Be of Sober Mind

Would you consider yourself to be of sober mind? Do you think rationally through the situation before reacting (or overreacting)? Are you relying on God to provide you an answer? Are you taking advantage of the blessings God has blessed you with to assess your situation properly?

Sober mindedness is a sorely needed trait in today’s culture. It seems everyone has gone overboard with their drama. We see people constantly having to out do everyone else. If someone has experienced pain, the next person’s pain had to be described as worse. We can’t simply be hungry anymore; we have to describe ourselves as starving.

Thankfully, there are a few sober minded people in our society. If we didn’t have them, our society would fall into complete anarchy. Unfortunately, it seems we have fewer and fewer of the sober minded people in positions they need to be in. We find people in leadership positions who overreact as badly as the five-year-old who just ran his battery powered jeep into a tree.

We see in today’s Scripture that we are called to be of sober mind. We are not to overreact. We are to be alert, aware of what is going on around us. This doesn’t simply mean what is physically going on but also the social, emotional, and spiritual happenings.

We see people who don’t want to watch the news. They say all that is shown is bad news. For the most part they are correct. Yet there are some good news stories that are shown. More importantly, there are information news stories that keep us updated on laws, ordinances, openings, closings, and a wide variety of events that affect our everyday lives.

Being of sober mind requires us to be educated. That doesn’t mean having a college degree. It does mean continuing to educate ourselves regarding new inventions, events, and new information that will affect our lives and the lives of our loved ones. If we keep our heads in the sand, we will be completely blindsided and wonder why.

Being sober minded also means putting our hope in Jesus Christ. It means understanding His grace. It means being assured we are covered by it while not taking advantage of it. You see, if we try taking advantage of His grace, we continue to willfully sin, which puts us in danger of falling from His grace. It can lead us down a path of destruction, one step at a time.

I pray all of us will be of sober mind. I pray each one of us will be alert. I pray we understand the grace of God. I pray we determine to not take advantage of His grace. Grow in maturity in faith. Be of sober mind. Hope in God’s grace. Trust Jesus Christ. Ask Him to guide you through life.

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

Living in Truth

Are you living in truth? Or, do you continue to deceive yourself? Are you living according to the false beliefs of the world? Or, are you living according to the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ? What choice have you made?

We all live as we choose. We may not think so at times. Especially when we falsely believe someone else is forcing a lifestyle on us. We quickly forget that we have a choice. We determine to put the blame on someone else. Yet it is our choice to live in truth or falsehood.

Keep in mind this discussion is not about where we live, as in location. It is not about whether we currently live in a bad situation or not. It is not about whether we are poor or rich. It is not about liking something that someone else does not. It’s far deeper than any of that.

Truth is often projected as a concept that is situational or relative. That concept could not be further from the truth. It is a lie the world and Satan is telling us. The truth we are to trust in is the truth of Jesus Christ and His teachings.

In order to properly understand the truth, we must study it. It is hard, not physically, but emotionally. We find that we are living lives full of falseness—full of lies. We lie to ourselves. We lie about others. We lie in our confessions. We lie in our actions. We lie in our behaviors.

To live by the truth means to take a hard look at our inner beings. It requires us to change, put off our old selves and put on the new in Christ. It requires us to stop being who we think we are and become who God created us to be. It requires us to perform a heart transplant, giving up our worldly heart and inserting a Godly heart. Unfortunately, far too many of us are unwilling to do this, which ends in our destruction. Nothing about living by the truth is easy. We simply don’t want to face the truth nor live by it.

I pray we all decide to live by the truth. I pray each one of us will face the truth about ourselves and accept the truth of Jesus Christ. I pray we will make the heart transplant to become like Jesus in all we do. Take on the truth. Live by the truth. Make the hard choice. Put off the old, put on the new. Ask God to make the heart transplant.

Ephesians 4:20-24 That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

God at Work, Working with God

Do you trust that God will take care of you? Do you know, really know deep down, that He is constantly at work? Will you stop to appreciate the work He has done in your life? Or, are you simply going through life totally unaware that God is working in your life?

We live in a busy world, even in this time of social distancing and people being laid off work. It seems we are conditioned to continually be busy doing something, even it is simply sitting and looking at our smart phone. All our busyness keeps us from recognizing how God is working in our lives. We all know it. Yet what are we going to do to change it?

My own confession is I have a list of “to do’s” longer than I can remember. I sometimes get anxious about all that “needs” done and set arbitrary timelines for those tasks. However, I remind myself from time-to-time to stop, take a breather, and relax in the knowledge that God is at work.

When we stop to recognize God is working, we can relax a bit. We may not completely stop working ourselves, but we can lower our stress levels. We can stop worrying about those tasks. We realize they are not as important as we make them out to be. Don’t take this the wrong way, there are still tasks to get done and we still need to work. We just don’t need to over stress ourselves about them.

The other positive that comes out of this is we begin to prioritize tasks based on God’s priorities. We begin including Him in our decisions. We find that we are accomplishing the tasks that are most important. Often, we find our tasks are being completed faster. This may sound like an oxymoron. I’m reminded of a saying that a sniper uses to slow themselves down, “fast is slow and slow is fast.” You see, when we slow down to prioritize and think through the tasks, we get them right the first time.

I believe this is how God works. He has His plan. He has prioritized what He is going to do. He has thought through those tasks and developed the most efficient means to accomplish them. He has set the timing perfectly to accomplish His plan.

I pray that we slow down, take time to think about our tasks. I pray we all continue to work yet do so more efficiently and effectively. I pray each of us will recognize God is working in our lives and we decide to work alongside Him. See God at work today. Trust He is working on your behalf. Decide to work with Him. Slow down to think. Spend quality time with God.

John 5:16-17 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

Persevering in Faith

How do you handle trials? How well do you migrate your way through being tested? Are you able to withstand the tests you face in strength? Or do you give up? Do you know there is a reward waiting on the other side of the test?

We face many tests and trials in our lifetimes. Some of them are relatively easy tests while others are much more difficult. It’s those difficult ones that really put us to the test—push us to our limits. Those tests and trials can bring us to our knees, which is where we ought to be anyway.

We are not promised a rose garden in this life. Jesus stated we would have trouble in this world, but we are to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). When we face trials we should be on our knees in prayer, asking Jesus to carry us through.

I know, that’s easy to say and hard to do when we are in the middle of an especially difficult situation. Our natural tendency is to either wonder how we’ll get through it or decide we will gut it out. Unfortunately, our natural desire leaves God out of the equation. We forget (or deny) that He is a mighty God that can overcome any trouble we are facing.

We are encouraged in Scripture to continue through the trial, not giving up, and we will receive a reward. In the end, we receive multiple rewards. The immediate reward is taking another step toward maturity. We find that we grow in our abilities and understanding. We gain strength and courage to handle future difficult situations.

We also receive an eternal reward. When we persevere and continue in our faith, we receive the reward of eternity with God. Sure, we often look at that as sometime in the distant future and almost discount it. Yet we should not discount it so quickly. There is not one of us who can guarantee another day on this earth for ourselves, as Jesus states in Matthew 6:27.

As we continue to walk in faith, trusting God to provide, our faith will increase as well. We begin our faith journey by taking the initial step. We must continue to take steps of faith one at a time. As we continue, each step will become easier, even if the step is a difficult one.

I pray each of us will continue to persevere in our faith. I pray we continue to step out in faith, trusting God to lead us and protect us. I pray we all persevere through whatever difficulties we face and grow in our faith. Face difficulty in faith. Trust God to carry you through. Take the next step in faith. Increase your faith as you go. Trust there is a reward on the other side.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

A Higher Standard

Are you walking through life completely blinded? Do you just go with the flow, go with whatever is popular at the moment? Are you allowing yourself to be pulled in a negative direction? Are you aware that Satan is behind those harmful ways?

Our world has spiraled downward for so long that people who are considered good by others still pursue multiple negative behaviors. Those negative behaviors include shirking our responsibilities, skipping out on our jobs, ignoring family, becoming a drunkard, carousing around, and disobedience of laws to name just a few.

As Christians we are called to a higher standard (Ephesians 5:1-20). Take a look at what Paul lists as the standard for us. Unfortunately, we have set aside the instructions of God for the popularity of the moment or our own fleshly desires. We have been enticed by Satan to disobedience.

Oh, we won’t think of it that way and that’s a large part of the problem. We fail to take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror. We go on believing we are right. We don’t want anyone else telling us how to live, how to behave. Sadly, it will lead to our downfall and eternal destruction.

There is no doubt that even the best of us will sin. Jesus will cover those sins for us. We can trust that. Yet we are called to stop our willful sinning and follow Him. He knows we can’t be perfect, that’s why He had to come into this world to be the perfect sacrifice.

Satan is laughing at many of us who call ourselves Christians. He knows he has his hooks in us and isn’t going to release them. If he hasn’t gotten them fully set in us yet, he continues to work to trick us into being hooked. He’s got the bait dangling out there and waiting for us to bite, then he’ll set the hook.

There is only one way to resist the bait. There is only One who can protect us. There is only one thing we can do to guard ourselves from the trappings of Satan. Jesus Christ is our Savior. We must trust Him and delve into God’s Word. We are called to a higher standard.

I pray each of us will trust Jesus. I pray we all dig into God’s Word. I pray we are on guard against Satan’s trappings. I pray each one of us will resist the bait he throws out in front of us. Trust Jesus. Read God’s Word. Be on your guard. Resist Satan. God is trustworthy. Jesus will be with you always.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Striving in Faith

Are you continuing to move forward today? Are you struggling to understand why? Is your desire to continue flagging? Have you wondered where God is? Have you asked Him to intercede on your behalf? Will you reach out to Him and people of faith to help?

Sometimes our perseverance can wear thin. We may begin to wonder why we continue to strive toward a goal. Our desire to continue putting forth the effort weakens. Perhaps we are holding on by a thread. We may wonder if it is all really worth it.

In the story of Job, after all his sons and daughters had been killed, his wife asked why he should continue. She told him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Job would do no such thing. We may lose much of what we have worked for and come to a similar point—ready to quit.

Yet we see many examples of God carrying His people through various troubles, including Job and his wife. There are examples of God working miracles in battles, in great escapes, blessing childless people with children, raising people from the dead, and feeding many with little.

These are examples we can read about in the Bible and we can easily discard them as being thousands of years ago. We may believe God doesn’t work in our world today. We may think He won’t work in our lives because we are insignificant. However, we would be wrong.

God continues to work in the world today. If we doubt that, reach out to others who have a strong faith in God. Ask them how God has worked in their lives. Ask them for specific examples. You will likely be surprised at how many examples they can provide, some of which seem to be miracles and very likely are. If not miracles, they are the working of the Holy Spirit doing something totally unexpected to lift the person.

I could testify of many times this has happened to me. No, I am not thinking of the everyday act of waking or getting me to a destination safely, but significant happenings that only God could perform. Times of unexplainable intercession that no one on this earth could have known about or pulled off.

I pray each of us will continue in our faith of God and His miraculous abilities. I pray we all reach out to someone who can tell us of personal stories of faith, if we need our faith boosted. I pray we all strive to put our hope in the living God who can and will work miracles in our lives. Be strong in your faith. Reach out when needed. Stand firm on God’s promises. Know that God is always working.

1 Timothy 4:10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

Loved and Saved by Grace

Are you saved? Do you know how you are saved? Do you know who saved you? Have you accepted God’s grace? Do you understand what His grace is? Will you accept His grace?

We see little grace from people we encounter, though some show more grace than others. If there is one good thing that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that more people are showing grace to others. Grace is a gift. Grace is forgiving a debt. Grace is giving to someone else without expectation of being repaid.

This is what God does for us. He freely gives us salvation. There is something we must do, as with any gift, we must accept it. Ideally, we accept this free gift humbly and with thankfulness. Ideally, we will be grateful enough to work on His behalf.

Let’s look at it from a human perspective. If a friend, parent, or sibling give you a gift for no reason, would you be looking for opportunities to do something for them? I believe most of us would. We will either look to give them a gift at some point in the future or we will look to do something for them. You see, our time is a gift as well. So, doing something for someone else, giving up our time, is also a gift or grace.

Paul is telling the Ephesians in the first 10 verses of chapter 2 about this free gift of salvation. He is emphasizing our salvation is a gift from God. Not only that, but he says that God has already raised us up and seated us with Him in heaven. That’s right, we are seated with Jesus in heaven, even as we live here on this earth. How amazing is that?!

Paul is emphasizing John 3:16, which says that God loved us so much He gave His Son. God has a love for us that we cannot fully comprehend. His love gushes over us like a teenage girl gushing over a movie star and is sacrificial to the point of giving His Son as a sacrifice on the ultimate altar to remove all our sins.

God’s love is demonstrated in His grace that saves us. He sees our wrongdoings and still gives us the ultimate gift of being with Him for eternity. How can we experience such an awesome love and not be grateful? How can we not want to return some small portion of God’s love to Him? How can we not work on His behalf to show this same love to others?

I pray we all feel the love of God. I pray each one of us accept His wonderful gift of salvation. I pray we show His grace to those around us. Experience God’s love. Accept God’s wonderful grace. Know that He provides salvation for you. God is awesome!

Ephesians 2:6-7 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Slave or Free

Who or what are you a slave to? Do you recognize you are a slave? Have you opened your eyes and looked around yourself? Are you willing to take on the responsibility of freedom to remain free? Your freedom was bought at a high price.

We are slaves in one fashion or another. Unfortunately, many, many people are slaves to various objects or people of this world. We don’t really like the term slave, yet we are slaves. We are slaves to the almighty dollar. We are slaves to our possessions. We are slaves to our boyfriends or girlfriends. We are slaves to our spouses. We are slaves to … you fill in the blank.

We don’t have to be slaves to any of these things or people. Jesus came to set us free. Sure, we still need to work to provide shelter, food, and clothing for ourselves and our families. Yet that doesn’t have to mean we are slaves to our jobs and our possessions.

The freedom Jesus provided is a freedom of the mind, a freedom of attitude. It isn’t a freedom from responsibility. In fact, freedom requires we are responsible. If we are not responsible with our freedom, we return to slavery. It is exercising our freedom responsibly, including properly remembering the cost of our freedom, that allows us to continue in our freedom.

Many of us want to run away from our responsibility. We don’t like having responsibility put on our shoulders. Our preference is to let someone else be responsible. Think about that for just a minute. If someone else is responsible for us, are we not slaves to them, their preferences, and their decisions?

Taking on the responsibility for the freedom we’ve been given does not mean we are to be abrasive in protecting our freedom. It does mean we make the appropriate decisions based on acquiring the proper information. It means following the example of Jesus. It means being a person who is aware of what is going on around us. It means we are to think about our freedom and be judicious in our decisions.

I pray all of us recognize the freedom we have been given by Jesus. I pray we all take on the responsibility that comes with that freedom. I pray each of us decide to follow the example of Jesus. Be responsible. Enjoy your freedom. Don’t be slaves to this world. Follow Jesus.

Galatians 4:8-9 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

Self-Balance

How do you think of yourself? Do you know most of how we see ourselves is about feelings and not appearance? So, let’s rephrase the question. How to you feel about yourself? Do you feel confident? Are you feeling unfit? Do you feel insecure? Do you ever sit and take inventory of yourself?

We see a lot of commercials, and perhaps more now than ever, that tell us to buy something to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. It may be a new dress. I may be a new pair of shows. Perhaps it is new furniture. Or maybe it’s a new car. Whatever it is, the advertisement tells us we will feel wonderful about ourselves after we’ve purchased it.

Unfortunately, far too many people in this world believe it. They attempt to boost their own self-esteem by purchasing something. One more thing will make the difference. Then they find out it doesn’t. They find out that within a few days or weeks or months, that thing they bought has no positive effect on them.

Paul tells us to not think too highly of ourselves. Notice, he doesn’t say we are to think too lowly of ourselves either. He says we are to take an honest look at ourselves, truly evaluate ourselves, and view ourselves with “sober judgment.” Yet that’s not all. We are to view ourselves in accordance with our faith in God. In other words, how is our faith in God and how does that impact how we look at ourselves?

We will all agree that God is more than we can truly comprehend with our human minds. Okay, let’s put that aside for this discussion. Let’s take a look at our faith in Him. If our faith is strong, we will look at ourselves through God’s eyes and make an honest assessment. We’ll see where our strengths and weaknesses are. We’ll recognize our strengths as blessings from God. We will ask God to strengthen our weaknesses. And when He does, we’ll give Him the glory for doing so.

Do you see how this changes our entire viewpoint about ourselves? We recognize who God is and what He has done for us. We then see that we are merely a person through whom God works His plan. That keeps us from thinking too highly of ourselves. We also recognize that God loves us and blesses us, which keeps us from looking too lowly upon ourselves. We find balance.

I pray each one of us will view ourselves as God views us. I pray we all take stock in God’s love for us. I pray we don’t think too highly or too lowly of ourselves but find the balance. Recognize God loves you. See Him as far more powerful than you can imagine. View yourself through God’s eyes. Find the balance that only God can provide.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Faithworks

How is your faith demonstrated? What are you doing each day to show your faith in God? Are you showing your faith in your works and actions? Can you rightfully be accused of being a follower of Jesus Christ? Do you really have faith, or do you just say you do?

Are we not all familiar with someone who has said they believe in something, but they are really only placating someone else? We’ve heard someone say they believe in a political candidate until they are no longer in the race, then they reverse and say they never really believed in them anyway. We’ve heard someone say they had 100% belief their favorite sports team was going to win the championship that year, yet when they lose badly, they say they were afraid that would happen. Have we made these types of statements and reversals ourselves?

Again, how is our faith? Do we really have faith in Jesus Christ? Or, are we just saying we do because our family and friends say they do? Our faith is demonstrated through our works, actions, and behaviors. It is demonstrated in our attitudes. It is demonstrated in how we react to something bad happening. Is our faith true or are we just going through the motions?

Jesus tells us there is no gray area—we are either for Him or against Him (Luke 11:23). In our politically correct culture, we have become accustomed to standing in the gray area, making every attempt to not offend anyone. Jesus says we can’t stand in the gray area or on the line between two sides. We must make a choice.

The simple truth is, we demonstrate which side we are on by our actions. It’s obvious in how we treat others, our speech, our works, and our choices. It’s as obvious as though we were wearing a uniform—not a simple badge, but a bold uniform that clearly identifies us as one or the other. Not only is God always watching, but so are all those we come in contact with.

James tells us simple belief is not enough. He goes on to say that demons believe and shudder. Why not? They know what will happen to them in the end. Do we want to end up with them? I hope not. So, when are we going to make the choice to demonstrate our faith? Our faith must be manifested in works or it is dead and of no use to us or God.

I pray we all decide to show our faith in our works. I pray each of us chooses to put on the uniform of a Jesus disciple. I pray we boldly claim to be His followers through our deeds. Choose to show your faith. Serve others. Speak godly blessings on others. Be the positive example for others to emulate. Faithworks.

James 2:18-19 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” 

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.