Archive for July, 2021

It’s a Mental Matter

“stir up your pure minds by way of reminder….” (II Peter 3:1-4)

A pure mind is one uncontaminated by impure thoughts and programmed with Bible concepts. Evaluate your mind in light of this and honestly ask yourself if yours is a pure mind. Does it need to be cleaned up?

Philippians 4:8 chronicles the type of thoughts of a pure mind. They are:

“whatever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy —- meditate on these things.” 

Keep your mind pure, wholesome, uncontaminated, sincere.

Be certain you haven’t reached a point of arrested spiritual growth. That is, have you reached, perhaps even a good stage of spiritual growth, but have not grown beyond it. Rebel against spiritual stagnation.

Are you a wasp Christian or an alligator Christian? A wasp is as big as it will ever be the day it is born. An alligator grows every day of its life right up to death. Be a spiritual gator, grow on.

“…gird up the loins of your mind.” (I Peter 1:13) This is an appeal to prepare for spiritual warfare. Warriors wore long garments. When approaching a battle in order to get ready they tucked them in their belts. It is like saying role up your sleeves. Expect and be ready for opposition.

The expression “be sober” means to avoid anything resulting in the loss of self-control. It is an appeal to engage in self-discipline. With a pure mind you can better reason and comprehend life’s situations. Fuel your mind with Scripture and let that fuel propel you into conduct worthy of the Lord.

Then a support clause follows, “be mindful of the words,” which means to know the word of God and how to apply it to various situations. This requires a lifetime of Bible study. Plan your program of daily Bible study.

Resolve, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)

Don’t let any thought walk through your mind that has dirty feet.

When improper thoughts pop-up in your mind, they should not be allowed to stay. You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building their nest in your hair.

Train your mind to think Jesus thoughts.

You Can Overcome Life’s Limitations

Cripple an individual and you have a Sir Walter Scott.

Put one in jail and you have a John Bunyan.

Nearly bury him in snow and you have a George Washington.

Have him born in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln.

Put him in a grease pit in a railroad roundhouse and you have a Walter Chrysler.

Make him a second fiddler in an obscure South African orchestra and you have a Toscanini.

Hardships, physical or encountered, as our daily activities aren’t designed to crush us, but to challenge us. None of us initially see them as such, but life proves them to be. Think of your own experience with things that were unwanted, but they proved to be a blessing. 

A little red headed kid in a small Mississippi town committed his life to the gospel ministry. After the worship service his mother spoke to the pastor asking that he pray for the kid. Her concern as expressed was he had difficulty speaking to one person, much less a group of people. That young man was subject to a number of limitations leading to his maturity in ministry.

After he committed his life to serving the Lord as a minister he was told the following. He had been born with hole in his heart, known as a blue baby. He was given six weeks to live. His parents dedicated themselves to rearing the child for ministry if he lived. That kid was me. I am glad I know that, but I am glad I didn’t know that until after I had made my decision public. I am by no means a “big thing,” but I am a thing used in a big thing, the ministry.

Have a child hidden in an alligator infested river and you have a Moses.

Make a youth a shepherd in a barren desert and you have a David.

Let a little girl grow up as a member of an outcast minority race and you have an Esther.

Let a child have a speech impediment and you have a Joshua who became “mighty in speech.”

Sell a young sibling into slavery and you have a Joseph.

You may have a limitation you think is an inhibition. It doesn’t have to limit you. It can propel you to bigger things at any age. Your limitation may not be physical, cultural, or circumstantial, it may be self-imposed by your negative thoughts. Even they can be transformed by Jesus.

“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5)

Your Future Is a Matter of Choice

“No man can serve two masters….”  That would be like going two directions at the same time. It would be like playing on opposing teams in the same game. In life as in athletics it doesn’t work.

Reality is every person serves a master, every person. You can’t opt out saying you don’t have a master. You do.

If you chose to serve yourself, the ultimate “me” you are choosing to serve is a corrupt master. The “me” you choose to serve is corrupted by being a member of the fallen human race.

Simon Peter warned there are persons who are “slaves to corruption.” (II Peter 2:19) Choose to serve the best Master.

“Me” is a malevolent master, that is, corrupted one with lower standards, having a degenerate disposition.

Choose instead to serve a benevolent Master, Jesus Christ. He can counter the corrupted nature within you. The benevolent Master can alert you to the error and emptiness of the world around you.

He can emancipate you from the selfish power of a “me” centered world. He can give you higher aspirations, ambitions, and attitudes. He can open your life to loftier dreams, desires, and drives.

Real freedom is coming under the power of His delivering influence, building a defense against further corruption, and opening a new view of life: abundant life.

Life consists of the choices we make every day. If you have not made a conscious choice, you have by default been serving the “me” god.

In Elijah’s day he challenged the people saying, “How long will you falter between two opinions?” (I Kings 18:21)

Joshua gathered the people at Shechem and charged them, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:19) He put a time on choosing, “this day.” Even the most devout should use this day to renew and deepen the choice.

It is a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe is looking for company, a real relationship with people. His love preempts the consequence of our sinful actions. In turn He offers us a cleansed joyous life with the ability to interpret the choices around us.

He gives us strength by which to live,

He gives us peace in which to live.

He gave Himself for whom to live.

Every decision affords a choice of which master to serve.

A New You

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Ageing is inevitable. Growing stale while aging is optional. It doesn’t matter if you have most of life behind you or ahead of you, it pays to often check up on what you are doing and how you are doing. Whether you’re living it to the fullest is important. Are you living it so as to hear the Final Judge’s “well done?”

Don’t get off course. If you do, use your vector corrector, the Word of God, to get back on course. Know where you are going and how to get there.

You can’t go back now and make a brand new start, but you can start now and make a brand new conclusion. Think about it, are there things you can do to make for a better you going forward?

Venture or vegetate. If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t make a difference. Everybody makes mistakes, it is how you take your mistakes that matters. Failure doesn’t have to be final. Recovery is renewing. 

Have you a dream or a vision of what is possible for you to achieve? A dream is what one sees as worthy and possible and wakes up and does nothing about it. A vision is the same, it is what you see as worthy and possible and go out and work to achieve it. Don’t let your vision die in infancy. Nurture it.

Begin creating a new and better you by setting worthy overall attainable goals, such as, to love others more, to engage in unsolicited assistance of others, to give more of myself and my substance, and be less self-centered. Establish what you want the new you to be like. What epithet would you like on your tombstone? 

As you become such a person, set some worthy material goals. Evaluate what it will take to achieve them, a timeline for doing so, cost and means of financing them.

Set your life’s commitment and declare: “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:29)

To have the proper superstructure for this new you resolve to chase after God and resolve to live in a manner pleasing to Him. This will require daily time alone with Him, a system of Bible reading, and a devout prayer life. Make a part of your prayer life the romancing of God. Tell Him of your love and devotion as though He doesn’t know it.

“…may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands ….” (I Kings 8:61) 

There is an old truism worth committing to memory:

There is no looking back, I’ve stepped over the line.
I won’t let up, back up, give up, or shut up.
My focus is clear, my path is straight.
My God is reliable. I’m a follower of Christ.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) 

Free Love

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (I John 4:8, 9)

To say God “is love” (agape) is to say that God is the most self-sacrificial being in the universe, and as such he went to incredible lengths to set humankind right. For Christians, God is the very definition of self-sacrificial love (agape) and what it truly means. 

This love described in 1 John 4 implies something fundamental about the freedom of God. Love cannot be compelled, manipulated, or predetermined if it is to be genuine love. It has to be freely given and freely received. God did not have to love a world full of self-centered and sinful human beings, but he chose to do this—and this accorded with God’s very nature. Even more interesting and surprising is that 1 John 4 also tells us that God’s love comes to its fullest as freely expressed toward his “beloved humans.” 

Therefore, “We love (agapomen),”  “because he first loved (egapesen) us.” (1 John 4:19) Our response is also free. We are to freely obey the great commandment to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

It is, of course, true that in the great commandment, “You shall love (agapeseis) the Lord your God with all your being” (Mark 12:30), the writer is not referring to feelings.

The commandment to love God has little to do with feelings. It has to do with self-sacrificially loving God and others just as we have been loved by God.

That is the greatest challenge any person will ever be given.

In Greek there are four basic kinds of love. They are:

Eros: Romantic love; erotic desire; intimacy; infatuation with another’s beauty.

Philia: Brotherly love; friendship; affectionate regard for and loyalty to friends, family, and community, requiring virtue, equality, and familiarity.

Storge: Familial love; affection; natural empathy for one’s family, country, or team.

Agape: Unconditional, self-sacrificial love; charity; God’s unconditional, self-sacrificial love for humankind and humankind’s love for a good God and for others. 

It is the last of these that is used of God and our love for Him. Read that definition and ask yourself, am I showing that kind of love for God and people?