Sign of God’s People

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live…But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

Deuteronomy 30:6, 14 (NKJV)

As the body of Christ, being among God’s people, we have His law written on our hearts and in our minds. This means we have His love written on our hearts and in our minds so that we may walk in it. Jesus told us that loving our God with all our heart, mind, and soul and loving our neighbor as our own fulfills the law. We are far less likely to break God’s eternal law when we are living from a place of love and constantly focused on Jesus. We are far more likely to make the impact we’re called to make when we love Jesus from the depth of who we are. When it’s genuine, the love of Christ’s church can change to world. He is our God and we are His people. He calls us the light of the world. How brightly are we shining right now? We need more love and more truth from our mouths and from the expression of our lives. The world doesn’t need discord and discouragement. The world doesn’t need legislation or new leadership. The world needs the gospel. It needs Jesus. They will know we belong to him by our love.

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Jeremiah 31:33 (NASB)

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters. Shine brightly.

Justice remembered

Our children gathered this evening to listen to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just as many families did nearly 60 years ago. Our children must know what those before us stood up for. He is one of the great symbols of justice and equality and we owe it to the next generation to know all that was fought for. The mantle of peace and love and brotherhood, that the civil rights leaders laid down their lives for, must carry on. May we never forget that all of God’s children are created equal, in His image. We bear the marks of our creator no matter the shade of our skin or the language we speak. Equality must first be realized in our hearts so that it can be a reality in our world. I love you all brothers and sisters. All over the world. Peace in Christ.

Free Indeed

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (ESV)

Freedom is defined in several ways…First, it is the exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. In a spiritual sense, that would be the pressures of the world. It is also the power to determine action without restraint. Beyond the physical, that which restrains us is known as the opposer or the satan. Lastly, it is defined as personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery. The Bible would identify that as being free from sin.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 (ESV)

I think at times we forget exactly what it means to be free in Christ. We are free to serve Him without fear of condemnation. We are free from our sins that once held us in bondage. We are free from the judgment of this world. We are free to be filled with love in our hearts rather than anger, malice, discontent, or bitterness. We are free from worry and anxiety because we know we have a God who cares deeply for us, in Whom we may trust with our whole hearts (Phil 4:6). We are free from any of our inabilities because we can do all things for Him and through Him (Phil 4:13). We are free from weariness because we have a God who is an endless source of strength (Isaiah 40:31). We are free from discouragement because we have a God who grants an eternal hope that does not fade (1 Pet 1:4).

Are you walking in that kind of freedom? Anything less is a cheap exchange for what is promised. That kind of freedom requires a choice on our part. A choice to receive it. A choice to let all of the baggage of life go. A choice to belong to Him. A choice to allow Someone greater to be the master of our destinies. Let’s stop settling for the counterfeit and actually walk in this freedom. Then, and only then, will we experience the peace and joy that comes with being a follower of Christ.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16 (ESV)

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters!

Lip Service

A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:23 NKJV

We really have to be wise about what we say. If the words that come from our lips aren’t showing Christ’s love then we shouldn’t be saying it. In everything we do Christ is supposed to be magnified. We all know people who choose to curse, complain, and grumble, but the effects of those things can be tragic for those around us. Ungodly speech can spoil a persons day or completely change their attitude. Harsh and careless words can even ruin a life. But the heart that is constantly in a state of thanksgiving, brings cheer and praise wherever they are and no matter the situation.

Even though it’s no longer thanksgiving it’s important to still ask ourselves what what we are thankful for. No matter what, we can all be thankful for Jesus’ death on the cross, for our military putting their lives on the line to protect ours, for people God has put in our lives, and for the ability to share Gods love with whomever we come in contact with. We can all be thankful for the millions of do-overs God gives us, for the grace shown us by others, the simplicity of basic necessities. We all need to take some time to thank God for every situation we have gone through, good and bad this last year and know that God was with us through them all. Hopefully we can see and learn what he was doing in us, through us, and through those around us.

In 2021 we can be a voice of truth and grace and love. We can speak life into our family and friends. We can use our words to encourage and refresh those in our lives. Let’s leave the complaining behind us and shout a song of praise instead.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

Conqueror

*Jesus Christ addressing the churches in Revelation (and us). To the one who conquers…

I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Rev 2:7 (ESV)

…will not be hurt by the second death. Rev 2:11 (ESV)

I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. Rev 2:17 (ESV)

and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. Rev 2:26 (ESV)

will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. Rev 3:5 (ESV)

I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Rev 3:12 (ESV)

I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Rev 3:21 (ESV)

I don’t know about you, but the idea of conquering some evil enemy inspires great emotion. But what exactly are we conquering? This is not a call to be an oppressive subjugator of peoples. No, this is a call to conquer the the things that bring death and destruction to our lives. We are waging war on depression, anxiety, lies, persecution, trials, and sin.

Man, this sounds like a heavy load to bear. But along with that comes an incredible series of promises to all those who give their lives over to Christ and live a life of obedient faith in Him.

Last year was rough for so many people around the globe. For many, we’re still in the same boat entering 2021. But the struggles and hurts never have to be the end of the story. The great news is, we’re not alone in this endeavor. We cannot conquer this world and the battles of life alone. And we don’t have to. As Paul tells us in Romans, our life circumstances cannot separate us from the Love of Christ. When we live for Him, we are His. We can rejoice in that security and the strength that Christ gives us to be conquerors in His name.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37 (ESV)

Wherever you’re at entering the new year, know that you have the love and power of Jesus to overcome. I pray for you to feel His goodness. I pray for you to experience His healing. I pray for you to have the weight of life lifted from your shoulders. From the depth of my heart, I hope your year is full of His peace.

Do you know Him?

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:2-8 (NKJV)

Christ wants our hearts. He wants us to grow in our knowledge of Him. That knowledge produces the qualities of a follower of Christ. Those qualities show others that our love and faith is real, and in turn, that Jesus is real. It is so critical for us to relfect on our relationship with Him consistantly so that we can know in our hearts that we know Him who has called us out of the darkness into the light (John 8:12). The rewards for knowing Him are so great that we can only begin to scratch the surface. Those who have experienced Him and spend time in His presence can testify of the fullness of life through knowing Him. We have so much to gain. Such as grace, peace, godliness, abundant life (John 10:10), and eternal life (John 3:16) through this endevour of getting to know our Lord and Savior. I pray that nothing holds us back. I pray that we can take hold of the precious promises and the divine nature (spirit nature) that God has called us to. I pray that we will always put forth effort to add to our faith the characteristics listed by Peter. I pray that we will all experience His divine power so that we may not go through this life barren (useless) and unfruitful (unproductive) in our walk with Christ. I hope you are all encouraged by the fact that the One True Almighty God has called you into a relationship with Him and wants you to get to know Him.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Fearless

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

Fear is a painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, anxiety, or dread. To be hopeless or doubt. That, my friends, should not define a Christian.

As a follower of Christ, and children of God, we are to be anxious about nothing (Philippians 4:6), understanding that hardships will come but that we will overcome because Christ has overcome (John 16:33). In the midst of these trials of life we are to rejoice because we are in a living hope (1 Peter 1:3-7) knowing that our faith is being perfected.

Christ did not intent for us to live in doubt or dread, but instead, He’s calling us to something greater. He’s calling us to live out a life of faith and trust in Him. A life that lifts up those around us and speaks to Who our God is. Be encouraged brothers and sisters, because God is upholding you with His righteous right hand. Lets go out and live in that hope and the strength that comes from this knowledge.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I pray that your day is empowered. I pray that your day is full of love. God is in your present and God is in your future. Fear can’t cripple the one whom God empowers.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

The Difference of a Word

From an early age we seem to be drawn to wanting more, or wanting different. We say or think the phrase, “I wish _____”. As kids we wish for a new toy, for something different to eat, to be able to do whatever we want, or even to be someone different. We live a life pursuing an alternate reality. Given Eden, man wants to become God. Our hearts are desperate wanderers. Even in the best of circumstances, we still long for something more or different.

He never promised you the job, the education, the spouse, the marriage, the kids, the church, the city, or the circumstance of your dreams.

Garden City Publishing

I think a lot of us actually feel like God did promise us these things. I say that by how we are all so guilty of taking these things for granted. Myself included. Instead of finding overwhelming gratitude and contentment, we see what we perceive as missing in our lives. The ‘haves’ in life are drowned out by the ‘have nots’, and we’re left reeling for more. The pity party begins rather than the praise party which should be a constant in our lives.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul was a man who gave his life for the mission of God. A mission that all of God’s children have. And life was by no means easy for him. Prior to speaking these words the man had been beaten, left for dead, ridiculed, shipwrecked, bitten by a serpent, mocked on trials, and yet, with the same breath, he said rejoice always. Not sometimes or in the highs of life. But always. Why? How could he say this? Because there is always something to rejoice about. There is a God Who loves us. A God Who made and designed us for a purpose. A God that has woven value into every single one of us. A God that has pursued us every moment of every day. Even when we didn’t know He was there. And even when we were running away. A God Who paid the ultimate price so that our sins wouldn’t be the final chapter of our story. A God Who has prepared a home for His children to be welcomed into a glorious eternity.

This is so much greater than anything we could wish for. Instead of saying “I wish” let’s start saying “I have”. Dreaming and hoping for things is not a bad thing. But if it wrecks our hearts or sours our souls, then we have lost sight of all that we have so graciously been given already. A heart that requires nothing else is a heart that has found peace. In the midst of Job’s darkest days, he never forgot to praise his maker. Wherever we find ourselves today, in abundance or in trials, let’s make our lives a worship song.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Our Love is measured by our generosity

If you’ve ever wondered just how loving a person is, you need look no further than how generous they are. The Bible defines love as being others focused. That means sacrificing and serving. It’s giving our time, energy, and resources to the improvement and benefit of others.

Generosity is far more than giving money. Think of the selfless parent who devotes every waking hour for their family. Or the spouse who actually stays by their partner’s side through sickness and health, richer or poorer, rain or shine.

Professions of choice can be a reflection of a generous heart. The soldier or policeman who puts their life on the line for freedom and security and their brothers and sisters in arms. Or the teachers who tirelessly strives for children, who are not even their own, to be able to have an education and a future. The nurses and doctors who work incredibly long hours to provide healthcare to society and save lives.

But we can’t set aside the times people use their financial resources to bless others, or more than that, even save others from ruin. I know more than one person who gave a vehicle away to people in need. They didn’t sell it cheap to them, they gave it to them. And they were good vehicles. Not junkets that they never use. I know people who have given thousands and thousands of dollars. Sure, not all of us have those resources, but we all have something. The problem for some of us isn’t that we don’t have enough, it’s that generosity is too big for us.

True generosity, the kind that honors our God, is the kind the causes us to sacrifice. Donating leftovers is no better than throwing table scraps to our dogs. Love is sacrificial therefore generosity must be as well. To be generous, it must cost us something. And I don’t mean that it costs a couple Starbucks drinks. I mean real cost.

Generosity also doesn’t include loans. In fact, God tells us not to demand repayment or to give to those who can repay us. To give a loan, means you’re getting payment in return. Banks aren’t considered generous, they a business. So is the person who gives expecting repayment. And that goes further than money. Reciprocal giving and serving is not generous. If we expect or demand anything in return, it can’t be labeled as generous.

We have to get in the back seat of our lives. If we are to grow in love, we must grow in generosity. Pray for me and I will pray for you. Peace and Christ brothers and sisters.

The Power of Consistency

No one should ever underestimate the effects of living a consistent lifestyle. We have to fight for positive godly habits. When we incorporate them into our lives they will produce amazing results.

I know a lot of people that bag on the rituals of the Old Testament, but they served to create a pattern of worship in people’s lives. Of course, there’s always the chance that someone will get fixed on the rituals and lose sight of God, but it isn’t meant to be that way. That’s a heart issue. Just like how the Pharisees and Sadducees were so concerned with the law that they couldn’t even see the law giver walking among them in the person of Jesus. But the pattern of living a life of worship is meant to draw us closer to the One we worship.

I think many Christians lack godly habits of worship that are consistently engrained in their day to day. It has become an all too common practice to just work them in when they’re convenient instead of allowing them to shape our lives in a way that we plan everything else around our worship of God. The result of such a lifestyle is a somewhat empty walk with Jesus and a life that lacks Holy Spirit power.

When Jesus talks about abiding in Hin and then His love that as a reference to a constant state of being. We can’t possibly abide in Christ if our acts of worship and devotion are spotty at best. If our life is too busy to be in a consistent state of worship on an individual basis, with our family, and then a community of believers, then it is simply too busy and out of alignment.

When God said that we need to write His law in our hearts and minds and door posts and meditate on them when we wake and when we lay down and when we go about our way, He never inserted a clause that said when you have time. He obviously meant this to be a consummation of our entire lives. If prayer, meditation, devotional, worship, and serving others aren’t things we do everyday, then we need to pause and reevaluate how we’re spending our time. That’s something that should be done often anyways. I know I have to.

What can you do today to create a more Consistent life of abiding in Jesus?

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!