Your failures do not define you

26 Oct

What happens when people act in direct opposition to what they know is right? This activity happens on a number of levels. When a person who’s trying hard to lose weight consistently binges on pizza and ice cream, disappointment ensues. When an individual commits a crime, victims suffer and the perpetrator risks jail time. When a husband or wife chooses to engage in an extramarital affair, the marriage is damaged—sometimes beyond repair—and children suffer the consequences. When a CEO decides to overlook or sometimes even encourage accounting inconsistencies, giant corporations fail, high-level indictments follow and investors lose their savings.

What do all of the scenarios outlined above have in common? Every one of these accounts, as well as countless other failure-filled stories, can trace its origin to the book of Genesis. Today’s reading gives us a glimpse of the first failure to follow a direct command from God and the devastating results of that failure. We see the repercussions of this disobedience reflected in the daily news—and, if we’re honest, reflected in our own darkened hearts.

At first, Adam and Eve were sure of God’s instructions. There was no doubt. They knew exactly what God wanted because they received their marching orders straight from the Creator himself. Still, a simple challenge (“Did God really say …?”) from the serpent shook Eve’s confidence to the core. Once she questioned what she knew to be true, she became vulnerable to Satan’s temptation. When she and Adam then acted in violation of God’s direct command, sin invaded what had been an unimaginably perfect paradise.

Spiritually speaking, what are you sure of beyond the shadow of a doubt? What do you know to be true? Where does your certainty come from? These are important questions to answer because you face tests every day that can undermine your Biblical marching orders. People may question your mental capacity: “How can an educated person believe in intelligent design when there’s so much evidence to support evolution?” Others may accuse you of being narrow-minded: “How can you say Jesus is the only way to God?” Some may appeal to your sense of freedom: “Doesn’t God want you to have any fun?” Still others might attack the source of your trust: “The Bible is full of inconsistencies, and you’re choosing to base your life on this book?”

How prepared are you for the assaults that will come your way? Do you have a tight grip on God’s truth? Think about this today: How will God’s truth impact your actions—from the time you set foot on the floor in the morning to the minute you go to bed tonight?

To Take Away

  • What are your core faith beliefs—the spiritual truths you are sure of? Take a minute and write down three or four statements that sum up these truths.
  • When was the last time someone challenged your faith? How did it affect you?
  • How did you respond to the challenge? What would you do differently next time?

Read Genesis 3:1-15

Do you post your faith, or live it?

25 Oct

One of the interesting aspects of Social Media is that it allows Christians to become more vocal about their faith, but at the same time, it also gives them an escape from being more active in that same faith. I know a lot of people are trying to figure out what I mean, but bear with me.

If you look at Facebook, you’ll notice that Christian Posts far outweigh secular ones (that is a documented fact). But yet for some reason, there are fewer and fewer people who claim Jesus Christ as Lord. Now how can there be such a huge medium to spread the word of Jesus all over the world, yet His name is shrinking from people’s lips? Easy, people are talking about Him, but not showing others about Him.

It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard and proclaim your love for Jesus while others around you are suffering but it takes pure faith to see the suffering and go out to do something about it. Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting quotes and verses on Facebook, in fact I love it. What I a simply saying is that we need to combine it with active participation in the world. If we combine the power of social media, and active, personal evangelism, then we can rock this world for Jesus.

Take time to get out there today and practice being Christ-like by being the example of Jesus where others can see and feel you. Continue posting about Jesus for all the world to see, but let’s focus on practicing what we post. Star slow if you have to, but just do it… :)

 

James 1:23-25 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

 

James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

 

James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Lowering our expectations

25 Oct

We spend so much of our time being disappointed with ourselves, others, and our situations, that we forget that when we do this, we’re placing our own expectations higher than God‘s. God knew that we would mess up and make mistakes, that’s why He sent Jesus to die for us. We need to learn, accept, and forgive our own, as well as the mistakes of others. This may sound contrary to what the world would say, but we need to learn to lower our expectations of people and learn that everyone is a sinner and falls short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God). When we place an unrealistic expectation on ourselves or others, we will fail, and our attitude will go from love to loath. So in closing, when someone falls short of what you expect out of them, ask yourself if they filed you, or God.

If I were the Devil

24 Oct

If I were the Devil I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings;

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;

I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;

I would make it socially acceptable to take one’s own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;

I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life of animals are valued more than human beings;

I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a law suit;

I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young;

I would get sports heroes to take on the job to advertise them;

I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family, the backbone of any nation;

I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable…..If the family crumbles, so does the nation;

I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art;

I would try to convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as politically correct;

I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive;

I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;

I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are.

Paul Harvey………….Good Day.

The power of negative thinking

24 Oct

Have you ever thought about the negativespeech and actions we give off a day? As much as 77% of everything we think is negative and counterproductive and works against us. People who grow up in an average household hear “No” or are told what they can’t do more than 148,000 times by the time they reach age 18. Result: a negative, unGodly, and  a lack of belief or faith.

It’s always easier to see the darker side of the situation because it’s just the natural way for us to think. But I challenge you today to “Force” yourself to say and think about only the positive things that will lift others up. If you think this is some new-age thinking process, I give you this passage from the Bible that supports my challenge: Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Our negative thoughts and actions not only work against what God represents, but it also works against ourselves and others. Have you ever sen someone that is always talking negatively? You’ll notice when they approach people, it’s like turning on a light in a bug infested room, everyone scatters. That only adds to their already low self-esteem. Remember that God made us in His image, so that should inspire and drive us to be positive and honored. In short, knowing that we have the Lord Jesus in our lives and on our side, should fill our thoughts with nothing but good positive thoughts, leaving no room for “Stinking Thinking.”

Go out there today and lift someone up. Be a “Positive Paul” and watch how people flock to you rather than away from you. For those people who are always trying to find the worse in a situation, pray for them. Let them see your Godly attitude, and I assure you it will rub off on them. If it doesn’t, then pray that they will find the joy of the Lord in their lives and to be able to experience happiness. Believe me when I tell you, it’s better to be known as Sparky rather than Sparkless.

Have an amazing day and live it for Jesus.

Copyrighting God.

23 Oct

I’m a little confused lately when I see so many wonderful  Christian writers with much wisdom and valuable teaching with a trademark sign beside their writing. They insist on suing or reprimanding others if they inadvertently post something of theirs without the “Proper Permission.” Most of the times the person who reposted what was written didn’t even know they were required to do it. I was recently attacked for posting an article that was written by someone  without giving them “proper” credit (to this day I don’t even know what proper credit is, and I thought I was paying them a compliment by re-posting it). I just find it strange that someone would write a great article about Jesusand then insist on either making money off of it, or keeping it from changing someone else s life. To me it’s like saying, “Here’s the good news of Jesus, just don’t tell anyone unless you pay me or get my permission first.”

Now I know that there are a lot of people out thee already angry with me for saying this, and I’m sure they have a counter-argument that will make a great deal of sense, so let me clarify something. There are people like Rick Warren, Max Lucado, and many others who had tremendous success with their books, and gave a huge majority of the profits to ministries, and I believe that is the Godly thing to do.  In addition to that, I am not against people making a living off of writing for Jesus, it’s when they get greedy about it.  I also believe that most of today’s writers consider it an honor to have people use their writing to further the good news of Jesus. This little post tonight is for those who prefer to use the laws of the land over the writing of the Holy Spirit.

Today I wrote something that someone asked me for permission to post on their wall. If I write something, and you would like others to see it, you do not have to ask me for permission to let others read it. I write through the guidance of the Holy Spirit who is placing my fingers on the keyboard, so there is not copyright sign for that. If I feel led to write  something that may make a difference in bringing someone to Jesus, then don’t ask me for permission to show it to the world, I don’t need credit, just do it. If I am to get gain from it, then I will let God pay me, not a publishing house or pride. OK, I got that off my chest….what do you think?

If I’m not healed of a sickness, does that mean my faith is weak, or I’m a bad Christian?

22 Oct

I recently had someone “Command my Lupus to be gone in the name of Jesus.” Well obviously it hasn’t gone anywhere, but the big surprise came when he said it wasn’t gone because of a lack of faith. My first instinct was to believe this false teaching and feel like a failure, but then I got a dose of reality and remembered that sometimes our afflictions are for a reason. In my case, “I consider it all jpy” so that I may minister to others with the disease.

Many Christians have firmly believed that God would heal a loved one only to become discouraged because they remain sick. or pass away. . They prayed in faith. Some believed that they had confirmation from other believers or from other miracles. So they were genuinely surprised, even dumbfounded, when the loved one died. What they had believed with such certainty turned out not to be true. Their faith could not heal the person — only God could heal, and he chose not to, despite their prayers, their faith, God’s love and God’s promises.

When such disappointments happen, a new trial sets in. If faith in the healing turned out to be a mistake, what about faith in Christ? Was it also a mistake? That is one of the dangers of the “word of faith” teaching — it links faith in our Savior to faith in specific predictions.

Did Jesus promise to heal every disease? He did not heal Epaphroditus, as least not as fast as they wanted him to (Phil. 2:27). Even in his earthly ministry, Jesus did not heal everyone (John 5:3-9).

Didn’t Jesus die for us, forgiving our sins? Doesn’t that mean that we have no reason to suffer? Some say so, but we should test this line of reasoning with another fact: Jesus died for us. Does this mean that we should never die? We already have eternal life (John 5:24; 11:26). But the fact is, every Christian dies. There is something wrong with the line of reasoning. We do not yet experience everything Jesus accomplished for us.

There will come a time when we will be raised imperishable. There will come a time when we never experience pain. There will come a time when we receive the full benefits of Jesus’ redemption. But that time is not yet. Now, we share in Jesus’ sufferings (1 Pet. 2:20-21).

Jesus promised persecution, not freedom from pain and sorrow. When Paul was beaten, stoned, and imprisoned, he felt pain. Paul had great faith, but also many sufferings (2 Cor. 1:5; Phil. 3:10; 4:12). Although Jesus atoned for all sin, Christians still suffer despite their faith — and sometimes because of their faith.

We suffer from persecution, and we suffer the incidental pains of living in a world in which sin is still common. Sin hurts innocent people, and sometimes we are the innocent people who are hurt. Sometimes it results in early death, sometimes in slow and pain-filled death. We may suffer physical damage from a burning, a beating, a car accident or asbestos fibers. Our health may suffer from exposure to cold, from smoke in a house fire or chemicals in our food. We may suffer from wild animals, large or small, or even microorganisms. God has not guaranteed to protect all his people from all possible problems.

Is it always God’s will to heal people who have faith in Christ? The biblical evidence is that he sometimes does, and sometimes does not. Stephen was killed, James was killed. Eventually all the first Christians died of something. Yet, how many times did God save them out of danger before they eventually died? Perhaps many times.

Have you ever wondered about preachers who claim to heal all infirmities, yet they themselves wear eyeglasses? There is no reason why biblical promises would apply to one kind of ailment but not the other. The scriptures sometimes cited in support of a universal promise of healing do not make any exceptions for eyesight, age, accidents or anything else. But both Scripture and experience tell us that these verses were not intended as universal guarantees.

Yes, some have been healed, sometimes dramatically. These are examples of special favor, grace and mercy. We should not take these examples of exceptional grace and create universal promises out of them.

And we especially should not imply that people who aren’t healed do not have faith. Sometimes their faith is demonstrated through their suffering — they remain cheerfully confident that God will do what is best for them. Whether they live or whether they die, whether they have prosperity or poverty, they trust in God. There is nothing wrong with their faith. What is wrong is a teaching that implies that they are somehow not doing enough.

Just a thought for today,

Pastor Mike