THE BEST INVITATION

(2Peter1:3&4The Message) Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the one who invited us to God.  The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you – your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

Jesus came to invite us to know God personally, and intimately.  And in that relationship we have everything we need to live a Godly life.  The closer we are to him the more like him we become. 

Then there are the promises of God.  Topping the list is eternal life.  Physical death has now becomes a mere transition into eternity.  We have become his children, and he is our Father.  God has promised to watch over us and provide for us.

All these things are possible because Jesus died and rose again on our behalf.  He walked among us giving us an example of a Godly life.  He is our teacher, our mentor, and our advocate.  Jesus invites us to come to him that we might receive all that the Father has prepared for us.  This is surely, “The best invitation we ever received”.

PAST SINS

(2 Peter 1:9) But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Have you ever been tormented by your past sins?  I ask this question because I have.  Throughout my years as a forgiven sinner, I occasionally find myself wallowing in the memory of past sins.  Darkness begins to loom over me, and I fall into a self-loathing pile of self-focused misery. The only ones celebrating are the demons who have been whispering reminders of past sins in my ear.

When I realize what has been happening, I pick myself up and read the truths found in Scripture.  My sins have been forgiven and forgotten by the Lord (Psalm 103 11-12).  There may be ones here on earth that remember those sins, but my sins don’t even exist in God’s kingdom.  I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.  The old has passed away (Romans 6:4-11).

I regret the things I did in the past and the hurt I caused, but Jesus died for those sins so I could have new life.  Jesus gave me the opportunity to start over.  That is where my focus should be.  This opportunity is also available for those I hurt, and I pray for them that they too will find new life in Christ. 

We have a common enemy who delights in bringing us down, stealing our joy, and making us ineffective in God’s kingdom.   Satan and his demons are out to kill, steal, and destroy.  They revel in tormenting us.  Through Jesus we can put them aside.  I sometimes forget this.

FINDING PEACE IN SUFFERING

(1Peter 4:1&2 The Message) Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him.  Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way.  Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

As we get older there seems to be an unending parade of pain traveling through our bodies.  I woke up this morning with a sprained ankle.  It was fine when I went to bed.  Suffering pain seems to be inevitable.  However, we have a choice in how we deal with it.  Pain and suffering can cause us to draw into ourselves and wallow in the misery, but the above Scripture passage helps us to redirect our thinking.

 Self-centeredness is rooted in our sinful nature, but God can use our suffering to teaching us to be other-centered.  Looking outside of ourselves is always a challenge. When we’re in pain it is much more difficult.  Yet, I have recently found that focusing on others brings peace to my soul even in the midst of suffering. 

GOOD GUY OR BAD GUY?

 (Romans 7:18) For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Last week I had a very bad week.  Everything on my job went awry.  By the end of the work week, I became out of sorts, angry, and unkind.  The previous week wasn’t much better.  So I spent the last two weeks failing to be what I think a good Christian man should be.

When reading back through my recent posts, I came across this statement, “In the circumstances of the day, I am more helpful, kind, gracious, loving, and patient (The Everyday Miracle).”  When I read these words of mine, I must confess that the contrast with this statement and my behavior during the last two weeks got me a little chocked up.  I had regressed.

 So, I asked myself, “Who am I?”  Am I the good guy or the bad guy?  Paul discusses this dilemma further through the rest of Romans chapter 7.  For me, the last two weeks provided a lesson in humility.  I am not the good guy or the bad guy.  I am a redeemed sinner fully dependent on the mercy and grace of God.  He has made me his child, and he disciplines me as he see fit.  Through this rough time, he has reminded me that without him I can do nothing.  Only in him can I successfully deal with my sinful nature.

I’m confident that God loves me, and he forgives me.  I can move on from this time, but I’ll need to keep this lesson in mind that I need him in all things.

OH, TO WALK WITH GOD

(Genesis 3:8-11) Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

We were never meant to walk alone.  We were designed to walk with God.  In the beginning, Adam and Eve walked with God, but they fell into sin and that changed the innocent life that they were given.  Sin separated them and subsequently the rest of us from God, but he has provided a way back.

(John 3:16)  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. 

God, through Jesus, provided a way for us to again walk with him.  God is just, so he gave his son that justice might be served.  Jesus died on the cross to take our place and bring justice to our sin problem.  Jesus opened up the path for our forgiveness that we might again walk with our God.

God is very excited for us to join him.  Go ahead and step into the way that he has provided for your return.  Surrender your self-will to his will.  He is trustworthy, and he loves you dearly.  God will be delighted when you return to him. 

THE EVERYDAY MIRACLE

“We are not meant to be seen as God’s perfect, bright – shining examples, but to be seen as the everyday essence of ordinary life exhibiting the miracle of his grace.”     (Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest)  

Every day, I wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and go about the day.  Then, I go to bed at the end of the day.  Yet there’s a difference in these days.  I’m not the same person that I once was.  The days are more meaningful- more useful.  I live supported by God’s grace.

In the circumstances of the day, I am more helpful, kind, gracious, loving, and patient.  This has come about without my effort.  I surrendered my life to God, and he changed me into a nicer person.  He has been gracious to me. The result is that his grace courses through me and flows to others.  That is the everyday miracle of his grace.

GOD IS CLOSE TO ME

(Ephesians 1:3-6) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to son-ship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves.

(Romans 8:10, The Message) But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells – even though you still experience all the limitations of sin – you yourself experience life on God’s terms.

I have often chastised myself for not being closer to God, but if God lives in me, I’ve recognized that it’s impossible to get closer to God.  So I conclude that what I’m lacking is an awareness of God’s closeness.  He’s there; I’m just not paying attention.

I’m working on a routine to keep myself aware of his presence.  When I awake in the morning, I say good morning Father, and I spend a few minutes thanking him for the various aspects of my life and for his grace and mercy.  From there I go to my chair and read a devotional page from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  Then I continue reading the book of Scriptures that I’ve currently chosen concluding with a time of Prayer.  During the day, I find Christian music keeps me attuned to his presence.

Doesn’t this sound like a great plan?  It works to some extent, but my lack of consistency often disrupts the plan.  The important truth in all of this is that God’s love for me does not waver. 

Plan or no plan, I’m still his.  He chose me to be his from the very beginning, and nothing will change this fact.  He is always close to me, and I’m working on keeping an awareness of his closeness.

THE HOLY SPIRIT LIVES IN ME

John 14:15-17, “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – The Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

I was thinking the other day about the fact that the Holy Spirit lives in me.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to me the moment I believed and surrendered my life to him.  At that moment, I had a definite awareness of new life.  I was changed!  For a short time after that, I was conscious of a distinct difference in me. Then I got used to my new life.   

Now after many years of walking with the Lord, I believe that the Holy Spirit Lives in me, but I seem to have no clear perception of his presence.  As I pursued this before the Lord, I had this thought.  What would it be like if God removed the Holy Spirit?   

In horror, I recalled the desolate life I was leading before He sent his Spirit.  Ok!  I get it. I saw the answer to my deliberations very clearly.  The blessed and happy life I now lead is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  He leads me and guides me and fills me with new life.  I thank you, Holy Spirit.  I love living my new life.

GOD’S WORLD AND US

Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.”

Back in August of 2014, I began this blog to encourage, strengthen, and comfort fellow Christians.   I also hope to inspire those who don’t know what God has done for them to come to him. 

The above Scripture is foundational to this blog.  I’ve tried to live my life in the comfort of knowing this is God’s world.  In my years of walking with him, I have discovered that God is good, and I have become aware of his beauty all around me.  I want to share this with my readers.

I understand that man brought evil into God’s world through rebellion.  Ever since, God has been working to rid us of evil and restore us to him.  Man cannot rid the earth of evil, but God can.  He has the power.  For those of us who have received Jesus as our savior, our limited power is expressed in surrendering our lives to God’s Holy Spirit that he might cleanse us of evil.

I believe that all power and wisdom ultimately rests in the hands of God.  Therefore, we can trust him with the life that he has given us.  Most of all, I believe he loves us; and he demonstrated his love for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  He gave the ultimate ransom to bring us back into relationship with him. 

I hope as I continue to write that you will be encouraged, strengthened, and comforted.  Please, share your comments and insights that I might receive from you as well. 

God’s blessings to you!

JESUS’ LOVE AND OUR LOVE WORKING IN THE WORLD

John 17:20-23 (The Message)

I’m praying not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me because of them, and their witness about me.  The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us.  Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.  The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are – I in them and you in me.  Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.

There’s an old song that I love, titled “Just a closer walk with thee”.  The desire to have a closer walk with Jesus has always been in my heart.  When I first read this part of Jesus’ prayer, I was brought to tears.  Jesus looked ahead and spoke this prayer for me.  He prayed for all believers to be closer to him.  My desire to be closer to him mirrors his desire for me.

Today, as I read this prayer, (The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us),  I realize that my closeness to him is intertwined with my closeness to my fellow believers.  This closeness, and the love that is displayed by our closeness to each other, will help others to come to know him.

In a world full of hate and self-interest, Jesus wants his followers to represent a counter culture. Through loving one another and loving him, we can be that counter culture to those around us with the goal of showing people God’s love.