Monday, May 15, 2017

The Truth Can Be Found

I like to be honest about everything so let me be honest in this matter: The things found in the bible are foolish to our natural mind. There is no way to effectively dispute this fact. I'll take it a step my opinion, a person would have to be crazy to accept what it says strictly upon face value.

While we are being honest, can we be honest about something else? In spite of all our scientific and technological advancements, there is still so much we do not understand. More importantly, in our own hearts there remain many important questions unanswered.

Regardless of what we believe, we are all in the same boat. Nobody was around when the universe was created. Sure, we can believe a scientist's explanation of creation based on their data and research. But do we really understand every single detail that went into their research? Probably not. If not, aren't we on some level simply trusting their explanation without knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt it is true?

The same goes for those who believe in God. Do we really know for sure He exists, or are we just trusting our parents, pastor or whoever else taught us about faith? If we do not know for sure what or why we believe, or if we are not absolutely sure that God exists, aren't we just trusting someone else's explanation?

So how do we know for sure if God exists? It may sound crazy, but why not ask God Himself? If He isn't real then you won't receive an answer. If He is real, surely He could find a way to prove it inside your heart. Makes sense, right?

Sadly, there can be major obstacles to this simple process. The biggest is this- If we are not willing to open our hearts to the possibility that God is real, He will never be able to come inside and prove His existence. Why? Because the God I know is a gentleman and respects the free will of all people. He will not force Himself upon anyone.

Why are we not willing to open our hearts to the idea He might exist? Some are not willing to change their lives according to God's plan. For others, the existence of a loving and righteous God would mean they are guilty of sin. If God is not real then a person will not have to address these difficult issues.

The truth is, many of us are afraid to deal with these issues inside our heart. Making matters worse, the world around us often serves as an enabler for our desire to hide from the truth. We mask our pain and hide by indulging in various pleasures in this world. Our actions are justified and normalized in our mind because we surround ourselves with people who do the same thing. In essence, we create a reality that serves our agenda, rather than facing truth and shaping our reality around that instead of lies.

Since I have done all of these things, I am qualified to speak about the solution I've found. Until I was ready to accept truth and responsibility for my own actions, I was unable to see truth around me. Indeed, we are all in some ways blinded by the spell that engulfs this evil world. The only way we can accurately see truth is to receive the Spirit of Truth. Unless we are willing to admit our blindness, the Light cannot come inside our heart and expose the lies around us.

People can argue about science versus God, politics, or anything else. I have no stomach for this because it is vain and useless. My motivation is not to sound smart or to be right about everything...I am motivated by my love for truth. Here is my testimony and question for you and the whole world: Truth is there for everyone to see, if we are willing to receive it no matter what form it takes. Why not just ask for it?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Witnessing For Christ

When I first received the Lord as a very young man, I had very little understanding about many things. In regards to sharing my experience with Jesus, I knew doing so was a good thing. But my ignorance and spiritual immaturity caused me to make many mistakes.

Before I go any further, let me be clear that my experience may not be similar to yours. We are called to be different things to different people. My story is not meant to be a cookie cutter approach to the faith for people to mimic. Rather, I share these things to inspire others to draw closer to Christ and become everything He wants you to be, not what I want you to be. If somebody can relate to my experiences and be blessed as a result, Amen. If my testimony does not relate to you on a spiritual level, Amen. Nonetheless, I will be obedient to the One inside my heart.

So then, when I was a new Christian I was susceptible to many deceptions. Oftentimes I would feel obligated to witness for the wrong reasons. Instead of being lead by the Spirit, I was motivated by things inspired by other people. I also allowed a guilty conscience to guide my heart instead of God. This resulted in many poor decisions and unsuccessful endeavors.

During this process of failure, I learned that trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons will not yield spiritual fruit. Sharing Christ with others is a noble and righteous thing; doing it your way instead of following God's lead is not. My heart was in the right place but I lacked spiritual discernment. Because of this I made many mistakes.

There are two major lessons I learned that have helped me be more effective in my testimony for Christ:

1) People do not believe in God by choice. It is imperative that people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ be given this information. This is why our Lord commanded us to preach the Gospel to the whole world. However, in America just about everyone has heard about Jesus. Those who have not believed in His name have done so willingly.

Some will claim they do not believe because there is a lack of proof. But if they are like I was, they are using this as an excuse to avoid addressing the subject in their hearts. The truth is, if anybody wants to know if God is real, they need only to ask Him. When I was willing to admit I was a sinner and receive God, no matter who He was or what I needed to do, this is when I received proof in my heart. Unless somebody is willing to accept the truth, no amount of arguing will change their mind.

2) Jesus knows everyone who will accept Him in advance. The bible says before we were born, God knew us. This is what it means to be pre-destined into the Kingdom of God. He doesn't play favorites in regards to eternal salvation; indeed, the bible says God desires everyone to be saved. But in His foreknowledge of who will accept Him, He has crafted a pathway in life for all of His children to find His love.

What does this mean? For me, this revelation meant I didn't have to worry that my mistakes would cause someone to go to hell. The eternal destiny of others does not rest on my ability. God knows exactly what it takes to bring His children to Him; my faults, weaknesses or mistakes will not stop God's eternal plans for salvation. In fact, in crafting His eternal plan, He already had my weaknesses in mind. The bottom line is, God will find a way to reach those who will choose Jesus Christ and salvation no matter what we do or don't do.

Now let me be clear about something. God is counting on us to reach others with the Gospel of Christ; If we don't, who will? It doesn't mean we should sit on our hands and let God or somebody else do the work. But if we try and do the right things for the wrong reasons, we will fail in our attempts.

If I know in my heart that God will not allow His children to slip away, suddenly my anxiety disappears. I simply need to be obedient to what the Holy Spirit is leading me to say or do. If I am not successful at first, I do not need to pound the Gospel down somebody's throat. I can share my testimony and leave it at that.

We can only water a plant; it is God who makes it grow. If the truth is not enough for people to accept Jesus, nothing will. Or, perhaps our testimony is a seed being sown in their heart that God will grow at a later date. We may not see results now but our efforts may bear fruit later on.

To summarize, what did I learn? I learned in order to effectively witness to others about Christ, I must do so for the right reasons. If I am allowing myself to be influenced by anything else other than the Holy Spirit, the effectiveness of my testimony will be severely weakened. If I argue instead of having patience by allowing God to work in the hearts of others through my testimony, my efforts will fail. Since God knows everyone who will receive His love in advance, He knows exactly what it takes to bring them to a place of repentance and acceptance. This frees me from the pressure to be perfect or to witness in an overbearing way. Now I can be lead by the Spirit and trust in His plan, rather than force the issue against the will of God.

May we all sacrifice more of ourselves and draw closer to Jesus, so that we can receive spiritual enlightenment and discernment, not only in regards to giving our testimony of Him but also in everything. Amen

(Scripture references: Jeremiah 1:5, Romans 8:29-30, 1Timothy 2:1-4, John 6:39,40)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Miracle Of Grace

The bible says we are all born into sin because of one man, Adam. It also says we are all redeemed and rescued from sin because of one man, Jesus Christ. After learning this, two things jump out at me:

1) Our actions and words have an enormous impact in our lives. Think about it...because of one man's sinful act of disobedience, all of mankind after him was cursed with death! Just one sin did all of that. This is a testament to how much God hates sin and how destructive it can be in this world.

2) The grace of God is immeasurable. I think we all take for granted just what our Lord's death on the cross really meant. To put it in perspective, try and imagine giving up your child or most cherished loved one to be tortured beyond belief. And for what reason? To save complete strangers who are disgusting and vulgar criminals, who have committed the most heinous of crimes. Even though God loves us beyond anything we can imagine, that is how repulsive our sin was to Him before he offered up His Son to be tortured for our sake. That kind of unselfish love cannot be found in this world.

The bible also says when we accept Jesus into our hearts, our inherited sinful nature is destroyed and we become new creatures in Christ. When this happens, we become adopted sons and daughters into the family of the Most High God. Now, all of us know that every good parent loves their adopted children as much as their own. If imperfect human parents are capable of this kind of love, how much more will a perfect God love us, his adopted children? :)

Our salvation is a free gift and is not conditional. Those who have been transformed by Jesus know about the change that has occurred inside their heart. They also recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit from when He wasn't there before. In fact, the bible says the Holy Spirit is our down payment for the promise of one day meeting our Heavenly Father. It is our proof that we have indeed been rescued from death and given eternal life.

This is the grace of God: When we were dead in sin and enemies to God, He offered up His beloved Son do die for those who deserved death. The King of the universe humbled Himself and took on the flesh of His creation. He also submitted Himself to suffering and death so we could live. Quite simply, He saved us because we could not do it ourselves. We did the crime and He did the time.

For this reason I will bow my knee only to Him. Because He loves me so much, I will submit my whole heart to Him. There is no other who is worthy of my admiration or worship, other than Jesus Christ. When I was drowning in shame and sadness, He came into my heart, put me on my feet and gave me life; I owe everything to Him. To show my gratitude, I will proclaim to the whole world what He has done in my life, in the hope that others will receive the same grace I've been given.

(Scripture references: Romans 5:12-21, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 8:14-17, John 3:16-18)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wisdom Is For Everyone

I do not believe God only wants to reveal Himself to a small, special group of people. In fact, my life is a living contradiction to that idea. I know in my heart that God wishes to have a deep and personal relationship with every single one of us, regardless of our social status or level of education.

The wisdom that you read in my posts does not come from any man. I was not taught these things in school. If you were to meet me in person, you would not be overly impressed. I am not a great speaker and I don't have a lot of money; I am not some important member of society.

On the contrary, I made a lot of foolish mistakes growing up. I come from a broken home; I lacked direction and guidance. At one point I stopped believing in God, having been blinded by the sinful pleasures of this world.

One day when I was alone, I cried out to a God I wasn't even sure was real. He answered my cry for help and 24 years later, here I am. Why I am here with you now? I believe God has chosen me to be an example to everyone. He can take ordinary people whom the world considers foolish and fill them with His wisdom.

Everything I write and share with you has one purpose- To lead people closer to Jesus Christ. All you need is a strong desire to learn from Him, in order to gain wisdom and spiritual strength. When I first gave my life to the Lord, I was so lost and pathetic. All I had was my belief in an invisible God and His promises found in Scripture. There was one in particular that stood out to me: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."

Looking back at who I was before and who I am now, I am living proof that God will keep this promise. If we search for His wisdom like buried treasure and value it above all else, we will be richly blessed, just like Jesus promised to us. Not only that, His love will begin to overflow in our hearts and our fears will melt away.

I believe all of us have something unique in Christ to show to the world. Individually we are only given a small revelation of Jesus. But together as the body of Christ, we can shine a more complete image of Christ to the world. May we all be motivated to give up everything to Him, so that we may be filled with His Spirit, and in turn shine His light to a darkened world. Amen.

(Scripture references: Matthew 5:6, Proverbs 2:1-8)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Spiritual Justification

In life we are rewarded by how hard we work; this is necessary to excel and succeed at something. The same applies to our spiritual life. However, there is a difference between earning spiritual gifts versus earning eternal salvation.

The bible tells us salvation cannot be earned. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not because of our good works. If we look to justify ourselves toward God based on a merit system, we will always fail. That is because we are born with a sinful nature; our bodies are weak and imperfect, which causes us to sin.

On earth, if somebody does not break the law for their entire life but then robs a bank, is arrested and brought to trial, won't they still be punished and sent to jail for their crime? The judge will not say, "Well, since you've been a good person all your life before robbing a bank, we'll drop the charges against you." The same is true in the spiritual realm. After we die and stand before God on Judgment Day, no amount of good deeds will overcome our crimes.

Whenever we break God's law through sin, we are guilty and subject to eternal punishment. If we are justified by obeying His law, then we are also worthy of punishment when we disobey His law. This is precisely why people cannot earn eternal life by doing good deeds. Our bad deeds always cancel out the good ones, not the other way around.

If religion could save us, Christ did not need to come down from heaven and die for our sins. So why did Jesus have to die for our sins? Because nothing unclean can coexist with God. In order for us to find eternal life and fellowship with God, our unclean hearts must first be changed. But before this could happen, someone had to satisfy God's need for justice. Since we are unable to pay the price for our sin, He sent the only One who could: His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

God cannot overlook sin. Therefore we must receive the gift of salvation by accepting Christ into our hearts. If we do this, when we stand before God on Judgment Day, our sins will not be held against us. Rather, we will be judged by Christ's perfect life on earth.

Those who trust in Jesus are trusting in His righteousness in place of their own. Since our "righteousness" is not good enough to earn eternal life, those who do not accept the free gift of salvation will be judged by their own deeds.

The bible is clear that no man or woman will be justified by good works. In fact, good works should be a reflection of the love of Jesus inside our hearts, not something done to earn salvation. Those who trust in their own strength will always fail and fall short; those who trust in Jesus Christ will not only find peace in this world but everlasting life in the world to come.

(Scripture references: Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 3:10-13)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Eternal Medicine

Human nature is to wallow in self-pity. I've done it; we all do it. Life is rough and can beat you down sometimes.

I can tell you how it's better to give to receive, that we should think about others above ourselves. It's true this is a more noble way. But the truth is, there is no one more important to us than us. Unless we are well, it is impossible to serve others unconditionally.

If we are to become selfless, I believe the hole in our heart must first be filled. How can we be a light to others if we suffer from the pain inside our darkened hearts? How can we cheer up those around us when we ourselves are suffocated by sadness? If we are to become selfless, I believe the hole in our heart must first be filled. How can we be a light to others if we suffer from the pain inside our darkened hearts? How can we cheer up those around us when we ourselves are suffocated by sadness?

Friends and family are a big help. Nothing feels better than a kind word from somebody we love. But if we're honest with ourselves, no matter how much support we have from other people, in the end we must face our fears alone. Everyone has to overcome their demons on their own. Nobody can fight all our battles for us in this life. When it's all said and done, we alone will be accountable for our actions, good or bad, in this life and the next. One day, all of us will die and face the afterlife. At that time, our friends and family will be unable to help us.

So how can we fill the hole in our hearts? By now you know what worked for me. In the bible, Jesus said that whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. This statement seems to contradict itself, but those who have trusted the Lord and have lived by this command can attest to its truthfulness.
My priority in life used to be looking for ways to have a good time. Deep down I was trying to mask the pain and loneliness in my heart. I would feel sorry for myself when things went wrong. Rather than acknowledge my lifestyle was causing many of my problems, I chose to make excuses and play the victim. When I decided to finally accept responsibility for my actions and ask for forgiveness, the hole inside my heart was filled. When I stopped living life my way and started trusting the new voice of God inside my heart, that is when happiness flooded my heart.

Rather than feeling sorry for ourselves by focusing only on our needs, why not embrace the unselfish love of God? Rather than trying to satisfy the physical lusts of our flawed bodies (that will one day be worm food anyway), should we not prioritize the need to satisfy our eternal spirit instead?
There is a saying that a cheerful heart is like medicine for our bodies. Let's all grab hold of everlasting medicine, which is the love of God. When we do, we'll find the strength to overcome every obstacle this life can bring. It will always burn brightly in our hearts, even when everything around us have become dark.

(Scripture references: Matthew 16:25, Proverbs 17:22)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lean Not On Your Own Understanding

The turning point in my life happened when I discovered some of my perceptions and attitudes were flawed. In fact, I learned my very nature was dishonest and hypocritical.

There is a Scripture in the bible that reads: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." When I was young and arrogant, these words meant nothing to me; I regarded this as foolishness. But once I started suffering the consequences for lifestyle choices I thought were good, I became more willing to accept other ideas other then my own.

Suffering has a way of breaking down the walls of stubbornness that surround our hearts. It also has a way of humbling our souls. This is essential if we are to find God. Without humility, no man or woman can ever receive God in their heart.

We can never truly find righteousness until we admit our mistakes. A person can never be pure and find spiritual honor until they first humble themselves to God. The bible confirms this truth when it said: "Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor."

I used to think I knew everything. If someone disagreed with me I would belittle their opinions and consider them as fools. If people believed something I could not understand, they were crazy idiots in my mind. Rather than look deep inside myself and accept responsibility for my lack of vision, it was easier to mock what I did not understand.

It wasn't until I started to honestly analyze my thoughts and reasons for doing things that I began to find wisdom. It happened in many different ways but I'd like to use one example to help illustrate what I'm talking about.

I am very impatient by nature. The main reason is because my inner motor is always running 100 mph. It can be very hard for me to slow myself down. As a kid, this impatience manifested itself in many aspects of my life, one of which was driving a car.

I had a very hard time waiting for people around me who were driving slower than I was. As a result, I often did risky maneuvers to get around other cars. I couldn't understand why everyone else was going so slow. A lot of times I got angry at other drivers and thought they were morons.

Then one day I almost got into an accident. The fear I felt inspired me to start analyzing my driving methods and thought process. Over time I learned my impatience clouded my judgment of things happening around me. I found that in my over zealousness to get around other cars, sometimes I didn't see things. This was creating dangerous situations.

Then I learned something else. Say for instance I passed a red car. I would fly past them, only to be stopped by a red light a little while later. A few seconds passed after stopping and I would see the red car pull up right next to me at the red light.

What did that mean? All of my impatience and energy spent trying to pass the red car was useless. It was a waste of time. We traveled the same distance, even though I passed him. So not only was I putting myself and others at risk by my impatient driving, in the end it didn't even matter. Most times I wasn't getting there any faster than those who were driving patiently.

I learned my impatient, impulsive nature was counterproductive and dangerous. This truth has confirmed to me that the bible is right about human nature. When I was willing to accept the truth about myself and admit I was flawed, God's wisdom was able to come into my heart. When I started to lean on Him instead of my distorted perception of life, I became enlightened in many things. Countless deceptions around me that were hidden before were now being exposed as lies.

When we humble ourselves to God and receive the Holy Spirit of Truth inside our hearts, confusion will give way to knowledge; light will replace darkness; sin will be replaced by integrity and our emptiness will be filled by love. Wisdom will reveal itself when we condition our spiritual eyes to see it. I am a living testimony to this fact. Wisdom costs nothing and is eager to come inside us; all we have to do is ask for it.

(Scripture references: Proverbs:3:5, Proverbs 15:33)