Becoming a New Person – Redeeming the Time

The New Person – Redeeming the Time

      The name of this blog spot is, “A Spiritual Journey.” Here are words which, I hope, will lead us to a deeper and more profound relationship with God. Teachers of God’s word have bee writing about this very topic for centuries. Paul, for instance, will give us a great look at this spiritual journey should be traveling. Yes, it is one that humankind, SHOULD be traveling. We are created in the image of God with a purpose that will, at times, become lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

     There is no doubt; life will get busy. It seems we stretch ourselves, sometimes with work and family activities, beyond our ability to cope. The boss wants this, the kids need to go here, the care needs fixed, the shopping needs to be done, on and on we can go listing all of the expectations which face us. There just does not seem to be enough time, and with that busy kind of lifestyle, we find ourselves just rolling along in life and reacting instead of being proactive with life. In this state, it is easy to lose sight of important matters such as our spiritual lives. Satan likes it when we are in that state of chaos and not paying attention to God. What is the solution? Well, there are all kinds of ways a person can study to help make life more manageable. I know, as a preacher, I have to really pay attention to time management. I have to schedule my time and use my time well. I prioritize what must be done and do those actions high on my list first, and I have to remember that there are just so many hours in the day and I do what I can and the other will be left for another day, or not done. However, along with those kinds of ideas, we need to live life as God has instructed us and managing our time is part of this way of life. We do need to be reactive to life, but instead, we need to be proactive. We need to think about what we are doing with our lives. While it may be easy to leave God out of our lives while we are in a time crunch, it is not smart. Doing this we are ignoring our real purpose in life. We have been created by God for a reason, with a purpose and that purpose is for us to get to God in Heaven! Not only does this help us in our spiritual lives, but it will help us in life in general. What God is doing for us is instructing us on how to live life to the very best of our ability. I will take thought for us to live life in a proactive, and Godly way. It will take planning, and it will take us putting important matters ahead of maybe some urgent ones that are not so important. In the book of Ephesians Paul will make a comment which will help us get it together. In Ephesians 5:17 Paul will say, “Be very careful how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is,” (NIV).

     In the book of Ephesians Paul is taking us on a spiritual journey. It is a journey that will bring us closer to God. Hopefully, in the next few installments of this post, we will explore the ways God, through Paul, is leading us to become a New Person. Shaping our lives to live better here in this life and shaping our lives to fulfill our real purpose in life, getting us to God in Heaven.

We Can Trust God Always

We have been talking lately in our worship services about how we can trust God. We can trust God wholly and completely. This means that we can trust Him during the good times of life, and we can trust Him during bad times. There are times in life when we know what God is doing with our lives. There are times when we can clearly see the direction God wants us to go, and we can follow Him as He takes us down that clear pathway. We will follow Him willingly down that path as long as we can see it clearly and as long as we know that it is a path we want to go down. There are times, however, when God is not as clear. There are times when we see where God wants us to go, but it is not the path we want to take. In times such as these, it becomes a lot harder to put our trust in God. When we can’t see the pathway clearly, or when we see the path, but we don’t like the destination then we balk in following God. The problem is, God does not want us to quit following Him. He wants us to follow Him no matter what situation we find ourselves in, and no matter where we find ourselves. How do we trust God in uncertain times? To keep following God during uncertainty we need a motivator to keep us going when we can’t understand why we need to keep going. This motivation comes with knowledge about God.
As we learn about God, there is a truth we need to remember continually: God is perfect! There are three areas of this perfection which affects us drastically. God is perfect in His love: God is love. It is His character to love, and He can do nothing else. No one standing at the judgment seat of God will be able to claim that God did not love them. He loves us so much, in fact, He sent His Son to die for all of humankind. God is also perfect in His wisdom. God sees more, knows more and can do more than we can even imagine, (Eph 3:20). God being perfect in His wisdom knows everything there is to know about us. He knows the kind of life we need to live, and He has given us the ability to live that life. God is also perfect in His power. God can do more than we can know. He could have done anything with the power He wields, and yet in His perfect power, He has given us this world to call home. More than that, God has given us life after this life. He has given us Salvation. (Romans 1:16). God has used all His perfection toward us. He loves us, Knows us, and has given to us. With this knowledge, we have the motivation we need to love Him in return and follow Him wherever He takes us. We can trust God! Trust Him, do what He commands us to do and know the sweet salvation He gives.

Three Concepts to Better Living

How many people are in the world struggling with the world to make life better? We long for a better life. We strive to make our lives better for ourselves and the people around us. We work so that we can make money to provide a better way of living for our families. The need for a better life pushes our ambitions, as we work to advance in our jobs to make more money to provide this better life. Many of us know what it is like to live on this kind of treadmill. A better life is what gets us up in the morning and pushes us through the day. While we work on this better life and spend our time and energy acquiring the ideal life, are we missing some of the most important concepts that bring us to a better way of living?
There is no doubt that so many people long to have a better life, but too many times we work and strive in the wrong areas. Yes, we need money to live, and we must be people who support our families and work hard toward that end. However, in this striving for a better life, we cannot fail to see the concepts that will bring us a “real” better life. It will be no surprise to you, that I will say, what brings us the “real” better life are concepts that come from God! In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, Paul will talk about these concepts, and he will say that there are three things which will outlast and are more significant than anything else: “Faith, Hope, and Love.” One of the beautiful things about these better life concepts is that they cost us nothing in the way of monetary possessions. Hope is the longing we have. In this instance the longing for a better life. We hope for this better way to live. Hope is what motivates us. We can see it in our mind’s eye, and we put forth the effort to obtain it. Faith is also important in our search for the better living. Faith gives us the confidence we need to make the decisions to achieve this better life. We have faith in our ability, in our education and skill to do the work necessary to achieve better living. Love is not excluded from this striving for a better life. We do what we do to obtain a better life for our families because we love them and want what is best for them.
We can understand these concepts in the worldy way we live. The same is true for us as we strive to live spiritually. We hope for something better, and God has promised us just that. He has promised us a better life with Him, in Him. He has promised us a better life when this life is over. We have the promise of Heaven. Heaven is where God wants us to rest our hope. In the worldly sense, hope is nothing more than a wish we would like to see come to reality. We cannot be sure of the outcome there are too many variables that get in the way. However, the hope that comes from God is more than just a wish, and it is something we can have if we are obedient to Him. We can have some certainty in this hope from God, more than we can have in the future from the world. We can, with confidence, put our faith in God. His promise cannot fail. God has made that clear to us with the death of His Son.
Paul will tell us that with these great concepts of faith, hope, and love, the greatest is love. Love is greater than the rest because it will outlast everything else. Love is a concept that we will take to Heaven with us. Faith and hope will be done away with at judgment, but love will continue for eternity. Love is also greater because it is the basis from which everything else will rest. God has given us all of this because He loves us. He has offered up His Son as a sacrifice to show us this love. We can do without many “things” and still have a great life. We can strive for a life better than we have now. It will rest on the concepts that are given to us by God: Faith, Hope, and Love. Put your faith in God, let Him give you hope of a better tomorrow and know that He does this because He loves you!

What’s Wrong

I saw it and my heart fell. I have had this feeling before. I have this same kind of sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I see the headline. Staring back at me after I had turned on the computer to get the morning news, the words which take my stomach by storm seemed to grow bigger on the screen: Gunman at School. There it was again, the same kind of words, though the place was different and the people were different, the feeling is the same – senseless, utterly senseless. Another gunman at another school, another event where human life is taken in a completely wasteful way. What is wrong with our society today? What makes a person pick up a gun and turn on the innocent with such violence? Why in our day does this senseless act keep popping up on our news headlines? It seems that through the years we have taken actions which will dehumanize people in our minds and hearts. We see people today and we do not see them as people who will make a difference in our world. We refuse to see them as someone who will make the world a better place. We do not see them as God sees them, souls that are to be saved. Instead, in our world today, people have become “Things.” People are thought of today as not much more than something to possess and use for our own pleasure, personal gain and enjoyment. Men in high places of authority and prominence have abused women for mere pleasure. Men and women have taken advantage of children who were in their trust and care for nothing more than to derive a moment of pleasure. Teachers, Priest, Preachers, Politicians, and others who are in places of trust and authority have abused their roles and preyed upon the weak and vulnerable just so they could have those brief moments of pleasure. The lives of others have been drastically hurt and affected for selfish reasons. They saw those innocent people as things, not people, but things to be used. The news media has done their job in reporting those instances, but is it enough to report those stories in a way which seems to give the air of indifference? It may only aggravate the problem when those stories are reported without emotion. It adds to the facade that these were not people, just things. This is compounded as we put people on the same level in our thinking as we do animals, or in some cases even elevate animals over people. In the eyes of some, even without them knowing it, people are no longer human beings, they are just animals, or things, here for our pleasure and use.

We add to this thinking in our society unknowingly.  Under the guise of entertainment we promote, and teach this thinking and pass it on to our children. The video games our children are playing, for instance, are having a profound affect on upcoming generation. Some of those games, have plots where lives are being taken for sport, where people and property are being abused and not only do those actions go unpunished in those games, but those actions are glorified. As amazing as the technology gets, the images become more and more real to life.  Movies have taken a turn for this kind of thinking. Our children see the killing that is taking place on the big screen and those scenes must get more and more shocking because people get desensitized to the images they see. Therein lies the problem. This desensitizing of horrible actions affects the real world. As people see these images played out over and over the jump from fiction to reality becomes a small one for some who have a hard time separating “make believe” from reality. Some of those have taken the next step. They have become so calloused to killing and loss of life seen played out on the screens they are no longer seeing people as people. Real life people become little more than images instead. The taking of human life becomes easier for them as they see people in this inhuman kind of way.

Of course all of this falls into a bigger problem. The problem of taking the moral standard away from the world which makes the world capable of societal living. As we get further away from God the images on the screens of computers and movie theaters get less and less moral and instead, get downright immoral. If we are going to live together as a society then we must live under a moral standard that will allow for that king of living as a society. God’s standard does that. By taking away God from our society, which we seem to be doing on a wholesale level, we are also removing His moral standard. We then are faced to make our own standard for living and the one we make up will continue to spiral downward. We need to get a grip on this way of thinking about people. We need to revive our thinking that people are people, created by God. They are here for a reason. They are souls. Over and over in the word of God He teaches us about the value of the human being. He teaches us that we have a responsibility to love, not hate. His standard for living must be our standard if we are going to live well together.

Seeing Value

We all have possessions that are valuable to us. None of us see our possessions in the same way, that is, every possession we have will vary in value. Why do things have different value? Placing value on the things we have is a tricky endeavor. It is tricky because there are many variables that will make something valuable. It does not depend on just the monetary face value of an object. For instance I have some clay pinch pots I keep on my desk. To another person those pots are not valuable. They may not even be pretty to most, but to me, those pots are worth quite a lot. They are valuable to me because they were made and given to me by my daughter when she was young. Because she made them and gave them to me, they are valuable to me. Value is given to most of our possessions in just the same way, at least, it is part of the weight to determine value.  Because of who gave us an item, or where we bought an item, or what an object reminds us of when we look at it, all of that will determine the value we will place on our possessions. We have possessions which take on more value than they are worth just on face value. The other side of the coin is also seen in the value we place on possessions. There may be things in this world which have a very high “face” value. Those things may be worth a lot of money, but because we are not interested in them, they are not worth very much to us at all. Even the almighty dollar itself, has a different value for some than for others. The holder of an object, or the one who wants an object will determine the value of said object. Of course we would be foolish to take a diamond and sell it for pennies. We need to be sure we are seeing all of the variables and weighing them in the right kind of way to determine the correct value of something.

We see this same kind of value placement on other things we have as well. Things which are more abstract, like relationships for instance. Even the spiritual blessings we have are valued differently by people. We have all seen that some will place a very low value on the spiritual blessings they have been given. We know that because we have seen the evidence. We have seen how some people have traded in those spiritual blessings for something in the world. For the spiritual minded person what the world gives is of much less value than the spiritual blessings given by God. Jesus will teach us nothing is more valuable than those “God given” spiritual blessings. Jesus will say in Mark 8:36, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (ESV).

As long as we live here in this world we will have varying degrees of value on spiritual blessings. That is – as long as we live in this world! When this world is over then everyone, every person, will see the true value of the spiritual blessings given by God and we will see the true value of the Soul. As we stand before God in judgment there are going to be two kinds of people, those who have regret and those who do not. Those who will know regret are the ones who have placed a small value on those spiritual blessings here in this life. We need to see those blessings for their real value, the value Jesus has told us to put on those blessings. We want to be able to stand before God in Judgement without regret, that means we must place a very high value on the Soul, on the spiritual blessings given to us by God. Those spiritual possessions, (i.e. the Soul), is worth more than anything the world can give. Nothing in the world will follow us to the life beyond this one. Nothing in this world will save us from the horrors of Hell, only the spiritual blessings which come from God can save us.

The worth of something is determined by many variables. We need to make sure we are weighing all of the variables in the right way to determine the worth. We need to make sure we are looking ahead to the time when this life is over. We must see the big picture and weigh the eternal variables when we determine the worth of the Soul. Do not be one of those people who stand before God in regret because you placed too little a value on your soul.

The Progression of Living

It is true that this life has very few certainties. We live lives which are ever changing. There are very few things of which we can say, this-or-that, is going to happen, no question. One of those few certainties we face in life however, is the unalterable fact that we will leave it. We are born into this life and from that moment on we race toward the end of life. For most, there is a progression of life which takes us from birth to death.  Although even this progression of life is not certain, some leave this life early, or do not experience comfort and peace as children. While, sadly, it is not the case for many, most of us are born into homes with loving parents who want the best for us. As children in those homes we are protected from the burdens of life, at least for a while. We live our lives in a happy carefree way. Unburdened from the troubles, stress and responsibilities which this life brings, we live life happily and joyfully. With our needs being met, we are surrounded by peace and comfort. As we grow however, gradually our lives change. We take on more and more responsibility, and the stress of life begins. We grow into adulthood and go to work and toil and labor to support our way of life and our families. We continue down this path and grow older still. The body begins to fail. We begin to hurt more often and in more places. Through the years we see the people we know and love suffer through this life and some are taken from us reaching that inevitable end. Hurt and sadness become part of life. Old age is met with times of sorrow and sickness. Now, don’t get me wrong, this life is full of joy and happiness along the way. We are blessed in this life by God and He works in our lives to bring good things, and good times to us. We have lived this life so well, in fact, that most are in no hurry to leave when the times comes for us to do so. However, there is a natural progression of life we just cannot deny. Happiness as children, leads to struggle and hardship in adulthood which leads to pain, suffering and often sadness in our old age. All the while we race toward the end of life – death.

If we are only focused in this life and on the this world that is a pretty bleak story of life. This story and progression of life does not even consider the idea that ignoring God  and His commandments will lead us to an eternity of suffering in the grip of Satan and Hell. Which makes this story even more sad and more bleak.

For the people of God however, the progression of life is anything but sad and bleak. We understand there is something more. We look forward to a place which is more wonderful than what we have here. That is a bold statement considering much we have here. There is so much beauty around us in this world, it is hard for us to imagine a more beautiful place, but for people of God we look forward to a better place. We look forward to a place more beautiful, with no suffering no pain, no tears of sadness. We look forward to a time when we can leave this world with all of the imperfections which come with sin and the consequences of sin. As God’s people we know about the progression of this life to the ultimate end of it, but life, for us, does not stop at death. Life continues on! For the people who love and follow God we know the promise that God has given. We have the promise of Heaven. Eternal life away from the suffering this life will often bring. God promises His people a life which is filled with happiness and joy when this life is over. It is a life which has no end, it is perfect. God has made it possible for us, mankind, to be part of the great and wonderful home in Heaven. He has provided a way for us to get to Him and has done that through His Son, Jesus the Christ. John will record some wonderful words for us that Jesus will say about Himself: “I am the way, the truth and the life,” (John 14:6). Jesus makes this statement right after He tells us about the great promise. “Let not you heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also,” (John 14:1-3). 

You see the natural progression of life is; Comfort and peace, gives way to hardship and burden. Joy and happiness gives way to sorrow and sadness. Comfort and peace gives way to pain and suffering. Life gives way to death. For the people of God however, the progression of life does not stop there. For us, life continues after death. Death gives way to life. Pain and suffering gives way to comfort and peace. Sorrow and sadness gives way to inexpressible joy and everlasting happiness. You can be part of the family of God and have the inheritance that He has promised to His people. God has made His home available to everyone. With a “world only” focus there is no hope, but God has given us something which brings us hope. We have life past this one. Put God in your life. If you have already put God in your life, keep focused on the blessings which come after this life. Get that hope which tells us that death gives way to everlasting life!

Living Life with a Spiritual Focus

Welcome to my blog. It is my prayer that you find your time here helpful and encouraging. There will be times, hopefully, you will learn something you did not know, or understand something you did not understand. I want this to be both an encouraging place and a place of learning and, if need be, a place of healing. I am sure many will have some things to teach me as well and I look forward to our interaction together. I am not writing here because I believe I have all the answers. I will be the first to tell you I do not. However, hopefully, we will see some of the answers together as we look into the word of God. while I know I do not have all the answers, I know that God does and He has shared them with us freely. It is now up to us to use the knowledge God has given us and apply wisdom in the proper way, the Godly way, to gain answers we can use today. The words of God have the power to change lives and change them for the better. All too often and for too long, we have listened to the lies of Satan which tells us that answers to life are found in the world and the ways of the world. It is a lie and is not true. Life is found in the word of God. Both physically and spiritually God gives us life and gives it abundantly, (John 10:10). I pray you allow God to give you life in abundance.

In future writings we will dive into the wealth of teaching God gives to us. Through those words I pray you find hope, peace, and the knowledge, above all else, that God loves you and wants you to be with Him in Heaven forever. I hope you enjoy your journey here and I hope that your spiritual life is made better because you decided to visit this place.