Archive for October, 2020

Sunlight or Moonbeams

Sunlight or Moonbeams?

The vibrant, exuberant Christian must be careful in his exuberance not to outshine the source.

That’s called a grabber. But what does it mean? It means that our life is to be more a reflection than a source.

The Sun produces its own light. Its source is within itself. Not so with the moon. The moon has no source of light. It can only reflect the light that comes from the sun.

So many times a vibrant Christian will be such a strong and attractive personality that he himself will draw followers. That’s what happens when a cult leader has such a strong attraction that he becomes like a god or a Messiah himself, drawing people to his personality rather reflecting the light of God.

The Christian who wishes to lead others to God rather than himself will merely reflect the light that comes from the true source, the light of Jesus.

Charles Stanley says, “Christians are a light reflecting God’s glory to this world. We shine brightly by being attentive to God’s voice and following His will. And when someone takes an interest in the source of our light, we are prepared to share the good news of Christ.”

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. Read more »

Our Will

Keith Miller in his book, “The Taste of New Wine”, makes a statement that has stuck with me as one of the most important principles of the Christian life. He says, “God doesn’t want your time, your talents, your money or anything else you have control over in your life, He wants your will. He will begin to show you life as you’ve never seen before”.

In the book, Messages to Young People, pages 151-154, we find some of the most important concepts relating to our personal salvation that have ever been written. “Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God, or unto disobedience” (p. 151). Notice that the will is not our emotions or our fallen nature. It is the deciding power, the switch, that determines which way our thoughts will go.

The truth of these quotes is that there is really only one thing of which you have total control, your will.

Until you choose to surrender your will to God’s will, there is no way you can be the committed disciple of Jesus Christ you may hope to be.

The will is different from your feelings or emotions. You cannot always control those but you can control your reactions to them because God gave man the one thing that allows him to choose, his will.

But, God promises help. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV)
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

 

(Our Will continued)

But, even with that, we still must exercise our will to make that promise real in our life. I must choose to surrender all to Him. I must realize that unless I willingly yield my will to God, my will is under the control of Satan? We want to think that we are in control, that we are the captains of our own ships. Do we stop to think that if our will is not in Christ’s hands, then Satan is controlling us? Since none of us can keep our hearts beating and our lungs breathing, then we must acknowledge that we are subject to higher powers. Our will of necessity will be controlled either by Christ or Satan, and our only choice is who will have it. We must first choose to take the will out of Satan’s hands and give it to Christ. We must openly say, “I take this will that you have given me out of the hand of Satan. He has no more right to it. I choose to submit my will to the control of Jesus Christ.”

Guard your senses

Exactly how do we go about activating the will so that it can be controlled by God alone? There is something very basic that must happen if we want God to work in our lives. “All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues of the soul. You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul. The power of grace alone can accomplish this most desirable work” (The Adventist Home, p. 401).

We sing in Kindergarden, “Be careful little eyes what you see, – be careful little ears what you hear”. We cannot relegate that little song for little children alone. As adults, we must guard our senses from those things that corrupt our hearts. Some things appeal to the basal, carnal nature of man even when he has been redeemed. God will not stop us from being exposed to those things. The world is full of them by way of books, magazines, TV and even TV commercials, and more corruptive these days, the Internet.  It is a choice we must make for ourselves. It is a part of exercising our will. What will He do? By way of the Holy Spirit, He whispers, “no, no”.

To be what God intends as a spiritual, growing, sanctified Christian, we must take control of our will and yield it to God.

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.

 

(Can a person sin and not know it – continued)

The real question is not “once saved, always saved”, but rather “once saved”. There are a lot of people who claim to have accepted Christ as their personal Savior but do not display that claim in their life. One of the ways a lost person will call to question his salvation is by the life he lives and by his sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit. That sensitivity will be the conviction of sin (and of righteousness).

This article is not intended to cause a person to question his salvation, but to make each person aware that his salvation includes an awareness of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. To deny that conviction is often a sign that the Holy Spirit is not present and effectual in our life.

It behooves every person who claims to be saved to also acknowledge an awareness of sin. His first prayer each day is that he be able to feel and hear what the Spirit is saying. That most certainly includes the conviction of sin.

(comments to johgriff@aol.com)

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.

 

(Righteousness continued)

Exceptional Righteousness

Matthew 5:20 “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven”.

Exceptional righteousness is heart righteousness. That means it involves our intent as much as our actions. The Scribes and Pharisees were only concerned with their outward appearance of righteousness. Jesus condemned them for not having heart righteousness.

Our righteousness must be heart righteousness. Nothing should be done for others to see and judge our righteousness. They will see the acts but they cannot see our intent. Only God judges intent which involves our motives more than the acts themselves.

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”. 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.

(The Devil Mae me do it”) cont

Romans 6:16 (NIV)  16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 6:20  20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.

Romans 6:22-23  22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sin is the result of our choosing to live under the control and influence of unrighteousness. When we are saved, we have the choice to rise above our old (carnal) nature and receive the power of the Holy Spirit who is stronger than the Devil.

So, we can never say “the Devil made me do it”, when we choose the acts of unrighteousness instead of the Spirit led acts of righteousness.

Does that mean the Christian will never sin? No. It means that we are not slaves to unrighteousness and to our old carnal nature. When we sin, we recognize that although we say, I’m just human, that is not true. We are humans PLUS.  We are humans that have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We are slaves to righteousness and therefore choose acts of righteousness rather than acts of unrighteousness.