Decisions…Positive or Negative?

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

Isn’t it amazing how when you are a child your body is in a constant state of flux and change.  You seem to grow inches overnight, your face and body change, your hair grows and sometimes changes color.  All this is going on and you aren’t even aware of it.  You continue on in your life, day in, day out and all this transformation takes place without a trace of cognizance.

As you get older changes still occur but the transition slows its pace.  The only knowledge of the change is when you look in the mirror one day and see a difference.  Some people’s transition is more dramatic than others.  Some may pay little attention to their health and never exercise their body or their discretion while others are very conscious of taking care of their bodies and health.  They eat healthy foods and leave all the extra trimmings, delights and empty calories behind.  They don’t fall prey to the luring of self indulgence.

This is a choice of course.  We have dominion over our decisions, who and what we listen to and we all have differing value systems.  Our decisions take a toll on our lives in one way or another.  This can have positive or negative results.

Our spiritual lives are no different.  We all have a choice about what we believe, who we choose to listen to and follow and we all live with the results.  Peter tells us that we should grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus.  How do we do this?  Grace is a gift given to us by God in the form of his Son Jesus.  Grace paid our debt of sin on the cross and grace gives us eternal life according to our belief in Jesus.  But our transition does not stop at belief.  If we choose to believe then we should expect the difference that grace provides us.  We should thirst for knowledge about this incredible gift and experience the life-changing transformational process.  How do we do this?  John tells us this “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26).  When we believe in Jesus, our faith  is rewarded by the grace of God to be adopted as His children  “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12) and as His children, He provides for us.  By sending us a helper, the Holy Spirit, we have all that we need to begin our journey of spiritual transformation.

Our bodies will continue to age and eventually they will give out and die no matter how well we take of it.  Our spirits will continue on to the next life.  Again, our decisions and choices will have positive or negative results.  As God’s children, he begins a new work in us to  change us so that we can reflect His spirit and become righteous through Jesus.  As Peter says, “to Him be the glory, now and forever!” (2 Peter 3:18)  the transition is a slow process, personally designed for us.  It is accelerated by our ability to feed it (through God’s word, Bible) and how we apply what we learn to our lives.  For those that do not believe or even entertain a thought that God is a living God and that Jesus was sent by Him for us out of His love for us, through grace….then the transitional journey their spirit will take will be to a place of agony.  Matthew states, that those that do not know God, God will not recognize, “They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth..” (Matthew 13:42)  

God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”(Jeremiah 29:13).   How is your life going now?  Are you happy with all your decisions and choices? Is something lacking?  Are you still searching for answers?  Why not start a new journey of growth, with new found knowledge and the assurance that this life is not all there is.  How we live today determines how we will live tomorrow and beyond.  Receive grace, receive the gift.

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are You Being Heard?

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.  (Isaiah 59:2) NIV

Do you have iniquities that have come between you and God? If you don’t know you may want to start with the definition of iniquity. It is a noun, meaning immoral or grossly unfair behavior.  The Bible uses this word to indicate a level of disobedience to God which is categorized as sin.

One way that I have learned to recognize that something has come between myself and God is the absence of my “peace”.  “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:7)

Once I feel my peace slipping away, I begin to feel disconnected and off balance.  When this occurs I know that I need to get into the Word (Bible) and begin searching for my iniquity.

Know this, our enemy is a powerful dark force.  “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8) Our enemy will use everything at his disposal to drive a wedge between you and God.  Sometimes he is so subtle that it takes a while for you to even know you are under attack.

There are many things that can get us out of sync like, a little white lie told here, a little bit of I deserve this, so I am going to take it, do it or sneak it.  Making things difficult for someone when they have hurt you and giving them a little pay-back.  Hurting someone with a truth that they just needed to hear out of our pride instead of our love.

It is so easy to get pulled off track in the course of an hour, much less a day.  How many times do we get in our cars and use it as a weapon to teach someone a lesson or try to take control of the road because we are in a hurry?  How about when we lose our patience and the tone of our voice takes on a harsher edge or we dismiss someone because they are not doing things the way we want them to?  Pride is one of Satan’s big weapons.  It is effective because it feeds off our insecurities, egos, and self-centric tendencies. We think we deserve to be treated better, do not need to be told what to do or corrected in anyway.  We get on our high horse and ride around jumping the fences that are penning us in and soon we are off of God’s path and on the highway to hell.

In the course of a day we can get so far off course that God has had to completely turn His face away.  That is why the relationship is so important.  “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1: 18)  To be in relationship with someone you must take the time to get to know them and you do this by spending time with them.  You talk with them and listen to them.

Your relationship with Jesus is no different.  Spending time reading your Bible and other Bible Study materials allows you to open your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit and receive word from Him. Praying for yourself and others is another way to spend time.  The most important thing to do first is to ask for Him to show you anything that might be between you and Him.  Try to clear your mind and wait for him to bring things to mind.  Repentance is what brings you back into the relationship and brings your peace back. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Isn’t it great to know that we are so loved that no matter how horrible we act to others at times, we can always go to Him and lay it all down at His feet.  He takes it all away, dusts us off, gives us a hug and says.  Go, make restitution and sin no more…..  Now that is freedom and that is the kind of relationship that I want in my life!!!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)  Is Jesus knocking at your door?  If so, why not let the most loving, caring, awe-inspiring person in?  Get to know the man who gave His life to save you from your sins, give you freedom and the gift of life in eternity with Him.

Has God turned His face away?  Get in the Word, get on your knees and get right with God!

Posted in Repentance, Satan's Attacks, Sin | 1 Comment

Patience

Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”.  (Genesis 30:3) NIV

The truest form of faith is shown through patience. Waiting on God is one of the hardest things that we as human beings can be called to do.

Have you ever asked God for patience?  Will you ever ask Him again? Probably not that eagerly even though one of the best virtues is patience.  Since we don’t ask God more than once He builds this up in us through faith-tests.

A faith-test is anything that requires us to trust in God for provision and waiting on Him to provide.  Most of us learn the hard way because we lose our patience and move on ahead in our own strength.  Especially when we don’t see God’s provision in a short time span.

Rachel, wife of Jacob, grew jealous that her sister, Leah, who was deceivingly given to Jacob as wife in place of Rachel by their father in order to secure Leah’s future, was bearing sons for their husband and she was not.

Instead of pleading her case to God and waiting on Him, she brought yet another wife, her servant, Bilhah, into the already crowded marriage.  This spurned Leah into also giving her servant to Jacob and bringing yet another wife into the mix.

Rachel eventually conceived and bore two sons, but she died during the last child-birth. The siblings from the other wives ended up being jealous of her oldest son, Joseph, sold him off into slavery and told their father he was dead.

God being God, turned all the mistakes and heartaches into something good when he moulded Joseph into the nation’s leader who saved his family from starvation and ruin.

The moral of this story is that we have a choice, we can take things into our own hands and suffer the consequences, or we can patiently wait on God to get it right at just the right time.

Posted in God in Control, Patience, Priorities, trustworthy | Leave a comment

Folly’s Rollercoaster

Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. (Proverbs 9:1)

Have you ever felt that you are being pulled into diferent directions at the same time? I have been living this way for the past few weeks feeling like I am on a roller coaster and God has given me insight into exactly what is happening.

Proverbs chapter nine, teaches us about wisdom and folly.  Wisdom is strong, reliable,  appealing to the intellect and capable of making sound decisions.  Folly is carefree, fickle, appealing to the senses and throws caution to the wind.

Wisdom calls to the simple to leave their ways, to come and draw insight and live well, while folly beckons the simple to indulge and search for sweet, delicious secrets.

Thus the struggle between your mind instructing you to pause, set up a plan of action based on a strategy with informative facts and all your senses pulling you to go here, do this, run there, do that, take the plunge, go ahead get wet, dont get left behind.

Luckily for me, I decided to get off the roller coaster and search for divine direction.  No matter what is going on in our lives we must remember that we are not in control.  The world of folly is going to distract us and lure us off track but the Holy Spirit’s wisdom will continue to speak to you and let you know that there is a way that is better.  That is, if you have the Holy Spirit as your helper.

I wonder how the many people living aimlessly in this world apart from God, not in relationship with Jesus Christ and without the Holy Spirit ever get off the roller coaster without crashing and burning.

Proverbs chapter nine teaches us that wisdom leads to life and folly leads to death. Living a life without Jesus as your Lord and Savior will surely lead to death. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John14:6).  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  This seems wise to me.

So folly leads to death……well, luckily for me again, I believe in Jesus Christ, so I have eternal life, but folly doesn’t give up trying to make me crash and burn.  Folly may take you for a ride from time to time, but wisdom beckons you to come, dine with me (feast on the word of God) and live well.

Once you re-group, get your priorities in order, understand the things that are important and focus on the truth of life, the road smooths out, the bumps disappear and all is well once again.

Do you need to jump off the ride and spend some time with Wisdom?  Proverbs chapter nine may be a good place to start.

Posted in Being Saved, Following God's Will, God in Control, Priorities, Satan's Attacks, Sin, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Opportunity of a Lifetime

I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” (1Corinthians 2:3) NIV

Paul set out on the great commission to take the gospel of Jesus to the places that God led. This journey did not come about over night once he received his sight, but after three years of wilderness time with Jesus. He spent this time seeking to know more and more about Jesus and why God had sent Him. He wanted to understand what Jesus had taught and how He lived while He was among us.

You see, Paul had missed the mark. He had the same opportunity as the disciples to follow Jesus and live with Him, learn from Him, honor Him and accept Him. But he was closed off. He was so steeped in the law and the discipline of religion, the do’s and don’ts, the right’s and wrong’s the human side of religion that he had been taught all his life, that he missed the chance to be right where Jesus was when He was there. The opportunity of a life-time passed him by.

God had other plans for Paul and after Paul had gone as far down the wrong path as he could, Jesus stepped in and the encounter that Paul had with him, left him blind, weak with great fear and trembling. Paul had heard the same ridiculous accounts about the man who claimed to be the Messiah. Blasphemy at its worst. But when Paul met Jesus in all His glory, the shoe was on the other foot…who was the blasphemer now?

Paul was as condemned as Jesus was but the outcome would be very different. Instead of being hung on a cross, Paul was to go and spread the good news. He had to go to the very people he was persecuting, throwing into prisons and killing and ask for their forgiveness. He had to put all pride and flesh aside and say he too, was a believer.

Paul could have chosen a different path. He could have refused to follow Jesus, to ignore the truth and choose to go his own way. If he had, he would have missed out on yet another opportunity of a life time, not to mention eternal life.

Had Paul not chosen to follow Jesus he would have lived out the rest of his life a blind religious man, empty and broken, filled with hate and blame and regret. I wonder how many people are living that way today? They may not be physically blind, but they are spiritually blind. They are empty and broken and will never be fulfilled. They will travel around aimlessly chasing after things they think will give them what they need to feel whole.

Paul never really got over the encounter he had with Jesus and wherever he went spreading the good news, he always went in weakness, with great fear and trembling, because this was how the Holy Spirit worked best in him.

Posted in Following God's Will, Priorities, Repentance | Leave a comment

Time Alone

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.  (Psalm 93:1) NIV

Turn on the news, listen and watch for a little while and you will begin to see a pattern emerge.  Whatever channel, it is all the same.  Fear, urgency, anger, disparity, death, destruction and issues over control. News flash…despite all the horror in the news, God is in control.

Ever wonder what life would be like without news? What if we didn’t know what was happening outside our own backyard?  What if we had to visit our neighbours to find out firsthand, what was going on in their lives?  Do you think they would be happy to see you?  Would they take time out of their day to talk with you?

Time past, this was the way of the world. Was life a little bit simpler?  Funny how during this era in history man was more relational with God and as the future was emerging God was consulted about it.

Take the conjecture of men and women out of the equation and one has to rely upon his or her own inner being as a guide.  Self reliance soon leads to self actualisation and the realisation that you really don’t want to go it alone.  You look for something greater than yourself to help you.  Enter God.

God created man and woman in His own image and gave them the innate understanding that He is there. Left to themselves, they will seek to find and relate to their Creator.

If any of this strikes a semblance of sense to you, maybe some time away from the TV, Internet, Computer, Phone or other electronic devices could help you tune in to a more intelligent being and a new way of living could emerge for you.

If people stopped tuning in to the conjecture, it would lose ratings and go away.  Eventually they would learn what was important to know and even find the truth!

Posted in God in Control, Priorities, Purpose, Truth | Leave a comment

The Orchard’s Manual

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers”. ..(Psalms 1: 1-3) NIV

“Which yields its fruit in season”…The key to this is the in season part. Fruit does not yield itself all the time.  It has to be in season.  In order to bear fruit though, the tree or the vine must be taken care of.  It must be watered, it must be fertilized and groomed and  protected from the elements that will harm it.

If you have ever wandered on the meandering paths around an orchard or spent some time in a sunny vineyard then you will have been able to see first hand how much goes into bearing good fruit.

The caretakers are there everyday seeing to what ever issues may come to hand, Whether it be some type of insect, or mold or wild animals that are attacking and trying to eat or destroy the fruit.  Keeping a watchful eye so that at the first sign of a change they can take action and counter the affects on the fruit.

The fruit is the most important thing.  Without the fruit, then there is no purpose to the orchard or vines.  There is no purpose to keeping watch, to be vigilant.

Come rain or come shine, they tend to their crops.  They invest in the best seeds, trees or vines to be planted. They revolve their entire lives around the yield of the investment.  They consider this to be their livelihood, their reason for getting up in the morning.

When the fruit is ripe and ready for harvest, they invest again in the resources required to pick, wash, prepare and pack their fruit.  They want to have it ready to go to market as quickly as is possible.  They want to show it off and receive top dollar from the labor of their hands and sweat from their brows.  They depend on the crops to represent their character and build their reputations.

Once the fruit has borne its season, they begin the cycle all over again.

I wonder how many fruit orchard or vineyard owners spend as much time caring for their spiritual lives hoping to bear their fruit in season?

I mean, how many of us spend as much time caring about anything this much?  What are the things that we invest in to represent our character and to build our reputations?

What are we the most vigilant about?  What are we the most consistent with?  Is there anything that we could put our stamp on that will truly bear fruit?

The orchard and vineyard owners are committed to the process  They know what they need to do and can read the signs of something that may be about to cause problems, but they know another thing as well.  They are not totally in control.

What happens if they get too much rain, or not enough rain.  What if frost comes early or if the temperatures reach heights that cause the fruit to ripen too soon or to shrivel and dry out?

What happens if a swarm of insects come in and take over the entire crops support system, or a fungus grows to mass proportion overnight?

They know they are at the mercy of God.  They depend on the grace of God to help them get their fruit to season.

If we take a leaf out of the orchard’s manual we can see that there is much that goes into the process to bear fruit.  But this fruit only lasts a season.

The Bible shares with us a story that Jesus shared with His disciples about bearing fruit.

In John: 15 (NIV) Jesus says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful……“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”.

What is this fruit that Jesus is talking about?  It is simply sharing Gods word with others so that it may shine a ray of sun into their lives…that it may draw them closer to God and help them to bear fruit. One tree or vine can produce much fruit.

Why do we spend so much time worrying and investing in things that do not produce the kind of fruit that Jesus tells us we need to bear?  Why do so many of us seem to be blind to how important this is in the scheme of our lives?

We need to fall onto our knees as ask God to help us.  Lead us to our orchard, show us our vineyard so that we can start to bear fruit before it is too late.

Further reading;  (Genesis 1:11, 2 Kings 19:30, Psalm 92:14, Isaiah 11:1,Jeremiah 17:8, Ezekiel 47:12,Matthew 7:19)

Posted in Bearing Fruit, Following God's Will, Priorities, Purpose | Leave a comment