The best life is a God First life

Category: Growth (Page 1 of 2)

40 Christians on a bus

40 Christians on a tour bus for the week, a day has come and gone. How many of us will get to know the bus driver’s name? Is he married, does he have children, is he a Christian? Does he believe in Jesus? Is he In Christ?

By the end of the week, will the bus driver think of us as “good samaritans”? As 40 Christ-loving, Christ-sharing Christians concerned for his well-being, for his soul, Christians willing to vest some of our vacation time sharing the love of Christ with this stranger, or will we be just another group of people he drove around for the week?

This is a challenge for all Christians as a group or as individuals. So that we plant the seeds of truth in all that we do, will those we meet know more about Christ’s love for them after we’re gone than they did before we met them?

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” – Mark 16:15

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. – John 13:34

Rhetorical question: How can we claim to love others and not seek every opportunity to share the most important message of our lifetime? The saving message of Christ, the message that can bring eternal life in heaven with our creator.

Let us plant Seeds in all that we do

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

God First!

Do we really believe God? If so, who will humbly reason?

We have no shortage of knowledge at our fingertips, yet we have a vast shortage of open minds. Minds willing to humble themselves in the discussion and reasoning of God’s Word.

Instead of being offended when something flys in the face of what we currently believe, let’s go to Scripture and let the complete words of God be the final answer.

Why not let scripture do the talking, that we may learn more fully? Let’s study the whole truth so that we may unite with scripture, rather than trying to force pieces of scripture to unify with our feelings and current understanding.

This is the example the Apostle Paul gave us; he went into the synagogs to reason.

While in Thessalonica, Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded…” Acts 17:2-6 (Paul reasoned from Scripture yet not all were persuaded)

Later in the town of Berea, Paul went into the synagogue to reason, and God’s word points out of those in this synagogue, “Now these Jews were more noble than those of Thessalonica; They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Why were they considered more noble? because of their open minds and eagerness to know the truth)

By approaching God’s word with an open mind, we will indeed do our best to learn. So, let’s do so eagerly examining scripture to see if; what we understand is so.

2nd Timothy 2:15 tells us: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:33‬ tells us: ”For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,”

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”‭‭James‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”‭‭ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬“

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”‭‭ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

(God’s word is complete)

God First!

Learning what 3000 learned!

When the Church of Christ was first established in 33 AD, the apostles told their audience about the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and many in the crowd listened. I would imagine they listened very intensely and that the more they heard, the more they realized the significance of what had been done. They were now comprehending the truth over a false narrative. They now realized the Jesus they hung on the cross was the actual; Son of God. This awaking prompted them to be concerned, to wonder, and to ask: “What shall we do?

“And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized (emersed) 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.” Acts 2:38 ESV

To repent from sin against God is to realize we are wrong and become remorseful. In this remorse, we understand our sinful actions move us away from God and towards eternal darkness. In this realization, we long never to make such bad choices again. Thus, in our desire to make it right, we repent, consciously taking steps in a new direction, walking away from the darkness of this world towards the forgiving light of Jesus.

Peter went on to say, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Each of us is accountable for our own salvation; each person who heard this message had (and today, we still have) the ability to be saved by responding to the Word of God! (Below, many verses are listed that tell us how)

Choosing to follow God is not a forced decision; it’s an informed decision. God has given us reason and proof to believe. In today’s world, we all have access to God’s Word. So why not study the actual Word of God and find out if what we understand from others is what the Bible says? If not, be willing to change direction. When God’s Word is our foundation and not the words of others, it leads us to better discernment.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:40-41 ESV

After hearing Peter’s answer along with more testimony and words to compel them, around three thousand souls came to understand that to be saved, they needed to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Scripture goes on to tell us those who did so were; added to the lord’s church.

Peter’s answer was good for about 3000 souls

Ever wonder why it’s not good enough for many today? Scripture does NOT say they were baptized simply as an outward sign of an inward decision. No, God’s Word says they were baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Why do some discount the apostles’ answer and cling to claims invented by others thousands of years later? Claims such as; A prayer alone now saves you, or faith alone now saves you, or that baptism is a work, or that a symbolic baptism before you have heard the message of Christ or have any understanding saves you. I implore anyone who believes any of these ideas to please look closer at what scripture says on these matters. Find out what the bible says about how to be “In Christ.” Don’t believe me; believe God’s own words. Open your bible and study the God-breathed scripture. It is the Absolute Truth of God, and despite some opinions, take comfort in knowing the bible itself proves God and that all of scripture is God-Breathed.

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 6:3-11
  • 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

God First!

The Key and the Thread

  • Unity with God’s Word is unity with God.
  • Unity with God’s Word is unity with others.

We find unity when we cumulatively do God’s will, seek and use God’s Word as our standard.

Unity among believers is not found doing our will; It’s not found dismissing any of God’s Word as unnecessary or not applicable today. Unity is not found by trying to improve on what God told us to do. However, unity is a key to spiritual growth; it’s a thread that binds us together as disciples of Christ in peace, harmony, and Love.

Unity in Truth is important!

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments”

Jesus (John 14:15)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

  • Romans 14:19
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11
  • Acts 4:32
  • Ephesians 4:23
  • Ephesians 4:11-13
  • Matthew 18:19-20
  • John 13:35
  • 1 Peter 3:8
  • Philippians 2:2-3
  • Colossians 3:13-14
  • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • John 17:23
  • John 4:12
  • Galatians 3:26-28
  • Matthew 23:8
  • Psalm 133:1

Why would you want to cheat yourself like that?

As I pondered my answer, I realized; this is exactly what we do when we don’t take advantage of opportunities to grow in Christ and build on our relationship with Him.

What happens when we make time to attend as many studies as possible? We draw closer to God, and He draws closer to us; we get to know God and fellow seekers of truth better and our actions demonstrate where our heart’s desire resides.

My heart’s desire once demonstrated my love for; time, eating, tennis, TV, relaxation, fun, laughter, etc. I made time for all these things because my heart’s desire once put them on a pedestal. During that period of life and without realizing it, I was not putting God First, but rather at My convenience.

In a discussion about not attending Sunday bible classes, Worship service, and other growth and edification opportunities such as Sunday evening or midweek bible studies, a friend asked me: Why would you want to cheat yourself like that?

As I thought about his question, I realized the validity of his point. That’s exactly what we do. If I don’t prioritize these opportunities, I’m cheating myself. But, that’s not all; I’m cheating others, starting with my family, those who may follow my lead or depend on me to get them to and from services. So, bottom line, I asked myself, What kind of example am I being?

By not prioritizing my attendance at every opportunity, am I not short-changing family, friends, and myself by not leading us toward spiritual growth? When we don’t attend, we miss out on knowledge, better understanding, fellowship, and growth opportunities. In addition, we miss out on being examples to others. Examples that demonstrate our gratitude, understanding, and belief that God should be first in our lives.

I now look forward to every opportunity to increase my understanding of Scripture and to grow through the uplifting unity of fellow believers by sharing and growing in the truth of Christ with one another.

If you are not attending at every opportunity, I offer this for your consideration…

Why would you want to cheat yourself like that?

God First!

I wrote most of this before the COVID-19 virus, which forced us into our homes to worship online. Yet, the point is still the same. Are we prioritizing our worship time and Bible study? Are we taking advantage of every opportunity for spiritual nourishment? Do our loved ones get to see our commitment by our actions? If not, Why would we want to cheat ourselves like that?

66 Books of absolute truth we should learn

We can never understand the whole truth if we only learn part of it!

The Holy Bible is the whole and absolute truth of God! It is 66 Books of God-breathed wisdom and instruction that our creator assembled for our betterment and understanding. The Old Testament has 39 books of ”before Christ” history, including hundreds of prophecies over hundreds of years about Christ. The New Testament has 27 books telling us of the Son of God, Christ. Telling us how to accept God’s offer of grace through our obedient faith in Christ and how we can each “put on Christ” or be “In Christ.”

Scripture defines “obedient faith,” telling us how to lay up treasures in heavenly places and have our souls live forever in a heavenly home not made with hands. God’s Word shows us how God extended us grace through Christ. It lets us know that when we hear the message of Christ, believe in Christ, repent, confess Christ as the living son of God, and make the decision to be immersed in the waters of baptism, we can be forgiven of our sins and walk in newness of life. (Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-11)

New Testament scripture stresses the importance of sharing the gospel and teaching others, however; How can we teach what we do not know? We need to study! Our children need us to study! Why? So we can accurately teach them God’s word and spread the truth according to the truth.

It is through understanding and our obedient faith that we can know a peace beyond our understanding.

  • Don’t we want that?
  • Don’t we want that for our children and others?

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Romans 1:16-17
  • 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

God First!

The Mirror of Reflection and Growth

Our dual battle between good and evil starts with the desires of our hearts and minds. (James 1:15) When we act with goodness, we glorify God. When we act on evil desires, we sin against God.

Our actions show our heart so let us not be afraid to better ourselves by embracing the mirror of reflection and growth.

Let us ask ourselves daily:

  • Are my actions demonstrating where I know my heart’s desire, should be?
  • Am I proud of my actions?
  • Would Jesus be proud of my actions?
  • Did I reject temptation?

If the answer is “Yes” then you do well if your answers are “No” remember God forgives, He even forgets, If bad habits have formed it’s not too late to replace them with good habits. Scripture tells us to repent, which means: To change direction. There is never a better time to change direction than the moment you realize you need too and reflection helps us get to that point.

 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:21

God’s word tells us how to focus our minds and hearts, how to overcome the temptation to sin. (Philippians 4:5-9)

  • Hebrews 8:12
  • Matthew 5:44
  • Matthew 5:16
  • Matthew 22:37–39
  • 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

AdvocateforChrist.com

God First!

Paths & Highways (Part 1)

My personal journey from a teenager till now involved many turns, curves, pains, peaks, and valleys. Many of my early life choices were enough to make even bystanders dizzy. I would strongly recommend against anyone following most of the roads I traveled in my early days. I started out being taught of the straight and narrow path and started down that path. However; As a youthful adult, I began testing the exit ramps to those wide-open highways; they looked fun and fast. Many on those highways crossed my path, and those on them appeared to be having a great time as they sped by me.

Although I was not hitchhiking, the path I was on sometimes felt slow and lonely; Those highway travelers did not appear to have time for loneliness, which looked appealing. It was during these lonely moments that more travelers seemed to stop with great big smiles on their faces, exuberantly offering me highway rides.

In the beginning, I accepted only a few short rides and found myself missing the peace, comfort, and contentment of that straight and narrow road, however; after a while, the short rides got longer, faster, and the adrenaline surged until eventually, I was navigating those highways myself, rapidly going nowhere fast, almost wholly losing sight of the straight and narrow road I once traveled.

Over a relatively short period of time, I had become one of those highway drivers with the big smiles in a  speedy convertible, offering rides to those I saw on that straight and narrow path. I spent years with the wind blowing through my hair on highways to nowhere, looking as if I was going somewhere fast. I found myself feeling trapped when I thought about it too profoundly, so; I chose Not to reflect.

Eventually, I would offer rides to some on the path I once traveled, and the denial of even the shortest ride reminded me of my early days; I found myself admiring their rejection of my offer. Their words of reasoning piqued my curiosity and helped me realize how confused and lost I had become. After a while, I began to long for the peace, comfort, tranquility, and surety I once had on that narrow path. Finally, I realized getting off those entangled spaghetti highways was necessary as they would eventually lead me into a void of permanent darkness.

It would mean dramatic change on my part, but I knew it was the right choice and began my highway departure. I started my departure with a commitment to change direction, to exit the highways. To get back to that one narrow path to somewhere again. The more I learned what that narrow path was truly all about, the more I questioned why I had ever allowed myself to accept that first highway ride.

I now have great admiration for those few who have stayed true to the narrow path most of their lives and seldom joined as a highway rider or driver; My experiences have taught me that our examples have tremendous trickle-down effects that influence others. So, if we care about family, friends, or people, we need to be mindful of our influence and do our best to serve God as Christ-like examples so that those following our lead will realize, we are going somewhere; we are on a path that leads to a heavenly home with our creator where there are no tears, no sickness or sorrow.

I am thankful for God’s grace and the path he set forward for any of us to accept. For it is by God’s grace through our obedient faith in hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, and being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins that we can have eternal life.

Matthew 7:13-14, Proverbs 3:6, Proverbs 4:26-27, Matthew 3:3

  • 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

Advocate for Christ!

To be clear to my new friends who are reading my post. Some have made assumptions. I am not a pulpit, preacher; I am not affiliated with any denomination. I am simply a Christian, an Advocate for Christ. I worship and study weekly with my brothers and sisters in Christ at the Buford Church of Christ congregation in Buford, Ga. The use of ”God First!” as my profile or to end many writings is because I believe God should be first in our lives. I believe that with God at the helm those ”In Christ” have God’s promise for eternity in heaven. Comfort and joy are ours to have from the “God of all Comfort,” even during the horrendously sad and difficult stuff.

Many people wear spirit wear to depict their favorite teams, school, sport, etc. My idea of ”spirit wear”- is the term God First! (seen on many of my clothes) Sometimes its presence sparks a conversation and probably curtails language I’d prefer not to hear. While it’s true that I do sell items with “God First!” It’s not for personal gain but rather to help those who love God share that love with the world. I started using the term “God First” because I believe putting God First adds significant Joy to our lives. I care about myself, my family, and others, so why would I not want to share such a message? A message that makes life better for all who choose to live by it, a message that offers the promise of everlasting life with our loving creator.

God has given us every reason to love Him as He first loved us; I am extremely grateful for all of God’s creation and sacrifices that we might have an eternal home with Him. Eternity is a serious matter, and loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is a natural response to those with an understanding of God’s love for us.

I once heard this from Brother Don Blackwell – ”The Lords Church is not a country club for saints; it’s a hospital for sinners.”

  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-9
  • Mark 12:28-34
  • 2 Timothy 2:15
  • 1 John 4:19

God First!

It is what it is, but it will be what we make of it!

This statement applies to many things, but today I think of social media. Platforms like Facebook turn so many people off because many abuse freedom of speech with disrespectful, attention-grabbing rants, gossip, foul language, crude or distasteful images, etc.; I’ve heard many refer to social media as “the devil’s workshop.” Well, this may all be true, but; “it will be what we make of it!”

Social media can indeed be viewed as a workshop, but it doesn’t have to be just Satan’s.

No, If every Christian turned off by these abuses decided to post, share, like, and love only good things rather than walk away and be quiet, they could help make social media a better place. The simple truth is that Satan is in this world, his actions are all around us, and “we can’t make a difference if we don’t try.”

Jesus charged us to share the gospel with all the world; we are charged with planting seeds of Truth. So, when we choose to walk away from farmland that is ours to cultivate and plant, we leave only Satan planting seeds of weeds and destruction. So, rather than decide social media is not for me, rather than be quiet, why not be engaging? Simply refrain from negative comments and use your platforms to encourage and share the truths of life with Christ.

You don’t have to post articles, but you can support good ones with likes, Loves, and encouraging comments. You can share articles and memes of truth and good thoughts. Don’t take negative statements personally. They are often spewed from ignorance (hint: the seed lands on all soil types); cast it and let it grow, let God provide the growth. Jesus Himself cast numerous seeds and was rejected by some in much worse ways than a negative or hurtful comment.

Social media can be a tool to teach what scripture says rather than feelings. You can share links to sites that specialize in sharing Truths, Sites like The apologetic Press, Search of the Lord’s Way, among others whose sole purpose is to teach truth according to scripture rather than what they feel Scripture meant. I personally don’t want to gamble my soul’s eternity on what someone feels scripture meant when there is so much understanding to be had by gaining a fuller understanding of God’s Words themselves.

It is what it is, but it will be what you make of it!

God First!

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