"Contending to do Right"
Dec 31, 1969
These are interesting times in which we live and the values of Americans are changing at lightening speed. I'm saddened by the lack of civil dialogue when it comes to people who have different perspectives or beliefs. There was a time in this nation when people who had different opinions about a topic could have a discussion in a civilized way and if necessary walk away agreeing to disagree. Sometimes those meaningful heartfelt conversations caused one to change an opinion about a topic and at the least caused people to respect each other for having firm convictions about what they believe. In this blog I want to share my thoughts about Beliefs and Behavior based upon my walk as someone doing the best they can to be a sincere Christ Follower.
Life can be hard, even when one is making good choices and doing their best to be helpful and courteous to others. I am deeply touched by the struggles people face as they try to make life work in a positive way while facing challenges that sometimes seem insurmountable. Life is tough and sometimes unfair, but our hope in the Lord empowers us to endure life's ups and downs.
I have lived as a Christ-Follower(Christian) since 1981 and through the years I have forsaken internal attitudes and behavior that didn't reflect Christ. Before I invited Jesus to be Lord of my life, I thought it was okay to have sex with a woman without being married to her. I thought it was okay to tell little white lies as long as it benefited me and didn't do serious harm to anyone else. I thought it was okay to get and stay angry with anyone who crossed me and hold grudges if anyone wronged me. I thought it was okay to cuss like a sailor and if someone wanted to smoke weed or use drugs that was their business. I could go on and on with the examples of how my belief system justified my behavior
Before entering a relationship with Christ, my belief system was defined by the environment I lived in and the things I experienced. What was in my best interest and what was right for me was determined solely by me
. When I invited Christ in my heart, I understood that my belief system had to be defined by Him.
I believe Jesus is God. I believe what Apostle John said about Jesus. John says that Jesus existed from the very beginning; He was with God and He was God and He made everything that we see. I believe that as the Lord of my life, Jesus defines my belief system; neither my environment nor my upbringing define my belief system. So, how do I know what Jesus believes. I can only rely on what has been historically written about Him; it's the same way that I believe George Washington or Abraham Lincoln existed. Eyewitness accounts convey how they lived and what they believed. Eyewitness accounts indicated that Jesus validated the Old Testament. In fact they record Jesus saying that He "didn't come to abolish the law (Moses' writings) but He came to fulfill it". Therefore, I believe the word of God (the Bible) conveys what Jesus believes.
God loves everyone! God does hate sin! Sin, simply is to live by a standard less than God has established. My sins are why Jesus was so violently murdered. If Jesus died because of my sins, then why would I want to participate in the very thing that is so displeasing to Him.
There are things in God's word that I wish weren't in there because they call me to accountability. When my attitude and actions don't agree with the Word, I feel conflict in my heart. It is in those moments when I ask myself the question, "Why do I feel uncomfortable about what I have just read?" There are times when someone else is sharing a message from the scripture and I feel uncomfortable; again, I ask myself, "Why do I feel uncomfortable?" I can't tell you the number of times I have sat in a church service and had to silently repent to the Lord for not living according to the standard that He has established. Sometimes, during service, I have had to lean over to my wife and confess sin, negative words or a bad attitude that I had directed to her. All of this happens because of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
After Jesus' resurrection from the dead, He told His disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise made by The Father; the promise was the Holy Spirit who would empower all who believed that Jesus was who He was declared to be. He would give Christ's followers the power to share the Good News and live in total submission to God's desires and not their own. The Holy Spirit would sanctify and preserve us.
Sanctify in its simplest form means to "clean us up". Why do we need to be cleaned up? We need to be cleaned because we have attitudes, ideas, concepts and behaviors that are in direct opposition to the revealed Will of God (His Word). This cleansing is a daily process for us all. The word of God is likened to water. The word of God cleans us up. Some times we need a minor hand washing, other times we need a long, hot bath. If we aren't cleansed by The Word, then we become filthier. We really stink. So, my prayer everyday is this, "Holy Spirit clean me up!!!" I hope that is your prayer everyday. When we do this we become more and more like Jesus.
I don't know what your sin may be but, I have contended with lust, anger, pride, hate, bitterness, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, evil thoughts, jealousy, selfish-ambition, and envy. Every day I make a conscious decision that I don't want any of these behaviors to rule my life. Remember the Apostle Paul said that whatever brings you under its control is your lord. I only want to be controlled by Jesus; I want His character and His nature to be reproduced in me. That's what being a Christian is all about. Therefore, everyday, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me live a holy life reflected by my obedience to God's Word. When I obey the Word, my body and it's desires don't bring me under its power. The pursuit of holiness is a daily process that last a lifetime.
Do you want the Holy Spirit to transform you into the likeness of Jesus Christ? I know and have known Christ-Followers who use to struggle with and some who still do struggle to overcome, fornication, adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, doing and selling illegal drugs, prostitution, alcoholism, abortion, homosexuality and any other immoral thing you can imagine. You currently might know or may have known in the past someone who is or was being, physically, emotionally and sexually abused, raped, discriminated against, falsely accused, rejected, lied upon, stolen from, disinherited, or committed abortion or violated in ways unimaginable. There are Christians who have experienced divorce, have been widowed, diseased or debilitated. Many people who profess Jesus as their Savior and Lord, including me, know or have known, deep, dark, intense struggles to live a life pleasing to God; in our struggle and pain, God has prevailed and brought us to a place of victory. That's why I praise God the way I do. He has not forsaken us in our struggle and daily we are overcoming the things that fight us to stifle our intimacy with God.
I'm writing this blog to give you hope but also to inform you that your beliefs will determine what you do and how you live. If you are challenged by the circumstances that stunt your spiritual growth and relationship with Christ, search your heart deeply and ask yourself, "What do I really believe about ...?" If your behavior doesn't match how you desire to act, make a thorough evaluation of your deepest beliefs and don't lie to yourself. What you do is defined by what you believe. As you begin your soul searching excursion know this...God Is For You and Not Against You.
My hearts cry everyday is this. Jesus live in me, make me like you and anything in me that is not like you, remove it from my life. I know this is possible if