The Wonderful Effects of God’s Love

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

The Wonderful Effects of God’s Love

Love is patient; love is kind; love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in truth; bears all things; hopes in all things; endures all things. Love never ends… Now these three things remain: faith, hope, love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

Love desires to be free and separated from all worldly attachments, so that its inward sight will not be obstructed and it will not be entangled by any temporal prosperity or conquered by any adversity. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing more courageous, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth, for love is of God and can rest only in God, who is above all created things.

Those who love, fly, run and rejoice – are free and cannot be restrained. Those who love give all and have all in all because they rest in the one who is highest above and, from all good comes. Those who love do not esteem gifts but turn themselves above all things to the giver.

Love knows no limit, and is fervent beyond measure. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, does not complain about impossibility, for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.

Love is able to undertake all things and complete many of them and cause them to take effect – where the person who does not love would faint and give up.

Love is watchful and alert even when it is dormant. When weary it is not tired, when pressured it is not stressed, when alarmed it is not confused, but like a living flame and burning torch it forces its way upward and securely passes through everything.

Anyone who loves knows the cry of the voice. For the ardent affection of the soul is a loud cry in the ears of God when it says, “My God, my love, you are all mine and I am all yours.!”

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Love is swift, sincere, affectionate, pleasant, amiable, courageous, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and never seeks its own. For in whatever circumstances when we seek ourselves (our own interests) there we fall from love.

Love is circumspect, humble and upright. It does not give in easily, act frivolous, or pay attention to meaningless things, but it is sober, chaste, steady, quiet, and guard all its senses.

Love submits to its superiors and obeys them, but is unkind and contemptuous toward itself. It is devoted and thankful to God, and trusts and hopes always in Him – even when God does not impart sweetness to it, for without sorrow no one lives in love.

Those who are not prepared to suffer all things, and to submit to the will of their beloved are not worthy to be called lovers of God. A lover should willingly embrace all that is hard and distasteful for the sake of God, and not turn away from Him because of adversities.

My daily prayer: Lord God, my Savior, my Salvation, my Strength, the Spirit of Truth and Life that dwells within me, I humbly come before you to share that I love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am completely yours, and I believe in my heart you love me, and nothing else in this life I live matters otherwise. I pray likewise that I am able to love others, beginning in my family with the kind of love that you exemplify within me, so that they may discover your love for themselves and surrender their lives to you as well. Thank you, my Lord and Savior, my Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of love that defines what love truly is: Yourself for me so that I can share that love with you. You are truly an awesome God, you are my God, and if all other things in my life were lost, I know your love will remain.

Lord, as Thomas a’ Kempis prayed, so do I pray these words and thoughts to you as well: Increase my love so that with the inward mouth of my heart, I may taste how sweet it is to love, to meet and bathe myself in your love. Let love possess me so that I rise up above myself in exceeding fervor and admiration. Let me sing the song of love; let my soul lose itself in your praise, rejoicing in love. Let me love you more than myself and not love myself but for your sake, and in you let me love all those who truly love you as the law of love that shines out you’re your commands. Amen

For additional reading: Romans 8:19; 1 Corinthians 10:33; Mark 12:30

What Living before God Requires

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

What Living before God Requires

We have this kind of confidence towards God through Christ: not that we are confident in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

There are some, God says, who do not walk sincerely in His sight, but are led solely by fixed curiosity and pride. They desire to learn his secrets and to understand the great ways of God, but neglect themselves and the working out of their salvation. Yet, if we focus upon the things God desires for us, he promises to not leave us because our pride and curiosity have made us fall into great temptations.

Fear the judgments of God and the consequences should we continue in our selfish ways. Do not despise the words God places upon our hearts, but search them diligently to discover our iniquities – those great things which we have done and not done, displeasing God. Some of us offer our devotion through books, journals, pictures, or even outward signs and figures. Some of us have God in the words of our mouth, says God, but so few of us actually have God in our hearts. Others of us have our understanding enlightened and our affections cleansed and still long for the eternal things of God, and choose to listen to the things of this world, serve the necessities of nature with heavy hearts, and struggle with what the Spirit of Truth is speaking within them, because the Spirit teaches each of us to despise earthly things and love heavenly things, and to disregard the world and desire heaven day and night.

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However, because our love continues to be weak and certainly our virtue imperfect, we need to be strengthened and comforted by God personally through regular visits to teach us with holy discipline. We desire within us to be freed from evil passions and to have our hearts cleansed of improper affections, so that being inwardly healed we will be fit to love, courageous to suffer, and steady to persevere. Because, your love is a great thing, thoroughly good, and it makes everything light that is heavy within our lives, and endures everything. Your love carries a burden that is no burden, and everything that is bitter is made sweet and tasteful. Lord, your love exalts and encourages us to do great things, and keeps us always longing for what is pure and perfect in your eyes. Your love desires to be lifted up, and will not be kept back by anything low and inferior.

My daily prayer: I praise you, my heavenly Father, and through the name of your Son, Lord Jesus Christ, for you have promised to remember me. You are the Father of mercies and all comfort. Thank you my Lord for the comfort that refreshes my soul, though I am not always worthy of your gifts of grace. I will always seek to bless and glorify you and your Son, and the Spirit who comforts forever and ever. When you make your presence known to me in my heart, my whole being rejoices. You are my glory and the cause of exaltation in my heart – my hope and refuge in the day of trouble. I need to be strengthened and comforted by you, please visit me often, my Lord, and teach me with your holy discipline. Guide me in your ways and with your wisdom so that I may walk pleasing you, and be a faithful example to my family and friends so that they may seek you because of what you have done through me and my life. Thank you, my Lord and Savior. Amen

For additional reading: Philippians 2:12; Isaiah 29:13; Psalm 1:2; 32:7; 59:16; 25:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Proverbs 13:24; Matthew 11:30

Humility: Life’s Lie Detector

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Humility: Life’s Lie Detector

Speaking to the faithful followers, Jesus said…”If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

The words of Jesus surpass all the learning of the philosophers and the wise of this world. Therefore, how can his words be measured by the understanding of humanity? They are not meant to be brought forth for worthless praise and approval, but to be listened to in silence and received with all humility and great affection.

Those instructed by God’s words will never be alone in this world. However, most people are more willing to listen to the world than to God, and they would rather follow the desires of their flesh than seek after God’s good pleasure. The world promises things that are temporary and inferior, and is pursued with great eagerness. The proclamations of God promises things that are most high and eternal, yet the hearts of people are not receptive. Be ashamed, all who are lazy and complaining, you are choosing to be eager for separation from the God of all creation, the source of all real, eternal worth and honor than for adoption into God’s family, an heir of his kingdom. The Lord says: My promises deceive no one, and sends no one away empty, who trusts in me! What God has promised God will give and what God said God will make good to all who are found to be faithful in his love. Assuredly, God is the one who rewards all good people, and the strong approver of all who are devoted to him and his promises. We should write God’s words upon our hearts and meditate diligently upon them daily and throughout each day and at the end of each day. Why? In the time of temptation, his promises offer what will be necessary for us to overcome all temptation we may face.

God calls us to walk before Him in truth and to always seek him with a simple or sincere heart. All who walk before God in truth will be guarded against the assault of the evil that prevails in this world, and the truth will free them from the seduction and slander of the people attached to this world’s promises that are intended to satisfy worldly power, prestige and pleasure.

Therefore-let-nothing

In truth, unless we think upon the eternal, what we are always moves us toward being and doing nothing on our own – we are quickly depressed, quickly overcome, quickly confused, and quickly destroyed. We have nothing in which we can glory. However, in truth, we have many things for which we should consider as wicked; we are much weaker than we are able to understand. Therefore, let nothing that we do seem so important, nothing so valuable and so wonderful, nothing so worth praising, nothing so truly commendable and desirable that we ignore the eternal promises of God. Let only eternal truth please us above all things, and let our own unworthiness always displease us. Fear nothing, blame nothing, and flee nothing as much as our faults and sins, which should be more displeasing to us than losing what the world holds dear: power, prestige and pleasure.

My daily prayer: O Lord my God, you alone are to me whatever is good, and who am I that I should dare speak to you? I am your poorest and most inferior servant, and a most wicked person, much poorer and contemptible than I can or dare express. Yet, you remember me, O Lord, because I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing. You alone are good, just, and holy. you can do all things. You accomplish all things. You fill all things, only the sinner you leave empty. Remember your mercies and fill my heart with your grace, for it is not your will that your works should be void and worthless. How can I uphold myself in this difficult life unless you strengthen me with your mercy and grace? Do not turn your face from me, do not delay the day of your visit, do not withdraw your consolation, for fear that my soul becomes as a thirsty land to you. Teach me, O Lord, to do your will, teach me to worthily in your sight. For you are my wisdom. You truly know me. You knew me before the world was made and before I was born into it. Thank you, O Lord, for loving me, the poorest and least worthy of all sinners. And may your grace overflow upon me and onto my family so that they may be found blessed by you, O Lord. Amen.

For additional reading: Psalm 69:17; 94:12-13; John 6:63-64; Hebrews 1:1; 3:7-8; 4:16; Romans 1:16; 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Genesis 17:1-2; 18:27; Matthew 5:6; 24:35; 25:21; Revelation 2:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:4; 6:14; Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15

 

The Hope of Humble Eyes and Ears

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

The Hope of Humble Eyes and Ears

But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears do hear! For I assure you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see, yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear, yet didn’t hear them. Matthew 13:16-17

Blessed are the ears that hear the Lord speak from within and receive consolation from his words.

Blessed are the ears that eagerly listen for the whisper of God’s voice, and filter the voices competing for our attention in this world.

Blessed are the ears that do not listen to the voice that seeks our attention outwardly, but to the truth that teaches inwardly.

Blessed are the eyes that are shut to outward things, but are firmly focused upon inward things.

Blessed are those who enter deep within for internal things, and by daily spiritual exercises prepare themselves more so each day to receive heavenly secrets.

Blessed are those who are glad to have time to spend with God and shake off everything worldly that hinders that invaluable time.

Meditate within on these matters; shut the door to sensual desires and hear what the Lord our God wishes to speak to us. Let go of all temporal things that compete against those things that are eternal.

What are temporal things but seducing snares? What use to us are all the things of value in this world, if we are forsaken by the Creator? Cast off all temporal things and work to please and be faithful to our Creator, so that we will be able to arrive at our desired blessed destination.

We no longer need to seek a prophet or a priest. Without them we can be perfectly instructed by listening to God speak to us daily. Prophets can speak God’s words but they cannot give us the Spirit that God gives us. Their words may be eloquent, but if God’s Word is not in their words, hearts will not receive what the ears hear. They may even teach God’s Word effectively, but we alone open our hearts to hear the message that God has intended for us to hear. They proclaim the mysteries, but God reveals the meaning of the mysteries. They proclaim the commandments, but God enables us to understand the depth of their meaning and to fulfill them. They point the way, but God gives the strength to walk in the way. They can only share outwardly, while God instructs and enlightens us inwardly. They water the surface, but God provides the abundant growth. They cry aloud with spoken words, but God imparts the understanding to the hearing.

Do not seek to merely hear the words spoken; without God speaking to us, the spoken words in this world will be heard but not fulfilled, known but not lived, believed but not observed, and we will not turn to God’s transforming message of truth. Our desire should be that God speaks to us, to our soul, however imperfect, so that our soul will be comforted, and our life amended; God praised, glorified, and honored forever by our response to what He alone reveals to us.

His words are the greatest, surpassing all the learning of the philosophers and the wise of this world. His words are not to be measured by the understanding of humanity. They are not to be brought forth for worthless praise and approval, but to be listened to in silence and received with all humility and great affection. In doing so, all who are instructed by God’s words will never be alone upon the earth. However, the sad truth is most people are more willing to listen to the world rather than to God, and they would rather follow the desires of their own flesh than God’s good pleasure. The world promises things that are temporary and inferior, and it is served with great eagerness. The Lord promises things that are most high and eternal, yet the hearts of people are not receptive.

For-little-pay-many-will

God reaches out and seeks those who will love and obey him in all things. If we ask why, consider: For little pay many will undertake a long journey, but for everlasting life many will scarcely lift a foot once from the ground! The pitiful reward is sought after; there are sometimes shameful arguments over such a small amount of money, and for something worthless. Then, at the slightest promise of reward, people do not hesitate to work day and night. For an unchangeable good, an inestimable reward, the highest honor, and glory without end, many complain about getting even a little tired. Be ashamed! As a lazy and complaining servant, they are found to be more eager for eternal death than we are for eternal life.

Our eternal hope rests in humble eyes and ears to recognize and receive God’s message each day.

My daily prayer: Lord God, although I read with my eyes and hear with my ears the truths and commands of your Word, I pray your Holy Spirit will open my eyes and ears to truly see and hear with divine inspired understanding your message that comes from your Word. Lord, I realize the shortfall of relying upon my own understanding and even with seeking the explanation and exposition of others. Without your divine inspiration, my efforts to understand will always be filtered by my own human, temporal abilities. Only through your Spirit speaking to my spirit will I be able to walk daily in truth of your Word applied correctly to my life. Thank you, my Lord for dwelling within my heart, counseling, guiding, comforting, and protecting me each and every day. Amen.

For additional reading: Psalm 85:8; 94:12-13; 119:36-37; 119:125; 1 Samuel 3:2-9; Deuteronomy 32:2; Exodus 20:19; Philippians 4:13; John 6:68; John 6:63-64

 

The Crossroads to the King’s Highway Part 2

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

The Crossroads to the King’s Highway, Part 2 of 2

The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:16-17

It is God’s will for us to suffer trials that offer no immediate comfort, and that we should submit ourselves completely to him and become humble in our suffering. Why, because no one can relate to the sufferings of Christ as much as the person who has suffered like him. Therefore, the message of the Cross is always before us and waits for us in every circumstance we endure. We cannot escape from it no matter where we run. Wherever we may run to escape it, we bring ourselves and we still will find ourselves.

If-we-cast-away-one

Whether above, below, within or without – wherever we may turn ourselves – the cross will be there waiting. Everywhere we may turn in this life, we are called to exercise patience if we desire inward peace and seek the joy God promises in the message of the Cross. If we carry the cross begrudgingly we will add a new burden for ourselves and increase our load; though unwilling, we must still carry it. If we cast away one cross we will without doubt find another one, and that one may be even heavier. Do we think we can escape what no other mortal has ever avoided? There are no saints who have walked without crosses and tribulations. Not even our Jesus Christ went one hour while he lived without the anguish of suffering and the threat of crucifixion. Why do any of us seek any other way than the way of the cross we are called to carry?

Christ’s whole life pointed to the Cross. Thus, why seek rest and joy for ourselves, because we would be doubly deceived if we expect anything different than a life of trials and tribulations for ourselves. Our whole mortal life will be full of adversities and marked on every side by all the crosses we embraced along the journey that we call life. Our crosses represent our surrender and submission to God’s will. Likewise, our crosses increase their burden upon us as we grow closer to God’s love. However there is good news: God brings comfort for our increasing burdens that we bear for him. Once we willingly put ourselves under the weight of the crosses we bear, all the burden of adversity is turned into confidence of future divine comfort. This does not come from the power of a person. It comes only from the grace of God, as it was revealed in Christ. Thus, when crosses come we must realize they are pointing to the crossroads that lead to the King’s Highway.

My daily prayer: Lord God, your message of the Cross, even with its images of death and pain, brings joy and hope because of your promises. Just as you raised your Son Jesus from the tomb on the other side of the cross, I am confident your promise for us to be raised from our willingness to bear our cross and deny self, even to death, is truth, and worthy of our faith. Lord, help me to bear the burdens and shame of my crosses, and focus my faith upon you alone for the comfort you promise through the sufferings we may endure in this life. Thank you my Lord and Savior, and may my life be directed by your cross and help my family and friends to follow your Cross onto the King’s Highway where comfort is found. Amen

For additional reading: Hebrews 2:10; 5:8; Revelation 21:4; Luke 24:46, 26; Acts 5:41; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29-30; Matthew 6:19-20

The Crossroads to the King’s Highway

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

The Crossroads to the King’s Highway, Part 1 of 2

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

What does it mean when Jesus called every disciple to deny “self”, take up our cross, and follow him? What is harder to hear? His conditions of discipleship or “I assure you, I do not know you!” (Matthew 25:14)

However, hope rests within those of us who willingly listen and choose to follow the Gospel message that Jesus shared that led him onto the cross. We who choose to follow faithfully will not fear everlasting separation from God on our day of judgment. It is then that all who have in their lifetime conformed themselves to become a reflection of Christ crucified who will draw near to the Judge with great confidence.

God’s own Word declares that if we confidently proclaim the message we have received in our heart from Christ, whether convenient or not; rebuke and encourage others with great patience and teaching, we will see our Lord as our gracious and righteous judge who will welcome us at the end of the journey of this lifetime. For this reason, why should we fear to take up the cross that leads us to heaven? The cross we are offered to take up offers salvation, life, and protection from our enemies, infusion of heavenly sweetness, strength of mind, joy of spirit, height of virtues, and the perfection of holiness. (Thomas a’ Kempis, Imitation of Christ)

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There is no salvation of the soul or hope of everlasting life but through the message of the Cross. Therefore, take up our cross is the call of Christ to follow him, and enter into eternal life with him. He went before us bearing his cross and died upon it for us, so that we may also bear our cross in our lifetime and desire to die spiritually upon that cross. Assuredly, through the message of the Cross, if we have died with him, we will also live with him. Death will no longer hold us captive in fear, and if we will share his suffering we will also share his glory.

Everything is in the Cross and depends upon our dying upon its message to our lives, for there is no other way to life and true inward peace but by the way of the message of his cross and the daily discipline it demands of us. Taking up our cross means simply that we are willing to seek after God’s will alone, no matter the circumstances or consequences; setting our will down, denying self, willing to suffer now to be able to rejoice with him who revealed the way, life and truth that leads to the Father. No matter where we go, seek what we will, we will not find a higher way above or a safer way below than the way of the Cross that Christ revealed for us.

Set in order all things according to our will and judgment, and yet we will always find that it is necessary that we suffer somehow, either willingly or unwillingly. We will always find the Cross of Christ there waiting for us as a marker pointing to the King’s Highway. For either choice we find at the crossroads in this life, we will find physical pain or suffer spiritual tribulation, or both, in our soul. We may even feel forsaken by God, troubled by others, or even burdened within ourselves, but as God pleases, we are called to endure it patiently, trusting his will for us. The choice at the crossroads is which offers eternal peace after the pain is behind us?

My daily prayer: Lord Jesus, my Savior and my Salvation, in you alone I realize my hope, my faith, and my love, truly rests. It is because of the message we find at your Cross that the Gospel has the power of God for our freedom from sin, and for salvation. It is by the Cross I have assurance in my heart, soul, mind and strength that declares the courage to face the obstacles that stand before me, risking suffering and grief for your sake. I know that even when my eyes have fallen off the Cross as my guide and I have stumbled, You have remained faithful and Your glory encouraged me to look upward again and seek your grace and mercy, restoring onto the path that the Cross leads me. Lord Jesus, thank you my Savior, and I seek daily to understand the message to deny my “self” and to take up my cross daily, and then follow you. If I try to follow before I have done what you have asked I will never ever be able to follow: the Cross will not be evident in my life. Thank you Lord for sharing that message within my heart, and please reveal your Cross and the Gospel message upon the hearts of my family, and keep them in your eternal and righteous care. Amen

For additional reading: Mark 8:34-35; Matthew 25:14; 25:41; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18; Colossians 1:20; Romans 6:6-9; 8:16-17; Acts 5:41; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29; Luke 14:29

 

Love’s Conflict of Interest

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Love’s Conflict of Interest

Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:17-20

The Son of God has many who love his heavenly kingdom, but few who bear the burden of his cross. He has many who desire comfort, but few who desire tribulation. He finds many companions seeking to sit at his table, but few who fast often. Like the travails of the Apostle Paul, who sought labor and hardship, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst; often lacking shelter and proper clothing?

All desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to suffer anything for him – or with him; although we are promised that as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ. So because of Christ, are we pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in other pressures of life? Like Paul, do we believe that we are weak before we become strong?

Many-follow-Jesus-into

It has been given to us on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to struggle and suffer for and with him. Do we truly understand what that means or are they merely words we claim? Many follow Jesus into the breaking of bread, seeking fellowship with him, but few willingly seek to the drink of the cup of his suffering. Many of us revere and desire his miracles, but few choose to share in the humiliation of his cross. Many claim to love Jesus, so long as adversities do not happen in their lives. Many praise him, so long as they receive comfort from him. However, if Jesus abides in us and then leaves for even a little while, how many of us start complaining or become depressed?

How powerful can our love for Jesus be when mixed with self interest or self love? Those of us who love Jesus for who he is and do not seek some special comfort of our own – they are the ones who bless him amidst all heartache, tribulation and anguish of real life. There is no difference in their love that is found also in a state of highest comfort and peace. However, those who are always seeking to receive comfort should be called “mercenary,” because they only reveal their association with him when they receive compensation. Do they not know that they are lovers of themselves, not Christ? They only desire profit and advantage from their relationship.

Where can one be found, who is willing to serve God for nothing? It is rare that one becomes so spiritually disciplined that they have surrendered their “white knuckle grasp” upon all worldly things. Consider how hard it is to find anyone who is truly poor in spirit and free from the world’s afflictions and influences. Such a person would give all their material possessions over as if it was nothing. That person would practice great repentance and still sense in their heart that it is not enough. That person would obtain all knowledge and realize only how little they really know and far removed they are from knowing God. That person may live extremely virtuous and be fervently devoted, yet lack much, because it would be recognized that we lack one thing that is most necessary for us. What is that one thing? Leave everything. Forsake ourselves. Turn completely away from our desires. Keep nothing for ourselves out of self-love. Release our “white knuckle grasp” onwhat pleases us to seek our Savior. Yet, when we have done all that is to be done, so far as we know and are able, we must think of it as having done nothing. We should recognize this one thing: We are in truth an unprofitable servant in, for and with Christ. However, at that point, we will realize that no one will be richer than us, no one more powerful, and no one more free for we can freely disregard all things we value in this world and set ourselves in the lowest place, and rejoice with our Savior, who exalts us with his blessings.

My daily prayer: Lord Jesus, in your holy name, I seek to understand within me the joy and comfort of knowing you for your sake, not for my sake. I rejoice in the blessings that flow from walking along side of you each day, no matter what is going on around me. May all I say and do today honor and praise you, and I lay at the foot of your cross all my worries and concerns. There is far too much in life that will affect me and my family that I have little control over, and it is in those situations I can only trust in you to handle those matters, directing my daily steps according to the perfect, good and pleasing will of the Father that you reveal through me. Lord, embrace my family and hedge them in as they seek you, and may I be a disciple of truth to inspire my family and others to seek you in their lives as well. Even if they begin the journey seeking their own comfort, Lord at least they have turned to you, and I believe as I have done, they will also realize the one truth to real comfort once they come to really know you as their personal Lord and Savior. Amen

For additional reading: 2 Corinthians 1:5; 11:27; 12:10; Philippians 1:29-30; 2:21; Luke 9:14; 17:10; 18:14; 22:41-42; Mark 10:38; Matthew 16:24-25

Gratitude, a Reflection of God’s Grace

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Gratitude, a Reflection of God’s Grace

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom all glory forever and ever. Amen Galatians 1:3-5

Everything-that-is-high

Thomas a’ Kempis wrote: Everything that is high in not holy. Everything sweet is not good. Every desire is not pure. Everything precious to us is not pleasing to God.

In my heart I realize that grace aims to make me more humble. Grace will make me more influenced by holy fear – reverential awe for my Lord and Savior. Grace will make me more ready to renounce my “self” so that I may live with a servant’s heart for my Savior.

We are taught by the grace of God, but we learn by the withdrawing of the gift of grace. Its withdrawal is God’s way of reminding us that we should not attribute any good to ourselves. Grace is his abundant but unmerited gift.

By God’s grace we learn to give to him what is his and assign to ourselves what is truly ours – which in reality is only our imperfectness and the consequences of our imperfections. God’s grace reveals that we should place ourselves in the lowest position and the highest will be revealed to us; the highest cannot be found without the foundation of the lowest. The greatest of the saints before God are the least in their own estimations and judgments, and the more saintly they are, the more humble they are within themselves.

In God’s grace we will come realize:

  • Those who are full of truth and heaven’s glory have no desire for worthless, earthly glory.
  • Those who are firmly settled and grounded in God cannot be proud.
  • Those who attribute to God all the good they have received do not seek glory from others, but wish only for the glory of God alone; desire above all that God be praised within themselves and in all the saints.

Be thankful for every small gift so that we might be worthy to receive greater gifts. Let the least gift be to us as the greatest. The value of the gift lies within the giver!

Even in discipline we should thank God, because whatever he permits to happen to us, he does it for our welfare. Be thankful for God’s grace that is given, patient when it is taken away, prayerful for its return, and cautious and humble to never lose it.

My daily prayer: Heavenly Father, gracious Savior and Lord, I thank you for your love and grace, which comes in so many ways in my life. Even when I have stumbled you have been faithful to respond when I needed your forgiveness and help to get back up. You have always been there for me, and I realize it is not because of anything I have done, but your love and grace alone is what I have been able to rely upon. Lord, guide and direct my steps today, by even the simplest of your gifts of grace I will rejoice and offer praise to you. Protect my family and may you use me to serve them in love as you love them. Remove all fears and help me to walk confidently in faith, each and every day. Thank you my Lord and Savior. Amen.

For additional reading: Matthew 22:21; Luke 14:10; Hebrews 17:5-11

True Comfort is Possible

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

True Comfort is Possible

For you are called to freedom, brothers, only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. Galatians 5:13

Can we trust in the great mercy of God and in the hope of his heavenly grace! Whether we are surrounded with good people, well-grounded, spiritual brothers and sisters – faithful friends; holy books with beautiful teachings to read; sweet songs and hymns to sing, all of these only help and please only a little should grace leave our midst and we remain in our own spiritual poverty. It is in such times that there is no better remedy than to have patience, remain resolute and deny ourselves according to the will of God.

For-no-one-is-worthy-of

Everyone, no matter their spiritual maturity, will experience God’s grace being withdrawn and feel their spiritual zeal decrease. There has never been a saint so highly enraptured and enlightened who was not tempted sooner or later. For no one is worthy of the higher contemplation of God who has not been spiritually developed by some tribulation for God’s sake.

Temptation is but a sign that proceeds a time of comfort yet to come. For this reason, heavenly comfort is promised to those who are proved by temptations. Divine comfort is given to strengthen a person to endure the certainty of adversities in life. Temptation follows divine comfort to prevent us from growing proud of any good we might feel we have done, because the devil does not sleep and our carnality is not yet dead. We must never cease preparing ourselves for the battle at hand; the enemies who never rest are all around us. However, we can find solace in the fact that we are not alone in our temptations and trials that will certainly come upon us. All of us must take up the full armor of God for the battle we face each day to find his comfort that will come through the victory that he alone gives us when we trust in him alone.

Why should we seek to rest and ignore our troubles when we are born to labor? Commit ourselves to patience rather than to comfort, and to bearing the cross rather to pursue pleasure. Be prepared for the temptations and trials that we will most assuredly have to face. However, who in this world would refuse the joy and comfort that the life of Christ revealed, if we could have it as well? There is no comparison to the joy and comfort he reveals versus what could be received in this world. In fact, all the delights and pleasure from this world are worthless, temporal or unclean, but spiritual delights spring from virtue and are pleasant, eternal and true, given by God to those he chooses to receive as pure. However, we cannot take God’s delights anytime we desire, he alone dispenses according to his will. Thus, our times of temptation are not behind us! Bold confidence in ourselves to think freely within our own minds is contrary to divine direction given to us by God.

God treats us well by giving us grace that comforts, but we fail to please God when we fail to return to him thanksgiving from our hearts. As God’s channel of grace to others, we often fail to recognize the source of the many gifts of grace, thus disrupt their flow in and through us. Remember: Grace always accompanies the one who is duly thankful, and what is given to the humble comes at the expense of the proud!

Therefore, true, lasting comfort can only be realized when we become channels of God’s gift of grace to others, always allowing his grace to flow through our lives. God’s grace is abundant and free, overflowing to those who recognize by faith that his grace is best realized when it shared with others as freely as we received it.

My daily prayer: Gracious Lord and Savior, your word is truth and you have proclaimed that your grace is abundant and free to all who trust in you by faith. Please allow me to learn to be a channel of your grace so that your blessings flow to others as freely as they have fallen upon me from you. I recognize that I cannot grow in your grace unless others are growing around me, because I have opened myself as a channel of your grace to be used by you. May I begin to be a faithful and obedient channel of grace as a faithful husband, father, grandfather, son, and brother to my family! Lord, use me as you will to realize the blessings that you have for my family, because as they are comforted in your grace, I am comforted. Then Lord as you desire use me to reach others, but only as you desire me to be used, for your glory and pleasure. May your mercy and compassion be found when temptations attack me or my family. Do not allow the devil to win a victory because of me. In you alone is the victory! Rise up my Lord and Savior and protect us according to your abundant mercy and grace. Amen

For additional reading: Luke 9:23; 14:27; 1 Timothy 4:4-5; Revelation 2:7; 2 Corinthians 12:6-7, 9; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Matthew 9:37-38; John 7:38; James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34

 

Real Comfort is…

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Real Comfort is…

Because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Once we discover divine comfort it is easy to dismiss human comfort. Likewise, when we are lacking both divine comfort and human comfort, we cannot endure the sense of banishment and isolation that can fall upon our hearts, and we will seek comfort for one’s self in anything or justify one’s self to seek to fill the void.

However, God’s grace enables and encourages us to find genuine, lasting comfort. Everyone seeks to enjoy the benefits of his grace, because each person who benefits from his grace is exalted and guided by the sovereign hand of our Almighty Father. To those under his care there are no burdens we cannot endure.

Comfort is a need we have. We are always searching for something or someone to comfort us. It is extremely challenging to us to forsake ourselves – our need is for comfort. In that search we need to learn to part with even a near and dear friend to claim the love of God. Do not take it hard when you are deserted in return by a friend. Sooner or later, all of us must be separated from the comfort of one another. It is necessary so that we can strive to live long and mightily within ourselves before we can learn to master and understand ourselves completely and move all of our heart towards God. However, when we place our trust in ourselves, we lean too easily toward human comforts. But a person who truly loves Christ and truly seeks after his ways does not fall back upon worldly comforts or things pleasing our senses, but rather prefers difficulties and challenges just as Christ modeled for us by his life.

when-God-gives-us

Therefore, when God gives us spiritual comfort, receive it with thankfulness, but understand it is given to us as a gift of grace, and not because of any merit of ours. We should not be puffed up or overjoyed or proudly presumptuous because of the gift, but we are to remain humble for it and grow more watchful and fearful in how we respond to the gift, for surely temptation will soon follow. Likewise, we should not despair when the gift of his comfort is taken away from us, but wait humbly and patiently for another visit from him, for God is able to give us even greater comfort – greater grace – than we can believe.

As a saint we are to expect sudden spiritual changes that will take us out of times of comfort, but God is faithful and he will bring us back to the comfort of his presence in our lives. Whether in prosperity or times of despair and sense of separation from God’s immediate presence, we should proclaim: “I shall never be moved!” David provided his testimony that God’s Word reveals he received the fruit of prayer as he testified to the Lord’s response in his life. We should do likewise. The result was David’s desire to glorify the Lord for returning him to places of comfort near his Lord and Savior.

If great saints were dealt with in this way, we who are weak and poor in spirit should not despair if we are sometimes spiritually hot and sometimes spiritually cold, for the Spirit comes and goes according to the good pleasure of God’s will. What then can we hope and what should we trust – but in God’s great mercy alone and the hope of his grace? For God alone, his grace and presence in our lives should be the sole anchor of our faith and hope as we face the challenges and temptations in this life – there alone we will enjoy the comfort we desire and eternally deserve!

My daily prayer: Father God, in you alone I know that lasting, genuine comfort – the true peace in my heart, soul, mind and spirit resides. I thank you for your faithful mercy and compassion. I am humbled by your forgiveness when I have wandered to find comforts that never satisfied and led to conflict or chaos in my life. In you alone rest the comfort that fills the void when you are not in my life. I thank you my Lord and Savior. Please reveal this truth to my loved ones and my friends through the way my life reflects your presence upon my life. May all praise, glory and honor always rest upon you alone in my life. Amen

For additional reading: Matthew 26:41; Job 42:12; Psalm 30:6-11; John 3:8; Galatians 5:5; Colossians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Hebrews 6:18-19

Sharing Your Life with Christ

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Sharing Your Life with Christ

I pray not only for these (his closest disciples) but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the whole world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20-23

Sharing intimately with the way, truth and life of Jesus requires careful thought and wisdom to maintain the conversation. The qualities one must seek to reflect his dominance in our life are: humility, peace, sincerity, and patience. If we identify with these qualities then Jesus will remain with us and share himself through us. When approaching the way, truth and life of Jesus do not turn to outward things to be able to connect with him, because we will lose the sense of his presence within us, and if that happens then where will we go or to whom shall we turn as a friend? Without a friend we can eternally place our trust we cannot live well, and if Jesus is not above everything a friend to us, we will indeed be sad and desolate.

Therefore, if we trust or rejoice in any other thing or person then what Jesus means to us, we risk acting like a fool. It is certainly far better to have the whole world against us than to offend the way, truth and life of Jesus that we have within us. Among all that is dear to us, let Jesus alone be the first and foremost among the beloved, because when we love who Jesus is to us, we reveal our love God! Jesus is the Christ (the anointed Son of God) and he alone is to be loved above all other influences in our life, for he alone is good and faithful above all other friends we may claim in this world.

Those who are friends with Christ and enemies of Christ should receive equal attention in our daily prayers, so that all may know and love him. Likewise, never consider one’s self above others more worthy of some sort of praise or care. Only God alone is worthy of special praise and honor. Never desire the inner desires of anyone be centered upon us, nor do not place our inner desires upon anyone at the center of our heart – Christ alone should be at the center of our heart, thus the focus of our inner desires.

when-tribulations-come

Be pure and free within so that our heart is not entangled with that of any other person or thing of this world. We should likewise be transparent and open before God, always ready to bring our heart before him, if we seek to be free to experience the Lord. Likewise, unless his grace precedes and draws us, we will never discover the happiness found in total surrender to him. For when the grace of God, which comes by repentance and confession, we are enabled to do all things. Thus when tribulations come, and they will, we should not be dejected or despair, but rather rest steadfast in God’s will, and whatever comes upon us endure it for the glory of Jesus Christ – for after winter comes summer, and after night comes day, and after the violent storm comes a great calm!

My daily prayer: Lord Jesus, in your most holy name, my Savior and Strength, I humbly offer all praise and glory to you. I recognize that it is no longer I that live but you who lives within me. Each day is a glorious day when I can commune with you and sense your presence in my life through your Spirit within me. Thank you Lord Jesus for offering the gift of the Father’s covenant care within my life; I recognize there will be good times and there will be bad times that will come and go in my lifetime, but whether good or bad, each day is a blessing when I have you in control of my life. Please use my life to reveal you to my family and to all those others whom you desire to have me share you with for your purposes. Lord, I love you, and stand in awe of all the many blessings I and my family have realized merely because of your name sake and the fact that you love us. Amen.

For additional reading: John 3:18-20; 16:33; Galatians 6:14; Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27-28

 

We Have a Friend Forever

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

We Have a Friend Forever

As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and in His love. I have spoken these things to you first so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is what I command you: love one another. John 15:9-17

When the way, truth, and life of Jesus resides within us then everything is well and nothing seems difficult, but when we refuse the way, truth and life of Jesus everything is hard! When Jesus is within us, even one solitary word whispered within our heart brings comfort into our life.

Consider the joy we felt when we first heard the words of Jesus calling for us to come and follow him. It is truly a happy, memorable moment whenever the words of Jesus call us from tears to spiritual joy! In contrast, without him, we became dry and hard! Without him, we became foolish and arrogant!

Life-without-God-is-HELL

Not having a relationship with Jesus is a greater loss than if we should lose the whole world. What can this temporal world offer us that can ever replace the message that connects us to our eternal Lord and Savior? Life without God is HELL; life with God is HEAVEN. If the way, truth and life of Jesus is with us, what enemy can harm us? The one who finds the good treasure that Jesus reveals discovers the good that is above all good which defines good!

The one who loses what Jesus offers us loses much – yes, more than the whole world! The poorest person is the one who lives without Jesus, and the richest person is the one who is in favor with Jesus, because that person also pleases God. When we become a friend of Jesus, we become a friend and adopted child of God, an heir of his abundant blessings and care – heaven becomes our home, because we are welcomed by our friend, Jesus. He has promised that he has prepared for our new residence with God, and that he will reside with us in this life as our friend. This is a friendship that will protect and provide for us, because he has already demonstrated his love for us so that we may enjoy the abundant joy of his friendship now and forever.

My daily prayer: Lord Jesus, I welcome your eternal friendship and desire with all my heart, soul, mind and spirit to live according to your commands by relying upon your Spirit to guide and direct my life. In this world we all have a choice, and I have felt the life of conflict that can exist between living in obedience to you and trying to please God while also seeking to fulfill the desires of the flesh and the world’s influence upon me. I have repented since I realize such a conflict cannot survive within me. Either you remain without conflict, or the world reigns within me without conflict. I choose you and the life you offer me in the Spirit, which pleases God. All I have done is experience the trials and tribulation that comes from competing in this selfish world to try and satisfy what can never be satisfied by this world. You alone – your love, your friendship – satisfy and sanctify my life. You alone remove conflict and chaos from my life. You alone are steadfast as my friend – and you have paid the price that no other friend or brother is willing to give. Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me and not giving up on me. Use me as your servant to draw my family and friends into the same relationship that I have with you. And, may the Father be pleased. Amen

For additional reading: John 11:28; 14:1-6; Matthew 13:44; 16:26; Psalm 27:1; 28:7; Luke 12:21; Romans 8:4-9

 

First, Foremost and Forever Focus

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Lord God – First, Foremost and Forever

How happy are those whose way is blameless, who live according to the law of the Lord! Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart. Psalm 119:1-2

How happy are those who realize what it is to love the ways, truth, and life of Jesus, and turn away from their ways, truths and lives for his sake. To realize such a blessing means that without reservation or doubt we love God first and foremost above all our other loves, because the Father seeks our love and are most worthy of all our love above all other things, thoughts, desires and people. Why, because our love of created beings and things causes deceit and distracts us from our love for him and his love for us, which is faithful and everlasting. Those who place their love for others above his love will fail and fall with those they have placed their love, but those who remain steadfast in their love first and foremost in him will stand firmly forever. Long after all others have faded away or fallen away, our Lord God will be there for those who place their love upon him alone, above all others, because he will never forsake or forget us nor allow us to perish in the end.

We must someday be separated from everything, whether we want to be or not. Keep close to the following in the footsteps left by Jesus in life and in death; in his leadership alone trust – for he alone can help us when all others fail.

Without any doubt we should recognize God does not permit any rivalry for our love. He demands to have our hearts for him alone and to be the center of our lives residing as Lord within us. If we could free ourselves completely from all others, he would willingly dwell through Christ Jesus who guides us.

Most of the trust we place in people instead of him is little better than lost. Do not trust or lean upon a weed blown by the wind, for “all flesh is grass” and all its glory will wither away like the flower of the field. Otherwise, we will quickly be deceived if we look only at the outward appearance of people. Sad but true, if we seek comfort and benefit from them we will most often be disappointed. If we seek the ways, life, and truth provided by Jesus in all things – we will surely find the Father. But, if we seek ourselves, or others as fallible as ourselves, we will also find ourselves to our own harm. For if we fail to discover the life giving leadership and example offered by our Lord God, we hurt ourselves more than the whole world and all our adversaries will ever hurt us.

Therefore, choose this day who or what you will serve: Lord God, first, foremost and forever – or, whatever you believe deserves your love and loyalty more! Which will stand and which will fall in the end?

My daily prayer: Heavenly Lord and Savior, my heart longs for the joy of your presence and influence of my life. I cannot begin to imagine my life without you. In the times when I have had any conflict of interest in my heart, the pain alone has always driven be back quickly to you my Lord. Lord, may I never feel the pain of life without you in my life. This world offers too much conflict and adversity in my life, and I need you to save me and guide me through the “shadow of death”, so that I may not fear the evil that lurks to trap me. I have stumbled enough on my own, and I certainly do not desire to be tripped up by the wickedness of this world. And I know there are those who seek to harm me because of who I represent – you, my Lord and Savior. For your sake Lord, do not let them fulfill their desires and plans to cause me to be disgraced, which will bring shame to your name on my account. Hold me tight Lord and rescue me! I am yours, first, foremost and forever. Amen

For additional reading: Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Luke 14:27; Hebrews 13:5; Mark 10:28-30; 2 Corinthians 6:17; Ephesians 3:16-19; Revelation 3:20; Isaiah 40:6-7

 

A Pure Conscience is a Good Conscience

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

A Pure Conscience is a Good Conscience

All a man’s ways seem right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your activities to the Lord and your plans will be achieved. The Lord has prepared everything for His purpose – even the wicked for the day of disaster. Everyone with a proud heart is detestable to the Lord; be assured he will not go unpunished . Wickedness is atoned for by loyalty and faithfulness, and one who turns from evil by the fear of the Lord. When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:2-7

The glory of God within a good person is the testimony of a good conscience.” (Thomas a’ Kempis, Imitation of Christ)

Have a good conscience and there always will be joy! When we have the joy of a good conscience then we will be able to endure a great deal and remain cheerful in difficult times. Unlike the good conscience, the evil conscience always is fearful and restless due to its propensity to exaggerate its circumstances. Therefore, always bear in mind that “rest comes upon a heart that is at peace within itself,” which produces a good conscience. However, rejoice only when we have done well, because it is the blessing of the Lord to you.

The-glory-of-God-within

Sinners cannot claim peace which can only come from God. His wrath will certainly follow and their deeds will be brought to nothing and their thoughts perish. However, it is not hard for a person who loves and glorifies the Cross of our Lord to rejoice in all circumstances wholeheartedly. A person who loves and glorifies Christ should never consider the glory that is given and received from other people as anything more than temporal glory, because sorrow always accompanies any glory that comes from the world. However, the glory of a good conscience is not found in the words of people. The gladness and joy of the just is from God and solely flows from God alone, and that joy also flows from the truth, without favoritism or selfish motives.

Likewise, if our conscience is pure we will easily be satisfied and restored to peace. Thus, consider this fact of faith: We are not more holy when we are praised or more worthless when we are without praise. We are what we are, and we cannot claim to be any greater than what we are in the sight of God. If we dwell upon what we are within us, then we will not dwell upon what people may say about us. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks within the heart. People evaluate what a person does; God evaluates why a person does what a person does.

To be always doing well and have little regard for oneself is the sign of a humble soul. It is a sign of great purity and inward confidence not to look for comfort from any person. Such a person is a spiritually mature person who walks inwardly with God and is not sustained by any outward feelings. The purity and goodness of a spiritually mature person’s conscience is the blessing of God’s pleasure, and it is revealed through the actions and attitude of such a humble servant seeking God’s approval and not the recognition of people.

My daily prayer: Heavenly Father, in your Word according to the prophet Isaiah, You declared that if we will turn our focus upon you, salvation from the challenges of this world and its values will be the reward. When we turn to you as our Savior, our lives will be changed and there is nothing that can harm us. Well Lord, I am seeking not only to be the apple of your eye, but likewise that you are the apple of my eyes. Father, I take you by your Word that when I focus my life, all of me, to honoring and glorifying you I will walk daily with a pure conscience that will recognized as a good conscience, which will come under the influence of your Spirit. My Lord and Savior, even when my enemies surround me, I am at peace because my focus is upon you and not anyone or anything. I know that you have searched my heart and know my motives, and will protect and preserve me against any wrong accusations against me. Thank you my gracious Father and Savior. Amen

For additional reading: 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 4:5; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Isaiah 48:22; 2 Corinthians 10:17-18; Galatians 6:14; John 5:44; Psalm 63:11; Romans 5:11; 1 Samuel 16:7

Considering Our Spiritual Selves First

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Considering Our Spiritual Selves First

Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord with all Your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12: 29-31

Outside of considering our devotion and obedience to God first and foremost, Christ clearly has commanded us to love others as we love ourselves. Of course, there is a clear implication from the command – we must be concerned with loving who we are before God to be able to fulfill the command to love others as we should. It is not wrong and even mandatory that we consider our spiritual selves before we concern ourselves with our relationship with others in our life.

However, we cannot trust ourselves too much because God’s grace and understanding are often lacking in us. When we are called by God’s own word to “trust in the Lord with all our heart, and do not rely on our own understanding,” it is a call to accept our inability to guide our lives without spiritual guidance from God. For this very reason, God seeks to speak to our hearts because within each of us is but only a small amount of light, which is easily missed out of our negligence. As a result, without God’s divine inspiration, we are unaware of our own spiritual blindness. Our desperate state is evident when we do wrong by excusing ourselves for the wrong. We often confuse strong emotions for zeal, leading us to reprove small things in others to divert our attention from the greater concerns in ourselves. We are quick to respond and evaluate our suffering without even a thought about how others are suffering because of our selfish actions, words, and attitudes. Those who sincerely and truthfully consider their own actions will find little reason to judge others severely.

Christians should place spiritual progress before all other concerns, and diligently pay attention to their own selves. However, we will never be truly devout within ourselves unless we turn our spiritual eyes back onto ourselves rather than upon others. If we keep our focus upon God and ourselves, we will be less distracted by whatever surrounds us – less distracted by the evaluations and opinions of others.

We should consider where we pay the most attention when we are not focused upon ourselves. Can we possibly be focused on ourselves when we turn our concerns to everywhere else but upon ourselves? If we desire genuine, lasting peace of mind and true unity of purpose that comes from God, then we must increasingly put all other concerns behind us and look only to ourselves. Spiritual progress can only be accomplished when we free ourselves of all temporal concerns, which set ourselves back by focusing upon them and not spiritual concerns. Our primary concern must first be upon God himself or that which is from God. A soul that loves God will set aside as worthy anything that is inferior to God. God alone is everlasting and of infinite greatness, filling all of creation with solace for the soul and true joy in the heart of all who seek him.

When-our-hearts-and-our

When our hearts and our souls are focused upon pleasing God, we will understand that by loving him and obeying him, we will learn the joy of being in love with ourselves, which leads us to love others in the same manner that God loves us. Therefore, is it right for us to consider first our spiritual selves before concerning ourselves with the needs of others? Yes. God clearly says we cannot offer the right concern and care for others unless we can do likewise for ourselves, and God reveals that correct concern and care to us as we learn to love Him as he loves us.

My daily prayer: Lord God, my Creator and Author of love, faith and all hope in this world and beyond, I humbly seek to walk closer and closer to you each day so that I may learn how to love you as I should, which in turn will help me to understand how to love and understand myself. I realize that when I try to love others around me before loving and accepting myself as you have done, my life will be at risk of loving wrongly and ignoring my own well-being. It is too easy to fall into the trap of loving as the world desires us to love and not as you desire us to love, and how you demonstrate that love to us. Father God, I surrender my life to you and pray that I will devote more of my time and effort to understanding your love for me, so that I can apply that same love to my own life first. Then and only then will I be able to genuinely and rightly be concerned and care for others with the love that is eternal and not temporal in origin. And Father, may I exhibit and encourage that understanding to my family each day. Amen.

For additional reading: Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 141:4; Matthew 7:5; 16:26; 1 Corinthians 4:3; Galatians 1:10; Philippians 3:13; Ecclesiastes 1:14

Peace from Humility, Purity and Simplicity

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Add to Humility, Purity and Simplicity to Produce Peace

Therefore dear friends, since we have such promises (of God’s covenant relationship), we should wash ourselves clean from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, making our sanctification complete in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

What great thing is it to associate with the good and gentle, it certainly pleases all; there peace willingly resides, as everyone is in agreement. However, living at peace with others who are contrary to us and not seeking peace themselves is where great grace resides; such an accomplishment is likewise very commendable and courageous.

The key point is this: We should always strive to keep ourselves at peace inwardly, as well as outwardly with all others, even those who struggle to find peace within their selves or allow others to be in peace. Our hope for genuine peace lies within us. We have the choice and the ability to maintain peace and bring peace to others. No doubt, pursuing and maintaining peace in this life offers constant challenges. There is always a daily dose of adversity that challenges us in our humble efforts, and we must hold fast to our peace and the peace we desire to have with others.

There are two things that lift a person in pursuit of peace from the influence of the world and produce a pleasing life to God: simplicity and purity. Our intentions should be based upon simplicity of thought and purity in feelings. Simplicity clears the clutter between us and God, while purity allows us to understand and enjoy God. Simplicity and purity filter out immoderate feelings and keep out anything that will impede spiritual maturity.

Truly, if we focus solely upon pleasing God, seeking only his will and ways, and likewise the welfare of our neighbors, we will thoroughly enjoy a life of liberty – of peace – in Christ Jesus. With sincerity and truth in our heart, our spiritual eyes will see God’s message in all of his creation. God declares that there is no creature, small or lowly, that does not offer a revelation of his glory and sovereignty. If we have been inwardly good and pure, then we can see and understand God’s revelation clearly. God even declares that a pure heart will penetrate heaven and hell, and have a clear awareness of their reality and relevance. In that light of reality and relevance, as we are inwardly, we will judge ourselves and others outwardly.

If-there-is-joy-in-this

If there is joy in this world, the pure of heart will find it and possess it. If there is tribulation and anxiety, those of an evil conscience will experience it and live it. In the same manner as the iron-smith purifies his iron from the rust in the fire, so too we are transformed into a new creation, if we seek to turn ourselves over to God. In that process of purification, we should be aware that while the revealing of our old is being burnt away as the rust from the pure iron, we are likely to grow afraid and seek old comforts. But when we stand fast and the process is allowed to continue we will find ourselves perfectly and courageously seeking the ways pleasing to God. We will know because the light of God will draw us, not frighten us as before the process began.

When we complete the process of transformation we come to the point as a new creation before God that we discover the fruit of purity leads to simplicity in our life, which produces a peace that surpasses all understanding. All fear is gone; joy and contentment reside where any fear once held its grip upon our lives.

My daily prayer: Heavenly Father, gracious Lord and Savior, hear my prayer this day that asks that you not give up on me. Please help me to stand fast in the purification process of my life. I desire that all fear in my life be removed along with anything from this world that has tried to cling to my life as I have come to know and seek you. I realize there is no room for compromise in a life that chooses to follow you my Lord. I must deny ALL of myself and open ALL of my heart, mind, soul and strength to your will, ways, and wisdom in my life. Then and only then will I enjoy the peace I desire that comes from a life of purity and simplicity. Father, please help me not for my sake but for your name sake, and for the sake of my family and those you have placed before me as my neighbors. May I not only know what it means to live for and in Christ, but also to be a life for and in Christ that others will desire for themselves. Thank you Lord for not giving up on me. Amen

For additional reading: Romans 1:20; 8:16-17; 8:37; Proverbs 3:3-4; Psalm 119.100; 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 15:14; James 2:5; Titus 1:15

Humility Discovers Peace

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Humility Discovers Peace

Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:-7

When we truly only focus upon living for Christ and seek God’s ways in everything we do, what should it matter who is for us or against us? Our goal must be to simply have a good conscience and trust God will defend us. Why, because no one can harm anyone whom God helps. And, if we suffer in silence, we will, without doubt, see that the Lord will help us. He knows when and how to deliver us and it is for our own good that we should submit ourselves to Him. It is God’s purpose to help and to deliver us from all the chaos and confusion that arises in our lives.

However, to help us to realize our need to become humble, it is often to our benefit for others to recognize and rebuke our faults. When we are humbled through our failings, then we will discover peace with others and seek to satisfy those who are angry with us.

Why is this so important for us? It is the humble whom God protects, delivers, loves, comforts, favors, gives great grace, and after their humiliation is raised to glory. As his Word reassures us, the Lord reveals his secrets to the humble and sweetly draws and invites them to himself. When the humble are rebuked they remain in peace because their rest is from God and not from the world. Do not think that we have made any spiritual progress unless we feel that we are inferior to all others; thereby genuinely seek to be humble before the Lord by his gift of grace in our lives. When we are blessed with God’s gift of grace, then we will be able to truly bring genuine peace to others around us. Once we achieve that peace that comes from God, there is a power that we realize which is greater than any knowledge we may have attained.

We should also be aware that a person dominated by their own powerful emotions will turn good into evil, and will easily believe and follow the ways of evil. However, a person who discovers the good of peace within them turns all things to good. The person at peace is not suspicious of others, but the person who is controlled by their own emotions is seemingly always discontented and troubled. The person controlled by their emotions is tossed about, not settled or trusting, affecting others to feel restless as well. Such a person is quick to speak when listening would be best, and neglects doing the things that should be done. Such an unstable person is focused upon the responsibilities of others, but neglects their own responsibilities. We should be zealous about our responsibilities first, and then we can justly and lovingly be zealous about our neighbor’s well-being. Otherwise, it may be true of ourselves that we know how to excuse and color our own actions, attitudes and words, but we are not willing to accept the excuses of others. True justice for us would be to accuse ourselves and excuse others! If we desire to be endured by others, learn first to endure others.

Look-carefully-how-far

Look carefully how far we still are from true love and humility, for those virtues do not know how to be angry or indignant with others, but only with our “self.”

My daily prayer: Lord in heaven, mighty God and Savior, I pray this day that you would reveal my shortcomings within me through the loving and passionate rebuke of those whom you choose to be your agents for my good in this life. Lord, help me to have a submissive, humble spirit so that I may hear and not reject the rebuke that would come. I pray that your Spirit will stir my heart to humble my own spirit so that I can recognize what others may see in me that I cannot. Lord, may your Spirit stir my conscience and inner soul to discipline myself towards the change that is needed to be more pleasing to your will, ways, and wisdom, and may I become more obedient to your Word for my life. Father God, how can I rightly judge or rebuke others when it is I who need it most? Lord, help me Lord to truly understand how humble submission will lead to the inner peace I desire to have with you, my Lord and Savior. Amen

For additional reading: Romans 8:31; 1 Corinthians 4:3; Psalm 28:7; Job 5:11; James 5:6; Matthew 7:3; 11:25; John 6:44; Galatians 6:2

Humility: Surrender of Self

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Humility: Surrender of Self

It is of little importance that I should be evaluated by you or by a human court. In fact, I don’t even evaluate myself. For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. The one who evaluates me is the Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4

What should it matter what person is for or against us, if we are living faithfully and carefully with God in everything we do? When the Lord is with us, who could possibly stand against us? Should the judgment of others bother us, if we are willing to stand before the Judge of our lives? God alone judges us without prejudice and without any partiality.

If we have a good conscience, then we know that God will defend us, and therefore no one’s perseverance can harm anyone whom God will help. He knows when and how to deliver us, and therefore is most worthy of our submission. It is God’s purpose to help and deliver all from any confusion; to make us more humble. It is even for our benefit according to his will that others should get to experience and rebuke our faults.

When we humble ourselves as the result of our short falls, then we more able to satisfy the rebuke from others and their anger is quickly subdued. For this reason, it is when we humble ourselves that the Lord protects and delivers us, loves and comforts us, gives great grace to us, and after our humiliation raises us to glory. He reveals his secrets to us when we are humble before him, and he sweetly draws and invites us to his presence.

In-the-eyes-of-the-Lord

When we are humble before the Lord and we are rebuked by others, we will remain in peace because our rest is from God and not from the world. We should not think that we have made any spiritual progress unless we feel that we are inferior to all others. Our attitude of humility is the surrender of self, not only before the Lord, but also before all others, so that we can never claim any superiority over anyone else. In the eyes of the Lord, we are all equal. We are all imperfect beings seeking to live before God in an imperfect world.

My daily prayer: Lord of heaven and earth, my God and Savior, I pray that you have accepted my confessions when I have stumbled in this life. In the past I have struggled when others have judged and rebuked me, but now I find your good, perfect, and pleasing purpose when others reveal faults in my life. Yet, I do not take offense to their judgment either of my life. I am most of all surrendered to living rightly in your sight alone, because you Lord will protect me and stand by my side against those who seek me harm. Lord, please help me to reveal the humble spirit that pleases you so that my family and others may likewise see the joy and peace that comes from surrendering our “self” to you. Keep me from rebuking rebukes upon my life, and see the good that may come from realizing what others see in me. May my confidence in this life not come from anything I believe about myself, but as a result of the life I live surrendered to you, my Lord and Savior. Amen

For additional reading: Romans 8:31; Psalm 28:7; Job 5:11; Genesis 15:1; James 4:6; Matthew 11:25′ John 6:44

Discovering Our Inward Identity

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Discovering Our Inward Identity

But when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:10-12

If we were to look into the “mirror of our soul” what would we see? Would it reveal what we thought we would see? Would we find Christ revealed in us, or merely our own reflection?

If we once perfectly journeyed into the inner life of Christ, and tasted a little of his gracious, abundantly passionate love, then we would no longer be concerned about our own convenience or inconvenience. We would welcome the shame we would find there. Why? When we view our life in the light of his life, that comparison reveals us as we truly are. His strength reveals our weaknesses!

Those who are true Christians and genuinely embrace who Jesus was and is, and the truth he presents, and exist free of excessive emotions, can freely turn to God, arise in spirit, and joyously grasp the peaceful rest that we all desire. Those among us who can judge all things as they truly are and not as they appear to be are truly wise; guided by God rather than those of this world. When we are guided by God, we live inwardly and place small value on outward things. There is no need for a special time or place to grow spiritually to please the Savior. Such Christians are not hindered or distracted by work or business that may be necessary, but adjust their lives as is needed. They are rightly focused and organized – free from distractions of others. Only when we focus on external matters are we apt to be distracted and bothered by the strange and perverse behavior of others around us.

Nothing-destroys-and

When our spirit is reestablished and anchored by the Spirit of God, we will be instructed and guided by the Lord dwelling within us. Our lives will be built upon a foundation of righteousness. Oppression and fears will be removed as our inward lives reveal Christ within us. Certainly, if things were well with us, and we were purified from sin, all things would work out to our good, and for our spiritual growth. However, there remain many things that displease and often trouble us, because we are not yet perfectly dead to ourselves or separated from all worldly things. Nothing destroys and defiles and decays the heart like impure love for others or the things of this world. If we refuse outward comfort, we will be able to contemplate the inward peace and joy that flow from heaven. We should strive to come out from the clutches and bonds of this world and be separate. Then the Lord will welcome us, and reestablish his relationship within us, as he has promised.

While the Lord has called us to remain in the world for his purposes, inwardly we are called to not be of this world. We are called to dependent only upon him, and independent of the world and its influences.

My daily prayer: Heavenly Father God, I seek this day that you search my inward spirit, and reveal to me all that will distort or distract me from seeing Christ as I should within me. As I look into the mirror of my soul, all I desire to find is him plainly face to face. Father, please accept all my heart, soul, mind and strength, I am totally surrendering myself to you. Removing all of my “self” and the influence of this world from my inward focus remains a struggle, but it is what I desire so that I may live outwardly at peace, because inwardly I am at home with you and your son. May my life reflect the spiritual example that pleases you so that my family will follow me into the same relationship with you through Jesus, your son. Father, please remove from me any oppression, fear or burden that threatens my inward relationship with you. Reveal the way I should go in this world for your glory and honor and praise and I know such a journey will be all the reward I need in this lifetime. Amen.

For additional reading: 2 Corinthians 6:17; 12:10; Matthew 11:28-30; Isaiah 52:11; 54:13-14; Romans 8:28

Inwardly Secure, Outwardly Serene

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Inwardly Secure, Outwardly Serene

Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:23

Open our hearts to Christ, and deny entrance to all others. Why? Because, when we have Christ we will discover that we are eternally rich and have all we really need. He promised to be our faithful helper in all things and provide all our needs, so that we will not have to rely upon anyone or anything else. Cherish this truth in your heart: Where others have eventually failed us, Christ never will, and He stands firmly by our side until the end.

Therefore, refrain from putting great trust in frail and mortal people. Even though they may be beneficial and sincere to us, we should not be upset when they obstruct or even oppose us. They may certainly choose to stand by us today, but they may be against us tomorrow and their relationship with us will always be subject to change like the wind. Our trust should be in God alone. We should let him alone be the source of our fear and love. He alone will always answer us and do what is best for us. Unlike people in this world, he alone has our well-being in mind, and needs nothing from us.

Similarly, we do not have a lasting city in this world to call our secure home; we are but a stranger and a pilgrim wherever we are, and rest eludes us unless we are inwardly secure in Christ. When heaven is our home and we realize that all earthly things are but temporal, then why would we look elsewhere to places that might offer the rest we truly seek? All earthly things are but shadows. We should be careful about clinging to this world’s temporal things or we may be caught and thereby perish with them. Instead, fix all our thoughts on the things of heaven and pray unceasingly through Christ for God’s help and mercy while we traverse through this temporal world. And, when we struggle in contemplating heavenly things, rest in the suffering of Christ who experienced this world, and trust with an open mind and heart upon how it treated him too.

So what is our hope? There is comfort in this earthly realm if we will trust sincerely upon the works and words of Christ Jesus. In and through him, we will feel great comfort during the inevitable trials and tribulations. We will not be distracted by the slight of others, and we will easily endure their disparaging words.

Christ-had-adversaries

Remember, Christ also was in this world, just like us. He was despised and forsaken by his acquaintances and friends. He was falsely accused by those who could have been with him by his side to testify on his behalf. If Christ was willing to suffer humiliation and be despised, how do we dare to complain about how anyone is acting against us? Christ had adversaries and backbiters too! Christ was the focus of gossip and murmuring! Yet, we want everyone to like us and be our friend and encourage us. How will our patience warrant a crown if we have no adversity to test us in this temporal world? How can we be a friend of Christ if we are not willing to face adversity? If we want to reign with Christ, then we must identify with the life that Christ desires for us, even if it requires us to face suffering from others.

When adversity strikes, friends abandon us, and people whisper our name amongst themselves, what should be our concern? Should we run to please them and straighten out how they think about us? Should we be concerned about our reputation with them, or look to realize how we stand before Christ? Our sorrows and sins must be presented to the one source of true forgiveness. When we are inwardly secure in Christ, we will also be outwardly serene, no matter what is going on around us.

My daily prayer: Lord, please examine my heart, and accept me as your friend. Do not abandon me as others have when strife and suffering have crossed my path. I realize that I cannot please this world and you with the same heart. I cannot try to justify living for you by trying to live in friendship with others when it may be in conflict with your desire for me. Please forgive me, and rescue me from those who seek to harm me and my family for their personal gain and glory. I do not hold anything against anyone, and I pray your response will turn their hearts to you. Lord, I rejoice in feeling inwardly secure and thus outwardly serene, even when storms rage in this world. Thank you, Amen.

For additional reading: Hebrews 4:16; 13:5-8, 13-14; Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1; 1 Peter 5:6-7; John 15:14; 17:21; Philippians 3:8, 20; Ephesians 2:18-19; Matthew 26:56; Luke 22:61; John 15:20; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Revelation 3:21

Inwardly Focused on God’s Promises

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Inwardly Focused on God’s Promises

I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Who knows what tomorrow may bring, or if it will come at all for us, thus be mindful of the present time, because lost time never returns? We can never go back and amend our life choices. Without care and diligence, virtue may slip through our fingers. If we grow cold spiritually, things may begin to turn evil for us. Our Lord even pointed out that even turning “lukewarm” in our life is a dangerous state for our lives. (Rev. 3:16) However, if we strive to remain spiritually focused, we will experience inner peace and have endure fewer hardships in our life, because our love of virtue and God’s grace is the focus of our lives. Certainly an inwardly focused and diligent person is prepared for all things.

Consider these thoughts offered by Thomas a’ Kempis 500 years ago, which are still relevant:

  • It is harder to resist vices and passions in this life than to perform hard work.
  • A person who does not get rid of small faults will gradually fall into greater ones.
  • You will always rejoice in the evening if you spend your day profitably.
  • Watch over yourself, wake yourself up, warn yourself, and whatever may become to others, do not neglect yourself.
  • The stricter you are with yourself, the more spiritual progress you will make.

Therefore, consider this for pursuing spiritual progress pleasing to God: His kingdom is within us, says the Lord (Luke 17:21). He encourages us to focus our heart, soul and mind to him and forsake the challenges and temptations of this world. Then our soul will find rest – genuine inward peace, a sign our life is pleasing to God. However, sometimes our efforts to forsake things of this world cause us to weep and mourn, because our commitment to pleasing God requires more than a confession – it requires a legitimate life change that begins deep within us. Thankfully, God is patient and gracious and certainly compassionate. He tempers his anger as we strive to focus our lives to please him. His faithful love keeps us from the dangers and disasters that this world can offer.

Our lives should despise outward things and be occupied with inward things, and then we will discover the Kingdom of God within us, and see its affects all around our lives. We will cease seeking to worry about the concerns of the world only to discover righteousness, peace, and joy. Whoever serves the Lord in this way is acceptable to God and will be approved by men. The wicked of this world will never realize either.

We-should-endeavor-to

We should endeavor to prepare a worthy dwelling place for God within us, and then Christ will enter and comfort our hearts. All his glory and beauty will be revealed within and all around us, as he delights to be with those who seek him. He brings with him sweet conversations, pleasant comfort, great peace, and a friendship that is abundantly wonderful. Such a relationship anchored in Christ begins by inwardly pleasing God with all our heart, the fruit of a changed life that is encouraged and empowered by his very presence to guide and guard us from the challenges, dangers and disasters of this present world.

My daily prayer: Lord Jesus, in your holy name I praise God for all you have blessed me and my family with. Although I realize this world offers challenges, dangers and even ever-present disasters, as long as we have you in us, with us, and for us, the world cannot claim us. Lord, I thank you for being patient when I have stumbled and fallen, and for your grace when you led me back to the ways pleasing to you my God and Father. Lord Jesus, my faith in you has revealed your loving embrace as I have faced “giants” that have risen up against me. Without you I would certainly crumble and fall in fear, but you have given me peace and assurance of your protection in the battle, and have promised that if I will stand firm, the victory is assured. Thank you, Lord. For your name sake and for my family’s sake, I choose to never give up, give in, or give out, but instead give my all to you each day. Amen.

For additional reading: Joel 2:12-13; Matthew 11:28-30; Psalm 45:10-15

 

Faithful Fervent Living

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Faithful Fervent Living

For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. (The love as God demonstrates through His Son, Jesus) Galatians 5:13

Christ should remain the focus in our life, and we should remain vigilant to the confession we made in claiming his name. It does not matter how long we have faithfully lived since we confessed Christ as our Lord and Savior, we still must realize that we still fall short when we compare our life with his example. This side of heaven we can never make ourselves like him, though he remains the focus of our life.

Those of us who seriously and actively strive to imitate the life and passion of our Lord, we will discover that vision offers an abundance that is more than necessary and beneficial for us, and we will therefore never need to look towards anywhere, anything or anyone else. His life when lived out in our hearts, soul and mind reveals an abundant and rewarding lifestyle that is unrivaled in this world. We would also have no doubt that if the crucified Christ truly lived in our hearts, we would promptly be instructed in all truth, which will guide the way we live our life in this world.

Faithful-fervent-living

Faithful fervent living means we accept the Gospel to guide our life choices so that we will do well in all that is commanded of us. However, there are those who claim to be living by faith, but are negligent and cold, and they are experiencing trial after trial, and are afflicted on all sides. They experience no inward comfort, and external comforts are seldom realized in their lives. Their claim to membership in the faith is all they have to identify themselves, but they are negligent and do not live faithful fervent lives that reflect the confession they claim. As long as they seek their own freedom and ease, they will always live in distress and conflict, because though they try to be like others of the faith, one thing or another constantly displeases them.

If only we could live our lives only needing to praise, honor, and glorify God as our Lord, with our mouth and heart! If only we could live our lives never needing to concern ourselves about the necessities of this mortal, temporal life, such as eating, drinking and sleeping. When we come to the point of life when we do not seek comfort from anyone or anything else that is of this world, then we will begin to enjoy God for who he is more perfectly. We will then truly know how to be content with whatever circumstances befalls us in this life, and not rejoice in great matters or be sorrowful in small matters, but completely and confidently surrender ourselves to God – who will be to us our all in all. We will recognize that to him nothing perishes or dies, but all things live for and serve him in all matters without reservation, hesitation or exception. Such is the identification of faithful fervent living with a focus solely upon glorifying God, just as Christ demonstrated and encouraged to all believers.

My daily prayer: My heavenly Father, my gracious Savior and Lord, I thank you for your revelation of your way, truth, and life. Without understanding the “Good News” that you reveal, I would never understand how to approach and benefit from the abundant life that you, my Heavenly Father has in store for me. Lord, be patient with me and my family as we grow in our knowledge and thus our relationship with you each day. I pray that my life will inspire others in my family, and others that you direct before me along the way, to set aside their ways, their truth, and their lives to discover the genuine and abundant life available when we focus our lives upon imitating your life, my Lord and Savior. May my faithful fervent focus be upon pleasing you, and not upon what I believe would please me, because I am certain you know much better than myself what is best for me – and that is living a life faithfully fervent for you. Amen

For additional Reading: Romans 10:10; 11:36; 2 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 10:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 8:6; 11:1; 12:6; 15:28 Ephesians 3:16-17; John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13-14; Acts 26:29

Growing in the Realization of Grace

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Growing in the Realization of Grace

But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For, who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? (Isaiah 40:13) But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

Be watchful! Be diligent! We should continue daily to ponder upon why and how we came to know and trust Christ! We should consider why and how we are to be separated from this world and its influence upon our lives! As we reflect through our watchfulness and diligence, we should also evaluate how we are truly living for God’s purposes in our life, and whether we are becoming the spiritual persons God desires of us.

Be fervent in moving forward! Our zealousness should help us to realize that in a short time we will receive our reward for the pursuit of pleasing the Lord with our lives, and thus have any reason to fear or be sad when this life ends. We should likewise invest in working a little now, knowing within us, we will have great rest later and find perpetual joy. If only we continue to be faithful and zealous in doing good, God will be faithful and liberal in rewarding us, because his grace is abundant and free to all who seek him with all their heart. Thus, we should hold onto our hope, because we are assured that the victory is certain, but we must not get careless, otherwise we may become negligent or even spiritually proud and miss out on the joy that awaits us.

Do not be anxious about our salvation, or wavering in fear and hope? Why go day to day oppressed with grief, because we are not certain of our salvation? Consider this: How should we react if the Lord spoke plainly and said, “Do what you would do if you were certain, and you will persevere!” Our faith should increase our confidence to believe that we should live as though we have the assurance without wondering and seeking constant confirmation each day.

God’s Word offers ample assurance for anyone who is anxious for “the hope of certainty.” Our faith in His Word should cause any fear to flee, and anxiousness to disappear. By faith, we should grow less curious each day, and our need to search further about our future should become less necessary. Instead, we should strive to understand what God’s will is in the starting and completing of every good work.

Psalm 21 is an example of having full assurance in God’s promises. “Lord, I find joy in your strength. How greatly I rejoice in your victory that you have given me in my life. I rejoice in that you have given me my heart’s desire and not denied the requests that I have uttered from my lips. And I know this to be true because you have met me with rich blessings. You have crowned my head, and have given me a full and rich life, lengthened my days forever and ever. My glory is great because of your victory in my life. Whatever honor and praise I have received is from you. Thus, I give you Lord all the honor and praise because of the mere joy I receive being your presence each day. Because I rely upon you my Most High Lord, I will never be shaken. Your strength anchors my feet in this life, and frees me from all fears.”

By-faith-we-should-come

With such a focus of faith in our daily walk with the Lord, our life should realize the improvements that please God when our heart’s desires become his desires. However, one thing that causes us to stumble in our spiritual progress is our extreme fear of the difficulty and the battle that it represents. Yet, those of us who find our way to go forward with courage in the face of these obstacles of pain and suffering, God’s grace is revealed to enable, empower and encourage us. Thus we come to realize, the greater the obstacle, the greater the sense of suffering, the greater revelation of God’s grace.

Of course, not everyone has the same number and types of things to overcome in their lives. And, those among us who have many things to overcome and are diligent in our efforts, will improve more in virtue than those of us who have few things to overcome, and are less fervent in the pursuit of virtue. Therefore, consider three things are needed for our spiritual improvement: (1) withdrawal violently from those things our human virtue is immorally threatened to be inclined towards; (2) work earnestly for the virtue that we most want, which is pleasing to God. But also, (3) always be careful and strenuous to avoid those things in ourselves that frequently displease us and others in our life.

When we recognize a good example of virtuous living, stir ourselves up and imitate that person so that we will benefit our spiritual progress, no matter at what stage we are at in that effort. Likewise, where we see anything that is evil – opposed to God’s will – be certain to not do the same; and if at any time we have done so, work diligently to change our ways. We should never forget, but always remember well that in the same way that we watch what others do, others watch what we do!

Finally, there is comfort to be among the assembly of God’s family. There should be great delight from observing the fervent, devout, well-mannered and disciplined lifestyles that abound in God’s family. But how sad and grieved we can feel when we witness the family of God revealing dissolute and disorderly lives, not applying their lives as they were called. How hurtful it is when any of us neglect the good purposes of our calling, individually and corporately; and we busy ourselves doing things that are not proper or beneficial to our spiritual progress.

How can we be the sheep under the Great Shepherd’s care? Live our life seeking not only the assurance of his abundant grace for our life, but the revelation of its overflowing blessing upon us as we seek to progress spiritually, seeking to please God according to His gracious, pleasing, perfect and good will. Our spiritual progress is a reality when we sacrifice ourselves each day, and no longer focus upon the world’s approval and its influence upon our lives, and our focus is solely upon God’s influence upon our heart, soul, mind and body, so that nothing happens in our daily life that is not without God’s direction and guidance. Then, our salvation is assured, and his grace brings the peace we desire for our life.

My daily prayer: Lord, you are my God, my Salvation, and my Strength. Without your daily Word upon my heart to guide me I am challenged and threatened in my spiritual progress. Please, may the Holy Spirit prick my heart anytime I lose my focus upon pleasing you in all I do, say and think? May my life be an example for others, especially my family – my children and their children? Even when I stumble, be there to reveal your abundant grace in my life, so that others may discover the same assurance in their life. Thank you Lord for loving me and never giving up on me. Amen

For additional reading: 2 Timothy 2:11-13; 4:5-8; Matthew 5:48; 6:20; 6:33; 7:3; 11:28-30; 25:23; John 17:14; Hebrew 6:1, 19; Revelation 21:4; 22:3; Romans 5:5; Colossians 1:27; James 1:6; Philippians 3:17-19; Ephesians 4:1-3, 16; 6:12-13; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 11:1; Galatians 1:6

But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For, who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? (Isaiah 40:13) But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

Be watchful! Be diligent! We should continue daily to ponder upon why and how we came to know and trust Christ! We should consider why and how we are to be separated from this world and its influence upon our lives! As we reflect through our watchfulness and diligence, we should also evaluate how we are truly living for God’s purposes in our life, and whether we are becoming the spiritual persons God desires of us.

Be fervent in moving forward! Our zealousness should help us to realize that in a short time we will receive our reward for the pursuit of pleasing the Lord with our lives, and thus have any reason to fear or be sad when this life ends. We should likewise invest in working a little now, knowing within us, we will have great rest later and find perpetual joy. If only we continue to be faithful and zealous in doing good, God will be faithful and liberal in rewarding us, because his grace is abundant and free to all who seek him with all their heart. Thus, we should hold onto our hope, because we are assured that the victory is certain, but we must not get careless, otherwise we may become negligent or even spiritually proud and miss out on the joy that awaits us.

Do not be anxious about our salvation, or wavering in fear and hope? Why go day to day oppressed with grief, because we are not certain of our salvation? Consider this: How should we react if the Lord spoke plainly and said, “Do what you would do if you were certain, and you will persevere!” Our faith should increase our confidence to believe that we should live as though we have the assurance without wondering and seeking constant confirmation each day.

God’s Word offers ample assurance for anyone who is anxious for “the hope of certainty.” Our faith in His Word should cause any fear to flee, and anxiousness to disappear. By faith, we should grow less curious each day, and our need to search further about our future should become less necessary. Instead, we should strive to understand what God’s will is in the starting and completing of every good work.

Psalm 21 is an example of having full assurance in God’s promises. “Lord, I find joy in your strength. How greatly I rejoice in your victory that you have given me in my life. I rejoice in that you have given me my heart’s desire and not denied the requests that I have uttered from my lips. And I know this to be true because you have met me with rich blessings. You have crowned my head, and have given me a full and rich life, lengthened my days forever and ever. My glory is great because of your victory in my life. Whatever honor and praise I have received is from you. Thus, I give you Lord all the honor and praise because of the mere joy I receive being your presence each day. Because I rely upon you my Most High Lord, I will never be shaken. Your strength anchors my feet in this life, and frees me from all fears.”

With such a focus of faith in our daily walk with the Lord, our life should realize the improvements that please God when our heart’s desires become his desires. However, one thing that causes us to stumble in our spiritual progress is our extreme fear of the difficulty and the battle that it represents. Yet, those of us who find our way to go forward with courage in the face of these obstacles of pain and suffering, God’s grace is revealed to enable, empower and encourage us. Thus we come to realize, the greater the obstacle, the greater the sense of suffering, the greater revelation of God’s grace.

Of course, not everyone has the same number and types of things to overcome in their lives. And, those among us who have many things to overcome and are diligent in our efforts, will improve more in virtue than those of us who have few things to overcome, and are less fervent in the pursuit of virtue. Therefore, consider three things are needed for our spiritual improvement: (1) withdrawal violently from those things our human virtue is immorally threatened to be inclined towards; (2) work earnestly for the virtue that we most want, which is pleasing to God. But also, (3) always be careful and strenuous to avoid those things in ourselves that frequently displease us and others in our life.

When we recognize a good example of virtuous living, stir ourselves up and imitate that person so that we will benefit our spiritual progress, no matter at what stage we are at in that effort. Likewise, where we see anything that is evil – opposed to God’s will – be certain to not do the same; and if at any time we have done so, work diligently to change our ways. We should never forget, but always remember well that in the same way that we watch what others do, others watch what we do!

Finally, there is comfort to be among the assembly of God’s family. There should be great delight from observing the fervent, devout, well-mannered and disciplined lifestyles that abound in God’s family. But how sad and grieved we can feel when we witness the family of God revealing dissolute and disorderly lives, not applying their lives as they were called. How hurtful it is when any of us neglect the good purposes of our calling, individually and corporately; and we busy ourselves doing things that are not proper or beneficial to our spiritual progress.

How can we be the sheep under the Great Shepherd’s care? Live our life seeking not only the assurance of his abundant grace for our life, but the revelation of its overflowing blessing upon us as we seek to progress spiritually, seeking to please God according to His gracious, pleasing, perfect and good will. Our spiritual progress is a reality when we sacrifice ourselves each day, and no longer focus upon the world’s approval and its influence upon our lives, and our focus is solely upon God’s influence upon our heart, soul, mind and body, so that nothing happens in our daily life that is not without God’s direction and guidance. Then, our salvation is assured, and his grace brings the peace we desire for our life.

My daily prayer: Lord, you are my God, my Salvation, and my Strength. Without your daily Word upon my heart to guide me I am challenged and threatened in my spiritual progress. Please, may the Holy Spirit prick my heart anytime I lose my focus upon pleasing you in all I do, say and think? May my life be an example for others, especially my family – my children and their children? Even when I stumble, be there to reveal your abundant grace in my life, so that others may discover the same assurance in their life. Thank you Lord for loving me and never giving up on me. Amen

For additional reading: 2 Timothy 2:11-13; 4:5-8; Matthew 5:48; 6:20; 6:33; 7:3; 11:28-30; 25:23; John 17:14; Hebrew 6:1, 19; Revelation 21:4; 22:3; Romans 5:5; Colossians 1:27; James 1:6; Philippians 3:17-19; Ephesians 4:1-3, 16; 6:12-13; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 11:1; Galatians 1:6

Sin Fuels the Fires of Judgment

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Sin Fuels the Fires of Judgment

No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. Hebrews 4:13

The fuel that feeds the fire of hell we fear is sin. Sinners – those who live in opposition of God’s will and ways – spare their fleshly desires in this world and are storing up fuel for the fires of judgment. Thus, now is the time to repent of our sins, so that when judgment day comes we will stand secure with the company of those approved by God. It is then the righteous will stand with great boldness against those who afflicted and oppressed them; the righteous will serve as witnesses against those who tormented them in this life. Then the poor and humble will have bold confidence found in Christ, but the proud will be surrounded and seized by fear. It will then also become obvious that the truly wise were those who learned to be foolish and despised for Christ, and His gospel message. Every affliction that was patiently endured will be a delight. The devout will rejoice and the profane mourn.

Therefore we should walk everyday with the judgment seat of God in view? Likewise, with every step each day, we should recognize nothing is hidden from him; keep in view that this life will someday end and we will have to stand before God to give an account of our thoughts, words, and deeds? We should be equally mindful that it is not our thoughts, works and words offered to him that will be judged as righteous or just, but the motives that launch them? God will hold us accountable for every thought, every word and every work to identify our heart’s and soul’s desires. Ultimately, he will know all our sins.

However, how many of us look at others and judge their motives to deflect attention from our own shortfalls and selfish motives in our lives?

In life, God wants to teach us: our labor is profitable, our tears acceptable, our groans are heard and our grief is satisfying and purifying. Thus, forgiveness through Christ for our sins should help us forgive ourselves and others, rather than condemn ourselves and others. Be patient to receive a great and wholesome cleansing. Be filled with the compassion of Christ who alone can bring our entire body into submission to the pleasing, perfect and good will of God. Thus we should seek his forgiveness now rather than carry our burden before Christ beyond this life. We should not enter his presence with our Soul In Neglect (SIN) – our soul will always testify truthfully when we stand before God!

We-should-not-enter-his

My daily prayer: Lord Jesus, I am ready to recognize my shortfalls and the errors of my ways, and I pray for your forgiveness and your prodding of my soul to walk in ways that are pleasing to God the Father, so that on that day you will stand alongside and defend me before God the Father, who will preside as judge. Lord, I know very well there are no secrets from you, and you have your Spirit searching my soul and heart to uncover my motives and desires. Lord, I pray that if you find anything in me that is not pleasing to you that you will prick my heart and soul so I might seek to change by seeking your help. Lord do not allow me to be stumbling block, but a stepping stone for others, so they may see you through me. Help me to be the kind of father, husband, son, and brother that you desire me to be so I might honor and praise you and the Father. May others seek you and not run from you because of my life. Thank you, my Lord and Savior for loving and caring for me, even when I have stumbled, You have shown your mercy and goodness through your forgiveness. Amen.

 

Living in the Now is All We Have

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Living in the Now is All We Have

Be alert at all times praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:36

The end of our days will certainly come soon enough! Thus, we should consider what will be our fate after our days do come to an end. Today, we are here, yet tomorrow we may be gone. When we are no longer of this world, we also will be no longer on the mind of this world. Man is born of woman, thus he enters this world with a shortage of days, but an abundance of trouble. We blossom like a flower, but like a flower we wither. Our life is but a fleeting shadow that quickly is gone.

Oh, the stupidity and hardness of a person’s heart who thinks upon this present life and does not care about the life that lies ahead. Wisdom declares that we should arrange ourselves and all our thoughts and actions as if tomorrow is not guaranteed to arrive. When we think and live with a right mindset, we realize it is better to avoid wrong choices in this life than try to outlive death. Surely, those of us who have a good conscience do not have a great fear of death. Otherwise, ponder this thought: If we are not prepared today, how will we be any more prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is uncertain and how can we know if we will live beyond today.

What good comes from a long life when there is so little improvement in our spiritual life? For so many, a long life often makes their sinful choices greater, rather than making their lives better. As a fact, many can recall well when they long ago confessed Christ as their Savior and Lord, yet there is little evidence of the fruit of spiritual improvements in their lives. However, there are many who are like this; they consider it dreadful to die, but struggle in the fear that to live long may prove more dangerous to their spiritual well being.

When-it-is-morning

Happy are those who always keep the hour of their death before their eyes, and daily prepare themselves for the life that will surely come beyond this present life. If at any time we have seen another person die, consider that we also must yet face the same destiny. When it is morning, consider the prospect that evening may never come; it is certainly never guaranteed, nor is the certainty that will see the sun rise again. Therefore, always be ready and live in a way that death will never take us unprepared. Most of us will certainly die suddenly and unexpectedly, for the Son of Man will come at an hour when we least expect Him to arrive. When that last hour comes, many will begin to have a different opinion of our entire past life, and we will be exceedingly sorry that we have been so careless and carefree. Oh, how wise and happy is the one who strives each day to be the person that they wish to be found at the final hour of their life:

  • having contempt for this world
  • having a fervent desire to excel in virtue
  • being diligent of repentance
  • living always ready to obey
  • denying ourselves
  • bearing patiently in all affliction

When we are healthy we can do so much good, but when we are sick there is not much that we are able to do. We cannot become better or reform our ways when burdened by our sickness.

Why trust ourselves to friends and relatives, or put off the care of our soul’s welfare to some future time. It is our soul! We are better off to look after our own soul early and do good in advance than to trust in the help of others for our soul’s fate.

This present time is so precious – “now are the days of salvation, now is the only acceptable time.” We cannot change the past; the future is not ours to do anything with; only the present is our gift that God provides to us to make the needed changes in our life that will please Him. How sad when we waste this gift when we could be making the changes to work out our salvation and making certain our hope of eternal life. Salvation is a journey not complete until we find ourselves standing before God face to face welcomed into His eternal kingdom. How sad that we waste so much time here when we could be working out our salvation and making sure our hope of eternal life. Take freely the gift that is from God in the present; do not regret procrastinating!

My daily prayer: My Lord and Savior, may I never take my life before you for granted. I fully realize that my past is sealed, but by grace forgiven and forgotten; my future is never mine to assume that I will be able to do rightly before you then. Thus, I am humbled by my present state before you, and I offer all that I am now – all my heart, soul, mind and strength are yours to do as you will, and I pray are acceptable to you because of the faith I have in what your Son has done for me. Father, though I cannot look beyond the present, I ask to hope to be all I can be for your sake to my family and friends, so that others will understand that “now” is the time for salvation – not tomorrow, for it will likely be too late. Help me Lord to share the message of hope that we have in the present “now” and how our future is in your hands. Thank you, my heavenly Father. Amen

For additional reading: Job 9:25-26; 14:1-2; Matthew 6:20; 24:44; 25:10, 13, 44; Luke 12:37, 40; Hebrews 2:23; 9:27; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 30:5; 31:1; 49:8; Jeremiah 17:5; 48:7; Philippians 2:12, 13; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-10