Thought Life

 

 

“What he thinks is what he really is.”  Prov. 23:7

Most everyone who knew Michael enjoyed his company. He was an excellent supervisor, a mature elder, a gifted city-league ball player, a charitable man, father and husband of one wife. Michael was the kind of guy people would line up to toast at his funeral. Most men envied him and many women secretly wished their husbands had some of his traits.

But who was Michael…really? His secret thought life was not exactly parallel with his exterior. Over the years Michael developed resentment at not being selected as the Vice President of his corporation and he harbored a simmering bitterness. The same was true in his church life. He spent more than ten years at his church before being selected as an elder. This was definitely not right or fair, he thought, casting the blame on his pastor who he knew was responsible.

And so it went for Michael, finding fault with people and companies who he blamed for various insults and rejections. His thought life was his secret refuge, a place that allowed him to get even. His thought life was also building a wall between himself and the Lord. “After all, the Lord could have given me the desires of my heart,” he thought.

Michael frequently retreated to a secret thought life in which he was superior, the winner, the smartest and best. The problem with living like that is–it is not real. It is a false life that leads us away from actual life and its challenges. And for a Christian, real life is built on their faith in Jesus Christ and forgiveness of sins, not promises to give material possessions and power.

What do you “think”? Are you building a secret thought life that gives you the pleasure and gratitude you “think” you deserve? Satan is the father of lies and is willing and able to help you along that road. He did remind a hungry Jesus that He could turn stones into bread!

John 5:39-40  You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

Rom. 12:2-3  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

1 Cor. 8:2-3  Those who think they know something really don’t know as they ought to know. But the person who loves God is known by him.

1 Cor. 3:18-20  You should not fool yourself. If any of you think that you are wise by this world’s standards, you should become a fool, in order to be really wise. For what this world considers to be wisdom is nonsense in God’s sight. As the scripture says, ”God traps the wise in their cleverness.” (Job 5:13).; and another scripture says, ”The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are worthless” (Ps. 94:11).

Eph. 3:13-21  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored. When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Many people have written books that promise riches through positive thinking. Why do you suppose so many books and celebrities talk about the same idea? Because there is truth in it. A kernel of truth that says whatever you think you will walk in. If you think you are a loser, that is how you will live. Your life will manifest circumstances to convince you it is so.  

As a Christian, it is essential that we think on Jesus Christ and his promises so our life will reflect the light of God. See Phil. 4:8-9. Think on these things!

 

 

Am I Generous?

 

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.  Ecc.5:10

 

Two business graduate students from an Eastern college decided to experiment with the generosity of people across the United States. They traveled as two young men who’d lost all their money and needed help getting to their destination. Their sole purpose was to see if they could determine, overall, which economic level was the most generous; poor or rich.

            Like most of us, they had been raised with the idea that rich people, for the most part, are not generous; that they tend to grab for more and don’t have time for those down on their luck. These two students were embarking on a nationwide trip to take firsthand notes.

            After three weeks and several hundred meetings, meals, handouts and job opportunities, their discovery actually fortified the idea that the rich are not as generous as the poor. They were stunned as people with barely enough to get by were the first to help them, giving freely of food, money and a place to stay the night!

            The higher up the economic ladder they went the more suspicious and less generous they found people to be. Most often these people expressed the idea that they should take care of themselves. Rarely did they meet a person of wealth who offered them lodging.

            If these two young men came across our lives what would be our response? Would they leave our lives touched with the generous love of the Lord, filled with food, clothing and a place to stay? Or would we be found on the list of those not willing to reach out with help?

            Matt. 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

            Matt. 6:1-4  Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

            Luke 6:30-31  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Prov. 3:27  Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
      when it’s in your power to help them.

Lining our lives up with Jesus shatters our worldly ideas and dreams. He takes us beyond the rules and liturgy of the Pharisees into a world of personal responsibility and servanthood. He led the way by showing Himself as a servant instead of the Lord of all the world. Jesus did what His Father in heaven required of Him and that is what He expects of us.

Is God’s Will A Mystery?

 

 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” ~Mark 3:35

 

Many Christians spend countless hours on their knees, begging God for an idea as to His will for their lives. Thousands of sermons have been preached, books written and website columns produced, advising believers of the 10 best steps to finding His will (often there is a fee for the book or website subscription).

Considering the extreme measure God has taken for our forgiveness and eternal salvation, is it reasonable to think He would hide His will for our lives? Would God take a perverse pleasure in watching us grovel around begging Him to reveal His purpose and direction instead of happily and joyfully directing our lives to follow a path He alone has created just for us? No secret password needed fellow Christians, God reveals aspects of His will sprinkled throughout the Bible—His love letter to us.

Just as a building needs a foundation for support, God has provided the necessary spiritual support to guide us into all knowledge and understanding of His will. He gave us the Holy Spirit.

John 14:16-17, 26  ~And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

John 14:26  ~But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

1 John 2:27  ~You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

Romans 12:1-2  ~And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  ~Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:9-10  ~So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

So you see, God has provided everything we need to hear His voice, and live according to His will. Romans establishes steps that open the door for the realization of His will in our lives: 1. Give our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice which is true worship. 2. Don’t copy the world (be separate). 3. Let God transform our thoughts which gives birth to the understanding of His good and pleasing and perfect will for our lives.

I call out to God, “Oh God, show me your perfect will for my life.”

God replies, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances!”

God Tested Abraham!

 “You would think that in Abraham’s old age—after he had come to the land of Beulah, after the birth of Isaac, and especially after the expulsion of Ishmael—he would have had a time of rest. But ‘it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham.’ (Gen, 22:1) Let Abraham’s story warn us never to plan on a rest from trials this side of the grave.

The trumpet still plays the notes of war. You cannot sit down and put the victory wreath on your head. You do not have a crown. You still must wear the helmet and carry the sword. You must watch, pray, and fight. Expect your last battle to be the most difficult; for the enemy’s fiercest charge is reserved for the end of the day.”

 

                                                                                                                        ~C. H. Spurgeon

How Fickle

“And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in every thing He might be preeminent. ~ Col. 1:18

Father, do I live in the deeply rooted knowledge that You control everything? In this verse are a few of Your true characteristics, the very fibers of Your being: You are the beginning, the conqueror of death, You exist in everything, and nothing is outside of You. I place my hope and trust in all manner of fickle things such as medicine, science, money, and myself.

Lord, there is nothing on this earth that protects me but You. If You reign over all things and have set a course for my life, then You are my sole protector and protector of my soul. Lord, help me turn to You with the “little” things: What present should I give a friend or loved on? Should I volunteer for that event? Is it right to stay late and get ahead of my work? All these decisions I take into my own hands because they seem so insignificant, yet You purchased my life with Yours; therefore, nothing is insignificant to You.

Father, reveal to me the fickle things that I place trust in and help me turn to You with my “little” prayers and questions. When storms arise, the little moments and short trials secure my trust in You. Thank You that You are steadfast. Thank You that You are not fickle and You cannot deny Your holiness and justice, or compassion. Amen.  ~Prayers for an Anxious Heart

What’s Past Is Past

 

“Do not call to mind the former things”  Isaiah 43:18

“How time flies,” he said to himself as he sat alone on the deck of his favorite restaurant, overlooking the river. “I had so many plans and ideas; so many ways to show God’s love and mercy through stories, articles and a few books too. What happened? Did I just throw my life away because of laziness or fear?”

   At that point the server brought his dinner which forced him to come back to the present, not dwell in the past. And then it hit him, or rather, the Holy Spirit reminded him; life is lived in the present, the here-and-now, not in the past. “I guess I’ll have to get a to-go container for this food,” he said as he shoved his dinner across the table and grabbed his smartphone and the notepad he always carried. Time for a refresher in God’s word.

   Isaiah 43:18 ~”Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.”

   2 Corinthians 5:17 ~”This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

   Ephesians 4:21-24 ~”If you have really heard his voice and learned from him the truths concerning himself, then throw off your old evil nature—the old you that was a partner in your evil ways—rotten through and through, full of lust and sham.

   Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.”

   Romans 6:4 ~ “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”

   As always, delving into the Bible brought answers, relief, encouragement and “peace that passes human understanding.” Imagine, in the same way that Jesus was raised from the dead by God’s glorious power, we may now live new lives! Not by our power or  mind-over-matter, but by His glorious power our lives can be transformed minute by minute. What a relief!

   Romans 7:6 ~”Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.”

   Romans 12:2 ~”Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.”

   Ephesians 2:10 ~”For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

   Philippians 3:13 ~Brothers and sisters. . .I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me

   Colossians 3:10 ~”You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you.

   There, it happened again, reading God’s Word had brought peace and hope; assurance that God has paved the narrow path with His love and guidance. These verses are promises from God Himself; a perfect series of reminders that the past is just that, past. He has already prepared the way to live our lives for Him as we fully trust in Him, relying on the Holy Spirit. He’s done the impossible part, we are to do the human part. Living in the past is not an option.

He Is…

“I am the Way the Truth and the Life”  ~Jesus

 

Beginning with His birth and the centuries following, a debate has been raging over who Jesus is. A good teacher. A prophet. A good man. A philosopher. An imaginary character created in the minds of religious men more than two thousand years ago. The Son of God. The Savior of the world. God. The Light of the world.

Since no one is alive who can testify of Jesus’ attributes, character, death, burial and resurrection, we must go to the only faithful record which is the Bible.

There is, however, one aspect of using the Bible which may prove a stumbling block to some people who aren’t sure who Jesus is. Belief! Yes, belief. In order to investigate the only thorough record of the life of Christ the reader must believe the Bible to be true.

If we were given an assignment to investigate the life of David Wilkerson, who was a well-known pastor, it would be easy to find books and articles, including the best selling book, The Cross and the Switchblade. And we would not wonder if the information was true, we would just believe it.

The Bible is a different matter. For millions of Christians, the Bible is the Word of God, written by 40 authors over a span of 1500 years as they were inspired by God. So, you see that finding the answers to the question, Who Is Jesus, will require some faith.

What the Bible says about Jesus:

Matthew 28:18  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.”

John 8:12  “I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

John 10:9 “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.”  

John 10:27-30 “I have told you,” replied Jesus, “and you do not believe it. What I have done in my Father’s name is sufficient to prove my claim, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep recognise my voice and I know who they are. They follow me and I give them eternal life. They will never die and no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. And no one can tear anything out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.”

John 11:25-26  “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”

John 14:6  “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me!”

Acts 4:8-12 At this Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke to them, “Leaders of the people and elders, if we are being called in question today over the matter of a kindness done to a helpless man and as to how he was healed, it is high time that all of you and the whole people of Israel knew that it was done in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth! He is the one whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, and it is by his power that this man at our side  stands in your presence perfectly well. He is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone’.

In no one else can salvation be found. For in all the world no other name has been given to men but this, and it is by this name that we must be saved!”

Amazingly, Jesus is not only a man whose spectacular but brief life is written on the pages of dusty historical reference books, but God’s Son, the Christ. According to the Bible, Jesus’ brief earthly life, which ended tragically with His brutal death on the cross, was not a religious cult that got out of hand but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love for all of mankind.

God…The Great Dispenser of Stuff?

“You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” Psalm 97

Lawrence beamed at the capacity audience in San Francisco; the sixth stop of his Worldwide Evangelical Movement tour. “God is sitting on his throne, waiting for you to give him a hint. That’s right, God is leaning forward, anxious to hear your requests so he can give you what you desire in the deepest place in your heart. He made you to abide with him some day and until that day, he wants to make you happy and satisfied.

“Have you been passed over for that promotion? God knows and wants to release the blessings of that new job to you. Can’t find that special person to complete you? God is aware of that missing piece in your puzzle of life as well. What about the home you keep driving by, wishing it was yours? Yes, my friends, God is fully aware of your needs and he wants to fulfill them, make you happy and give you the greatest, most fulfilling experience that life has to offer.

“I know some of you are thinking something like, ‘How can I ever afford that home I truly want? I need a better job and less debt.’ Friends, God is the God of satisfaction and delight. He made you and knows how to make you satisfied and content on this earth as you prepare for eternal life with him.

Lawrence became silent, walking back and forth on the platform, scanning the audience as he moved. And then, “What is the key to unlocking God’s blessings, you ask? Sacrifice. Yes, it is sacrifice. Think of how he showed his love for us. Sacrifice! He sacrificed his own Son so we could have this wonderful life. And now he expects us to learn that same sacrifice. God GAVE so we could live and now it is our turn. We must sacrificially GIVE to release those blessings from heaven.”

By now Lawrence was commanding the audience with his fine-tuned and powerful voice, it was as though he hypnotized them…”Give, give give. Sacrificially give. Give when you don’t think you can. God is waiting. Release those blessings from the throne of God.” They were on their feet as the army of ushers passed buckets across the rows of excited, believing people.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Do you have, perhaps secretly, desires that God will bring to pass to make your life better? Desires of more money, better job, better marriage, better body, bigger house? If you do, admit it to God. As the famous southern pastor, J. Vernon Mcgee once said, “You might as well tell Him because He knows anyway.”

God does understand our secret desires of wealth, health, homes, trips, etc. But what he wants for us is far better. Does anyone really believe that God sent his only Son, Jesus, to live and die for us so that we could have more money, bigger homes, better cars, and more fun? Jesus did give sacrificially, didn’t he? His sacrifice was given freely so you and I could experience redemption and forgiveness of sins. Surely we can see clearly that Christ did not experience such an excruciating torture and death so we could accumulate more stuff on earth.

Psalm 97:1-5 “The Lord rules! Let the earth rejoice! Let all the islands celebrate! Clouds and thick darkness surround God. His throne is built on righteousness and justice. Fire proceeds before him, burning up his enemies on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees it and trembles! The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of the whole world!”

Our lives are actually spiritual. As such our warfare is taking place in the spiritual realms, every day…every hour. God’s great sacrifice has made it possible for us to walk in the spirit, guided by the Holy Spirit. As we gear up each day with the Armor of God, we engage in the battle with God as our guide. Do you see material things as important in this daily battle for souls and lives?

Ephesians 6:10-13 “In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground.”

Men and women who claim to speak for God but seek to gratify their flesh are, in truth, serving the enemy of our soul and feeding their own flesh. The Bible tells us to die to the flesh:

Romans 8:12-16 “So then, my brothers, you can see that we have no particular reason to feel grateful to our sensual nature, or to live life on the level of the instincts. Indeed that way of living leads to certain spiritual death. But if on the other hand you cut the nerve of your instinctive actions by obeying the Spirit, you are on the way to real living.

All who follow the leading of God’s Spirit are God’s own sons. Nor are you meant to relapse into the old slavish attitude of fear—you have been adopted into the very family circle of God and you can say with a full heart, “Father, my Father”. The Spirit himself endorses our inward conviction that we really are the children of God. Think what that means. If we are his children we share his treasures, and all that Christ claims as his will belong to all of us as well! Yes, if we share in his suffering we shall certainly share in his glory.”

A man left his house early one morning to attend a Bible study. It was then he saw an obstacle! A flat tire. Not low but dead flat. He had no time to change a tire. He pondered his situation and felt God nudge him to have faith that He would take care of the tire. So, he prayed and believed that God would do the impossible.

He drove three miles to a gas station, filled the tire with air and drove to the study. The tire never leaked or deflated again. Life is spiritual!

Letter To A Believer

Quill and Ink

Hello my dear follower-of-Jesus. I appreciate your God-focused life and dedication to hearing the Master’s Voice in everything you do. Praise God

Clearly, attempting to solve the financial mess our world is now in, falls under the category of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. It is the world, and attempting to solve its problems will never lead people to ultimate salvation. The mess the world is in right now is simply a manifestation of sin! We have only to remember the flood, and why God caused it. “There is nothing new under the sun.” If we work diligently at solving physical problems and neglect the message of the cross, we have thrown away our efforts.

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

I love your hunger for the Lord; your dedication to keeping your light of eternal hope brightly burning. Just reflect on the words of Christ while he was preaching and teaching here on earth, he commanded us to help widows and orphans and love! Love each other and our enemies! He also taught us to forgive, be humble, tolerant and patient, long suffering, etc.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace,

David