Everyone has an opinion. We are blessed to live in a free society where we are allowed to share those opinions. I have some, you have some. Over time I have learned the hard way that just because you have the right to say what is on your mind, doesn't mean that you should. Words have far reaching consequences. What we say, forward, type, post, share or text can have an impact far beyond we think at the time. Before we click, let's think: Does this build people up, benefit others and speak the truth in love? We will save ourselves a lot of hurt feelings, heartaches and grief.
Recently, I attended two different Gospel
Meetings in our area on consecutive nights.One verse that appeared in both lessons was Romans 8:1 that says, “There
is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not
according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”This verse is a great reminder of one of the
great blessings we have in Christ: freedom from punishment and fear.This blessing, according to this verse, is
contingent on three factors: being in Christ Jesus, not walking in the flesh
and walking in the Spirit.
Being in Christ is the only place of
spiritual safety and security.Ephesians
1 tells us that all spiritual blessings are found in Christ.One of these blessings is the freedom from
condemnation Paul talks about in Romans 8.In avoiding the lure of the flesh, the Christian manages to avoid the
pitfalls and problems that a fleshly existence is sure to bring.Heartache and sorrow follow quickly on the
heels of the passing pleasures the worldly life offers.By walking in the Spirit, we as Christians
are lead into a closer relationship with God.As the deeds of the Spirit fill our lives, the draw of the flesh will
begin to fade.
Do you want to be free from judgment?As long as you are in Christ and walking in
the Spirit, there is truly no condemnation and true life and freedom will be
“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
It would be silly for any of us to
believe that our hearts will never stray from God’s truth.As humans we are prone to wander in life, but
the question becomes what do we come back to when we return from our wanderings.Ask yourself: is your heart a believing
heart?Do you want to believe even when
your natural inclination is to doubt?What does your heart rest on?Are
you resting in the temporary pleasures of the world or are you securely settled
on the things of God?Where does your
heart find comfort?Are you comforted by
possessions and human relationships or does your comfort come from a deep and
abiding communion with God? Do you desire holiness in your heart?Do you covet conversation and comradeship
with God?Are you satisfied with
satisfying the passing desires of the moment or does your heart cry out for
Hopefully, our heart is resting in
the presence of God’s Spirit.When our
hearts are full of the things of God, temporary temptations lose much of their
power to persuade us.We must each
search our own hearts and allow God to come to us with the searchlight of His
word and the conviction of conscience in order to know if we are truly
dedicated to Him in our innermost person.
Last week I was able to spend a couple of
days with some of my dearest friends on earth at Sardis Lake Christian
Camp.I have known many of these people
for half my life and they have been great sources of encouragement and good
examples of faith to me.We share a
common bond in Jesus Christ and a common interest in spiritual things.We have all grown older over the course of
the years, but our increased age has not dampened our enthusiasm for God’s
The theme of this year’s camp session was centered around the ability we have as Christians to analyze and then adjust areas of our lives
that may need changes. Truly, we as
Christians should be involved in both of these processes every day. We must make an honest analysis of our lives
by taking stock of where we stand spiritually.
When we see areas that need improvement, we must be willing to adjust
our behaviors in order to bring our lives into the pattern of God’s will.
Why not take a few minutes today to analyze where you stand spiritually? Be honest in your assessment and take a thorough look at where you are in your relationship to God. When you see areas that need improvement, be willing to adjust your attitude, actions, thoughts and words to conform to the pattern of God's will.
When we make needed changes, we are demonstrating that we are capable of self-assessment and self-adjustment. Allow God to show you what changes need to be made and allow Him to help you implement those changes in your life.
Repeat this process often to be sure to maintain your focus and your drive in serving God.
Yesterday as we celebrated the 4th of July, someone may have wished you a "Happy Independence Day" during the course of your celebration. People are referring, of course, to the independence of our country. We as Americans prize our liberty and our freedoms. We like to believe that we are making our own way and that we are independent of any outside influences. It may be said that our national belief is that America is exceptional and could get by just fine without any help from the global community. We see the needs of others abroad and even here at home as being signs of weaknesses rather than as opportunities for service. We seldom admit when we need help and are even less likely to admit when we as a nation are in the wrong.
It doesn't take much analysis to see that if these attitudes are carried over into our individual spiritual lives it can be dangerous for us as Christians. To truly follow Jesus we must admit both our dependence on Him and our need for other people. God has called believers to live in community and to create a world in which everyone is able to share burdens and blessings as equals. Obviously, this ideal of the Christian community has not been realized fully in our world and indeed cannot be fully completed this side of Heaven. Nevertheless, the goal of a society of believers that are dependent on God and committed one another is something we should strive for.
As we live our lives from day to day, let us use our freedom for the glory of God and the good of others. When we do this, we are truly acknowledging that we belong to something greater than ourselves and demonstrating that we realize that with great freedom comes great responsibility.
"It's always your favorite sins...that do you in."
~Deanna Carter & Matraca Berg
The quote above comes from a hit country song that has been recorded by multiple artists (most recently Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter). The song is a story of two affairs: one a romance and the other an alcohol addiction. The song moves along the line that broken romances and unfulfilled addiction bring the same feelings of emptiness.
When we think about our own lives, we probably can attest to the fact that the majority of people are creatures of habit. We each have routines that we participate in day in and day out and our weeks and months have a certain predictability.
The same can become true of our spiritual lives. We often get in a pattern or habit of prayer or study or church attendance and find that before long our desire may have faded and we are active more out of routine than conviction. These patterns can also be true of the inherently negative things we take into our lives. When we first commit a certain trespass we may feel upset and uncomfortable. If we continue to repeat the transgression, it can soon become habit and, depending on the type of issue, even addictive. We all have some things that tempt us on a regular basis that may not even be an issue of struggle for our peers. It is easy enough to become comfortable with sin. Beyond that, we may even come to relish and enjoy the passing pleasure that sin offers.
To break the cycle of sin in our lives, we must first be willing to admit we have an issue with sin. Then we must be willing to give up our sins. To make this easier, we should avoid the tempting situation altogether. Free time can be a spiritual enemy so staying active in God's service is vital to beating sinful tendencies. Surrounding ourselves with people who are trying to live moral and godly lives is a great help in battling sin. Spending time in God's word and in prayer will help drive out sinful desire in our lives. Replacing evil desire with pure desire goes a long way in holding sin at bay.
We must learn to hate sin. As long as we allow sin to have a place in our lives, sin in fact will rule our lives. Once we allow God to remove the sin from our hearts, we must quickly fill the void with positive and godly desires. When our hearts are full of the things of God, sin has no place to gain a foothold.
"God never takes away anything that He doesn’t replace with Himself."
-Jacquelyn K. Heasley
The quote above is something that can only be understood through experience. At one point in my life, I never thought much about the blessings that I had. I was healthy, I was popular with my peers, I felt important, I had a seemingly significant friendships and romances. To say that I took these things for granted would be an understatement. Over the span of several years, each one of these external blessings was taken away. As my health failed, my popularity and sense of importance faltered. As those things died out of my life, many of my relationships passed away as well. In the midst of this unraveling, I felt very alone, very isolated. I believed that I was the only person that felt the way I felt. I came to think that I was especially unfortunate. I even came to believe I had been abandoned by God. I reasoned however that God could not have gone far. I began to read my Bible, to study and, even though I didn't feel like it, to pray. Over the course of time it became clear to me that rather than simply losing those things, I had actually gained something better in their place. Health had been lost, but I found the need to depend on God. Popularity based on superficial accomplishments was replaced by the genuine care of a few close friends. My sense of self-importance was destroyed so that a deeper sense of the needs of others could be born. The self-serving and even petty relationships of the past were replaced with a much more fulfilling relationship with God and His people. God used my misfortune to destroy my self-reliance and my self-assurandance. He has given me instead a glorious dependence.
When bad things happen, it is easy to blame God. It is easy to be angry and be filled with complaints. These responses are natural although perhaps not all that helpful. If we can, in the midst of trouble, see that something can be accomplished in it and from it, we will be better served by the experience. The grace of God is refining and to do its work it must sometimes wound in order to heal. God is not needlessly cruel or uselessly mean, but He will attempt to destroy anything that stands between you and your obedience to Him. Don't miss the lesson. If we can learn from loss, we can become more and more like Him. When we are conformed to His image, we can look back over our lives and see His hand in our victories and even in our defeats.
May we have the strength to bear the hand of God on our lives so that we can grow into the people He always intended for us to be.