Thanks for dying on the cross for our sins, while we were yet sinners. You paid our fine, and it was paid in full. We are eternally grateful that You’ve demonstrated perfect love and justice, and continue to be a presence in the lives of those of us that allow You in. Thank You for all your provision, from the smallest of material blessings to the greatest of spiritual blessings (ie: salvation, grace, love, and forgiveness). Without these provisions we would all be doomed, but instead we know that we are assured salvation. We know that You took our place on that cross and shed your blood for us. This is something we should never forget, and always be grateful for. All the while you withstood through all the suffering You thought of each of us, knowing that you were rescuing us from the oppression of sin.
Please help us all to realize that true freedom is found under your shelter and in submission to you, rather than the illusion of freedom that is sin. The world wants to tell us that true freedom is in financial means, fleshly desires, and selfish pursuits. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Help me to draw closer to You rather than to the things that impede me from You. Help me to eliminate sin as much as humanly possible from my life, and beyond with your supernatural help. Lead me to take advantage of all the ways of escape that you provide from compromise. I have failed many times relying on the hopelessness of my own strength, but I trust that you’ve washed away all of those sins and forgiven me. I know this is not a license to sin, but an assurance that You love me in my current station. There is nothing I can do or achieve to merit anything greater, you’ve blessed me beyond measure and comprehension. Please forgive my limited human perspective and help me to be renewed in mind and purified in heart.
I pray blessings upon my followers on my blog, and the readers of www.fatherspiritson.com. I am honored to be used by you even though you don’t need me, and I know that the platform you have blessed me with, to provide testimony and scriptural truth, is of the utmost importance to my friend Jim and I. We pray that you help us continue to spread the gospel and practical advice of scripture for years to come.
Last, and certainly not least, this weekend I pray that You help us to remember what Easter is really about. Help us to remember that the eggs, chocolate, and bunnies aren’t the focus. The focus is and always should be on Jesus Christ and his death, burial, and resurrection in triumph over sin and evil. Words cannot justifiably express what an amazing triumph this was, and our celebrations of Your fulfillment of scripture and conquering death I am certain will echo from now into the depths of eternity. No greater gift has been given, and I am fortunate to be one of Your children who has humbly accepted the way you provided.
Jesus, you are the way, the truth, and the life. Help us not to be bogged down trying to find alternative ways to salvation, we should be happy you’ve provided us with one beautiful way. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that we have been saved.
Let’s all take refuge in the fortress of our Savior and try our best not to question His plans. I am optimistic because God is with me even in the midst of the greatest storms and toughest challenges. Glory to God, without Him I am nothing.
"In life there are no prizes or punishment, there are only consequences." - Anonymous
My Thoughts/Response to Statement:
I believe that there are rewards and punishment according to each individual's actions. These rewards and punishments may affect just an individual actor or may even affect other people around them depending on the action in reference. I think that the rewards and punishment one is capable of receiving from any particular action are two of several forms of consequences that may occur as a result of any one, particular action. I don't agree with the statement because I think that consequences are synonymous with prizes and punishment.
For example, if we save enough money for a child to go to college, and he is then able to attend the college, the byproduct of the act of saving was naturally compensated (rewarded) by affording the chance to go to college. The reward, or in other words the consequence, of saving was a positive one. If in this same example instead of saving the money for the child to eventually go to college, the money was squandered on vacations and other luxuries that aren't necessarily beneficial, then the punishment would be that the child would not have the opportunity to attend college or may have to borrow in order to do so.
With that said there is a certain aspect of the statement I do agree with. I think that the emphasis on consequences is an important point to consider. We need to understand that each action that we take, no matter how insignificant we may think it is, has it's own consequence or multiple consequences that may occur. It is vital that we not only look for a prize or a punishment in specific when we examine a set of potential consequences to any particular action. We may receive other forms of feedback from a person that we make comments to or more importantly there may even be consequences for our behavior according to the word of God. Realization that we need to look beyond ourselves and instead look at the big picture is essential to maturing in faith and growing in understanding.
This reminds me of how important it is to fear God. The Bible says in Proverbs 9:10. (See V*1). If we fear God in a loving and respectful way by being careful how we comport ourselves in God's presence and choose not to rush into sin for example we are doing exactly that. God sees the motives and desires of our hearts, and he is constantly observing our actions here on Earth. If we fear Him and acknowledge Him, as well as consider the consequences of our actions, we are more likely to obey His commandments. Then, and only then, will we truly be ready to be made perfect through Jesus Christ in accordance with His word. (See V*2 & V*3).
Accepting responsibility for our actions is typically not an easy task, but if we are to live a life according to God's plan we need to remember to do so on a continual basis. We cannot live as if there were no consequences, rewards, and punishment. I believe that one is capable of storing up heavenly treasures for example, but this is not done by spending time choosing to submit to our sinful nature instead of submitting to the will of God.
We need to decide to live our lives for God or for the world. We cannot have both ways, and we cannot or at least should not be lukewarm. (See V*4). We need to choose to be for God or against Him, and I highly recommend that you live for Him. The consequences of being against Him are far too dire and the rewards of being for Him far too great to be ignored.
Choose wisely, I will keep you in my prayers!
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."
"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth."
When we put God in the driver's seat of our lives and submit to His will on a continual basis, eventually He may bless us with the desires of our heart if they truly align with His will. (See V*1). The key point to make here is that God is not in the business of satisfying carnal desires, worldly luxuries, or wicked fantasies. It is when, and only when, we align our heart's desires according to His will that He may grant us the particular desires that are in tune with His will. From time to time I pray that God plants the desire to follow His will first and foremost in my heart.
It is hard to turn away from a sinful lifestyle and choose instead to bear good fruits according to God's calling. (See V*2). This verse makes it clear to me that every once in a while we may assess one another and determine whether or not we are bearing good fruit. How much more then can God assess us and determine if we are bearing good fruit? Certainly some of us care about how others perceive us and act accordingly in specific situations. How much more then should we care about how God perceives us? We should take this to heart and realize that God is always on the lookout. He sees the good, the bad, and the ugly things we do. I don't know about you, but if I continually remind myself that God is constantly observing us, it causes my entire mindset to shift in perspective. All of a sudden the desires of the flesh and other evil thoughts tend to melt away. When I find myself particularly tempted to do something wrong, such as lust or lie, I turn around and praise God. I'll listen to some Christian music and try to get my mind engulfed in a whole new situation. Certainly this doesn't always work out for me, and I do not claim to pull it off every time, but I think it is a good strategy overall.
Despite the difficulties we may encounter along the way, these are exactly the sort of things that God wants us to do in our daily lives. He wants us to praise Him in whatever storm we may find ourselves in. (Funny side-note: I was listening to music and Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns came on when I wrote this.) I am certain that each of us has encountered at least one (if not countless more) possibilities to accept this way of life and it is our free will that allows us to choose to do so or not.
When you feel discouraged, remember you are certainly not alone in your walk to serve God. There are other brothers and sisters in Christ across the globe ready to lend a helping hand and certainly God is always by your side. I am certain that God supernaturally assists and protects His children that haven't been saved yet so that they receive an opportunity or several to accept Him. Unfortunately we need to remind ourselves that time is running short, and we cannot hesitate to act accordingly. Try not to ignore God if he is tugging on your heart!
No one can make the decision for you to live a life that honors, glorifies, and acknowledges God. Only you can make such a decision. Somehow it is refreshing to me to remind myself that God does not need me, but He certainly wants me to choose to follow His will.
Until next time may God guide your path and protect your steps.
God bless you,
V*1- “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday.” Psalms 37:4-5 (HCSB)
V*2- “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” Matthew 12:33 (HCSB)
It is a challenge in today's world for us to stay on the path that God hopes we choose to follow. Certainly there are many more easier paths to choose from that would lead us astray, away from God's great plans for us and away from His supernatural blessings. All of us tend to stray from the optimal path from time to time, but this should not discourage us. We need to remember that although life is relatively short compared to eternity, most of us do have a significant amount of time to choose our paths wisely and situate ourselves in a Christ-like lifestyle.
When we do make a mistake and take a wrong turn we simply need to learn what we can from it, prayerfully admit wrong-doing and receive God's forgiveness, repent of our sins, and hopefully grow in spiritual maturity and righteousness according to God's perfect timing. God's Word tells us in 1 Peter 3:8-12 that we should be like-minded and sympathetic as individual followers of Christ. It also explains how we should try our best to be compassionate with one another instead of seeking revenge or paying back evil with evil or insult with insult.
In other words we are to pray blessings upon those that persecute us and hopefully inspire them to improve their ways themselves. We are also told in this set of verses to pursue and seek peace because God's eyes and ears are on the righteous and He listens to our requests. This is not the case for those who choose to continually submit to their sinful desires and behaviors instead of obeying God. (See V*1).
If we examine 1 Peter 4:7 we discover that discipline and a clear-headed mentality for praying are some of the key attributes that we should possess as believers in our world today.(See V*2). In 1 Peter 4:8 we also observe that we should keep our love for one another at full strength, since love covers a multitude of sins. This observation is also reinforced by a Proverb located in Proverbs 10:12. (See V*3 and V*4). 1 Peter 4:12 also warns us that trials and tribulations are certainly part of a Christian's life. We need to press onward in faith, even in the midst of seemingly insurmountable adversities, and rely on Jesus Christ for our strength. We should not be surprised in the face of suffering, and should furthermore embrace God's love and rejoice that God is in control no matter what mess we may currently find ourselves in. (See V*5).
We must remember to be sober and alert at all times. Our adversary, the Devil, is continually on the prowl according to God's word. Looking for anyone he can devour. (See V*6). We need to be on the lookout and resist the temptations that we face on a daily basis, standing firm in our faith, and reaching out for God's help. You can rest assured you and I are not alone in these situations, for we all suffer through various trials and challenges at different points in our lives. Thankfully our God is bigger than any obstacle, and He is on our side when we choose to be on His side.
I encourage you all, if you haven't already done so, to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. If you take this step and truly decide to live according to God's plans, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. I will keep you all in my prayers, as I hope you will also keep Jim and I in yours.
V*1- â€œNow finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. 10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and he must turn away from evil and do good. He must seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.â€ 1 Peter 3:8-12 (HCSB)
V*2- â€œNow the end of all things is near; therefore, be clear-headed and disciplined for prayer.â€ 1 Peter 4:7
V*3- â€œAbove all, keep your love for one another at full strength, since love covers a multitude of sins.â€ 1 Peter 4:8
V*4- â€œHatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.â€ Proverbs 10:12 (HCSB)
V*5- â€œDear friends, when the fiery ordeal arises among you to test you, don't be surprised by it, as if something unusual were happening to you.â€ 1 Peter 4:12 (HCSB)
V*6- â€œBe sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world.â€ 1 Peter 5:8-9 (HCSB)
A country's moral decay is something to be concerned about.
4/10/2009 by Jim Sager
In many places in the Bible, God destroys nations because of their moral decay. God has spared individuals from the destruction though because of their unwillingness to also become part of the moral decay. Look at Lot being saved from Sodom because Lot was an upstanding individual.
Ezekiel 9:1 Then I heard God shout, "Come here, you men who are going to punish the city. Bring your weapons with you." 2 At once six men came from the outer north gate of the Temple, each one carrying a weapon. With them was a man dressed in linen clothes, carrying something to write with. They all came and stood by the bronze altar. 3 Then the dazzling light of the presence of the God of Israel rose up from the winged creatures where it had been, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. The Lord called to the man dressed in linen, 4 "Go through the whole city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is distressed and troubled because of all the disgusting things being done in the city." 5 And I heard God say to the other men, "Follow him through the city and kill. Spare no one; have mercy on no one. 6 Kill the old men, young men, young women, mothers, and children. But don't touch anyone who has the mark on his forehead. Start here at my Temple."
There was a point in Israel's time where the Israelites turned from God and did absolutely awful things. God had Israel conquered by a foreign nation and great suffering passed. But you see here that God spared some. The people who were concerned with their nation's moral decay were spared. This gives us great hope. Because even if we feel our nation is going through problems such as aborition or gay marriage, individuals will still be spared from God's anger if it does come upon us. We're supposed to be concerned with our nation and what other people are doing, but firstly, we should be concerned about ourselves and our own moral conduct.
Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, 2 for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. 3 Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? 4 How dare you say to your brother, "Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,' when you have a log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
If you refine yourself to be morally spotless in every way, and you feel confident that you repented of sinning, maybe you can start telling others to stop sinning. Personally, I fall into sin and temptation from time and again. Sometimes I do stuff that I am not sure if it is sin or not. Some may take the moral high road and pull the speck out of their brother's eye, but that isn't for me. I know that if I fall that I'll need forgiveness. If I judged another man harshly, God will judge me harshly when I fall to show me the error of my ways.
Still there is no excuse to turn a blind eye to the evils around us. If we see something wrong or corrupt, we should speak up about it. We have the truth. And the power of the truth is being known and coming out to the light. It is the people who walk in darkness that don't want their deeds to be uncovered. Sometimes this is a scale to weigh if what we're doing is a sin. If we'd want people to know what we're doing, it typically isn't a sin. It doesn't work for everything, but it does for a lot of things.
Pr 14:10 Your joy is your own; your bitterness is your own. No one can share them with you.
In the end though, we're each judged individually. God may take in some environmental factors into how you learned bad behavior, but I wouldn't use them as a crutch. We're supposed to stand up and be as righteous as possible for there is a time when God will credit it to our favor. Sure, when we were going around as sinners(if this applies to you), we may have made mistakes. But when we were born again and repented of sin, we should be walking a better path. Our rewards will be individual, but even so, it is good to concern yourself with your nation's struggles because having concern for your nation can count toward your own individual credit. God works that way! And thanks be to God that he does.
It is good to praise God.
4/8/2009 by Jim Sager
Psalm 45: 1 Beautiful words fill my mind, as I compose this song for the king. Like the pen of a good writer my tongue is ready with a poem.
When you come to praise God, you don't have to use big words, but this is the Psalmist writing about Jesus. The following passage makes the most sense when you think about the king being Jesus and his wife being the church.
2 You are the most handsome of men; you are an eloquent speaker. God has always blessed you. 3 Buckle on your sword, mighty king; you are glorious and majestic. 4 Ride on in majesty to victory for the defense of truth and justice!Your strength will win you great victories! 5 Your arrows are sharp, they pierce the hearts of your enemies; nations fall down at your feet. 6 The kingdom that God has given you will last forever and ever. You rule over your people with justice; 7 you love what is right and hate what is evil. That is why God, your God, has chosen you and has poured out more happiness on you than on any other king.
It is great that Jesus is happy. After what he went through on Earth and because of who he is, he should be given all possible blessings. Jesus is deserving. We sometimes get blessings from God, but we're undeserving as all of us have fell short of God. We should be thankful when God gives us blessings, but we did nothing to deserve them.
8 The perfume of myrrh and aloes is on your clothes; musicians entertain you in palaces decorated with ivory. 9 Among the women of your court are daughters of kings, and at the right of your throne stands the queen, wearing ornaments of finest gold. 10 Bride of the king, listen to what I sayâ€” forget your people and your relatives. 11 Your beauty will make the king desire you; he is your master, so you must obey him. 12 The people of Tyre will bring you gifts; rich people will try to win your favor. 13 The princess is in the palaceâ€”how beautiful she is! Her gown is made of gold thread. 14 In her colorful gown she is led to the king, followed by her bridesmaids, and they also are brought to him. 15 With joy and gladness they come and enter the king's palace. 16 You, my king, will have many sons to succeed your ancestors as kings, and you will make them rulers over the whole earth. 17 My song will keep your fame alive forever, and everyone will praise you for all time to come.
Earthly kings try to ascribe honor to themselves. Some earthly kings want their subjects to worship them. Some people are just power mad on Earth. But Jesus is perfect. Jesus is deserving of all honor and praise. When you know Jesus suffered and died so we wouldn't have to go to hell, you should be wise to worship him. When you realize that you're also going to Heaven because of him, you should be thankful.