Obtaining and maintaining a Christian lifestyle is the result of making faith-filled and faith-directed decisions throughout the course of your day, every day. It’s not a status of life you acquire after you’ve paid your dues or when you get ready to commit to “acting like” a Christian. A Christian lifestyle is experienced and exhibited in the way you choose to live your life in every moment of the day.
Here are a couple of points to remember as you move forward in your journey with Christ:
Every believer was saved in the midst of their sin, but our faith has healed us and God’s grace has washed us clean. That, however, does not give us license to continually revisit our sin(s) or to keep it/them incorporated in our lives.
Being a believer doesn’t mean you’re perfect, but your belief allows you to align yourself to God’s perfect will. Our Father God desires to manifest Himself in us. Let Him.
Being a believer in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean you are super human, but it does allow you to experience the supernatural. Much of God’s Kingdom is indescribable. I really can’t explain how He performs such wonders in my life – the math doesn’t add up. But i can receive His blessings, experience His grace and share my testimony of the bounty being poured into me.
Believers are not immune to temptation, but they have the power to overcome it. I know, I know – sometimes you don’t want to overcome the temptation. You just want to do what you want to do. Times are hard. You need to take your joy where you can. I know. I’ve probably had the same self-talks, but I will tell you, there comes a time after you have surrendered your heart and your will to God that the temptations that once tortured you will barely register a blink when you’re confronted with it/them. The God in you is stronger than you think you can ever be.
The Holy Spirit isn’t a crutch or a badge of honor. The Holy Spirit is a transformer. If your “Christian life” is indistinguishable from your life before Christ and before receiving the Holy Spirit, then you haven’t been transformed. If you’re passing yourself off as a Christian and your character is no different from the characters in society, entertainment, politics, business or next door, then you have not fully processed or activated your claim. You can’t be Spirit-filled and resemble the world. It’s an impossibility because the Spirit of God is always at war with the spirit in the world. You will live according to the spirit that controls you. And the spirit that controls you will be visible in the fruit (production) of your life.
I. Introduction: The most important question we face today is not political, military, or economic. Though these are significant, they pale in comparison to the most critical question you will ever answer—Who is Jesus Christ? You cannot afford to ignore Him because your response not only influences your character but also determines your eternal destiny.
II. There is no middle ground when it comes to deciding who Jesus is. Either He is the divine Son of God, or He is a fraud.
III. While many people believe that His life began in Bethlehem, He existed long before that.
A. As a member of the Trinity, Christ is the eternal Son of God who has no beginning and no end (John 1:1).
B. Jesus and His Father are linked, so that what is done to one is also done to the other. Therefore, to reject Christ is to reject God (See John 8:29; 10:30; 14:9).
IV. The best way to discover the truth is to find out what the Bible says about Him. Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15-17). When Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus explained that the Father had revealed this truth. Like Peter, we need the Lord’s help to comprehend who Jesus is.
V. The Attributes of Christ
A. Creator—The Son of God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Col. 1:15-17).
B. Sovereign—He rules over the universe at all times (Ps. 103:19).
C. Omniscient—The Lord knows all things—past, present, and future.
D. Omnipotent—Christ demonstrated His divine power by performing miracles and raising the dead.
E. Omnipresent—Though Jesus took a human form, today the Holy Spirit is ever-present throughout His creation.
F. Merciful—Jesus is our Great High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses and offers mercy (Heb. 4:15-16).
G. Lamb of God—Christ was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His blood brought us forgiveness and continues to cleanse us.
H. Both God and Man—The Son took on human flesh while still retaining His deity.
VI. Both the Old and New Testaments contain the names of Christ that reveal aspects of who He is. For example:
A. Emmanuel, which means “God with us,” signifies how He came to earth. Even today, He lives inside every believer.
B. Deliverer indicates His mission on earth—to rescue us from sin and give us new life.
C. Chief Cornerstone conveys His supremacy, for no other name provides for our salvation.
D. King of kings and Lord of lords denote the truth that He is the One who judges and reigns over all. One day, every knee will bow before Him.
VII. The Activities of Christ. Jesus’ ministry didn’t end when He ascended to heaven. He is still actively working on our behalf.
A. Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand making intercession for us.
B. Jesus is living within believers through His Holy Spirit, meeting our needs and revealing truth.
C. He’s preparing a place for us in heaven and will come for us so that we can be with Him forever (John 14:2-3).
D. The Lord Jesus is also preparing for His return to reign on the earth.
E. Christ is revealing the Father to us. He shows us that God is our Father and invites us to converse with the Father as He does.
F. He’s giving us abundant life (John 10:10). Christ wants us to live with peace, joy, and strength in whatever He calls us to do.
G. Jesus is our Helper through the presence of His indwelling Holy Spirit.
VIII. The Marvel of Christ’s Life. During His earthly ministry, the majority of the world took no notice of Jesus. Yet no one had a greater impact on this world than He. Think of it this way:
A. Though Christ was born in a stable, kings came to worship Him.
B. His birth is the event that divides time into B.C. and A.D.
C. Although many people have hated Him, Jesus’ followers love and worship Him.
D. He is both the author and subject of the Bible.
E. Jesus never wrote a song, but thousands have been written that praise His name.
F. He didn’t travel far from home, yet He influenced the entire world.
G. Though Christ never built a house, He’s building one for each of us in heaven.
H. He didn’t practice medicine, yet He’s the Great Physician.
I. Jesus never marshaled an army, but He’s brought down kingdoms.
J. The devil couldn’t deceive Him.
K. Death could not destroy Him.
L. The grave had no power to hold Him.
IX. Conclusion: Simply learning what the Bible says about Jesus is not enough. Once you’ve heard who He is and what He came to do, you must respond. What will you do with Jesus? To hear the truth and ignore or reject it results in eternal separation from God. The only appropriate response is to believe in Him, receive His offer of salvation, and proclaim Him as Lord.
Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.
A Pop Culture vs. The Bible post by LaShawnda Jones
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. ~ Psalm 111:10
During a rest period over the holidays, I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Filmed in 1978, it looked and sounded like many of the variations of Star Trek episodes I’ve watched over the years. I’m almost certain I’ve seen this movie at least once before over the years, however it felt I like a first viewing. Halfway through the movie, one of the bridge officers is abducted by a beam of light that penetrated the hull of the starship. The officer’s name is Ilia (the Slavic form of the Hebrew Eliyahu/Elijah meaning, “my God is Lord”).
Some time later Ilia reappears on the ship as an exact replica of herself. Her features and physical body are the same and she can access memories from her former body, however as a recreated being her function and purpose had changed.
Captain Kirk, curious about this anomaly on his ship, confronts Ilia with his officers and questions her. Their conversation goes something like this:
Kirk: Who is…’V’ger’…?Ilia: V’ger is that which programmed me.Kirk: Is V’ger the name of the Captain of the alien vessel?McCoy: Jim, this is mechanism. (He’s doing a bio scan of Ilia as he speaks.)Spock: A probe, Captain (confirming McCoy’s finding). No doubt a sensor-transceiver combination, recording everything we say and do.Kirk: Where is Lieutenant Ilia?Ilia: That unit no longer functions. I have been given its form to more readily communicate with the carbon-based units infesting Enterprise.Security Guard: “Carbon-based units”…?McCoy: Humans, Ensign Prarez – us.Kirk: Why does V’ger travel to the third planet of the solar system directly ahead?Ilia: To find the Creator.Kirk: Find the Creator? Whose…!? What does V’ger want of the ‘Creator’… ?Ilia: To join with him.Spock: How?Ilia: V’ger and the Creator will become One.Spock: …and Who is the Creator?Ilia: The Creator is that which created V’ger.Kirk: Who is V’ger?Ilia: V’ger is that which seeks the Creator. I am ready to commence my observations.Spock: Doctor, a thorough examination of this probe might provide some insight into those who manufactured it, and how to deal with them.
I got a kick watching this on a stormy winter Sunday afternoon. It was like an added bonus of a Sunday school lesson!
I had always thought the appeal of Star Trek was the adventure and exploration of the universe as we can only imagine it to be. Paying attention to the words in this movie revealed to me what I have discovered over and over with Star Trek franchise throughout the decades and more recently on my own personal journey with God – the true voyages are internal. The space adventurers were willing to search far and wide for anything to explain everything they were in that moment of time. Only to come to the realization that the deep space is within our humanoid forms. Exploring who we are is a continuous adventure throughout life.
An all-consuming search for our Creator leads to an inescapable confrontation with our true selves. Likewise, an all-consuming exploration of ourselves leads us to a face-to-face with our Creator.
Purpose of a creation
Decker: Does V’ger object to the presence of the two carbon units?Ilia: The carbon units are of no consequence; V’ger will determine their purpose.McCoy: Their purpose is to survive.Decker: You said V’ger’s purpose was to find and join with the Creator.Ilia: That is how V’ger will survive.
V’ger was a created entity that was programmed to learn all it could in the universe and return to it’s creator. When the starship Enterprise encountered V’ger, V’ger was in search of it’s Creator. It abducted Lt. Ilia off the Enterprise because it needed a way to interact and communicate with species on the Enterprise – the carbon units aka humans. In short, V’ger was on it’s own vogage of self-exploration.
Spock took it upon himself to go off on his own to explore V’ger and came back somewhat comatose – there were indications of some neurological trauma. Spock attempted to mind-meld with V’ger and the experience literally blew his mind. Imagine! Joining with something that has accumulated incalucable knowledge. In the below exchange, Spock attempts to explain the experience.
Spock: I should have known…
Kirk: Were you right? About V’ger?
Spock: A life-form of it’s own. A conscious, living entity…. I saw V’ger’s planet: a planet populated by living machines. Unbelievable technology. V’ger has knowledge that spans this universe. And yet… with all it’s pure logic, V’ger is barren. Cold. No mystery… no beauty… I should have known…
Kirk: Known what, Spock? What? What should you have known?
Spock: Jim… (Spock grabs Kirk’s hand) This simple feeling is beyond V’ger’s comprehension. No meaning… No hope… And, Jim, no answers…! It’s asking questions…
Kirk: What questions?
Spock: “Is this all I am? Is there nothing more?”
Spock should have known about V’ger’s search and experience because his Vulcan half (an unemotional but very intelligent and logical race of people) was in constant conflict with his human half (a highly emotional and often irrational race of people). It’s rare for Spock to show any emotion (I can’t recall any other scene actually), however, this was a very emotional scene for him (he was on the brink of tears!) – analyzing a machine with characteristics similar to himself, a living being with unfathomable knowledge and merciless logic. We all seek knowledge. We all seek some sort of understanding. V’ger was a created machine that had traveled the known universe and amassed all the knowledge therein. When Spock tried to mind-meld with this machine he overloaded his capacity. More importantly, he was made aware of the true knowledge: everything that V’ger had learned on it’s travels through the universe amounted to nothing real. V’ger had infinite knowledge, but no emotional intelligence – no ability to connect with another being. He couldn’t compute touch, love, compassion, joy or sadness.
The end of logical knowledge…
Spock: Captain… V’ger must evolve. It’s knowledge has reached the limits of this universe and it must evolve. What it requires of it’s God, Doctor, is the answer to it’s question: “Is there nothing more?”McCoy: What more is there than the universe, Spock?Decker: Other dimensions. Higher levels of being.Spock: The existence of which cannot be proven logically, therefore V’ger is incapable of believing in them.Kirk: What V’ger needs in order to evolve is a human quality. Our capacity to leap beyond logic.Decker: And joining with it’s creator might accomplish that.McCoy: You mean this machine wants to physically join with a human? Is that possible?Decker: Let’s find out.Kirk: Decker! Don’t!Decker: Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this.[Decker is encircled in light and Ilia walks and joins him in a pillar of light. Their joining causes and eruption of light beams that spreads steadily outward, across the universe.]Kirk: Spock, did we just see the beginning of a new life-form?Spock: Yes, Captain. We witnessed a birth. Possibly, a next step in our evolutionKirk: I think we gave it the ability to create it’s own sense of purpose… out of our own human weaknesses and the drive that compels us to overcome.
All of the Star Trek franchise is an illustration of the struggle and melding of logic and emotion, passion and reason, belief and unbelief. faith and doubt. The series and movies discuss fictitious planets, beings and relationships, but the substance is certainly based on something real.
True seekers – true voyagers – will always discover the True Source. They will come into contact with God and be awed even by their simple comprehension of all that He is.
1 Praise the LORD, I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
2 Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Introductionto The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love & Forgiveness
[F]or you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation,God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. ~1 Peter 2:9, 11-12
The most difficult tasks involved in writing The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love and Forgiveness were deciding to whom to address the text and to maintain that focus throughout the book.
My questions to “self” consisted of: Am I writing to the people who love, or to the people who are loved? Am I addressing the repentant at heart, or the unrepentant? Should I focus on those who have forgiven, or those who have received forgiveness? Is this work ultimately for people who believe in God, His Son Jesus and His Holy Spirit, or for those who don’t believe at all?
The answer from “self” was: everyone represents, has represented or will represent each of those characteristics at any given point of their life.
This book is a tool to be used in working out love, repentance and forgiveness issues in human relationships through the examples God has provided. Those relationships could be with parents, siblings, spouses, other family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors or community members. There are many relationships during the course of our lives through which we have to navigate our way. Some of those relationships fail and die because one or both parties involved are unfamiliar with the process of love, repentance and forgiveness. Love, repentance and forgiveness are more than just words that you speak and forget about. Love requires action. Repenting mends the love you hurt. Forgiveness is a loving response to the attack on love. They are all choices. Asking is involved. Receiving is necessary. Giving is the only way each is shared.
The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love and Forgiveness is a work by a Christian woman who has chosen to purposefully sow into the Kingdom of Heaven. My goal with this book is to speak directly to anyone with eyes, ears and a heart open to see, hear and receive the truth of the Word of God. The majority of Biblical scripture used in this volume is addressed to Believers from the mouths and pens of Jesus and His Disciples.
The Holy Bible is a Teacher’s Manual full of instructions telling Believers (a.k.a. Teacher Aides) how to conduct themselves… and how to show God to other people. Believers are commissioned to teach the world by showing nonbelievers God’s ways through their mode of living and their treatment of others. The Father’s process is very deliberate!
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. ~ 2 Peter 3:9-10
This knowledge encouraged me to address Believers and nonbelievers alike. My hope is that the Believer will be encouraged, edified and strengthened; and that the nonbeliever will be exposed to a truth they can no longer deny and will begin to pursue.
What does it mean to “believe”?
God’s word is locked. His secrets are hidden. His word does not make sense to everyone. He does not reveal knowledge and understanding to all of Creation. But those He call His children are permitted to know His secrets and understand His ways through His Spirit.
How do you become a Child of God?
You must believe on and receive the One He sent – Jesus Christ the Messiah.
We must have confidence in and be convicted of God’s existence. That’s how we believe. By believing in His existence, we can then believe in His works.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn — not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. ~ John 1:10-12
Having faith is another way of expressing belief in God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the confidence that our hopes will manifest and it assures us about the things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:6 further explains:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that Heexistsand that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Again, this may not make sense to a nonbeliever, but then again a nonbeliever wouldn’t be reading this if they weren’t seeking truth. So, if that’s you, keep on reading!
For the Believers, this may be elementary, but a review never hurts anyone. So, you keep reading as well!
Do you believe God?
You acknowledge that God exists, but do you have enough confidence in His existence to obey His Word? To believe God is to accept what He says as true. He doesn’t allow picking and choosing or alternating between a straight walk and a zigzag. If you claim to believe in God, but you do not believe what He says in the Bible (His Word), then you do not really believe God. God and His Word are one. “The Word” is also another name for Jesus Christ. God and Jesus are one.If you believe God, you will believe and obey His Word. If you do not believe what God says directly or through Jesus, it is God Himself you are disbelieving and rejecting. (Yoonu Njub, 1998)
But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name. ~ John 20:31
How to become a Believer
If you desire to become a child of God, a Believer, one of God’s chosen people, a member of His royal priesthood and holy nation, then simply do so. All that is required is that you follow His instructions. If you desire to become one of God’s very own possessions and heed His call by walking out of the darkness of the world and into His wonderful eternal light, then you have only to believe in your heart and speak with your lips the words of Romans 10:9-10, and ask the Father to be your Teacher and Guide for everything He wishes for you to learn on your spiritual walk with Him.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” ~ Romans 10:9-13
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:17
The answer is: forgive. We are clearly instructed to do so. But sometimes with forgiveness, forgiveness isn’t the issue.
Perhaps the transgressors’ nonchalance is the issue. Their lack of care. Their disregard. Sometimes it’s the way a person handles the circumstance requiring forgiveness that is the bigger issue. The way you handle the situation speaks to your character and the value you place on the relationship that’s in need of righting.
You’re forgiven. Know that.
Each party has a role to play in the process of forgiveness. The transgressee needs to make the transgression known. The transgressor needs to acknowledge the transgression and make amends.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)
We are also called to take corrective action when any of our brothers/sisters are injured by us (Matt. 5:23-24).
Acknowledge the issue
Address the issue
Ask for forgiveness
Afterwards, if the injured party refuses to forgive you, then they have an issue they need to deal with separately. It’s important to note the transgressor must be accountable and take responsibility for words or actions that caused harm (direct or indirect; purposeful or not).
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we all did exactly what we want whenever we want with no consideration for other people’s feelings, well-being or life? Wouldn’t that be great? So what my words or actions harmed you… I was enjoying myself! After all, I’m free in Christ! Who are you to bind me with your issues? Sorry you’re so sensitive and took offense. You should pray on that. Oh… and forgive me. Or better yet, I don’t have to do or say anything to gain your forgiveness. You’ll forgive me because you have to; you’re a Christian.
How did that sound to you? Sounds crappy to me. As in, someone actually crapping on me.
Unfortunately, that “christian” attitude is not uncommon. It’s also not truly Christ-like. The nature and principles of Christianity are based on brotherhood, community, and unity. The most common metaphor is that we are members of the same body – the body of Christ. Perhaps it’s difficult to recognize and interact with one another because we function in different parts of the body. Perhaps, you’re the left big toe and I’m the right ear. We can’t see each other too well or grasp the other’s function, but that doesn’t mean we should treat each other like strangers when our paths cross.
The problem with forcing our “freedom” on others by doing whatever we want with no consideration for our fellow members is that it disrupts the whole unity idea. It tarnishes the brotherhood; breaks down the community and it certainly gives love a bad name. How can you love me when you’re doing things to me you wouldn’t want done to you? How can you call me sister when your actions repeatedly hurt me? How can we be one when you’re double minded?
Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments (John 14:15) and no commandment is greater than these:
“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
EVERYTHING that has come before and since falls under the directive of love. Love is the critical piece that works with forgiveness (for the transgressee & the transgressor). Love allows patience and provides compassion. Love covers every single sin you can imagine. The whole of God’s law is fulfilled when we practice love as instructed.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:1, 13-18)
Picture this: You’re seated on the subway train and I’m standing over you. My hand is gripping the overhead bar and my shoulder bag is dangling from my arm. As the train rocks and lurches ahead, my bag swings unimpeded from my arm knocking you in the head repeatedly. Now, I apologize after each contact, even though it’s not intentional. But am I really repentant? Or just careless? If I don’t do something to stop my bag from hitting you in the head, saying sorry after each hit isn’t going to do much good. Pretty soon, you’re going to want to hit me back – intentionally. However, if I take corrective action such as step aside or move my bag so it’s not over your head, you are more apt to forgive me and drop the issue. Why? Because I acknowledged the issue, expressed concern for your discomfort and remedied the situation.
Our true freedom comes when we manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We are told when the fruit is evident, then there is no law against us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26, emphasis mine)
So the true questions are: What is love? What is joy? What are peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
God is love. Obeying Him brings us joy. Trusting Him gives us peace. Longsuffering is patience; we build and perfect patience through our faithfulness – meaning when we are faithful. Kindness, goodness, and gentleness are a matter of looking after others as God looks after us – shining our light in this world. Ah, and self-control – the big one. In a nutshell, self-control is NOT doing whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it.
Self-control (n.): Control of one’s emotions, desires, or actions by one’s own will (dictionary.com)
Self-control is discipline. Discipline is a portion of the fruit of the Spirit. That’s a whopper, isn’t it? Tempted to stop there… but one more thing before I go.
People can forgive you, but their forgiveness does you no good if you don’t stop doing what you’re doing. Stop behaving as you’re behaving. Stop saying what you’re saying. Forgiveness doesn’t heal the relationship, it frees the forgiver from it. Repentance and apology heals the relationship.
I will forgive you seventy times seven times and beyond, as often as it takes, but know that I can forgive you from a distance. I don’t need to subject myself to your nonchalance and lack of regard. Who wants to be hurt? Did you raise your hand? At some point, self-preservation has to kick in. As believers and workers in Christ, we cannot allow the undisciplined to destroy us. Of course, they may not do it on purpose, but the end result is the same. Only a fool will stay in harms’ way when the danger shows no sign of abating.
If my brother/sister in Christ continually neglects to take me into consideration when their words or actions are hurting me, then it’s my responsibility to take my own well-being in hand.
Dear Transgressor: Yes, you are completely forgiven by our Most Gracious and Merciful Heavenly Father. We have been bought at a price. All our sins have been washed away by the same blood. God is appeased with the sacrifice He provided for Himself in Jesus Christ.
That example teaches me that forgiveness is a process that requires commitment and sincerity. Honest effort and sacrifice (stepping out of your comfort zone) is evidence of your desire to make amends. Since we are called to be Christ-like, I must ask, what have you sacrificed to appease those you’ve transgressed against? Do you even know what you’re asking forgiveness for? Have you learned from the situation? If so, how have you changed?
Do you know the day and time you first believed? Perhaps you know people who claim they’ve been walking with Christ for eight years, nine months and ten days or some detailed variation? I am not one of those people. I cannot pinpoint the moment I first believed. Nor do I recall a time of non-belief. However, most of my life, I resisted practicing my beliefs. I resisted obeying God. I resisted His call. Though I have always felt God’s presence in my life, I used to hope He would let me roam wild and carefree before taming me with His Word. I never quite got wild, nor was I ever free of cares, but I did get a lot of bumps on my head and many bruises to my ego. All have been lessons to grow on.
Prior to my move to New York City in the fall of 2005, God was someone I had great ideals about but not someone I knew personally. I had heard of His wonderful works and had actually experienced His works in my own life but I didn’t think He was really paying attention to me. There were so many other people for Him to be concerned with. During those years, God was like a wardrobe accessory I put on most days then promptly forgot I was wearing.
Ecclesiastes tells us repeatedly there is nothing new under the sun. As I have studied the Bible, grown more confident in God’s Word and more knowledgeable of his methods, I’ve come to see that even the way He deals with His people today is similar to the model of Biblical relationships we have been given. I’ve been able to identify parallels between my life and Biblical stories. The parallel that most influences My God and Me is God’s instruction to Abram to leave his country and his kindred. Abram did as instructed and had terrible difficulties from the outset. However, those difficulties did not deter him in his faith or his belief that God would do as He said He would do.
Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
I believe I have been called away from my family and the community of my youth in order for God to better prepare me for His work. I have gone through many difficulties that have strengthened my faith and deepened my fellowship with my God. I know I will have many more tests and trials before my journey is complete, but I am so much better prepared now than I was a few years ago.
I used to tell people I grew up in the church; I knew about God and Jesus. My declaration has changed. Now, I know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit! I live in them as they live in me. Awesome! What wondrous power the Trinity gives me from day to day! Yes, I am in love; a deep abiding love that has nothing to do with this world. I am awed and humbled by the way my God takes care of me, I am amazed by the examples my savior provided me and I am continually enlightened by the awareness and revelations the Holy Spirit allows me. I desire nothing more than to be obedient to the instructions God speaks to me. I sincerely seek to be in His presence and to please Him. I didn’t experience any of this until my isolation triggered my personal evolution. Or rather, my isolation allowed me time and space to focus on my evolution, as well as my relationship with God.
This collection of previously posted blogs is a record of the transformation my spirituality and life focus has undergone over the last four years. In the beginning, I railed against being set apart from everyone and everything familiar to me; I didn’t like being by myself. However, I am grateful for the process He put me through for I have learned to depend on and commune with my Father God. The time I’ve spent talking to Him exclusively has taught me to hear Him better. Even as I weaned myself off the false dependency of family and friends, I had to also wean myself off of my “self” dependency. I learned quickly that nothing outside the will of God is going to take place in my life. He is my protector, guide and provider. When I began to recognize, accept and trust His care and provisions, I was able to let go of my issues bit by bit and rely more and more on Him.
When I began blogging, my only intent was to entertain and promote. However, as I have reread and edited this collection, I am truly humbled by the message God is giving you through me. I am blessed by the amount of cleansing and lifting He has done within me. This book is a synopsis of my life. Some stories may seem very un-Christian, in fact maybe the whole collection may cause you to question my “Christianity”. That’s fine – I’m not concerned with being judged by anyone. This is a record of my honest thoughts, opinions and experiences at the time I chronicled them. I don’t want anyone to think for a moment that aspiring to a Christ-like character and existence is easy or without lapses and outward desires. Some words are mine, but most, I believe are simply delivered through me. I pray you find some words within these pages to help you and contribute to your continued growth.