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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Becoming a World-Class Christian



As Christians, God has asked us to participate in the most wonderful and beneficial cause or gift in this world – The Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom and plan for mankind’s Salvation is the most significant and the greatest cause of all time. Moreover, no race, ethnicity, or gender is left out of God’s cause or plan for mankind. In fact, God wants all people to know about His love and to know that He sent His Son to die for their sins and then to arise from the grave conquering eternal death so that they, too, can be part of God’s Kingdom. Indeed, through Christ everyone is offered the greatest gift of all, eternal life, but first they need to not only hear about God’s gift and His kingdom, but they need someone to explain it to them. That is where members of God’s Kingdom, i.e., those who are born-again Christians, can participate in God’s great cause by sharing the Good News with others and by living up to the standards of God’s Kingdom, such as caring about others and helping those less fortunate. Are you a part of God’s cause and Kingdom? If not keep reading and you too can become part of God’s glorious Kingdom.

There is nothing that matters more in the life of a Saved person than to be an example of Christ’s characteristics and traits for others to see. For it is through our own example of Christlike living and our willingness to share the joy of knowing Christ as our Savior that we will have opportunities to share the Gospel. But to do so, we have to live honorably and humbly for God and His Son so that others can see Christ in us and will then want to know how to invite Him into their lives too. They will need to see our joy and our peace. But sometimes we are so into ourselves, into our own peace and joy, and into what we want to do that we fail to think like world-class Christians. However, there are some steps that we can take to not only live as a child of God, but to also work on becoming a world-class Christian. Just what are those steps? Let's take a look.

First, every born-again Christian needs to stop their self-centered thinking and start thinking about others instead of thinking only of themselves. We all should be “other-centered”. In fact, the Apostle Paul addressed “other-centered” thinking when he wrote: “My friends, stop thinking like children. Think like mature people” -- (I Corinthians 14: 20 CEV).  Then Paul also wrote: “Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too.” – (Philippians 2: 4. NLT). And, finally Paul explained the Christian’s role in the Kingdom of God, when he wrote:I don’t think about what would be good for me but about what would be good for many people so that they might be saved.” – (I Corinthians 10: 33. GWT). If you are a Christian, do you think about whether the other person has come to know Christ or not? Thinking about the Salvation of others should be a priority in the lives of born-again Christians. This is part of becoming a world-class Christian.

Second, born-again Christians need to expand their thinking from just those local people that they run into in their daily lives for whom they can witness, to thinking about people around the world who need to hear the Good News. For, God has always cared about all of the world. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote: “This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours.  -- (Colossians 1: 6. NLT). And Jesus said, “You will tell everyone about Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.”  -- (Acts 1: 8. CEV). And when we get to heaven a huge crowd of people from “every race, tribe, nation, and language” will one day stand before Jesus to worship Him. – (Revelation 7: 9. CEV.). Do you know how many of those people standing before Christ that you will have personally witnessed to? Sadly, most Christians can count on one hand the number of people to whom they have witnessed. Certainly, we can do much better in witnessing for Christ both at home and abroad. We just have to make witnessing to others for Christ a priority in our lives. Perhaps you can go on a mission trip to another country, or if you can’t, perhaps you can house visitors from another country in your home for a few days, and therefore get an opportunity to tell them about Christ. But if you cannot do either, you can certainly pray specifically for one person or for a group of people in another country. All you have to do is ask the foreign missions board or your church pastor to give you the name of a person or a group of people for whom you can specifically pray.

We should all pray for opportunities to witness to others instead of just living our lives in a vacuum. We can even pray for both local and overseas missionaries, as well as for those individuals who are putting their lives on the line in order to share Christ with others. Paul said: “Pray for us … so that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.” – (Colossians 4: 3. NIV). So, we also must pray for the courage to speak up and not remain silent when we are given an opportunity to share Christ with another. The Apostle Paul also told the Ephesians: “Don’t forget to pray for me. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I …. am responsible for getting out.”  -- (Ephesians 6: 19-20. The Message). Then let’s also pray for each other to know what to say and to have the courage to say it when God puts an un-Saved person in our path.

Don’t forget to pray for those who will believe. For Jesus prayed, “My prayer is not for [my disciples] 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.” – (John 17: 20-21. NIV). (This was part of Christ’s High Priestly Prayer when He prayed for His disciples.). However, not everyone that you witness to will come to know Christ as their Savior. But don’t be discouraged. Instead, just as Christ prayed, pray for those who will believe in Him when they hear the Gospel message. Pray, too, that their ears will be opened and that their hearts will cling to the words that God is giving you to share. Pray for their understanding and for their willingness to recognize that they, like us, were born sinners and need the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ to take away their sins. It is that understanding and their willingness to ask Christ into their hearts that will make all the difference in their lives. They will be blessed and you, too, will be blessed for sharing the most important message that anyone can ever hear.

The third way that we can focus on becoming a World Class Christian is to start thinking about eternity rather and just thinking about here and now in this world. I don’t know about you, but as a born-again Christian I think a great deal about eternity with God. I am so happy that I will get to spend eternity with God and my Savior, and I look forward to eternity. In fact, thinking about eternity is a good thing to do. For, the Apostle Paul explained to us within his letter to the Corinthians that Christians are to think about eternity. He said, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  -- (II Corinthians 4: 18. NIV). Paul also told us to “Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.  -- (I Corinthians 7: 31. This means that we should not focus on the greed, the money, the technological social aspects that entice us, or on any of the momentary things that can ultimately cause us harm or pull us into loving the things of this world. Instead, we need to focus on the eternal things like the love, kindness, and peace that awaits us as we live for God in the here and now as well as on what awaits us in eternity too. For, the things of this world are on the way out. Are you ready for the Rapture?

Every day as I hear the news and see the terrible things that people are doing to each other, I believe that the world is getting closer to the end. On the other hand, I have something wonderful to look forward to. For, God has given us a glorious eternity that starts in our hearts when we are Saved, but that will culminate in the eternity that Christ has prepared for us; an eternity of love and peace with an abiding fellowship with God. And, our guarantee that God will give us an everlasting body at the resurrection of all believers is the Holy Spirit within us. Moreover, as we think more about eternity and less about the here and now, Christians are also able to think about our investments in eternity. In fact, it is our love, kindness, generosity, and our self-sacrifice in doing good for others that becomes our investment in eternity, which all Christians can make, if they are willing to do so. Again, the Apostle Paul succinctly explained these investments and our need to invest in eternity when he told Timothy: “By [being generous and doing good to others] [the wealthy in this world] will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven – it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.  -- (I Timothy 6: 9: LB). Are you focused on investing in eternity by helping others and by being kind, generous, and loving? Do you think about what you can do to represent Christ to the rest of the world? If you need to start thinking about ways that you can reach out to help others and show the love of Christ, as well as witness to those who need to know Him, you might consider Active Relational Christian mentoring. Christian mentoring as an easy way to invest not only in others, but to invest in your eternity as you become a World class Christian.

Fourth, World class Christians have goals, because they have stopped thinking of excuses and have instead started thinking of creative ways to fulfill the commission that Christ has given to each of them. The Great Commission is every Christian’s commission. (See Matthew 28: 18-20). No Christian is too young or too old to start thinking about ways to fulfill their personal commission given to them by Christ. In fact, whether the Holy Spirit is encouraging you to become an Active Relational Christian Mentor or encouraging you to become a spokesperson for a particular ministry, the Lord has endowed each Christian, i.e., you, with the ability to share Christ with others. We know this because Jesus, before He was taken up into Heaven, told the apostles: “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about Me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  -- (Acts 1: 8. NLT).
Just as the disciples were given power, i.e., the Holy Spirit, to witness for Christ, born-again Christians today have also been given the Holy Spirit who empowers them to witness for Christ everywhere they go. It is just a matter of choosing to do your part for the Kingdom of God. Indeed, by doing your part, i.e., by turning from self-centered thinking to other thinking; by spending more time in prayer; by thinking more about the entire world’s need to meet Christ instead of just thinking about those closest to you; by thinking more about eternity instead of just living in the here and now; and by thinking about creative ways to fulfill the commission given to you by Christ, you will not only be living  a life of significance, but you will be on the path to becoming a World-class Christian. World-class Christians maximize their potential as a member of the Kingdom of God. For, Jesus said, “Only those who throw away their lives for My sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live!  -- (Mark 8: 35. LB).

 I hope each of you can focus on growing spiritually and can focus on maturing as a Christian. In fact, the question for all of us is: “Are we going to personally live up to the standards and the cause of God’s Kingdom?” Moreover, are we going to change our selfish way of thinking and instead start thinking about how we can help others understand the Kingdom of God better? Then, are we going to start thinking about people within our communities, within our state, within our nation and even thinking of those in other parts of the world by praying for opportunities to witness and speak up. We need to not only pray for others around the world, but we need to also pray for the missionaries who can witness to the lost? Ultimately, we need to pray for all the people who will believe in Christ as their Savior. I know you can do it! You can not only mentor others for the Lord, but you can become a World-Class Christian, too, in your attitude and in your actions.

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Are You Saved?

If in reading this post you realized that you are not a born-again Christian, it is very easy to turn your life around and ask Christ into your heart. It is never too late, (that is until you take your last breath and then it is too late), to ask Christ for forgiveness of your sins and then ask Him into your heart. All you have to do, with true belief in Christ as the risen Son of God, is to pray something like this:

“Dear Lord, I know that God sent you into this world to die for my sins and I believe that you were born of a virgin, died on the cross, and arose again the third day conquering eternal death for all who will believe in and trust in You. Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and that wages of sin is eternal death. I want eternal life. I am asking you to forgive me of my sins, for I believe that you are the Son of God and that you died on the cross for our sins and then arose from the grave to give those who believe on You eternal life. Jesus, I believe in You! Please come into my heart and save me!”

It is not those exact words that will save you. But it is your telling Christ that you believe in Him and His resurrection, and that you want Him to forgive you of your sins and come into your life that is important and that will save you. Once you give your heart and life to Christ, then go out and tell someone. For Romans 10: 9-10 tells us “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus as Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in Salvation.” Then you can work on becoming that World Class Christian for Christ.

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If you are interested in reaching out to people for Christ, if you are interested in helping, encouraging, and empowering other women to be all they can be for God, themselves, and their families, perhaps you would be interested in reading my book on Active Relational Christian Mentoring. My book is entitled: The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring. Through personal mentoring stories, it discusses the many types of mentoring and how Christian women can become a blessing to other women, and in the process, they too can be blessed. My book can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Christian Faith Publishing Co., iTunes, and Google Play. Below is a link to Amazon.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Singing to the Lord


Singing to the Lord

I grew up hearing my mother sing. She sang continuously when she was working around the house and her voice was extremely beautiful. She even had an opportunity to sing professionally, but she turned it down because she had a husband and two little children that she did not want to leave to go on the road with a national band. I, on the other hand, was not born with a beautiful voice. Oh, I can carry a tune, and I love to sing for the Lord, but I am not a good enough singer to even be in a church choir. However, I have used my voice to sing praises to the Lord and to lift up my prayers of thanksgiving to Him. I even sang after my replacement knee surgeries when I walked every day in the underground garage at our condo to strengthen my knees. In fact, singing to the Lord is something that we can all do to gain courage, to praise Him, to celebrate His love, to ask for help, and to recite some of the Scriptures that are used within songs. Some say that our Christian songs are actually our prayers that we sing to the Lord. What kind of songs do you sing to the Lord?

The Apostle Paul and Silas evidently believed in singing their prayers to the Lord too. One example of this is found in the book of Acts. You may remember that while on their second missionary journey Apostle Paul and Silas were unjustly arrested, beaten and thrown into prison to await a trial or something worse. They had been proclaiming Christ to the people in Macedonia, and while there they removed a demon spirit from a girl who was a pestering fortune teller.  This demon possessed girl earned money for her masters by telling fortunes to anyone who would pay. But, she kept pestering Paul and Silas’ calling out constantly “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved”. Although what the demon was saying was true, Paul could not let the Good News be linked with demon-related activities, because this would change the message of Christ. So, when Paul had finally had enough, he removed the demon that was shouting out and harassing them, which was the same demon that helped the girl her tell fortunes. Her masters were furious when the girl no longer had the ability to tell fortunes, so they grabbed Paul and Silas threatening their lives for ruining their business, and then the other merchants turned against them too. A mob quickly formed and then the city officials ordered Paul and Silas to be stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison. But even though they were thrown into prison and put into stocks, Paul and Silas were not defeated. Instead they prayed and sang songs to the Lord.

“Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, Don’s do it! We are all here. Trembling with fear, the jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down before Paul and Silas. He brought them out and asked. ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  -- (Acts 16: 25-29. NLT).

Despite the terrible situation that Paul and Silas were in, they had prayed and sang to the Lord and to the other prisoners. Their singing was a form of prayerful praise and was also a way to ask for intercession from God. God saw their trust and their love of Him, and He heard their beautiful praise and prayerful worship to the One who could change their situation. Later, in Ephesians 5: 19-20, Paul also encourages the members of the Ephesian church to “to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. [Telling them to] … always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” How often to do you sing to the Lord when you have a problem or need? Maybe you could make a list of all the godly songs that you know that you could sing asking for help or proclaiming God’s powerful protection, guidance, or His past intercession and provision for the needs of people.

In the Older Testament, David, even before he became king, sang songs to the Lord. He put his requests of God into music and sang them to the Lord. Many of the Psalms were praises, but others were songs sung to God for help and protection. For example: Psalm 4 is about rejoicing in God’s protection and peace, knowing that God will listen when we call; Psalm 6 is about David calling for deliverance from trouble and his knowing full well that God is able to rescue him (us); In Psalm 13 David prays for relief from his despair, trusting that God will answer him (us) even if He doesn’t’ do so immediately; In Psalm 18 David sings about his gratitude for God’s deliverance and victory, as he tells those who hear his song that God’s help is the only way that we can be delivered from evil, therefore, we must call upon God for His glorious help; and David even sings in Psalm 26 of his loyalty to God, as he stands up to those who oppose him and God. Finally, we see songs of praise and worship sung by David and the Jewish people, such as Psalm (song) 136 which tells us that God’s endless love is why He deserves our constant praise.  There are 150 psalms recorded in the Bible and all of these are songs of praise, worship, and love, along with other prayerful songs of need, protection, provision, and needed intercession. David knew that God loved music and that God listened to the prayers that were sent up to God. So, David prayerfully sang his heart out to the Lord!

God invites us to praise Him and to call out to Him in our hour of need, despair, and hurt. (See Matthew 7: 7 and Luke 11: 1-4). Unfortunately, we are not always sure how to go about telling the Lord what we want to tell Him. But, David set examples for us. Like David, we can talk to the Lord through singing, dancing, and the playing of musical instruments as we pray to and praise the Lord with all our heart. In fact, singing to the Lord is often easier than trying to think of exact words to say. We just need to choose the psalm or the song that best expresses our need or that expresses the praise that we want to use to honor God.

I will end with Psalm 146 which tells us not only how great God is, but that God’s help is enduring and complete.
“Praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord, I tell myself. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God even with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When their breathing stops, they return to the earth, and in a moment all their plans come to an end. But happy are those who have the God of Israel (i.e., of Jacob) as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the One who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He is the One who keeps every promise forever, who gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and the widows, but He frustrates the plans of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever. O Jerusalem (i.e., Zion) your God is King in every generation. Praise the Lord.”  -- (Psalm 146. NLT).

Start singing to the Lord. Let Him know how wonderful He is and also tell Him of your needs. God wants to hear your prayerful songs. And, if you haven’t yet turned your life over to Christ, sing out in repentance of your sins and then ask for forgiveness of your sins. He will hear you and give you Salvation. Then you can truly sing songs of praise to the Lord!