Saturday, February 27, 2010

Obey - Ouch

1) My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2) He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

3) We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4) The man who says, :I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5) But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6) Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:1-6)

During this time of Lent, this scripture really tells me who I belong to and how I must react. In the first verse John makes a curious statement, “I write this to you so you will not sin.” We understand that as fallen humans we are born sin, however here John seems to think that if we follow what he is about to write that somehow it can prevent us from sinning. Then the very next line he helps us for the times we fail by saying, “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father I our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous one.” John does understand that we will make mistakes at the same time we can strive to live a sin-free life.

This scripture, as well as this time of year, reminds us what Jesus has done, and continues to do, for us. First he became man and took on our sin in his death and then defeated death with his resurrection. Verse three John tells us that we know that we have come to know Christ if we obey his commands. Ouch, obey, this seems to be a four-letter word today, one that causes us discomfort, well feel threatened, that if we have to obey anything or anybody, our human rights are compromised. However, John tells us in verse four, if we say we know Christ, “but does not do what he commands,” we are liars, the truth is not in us. John goes on to say here, if we do obey Christ words, “God’s love is truly made complete in,” in us.

The world will only know God’s love if we try to live a God centered righteous life. We have the power of God’s love living in us in the form of the Holy Spirit; the power that created everything lives in us. We need to allow this power to work through us, to reach the world with God’s love, through obedience of his word and commandments. We must work together with the Holy Spirit and try hard to live by the words John wrote here in verse six; “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

Father permit Your Spirit to live through me, help me to live by the power of this Spirit to obey your commandments each and every day, and aid me in assisting other to live by your commandments. Father I need your wisdom to walk in the righteous footsteps of Your Son, to follow the path to Your kingdom. Father I need so much to trust in you not just for today Father but everyday until I get to come be with You. I pray this in the name of Jesus, Your Son, my Savior and Brother. Amen.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spiritual Gifts

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

We know from scripture that we all have spiritual gifts, given to us by God. These are not natural talents or physical abilities, but gifts given to us by God. We are given these special abilities (gifts) to strengthen the Christian community, just as the body has many different parts working in unison for the benefit of body functionality (see Roman 12:4), the same is for a Christian community.

Just because God has given us special abilities (gifts) does not mean instant success, our gifts must be educated and nurtured or they will go unused, and just like a body that has parts missing, or not functioning properly, the Christian community will suffer, the community will still function, but it will suffer.

Today promise yourself to seriously look to determine the gifts (abilities, talents) God has given to you. Then seek to cultivate these gifts and develop them, then use them for the benefit of the Body, Christ Body, the Christian community. Share them with the humanity as long as God permits, so all will see the Love and Glory of God. This is how we worship, praise, and give thanks to God, by serving Him through His people, by using the Spiritual Gifts that He has given to us.

Glorious Father, Give me the wisdom to discover the special spiritual gifts that you have equipped me with. Help to nurture and develop these gifts so that I may use them for Your Glory, to show the world Your Love and Grace. Father help me to help others discover their spiritual gifts so that they to may benefit in the honor of being Your hands and feet to Your people here and now. Thanks You Father for loving us and caring for us today and forever. May Your kingdom regain now and forever. I pray these things in the name of Your Son my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

God Forgives

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Confess – not and easy thing to do. Doing a word search in the NIV I found 41 instances to the word confess, from Leviticus through 1 John, and each time the theme of turning from their sin goes along with it. We are promised that if we ask God for forgiveness, He will give it! He does not ask for explanations, He ask no questions, He just forgives. This is the very nature of God. God’s ability to love and forgive is immeasurable and immediate you ask He forgives.

Then there is the word Repent, which shows up 75 times in the NIV, and always, goes along with some sort of confession and turning from sin. In Merriam-Webster’s on-line Dictionary the definition of Repent is - to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life. To the amendment of one’s life, to turn from sin. Here in 1 John we are told that if we confess our sin God will forgive us. I think we need to take God up on His offer. Even though we may feel that we do not deserve God’s forgiveness, that our sins are to great, that there is no way a loving God would have a use for a sinner like me (speaking from experience). God shows no favoritism, God is bigger than any sin. There is no one living outside the Grace of God, NO ONE.

Also, on the subject of forgiveness, as I said God shows not favoritism in His Grace, neither should we. We have to forgive everyone that you feel has wronged you, not just those who ask for it or the ones who have made it up to you. God forgives everyone, completely, so should we, anything less is insufficient.

Heavenly Father, confessing my sins to you is one of the hardest things I do. I ask that you give me the courage and strength to be open and honest with you. I know that I have been forgiven in my heart. I want to feel confident that my honesty will not condemn me but free me. Your love and forgiveness knows no boundaries and that is where I want to live father, in Your love and forgiveness. Father I ask that you grant me the strength and ability to forgive as You forgive, without question, needing no explanation, just forgive as You do. You have given me the gift by forgiving me. Please help me to share that gift with others. In the name of Your Son and my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Level Paths

25) Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. 26) Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. 27) Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27)

The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:37 “Turn my eyes away from worthless things.” What are you looking at today? Where is your focus? Is it on Christ and His blessings, His will for your life or is it the worldly gains that Satan is tempting you with? Today is an opportunity to offer praise, to celebrate the life God has chosen for you. To give thanks to the One who has offered you more blessings than you can even imagine.

Make level paths for you feet; take away every moral hindrance. In Isaiah 26:7 we read: “The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the ways of the righteous smooth.” We alone cannot make our path level we an not resist the moral temptations, Christ has already resisted Satan’s temptations in the wilderness. Is it not wise then to rely on the strength of Christ?

Do not swerve to the right or the left, a warning that we have seen several times in scripture. Deuteronomy 5:32 “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.” Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Being successful is not unconditionally guaranteed, we cannot rely on our own ability to do what is right we must rely on Christ to keep us straight on the path.

For today let us focus our thought on the joy that is rightfully ours in Christ! Lets celebrate God’s ever-glorious creation! Lets trust in the hopes and promises that God has given us and not fear what we cannot control. If we live in this manner we become contagious, others will begin to become hopeful for their future in Christ, who knows maybe we can change the world, one hope after another, in Christ!

Father, as I live today and everyday, I ask that you give me the hope in my future with You. That You help me to remember Your promises and keep my path level, my eyes and steps straight and focused on You. Lord, keep me focused on the blessing You have given me and not on my abilities, help me remember that it is from You all things come, that Your gifts are comparable to none. Father bless me to be Your servant, that all my actions, thoughts and word are for Your glory and honor. Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why Fear?

Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36)

Here a man has just been told that his daughter has died and Jesus tells the man, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus then goes to the house of this synagogue ruler and brings his daughter back from the dead.

Most of our worries will never come to pass, but we still worry. We fret about the past, we worry about the future we stress over money and relationships. As we examine our lives we see these tiny hills and turn them into giant mountains. Are you fearful about the challenges that make up your life? Then why are you not on our knees, asking God to help you gain a clear perspective of the problems, and opportunities that lay ahead? When you sincerely seek God’s guidance, He can (and will) touch your heart and open your eyes, give you a new way of thinking and squash your fears.

Father, your words remind me that when I walk through the darkest of times, I don’t have to fear because you are right there with me. Your perfect love surrounds me so that I need not fear. Father, grant me the wisdom and peace to live a courageous life, a faithful life today, every day. Amen