Wednesday, April 13, 2016

So Run, That Ye May Obtain.

     I was recently introduced into the world of long distance running. I have found that I must be constantly preparing for a race. Before a race, I must run several practice runs, I must not eat too much before I run, I need plenty of sleep the night before, and I need to be hydrated. I must have discipline to go out and run even when I don't feel like it or else I'm not going to do so well at the race. There are a lot of things I could do that are not inherently bad but if I want to receive the prize I must put my body into subjection and say no.
     In the Bible, Paul likens our lives to that of a runner preparing to win a prize.
           Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run,                      that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all                          things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore                  so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my                body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to                          others, I myself should be a castaway.
    It is really just like the life we live as Christians. Jesus paid our entry fee to this race with His blood. We had better be winners. We shouldn't run the race just to make it across the finish line. We should run our best! That might mean giving up some of this life's pleasures to focus more on God and His word. But it is worth it.
    The Bible says that all these little things that we busy ourselves with for the enjoyment of our present life will be burned up.
            But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall                   pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth                     also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things                   shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and                       godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the                           heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
     So let us remember and keep our eyes on our goal. Let's not be distracted with making the journey more pleasant; it will just hinder us on race day.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

For the Glory of God

"Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created."
Psalm 148:5
   Are you singing for the ears of man, or for the glory of God?
   I recently heard or read how some people sing because of the words, and other people sing because of the music. They could be singing heathen songs just as well as Christian songs. We're not singing because of the delightsomeness of the music, or our masterful ways with our instruments or voices. We're singing because of Jesus! 
    The concerts I like going to best are the ones where I can feel God's Spirit there or am encouraged in the Lord. A concert like this is like a nugget of gold in a pan of rocks. Rocks may seem special by themselves, but compared with gold, they are just another rock to be discarded when we leave our earthly pleasures behind. Our relationship with Jesus is all that we will still have. Get your heavenly house built. The houses you build on earth are not as important as they appear. Eternity is a long time compared with the blink of life you spend here. Will you have something to show for your life after you are dead?

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, 
and his righteousness; 
and all these things shall be added unto you.”
 --Matthew 6:33
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Mother, I am afraid; no God I know; 
Please tell me an eternal way to go. 
You taught me how to live, each day by day,
But I am dying, and you don't know what to say.
In our land we honor mothers high,
The very word mother exalted to the sky.
But only the mother with God in her heart
Can teach her child how this life to part.”
--Maria, a Christian in the Soviet Union

Who are you going to be?


   Someone once asked me if I were going to college. I answered no, and he then asked me what I was going to be. I thought, “Well, I already am who I am.” But I decided he really was wondering what job or what occupation I wanted in life. I started to answer, “I don't know what I'm going to be...” And he cut in with some advice on finding a husband.
   I am who I am. What I do in life doesn't have that big of bearing on who I am. Who I am is who I am whether I'm taking trash to the dump, singing at nursing homes, welding rebar, playing chess, smoothing concrete, or playing freeze-tag. These things don't make me me. God made me into me, and I'm sticking with Him no matter what I may do. 
   People like to ask children what they want to be when they grow up, as if they are nothing until they become a doctor, plumber, electrician, or lawyer. So as children grow up, all importance is placed on becoming somebody. First they get their general education, and then they get a good college to make them into who they will be. This process of not quite being who you will be takes quite a long time. And, when you're almost thirty, you become who you are (maybe). And then what? All you know about is becoming and not being, so it probably takes some getting used to. And for the next thirty years, your goal is retiring. And then what?  The next big event is dying, and after that, surprise! It's the main event: heaven or hell.  
   I already am who I am, and I'm not worried about anything I will be doing in the future. I do know I will be serving Jesus. My earthly occupation isn't that important. Jesus said not to even think about what I'll eat or wear. But to seek the Kingdom of Heaven first! He'll take care of all the things everyone else thinks are so important and worries about in life.  
   Why worry about those things, when you know what is truly important? What is truly important is living for Jesus. If you are not, then what good is your life when it is over? So Charity, what are you going to be? I already am who I am going to be. I am a humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I will continue to follow Him. Jesus said, “A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” And I'm pretty sure a man's life doesn't consist of how he got the abundance of things he possesses either.

Walk in the Spirit


   Sometimes it may seem that you are your own worst enemy. Your natural man wants to walk after the way of the flesh, and no matter how hard you want to be good, you just can't. The Bible says to be carnally minded is death, and if you are in the flesh, you cannot please God. There is only one solution: the flesh must die. Jesus died and rose again that we might also die and live again by His Spirit.
   Romans 8:13 says, 
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: 
but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body,
ye shall live.”  
   Yield yourselves to God. Walk in the Spirit. Never let that old man you once were have his way; you will but forge chains of slavery for yourself. Romans continues, 
“As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” 
I know that when I pray and read my Bible, seeking God with my whole heart, He comes and is with me and teaches me like a good father does. And every time I'm with Him, I just want to be with Him more. I want to do things that please Him.
   The Devil tries to throw a whole bunch of things at you to try to get you distracted from your spiritual walk because when you are with Jesus, you are dead to all the Devil's tricks. The Devil knows that you will get weak if he can keep you away from your time with Jesus. He hopes you will yield to the flesh, so he can have you for his servant again. Resist the devil. Remember, you need not struggle.  Jesus said, in John 16:33, 
“Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 
The battle is already over, and Jesus has won. The Devil has no power over you.
   Walk in the Spirit. Do everything the way Jesus would have it done. Don't let your eyes get distracted from Him. Always take time to learn from Jesus and fellowship with Him. When planning your day, always remember Jesus is your number one priority. If nothing else gets done in your day, take time to be with Jesus. Keep your priorities straight! Jesus is always most important.

True Patriotism

   Is a true patriot one who loves his country and would do anything for it? Or is a true patriot one who clings to truth and right, and will fight to keep his country on the right path? 
   Let us take Germany in World War 2 for example. Were its true patriots those who were all for Germany despite its Nazi leaders, or those who fought against the evil, even if it meant siding with the enemies of their own country? Who were the true patriots?
   I feel it is not good to be blinded by “patriotism” (love of country). Patriots by that definition would die for their country even if it were in the wrong. Countries change. Their leadership and ideals change. But good, truth, and right never change, though the general perceptions of them may. They never change because God, who set them forth, will never change. The only way to always know the truth is to know Jesus. 
   If I had a country, I would rather have citizens whose only allegiance was to Jesus Christ than citizens whose love was for the country alone. They might die for the country, but would they die for the right?
   Let your allegiance be to Jesus Christ, and be not blinded by patriotism.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Haggai

   I recently read the book of Haggai. It tells about the people of Israel working hard to make themselves comfortable before building God's house. They weren't prospering. God told them to consider their ways and build God's house, and He would take pleasure in it and be glorified. All the people obeyed and feared before the Lord. So God told the people that He was with them, and they built the temple. When it was done, God told them because they hadn't turned to Him, he had caused their labors to not prosper. But since they had laid the foundation of the Lord's temple, He said, "From this day I will bless you."

   I think it is neat that the book of Haggai is an example for us in our lives. If we're too busy making sure we're comfortable and everything is fine for us before we make sure everything is right between us and God, I doubt if God will be pleased. We should always put Him first. How could we ever prosper if God is not with us? Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

   Don't think that everything would go wrong if you took time from what you think you need to do to support your life to pray and find out what God's will is. God promised that He would take care of you if you trust in Him.

   Jesus said: No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 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 seek:) 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. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

   We just finished reading Exodus, and something stood out to me that goes along with the message. God said to take the Sabbath off even during planting and harvest. Why was it so important? In God's very creation, He created a day for resting and seeking Him. No one has any excuse for not having a time to seek God, because God made a day just for this very purpose. God wants you to seek Him above all else.


"Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Jesus." --Unknown



Friday, February 6, 2015

Vanya


    I just finished reading a book titled Vanya.
    Ivan (Vanya) Vasilyevich Moiseyev became a Christian in 1968. Vanya was required to join the Soviet Army when he turned 18, so in 1970, he was inducted into the Soviet Red Army. He tried to do his best at all that was asked of him. One day he was late to a drill. When asked to give an excuse for his tardiness, he said he was praying. They couldn't let one of their soldiers believe in God, as they felt that their eyes had been enlightened, and they could see the "real" world. It wouldn't do to have a soldier who was still in the dark ages and believed in God. They had been freed from such ignorance!
    Remember, when the world says, "We see," they are blind. The gospel is foolishness to the wise of the world. The devil's wisdom blinds them to God's spiritual truth.
    Through the next 2 years, Vanya endured interrogation, punishment, imprisonment, and torture. God was with him. It was so neat to see how he prized time to pray and fellowship with Jesus. He didn't own a Bible, but he knew many portions by heart. He was a witness to his fellow soldiers, and God worked many miracles on his behalf. As his time in the army was drawing to a close, the officials increased their efforts to break him. They finally said they couldn't and turned him over to the KGB who were at liberty to use whatever methods deemed necessary, even outside of the law. They were given this power so they could deal with threats to the USSR. He would not deny his faith and was tortured and killed.
    Vanya was only 19 or 20 when he died. He felt he wouldn't be coming home, and in his last letters, he encouraged his Christian friends and family and urged unsaved relatives to believe. The day before his death he wrote:
        "I desire that all of you, dear friends, young and old, remember this one verse, Rev. 2:10, 'Be    faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.' Receive this, the last letter on this earth, from the least of the brethren.   
                                                                                                                     Vanya."
      In this day and in this country, we are at liberty to pray, fellowship with God, and be a witness for him. Let's each grow our relationships with Jesus. Be thankful for the freedom to pray. Be glad you can read God's holy word. Take advantage of these blessings! Seek the Lord with your whole heart! He promised that if you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find him. Labor to enter into His rest. Grow in his grace and knowledge. Put Jesus first! Seek to be weaned from the "milk" and receive the "meat." Let your house be built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ.
    In the Soviet Union, the Devil used the method of making Christianity seem like it was for the ignorant. He used persecution and laws against Christians. It seems as if in this country the Devil is not right out persecuting Christians, but is mainly focusing on distracting Christians from Jesus while acting as if he doesn't mind that we are Christians. Beware of his sneaky tricks! Don't let him lull you into his world. Keep your relationship with Jesus strong!
    Another of the Devil's tricks is also one he used in the Soviet Union. In the USSR, some churches were allowed—churches for quiet Christians who did what the government said. In the United States, the Devil tricks people into believing that all they need to do to be Christians is to be good and go to church. Remember in the Bible how it tells of some who would have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof? That way, all those who want to be Christians can be, without actually being changed by God's power and given His new life. Don't let the Devil trick you into thinking his way! "For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power." --1 Cor. 4:20
    Look to Jesus! Seek Him in earnest. Seek Him while He may be found! Remember the martyrs who gave their lives for Jesus. To them, their relationship with Jesus was worth suffering and dying for. What is it worth to you?