He has a perfect plan and purpose for us all (Ephesians 2:10). He led me to relocate and to attend divorce recovery classes in two different churches in order to heal from my loss. I learned that God still had plans for me, which did not include my former husband. One day when I least expected it, in a crowded Books-a-Million bookstore, I divinely met a pastor whose wife recently decided to end their union too.

Now, after 20 years of marriage to this wonderful man who dwells with me with understanding (1 Peter 3:7), I can see from hindsight that in both of our lives God used these devastating, negative circumstances for our good (Romans 8:28). In this new union, we appreciate each other’s gifts and character as we serve God together. We truly cherish one another, even with all of our idiosyncrasies (Ephesians 4:12-16).

Prayer:
Father God, we may be hesitant to put our total faith in You, but You always prove that Your ways will bring us ultimate fulfillment. We are so grateful that we can trust You to work out for our good every circumstance, no matter how devastating it is (Romans 8:28). You help us to grieve the loss of our relationships, health, wealth and material possessions. Although, crying may last through many nights, Your joy always comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

Thought for the Day:
We can trust in God’s ways, even when they do not coincide with our view of the perfect life, because His ways are always perfect, even when we experience trials, heartache, loss and devastation.
– Psalm 18:30; 2 Sam 22:31; Deuteronomy 32:4

The Greatest Gift of All

When we judge our self according to the scale, which the world uses to measure popularity and success, we may come up lacking. Life seems unfair, because other people have greater advantages than we do when we consider the temporal blessing they may receive. Yet, no matter how many possession we acquire, they never satisfy us.

Spiritually, the children of God have the richest of all blessings. We have Christ in us, who is both our hope and our greatest gift (Colossians 1:27). God is the hope of all people, from the ends of the earth and to the farthest seas (Psalm 65:6). He gives us more than this world could ever offer us (Psalm77:11-15). He gives us Himself (Psalm 89:1-2, 5-8).

We may fear giving up control of our life to God, because He may require things from us, which would further tarnish our earthly popularity and reputation. However, if we actually gain our personal identity and status for success from Christ in us, rather from our personal talents and achievements, we realize that our real worth is based on the love of Christ (John 3:16-17; Romans 8:35-39).

God’s greatest gift to us is His sacrifice of His own Son (Revelation 13:8). Jesus paid the price of our redemption and freed us from a worthless life of sin, giving us His free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23; Psalm 2:4). Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High God will rest in Him. He is our refuge and our strength in whom we can always trust (Psalm 91:1-2).

Prayer:
Father God, because we love You, You will deliver us. You protect us as we acknowledge You. You answer us when we call on You. You deliver us from trouble and honor us. You satisfy us with a long life of salvation (Psalm 91:14-16). We give You thanks for Your loving kindness, which endures forever. Your unfailing love produces wonderful blessings for us. You satisfy our thirsty soul and You fill our hungry soul with many good things (Psalm 107:1, 8-9).

Thought for the Day:
God gives us the greatest gifts of all; never forget His benefits and bless His holy name. – Psalm 103:1

Not My Will, but Yours

Life often requires a balancing act. We find ourselves thrown off center by confusion or a catastrophe, which comes when we least expect it. Our normal peaceful life spins out of control. Each compartment of our life, which we meticulously created to provide us with security and a safe haven, suddenly tilts to one side.

We feel disoriented, insecure and fearful. Reacting with negative emotions can create even more problems. We panic and make poor decisions. We hectically, yet unsuccessfully, try to manage the disruptive people and events in our life in an attempt to make us feel safe again, but this never helps. In fact, it usually increases our anxiety, when these people react to the frustration we create in their lives.

Part of the problem occurs when we acquire more possessions than we need. Our life slowly sinks under a burden of stress created by trying to pay for this accumulation. Another factor comes if we lean toward making sinful decisions, because we end up reaping what we sow. A third aspect transpires when we tip under the weight of the demands, which others place on us.

So, let’s simplify our life. We can sell unnecessary possessions and discipline our spending habits, make wiser choices in the future and maintain a life of purity and serenity. We can also simplify time and energy, which other people demand from us, by doing on that which God’s Spirit directs us to do for them. Peace comes when we trust God to order our lives (James 1:2-4).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as we walk the tightrope of life, help us to focus on the equilibrium You provide for us within each moment that we live, rather than focusing on the spinning details of our negative circumstances (Hebrews 12:2). Life wavers like the ocean, with a continuous ebb and flow, but You give us the words of the prayer, which never fails: “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42-43)

Thought for the Day:
When we trust God more and strive less, serenity seeps into every area of our life, no matter how the circumstances play out around us.

God Hates Divorce

God takes divorce and infidelity personally, especially if the other person is faithful to his or her vows. The Lord made it very clear that He will not accept the worship of a person who makes a vow to their husband or wife and then is unfaithful to their partner. God wants couples to remain loyal to one another (Hebrews 13:4-7).

In today’s world, divorce is considered a convenience, especially if one or the other party is unhappy. We call evil good and believe that God is fine with it, but He is not. In marriage, God makes two people one flesh in body and soul (Genesis 2:22-24; Matthew 19:4-6). He desires godly children from this union. He considers divorce as an act of overwhelming cruelty. That is why God hates divorce.

When we reject the Word of the Lord, we lose our credibility. We are no longer wise, but foolish. When a person is unfaithful to the Lord, God will sometimes take their mate from them and give their mate and their possessions to someone else. Then the cruel and unloving mate will be cast down from the Lord’s favor (Malachi 2:14-17; Jeremiah 8:8-12)

God desires for us to choose to be fulfilled with our mate, and to let their good points make us happy. If we surround our mate with love, even if they are mean or inattentive, then God’s blessings will be on us (Proverbs 5:18-19). Most people do not just decide to be harsh or angry or neglectful for the fun of it! They are wounded individuals who need God’s healing (James 5:16 http://www.theophostic.com ).

Prayer:
Father God, teach wives to live in submission to their husband and teach husbands to gladly lay down their life for their wife, just like Jesus did for us. There is not a man alive that does not love his own body, so help him to love his wife just as he does himself. Help us to submit to one another out of respect for You. Remind us that we are complete in You, regardless of the circumstances in our marriage and in our life (Ephesians 5:21-22; Colossians 2:10).

Thought for the Day:
Every godly husband loves his wife as he loves himself and every authentic Christian wife will respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:23