Our spiritual journey of Sanctification–spiritual transformation is lifelong. And for those mercies, we should be forever grateful and full of joy. After reading 1 John chapters 1-2, I have concluded that we can negatively impact our spiritual growth and development by seeking after our desires and pursuits. Jesus forewarned us in John 16:33 that His disciples would suffer a life of trials and sorrows, but to be courageous because He has overcome every challenge.
Heavenly Father, please create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer. Amen. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
But now, O Lord you are our Father, we are the clay, and you our Potter; And all of us are the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
Timothy constantly sought Paul’s advice and instruction. He exercised consideration and calm thought, inquiring at every step, Is this the way of the Lord? The Holy Spirit found in him one who could be molded and fashioned as a temple for the indwelling of the divine Presence. TT 109.1
The question is, Are we surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit and allowing Jesus Christ to transform our character? God is not intrusive. He does not force us to change into His image. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
Prayer: God, we desire to be molded in the Character of Christ. We pray for forgiveness of our sins. We ask to be molded in your hands. As we prepare for your soon coming, we pray for guidance in every aspect of our lives. In the powerful name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
During my employment with a major health insurance company, a severe issue arose not covered by a company policy. In a clinical environment, a Registered Nurse is the licensed professional that the paraprofessional staff must report to as regulated by the Board of Nursing. Our team consisted of one lead RN and several LPNs responsible for monthly physician statistical reports indicating the level of care met for patients with chronic diseases. The lead RN of one of the teams discovered a deficit in the data submission of one of the nurses and addressed it in a 1:1 meeting with the LPN. Emotions escalated, not because of the error, but focus on the statement, “You are not in charge of me.” It led to a significant conflict and fiasco that eventually was reported to Human Resources.
The outcome From HR’s intervention required the development of a new [immediate] policy: Because we were in a non-clinical environment, the lead RN was not responsible for the deficiencies of the members on the team. All concerns would require a description in writing from the Lead RN or the LPN to the Departmental Manager. Although the policy addressed the hierarchy of command, an unhealthy relationship developed in the majority of the teams, which affected the cohesiveness of the department.
The Apostle Paul Addressing the Conflict in the Early Churches
God designated the Apostle Paul to witness to the Gentiles. From reading the books that he wrote–letters to the churches and to Timothy, we become aware of the confusion in the churches. The dissension was due to the rivalry between the new converts who were former unbelievers with pagan practices–the worship of gods and goddesses. Many were high-ranking priestesses and individuals with significant wealth and influence who assumed they would keep their worldly status in the church. And yes, they were highly offended by Paul’s teachings: All believers are of the body of Christ and equal, regardless of social or financial status. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 1 Timothy 5:21
2021–The multitude of believers with an Unhealthy Relationship with God
Many modern churches have protocols that give recognition to the wealthiest congregants. The front rows are assigned based on social status, and they are readily elected to the most prominent positions in the church. Recently, I listened to a sermon by Dr. Sonnie Badu, which addressed a most heart-wrenching situation, “members that esteem their Pastors above Jesus Christ.”
At first, one would think that this is a cultural belief. However, worshipping one’s pastor has permeated Christianity on a global level. I was sent a question by a young woman who asked, “Why do certain Christian women dress modestly?” She rejected the scriptural answers by proudly affirming that her pastor stated, “It doesn’t matter how we dress because we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness.” I said a silent prayer for the Holy Spirit to reveal her error. No, I did not send a reply. When individuals desire to disobey God’s truth and follow their desires, it is a matter between them and God.
Sadly, many who know the biblical truth do not possess the desire to obey God. One of the defining characteristics is the refusal to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. For I am the Lord, I change not…Malachi 3:6. This scripture is all-inclusive, not limited to the subject of tithe and offerings. With a sound mind, we can reason that if nine of the ten commandments remain unchanged, and only the fourth commandment has changed, it is false teaching and definitely not of God. [Research Emperor Constantine and his change of Saturday- Sabbath.] “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” James 2:10
God is not a religion or denomination, nor has He changed any of His laws except for Ceremonial laws. When Jesus [the Lamb of God] was crucified and died, the veil ripped from top to bottom. See Matthew 27:51. There was no longer a need for the sacrifice of animals to cover humanity’s sins.
Jesus defines the relationship that he requires of His disciples:
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me, and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.… Matthew 10:37-38
It is not easy to follow Jesus. We will be excluded from family, friends, society, and government. Even so, we must have the courage to obey the scriptures.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 1 Timothy 3:16-17
Daily Prayer, the study of the Scriptures, Obedience, Faith, and Trust in God are the foundation of a healthy relationship with God. Indeed, our lives must be in alignment with God’s requirements. Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who is our Teacher. God never withholds the truth from those who diligently seek Him.
We will hear “Well-done” from Jesus Christ if we have given 100% to faithfully following Him. Nothing else is above having a healthy, thriving spiritual relationship with Jesus based on love and obedience.
“The New Rich” is a term coined by Tim Ferris in his book “The 4-Hour Work Week,” written in 2014. His concept received much opposition. Yes, escaping the job that you detested by starting a position that the world will love sounds ideal. Even so, the behaviors of a target audience for your business are unpredictable. Why? Nothing lasts forever! People are fickle. What they desire today will quickly be forgotten sooner than later. Consumers have made Amazon a super-power because of convenience, not due to loyalty.
2021 Update: Now enter a group of wealthy young men with sound minds who have repurposed this phrase. They are proud of their accomplishment: Living a simple lifestyle has given them the status of being “Debt-free.” Yes, they live without worries because their money is exclusively used for necessities and to travel the world. Sounds enticing. Who doesn’t desire to live this lifestyle?
Let’s analyze this “New Rich” concept of minimalistic living. Romans 13, verse 8 tells us, “Owe nothing to anyone…” So, their idea of living debt-free is excellent. But the remainder of verse 8 reads, “–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” The “New Rich” issue is that they possess the mindset of self-reliance and selfishness that define the prosperous [prosperity] worldview.
And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Mark 1:16-18
Compared to our standards of financial comfortability, Jesus and His disciples lived in poverty. And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20. Thankfully, God does not require us to live without our necessities–Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33
The life of a believer is to serve Jesus Christ as a disciple–to serve God and our brothers and sisters in need, whether it be spiritually and financially. When Jesus called the twelve disciples they gave up everything to follow Him. Enter the disciples of 2021, and our mindset is comparable to the New Rich, except that most of us are in debt, well beyond the costs of our necessities. Yes, the prosperity messages draw people into mega-churches, but the emptiness that accompanies the pursuit of happiness has left us with a generation of anxious, worried, and depressed Christians.
We desire material possessions and wealth because our priorities are unequally yoked with godly stewardship principles. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? 1 John 3:17. Everything that we have belongs to God. Our overabundance is not given to show-off our social or financial status or to build massive bank accounts and investments. He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
What does Jesus require of his Kingdom of God disciples?
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'” 45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'” Matthew 25:37-40, 45
For the past week, I have been studying the life of the Apostle Paul. The conversion of Saul, a murderer of Christians, to a devout and faithful disciple is evident throughout the 14 books in the New Testament. In his Second Letter to Timothy, Paul was fully aware that the end of his life was near. Paul’s imprisonment was unjust, but the Roman leaders believed that Christianity would phase out with Paul, the agitator incarcerated. The message of a Savior, Jesus Christ, opposed the ancient Roman pagan belief system. Still, their main concern was the impact on the possibility of decreased financial gifts.
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. 2 Timothy 4:5 NLT
Paul’s only offense: God designated Paul to preach the gospel to the Gentiles who believed in gods and goddesses. Financial offerings were given by the people, which sustained the greed of the governing leaders. Even so, Christianity grew in leaps and bounds due to the continual witnessing by the Apostle in heavy chains. While imprisoned, he endured extreme suffering for many years. Yet, Paul’s abounding faith was an example of Jesus’ suffering, leading to many Roman guards’ acceptance of Jesus Christ. Bible scholars estimate his age to be between 60-68 at the time of death. The wicked Emperor Nero was responsible for the execution by the beheading of God’s faithful Apostle.
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
The Apostle Paul clearly reveals that immortality is not received at the time of a person’s death. Yet, many believers hold on to the false concept that the person is either in heaven or burning in hell at death. Jesus answered, “You are mistaken because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29.
Jesus’ body was in Joseph’s tomb when He was resurrected. Angels were sent from heaven to roll back the heavy stone. Although the Jewish leaders spread the false news that the disciples had stolen His body, the guards witnessed the event.
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that He had spoken these things to her. John 20:16-18
The Holy Spirit is truth. The Human Effort of praying for the discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit is vital to our belief in the scriptures, spiritual growth, perseverance, and endurance. We must decide to believe the biblical truth or to embrace the twisted concepts of our greatest Deceiver. It is a conscious decision to faithfully obey God by asking that His will be done in our lives. Turning our eyes upon Jesus requires wholehearted commitment. We have a Spiritual Team ready 24/7 to assist us in our journey on the Path of Righteousness. Through Christ, we can live holy and righteous lives, witnessing to others with confidence that we have fought the good fight, just as the Apostle Paul.
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
Growing up in a Christian home was not difficult because my friends were also from Christian households. I was a mischievous but obedient child who loved to read. Weekly, I would visit the library, check out the maximum number of books, and excitedly wait for the next visit. Although my mother studied the Bible daily, she did not read the Bible to us, nor did she encourage us to study the Word of God. Our Father worked 12-16 hours, six days a week. It was a time factor. With two younger children and one with ADHD, her schedule was non-stop. I can only imagine that she was exhausted at the end of each day. Even so, her character and actions revealed Christ through her love, temperament, and patience.
The church we attended in Newark, NJ, was diverse, with members from various ethnicities and cultures. Our pastor [of German descent] emphasized weekly to the congregation that we represented the family of God. He also stressed unity and love [this was during the Civil Rights Movement] if we expected to receive eternal life. Still, we were not a Bible-based church. Our services were based on “miracle-healings,” where members and visitors would stand in line to receive physical healing.
This is not a critical portrayal of our pastor. Simply, we were not taught to study the scriptures. The emphasis was to be like Jesus. But how? Without the knowledge of the Bible, it is impossible to be like Jesus. Fast forward a few decades, and now, I am a Bible student. The Holy Spirit has taught me that I must have extensive knowledge and wisdom to possess the Character of Christ along with the desire to live a holy and righteous life.
God’s expectation is that we diligently study the scriptures. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15. Interestingly, the other biblical translations of this verse replace the most important word, study.
To emulate Christ requires a thorough knowledge of the Bible and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is the life-long process of spiritual maturity. “To be sanctified is to become a partaker of the divine nature, catching the spirit and mind of Jesus, ever learning in the school of Christ.” The Upward Look, p. 149
Staying on the Path of Righteousness requires unwavering faith and trust in God, strict obedience, and wisdom that we can only receive from our Teacher, the Holy Spirit. Still, intense love for God is the foundation that fuels our desire to please God. Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38
Jesus led an exemplary life in His love and service to those in need. Christ embraced the poor, the needy, and the individuals who society considered undesirable. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’Matthew 22:39
Human Effort from a heart filled with agape love:
Diligent Bible Study
Anointing of the Holy Spirit
Meekness and Humility
Resistance of temptation
Divine Intervention from God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
The Apostle Paul clarifies that our faithfulness and obedience to God allow for continuous spiritual growth and development. God does not expect us to overcome our inherent sinful natures using our strength. In fact, we can’t become holy and righteous without Divine intervention. Praise God that we have a Spiritual Team that is always ready to intervene and intercede, providing us with help on our journey with Christ. Strive to live every day, “For Christ Alone.”
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 NLT
Have you ever had worries about your future? If yes, then most likely you have not memorized Matthew 6:19-34. Jesus provides the reassurance and guarantees that He will provide for every necessity in our lives. Beyond knowing the due dates for monthly bills or pending appointments, we should have no concerns regarding the future–not even tomorrow. We are not even guaranteed the next day, so we should be extremely grateful for the mercies of life for today.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” Matthew 6:31-32 NLT
Recently, I listened to the testimony of a young man who said that the Holy Spirit spoke to him during church service to give all of the money he had in his pocket, which wasn’t enough to last until payday [the next week]. He obeyed. The next day at work, he realized that he previously promised to meet a couple of coworkers for lunch. As he drove to McDonald’s, without a penny, he would tell his coworkers that he wasn’t hungry. But on the way, he stopped to help an older man who had car trouble. From that act of kindness, God blessed him with enough money to last until payday.
This is a story of obedience and a giant leap of faith and trust in God. In verse 32, Jesus reveals our status as faithless and compares us to unbelievers who constantly worry when we think about tomorrow. We have an immediate decision to make–to live with or without faith. It’s up to us. Be aware of the consequences of choosing to rely on yourself. Without faith, we live miserable lives. It is not possible to have unspeakable joy and peace without total belief in God, our Provider.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10. “Abundant life” refers to life in its abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, soul, and body. Jesus promised that if we live day by day and fully trust in Him that our joy would be complete. Go ahead, thank our Jehovah Jireh for His loving care of always giving us needful provisions. Living a faith-based life guarantees us the fulfillment of God’s promises.