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Examine Your Lifestyle

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In an ever-changing world where issues of morality are debated, challenged, and even turned in to law, it is critical for Christians to stay grounded in the Word and examine their lifestyles.
 
1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:31 are two verse in the Holy Scriptures that are great reminders of this need to examine your lifestyles.
 
1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
 
1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
 
Since the church at Corinth was no longer under the ceremonial laws of Moses, they wanted to justify their immoral behavior.  However, the Apostle Paul reminds them that freedom from the law is not a license to sin or indulge in their own selfishness.
 
Sinful behavior will only enslave you in your sin.  Things that are sinful in nature are only pleasurable for a season, but can have a long-term effect.
 
Christians are called to a life of obedience and holiness which are only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
If you desire to please the Lord and desire to live a life worthy of the call He has place on your life, you must keep a close check on your lifestyle.  In doing so, you can avoid falling to the schemes of the devil.
 
There are four questions you should ask yourself as a way of examining your lifestyle.
 
1. Is the activity or action helpful physically, mentally, and/or spiritually?  (1 Corinthians 6:12a)
 
2. Will the activity or action bring me under its power? (1 Corinthians 6:12b)
 
3. Does the activity or action glorify God? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
 
4. Is the activity or action helpful for others? (1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:31)
 
 For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  But, by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, you have been redeemed! 
 
In Christ, there is freedom from a life of sin and power by the Holy Spirit to live your life in manner that glorifies God.
 
 


GOALS, GOALS, GOALS

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1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
 
We spend a lot of time setting goals and working hard to achieve them. But what if all the work you put in lacked the necessary focus which resulted in you being disqualified. 
Kinda like runner being disqualified because they couldn’t finish the race or boxer never entering the ring because they didn’t make weight. 
A proper method is required if you want to be successful in sports or life.
 
Your goals may be reasonable, but what about your methods?
 
God is interested not only in the goal, but also the method.
 
Have you ever set a goal and failed miserably because you lacked focus or had the wrong motivation?
 
True satisfaction and fulfillment come from establishing a motivation that desires God to be centered in the goals we set and work completed to achieve it.
 
No matter what your goal may be, you need to ask this question: Is the main purpose of my goal to glorify God or satisfy self?
 
It is important to sift your goals through prayer and meditation in the Word.
 
In athletics, visualization is a great way to focus on what you have been working on and successfully seeing it to completion. 
What an even more effective and powerful approach in life through prayer and revelation from God’s Word as you read, meditate and apply it to your life.
 
There is always victory in Jesus.  When your goals reflect the basic purpose to glorify Him, you will train with discipline and work in such a way to achieve what you set out to do.
 
1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
 
 
 

 

 



Walking in the Wilderness

Kaikoura-Wilderness-Walk

Temptation is something that we all face.
So how do you recognize it and overcome it.
 
What is temptation?   From my viewpoint, it’s an invitation to live a self-serving life!
 
Temptation- The state of being tempted, or enticed to evil. The desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid.
 
Temptation in itself, is not a sin. Sin comes when we give into temptation.
 

When do you seem like you are being tempted the most?

-physically or emotionally stressed; tired, lonely, hungry, dealing with major decisions, dealing with uncertainty.  Satan also likes to tempt us through our strengths.
 
Why do you think temptation seems strongest under those circumstances? (answer= vulnerable)
 
Temptation feeds off our own tendency toward self-reliance. We fall into sin when we start focusing on the things that we don’t have rather than on the countless things that we do have.
 
Our temptation at first glance is real subtle, but before you know it you are in over your head.
 
Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-7)  and David committing adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11:1-16) are just a couple of examples of how temptation can lead us down a sinful path.
 
So how do you recognize temptation?
 You must first realize what temptation is centered around.
 
Temptation is centered around three areas: physical pleasure (desires), possessions (material things), and pride.
 
So how do we overcome temptation?
You must exercise restraint and STOMP it out.
 
Say “no” when confronted with sinful desires.
Turn your mind toward Christ and avoid unfitting desires
Openly discuss your struggles with another believer and call that person when temptation strikes.
Memorize and meditate on scriptures that will help you deal with a specific weakness.
Pray for strength to resist.
 
 
1 John 2:15-16,Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of lifea]—is not from the Father but is from the world.”
 
2 Timothy 2:22,So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
 
Romans 8:6,For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
 
Romans 13:14, But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
 
James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
 

Matthew 4:1-11, Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.



I Will Survive

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Acts 16:16-40, gives account of Paul and Silas becoming imprisoned after an encounter with a demon-possessed slave girl on their way to a place of prayer.  The girl bothers Paul and his group for several days.  Paul becomes greatly annoyed and commands the spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus.  Her master sees that the hope of profit is gone so Paul and Silas are seized, dragged and brought to the magistrates, stripped of their clothing, beaten, then imprisoned.
 
When there is trouble in your life do you believe God will see you through it?
 
Psalm 71:5, “for you are my hope O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.”
 
Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
 
Now Faith is being sure of what you hope for…  It is our hope that keeps us trusting in Jesus.

 

Acts 16:16-40 provides great perspective in how we should respond in the midst of trouble.
 
1. Praise Him
We need to praise God in ALL things.  So often we wash over telling others the wonderful things He has done in our lives. Even in times of trouble we can praise God knowing he has never failed us.
 
Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”
 
2. Seek the Lord for Deliverance
The Lord delivers us from so many things. We need to be so careful to give God glory for the joy afforded us when He delivers us from a situation or circumstance.
 
2 Corinthians 1:9-10, “Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we set our hope that will continue to deliver us.”
 
We often try to rely on our own abilities. When we feel unable to help ourselves is when we realize that it is God’s power that will deliver us.
 
3. Remain Compassionate and Merciful
God is always looking to show His love through us!
 
Isaiah 30:18, “the Lord longs to be gracious and he rises to show compassion.”
 
4. Continue to be an Effective Witness
When we miss out on the opportunity to witness, it is an opportunity for Satan to keep one more person shackled in sin and led down the path of death.
 
Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
 
5. Remember the Joy of Your Salvation
There are so many times we wash over our salvation. The fact is, if Jesus is Savior and Lord of your life, you will live forever.  That is a fantastic reason to remember the joy!
 
In Romans 1, the apostle Paul says, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe, first to the Jew and also to the Gentile.
 
If you don’t understand the plan of salvation, here is a great place to start.
Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9-10, 11-21
 
6. Rest in God’s Peace
We should not wash over the peace God gives us everyday.  Do you have peace in your life?
 
John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”


God’s Guarantee for Success

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Joshua 1:7-8, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
 
God’s covenant relationship with the people of Israel brought great benefits through obedience of the Mosaic law.  However, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are now under a new covenant by the blood of the Lamb.  You are no longer under the penalty of the law.  You can be set free through the repentance of sins which is only possible by faith in Christ. Then you can live the life you have been called to through a relationship with Jesus.
 
From the passage in Joshua 1:7-8, there are four keys revealed in God’s guarantee for success:
 
 
1. You must be strong and very courageous!
 
It takes courage to live a godly life in this present world. It requires a dynamic faith to live a life of dedication to the Lord.
 
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)
 
2. You must be devoted to both the will and the Word of God!
 
v. 7- “do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left.”
 
“Then Job replied….My foot has held fast to the path; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” 
(Job 23:1, 11-12)
 
3. You must walk in a manner worthy of your calling!
v. 8- “…that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.”
 
In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he wrote: “I, therefore, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2)
 
4. The promised result from comes from your compliance!
v. 8- “…for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
 
“….And let them say continually, “The Lord be magnified, Who delights in the prosperity of His servant.” (Psalm 35:27b)


The Harvest is Ripe

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I’m sure you can think of a time in your life when you were physically or spiritually depleted.  A time when you were motivated to do nothing.  A time when you may have made up a lame excuse to avoid a responsibility or duty.
Excuses like I don’t attend church regularly because the services are too long or I don’t go to Sunday School because the lessons are boring or I don’t pay my tithes because I have too much debt or I can’t serve in the church because it takes away from my family time.
Truth is, we will make up an excuse for anything, when we don’t want to get involved.
You may be going through one of those times when you just don’t want to do anything.  Let’s call it a “spiritual sabbatical” or maybe “spiritually unemployment” because you want to take a break from work.
No matter what may be going on around you, the Lord desires for each of us to put our excuses aside and get busy with the work He has called us to do.
The Lord is the only “CEO” that is always handing out promotions and will never have a hiring freeze.
The Summer months are an important time to remember “the Harvest” because kids are out of school, the weather is great, and there are many opportunities to reach people.  Your life may already busy, but what if God wants you to take on additional responsibility.
The word “lazy” means to be sluggish or idle, while the word “stagnate” means to fail to progress or remain inactive.
We must be careful not to become sluggish or idle in the work God has called us to do?
Proverbs 10:4-5, (4)Lazy hands make a poor man, but diligent hands bring wealth. (5)He who gathers crop in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
We all want to be valued because it’s in our nature, but the Word reveals we have little to no value if we’re lazy.
Additionally, if we aren’t working and impacting lives while we have the opportunity we will have missed it and dishonored God.
 
Proverbs 12:11, “He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.”
 
Proverbs 21:25, “The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.” 
Ecclesiastes 11:6 tells us, be sure to stay busy and plant a variety of crops, for you will never know which will grow—perhaps they all will.
Work is a by-product of our salvation. It is evidence of our faith.
Matthew 9:37, and He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
 
Continue to give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Cor 15:58)

 



Get In Shape

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We live in a society where obesity is becoming more and more prevalent.  People are gaining more weight and exercising less.  It seems like a new miracle diet is introduced every few month guaranteeing weight loss in month or even a week.

 

How is your spiritual shape and condition?
 
So much is placed on our physical fitness, but our spiritual health is even more important.
 
Our physical health is susceptible to disease and injury, but faith can sustain us through tragedies. We need to get in as good of shape spiritually.
 
So how do you train yourself to be spiritually fit?
 
1 Timothy 4:7-8, But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
 
By using your God-given ability and talent,  you will develop spiritual muscles.
 
You must be willing to training diligently in prayer, Bible study, worship, ministry of gifts, and fellowship. If you stick with the plan, (God’s plan, that is) you will build stamina and get in shape.
 
1 Corinthians 9:25-27,  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.   Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
 
Philippians 3:12-14,Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
 
We shouldn’t let anything get in the way of our goal of being a imitator of Christ and receiving the prize that is heavenward.
 

Just like the focus of an athlete in training, you must lay aside everything that is harmful or distracts you from getting in great spiritual shape.



Amazing Love

 amazing love
 
“Love” is a word in today’s society that has been watered down to an expression or emotion of how we feel about something or someone. So often we use the word “ love” when talking about a person, place, or thing. We say things like- “I love that Show so much, I love traveling, I love eating ice cream.
 
So many of the TV shows and movies we watch, and songs of today are about falling in love. We all desire to be loved, but it seems so many people are looking for love and as the song says in all the wrong places.
 
Love is so much more than an expression or emotion of feeling.
Have you ever tried to fully comprehend God’s love?
 
To do so you must first understand that God’s love is perfect and unconditional. God’s love is not dependent upon our feelings, understanding, desires or emotions. God’s love is based only upon God! You can only love because God first loved you.
 
Most of us can recite John 3:16 without even thinking about it.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
 
IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM! If God didn’t love, just think about how much more of a mess you and I would be.
Thank God we don’t have to worry about that because God so loved each one of us, He willingly paid with the life of His Son, then Jesus accepted OUR punishment by dying on the cross for OUR sin.
 
1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
 
Ephesians 2:4-6 says, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
 
As the song (Amazing Love) says, I’m forgiven because You were forsaken, I’m accepted You were condemned
I am alive and well Your spirit is within me because You died and rose again.
Amazing Love, How can it be that You my King would die for me,
Amazing Love, I know it’s true, that its my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I want to honor You.
 
Love is more than warm feelings. Love involves a choice that reveals itself in adoring action. The choice is whether to allow Him to use us through which He can pour His love.
 
It is easy to be the one looking to receive love, but God commands us to be the one showing love. (Matthew 22:379)
God sees how much we love Him by our obedience.
 
We increase our understanding of God’s Amazing Love by helping others when its not convenient, by giving even when its uncomfortable, by putting the welfare of others before ourselves. 

 

John 15:9-13 says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

 
Go share God’s Amazing Love with someone today!


Forgiving Others

Forgive

 

ForgiveTo absolve (clear of guilt); to stop being angry about or resentful against
 
We live in a society where rage and violence are becoming more and more prevalent.  A society that thrives on an eye for an eye mentality rather than an attitude of forgiveness.
 
1. If a close friend or family member stole money from you, how would you respond?
2. If your friend or family member drove your car without permission and wrecked it, how would you
respond?
3. If someone murdered one of your family members, how would you respond?
 

The word “forgive” means to absolve; to stop being angry about or resentful against, but how often do we really forgive those who have wronged us.

 
In Acts 6-7, Stephen, a man  full of faith and power that understood he would be hated for following Christ, but He stayed the course and lived out meaning of forgiveness to the point of death.
 
Luke 6:22 says, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”
 
 Acts 7:59-60, And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
 
Forgiveness is a major component of Christianity, yet we live in a society where the golden rule is used in a negative manner.
 
Matthew 5:39 says, “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
 
Romans 12:17-19,  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of the everybody (be looked at honorably). If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
 
When you have experienced God’s grace, you will want to pass it on. Stephen, was a man full of God’s grace and power so he was able to look past their faults and request mercy from the Lord.
 
It is a lot easier said than done as it relates to forgiving others who have transgressed against us, but we are called to forgive.
 
Luke 11:4, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”
 
Forgiving others keeps your focus on Jesus, as you look to Him for repentance, reconciliation, and restoration in dealing with others.

 



What Are You Pursuing?

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Our Nation today is a lot like the nation of Judah. It appears to be falling apart.
 
The nation of Judah was suffering from tremendous moral disaster, had more enemies, corrupt government, and disasters were looming. God had something to say to the people of this nation, just as he has something to say in our lives.

 

What are You Pursuing? Is it money, prestige, pleasure, religious, political or personal agendas, or power?
 
Is there something diverting you from the call Christ has on your life?
Our Lord will not calmly stand by and watch as we seek worthless things. You must be careful of what you pursue!
 
After the death of King Josiah, the nation of Judah had almost completely abandoned God and His commandments. Jeremiah compares Judah to a prostitute (Jeremiah 2:20; 3:1-3).  God had promised that He would judge idolatry most severely (Leviticus 26:31-33; Deuteronomy 28:49-68).  Jeremiah was warning Judah that God’s judgment was at hand. God had delivered Judah from destruction on countless occasions, but His mercy was at its end.
 

The people committed two sins; Forsaken God and dug their own cisterns

 
Jeremiah 2:5, “Thus says the Lord: What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters?
 
Jeremiah 2:13, “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
 
Have you abandoned a call that God has on your life for something else?
 
What are you putting into a cistern, thinking it will last, but the problem is, it has a slow leak!
 
Three steps to remember in your pursuit of God:
 
1. REALIZE– Realize your present condition! When you pursue and lust after everything that comes our way, you begin to drift.
 
Psalm 51:3, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.”

 

2. REMEMBER– Remember what the Lord has done in your life. Recall what life was like when you first began a love relationship with Christ.

 
Psalm 8:1-4, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

 

3. RETURN– You need to return back to Christ. If you were heading down a road the wrong way, you would stop, turn around, and return.

 
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
 
If you desire to pursue personal agendas, BEWARE, because it will only lead to an empty pursuit and a death of failed dreams.