Blank

As I have spent time this week thinking about what it means to be a Christian, it hit me when I opened the Pages app on my iPad to work on a schedule I was making. The file is simply titled ‘Blank’ until you change the name, and it hit me, that is how God views us when we accept Christ.

When we come to the realization that Christ died for our sins and we accept Him as our Savior, we are presented with a blank slate, a fresh start, a future that is unblemished by our dark past. We are no longer slaves to the sin that has tied us down for so long, and we now have a future with Him.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12 KJV)

If God has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west, we have nothing that we should hold on to to keep us from moving forward. If God has cleared our slate, then I feel we can learn a couple lessons from this. First, we see that nothing can keep us from the love and mercy of God. Second, we see that we should be as forgiving of others as Christ is of us.

Romans tells us, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:34, 35 KJV),” so we know that nothing can keep us from the love He has for us.

In Philippians we are instructed, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5, 7, 8 KJV).” if we have the same mind as Christ, forgiveness should come naturally.

Today, make an effort to accept the gift given to you of a blank slate, and offer the same to others. If we can all move forward as one, we can all benefit from the rewards of Christian living, and we can find hope in this life. We can not move forward as the body of Christ if we hold grudges, if we fail to forgive, and if we hold on to our failures. Embrace the blank slate, and offer it freely to others today.

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Perspective

I was searching through Facebook the other day in hopes that I could find some information about a local event when I came across a picture that someone had posted and it stopped me in my tracks…it was a writing titled Pretty Ugly by Abdulla Shoaib…

“I’m very ugly
So don’t try to convince me that
I am a very beautiful person
Because at the end of the day
I hate myself in every single way
And I’m not going to lie to myself by saying
There is beauty inside of me that matters
So rest assured I will remind myself
That I am a worthless, terrible person
And nothing you say will make me believe
I still deserve Love
Because no matter what
I am not good enough to be loved
And I am in no position to believe that
Beauty does exist within me
Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think
Am I ugly as people say?”

But as I sat there and processed it, I realized that there was a little instruction on the bottom of the page…to read from the bottom up…in other words…Change your perspective – so I did…

“Am I ugly as people say?
Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think
Beauty does exist within me
And I am in no position to believe that
I am not good enough to be loved
Because no matter what
I still deserve Love
And nothing you say will make me believe
That I am a worthless, terrible person
So rest assured I will remind myself
There is beauty inside of me that matters
And I am not going to lie to myself by saying
I hate myself in every single way
Because at the end of the day
I am a very beautiful person
So don’t try to convince me that
I’m very ugly”

WOW…it hit me…life truly is all in how we look at the situation we are facing.  In Luke 7:36-50 we see a story about this type of perspective…a story that shows us that depending on the mindset we have in a circumstance, we might just see things a little differently than someone else.

Scripture has a way to speak to our hearts and in our circumstances, and sometimes, depending on the situation you find yourself in, it can speak to you in different ways on different occasions…this is why I love the Word of God…because it stays the same, but reaches us in many different ways…

Today, take a look at your perspective…stop viewing the world around you through your own eyes, and allow God to take hold and show you what He would like you to see through His eyes.  It is His world view that can help us to love others the way that He loves them….it is His world view that can lead us to avoid worldly thinking and embrace His grace for our lives.

It truly is all a matter of perspective…so where is your focus today? How are you approaching life? Are you willing to put it all in His perspective today?

What Must I Do?

I have been thinking about this topic a lot over the past couple of weeks, and it is one that I know many people deal with on a daily basis…and that is, “What must I do to be saved?”

There are many that we come across on a daily or weekly basis that are struggling with this question…the trouble is that many are afraid to ask the question.  Another troubling, and perhaps more troubling, struggle is that of Christians who are not prepared to answer the question when it is asked of them.

One account of this situation is found in John 3 where we see Nicodemus speaking with Jesus about this exact topic.  He is asking questions of Jesus on how a man can come to know salvation.  If you are one who is asking this question, the answer can be found in the words of Jesus.  If you are struggling to find an answer when someone asks this of you, the proper words are there for you to share in the words of our Savior.

“Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” – John 3:9-15 (ESV)

Jesus then expounds on this in the next three verses and gives us the answer in a statement of salvation that we can all take heart in.  These three verses are the answer that we can all use when asking, or being asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

In that we see our answer…Believe in Jesus Christ.  Accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  He came to save the world, and not to condemn.  If you want to know what to do to be saved, look to Him!

Identity

Identity…

When you hear or see this word, what does it mean to you?  For many, it is who you are, which could include your name, address, livelihood, etc.  There are many things that identify you today.  How you look, act, carry yourself, or your personality…all of those could be used to identify you.

Your family…

Your friends…

Your job…

There are many things that people use to identify you, but the question is this, “How do you identify yourself?”

What sparked this thought process in me is the realization that everyone that you come in contact with on a daily basis knows a different version of you. Your parents know you in one way, while a sibling may know you differently, and your friends may have another viewpoint.

As I thought about this, it became clear to me that many times we get lost in translation, because we begin to try and become all of the things that others identify us as…or even worse, we are the different identities, depending on the situation, circumstance, or present company.

This is a dangerous way to be. I believe that we can find our true identity and it comes through our personal relationship with Christ.  When we center ourselves in Him, he begins to form our identity as it relates to the Kingdom of God…and through that molding and forming us into His identity.

Romans 8:28-30 says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.”

We are created to be conformed to the image of Christ…and that can only come through a developed relationship with Him…personally. Through this identification process, God will pick up the broken pieces of our lives, and he will call us to a greater path, justifying us and offering grace for our sins, and glorifying us for His kingdom!

So maybe, instead of trying to identify as all the things we think the world around us will like, we should work on developing our relationship with Christ; through that, allowing Him to create an identity in us that will develop us into the instrument He can use for His glory.  Find who you are in Him, not who you want Him to be in you.

For God So Loved

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” – John 3:16-21, ESV

These words speak volumes to each of us who follow Christ. One of the things that I find many doing is stopping at 3:16 but never going any farther. Many stop at simple belief, but Jesus continued on to tell us that there is more than just believing. Scripture tells us that even the demons believe.

Jesus, in these words to Nicodemus, tells us all that He did not come to the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He elaborates on this by continuing the conversation and explaining that those who believe are not condemned. He then says some of the key words to our Christian faith in verse 19, saying, “And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” What does this mean?

It means, when someone is living in sin, they love the darkness, they love to be around others who live like they do, those who are also in the darkness, those who will not condemn them. Light has a way of exposing that which is hidden in the dark, and when the light is revealed all sins are made known.

Today, we must examine what we are doing. We have to realize that we are not being what God has called us to be when we live outside of the light. Christ is the light, and he has called us to be in the light.

James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James continues on by telling us that we must be hearers and doers of the word, not hearers only. There are many who hear and believe the word, but there are few who do and truly believe the word. So many stop at believing that Jesus is the Christ, but they forget that being a believer of the Word means that they are putting faith into action each day.

Are you putting your faith into action today? Can others see Christ in you? Are you living in the light or the dark today?

Examine your heart today. I encourage you to be more than just a simple hearer of the word, but to embrace what Christ is offering today through our ‘doing’ the word. Be more than a hearer today. Let God expose you today so that you can be all he needs you to be.