Treasures

 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”

(Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)

We live in a world of brokenness.  People strike out at others out of anger and fear without considering the consequences of their words or actions.  The politics of the day only make it worse, but the core of the problem goes much deeper; people have forgotten how to count their blessings.  It is easy to get bogged down in the ugliness of life, because there is an awful lot of it. However, ugliness is not the rule; it is the exception, when your focus is on the beauty of God’s love and mercy.

In recent months, I have witnessed a lot of ugliness on social media.  People hiding behind a cartoon profile spewing all manners of hate and viciousness, and in so doing, they show the depravity of their own souls. They hurt, and the only way they know how to deal with it is to try to inflict pain on others.  Some of them seem to think that they are being funny, especially when they can gather around them a group of fans who are just as vile as they are; others don’t even try to hide their hate with whatever qualifies as humor these days.  Stubborn, prideful ignorance leads too many people deeper into the depravity of this evil time we live in.  Love and mercy are things they fail to recognize.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

(Luke 6:45 NIV)

Because of the broken and sinful nature of mankind, real love is a rare thing.  People fail to acknowledge it when it is given, and they take advantage of it. People spend their lives searching for that which fulfills their earthly desires rather than seeking mercy and love.  The true treasures of life have absolutely nothing to do with money, material possessions or power; these things will only break the heart of the individual who pursues them.  People want to be loved! That is a fact. But most are incapable of giving enough of themselves in order to receive the love they seek. Yes, if you want to be loved, you must be willing to give love, and you must be willing to give even when you get nothing back. Even though that may sound counter intuitive, it is reality.  You see, that is exactly how God’s love works.  He gave us life. He gave us free will. He gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. That is real treasure! All He asks in return is that we faithfully believe what He has already done for us.  It is in that faith that we are able to know true love and mercy, not just from Him, but to others, as well.

When someone calls you an ugly name or goes out of their way to break your heart and/or your spirit, give them over to Jesus Christ in prayer.  When you allow your heart to let go of the malice and lift up the soul to God, you have stored up another treasure in Heaven. You cannot expect to ever understand God’s love, but you must be willing to accept it and give it to others.  By the end of most days, the abundance of treasure that you have stored up will overwhelm you.

Question:  Are you able to hand your brokenness to God and ask His forgiveness for those who broke you?

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A Clear View

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(Note: I will get back to the series on the Ten Commandments in the coming weeks, please stay tuned)

Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, drought and erupting volcanoes are prominent in the news.  Natural disasters are not rare; they never have been and they never will be.  Wars and altercations between citizens and their own governments are also in the news. These situations are not extraordinary, either.  Politicians are trying to persuade their constituents that they have the solutions to all of the world’s problems, while freedoms are being sucked into the oblivion of tyranny.  This is not uncommon, either.  As Solomon so eloquently stated, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  What do we do?  How do we process the happenings in the news? Do we get angry? Cower in fear? Or place it all in proper perspective?

In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

(Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise.

(Psalm 111:19 NIV)

Anger is not a sin; letting it consume you is.  Yes, we all get angry when we see injustice, but allowing the anger to fester is deadly.  The crime and corruption in the world have been and always will be rampant, because mankind is fallen and sinful.  We do not lock our doors at night because man is basically good, as some people would like to believe; we lock them because criminals are out there.  Getting angry at politicians and various other criminals is a natural part of living. However, when that anger engulfs your life, you are letting the devil have a very strong foothold, and that leads you straight down the wide path to destruction.  Injustice is everywhere, but getting mad and hateful will do nothing to correct the problem.  Righteous indignation is the passion to stand up for what is good and fight what is evil; it is not about hateful anger that leads to sin.  Jesus cracked a whip and over-turned the tables in the Temple when He saw injustice – He stood for what was good, against what was evil – He did not walk around the Temple, call people names and use profane language to show a sort of hateful superiority over those who were practicing evil.  If Twitter had existed in Jesus’ time, He would have been trolled excessively by people who believe that you can fix the world’s problems with vulgarities and insults.  Hateful anger will block your view of Truth.

Fear, as described in the Scripture above is not to be confused with anxious fright. It is, instead, to be ‘in awe of’ or ‘to have reverence for’.  Being frightened of world happenings is easy, because there is a lot of scary stuff going on.  Natural disasters, terrorism, crime, corruption and politics can cause even the staunchest of souls to cower in dread.  However, it is impossible to see the Truth when you are hiding from it.  Jesus spelled it out, very clearly, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 – emphasis added)  Proper fear (reverence) for, and trust in God and His perfect Will gives us peace and wisdom.  These are the elements of the foundation of Faith that we must stand on to have an appropriate measure of understanding of world (and personal) events.

Allowing anger to overwhelm you and hiding in your fright will only keep you blinded.  The news on TV or social media will not give you truth.  If you want peace in your heart and a clear view of all that is happening, and all that is to come, look at Jesus; focus on His Word and His purpose. And, pray! Pray without ceasing.  The unobstructed perspective of His Eternal Kingdom is your shelter in worldly storms.

May God bless us each with His peace in our hearts.

For extra reading, please see Matthew Chapter 24 and Romans Chapter 8.

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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.

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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.