Priorities

The Ten Commandments – Part Two

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Life is full of lists. We have lists to remind us what tasks need to be accomplished; we take a list of items we need to the grocery store; some people even have a bucket list of things they want to accomplish before they die.  With our lists, we make an effort to transfer priorities into something that we can refer to in case we forget or get distracted.  The Ten Commandments are God’s list of priorities for us, and the First one is the foundation upon which all of the others will stand.  In order to build a good, strong structure of Faith, there are two questions we must ponder: Who is God? And, what is a false god?

No one calls on your Name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.  Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.  Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever.

(Isaiah 64:7-9 NIV)

God is the Creator of the universe and everything in it, including you and me.  He is omnipotent (all-powerful).  He is omniscient (all-knowing).  He is omnipresent (everywhere all the time).  God is righteous, Holy and He is merciful.  He wants us not just to recognize these attributes of His being; He wants us appreciate, cherish and live our lives knowing these truths.  His jealousy is not petty; it is sacred.

What about Jesus and the Holy Spirit?  There are volumes of information available, researched and written by theologians, to explain the Trinity – God in three Persons.  Because you didn’t sign up to read a million word article, and my little brain cannot convey all that I’ve read about the Trinity, I will abbreviate it. (You may breathe a huge sigh of relief here)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

(John 1:1-5 NIV)

“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

(John 3:6 NIV)

There is no accurate description in any earthly language (past or present) of the Trinity.  It is a mystery that we will only fully understand when we get to His Kingdom (see 1 Corinthians 13:11-12).  As much as the Trinity is a mystery, it is also truth that we are to accept.  God is the Being; Jesus is the Divine Expression (Incarnate manifestation) and the Holy Spirit is the Work, Direction and Comfort that provides Will.  In His fullness God is everything.

Now, what is a false god?  This one is easy!  It is anything and everything that comes before God in our lives.  It can be our job or education; it can be politics or entertainment; it can be family, a personal relationship or even religion; and, a false god can come in the form of an addiction to chemical substances or other behaviors that lead into the depths of sin.  Because false gods can come in any form and at any time, it is important to learn to recognize them and stay away from them.

“I can’t go to church today; there is a football game on.”  Entertainment has become your god.  “I don’t have time to read the Bible today; I have a meeting at work.”  Your job is your god.  “My friend wants me to go to a party where they will be drinking and doing drugs.  I said I don’t want to go and my friend made fun of me, so I guess I will go.” Your ignorant friend is a false god.  Do you get the picture?  God wants to be your number one priority in all aspects of your life.  When you think of Him first, before you do anything, you will eventually come to a joyful reality – God in you.

How do you make the First Commandment a part of your everyday life? Simple; you pray!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

It takes practice and a lot of determination, but it is entirely possible to pray continually – yes, even when you are busy or talking with others.  Prayer is an open line of communication with God, and when you make a continuous effort that line is always open.  Note:  You will fail.  But, that open line of communication will give you the strength get back up.  As time goes and your worship of God becomes stronger, those false gods don’t stand a chance.

What aspects of your life have the tendency to take your attention away from God?  It may be time to reevaluate your priorities and make a new list.

If you want to join the discussion on Facebook, join The Determined Christian Group.

Until next time, God bless you with joy.

 

 

Building a Foundation

The Ten Commandments – Part 1

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While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

(Matthew 9:10-11 NIV)

If you are familiar with my political writing at Voice of a Patriot, then you know that I have tried to address many of our nation’s problems.  Actually, the serious issues that America faces are the same issues that plague the whole world.  Our culture is in a grave state of decline. My principle purpose in writing this blog is to open minds and encourage you to seek solutions to the challenges life proposes.  If we are to build strong lives, families and communities we must be willing to start with a durable foundation; our Faith.  Every problem in the world is rooted in one thing; sin!  Yes, I said it.  Because sin is the problem, the only way to combat it is to learn to recognize it, be willing to eradicate it and stand strong in our Faith in God to keep us going in the right direction.  The moral decay that has spread throughout the world has caused poverty, disease, addiction and every other ill of society.  If we are, as a culture, to survive the current levels of absurdity, we must be willing to take a stand against the cause; sin.

The building blocks of our Faith are made of the Gospel, Scripture, prayer and the encouragement of our fellow Christians.  When we put these things in perspective and willfully pursue the Truth, we have the Foundation to build on.  So, let us roll up our sleeves and get started.

For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

(Romans 7:7b NIV)

The Ten Commandments are God’s bright Light shining on our lives to expose the sin.  The Commandments are not suggestions.  God gave them to us because He wants us to have that foundation for healthy, prosperous and joyful lives.  Why are they necessary?  Yeah, you guessed it; sin.  We all sin and fall short of the Glory of God, so we all need the guidance.  God told Adam not to eat the fruit. Adam disobeyed and so all of Creation from that point on is cursed by sin. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments so we would have a clear view of the difference between right and wrong.  And, because we were unable to overcome our own sin, God sent His Son to take our sins and give us the Promise of Salvation.  It is real simple, but our sinful nature makes it complicated.

It is my prayer that this blog will be a blessing to you.  Join me, and let us work together to build a foundation of Faith that the troubles of this world cannot break.

If you want to join the discussion about this post or other posts on this blog, please consider joining our private Facebook Group here –> The Determined Christian.

 

Until next time, God bless you with joy and peace.

A Glimmer of Light

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“This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

(John 3:19-21 NIV)

How can a world that is bestowed with so much beauty also contain so much evil? The answer is just as simple as it is complicated; evil exists because of sin. God’s perfect creation is made imperfect through sin.  He gave us free will out of love, and He allows us to make the decision whether or not to accept His Perfection through the Gift of Salvation.  Those who choose not to accept Jesus, live in darkness; the darkness of sin. Those of us who accept His Salvation live in His Light, and we are called to be an extension of His Light in this very dark world.  All of humanity is fallen and sinful (Romans 3:21-24). The only perfection we can achieve in this world is the righteousness of Jesus Christ living in us – that is His Light.

“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”

(Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

Darkness is overwhelming our world.  Evil is rampant.  In my lifetime, I have not seen so much anger, hatred and bitterness.  Rather than complain, whine or curse that darkness, perhaps we should do as Jesus wants us to do – let His light shine through our hearts into the darkness so others may see.  It is up to us, Christian.  It is our purpose to reach out to those who have chosen to live in the shadows of iniquity.  However, we also need to reach out to each other; we need to encourage each other, and we need to pray for each other for this is the fuel that keeps our candles glowing.

Dear Reader,

When I first started writing this blog in 2011, I posted three articles a week for over a year.  Then I got distracted with my political blog and my work here was neglected.  My last post on Voice of a Patriot will be published on Saturday September 10, 2016.  This is where I belong; writing for Jesus Christ to encourage my fellow believers and be a glimmer of His light in this world.  I won’t guarantee 3 posts a week, but I am going to try. I already have several posts outlined and ready to write.  The comments section on this blog are off, because I don’t have the time or patience to muddle through the spam and hate that have to be moderated before I allow them. So, I have created a private Facebook Group (join the Group HERE) to allow you to join in a conversation about the articles posted here, and to encourage each other in our journey of Faith.

May each of us be a Glimmer of Light in this dark world.

 

Simple Friday

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Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, and nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.  Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

(Isaiah 53:1-6 NIV, emphasis added)

For centuries, mankind (with the devil’s influence) has made a complicated mess of the meaning of Salvation. By adding silly man-made doctrines; deleting important information; inserting bunny rabbits and new dresses; making sure unscriptural protocols are adhered to; and keeping people in the dark about the simplicity of God’s Salvation, many souls go unsaved.

God created man. Man sinned. God initiated the process, through which, He would redeem man. God emptied Himself of His Glory and entered His Creation in the form of a Man – Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ did exactly what God said He would do through the Prophets. Jesus walked the earth, He taught and He healed. He lived a sinless life! He was persecuted and crucified for your sins and mine. He bought our eternal Salvation with His precious blood.  On that Friday afternoon, over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was nailed to the Cross for us; for all of mankind throughout the ages. Good Friday is a commemoration of the Day God accepted His Son’s sacrifice for the sins of all. It really is that simple.

Jesus was not extraordinary in His appearance. He did not live a complicated life. His Salvation is simple; just believe! Don’t let the world complicate the most wonderful gift God will ever give you – just accept it and own it. Celebrate this Good Friday in prayer and give Glory to God for the simplicity of this Holy Day.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, please help those who do not know the Glory of your gift of Salvation. Help us who do know, to be your Light in this dark world that others may see. Thank you, Father for the simplicity of the Gospel and for the promise of Eternal Life in Your Kingdom. Amen.

Cultivating Peace

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Finally, 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 learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:8-9 NIV)

‘Peace’ as we understand it is very hard to come by in this world where evil runs amok, however, it an essential ingredient to living a fruitful life in Christ. When Jesus stated, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34), He was referring to so-called worldly peace. This elusive kind of peace is in things of this world; having everything in your life the way you want it and being able to make sense of the chaos that surrounds you. Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was not to give us a material peace in our surroundings, but to stir up the Spirit and persuade us to fight the evil that exists in all aspects of our lives.  There will be conflict in our relationships, family, work and communities; we are to distinguish the cause of the hostility, fight the evil and cultivate the good. It is easier said than done, because we fail to recognize that our own bitterness and anger can often be the root of the problem. We will not find worldly peace, so we must seek godly peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

(John 14:27 NIV)

The peace Jesus gives us is a deep, abiding peace that sees us through when the evil around us persists. It is peace in knowing that even though the storm is raging, He who rules over all Creation resides in you. It is the wisdom to know how to navigate the storm; the strength to face the wicked circumstances and it is the courage to hold fast to God’s Word and His promises. The peace that Jesus gives us is not malleable, fragile or temporary; it is unbendable, unbreakable and it is eternal. Seeking worldly peace will only bring frustration. Seek God’s peace and know what peace truly is.

In order to cultivate God’s peace in your soul, you must be willing to pursue it. The Apostle Paul gave us the fuel to ignite that pursuit. Make it a daily habit to think about what is true, noble, pure, lovely and admirable; be willing to practice excellence; and live your life in a praiseworthy manner. Our thoughts, words and actions emanate from what is in our hearts, so it is imperative to cultivate that which is good and weed out that which is evil. Look past the circumstance and be thankful. A heart filled with gratitude for God’s endless mercies and providence is a heart filled with peace.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and 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 4:4-7 NIV)

Prayer: May God fill us with His peace as we face each storm this evil world brings our way. And, may He give us a steadfast spirit to encourage others to walk in His peaceful Light. Amen.