Sunday, October 29, 2017

What Is Your Mind Set On?

Romans 8:5-8   "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God."

1 Corinthians 10:13  “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

       Being tempted is not a sin, but our acceptance of temptation is.  We are all surrounded by temptation, even Jesus was.  Jesus was the only one who completely resisted temptation on this Earth at all times.  I think it's amazing!  We are tempted without even leaving our home or bed in the morning.  "The process of temptation: Thought > Imagination > Meditation > Will > Choice > Consent > Sin." []  Temptation has a snowball effect that lures us in with temporary satisfaction but also comes with devastating consequences.  "We can blame our failure to resist temptation on others, Satan, or God Himself, but in reality, we are the ones who choose to indulge." []
       Therefore, acceptance of temptation is a choice between a mind of the flesh and a mind of the Spirit.  How do we know what kind of mindset we ourselves have?  A mind of the flesh seeks physical pleasures, worldly gain and honor, and temporary satisfactions.. that are all beyond God-set boundaries.   The mind of the Spirit concerns itself with "the favor of God, the welfare of the soul, the aspects of eternity. The man is as the mind is. " [M.Henry]
        How can we summarize the struggle in our bodies?  Galatians 5:17  "For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want."  You are NOT to do whatever you want!  The mind of the flesh is "death to the soul, an alienation from God and an opposition of the soul against God.  It rebels against his authority, thwarts his design, opposes his interest, spits in his face, spurns at his bowels." [M.Henry]
          As for myself, I am also a temptation recovery story.  I've been led astray by my worldly weaknesses and wants that weren't in a mindset of the Spirit.  God's divine grace transformed my mind into one that has a focus on Christ and an eternity praising Him.
         Can we not all relate to Romans 5:17  " "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  God does not leave us alone to recognize and fight temptation.  He gives believers the Holy Spirit to guide us on the right path, along with His Word to confirm or contradict our thoughts.  Galatians 5:16  "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." 

"8 Ways to Combat The Enemy's Attacks of Temptation" [C. Stanley]

  1. Take responsibility. You are responsible for what you do with temptations.
  2. Focus on the big picture. A temptation offers a small picture of the pleasures and profits of sin, but God wants you to see big consequences.
  3. Identify areas of weakness in your life. Recognize which aspects of your life are easy targets for Satan’s attacks.
  4. HALT. Never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
  5. Visualize yourself doing the right thing. Instead of fantasizing about the pleasures of sin, imagine yourself pleasing God.
  6. Make yourself accountable to a friend. Find someone you trust and then contact that person when you are feeling tempted.
  7. Read the Word of God. You won’t be able to defend yourself against the enemy’s attacks if you don’t know the Scriptures.
  8. Make prayer a vital part of your life. Having fellowship and conversation with the Lord each morning strengthens and alerts you to Satan’s attacks during the day.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Prayer Through It All

Romans 8:26-27  "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God."

Ephesians 6:18  "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."

Romans 8:34 " Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."

         Do you ever feel weak in your prayer life?  I know I do, especially when I hear someone who has a way with words pray out loud.  Many of us have a weakness expressing our hearts desires and praises in our talks with God.  We know how we feel about our afflictions, triumphs and plateaus of life but we just can't come up with the right words.  
       Thankfully, God knew we would have this weakness.  Therefore, God gives believers the power of the Holy Spirit to help us where we fail.  This weakness is not limited to any generation, but it is a human characteristic.  "Paul wrestled with the same thing in Philippians 1:22-24, where he couldn’t decide whether to pray that the Lord would take him home, which was Paul’s desire, or preserve his life for further ministry. Moses entreated the Lord to let him enter the Promised Land, but that was not God’s will (Deut. 3:25-26). Elijah, man of prayer that he was, asked the Lord to take his life (1 Kings 19:4). Even Jesus, in His humanity, prayed that if possible, the Father might allow Him to escape from the cross, if it would be God’s will (Matt. 26:36-46). The point is, we’re all weak in many areas, including prayer. We often don’t know how to pray as we should. But, thankfully, God doesn’t leave us to ourselves." []  In Romans, Paul’s overall intent is to encourage us with the fact that God has not left us on our own in our weakness. Rather, His Spirit helps us by praying for us. 
       Prayer is our personal and direct communication with God.  It is a gift that we often take for granted.  We don't have to wait for confessional hour set by someone else to have a talk with God.  I love the truth in these lyrics, "I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord--No tender voice like Thine can peace afford--I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby--Temptations lose their power."  God wants us to call on Him at anytime, anywhere, and for any reason--nothing is trivial to Him.
       As for myself, it is easier for me to pray for others than for my own life.  I pray for strength and courage that I will embrace God's will for me, especially in the rough times.  I pray that my eyes will see the foolishness of this world and to keep my focus on my eternal life ahead.  I am weak too in prayer by distractions, doubt, and frustrations but my prayer life will continue because of my faith in Christ alone.

3 Reasons To Encourage You in Prayer []

1. Don’t let the fact that you don’t know how to pray as you should discourage you from praying.

2. Don’t let the fact that prayer isn’t easy discourage you from praying.

3.  Don’t let the fact that your prayers don’t seem to be answered keep you from praying. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tongue Trust

Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter.
James 1:19-20  "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."

             Have you ever heard 'Sugar coat your words because you might have to eat them'?  We are often too quick in our reactionary speaking and too slow in our thoughtful thinking.  Ecclesiastes 7:9  "Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools."
         " It is our duty rather to hear God’s word, and apply our minds to understand it, than to speak according to our own fancies or the opinions of men, and to run into heat and passion thereupon.  Whenever matters of difference arise among Christians, each side should be willing to hear the other. People are often stiff in their own opinions because they are not willing to hear what others have to offer against them: whereas we should be swift to hear reason and truth on all sides, and be slow to speak any thing that should prevent this: and, when we do speak, there should be nothing of wrath; for a soft answer turns away wrath." [M. Henry]

             I read in the paper, ''If you have to swallow a frog, don't look at it too long.  If you have to swallow 2, then eat the big one first.  If you have to swallow 3, then consider why you are in the pond.''  I think these are very wise words.

            1 frog..... Instead of admitting our wrong readily, we often spend our time justifying it in our minds.  We think about all the reasons 'they' are wrong, but not our own.  Pride is often the biggest lump or frog in our throats.

             2 frogs... Sometimes we can just 'ribbit' out of control.  Proverbs 15;23 'A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!'  Be the bigger person by covering the broader ground first in your apology and then get specific.

             3 frogs.... Sometimes you have to get out of the circumstances that are drawing you toward negativity.  We must see how our choices and decisions have led us to the pond of bitterness and find our way out.  Don't let your emotions dictate your words.

             FROG..... Fully Rely On God

           "Whereas men often pretend zeal for God and his glory, in their heat and passion, let them know that God needs not the passions of any man; his cause is better served by mildness and meekness than by wrath and fury.”  When I read this, I thought of ministries that speak of condemnation, rather than grace and forgiveness as a source of hope.  We are all sinners, so may our words be a gentle leading to Christ and not a harsh judgement without hope.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sing Unto The Lord

Psalm 47:6  "Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises." 

          Do you remember the song lyrics by The Carpenters..."Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong, sing of good things-not bad, sing of happy-not sad...Sing, sing a song, make it simple to last your whole life long, don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song."
          If you know me personally, then you know my voice isn't but a whisper.  My voice has been in decline most of my life.  When I was 20, I had vocal cord surgery twice in hopes of improving my voice's did not and worsened it.  I still have a voice and will use it till my last breath.
          This blog is intended to encourage you to use your God given voice--good or bad.  We have all heard the voice of Creation--trees rustling, birds singing, waves crashing, etc., as it praises God.  I believe God wants to hear from us as well, especially in songs of praise.  "Praising God has power to change our thoughts, our hearts, and our lives."
         When we sing aloud, not just listen, the words make an imprint on our brain.  Lyrics can get stuck in our head and we can recall them later in times of joy or need.  Music is a great way to memorize Scripture too.  Any way we can let go of our inhibitions and praise God is pleasing to Him.  Song lyrics can soothe our soul, uplift our downcast spirit, and change our perspective to a more godly outlook.
        "Singing illustrates unity as we agree on the lyrics, chords, and rhythms. Singing can also promote unity as it binds us together in peace, proclaims God’s power through praise, and demonstrates God’s glory to the world." []
         As for myself, I used to ask to sing solo in my church at age 5.  Time changes things so, now you will not 'hear' me sing in church or elsewhere, but you will 'see' me singing with all my heart behind the air mask.  God hears and sees me, so my audience of One is all that matters to me.
        May your voice reach to the heavens as you worship and praise God, above all things and opinions of the world.  Praise God for who He is, Honor God for what He is doing and done, and Thank God for everything.

For a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace. —Wesley

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Respect and Honor

Leviticus 19:3  "Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God."

1 Peter 2:17  "Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor."

Exodus 20:12  "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee."

        Our relationships with each other are important to God.  He specifically guides us in our relationships in 6 of the Ten Commandments.  Relationships are built upon respect for one another and suffer severely when it is lacking.  

        Exodus 20:12 is not only a commandment, but one with a promise included.  When we show respect to our parents, we honor them and show a godly relationship to others.  As children, we are to obey our parents. "The ruin of young people has often been observed to begin in the contempt of their parents and the disregard of the sabbath day." [M.Henry]   As adults, we are to have value and respect for our parents.  "It's a life-long calling of unconditional love."
        As 1 Peter 2:17 explains how respect is not discriminatory but should be given to all.  Respect can just mean making someone feel of worth. "We are to respect and cherish all human life: the born and those still in the womb; winsome children and weary seniors; the wealthy executive and the financially destitute. All persons are unique productions of our Creator’s genius." []
       "We may say that people need to show themselves worthy of respect before we can respect them. But respecting another person is much more about who we are than about who the other person is." []  Christians are often ridiculed as being hypocrites because their walk isn't the same as their talk.  When you disrespect others, you are not representing what God has asked of you in His Word.
        May respect always be a given in your own life as you deal with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers.

Eight ways to honor our parents as adults:[A.Howard]

  1. Respect and learn from their wisdom.
  2. Help to meet their needs.
  3. Spend time with them.
  4. Remember special events. 
  5. Love them unconditionally – being willing to forgive when necessary.
  6. Try to always speak highly of them.
  7. Understand their value in the eyes of God.
  8. Honor their legacy.

You'll gain respect when people see
That you are faithful to God's Word;
There may be some who disagree,
But they will know you love the Lord. —D. De Haan

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Keep Going

     We all move at our own pace.  If we are hurried, we often are more likely to make mistakes.  If we are slowed down, we are often impatient and snippy.  I've often remarked... 'Don't rush me!'  or  'Good grief, Go already.'  Today, I felt like I was in the fast lane of life and it was not a comfortable feeling.
     'Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.'  I think this phrase points to the danger in having people say a quick 'prayer' and telling them they are saved. There are countless people with biblical head knowledge but their heart has turned deaf to it.  Salvation isn't a one-stop shop, but the beginning of sanctification... the transforming of ourselves into Christ's likeness.  God works in mysterious ways sometimes just to get us to see His light in the darkness.
    Sometimes our impatience can influence our witnessing.  We give up on people because their spiritual growth doesn't follow our timeline.  God's timing is the only clock that counts and we don't know what it says.  We give up because we see how far there is to go, instead of how far they've come.  Our witnessing should always have an eternal goal and perspective, rather than a short term gain in focus.

   'Progress has little to do with speed, but much to do with direction.'
   'Our goal should be progress, not perfection.'
   'The way of progress is neither swift nor easy.' 

    May we lead others in the right direction and have them follow in a progressive pace.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dear Younger Me

"Dear Younger Me"  lyrics by MercyMe

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me, dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed [x3]

          Today in our church, we had a message aimed at honoring seniors in our congregation and then transitioning into more importantly, our reverence for God.  A luncheon for seniors over 55 was provided after the service and communion .  While that was great for them, as a 46 year old youngster my mind quickly calculated that I'm only 9 yrs away from being at that luncheon.  What???  My youthful spirit just stopped in it's tracks to consider the reality of where I've been and how far I've come with God's grace and mercy.
       "We must run; for grace is not an overwhelming force which compels unwilling minds to move contrary to their will: our running is the spontaneous leaping forward of a mind which has been set free by the hand of God and delights to show its freedom by its bounding speed." -- Charles Spurgeon
      As this song above is a letter to one's younger self, I too thought about making a list of 'do-overs' if I could rewrite my history.  That's not what I want or would do tho, because my journey and mistakes helped me learn and make me who I am today.  I don't have a life of regrets, but one of struggle-driven joy.  God allowed my life to happen as it has as a way to draw me to Him through all the joys, heartaches, rewards and consequences.  Ecclesiastes 11:8  "However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many." 
       My parents did the right thing by taking me to church in my youth and planting the seeds of God's Word in the soil of my soul.  Proverbs 22:6 "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it."  Prayer for children is never worthless, because you may think the world has it's grip on them but God's Word never changes, unlike the world.  The Word kept presenting itself into my life, even when I wasn't seeking it with all my heart.
       As the song states, now as a believer and follower of Christ I am redeemed and set apart with a brand new heart.  God's forgiveness is all encompassing for my past, present and future sins till He calls me Home.  Psalm 25:7  "Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good."
      So I ask you, wherever you are on your journey..young, middle aged, or old.. are you wiser from your mistakes?  Are you living closer to God and relying more on God than ever before?  Have you reached out to God for His forgiving and saving grace?  Free yourself from the slavery to sin by trusting God as your Lord and Savior.

     "The Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life (Isa. 41:10). We can count on His presence and find that our purpose is in walking with Him." []

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Don't Lose Heart

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

        What is it that keeps you going in the day to day struggles of life?  As a believer, I hope your strength is acknowledged by you, as from God alone.  We all deal with trials of our own and of others, but do we cling to God and His promises or abandon His Word for our own ideas?  The verses above aren't limited to physical illness, but include all things that bring us down into despair.  Our trials differ and yet our own struggles can be our source to encourage others.  
       2 Corinthians 4:13-15 "Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."
       Strength comes from the hope we believe in through Christ's resurrection.  We are not suffering in vain, but for God's glory to be revealed.  Romans 8:18  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  1 Corinthians 15:52-54  " For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:58  "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  "The hope of the resurrection will encourage us in a suffering day, and set us above the fear of death; for what reason has a good Christian to fear death, that dies in hope of a joyful resurrection?" [M.Henry]
      Do you believe suffering can be a blessing?  "It is our happiness if the decays of the outward man do contribute to the renewing of the inward man, if afflictions outwardly are gain to us inwardly, if when the body is sick, and weak, and perishing, the soul is vigorous and prosperous." [M.Henry]  Our personal relationship with God and His Word can encourage us and renew our spirits daily.  Satan wants us to focus on our temporary pain and not the eternal work that God is doing thru our sufferings.  Our sanctification is not a smooth journey, but a testing of our faith as we become who God intended us to be.
      As for myself, I try to enjoy life with heaven in mind.  I know that the things that hinder me now will not last forever, so I try to make the best of this life He gave me.  Hinderences are not just physical, but spiritual chains of sin as well.   My day to day struggles have become more evident, but the faith in my soul has prospered even more so.

Heaven’s promises will far outweigh our earthly struggles.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Every Member Is Important

1 Corinthians 12:12-13   "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body"

1 Corinthians 12:4-6  " There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work."

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 " If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

         I would like to start this blog off with a one day challenge for you this week to gain a true life perspective on this week's blog topic...the importance of each member in the body of Christ.  For one day, I challenge you to tape one of your thumbs to your hand so that it is unusable.  Yes, your whole body will suffer in ways you didn't even realize and you'll be tempted to rip that tape right off and use that thumb.  After the day is over, consider yourself as that thumb and see what is holding you back as a useful member in God's kingdom.  Are you that useful thumb not being of use because of the bondage of fear, busyness, or idleness?  Release yourself and join in on God's family work plan.
        Romans 12:4-5  "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."
       As a member of the body of Christ thru baptism and the Holy Spirit, we have been called by God to further His Kingdom with a life of service.  "Each of us has a role to play, and every role is important. There is no small service to God; it all matters.  Likewise, there are no insignificant ministries in the church. Some are visible and some are behind the scenes, but all are valuable. Small or hidden ministries often make the biggest difference." [R.Warren]
      We all have something to contribute to the body of Christ.  We are given spiritual gifts to promote the gospel in all different forms of service.  It is not to show what we can do, but to show what God has done for us... and through us, we glorify Him.  God has given these gifts according to His will, so don't be discouraged that you're in the sound box instead of on the stage.  Gifts work together for the good of the whole body, not the self.  "God has so fitted and tempered them together that they are all necessary to one another, and to the whole body; there is no part redundant and unnecessary." [M. Henry]
       From, "The phrase “the body of Christ” expresses well what we are called to do: to represent in flesh what Christ is like, especially to those in need."  As Jesus said in Matthew 9:37, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
       What can you do to be an active participant in the body of Christ?  Are you uncertain of how you can be of use?  Contact your church leadership for areas needing help, ask friends how you can help in their walk with God, and pray for God's direction of service for yourself.

You are part of God's plan and strategically gifted to bring Him glory.. be a doer, not just a hearer.