Heart of Life or Death?

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23, Amplified Bible). Our hearts are absolutely amazing! The average heart pumps roughly 2,000 gallons of blood through the body daily to supply our bodies with oxygen and nutrients and it even carries away waste. When the heart isn’t working properly the body does not get the oxygen or nourishment that it needs to thrive and operate properly and eventually it can lead to death. It’s amazing that all this happens from something the size of your fist, but those are only the physical things that the heart does.

The heart also has an emotional and spiritual side and it operates much like the physical side. Most people have had their heart broken at some point in time or another and can testify to the fact that the heart holds emotions. Most of us have also been angry at people and hurt by others as well and our hearts feel hardened because of this. On the flip side when we feel great joy our hearts can feel as though they are fluttering or floating. Our hearts are extremely complex and they can guide our actions depending on how we feel and thus we must guard them with diligence to keep them healthy. We must keep out the things that will cause them harm while allowing them to be open to love people and care for others just as Christ loved the church.

Our actions are determined by the motives in our heart and when our hearts are bad our actions are either bad or they are not all that they could be if our heart has been nurtured. The way we treat others is determined by our motives and thus we must watch over our heart with all diligence if we want to honor God in our actions toward him and others.

2 Corinthians 8:10-15, New Living Translation
10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. 15 As the Scriptures say,
“Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over,
and those who gathered only a little had enough.”

Giving up our time, money, and possessions is something that is extremely difficult to do because in our hearts our love for our own safety and comfort is so great and our trust in others is so small that we can hesitate in our giving, even if we know God is urging us to give in a certain way. Our giving reflects what is going on in our heart and when we are nurturing our hearts and loving God properly we will love others properly. No one wants to be without and often times because we fear we will be without we fail to give in order to help others as God is leading us to do, but God has told us that when we give eagerly out of what we have rather than out of what we don’t have then we will always have enough. This is completely contrary to what the world tells us to do. We are told that we need to save, save, save, or spend, spend, spend on ourselves depending upon what we are listening to, but God tells us to give and to give cheerfully.

God has blessed me and my family greatly since we started giving freely to Him. We have never been without and in fact we have always had plenty. There are times we have not felt we were supposed to give a certain amount and were fearful because it was more than we desired to let go of, but God has always been faithful and we have always had plenty. Our giving boils down to our relationship with God and whether or not we trust what he tells us. If we trust ourselves over God then we will never have enough, but when we put our trust in the Lord we will always have what we need.

May God bless you as you faithfully and lovingly follow Him. May He provide for your needs as you give freely as He has told you to give. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

Set Apart for God

Today’s message is a little bit harder to swallow than most, but none-the-less it is God’s Word. In 2 Corinthians 6 verses 14-18 Paul is warning the believers in Corinth about partnering with unbelievers. First off it is important to realize that there were a lot of false teachers who were infiltrating the church and spreading a false message. They presented themselves as Christians, but did not bear the message of Christ. Secondly it is not saying to hate unbelievers or even to be harsh towards them. Instead it is about the believer and follower of Christ setting themselves apart from the world. It is about not being overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21).

As Christians we are exhorted to Love God and to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40) and by the blood of Jesus Christ we have been made holy for all time (Hebrews. 10:10). To be made holy means to be set apart to God. In the Old Testament the level of holiness determined who could enter the temple of God. Those who were unbelievers or non-Jews, for this example, were not allowed past the outer courts, Jew’s the inner courts, priests the Holy Place, and the High Priest the Holy of Holies and only once a year. The closer to God people got the more holy they needed to be. Luckily for us the curtain of the temple which separated man from God was torn when Jesus was crucified (Matthew 27:51) and because of that we are now able to approach God directly, but we are still to make ourselves holy, confessing our sin to God and repenting, when we approach Him. What that means for us today in regards to the following passage is that we must not team up with those who follow Satan, those who do not follow God, and we must remain Holy so that we can remain in close fellowship with God.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18
14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
“I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you.
18 And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

This does not mean we should not talk to unbelievers, but it does mean that we need to be on guard, it means that we must realize that as long as they choose not to follow God that they are considered enemies of God, until such a time that they choose to follow Him. Military personnel are a prime example of this. When deployed to a combat zone military personnel are often times out in the midst of the “enemy” sometimes the enemy is known and has a face, while other times the enemy is unknown and hiding amongst civilians. Military bases are generally more safe than being “outside the wire” or outside the confines of the base and less vigilance is needed within the confines of the base; however, when going outside of the base everyone needs to remain super vigilant for their own safety and for the safety of their team. That does not mean they are to be rude or mean to people, but it means they must be on guard because there could be someone waiting to cause them harm, and at the same time there may be others who do not want to be associated with the enemy.

As Christians we must be vigilant when we are associating with non-believers so that we do not become like them. We must remain aware that Satan is out to attack God’s people in any way that he can and he will use those who are under his control to do his work, even people that we might consider friends and family. We have been called to live a different life than those who do not follow God. Of course these people may be great people, but if they are not for God then they are against Him and we must be on guard when around them so that we do not go astray.

Being a Christian means that we must go out into the world in order to share the Gospel, but that also places us at risk. On the extreme side of things there may come a time when you feel as though you cannot minister to a friend and you may feel as though you can no longer be around them because of their refusal to accept God’s message, but only you can make that determination as you are so led by the Holy Spirit living within you. Remember it is our responsibility to spread the Gospel message to the world around us and when we place ourselves in the proximity of unbelievers we must not waiver in our beliefs and in our love for God. This is a hard place to be, especially for new believers and those who are weaker in their faith because when we first come to Christ and when we are not firmly grounded in the Word of God we can be easily led astray.

People should always be able to recognize that you are a Christian, even if you are with someone who is not. We are not to hide in our own little safe bubbles where nothing can harm us because then we are doing nothing to let the world know how great our God is, but we must be ever vigilant when we are in the world so that we do not become seduced by the ways of the world.

May God bless you today as you faithfully and courageously follow Him. May He keep you out of the hands of the devil even when you are in close proximity to those who follow his ways. May you be a light to a dark world to bring people to the only one who can provide a full and satisfying life, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen!

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

We are Promised New Bodies!!

Have you ever noticed that we live in an age where everything is made to be thrown away? This is very different from the way things used to be. Things used to be made to last, but now almost everything has a short lifespan. Instead of mending things we simply get the newest and best thing on the market: phones, televisions, appliances, clothes, shoes, etc. Unfortunately relationships are not much different these days. Most of us choose to be so busy that we don’t really have time to invest in meaningful relationships anymore. Sure we may check our social media to see how people are doing and probably send a happy birthday or quick message once in a while, but then it’s off to the next best thing.

There is one thing that exists that has not changed though. It is still just as reliable as it always was. That it is God. He is the same as he always was and His Word is just as good as it always was. Even though we may not invest the time into our relationship with Him as we should He is still there trying to have a relationship with us. He is still there waiting for us to recognize our need for him. He has proven himself over and over again to His people yet they still reject Him. As He led the Israelite’s through the desert on the way to the Promised Land He provided everything they needed and even made sure that what they had did not wear out.

Deuteronomy 8:2-4
2 Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell.

Just as God took care of the Israelite’s in the desert and provided them with clothes that did not wear out He has promised to do the same for us in eternity if we follow Him. All that we have now is wearing out, but when we die we will receive new bodies that will never wear out. All of our needs will be provided for and we will never be in want.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5
1 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

Isn’t it great to know that even though things are fading away while we are in our earthly bodies that we will receive new bodies when we are with our Lord? God’s provision is never ceasing as long as we follow Him. He cares for us always and desires to take care of us, and sometimes that means that when we disobey Him we must be disciplined. Verses 1 and 5 of Deuteronomy 8 state, “1 Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.” “5 Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.”

We have a good and gracious God who is very patient with us and end even though we mess up sometimes we can trust that He will continue to be there for us as long as we keep our focus on Him and off the things of the world that Satan is using to try to deter us from following God. By the blood of Jesus Christ we are able to be renewed in our relationship with the Father even when we fall if we will humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and turn back to following God.

May God bless you as you follow Him today and tomorrow and every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

Light up the Darkness

Life has a way of getting us to see the negative side of things rather than the good in things, as well as people for that matter, but it does not have to be that way. Bad things are always going to happen and there are always going to be negative people around us, but we do not have to allow it to impact the way we act or feel. From personal experience I know this to be very difficult, but we can do all things through Christ, who give us strength (Phil. 4:13). If we put our mind to seeing the positive and not letting the negative get us down because of Christ living within us we can actually change the environment around us.

Colossians 3:23 says that we are to “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” This verse is speaking about obedience to those in authority over us, but at the core of things either God or Satan is the authority over us. If we have accepted Jesus Christ as both our Lord and Savior, in others words if we have chosen to submit to him and follow him than we no longer have to obey Satan when he tries to tell us that we should be negative, angry, jealous, or any other feeling that we tend to go through when things don’t seem to be going quite right.

As Christians we have a light within us because of Jesus Christ that gives us both the power and the authority to change things around us, not for our glory but for God’s.

2 Corinthians 4:5-6
5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

When we allow our hearts to be overwhelmed by the glory of God we cannot help but to reflect that light. The opposite is true when we do not keep our eyes fixed on the things above and we become overwhelmed by the darkness around us and instead of reflecting light we cover it up and let the darkness prevail.

Following Jesus is not just about being saved, praise God we have that opportunity, but it is also about having a full and satisfying life here on earth, regardless of what our circumstances are. If you find that you are currently in a place of darkness where nothing seems to be going right then why not choose to see the light and eventually with diligence you will begin to sense a change within you and you will begin to naturally see things differently. When we do this we have the opportunity to show others that life can be better as well, but it is always a choice.

May God’s light shine through you as you focus on him in all of his glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

How do you Smell Today?

What’s your aroma like today? Are you putting off an aroma that is pleasing to the Lord or one that is displeasing to the Lord, maybe even pungent? If we think back we can probably all remember times in our lives when we’ve been near someone who did not smell very good, or maybe even someone who was wearing way too much perfume or cologne that thought they smelled good that made you want to get away from them as quickly as possible. Well, the way we live our lives has the same effect for God.

2 Corinthians 2:14-17
14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

When we live our lives according to God’s will our lives, as a sacrifice to the Lord, put off the smell of a sweet perfume. When we do not live our lives according to God’s will our lives simply stink. We can try to cover up our smell with some good deeds, but ultimately God will not be deceived. When we don’t live our lives properly but still try to make it look like we are following God we put off a displeasing smell for God just like the person who is wearing too much perfume or cologne. We may think that we are covering up a displeasing smell, but God will not be fooled.

Romans 12:1
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

We have a choice to follow God and to live our lives as a sacrifice to God and when we abide in Him our lives put off a pleasing aroma for Him, but when we don’t we are a stench in His nose. How we live our lives matters and even though following God may not be appealing to the world it is not the world who gives us eternal life. We each have a choice to make today in this moment and in all the moments in our days until the Lord returns. We all put off an aroma to the Lord, but only we can decide for it to be a pleasing aroma.

Praise be to God for His son Jesus Christ that we have a choice to follow Him and to have life, even though we are sinners. We have the opportunity to please God by loving Him and following Him. We have the opportunity to bring others with us and to bring His light into the world. It’s up to us, you and me and all those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ to spread His love and to light up the world. Let’s bring as many as we can with us and make this world a better place until the Lord returns.

May God bless you as live your life as a sacrifice to Him and may your life be as a sweet perfume in His nose. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’