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Monday, February 18, 2019

Giving Myself in Love

Jesus said that there was no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends. Who are those friends? Is that what is expected of us? What is this love?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bear with Me for More Than a Little While

Christians have a responsibility for each other. They are to go and get those who once walked with them with their God. They are to do so in the fruit of the Spirit. They are bring them back with gentleness. It's a big responsibility that bears big rewards.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Watch Out If You Think You Are Humble

Most people do not think they have a problem with pride. In fact, many people think that pride is a good thing. They are right. Pride can be a good thing when it is a pride in what you have accomplished or in your children or even in your country or sports team or anything that you do not push upon others to gain advantage. Pride can be good until you expect some advantage, some compliment, some accolade for the thing you are proud of.

It is not enough to push away the compliments. Pride should not get in the way of the criticisms either. Pride does not accept the words of criticism. It not only rejects them, but because pride is so insidious, it surprises the proud with pain when it is attacked.

How do I know these things? It is through my pride that I have been hurt more than with any other sinful attitude. My pride does not see the advantage of any criticism. I even want to be praised for my humility.

Pride hides itself in many of the things we do. It may hide itself in godly things.

Luke 18:11-12 (ESV)
11  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

The Pharisee was doing godly things, but his motivation was pride. The godly actions hid the pride from the Pharisee. Sometimes people at church think they must be better than the people outside the church because they are doing godly things. Pride hides itself well.

Pride can originate in spiritual knowledge.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (ESV)
1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2  If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3  But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

Paul was speaking of food offered to idols. He said that some of them had the spiritual knowledge of knowing what it meant to eat food offered to idols. Some thought of the idols as real. The spiritual knowledge recognized that the idols were not real. Therefore, the believer was neither better off nor less off by eating.  However, this knowledge could not be the source of pride that made the ones with spiritual knowledge think they were greater than those who didn't know. God knew their hearts. There was no reason to be "puffed up."

Pride hardens the person to realize the pride.

Daniel 5:20 (ESV)
20  But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.

The king was humbled by God when he thought of himself as the greatest of all. He saw himself as better than anyone who had lived. His heart was so hardened that he didn't see it coming.

Pride deceived Satan.

Isaiah 14:12-14 (ESV)
12  “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 

13  You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 

14  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

Satan was the greatest of the angels. He was closest to God. Yet, he became prideful. It would have seemed that someone so close to God would have seen his own pride, but it overwhelmed him. I am not giving Satan a pass on his sin; I am simply stating how deceptive it is.

What are we to do if we cannot recognize pride within ourselves? We humble ourselves before the Holy Spirit and ask that the pride be purged from us even when we will not acknowledge it in ourselves. We ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the pride when we are criticized. We ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the pride when we are praised. We ask the Holy Spirit to reveal pride throughout the day because we will not see it and we are prone to be prideful. No one cures the problem of pride.

Our church has an Alcoholics Anonymous group. No one in the group is allowed to say they are cured of their alcoholism. Pride is the same except that it is a part of us in different degrees. No one is finally through with pride.

I know I'm not. And yes, that too may be a prideful statement.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Forgiveness Is Godly - Not Easy

Why do we hold onto our hurts? Wouldn't it be better for us to forgive those who have wronged us and go on with our lives? What keeps us from doing so? Why should we forfeit peace for resentment?

Monday, January 28, 2019

What Do We Wrestle For?

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

I used to think this referred to our struggle to win souls for Christ. I thought that the wrestling was against everyone that opposed the spread of the gospel. I believe I was wrong. 

The demonic forces do not need to work against us in this way. They work as the thief has always worked. They seek to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to establish an eternal relationship with us.
That relationship included walking with Him, listening to Him and obeying Him. The demonic forces cannot take away our salvation. That union with God is held by God Himself. Therefore, they seek to take us away from the walk, the listening and the obedience. Each day we face temptations that cause us to fail in our walk, talk and obedience. We must get up each day with with confession and commitment all over again. The armor of God must be placed on us so that we hear and act on the truth, we live lives of righteousness. secure in our salvation, sharing the gospel, holding onto our faith and defeating the evil forces with the word of God.

This is why there is so much strife in churches. The members are fighting this same battle and losing much of the time. Their faith is stolen from them. They do not lose it all but they lose enough to make it practically impotent. Their lives are killed. Not their physical lives or their eternal life but certainly the life God had intended for them. Their witness is destroyed. The life that God had planned was one of a future and a hope but they live lives without a future and a hope. They act like the world because they have been conformed to it.

When I went into the ministry, I knew there would be persecution. I just didn't think it would come from members in the church. Now, I know that this is where it will often originate because the demons aren't opposing the actions of the people outside. It is the ones inside that they want to steal, kill and destroy.

This is why the church needs revival. When God's people humble themselves and pray, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways God hears from heaven to forgive and heal the land. Of course, the demonic forces are fighting against this too.

I cannot say that I am humble. Only God can pronounce that upon me. I am not a good judge. I believe I am seeking. I know I am trying for I seek to walk with Him, listen to Him and obey Him. I am not so arrogant as to say that others should join me. I may be far behind others. I want them to do this as if they are the only ones who are. 

We fight to become closer to our Lord. That is the prize at hand.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

How Can I Do Good If There Is No Good in Me?

Every serious Christian has realized that he or she has been unable to live the perfect Christian life. So, what's the use of trying? Maybe the perfect Christian life wasn't the goal anyway.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Why Try Being a Good Christian If I Am Going to Fail Anyway?

Romans 7:18 (ESV)
18  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

No one lives the perfect Christian life. No, you can't cite Jesus as one who does because He was God. Holiness is His nature. Holiness is not our nature. Paul says it well when he says, "nothing good dwells in me." Jesus had nothing but good.

So, if I can't be successful, why should I try? To answer this we must first define success.

We will have days that we walk with the Lord and days when we wonder if we will ever walk with the Lord. Recognizing our sinfulness is evidence that we have gotten close the Lord. Those who are far away may not recognize their sins at all while those who are close to Lord see their sins as large. Therefore, recognizing our sin reveals a closer walk with the Lord. But this is not success if your definition is living a perfect Christian life.

Those who are close to the Lord have communication with Him. They hear Him through His word and through their spirits. Sometimes God sends other godly messengers to deliver His message to those who are walking with Him. Solid communication reveals a close walk with the Lord. He reveals Himself to His friends. Communication is evidence of friendship. Friendship makes people close. God is close to those with whom He communicates. Still, this is not success if a perfect Christian life is your definition of success.

Then, we must change our definition. No one can life a perfect Christian life on their own. They would be taking on the character of God without the power of God. Thus, defining the perfect Christian life as success would be impossible. God gave us grace with continual forgiveness because He knew we would not be able to keep all that He wanted for us.

God didn't settle for imperfect Christians either. He sought people who fellowship with Him, not people who are perfect. He knows we will skin our knees and has the bacterial soap and bandages to make us better. He watches us grow rather than arrive.

So, I walk with God. I communicate. I call Him my friend. And I fail Him at times. And I confess and He doesn't hold what I have done against me. I live in grace.

Success is not accomplished by us. It has always been Him working in us to bring the success He accomplished.

All I can say is, "Praise, Jesus!"