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Archive for October, 2016

Arm Yourself

Sunrise in Key West

Sunrise in Key West

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin” (1 Peter 4:1 NIV).

This verse teaches about our attitude when we suffer for doing good. People who suffer for Christ do not live their lives for their own evil desires, but rather for the will of God. The Word goes on to say that you’ve spent enough time in the past doing what the pagans do — living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and detestable idolatry.

When you commit to Christ, your friends will ask why you don’t join them in doing the things you used to do — living a loose and wild life. They will mock, make fun and accuse you of thinking you are a better person than they. Do you? Check your heart. If you think Christians are better than pagans then you suffer from pride and have earned their scorn and suspicion. Even after correcting your attitude of superiority your friends may continue to abuse you. They don’t understand that one day all of us will have to give an account to God.

Hebrews 12:2 states, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” This verse always perplexed me when I thought about Jesus considering ‘the joy set before him’ as He suffered. His joy could have only been for the reconciliation of man with God. And what a debt we owe Him.

Most Americans don’t understand much about the attitude of suffering in our physical bodies beyond verbal and emotional abuse. Not that this isn’t painful, it can be very much so. But, still, our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world are being physically persecuted every day in increasing numbers. These believers can teach us how to handle such abuse.

This verse explains it. We arm ourselves with the attitude that this must happen for God to be glorified. As our attitude shifts from protecting the body to accepting the situation and using it to glorify God, something wonderful occurs. We are done with sin. Imagine that ― done with sin. “Whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.”
Arm yourself with the same attitude as Christ. If suffering comes, accept it. If opportunities to serve others come, embrace them. Be sober minded so you can pray. Love others deeply. Serve others with the gifts God has bestowed upon you.

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever” (1 Peter 4:11).

Christian martyrs throughout the ages have gone through torture and horrible deaths with attitudes that echoed the very words of Christ on the cross ― “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Surely we can duplicate that same attitude when our trials are, to a great extent, less than theirs. Let us arm ourselves with Christ’s attitude and be done with sin.

Father in Heaven, I am weak, but You are strong. My desire is to be in Your will at all times. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus in times of persecution. I need Your strength and peace to persevere. Amen.

This is an excerpt from the forty-day devotional, “Attitude Matters”. Click here to order.

Click here to check out my website!

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Juno Beach Sunrise

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV).

The Bible is my favorite book. How God loves us! The Bible remains His love letter to us, as it has over the centuries. It lifts me up when I am down. It can answer a deep concern; or it can create a deep concern. There are some challenging verses in the Bible, as well as encouraging ones. Don’t just read the ones you like. If the “Word of God” is to judge our thoughts and attitudes of the heart then we must allow the Holy Spirit to use any verse as today’s sword.

We tend to cling to verses like, “God is love” (1 John 4:8b), or, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), positive verses with comfort and assurance.

However, verses like Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” and 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we endure we will also reign with him, if we disown him, he will also disown us,” do more to change the attitude of hearts. We become a bit unnerved, wondering how we can be perfect and if we have ever disowned Him.
As far as perfection goes, we will not arrive at perfection while here on earth. Each of us knows we aren’t perfect. However, we are working toward perfection as we commune with the Father every day through Jesus. Our attitude of gratefulness shines for a Father that has every intention of changing our hearts and actions so we can experience peace on earth and good will toward men, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.

Fortunately our perfection is not what is being judged. Read the verse again. The sword judges our thoughts and attitudes of the heart. The reason we strive for perfection is checked. Do we have the slightest hope of earning a small part of our salvation? Do we know in our heart that Jesus is our only hope ― without His intervention at Judgment we are utterly lost?

The Bible, God’s sharpest tool, exists to prepare us for the future. Sadly, America is becoming an anti-Christian nation. We often complain about this moral decay and blame advertisers and the government. Complaining and blaming is always the wrong attitude. The Lord wants to prepare us for what is coming and change us into lights that can change the culture or endure the worst.

“If we endure we will also reign with him, if we disown him, he will also disown us.” Enduring has a bit of a scary ring to it. If we endure, we will reign with Him. Endure what, you might ask. Many people in the Western civilizations have little idea of what enduring refers to because it speaks of persecution. Although persecution seems to be spreading throughout the world, most of us have no idea what it is like to endure true persecution. In that case, we need always to be praying for the persecuted church. The verse warns us not to disown God, even under persecution. If you do, He can disown you.

Our attitude in this case should be one of gratefulness and humility for our freedom. Compassion is the attitude we need to reflect to our suffering brothers and sisters throughout the world. And always, always, always, our attitude must be complete dependence on Jesus for eternal life.

Father God, I pray for the persecuted church. I ask that You be with them and give them comfort and peace, knowing that You love them. Give them strength to hang onto You and never disown You. Help me to always remember those on the front lines of spiritual warfare. Please help them to completely love Jesus. Amen.

This is an excerpt from the forty-day devotional, “Attitude Matters”. Click here to order.

Click here to check out my website!

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Trusting Jesus

sunrise6

“Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. Then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’ ‘But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there’ ” (John 11:6-8 NIV).

Only one of the disciples had the right attitude about Jesus daring to return to Jerusalem under such dangerous circumstances. This is what that disciple said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” Most of us would say that such an impetuous and courageous statement would have certainly come from Peter. Right? It sounds like Peter, but you may be surprised to find that this brave statement came from Thomas, the disciple who is known as ‘doubting’ Thomas.

Thomas trusted Jesus completely. If Jesus invited him to go into danger, then he was eager to go. Thomas inspired the rest of the disciples to go to Judea where they witnessed Lazarus raised from the dead. He encouraged the other disciples and motivated them to do what was right. But where did Thomas get the strength of heart to suggest such a risky affair?

Here’s my theory. Thomas started out as a man like any of the other disciples. He was not part of the inner circle (James, John, Peter and Jesus) but he did spend nearly three years with the disciples as they traveled from venue to venue, wherever Jesus decided to go and speak to the crowds. The twelve disciples had become a family with Jesus at the head. I believe that Thomas had spent so much time with Peter that some of Peter’s spontaneous strength rubbed off on him.

Thomas knew the Old Testament lessons of Joshua, Caleb and the ten other spies sent into the Promised Land. If God is with you, there is no reason to fear giants. David versus Goliath is a similar example.

After Jesus died on the cross, Peter went back to fishing. All the disciples went back to their old ways. The first time Jesus appeared to the disciples, Thomas was absent. This is why Thomas could not believe that Jesus was risen and demanded proof, from Jesus ― the only One he trusted completely.

How about you? Think about the discouraged people around you. Are they facing giants? Are you encouraging and motivating them in a winsome way so that they end up doing what is right? Do you exude a complete trust in Jesus? Is your trusting attitude rubbing off on others?

Father, thank You for the Bible which records the activities of You and Your people. Help me be a strong influence on the people around me. Give me wisdom and boldness to glorify You, even in the face of danger and condemnation. Amen.

This is an excerpt from the forty-day devotional, “Attitude Matters”. Click here to order.

Click here to check out my website!

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