Be Diligent To Be Delighted

We are told to plan out our salvation in fear and trembling. This amounts to the urgent and intentional efforts we exert towards getting to know our heavenly Father better. The key is being intentional. In fact, it takes planning and intentional effort to grow in our relationships with other significant people in our lives. Our relationship with God is the only one that requires fear and trembling however, the more significant the person, the more of a priority it should be.

Dust, mold, and fungus are amongst the few things I can think of right off that grow or thrive from neglect or lack of attention. Who wants relationship that resembles those?

We are commanded to be holy as GOD the Father is holy and we are commanded to love. Ask yourself if you are proactively and intentionally taking action to promote more holiness and love in your being. We know this involves moving deeper into things that are spiritual and eternal, as well as moving away from things that are carnal and temporal. It also means drawing closer to GOD and seeking fellowship with His children. It means becoming less selfish. Our heavenly Father will orchestrate circumstances to shape us and guide us toward these goals. I believe we have a role in the intensity and frequency of the nudges in the right direction. As children of GOD we are not allowed to just drift. Our Father is committed to perfecting the work he began in us. If you do not like dwelling in whale bellies, being encompassed by your enemies, drought or famine, then be proactive and seek Him. Surely there are modern day equivalencies to these scenarios but they are just as undesirable and equally effective. Obedience is so much better than sacrifice.

As you ponder this, the natural tendency is for the mind to start producing a long list of do’s and don’ts, which can make you feel burdened and discouraged. Thank GOD there is an easier way. Instead of focusing on the HOW, we are encouraged to focus on the WHO. The “Who” is Yeshua (also called Jesus). Our Savior Yeshua is the Word, and the Word is the divine seed for everything GOD wants to reap out of our lives. If we will just abide in the Word of GOD, the fruits of holiness and love will break forth in our lives. Many people read their bible occasionally and read devotionals a little here and there, while at the same time spending hours engaged in worldly activities. Does occasionally spending time in the Word capture the tone of fear and trembling? It does not and this double mindedness leads to being inconsistent in our spiritual walk. We end up with a harvest mingled with a little fruit but plenty of thorns and weeds.

This is not a conversation about salvation. It is a conversation about having greater joy, greater peace, soundness of mind, inspiration to dig deeper and reach higher, having more fulfilling relationships with GOD the Father and those that mean the most to us. It’s about greater success at living well. So get fired up and make whatever adjustments you need to spend more time in the Word and with people who are seeking GOD and enjoy a harvest of life in abundance.

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Fulfilling His Joy

In America, most people would consider me to be a black man or an African-American man. Take notice that in both instances race or ethnicity comes first, then man. Most people even see themselves as either a black person or a white person and so on. This I believe is a true reflection of how most people think. Most people see race or national origin before they see another human. This is a natural response and really not a problem unless along with that first observation there come also preconceived ideas about that person’s likes and dislikes, aptitude and capabilities. At that point you enter into prejudices and biases that form divisive barriers. Even though people may be physically different, we must be able to connect with them first as being an equal fellow human. If we see it differently than this we are deceived and there is darkness in us.

Those are some thoughts about the general populace. Now let’s consider “The Church,” and I mean “The” Church because there is only one body of Christ. Is the Church anymore unified than the world? Amongst the majority of those confessing to be Christian, I would have to say NO. Most worldly people actually have a lot in common and merely think they are different, however the religious bodies are divided based on actual differences of thought, belief, and practices of living. Just like different races of people, we now have Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, AME, and it goes on. It’s not enough just to be identified as Christian. This is why I don’t subscribe to any denomination. Our God is not divided, so what is the problem with those that supposedly represent Him. There is a disconnect between the body and the head it would seem, because the head (meaning Christ, the only head of the true church) desires for the body to be unified, working together in harmony.

Christ made known His desire for believers to be united as one, just like the unity shared between Him and the Father. John 17:20-23:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

The division amongst the body of believers today is carnal and devilish and until the cross is truly applied to the agendas of men so that the will of God maybe manifest, it will remain divided. It is my hope that in the near future all of those professing to love Christ will be able to share His love for the truth and then allow that truth to unite them in thought and belief. Our objective must not merely be to be right; our objective should be to be right with God. In a lot of religious communities they have become right with each other but they are misaligned with God. Jesus spent a lot of time in the earth disputing with religious leaders regarding their focus on serving their own sense of righteousness instead of truly being right with God. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness….” is what the scripture says.

Do you seek to be dominated by God? Are you seeking to give God increasing power over you…your thoughts, behavior, and aspirations? That is what it means to seek the Kingdom of God and that is what it means to take up the cross of Christ….”not my will but yours be done.” The idea of allowing someone to dominate us or calling someone master meets immediate resistance in our minds due to the fact that the evils of man has diminished our ability to trust. On the other hand, if we are sick and need surgery, we will surrender to a surgeon and get put to sleep allowing total dominance over us. Is anyone more worthy of our trust than God? He wants to bring healing to us and we likewise have to surrender. Jesus proved himself worthy of our trust when He gave His life as a ransom for us. Few men have done that for another so I understand the apprehension, but Christ is truly worthy. Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 16:24-25)

You are not living until you dedicate your life to His purposes instead of your own. A body does not function properly until all its members are correctly processing messages from its head. The Catholic Church says its head is the Pope. I have met Protestants that said the head of their church was pastor such and such or bishop such and such. The bible teaches that the only head of the Church is Jesus Christ.

When believers form alliances with each other based on compatibility, we end up with all these factions of religion. On the other hand if believers focus on transformation through submitting to God’s will, then we have true unity with God and with one another. The commands of God do not vary person to person. We are all commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Likewise we are all commanded to love one another as we would like to be loved. The love spoken of here is not abstract or subjective love but love according to the word of God.

When the body of Christ unites in the spirit of truth, the Church will be glorious and powerful. Denominations will lose their significance as we all come in unity of faith and belief as written in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” The bible tell us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. Now through the abundant gratefulness we all have for the deliverance brought to us by the cross of Jesus, we now need to fulfill His joy by taking up our own crosses in laying down our individual preferences for the corporate interest of the body of Christ. When the bride (the Church) comes forth in her glory, the groom (Jesus) will rejoice and be filled with gladness. Colossians 1:9-18;

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

 

 

Love Supreme

What do you think of when you think of your first love? Do you think of your first serious crush or perhaps the first person you gave yourself to. Now think…does that love still inspire you, fulfill you, strengthen you, protect you, give you peace, give you joy, give you life. Jesus says, if you drink of the water He offers you will thirst no more, as a matter of fact He says His love will be as living waters springing up inside of you. This is the message He gave to a woman who met Him while she was trying to draw water from a well. She had several husbands and obviously was still searching, still thirsting, for true love. We all have a thirst for love, a deep desire to be truly known yet still accepted, appreciated, and valued. If you have never been totally open and honest in a relationship then you have never been truly open to receive love in its fullness. The fact that Jesus gave His life for you while knowing all that you are capable of, the good as well the bad, is a testimony of His enduring love. Truth is, until you have experienced the love of Jesus you are yet to have your first love. I pray that you will open your heart to Jesus, that you might receive peace that surpasses understanding, joy unspeakable, and love that gives life abundantly. A Love supreme!

The Crossing

Time races like a raging river, moving from east to west, from sunrise to sunset, dragging everything in its grasp along its course,

However in this mighty river there are monuments as great stones that stand immovable,

Stones that stand as memorials in time of momentous events that were life changing,

When we learn from those life changing events, we are able to build structures on these monuments that transcend time,

Through wise counsel we can connect these structures across this mighty river from its southern side to its northern banks,

This structure can serve as a transport that carries us and generations after us to our higher purposes for living,

So that we are not just lost drifts in the river, drug to our sunsets without fulfilling the purposes for our day in life,

Let us learn from the past and be open to wise counsel, endeavoring always to move toward our higher purposes for living,

Then time will no longer dominate us but instead serve as a reminder to stay on our own God given course.

The Seeds of Joy

The harvest is always so much more abundant than the seeds sown. It takes one peach seed to grow a peach tree but after the tree comes forth think about how many sweet peaches will be enjoyed.  This relationship is not coincidental or happenstance but the whole process of sowing and reaping is a law created by God ordained to teach us about life. The implications of this law extend beyond growing vegetation. I have been considering a lot lately the verse of scripture that says, “Sow in tears, reap in joy.”  Consider far a minute the implications of tears being the seeds for joy. In order to have an abundance of joy in your life you have to be willing to sow a few tears. We often avoid getting involved in to situations to a level that opens us to the possibility of experiencing sadness, hurt, and pain but in doing that we also avoid our greatest opportunities at real joy. We have to live courageously and engage life with our whole heart or we will experience life anesthetized by fear. Christ teaches us that in this world we will have tribulation however be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. In this world there will be tears but be of good cheer Christ has secured our harvest of joy. The scripture says that Christ endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The focus of the Savior was the joy, not the tears, because the joy is so much greater and more abundant, it is worth the sacrifice. So do as the scriptures instruct, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Be brave and live life with your whole heart engaged, knowing that you will have to sow some tears, but let the PROMISE of “abundant life” and “joy unspeakable” be your motivation. When tears fall in light of the gospel a rainbow appears in our hearts, a promise from God that it will not rain for ever. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning!

Be Of Good Courage

It is natural to experience disappointment when our hopes are crushed. Even when we have understood all along from past experience that it was likely we would be let down. The next thing we realize is that our hearts are heavy and our joy is diminished. This is why the word of God instructs us in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our hearts with all diligence.

“Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.”

One of the key ways to guard our hearts is to be careful when placing hope. I Corinthians 15:19 says,

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

If our hope does not extend beyond the physical life that we now live then it is guaranteed that we will be miserable in life because some prayers and hopes will be fulfilled on the other side. Herein is the patience of the saints of God. It reminds me of the two Disciples of Christ that were walking down the road away from Jerusalem where their hopes had been crushed by the governing bodies of their day which had just wrongfully crucified Jesus. The two disciples had hoped that the man who was killed would be the one to redeem Israel. When the man was crucified, so were their hopes for the redemption of Israel. While still traveling away from Jerusalem the two disciples were reproved by the resurrected redeemer Jesus Christ for not trusting in what the scriptures had promised regardless of how things appeared. This account is recorded in Luke 24.

In this life we will witness great evil and injustice but we can’t allow it to steal our hopes that in the very end of this age God will set all things right. We must shield our hearts with this hope that our joy might remain full and we don’t become sad and down cast like the two disciples leaving Jerusalem.  It is the plan of Satan to overthrow your hope with evil to the end that your hearts become hardened and you lose faith in God’s sovereignty. When we doubt God’s sovereignty we are apt to take things into our own hands and Satan knows that produces death. We guard our hearts to keep seeds of doubt, unbelief, fear, hate and other evils from being sown into it. Let the words in John 16:33 as spoken by Jesus before His crucifixion always strengthen you.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Proverb 20:13 A Warning Against Slothfulness

Proverb 20:13

“Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.”

Do not love sleep:

The sleep here is not merely relating to slumber upon the bed but the unconsciousness brought about through over indulgence in escape: movies, sports, video games, hobbies, pleasure, eating. I understand we all need recreation but too much can make us comatose instead of merely giving us rest. There are treasures within us that need to be unearthed and time that could be spent digging is wasted in life dulling slumber. The lack of time spent mining the treasure within leads to poverty.

Lest you come to poverty:

The true riches of life cannot be purchased with silver and gold. Though some may have an abundance of this world’s wealth, their soul can be impoverished. Money definitely can assist in the journey but too often money is considered the end instead of a means to the end. Money is not always a profitable exchange for time spent, especially when it comes to time spent away from family and friends. Some jobs, though they pay a lot, may cost you more than you earn. There is a poverty that is not reflected in a bank statement but is evident in broken families, drug abuse, and the volume of pills medicine cabinet.

Open your eyes:

Though the dreamland of popular opinion and rationalizations may be less challenging than truth, it is a wasteland shrouded with darkness and yields unfulfilled living. Don’t squint your eyes in denial, open them wide and let them adjust to the light of the truth. The burden that goes with sustaining falsehoods is much heavier than sustaining truth because truth sustains itself. The truth does bring freedom.

You will be satisfied with bread:

There is a saying that all men die but few men truly live. Most people sleep their lives away avoiding challenges, conflict, and the uncomfortable. Jesus taught that we would enter the kingdom through much tribulation. In order to have a full life, we have to embrace all of life, which means the not so pleasant parts too. Let the hope of the gospel reinvigorate you to live, to face the challenges, to welcome the conflict, and to endure the uncomfortable. For all that choose to do so will be satisfied with the bread of life; righteousness, peace, joy, love, and true fulfillment.

Ephesians 5:14-16, “Therefore He says:  Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Endeavor to meet every day with the hope of receiving your daily bread just as The Lord’s Prayer indicates. God has given us abundant life through Jesus Christ. May we learn to live well by His provision through the power of the Holy Spirit.