The best life is a God First life

Month: October 2021

The blessing of direct prayer

When we approach God’s throne in prayer, we often bow our heads, close our eyes, and kneel. I love doing these gestures as doing so signifies respect, honor, and glory to God. These gestures also help focus our attention solely on the prayer and can be great examples in teaching our children to pray and respect our Heavenly Father.

This said; Prayer has no limits! We can pray anywhere at any time in any situation or environment. We don’t pray to impress those around us; we pray to have time with our creator, say thank you, or ask for help.

God is family, and no one loves us the way God loves us, and no one has the ability to help us more than God does. So, we can pray out loud or in our mind without a single word spoken, with our eyes wide open, driving down the road, cutting grass, fishing, hunting, cooking, walking the dog, or holding the baby.

God has given each of us the avenue of direct prayer through the name of Jesus, his only begotten son, so why not take advantage of this incredible opportunity and pray often? God wants to hear from us!

  • Luke 12:34
  • Hebrews 4:14-16
  • Matthew 6:7
  • 1st Thessalonians 5:17 (pray without ceasing)
  • James 5:13
  • John 5:15
  • Ephesians 6:18
  • Mark 11:24
  • Romans 12:12

God First!

Learning from “Junk Mail.”

Today I read what I normally dismiss as “junk mail.” It was from a natural gas competitor to the company I’ve been using for years. Typically, I throw such advertisements in the trash; however, this promotional from “Walton Gas” sparked my interest. I realized I had no idea what I was paying per therm. So, I got out my last bill and quickly came to the conclusion I must be misreading it. Hence, I called “Consolation Gas” for clarification of the statement.

I was shocked and frustrated that we were put on a monthly rate by default since our contract expired sometime back. A rate within two cents of being double the contract rate. This means I have been paying hundreds more for gas than was necessary simply because we did not sign up for a two-year obligation that locks us into a fixed rate.

As I thought about this, I realized It’s My Fault, not the gas companies. I did not take the time to learn or understand how it works. We probably received notices letting us know the contract was expiring, and I paid little attention or put it off until I forgot about it. The offer to lock into a new contract at better rates has always been available to me; however, I paid dearly because I failed to spend time and effort understanding how it works!

I have now invested a little time to learn how it works and took action by locking into a 24-month contract at a rate that was pretty much half what I was paying.

Although God’s Word is not “Junk Mail” as with my gas company experience, it often lays on tables, in bookshelves, and in cabinets untouched and forgotten by many, as if it were.

As someone who once didn’t but now does; study God’s Word, I find numerous similarities between my experience above and how I and others often approach the Word of God by casting it to the side.

For example:

  • Over thousands of years our creator has given mankind the opportunity to know His love and desires for our well being. But, we must study and act.
  • God has given us insite to know His creations, past plans, some future plans, actions and sacrifices for us. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we can know and understand that nothing done by God is an accident but rather part of a plan to give us eternal life should we accept God’s offer and commit to do His will above ours. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we can know the Son of God who was with God in the beginning and part of the world’s creation. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we learn that Jesus’s life, death and resurrection offers eternal life to all mankind through God’s grace and sacrifice. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we find out how to embrace God’s grace and offer of eternal life and how through our study we can know what obedient faith entails. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we find out how to discern what is true and what is false teaching. But, we must study and act.

The list of things we can know and understand from God’s Holy Word is without measure; however, if we never take the time to learn the details as I did with the Gas companies offer, we will miss out. It’s never too late for anyone on this earth to start learning, studying, and taking advantage of God’s incredible offer.

God’s offer of eternal life is unmatched and not nearly as difficult as the unlearned; unknowing often assume it to be. So I implore you, spend time studying the one book that leads you to eternal life in heaven. As you do, you will find you want to act on your discoveries. Who’s fault will it be if you ignore God’s offer by failing to learn how to accept it, What it entails and how to submit to God’s loving will for us.

Hear, believe, repent, confess Jesus as the Son of God, be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and live faithfully till we leave this earth for eternal life with the Godhead and our co-disciples of Christ.

Below are some scriptures to consider…

God First!

If the Truth was vanilla ice cream

Suppose “The Truth” was vanilla ice cream. When you add different toppings, the ice cream still has the same base but is no longer “just” vanilla ice cream. It doesn’t taste the same!

God’s word should taste the same to everyone; it’s God’s Word. Unity in Christ is not achieved by applying different toppings to God’s Word. Only by consuming it the way God gave it can we truly savor and appreciate God’s creation, God’s sacrifice, God’s will for us, and do so according to God.

When God’s Word is changed by adding different toppings to attract more people, by offering additional flavors that appeal to the lives some want to live rather than a life in pursuit of being Christlike; and doing God’s will above our own, it is no longer the Lord’s Church; it’s mankind’s church.

You can not teach variances of truth and have it still be the truth. When you add or take away from perfection, you make perfect; imperfect.

“God’s Word” cannot be followed by choosing the flavor of the month or a sprinkle of crunch.

That’s not what our creator gave us to follow. In Fact, God severely warns us not to add or take away from scripture. However; In the pursuit to gain followers many lose sight of sound doctrine and, don’t realize they themselves have become exactly what scripture tells us about when we read: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”‭‭ (John‬ ‭14:6)‬ ‭

According to scripture, there is only one way to be with God the Father, and that is through Jesus. Let us do all we can to pursue the teachings of Christ and avoid the temptations to add flavor to God’s Word.

  • 2 Timothy 4:3 (tickling ears)
  • Revelation 22:18-19 (warning)
  • Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (warning)
  • Deuteronomy 12:32 (command)
  • Malachi 3:6 (unchanging)
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (All Scripture)
  • John 1:1, 14 (Jesus was with God from the beginning)

God First!

Missing the mark so closely can have dramatic results.

One day while cutting down a tree on our property, I ”missed the mark” by a couple of inches and dropped a large dead tree in the opposite direction of my intention. My cut was slightly below the wedge I’d removed. I didn’t realize it until the tree clamped down on my chainsaw and became stuck in the tree. I shut it off and walked away with my brother. As we contemplated the next step, a branch fell from the tree. Shortly after, we watched as the whole tree slowly leaned and fell. The bar on my chainsaw now looks like a twisted metal pretzel.

It’s amazing to think about how “missing the mark” so closely changed the results so dramatically.

Thankfully, the result of that day’s mistake didn’t matter much, and nobody got hurt, but it sure reinforces the importance of “hitting the mark” when missing so closely can result in disaster.

It’s also important that we “hit the mark” in doing the will of God; being careless as I was today can have dire consequences.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

We really have no excuses for not doing the will of God according to God’s will as we have the complete word of God (The Bible) readily available. However, we can only know scripture through study. It’s so important that we really can’t allow others to do it for us. We all need understanding as we are each responsible for working out our own salvation.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12 ESV.

God First!

Turn it over to God

Sometimes, it sounds trite to say, “JUST TURN IT OVER TO GOD,” but this is where our trust in God, faith, and belief come into play. When Christians strive to follow Christ with obedient faith, we are striving towards righteousness. In (Mark 11:24) we are told, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” So how do we turn it over to God? Well, we pray, we believe, and we trust in God’s answer, which allows us to let it go.

Once, I became so consumed by my concern for a loved one that it affected everything I did, even my marital relationship, until the day I realized that all my attempts to help were nothing more than temporary fading patches.

Both I and my loved one needed to know that God WAS the answer, NOT me or anything else. I asked myself, who would be there for them if I was gone? As I thought about my question I realized, God was the only answer! So, that night, I got on my knees and prayed; through heartfelt tears. I begged and pleaded in anguish and fear, asking God to help them, asking God to put people in their lives that could help them. I know that God’s will is the best will for all of us so, I took my cue from Christ’s example in the garden, and I asked that God’s will, be done. I turned my cares over to Jesus. My prayer that night wasn’t me giving up on that person in any way. I just realized as never before that God has complete control and mine is extremely limited. That night, I literally felt a great invisible weight removed from my shoulders, replaced by a trusting calm.

After this prayer, when I heard from this person about self-inflicted difficulties, I limited my involvement and encouraged them to seek God’s will, to pray, and offered to pray with them. To this day, I still pray for this person every day, and they have now come a long way from those days, now including God in all that they do.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” In 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.”

In summary, don’t allow yourself to be consumed by things you can’t control, Turn them over to God. Pray and seek help from the one who can help when no one else can, the one who created everything you see and know, the one who created you and loves you like no other – The God of Love, who is Love.

When Christians strive to follow Christ with obedient faith, we are striving towards righteousness. When we turn that which we cannot control over to God, it’s not trite; it’s where our trust, faith, and belief come into play and substantiate our trust in God. God is love and will carry us through. For Christians, this world is not our home. Christians look forward to the fact that there will be no tears in heaven. By putting God First in our lives, we make this world a better place by our loving actions.

God’s word tells us to believe, repent, and confess the name of Jesus and be immersed in the watery grave of baptism for the forgiveness of our sins. In (Acts 2:38) we find in doing so, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. By doing so, we live with the knowledge that heaven is now our eternal home.

  • Grace:Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:24, Titus 2:11, Acts 15:11
  • Belief/Faith:Hebrews 11:1, John 8:24, Romans 10:17, Acts 3:19
  • Repentance:2 Cor. 7:9-10, Luke 13:3-5, Acts 17:30
  • Confess:Romans 10:9-10, Matthew 10:32-33, Luke 12:8-9
  • Baptism by immersion for forgiveness of sin:Matthew 16:15-16 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Matt 28:18-20, Ephesians 4:5, Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12, Acts 8:36-39, Mark 1:9-10, John 3:23

God First!

Protect yourself by Forgiving

One of the most memorable pieces of advice my mom ever gave me was “Don’t go to bed mad,” and she lived her words. Mom was the sweetest, most forgiving person I’ve ever known. I saw mom’s feelings hurt many times over the years (by all of us.) Of course, those things happen within families from time to time but, to the best of my knowledge, Mom would never burden herself with grudges. She might go to bed in tears or some sadness but never with bitterness, anger, or wanting revenge towards others. If you hurt mom’s feelings and apologized, she accepted it with joy so that the wounds could heal quickly. On the other hand, if you never apologized, I think mom just turned it over to God because she knew grudges harm our souls. I wish you could have known my mom; she was awesome, and I miss her!

Jesus thought it important we not hold grudges against each other; in fact, in Jesus’s own words, He said: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there, remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:22-24)

So, If you’ve harmed someone, make it right; if you’ve been harmed, do your best to make it right, and don’t let the sun go down on your anger.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18)

Be forgiving!

Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-32

God First!

Let God’s Word Speak –

Today God has approximately 7.5 billion souls on this earth, and Jesus died for each and every one of us. Scripture tells us how to respond to God’s Love and Grace

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. “‭‭

“because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. ‬‬“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”‭‭

(1 Peter‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭ESV)‬‬

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

(Romans 6:1-11)

  • Grace:Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:24, Titus 2:11, Acts 15:11
  • Belief/Faith:Hebrews 11:1, John 8:24, Romans 10:17, Acts 3:19
  • Repentance:2 Cor. 7:9-10, Luke 13:3-5, Acts 17:30
  • Confess:Romans 10:9-10, Matthew 10:32-33, Luke 12:8-9
  • Baptism by immersion for forgivness of sin:Matthew 16:15-16 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Matt 28:18-20, Ephesians 4:5, Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12, Acts 8:36-39, Mark 1:9-10, John 3:23

30 Characteristics of Agape love

  1. Unconditional
  2. Without expectation of reciprocation
  3. Desiring good for others
  4. It’s eternal
  5. We desire it
  6. It has no evil in it.
  7. It covers a multitude of sins
  8. Provides motivation
  9. Brings peace
  10. It is a choice
  1. Fruit of the Spirit
  2. Not resentful
  3. Love is God as God, is love
  4. It’s forgiving
  5. Selfless
  6. Patient
  7. Kind
  8. Not envious
  9. Not boastful
  10. Not arrogant

  1. Not rude
  2. Does not insist on its own way
  3. Not irritable
  4. Does not rejoice in wrongdoing
  5. Rejoices in the truth
  6. bears all things
  7. believes all things
  8. hopes all things
  9. endures all things
  10. LOVE NEVER ENDS.

Agape love is choosing to love unconditionally; it never changes. We should love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

  • 1st Corinthians 13
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • 1st Peter 4:8
  • 1st John 4:8
  • Philippians 4:8-9

One of the best things my brother did was; hurt me with love

One of the best things my little brother ever did for me is something many would not understand, and some would disagree with. Admittedly, when he decided to take action, I myself thought he was being ridiculous. I understood his intent but gave little thought to the strength and courage it took him to take the stance he took toward me. I know now he did have sound reasons for his actions, but I was so wrapped up in my life, I wasn’t willing to listen. So, I acted as if it was “his” choice and dismissed his decision when down deep, it bothered me.

At that time in my life, I was a young baptized man with a “milk feed” understanding of scripture. Although I knew better, I had allowed myself to slowly become consumed in worldly ways. Although mindful that I was on the wrong path, I chose to ignore my bad choices rather than change direction. Instead of turning back, I stopped referring to myself as a Christian and convinced myself I did so because I did not want to seem like a hypocrite or bring reproach to the Lord’s Church.

For some reason, I convinced myself this was logical, but in reality, I didn’t want anyone to convince me I needed to change. So, I wouldn’t give them the chance. Instead, I ignored or avoided them and, in effect, ignored and tried to avoid God. I would smile, cut jokes, “always had to go,” anything to avoid giving birth to a serious conversation. In latter years I came to the realization that by my choices, I had been denying Christ, turning my back on His love, and crucifying Jesus yet again. (Oh’ how much this hurts to think about now.)

My parents and brother tried to talk with me about my choices and what God’s Word says about my decisions, but I would have nothing to do with it. These conversations were like the plague to me. I didn’t want to risk changing my lifestyle. I wanted to ignore them. I feared conflict because it might lead to a sense of accountability or change, and I feared change might rock my relationships.

I was a cowardly man who perceived myself as a strong and good man. I played a dangerous game and gambled my soul, thinking, “God will take me back when I’m ready.” This was arrogant and foolish. I somehow thought if I died, I could explain to Jesus how things came about and, because of His great love, Jesus would cut me a break. He would understand and forgive me. I think I actually thought myself so sly that I could talk my way out of eternal punishment by pleading ignorance.

Deep in the recesses of my mind, I wanted to follow Christ and secretly hoped I would man up. I recall praying from time to time that it wouldn’t take some great loss or terrible event to get me serious about changing direction.

The truth is, it was not really a gamble at all; had I died at that time of my life, I was lost for eternity. My keen wit and ”worldly sorrow” would NOT have saved me. It would take ”Godly Sorrow.” Why? Because Godly sorrow leads to repentance. I was wrong and needed to realize it; since I was already baptized, I needed to repent (change direction), ask forgiveness for my sins and, live for Christ; rather than self.

Spiritually I was worse off than a Non-believer. I was a baptized believer who chose satan’s offerings over God’s grace and Christ’s Sacrifice.

My brother’s efforts were done out of love and designed to help me see the seriousness of my condition when he informed me that he would not bring his family to my home. He was, in fact, ”disfellowshipping me.” To many, this sounds horrible, But it wasn’t! It was an extremely difficult act of concern and love for my soul. And what I needed. He was also protecting his family from my worldly influence because condoning my chosen lifestyle inferred acceptance of that which goes against the teachings of God.

Unfortunately, my brother’s actions alone did not get me to change, but they did prompt me to take pause and give some attention to the seriousness of my soul’s condition. Years went by where I missed out on opportunities to influence my nieces in positive ways because of my choices at the time, not my brothers. I chose a lifestyle I knew was contrary to scripture, contrary to living for Christ; I was living in sin, and very importantly, “I knew better!” My brother’s action was a blessing; it was one of the best things he could have done. It was far from the first or last thing he tried. He did continue to reach out to me, and we would talk from time to time about scripture. We would still see his family on special occasions. My brother’s influence and his actions at the time helped lead me back to Christ and an eternal home with God. Today, We are the best of friends and both brothers in Christ.

Since my repentance several years back, I have studied diligently, I have come to realize how little I understood of God’s will, His Grace, His forgiveness, and the importance of ”my role” in God’s plan. We cannot just receive; we must give!

I wish I had been consuming both the milk and ”the meat of Scripture” when I was in my youth; Thankfully, I knew enough to realize that as Godly sorrow took hold, I truly had no excuses. I knew enough to know I needed God’s forgiveness and that for me as a baptized believer of Christ, that meant change (repentance), asking forgiveness of God and the Church.

With today’s understanding of Scripture and God’s love, I cannot fathom living and NOT doing my best to put God’s will first in my life; after all, God’s will is the best will!

Love is sometimes difficult, it sometimes hurts, but love always wins in the end. God’s forgiveness and God’s eternal home is available to all who will follow Him and pursue doing God’s will over our own.

God First!

  • James 4:17
  • 2 Peter 2:21-22
  • Philippians 2:10-11
  • Revelation 21:8
  • Romans 12:2
  • Ephesians 2:8-9
  • Hebrews 2:3
  • 1 Peter 2:2
  • Hebrews 6:4-6
  • 1 Corinthians 3:2
  • James 2:18
  • Hebrews 11:6
  • Luke 8:13
  • 2 Peter 3:18
  • John 15:1-6
  • 2 Timothy 3:12
  • 2 Timothy 4:10
  • Galatians 5:4
  • Matthew 22:23-33
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
  • 1 Corinthians 5: 1-13
  • 2 Corinthians 2:1-17
  • Hebrews 12:1-29
  • Galatians 5:1-26
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

A lie called spin is still a lie.

How many of us speak using the best choice of words every time? Or, write the perfect sentence, paragraph, statement, or blog? I would say none. Yet today, people are constantly attacking words or phrases being used, ignoring obvious intent.

This makes me think of the parable where Jesus said:” Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” How many of us imperfect people are casting stones at someone right now, NOT because of their intent, but rather because we did not like the words they used or how they presented them?

In politics and media, attacks are consistently made on purpose. Unfortunately, instead of calling these misleading efforts” deceit” or” lies,” we are Arrogantly told this is ok; it’s called” SPIN.” Phrases like” that’s their spin” or” what’s your spin?” are now commonplace. Today,” spin” comes with new meaning: distort the truth, change the focus of the original intent, weaken its impact, and confuse the listener or reader no matter how sound the original intent was.

Well, if it looks and sounds like a duck, it’s a duck! A lie called spin is still a lie.

To counter spin, we must have the truth; while this is almost impossible to get in politics and media, it’s not impossible when it comes to God and our salvation. Why? Because we have absolute truth! The Complete Word of God. God’s word can and should be our standard on all things. The answers are in scripture for all of us to follow and mimic. God is NOT a God of confusion.

  • Matthew 5:37
  • Proverbs 12:22
  • 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Galatians 5:22
  • 1 Corinthians 14:33

God First!

© 2021 Advocate for Christ

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑