Thursday, April 17, 2014

THRIVING RIGHTEOUSNESS



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In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.

Proverbs 28:28, 29:2

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

Have you ever experienced thriving righteousness?

I know I have although I think there was a period in my life when I wouldn’t have understood what it meant to thrive righteously.

For there’s a big difference between just seeking to live right and flourishing in righteousness.

Look at these words of Jesus as He discussed this distinction using a separate topic:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:43-48

The point that Jesus was trying to make was that it’s just not good enough for Christians to do what everyone else does. We have to take our behavior to a whole new level.

Anyone can love the people who love them. The challenge comes when we consider loving someone who hates us, someone who is our enemy.

It’s easy to just hang around with the people you are most comfortable with, those who believe what you believe and are in agreement with you on matters of life. The challenge comes when you have to go out and affiliate with people who are strikingly different that you, who may even hate you for what you believe.

And it’s easy to just feel compelled once and while to do right. Anyone does that. The challenge comes in committing yourself to be totally successful toward doing right all the time, not just some of the time.

Love when it’s not easy. Commune with others when it’s not easy. Do right always, not just when it’s convenient for you.

In other words, be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect and although we’ll never be perfect, we can strive to emulate our Lord in everything we do – in the way we love, the way we fellowship, and in the ways we behave in His sight and the sight of others.

Think about how much better our world would be if everyone adopted this mindset, to be perfect as their heavenly Father, the One who made them, is perfect. For in such a scenario, sin and wickedness would be displaced by holiness and a thriving righteousness that can only come when the people of God allow Him to dominate their hearts and minds and souls, making His will their very own in all matters. In other words, the teaching of Jesus in the Beatitudes would come alive as those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will find themselves filled to overflow.

Friends, would this not bring us to a place of rejoicing as we see our world change into one where righteousness prospers to unprecedented levels, completely overshadowing and supplanting evil and malice. We would see the words of Solomon as expressed in the following verses come to life:

When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive. Proverbs 28:28
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. Proverbs 29:2

People thrive in righteousness when wickedness perishes and has no place within the people of God. And when the people of God reside in the midst of thriving righteousness, they do so in the spirit of jubilation and exultation with a sense of exceeding gladness.

My prayer is that every man and woman today might commit or recommit themselves to righteousness and goodness over iniquity and depravity, just not with a part of who they are but with all that they are. For when we all do this, let the rejoicing truly begin.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

RECEIVING BY GIVING



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In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Proverbs 28:27

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

“Tis better to give than receive.”

Live long enough and you will hear people say it but I would bet you that many of them would not know the origin of the saying to include a large number who would not only claim to not be believers but even go as far to proclaim themselves as atheist. If they only knew they were quoting the very words of Jesus, the Lord and Savior of us all. Look at this excerpt from the scriptures:

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

The Apostle Paul, while speaking with the elders of the Ephesian church, imparted words of instruction and guidance from the Savior Jesus, the One at the center of the gospel truth and message he was spreading during his missionary journeys. At the heart of that instruction was an exhortation to care for the week, to freely give and not be self centered or selfish. It was a core principle that Jesus used in His teaching. You’ll recall He also said this regarding the topic:

 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’”

“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’”

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’”

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me.’”

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?’”

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’”

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” 

Matthew 25:31-46

Now, I think after reading this anyone in their right mind would definitely say that it’s better to look after those in need, those Jesus speaks as being the least, and find eternal life than not doing so and facing His judgment. It simply is better to give than receive on a lot of levels but particularly when we are considering our eternal future.

Well, Solomon predated Jesus with some words of wisdom from God to the readers of the proverbs. Look again at this verse regarding the matter of giving and receiving:

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. Proverbs 28:27

Go back and revisit the word of Jesus.

Those who give freely to the poor, the least of these, will lack nothing. They will be blessed in the here and now and after death as they receive their part of the salvation inheritance.

Conversely, those who close their eyes to the needy, failing to show concern for others, will find themselves in receipt of curses which will conclude in damnation.

When we get right down to it, there’s a lot at stake, right?

All the more reason to be like Jesus and always give for by giving we find ourselves receiving His treasures of heaven, now and forever.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DON’T TRUST IN YOURSELF



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In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

Proverbs 28:26

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

In the last month, I have been involved in several counseling sessions with people going through relationship difficulties in their lives. I find it interesting how in not only these recent encounters but many like them I hear the same basic tone and in it, the foundation of the real problem at hand.

What is the tone I hear?

It’s all about me.

In regard to relationship matters, people will share with me how they would like X while their mate would like Y. One wants more from the relationship than the other. One’s desires aren’t being met and so they are unhappy. The self-centered complaints go on and on and on.

I always allow the person talking to me to express their feelings and the issues at hand. Sometimes it takes awhile. But after all is out, I typically ask one simple question:

Where is the Lord in all of this?

It’s a trap that any of us can fall into if we’re not careful. We can get so caught up in our wants and our needs and our desires and our will that we become the object of our life instead of the One who gave life to us. I don’t know about you but the Lord has allowed me to take control of my life when I wanted to just to show me how much I can royalty mess things up. Sometimes, we don’t realize just how much we need Him until we try to live without Him.

I was reminded of this truth as I looked at the proverb for today, the 26th verse of Proverbs, Chapter 28. Within it, the Lord sends us a fundamental message:

Only a fool trusts in themselves.

Look at the verse again:

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

We aren’t wise enough to capably handle the complex problems that life can bring but we serve a Lord who is always willing and ready to impart discernment and guidance to us whenever we call on His precious and holy name. And when we seek His wisdom, acknowledging His authority and majesty and greatness, then we make Him the object of our life over ourselves. We see Him as the One who rules and reigns and judges. We see Him as the One who we need to please, ever seeking His desires and doing what it takes to fulfill them. Through this, we find rest and peace and safety for the Lord will never guide us wrong as we fulfill His purposes and experience life as we were intended to live, a live free from foolishness because it is immersed in righteousness.

Today and every day, let us make the Lord the object of our affection and our service. For if we do, then we will turn from trusting in ourselves of anyone else for that matter and always bask in the glow of His wisdom as we walk with Him in safety, light, and love.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Monday, April 14, 2014

THE WAY TO PROSPERITY



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.

Proverbs 28:25

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

WRITER’S NOTE: After today, I will be on a ship and heading back to the United States. I will try and post while away as much as possible but if for some reason connectivity does not allow it, I will be posting daily again once I arrive home.

Early on in my adult life, I remember nothing but struggles when it came to living.

It was a struggle to make ends meet financially and actually. I was overextending myself with the way I was living, traveling down the slippery slope of indebtedness.

It was a struggle at work as I served in the Navy trying to succeed and advance to higher paygrades.

It was a struggle to maintain my marital relationship which eventually crashed and burned in divorce.

Things weren’t very good for me then, that’s for sure. Maybe you can relate to the matter of struggling in your own life.

But then something happened, something that changed my life forever, something that carried me from my struggles into a life woven with successes and prosperity, something that showed me that I had been approaching life all wrong when it came to getting ahead.

What was that something?

It was simply, the Lord.

You see, when I allowed the Lord into my life, surrendering everything to Him and allowing Him to lead and guide me in all things, I learned the true way to prosperity. Before I was living for the world and its ways which only led me down the path of failure and disappointment and hardship. But when I trusted the Lord, He showed me the way to the treasures of heaven (Matthew 6:19-20) as I reaped the fruits of the Spirit in abundance (Galatians 5:22-23). I learned that the real value in life wasn’t in my possessions but rather in my Lord and His way, will, and word, when it wasn’t about me but rather all about Him.

That’s the message at the heart of today’s proverb from Proverbs, Chapter 28, verse 25. Here it is again:

The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.
 
Trust in the Lord. It’s a key component of God’s wisdom guidance shared with us through Solomon, it’s a key component in the Christian life, period. We’re to not lean on ourselves or our own understanding, we’re not to exercise personal greediness also known as self centeredness, but we’re to rather place everything in the hands of the One who made us, the One who wants the best for us as we serve Him and others, the One who can do all things.

Yes, life brings us struggles but so often they are of our own doing. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and mind and soul and strength and you will find yourself on the way to prosperity, not in the ways the world sees it but in the spiritual riches that only come when we are living in righteousness and the assurance of forgiveness, pardon, and salvation.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

HOW WILL YOU WELCOME YOUR KING?



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In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting:

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

John 12:12-13

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

WRITER’S NOTE: After today, I will be on a ship and heading back to the United States. I will try and post while away as much as possible but if for some reason connectivity does not allow it, I will be posting daily again once I arrive home.

It was the start of the last week of Jesus’ life. He had done so much in such a short period of time.

Teaching and preaching. Healing. Miracle working. Resurrecting. Rebuking. Loving.

He had shown the people that He indeed was the long awaited Messiah, the One the prophet Isaiah had written about:

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.

And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.  Isaiah 9:6-7

The people of Israel were sick and tired of the Roman oppression they were under. They had been waiting for their promised king to arrive, and not just any king but the King of kings, the One who would come to free them and restore their liberty.

Now when kings would come to Jerusalem, they would get a royal welcome from the people who traditionally would line the path the king traveled, waving palm branches, symbols of victory, and laying them on the path as the king entered the city. Some would lay their cloaks down instead of palm branches.

 But this was no ordinary king arriving to Jerusalem. The words of the people lining the path attested to that with their words:

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

The people had come to welcome the promised King of Israel as they prepared to celebrate the Passover. Their history knew well of God’s willingness to deliver them from the hands of oppressors and the Passover symbolized just that as God freed their ancestors from the grip of Egyptian captivity through His power and the leadership of Moses. Now they were ready to be delivered again and saw Jesus as the One who would bring it.

There was only one problem. For Jesus was coming to deliver them alright, but not from the oppression of the Romans. He was coming to deliver them from their sins and save them from the wrath and judgment that would come as a result of their transgressions. The people cried out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel,” but the truth of the matter is that they were the ones who were about to be blessed by His coming.

Friends, how are you welcoming your King today? How do you welcome Him every day?

For Jesus is riding into our lives each and every day triumphantly and victorious. Will you shout your praises for Him and appreciate Him for all He has done, all He is doing, and all He is yet to do? Will you lay down your life for Him, like the palm branches placed before Him on the path to Jerusalem, and allow Him to be the King over you and your life? Will you invite His Spirit into your heart, mind, and soul and allow all of Him to be all of who you are? Will you continuously shout “Hosanna” to Him for how He has delivered you from your sins?

Friends, we have a Savior who deserves all of the honor and glory and praise that we can deliver and His name is Jesus. In Him, we have an eternal hope that can never be taken away. Celebrate this, not just on Palm Sunday, but every day you’re blessed with.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

ARE YOU PARTNERED WITH THE DESTROYER?

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In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

Whoever robs their father or mother and says, “It’s not wrong,” is partner to one who destroys.

Proverbs 28:24

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

WRITER’S NOTE: After today, I will be on a ship and heading back to the United States. I will try and post while away as much as possible but if for some reason connectivity does not allow it, I will be posting daily again once I arrive home.

One thing is certain in life.

We will all do right and we will all do wrong.

It’s absolutely impossible for any man or woman to do everything right. We’re all sinners and have been flawed since the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God, violated His direction, and chose their own sinful desires over His will. We have never been the same since.

Indeed, men and women have sinned over and over and over again across lifetimes and generations, so much so that in many instances, the clear cut line between right and wrong has been blurred or even erased to the point where what was considered wrong is now considered right and vice versa.

So how did we get to this point? How did we get to where we are today where so many people are sinning and not thinking twice about what they are doing?

The answer is Satan, the one who destroys.

Think about the purposes and motives of the evil one, Satan, and you will inevitably realize that they are fundamental in nature. For Satan has one goal and only one goal that is universal. He wishes to destroy every good and perfect thing that God has done or that God is doing and he will not rest in doing so. Only Christ’s return will do away with Him forever.

This is what we’re dealing with every day, a raging battle between God who desires for us to live in righteousness and Satan who desires for us to live in sin and wickedness and evil, all inherent qualities that he represents.

Who will we partner with? That is the operational question and our actions will provide the answer. Just look at the proverb for today if you doubt that.

Whoever robs their father or mother and says, “It’s not wrong,” is partner to one who destroys. Proverbs 28:24

The God who commanded that one should honor their father and mother (Exodus 20:12) would not approve of someone who chose to rob their own father or mother. A clear violation of His commandment is simply pure, unadulterated sin. Thus anyone who would commit the sin and then openly proclaim it to be just and right would not be partnered with the Lord but rather the evil one who led them to the sin in the first place. And this model works for any sinful act called out in the Holy Word of God and there are plenty of them. Commit any of those transgressions and then openly confess that they were right when it’s obvious they were sin and you will be choosing to partner with the destroyer Satan vice your Creator God.

So the question for us today from the word of God is simple:

Are you partnered with the destroyer?

My prayer is that your answer will be “no”.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Friday, April 11, 2014

AVOID PATRONIZING



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.

Proverbs 28:23

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

WRITER’S NOTE: After today, I will be on a ship and heading back to the United States. I will try and post while away as much as possible but if for some reason connectivity does not allow it, I will be posting daily again once I arrive home.

A recent insurance commercial humorously makes the statement that Pinocchio was a poor motivational speaker, moving to a scene where Pinocchio is speaking to a gathering of people at a convention. Looking at the people in the room, particularly one gentleman sitting in a chair who looks less than motivated, Pinocchio points several times and says, “You have potential” with his nose growing a little longer each time. Of course, the implication here is that Pinocchio is lying and doesn’t really see anyone there as having potential.

We laugh at this commercial but it’s more telling than we may want to admit.

I say this because we often are like the Pinocchio in the commercial, saying things to people that we really don’t mean, throwing around insincere compliments and essentially lying to them in the process.
This deceitful form of flattery has a name and it’s patronizing.  

I don’t know about you but I really despise people who are so dishonest and cruel that they can’t be real with people. I saw it happen over and over again in the Navy with leaders convincing Sailors they were performing great when they were only performing marginally at best. Afraid or unwilling to be sincere and frank with their people, they instead planted false seeds of hope and promise in them, seeds of hope and promise that wouldn’t produce blossoms of self esteem from success but rather thorns of disappointment from failure. Their blatant misleading of people is nothing short of sinfulness and thus out of the favor of the Lord.

This matter of patronizing someone came to mind as I read today’s proverb, the 23 rd verse of Proverbs, Chapter 28, for the Lord has words of advice for all people today. Look at this verse again:

Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.

In the case of someone who has a flaw in character, we’re to be brutally candid with them about where they are falling short, not use a flattering tongue to make them believe that they are fine. For in lying about the truth of the matter, we play a part in permitting the person to continue exercising negative behavior vice be a party to correcting deficiencies that can help the person become better and more successful. Conversely, providing caring and compassionate rebuke can help a person become more like who the Lord wants them to be, an occurrence that brings His favor to both the rebuker and the rebukee.

Think about that next time you need to make a choice about whether or not to compliment. Be truthful, be real, and be authentic in the way you deal with others. It’s the best policy for them, the best policy for you, and most of all, the policy the Lord wishes for us to adopt and that’s all that matters.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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