Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Keeping Newness New

Keeping Newness New

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

We are challenged to remain excited about the things that have entered our life with a "new car” smell. New things always carry excitement to the one who receives them. But it seems like just as soon as they come new, they tend to become old. We seem to lose interest in things the longer they are in our lives. And once they become old, we seem to lose the zeal we once had for them.

Christians face that same challenge in their spiritual walk with the Lord that snatched “them from the fires” (Jude 23) that was once going to consume their souls. In our spiritual walk we face the greatest challenge of not allowing our physical habits to hinder our spiritual faithfulness. Our fleshly habit with new things is to grow tired of them quickly. How can we avoid this habit from infiltrating our spiritual zeal? We will look at God’s word to help us remain focused.

To the Christian, spiritual maturity is what is important and we must stay excited about reaching that goal. Like the football player in the NFL whose goal is to reach the Super Bowl, we must not allow temporary defeats to take our focus off the overall goal. Satan is like the opponent on the gridiron trying to defeat us in a game so we will be discouraged and lose focus on the overall season. He uses trials to try to discourage our faith, but proper focus helps us to overcome these attempts: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3).

The way to remain faithful to our goal is to remain joyful even during trials knowing God is using them to strengthen our faith. If we choose to focus on the trials and not the result we will get burned out and will one day lose the zeal these trials were designed to build in us. When Jesus faced the trial of the cross, His focus was on the result of the trial and not the trial itself. He didn’t allow Satan to discourage His focus. His Father promised to raise Him on the third day to reveal to man that eternal life had been made available to the faithful and that was the focus Jesus remained fixed on to persevere the most agonizing trial ever faced by man. His focus kept Him determined to accomplish His Father’s will and His faith revealed victory to all.

Satan tries to get us to focus on the temporary agonies of the trials we face so we will get discouraged and lose our zeal for the life that is offered through the Suffering Savior. But proper focus will keep us strong. Remaining focused on the victory of Christ will keep us from allowing fear to overcome us and steal our joy: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

God has called us to the life of His Son. It is a life of self-denial, sacrifice and suffering. To gain the goal of holiness that this life offers we must remain focused on the One who has overcome the temptations to give up. Don’t let Satan steal your life by causing you to lose focus. Persevere these trying times and prove to yourself and to those around you the powerful the life in Christ.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The "Un" Deceived

The “Un” Deceived
How many people are sitting in a proverbial peaceful state without actually knowing peace? God has sent peace to a world that has not accepted His peace because they strive to find their idea of peace. Sad part of this is that the world cannot know peace until they come to know God. Only His peace can bring the comfort of knowing that I am free from His wrath. Most people choose not to find this peace because they have already found comfort in a false pretense of what peace is:

"They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Satan has a plan to confuse the world. His plan is executed by placing doubt in our minds about truth. God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and He has made sure we can know this by establishing the things that are written. Hebrews 5:3-4 gives irrefutable evidences to this proclamation of faith. In verse 2, the writer shows us that angels spoke the “LOGOS” of God. This is a Greek word meaning “the reasoning” or the way God thinks. John described Jesus as the “Word” revealing to us that Jesus came to unveil the mindset of our Creator. And although this was prophesied, the Jewish religious leaders would not accept Him as truth. They thought they had found salvation in their own beliefs, which was proven wrong as Paul reminded the Jewish people that they had been “cut off” and needed to be grafted back into the olive tree (Romans 11:24). God established his truth through His powerful miracles, signs and wonders.

God has proven His word as truth, and in His word there is the keys to His peace (Matthew 16:19). His truth has opened the door to the “peace of God that goes beyond all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7). The world does not know this peace because they have been deceived to think that knowing God doesn’t motivate change. They have been fooled to believe that God is forced to tolerate our worldliness because He created us this way. But noting can be further from the truth. God’s word has called us to die to our old ways and be born again into a new life (Romans 6:1-4). This is change.

You don’t have to be among the deceived. You can be like the Bereans and be “more noble-minded” (Acts 17:11). You can search “the Scriptures daily” to make sure what you are being taught is true. God has given us a way out of ignorance by sending His grace to this ungodly world (Titus 2:11-13). If we will learn from Jesus, we can choose to accept the wisdom that comes from above (James 3:17) and deny the “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). We have the opportunity to “know the truth” (John 8:32) and “test every spirit” (1 John 4:1) to make sure we are enjoying true peace and not the pseudo-peace Satan uses to deceive the world.