Did you grow up in the Church but; the Church did not grow up in you? Did you regularly attend Church and regularly participate in all the auxiliaries yet, you did not or do not really have a real relationship with the Lord? Do you just go to Church and the moment you are behind closed doors you abandon all of God’s principles for living? Do you live Monday thru Saturday conforming to the world? Do you go to Church, study God’s Word but don’t really understand how to apply it to your own life? Have you or do you truly live a Godly life before your spouse and children or friends and relatives? Are you obedient to your pastor but disrespectful to your spouse? Are you a great Pastor who is a lousy husband? Do you really know what it is to have a personal relationship with the Lord? If the Lord was to return today can you truly say you will be “caught up in the air to meet Him?” Do you know that Jesus really does make a difference in your life? I am not talking about some religious experience. I am asking you these questions to provoke thought.
For many accepting Jesus Christ is a public experience. For many it is a procedure. For many, accepting Jesus Christ means to have your name on a membership role. Go through a basic initial training; decide what auxiliaries you would like to participate in then, jump right in. (I say auxiliary because there was a time when it was unheard of to say ministries.) If you attend regularly, pay your tithes, don’t make any waves, nor question the process, you have achieved conversion in the eyes of your trainers? In many cases you are expected to give in and yield to those who are in charge regardless. If you are related to or accepted by the established inner circle it is quite possible that as long as you conform to their wishes you can pretty much do whatever you desire. You do not really have to make any major changes in your personal life. Why? Because you love them and they love you, you have proven successfully that you are teachable, obedient and that you respect authority. They also are heart readers and can determine who is who? Hooray! You are now accepted in to what a very good God given friend of mine calls “the club”. Does any of this sound familiar? Did you grow up in the Church but the Church did not grow up in you?
What is the Church? Webster defines Church as; a building of public worship and especially Christian. A body or organization of religious believers. The clergy of a religious body. The Word of God teaches us that HIS people are actually His Church! The Christian Church is really a family of believers who have truly accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Who earnestly and faithfully have committed to being governed by God’s principles. As long as we remain on this side of heaven there is room for improvement.
Commit means to; put in trust. To cosign for preservation, disposal or safekeeping, to obligate, bind to and live by. When you commit to live for the Lord; you agree to surrender to His will and His way. You really should live your life from the perspective that God really does see everything. His Holy Spirit becomes your inner guide. You consistently study His Word. As you walk in faith and obedience to God’s principles you are strengthened spiritually. You don’t conform to the world neither do you disrespect the laws of the land.
The Lord loves us so much He gives us the freedom to choose. In His Word He tells us if you abide in Him He will abide in you. His Divine and Holy Spirit will take up residence in your soul. His Holy Spirit is also known as the Comforter. The Comforter will become your inner guide; The Comforter will make your conscious sensitive and aware of Godly instruction for life and daily living. The Comforter will let you know that Jesus Christ is the “Bread of life” John 6:35. That He is the “True Vine” John 15:1. That He is the “Light of the world” John 8:12. That He is “the way, the Truth, and the life.” John 14:6
God will give you a mentally sound mind. It is your choice to continue to sharpen it with His Word.
Ask yourself have you really chosen God’s way? Have you changed or just outwardly conformed to be accepted? If this is the case you will have very little self discipline. Nor will you have true inner peace. If you have truly changed there is an inner metamorphosis. You will begin to walk in the fruit of His Spirit. Do you really seek the truth? Or do you seek to prove and accept what is false? Is Jesus truly important in your home, job, career and life? Did you grow up in the Church but the Church did not grow up in you?
It is through God’s plan of salvation we are given the gift of eternal life. Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior we embark upon a spiritual journey. His precious Holy Spirit comes to reside within us. The Holy Spirit is there to comfort, protect, lead and guide us. To help us understand what the Word really means. His Word is there to be a “lamp unto our feet and a Light unto our path.” In Galatians 5 you will find the Fruit of His Spirit and the works of the flesh. This will help you to know the difference between, when you are walking in the Spirit or walking carnally in the flesh. This is also another reason why it is so very important to know the scriptures for yourself. God will never lead you to do anything contrary to His Word. His Word tells us every now and then you will find a true believer. The scriptures actually say “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”
God loves us so much that He allowed His only begotten Son to leave heaven and take upon Himself a body of flesh. Jesus conquered sin in the flesh for us. So we might have the gift of Salvation! He was born, lived a sinless life was crucified dead and buried. Then he arose with all power! We never become the power, yet we are allowed access. Jesus truly demonstrated His love to us by actually showing us what it is to travel on that narrow road. If you study the life of Jesus Christ you will find that He encountered many things. He was persecuted, mistreated, lied upon and maligned. He was called evil. He was betrayed, misunderstood and abandoned by the very ones He came to help. The scriptures are not just some mere stories written to amuse us. They are there to show us the way. To help us grow spiritually mature and encourage us on that narrow road travel.
The Bible is supposed to be the final authority for the child of God. It is supposed to be our road map for life. As His children we are His Church. The Church is His Bride. One must remain watchful and prayerful. Life will allow many thorns and thistles in order to derail the child of God. That narrow road often appears to take the form of a roller coaster? For some taking a detour onto wide road traveling becomes an alternate route. Regardless as to what is going on about us we must strive to sincerely live each day keeping in mind that Jesus is going to return for His Church. This also helps you to be prepared for whatever obstacles are put in your path. One must learn to lay aside the things that attempt to distract or derail your path. So much of the world has been allowed to creep into the Church. For many it is hard to tell the difference. You must know the Word for yourself in order to not be deceived. Remember the Word tells us that the wheat and the tares are growing together. On many occasions evil is called good and good is perceived as evil. In many cases the world and its way has really become the final authority. Learn to trust God!
Lord help us! Don’t be dismayed! Absolutely nothing gets by God! God knows who are His. Rest assured. When you truly know His Word, you would know that nothing or no one can change that! God’s Word is TRUE! Jesus stood on the Truth. God knows what has happened, is happening and what will happen! We can rely on the Truth! People have an amazing ability to twist the truth in order to suit their purpose. To take things out of context in order to make things appear and seem a certain way. Some people will believe anything and anybody. You never have to force yourself or God’s Word upon anyone. Just be patient. Learn to “be still and know.” You do not have to stoop to their level. Just know in the long run it will only backfire. When anyone tries to oppress you, you never have to be afraid especially when you know that Psalms 27 is true! “The Lord is my Light and my salvation, who shall I fear….” Truth erases doubt and will give you a sure footing. It takes the Truth to bring things to the Light and dispel lies. God does not operate in the dark. There is nothing hidden or uncovered to Him! “Wait on the Lord.”
Study the life of Jesus. You will find that He was there in the very beginning and will be there through eternity. Many consorted together to derail Him. False witnesses were even hired to justify their case against Him. Simply so things could appear a certain way and cast doubt upon His credibility? To undermine His good intentions, perhaps with man but certainly not with God! Just to prove their case against Him. Jesus never sinned. He remained focused and faithful. We too must learn to keep our focus on God. You can rest assured when you know God knows the intentions of your heart. He knows everything. Romans tell us “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” You do not have to walk after the flesh. Yes, we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But as you grow stronger spiritually we are to sin less. This is why we need a Savior. To help us stay on the right path. It is so important to know the Lord and His Word intimately. The Truth really can set you free! You can rely on the Truth! Not to just read it for the sake of reading. But to consistently study, embrace and digest its contents and seek your path forward. Get off that wide road traveling it leads to destruction. The Truth will untangle a multitude of opinions it will free you from a swamp of uncertainty. It is able to keep you on the right path. God really is able to keep you from falling!
The word scripture comes from the Greek word graphe, which means; what is written. The scriptures are truly the inspired Word of God. They were written to help us navigate through this maze of life. Many times Jesus said nothing. There were times He simply said “It is written.” God does not intend for us to be mislead. Narrow road traveling is possible. Difficult situations and suffering are a part of life. But so is His joy even in the midst of sorrows! He wants us to hide His word in our hearts. It is very important that you remain patient and be prayerful! Jesus wants us to be consistent and stable. Not to let how things appear sway you from what you know is right. In John 17 you will find another one of Jesus’ wonderfully recorded prayers; “I have given them your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the TRUTH, your Word is TRUTH.” When you place your trust in Jesus you become sanctified. He will protect and keep you. You can rejoice and praise Him knowing He has a plan for you as well as each one of His children.
You can depend on God’s Word. It is here to help us through this maze of life. To nourish, feed, water, protect and cleanse us. It is there to keep us on the path that leads to Him! But there are some things that you need to know and expect, to help you live your life seeking His purpose. It really is not about how things look to others. Know who you are and who you belong to! Always be ready to give and answer for the hope that lies within! What is important is what God knows! Do you really know what it means when you say Jesus is your Savior? It means that you are now a child of God. I must tell you, you should know as well, you also become target practice for a lot of spiritual warfare.
It is true the saying that “the moment we admit life is difficult it becomes easier.” II Timothy 3 tells us, “In fact everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But for you to continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know from who you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” For the child of God what makes it easier is knowing that the Lord is there 24/7. “He will never leave nor forsake you.” His Word is there to comfort you, help and sustain you, guide you and see you through it all. Whenever you become burdened you must learn to take responsibility and then shift your load to Him. God will never fail you! He promises to “supply all of our needs through Christ Jesus” You must read, know, continuously study, trust and allow His Holy Spirit to illuminate His Word for your path forward. The Word of God is our road map for narrow road travel. Life is a quest. Jesus is the only way to the Father.
Quite often when you find your self in a difficult situation if you are not prayerful your first response will be to respond carnally or in the flesh. To impulsively respond and seek to gratify self or to blame others rather than take your part of the responsibility. This is again when it is important to know; “That the Truth does set us free.” God always has a remedy. One just has to be open and willing to take heed to His way. Remember that narrow path I’ve been talking about? Always remember the Fruit of His Spirit is available. Remember God has a plan for your life. His promises are true! Nothing is too hard for God. Keep your focus! Mediate on the Lord’s Word. The WORD of God tells us to “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians gives us additional insightful words to ponder when going through, “Finally my brothers, whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is ADMIRABLE, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. Whatever you have earned or received or heard of Me, or seen of Me put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” God is awesome!
What does it mean to love someone? Does it mean you give them everything they want? Does it mean letting someone run over you? Does it mean you tell them what they want to hear? Does it mean you never make them angry? Does love ever end? Webster defines love in this way; strong affection for another based on kinship ties. Example: maternal love for a child. Attraction based on sexual desire. Admiration or benevolence. Warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. A beloved person: Darling. Brotherly concern for others. To hold dear. To feel a lover’s passion, devotion, or tenderness. An unselfish concern of God for man. The scriptures tell us that “God is Love.” Tell me can you really truly love someone and not know God? Or better yet to the degree you know God; does it help you love in a profound way? According to I Corinthians LOVE……is PATIENT………is KIND………does not ENVY……. does not BOAST…… Is not PROUD…..is not SELFISH. Keeps no record of wrong doings…….does not DELIGHT in EVIL……..but REJOICES in TRUTH. Always protects. Always TRUSTS. Always HOPES. Always PERSEVERES. Does your definition of love encompass Biblical principles?
I have found that love is a term that many people use loosely. If you listen clearly they usually base love on doing or not doing something for them. Love is not giving someone what they want. Love is not letting people run over you. Love is not telling people what they want to hear. If you love them you will speak the truth in love. Just know when you truly love people they will get angry with you sometimes!
When you are dealing with someone who does not really understand love they will often misinterpret your intentions. Their perspective of you will modify. You are no longer the kind wonderful person that they thought you were. All of a sudden you will be perceived as being cold, uncaring, and selfish. They will accuse you of not really loving them when you don’t give them what they want. Don’t fret! God knows your heart. In the meantime pray for them. Begin to practice healthy boundaries with them.
There are many angry people who will chew you out at the drop of a hat. They have oodles of pent up unresolved anger. Cancer, high blood pressure, eating disorders, temper tantrums and depression are just a few results of stored anger. It’s okay for them to have a tantrum. But you are expected to appease them. Anger is natural. Encourage them to find healthy ways to express their anger. Suppressing anger is unhealthy. Just know it takes more control to not respond than to throw a fit. Did you know you can be angry and sin not?
By the way you must let go of some people you love. I am not talking about letting go like in divorce. Divorce occurs because two adults are not able to work through whatever problems they are experiencing. They are not able to keep the commitment they made to each other for whatever reason. Often this is because they really didn’t think things through first. Many couples are unaware of the necessary tenacity for an enduring marriage. (But that’s another column). When I say letting go I mean putting them in hands of the Lord. Allow Him to intervene.
There are those who just enjoy a habitat of tension and confusion. Did you know you could break unhealthy cycles by employing better ways to resolve conflict? Avoiding conflict is not healthy. Allowing a cooling off period before discussing the problem may be helpful. Words spoken in a fit of anger can be very damaging. Letting go and allowing them space to feel the consequences for their actions can be beneficial to their spiritual maturity.
The world is a very inconsistent place. God’s standards are not respected nor appreciated. God must be the central focus of your life for true successful living. The prophets pleaded over and over with God’s people to return to his principles. God wants to be first in your life. God has instructed us to; “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thine soul, and with all thine might. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto they children and talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest……. (Deuteronomy 6) God loves us and is faithful. His WORD is true.
Love will help you weather the storms of life. Love must be balanced. The term conditional love is often used today. I often hear I can do without your kind of love. Well your kind or my kind of love is not love at all. it is really more about how we are feeling in the moment. God sets the standard for love For “God is Love” Unless we measure it by His standards it’s merely subjective opinion. For example; the more I don’t rock your boat you love me. Once you rock my boat I tell you to get out. Now all of a sudden you cry, “You don’t love me anymore”. As long as I let you rock my boat it’s thought of as love. WRONG! How can something as important as Love be reduced to such insignificant terms.
Don’t get love confused with how you feel. You can not like what someone does and still love them. It is love that actually helps you to respond or not respond to them despite the way you feel. Remember God’s love rejoices in the truth! Beware of counterfeit love. When you have been truly loved you will know the difference. True love is kind of like quality; you know it when you see it. “I love the Lord because he heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to my prayers.” (Psalms 116) This is one of my favorite passages of scriptures. GOD IS REAL! We are saved by God’s grace. The Lord has saved my entire household! This motivates me to stand for what is right. Our purpose for living is to praise and worship HIM! Knowing that forever we will be together gives me an unexplainable peace and security in the midst of a world full of turmoil. For this I am eternally grateful!
Few people really know what it means to be loved. People live in estranged relationships for years. Households are literally filled with strangers. Sickness, anger, resentment and unresolved bitterness becomes the cohesive components to bind them together. Don’t spend a lot of time in the garbage of life! God has a better way for you to live. It’s never to late to implement His principles in your daily lifestyle. He can and will guide you. Get off the broad road. This is the worldly road. The broad road leads to destruction. The narrow road leads to God. But there are only a few that find it. Scriptures tells us that love covers a multitude of faults. This does not mean we ignore or condone sinful habits. Don’t be deceived! There are consequences for sin. This is why it is so very important to know His Word for yourself!
God always allows you to choose. It is the unselfish concern of God for man that explains love in a nutshell. God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us. To redeem us from the power of sin. In order to free us from sin’s captivity. He laid down His life for us! There is no greater love than this? Does grace give us the right to willfully sin? God forbid! Out of spiritual ignorance we support all the wrong things in people. We literally “love them to death”. When they are six feet under we cry, rant, rave and shout. But why wait until it’s to late? Why do we allow people we say we care about to slowly die little by little right before our faces? Why not do something while the blood is still running warm in their veins? It’s because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. Right! We don’t want to hurt their feelings but what about hurting their life? We prefer to take away their motivation to change by comforting them in sin. Motive is always key in whatever you do. Some people have been loved so wrong for so long they can’t recognize true love.
We cannot change anybody. But we can stop supporting what we know is wrong. Some thing’s will just not be understood on this side of heaven! Believe it or not God does not support wrong! I don’t care if you have two or two thousand or two million people to support you if it’s wrong it’s wrong. No one is above reproach. Just try reading Jeremiah. Look at what obedience and love he had for God and His principles! For over 40 years he pleaded with Israel. They ignored a great opportunity for spiritual, moral and ethical maturity. They still chose to justify their sins. Did you know that they did not repent in Jeremiah’s time? I wonder if they thought Jeremiah was too negative and needed a personality adjustment? Just imagine the rejection and ridicule he received for taking a stance against sin! Jeremiah didn’t just talk the talk. He walked it! He was steadfast! God is about freedom! Sin is a slavemaster. Did you know that it is easier for many to believe a lie rather than believe the truth? God is a Spirit of Truth. “They that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth”!
God will bless and keep you in any and all circumstances. Remember GOD is Love! God is Eternal! “Stand fast in the liberty that Christ has set you free and be not entangled with a yoke of bondage!” Sin is bondage. The Love, freedom, and security that God provides is priceless! Get off the broad road. Discover that narrow road that only a few find. Commit to making a conscious effort to sin less and love with Godly Love! HALLELUJAH!