Posts Tagged ‘faith’

1.  Has been born again.

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

2.  Is developing a relationship with Jesus.

But you have not so learned Christ; If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (Ephesians 4:20-21)

3.  Recognizes the old nature and crucifies it.

That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (Ephesians 4:22)

4.  Learns to ask the question: “What am I thinking?”

And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (Ephesians 4:23)

5.  Seeks to change into a righteous and holy person.

And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

6.  Stops lying and tells the truth.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25)

7.  Controls his angry emotion.

Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:26)

8.  Doesn’t harbor bitterness.

Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:26)

9.  Denies the devil opportunities to make a fool of him.

Neither agive place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)

10.  Stops stealing and works hard.

Let him that stole, steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs. (Ephesians 4:28)

11.  Shares what God has given him.

Let him that stole, steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs. (Ephesians 4:28)

12. Uses his tongue to help and heal, not to hurt.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

13. Protects the Holy Spirit from pain.

And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

14. Protects people from pain and hurt.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (Ephesians 4:31)

15. Forgives because he has been forgiven.

And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

16. Loves his Father for adopting him.

Be, therefore, followers of God, as dear children; (Ephesians 5:1)

17. Has a lifestyle of service motivated in love.

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. (Ephesians 5:2)

18. Guards against sexual sin and is pure.

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints; (Ephesians 5:3)

19. Avoids base humor and dirty jokes.

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:4)

20. Takes God’s warnings seriously.

For this you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things comes rthe wrath of God upon sthe children of disobedience. Be not  therefore partakers with them. (Ephesians 5:5-7)

21. Wakes up, smells the coffee and lives in the Light.

For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light: For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever does make manifest is light. Wherefore he says, Awake you that sleeps, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:8-17)

22. Doesn’t drink or get drunk, do drugs, or live wild.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (Ephesians 5:18)

23. Follows the Holy Spirit and pursues a spiritual life.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19)

24. Considers others first, especially his wife.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33)

Over the weekend, a small group of guys and a staff member had gone to Guymon, OK to do a couple of storefronts for fund raising purposes. While they were there they met up with a gentleman that had come through the Teen Challenge center that I work at. Jack (not his real name) didn’t graduate as he decided to leave early.

Jack invited them to go out to dinner. While there, he told them some of the things that had happened to him after he left the program. Jack told them that he had to go jail for 30 days for not completing the program. While he was there, he had the opportunity to witness to a gentleman. This gentleman that he was witnessing to had come to the Lord. They both read the Bible everyday.

Jack was also able to go to his mother’s grave and forgive her for what she had done to him. Jack was also for the first time in a long time, able to call her MOM. That is the power of God in Jack’s life.

I don’t often hear stories like this. It is good to hear that while a student leaves early it doesn’t mean that they didn’t get anything. Sometimes, God puts a person only for short time and not for the full time that they agreed with when they enter the program. The successes are less if they don’t go through the whole program. But every once in a while stories like this do happen.

When I was at Cape Girardeau, MO a similar thing happened. During the apple picking season the police showed up to pick up one of the other guys. Before I go on let me relate to you how this came about.

The students that come into Teen Challenge are usually here for one of three things. Bear in mind that it is not a program for just teenagers. Men and Women also need help. Anyway, the students come in for one of three different reasons. They are family ordered, court ordered (which is not our program), or they are wife ordered.

This guy had come in due to court related issues. So to make sure that his PO knew where he was at, he wrote him a letter saying that he was in the Misssouri Teen Challenge. Which, then meant that his PO sent the police for violation of his parole by leaving the state he was supposed to be in.

Anyway, Dave (not real name) was picked up by the police while he was out picking apples. The whole time he had a peace about having to go to jail. While he was there, Dave witnessed to every person that they put in the cell with him.

He had a “revolving door” for the cell that he was in. Every day he had a cell mate. Every day that person was gotten and another person was brought in. The last guy that was brought to that cell, came to the saving knowledge of Christ.  Dave had to go to jail in order to witness to this guy. God had tested him to make sure that he would do so with others that came in before the “main event”.

Dave was brought back after that. He said that the whole time he was feeling peaceful about where he was at. He also knew when he was going to return to the center. He knew that he had to go jail for a week for just that one moment.

What is the moral of both of these incidents. It doesn’t matter what happens. If you are in God’s will, He will cause good things to happen when it seems that things are going south.

Both of these men followed this command of Jesus:

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

One of the hardest things I have ever encountered is when someone turns their back on God. Hard because I have done what I could to make sure that they are learning about having a relationship with Christ. Hard because I know that it has nothing to do with me. They are turning their back on God.

I then have to believe that what I have been able to teach them is going to bear fruit. Isaiah 55:11 says:

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
It shall not return unto me void,
But it shall accomplish that which I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

This means that what I have taught them or they have gotten from church or chapel will remain with them. And the word that they have received will eventually bear fruit.

I can only hope and pray that it will be sooner than later. Unfortunately some need to learn things the hard way. It is still tough to see someone walk away from God. Especially when we want to take it as they are pushing us away. It can be hard to remember that their problem is not with us, but with God.

What makes some things offensive and some things okay? Take a look at this picture. To me as a Christian, I like the message of the picture.

 But I also think that it is funny. Don’t get me wrong, I take my faith seriously. But to others this picture is just plain offensive. What I think is funny is that to what some would consider to be truth, others would consider to be hate or being narrow minded. An “artist” is able to put a crucifix in a jar of urine and take a picture of it call it art. To me this is offensive. But not to the world. That picture showing what somebody thinks about Jesus Christ is okay, but this little cartoon is not. I just don’t get it. 

Why is it that those who consider themselves Christians or Christ followers always wrong. The “world” seems to think that we really have nothing or should have nothing to say. Where is the freedom of speech in that?

We can’t be bold and stand up for what we feel is right. We can’t post anything that allows us to show how we feel about things. But then everyone is. Like I said I just don’t get it.

Many of the things that a lot of people believe in, we do as well. A lot of things that many of the organizations believe in, we do as well. We can talk about those things that we all have a common interest in, but if it is about our faith, we need to go to church. I just don’t get it.

We can talk about Buddha, but we can’t talk about Jesus Christ. We can talk about Allah, but we can’t talk about Jesus Christ. We can talk about this religion or that religion, but we can’t talk about our faith in Jesus Christ. Or to go another way with this, we can talk about Jesus Christ as long as we are joking about him. Or using Him as curse word or in ways that would and should be offensive to many Christians. But even if we do see it as offensive we are not allowed to say anything. Why? We are infringing on another persons right to free speech. I just don’t get it.

The thing is, there are times when a Christian or Christ follower should be quiet. As this saying goes “A Christian should preach wherever he/she goes, speak when necessary”. A Christian music group from the ’80s even had song about “A Christian should be seen and not heard”. The song was basically about how the world would like to see Christians or Christ followers. We should be like little kids and be seen, but not heard. Why am I not allowed to say what I believe? Why am I not allowed to give my views? Why am I not allowed to take offense at anything that I would consider offensive? I just don’t get it.

Please comment on some things that you just don’t get. Be sure to share this as well. Thanks.

 

Go For The Gold

Posted: 07/11/2010 in Devotion
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2 Kings 18:4 (KJV)

4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

Nehushtan=”a thing made of brass” or “brass object”

     This was the very serpent that Moses had built on God’s command when the children of Israel were under judgment for complaining once again. They were complaining about the direction they were travelling, Moses as leader, and lack of water. They were also complaining about the food, the manna, God supplied them each day. As a result, God caused serpents to enter the camp to chastise his people.

     When enough people were bitten and had died they realized that they had messed up once again. They went to Moses to tell him of their sin of complaining against him and God. They asked if he would go to God and ask for the judgment of their sin to be removed. Moses did as the people asked. God then gave Moses instructions on what to do. Moses was to have a serpent made of brass made and placed on a pole. Then this pole with the serpent was to be placed in the middle of  camp where everyone could see it. Then when anyone who was bitten looked upon the brass serpent they were healed. (Numbers 21:4-9)

     This in and of itself is not a problem. The people sinned. They turned from their ways. God supplied the relief. But the text from 2 Kings gives the idea that as the years went on, something went wrong. The people had begun to worship the brass serpent. They began to burn incense to it in worship as a god. It had to go as it had become something that it was never intended to be.

     The people had forgotten why the brass serpent was made to begin with. It was made as a way of keeping punishment from death from taking place as a result of the peoples sin. They took their eyes off the creator and turned to something that was created. This causes some problems that we may not be aware of.

     This is what happens to many of us throughout the week. We go to church on Sundays, Wednesdays, or whenever our church service is and give God everything we have. Then as we live out our lives the rest of the time we give God far less than we should. I am not saying we try to do this. But as a fallen creation we tend to let things get in the way of our relationship with God. The sad thing is we don’t have to do this.

     We promise that we are going to get up early and do a devotion in  the morning or just read the Bible. Or we promise that we will  this before going to bed. The next morning comes around, we hit the snooze alarm. We read the paper. We turn on the TV. We forget about that meeting we promised we would have. We forget to read the Bible. Or the day is stressful so we put God on the back burner or we push him aside. But hey, we will get up early in the morning to have that time with God. And if we do this, we only give him a couple of minutes because we are in a hurry. Or we get overwhelmed by trying to catch up and read as much as we can.

     Peter had a similar problem. Read with me Matthew 14:22-33,

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitude away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit; and they cried out in fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spoke unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33 Then they that were in the ship, came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

     Peter was able to walk on the water when his eyes were on Jesus. We are able to make it through the day, no matter how bad it can get, if we keep our eyes on Jesus. It’s when we take our eyes off of him that the day gets worst. That is when we begin to sink. That is the point that Peter began to sink, when his eyes started to look at the circumstances around him. For us that means ded we keep our focus on him through a tough time by taking a time of quietness with him through devotion or just reading his word and/or praying?

     I had a Sunday school teacher ask us this question in class, ” What is your NEHUSHTAN?” What he was really asking was this: “What have you placed or are placing in front of your relationship with God?”

     We all tend to have them. Maybe it is just a small thing. It is a show that comes on once a week. Or your friend calls at the time you set aside for you and God. Or a song, girl/boyfriend, sports and so on. But to God that does not matter. Anything that comes before him constantly or consistently is an idol.

     Now are any of these things wrong in and of themselves? No, of course not. The friend may need help. You may be looking for something online for church and so on. But when these begin to take the place of God, then there is a problem.

     What about the movie you have been waiting to see? But it starts when you are supposed to be in church. What about that concert you heard about on the radio? Or you can’t go to church because your favorite magazine came in the mail and you have to read it before doing anything else. It is sad to think about, but there are Christians that would do just that. They put God in second place. The thing is God does not play second fiddle to anyone. The Bible has many examples of what happens when His people put him second. He gave and still does give warnings today. Check out Exodus 20:5 (KJV)

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I tthe Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

     But that is because of what he said in the verses before that one.

Exodus 20:3-4

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

     We are not to make idols to worship. We are not to make a likeness of anything God created to worship. It seems like more and more we worship a tree, rabbit, fish, hawk, worm or what have you. We worship things we are not supposed to worship.

     We begin to settle for things that are inferior. In effect we settle for things that are made of brass. Brass has one thing going for it. When it is cleaned and polished, it will shine just like gold. But the truth is, it is not gold. It is brass. We tend to go for the shiny that looks like gold. When we get it we can that it is not gold. But we keep and hang on to it like it was gold. This what we do in our relationship with God. He is the better thing. He is the gold. We settle for things far, far less.

Romans 1:25

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the creator, who is blessed for ever amen.

     We see this everywhere. Churches don’t have an evening service on Super Bowl Sunday due to many people staying home or going to a friend’s house to watch the game. Churches don’t have a Wednesday night service due to lack of attendence. I am too tired to go to church tonight. I have to work on my vehicle. And it goes on and on. We allow too many things to come before God. We remove Him from His throne and place ourselves or something else or someone else there. Is this a new thing? No. Satan started this at some point in an unknown past.

Isaiah 14:11-15

11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. 12 How thou art fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high. 15 yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Ezekiel 28:12-15

12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou has been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of they tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou was created. 14 Thou are the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

     He even used the same kind of thinking in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:1-5

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

     Satan does not really care what we put on God’s throne as long as it is not God himself. He wants us to settle for the brass object. He wants us to stay at home and not go to church. He wants us to follow a preacher instead of God. he wants us to stay home and watch the ball game on Sunday. He whispers in our ear that it is OK, God will not mind.

     But God is trying to give us the better things. He is trying to give us the things made of gold. But we throw these things away. We put our hands up saying, “No thanks. I want this instead”. He tries to give us Himself and we say we are not interested. We don’t want you. We would rather have that guy or that girl. He frees us from “Egypt” and we want to return because it was easier and better there. He says, “How about that land?” And we say, “This piece of junk? No thank you.”

     We need to get our priorities right. We need to get ourselves and those things we placed onto God’s throne off of it. We need to put Him back on His throne. We need to be like Peter and say, “Let me come to You.” We need to be willing to go and receive when He says OK.

     We need to let go of the things made of brass like Paul did and reach for the gold. The things that matter are not just for the moment are what Paul wants to reach for.

Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

     We need to take our eyes off of the things of this world. We have to place our eyes on Jesus Christ. Otherwise we will sink and the cares of this world will bury us. The throne belongs to God and God alone. We have no business sitting in it or placing other things on it. We have to “forget” about all the other things that we allow to grab our attention. We have to reach with everything we have to those things that God has for us. We have to drop the Nehushtans, the brass objects, in order to reach for the gold. We must be willing to press towards and reach for the more excellent prize of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes one of the hardest things I have to do is as being part of a ministry is seeing God’s work stopped short. I have seen this, it seems, way too many times since being a part of Teen Challenge.

As a student I have seen many of my buddies leave for what they thought were good reasons. And all too often hear about how things are not going well. Sometimes that is not the case, but for the most part things do not go well.

Now as a member of staff, I see it from a slightly different perspective. I don’t see a buddy moving on, I see untapped potential walk away from God is doing. The students still leave for various reasons. Fear, things are too tough,  I don’t want to follow the rules, and so on.

For whatever reasons they leave, I hurt for them as well as their families. The only thing that I can hope for is that they leave taking something with them. Paul himself said something along those very lines while talking about sowing and reaping, though of our fellow (wo)man. He said that one sows, one waters, one harvests. But there is one that will make the seed grow. And that is God.

I just pray that I was able to plant will be enough. Though it hurts when they leave before they are done here, I know that God is still in control. I just pray that the seeds that I have sown will bloom. Even if I don’t see my part in the young mans life, I know that I will some day see it when I am called home.

Seasons

Posted: 10/09/2009 in Devotion
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Earlier I went to go check my mail and get something eat. After going to the post office I went and ordered my meal from a place across the street. While I was waiting for the order to be cooked, I started looking at the trees. The leaves are starting to change colors. I had the thought of cycles in the seasons that we see.

I started thinking how it will be looking like the world is “dying”. But within a few short months, there will be a renewal. The world will begin to “live” again. I thought how like mans one cycle in this life.

I started to think that is just the way mankind is as well. We are born in the spring of our lives. Go through summer during our school years. During the fall season we work, marry, have kids, and so. Summer can also be included in that as well. Then when we get to where we can’t work any more and start to slow down, we come to the winter of our lives. But what then?

The bible says that we “are appointed once to die”.(Hebrews 9:27 King James Version) But then what? The rest of the verse says that  after death there will be a judgment. Now I am not going to focus on the judgement aspect. But think about this. After our winter, we come back to spring again. We will live again. But the great part about that is this. We will never go through winter again. But only if we have become one of his children as stated in John 1:12, “As many as received him (Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

What a day when the believers in Christ will go through the spring, get to summer and stay there for eternity. I know I can’t wait.