Like A Tree Planted By the Waters

Like a Tree Planted by the Waters Devotional Reading and Podcast

Spiritual Growth and Transformation is a life-long journey that requires total dependency on God. We dedicate ourselves to God, pray, and study the Scriptures, yet, there is a missing piece in our walk with Jesus, we are not diligent in the self-improvement of our characters.

Character is who we are because of our relationship with Christ. It is something that can be built and learned as we follow Him. Furthermore, genuine Christian character is not just about our personality or our disposition. It is a description of who we are as Christians ̶ and what we are called to be in our entirety.

A Noble Character is Formed by Stern Battles with Self—Christ has given us no assurance that attaining the perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble, all-around character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. Mind, Character, and Personality, EGW

Throughout the Scriptures, we are admonished to overcome innate character traits that are a result of our desperately wicked hearts [Jeremiah 17:9]. James tells us a person who cannot control their mouth has a religion that is worthless [James 1:26]. The apostle Paul addressed the church in Galatia regarding their ungodly traits, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:26).

“…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment, according to the measure of faith God has given you. –Romans 12:3

God has given us the mental faculties to do our part in changing our unrighteous characters and cultivating the character traits that are acceptable to Him. Reflecting on our present thoughts, habits, and lifestyle and admitting that we are not in alignment with God determines whether or not we will experience character transformation.

Faith and obedience to God along with diligent prayer and study of the Word of God demonstrate our efforts to have a steadfast relationship with Christ. “…for without me, you can do nothing (John 15:5). The human effort of seeking righteousness requires willingness, intentional actions, and persistent faith.

Spiritual transformation–Sanctification is being changed into the likeness of Christ [His Character] which requires a lifetime effort.

Prepare yourself for a tough battle in forming a noble character. Do not react with emotions when things go wrong. From the long wait to the mix-up in your to-go food order, remember you will be tested and your trials will increase! Humility prompts us to pray for God to search our hearts and reveal all sinful traits, whether inherited or learned behaviors. Faith, determination, and diligence are the requisites of human effort that facilitate change, but spiritual transformation does not come from works alone.

We pray daily for strength from the Holy Spirit. Not only will the Divine Intervention of the Holy Spirit give us the strength to win the battle over self, but we will also receive the anointing and power to overcome all unrighteousness.

The Scriptures identify the character traits that God expects us to have.

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. …'” (Matthew 22:37-39).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. (Galatians 5:22 and 23).

Behave Like a Christian
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:9 through 21).

Most of us struggle with our faith. Especially when we have to use it to overcome temptations and in the waiting periods when God is silent. Think about this, we use faith every day in a secular sense. We expect our employers to render fair treatment and pay our salaries on time, and use our credit and debit cards to make online purchases.

Based on Google reviews and recommendations from family and friends, we learn of the longstanding reputation of companies that propels us to commit to long-term contractual agreements to purchase vehicles and houses. During the business transaction, we do not doubt the company and think about filing a lawsuit for retribution just in case anything goes awry. We place our complete faith and trust in their reputation.

Although our global economy is unstable, most of us never think about researching the financial solvency of a business, before signing a contract. Every purchase we make including clothing, furniture, and food, we place our complete faith and trust in the businesses. Now it is time for us to have unwavering faith in God!

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord’” (Jeremiah 17:5). It’s time for us to stop placing all of our faith and trust in humanity who will fail us.

We have received the innate gift of a measure of faith. It is up to us to exercise the steadfast belief in an Omnipotent God which is necessary for our faith to grow from mustard seed to a mountain. Throughout the Scriptures, God reiterates that salvation comes by grace through faith.

Paul who was transformed from the murderer Saul to a faithful and godly apostle knows that our faith triumphs in trouble, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).

Make the steadfast commitment to change your character. Keep persevering! We are the recipients of a crown and eternal life made possible by King Jesus who is telling us to keep going.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit (Jeremiah 17: 7 and 8).

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the strength, power, and presence of the Holy Spirit to change our unrighteous character. We acknowledge that we need a spiritual transformation to receive our heavenly reward and wear the garments of righteousness. Thank You for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Your Holy Name, Amen.

© 2023 Steps2successwithspiritualsolutions

True Worship Is Life-Changing

“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.'” Psalm 27:8

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6

God desires that we have a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no one greater to have as a Best Friend. It is through our daily worship that we seek the Lord. Just have little talks with Jesus throughout your day.

We receive spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical strength and renewal from worship. Not only do we draw closer to our Creator, we receive peace, and have an overall calm in our minds because we have the assurance that God loves us. Placing our lives in His Righteous hands leads to victory!

We have the advantage of Divine Help, guidance, and comfort. The chaos turns into stability. Hardships no longer overwhelm us because we have a Father who cares and always listens to our prayers. Include meditation in your worship by closing your eyes for a few minutes which gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to bless you with a spiritual recharge.

Declare every day, I have a Father who created me and always desires the best for me. Stay close to Christ who loves you with an everlasting love.

Prayer: Jesus, we want to say thank you for the gift of Your love and Your life. We desire to have a close relationship with you. We pray for the blessings of peace and strength over our lives. We trust Your plans for us. Lead us through our earthly journey so we can meet You one day and live eternally in a perfect New Heaven and New Earth. We ask this prayer in Your Worthy name, Amen.

© 2020 Steps2spiritualsuccesswithsolutions

The Dilemma of Choosing the Familiar Over the Divine

The Dilemma of Choosing the Familiar Over the Divine Devotional Reading and Podcast

There is a great reward for faithfulness! “In yet a little while, He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” –Hebrews 10:37

As we grow closer to the Second Coming of Jesus, our struggle to remain faithful will increase. Fighting the inner conflict of right versus wrong every day is making us weary. Although we desire to have a close relationship with Christ, our sinful nature is drawn to things that are new and exciting. Satan is using many deceptions that are readily embraced by believers whose hearts do not fully belong to Christ.

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? Therefore, Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:14 and 17).

It is now acceptable in the church community to socialize with and have relationships with unbelievers. Trending reasons: We are witnessing, or demonstrating the love of Jesus to others, “Jesus hung out with sinners,” and they know that we are Christians, but they respect us.

Satan has introduced the corruptness of false doctrines and omissions into our churches. There are Pastors and church leaders who rely on the recommendations from their advisory committees to only preach on certain parts of the Bible. The sermons are constructed as professional letters with a non-offensive tone and the Scriptures as a recommendation to live your best life.

The escalation of membership numbers proves that today’s Christians embrace churches with watered-down doctrines and those who sing for a couple of hours. Because we do not pray consistently for God’s guidance or study the Scriptures, we are led astray. The result of self-governance has led us to accept the opinions of others instead of seeking knowledge of the Truth for ourselves.

Following our inclinations has produced many denominations under the umbrella of Christianity who agree on only one belief that God and Jesus Christ exist. Many churches and Christians do not believe in the Triune Godhead, the Holy Spirit, or baptism by water immersion. There are countless manmade versions of God’s Truth. And Satan continues to deceive us into thinking that we can treat salvation like a multiple-choice exam.

We avoid pursuing God’s Truth because it causes mental distress and does not fit into our lifestyles. Unless we have a faithful relationship with Christ, we choose to face the vicissitudes of life alone, which leave us too weary to study for ourselves.

Without biblical knowledge and wisdom from the Holy Spirit, we do not have a foundation based on the Word of God. We readily accept the half-truths preached from the pulpits of those who are pursuing wealth instead of eternal life. What are our beliefs and what does God require of us? With the various interpretations of the Holy Scriptures, we are confused, and console ourselves that we are doing the best we can.

Why do we desire the familiar of the past? And what has propelled us to form relationships with unequally yoked individuals? “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” –James 1:14

Many believers lost their closest relationships when they accepted Jesus. And as time passes, the life of being alone escalates into loneliness which Satan uses as a catalyst for compromise. Attending church once a week does not allow us to form bonds with fellow believers. We socialize with unbelievers because we desire to be around people that we know. Not studying the Bible leaves us with a void—even though we do not have the desire to return to a worldly lifestyle, we do not understand that God expects us to dedicate our lives to Him.

We begin to perceive the spiritual [Christian] journey as restrictive. Daily worship is not a priority. Our zeal for serving God rapidly declines which results in a change in our mindset and lifestyle. The inner conflict escalates and we begin to focus on our emotions. Being a Christian is not what we expected. Our heart desires the familiar friends and family we used to have good times with.

Without praying for strength, our resolve to live holy weakens. We contact our family who never understood our decision to become a Christian and former friends just to check and see how they are doing. And once we open the door of compromise, we make plans to visit and agree to attend select worldly activities that we determine to be acceptable.

The seed of compromise grows rapidly in our hearts. We justify our attendance at worldly social functions through rationalization. “It’s an opportunity to see my family or friends. Yes, there will be alcoholic drinks and smoking marijuana, but I don’t drink or smoke, so that has nothing to do with me.”

Common Ground: The workplace is an ideal environment for Satan to gradually introduce different philosophical theories, paganistic religious beliefs, relaxation techniques such as yoga, alternative lifestyles, modern worldviews, and diverse ways to pursue success in casual conversations between coworkers.

Most of us have a natural desire to be included at work and sit and chat, take breaks, and eat lunch with our coworkers. We passively participate by just listening but admit the information is interesting. We begin to think about researching and learning more about the various topics.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” –Ephesians 6:12

Our enemy, Satan is a fallen angel. Without God, we are no match against His power over humanity. Our greatest earthly enemy is a mastermind of evil schemes. Easy targets are Christians who are naive, lonely, overly curious, overconfident, and prideful. Satan’s deceptions are personalized temptations. He is aware that each of us is unique in our desires.

Although Satan is not Omniscient and does not know our thoughts, evil angels observe our behaviors and lifestyle choices. Satan has many vices, but one characteristic that ensures his success in making us fall, Satan is patient! He uses the familiar people, places, and things, we like to make us fall hard into sin. Temptations are not presented in a threatening manner or else he would not be successful.

Satan’s favorite tactic is to use the familiar to deceive us. Familiarity leaves us vulnerable! We trust the people we are comfortable with, especially those whom we love and respect [family and friends, coworkers]. We reminisce on the places where we used to hang out or we tell others about a new restaurant with a live band. Our perception changes and we no longer view our friends, family, and coworkers as unbelievers. We desire to socialize with people we know.

The estimate of 6,000 years since the earth was created gives Satan the confidence we will choose the familiar over the Divine. The generations of people that he has presented earthly pleasures to and has fallen began with Adam and Eve. Our enemy knows without Divine help that He has the advantage over humanity.

His plan [with our name on it] will come to fruition because we become weary in well-doing. Giving in to our emotions or desires led us into the maze of temptation. At this point, either we will come to our spiritual senses or we will move forward into the depths of sin.

Reflect on your relationships. If the person or people you enjoy being with do not desire eternal life then they are living in darkness. In socializing with unbelievers, we do not fully understand righteousness or we desire companionship at any cost, including the loss of our reward of eternal life.

“If you dance with the devil, then you haven’t got a clue, for you think you’ll change the devil, but the devil changes you.” ― J.M. Smith. In this author’s book, the focus is on people who do not have a conscience. “…genuine and sincere feelings toward others are completely absent. In other words, they lack emotions, like love, kindness, compassion, remorse, and pity. Nevertheless, they pretend and impersonate those feelings, but theirs are superficial and false.”

Unbelievers are not aware that Satan is using them! Even with only basic knowledge of godly principles, we realize that we cannot serve God and hang out with worldly people. It is the familiar that Satan uses to set the background for his greatest deceptions to lure us away from God’s divine plan.

What makes a believer reject God and desire to return to their former life? It is a gradual process of desensitization to worldliness. Our habits and lifestyles reveal the reason we easily fall. The programs we watch, the music we listen to, and the conversations we passively engage in fail to honor God. We are double-minded.

Choosing one day [Saturday or Sunday] we put on the outward clothing of the appearance of righteousness, attend church, and listen to sermons, but we never make progress in our spiritual journey of transformation because of the sinful desires of our hearts.

“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” –1 Peter 1:15-16

We attempt to blend oil with water to produce a worldly Christian. If you have ever thought or verbalized, “There is nothing wrong with…” then you have crossed over the line of righteousness into sinfulness. With God, there is no middle ground or gray area.

There is no doubt that we are living in perilous times. Whether we are steadfast or not, we recognize the decline in society’s ethics, morals, and values, the rise of global financial instability, and political corruption. There are wars, rumors of wars, nuclear preparations, and civil insurrections that indicate Jesus is coming soon. The Bible gives us concrete evidence of last-day events in Matthew chapter 24 and Second Timothy chapter 3.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” –John 3:16

God knows the dilemma we face from being born in sin and shaped by iniquity. He gave us the ultimate gift of Salvation and Redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ. When we are in a state of confusion and ready to turn back, God uses the Holy Spirit to appeal to us to accept His love and obey His commands. Yet, we have free will of choice. To grieve the Holy Spirit is to continuously reject the Truth as evidenced by our disobedience.

Satan knows his time is short, he is working overtime to customize the temptations that satisfy our heart’s desires. During the Dark Ages, the Christian church fell into apostasy, embraced false doctrines, and became corrupt. History is indeed repeating itself in our era.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” –John 15:5

To follow Jesus requires us to give our all to Him. We accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior because we love Him. Our role is to be Christ’s disciples who follow in His footsteps. Maintaining a steadfast relationship with Christ requires a do-right mind. We give up our relationships with unrighteous people along with avoiding all forms of worldliness because we love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds.

Our Helper, The Holy Spirit: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” –John 16: verses 7,8, and 13

God knows we cannot live holy without Divine Intervention! Before Jesus died, He promised the disciples a Helper, the Holy Spirit. As disciples, we have the help of the Holy Spirit who is only a prayer away. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher who leads, guides, and comforts us through our earthly journey, keeping us on the Path of Righteousness.

When tempted by thoughts of the familiar, pray fervently! The union of human effort and Divine Intervention is required for overcoming temptation. Delete phone numbers, pray for strength at work, and exclude yourself from godless conversations. Invite your family and friends to church. Either they will accept the invitation or leave you alone. Keeping your relationship with Christ requires self-control, discipline, and much prayer.

In our natural, sinful state, we cannot live holy or receive the eternal inheritance that Jesus promises us in Revelation 22:12. The human effort of determination and the Divine Intervention of the Holy Spirit keep us from falling and failing in our spiritual journey.

Spiritual transformation requires faith, trust, obedience, and perseverance. We must decide for ourselves whether or not we will surrender and love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. God loves us but we must never forget that He is a Righteous Judge who will not tolerate sin whether it is through compromise or total and wilful disobedience.

We have too much to lose! With the strength of the Holy Spirit, we can say goodbye to the familiar! Preparation for life in the New Heaven and New Earth begins now and continues throughout our lifespan or up until the day that Jesus returns to this earth. Nothing on this earth will ever compare to the glory of living forever with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

“For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. –1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17

Prayer: God, we ask You to create a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. We pray for the anointing, power, and presence of the Holy Spirit to withstand the temptation of choosing the familiar over the Divine. Lord, we need Your supernatural strength as we prepare for eternal life. Thank You for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.

© 2023 Steps2successwithspiritualsolutions