We can count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4
Life as a Believer
Living your life as a believer in Christ is never easy. We are supposed to resemble a Christ-like nature which consists of walking in the fruits of the spirit. However, living a life of self-control, long-suffering, gentleness, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity and faithfulness (Gal 5:22) takes discipline and your character can be challenged in a selfish, chaotic world.
Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we can never accomplish and fulfill these characteristics and traits of Christ without the guidance and strength of Christ working within us.
As a believer, you may be constantly scrutinized or criticized by the world because you claim to live a so-called “Perfect” life. They may also expect you to be judgmental and point out the faults of others. Far too many believers have a “hypocritical nature.”
Unfortunately, some believers receive a bad rap because of misrepresentation due to other believers who are not walking as a true representative of Christ but walking in a religious spirit rooted in legalism.
With so many denominations and backgrounds, it’s a melting pot or hodgepodge of multiple belief systems which makes it even more confusing for a non-believer to justify why they should even change their life or go to church.
Little do non-believers understand, there is no such thing as a “Perfect Christian.” That’s the reason why Christ paid the penalty of sin on the cross. We are redeemed by faith through Christ. We are called to love each other despite our character flaws, mindsets, beliefs or lifestyles.
You may not feel worthy or you may feel like an outcast when surrounded by a congregation of believers. However, the Lord desires and chooses you. Every one of us is broken or flawed in some way. No one is perfect. Jesus loves you!
People may watch and wait for you to fail, fall or mess up. There is no doubt a lot of pressure to live as a believer in the flesh. In fact, there is no way possible to achieve a life as a believer while living in the flesh. It’s a spiritual journey.
As a believer, once you realize that you’re delivered from people and their opinions, you will no longer appease others but have a stronger desire to please the Lord. You will no longer be controlled or manipulated by peers, teams, groups or audiences because you don’t have an appetite to blend in or be accepted by your associates, friends or even family members.
Come as You Are
Jesus welcomes the broken-hearted, the sick, the addicted, the poor, and the widowed. Jesus does not discriminate. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
There is no such thing as guilt or shame. Once you repent of your wrong thoughts, intentions, attitudes, wrong actions and behaviors, it is erased for eternity. The Lord remembers our sin no more. (Heb 8:12) However, that is not an excuse for us to live careless, reckless and carefree lives. When we mess up, we must continuously begin again and make an honest effort to change for the better.
Through the Fire
The world will pull you in many directions and you will fall into many problems or difficult circumstances. Just when you feel doubt, fear, insecurity, or discouragement creeping in, the Lord will step in and give you comfort, peace, strength, and reassurance whispering, “I got you!”
You can only achieve this experience and deeper revelation while resting in the secret place of the most high (Psalm 91:1) which starts by building a foundation on His word, persistent prayer, and continual praise and worship.
In the quiet hours, the Lord will reveal himself to you in unspeakable ways. Although you will be thrown into many trials, tribulations, and test, each test is preparing and positioning you for greatness. It strengthens and grows your faith in Him. He may not quickly rescue you from the fire but He is sure to walk with you through the flames just like he did with Shadrach, Meshasch, and Abednego. (Dan 3)
Spiritual warfare is an opportunity for God to demonstrate his power. The Lord will make the enemy your footstool. (Mark 12:36) Put on the full armor of God and He will fight every battle. (Eph 6:10-34)
For every test is perfectly designed by the master’s hands to shape and mold you into what He wants you to be. There is a specific purpose and assignment He created for you to complete.
No Matter What it Looks like You’re Not Coming Out Smelling Like Smoke
You may feel unqualified. You may feel like Moses who felt like he did not have the skills or abilities to defeat Pharaoh and lead the Israelites through the Red Sea. However, the Lord chose him for a specific purpose and for a specific season. Your insecurities, flaws, quirks, lack of education or experience is not a prerequisite for God’s work.
The Lord chose the most unqualified people to represent his Kingdom to preach the gospel, cast out demons or defeat giants. The one thing that has been the thorn in your side may just happen to be the one thing God uses in your life to promote you.
The Lord calls the weak to confound the wise. (I Corth 1:27) The same problems, situations, and circumstances that you’ve dealt with or may be dealing with is part of your test, part of your story and the bigger part of who you’ll become.
Despite what you go through, with Jesus, you will come through the fire untouched. You will come through in victory!
Through patience and faith, you will inherit the promises of God. It takes strength, endurance, and courage to walk with faith, hope, and trust. In the meantime, count it all joy!
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember nomore.
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
I Corth 1:27
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confoundthewise; and God hath chosen theweak things of the world toconfoundthe things which are mighty;
I Chron 16:24
24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
At one time or another, all of us have experienced some form of betrayal. Betrayal comes in so many forms: Gossip, cheating, lying, and treason to name a few. Whether it was a spouse, friend, co-worker, or family member, the pain can run so deep that it may seem you will never heal again.
The ultimate betrayal was found in the life of Jesus Christ. There are several accounts of betrayal he experienced from the people closest to him; to the absolute stranger who despised him. He was persecuted, betrayed, mocked, and murdered all for the sake of His ultimate purpose and sacrifice to die for our sins and to save the lost.
What should our reaction be when faced with betrayal? We should look to Jesus as the model of forgiveness. One example was in Luke 22:34. “And he said, I tell you, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny thou that knows me.
You may have experienced this situation at one time or another. You spot someone in a room or familiar place that you know. You could be at the grocery store, shopping mall, or social event and someone you know sees you across the room but instead of a smile or wave, they just turn their head like they don’t even know you.
This is just a minor example of how you may feel when someone doesn’t acknowledge your presence for whatever reason. Either way, it doesn’t feel good. Can you imagine how Jesus felt? The one closest to him denied him three times! There is nothing worse than a two-faced person. You may also question your relationship with that person even if they are only a co-worker, neighbor, or acquaintance. It’s a breach of faith in hopes of building a friendship or business relationship.
Another prime example was in Luke 22:48.“But, Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrays thou the Son of Man with a kiss?”Flattery is often buried under deceit. Sometimes the sweetest person is disguised as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You shouldn’t be suspicious of every kind and loving gesture but action speaks louder than words. As the saying goes, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”
The ultimate betrayal was in Mark 10:33-34. “Behold, we go to Jerusalem and the Son of Man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and unto the scribes; and they should condemn him to death and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him and the third day he shall rise again.
Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins out of his love and forgiveness. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3: 16-21
There is only one account in the Bible that I’m aware of that God does not forgive. In Mark 3:29 it states, “But he who blasphemes or mocks against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.”
Forgiveness is not easy. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to forgive yourself. It is also a life-long process. The act of forgiveness releases us from the negative emotions that hold us in bondage to the person who hurt us. However, if you happen to be on the other side of forgiveness, a sincere apology is the least you can give to the person you hurt. Empathy, patience, and understanding will have to be worked through in each issue of any relationship.
Forgiveness is not something that can be taught. It is the most difficult thing to overcome in the flesh. Memories play over and over in your mind which makes it hard to let go. However, the quicker you can let go of the pain, the faster you can move on. You may never forget, but you can forgive.
The best thing you can do is to acknowledge your pain, accept what you’ve experienced, and walk in patience because it takes time depending on the level of deception attached to the pain. It’s much like the grieving process of a lost loved one.
Forgiveness also doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to the same trifling people, situations, or circumstances. It means you can release the animosity, anger, pain, or guilt and open your heart to receive peace, grace, healing, and freedom from every emotion that’s imprisoned you.
The act of forgiveness is the ministry of Jesus. It is the foundation, and cornerstone of the Gospel. It is also found in your heart despite the difficulties, challenges, and disappointments you face in life. You are set free. Don’t let another hour, day, week, month, or year go by. Make the decision to forgive today.
“And whenever you stand to pray, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.Mark 11:25
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When we reflect upon the Resurrection, we celebrate the triumph of Jesus overcoming the grave and sitting at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. We celebrate His victory and all He has done for our Salvation. He is alive and lives in our hearts and we await for His return. He will reign upon the earth as He did once before.
As followers of Christ, we must remain steadfast knowing that we should walk as Jesus and live as an example. We should pick up our cross daily and follow Him. Mark 10:21
What exactly does that mean? Jesus requested the apostles to leave all they had to follow Him. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of giving up everything to follow Him. He commanded to give riches and treasures to the poor and to put Him first in every area of our life. In Mark 10:25, Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”
Jesus want to know your heart is pure and that you can be content in all circumstances. Nothing should stand in the way of relationship with Him. Of course, our Father gives us good pleasures, but He wants us to delight in Him. He wants us to honor and obey Him. He does not want us to be persuaded or enticed by glitz, glamour, fame and fortune. Neither does He desire the church to become a den of thieves.
Picking up your cross also means to be obedient to what the Lord ask you to do. When we follow and surrender to Jesus, we desire to please Him. He will also fulfill the desires of our heart. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7
Moses answered the call to lead the Israelites through the wilderness to the promise land. Joseph was obedient to endure betrayal and be thrown into a pit, despite the jealousy of his brothers, and still blessed them in spite of their evil ways towards him. Jeremiah was obedient to prophesy over disobedience in the land.
It is not always easy to be obedient to the Lord. In many cases, it can be tough. However, the Lord supplies everything you need to overcome the challenges, obstacles and surprises life brings. God is not looking for perfect people. He calls the misfits, the outsiders, the prideful, the unqualified, and the sinful. Mark 2:13-17
When we pick up our cross, we are not carrying the burdens of life on our shoulders. This may be a misinterpretation of what the verse means and easily misunderstood. Jesus already paid the price for the penalty of sin for all of us. He carries our burdens. The greatest love of all flows from the heart of Jesus. By no means, we are to believe that we are to carry the cross like Christ did. Our works or deeds on earth does not open the doors to heaven. Salvation does. That is the whole reason Christ died for us. Without the crucifixion of Christ, there would be no sacrifice. Nevertheless, our works will be rewarded once we enter into the Kingdom. “Through faith and patience we will inherit the promises.” Heb 6:12
All that you search for in this world is null and void and does not satisfy. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Pick up your cross and follow Him daily. Be a disciple of Christ. Share the Gospel. Uplift and encourage others. Ask for wisdom, discernment and understanding and walk as examples of Christ.
Just a few things to think about…
What can you do to welcome others who have a different lifestyle than you or do not have the same faith or values that you have? How do you react or respond to stress, worry, doubt or fear? How do you act when you’re angry, tired or frustrated? What can you do differently when emotions take over? How do you lead by example in the workplace? How do you share your testimony with others when they don’t know Christ?
You’re welcome to leave your comments. Thanks for your support.
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16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16
Do you feel that you’re on a road to nowhere? That life has pushed you down a twisted path that is based on poor choices and decisions and uncontrolled circumstances determined by external sources?
The more effort you put into your life, the more energy is sucked out of you. No matter what you try to do seems to work. Even though you may feel like you will never get to your destination, your life is constantly being diverted and misdirected. From dead ends, left turns and wrong turns that lead to right turns, it’s like a labyrinth of frustration, confusion, aggravation, not to mention stress. You may feel like a rat on a wheel, running to nowhere.
Just because you can’t see a way out, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. The forced direction that you experience, may possibly be how the Lord orders and directs your steps. With each twist and turn, the Lord is guiding your steps to the purpose and plan he has for your life. Who said life was easy? It’s not a direct shot even for the best of us. Some people may have fewer turns than others, yet we will hopefully end up exactly where we need to be.
Before you make a decision, you should always check your spirit. Do you have peace with your decision? Does something feel off? Do you feel nervous, tense, or afraid?
The Holy Spirit guides you with a sense of peace. He offers wisdom and guidance. Do not ignore your intuition. That is the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Fear can be very tricky because it can be a warning sign prior to danger, but it can also be a false alarm from satan himself. Either way, fear is not of God and you must learn to test the spirit prior to making any decision.
No matter where you are on your journey, keep on moving. God is not the master of confusion and He did not create you for failure. If you get tired and weary along the way, take a break or just pause for a minute (praise break), recharge your battery (meditate on scriptures), and walk-in faith (prayer).
The Lord has the ultimate blueprint and knows what He’s doing even if you don’t. He has the ultimate global positioning system (GPS). Let Him lead the way because He will never lead you wrong. “He will lead you by the still waters.” Psalm 23:2
But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:18
As we enter a new year, it is refreshing to start again. When the sun rises, it promises us a new day to anticipate and expect positive changes in our lives. We gain enthusiasm and motivation to begin new projects, set new goals and even finish tasks that we didn’t quite finish last year.
On the other hand, you may wake up in discouragement, resentment, regret, worry or fear. You may not have the excitement or motivation to even get out of bed. You just want to pull the covers over your head and hide from the world because you just don’t want to deal with all the crap that life brings your way. It may feel it’s pointless to begin again because you have not seen the fruits of your labor or experienced laughter, happiness or joy in a long time. In every problem, there is an opportunity. We must see our problems with spiritual eyes.
In the Bible, it states, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5
Whatever season you may be experiencing, you must remember that it is only for a season. The uncomfortable situation or circumstance you’re facing is not impossible with God. The foundation of the Word of God promises us that we are overcomers despite all the challenges and obstacles we face.
Subconsciously, it feels like the month of January seems to set off how well the year will turn out. We must constantly put our thoughts and perspectives in check. We may get anxious about what we will encounter in the New Year. It’s very easy to lean towards negativity, self-doubt and fear. Our mindset must be elevated so we can produce and achieve those anticipated goals, visions and dreams that we hold in hearts. We should enter a new year with clarity and a peaceful spirit. We can set the pace with our ability to control our thoughts. “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ Jesus.” 2 Corth 10:5
It all begins with the choices we make each day. We must follow through in obedience. We should listen to instructions, take heed to suggestions and receive wise counsel when needed. The smallest steps can make a big difference in the final outcome. Do we allow the weather to determine our mood? Or, do we allow negative people affect our whole day? We have power over our emotions and behavior with what we allow to influence our lives. If you didn’t like how your year went last year or the year before, you can analyze what went wrong and try to change it.
Some things that happen to us is out of our control, but we can look forward with hope knowing that nothing in life remains the same. As long as we hold onto hope, we can overcome. “Let us glory in tribulation also knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience, and experience hope: And hope makes us not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:3-5
One more thing we should consider, we should not be overwhelmed with all the demands in life. Live in the moment. Live on purpose. Sometimes we just need to slow down. The constant flow of instant gratification and instant information at our fingertips destroys our ability to wait. We must learn patience. Learn to do what we can with the time that is given to us. We must learn to be good stewards of our time. “Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Heb 6:12
Several churches have become motivational powerhouses, however, they’re missing the mark on the message of Salvation. The church, the body of Christ, has become a form of entertainment. Reality TV shows, superstar singing, shouting, dancing, and dramatic prophesying have all been incorporated into worship which makes it hard to tell what is real from what is not real.
Some people are attending church every Sunday but their hearts are not being truly transformed. Others are calling themselves Christians without having Godly character, a Godly lifestyle, or a personal relationship with Jesus.
Being a Christian today is like wearing a “title” on your chest like Superman or like wearing a badge or bumper sticker that shouts, “I’m a Christian!” But, what does that mean if you’re sleeping with your best friend’s husband, using the church to network for business or chasing women in the church?
The world on the outside looking in is even more confused because they have don’t have an understanding of the spiritual world much more how to discern the Spirit of God.
They’re looking at the church to be an example of what it means to be a Christian. Often times, no one can tell the difference because believers are conforming to the secular world at rapid speed.
Some preachers are preaching hate instead of love. Others are confirming same-sex marriage. Others are passive with heterosexual partners living together. The statistics in the divorce rates within the church is outrageous. There is just so much confusion about what religion, faith, and spirituality really mean.
The reverence for God is quickly diminishing. Morals and values are in the toilet. However, there is a remnant of believers that are thirsty for righteousness and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we are not to live like the world lives, but we are to set the example and live clean and sanctified lives.
The only way to do this is to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Yes, we can change some things in our lives and make better choices and decisions but to be truly transformed, it takes the power of the Holy Spirit.
No one will ever be perfect, including me, but that’s why Jesus died for our sins. When we repent, we are acknowledging and declaring our weaknesses and faults and wrongdoings to the Lord. We do not have to have to carry guilt, shame, or condemnation in our hearts, but we are releasing everything attached to sin to God. He carries our burdens, troubles, and worries.
Even though we release all our problems to the Lord, it doesn’t mean it magically gets easier. Actually not to sugar coat anything, all hell breaks loose in our lives. You will still have to walk through tests, trials, and uncomfortable situations. However, the Lord will reveal his love, mercy, grace, power, healing, and faithfulness.
When we acknowledge Christ as our Lord and Savior. We confess and understand that Christ died for our sins and that Christ is the Son of God which was created in the image of man.
We ask the Lord to come into our hearts and transform us. It’s much more than just mouth service. You must have a deep yearning, desire, and surrender to God to change your heart. That’s where the transformation takes place – in the heart.
Your heart is where your desire and passion reside. “Out of the heart, the abundance speaks.”Luke 6:45 The core of a man is his heart. Sometimes decisions are made from the heart. The heart carries emotions and feelings. However, the mind is equally powerful and can override the heart. The mind carries logic, memory, intelligence, and consciousness.
If your heart is clean, you will have a desire to please God. It all stems from the issues of the heart. However, the mind is not an island. It also needs to be transformed. Our mind controls our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behavior.
When we align our thoughts with God’s thoughts, all doubt, fear, discouragement, and negative thinking has to go! The Lord will give us the ability to discern situations and people, guard our minds, provide focus and clarity, and help us make wise decisions. We will also have a teachable spirit.
When we surrender our thoughts to the Lord, He gives us the authority to overcome attacks from the enemy in our minds that plagues us with worldly concerns. We know the difference between right and wrong and have accountability for our actions while maintaining grace under pressure.
We are not to judge others at all, but we are to live by God’s laws.
There are many questions to ponder on in your spiritual journey. Have you surrendered your life to Christ? Have you backslidden? Do you have integrity? Do you forgive others without holding grudges? Do you gossip? Do you complain? Have you changed your language to represent the love of Christ? Are you jealous? Are you kind to others?
It’s time to step up and lead by example. Walk like Jesus. Even if you stumble or fall, He will catch you and will not let you go. Take the first step. It’s not an easy walk, but He promises it will be worth it.
John 8:24King James Version (KJV)
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Romans 3:23King James Version (KJV)
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Hebrews 11:6King James Version (KJV)
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
John 15:10King James Version (KJV)
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
1 Corinthians 13:1King James Version (KJV)
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.