Sunday, April 9, 2017

Delighting Ourselves in the Lord and Speaking Truth in Love

As I look back over my life, it amazes me how many things I thought that I needed in order to make me happy. But, as I grew in wisdom and Christ’s peace, I realized that most of the things that I thought I needed were just things that I wanted, and they only contributed to my momentary happiness. In fact, one day I realized that the Lord is my true happiness, and Christ is truly all I need. Moreover, I discovered that the worldly things that I thought I wanted were just temporary or momentary joys that passed quickly away, whereas the true joy and the true happiness that I found in the Lord is with me constantly. In fact, having Christ in my heart helps me to be a better friend, mother, and wife. Over the years I have also discovered that it is the good things that God plants within our hearts that truly bring us real lasting peace and joy. Certainly, for me, it is the work that I do for the Lord in sharing the Good News and in mentoring other women for the Lord that brings me true joy and peace.

After several years of being a Christian, I made the discovery that when we desire to live and walk for Christ daily, our joy grows exponentially. In fact, it turns out that it is not the earthly things that we think that we need or desire that will really make us happy or give us lasting joy. Rather, it is the things or services that we do for the Lord and the Kingdom of God that contributes to our happiness. It is the daily service of working for Him and surrounding ourselves with the fellowship of other Christians, that makes us happy, gives us peace, and provides a life of satisfaction.

If we want to know what brings true peace, joy and happiness to our lives, all we have to do is turn to the Word of God. For, long ago, David, the man after God’s own heart, explained where our joy and happiness really comes from when he wrote in one of his Psalms: “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; …– (Psalm 37: 4-7. NASB).

I know that in some ways my blog may not be as exciting to the non-Christian as some others, but writing to you is exciting to me, because I want you to know all about the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am excited to tell you about Him. Moreover, I want my readers to know that living for the Lord is both very exciting and heaven bound. I also want my readers to learn how to “delight yourself in the Lord” and to learn how to “commit your way to the Lord,” while trusting in Him. So, in this particular blog, I want to start by trying to finish up on the study of Ephesians, chapter four that I started last week. For, it is in these particular verses that you, too, can learn how to live an exciting, loving, and delightful life for the Lord.

If you remember from my last blog, I talked about born-again Christians walking daily for Christ, or living in such a way that non-Christians and other born-again Christians can tell by our attitudes, behaviors, and words that we are indeed authentic Christians. For, Christians should want the world to know that they are devoted to living for Christ. Moreover, it isn't just important to acknowledge that we are Christians, but it is important that we truly behave like Christians are supposed to behave. In addition, Christians should also want other people to also know the joy and excitement that living for Christ can bring to their lives, so we need to share the Good News with others. Furthermore, true authentic Christians should want to share the Salvation or Gospel message with as many people as they can. However, as I was preparing for this study on the authentic Christian walk for the Lord, I discovered that I needed to first talk about “delighting ourselves in the Lord”, because this delight is what is required to really walk as a true “born-again” Christian on a daily basis. So, in this posting, I may not get through all of chapter four as I planned. But, if not, I will discuss the last few verses in chapter four of Ephesians, as well as a couple or so verses from chapter five in my next posting. For, all of these verses are important, because they teach Christians how we are to behave or how to walk righteously as an authentic follower of Christ. (Again, I have broken the blog up into sections so that you can read just one section at a time, if you wish. I encourage each of you to take your time and meditate upon God’s Word and to then think about what I have written about in regard to these particular scriptures. I hope you enjoy learning about your Christian walk. Happy reading and happy walking for the Lord!)

Delighting Ourselves in the Lord

The psalmist, David, encourages us to “Delight yourself in the Lord.” So, how do we go about delighting ourselves in the Lord? Well, we start by believing in Christ as the risen Son of God who has cleansed us through His blood. Then, we show our delight in the Lord by committing ourselves to the Lord, living for Him, and trusting in Him in every situation within our lives. First and foremost, though, delighting ourselves in the Lord requires a commitment to live by God’s laws and to live by the truth of the Word of God so that we can live honoring the Lord while representing Christ to other people. 

But, David goes on to say in Psalm 37 that it is “the humble …(who) will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. (For) the Lord sustains the righteous, …” – (Psalm 37: 11, 17. NASB). In other words, the humble will receive abundant prosperity. What, though, is prosperity? Well, prosperity can mean money, but prosperity can also include such things as a happy family, or happy children, lots of Christian friends, or having just what we need to live on, including food, housing, clothing, transportation, etc., all of which in their joyful abundance can be used to help us help others and to also testify about and glorify God. Certainly, emotional happiness and love must also be included in the words, “abundant prosperity”. But what does humbleness and humility look like or mean for the born-again Christian?

Humility and Pride

Most people know the difference between humility and pride. If we are humble we do not try to convince others that we are great, or we do not attempt to exaggerate our worthiness in any situation, nor do we try to do things that that we know we shouldn’t do just to impress others. But many times, Christian people will try to excuse their lack of humility or their overzealous pride by acting like they are no different than the rest of the prideful world or that they have the right to do all the same things that other people do even if what they are doing is wrong. For example, for those who are prideful, cheating on a test can be pridefully excused simply by telling themselves that the cheating will only be done this one time, and that it won’t hurt anyone, because other people do it too. Or they excuse their cheating by lying to themselves that it will never happen again. This is just the beginning of the sinful lies that will be told to exonerate themselves from cheating. First, they lie to themselves when they come up with the excuse to cheat, and then they cheat, but again lie to themselves when they tell themselves that they will never cheat again. The next lie that occurs is when they excuse their cheating by telling themselves that they just needed to cheat in this one particular instance in order to pass just this one test so they can pass the class. Finally, they convince themselves that once they pass the class that there will be no reason to cheat again, which is another lie.

Unfortunately, there is always another class to pass or another situation to be overcome easily, which they may believe also requires cheating in order to maintain a certain personal status in life. Instead of being humble and accepting the responsibility to study hard for the test, they have relied on pride in themselves; pride in having found the solution in the first place. Now, that cheating is discovered to be easy, this person can allow their pride of accomplishments to enter into other areas of his/her life as well as through cheating. What they don’t realize is that not only have they lied to themselves and thus sinned, but they have sinned again and again by continuing to cheat. Then there is the sin of the bad example that is being set for others who may see or know that they are cheating. Sadly, setting a bad example of cheating and untruthfulness can have a ripple effect that touches many other lives for perhaps years to come. Moreover, the cover-up of the sin can always be waiting in the background to be revealed, thus causing a person to be blackmailed or to sin in other ways as well.

Another example of humans justifying our sinful and prideful selfishness is when we do not in humility or in love tithe to the Lord. Many Christians justify not tithing by telling themselves that they have worked hard for that money, and that money is really theirs to spend. But, the truth is that every dollar we make is actually the Lord’s money that He has given to us to live on and to work in service for Him. So, when we do not tithe and give back to the Lord some of the money for service to the Lord, we are actually stealing from God. We can also pridefully sin even more, when we lie to ourselves. For, often we simply tell ourselves that we will tithe a little later on when we make more money and can afford to do so. But, there is no amount of money that will cause us to want to tithe at a later date. For, tithing is done in obedience to God. It is done trusting God in His Word to bless us for tithing. (See Malachi 3: 10). Finally, tithing is honoring God and showing Him our love and appreciation.  So, when we fail to tithe, we are not just disobeying God, but we are not showing Him our love, and we are not honoring God. Certainly, we are not delighting ourselves in the Lord!

One of the worst “justifiable” and prideful rights in the minds of some Christian women, though, is when some women convince themselves that they have the right to control their own bodies. It is that selfish and prideful right of believing that they are to control of their own bodies that has essentially led them into their belief in our society’s and the devil’s lie that an abortion is the only way to go, i.e., believing that they have a right to take an unborn child’s life. But in forgetting that God created them and that He is now creating this child within their womb, the mother instead believes the lie and then accepts with a clear conscience that she has the right to an abortion, which is just another way to say that she has the right to take the life of another human. Little does she know, but the devil has sold all these women a bill of goods, and they will be forever haunted by what they have done.  

All of these are just excuses used to justify the selfishness of having an abortion. However, the excuse for their own selfishness is really pride in themselves and the control and power that they can have over another individual and their personal decisions. They pridefully make a choice to have an abortion because they are told that it is their right of control over their own bodies. Obviously, they are forgetting the responsibility to care for another human that is growing within them.

Of Course, women are in control of their own bodies, deciding when to eat, when to shop, when to bathe, and when to have sex or when not to. But women also have to understand that God created us to procreate within marriage. So, if a woman uses her body for gratuitous pleasure outside of marriage and then becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she does not suddenly have the right to take the life of the child growing in her womb. Neither does a married woman have the right to abort a child just because she is not ready to have one or simply because she believes that she already has too many children. In either situation that child is another human that is being created by God. The control that women have over their own bodies in regard to having children or not only comes with the decision, except in cases of rape, to have intercourse or not. So, if a woman chooses to have intercourse and a child is conceived, she does not suddenly also hold the right of death over that child simply because she made a mistake. Only God has the right of life or death over the life of a child.

Accepting Humility

Remember that the psalmist tells us that the humble will “delight themselves in abundant prosperity”. When we have humbled our lives before the Lord and have acknowledged that He is our supreme Lord and Master, we are not only living in a way that honors Him, but we are living honoring what God has created, the woman that God created us to be. For, it is through our humility and our love for God and others that we can make a difference in the world in which we live. Every born-again Christian woman can be that beautiful Christ-centered and loving woman who reaches out to help other women and who shows the love of God through her attitude and behaviors.

Having a godly attitude and godly behaviors shows others that we are delighting ourselves in the Lord. Indeed, to delight ourselves in the Lord means that we not only believe in Him, but that we have committed ourselves to walk truthfully and morally for the Lord. For, only by trusting in the Lord, we will be able to enter into His righteousness and receive the peace and joy that Christ has waiting for those who truly believe in Him. Then, as Christ’s followers we must give up all pridefulness and seek humility. For it only through our humility that we will receive the prosperity that Christ has awaiting those who seek to walk in the light of Christ and to share Christ with others. Delighting ourselves in the Lord, then, is to daily live for Him and share Him with others.

Certainly, born-again Christians need to realize that we are Christ’s ambassadors here on earth. Not only are we to live for our Lord, but we are “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you (we) have been called with all humility and gentleness with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.– (Ephesians 4: 1-3. NASB). As Christ’s ambassadors, we are to show the world what true peace, delight, and love for the Lord encompasses, and we can start by sharing our Christ-filled lives with others through a particular kingdom service for the Lord such as Active Relational Christian Mentoring that we may choose to engage in. But it is a matter of attitude that will quicken the desire in others to know more about Christ and what it means to live for Him. In fact, it is in showing an attitude of love, respect, caring, gratitude, and kindness when speaking to others and in helping others that brings upon the other person a desire to know more about Christ.

Indeed, the Apostle Paul in speaking to the Christians in Philippi, told them: “Your attitude should be the same that Jesus Christ had. Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He made Himself nothing. He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. Because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a Name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.– (Philippians 2: 5-11. NLT). In other words, Jesus came as a humble servant to obey God and serve people. We too should obey God, serve others and serve God out of love. As born-again Christians, we are supposed to look for ways to serve God and others. We should also remember whom we are representing to the world and as such, we should live in a manner worthy of the calling for which we have been called.  That means that we are live in a way that both outwardly and inwardly always tries to represent what is good, true, and right to this world. We can only do that if we are willing to work at walking in the right manner, i.e. walking for Christ in truth, love, humility and righteousness. If we are going to walk for Christ, we must try to live as Christ lived. This means that we are to develop Christ’s attitude of humility and service to others,

Serving in Truth, i.e., Teaching and Mentoring Others in Truth and Love through Our Actions and Words

To understand how born-again Christians are to walk in truth, love, humility and righteousness we need to turn again to Ephesians 4: 25-32. For, it is in these Scriptures, the Apostle Paul delineates how the Saved “born-again” Christian should behave and walk for the Lord. So, let’s take a look at this section of the Scriptures starting with verse 25. “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with His neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

Have you ever noticed that it is sometimes hard to discover the truth of a particular statement or situation? That is because humans have a tendency to embellish the truth or tell small or even great lies to fit our own agendas. We can easily exaggerate something as simple as telling another person how hot the weather was on a particular day. One person might say that it was so hot that they could fry an egg on the pavement, when in fact, it was only 95 to 100 degrees. While another person chooses not to exaggerate. Yet that statement of exaggeration gets the attention of the listener, and the story teller has added to the descriptiveness of their story. Indeed, their statement of exaggeration can make the story more interesting. Unfortunately, if it wasn’t truly hot enough to fry and egg, it is essentially a lie.

But an exaggeration or lie can be much worse than just adding descriptiveness to a story for effect, because exaggeration may actually affect the life of another person. Whether inadvertently or intentionally an exaggeration or essentially a lie has the potential to cause great harm. For example, let’s say that a stranger is found murdered about a block from a particular neighborhood. The police then want to talk to everyone in the surrounding neighborhoods and on the housing block closest to the crime. They want to question as many people as possible to find out whether or not anyone knew the dead stranger. But one person who was questioned, suddenly decides to insert himself in the investigation. Perhaps he simply wanted to get involved in the investigation, or perhaps he really wanted to insert himself in the investigation, because he has a grudge against his neighbor and this is a way to get even. Either way, he tells the police that he saw the stranger earlier at the door of his next-door neighbor. Then he goes on to embellish the story by telling the police that his neighbor seemed to be highly agitated during the encounter with the stranger; implying that perhaps his neighbor knew the dead man.

Although this person could not overhear the conversation between the stranger and his neighbor, he does tell the police what he thinks he has seen. But is he telling them the truth? Does he just want to be involved in the process of locating the murderer and perhaps get credit for helping out? Or does he simply wanted to hurt his neighbor for some imagined slight? Either way the man decides to insert himself in the investigation through suppositions, implied accusations, and embellishments regarding the situation.

But, what happens to his next-door neighbor, who may indeed have seemed agitated, but was in reality just on hyper alert when talking to the stranger who came to his door asking questions? Now, what happens to the neighbor after the embellishment or exaggerations that this man gave to the police have turned the police into looking in the neighbor’s direction? Because of the embellishments, the police now have a reason to look closer into the neighbor, which could include more than just background checks. For, the police may decide to go to the neighbor’s work and talk to his boss and co-workers. What will the neighbor’s boss and co-workers now think of him?

Suddenly, the whole community is gossiping about the potential relationship between his neighbor and the man who was murdered. Furthermore, because the police now think that the next-door neighbor may know something about the murder, they are expending more police man hours into their investigation of the neighbor. To make matters worse, the neighbor has to spend a great deal of time talking to the police and then proving to them that he truly didn’t know the stranger to whom he was talking. The neighbor explained to the police that the stranger had asked to come into the house to make a telephone call, but because the stranger seemed threatening, he, the neighbor, may indeed have appeared agitated. If so, he was simply worried and was trying to determine whether or not the stranger was a danger to him or his family. Although the man’s neighbor was finally exonerated, the neighbor could just as easily have been hauled down to the police station for extended interrogations all because someone exaggerated, embellished a situation, or simply lied about his neighbor’s seeming agitation.

Christians are to be truthful in all situations. We are to care about the other person and not try to upstage others. But, it isn’t always easy to tell the truth when the world that we live in makes it so easy to lie. But serving in truth, mentoring in truth and love, and teaching in truth is an important part of the Christian walk and living for Christ. Whether it is through our actions or our words, we must always be truthful and show others that we are truthful. Sadly, many Christians, though, fail to put on a coat of truthfulness. They are easily swayed by the moment and the situation. Consequently, they forget to put aside their old self and walk in their new self for the Lord.

The Apostle Paul tells us that Christians are to put aside their old self, “which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Then in verse 25 we are told) Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with His neighbor, for we are members of one another.”  -- (Ephesians 4: 22-25. NASB).  This means that we are to always tell the truth. Moreover, we are to teach others by telling the truth in all our conversations. We should especially mentor our children and grandchildren in telling the truth, and we are to be a mentoring example of truthfulness in all our relationships with other people.

Most people pick up quickly on whether someone is telling the truth or not. However, even if we don’t pick up on it so quickly, we will eventually discover someone’s truthfulness or lack thereof. Furthermore, it is a terrible thing to be determined to be untruthful, for all credibility and respect can be lost. Friendships have even been destroyed by untruthfulness or exaggeration. That is why it is so important to not only mentor or teach our children and grandchildren about God’s expectation of truthfulness, but to actually be an example of truthfulness in every situation.

The Truth of the Gospel

So, what is this truth that everyone needs to know? Well, the truth is that everything in the Bible is the truth and it all leads to the Gospel or Good News. Starting from the book of Genesis in the Bible to the book of Revelation, God tells us about the Deliverer, Jesus Christ, who will take our sins upon His body and die for us so that we can spend eternity with God, if we so choose to believe in Him. The Older Covenant or Testament tells of mankind’s struggle with sin and the promise of the Deliverer. Then the Newer Covenant/ Testament is about the arrival of the Deliverer and Savior, Jesus Christ, who dies and is resurrected conquering eternal death for those who will believe upon Him. The book of Revelation, is about Christ’s second coming. For, it is in the book of Revelation that we see the believers meeting Christ in the sky and then those who did not believe having to suffer in a great tribulation period here on earth.
The glorious ending to the book of Revelation is that Christ conquers Satan and all evil. He then sets up His Kingdom on a new earth. This is the truth! Those who believe on Christ as the risen Son of God will indeed someday be with Christ and His Father for all eternity. Why would anyone not want to spend their immortal lives with God? The alternative is to spend your life in Hell with the devil, devoid of love and in constant pain and suffering. So, if you haven’t thought about where you will go when you die, perhaps the time is now. Please take the time to learn the truth and to contemplate on Jesus Christ. For, He and He alone can save you!

Blessings of the Cross:  Day 29
by Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you
murdered by hanging on a tree. Acts 5:30 

You are not asked to trust in a dead Jesus,
but in One who, though He died for our sins, has risen
again for our justification. You may go to Jesus at once
as to a living and present friend. He is not a mere
memory, but a continually existent Person who will
hear your prayers and answer them. He lives on purpose
to carry on the work for which He once laid down His
life. He is interceding for sinners at the right hand of the
Father, and for this reason He is able to save them to the
uttermost who come unto God by Him. Come and try
this living Savior, if you have never done so before.
This living Jesus is also raised to an eminence of glory
and power. He does not now sorrow as “a humble man
before his foes,” nor labor as “the carpenter’s son:”
but He is exalted far above principalities and power and
every name that is named. The Father has given Him all
power in Heaven and in earth, and He exercises this high
endowment in carrying out His work of grace.

The truth is that God’s work of grace was expressed in the love that He bestowed upon us when He watched His Son die on the cross for our sins. “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.– (John 3: 16. KJV).

The Truth is Love!
God is Love!
Have you shared the truth with another person?

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