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2/24/16: What is your perspective of when you die?

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Philippians 1:23-26

Paul’s discussion in the verses above is an unusual way to look at living and dying.  His perspective is one that all Believers must understand.  We all need to make Paul’s way of seeing living and dying as a part of our idea of living and dying.

He begins by saying “if” he continues to live, then he must be performing fruitful labor for God.  Labor that is fruitful is when a Christian becomes involved with some other human being and assists them in growing more spiritual.  It could mean that the other person recognizes that he/she is a sinner.  Christ died on the cross suffering the judgment God would have given to a sinner.  Instead Christ took on our sins, and we became as righteous as Jesus if we believe.  Realizing the unconditional love that Christ demonstrated on the cross should cause Believers to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind.

2/17/16 - How God wants Believers to view death

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  Philippians 1:20-21

Every time I read these verses, something inside of me becomes a little nervous.  I know what it is: “death”.  There are not too many human beings that have a perspective of death as Paul writes in the verses above.  He expresses an emotion that all Christians have when we think we will have to witness to someone about Jesus Christ.  There is definitely a nervousness and hesitancy about witnessing.

I am glad he left the door open to be a little hesitant, because he says that he expects and hopes that he will not be ashamed.  There is the element of fear of being made fun of or being rejected.  I too hope and pray that I will be prepared to give an accounting of my beliefs in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to anyone at any time.  As Christians, we all should hope that we would not be ashamed to testify about God or Christ. 

2/10/16: Is Your Christianity showing?

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.  Philippians 1:12-13

These verses are talking about Paul when he was put in prison for his belief in Jesus Christ.  He eventually would be martyred for Christ.  Currently in the world, there are Christians who are being martyred for their faith in Christ.  Every Christian in the world should be praying for these people facing severe persecution.  With the way the world is going, persecution of Christians is increasing.  The Bible speaks of this as the “Day of the Lord” or End Times. 

2/3/16 - Believers are living life like the world

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1:9-11

I believe all Believers experience rough times in living their life as a Christian.  When these rough times occur, Believers begin to look for a quick fix, because that is the philosophy of this world.  We look for a drug to ease the pain.  We try to find some comforting words in a devotional or even the Bible.  We expect others around us to understand that we are not operating on all cylinders of our beliefs.  We begin to believe that we are alone on these feelings.  When that happens, we can truly believe that God has deserted us or wants us to go through some kind of growing pain without Him.

2/25/15: Be intentional about growing spiritually

To live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. (NABRE)  Colossians 1:10-12

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (NIV)  Colossians 1:10-12

Almost everyone tries to figure out what they want to do with their life. Early on, people ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  The same question can be asked about your spiritual life. If you wanted a career in a certain field, you would focus on education and jobs in that field.  You intentionally prepare yourself to do something and to do it to the best of your ability.

“What are you becoming” in your spiritual life?  Is there anything “intentional” about what you do to prepare yourself to live the most important life this side of eternity?  I challenge you to think about the specific activities that you do that you would classify as “spiritual growth.”  Are they intentional to help you grow deeper and stronger in your relationship with God? Or, are there things that you repeat and repeat and repeat with no significant spiritual change occurring in your life.

In the verses above, there are several things listed that would be considered as “spiritual growth.”  You are to live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. Have you ever considered your life in this way? Reflect over the past week, and ask yourself if God would be pleased with what He saw in your life.  There can be a big difference between doing something for the church and doing something for God.  Good works (those done for God) will produce fruit.  Fruit always includes a spiritual change in another person or in you.  It may be as tremendous as someone accepting Christ, or it could mean giving hope to someone who is in despair. 

God also wants you to get to know Him. This can only be done as you allow the Holy Spirit to show you spiritual things. Studying the life of Christ in the Bible is a great way to get to know God, because Jesus said that if you know Him, then you would know the Father.  God has given you the Holy Spirit to help you grow spiritually. How often do you rely on the Spirit? How often do you ask God through the Holy Spirit to give you strength or spiritual knowledge? 

The most important aspect of any Believer’s life is to be constantly growing spiritually. Any time a Believer becomes entangled in this world or in themselves, it is impossible for that Believer to please God. Read Romans 12:1-2.  Commit these verses to memory, and live them everyday of your life. You will experience life-changing events for the remainder of your earthly life.  Be intentional about your spiritual life, because God expects it!

2/18/15: Humanity’s Response to God’s Valentine (NABRE)

2/18/15: Humanity’s Response to God’s Valentine (NABRE)

Note: "A Valentine Card from God to Humanity" was published on 2/11/15.  See www.lifechangingverses.com.  This is humanity’s response to that article using only Bible verses (NABRE) referenced as shown.  There are no words added by the writer.   I pray that everyone who reads this article will experience a deeper spiritual relationship to God.

Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my thoughts.1   You will let me hear gladness and joy; the bones you have crushed will rejoice.2   Also from arrogant ones restrain your servant; let them never control me.  Then shall I be blameless, innocent of grave sin.3

Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God.4    Let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.5   As dreams come along with many cares, so a fool’s voice along with a multitude of words.6

2/18/15: Humanity’s Response to God’s Valentine (NIV)

Note: "A Valentine Card from God to Humanity" was published on 2/11/15.  See www.lifechangingverses.com.  This is humanity’s response to that article using only Bible verses (NIV) referenced as shown.  There are no words added by the writer.   I pray that everyone who reads this article will experience a deeper spiritual relationship to God.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.1   Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.2   May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.3

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.4   Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.5   Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.6

2/15/15 – A Valentine Card From God to Humanity (NABRE)

Note: All of the verses taken from the New American Bible (Revised Edition)

The crucible for silver, and the furnace for gold, but the tester of hearts is the Lord.1  More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?2  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy.3

Help, Lord, for no one loyal remains; the faithful have vanished from the children of men.4  The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”  Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt; not one does what is good.5  For although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.6  When the Lord saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil.7

2/11/15 – A Valentine Card From God to Humanity (NIV)

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.1 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?2  For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.3

Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.4 They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.5  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.6  The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.7

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.8  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.9   If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10

2/4/15 – The End Times are getting closer

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:11-14

This Bible passage could not be clearer about what Believers are to be doing as the End Times are near. First of all, we need to wake up from our slumber and put on the armor of light. Slumber, to me, means that we are more tied up in worldly events rather than the things of God. Only you can assess what occupies the majority of your life. The Bible describes how God will end this world.

Your Life: Do you live in the darkness or the light?

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Isaiah 60:1-3

You have probably heard several sermons on Believers being the “light of the world”.  You are the “light” that someone needs to see.  The Light has come to you in the form of a Creator who has created and sustains everything, in the form of a baby in the manger, in the form of a Savior who has made a way for you to have a personal relationship with God.  This Light has enveloped you so that others may see what they can’t see even with all the lights in the world.  This Light is LIFE as God originally intended for every man, woman, and child.

Salvation: When others don’t accept

And Jesus said,

“In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. “And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them.  Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”   Mark 6:7-11

My interpretation of this Bible passage may be totally wrong.  I have not attended any formal religious classes or training.  All I have is the Holy Spirit leading and guiding me through God’s Word.  The reason I prefaced this write-up is to ensure that you understand what I think Jesus is saying.  There is a TOUGH spiritual truth and many of you may have a depressing emotional reaction to my interpretation.  Basically, I believe that Believers should not dedicate themselves to the salvation of one person.  God may have many people for you to witness to.  In all cases, the Holy Spirit leads people to Christ.  Every Believer should be sufficiently flexible in their witnessing to allow the Holy Spirit to lead them to people who need Christ.

Bible: God Takes Care of His Word

And God’s Word says:

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram…

Matthew 1:1-3

Genealogies are usually pretty boring unless it’s your own.  As you can see from the verses above, this is the beginning of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  This genealogy is the family line of Joseph, the surrogate father of Jesus.  His real father was from the power of the Holy Spirit through Mary.  There is another genealogy of Christ in Luke 3 that is a little different. Scholars believe that this is the lineage of Mary – the blood line of Jesus.  The genealogy in the book of Matthew is the royal lineage of Christ.

Anger: Should not be part of a Believer’s life

And Jesus said,

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” Matthew 5:21-22

It is a bold statement for me to say that anger should not be in any Believer’s life. But, I believe that’s what Jesus is saying in the verses above. As Believers, we are not to become angry about anything. I don’t think any of us can empty ourselves entirely of anger, but I think we all need to spend some time thinking about what provokes us to anger and the possible consequences that can result from our anger.