Sometimes in my Christian walk … it feels like I walk alone…

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John 14:15-20

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper, that he may be with you for evermore, the Spirit of truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it does not see him nor know him; you surely know him, for he abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you surely will see me; because I live, you also will surely live. In that day you will indeed know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

The Word tells me I do not walk alone…but sometimes the trials of life…gosh…as purposeful as they are…it feels like God is only working on me. Still…I know that He is just working all things for His purpose.

Rich Mullins once sang…

“…There’s people been friendly
But they’d never be your friends
Sometimes this has bent me to the ground…”

Read more: Rich Mullins – Elijah Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

I see Dead People!

“I see dead people.” said the little boy. The 1999 movie, The Sixth Sense, sent chills up my back when I figured out the plot to the movie…the psychologist was dead, but he did not know it. The boy did not like the fact that he could see dead people. Who could blame him?  In the movie, I don’t recall if it was some kind of special, spiritual gift that the little boy possessed that gave him the ability to see dead people, but I imagine it would be pretty creepy.

Imagine, as Christian believers, we walk among the spiritually dead all our lives and rarely do they creep us out. If anything we enjoy their company. However, the Lord said He came to separate.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Mat. 10:34-39

He was clear when he said “we were in the world, but we are not of this world.” And that we cannot separate ourselves from the world, but we are to steer clear of other “believers” who mock God with their contradictory lifestyles and we all know one or two Christians that cuss like sailors, are having an affair, or are just mean… seriously lacking in God’s love and compassion. As fellow Christians, however, we may simply pray for them, rather than confronting them about their unchristian lifestyle. No one wants to judge and no one wants to be accused of being judgmental or self-righteous.

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Consider, the Febreze commercial, the participants are blinded folded and placed in filthy rooms that are sprayed with a pleasant aroma that completely eliminates bad odors. Well, when their blindfold is removed they are grossed out by the surroundings, the mess, the filth in which they have been standing, or sitting. I would too.

These are pictures of our spiritual walk. Some of us walk among the living, but we are really dead and don’t realize it. Others are blinded to the mess surrounding them, because it smells so good…it can’t be bad. The adulterous Christian feels no remorse, no shame in his/her behavior, because it feels good. How can God be against that?

Thus, when the truth is revealed, we have no choice but to accept the truth, sadly some of us still refuse to heed. As Christians, however, we must…how does the song go…

dark skies
Only the living God can penetrate the darkness.

“…I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.” We need to always be in check with the things of God. If the Lord is merciful enough to show us our true spiritual state, thank God for His love and faithfulness. God loves us and wants nothing less than for us to be right with Him. In these last days, deception is everywhere. Sure, we have always had deception, but the Lord warned us it would get worse as the time drew near. We live in the “if it feels good, just do it!” generation.

We cannot separate ourselves from the dead, as I mentioned they are always among us. However, when we gain spiritual truth, and subsequently some outside force attempts to twist that truth…we need to make sure whatever voice we choose to hear aligns with the truth of God. Test the spirits.

Be Blessed.

Self-control – In me I trust

It is about 2 am in the wee hours of the morning. I finally finished reading the first five books of the Bible and what a revelation it was. I think the most resounding revelation, for me, was that the God of the Old Testament, the God that is criticized for initiating so much violence against humanity is the same God that gave His only Son as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, His creation. God in all His glory took responsibility for His creation.  He gave us the first look at the fierceness and compassion capable in parenting. Yes, to God be the glory.

As sinful creatures we have an innate desire to be in control, to provide for our own needs through our own abilities. Blind trust is difficult, especially when trusting in God whom we cannot see, feel, or touch. Jesus came to do the will of the Father. He was obedient to the cross. Self-control was never an issue, because all He considered was the will of the Father.

Our first challenge as believers is giving up our need for control. The flesh wants it, if not demands it. Others alike expect you to take control of your life, your desires, if not to embrace your desires, and your walk with God. We believe there is always a degree of control that we must have, but I don’t think that’s how God meant it. He told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of good and evil, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” this implies obedience, not self-control. For every action there is a consequence. God was always testing His people to see if they would obey Him. We obey His commands out of fear and reverence, respect and yes even habit.

This is what the Lord shared with me, so when I finished writing everything down I went back to bed.

In the morning I awoke and the message continued.

As infants and children we learn self-control. As newly born humans, it’s the flesh that drives our behavior until we learn obedience.

An infant that cries for food, for a diaper change, or feels ill and wants attention the babe knows no other way of communicating other than crying, this is the flesh demanding. When a baby takes its first step, it opens up a whole new world, and he wants to go everywhere. He takes a few steps here and there. He has no concept of danger. His little body wants to go. He fights any restraint. It is up to the parent to put up safety guards and establish limits to keep him mobile, yet safe.

A toddler has the worst of times because all he wants is his way. You hear people refer to these behaviors as the terrible two’s, but the child is learning obedience, patience, sharing, etc.. As we grow, we learn to bring the flesh under submission, we come to expect certain things, so the flesh learns not to be so demanding. The flesh no longer dictates because it knows that certain things will take place that satisfy its needs. The need for sustenance is a great example. we know that mom will fix breakfast, lunch and dinner.  As the flesh hungers, what we learn is patience, to wait. When we lack self-control we gorge ourselves while waiting for dinner, and then eat a complete meal.

Self-control we learn as children. Self-control is about behavior and when we have the mind of Christ, the mind of Christ only wants to do the will of the Father. Having the mind of Christ allows God to always be in control.

Self-control is carnal mindedness. It has to do with the self, I, me, my, the flesh, it’s desires, it is never satisfied.  From an early age, if basic needs are not met, if limitations are not set, the child never learns self-control. The flesh then goes into overdrive to satisfy its desires.

The mind of Christ is focused on the things of God. The flesh is put to death. We are to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We are to give the devil no ground. Surrender is not easy.

Wolves in the Midst

In this last hour, we as believers and followers of Jesus Christ need to be alert to the tricks of the enemy. The enemy is cleverly deceptive. He will not pass up any opportunity to strike at God’s children. We proclaim “that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.”; that the Lord has promised much to his children. We need to rest on those promises.  Still, we must not put ourselves in compromising situations, of which there are many, some innocent, but just as deadly. We need to test the spirit of those teachers, preachers and pastors whose teaching, discipleship, or leadership we choose to follow. There are many wolves among the sheep. Can you single them out? Could you tell the difference?

Many are known as motivational speakers and they have taken over the pulpit, the airwaves and your thought life. That’s not to say that all pastors are motivational speakers, but clearly many rely on lines from their best sellers to encourage their congregation, and, or followers. You may have heard of positive thinking, something that sounds scripturally sound, but truly is not the same as trusting in God and thinking of, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This thinking comes about from a renewed mind and only God, because He gave His one and only Son to pay for our sin, through the power of the Holy Spirit can renew your mind.

I am of the opinion that motivational and encouraging words minus the Word of God equals to empty rhetoric.  The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. It cuts deep into the soul when it is appropriately applied,  We should be striving to be content in all things, more so in this last hour. Phil. 4:11  Whether we love it or not…because by His grace we stand.

We are living in a very confused and chaotic world. If you are not reading, or hearing the Word of God, you may just be listening to a different gospel.

Part 3: Characteristics of the Carnal Mind

The Bible describes the characteristics of the carnal mind that fit nicely into three categories, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Contained therein, we find all forms of vile attributes common to humanity, greed, deceit, malice, discontent, hatred, bitterness, resentfulness, all forms of wickedness, rebellion, haters of God, lovers of every false thing, prejudice, discrimination, selfishness, pettiness and the list goes on.

Man has placed sin on a scale that fits nicely into everyone’s schema, but to God, sin is sin, rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft and hate for a brother like murder (1 Samuel 15:23). For example, few people are concerned if another is materialistic, because we all are to some degree. We all lust. Some people will agree that a white lie is acceptable if it is meant for good. Every man must have a sense of pride for others to acknowledge him. These Christians seemingly born again, live according to their old nature rather than the new nature that God gives us when we choose to believe. I think many Christians would confess to straddling the fence between the new man and the old nature.

Do you know anyone that fits this bill?

Part 1: Ground Zero: The Mind

Last Sunday, at church, I heard a message that compelled me to share something the Lord has been showing me. Some people will not understand the message, others will not agree and others will judge, but read it, glean what you can and toss the rest out. Hopefully, you will take away something the Lord has been putting in your heart. The message is about the spiritual battle for the mind, aptly titled Ground Zero: The Mind. This message is in five parts.

What is Ground Zero?  Our mind, the battlefield where we, as Christians, combat against every evil thought that seeks to destroy our faith in the only true and living God.  Fighting of evil thoughts is easy for most people, because most people consider only the most horrendous, unforgivable evils against humanity, and truth be told no one would admit to entertaining such thoughts, even in jest.  We consider those evils that society has deemed reprehensible such as murder, stealing, adultery and other such crimes against humanity.  However, as our unbelieving counterparts, most Christians give little thought to the “innocent sin” like a haughty spirit, or a gossipy tongue, or selfishness.  These sins are written off to personality, or character traits.  Nevertheless, the battle waged against us begins in the mind; it is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces in the dark recesses of our mind, whose only mission is to destroy our witness for Jesus Christ.  The Word clearly states that if you hold hatred for your brother, you had better go make it right, because God makes no distinction when it comes to sin.  I John 3: 15, says, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him”.  It is time for believers to wake up and stand against the evil coming against the children of God.  Take heed.  The “unforgivable” and the subtle evils that encompass the content of our character is nothing more than firepower for the weapons of the enemy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

The days of judging people by the color of their skin is behind us, or at least that’s what most Americans are content to believe. However, the day where all Americans will be judged by the content of their character is a day that is quickly nearing. Unprepared, it will be more than we bargained for. I find it interesting, yet doubt that Martin Luther King, Jr., ever realized the prophetic message in his “I Have a Dream” speech. I doubt anyone in secular circles much less Christian circles has given the phrase any thought. As Christians, however, what is the content of our character? What does that mean? What will it mean for Christians, a.k.a. Jesus followers to be judged by the content of their character? I have to admit I have met all kind of Christians and the only common factor is their belief in God and Jesus Christ. This I surmised by their presence in church, and their participation in the various church activities. Compassion, love for mankind, generous, self-sacrificing, selfless,  humility, faithful, kind, altruistic, even honesty and integrity, these attributes are not common to all Christians.

Defining Character

Webster’s dictionary defines character, as moral excellence, and firmness, as in a man of sound character, or a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits. An acceptable definition for “content of your character” is living by a consistent set of values, revealing a personal integrity, sometimes referred to as an inner compass.

These are some examples of the sort of behaviors that reveal the content of your character:

  • Courage to do the right thing in the face of opposition whether, physical courage, intellectual courage, or moral courage
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Respect and consideration for others
  • Honoring commitments
  • Caring for family and friends
  • Faithful
  • Honesty and sincerity
  • Plays by the rules
  • Has a desire to serve
  • A good work ethic

How many people do you know that possess all these qualities? Are there other qualities that are more important to you?

Stay tuned…Cont. on next post.