Sunday, May 31, 2015

Do you have a Hardened Heart?

     Do you have a hardened heart? A hardened heart according to definition is insensitive, showing no kindness or sympathy for others. However, the spiritual hardness of the heart can take on other forms apart from having no sympathy. For example, Jesus was trying to teach the apostles about the the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod but the apostles did not understand him. Mark 8:17,18 "And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?" So having an hardened heart can keep you from understanding, seeing and hearing clearly, and even remembering, biblical teachings and instruction. This was stressed in Matthew 13:15 "For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed...." Mark 6:52 "for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened."
     The apostles hearts were not unsympathetic to others but they were insensitive or not aware of what Jesus Christ was trying to teach them. Their hearts were like, they were to hard for any understanding to get through. Even so, Jesus Christ was patient with them and took time to explain his teachings to them. Jesus Christ wanted his disciples to become more spiritually minded than just looking at the surface of things.
     I also have some difficulty in understanding some of the teachings of Jesus Christ. It takes many hours of research and study for me to comprehend them. Perhaps, my heart is also a little bit hardened. Jesus Christ talks about a helper that he will send to us to help us to understand and remember his teachings. John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to you remembrance all that I have said to you." At times when I was studying God's word, the verses of the Bible became very clear to me. I believe this was caused by God's Holy Spirit helping me to understand.
     The Holy Spirit plays a big part in our own personal understanding of God. 1 Corinthians 2:12 "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." 2 Timothy 2:7 "Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." These verses show us where true understanding comes from, from God's Holy Spirit.
     Ephesians tells us that a hardened heart can darkened our understanding. Ephesians 4:18 "They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of their heart." A hardened heart can separate us from God making us think that our way is the best way. Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." If we follow the course of our hardened heart it will only lead us to death and not to eternal life with our Lord. We have to trust in the Lord and soften our hearts so to let the Holy Spirit in to guide us. Ezekiel 11:19 "And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

We the People are Important

     People, they are all around us. We interact we each other on a daily bases. Our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends affect us in someway. We depend on each other and look to each other when we need help. The community around us prospers or self-destructs depending on what kind of people that are in it. We need each other. Our life is either made happy or sorrowful by each other's attitude. We cannot overlook, ignore, hurt or disrespect each other without feeling the consequences of our actions. If the God of all creation sent his only begotten son to die for us because he loved us so (John 3:16), then we must all take good look at each other and see each other as brothers instead of just obstacles that we have to endure or people to use to get what we want.
     When we respect and help each other, we honor the Lord. Matthew 25:37-40 "Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." Proverbs 14:31 "Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him."
     We are told to do no wrong to our neighbors but to love each other. Romans 13:8-10 "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Why love, because everyone of us needs love. We are our heavenly Father's children. He created us to love, to be like him. 1 John 4:8 "Anyone who does not love does not know god, because God is love."
     We the people are important. We are important to God and he wants us to be important to each other. He looks down upon us like a loving Father. He wants us to treat each other as he would treat us. He wants us to love one another and to forgive each other. Matthew 6:14,15 "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses."
     So where are we getting that hurting each other is alright? How are we to build a community on a attitude of survival of the fittest or if we act superior to all others? It is not the plan our creator has for us. Galatians 5:13,14 "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
     The more we take to heart the commands of God the more we will come together as one people. Building each other up, supporting one another when in need and loving each other like a family under God. This is what God wants for us and this is what we really need and want for ourselves, so that we the people can finally have a lasting peace and security in our lives.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


     Perseverance definition: [to persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in spite of obstacles.] If we are to persevere, we have to really believe in what we are doing, if not we would just give up. We can use perseverance to accomplish our job or to try to win at sports. We can apply it to many different things in our life in order to succeed. In our faith, perseverance is important, we have to remain constant to our purpose in serving God and our loyalty to Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:25 "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable."
     The apostle Paul endure many trails and tribulations and he persevered. 2 Corinthians 11:24,25,27 "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 27in toil and hardship, through many sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." The apostle Paul had great devotion and great perseverance, he never gave up his faith in God. Revelation 2:10 "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."
     Our commitment to Jesus Christ is a lifetime commitment, we will and must remain constant to our purpose to serve Jesus Christ in spite of any obstacles that may come along. For we our given a promise, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." We persevere because we look to that for which is to come. Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." We believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ and want to be just like him. Romans 14:17 "For the kingdom of God, is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." We want all what the Holy Spirit can offer us. Galatians 5:22,23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control;...." We believe with all of our heart and soul that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) and we will persevere in our life and in our service until we are with him in his kingdom.                                                                                                                                                  (ESV)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Forgiveness for the Deceived

     I was thinking about what Jesus said in Luke 23:34 while he was still hanging upon the cross, "And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." In Acts 7:60 Stephen said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." He said this while he was being stone to death. Jesus Christ and Stephen wanted those who were putting them to death to have a chance of forgiveness. I believed they saw their oppressors as being deceived and wanted them to have a chance at redemption, when they finally come to realize the real truth.
     In my opinion, not many of us could do this, praying for the ones who are putting us to death and asking God to forgive them. I would love to be that spiritually mature but I fear that I have still some ways to go. Jesus warned his disciples in John 16:2 "They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God." 2 Corinthians 4:4 "In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." Those who are bring harm to God's congregation are blinded by Satan, that is why, I believe Jesus said we are to forgive our brother many times. Matthew 18:21,22 "Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" 22Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times."
     The apostle Paul reminded a congregation how they once were in Titus 3:3-5 "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us,..." The apostle Paul talked about himself in 1 Corinthians 15:9,10 "For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." Many of the past Christians were blinded and deceived by the devil but yet through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ they changed who they were and carried on the messages of Jesus Christ.
     We can see the importance of forgiving our brothers and sisters in order for them, to one day come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Our future is secure in the hands of Jesus Christ, whereas their future if unchanged could lead them to an eternity in darkness. Endurance on our part and keeping our unyielding faith can help them to find God. People can change, Jesus wants us to give them that opportunity to change through our forgiveness. How are we to teach them about Jesus Christ's love and forgiveness, if we are cursing at them?
     The apostle Paul tells us how to be in 2 Timothy 2:24-26 "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." The apostle Paul also tells us what each of us will have to face. 2 Timothy 3:12 "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,"
     People who come against the disciples of Jesus Christ are coming against Jesus Christ himself, for we are not representing ourselves but the kingdom of God. They truly are, just as Jesus Christ said, "for they know not what they do." Our eyes are open to the truth whereas their eyes are shut tightly against it. So we forgive them for their sake and for ours, in hope that one day their eyes will be open. In all honesty, I do not know if I could be as forgiving as Jesus Christ or Stephen was to their persecutors. But I will keep on praying for the love and the strength to be able to.                                                                                   (ESV)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Doubt (a barrier to God's spirit)

     Many of us have doubts. Doubts about the decisions that we have made. Doubts about our future. We seem plagued by many uncertainties in life causing us to have many doubts within our mind. If we bring our doubts into our worship, we could start to doubt God that is even listening to us or even cares. Maybe our doubts would even make us start questioning the very existence of God. Yes, doubts can be devastating to our faith.
     Being a christian you have to have faith in order to believe. Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the assurance of the things hoped for, the convection of things not seen." If we have doubts, our faith will be weakened. We will think to ourselves that what we pray and hope for will not be realized. Our doubts could create a barrier to our connection to God, causing us to lose faith. In losing our faith, we may start to look else where for our answers.
     The apostle Peter started to have doubts when he walk on water. Matthew 14:28-31 "And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water," 29He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Peter started out with a strong faith but he let doubt enter his mind, his connection to God's spirit was blocked by his doubts, causing him to sink.
     Even if we want to sincerely serve God and we have doubts about our ability, thereby having doubts that the Holy Spirit can work through us successfully, this will cause us fail at what we are trying to accomplish. Matthew 17:18-20 "And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" 20He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move nothing will be impossible for you."
     Here is another story telling us not to have doubt in our faith. Jesus Christ was hungry and he saw a fig tree without any fruit. He said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once. Matthew 21:20-22 "When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" 21And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen. 22And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." So we have been shown again, how powerful our faith can be if we do not doubt. Our faith must be pure and untainted by doubt in order for it to work.
     We can see that even Jesus Christ's disciples had trouble maintaining their faith. They had doubts to what they could accomplish, but Jesus said to them, if they cast their doubts aside and have a pure faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for them. Doubt becomes a barrier to our connection to God, whereas faith without doubt builds a strong one. Faith without doubt can make miracles happen.                                                                                        (ESV)