Sunday, June 30, 2013

Don’t Let Your Past Hold You Back

Encouragement for your daily walk with God
Your past does not have to be the determining factor of your present, or your future! Whether you came from an abusive past, a difficult past, a failed past, a rebellious past, you can move on/forward as a Christ follower. I have a theory about this: The people of the world focus on what they are overcoming; Christians focus on what they are becoming. The Christian’s future is so full and rich and exciting that it supersedes whatever happened in the past.

Christ followers can move on, living in light of the Christ who overcame their past. Paul said it this way to the new Christ followers in Corinth, If anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation. Old things [our past] have been done away with and the new [our potential future] is now at hand (2 Corinthians 5:17 – emphasis mine).

Furthermore, there is the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, who is actively engaged in helping each Christ follower in conforming to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

Your past is your past, but you need not be preoccupied with it. You have an incredible future because of what Christ has done. Onward, and Upward dear Christ follower!

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lose to Gain

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

A Christ follower knows that if he/she wants to experience life, he/she must give up life. Yes, you heard me right—lose to gain. That is counter intuitive, especially in a culture that daily demands its rights.
We have the perfect example of this. It’s none other than Christ, our Savior and Lord. He had a genuine right to the comforts of heaven. And yet, He didn’t hold on to it. And we have no biblical record that He considered it too costly a sacrifice to make (Philippians 2:5-11). Because of that, God exalted Him. Furthermore, He brought spiritual healing to a sin-sick world.
Don’t make the mistake in thinking that to gain life you must “claim your rights.” That is spiritual nonsense and/or suicide. Losing your life will enable you to live the abundant life that Christ promised (John 10:10).
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Part of the Big Picture

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

“I am the God of your fathers…” How many times did we hear that spoken by our God? He seems to always speak in the context of what He has done in the lives of people who lived before us. It seems to me that when God works with us, it is to involve us in His ongoing activities—efforts to fulfill the covenant He has made with our forefathers. Our assignments, then, are not independent of what God has done through our predecessors. 

The same God, who met with Abraham, worked through Moses, motivated Elijah, directed Paul, and who has guided godly men and women throughout the ages, is the same One, who approaches us to be involved in His work. Imagine that! Catch the significance of it! You are part—a vital part—of God’s plan of the ages. You are more than an agent of the present.

That should draw a couple of responses from us: one, it should excite us to know that we have a part in the eternal purposes of God; and two, it should humble us, for who is worthy of such an assignment. Here’s the $64,000 question: Do you sense and rejoice that your life is a part of God’s eternal purposes?

Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. (Exodus 3:6)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Faithful God

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

A Christ follower may not always be faithful to do what God wants him/her to do; yet God remains faithful! He stands by His word and fulfills His promises (Isaiah 46:11). Remember Israel at the Red Sea? They may have concluded that God had left them to perish at the hands of the Egyptians. Pharaoh’s army was hot on their trail; the Red Sea prohibited them from going forward, desert on one side and mountains on the other. They were doomed, so they thought! Yet God demonstrated then, as He has done ever since, that He is faithful—absolutely faithful to keep His very word.

Are you facing a personal Red Sea? Perhaps you’ve been wondering if God has abandoned you; left you in a time of peril. Dear Christ follower, you can trust in the character of God. It is His nature to be faithful. The Psalmist declared what Christ followers have known throughout the ages: I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor His descendants begging bread (Psalm 37:25).

Your present circumstances may seem bleak—downright hopeless. But do not lose heart! God will prove Himself faithful; just allow Him time to do so. Then, later in life, you will praise Him for His absolute faithfulness to you.

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anger Management

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Very few things in the life of a Christ follower is more destructive that anger. When we give vent to that emotion, we often lose our self-control, and do and say things that we would never do or say otherwise. Of course, if one gives in to anger and allows it to fester, it can easily turn to bitterness, which eats away at the soul. That’s why Scripture is consistent in its command for Christ followers to put away anger. Paul even told the believers in Ephesus that anger was a sin of the flesh (Ephesians 4:31).

Many Christ followers try to justify or rationalize their anger based on the account where Jesus cleansed the Temple, calling their emotion righteous indignation. The problem I see with that is that the Scripture never says that Jesus was angry when He did it! (See Matthew 21:12-14; Mark 11:15-18; and Luke 19:45-46.)

Furthermore, some Christ followers think it’s OK to get angry because Paul said to be angry, just don’t sin by means of your anger (Ephesians 4:26). However, they seldom quote his next words, “… get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…” (Ephesians 4:31 – emphasis mine). For the most part, anger does not bring about God’s redemptive work; far more often it hinders what God is working to accomplish.

Does your anger often turn to bitterness? Does your anger cause you to speak in an unchristlike manner or to gossip about others? Do you find yourself making excuses for your ungodly behavior? Does your anger block out loving, redemptive, Christlike actions toward others? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, examine yourself, repent and forsake the sin of anger in your life. Allow God to forgive you and empower you to deal with the sinful attitudes your anger may have produced.

Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath. (Ephesians 4:26)