SELF MADE???

Spiritual Blog - Self Made

2 Corinthians 3:4-6 – “And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  NKJV

 

I had someone recently tell me that they were a ‘self-made person’ and I could not help but snicker a bit.  The quizzical look on their face quickly turned to irritation as I delayed any comment.  The individual huffed, “Well, I guess you think I’m not!”  Actually, I do think you are not ‘self-made’ although that is a popular characterization of someone who has built a business from the ground floor and made it successful or accomplished many things in life.  I simply base my opinion on the following:

  • We Are Created Beings.

Therefore, in the strictest sense (not what is usually being referred to) we are not self-made we are God-made.  

  • We Are Not Self-Sufficient.

The Bible makes it clear that all the talents, gifts, abilities and even the breath we breathe is from God.  Oh, I acknowledge that we may have honed and developed those abilities but they came from God as did the breath we breathe.  

Paul makes it clear that our sufficiency is from God and that we should not think of anything as being ‘self-made’.  We become ‘sufficient’ in what we do and can even ‘excel’ but the origination was from God not self.  The idea of being ‘self-made’ is often accompanied by unhealthy pride and detracts from our appreciation of what we have been given and true recognition of the source of our accomplishment.

We cannot save ourselves, did not create ourselves, and cannot add inches to our height.  If we were self-made we could do all those things but we cannot.  I know some will accuse me of splitting hairs and making much ado about nothing declaring, “Well, that is not what I’m talking about.”  Isn’t it?  Are we declaring ourselves to be the creator and originator when we declare ourselves ‘self-made’?  Are we not, in a very real sense, declaring that God’s work was insufficient and inadequate when we describe ourselves as ‘self-made’? 

When I realize that even the various members of my body were identified by God before my conception I should be humbled.  When I realize that only as long as God’s finger is on the keys of the organ of life do I live, I should be humbled.  When I realize that God sets up kings and takes them down, I should be humbled.  To have the audacity to declare myself ‘self-made’ is to display an arrogance that places me equal to or elevated above my Creator and I do not wish to travel that road.

I understand that to declare oneself or another as ‘self-made’ is meant to complement their work ethic, ingenuity, enterprise, perseverance and willingness to risk and all those are good.  However, to fail to note that God gave us the ability and breath is to ascribe to a position and condition that places one in competition with God and He shares His glory with no person.

Instead of proclaiming ‘I am self-made’ proclaim ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I live, move and have my being in Him.’  Acknowledge His contribution and then I will gladly acknowledge your efforts, commitment and perseverance.  I will praise you for your part but only if you give God glory for His.

            God bless you as you go through your day!

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THE ANSWER WHEN TROUBLE KNOCKS ON YOUR DOOR…

Spiritual Blog - Afflictions

Psalm 34:19 – “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”  NKJV

 

I had a person tell me once that if becoming a Christian was a guarantee against problems they would readily accept Christ.  That individual had been witnessed to on numerous occasions by some well-meaning believers who suggested that by accepting Jesus all life’s problems were over.  The Problem of settling our eternal destiny and have access to heaven’s resources to life is provided an answer but if one is to understand that you will never face another battle you are in for a rude awakening.  In fact, in some ways accepting Jesus is the beginning of some major problems, difficulties, afflictions and battles.  At that point the devil declares full scale war on you personally and will do all he can to shipwreck your life.

Now please do not understand me as suggesting the devil is more powerful than he is.  However, I suggest we remember that although the Bible identifies him as a defeated foe it does not declare him no longer existent.  He will attempt to destroy until he is finally thrown in the Lake of Fire.  In fact, the very idea that by becoming a Christian excludes you from problems would call into question the many passages regarding the devil and the weapons of warfare the Lord has provided for us.  If by receiving Christ our problems are over then why bother with weapons you do not need them.

The Psalmist declares that MANY are the afflictions of the righteous.  If that were all he said it would be most depressing and I’ve experienced times when I could almost believe that was the end of the story as wave after wave of demonic attacks came my way.  There have been times when I, like the apostle Paul, almost despaired of life wondering if there would ever be a reprise in the assaults.  Yet deep inside, I clung to the latter portion of the Psalmist’s declaration, BUT the LORD delivers him out of them ALL…”   When the enemy comes in like a flood I expect God to raise a standard against him.  When I am oppressed I expect the Holy Spirit to come and comfort me.  I take the words of our LORD to heart where He declared in Matthew 11:28 that I can come to Him in my weariness and fatigue from the assault and/or labors of life weighed down under the heavy burden pressed upon me and HE will give me REST.

Trouble will knock on your door from time to time as you traverse from cradle to grave and when it does, if you are a believer, “Lift up your eyes and look to the hills for your help comes from the LORD.”  He has not forsaken you and you can cling to the promise here in Psalm 34 that although you may face many and serious afflictions in life GOD will deliver you out of them all even if that deliverance is taking you out of this world and home.

 May the Lord be with you as you go through this day!  Do not expect a life free of problems but a life filled with promise!   God bless you as you go through your day!

JOHN 3:16 and JAMES 3:16

Spiritual blog - Two Roads

James 3:16-18 – “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  NKJV

 

John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  NKJV

 

William Penn wrote, “The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.”   Oliver Stone said, “Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy.  Never underestimate that.”  Both are powerful statements and then when we read in Song of Solomon 8:6 – “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.”  In numerous passages of scripture we find a theme and thread of understanding that should be an immediate red flag regarding the vicious enemy of ‘Jealousy’ and ‘Envy’.  Both are incredibly destructive and virtually always fruit of the same seed.

John 3:16 speaks of the incredible Love of God and man’s salvation as a result.  James 3:16 speaks of the wickedness and danger of allowing ‘envy’, ‘jealous’ and/or ‘self-seeking’ to spring up.  It is virtually always accompanied by a ‘root of bitterness’ whereby many are defiled with its poison and pollution.  In John our Lord offers us hope and in James the apostle warns of a carnal danger if we do not anchor ourselves in the hope of John 3:16.

Jealous and envious people are virtually always miserable and tend to make everyone around them miserable or at least uncomfortable.  I had someone tell me that ‘jealousy’ was a wrong focus on others and I said, “No, I believe it is a wrong focus on self.”  Yes it is a focus on others but the root is self.  It is a woe is me attitude that laments and becomes angry or covetous regarding our lack and someone else’s supply.  It shifts the blame for whatever condition, problem or difficulty from any personal responsibility or choice to an external stimuli.  It allows self-justification, self-excuse and abdication of responsibility and accountability.  That is much easier than adopting the attitude that Jesus suggested when Peter questioned him about John’s ultimate fate.  Jesus said, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?  You follow Me.”  

Imagine that!  Don’t worry about what someone else has, experiences or does or does not experience. Don’t let that be a cause for envy or jealousy.  You deal with you, your situation, your circumstances and your mission in life.  In Matthew 6:34 our Lord advised that worry which is an element in jealousy, envy and bitterness should not be a part of our lives.  Do not worry about what someone else has or that they are not encountering what you are encountering for each day has enough problems of its own.  I am not suggesting that you not care about others but NEVER allow another’s blessings, benefits, gifts, opportunities or victories cause you to become jealous, envious or bitter.  That attitude and condition will poison you more than others but will affect all you come in contact with.

Allow John 3:16 to become foundational in your life so you can avoid the ravages of James 3:16.   Blessings as you go through this day!

IF LIFE IS SIMPLE…

Spiritual Blog - Complicated

John 16:12-15 – “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”  NKJV

I read a quote attributed to Confucius,Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. I think there is a lot of truth in that but at the same time do not think life is simple.  I believe that life is often incredibly complex, confusing and sometimes conflicting and for that reason no human can successfully navigate it waters without guidance.  I would no more plan a cruise in a sailboat over waters and to a destination that I have not heretofore navigated without adequate charts, maps, bearings and possibly navigational assistance than attempt to fly a jet airplane.  I would have a general understanding of the direction but would not know the possible pitfalls along the route so I would seek guidance.

I know men are accused of being unwilling to stop and ask directions and male ego may be involved in believing that we know where we are going or can find our way but I do not believe this stereotype to be 100% accurate.  I have stopped numerous times to ask directions only to find that the people giving directions knew less about where I wanted to go than I and relied upon my natural instincts, sense of direction and previous training to find my way.  Having crossed two oceans by ship I have a limited understanding of the problem and need of navigational guidance as do pilots of airplanes.  In those cases we depend upon those who have gone before and created charts and maps, GPS, or other navigational assistance such as harbor pilots to guide us past or through the dangers.

We have a Life Pilot known as the Holy Spirit to help us navigate the difficult waters of life.  The question is:  “Do we rely on His guidance or attempt to go it alone?”  Unfortunately, it appears, too often we take the latter approach and either do not ask for the help of the Comforter or ignore His guidance.  Either way we do so to our hurt.  Life is either incredibly difficult or incredibly simple and which almost certainly depends on what or whom we rely for guidance.

Two of the most significant and impacting ministries of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer are:  Guide us into All Truth and Comfort us in All Things.  He knows the mind of God.  He knows the pitfalls in our path.  He knows the secrets of our hearts.  He knows the motives and intents of those we deal with.  HE KNOWS and therefore is an Expert Life Guide.  If He guides us into All Truth and Jesus declared that it is Truth that makes us free why would we fail to accept His guidance?

Making life simple or difficult is largely our choice.  I say that simply in the light of God’s offer of guidance.  What is your choice?    May the Lord richly bless you, continually guide you, carefully guard you and abundantly cover you is my prayer!  Blessings!

THE CHICKENS WILL COME HOME TO ROOST…

Spiritual Blog - Chickens

Proverbs 11:3-6 – “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. 4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. 5 The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.”  NKJV 

We know from the comprehensive teaching of Scripture that we reap what we sow or as some would say it, “What goes around comes around” or “Your chickens will come home to roost.”  I fully believe that God is watching over His children and is fully aware of what is happening in our lives.  The Bible says, “The rain falls on the just and unjust alike” revealing that sometimes there is not instant judgment or sentencing for wrong.  However, in God’s time the chickens will come home to roost.

Notice what the writer declares in this short passage:

  • Integrity vs. Perversity.

Integrity guides and becomes a lamp for the feet and a light on our pathway.  During the course of an hour, day, week, month or year walking in integrity may not deliver us from difficulty at that moment but it is leading us to that place of liberty and victory.  On the other hand while perversity may not receive instant judgment and sentencing it is laying the ground for destruction.

  • Material Things vs. Righteousness.

If we place our confidence in material things we will be let down and ultimately disappointed for in the Day of Wrath possessions or wealth will not deliver us and cannot spare our lives.  Righteousness on the other hand can and will bring us to LIFE.

  • Success vs. Failure.

Righteousness in heart will guide one to success in life and in the spiritual realm whereas wickedness of heart will bring about ultimate failure and shame.  Instead of  striving for success and trying to grab the brass ring it is better to strive for righteousness and seek first the kingdom of God who is righteousness and in so doing be promoted to success.

  • Fidelity vs. Lasciviousness.

Walking in righteousness of the heart will keep one in fidelity whereas following the lusts of the heart will lead one into lasciviousness and ensnare in the trap of lust.  That does not have to be speaking of sexual impropriety but lust can and does target many things in life.  I recall once in Israel the tour guide advised us to remove things from view as we departed the bus saying, “What they eye cannot see the heart will not lust after.”  If our eye is on Christ we do not see things that entice our hearts in a lustful manner.  We see with the eyes of righteousness and that produces fidelity of heart and raise us to victory.

            God bless you as you go through your day!

WHICH IS BETTER???

Spiritual Blog - Being

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 – “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  NKJV

 

Someone read the title and text and asked, “What?”  As they wondered how this text matched the title.  Let me clarify.  We continually hear people say, “Just do the right thing” and that is good but which is better, “Doing the right thing or Being the right thing?”  I would submit that if we ARE the right thing we will DO the right thing but we might DO the right thing and still not BE the right thing.  Thus my title question:  “Which is better?”

I do not know who wrote this:

Not merely in the words you say,
Not only in your deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way 

Not merely in the words you say,
Not only in your deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way

Is Christ expressed?

Is it a beatific smile?
A holy light upon your brow?
Oh no! I felt his presence
When you laughed just now. 

To me, ’twas not the truth you taught,
To you so clear, to me still dim,
But when you came you brought
A sense of him. 

And from your eyes he beckons me
And from your heart his love is shed,
Till I lose sight of you and see
The Christ instead.

 

            We have all encountered people we knew instantly were different. There was an aura about them that made them stand out in a crowd.  They didn’t have to say anything but you sensed something about their spirit that was drawing and remarkable.  They are those of which I speak when I ask about “being the right thing”.  They do not have to debate what to do for it flows from within and out of their rightness they act.  It is not the outward expression or demonstration from which righteousness flows it is from righteousness that the outward expression or demonstration flows.  If we ARE the right thing or person we will DO the right thing.  Whenever I hear people say, “Just do the right thing this always comes to mind.”    I desire to BE right and if I AM right then I will DO right.  

            May the Lord bless you richly is my prayer!

 

A DAY OF REMEMBERING…

Spiritual Blog - Forgert

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  NKJV

We have come to another Memorial Day in America and 2015 finds names added to the list of those whom we should remember.  Each year there are more Americans who have given their all in defense of Freedom and pursuit of that often illusive dream.  We have been fortunate in this nation to not have been invaded by a foreign enemy although we have experienced acts of terror on our shores.  Our land has not been ravaged with the hostilities of war like many nations although there are signs that trouble is brewing and that is troubling.

Jesus’ statement in John 15 was clearly calling attention to His willingness to go to the Cross for mankind and called them and us His friends.  His declaration that there can be no greater demonstration of love than laying down one’s life for another is particularly impactful on this day.  From the time of the Revolutionary War to the present American’s have sacrificed all to obtain and preserve freedom.  In America we have lived relatively free of oppression for a long time and the system of government instituted by our Founding Fathers has served us well.  Freedom is wonderful but never free!

Jesus’ act on the Cross was the purchase price of FREEDOM of a different kind.  In laying down His life for us he opened the door to Spiritual Freedom that would enable man to truly live.  We had been under the dominion of the realm of darkness and now access to the kingdom of light was open through His sacrifice.  His sacrifice placed before us two paths or gates through which all must enter.  One leads to destruction and the other to life.  One places almost no demands or restrictions whereas the other is a much narrower pathway that requires discipline and willing surrender of lordship of our lives.  We surrender being the master of our own fate and the captain of our souls to Him and become followers of His Way rather than that of the flesh and self.  One path leads to true Freedom the other to bondage.  Yet, bondage seems to be the path the flesh most desires.

Today we should REMEMBER:

  • Remember What Those in Times of War Sacrificed For Freedom.

Throughout history brave patriotic souls have made the ultimate sacrifice so that others could be free and enjoy the fruits of liberty.  We should all pause, remember and give thanks for what they did.  Without their sacrifice we would not have the Freedoms we have today.

  • Remember The Cross.

Without the Cross there is no Crown.  Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption and Jesus willingly laid down His life so that you and I could enter into LIFE that is TRUE FREEDOM spiritually.

Yes this should be a day of remembering not just a day off work, day of sales for shoppers or picnics.  We should take time to REMEMBER and in our remembering we should express GRATITUDE and THANKSGIVING.  We are the beneficiaries of incredible sacrifices made so that we could enjoy LIFE more Abundant and FREEDOM naturally and spiritually!

            God bless you as you go through this day!