Faith, Love & Health

Archive for the category “Scripture of The Day”

Heart Condition

Within every follower of Christ God desires to form our hearts into his likeness.  This seems easy, but the process can be very painful and can bring great harm if God is not the center of our life.  God uses His word to bring transformation, but He also allows us to go through seasons that expose ungodly characteristics that need to be uprooted from our life.  I’m not sure if you have ever been put in a situation where you had to intentionally choose to be kind, patient, or even remain silent while internally you were enraged.  Internally you wanted to yell and scream and let everyone know, “you weren’t happy!!!”  These “internal screams” are the things that need careful observation because it can point to wrong motivations of the heart.  These motivations could be heart conditions of pride, envy,  jealousy, greed, covetousness, and are full of selfish ambitions that are self destructive to our lives and to those who are around us.

So what do we do if we are aware of wrong motives of the heart?  James says, “Come near to God…”  (James 4:8)  This is daily meditating (prayerfully read with an open ear expecting God to speak to you.) on scripture and allow the living scripture of God, to change your heart as you humble yourself before Him.  This means that we approach God  as a person empty of ability to be righteous on your own.    Then scripture says, “and He will come near to  you.”   This is no passive approach to God changing your heart, He personally desires to help form a new heart in you.

For someone starting out, who has never prayerfully meditated on scripture.  A great place to begin meditating is in the book of James, Psalms 119, or Matthew 5; you choose.

Charles Spurgeon said, “We must NOT say, I have faith and then fall into the sins of an unbeliever for, after all, our outer life is the test of our inner life and if the outer life is not purified, rest assured the heart is not changed.”

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No Super Hero Allowed! Just Believe!!

This past Sunday I talked about Elijah being the cause of the drought for the Northern Kingdom of Israel.   Sometimes it is easy to look at Elijah’s life and internally feel that He is a “super-hero” that no “real follow of Christ” could ever emulate.    James will never allow us to put Elijah on that high of a pedestal.  James say’s,

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.”  James 5:17,18

Elijah was “a man with a nature like ours…”  Elijah faced much of life like us, except there are two things that I believe set him apart:

#1: HE FULLY PUT HIS TRUST IN GOD  In 1 Kings 17:1 it says, “As the Lord God of Israel lives…”  Almost everyone else in the Northern Kingdom thought that the Lord was dead.  That baal was the only living god.  But NOT for Elijah, He believed that God was the only living God and he was going to serve Him!

This means that if we are to imitate Elijah, we too are to put our trust fully in God even when others around us don’t!

#2 HE SERVED GOD OR STOOD FOR HIM ALONE It continues to say in 1 Kings 17:1 “…whom I serve, other translations say “STAND”….”  When he makes this proclamation in front of King Ahab, he is standing in front of the King saying, at my word their will be no rain or dew…. He was standing in the presence of a king, but he recognized that he was standing in the presence of someone MIGHTIER than the king!  He knew that God’s presence went with him in his daily life. 

We too must daily understand that the presence of “Almighty God” goes with us wherever we go.  So when we are at work, school, home, Almighty God is with us and His power is available to move on our behalf.

The difference between us and Elijah is Elijah believed that God is true to His word and will never leave us nor forsake us!  That is something that each of us can put our trust in – “Almighty God!!”

In the midst of uncertainty 

I TRUST IN GOD

Daily Elijah had to trust in God

Daily the Widow had to trust in God 

Daily I must trust in God

IN PRAYER

Wake Up & SHINE!

This past Sunday Mark did a fabulous job talking about being Light!  If you get a chance you need yo listen to the whole message.  I’d like to take a minute and highlight on a segment of the message.  It comes from this passage in Ephesians:

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  – Ephesians 5:8-14

Basically the above says that we all were darkness, but now we are Light in the Lord.  This Light that is being talked about exposes sin through being Light and brings visibility to those who are looking for a way out of darkness.  Then the final call is to “Wake Up, O Sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  If we are going to be light we must “awake” so that Christ can shine on us!

So this leads us to the place of being intentional about awakening our spirituality.  Mark referenced this to waking someone up from a deep sleep!  They could be awaken either by a very alarming sound or by a gentle  touch.  It could be a gentle word or a strong challenge in life that are the ways that awaken us.  In this passage the quote, “Wake Up, O Sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” was probably referring to a common song that was sung in Paul’s day.  This is one reason why we sing songs today – it helps awaken us!  Daily we awaken ourselves by scripture reading, prayer, singing songs that honor God, journaling, sharing our faith, or anything that forces us to live out our faith.

The final thought is, are you positioning yourself to wake up or have you been in a deep sleep not willing to be wake up your spirit to the Light of Christ?  Whatever your answer, I hope you take the right steps in your life to allow Christ to Shine on you!


Pity VS Compassion

Today my mind begins thinking through our culture as we seem to see more and more disaster, pain and death fill our world.  Much of our response is pity, feeling sorrow for an individual or group that is going through a hard time, yet we many times alienate ourselves away from the hurt that others are experiencing in their life.  I know our natural response is to embrace pity, especially with our lives as busy as they are and the pull we feel everyday with everyone wanting our time and energy.  This disastrous behavior leaves our world with less hope and more pain without experiencing the love and healing power of Christ in the midst of suffering.  I’m reminded of a scripture that says,

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  – Matthew 25:35-36

This passage is speaking beyond the physical side of suffering.  I love what Mother Teresa says about this, Hungry not only for bread – but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing – but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks – but homeless because of rejection.”  When we reach out in compassion – feeling the hurt that others feel and are willing to do something about the suffering, we bring the hope Christ to all mankind.

Lastly I believe this is a choice we must make.  Our emotions or our natural response will lead us to withdraw, but the call of God’s love must motivate us beyond our feelings and lead us to show compassion so that healing power of God may take place in people’s life.  I know this doesn’t always feel comfortable, but to share in the pain of others is to share in the pain that Christ went through for all of us, so that we may experience freedom in the the midst of suffering.  So the only thing left for each of us to do is to be watchful of who God is placing in our path, that we might stop and comfort those who are experiencing difficulty or pain in our world.  When we do this, each of us will experience the amazing grace of God.

Mom’s Wisdom

This morning I started reading through the book of Proverbs.  I first read it, then as I took my morning run I listened to an audio version of the 1st chapter and finally I stopped running and walked.  As I began walking I took time to pray  the passage back to God and finally too listen to what He was speaking into my life.  I love what my friend Mark says about our pace in life, ‘we need to slow down and become less busy’ – not an exact quote.  Slow down to hear the voice of God and also time to receive what He has for our lives.  Let’s read a portion of this passage together and maybe God will speak something special to you too.

1-6 These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king— Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.  There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn— Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

7 Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. 8 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.  Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers.

Proverbs 1:1-8 (The Message)

The first thing I love about this passage is God’s saying that everything that you need for your life and to be successful is already written down.  Read and put it into action daily and you will experience it!  The truth is…none of us was born with all the knowledge need for our life, so we must seek after it if we are going to experience God’s best for our lives.  I know there are times when we think that we have all the answers, but this is called adolescence – the time in our life where we have very little experience to back up our knowledge.  I think many of us – including myself, revert back to acting in this manner where we go off to pursue our plans; thinking we know exactly what we need to do, but we end up disappointed or depressed due to our lack of success.

One of the first places that Solomon encourages us to start with is a humble heart.  Sometimes it is out of disappointment that we end up humble and ready to listen to God’s wisdom.  He goes on to say, listen to what your father taught you and what you learned from your mother.   So because Mother’s Day is this weekend, I prayed and meditated on this passage thinking back to the things my mother taught me.  Some of it was learned as she held me on her lap swinging me on our swing reading books to me after I would get home from school, while other things I learned in passing as she lived her life.  Here are a few things that I have learned from my mom:

The value to read God’s Holy Word, to pray, and to truly seek after God until you hear his voice! She also instilled in me to work hard and give your best at everything that you do, to listen and empathize with people, to be committed to your home and family, to love your spouse, be people of integrity, to stand strong in the mist of difficulty and to serve.  I wasn’t raised in a perfect home, but God placed me in this home to develop me and shape me and mold me into who I am today.

For some of us we may need to revisit what you  learned as a child because scripture goes on to say…”wear their counsel like a flower in your hair and rings on your fingers.”  This is making a choice to embrace the fullness of God’s wisdom and to daily apply those values in our life.

Do you want to be successful in your life?  Seek after God’s wisdom, relearn what you have been taught and apply it to your life.

28 Days in Colossians – God is…

28-days

Our church is going through Colossians together and today is my day to write out our scripture verse that we are making part of our memory.  So here it goes…

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:9-10

This passage unfolds a true that we don’t need to look far into the universe for.  Many people are trying to figure out who God is and even ask themselves, does he really exist; and this passage plainly declares that Christ is the complete image of who God is to mankind.  There is no guess work involved!  When we see the compassion of Christ – we see that God is extending His love, when we see in scripture Christ stops to listen to man’s request – we see God is forever desiring to take care of all of our needs.  God is the one who is in control of everything and He gave Christ to us to show us that He is a personal God who will continue to use His power and authority through mankind.

This is practically is played out in our everyday life when we realize that though our world may fall apart, we still have peace because our economy and security is based on who God is, not on what happens to us.    Christ is…the complete image of the Godhead and is the head over every power and authority in our lives!  So therefore if our trust is in God who hears our cries and has plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  We have much hope!  Walk in His hope that He is with you and He is everything that you need in life!

 

It Could Always Be Worst

This week immediately following our family breakfast I read a children’s book entitled, “It Could Always Be Worst.” 

It is about a poor man that lived in a hut with his wife, mother-in-law and six growing children.  Due to their tight living conditions they were frustrated with life and took it out on each other.  So one Day the poor man when to the Rabbi and said I’ll do whatever you ask me to do, but please help us, we’re all going crazy!  The wise rabbi asked it the man had any chickens and the man said yes, I have chickens, a rooster and a goose.  Good said the Rabbi, go take all of your chickens, rooster and goose and put them in your hut!  The man was a little hesitant, but he did.  Now everyone in the hut was even more frustrated, including the chickens!  So the poor man goes back to the Rabbi and shares that things are even worst then before and now feathers are getting in our soup!  The Rabbi ask, do you have a goat.  The poor man answers, yes we do.  The Rabbi says, Go home and bring the goat into your hut.  With much apprehention he goes home and brings the goat into the house.  Now there is much more quarralling, feathers flying and now a butting goat!  So he again goes to the Rabbi angry and up set.  The Rabbi agains sends the man home telling him to bring his cow into the house!  After doing everything the Rabbi has requesting…the hut is FULL and everyone is dissatisfied with life…so the poor man goes to the Rabbi expressing his explosive anger!  Finally the Rabbi says, go home and take all of the animals out of your hut!  The poor man returns home and takes all the animals out of his hut.  That night everyone was satified with the small hut and small living conditions in the hut. 

The implications are many, but the bottom line is…whereever you are in life, it could always be worst!  Tough we may be stressed out, on top of deadlines, and in the middle of fragile relationships, each of us can find peace in knowing, “We are not alone.”  God is with us, giving us His strength to see us through our difficulties. 

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  -Phillipians 4:11-13

 

 

More Than Enough

I’ve been going through the book Everyday Deserves a Chance by Max Lucado. Today the focus was on God’s grace.  I thought you might be encouraged so here is my exert on God’s grace.

 The grace of God has taken all of my shame, sin and has placed them on Christ.  He took my punishment so that I may rest and be with Him eternally in Paradise.  His grace is immeasurable, it transcends to our darkest hour to breathe hope back into our days that seem deflated and lifeless.  His grace secures us a confidence that no matter my position in life He is God and more than enough for my deepest need.  He is full of new mercy, grace, and peace that transcends to the weakest part of my human vulnerability.  What more do I need?  I need only the grace of God to take my weakness and make me strong, to take my lack of ability to make me triumphant, to take my shame so that I may receive His peace.  His grace is more than sufficient for me.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. –  2 Corinthians 12:9, 10

Be encouraged! 

Stephanas

gift 

Have you ever met people who authentically care and show their love for each other by meeting people’s needs?  I have seen snap shot pictures of this in my life.  People in the church making meals for those who have been in the hospital, a teacher who actually cares about how a child learns and gives extra time and attention to see the child succeed, a phone call of encouragement, unexpected gifts for those who are in need, people just showing support by sitting with you as you go through tough times in your life and people using their giftings to help you accomplish a need in your home or life.  This could be as basic as household maintenance to using your area of expertise to help a person reach their desired goal – there are endless possibilities. 

The family that scripture marks as a giving family is the household of Stephanas.  We see that from his conversation that “their families heart was devoted to the service of the saints.”  We don’t know the extent of their service, but we do know that it was noble service.  Paul encourages other believers to join the work that this family was doing and not passively stand and watch on the sidelines.

You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.   I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.  1 Corinthians 16:15-18

(Read more: Paul baptized this family.)  1 Corinthians 1:13-17

We see that they had such a large impact upon the church that Paul also encouraged other believers to submit to the leadership of those like the Stephanas family.  This family must have had a heart of love that extended to those they came in contact with.  They would have been encourager’s in word and in their deeds.  I know many of our Christian communities have individuals like this, but there is a great need for each of us to be part of helping build up the body of Christ. 

I know during the holiday season we are encouraged to help those in need, but it is my hope that the love of Christ will motivate each us to carry the gift of giving throughout the year.  

Hymenaeus

We live in a day where we have many leaders teaching many different ideologies of scripture.  Some of differences that are taught we can agree to disagree, but those who teach in opposition to scripture we must hold strong to scripture and warn those who are in the body of Christ.  Paul had this difficult issue arise in his day.  There was a man by the name of Hymenaeus who professed to be a followers of Christ, but disagreed with the physical resurrection of the believer after death.  They believed that the resurrection was a spiritual resurrection when one was born again.  This teaching spread throughout the Ephesian church and was leading many believers astray. Listen to how Paul addresses Hymenaeus’ teachings. 

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.  Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,  who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.  2 Timothy 2:16-18

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.   Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:18-20

One of the things that we must see is that Hymenaeus along with Philetus were teaching the Gnostic doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which in essence was a doctrine similar the to teachings of the Sadducees, which stated that there was no such thing as the resurrection of the body. We see in 1 Thessolonians 4:15-17  that “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”  It wasn’t just a Sunday morning teaching that spread through the church leading people astray.  It was the godless talk of people sharing this teaching that led them astray.  When we do not know / understand scripture or are not willing to challenge false teaching that people within the church are talking about, this will ultimately spread throughout the church and destroying the faith of many.

The second thing that we must see is that Paul was very direct how he handled the situation.  Hymenaeous was excommunicated from the church and handed over to the world where Satan rules.  This would be a loss of  spiritual covering from the body of Christ and from God himself.  This would be as equivalent today as excommunicating someone from the church and stating that a person’s teachings were of a cult.  People would not associate with this person and would stay away  from anyone associated with them.

 Scripture is clear that we will see more false teaching in the last days.  Each of us need to understand scripture and have an action plan in mind if we are going to battle this destructive force that could shipwreck the faith of those who are part of the body of Christ.  What will your action plan be?  

This a side note:  I just watched a Youtube post at Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee.  It is really sad when you read false teaching in scripture and then you watch Shirley Phelps Roper of Westboro Baptist Church

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