Friday, January 1, 2016

Resolutions

Resolutions

Today is a time where we have the blessing of starting anew. This day we have the blessing of noticing where we did well, and where we erred, last year and how we might improve this year. Realizations come to us during this time like no other and, as a result, resolutions are stated.

May we not let this day slip by without considering the daily assessment that we must be doing in order to ensure we keep ourselves pure and holy before our Lord. Each day, each moment, the Lord blesses us with is another chance to draw near unto Him and to flee from satan -- friends, may none of us waste the opportunities the Lord is giving us (2Pet.3:9-12; Jms.4:6-17). Let's treat our days as the blessings from God that they are and let's choose every day this year to consciously put aside the sin so we can run with endurance the race before us (Heb.12:1-4).

Are you resolved to do this? Am I? Let it be so, friends.

Hymn: I Am Resolved

I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.

I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.

I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living Way.

I am resolved to enter the kingdom,
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.

Refrain:
I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Mind

The Mind

My dad told me this as a small child in regard to sports and letting the circumstances of the competition and the actions of the other team get to me,

"Son, don't let them get in your head; if you let them get in your head, they've won."

Wise words. Later this statement was transferred into when I had trouble at school and was bullied (it happened a good bit). Naturally I took this wise lesson into many other circumstances in my life and it has served me well. Sometimes parents, we wander if the things we say to our kids get through -- I can attest to the fact that the important things stay with us (Prov.22:6). I thank my Dad for his wisdom, it has helped me through some difficult times and it still does even today; I plan to pass these wise sayings, rooted in God's truth, on to my own children.

We must stand a vigilant guard over what we allow in to our minds in this life. To let evil things in is to be consumed and beaten. Consider,

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." (Phil.4:8)

There are so many directions one's mind can go on any given day. Sometimes our minds can go places it shouldn't and at other times it can go to places that give us pause, bring us peace, give us comfort, and enriches our lives. We might, at times, think that this mind of ours is like an untamed beast that just wanders about from place to place; however, that does not have to be the case with us.

Think about the fact that this life is the only one each of us has. This, right now, is our one chance to go to heaven. When we begin from that perspective and then look at our lives and the things which we expose ourselves to and the things we think about, devote our minds to absorbing at any given point, then isn't it true that we can have control over this aspect of our own life? To say that we have no control is to say that God has given us no choice as His Creation. It would be like saying God is toying with us and our eternal destination is not up to us, but rather it has already been decided. To say such a thing is to impugn God, to remove the fact of His mercy and grace, and instead labels God as a twisted being that gets satisfaction over watching us struggle.

On the contrary, the God whom we serve is a merciful and loving God who has gone to the furthest extent possible in order to give us access to eternal life. He has given His Creation, mankind, the opportunity to be restored to Him and be in eternity with Him by the Perfect Sacrifice of His only Begotten Son. To be wronged by His own Creation, after giving each of us life and sustaining us, to be spat upon and mocked by His Creation, to come to save them only to be beaten and murdered by their very hands...to go through that, and then turn around and offer forgiveness to them - to us - and say to this Creation "I love you, come and serve Me, lay your burdens upon Me, obey Me, and I will give you life. I forgive you, child." (Matt 11:28-30)

Are we not overwhelmed with the weight of such a blessing?!! Who are we (Psalm 8)?!! Yet God did this for you, friend. For me and for every soul that has ever been and ever will be as long as time exists. What love!!!

When we think of the God who created us and the blessings He has bestowed, can we truly say we have no control over our thoughts, over this incredible mind He has given to us? This intellect and reason that gives us the ability to know His word and make the choice to obey it? What depth there is to this mind of ours; shall we not make the most of it and put it to use in glorifying our God, our Master, our Creator, our Merciful and Loving Heavenly Father?

What we allow to enter our minds sticks there and it will, in most cases, comes out in some form or another in our lives; those thoughts manifest themselves by our actions. It is because of this fact that we must be wary of what we allow to enter in. What we expose ourselves to in the form of our music, our companions, our entertainment, our conversation, our surroundings -- it all plays a role and it all contributes to the thoughts we have.

What are we inputting and what will be the output? Consider this wisdom from God:

"My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil."(Prov.4:20-27)

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." (2 Cor.10:4-6)

Take control friend, eternity demands it! Win the battle for your mind today and turn it over to the pure things of God (Jms.4:6-8). Let God's word have control and live those thoughts today (1Pet.4:11-16; Rom.1:16; Heb.4:12-13; Heb.12:1-2)!!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Time & Choice

Time and Choice

There are two things that each breath, each moment, affords us in this life: time and a choice.

Our question is what are we doing with the time we're being given, that blessing of one more breath, that blessing of God's mercy in allowing us one more chance before the Judgment Day to get our lives where they need to be - each moment is proof of God's longsuffering and love (2Pet.3:9-11).

What choices are we making with our time here?

It sure would be convenient for us if we could blame the devil for our missteps, for our sins, for our failings in life. For most of us as adults when we see someone shifting blame for their faults it often makes us angry, or at the least we're disappointed that someone chooses that way of life. Why is that? When someone never owns up, never takes responsibility,  but always points the finger at everyone but themselves then it shows an immaturity and an unwillingness to grow up. Kids do this, we actually expect that and are prepared to teach them out of it (hopefully!), but when adults do this it makes most of us cringe.

Here's the simple truth: every action we undertake, whether it be a reactive, methodically planned out, by 'instinct', or some other means; every action is a choice. We choose to do what we do. No one "makes" us do anything, not God and not the devil.

When we stand before God in the Judgment Day, we'll answer for the deeds done in this flesh of ours (Eccl.12:13-14; Heb.4:12-13; Rom.13:14). Some will read such passages and seek to find the exception, as if that explains their situation. However, trying to find the exception to these scriptures is fruitless and foolish - God has spoken on these matters and His word is unchanging, so the only thing we can change is ourselves; and that we must.

How often do we look for excuses rather than just do what God expects of us? Do you take God's word personally, or does it apply to everyone else? When you read a passage of Scripture, is your first thought "Oh, that applies to [insert person or group]!" Or "I have ammo to speak to that person/group and tell them where they're wrong!" What about applying the word of God to ourselves first, practicing it in our own lives, overcoming our own faults, working to resolve the problem of sin in our lives personally, and help others do the same in theirs? Hopefully we all have a desire to please the Lord and he submissive to Him; while we seek to please Him we must help others honestly and without any hint of that deadly disease of the mind called "I'm-better-than-you-itus" or "pride" which is the attitude the Lord condemns (Lk.18:9-14).

When we engage in that struggle of the flesh against the Spirit we're better equipped to actually help others rather than level a long list of "here's-where-you're-wrong" at them. Will people be wrong? Yes! Might I be wrong? Yes! So what do we do? We appeal to God's word, find out what He says and then we obey it.

Everyone has one of two choices for every action in this life: God's way or not God's way. One leads us to Heaven while the other leads to Hell. We'll answer for the choice we make, and so will everyone else.

With each breath we're using the time given from God, and with each choice here we're making the decision of where we'll spend eternity where time never ends -- which will it be? God or satan; Heaven or hell?

Time and choice.

Right now we're being given both, what will we do with them?

"And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh.24:15)