YouTude: Serving God with the Mind of Jesus

June 29, 2015

As a child, my brother and I thought we were something when my mother bought us a set of encyclopedias. Not many people in our neighborhood had them. For you all of the digital age, encyclopedias are the precursors to search engines on the internet. Encyclopedias are the basis behind such sites as Wikipedia. Before the advent of the internet, many matters of what we wanted to know were in the encyclopedias. Now, we have sites like YouTube to learn things.

Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has become the world’s most popular online video site with users watching 4 billion hours of video each month, and uploading 72 hours worth of video every minute. While many videos are not worth watching, it has tremendous value in other ways. YouTube has jumpstarted the careers of many singers and performs. I must admit that I have found it useful in watching videos to diagnose and repair problems for things such as a broken dryer, washing machine, dripping shower or faucet, resetting a pilot light and the like.

More than anything, it served as the object lesson for today’s post. Most people knows YouTube as the primary means to view things. For example, I recently uploaded my nieces graduation photo presentation, so relatives across the country who could not attend her graduation could see photos of her growth and graduation.

Since YouTube is there for people to see you, besides the mirror, what is there for us to truly see ourselves to diagnose and repair problems in our lives. This gave rise to the notion of YouTude. Tude is a suffix indicating state or condition. It is usually combined with a base or root word to form a noun or adjective. My pastor, Robert Benson, has been preaching from 1 Peter 4 which is where I have been writing from over the past several months.

In my bible, the title for chapter 4 of 1 Peter is “Living for God”. Ultimately, we know as followers of Christ that our mission is to live for God. This is where YouTude comes into play. Again, Tude is a suffix that indicates the state or condition of whatever proceeds it. Let’s go through some examples that I am sure you are aware:

attiTude – Manner; feeling toward
altiTude – the height of anything; important position or rank
aptiTude – Ability for; state of being capable
latiTude – Degree of distance from side to side; width
fortiTude – State of bravery and strength; endurance
gratiTude – being grateful; thankfulness
multiTude – Great numbers
soliTude – State of being alone; loneliness
turpiTude – Baseness; depravity; as, moral turpitude

YouTude equates to what is your mental condition. Specifically, how are you thinking in comparison to God’s expectation for one who professes to believe and follow Jesus.

Proverbs 23:7a (KJV) –  7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:”

I have read that “as the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them.” I have also read in scripture in James 1 that “12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Similarly, Romans 8 says, “5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. ”

We should see YouTude that means everything. This is exactly why Paul says followers of Christ 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Be transformed by the renewing of your minds. How do we transform our minds so that we have a proper view of YouTude? This is what Pastor Benson and the Apostle Peter has been leading us to in 1 Peter 4. Let’s look at the text.

 “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.”

Why do we need to take up arms? Because, we are in a spiritual battle!

Here are a few verses that convey and confirm that we are indeed in a spiritual battle.

Romans 7:22-23
22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

Galatians 5:17
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.

 James 4:1
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.

2 Timothy4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

In this spiritual battle, the follower of Christ’s mind-set is to be determined and reshaped by knowledge of the Word of God and by the power of the Spirit who reveals God’s will to us. Peter conveys that to us when he says “since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourself also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.” Arm yourself means to equip yourselves with the weapons for battle. What weapons is that? He tells us. With the same attitude, way of thinking, or mind of Christ. For us to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ, we need to ingest, memorize and meditate on the Word of God.  Hebrews 4:12 says, “12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged
sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

The parallel or comparison for us is that Christ suffered in His body because He had chosen to have the mind of God. In order to ARM ourselves, we need to have the same commitment Jesus demonstrated on the cross for our salvation. Jesus communicated as much when He told us that anyone who would come after Him must take up his cross and follow (Matthew 16:24).

Paul tells us in Philippians 2

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

We know how to win the battle, but too often, we suffer defeat. Many of us are defeated in our battle against sin because we refuse to sacrifice anything in the battle. We only want victory if it comes easily to us. Jesus called us to have the kind of attitude that would sacrifice anything in the battle against sin (Matthew 5:29-30)

29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

It has been communicated that when a person has suffered physical persecution for the sake of Jesus, it almost always profoundly changes their outlook regarding sin and the pursuit of the lusts of the flesh. He is more likely to live the rest of his time in the flesh not for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. This is what the text means when God says that whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. When we are tempted with sin, we should reply by saying “no longer.” because through Christ suffering we are done being slaves to sin. Titus 2:11-13
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
               12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to
live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of
our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

This is how we Arm ourselves with the mind of Christ – we ingest the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to call to mind the Word in our battle. When we use the Word of God to resist the devil, we are told (James 4:7) that he will flee from us.

When we have properly armed ourselves, we should Acknowledge your former life but submit to Christ (v3-4).  It has been cited that the first step to recovery is to acknowledge that you have or had a problem. The Word of God calls that confessing or agreeing with God that He is right. Peter shares that we all have spent enough time living like the world. Now as followers of Jesus, we are called to live like Him who died not only for sin but to sin. If we truly consider God’s will and way, we will acknowledge that we used to follow the foolish ways of the world. Since coming into the light, we know there is a better way. While that is true, the struggle remains which is why we are told “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4

Now back to 1 Peter  4:3-4

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. By providing that list, Peter recognizing that those sins are former ways of life. Those still in the world will think you are strange for not acting that way anymore.

When you commit to following Jesus as Lord and Savior not only will you change, but people will change in the way that they relate to you. They will think you are strange, and they will speak evil of you. For example, when I began to follow Jesus, my brother, who was away in the military, came home wanting to hangout. When he asked, I was happy, but he suggested one thing. I said, “I can’t do that.” He suggested another thing, I said, “I don’t want to do that.”. He said, “what can you do?” I could follow ways that Jesus would approve of. This led to course joking by him and other so called friends. Eventually, I recognized that I had to separate myself from those things and people  who pulled me away from Christ.

We are called to live godly lives. Christ expects godliness to be reflective of what we think, say and do. Until we Arm ourselves with the mind of Christ and Acknowledge our former life, we will not submit to Christ in pursuit of godliness.

 Lastly, we must Accept you will by judged by Christ (v5-6). it will help us to remember to arm ourselves with the same mind.

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Let me remind you of what the Word says, about giving account for yourself. Matthew 12:36 says “36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  Romans 14:12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

When this account is required, the reality and finality of God’s righteous standard will be magnified. Those of us who followed Christ as Lord and Savior will enter eternal rest while those who did not follow Christ as Lord and Savior will stand condemned as they are cast into the lake of fire.

Today, God is giving us all a check up. We have an opportunity to correct any flaws in our pursuit or lack thereof of Him by Arming ourselves appropriately with the mind of Christ.

To further accept that we will be judged by Christ, verse 6 says, “For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead” Peter has already told us that Jesus preached to the spirits in prison, preaching a message of judgment (1 Peter 3:19). Apparently during this same time, Jesus also preached a message of salvation to the faithful dead in Abraham’s Bosom (Luke 16:22) who anticipated the work of the Messiah for them. This preaching to those who are dead was not the offer of a second chance, but the completion of the salvation of those who had been faithful to God under their first chance. In doing this, Jesus fulfilled the promised that He would lead captives out of captivity (Isaiah 42:7; 49:9, Ephesians 4:8) and would proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18).

Regardless of the explanation, Paul repeatedly urges us to live for God in a way that honors Him. Ephesians 4:1 says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Colossians 1:9-10 says, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,”

In 1 Peter 4:1-6, I hope that you see you must:

  1. Arm yourselves with the mind of Christ
  2. Acknowledge your former life but submit to Christ
  3. Accept you will by judged by Christ

Love covers a multitude of sins so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ

June 20, 2015

In the post Love Each Other Deeply, I heralded the call for you to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength as well as to love your neighbor as yourself. In order to accomplish this, I stated that we must consider Jesus and consent our heart and mind to suffer unjustly for the sake of another like Jesus. The church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina has evidenced believers living out both mandates. Undoubtedly, the response of many of the victim’s family members show that they Love Each Other Deeply.

Now, we understand why. Love covers a multitude of sins, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

The family members who survive some of the nine from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church have Loved Each Other Deeply. They have, just like Jesus, covered a multitude of sins through their love. The intended result of love like Jesus is that in all things, including a senseless death, God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

There is no doubt that God is being praised through Jesus Christ as the families extend forgiveness to Dylann Roof who was the murderer. I can’t say what he felt when the family members told him that they forgive him, but I can attest to those on television and those around me stated when they heard the families extend forgiveness to Dylann Roof. While at my mother’s house, I heard Chris Hayes of “All In with Chris Hayes” say that he had not been to church in a long time, but after hearing the response of these families, he is considering going back. Isn’t that what our lives is supposed to invoke in people – a desire to draw closer to God?

Love covers a multitude of sins so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. Now, if people can forgive a stranger who murdered their parent, child, sibling, relative or dear friend, we should certainly be able to forgive a spouse, a child, a friend and yes, even a stranger. Jesus forgave, but those who follow Him forgive too. The power of their faith in action has resulted in praise of God through Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.

We have our direction from the Word of God, Love Each Other Deeply. When we do, it covers a multitude of sins so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. Sin abounds in our lives and those around us. Trust me, you will not have to search for people to forgive out of love for Jesus, out of love for God. The challenge we will have is to forgive, but let us be spurred on by those in Charleston who have lost their loved ones to a senseless murder. To God be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Love Each Other Deeply

June 17, 2015

Jesus told us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30; Matthew 22:37) That is the greatest commandment, but the second is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Some have said that if your love of yourself is flawed then your love for your neighbor will be flawed. I will not explore that today, but the intent of what Jesus was rooted in our desire for ourselves. He knew that we wanted what was best for us, so His expectation was that we would do what was best for our neighbor.

Notice I said do in the last sentence. Contrary to pop culture, love is not a feeling. Love is a commitment to act on the behalf of another at your own expense. Listen to how God’s love is described – “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only SonJohn 3:16a. Listen to how Jesus evidences His love for us – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16. In all of those verses, we see love demonstrated by action.

Likewise, Peter, after telling us to mirror Christ’s attitude and actions, tells us “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” There is no greater demonstration of loving someone than to give your life for them, but I dare say an equal demonstration for man is to love deeply. That is to die daily to ourselves for others. This takes a true commitment and one that I frequently fail. I fail at not only loving my neighbor as myself, but I fail at loving those closest to me that way – my wife and my children. Earlier this school year, God helped me to see how I was failing at loving my wife and children through my students. He prompted me with the question ‘Why am I more patient with my students and the adults here than with my own kids and wife?’ I posed that to my daughter. She was gracious in her response, but she too saw how patient I was with people at work.

How do we love each other deeply? Deeply is an adverb describing or modifying the verb love – to do for others before yourself. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a magnified view of love

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.

Proverbs 10:12 (NIV) 12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Matthew 18:21-22 – 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins
against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

James 5:20 (NIV) – 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover
over a multitude of sins. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

When we love deeply, we forsake ourselves, our desires, our hurts, our feelings, our everything for God. When we truly love, we forgive. Let’s face it. We have no trouble treating people well who have not hurt or offended us. The problem arises when we have some offense which we hold against another. We must hold dear to our hearts what Peter said. “19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

We have been called to Love Each Other Deeply. In order to do so, we must consider Jesus and consent our heart and mind to suffer unjustly for the sake of another like Jesus. This is how we Love Each Other Deeply. To reiterate, my children and my wife are the perfect ones for me to perfect this expectation. They, of all people, should get my best effort to love like Jesus did. Pray for me as my witness depends on my love. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34-35

How to Cease from Sinning

June 11, 2015

Sin, like oxygen, is all around us and in us. Sin is ubiquitous at least on the earth. If we did not have oxygen around and in us, we all agree that as humans we would die. We all agree that humans are fallible; we are not perfect. As such, the proposition of How to Cease from Sinning seems implausible.

Fortunately, I do not have to have a defense for How to Cease from Sinning. Those are God’s Words not mine. While the context of the Word is more intricate than what I am presenting today, the essence of the matter is us moving away from sin. The pivotal point is that we can not be engaged in behavior that is contrary to God’s expectations. Let’s go to the Word of God.

The notion of Christ-like suffering begins 1 Peter 3 where the text says “17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” Now in chapter 4, there is a call for suffering to be extended into our everyday lives.

1 Peter 4:1-6 (NKJV)
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

1 Peter 4:1-6 (NIV)
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

In reference to How to Cease from Sinning, the Reformation Bible notes that some interpret this to refer to the character-building effects of suffering. But the preceding reference to baptism (3:21; cf. Rom. 6:1–10) indicates that Peter is thinking of the union of believers with Christ in His suffering and death, a union particularly symbolized by baptism (Rom. 6:4). Though Christ was always sinless (2:22; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15), He nevertheless fully identified with sinful humanity by coming “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3) and becoming subject to temptation, suffering, and death (Mark 1:12, 13; Heb. 2:10; 4:15). Christ “died to sin” (Rom. 6:10) in the sense that after His death and Resurrection He was no longer subject to the power of sin and death.

The question really is then how does suffering help us to cease from sinning or to be done with sin? Suffering, whether physical, financial, or the like, forces us to depend on God to deliver or the meet a need that we are unable to do on our own or through others. In that circumstance, we are totally reliant upon God. We know the principle taught about trusting in God is that no one who hopes in Him will ever be put to shame. Among other scriptures, Romans 6 conveys that to us. Specifically, Romans 6:6 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.

Within the context of this text, Peter had just said “18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.1 Peter 3

We can be free from the power of sin because of what Christ did and now is at the right hand of God having all subject to Him. Christ will enable us if we so choose to follow Him in our circumstance where we are confronted with the choice to sin. Sounds pie in the sky, but it is true. For the believer, we can say no to sin. We can stare sin directly in the face and say no. Whereas without Christ, we were slaves and powerless to pursue righteousness. We just sinned because sin had power over us.

As confirmation, Titus 2:11-14 tells us “11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

How to Cease from Sinning – follow Jesus. As Christ suffered in the flesh, we too must be willing to die to our flesh to demonstrate or exemplify the character of God. In Ephesians 4, Paul says ” 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Matthew Henry expresses it as “The apostle explains what he means by being dead to sin, and ceasing from sin, both negatively and positively. Negatively, a Christian ought no longer to live the rest of his time in the flesh, to the sinful lusts and corrupt desires of carnal wicked men; but, positively, he ought to conform himself to the revealed will of the holy God. Learn, 1. The lusts of men are the springs of all their wickedness, Jas. 1:13, 14. Let occasional temptations be what they will, they could not prevail, were it not for men’s own corruptions. 2. All good Christians make the will of God, not their own lusts or desires, the rule of their lives and actions. 3. True conversion makes a marvellous change in the heart and life of every one who partakes of it. It brings a man off from all his old, fashionable, and delightful lusts, and from the common ways and vices of the world, to the will of God. It alters the mind, judgment, affections, way, and conversation of every one who has experienced it.”

How to Cease from Sinning – follow Jesus.

God has Erased the Trash of Your Past

June 10, 2015

trash of your pastGod has Erased the Trash of Your Past! The photo to the left was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook. Immediately, I responded to the text with Ephesians 2:10-12  and Galatians 1:22-24. After a few moments, I believed God wanted me to change course of what I was going to post about today to that quote or at least reaction to it.

What I heard from God was that so many times you see things like this and it is referring to what somebody did to you. When we rehash what somebody did or how someone treated us, it breathes life into the hurt. It makes us a victim again and again. God shared 1 Corinthians 15:56-58 (NIV)  56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 John 5:3-5 (NIV)
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

The victim relives (re live) what someone else did to him where as the victor relives what God did for him. It’s matter of where your eyes are focused. The Psalmist said, “But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.” I presented this text today to ground you in the Word of God. His Word is one the main weapons God has given us as a treasure for our futures. In fact, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ

Utilizing the Word of God is the one effective way that we can “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” In I John 5:3-5, we have already been told that the only one who overcomes or is victorious over the world is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Moreover, we must demonstrate our believe in Jesus by exercising faith in His Word rather than the words of man even our own words that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. To remind us, God, in Jeremiah 23:29 (NIV), said, “29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”

God has Erased the Trash of Your Past! Once again, the trash of your past in not what someone did to you, but it was your unwillingness to believe in and follow Jesus, the Son of God. Our trash is our disobeying God living how we desire to live. Our trash of thinking we know best how to direct our lives despite the poignant examples of the messes we have made by being the captain of our own ships. The sad part is that, as captain, we never have gone down with our ship. We always blame the first mate or some other person. God wants us to stop playing the victim and to start living as the victor.

We do that by believing and following Jesus which is the only to proclaim that God has Erased the Trash of Your Past! When we have been wrong, the Word of God says “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”1 Peter 3:9 When we have been wronged, we are to forgive instead of keeping an account of wrongs. Remember Mark 11:25 tells us “25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Why must we remember that God has Erased the Trash of Your Past!? For those who are following Jesus as Savior and Lord, we have work that we have been entrusted to accomplish for the Kingdom of God. Ephesians 2:10-12 (NIV) says10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” Once, we did not have hope, but through our faith in Christ, we now have hope.

Paul serves as one of God’s shining examples of erasing the trash of our past to allow us to build the kingdom of God. He alludes to it in Galatians 1:22-24 (NIV) where he says, “22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.” If God can use Paul, He can use you and me.

God has Erased the Trash of Your Past! Stop holding on to it!

Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!

June 8, 2015

Of the verses below in Habakkuk, “we have the prophet in the highest degree both of trembling and triumphing, such are the varieties both of the state and of the spirit of God’s people in this world. In heaven there shall be no more trembling, but everlasting triumphs.” (Matthew Henry). We have often heard it stated that we could not enjoy the sunshine if we did not endure the rain. Our lives are a compilation of moments of trembling and triumph. Regardless, our response should always be Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!

In Habakkuk 3:16-19, we see the prophet reveal or demonstrate that to us in the verses below. Whether we fully understand the entire context, past, present and future, the most important point for us to intermalize and operationalize is Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!

The cycles of life include moments of trembling because our concern even fear of what we will face. Life brings about some harsh realities that are not easy to endure or accept. Likewise, life brings about some moments of great victory or triumph where we exalt the Almighty God. In low and high moments, the most wise thing to do is to consider the prophet’s conclusion about such moments – Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!

Habakkuk 3:16-19

I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights

I am not sure where you are in your journey. You may be in a peak of life or a valley of life. The most important fact to know is that God is there with those who rely upon Him. Jehovah is consistent in conveying to His people that He will never leave or forsake them. We must be as sure as the psalmist when he said, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

I am not sure what I will face today nor are you, but we all should stand firm in the midst of it declaring Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!

Come Out

June 6, 2015

On AHC, I saw a documentary titled D-Day to Victory that shaped what I am writing about this morning. For those who may not be aware, that title is referring to the end of World War II (WWII). We all have heard about Hitler’s Final Solution which was the systematic extermination of people called undesirable. Of the undesirables, the Jews by far were the largest category of undesirables. The brutal concentration camps and mass murders forced Jews into hiding everywhere they lived.

After WWII was officially over, there was jubilation for those fighting but for the Jews who had been hiding too. This is the statement that drove me to write this post. In the documentary, it was reported that a Jewish woman who had been in hiding came out because the routines were different. She came out and asked a soldier if the war was over. She asked the soldier was it safe for Jews to come out. The soldier replied, “Tell them to come out, I am Jewish too.”

Let’s hear of some examples in scripture where God, whose war it really is, told His people to Come Out.

Genesis 8:15-17
15 Then God said to Noah, 16 Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

Numbers 22
“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me.

Numbers 22:17
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.

Numbers 22:19
A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city.”

Psalm 14:6-7
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Isaiah 49:8-9

This is what the Lord says:

“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
    and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
    and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’

Daniel 3:26
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!”
For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’
She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
Whether physical or spiritual, God’s call to Come Out always brought freedom from those who sought him. This was true for the Jew and for the Gentile. Regarding Omaha Beach, the soldier said that “God saved me from that ordeal on the beach” surely looked to God to Come Out of that harrowing battle. Undoubtedly, there were many men who desired to Come Out, but many did not. The battle for Normandy was costly for the lives of soldiers on both sides of the war; however, the battle for man’s soul is much more costly than man’s life. For the grave of the body is temporary, but the grave for the soul that has not Come Out is eternal. “36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36). With that, I say rely on Jesus to Come Out of the dominion of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son he loves.

Jesus Has Gone Into Heaven

June 2, 2015

Jesus Has Gone Into Heaven is an important notion, concept and truth. Why is it key for us? I will admit that what I am writing today is like any other day. The content is given to me. Unlike most days, God did not speak this directly to me. I have read and read the last few verses of 1 Peter 3, but I did not hear anything. I don’t think I could have the insight and say these things better than two giants in Christendom – Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry.

Let’s hear the Word of the Lord. 1 Peter 3

19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Of the text above, Matthew Henry wrote “The apostle, having mentioned the death and resurrection of Christ, proceeds to speak of his ascension, and sitting at the right hand of the Father, as a subject fit to be considered by these believers for their comfort in their suffering condition, 1 Pet. 3:22. If the advancement of Christ was so glorious after his deep humiliation, let not his followers despair, but expect that after these short distresses they shall be advanced to transcendent joy and glory. Learn, 1. Jesus Christ, after he had finished his labours and his sufferings upon earth, ascended triumphantly into heaven, of which see Acts 1:9-11; Mark 16:19. He went to heaven to receive his own acquired crown and glory (John 17:5), to finish that part of his mediatorial work which could not be done on earth, and make intercession for his people, to demonstrate the fulness of his satisfaction, to take possession of heaven for his people, to prepare mansions for them, and to send down the Comforter, which was to be the first-fruits of his intercession, John 16:7. 2. Upon his ascension into heaven, Christ is enthroned at the right hand of the Father. His being said to sit there imports absolute rest and cessation from all further troubles and sufferings, and an advancement to the highest personal dignity and sovereign power. 3. Angels, authorities, and powers, are all made subject to Christ Jesus: all power in heaven and earth, to command, to give law, issue orders, and pronounce a final sentence, is committed to Jesus, God-man, which his enemies will find to their everlasting sorrow and confusion, but his servants to their eternal joy and satisfaction.”

Furthermore, Spurgeon wrote Jesus has gone into heaven, and it is better for us that He is there. Spurgeon related this to how the high priest, ministering for Israel on the Day of Atonement, disappeared from the people and went behind the veil.” Though he was not with them, he was with God, which was better for them. The high priest was more useful to them within the veil than outside of it; he was doing for them out of sight what he could not accomplish in their view. I delight to think that my Lord is with the Father. Sometimes I cannot get to God, my access seems blocked by my infirmity; but he is always with God to plead for me.”

Our connection with Jesus is like the little boy with his kite. His kite flew so high in the sky that he could no longer see it. Someone asked him, “How do you know it is still up there?” The boy answered, “I can feel it pull.” We can’t see Jesus enthroned in heaven, but we can certainly feel Him pull us toward Himself.

Since Jesus has gone into heaven, His Church is safe. “Let not his church tremble, let her not think of putting out the hand of unbelief to steady the ark of the Lord. The history of the church is to be the history of Christ repeated: she is to be betrayed, she is to be scourged, she is to be falsely accused and spitted on; she may have her crucifixion and her death; but she shall rise again. Her Master rose, and like him she shall rise and receive glory. You can never kill the church till you can kill Christ; and you can never defeat her till you defeat the Lord Jesus, who already wears the crown of triumph.”

From Henry and Spurgeon, we see many benefits since Jesus Has Gone Into Heaven. Those benefits are only available and applicable to those who have trust in Christ, the Son of God, as Savior and Lord. Have you surrendered your life to Christ? Have you afforded yourself the blessings outlined above by trusting in Jesus? Don’t waste Jesus’ going into heaven. He has gone; will you?

For the Afflicted

May 28, 2015

In life, there are many trials or challenges that one will face. There may be one great or multiple small afflictions that each of us has to combat. Take my mom for example, she has been afflicted with a number of physical ailments that totally changed how she envision spending her retirement years. She thought her time would be seasoned with a myriad of service opportunities, but soon after retirement, her body just quit. She was stricken with osteoarthritis which is a degenerative joint disease that causes a breakdown of cartilage tissue, triggering pain, edema and deformity. For her, it struck in her knees first but now is in her hip as well. It has totally limited her mobility. What may take you or me a minute may take her ten to do. Simple functions like just going to the bathroom are arduous tasks for her. From that we can easily answer the question of what does it mean to be afflicted. Afflicted is one having painful physical or mental ailment. Dictionary.com defines it as to distress with mental or bodily pain; trouble greatly or grievously: to cause suffering or unhappiness to; Is there any relief for the afflicted?

Throughout the bible, there are people who were afflicted. Sarah was afflicted with a barren womb. Albeit self-imposed, Aaron was afflicted with leprosy. There is Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan and Saul’s grandson, who was crippled. There is the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. The blind, the lame, the death are included too. There are the prideful and greedy also. There is Judas and Peter who both suffered mental anguish because of their betrayal and denial of Jesus. Ultimately, there is Jesus who chose to endure the physical, mental, and spiritual pain of the cross for the sake of the elect.

Those others and Jesus give us hope For the Afflicted. I was moved to write this today after rereading Psalm 34. It is a passage that I shared with a co-worker. God challenged me to read it again and For the Afflicted jumped off the page in verse two.

My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad. (NKJV)

I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice. (NIV)

I am sure that we all are dealing with an affliction at this present moment. God wants us to know that He is our strength, hope and song. There is not more than I can say. Read the text and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Invite Him to speak to your heart and mind.

Psalm 34 (NIV)

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

The Good Life

May 26, 2015

Life comes with many winding turns. Roads that often lead to a dead end which require you to retrace your path to another unfamiliar route. In the advent of GPS, we hardly ever get lost in travel but with the travel of life that’s another story.

As I was reading and studying 1 Peter 3, I found Matthew Henry’s commentary about verse ten interesting. The verse is a quote of Psalm 34 verses 12-14. It says,

12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

cat got my backMuch of life involves our interaction with people with whom we will have conflict. As I fumed over a trivial matter with my this morning, I looked at the picture to the left which I keep on my mirror. As I looked at myself, I had to ask was I assuming the best about my wife? Did the matter which angered me really matter in light of who she is to me? If she was dying, would I care about it? The answer was a resounding no in all cases. I had to let it go. I just did not realize that God was preparing me for a life-lesson to share with you all today from the passage I would read. The passage is from David, but today, it is my song. Like many of you, I want The Good Life. The Good Life is simply being able to be at peace with my God, myself and my fellow man. I was certainly not at peace, so I had to seek refuge in my God. Actually, God sought me out. He realized that I was not at peace. He had the Holy Spirit to prompt me to remind me that my mind and spirit were not in the right place. I had a choice to make. Surrender to Him and be at peace or to stay mad.

About The Good Life, Matthew Henry says, God “gives an excellent prescription for a comfortable happy life in this quarrelsome ill-natured world. “If you earnestly desire that your life should be long, and your days peaceable and prosperous, keep your tongue from reviling, evil-speaking, and slandering, and your lips from lying, deceit, and dissimulation. Avoid doing any real damage or hurt to your neighbour, but be ever ready to do good, and to overcome evil with good; seek peace with all men, and pursue it, though it retire from you. This will be the best way to dispose people to speak well of you, and live peaceably with you.” Learn, (1.) Good people under the Old and new Testament were obliged to the same moral duties; to refrain the tongue from evil, and the lips from guile, was a duty in David’s time as well as now. (2.) It is lawful to consider temporal advantages as motives and encouragements to religion. (3.) The practice of religion, particularly the right government of the tongue, is the best way to make this life comfortable and prosperous; a sincere, inoffensive, discreet tongue, is a singular means to pass us peaceably and comfortably through the world. (4.) The avoiding of evil, and doing of good, is the way to contentment and happiness both here and hereafter. (5.) It is the duty of Christians not only to embrace peace when it is offered, but to seek and pursue it when it is denied: peace with societies, as well as peace with particular persons, in opposition to division and contention, is what is here intended.”

God gave me the option of choosing The Good Life this morning by assuming the best about my wife, about me. God gives you that choice too. What will it be?


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