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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Can Know Truth By Looking at God

In review of Proverbs 2:9 it says, “God shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.”

Bottom Line:
God will show you how to know right from wrong and which path to take.

What this means to me:
With wisdom from God, I will learn how to distinguish right from wrong and how to find the right decision and ultimately the way to go.

As I explored yesterday, the philosophies of individualism, secularism, and relativism have really devastated our culture’s moral thermometer, the consequences of which have been dramatic in general and on each of us individually.

What can I possible do about it?

The first part of Proverbs 2 instructs me to search earnestly for wisdom and insight and ask the Lord to grant wisdom and understanding. I am to start with God, who embodies truth. What is truly right and wrong will get its meaning in the character of God himself. Dishonesty is wrong because God is honest. Unfaithfulness is wrong because God is faithful. I can know truth by looking at how God interacts with me.

Today’s verse says, “[God] shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time” (Proverbs 2:9 TLB). I can know the character of God through his Word. The Bible tells me what’s true whether I like what it says or not.

Once I encounter truth, God’s truth, I’ll recognize two key features of it every time I see it.

First it’s universal. It applies to everyone. If it doesn’t apply to everyone, it’s not truth. It’s an opinion. Secondly, it’s unchanging. It won’t be moved by fads or fashions. Adultery was wrong 2,000 years ago, it’s wrong today, and it will be wrong 4,000 years from today.

The choice is mine. “Whose justice? Whose morality? Whose community? Whose family? Whose values?” This my choice each and every day. There are three options for how to discover truth. I can choose to base my morality on what I think, on what other people think, or on what God thinks.

In summary my choice will dictate how I live and love. With wisdom from God, I will learn how to distinguish right from wrong and how to find the right decision and ultimately the way to go.

Monday, November 23, 2015

What I Believe Shapes My Life

In review of Psalm 11:3 it says, “When the foundations of life are undermined, what can a righteous person do?”

Bottom Line:
When it seems the foundation has been compromised, what can a righteous person do but rely on God.

What this means to me:
When the foundations of life are undermined and have collapsed, what can a righteous person do but rely on God.

What I believe about the world around me greatly shapes everything about my life. What I believe determines my behavior. My behavior then determines what I become, and that has a direct effect on the direction life.

The same thing is true of a country or the world; they are largely shaped by the values we believe. Unfortunately it’s apparent that our culture has bought into three very destructive philosophies that have replaced truth in most lives.

First, individualism - Many buy into the lie that we’re the only standard for our lives. Often when emotions run high and our passions are inflamed, we will rarely consult with anyone else before making a decision. The Israelites went through something very similar as recorded in the book of Judges, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25 NLT). It didn’t work well then, and it doesn’t work well today.

Second, secularism - This can be summarized in three words: “God is unnecessary.” It appears that more and more we’ve been systematically removing God from all areas of our lives; from schools to the government to the media. God is at best relegated to Sunday mornings, if we even consider him then.

Lastly, relativism - That’s when culture believe that there are no absolutes; what’s true for you may not be true for me. It’s a great way to live if you don’t want any guilt. If you don’t measure up to God’s standard, you just change the standard. It’s both illogical and irrational, but it’s highly prevalent in world today.

Don’t be conned by individualism (a love for yourself), secularism (where God is unnecessary), or relativism (where there are no absolutes).

The consequences for our society and for us as individuals for falling for these cons is staggering. Without a commitment to truth and a commitment to the authority of God, our culture is crumbling.

The second half of Psalm 11 provides the hope for things fall apart.  It says, “But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked, punishing them with scorching winds. For the righteous Lord loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.” (Psalm 11:4-7, NLT)

In summary, when the foundations of life are undermined and have collapsed, what can a righteous person do but rely on God. One thing I can do is not fall into the trap of individualism, secularism, and relativism in my own life.  Perhaps I can be someone who by living my life differently from others can be an attractive example for others to be interested in living out the truth in their lives.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Learning To Do Good to Those Who Oppose Me

In review of Luke 6:27-29 it says, “Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.”

Bottom Line:
Love those who are against you, even bless and pray for their happiness. Try not to let their offenses against you bother you.

What this means to me:
I am to love my enemies and do good to those who hate me. I should bless and pray for the happiness of those who curse or mistreat me. I should not let their offenses bother me.

This passage reminds me that when I get persecuted, harassed, and face opposition, I need to respond with a blessing rather than my knee-jerk reaction to retaliate.

Jesus says in Luke 6:27-29, “Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also” (NLT).

I have to admit that this is not my first reaction.  However, it’s what Christ would want me to do. It’s what sets me apart. It’s not a natural or popular or easy response. In fact, it will take a lot of courage to do. Any fool can fight back. Any wimp can retaliate. Any idiot can say something mean back.

God wants me to love my enemies, do good to those who hate me, bless those who curse me, pray for those who hurt me, and turn the other cheek. Is that easy? No. However, I can do this by being filled with God’s love. If I do, this can be the most powerful form of witness.

When I refuse to retaliate and instead respond in love at work or with somebody who doesn’t like me, God will be pleased. And, I’m going to be blessed.

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven” (Matthew 5:10-12a).

Jesus paid a high price for me. He says there’s a price to be paid for following him. Popularity on Earth is not part of the guarantee of being a Christian, but my reward in Heaven is a guarantee.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Understanding the Real Source of Opposition

In review of 2 Timothy 2:25-26 it says, “Be humble when you correct people who oppose you. Maybe God will lead them to turn to him and learn the truth. They have been trapped by the devil, and he makes them obey him, but God may help them escape.”

Bottom Line:
Be humble in how you speak to those who don’t understand the truth. Perhaps God will use your interaction as an opportunity to help them with a change of heart, allowing them to escape the enemy’s trap that has held them captive.

What this means to me:
I am to be humble and gently speak with those who oppose me or are mixed up concerning the truth. Perhaps God will my interaction with them as an opportunity to help them with understanding and a change of heart allowing them to escape from the enemy's trap that held them captive.

Today’s verse helps me realize that when I may face opposition because of my faith, I should readily recognize the source of this opposition. It’s not others. The pressure I feel to cave in or be quiet or sit down when I should stand up, is not coming from others, but rather coming from the enemy.

In Revelation 12:10, the enemy, “Satan” is called “the accuser of the Christians.” His number one job is to put me down.

What I’ve learned is that there is an unseen spiritual battle going on all around me. This pressure to keep me from doing the right thing is not really coming from others. They’re just weapons. Most of the time they don’t even know they’re being used. The real issue is spiritual warfare.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “We are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world” (TEV).

Satan knows it doesn’t make sense to attack Jesus Christ directly, so instead he attacks those who follow him. He uses the media and music and popular culture and anything he can to ridicule those who follow Jesus. He’s behind the voices saying, “Those Christians are out of date. They’re on the wrong side of history. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re prejudice against equality.”

Here’s what the Bible says I should do: “Stay away from stupid and senseless arguments. These only lead to trouble. God’s servants must not be troublemakers. They must be kind to everyone, and they must be good teachers and very patient. Be humble when you correct people who oppose you …. They have been trapped by the devil, and he makes them obey him, but God may help them escape” (2 Timothy 2:23-26 CEV).

Without the Holy Spirit in my life, I would not have any defense against the enemy. He can after my mood, push me into depression or make me angry.

While I may think I’m strong, I’m not strong enough to fight Satan’s attacks on my own. What I need to do is recognize the source — the enemy, not the person — and treat the opposition the way Jesus did, (even on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”)

The people who attack me or put down Jesus, the church and Christianity don’t know what they’re doing. My reaction should also be to pray, “Father, forgive them” so that I can show love even under attack and so I’ll have more energy to fight the real enemy.

In summary, I need to remember to be humble and gently speak with those who oppose me or are mixed up concerning things related to the truth. It’s the enemy at work. Perhaps my gentle response will be used by God as an opportunity to help them with understanding and a change of heart allowing them to escape from the enemy's trap.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Never Be Embarrassed Standing For the Truth

In review of 1 Peter 4:16 it says, “It is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!”

Bottom Line:
There is no shame in suffering for being a Christian. Thank God for the privilege of being called by his name.

What this means to me:
There is no shame in suffering for being a Christian. Rather I should praise God for the privilege of being called by his name.

I should never be embarrassed for standing of the truth and doing what is right. This verse in 1 Peter 4:16 reminds me, “It is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!” (NLT)

In retrospect; insults, putdowns, name calling because I make a stand is not going to hurt me. In this life, the one thing I need to understand is that I don’t need other people’s approval in order to be happy.

No matter what I do in life, somebody will not like it. I can’t avoid disapproval. So if I’m going to have people’s disapproval either way, I might as well have their disapproval for doing the right thing rather than the wrong thing.

I’m reminded that if I make other people’s opinion matter more than God’s, I’ll likely crumble when I face opposition or attack because of my faith. But if you focus on God and what I know is right, then I can make a firm stand.  1 Peter 5:9 says, “Stand firm against [Satan], and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Interestingly, just this morning I had the opportunity to practice a bit of this in a brief discussion I had with someone this morning at my local Starbucks.  Thank you God for the reminder and the encouragement I received from this verse.  I pray that I take this truth and not be afraid or embarrassed to stand for the truth.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Developing A Ministry Of Reconciliation

In review of 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 it says, “[God] has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others.”

Bottom Line:
God restored his relationship with us through Christ and he has given us this task of reconciling others to him. God used Christ to restore his relationship with the world, not holding people’s faults against them. He has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others.

What this means to me:
God has restored our relationships with him through Christ. He has given me the task of helping him reconcile others to himself. God was used Christ to restore his relationship with the world, not holding people’s faults against them. He has given me this message of restored relationships to tell others.

I’m being reminded today that there is a big difference reconciliation and resolution.

Reconciliation means reestablishing the relationship. It means you’re at peace with each other.

Resolution on the other hand means you resolve every disagreement, and frankly that just isn’t going to happen. There are some things in relationships in which you may never agree on, because we’re different. But I can disagree without being disagreeable. That’s maturity and wisdom. It’s much like being like Christ.

Unfortunately there’s a lot of conflict in the world. It’s filled with wars, division, arguments, prejudice and racism, terrorism, and partisanism. This results in broken relationships, broken lives and broken hearts.

My challenge for today is to commit myself to becoming an agent of reconciliation in a world filled with conflict. I should become a bridge builder, and not help build walls. I should look for ways to bring people together rather than tear them up.

Today’s verse says, “[God] has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, GW).

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have a ministry of reconciliation. It’s my job to go out in society and say, “God’s done everything to put you back in fellowship with him. He’s already paid for all your sins. You don’t have to be his enemy. He’s not mad at you; he’s mad about you. Be reconciled to God. Be at peace with God. Then spread that peace with everybody else.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Food That Sustains My Spiritual Life

In review of Matthew 4:4 it says, "But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Bottom Line:
You need the word that God spoke through the scriptures to feed our souls.

What this means to me:
Jesus reminds me to look back at Scriptures and what they say, they can truly feed my soul and be especially helpful when dealing with the enemy. People cannot live on bread alone, but by obedience to every word God has spoken.

In this passage Jesus responds to a difficult time of testing and temptation (40 days of fasting in the wilderness.)  Jesus was able to resist all of the devil’s temptations because he not only knew Scripture, but he also obeyed it.  

Ephesians 6:17 tells me to, “Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  The word of God truly becomes the sword which the Spirit gives me to use in spiritual combat.

Knowing verses in God’s word is an important step to help me resist the devil's attacks, but I must also obey what it tells me.  Even Satan had memorized Scripture, but he failed to obey it. Knowing and obeying the Bible helps me to know and follow God’s desires rather than those of the enemy.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Scripture Is The Scrub Brush That Is Designed To Sanctify And Cleanse Me

In review of John 17:17 it says, "Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth."

Bottom Line:
We are made holy by learning his truth.

What this means to me:
I am set apart and made holy by the truth that your word teaches me. Your word is truth.

As a follower of Christ, I become sanctified (set apart for his use, cleansed and made holy) through believing and obeying the God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12). God’s word is living and active. It has the ability to expose and discover my innermost thoughts and desires, exposing them for what they really are. Daily application of God’s Word will have a purifying effect on my mind and heart. Scripture points out my sin, motivates me to confess, renews my relationship with Christ, and guides me back to the right path.

In summary, I am set apart and made holy by being immersed in the truth that your word teaches me. God I thank you this morning for providing me your written truth. It is through this, that I am shown your perspective. I use this to ask for forgiveness of my transgressions and to change my perspective on life. Each day I ask you to show me something that will help my understanding of you, your love, or how to love others. Keep my life on target by pointing out my wrongs and encouraging me in living out what is right and true.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Living With And Maintaining Integrity

In review of 2 Corinthians 4:2 it says, “We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open.”

Bottom Line:
Refuse to do underhanded things and manipulate things behind the scenes. Rather, keep what you do out in the open.

What this means to me:
I refuse to hide behind or play underhanded games. I do not maneuver, trick, manipulate things behind the scenes or act with deceit. Rather, I keep everything I do and say out in the open.

Living and practicing integrity means that every area of life be treated with the same intensity. I have the same commitment to excellence in everything I do.  Living and practicing integrity means that I:

Keep my promises - Having integrity means that I will keep my word. If I say I’ll do it, then I do it. If I say I’ll be there, I show up. This verse in Proverbs 25:14 reminds me that, “People who promise things that they never give are like clouds and wind that bring no rain” (TEV).

Pay my bills on time - Being honest and trustworthy is a big deal to God. Part of this is honoring my commitments. Psalm 37:21 says, “The wicked borrow and never pay back.”

Refuse to gossip - I should never talk about people behind their back. In fact I shouldn’t even listen to gossip! “A … gossip can’t be trusted with a secret, but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence” (Proverbs 11:13 MSG).

Faithfully tithe - Wherever I put my money first is what’s most important to me. Malachi 3:8-10 says, “Is it right for a person to cheat God? Of course not, yet you are cheating me. ‘How?’ you ask. In the matter of tithes and offerings …. Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple …. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things” (TEV).

By doing my best at work - The Bible says in Colossians 3:23, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (NLT). My real boss is God, and whether or not anybody else sees my work, God will.

By being real with others - A person of integrity doesn’t act one way in church and another way at work and another way at a social setting. “We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open” (2 Corinthians 4:2 MSG).

In summary, I need to live with Integrity in all I do.  This means that I refuse to hide behind or play underhanded games. I do not maneuver, trick, manipulate things behind the scenes or act with deceit. Rather, I keep everything I do and say out in the open.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Source Of Ultimate Approval

In review of Matthew 3:13-17 it says, 13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” 15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. 16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

Bottom Line:
We need to do our part, but not too look good in front of others. We do it to receive the approval of God, who is the only one who can provide the ultimate form of approval.

What this means to me:
I should not base my life and my self-worth on approval of others. I should do what I need to do, but not for the approval of others, but rather for the approval of the ultimate source. My goal should be to have my God my father say, “this is my dearly loved son, who brought me great joy with his life.”

I really enjoy, desire and crave approval. I need to be cautious of just how much my life is shaped by this desire. It’s important for me to remember that only one voice has the power to bless me in an ultimate sense: the voice of my heavenly Father.

Jesus did not need the same approval of his peers that we often crave. Jesus could do this because he knew with certainty that his identity rested completely on the only source of ultimate blessing, that of God the Father.

I need to be cautious of wanting the approval of others more than I am willing to accept that I’m already fully approved of in Christ. If I do, I’ll be tempted to worship something else; an idol. So this week, if anyone pays me a compliment, I should take a moment to thank God for using that person to encourage you. Hopefully practicing that little habit helps me stay more focused on the only place my ultimate approval comes from.

In summary I should not base my life and my self-worth on approval of others. I should do what I need to do, but not for the approval of others, but rather for the approval of the ultimate source. My goal should be to have my God my father say, “this is my dearly loved son, who brought me great joy with his life.” God, today I’m reminded that while I may default to and strive for approval of others, the only approval I need to seek is yours.  You have already granted me the same approval of Christ’s when I accepted him as the leader of my life and believed that you raised him from the dead. I need to keep in mind that there is only one voice that has the power to approve of me and that is you.

Monday, November 9, 2015

An Unending Source

In review of Psalm 1:1-3 and Hebrews 4:12, they say, “1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the lord, meditating on it day and night. 3  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (NLT)

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (NLT)

Bottom Line:
Great joy can come from thinking about and applying God’s Word. God’s word is living and active. It has the ability to expose and discover your true thoughts and desires

What this means to me:
There is great pleasure, joy and happiness in the law of the Lord. This comes from meditating on it and thinking about ways to apply and follow it more closely. God’s word is living and active. It has the ability to expose and discover my innermost thoughts and desires, exposing them for what they really are.

There are many benefits for me, my life and those around me when I am keeping God's Word in my mind and thinking about how I can apply it day and night. Being plugged into it will give me an unending source to grow from. I can bear good fruit and prosper with everything I do.

There is a promise in Psalm 1: If I delight in and meditate on God’s Word, whatever I do will prosper. To delight in and to meditate on means that I am thinking about and turning over God’s Word in our minds and hearts daily.

Hebrews 4:12 reminds me that God’s word is living and active. It has the ability to expose and discover my innermost thoughts and desires, exposing them for what they really are.

It is extremely powerful. It can renew my mind and help affect the decisions I make. It can affect my emotions. Furthermore, as I make decisions based on the truth of God’s Word, I can sense peace, joy and delight, all of which contribute to a “prosperous life.”

Today, as a start to delighting in and meditating on God’s Word, I will consider a passage from this past weekends message. Ephesians 5:15-17 says to, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (NIV)  I will attempt to turn it over in my mind and put it into practice.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Blessings From Living Life With Integrity

In review of Proverbs 20:7 it says, “A righteous person lives on the basis of his integrity. Blessed are his children after he is gone.”

Bottom Line:
A morally right person will live on the basis of his integrity, and blessed will be those who follow in his footsteps.

What this means to me:
An honest person will do what is right and live on the basis of his integrity. Those who follow his example will be blessed.

The verse reminds me that God will bless those who practice integrity (Matthew 5:8). As I live my life with authenticity and a pure heart I can obtain:

Personal Confidence - I will know who I am and where I’m going. I can be an example that others would want to be around.  Proverbs 10:9 says, “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed” (NLT).  I’m learning that if I don’t have integrity, it’s like walking on an icy path after a snowstorm. I’ll end up putting every bit of energy into trying not to fall. When I have integrity, I’ll be standing on solid ground.

A Lasting Legacy - My greatest legacy will be my integrity, it can live on from generation to generation. My character is going to be translated into the lives of the people around me and then into the lives of the next generation - a lasting legacy.  Everything else that I do will likely be lost.  Today’s verse in Proverbs 20:7 says, “A righteous person lives on the basis of his integrity. Blessed are his children after he is gone” (GW).

Rewards in Eternity - Matthew 25:21 explains, “You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things” (NCV). The tendency is to think that rewards are in the big moments of life, where everybody is watching. However, what I’m learning is that it’s the small moments that I show real integrity. I should consider this; Every small word of encouragement I give this next week will be rewarded eternally. Every small act of kindness will be rewarded in eternity. Every time I reject a temptation, I will be rewarded in eternity.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Integrity: What I Am When I’m Alone With God

In review of Matthew 5:8 it says, “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.”

Bottom Line:
God will bless those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

What this means to me:
When my heart is pure, I’ll get to see and experience his presence and his goodness in my life.

The Bible says in Matthew 5:8, “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God” (NLT).  To “see God” means to experience His presence. A pureness in heart on my part will allow me to get to better know His purpose for my life. I’ll get to live in his peace as I experience his pardon.

Interestingly enough, being pure in heart is not a phrase that is used much in our society. A better term may be the word “integrity.” To have integrity does not mean you need to be perfect.  Integrity is about being whole, authentic and consistent in motivation.

1). Integrity is wholeness.

I think a lot of people think of their life like a pie, and the different parts of their life are the pieces in the pie. Each slice making up part of their lives; i.e.. career/work, spiritual life, family life, social life and maybe even a secret life; my compulsions, addictions, and the things nobody else knows about. Unfortunately If I was to segment life like this, my integrity can lack, because my life would not be a whole. Integrity means that I’m the same person with everybody, in your speech, actions, and motives, no matter which part of life I’m dealing with.

2). Integrity is authenticity.

I’m told that during plays in ancient Greek culture, there was one guy who would play multiple roles. He would come onstage wearing a mask and then go backstage to put on a different mask to play another role. This person was called the “hupokrites,” and it’s where we the word “hypocrite” comes from. If I was to wear masks so that I appear one way in front of some people and another way for others, it would show a lack of authenticity on my part. In life, God wants me to be exactly who he made me to be, no matter who is watching or even is no one is watching.

3). Integrity is having unmixed motivations.

It means doing the right thing, and doing it for the right reason. I have unmixed motivations and pure motives. I would be sincere and straightforward in every area of life and with all people. So while I might be interested in my image, God is interested in my integrity. I may be interested in reputation, but God is interested in my character. Reputation is what everybody thinks I am. Integrity is what I really am. Reputation is what I am in public. Integrity is what I am when I’m all alone with God.

In summary, God blesses those who have integrity. They are the ones who get to be his friends. “The LORD detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity” (Proverbs 11:20).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Seven Characteristics of Mercy To Learn And Practice

In review of James 3:17 it says, "But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere."

Bottom Line:
The wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.

What this means to me:
The wisdom I get from following Jesus allows me to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere in what I do.

Mercy is much like a diamond; it is multi-faceted. Learning to become an agent of God’s kind of mercy will greatly help me in any of my relationships. Below are seven characteristics of mercy that I want to incorporate into my life.

Mercy demonstrated in my life means being patient with other’s quirks. Obtaining patience for my relationships comes from being wise.  James 3:17a says, “The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy” (NLT). The wiser I become, the more patient and merciful I become.

Mercy means helping anyone around me who is hurting. I cannot love my neighbor as myself without being merciful. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it” (TEV). God is not simply watching what I do. He’s watching my attitude: “[When you] show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:8 NIV).

Mercy means giving people a second chance. When someone hurts me, my first inclination is to get even or else write that person off. Scripture tells me, “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ” (Ephesians 4:31-32 CEV).

Mercy means doing good to those who hurt me. Mercy is giving people what they need, not what they deserve. Why should I do it? Because that’s what God does with me: “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because [God] is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36 NIV).

Mercy means being kind to those who may offend me. I’ve got to be more interested in winning people to Christ than in winning the argument. Jude 1:22-23 says, “Show mercy to those who have doubts. Save others by snatching them from the fire of hell. Show mercy to others, even though you are afraid that you might be stained by their sinful lives” (GW).

Mercy means me building bridges of love to the unpopular. I intentionally build friendships with people who don’t have friends or who are not accepted at work or in society. When the Pharisees questioned why Jesus ate with tax collectors and other unpopular people, Jesus said, “‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Matthew 9:13b NLT).

Lastly, mercy means valuing relationships over rules. Romans 13:10 says, “Love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” If I want to show mercy, put people before policies. Put their needs before procedures. Put relationships before regulations. Choose love over law.

Today, I should consider how I can be intentional this week about showing mercy to others around me, especially those who are hurting.

When I’m Overwhelmed, Stand Strong

In review of 2 Chronicles 20:20 it tells me to “ Put your trust in the LORD your God , and you will stand your ground . Believe what his pr...