Are You Sure You Are In Christ

Brothers and Sisters I need to share something that is rather disheartening to me but needs to be spoken. I have written before that there is a difference between Believing and Being In Christ. How can you tell the difference? It is simple really. A Believer gives lip service but does not act upon it. One who is in Christ and says certain things that involves others will drop everything that gets in the way to keep his or her word.

We, as humans have a tendency to play lip service even to our own family members sometimes. This is not what God taught nor is it what Jesus reiterated. This is a perfect way of showing what you would have done to you in certain situations. If you make a promise, keep it. If you make plans and must change for some reason, tell the other parties involved so the time is not wasted trying to figure your location.

Those that Believe talk much but do little. Those that are truly in talk little and do much. Who are You???

Think about it. What Would You tell Jesus if you had to cancel on Him? Especially if the distractor was not as important.

Blessings,

Rob, Servant of God

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How Do You Track Your Spiritual Health?

When we go to the doctor we hope to walk out either feeling better, on the road to feeling better, or being given an outright clean bill of health. Our physical bodies house the part of us that no doctor can diagnose or cure, Our Soul.

The Bible is filled with many ways to keep our spiritual health in check. One of the most important factors in keeping us spiritually healthy is through prayer. Prayer is literally our Spiritual Checkup. It is when we commune with God in our thoughts and words that thank Him, talk about our day, request help for others, repent, and ask that we are able to maintain ourselves through the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us the ultimate checklist in His teaching on how we should pray.

Jesus provided a pattern to follow when praying that recognizes God’s Omnipotence and our dependence upon Him. Each part can be broken down into other prayers but when the pattern is placed together as a single conversational prayer, the spirit is given a chance for diagnosis, prescription, and healing. Living a healthy, useful life each day is built around these key elements, or vital signs of our spiritual health:

CHRIST’S CHECKLIST FOR MAINTAINING SPIRITUAL FITNESS

  • Our Father, Who art in Heaven    

Recognizes The Father God who alone is to be worshiped as holy and in control of all things.

  • Thy Kingdom Come

Our bodies are the temples which house the Holy Spirit and as such should be used only for the works of God as an example for others.

  • Thy Will Be Done

 A request for our lives to be the workers of His Will and plan. That we be the light in this dark world.

  • Give Us This Day

 Relying on God for the daily Provision of food, water, clothing, but first and foremost His Word which gives our lives a reason and purpose for being.

  • Forgive Us As We Forgive

 Relationships are important and as repent for His forgiveness, so we should forgive others who have wronged us. The way to receive forgiveness is to forgive. Scripture tells us that we must forgive others before we enter into His presence. Have you done that today? This portion also serves as a reminder that we should forgive others.

  • Deliver Us From Evil

Keep our minds on the One who saves so that we do not stray and become encompassed by the worldly things which distract us and separate us from God.

  • Thine Is The Glory

Praise God and in everything we do give God the Glory. Understanding that everything we do is not for us but for Him who gives us life, we praise Him not ourselves for the actions we either will do for the day or have done. It keeps us from accepting the accolades that boost our ego above Him. Recognizing our place keeps us from being braggarts of our accomplishments and seeking reward for things we have done.

Knowing and understanding this prayer is a guide for how we should pray. It is the vitals report at the end of the hospital bed which speaks of how our spiritual health is guided towards becoming who God desires us to be. So, How is your Spiritual Health?

Your Brother in Christ,

Rob, Servant of God

40: A Time of Testing and Trials

So many people ask why it took forty years for the Israelites to get from Egypt to the Promised Land. Some do it to try and trip up believers.  The first thing is to understand that many things occurred that extended the travel time which are seen in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. During this time lessons were learned, laws and precepts were given, feast days were established, and the tent of meeting and the Tabernacle were built. There were also battles which meant preparation and recovery times as well as the length of the battles or skirmishes. This leads one to understand that 1 to 3 years of travel time is hardly enough. Also consider they used the lunar calendar which shortens the year.

The Book of Numbers gives a clue on the movement of the Hebrews as they travel:

On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out. And sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they set out. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time that the cloud continued over the tabernacle abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.  Numbers 9:15-23

It wasn’t till later that God actually put them on their forty year desert travel in circles, so close to the land yet so far. But God had to make sure the people were right and ready to be His Chosen and accomplish their part in His plan.

There is Something about 40

The number forty is very significant. Many testing, trials or probation periods, and changes, happened in each mention of forty be it days, nights, months, or years. The number forty is in the Bible well over 140 times and each time there is significant spiritual growth. The rains fell for forty days and forty nights, Moses was on the mountain with God for forty days, Jonah spent forty days ministering to Nineveh, Elijah fasted for forty days, Jesus was tempted for forty and also stayed teaching after the resurrection for forty days. David ruled for forty years. The number forty has much to do with learning.

When the Hebrews began their forty in the desert, God kept only Joshua, Caleb, and Aaron’s son Eleazar alive to enter the Promised Land from the time before the wandering. God had sentenced all men who were twenty years of older before the wandering to death so that a new generation would learn to trust in God for all their needs. Yes they grumbled and complained but in the end they knew God and trusted His care. It took this period of time to establish the moral and ethical codes that went right along with the Commandments and to get them to understand God’s Love.

We know from reading that humans do not always adhere to rules, regulations, covenants and promises because the Israelites really messed things up for themselves and blended with other cultures which corrupted our part of the covenant. But God’s Love and Compassion for His People is stronger than any human emotion or action.

40 Days of Lent

The Lenten season itself is not found in Scripture but the idea of forty days of testing and trials is. This is the season for us to repent, refresh, and renew while we give up things of this world to attain a better, Spiritual understanding and relationship with God. We should not return to that which we gave up or the Adversary has won.

Brothers and Sisters, keep watch and be vigilant. Share the Gospel as often as possible and be that light as we are commissioned to be. Are we in our forty years of testing? Maybe we are at an end and we lost or maybe this is just the beginning. Either way, the Adversary is coming soon to take control. Keep His Word on your heart and do not be influenced by the New Church as so many unfortunately are. God’s Word does not change, Jesus teachings have not changed. So why are we changing them to gain the world? Pay attention to your heart and God’s Love will carry you through.

Blessings, Rob Servant of God

God, Our Strength, Our Portion

For those that believe we need to have complete success through riches and earthly gains to enter heaven, you might want to reconsider your position. Throughout Scripture and history, time and time again we see what eventually happens to those who depend on the things of this world to be happy. Truth of the matter is, fame, fortune, and material wealth only cause pain and suffering in the long run.

The devil gets in the mix right away when an opportunity presents itself. Most of these desires start at a young age when the person sees others that are seemingly happy because of the stuff others have. When envy creeps in, the devil sleeps right with it. Others that are born into it believe that it is the only way of life.

There is nothing wrong with struggles except that it means a hard mortal life. The rewards of struggles in this life are great when God is with you, carries you, and gives you only exactly what you need.

 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them.
And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.

Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart,I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength(rock) of my heart and my portion forever.

For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all your works. 
PSALM 73

Yes this was said to the Israelites but since we are adopted into the chosen through our belief in God and the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus, we are bound by this. Be aware that life today is too easy and there will be pain and suffering before peace. The distractions have made us numb to the events of those that Satan has full control over so we must be on our guard daily. There is hope, joy, peace, and best of all love in the arms of God. You just have to be willing to accept and obey Him, keep His Word on your heart and let Him have control.

Blessings, 

Rob, Servant of God  

What Will You Remove From Your Life?

The Lenten season is upon us. This is a time where many people give up something they can temporarily do without. Some give up soda or alcohol, others a type of junk food, still more give up a form of entertainment. These are just things of the world that many should not return to.  Oh Lord have mercy on those who return to the things that bring temporary happiness and can be permanently removed. When Christ gave His life for us, He did not return to His flesh but was glorified. We are to remove things that take us away from God and keep them from our lives until there is nothing left but the Father. It is life long process but the rewards are plenty. The more we concentrate on God the better we hear Him and obey.Listen to what Joel told the People Israel…..

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!

Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near–

a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!

Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes;

their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart,

with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him,

a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people.

Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast.

Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy.

Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.

Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations.

Why should it be said among the peoples, `Where is their God?'”Joel 2:1-2,12-17

The last thing we as Christ followers need is to be asking where God is. Joel mentions that God wants to have a relationship with us and we cannot have a relationship while our focus is on the worldly temporary things that do not matter. So this season give something up that you will not return to.

Brothers and Sisters what I am asking is not something that is easy and I understand that. There are things that are difficult for me to give up but we must obey Him especially since He mentioned numerous times to give up things of the world so our thoughts and actions will reflect our lives in Christ. Be strong and stand firm in what you remove from your lives. Do not let Satan convince you it is okay to return to them.

Rob, Servant of God 

When Life Gets In The Way

I must apologize for not writing on here this week as life has overtaken my time and thoughts. My secular job has increased in time needed so it has been very hard to think and listen to hear what I should be writing about. I have not neglected my quiet time but the writing time has suffered. Reading God’s Word in the mornings and evenings is a blessing to the soul and is necessary for making it through the day so I encourage all to continue to delight in His Word. Things should settle down soon and I will be catching up. Until then, Blessings to all.

In God’s Loving Arms,

Rob, His Servant

To Whom are You Devoted?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4 

            Selfish Ambition, where does that get people?  Well, it does provide temporary satisfaction but at what cost.  Family, friends, coworkers, mentors, all can be burned by the neglect and disrespect that ambitious and vainly conceited people cause.  Some do not realize it until it is too late.  Some never realize it.  When a person cares more for the self and not for others, that person will end up living a very lonely life even when surrounded by others. 

What is selfish ambition? It is the act of being devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives. When a person devotes everything to the self, God and family take second place in that individuals life. Bridges are burned that could have been useful later in life. Self-devotion leads to loneliness and final darkness without God.  

We need to be aware of this as we go through life. Jesus does tell us to make sure we are healthy and stable physically and spiritually, however, not at the cost of the well-being of others.  Taking care of the needs of others can mean many different things.  For heads of corporations that means not to hoard but share the wealth by ensuring people are taken care of through the best benefits in all ways: health, finances both now and retirement, a non-hostile work environment, etc. 

For the individual, a person should take time starting God and with the family.  Children are the future and repeat what they see, both words and actions.  The spouses’ physical and emotional well-being are important to a good relationship.  Be a helping hand to others but not at the expense of placing yourself in debt or danger (unless absolutely necessary).  Do not ask for reward nor do something and expect immediate compensation.  God will bless for the good you have done. 

The most important thing about all this is being humble in all actions and words.  Take credit for nothing but give God the Glory.   

Vain conceit means “excessive pride” or “self-esteem that has no foundation in reality”. It is an elevated and incorrect sense of self. Therefore, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit means not letting our actions be motivated by selfishness, pride, or one-upmanship.

All this sounds like a very lonely way of life but some people thrive in this and the family reaps the benefits of material wealth but are truly spirit deficient. The dangers to the family are worse than the damage the individual causes for him/her self because this way of life is repeated until someone finally wakes up and sees everything that has been missed out on.

When God is in the picture, the self is put away and all things are done for God’s Glory. Remember, Jesus asks us to look at the eternal and not worry about today. This is temporary, life with or without God is eternal. The choice is yours.

Blessings,

Rob, Servant of God

Mind Your Own Business

What is going on in the neighborhood today? That is the first question I ask myself before open the internet. But what do I find? Other people’s lives and business blasting all over the news. Personally, I do not care who is dating who especially since I have no involvement with celebrity families but the news media makes break ups, divorces, and marriages front page or headline news. It isn’t. That is personal, let it stay that way.       

Brothers and Sisters, a little knowledge of someone is ok but we do not need to know everything about others. If God truly wanted us to know every detail of people’s lives, He would have made us omniscient and we are not. There are things that we know about family and secrets we share among friends, but there are some things about people that are none of our business.

Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more. Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others. 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 

We have our own lives to worry about and do not need to know the personal lives of people we have no personal contact with. People who put their lives out for everyone have issues. The internet tools and social mediums of today’s world make it easy for people to be open about things they really need to keep personal and known only to a select few.  

There are many problems that come from people knowing about other’s lives. The first thing is idolizing. When someone sees another’s way of living and becomes jealous to the point of envy they desire to be like the person which causes mental issues and loss of self. Too many people want to live a life that is not their own and choose to become something other than God intended. It is not always good to “be like Mike”. This is the work of Satan. This is especially true for the youth to young adults today where the line between fantasy and reality is very blurred.

Some celebrity role models are dangerous because of their greed for attention or they are victims of some other agenda. When their lives are made public, all the dirty laundry is brought to the surface and if they do not make amends then kids think that behavior is ok. Stuff that goes on in the bedroom needs to stay in the bedroom. Unhealthy and immoral lifestyles do not need to be shown to the world. Those that brag about their material riches do not have true richness.

God has plans and missions for each of us. When we start concerning ourselves with the lives of others, we become distracted and God’s plans and mission become delayed and idle.

We hear that some of you are living in idleness. You are not busy working —you are busy interfering in other people’s lives! We order and encourage such people by the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers, do not get tired of doing what is right. 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 

In all toil there is profit, but idle talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

Idleness leads to gossip because someone has nothing better to do. Those that interfere in other’s lives and make their findings public really need to find another, healthier line of work. We are not made to dig and pronounce everyone’s business.  

You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand. You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. Exodus 23:1-2

We have seen this one a lot lately. Too many people are being used to further someone else’s agenda with the promise of money or other reward that keeps them out of trouble. The problem is when they are exposed, they are left hanging high and dry.

Where there is no wood, a fire goes out, and where there is no gossip, contention ceases. Like charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious person to kindle strife. Proverbs 26:20-21 

If we want to live for Christ we must stop letting the distractions of the world get in the way. The information overload of people’s personal lives needs to stop so we can live lives for ourselves and not become victims of the worldly agendas that keep us away from God.

Blessings,

 Rob, Servant of God  

The Habit of Worship

We are creatures of habit. The dictionary defines a habit as, “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” If we start to do something and continue to do it for a time it becomes part of our being. Some habits are good, some are bad.

Habits are dependent on our actions and choices we make. Some habits are healthy and we can live good lives while the unhealthy habits lead to destruction of self and others. Choices have gotten many people in trouble in the past but the one choice that can and has saved many a soul is the act of worship.

My writings in the past have described worship as any act of devotion approved by God that glorifies Him. Included are prayer, reading and studying Scripture, singing, playing instruments, performing in ways that bring others to know or want to know God more. Worship is not just something done inside a building or with a large group of believers once a week, it is a daily thing we as believers in God do. The more we worship, it changes from a simple act of devotion to a habitual desire to bring God glory.

However there is a danger to the habit of worship. Some people lose touch of the reason for the worship and eventually just do it because it is there. Devotion and desire to worship God becomes lip service and the heart of worship is gone. This can easily happen to musicians when it becomes more of a task or time of self-glorification than a time of showing your devotion and faith. The way to tell this is when the service becomes a concert performance. Remember who is receiving the praise, only God. 

 The habit of worship heals the heart. When worship becomes a habit our lives are transformed.  Our inner selves are changed for the better when we sing songs of devotion, speak prayers of thankfulness and forgiveness, and share His Word. The habit of worship brings healing in so many ways that are more than physical. The Spirit inside moves a person to let it take control and God’s glory shines in the voices, instruments, and motions a body may make.

Worship heals my spirit when I play the drum kit for a worship band. I have been known to let go and allow the Spirit to overtake me causing me to move with the music and the words while still playing. Members of the congregation claim that I played really well and I can honestly say that I do not know wat I played more often than not.

Worship is habit forming in that we have an easier time giving up the things that are bad for us. Maintaining good habitual worship practices causes the body to reject those things that are bad for us. Yes sometimes the habits are so engrained that they are hard to deny yourself, but God will eventually win out. For some of the bad habits we have to make a conscious effort to remove them. Others are temporary habits that can be given up in a heartbeat.

Are you ready and willing to remove the bad and keep only the good? It is very easy but it will take some effort at first. After a while those old bad habits will seem like dreams because they are replaced by God in the heart. 

Rob, Servant of God

Failure is Not an Option

Why do we fail when God leads us to success? Our nature is tainted with so many emotions and sometimes when we perceive things going wrong, the negative overpowers the positive. When this happens we call it failure but what is it really, a learning experience.

We are given to these experiences and are guided by the Spirit to help us hopefully do the right thing. God gave us free will to make certain choices so that we would discover right from wrong from an early age. As His children, we are not failures at life but are given the chance to prove ourselves through the decisions we make.  Decisions that lead to negative results often lead to feelings of failure. Some will even say that they are not good enough. This feeling of failure can make a person drop everything and not try again. That is the Devil speaking. God gives us the strength to work through our issues, figure out where we went wrong and try a different way.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me Phil 4:13

            We are not built to everything right the first time, that is one of the things that make us human. We are weak in some areas intentionally. This gives us room to grow and gain strength from the Lord. It is by God’s grace that we are given power in weakness.        

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong 2 Cor. 12:9-10

God speaks loud and clear saying do not fear failure, learn from it, embrace it but do not live in it.  When we embrace it, understand it, and know not to do it again, we can learn how to succeed.  Once embraced, release yourself from it and reach for success through adjusted actions.  Look at all options.  In other words, do not give up.  Seek guidance through prayer and put your mind at ease through Christ. 

Besides Did God not tell Joshua: Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go Joshua 1:7-9

Unfortunately, people give up, give in, and have trouble moving forward.  With careful reflection and prayer we can figure out what went wrong, learn from it, and try not to do it again. What does this all boil down to?  When we have success and failures, we create experiences that build our character and help make better decisions ensuring a more successful outcome in the future.  The problem is that some people cannot get over their past failures and continue to make mistakes that lead to poor self-esteem and depression. People forget that the reason they fail is what they were doing was probably not part of God’s plan.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope Jer. 29:11

Some fear failure so much that it becomes their only way of living. No matter what they do, even when they succeed they believe they failed. This kind of thinking allows for the feelings of guilt, bitterness, loneliness, anger, and depression. When we feel this way and do not accept encouraging words we become lost and the choices we make can lead to devastating results.

God encourages us to try again doing it His way. Sometimes we do not agree with His way but it is the way He needs us to go. When we listen and follow, we succeed. Brothers and Sisters, never let failure get you down. I have and it is a dark place I never want to be in again. So I give everything to God and He guides me the right way. Remember too that sometimes we need others who give assistance and they are probably sent by God. If you trust God then trust His Word and His helpers because they will be there for the success of the plan and glorify God. 

Blessings,  Rob, Servant of God