The Action of Love

1 John 3:18: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

I shared this Scripture with you last week as we talked about the fact that everything we do is tied to truth: we worship God in spirit and in truth, we serve God in sincerity and in truth, and we love in deed and in truth. I want to expound on the idea that LOVE is an action word, that it is all about behavior…indeed, we show love by what we do.

Jesus taught in John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” All men will know that we are disciples of the Lord if we have love one TO another (as opposed to having love one FOR another). Having love one TO another really shows us the true nature of love – it is something that must be shown.

Jesus gives us more insight into this in two portions of scripture found in the gospel of Luke. One is in chapter 18, and it is the familiar story of who we call the “rich young ruler”: Luke 18:18-23: “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.”

With this young man, Jesus emphasizes the commandments that have to do with behavior: adultery, murder, thievery, lying, etc. However, in a very similar scenario, Jesus seems to give a different answer. Take a look at Luke 10:25-28: “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

Same question…different answers. Seems to be a contradiction, right? But take a closer look: In Luke 10, it’s all about the love. In Luke 18, it’s all about works. But since we know that LOVE is ACTION (you show love by what you do), Luke 18 must be speaking to MOTIVE and FOUNDATION. The “certain lawyer” answered correctly, that the greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbor. The “certain ruler” had it all wrong: he was not motivated by love, but simply by works. Jesus is not contradicting Himself in teaching the young ruler that it’s not about what you do…but your motive behind why you do it. If you love God and love your neighbor, you will, by default, obey all the other commandments that have to do with behavior, because you are motivated by the right thing…love. And if your motive is right, you will have no problem giving it all up, selling what you have, giving it to the poor, and simply following Jesus. But the young man couldn’t do it. A sad story. God will reveal your motives, the “intent of the heart,” to discover if you are truly pure on the inside. And if you are, that is when you will see God (Matthew 5:Smilie: 8).

One of the most popular Bible verses of all time is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Notice the very first words: “For God so LOVED the world, that he GAVE…”. Love motivates you to give…to act…to do. Let us always love in deed and in truth. That’s how this world will know that we are truly His disciples.

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

TRUTH In All We Do

The idea that TRUTH (and not just Truth, but THE Truth) should be at the center of everything we do is found in Ephesians chapter 6, when Paul describes the armour of God that every believer should be equipped with. The very first piece of armour, and rightfully so, was the girdle of Truth: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…” (Ephesians 6:14). In the ancient soldier’s armour, the girdle was the very centerpiece, and every other piece of armour on his body was attached to this. Remember, Jesus identified HIMSELF as the Truth embodied, when he proclaimed “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

There are three particular Scriptures which seem to speak to this idea. I want to share them with you today.

The first is very familiar to most of us, and is found in John 4:24: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” An important concept: it’s not enough to worship Him in spirit, but it must be attached to truth. In fact, this is so important, that the previous verse actually says that God is “seeking such to worship Him.” He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth! Know this: while you are seeking God, He is seeking you. Be a TRUE worshipper!

The next scripture I want to share is found in Joshua 24:14: “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.” It is vital that we serve the Lord, not just in sincerity, but in truth! I know many people who are sincerely, but it is possible to be sincerely wrong. Your sincerity must be clothed in truth for it to be accepted by God. And I will tell you this: I believe that God is calling those that are sincere, hungry and thirsty, and will reveal the Truth of His Word to them. Let us continue to pray for this!

Finally, we come to 1 John 3:18, which says, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” This is proof that love is a verb – an action word. You cannot merely SAY you love someone, you must SHOW (by your “deeds”Smilie: ;) that you love someone. It is significant that Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Did you notice it? We must have love one TO (not for) another. They KNOW it when we SHOW it.
Here is a summary of what those scriptures teach, and please notice again the emphasis on attaching TRUTH to each command: We are to WORSHIP in spirit and in truth, we are to SERVE in sincerity and in truth, and we are to LOVE in deed and in truth. Make sure you are connected to TRUTH in everything you do. This is what pleases the Lord!

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

Getting Rid of the “Stuff”

The following is an excerpt taken from an article in the New York Times by Carl Richards, entitled: “New Rule: All Purchases Subject to a 7-Day Mental Quarantine.”:

My wife and I are setting up a customs screening station in our driveway. No, we’re not starting an international airport. And it’s not for solicitors, strangers or gift-bearing guests.

It’s for us and our stuff.

From now on, before anything new comes into the house, resident buyers will need to answer a series of questions. How much did it cost? Are you replacing something you already own? Why do you think it’s amazing? And if it’s food, are you sure you’ll eat it?

We’re doing this because stuff is taking over our home. And right now we’re in the process of getting rid of things we never use. We’re organizing, sorting and throwing things out from one end of the house to the other. And it feels. So. Good.

You know what I’m talking about, right? That moment of sheer relief when that thing you no longer need or even really want finally leaves your home. But here’s the catch: Throwing stuff away is only half the battle. You have to stop stuff from coming into the house in the first place.

Consider, for example, what customs might have said about the super precision gyroscope with gimbals (??) that I bought more than a year ago and used precisely once: Cost? $250. Is it replacing something? No. Why is it amazing? Because of the gimbals! But $250 for gimbals? Denied.

Don’t get me wrong, the gyroscope is incredible. It works perfectly, so it’s not the gyroscope’s fault it sat around in a box for a year. It’s my fault for buying it in the first place. It never should have slipped through customs.

I recommend a stuff quarantine of seven days, particularly if we’re talking about anything that costs more than $50. Anything that you’re considering ought to sit in your head for at least a week, and you should test it out on your fellow customs officers. Look, I know that buying things feels good. So does tossing out stuff that you don’t use. But wouldn’t it feel so much better to spend that time and money on something you’ll actually use or enjoy instead?

The answer is not just to throw away the junk. The answer is the customs gate and the quarantine bin. Otherwise, if you’re not careful, the stuff you buy today will be the junk you throw away tomorrow.

Now, the spiritual application should be obvious. We all have “stuff” in our lives that we don’t need, and that in fact, may be hurting or hindering us from becoming all that God has called and created us to be. The point I really like about this story is this: it’s not just about what you get rid of in your life that benefits you – it’s also about what you don’t take in to your life. True repentance is not just about getting rid of the “old man”, old habits, old addictions, old stumbling blocks – it’s about replacing that stuff with new habits, new disciplines, new commitments – walking in the newness of life! (Rom 6:4).

Take the “7-day Mental Quarantine” challenge – pray long and hard about what you bring into your life, now that you have put off the old man and have been renewed in the spirit of your mind. Remember, Ephesians 4:22-24 teaches us that the next step is “putting on the new man.” And make sure that it’s not the “old man” in disguise.

Posted in Christianity, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

A MAXIMUM Mentality

Too many times as Christians, we are concerned with only doing the “minimum.” We may not voice these questions out loud, or even on purpose, but sometimes down inside we say, “What can I do to simply “get by?” How get I put forth the least amount of effort, and still be saved? What is the minimum required attendance to stay on the roll?” Hopefully, these are questions that are not a part of your thinking process!

I think I know where this partially comes from. Has anyone ever heard the phrase, “He’s so heavenly minded that he’s no earthly good?” We are sometimes too careful on the spiritual side of things, to the point that we back off way too much. A little like Martha when she complained to Jesus that Mary wouldn’t help around the house. But don’t forget Jesus’ answer: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42). When Jesus is in the house, nothing else matters but to worship! We’ll get to the other stuff, but don’t miss the time of His visitation. And here’s the thing: Mary was not lazy, and was not just simply sitting around waiting for Jesus to come. Here is what Martha says when she approaches Jesus: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?” Please notice the words: “my sister hath LEFT ME to serve alone.” To me, this is saying that Mary was involved in the preparation for Jesus to come over, but once He showed up, it was time to worship! This is the attitude we must have: don’t be afraid to work for God, but when His presence is in the house, it’s time to stop working and start worshipping!

In fact, the scripture does not teach “moderation” when it comes to Spiritual things. Just the opposite. It teaches moderation when it concerns the world and the flesh. For example, Ephesians 5:18: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” In other words, don’t live in EXCESS when it comes to fleshly matters, because that will cause you to sin. But you must be FILLED with the Spirit – in other words, don’t get drunk on wine, get drunk on the Spirit! We need a MAXIMUM MENTALITY when it comes to the things of the Spirit: prayer, worship, church attendance, giving, fasting, witnessing, etc. Do these things in EXCESS. “I will bless the Lord at ALL TIMES.” “Pray WITHOUT CEASING.” “Rejoice EVERMORE.” “His praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth.” And so on.

Look at it this way: what if, when you are preparing to get married, you say to your potential wife, “I love you with all my heart. I am totally devoted to you, and am committed to making you the happiest girl in the world. Now, can you let me know, what is the minimum amount of time I can spend with you, and still stay married?” Will this girl marry him, or not? You got it. NOT.

Are we not treating our relationship with the Lord the same way? “Lord, what’s the minimum amount of time I can spend in prayer and still be saved? What’s the minimum amount that I can give, and not rob you? What’s the minimum number of church events I can come to and still be considered part of the church?” Does that really make sense to anyone? But…actions speak louder than words. That’s how some of us live.

May the Lord grant us a MAXIMUM MENTALITY. Serve Him, love Him, and worship Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Give your best. Give your life. Give it all.

He did.

Posted in Christianity, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

Jesus At the Center

What is at the center of your life? And by that, I mean, “What is most important in your life, the thing that you focus on the most, the one thing that all other things in your life encompass?” A good question that requires more than just a “lip-service” answer…because your actions will reveal what is really at the center of your life, no matter what you “say”.

Jesus gave us an important principle in Matthew chapter 6: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seekSmilie: :) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33). The principle is this: when you seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first, everything else comes into line. Perhaps we could call this, the Principle of Center: whatever is center-most in your life affects everything else.

So, what should be at the center? God, being a God of order, seems to give us a clue in the way our Bible is arranged. The total number of chapters in the Bible (KJV) is 1189. The CENTER chapter, with 594 chapters before and after, is Psalms 117:

1 O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.

There you go! You just read an entire chapter of the Bible (not only is it the center, it’s the shortest!). However, contained in this center chapter are three things that should be at the very center of our lives:

PRAISE: Notice that the chapter begins and ends with praise. So should our lives be. Praise should be at the center of all we do, giving glory to the God who knows all, and is in control.
MERCY: His mercy is great toward us! It’s new every day. And how do we obtain it? By going “boldly before the throne of grace, that we might obtain mercy…” We activate His mercy in our lives through prayer.
TRUTH: And His truth endures forever, to every generation. I’m thankful for Truth of His Word, revealed unto us for this last day!

Now, those are the principles found in the very center chapter of the Bible. But what about the very center verse? Well, we have a slight dilemma here – there is no center verse of the Bible, since there are an even number of verses total (31,174). So, the center TWO verses are Psalms 118:8-9:

8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

These verses talk about TRUST. And although we can put confidence in men when they follow the Lord and are submitted to Him, and even though we can (and should) put confidence in the Leaders in our lives, they are still human…and when we trust in the Lord, He’ll NEVER fail, never falter, never let us down. So it is certainly better to completely trust in the Lord in all things. Even when we don’t understand, even when man does fail us. Because God never will.

So what is at the center of your life? I choose to put: PRAISE, MERCY, TRUTH and TRUST. The principles Jesus taught. The very nature and revelation of Jesus Christ. If these principles are first and foremost, everything else will be all right.

Put Jesus at the center of your life!

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

Testimony of the Stones

There are many things in life that cause us to “cry out” to the Lord. In fact, when we enter His presence, we are admonished to “come before his presence with singing”, to “enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise…and bless his name.” (Psalms 100:2,4). Crying out in worship is simply a part of what we do when we come into the presence of the Lord.

There are many other examples in scripture, however, that indicate other reasons for crying out. The Syrophenician woman in Matthew 15 cried out to Jesus because her daughter was grievously vexed with a devil. Blind Bartemeus cried out to the Lord for help and healing in Mark 10. The ten lepers “lifted up their voice” to the Lord for healing in Luke 17. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, glorified God with a LOUD voice, and returned to the feet of Jesus to worship, giving him thanks.

Psalms 34:15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” Psalms 34:17 tells us that “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” I wonder sometimes if the Lord allows trouble in our lives, because He wants us to cry out! He desires to deliver us from whatever comes our way, every day. And He will do it, He desires to do it, He is listening for your cry to call Him to do it! I am so thankful for a delivering God.

But one of the greatest lessons on “crying out”, in my opinion, is found in Luke 19, when Jesus is coming into Jerusalem in an event that is sometimes called the “triumphal entry.” Many disciples have gathered to worship him as He enters the city, and have gotten a little “beside themselves” in their open display of worship and affection. So much so, that the Pharisees in the crowd commanded Jesus to “rebuke” His disciples. His very familiar answer is this, found in verse 40: “And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Now, you may say, “That’s ridiculous! How can the stones cry out? And what would they say, even if they could cry out?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Let’s listen in to the testimony service at the “ROCK” Church:

“I was the stone that Jacob made into a pillow the night he saw the Angels…”
“I was a stone at the bottom of the Jordan River, uncovered when God’s people walked across, and was set up as a memorial to remember God’s deliverance…”
“Me and 4 of my brothers were just hanging around in the brook when we were taken up, and I was put in a sling, and buried in the head of a giant…”
“I was the rock that followed around the children of Israel and brought forth water for them…”
“I was the stone they rolled away to let out Lazarus when Jesus called him out…”
“I was the stone the Angel rolled away to show that Jesus was alive!”

You’d better believe that the stones have something to say! But their testimony is not greater than mine, and it’s not greater than yours, if the Lord has delivered you! We are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb, and the WORD of our TESTIMONY – don’t let the rocks take your place! They do have a testimony – but so do you. Exercise your opportunity today, to CRY OUT to the Lord! He’s listening…and ready to step in and work in your life! Let Him do it, today!

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

An Account Worthy of Joy

We’ve all read the scriptures that refer to the “watchman on the wall.” In several verses in Ezekiel 33, God speaks to Ezekiel about the responsibility of this watchman. The gist of the message is this: the watchman is placed on the wall to be a type of lookout, and to give warning of impending danger. When he sees the enemy approaching, he is to sound the trumpet, or a warning. If the people heed the warning, the Bible says they shall “deliver their soul.” If not, their own blood is upon their head. In other words, it’s their fault, since they didn’t listen to the watchman’s warning. However, if the watchman sees the enemy approach and doesn’t sound the trumpet, the blood of the people is on him.

This story gives great weight to the responsibility of a pastor in how he delivers the Word of God. The temptation in preaching is often to deliver a loving, inspirational and motivational discourse, that leaves the listener feeling pretty good about things and about themselves. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, if that is the message God has for His people from His Word, and there is certainly an ample amount of subjects that motivate, encourage and inspire in God’s Word. But more often than not, the message must contain a warning: against temptation, carnality, worldliness, complacency, laziness, etc. The hour is too late, the enemy’s voice too loud, and his influence too strong not to sound the trumpet! In fact, in his charge to his understudy, Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4). The indication is that for every word of exhortation or encouragement, there will be two words of rebuke, reproval or warning. We must sound the alarm!

But another scripture that comes to mind found in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” This seems to indicate that the watchman on the wall (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) must give an account one day of the response of each individual to the preaching of the Word. It’s our responsibility as ministers of the gospel to preach the Word, but the saints job to not only be a HEARER, but a DOER of the Word. If it’s literally true that I, as a pastor, must stand before God and give an account for each person under my watch, it got me thinking: If I asked you to write down what you wanted me to say to the Lord about you, what would you write? What COULD you write, based on your life right now? Would you give a joyful account of faithfulness, obedience and submission, or would you be forced to write other things? (After all, we might as well be honest, it’s for the Lord, who already knows, anyway!).

Think about that: what would you write? In fact, a good exercise for you to do (here’s a great homework assignment!) would be to actually do it: Write your own “obituary.” The things we would say about you if you were no longer with us. The things we would read at your funeral. The things that your pastor will have to give an account of to the Lord one day. Will that be a joyful day, or a sorrowful day? Depending on your answer, you may want to adjust the way you are doing some things. Because you must notice: an account of a life that brings grief is UNPROFITABLE for you. And if you know your Bible, you know what happens to the unprofitable servants…enough said.

Here’s the good news: There is still time to turn it around. There is still time to change. There’s still time to live in such a way that your life gives an account worthy of JOY: for you, for your pastor, and for the Lord. And that’s when we will enter into the JOY of the Lord…and here Him say, “Well done.”

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

The King’s Invitation

Perhaps because of several weddings that are coming up, as well as graduation parties being planned at this time of year, it’s got me thinking about the process of inviting someone to an event. Major events require an invitation, for many reasons. First, so the host can plan accordingly, as to how many will attend. Also, the host wants to make it very clear who is invited, or who is welcome to attend. Some things aren’t open for everyone.

Many are familiar with the term “RSVP” – from the French, “Répondez s’il vous plaît” – meaning, “please respond.” This simply lets the host know if you will be attending or not. In simple terms, here is the point: when you receive an invitation, you should respond.

There is a story in the Bible, found in the first chapters of the book of Esther, that presents a dilemma. Esther found it necessary to go before the King to plead for her people, but, as she explained to her Uncle Mordecai, she had “not been called to come in unto the king…” (Esther 4:11). And if you had no invitation, you could be put to death. It was then that Mordecai appealed to her with his famous words: “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). These words hold both promise and inspiration.

The promise: that enlargement and deliverance will come to God’s people! We are going to have revival. We are going to see many people delivered and set free. That is not the question. The question is, will you be a part of it? I want to be!

The inspiration: who knows whether we are come to the Kingdom for such a time as this? I believe we have been chosen for this day, because the Lord knew we would rise to the occasion! It’s time to fulfill God’s word, that the glory of the latter house will be greater than the former. God wants to use each and every one of us!

And as it turns out, Esther had nothing to worry about. Because she prepared correctly (put on her royal apparel and entered the king’s gate and court), the king held out the golden sceptre – the invitation into his presence. And she responded by entering in and bringing her petition. The invitation prompted a response.

The Bible says this, in Genesis 49:10: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” The sceptre shall not depart from Judah – in other words, the sceptre is PRESENT in PRAISE (Judah). When you praise the Lord, the sceptre is extended – you have an invitation into His presence! We need to take advantage of every opportunity to praise Him…it secures our invitation!

There is another story about a young prince named Mephibosheth. He was Jonathan’s son, the grandson of king Saul. He was the victim of an unfortunate accident: when word came to the city where he was that Saul and Jonathan had been killed, everyone in the city began to flee. Mephibosheth was only five years old, and his nursemaid was carrying him, and accidentally dropped him, leaving him crippled. Many years later, when David was king, Mephibosheth received an invitation to the palace. Fear must have gripped his heart, because the custom of the day said that any who ascended to the throne who was not related to the previous king would kill all other family members, to remove the threat of overthrow. But at the king’s invitation, Mephibosheth had no worries. David’s intention was to show kindness to him, to restore all his father’s land back to him, and to allow him to dine at the king’s table continually, for the rest of his life. What an invitation! Even though crippled, he got a King’s Invitation to sit at his table. And folks, at the king’s table, your POSITION covers your CONDITION! What a blessing, to respond to the King’s Invitation!

There is one other type of invitation, called “RSVP, regrets only.” The intention is to say, “you need respond only if you are going to decline,” with the effect “if you do not respond, that will be taken as an acceptance.” However, this is not the way to do it. In fact, with the Lord, it is just the opposite: when you DON’T respond, it is taken that you don’t accept – because accepting the King’s Invitation requires a response!

Church, we have an invitation into the presence of God! “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:2Smilie: 8). He also said that if we are thirsty, to come to Him and drink (John 7:37). And His invitation requires a response. Will you say yes?

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

Making Resolutions Vs. Being Resolute

It’s that time of year again. When everyone makes their “New Year’s resolutions”: To be a better person. To eat better. To lose weight. To pray more. To be faithful to church. To read their Bible through. To give more. To save money. To forgive. And on and on it goes…

All good things! The problem is, most folks start out with a shout, but finish with a whimper. They start out with great intentions, but life and old habits tend to get in the way. We’ve all read that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so we feel like if we can just make the 21 days, it’ll be sealed in our spirit forever! Here’s the problem – that assessment has proven not to be true. In fact, recent scientific studies show that it takes around 66 days to truly form a habit, when what you are committed to doing feels “automatic”, or, habitual. So if you’re expecting to be locked in to that new commitment around January 21, don’t be disappointed – you’ve got to keep it up until sometime in March for it to have the best chance of sticking! The reality is, it is far too easy to slip back into old routines, when you have a pattern of making commitments, and then breaking them. When you make new resolutions each year, and each year you eventually give up and give in. In fact, there are some folks who don’t even bother to make resolutions anymore, because they know they’re not going to keep them. What a sad way to look at it!

I believe our problem (yes, I said “our” – I’m right there with you!), is that we focus on making resolutions instead of being resolute. We try the latest fad “diet” (that guarantees results, by the way) instead of changing our eating habits. We look at attending church, giving our tithes and offerings, having a prayer life, reading our Bible daily, as separate events instead of making them part of our lifestyle.

Here’s a great example found in the word of God: Luke 11:1 says, “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Notice, the disciple said, “Lord, teach us TO pray,” not “teach us HOW to pray.” The point is not the HOW, the point is the DOING of it! It doesn’t matter the method, just PRAY! We may make a new year’s resolution to pray more, but the fact is, it won’t sustain unless your MINDSET is RESOLUTE. And we know that the only way to sustain a real mindset change is for the Lord to do it: the Bible speaks of us being transformed by the RENEWING of our mind (Romans 12:2), and that we must be renewed in the SPIRIT of our mind (Ephesians 4:23). These scriptures indicate that the mindset change is not based on a one-time event, a resolution, but is sustainable because real change occurs – becoming resolute. In fact, the word “resolution” is a noun (a “thing”Smilie: ;), but “resolute” is an adjective. It describes YOU, not just something you DO. Jesus said in another place, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Did you notice the wording? He will make us TO BECOME fishers of men. Not simply something we DO, but something we have become, something we ARE. WITNESSING, becoming fishers of men, is not just an event…it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just once a month on a Saturday morning. It’s every day. It’s who you are. And it is who we MUST become.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m all for making commitments. For making resolutions, for wanting to improve, wanting to do better. And an end of the year “assessment” is a good thing. It’s good to reflect back on the victories of the past year, and it’s good to be inspired to do some things that we didn’t get done. It’s good to look at the beginning of the year as a “new beginning”, as a fresh start. But let us understand, if we’re going to DO better…we must BE better. Instead of just making resolutions, let us be RESOLUTE! And with His help, we can. God bless you.

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

Transformed To Be Translated

I am a part of the “Trans” community.

Now, before you tune me out, please hear me out. I’m not talking about the trans-community you are hearing about in the news. The ones that are making all the noise lately. The ones who claim that you can “become what you truly feel you are”, or at least “identify” with what you feel you are. Yes, I’m talking about the “transgender” folks. The transexual folks. And the transvestite folks, all of which have forced us to acknowledge and accept them as “normal.” It’s hard to believe that we’re living in a world in which mankind claims they can alter what God has created. However, this is an indication that we are living in the last days – didn’t Jesus teach us that it would be as it was in the days of Lot? Well folks, it’s happening.

I do want to say this: God does have a trans-community. It’s just not the one you are being force-fed in the news media.

So I’ll say it again: I am a part of the trans-community. God’s.

“Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

I’ve been TRANSformed by the power of God! I’m not what I used to be. I’ve been changed. Old things are passed away, and behold, all things are become new! I’m a brand-new creature in Christ Jesus!

Maybe what we’re seeing in the world today is the created of God truly crying out for a TRANSformation – they are simply looking in the wrong place. We really are supposed to be transformed from our NATURAL into the SUPERNATURAL, or spiritual, by the power of the Holy Ghost! By the renewing of our mind. It can’t happen with a carnal mind, the carnal mind is enmity (opposed) to God (Romans 8:7). It’s got to come out of our desire to know Him, and to be made conformable to His death. We really are supposed to be conformed – not to this world, but to the nature of God. And to be transformed, proving what is the absolute will of God – that we would become like Him.

And that’s not all. Another member of God’s trans-community was Enoch. Remember him? The one who walked with God. In fact, Enoch’s life is described in only four verses in Genesis, and two of those verses make this statement: “And Enoch walked with God.” The other verse that describes his life on this earth is Hebrews 11:5: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Did you catch it? In this one verse, some form of the word translated is use three times. He was translated out of this world and into the eternal to be with God forever. Because he walked with God. Because he pleased God.

And folks, that is my hope. To be trans-formed by the renewing of my mind, that one day I will be trans-lated into the eternal realm, to ever be with the Lord.

I’m a part of the trans-community. And I hope you are too.

Posted in Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation