CHRISTIANS Your Attitude Determines Everything


Scripture says our attitude will influence the outcome in the decisions we make.  Are you a positive or negative thinker or somewhere in between?  Do you have a problem trusting God, accepting His promises or do you hear an inner voice predicting only bad things are going to happen?  Do we concentrate on what Scripture tells us or do we listen to what Satan is saying, who wants to defeat us?

Do you wonder why you have gone through life continually having problems?  We know that a poor self-image creates a defeatist attitude and self-fulfilling prophecy can result.    Do you see yourself as a winner, a loser or just unworthy?

Life is full of hindrances.  Many of our problems may result from the temperament we were born with.  A perfectionist may not try something unless they can do it perfectly.  Often they find it difficult to make decisions because they never want to be wrong.  Other temperaments have weaknesses as well as strengths.

How important is your attitude?  Our attitude can be our most important role in determining our future.  How do we respond to any given situation, particularly a serious problem?  We have many attitudes toward many things.  We can have a favorable attitude toward blue and a negative attitude toward gray.  We also have an attitude or philosophy toward life.  You may dwell on the unpleasant things or see things through rose colored glasses.  The world is not perfect and life presents many hindrances.  You may be faced with a divorce, loss of job, a financial disaster or health problems.  Different people may handle each in various ways.  As bad as the situation may be, worry will drain one’s energy and possibly cause unhealthy conditions.

The more we study the Bible and become more spiritual and Christ-like the greater is our motivation, we are more energized, enthused and it usually raises our productivity.  We have a greater commitment to following the teachings of Christ.  We become more trusting and obedient to the commandments of God.  As our attitudes changes we learn to love rather than hate, to forgive rather than be unforgiving.  As our spiritual condition gradually changes our perspectives on life should change.  We can overcome the hindrances of being critical, jealous, greedy, prideful, unbelief, and lustful.

Stress can kill!  Negative attitudes have a tendency to produce stress.  Our attitude determines what we see in life.  What we think is who we are and what we become.  What are two very important points found in the Bible?  It is having a life filled with peace and joy.  Joy and peace produce healthy bodies.  Lack of joy and peace produce unhealthy bodies.  Having participated in sports and as a coach I found those with normal positive attitudes healed quicker than those who were more negative.  I don’t think most realize the importance of having a positive, Christ-like attitude when it comes to health issues. Christ-like attitudes do not guarantee healthy lives but it improves the possibilities.

Scripture repeatedly emphasizes God wants us to have our needs met.  In fact, He talks about true believers being prosperous and having abundance.  If you don’t expect it, chances are you will not pursue it.  You can’t be positive all of the time.  That would be disillusional.  However, Christians are told they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength.  Whatever Scripture says you can do, believe it and don’t be a doubter.

Remember, attitudes are not something you learn, they are acquired.  Who are you and how do you see yourself?  Do you feel unworthy of being successful or prosperous as too many do?  Have you been told you will never amount to anything?  Do you accept everything you hear?

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

A person with a positive attitude has a tendency to be a giver.  A person with a negative attitude often is a taker.  How can you be a Christian and not be positive and a giver?  Can you be Christ-like and be negative most of the time?    Only if you imagine Christ being negative and there is no indication of that.

Do negative thoughts come as a result of a lack of trust in God?  Maybe you do not understand God’s unconditional love for you.  Do you see yourself as a child of God?

Proverbs 11:25 – “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”  NLT

Proverbs 13:21 – “Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.” NIV

Proverbs 28:25 – “The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.” NIV

THE AGE OF CHANGE AND DISTRACTIONS


Is it harder to be a Christian today than 100 years ago? People lived 1000s of years but only 100 plus years ago things started to really change. In 1903 the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane, for 12 seconds. In 1908 Ford built the Model T car. My grandparents moved from North Carolina to Oklahoma for a few years and then to Oregon by covered wagon. As a child I lived on a small farm with no indoor plumbing or electricity. In the world, at that time, there were still some people living in caves, tents, tepees, huts and lento houses.

When I was a child it was unusual for anyone to live past 70. Most died in their early 60s. Telephones and radios were rare and there were few TVs prior to 1950. Families, during my grandparent’s time, had many times up to ten children. Many lived and worked on farms. Probably not more than ten percent had a high school education. With the exception of teachers, doctors and a few others very few had a college education. Most families had a religious background and had respect for each other and their neighbors. Most leaders were respected and held in high esteem. Businesses had few regulations and anyone could start a business with hardly any red tape. Democrats were a little left of center and Republicans were a little right of center. It wasn’t too difficult to reach agreements. Politics did their thing and they had little apparent effect on the general public. Schools taught morality and there were times when Scripture was used in teaching. There were no public unions or teacher unions. There was no such thing as political correctness.

There is no need to point out the differences today because we are well aware of the many changes. For example, there are 5.6 billion cell phones in use. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell and it was invented in March 1876. There were not too many phones in use 100 years ago.

With all of the changes and distractions is it any easier or harder to live a Christian life now? What would it be like living a Christian life if everything we have today was discovered 2000 years ago? What would people’s morality and spirituality be like? Do you think the world would still exist or would we have destroyed ourselves? Can you see what all of the recent changes and distractions have done to people’s religious beliefs?

We have a God that foresaw everything that would happen. There have always been distractions causing man to rebel against God. The Old Testament history tells of the Israelites worshipping false gods and denying God. Man’s self-centered nature is such that we are selfish and concerned more about what is most pleasurable to us. We see God wanting to restrict what we think and what we do. We do not want anyone watching or supervising, telling us what to do. We do not like, as a whole, restrictions.

But God knew, in His infinite wisdom, that man could not live like he was created, to be on his own. He would need help. Therefore, He sent His Son to be crucified for our sins and our salvation. His ultimate plan was to provide us with His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. To receive His Spirit, man was required to accept Christ as his Savior and be committed to worshipping God. That meant repenting and changing the way man was living.

John 14:16 – 17 – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

John 16:5 – 7 – “but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

Unless Jesus died there would be no gospel or Holy Spirit available. Thus, the Spirit of God was available to reside within the heart of every believer because of Christ’s actions. The Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sins; reveal God’s standards and requirements and to be our councilor and give us guidance throughout our lives.

The Holy Spirit is with us to help us navigate all the changes and distractions that hinder us from living the life Christ exemplified. He is with us to change our nature from being self-centered to Christ-centered. He is with us that we might receive the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 – 23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” He is with us giving us confirmation that we have been sealed and guaranteed to become a child of God.

A problem too many Christians have is they are either unaware of the Holy Spirit in their lives or they ignore Him. If that is you, this is what you are missing:

  • Ephesians 1:13 – The Holy Spirit will mark you with a seal to guarantee your redemption and salvation.
  • Hebrews 2:4 – The Holy Spirit will give us signs, wonders, various miracles and gifts. If we have seriously surrendered our lives to Christ the Holy Spirit will make us aware that He is with us.
  • II Timothy 1:13 & 14 – The Holy Spirit will help you live a holy life by giving you faith and love in Christ Jesus.
  • Luke 12:12 – The Holy Spirit will tell us what to say.
  • Acts 1:8 – We shall receive power from the Holy Spirit.
  • John 14:26 – The counselor, the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and will remind us of what Jesus taught.
  • Acts 13:12 – The Holy Spirit will speak to our spirit and give us directions and where to go.
  • Acts 20:23 – The Holy Spirit will warn us of potential problems.

If you truly have the Holy Spirit in your life and you allow Him to guide you, He will get you through every change and distraction that comes. God wants what is best for you and that is what the Holy Spirit will allow you to have if you are surrendered and submissive.

GOD’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE


We as humans have a love that is perverted, selfish and selective.  Christ came with a gospel correcting the love that man knew.  Our love was not what God had intended for man.  It wasn’t until Christ revealed the nature of God did we understand the true meaning of love.

Sin is a type of perverted love.  How could we love God with all of our strength, mind and soul if the only love we knew is what can I expect in return?  What’s in it for me?  This is not the kind of love God wants and especially not the love He has for us.

We are told to live a holy life.  This cannot be done without love. The two are inseparable.  Living a holy life is the perfecting of love.  Christianity is our love to God and to others.

I Corinthians 13:1 – 8 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

There is nothing more important than unconditional love.  You can have the fruits of the Spirit and the gifts, but if you do not have love you will not have the ability to exercise God’s gifts or the Spirit’s fruits.  God’s love is directed outwardly toward others and this love is not toward ourselves.  Unless we overcome our own desires and instincts we cannot give unconditional love.  Therefore, we must develop the mind of Christ in order to consistently love God as He loves us and for us to love others.

Love is having patience with people but not necessarily with normal events of life.  Love is being kind in dealing with people.   A Christian who is unkind lacks love.  Positive responses normally come when we are kind and thoughtful toward others. Love does not envy.  Envy can mean that we want what others have badly enough to do almost anything to get it.  Envy can mean that if we can’t have it we do not want them to have it either.  Most everyone would like to be wealthy, well known and accepted.  How we accept others good fortunes is indicative of our true love.  A person with love will not boast.  We realize how unworthy we are, were it not for Christ’s death and resurrection.  Love keeps us humble and it never offends.  There is a difference between confidence and pride.  Love does not allow our egos to become inflated.  Great leaders do not think of their importance.  Love does not become rude and self-seeking.  Christians are to be tactful and polite.  Love for others allows us to control our tempers.  Anger many times results from a bruised ego.  When we become exasperated with others we must not lose our tempers.  We must not allow situations to defeat us.  Love forgives and holds no grudges.  We must never be pleased with the misfortunes of others.  Love looks for the good in people.  Christian love never hides the truth.  Truth must always win out.  Love is trusting and takes God at His word.  We must look for the good in other people.  Love always hopes.  The worst thing a Christian can have is a negative attitude.  Prior to Christ the Israelites feared God.  Fear can cause people to do irrational things.  Christ came that we may overcome fear by giving us hope.  Love is reaching out to others.  It stops indifference, isolationism and pride that hinder relationships and exclusiveness.  Love is central to a Christian’s faith and lifestyle.  Christian perfection is a perfection of love.  Christ said if everyone had unconditional love there would be no need for laws.

A number of months ago I believe I heard Dr Charles Stanley say once He could feel God’s love it changed his life.  I have prayed that I too might feel that love and that I might return it to God and others.  The answers to my prayers seem to say: You do not need a sign.  Your faith is sufficient.  You understand what unconditional love requires.  But I keep on praying!

CHRISTIANS, Where Is Your Courage?


You have possibly heard the prayer: God, help me to accept the things I cannot change but the courage to change the things I can change and the wisdom to know the difference.  Courage can be overcoming fear of failure or rejection.  Many courageous people may be fearful but they are capable of reasoning that the risk must be taken because of the necessity of the outcome.  It takes courage to stand up for what you believe when others are rejecting your witness.  When you are led to give your Christian witness, but feel intimidated to do so, you condition yourself to reject each time the Holy Spirit encourages you to do so in the future.  You probably know by now, it takes courage to be different.  Do you consider yourself different from others or do you let others intimidate you when it comes to your beliefs? 

Do you feel paralyzed to refute what someone is saying about Christ knowing they are wrong?  This is why it is so important to be prepared.  Unless you have studied your Bible and have knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word it may be difficult to have the courage to state another is wrong.  Fear is often a lack of confidence.  Knowing the absolute difference between right and wrong, what’s moral and immoral can develop a Christian’s courage. 

Joshua 10:25 – “Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”

I Corinthians 16:13 – “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

Do you have dreams or goals that require stretching your abilities?  Has fear limited your expectations? Courageous people have a certain confidence about life in general.  If a Christian is doing what he believes God has given him as a purpose in life, don’t you think they would do it boldly?  If you had true passion in what you do, wouldn’t you be more diligent in doing it?  Courage is the boldness to overcome whatever hindrance you are facing.    

The entire Israeli army was afraid to fight Goliath, the Philistine.  But a teenage, David took his sling shot and overcame the giant.  I Samuel 17:34 – 37 – “But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.  The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”   Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”   Do you see the advantage of being a Christian?  If the Holy Spirit is leading, you must be willing to trust Him.  Otherwise, you may lose your courage and fear can block your potential that God has given you. 

Fear is real and it can debilitate.  Though fear is real, we need not give in to it or allow it to misdirect our decisions.  Fear can inhibit us from not only using our talents and abilities, but also from reaching our full-potential.  And worse, we will be robbed of our peace and joy.  Once we identify fear in our lives, we can relegate it to its proper place: under the control of the Holy Spirit.  God does not want us to fear: rather, He wants us to trust Him for everything we need. He wants us to be confident and courageous. Then we are free to pursue and fulfill our God-ordained purpose in life. 

Let me share an experience that I was able to witness.  First, Scripture taught me that we can overcome fear and worry by listening to the Holy Spirit with spiritual ears, keeping everything in perspective and doing my best to remain coolheaded in the midst of madness.  It takes time.  It takes determination.  It takes practice.  But it works.  Having overcome fear gives to one courage.  Courage can change one’s perspective for life. 

Several years ago a client came to me for financial help.  He was not a Christian and he made a normal income.  His financial picture was so-so.  He was worried about his finances.  It was important to him to increase his annual income and fatten his net worth. 

Through a series of events, he accepted the Lord.  His life completely changed.  His financial picture, a high priority before salvation, became of less concern.  When he put God and his customers first, a new attitude emerged.  He changed from being focused on finances but to live for God.  Before his salvation, this man’s greatest concern was about making a living and having enough money to live on and retire financially independent.  After salvation he understood the time spent worrying about his financial affairs would better be spent living his life and working his business in a Christ-like way.  Because of his change of heart a “funny” thing happened: He focused on serving God rather than his bottom line and his financial situation increased exponentially.  I have continually worked with him over the years.  Unless the world falls apart, he will have adequate resources when he retires.

When the Holy Spirit fills your heart and guides your life, you will have little room or need for fear of any kind according to Romans 8:15 – “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.”  We may understand that we have no reason to fear and accept liberation from it, but we may not instantly be “cured” of fearing and become courageous immediately.  God, in His love and wisdom, may allow all sorts of problems to enter our lives.  But we’re not left on our own to deal with them; He helps us through our struggles and disasters.  He continually stretches our trust so we can break through the “wall of fear” and rely on Him, trusting Him more and more.  Unless we see God bailing us out of tough or even terrifying trials, we may find it difficult to lean on Him and trust Him to be with us during our times of need. 

Many Christians seldom realize that God allows failure to lead them in a different direction.  A number of lessons can be learned from failure.  For one thing, it strengthens us spiritually.  For another, failure not only teaches us to be dependent upon the Holy Spirit, but also it opens up unlimited possibilities.  Every circumstance in life, including failure, can become an eventual blessing according to Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  So how do we become courageous?  We place absolute trust in God.

CHRISTIANS Should Be Risk Takers


If you have enough faith, Scripture says we can move mountains.  Too often I see Christians unwilling to take any risks whatsoever.  Having been a member and on the board of a church that has grown from 450 to over 40,000 on special occasions and can be heard around the world on the Internet, it didn’t happen because of a lack of faith.  How can Christians be convinced that God wants them to be successful and prosperous as examples and to help spread His gospel to everyone?  It’s not done by winning the lottery.  It takes using Biblical principles and trusting God to help you make the right decisions most of the time.  The willingness to take risks that are well thought out in advance and if the necessary preparations are made, you will have a great chance to succeed.  God doesn’t always bless us for just showing up!  It takes commitment, tenaciousness and hard work, but faith and trusting are most necessary.   We have the advantage of God being with us through the Holy Spirit wanting to help us do our best.  Here’s my story:

Years ago before children had the toys that are available today there were soap box derbies.  Dads and sons would build racing carts and enter them in the soap box races.  They may be made out of orange crates on short two by fours with axles and wheels.  They had a steering mechanism and brakes.  That was the total racer.

Most of the contestants were eager youngsters who leaned forward or hunkered down in their carts hoping to decrease wind resistance thereby increasing speed.  One youngster was visibly frightened at the prospect of going too fast down a long hill and compensated by riding the brake to keep his speed under control.  He finished last.

In my younger days some of our relatives would go to the Pacific Ocean for a weekend and would dig clams and have clam chowder.  To this day it is my favorite soup.  I remember wading out into waist deep water, standing mesmerized as a huge wave approached, broke and knocked me flat in a swirl of sand, saltwater and tangled arms and legs.  My next try resulted in a repeat of my first humiliation.

I use these two illustrations to describe the Christian’s frame of mind when the first few steps of faith are taken.  A fully committed Christian is like a youngster who takes his foot off the brake and goes full tilt down the steepest of hills.  The committed Christian is also like a person who wades into the surf, dives headlong into the first wave and swims into the vast Pacific Ocean.

The problem that exists is once the initial wave of enthusiasm passes, and it will, there is an inclination to settle into a kind of treadmill mentality.  Once the excitement has passed, life returns to dealing with the day to day pressures that surround us.  So before any more steps are taken we need to learn how to maintain momentum and stay charged.

If you have been reading my blogs, almost each one will tell you that you must develop a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and be tuned into His presence.  I use the word “tuned in” because it is not always a conscious awareness.  But when something noteworthy happens, whether it is considered a good thing or a not-so-good thing, the presence of the Holy Spirit comes to mind and is cause for celebration.  He is your inner partner when someone aims a six-shooter between your eyes; He is present when the roof caved in or the stock market crashed as we have just seen or He is with you when oil is discovered in your backyard.

It is His partnership that is energizing.  It’s the difference between sitting in a foxhole alone and scared or sitting in a foxhole with the Joint Chief of Staff right there with you.  It has been my experience that many Christians, when it comes to stepping out in faith, ride the brakes or only put their toe in the water.  If they only knew what God has in store for them and what they may be missing, they will only know when they get to heaven.  But what an exciting life we could have if we just put our faith into action.

We as Christians have a tremendous advantage.  We have been assured that we can always enjoy beneficial circumstances and it enables us to transform the most hopeless looking position into a favorable position.  However, it is all based on the condition of our spiritual heart which determines the kinds of decisions we make.

Every one of us has a worldly nature and a spiritual nature.  The two natures are in conflict with each other because the worldly nature is self-serving and the spiritual nature is God-serving.  Therefore, the condition of our spiritual heart determines the kinds of decisions we make.  Business decisions, job decisions, family decisions and personal decisions are all affected by our true nature or heart.  We also are repeatedly influenced by satanic forces with which we must deal.

Countless Scriptures make the point that spiritual health is a direct outgrowth of our spiritual natures winning the conflict taking place within us.  Galatians 5:17 – “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Which nature are we allowing to win?  Is our worldly nature saying “Keep your foot on the brake; you may risk losing everything”?  Or are we willing as committed Christians to hunker down, with our foot off the brake saying I am willing to let it all hang out that I might fulfill God’s will in my life.  And that might require taking a risk! It may even require swimming with the sharks.

Deuteronomy 28:1 – 9 – “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world.   You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:  Your towns and your fields will be blessed.  Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed.  Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed.   Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.   The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!  The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.  If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do.”  NLT

I believe this applies also to the United States and Christians who are obedient and walk in the ways of Christ.

DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS


I recently learned of a Christian leader who found himself in a mess.  He was drawing unemployment compensation and at the same time had a job.  My first reaction was why would a Christian be tempted to defraud the government or anyone? As a voluntary leader in his church how will that affect those he was leading?

A person is not going to be tempted unless it is for something pleasurable or a material benefit.  How often do people become tempted without ever thinking of the consequence?  A non-believer probably does not care what the consequences are but why would a Christian allow themselves to deliberately sin?

I Corinthians 10:13 – “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” NLT

God gives us an assurance that the Holy Spirit will assist us and there is no temptation we cannot resist if we chose to do so.  Christians who sin do so believing that they can get away with it.  No one will find out.  However, their uncontrolled passion accounts for their failure and when they fail, they are accountable to God.

No matter what we are tempted with, God says He will give us a way out.  One’s carnal nature, with little self-control, doesn’t always look for the exit.

There were times in the Bible when God tested a person through a temptation.  Often we learn from our failures and their consequences.  Sinning can teach a person what happens when they try doing things without seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit.  I believe many Christians simply ignore the Holy Spirit unless they are facing trials or encountering difficult problems.

Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Our struggles are also from the power of spiritual forces of evil.  Satan is our enemy and is constantly tempting us.  Satan is in opposition to God and wants to bring down our relationship with Him.  He does not want us to be a part of God’s family.  Christians realize they cannot stand up to him in their own power.  The Book of Daniel in chapter 10 tells us of the many fallen angels and evil spirits and how powerful they are.  Satan has millions of emissaries that gather information and inflict problems on the human race.  Their purpose is to also enslave people into all forms of idolatry, involvement in cults, deceptive philosophies, evolution and climate change.

Stop and think how immoral society has become.  The powers of darkness flame our lusts, our human passions and our self-centered natures suggesting that we yield to sin.  As we get closer to the end time, which we do not know when, it seems we are getting back to the pagan religions prior to Christ coming two thousand years ago.  At that time pagans had temples and temple prostitutes and sex was a part of their worship service.

Our self-centered and sinful nature is placing thoughts into our minds just as rapidly as the evil powers.  Out of our hearts come evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, thefts, false witness and blasphemies.  Just seeing the world’s pleasures being offered can be enticing. Don’t let Satan corrupt your heart and mind by displaying ugly passion instead of love for Christ.  Then add instant gratification, a great temptation, and the need to have what everyone else has and have it now. And what must we do to get it: credit cards and installment payments that continually cause us to spend much more than we earn.  Thus, when we yield and give in, we can suffer anxiety, stress and possibly depression because we are unable to make our payments.

We all have areas of weakness in our lives and the devil knows each one.  We must be honest with ourselves and determine what these weaknesses might be.  We then must deal with each and get rid of it before we will ever have joy and peace in our lives.    Here are some temptations that cause us to sin: unforgiveness, greed, pride, lies, lust, unbelief, anger, love of money and others.  Make a list and accept responsibility that it is a problem in your life.  Then believe that you can eliminate each temptation that leads to sin. Be aware that you will be attacked and influenced in these areas that are a problem. Then believe in the promise of Philippians 4:13 – “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” And I will!

I Peter 5:8 – “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Spiritual warfare is serious and the enemy is real.  Evil influences seek to harm us and our family.  They want to destroy our witness and hinder the work of God.  If you think you can handle the two negative influences, our carnal nature and evil without God’s help you are in trouble; that is if your desire is to not yield to temptation.  The Apostle Paul, with all of his knowledge, found that he could not win without the Holy Spirit’s help.  So if we let our self-centered nature get out of control and ignore the Holy Spirit, we are on our own and we know what the result will be: Convicted of sinning and pronounced guilty—and Satan wins!   Don’t you want to be the winner?

What Kind Of A Legacy Will You Leave Behind?


How important is it to live a life that makes it better for those who follow?   Have American’s become very selfish people with little concern for their children and grandchildren?  It is estimated that those 45 and younger spend very little time planning on what they wish to leave for future generations.  It is estimated that most individuals headed to prison have little care for what they leave behind.  It is all about self.

When the Declaration of Independence was adopted they took an oath: “we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” As a result a new nation was formed with the Bible as their guide. Had it not been for our founding fathers desire to leave a nation with individual freedom, America’s legacy would be little different from other countries.

 

“The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”  (Numbers 14:18)

Many of us know the story of Esau and Jacob.  Esau was the oldest son and in a Jewish culture that made the eldest eligible to receive the “birthright”.  The birthright was a special honor given to the first born son.  It gave him twice as much as any other sibling’s inheritance.  Upon death of the father, it also made him the family leader and the judge of any disputes in the family.  It gave them a different relationship to God than the others.  The oldest son, if he chose to do so, could sell or give it away.  If he did, he would lose the material benefit and give up his leadership position.  Esau by giving up his birthright gave up the spiritual blessing that came with it.  He traded it for an immediate pleasure without considering the long-range consequence of what it would do.  Something many do constantly with little or no thought about how it could change the lives of those who follow.

Genesis 23:30 – 40 – “He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)  Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”  “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”  But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.  Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.  So Esau despised his birthright.”

Here is the consequence: The Bible probably would have read—Abraham, Isaac and Esau the father of twelve sons.  Esau possibly gave up every benefit that Jacob received from God.  We can fall into the same trap.  When we see something that we really want, what are we willing to do to get it?  Our first impulse may be to do whatever it takes. That could mean using the credit card, having an illicit affair, being dishonest to gain materially.  What is it that tempts us?  What is our bowl of stew?  What are we willing to give up in the future, to satisfy an immediate craving or lust that we have at the moment?

Esau exaggerated his hunger.  I doubt that he would die if he didn’t get the stew.  Yet, don’t we think similar thoughts?  No one will know.  It won’t hurt anyone.  The pressure of the moment gives us a different perspective making the decision seem urgent.  Isn’t it possible for us to justify almost any decision we make?

Consider how Esau’s decision changed his future, his family’s future and the world’s future.  If you have read the Bible almost everything from that time on, in the Bible, is about Jacob and his heirs.  Follow Esau’s history and there is very little good that came out of it.  From Esau came many of those who have accepted Islam and are Muslins.  Esau and his descendants are bitter enemies with Jacob’s heritage.  They have been enemies for centuries.

Decisions we make today not only affect us but influence the lives of our family.  We are seeing it today.  Many unwed teenagers having children with little chance of them growing up with a spiritual upbringing.  Unwise choices destroy families.  We know of politicians who have destroyed career opportunities for a bowl of soup as Nevadans are aware.

We have all had the pressure that comes from temptations.  The devil knows what our bowl of soup is.  This is why it is so important to reach spiritual maturity and live a life trying in every way to please God.  We must never do things knowing that God will be displeased.  That is sin!  Stop and think—consider the consequence!  Will the decision I make today, displease God and change the lives of my children, grandchildren and on?  Don’t make the mistake Esau did and have the affect he had on so many.

Galatians 5:17 – “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

Watch TV and read the newspapers.  What do you think the third and fourth generation from now will be like?  What kind of a society will they be living in?  Will any place be safe?  How many might have a personal relationship with Christ?

Does anyone wonder why Christ came to spread the Gospel?  What if every child had Christian parents would future societies be any different?   Christians, can you see the importance of evangelizing the world?  What will our legacy be?  Will others benefit from how we lived or are we leaving the world worse because of our selfish natures?

Remember the 12 Israelite spies sent out to determine if they could take the land God had promised?  Ten came back with a bad report.  Numbers 14:36 – 37 – “So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it—these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord.”  All Israelite men 20 and older died in the wilderness and it was 40 years before the others were victorious and entered the Promised Land.  Shouldn’t we consider how we live, our attitudes and what we say? What am I doing to the generations that follow?

Matthew 22:37 – “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”

What would the world’s legacy be if everyone lived by these two commandments?  Every generation would do better than the previous one.  However, what we are leaving behind is a world preparing for the Antichrist to take over.    Soon it will be too late and all individual freedom will be lost!

Does GOD Always Keep His Promises?


I have heard preachers and teachers state that if you have enough faith you can move mountains. Just because Scripture says it, does not mean that it is a promise that God must keep.  Apparently, no one has that kind of faith or if they do, they haven’t asked God to move a mountain lately.  We all know He can, but that is not an unconditional promise.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t need huge earth movers just people with a lot of faith.

Most of God’s promises in the Bible are conditional but a few are unconditional.  For example, John 3:16 is unconditional and applies to everyone.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Or, Acts 2:38 – “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Regardless who you are or what you have done this is an unconditional promise.

A conditional promise is found in Philippians 4:19 – “ And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”  Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  You can see these are conditional promises.  If you are not doing God’s Will, you may not enter heaven.

God is under no obligation to answer any prayer of a non-believer except those like the unconditional ones above.  God does not guarantee He will answer the prayers of a believer if they don’t meet certain qualifications.  He requires our obedience, faith, living a holy life according to His Will, and patience to trust that He will answer.

What is needed to receive what Psalms 37:4 says?  “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  This is a conditional promise requiring that we have a close personal relationship with Him.  Knowing Him well will give us comfort, pleasure and satisfaction.  It suggests that we are willing to trust God with everything we have.  It is believing He can care for us more than we can care for ourselves.

If you accepted Christ a few years ago and have failed to grow spiritually, chances many of your prayers may not be answered. I believe the Bible is very clear that most of God’s promises are conditional and His only obligation is to believers who are putting Him first in their lives. That does not mean He will not answer your prayer, it is just not a guarantee.  Many teach if you have enough faith your prayer will be answered.  It takes more than faith.

Have you heard preachers on TV say if you will send them seed money, God will increase your wealth?  If you refuse to take responsibility and be accountable for how you live, if you fail to study His Word and become knowledgeable or ignore Biblical facts, what do you think God’s answer might be?  Is He going to make you prosperous because you sent someone money?   God is not obligated as His promise is conditional?

God requires that we learn His Word.  How else would we know whether we are living a holy life?  Have you been redeemed and are you righteous?  You may have received the Holy Spirit but have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?  Are you aware of a power received from the Holy Spirit?  Do you have supernatural experiences or unexplainable occurrences from time to time?  It may not be luck or a coincidence but God intervening.

Do you realize all of the many promises God gives to those who have a deep personal relationship with Him?   Are you willing to make the effort to improve your spiritual standard of living?  God does not want us to remain baby Christians throughout our adult life.  He does not want us to fail to mature and be unproductive children.  How do most parents feel about their children who intentionally fail to get an education and are unwilling to get a job?  If they are physically and mentally able, they are that way because we gave them more than we should have or we lacked adequate discipline.  We were enablers and made them unwilling to develop, mature and become independent.  Isn’t God smarter than we?  He is not going to hurt us by answering prayers that will make us overly dependent to a fault.  But He will answer the prayers of those doing their best and continually progressing to spiritual maturity.

Scripture says to examine yourself.  Are you consistently striving to become more spiritual and enhance your relationship with Him?  Should God be answering your prayers?

There is a different aspect to prayer.  Sometimes God will answer prayers in order to build our faith and bring us closer to Him.  I have found the more times I have seen prayers answered the greater my relationship with Him grew and the more spiritually mature I became.

Sometimes we may feel so unworthy that it is difficult to believe that God really loves us enough to answer our prayers. There can be times when we may least expect God’s to answer our prayer and He does.  The more we see the Holy Spirit working in our lives, the greater we can be motivated to study His Word and pray.  God knows what it takes to encourage us.  So never give up and pray with the faith to believe your prayer will be answered.  God doesn’t want us to fail.  But sometimes we are so tempted by the world that we chose worldly pleasures over God.  This does not please God.  So if we want our prayers constantly answered, we must do as Scripture says.

There are thousands of supernatural experiences where lives were saved by angels or individuals were involved in accidents and came out of cars totally demolished and not having a scratch.  God works in many mysterious ways.  Most often these supernatural events change the lives of people.

This message is not about what God can or will do, but about: Is God obligated to keep a Biblical promise.  Not if it is a conditional promise.  But unconditional promises—yes.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  This is an unconditional promise that you can count on!

CHRISTIANS—Have You Wondered If You Have The Holy Spirit?


Have you ever questioned whether you had the Holy Spirit when things were not going well?  Have you ever wondered if the following Scripture applied to you?  Matthew 7:21 – 23 – “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws

How can we know we have the Holy Spirit?

A number of Christians have told me they could feel the Holy Spirit come into them.  There was no doubt in their mind that they had received God’s Spirit.  I have never felt the Holy Spirit.  I thought I may have missed something.  I have never spoken in tongues or have been slain in the Spirit.  So I prayed many times that somehow I would feel His love and His presence.  Into my mind came this thought.  I don’t need a sign.  This was the same problem the Jewish leaders were having.  They kept asking Christ for a sign.  At once I realized I didn’t need a sign that I had the Holy Spirit.  I have accepted the Holy Spirit on faith because Christ said He would come to those who accepted Jesus as the Son of God, repented of their sins and accepted Him as their Lord.  I did and my life completely changed. Wasn’t that sign enough? There was a sense of having within me a power that empowered me and gave me purpose and direction.  I received new values.  I allowed my life to be lived in the Spirit and by the Spirit.  There were times in my Christian life that I felt no sensation or anything was happening, just an emptiness.

Some were telling me that I could tell the Holy Spirit was with me because I would receive gifts to do His work.  I wasn’t sure if I had been given any gifts or they were natural talents.  However, I began to realize that I was receiving the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22 – 23 – “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”  I didn’t have them and now I do.  That had to be some sort of sign that I just hadn’t recognized.

My body and my soul became a servant in order for God to use me.  There were times I was given tasks to perform that I knew others could probably do a better job.  I felt blessed that I had been chosen to do His will.  What it did was increase my faith to the point I believed I could do anything God directed me to do.  My goal was to live to please Christ and never embarrass Him.  Prior to salvation, I lived to please myself with worldly pleasures.  What a change.  That should have verified I had His Spirit.

We must ask ourselves: “How precious is Jesus to you”?  The more Christ means to us the greater will be our desire to serve and please Him.  So what does God require of us?  He asks that we have a love that comes from our heart, from the very depth of who we are.  I believe a person who has the Holy Spirit dwelling within, will be a person who is totally surrendered and is living according to their knowledge of Scripture.  The Spirit will lead a person to the truth.

The Bible tells us that we will be sealed with the Holy Spirit.  It is this sealing that is the confirmation that God has accepted us into His family.  I do not believe it is given unless we have made a commitment to live according to the light we have received.  Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

I am convinced that if a person is unwilling to live the lifestyle that the Holy Spirit would require will not receive the Holy Spirit.  We may be willing to seek salvation in our head but many are not willing to accept Christ into their heart and without a repentant heart, we may be that one who Christ says: “I never knew you.”    Have you known of professing Christians who have never surrendered their lives to God?  They were unable to become detached from the ways of the world.  In fact they could never become totally committed and surrendered.

When we receive the Holy Spirit people can see a definite change in our lifestyle.  Ask yourself: “Are you different, do you leave a favorable impression on others?  Do they see Christ in you?  If you have accumulated material things, do you have them or do they have you?  What would happen if all were gone, as some Christians have recently had happen, because of the foreclosing of homes?  Was that your main source of security or did your security come from Christ?

You may never feel that you have the Holy Spirit but you will know it as your desires change, you have a change in attitude and feel your guilt has been taken away.  You may be like me.  I know the Holy Spirit dwells in me because I have seen a complete life change.  I know Scripture and I know what God promises and I have fulfilled the requirements.  There is no doubt!  I know where I will be in eternity and you can too.

Christianity And The Church


God’s plan was to send His Son to be a sacrifice in order to undo what the Devil had done to each of us.  What Adam lost, when he sinned and what we inherited could be regained by accepting Christ’s death and resurrection and through His sacrifice we could be redeemed and reconciled with God.  Without faith in Christ and God’s grace we would remain forever separated from God.

God had a plan and purpose for each one of us.  We believe God wanted humans to be gifted with a spirit that could fellowship with Him Who is a Spirit.  With His Spirit dwelling in us we could defeat the Devil and we would no longer do evil.  Once we made a commitment to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior we could then receive His Spirit and He could live within us.  The result of what Christ had done for us our sins could be forgiven and we would become free of guilt, (The great suppressor).  Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection was done to deal with our sins, our flesh and our self-centered nature.  Once we received God’s Spirit we could become a new person, with a new nature as God had intended for Adam before his fall.

Christ taught in parables.  We plant a seed and it dies and comes to life.  From that one seed many grains rise up.  Christ died and came to life and many have come from Him.  You don’t plant a grain of wheat and get broccoli.  Salvation is dieing with Christ and rising to become a new person in His likeness.  Seeds do not grow without water and fertilizer.  We do not become like Christ without the Holy Spirit, Bible study and prayer.  Like a seed, it takes time to become ripe and mature.  The same applies to Christianity.  To explain it, Christ gave a parable.  Matthew 13:19 – 23 – “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.  The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.  The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.  But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”  Our struggles are a result of where we were planted, how we were watered and the amount of fertilizer used.

Scripture makes it very clear that God wants a man after His own heart.  Genesis tells us that Adam was created with a soul and a spirit that could communicate with God.  He was able to live in the spiritual world and with a body he could live in the physical world.  These two natures gave him his personality and temperament.  He was created perfect without any imperfections.  But God had to let him make a choice between good and evil.  When he chose to listen to Satan rather than God the Spirit that was in him was withdrawn.  Therefore, instead of living by the Spirit he chose to live by the soul or the physical desires of the flesh.  Every person today is given that same choice.  Who will we select from, for our life’s purpose and direction, is it God or Satan, the great deceiver?

I heard an illustration of a man driving his car.  Beside him was his wife who continually tells him how to drive.  But he says, it is my car and I will drive any way I want and go anyplace I want to go.  When his son reaches the age to learn to drive, he reluctantly sits in the passenger seats but tells his son how to drive and where he wants to grow.  He is still partially in control.

He accepts Christ as His Savor and realizes that His life must become different.  Should he treat Christ as a chauffeur telling Him where he wants go, when and how to get there?  Scripture says we must allow our old nature that wants to control, to die out and be replaced.  We must become a new person that can accept the role of being the passenger in life’s voyage.  As the passenger we must not try to be a back-seat-driver. We must place complete confidence that Christ, the Holy Spirit, knows where He is taking us and we must have the faith to accept where He takes us will be to the best place and how we get there will be the best way.   It is so difficult to give up control if we have been in the driver’s seat for a long time, but we must.

Even though our sins had been forgiven, when we died with Christ, we are helpless on our own if we don’t rely on the help of the Holy Spirit.  When we become one with Christ, we become a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God so that we can serve Him.  As we worship and live for God our faith and wisdom increase as our commitment and obedience to God’s Will is fulfilled.  We can never achieve God’s purpose for ourselves without God’s Spirit living in us and directing our behavior and decisions.  We are told to walk in His Spirit and we will acquire the “mind of Christ”.  No matter how holy one may become, we cannot do His purpose without doing it through His body, the church.

Man was created with a need for relationships.  Not only did God want a relationship with us he knew we needed relationships with others.  God instituted the church with Christ as the head.  He wanted that church to not have a spot or wrinkle that would be holy and without blemish.  The church was not to be a group of saved sinners; it was to be a divine creation teaching the gospel of Christ and God’s Will for man.  It was also to be a ministry allowing Christians to serve others through Christ’s and the Holy Spirit’s direction.  The church was to fulfill many needs.  But a battle rages with angels and principalities and powers determined to bring down the work of the church.  Dissention, disagreements, sin and individualism permeate the body.  However, there are enough dedicated Christians that can present a front against the gates of hell and the church will still prevail.  With God’s help it will withstand the onslaught.   You need the church and the church needs you.   But always remember, you must be just a passenger in building the church or one’s carnal nature can help bring it down.