Monday, September 17, 2012

Living In Obedience To His Glory And Our Benefit

1 Peter 1:2
1 Peter 1:2 (Photo credit: [Share the Word])
When we think of obedience, one thing that often comes to mind is a misbehaving child. However, we are all misbehaving children of our Father, and as we get older, we can find ourselves more hard-headed for many reasons. When it comes to obedience, we must also have trust in the Lord, for they are two sides of the same coin. We don't want to live a life of worry, but that is exactly what happens when we try and direct our own paths with common sense instead of trusting in and obeying God. As the song says "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

We should always check ourselves against what God has to say first. When we fail to do this, confusion is allowed to enter into our decision making process. Consider the story in Matthew 14 when Peter was walking across the water to Jesus. Satan is the author of confusion, and 1 Corinthians 14:33 says that God is the author of peace. Sometimes whatever we're supposed to do may not make human sense to us as we act, but we must do it anyway. When we choose to worry instead of act out of obedience to our Lord, we have practiced infidelity, not trusting that God can direct and fulfill our lives.

Sometimes obedience might seem easy, and at other times, it can really test our faith, devotion, and trust in God. Perhaps a time comes when we are able to help prevent a person's suffering, but after praying about the situation, we realize that God doesn't want us to intervene. Our trust in and obedience to God affects other people too! If we disobey God, we may have removed an obstacle for this person that was put in place to help them surrender to His will. Only the good we do through Christ will withstand the test of time, as everything we do will be tested by the fire as it says in 1 Corinthians 3:13. We must be building on the Rock, and this requires trusting in God and being obedient to His commands. "If you love me, you will obey what I command." John 14:15

 According to its Greek roots, the word obedience means to listen attentively and to conform to authority. "Blessed  rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." Luke 11:28 Don't we desire to receive God's full blessing in our lives? We must listen when God speaks to us through His Spirit and through His Word. We may not be able to see God just yet, but we can listen to and obey Him. This is the love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:3-4

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Monday, September 10, 2012

God Wants His People Active, In His Service, And To His Glory!

God's Glory
God's Glory (Photo credit: loswl)

"Make sure you've done everything you can about a situation before you let the chips fall where they may. God wants his people active, in his service, and to his glory."

"Many people tend to blame God for what happens to them, but they never thank God when something good happens. Which is it? I'll tell you that God is not to blame for negative things that happen to you, that is unless he is trying to get your attention, in which case you need to look up."

"If you let go of your ego for just a minute, and you take a look around you giving God full credit, you begin to truly understand what "purpose" really means."

"Due to human nature, linear thinking, and time, at best we are only able to approach something from one direction. God approaches everything from all directions."

"We always have ideas and plans for what we want to do, but we have to make sure we're listening to hear what God wants us to do."

"Don't settle for what is handed to you. Explore every chance that you get. Take risks when appropriate. Listen to your conscious. Your first instinct is usually right. Prioritize, and above all, seek God and read His Word. Love because love transcends all, and seek your purpose."

"Let your faith be unshaken, but as for other life concerns, keep an open mind. Many a time, you will swear to your core you are right while others say something different, and many a time, you will wake up and realize after more experience that you're actually wrong. It's a sobering thing, and we could get a lot more out of life if we actually listened more to advice from others instead of furthering our own selfish motivations. After all, we all bleed red, and we are all God's children."
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Tupac Hologram: Graven Images and Deception

Snoop and Hologram 2Pac #wowzers #tupac #dre #...
Snoop and Hologram 2Pac #wowzers #tupac #dre #snoop #coachella (Photo credit: ultra5280)
Everyone has been talking about the hologram of Tupac Shakur that debuted at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre brought the rapper back to life so to speak in hologram form, where he moved, rapped, and interacted with them on stage. The whole ordeal immediately became a worldwide sensation, with talks of Tupac participating in other major events in the future. It has also sparked rumors of other dead celebrities coming back in hologram form for certain special occasions.

Holograms have actually portrayed celebrities on commercials and such before, but this is different; the whole idea means something different to me now too. The Bible gives one of God's Ten Commandments saying "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the Earth beneath, or that is in the water under the Earth." Exodus 20:4 There are many graven images we deal with daily, so who does this hologram create so much anxiety? The thought of the dead among us just gives me the chills. Yes, it's just a hologram, but what if all the sudden businesses started marketing these holograms? 

I remember watching The Matrix as I was just entering adulthood, and I couldn't shake the idea that everyone hooked up to an alternate reality actually made sense with the direction our world is heading. Grandparents walk in on children playing video games for hours straight, and they wonder what could possess someone to do such a thing. What about the guy on 1000 Ways To Die that played a certain video game for 24 hours straight without getting up once from the couch. After he beat the game, he finally stood up, and a blood clot went straight to his brain killing him instantly. 

Let's revisit the holograms, and let's say that businesses do begin to market them. It is a product that would outsell all of the iPads, iPods, and every technological gadget on the market combined. How would it do that? Imagine everyone who has ever lost someone being able to both see and communicate with their lost loved ones. Can you see them commercializing this product now? I can, and I can see it taking more attention from the whole world than anything else ever has to date. How strong of a temptation it would be to see the people that I've lost in my life. Anyone who claims that the temptation wouldn't be there for them is either lying or hasn't lost a loved one yet.

This development would be completely devastating, and the epidemic wouldn't stop there. What if for a different purpose they also marketed the exact same hologram of a specific person to the whole world. This would be a hologram that everyone could interact with all at the same time.  It could be an old ruler, or perhaps this person takes on a new identity. Do you see where this is heading? In steps the Antichrist and The New World Order.

Satan uses temptation and deception to do everything in his power to keep us from an identity in Christ. Romans 12:2 says "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." The temptations we behold daily compare nothing to the transformation God can bring to our lives if we stay in his Word. we are made in his image, and he wants us to bear his image and likeness. In order for   this to come to fruition, our eyes must be focused on God. We need to consider less the work of our own hands and more the work of the Master's hands. 
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Daily Surrendering Ourselves To God

Words have a power all their own
Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)
People that know me well know that I talk way too much. As a Christian, the Spirit makes his way into some of my communication, but I'm not perfect. I'll stick my foot in my mouth faster than Billy the Kid could ever have pulled his pistol. And then I'll do it again. The Bible says "Whoever keeps his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Proverbs 21:23 I am going to ask God to help me with that.

Talking more often means we have less time for listening to God speak to us. Besides opening our mouths to pray, we must truly have time to listen to him. One way we listen to God is by reading his Word. I remember a song we used to sing as kids that comes from Psalms 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." His Word and his presence in our hearts is our sanctuary and fellowship with him.

We also need to take time to listen to others. Listening is not just hearing but understanding and engaging in what someone is saying. Several sermons ago, my pastor told a story about his son telling him to listen with his eyes. The head coach for the baseball team I help with always says that to the team as well. There are many reasons to listen and many verses to back those reasons up.

Our listening must not only compete with our words but also our thoughts and our surroundings. And this world isn't going to start moving any slower. As we fail to listen to God and others, we fail to truly live; instead, we exist in our own arrogance and foolishness. We tend to think that we are in control of our own lives, which is one of the many snares of selfishness. One of Satan's best deceptions is making us think that we have everything under control. In doing that, he succeeds in making sure we forget to give control over to God.

When we give our hearts to Jesus, we're supposed to be surrendering our lives and complete control over to him. Of course, what happens is we establish a relationship with Jesus Christ in which we daily make the decision to let him have control over things. It is here where my life verse steps into the picture. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

What we do with our lives is our biggest witness for Christ, and it is important that God be at the helm. We must listen to him, and we must give him control over everything. These two things aren't always easy to do, but we can ask God to help us do them. We often do this when things go wrong. "We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us." 2 Corinthians 1:9

We need to seek God first, listen, and surrender control to him ALL of the time. There are no limits to what God can do in our lives if we put our faith and trust in him. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Proverbs 2:1-5 says "My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spiritual Identity Theft

Identity Theft
Identity Theft (Photo credit: Don Hankins)
~This post was written by my sister~ Sarah Letterman

In today's society, we are all too aware of the crime known as Identity Theft. Whether shopping online, using a credit card to pay for a meal at a restaurant, or even receiving a financial statement in the mail, we find ourselves vulnerable to crooks looking for access to our personal information. Once they have it in their grasp, these crooks, under the guise of you, open up bank accounts, apply for credit cards, and make purchases, leaving you holding the bag so to speak. The effects of this are devastating, and it can take several years for you to clear your name, remove the unmerited debt, and restore your credit.

As Christians, we must be aware of Spiritual Identity Theft. A quick comparison reveals that they are similar in nature to one another. Satan, our adversary, enjoys gathering personal information about us. He uses our weaknesses, past failures, current circumstances, and future goals. Not to convince others that he is us, (as secular crooks attempt to do) but rather to convince us that we are not who Christ Jesus says we are: Redeemed, a new creation, children of the promise, more than conquerors, beloved.... His ultimate aim is to separate our identity from that of one who is in Christ. Once our identity is successfully "stolen," we become filled with doubt and confusion, questioning who we are. The end result is spiritual blindness to the joy and peace that comes with knowing Christ as our Lord and Savior, and we are left vulnerable and broken, susceptible to further deceptions.

I must confess that I have fallen victim to this ploy on more than one occasion. In fact, many times in my walk with Christ, he has had to gently remind me of who I am in him. The scriptures, God's written word, are full of promises and pronouncements proclaiming his love for us and our identity in him.

Psalm 100:3 "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture."
Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

I enjoy the above verses because they remind me that god made me for his pleasure to be my caretaker and my abundant and infinite resource as he leads me home.

Song of Solomon 2:4 "He brought me to his banqueting house and his banner over me was love."
John 15:16 "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you."

These two verses remind me of my identity as Christ's beloved.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."

This verse always reminds me that my past failures, blunders, loyalties, and even successes are not where I find my worth, but rather in being born again by Christ's precious blood.

These are some of the scriptures that Christ has shown me during my walk with him to bring to remembrance my identity in him, and give me assurance of my place by his side. I encourage you, brothers and sisters in Christ, as I admonish myself, to remember who you are, and rejoice daily in the security of your identity in Jesus Christ our Lord. May Jesus bless you.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

There Is Plenty Of Money To Go Around

Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)
I watched the movie "In Time" a few days ago, and it sets up a society in which time is used as the currency instead of regular money. People that hoard time become immortal, and then there are millions of people constantly on the verge of running out of time. They use time to pay for everything, and the rich just keep driving up the cost of living so that people run out of time and die. After all, time is money right? One of the characters in the movie has lived for thousands of years, and he decides to give his time away, realizing that he needs to die. "But the day comes when you've had enough. Your mind can be spent, even if your body isn't."

It's a shame the parallel you can draw between this movie and society in the real world. We treat money the same way, hoarding it, while millions of people die from lack of water and food, and from simple diseases that could be avoided. And before we start staring down the billionaires and the superstars, we have to take a good look at ourselves. We live in a society in which the price of a coffee can equal the days wage of a person in some other countries. It's on all of our heads. I'm willing to say it. Our politicians will never fix any of these issues. We either elect a Democrat who ushers in more government assistance and control, or we elect a Republican who promotes free enterprise. Neither of these parties addresses the real issues we have, and they never will.

The truth is, there is plenty of money to go around, and that chokes me up as I write this. No one has to die. How will we stand collectively in front of God justifying the many systems we've created? Paul writes: "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction." 1 Timothy 6:9 We have all been blinded, forced into the belief that the system we have is as equal and as fair as can be attained. If we do feel as though we have "enough money," then we find ourselves without enough time. It is a shame we follow instead of lead. With Jesus in control of enough lives, we could make the necessary changes. If our country really was "under God," then we would be moving in the right direction.

It is only Jesus inside of each one of us that can help us collectively make the changes that need to be made. Proverbs 22:16 says "He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty." Can we come together and stop this cyclical nonsense of greed and destruction? Most people approach issues like this with the idea that they can't make a difference, or that the world is just lost; Jesus returning is its only saving grace. I have news for those people. The eternal life that Jesus gave us starts now! Love has won. Victory arose in the Son! This means we have an accountability to do everything we can to (once again I'm quoting my pastor) "make up there come down here."
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Seeking God First Makes All The Difference

Seek God
Seek God (Photo credit: CharlotteAChung)
Have you ever wanted to stop doing something, but you just couldn't seem to quit? You pray about it, ask God for help, give it your best, and then it doesn't happen. What's the problem? I have been smoking cigarettes ever since I was 15 years old, and I have wanted to quit numerous times. I have asked God to help me, made preparations, set goals, purchased substitute products, and still nothing. So if you're wondering what you're doing wrong when you fail at quitting something, I too have been in that same boat many times. We all have, and I have still yet to quit smoking.

Jesus says "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it." John 14:14 If I asked God in Jesus name to help me quit smoking, I should've been able to quit already. So why haven't I quit? I believe there are two things that stop us, and they definitely work in conjunction with one another. First of all, you must have the true desire to quit whatever it is that you are wanting to stop doing. A true desire must be matched by faith that God will carry you through and deliver on his promise. Do you see how these two principles are completely connected? Your faith must be strong so that you are, and your commitment must have Jesus as the foundation; built on a rock.

Many of us try to handle things on our own until something comes up that is too difficult. That is when we turn to God, and when the results aren't what we want, we wonder why? Instead of asking God why, we should examine ourselves. Perhaps I haven't quit smoking yet because my faith isn't strong enough. Maybe I still smoke because I love smoking more than I love God? Don't get all bent out of shape with that question because it is a very common problem among us Christians. Instead, ponder the truth for a minute that we often find ourselves loving something else more than God, and think about whether there is anything or anyone that you love more than God. Self-examination is one of the main ways we grow in Jesus as Christians folks.

I'm not ashamed to say that I have loved many things more than God in my past, and I struggle with those issues today as well. If I didn't, I would be perfect, and I would have everything figured out already. Maybe you have something that is bothering you like I do with my smoking cigarettes. What are we going to do about it? While faith in Jesus and a true desire to quit are necessary, so are the support of other Christians around us. If we focus more on our own problems, then we are able to compassionately help and love others much easier instead of judging them. In order to do this, we must love God first, and we must seek his will in our lives. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 We try to make it so difficult on ourselves, but it all comes back to faith and trust in our Creator.

~ I want to give a special thanks to a comment that was made about self-examination that greatly influenced my post today. Thanks ML!
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