Category: Growth and Faith

Choices I Make as a Spirit-filled Christian

We make choices every day. Some are good choices, others are not so good. As a Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled Christian, the choices I make reveal the extent to which I have yielded my life over to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit.

I CHOOSE LOVE…

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose to love. Today I will love God and what God loves. (1 Corinthians 16:14)

I CHOOSE JOY…

I will invite God to be the God of my circumstances. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God. (1 Peter 1:8)

I CHOOSE PEACE…

I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live. (Colossians 3:12-14)

I CHOOSE PATIENCE…

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage. (Ecclesiastes 7:8, 9)

I CHOOSE KINDNESS…

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God treated me. (Ephesians 4:32)

I CHOOSE FAITHFULNESS…

Today, I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. My children will never fear that their father will not come home. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

I CHOOSE GENTLENESS…

Nothing is won by force; I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it only be in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it only be of myself. (Titus 3:1, 2)

I CHOOSE SELF-CONTROL…

I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot rule the eternal. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control. (Titus 1:8)

(Adapted from “Facts of the Matter” Daily Devotionals.)

Are Christians Truly Free?


Everyone seeks freedom. Especially in the West, freedom is the highest virtue, and it is sought after by all who are, or consider themselves to be, oppressed. But freedom in Christ is not the same as political or economic freedom. In fact, some of the most harshly oppressed people in history have had complete freedom in Christ. The Bible tells us that, spiritually speaking, no one is free. In Romans 6, Paul explains that we are all slaves. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Those who are slaves to sin cannot free themselves from it, but once we are freed from the penalty and power of sin through the cross, we become a different kind of slave, and in that slavery we find complete peace and true freedom.

Although it seems like a contradiction, the only true freedom in Christ comes to those who are His slaves. Slavery has come to mean degradation, hardship, and inequality. But the biblical paradigm is the true freedom of the slave of Christ who experiences joy and peace, the products of the only true freedom we will ever know in this life. There are 124 occurrences in the New Testament of the word doulos, which means “someone who belongs to another” or “bondslave with no ownership rights of his own.” Unfortunately, most modern Bible versions, as well as the King James Version, most often translate doulos as “servant” or “bond-servant.” But a servant is one who works for wages, and who, by virtue of his work, is owed something from his master. The Christian, on the other hand, has nothing to offer the Lord in payment for his forgiveness, and he is totally owned by the Master who bought him with His shed blood on the cross. Christians are purchased by that blood and are the possession of their Lord and Savior. We are not hired by Him; we belong to Him (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 7:4). So “slave” is really the only proper translation of the word doulos.

Far from being oppressed, the slave of Christ is truly free. We have been set free from sin by the Son of God who said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Now the Christian can truly say, along with Paul, “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). We now know the truth and that truth has set us free (Romans 8:32). Paradoxically, through our bondage to Christ, we have also become sons and heirs of the Most High God (Galatians 4:1–7). As heirs, we are partakers of that inheritance—eternal life—which God confers on all His children. This is a privilege beyond any earthly treasure we could ever inherit, while those in bondage to sin inherit only spiritual death and an eternity in hell.

 

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Why Go to Church

A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.
He wrote: “I’ve gone for 30 years now, and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them.”  So, I think I’m wasting my time,  the preachers and priests are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all”.
This started a real controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column.
Much to the delight of the editor, it went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:
“I’ve been married for 30 years now.  In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals.  But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals.”
But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work.  If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today.
Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!”
Thank God for our physical and our spiritual nourishment!

Where is your treasure?

Where Your Treasure Is

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.—Luke 12:34

What you value most is your treasure. Where you spend your time and your money is your treasure. Whatever dominates your conversation is what you treasure. What others know you for is a good indication of what your treasure is.

Most Christians are quick to claim that God is their first priority. Yet often their actions reveal that their treasure is not God but things of this world. Some Christians find it difficult to discuss their relationship with God, but they can chatter easily about their family, friends, or hobbies. Some find it impossible to rise early in order to spend time with God, but they willingly get up at dawn to pursue a hobby. Some find it difficult to give an offering to God but readily spend lavishly on recreation. Some boldly approach strangers to sell a product, yet they are painfully timid in telling others about their Savior. Some give hundreds of hours to serve in volunteer organizations but feel they have no time available to serve God.

If you are unsure of where your treasure is, examine where you spend your available time and money. Reflect on what it is you most enjoy thinking about and discussing. Ask your friends to tell you what they think is most important to you. Ask your children to list the things most valuable to you. It may surprise you to know what others consider to be your treasure.

Experiencing God Day By Day

Can the Christian sin and not know it?

As a committed disciple of Christ, one of the things we can be sure of is the conviction of sin. When we are saved, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. One of the things the Holy Spirit does is to convict of sin. John 16:8 (NKJV)
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

That means, that when we commit sin, we know it. If not immediately, the next time we try to pray, we will be convicted of that sin. To not be convicted of unconfessed sin calls into question the truth of our salvation. He will convict us if we are open to the fact of our sin.

A person can go on denying that something is a sin. He often does this to cover up his conviction of that sin because he is reluctant to give it up. If he is truly a child of God, he will eventually feel the undeniable conviction of the Holy Spirit in his life.

If he doesn’t, at some point, yield to the Holy Spirit’s continued conviction, then a logical conclusion is that person has not received the Holy Spirit, been saved and/or has rejected the Spirit’s work in his life. All of this boils down to a vital fact, he has not truly been saved.

This is not a discussion on whether a person can lose his salvation, but whether what he has counted on as his salvation was real salvation. One of the statements the writer of Hebrews makes in Heb. 6:4 is that part of their enlightenment is the obvious realization of the Holy Spirit in their life.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit . . . to renew them again unto salvation.

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Righteousness

What is Righteousness?

“the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

“The work of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)

” Righteousness is our birthright as we become children of God. Jesus has become righteousness in me..

Romans 3:22 (NIV)
22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Even as we receive Righteousness through our faith in Jesus as our righteousness, so also must we walk in righteousness by demonstrating it by our actions and interactions with others.

Jesus admonished us to demonstrate that righteousness by acts of righteousness.

What are “acts of righteousness”? It may be as simple as what some would consider the seemingly silly idea of WWJD (what would Jesus do?) that was popular 20 years ago. The idea is not so silly. It is our response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to imitate Jesus as a part of our sanctification process of making us more like Jesus.

But, Jesus takes righteousness to another level.

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Life Under the Circumstances

Life Under the Circumstances

Have you ever been under the circumstances? If not you will be. It happens to all of us. This is a time in every life when everything seems to be against us. Nothing is going right and it seems the world is conspiring to defeat us. It’s a terrible place to be.

The problem with life in this situation is that it clouds our thinking to where all we can see are the terrible things involved in the circumstance. Everything is negative and although there may be some positives, we are not able to see them.  This is not unique, everybody comes against things that seem insurmountable for a time. Eventually we may be able to work through it and life returns to a more normal state.

The tragic thing about it is that we often make choices during this time in life that could plague us for the rest of our life.

What is the solution?

It would be easy to say, “don’t worry about it, it will pass”. That may be true but to suggest that someone not worry about it is an attempt to minimize what may be a serious time of trouble and anxiety . The question is, where is God during all of this?

Some people even blame God for the circumstance. “God must not love me. If He really cares about me He wouldn’t make me go through this”.

Let’s assume something. Many people bring bad circumstances upon themselves by making bad choices in life.  But, let’s assume that’s not the case. Life has just turned in a way that is very unhappy for you. It was beyond your control. It may have been caused by someone else or is just one of those things that happens beyond our control. So where is God in all of this? Read more »

“THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT”

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT

The devil can’t make you do anything. Then why did I do it? Because you wanted to!

One of the things we falsely believe is that we are at the mercy of demonic influence. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined nature.

God gave us a will. That means we choose our thoughts, attitudes and actions. That means that while the Devil can influence our thinking, he does not have the power to coerce us beyond what we are willing.

Now, the lost person does not have the power within himself to resist the temptations and influence of darker forces. He is not a slave to them but he is a slave to his own selfish desires.

The Christian however, is not under the same bondage. He has a power that is much stronger than the flesh or the devil or any other influence. When he gave his heart to Christ, he was given that power – the power of the Holy Spirit. Read more »

Is the Word of God THE Word of God?

Why is this verse important?

I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me. John 14:6

I watched a show on TV last night hosted by Morgan Freeman entitled “The Story of God”.

It furthered my belief that the majority of the world, (even many Christians), believe there are many ways to Heaven.

I’ll start with a baseline verse and then hopefully lay down some principles for life’s choices.

The baseline scripture – Proverbs 16:25 (NIV) 25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

 The way that seems right, not always is. We don’t want to accept a truth that goes against what we prefer to believe.

The ground rule:

The ground rule regards the “Word of God”.

What do we believe about the Word of God?

Is it THE WORD OF GOD?,

Or does it just contain the Word of God?

(There are a lot of professing Christians that believe the Bible just contains the Word of God.)

Or is it, (as many people who claim to be believers contend), it is just a collection of thoughts of people who thought they knew the mind of God and attempted to write it down?

So, our ground rule grows out of this statement,

What you believe ABOUT the Word of God determines what you believe FROM the Word of God.

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When we are alone

You are what you are when you are alone!

Oswald Chambers in a devotional for March 17 (My Utmost for His Highest), says, “My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life.” That is a chilling thought.

The outward life of a Christian is not the measure of our true nature. It is important since we are to be a reflection of Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals Him to us. What others see in us should be Jesus. But, is that really me?

Unfortunately, that reflection may be a façade to what we really are privately. Introspection is the examination of my inner thoughts, it reveals to me what I really am. Introspection often leaves me disappointed when the Holy Spirit points out that my inner person is not the person I want others to see.

The problem is, though others don’t see it, it is the real me. I would be totally embarrassed for others to see the real inner person. Why? Because my thought life often betrays the person I really want to be. The Holy Spirit convicts me as much about my private thoughts and motivations as He does the life that I let others see.

What do we do about it? The Catholic would take it to a priest and confess it. The non-Catholic has a priest also,  Jesus Christ is our priest. The convicting Holy Spirit who brings it to mind in the first place, is also the stand-in for the Christ Priest who stands ready to forgive. Read more »