Unity in Christ

Are you of one mind? Are you of one heart? Will you stand together against evil with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Will you do so when evil is lurking and coming for your mind, for your heart, for your soul? Do you know that Jesus prayed for you, especially that you would be unified as one body in Him?

We see far too much individualism in today’s world. Oh, we all complain about it until it comes to ourselves. When we want to be an individual, we become offended when someone complains about us doing so. We love to see our favorite sports teams perform as one on the field of play, but won’t apply that togetherness, that oneness to our daily lives.

Why is it we are so individualistic? Part of it is the culture we live in. Part of it is the fact we are all individuals with our own DNA. However, the vast majority of it is due to Satan preying on that bit of our nature and causing it to explode into selfishness. Perhaps that is why Jesus prayed for all of us just prior to going to the cross.

We see in John chapter 17 that Jesus prayed for the apostles and for us. He prayed that we all would be unified in our love for Him. He prayed that we would stand unified against evil. He prayed that we would be one as Jesus and the Father are One. We should read this prayer and submit to God’s will declared in it every day of our lives.

When we don’t stand as one, we are divided and fall. We know the parable of the house that is divided (Mark 3:24). We know from our own experience when sports teams have discord in them, they don’t win championships. We know this and still we sow discord, hate, discontent, rumors, gossip, and division among believers. Shame on us for not following Jesus into oneness.

I pray we all read Jesus’ prayer carefully. I pray we all commit to unity of spirit. I pray we all decide to be of one heart, soul, and mind in Christ. We need to be unified in the love of Christ; else we fall. Be unified in love. Be a disciple of Christ. Read His prayer. Trust God.

John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Trusting God

How much do you trust God? Are you willing to trust Him with everything? Or are you only willing to trust Him with the things you think you can’t control? Do you only turn to Him when things have gotten out of control and you are at the end of your rope?

We often forget that God is always there. He’s there when wake up and when we go to sleep. He’s there when we have our morning coffee and when we eat our supper. He’s there on our drive to work and during the meeting that never seems to end. God is every present, also known as omnipresent. He is all knowing, also known as omniscient. God is there, so why don’t we trust Him with everything?

We lean on our own understanding, our own judgment to determine what our priorities are for the day. We lean on ourselves to decide whether to keep a piece of clothing or donate it to a charitable organization or to throw it away. We trust a friend or family member to give us advice about a relationship. Why not trust God?

Trusting God and asking Him to guide us doesn’t mean we ask God a million questions a day. It does mean that we spend time in prayer each day asking Him to guide us in all we do. It means having that close relationship with Him, one that we’ve built over time and continue to build every day. It means being of the same mind as God so that we know He is guiding us.

God guides us by working through His Spirit. The Holy Spirit talks to us in small nudging’s, a whisper on the wind, and sometimes through other people. We can be confident our decision is in keeping with God’s desires for us when we feel a deep internal peace about it. This isn’t a peace that comes from doing what we want, but a deep peace that we get when we know the decision is the right thing to do.

God doesn’t ever leave us. He guides us as long as we are willing to listen and see where He wants us to go. He provides the light to guide us along the path. We are to follow the path that He lights up for us.

I pray each one of us will decide to trust God today. I pray each of us will decide to follow the path He is guiding us to take. Trust God. Follow His light. Spend time with Him in prayer. God is always there. He will never leave you alone.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Decisions

How many decisions will you make today? Will you need to decide what you will prepare for supper? Will you decide how much money to withdraw from the bank? Will you need to determine how you will respond to someone else? Are you in the midst of making a larger, life-impacting decision?

We all make numerous decisions every day. We decide what we will eat. We decide the route we will drive to work. We select the groceries we will buy and where we will buy them. Often, we will decide what projects we will work on, whether at work or at home. We even decide if we are going to watch television or read our Bible. So many decisions are made every day, many without putting any serious thought to them.

Have you made the ultimate decision? The decision to follow Jesus Christ? To accept Him as your Lord and Savior? This is one of those decisions that should not be taken lightly. There is a cost to following Him. Sure, Jesus tells us that He will give us rest and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). But He also says we must give up everything to be His follower (Luke 14:28-33).

Much of what we must give up is the sinfulness we love so much. We must decide to leave behind the ways of the world. We must decide that we want to see others as Jesus sees them. We must give our fears over to Him. We are to commit our lives to becoming more like Jesus each day—following His teachings and His example. For many of us, giving up all this is very difficult. This is mostly due to our fear of how our family and friends might look at us. We don’t want to be ostracized.

Once we make that decision, how do we go about executing it? Jesus made it pretty plain and simple when we gave the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to His apostles shortly after He arose from the grave and prior to ascending to heaven. Of course, there is the maturity of a Christian that must take place over time, which is why He includes teaching in His command. As human beings, we continue to learn throughout our lives.

I pray for those who are in the midst of the decision-making process to decide to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I pray for those who haven’t yet faced that decision. I pray for those who are reaching out and teaching others about Jesus. May all make the decision to follow Jesus and continue in their maturity, increasing their faith each day. Make the decision today. Trust Him. Believe Him. Commit to Him.

Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Response and Accountability

How do you respond to others in your life? How do you respond to your boss, your teacher, your parents, your siblings, your friends, or the stranger you just met? Who is responsible for how you respond? Who is ultimately accountable for your behavior or words, even if you don’t really want to admit it? Don’t we all want to blame somebody else for our response and claim they provoked it from us?

We see it every day in all types of situations, don’t we? We see people respond to someone in a negative or melodramatic or over-hyped or maybe even a dangerous way. We see people claim it was the other person’s fault for them responding the way they did. They claim they were taunted or goaded or were simply responding in kind.

Why is it that we see such lack of accountability for our own actions? It seems the only time we are willing to be held accountable is when we’ve done something good, something noteworthy. Too often, we want to hold someone else accountable for their wrong actions, yet not hold ourselves accountable for our wrong actions. However, when it comes right down to it, when we have to stand before the ultimate judge, we all will be held accountable for all of our wrong doings.

That sounds a bit scary to me. How many wrong things (or sins) have I done over the course of my life? How can I ever remember them all, let alone explain why I did or said them? Here’s the good news—Jesus came to cover those for us. He will stand there with those of us who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior to state all our wrong doings have been erased by His blood. That’s an awesome thought, isn’t it?! Yet it doesn’t give us license to continue in our bad behavior.

As a true follower of Christ, we are to emulate Him, to become a reflection of Him in all we do and say. That means giving up the thought of blaming someone else for our response, for our lack of accountability. We must hold ourselves accountable and pursue His pure holiness. We may never achieve it until the day we stand beside Him in heaven, but we must never stop pursuing it.

I pray each one of us will give up our bad behavior of blaming others for our wrong doings. I pray we all decide to pursue being more like Jesus every day. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone held themselves accountable and pursued righteousness? Start making the world a better place by being a better you today. Pursue being like Jesus. Ask Him to help. He is faithful and will guide you along the path.

Colossians 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Belief and Faith

Do you believe there is a God? Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God? How does your belief play out in your daily life? Do you know that simply believing isn’t enough? Belief must be put into action in the form of faith. Our faith in Christ sets us free.

We see people in this world caught up in the slavery of worldly desires. They want all the shiny new things. They chase all the glam and glitz advertised in various media, whether on television or in social media. They allow their lives to be governed by what they are subjecting themselves to on a daily basis. Their willingness to live trapped brings to mind an analogy I want to share.

If you look back to the cold war, there were two world powers that generally controlled what happened around the world. By that I mean, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had the world divided into two factions and each controlled their allies to some degree or another. The U.S. was the land of opportunity, where people could chase their dreams and many would realize them. The Soviet Union was completely controlled by the government. The people were employed by the government in one way or another. They were assigned to government housing. This was not just the military or the government bureaucrats, but the average person who worked in a factory or a store.

The people of the Soviet Union heard about the U.S. They heard about the freedom the Americans had to choose their own jobs, to choose where they lived, to buy their own home, to send their children to college, and many other opportunities. However, they largely believed these were lies, propaganda. Sure, they believed there was a U.S., but they believed the grand statements made about the freedom Americans had weren’t true. Why do I know this? I’ve visited a country that was formerly controlled by the Soviet Union on multiple occasions and spent significant time talking with those people.

How does this relate to God versus Satan? Satan also tells us lies. He wants us to wallow in our self-pity, selfishness, hate, anger, frustration, and indifference toward others. Does he believe in God? Absolutely! James 2:19 tells us that Satan and his demons believe and shudder. They are afraid of God and don’t want us to build our faith.

Jesus came to set us free from the trappings of Satan and our sin. He came to give us a life of abundance (John 10:10). When we decide to stop following Satan’s lies, we begin a new life of freedom. We experience something far better than we can imagine. Our selfishness, hate, anger, anxiety, and fear leave us. We are set free!

I pray we all decide to leave behind Satan’s lies and live the life of freedom that Jesus provides. I pray we all graduate from belief to faith. May each one of you decide today to commit to Jesus and begin that walk of faith, growing in it each day. God is there. He will provide. Jesus will set you free.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Resolutions

How is your new exercise program going? Are you staying with your healthier
diet? Are you accepting your responsibilities? Have you committed to improving
your prayer life? How is your daily Bible reading coming along?

We all make resolutions or commitments to change at different times of the
year, but we see them more prevalent at the beginning of a new year. We look at
the calendar turning over as an opportunity to start anew and we should. Yet we
also should look at each day as a new gift to keep our commitments, an
opportunity given to us by God. Commitments, promises, resolutions are all good
for us. They are most often tied to goals, which give us motivation to keep
them. But why do we set goals?

I believe we set goals, most often, to become a better us. We want to
improve our lives. We have a desire to become what God intended us to be. Yet,
we also see people set goals to be what they see in someone else. That may or
may not be healthy. If the person you look to as a role model is a godly
person, it’s a healthy goal to set. Yet if that person is not a godly person
and simply has some level of fame or a top position at your workplace, that
likely is not a healthy goal. You see, God made each one of us be a specific
person to fulfill a specific purpose of His. Perhaps we should first seek His
purpose for our lives, then set our goals.

I pray that each one of us will resolve to know God, to know Jesus, better
this coming year. I pray each of us will have the discipline to continue to
seek that goal each day of the year. May God bless you in your endeavor to know
Him better. He has promised and will deliver.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

2020

As we enter a new year, we all look to new beginnings. Many will make resolutions with good intentions, yet won’t follow through for more than a few days or weeks. I have decided this first day of 2020 is a good day to launch my new website and blog. My hope is it will bring joy, peace, comfort, and a sense of well-being to those who follow me. The journey may get a bit ragged along the way and we all may grow weary, but I have no doubts that God will be right there in the midst of it all.

As we all go into 2020, let’s all commit to becoming closer to God. It is by being in a close relationship with Him that we will ride out the storms with a calm inside that is beyond understanding. It is in Him that we will experience joy beyond description. It is being in His love and accepting His grace that we define success as joy, peace, and love. May we all experience great success in this new year!