The best life is a God First life

Category: Sin (Page 1 of 2)

Even in death, Stephen was Teaching!

As I listened to a lesson by Kyle Rye this past Sunday, the following thoughts came to mind. In all that we do to the end of this worldly life, Christians should strive to follow the example of Stephen and teach God’s Word in all we do down to the very end. Even in death, Stephen was teaching!

Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:58-60

In Acts 7:59, we are told: “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

  1. Here we see by Stephen’s words and example what faith, trust and commitment entails as he called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
    • Stephen did not beg them to stop or try to take back his words but rather; demonstrated by example his belief and trust in God.
  2. With a loud voice Stephen teaches them and us as he identifies their action as Sin
    • In verse 58 we find that Saul, later named Paul was present.
    • In verse 59 whether Stephan’s killers knew at the moment or realized it sometime later, Their actions were NOT Justice, but Sin. Among his last words Stephen called them out on this. Certainly, this did not escape Paul as he later grew in understanding.
  3. In death Stephen teaches forgiveness
    • In verse 60 we find Stephen asking God not to hold this sin against them. In making this statment we learn Steven did not leave this world with a grudge or hating those who were taking his life, but rather; Stephen left demonstrating compassion for their ignorance and love for his murderes, as he appealed to God for them to be forgiven of this sin.

I can only imagine how Paul may have reflected on these memories later in life. How they may have burned in his heart, knowing he could not change what he’d been part of, yet these memories likely became fuel. Heartfelt fuel that helped push him to teach and share Jesus no matter what the worldly consequences may be.

Paul later stated: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

God First!

  • Colossians 3:13
  • 1 John 2:15-17
  • Hebrews 13:14-16
  • Matthew 6:21
  • Mark 16:15

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

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

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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

We either stand with Jesus or we stand against God.

Jesus is the Word and part of the Godhead. (see: John 1:1-18)

In 2 Timothy 3:16, we are told that all scripture is breathed out by God so when we elect to disbelieve or discount any part of scripture we are discounting and disbelieving God. To do so is to call God a liar.

I WILL NOT, call God a liar! Nothing about God’s Word has changed. Our societies, our culture and the acceptance of sin may have changed but only for those who do NOT use God’s Word, as a standard; Nothing of God‘s word has changed. So; if we call ourselves Christians but feel we are on the fence of any issue, consider this: When we Tolerate Everything, We Stand for Nothing. We must stand for the truth which God gave us. “God’s Holy Word” should be our standard not our feelings or pressure from society. We should remember Christ’s very own words in Revelation 3:16 and Matthew 12:30

I often pray as I study that I will share God’s word according to God’s Word and I pray we will all put God First in our lives.

God First!

Money is not evil

According to Scripture, “the love of money” is the root of all evils (1 Timothy 6:10), however; Acquiring or having money is not evil; evil depends on how we pursue and use money. We can use it for good things that glorify God or selfish things that glorify sin; what’s really important is where our hearts reside.

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

Jesus’s words: Luke 12:34 ESV

For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:20

AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH

MARK 12:30 (NASB1995)

God First!

Save yourself with honesty.

When good minds and hearts succumb to telling lies and being deceitful, it produces guilt, and guilt is heavy on the heart. When we choose to hide the truth rather than correct the issue with honesty, we carry unnecessary burdens. These burdens of sin allow Satan to set up residence and dwell in our minds. For example, if we lie or deceive someone (like a spouse) regarding an important matter, we carry that unresolved lie with us daily?

Sometimes, rather than confess, we tell ourselves things like ”no real harm done,” it’s better if they don’t know.” ”Why hurt them with the truth?” however, by doing so, we seal that burden of guilt in our hearts and minds, maybe for years or till death when honesty sets us free.

Our cover-up then gives Satan permanent residence in that part of our mind, and guess what? It’s not hidden from God. God knows the truth and has told us to always speak with the truth.

God hates lies!

When we fess up, confess, ask forgiveness and repent, we simultaneously kick Satan to the curb, kicking him out of that permanent dwelling we’ve furnished him in our mind. Don’t let Satan settle in, save yourself with honesty, pray, tell the truth, face the consequence and stop Satan from building a mansion in your mind as one lie leads to two, then three, then four, and many more…

The above thoughts bring to my mind the parable of unclean spirits and following scriptures.

  • John 8:34 – slave to sin
  • James 5:16 – confess
  • Matthew 12:43-45 unclean spirits
  • Philippians 4:8-9 rethink
  • Romans 1:28-32
  • John 8:32 – truth
  • Matthew 5:23-24 – Reconcile

God First!

Worldly means vs The good life!

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

This verse really stands out to me; why? Because I spent years with my priorities skewed. I spent years doing what I wanted, seeking more fun, money, adventure, and things. I attempted to find and express my worth to self and others through what scripture refers to as “worldly means.”

At this time in my life, I found wisdom in my own eyes. It was self Indulging manipulating wisdom.  As a result, I spent those years treating Our Creator as if He only mattered when nothing else did.

The big issue here is I knew better! I had an understanding of “The Good Life,” The one that is given to us by God through scripture, and I knew much of what I was doing went against God’s will for us. As a result, I lived those years apart from God, not truly realizing the negative impact I could have on others.

To look back and pine for those old times and start longing for that old lifestyle indicates my love for Christ is neither hot nor cold but rather lukewarm, and by not looking toward Jesus, the path I plow would become crooked. I would effectively be longing for a time when I was ”apart from God.”

How then would I be fit for the Kingdom of heaven?

Jesus Tells Us:

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:16-17

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,”

HEBREWS 10:26
  • Proverbs 3:7 (wise in our eyes)
  • Isaiah 59:2 (separation)

God First!

Satan is the evil one.

God’s Word tells his disciples…

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

James‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV

‬If you feel farther away from God today than you have in the past, the question becomes… WHO MOVED?

Hint: it wasn’t God.

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”

James‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬”

If there is any evil in it, it is not from God

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him, there is no darkness at all.”‭‭

1 John‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NASB“

God is Love

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

1 John‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NASB

God is Good

“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

All the Time

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

Isaiah 5:20

Sometimes we are tempted to blame God when our hearts are torn in anguish and pain; We struggle to reason why such tragic things happen to good people, innocent children, loved ones, or maybe to ourselves. We might ask, why me? Why us? Why them? We may experience the tragic loss of life or have life-altering events we simply don’t understand. We want an explanation, and we want to assign blame but blaming God is misplaced.

As we see from the scriptures above, there is NO evil in God. There is, however, refuge; there is hope, there is help, answered prayer. There is the possibility of eternal life in heaven for those to choose to become In Christ and keep his commandments according to God’s will, Not our own.

“For he makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

Satan is the evil one.

God First!

Acts 2:38-41, 1 Peter 3:20-21, Colossians 2:11-13, Romans 6:4-5, John 3:5, Mark 16:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Titus 3:5, Matthew 28:19–20, Acts 10:48

Twisting words is lying

If I wrote a book full of incoherent words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs and threw in a few random pictures, I could have the best-selling book of incoherency in these times.

A book that simulates watching today’s news where the goal seems to be to purposely complicate the uncomplicated by twisting every word and distorting every sentence so as to completely destroy its original intent.

Where the simplest truth cannot be heard or understood because of the useless but loud chatter.

Simply put, purposely twisting words to apply narratives other than their original intent is lying, and only satan loves lies.

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Proverbs 12:22

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

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