Coming Home

start_over1Dear believers in Jesus, I bring you simply a plea.  I encourage you to receive a message of repentance and reconciliation with God.  As Christians we live where Jesus reigns, in a world within the world.  The Kingdom of God has set up residence within us.  In God’s time we decided that Christ held the best plan for living so we took Him up on His offer of both complete forgiveness and a life of purpose.  We all still have persistent struggles but we are never expected to change ourselves.  That is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.  “…the Holy Spirit has been at work in your hearts, cleansing you with the blood of Jesus Christ and making you to please him.” 1 Peter 1:2 Living Bible.

And yet something is profoundly amiss.  Too many believers are giving up on being led and controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Often by default we are turning to another power.  Could it be Christians are purchasing property and establishing a second residence in the demonic kingdom?  Perhaps we haven’t spoken in plain enough words.  Ungodly influences can saturate our lives.  Do we no longer believe in the consecrated, abundant life that was promised us at the moment of spiritual conception?  Could we be pushing our senses beyond what they can absorb when we read or watch movies depicting the occult, violence, or explicit sexual content?  What cannot be processed will be acted out in some kind of overflow often leaving us hardhearted and insensitive to both God and others.  We live out anger, arguing, and bad language when we take in an impure bombardment of both mind and emotions.  We can become sick inside through frequent violations of God’s principles.  “Obey God because you are His children; don’t slip back into your old ways- doing evil because you knew no better. But be holy now in everything you do…” 1 Peter 1:14, 15 Living Bible.  Mental, emotional, and physical illness can develop after too many times of saying no to conscience and the wisdom of God revealed in His Word.

At times we all experience pressure even to the point that we don’t know which way to turn.  It’s easy to make family the whipping boy for our stresses because we haven’t walked closely with God, relying on him to bear our burdens.  We have been made in the image of God and only by returning to Him will we find relief.  As Creator He knows how we work, what makes us tick, and how we can become happier, healthier people.  We can overcome our doubts, fears, and struggles as we acknowledge that through the precious blood spilt at Calvary we walk away from the cross not only forgiven but whole.  We have been given a brand new lease on life with fresh clean pages to begin an exciting new story.  Turn the corner and dance like King David, praise with positive declarations about our Heavenly Father, and plead the blood of Jesus Christ to rescue and protect our minds.  Let’s pour out our feelings, our deepest longings before God, lifting our heart to God in song.  It’s time to take down that elaborate front of self-righteousness and pride.  Dismantle that false sense of security that says because we are Christians we are ok. Kick in those rotten boards of jealousy, gossip, and unforgiveness.  With God’s help we can build again!

Dear believers, take this opportunity to start over, to live again under God’s ways outlined carefully, perfectly in the Bible.  Let us have only one resident address- PO BOX Kingdom of God.  We don’t have to be unhappy!  God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the greatest holy trio known to man, are available every moment to help and deliver us from the worst scenario known to man, our destructive sin problem.  Don’t ignore the path to victory!  God did so much to make a way for us.  We don’t belong to any part of the darkness.  “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”  1 John 1:5  Living Bible.  We can step out into the light and enjoy all God has made for us and planned for us.  We were specifically created for such a time as this.  Friends, please believe me when I say it isn’t too late.  With all His heart Jesus bids us welcome back.  Come home to Jesus.  Come home.

Click here to read another bloggers encouraging article about the Conflict of Kindness.

 

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Are You Listening?

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When you were young did you ever sing “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me?”  I sure did.  But when I came to Christ I understood the Bible was more than the “good book”, more than just great literature.  It is God’s inspired living words.  Its message is universal, applicable and practical for all people everywhere.  The real issue is whether we believe enough to stake our lives on the truth of its teachings.  “And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me?  Anyone whose Father is God listens gladly to the words of God.”  John 8:46 LB   He has given us the working principles, the very words of life.  The world obeys His voice because as Creator He holds the universe together.  The wise person understands that God is ready to teach us to hear His voice.  “All you listen to my instructions and follow them are wise, like a man who builds his house on solid rock.”  Matt 7:24 LB

Most people crave “the good life”.  Could we have been deceived by looking to material prosperity?  The believer will discover that the good life is really a life of God’s blessings woven within the good as well as difficult circumstances of life.  But this first requires a person who is ready to listen.  “Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake.”  Is 55:3 LB  And yet listening must be coupled with action. There is no point in listening to God’s Word if we do not intend to do it.  “He (Jesus) replied, ‘Yes, but even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’”  Luke 11:28 LB   The reality of scripture comes alive by practicing it.  Do you try to be consistently kind?  Do you continually forgive those who hurt you, even giving love to those who act like enemies?  This takes time and much practice until you come to truly enjoy living out God’s perfect Word.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing God’s plan at work.  Jesus reminded His listeners that hearing the message alone will not change a life.  “…those who listen and don’t obey are like a man who builds a house without a foundation.”  Luke 8:21 LB

Someday every person will face an accounting, whether great in the world’s eyes or thought small and insignificance.  “There is going to come a time of testing at Christ’s Judgment Day to see what kind of material each builder has used.”  1 Cor 3:17 LB   We are God’s very own, part of His family and His dearest friends.  He will show us how to construct strong lives for “…now you have become living building stones…”  1 Pet 2:5 LB  Today the world is watching and waiting to see whether we will build lives on the foundation that lasts.

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts about listening to the voice of God.

Click here to read insights on how God is near each of his dear children.

A Better Way

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When Jesus came to walk among men He had a mandate, a mission to let us know that every word of scripture is true and accurate.  He stood behind all that was written by the prophets and men of God.  He wanted us to understand that everything within the Bible is there for a reason and is a part of knowing God.  The Word is complete.  “With all the earnestness I have I say: Every law in the Book will continue until its purpose is achieved.”  Matt 5:18

The tragic problem is we are all law-breakers by nature.  We disobey the Ten Commandments, we wrong our neighbors, and we dishonor God.  By breaking the law we come under the penalty of death, the automatic consequence for crimes against God.  When Jesus came into the grand picture He paid the full penalty for our misdeeds by way of the cross.  Only He could pay the debt we owed because He was never guilty, the only man without a drop of sin or wrongdoing.  “He met the full demands of the law by fulfilling its strict requirements in His life and in His death.”  William McDonald.  Jesus fully satisfied all that the law demanded.  Now all who trust in Jesus are no longer condemned by the law but instead find that amazing grace and mercy rule.  For believers the Ten Commandments are still valid and vital becoming training in righteousness without the attached death penalty.  Jesus permanently paid our death penalty.  This will never to be the critical issue again.  Jesus teaches us that instead of living under the law we live by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the very One that guided men as they wrote the Bible.  Jesus upholds the law and the prophets but now their inspired words are enlarged and develop a deeper meaning. For example, the Sermon on the Mounts sets a higher standard than that set by the law. Where the law said, “Do not murder” Jesus says, “Do not even hate.”

This is the truth: external righteousness without internal reality is not the message of Christ.  Where there is true faith in Christ there will also be practical Spirit-led living.  In the end we believe with certainty these simple yet profound words, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  I live for Him because He loves me best, the Living Word who fulfilled it all.  He satisfied not only the requirements of the law but also gave me a new and better way guided by the Holy Spirit, the amazing law of Christ!

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts on how God’s forgiveness of us enables us to forgive others.

Unexpected Happiness

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Everyone wants to be happy.  “Do you wish never to be sad?  Live rightly.”  Isidorus of Aegae   How surprising that the Bible shows us many sources of unexpected happiness.  “Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him.”  James 1:12

So how do we respond to temptation or the problems that come into our life?  It’s easy to complain and be frazzled yet the wisest and best response is to thank God for these challenges that cause us to grow.  “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations?  Then be happy, for when the way is rough your patience has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems.  For when your patience is finally in full bloom, strong in character, full and complete.”  James 1:2-4   Problems are not our enemies but can be friends that will help us develop Christ-like character.  Without problems we could never develop endurance.  We can partner with God to become mature well-rounded people, ready for the challenges that lay ahead.  This next verse is hard to embrace, especially when attacks come.  “When you are reviled and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers- wonderful!  Be happy about it!  Be very glad for a tremendous reward awaits you in heaven.”  Matt 5:11, 12   Our first response probably is, “You’ve got to be kidding!”  Do we really understand that we will be mistreated because of our association and loyalty to Christ?  The words of this beautiful song remind us, “it will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”  The next unexpected delight is found through learning contentment.  It brings a special happiness factor into a person’s life.  “I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little.”  Phil 4:11   In essence this means to be content no matter what our financial condition might be.  Contentment should be our personal priority because it yields greater dividends than riches.

Finally, in 2 Corinthians Paul writes, “I close my letter with these last words.  Be happy.  Grow in Christ.”  2 Cor 13:11   Do you notice how these two statements fit together?  They are perfectly intertwined.  We can be increasingly happy as we seek to know and honor Christ in all we think, say, and do.  Let us thank God for sending unexpected sources of gladness for those who seek the most enduring happiness of all, a faith in full bloom.

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts about God’s love.