Lifestyle of Christian believers

Luke 6:27-36

Jesus instructed His disciples, on multiple occasions, how they were to conduct themselves in the presence of sinners. He stressed often that their standard of living should differ from those who refused to walk after godly principles, because they also represented the Father, as He did. Sin and its demonic influence has altered how God defines love, and how men are to treat each other on the earth. For this reason, believers are to live in such a way, that the world can witness the nature of God through their lives. The world has heard of God, and many have read of Him in Scripture, but they can easily see Him through the way believers carry themselves.

In my previous lessons, I mentioned that the most powerful thing humans hold in their possession is choice, and the most coveted attribute of godliness is love. When we choose to love, we initiate a series of events that will open doors by which we can be fruitful, and prosperous for God’s Kingdom. For example, when we love our enemies, not only do we obey God’s command, but we create a situation where those who once despised our God, could possibly have a change of heart. There are times when men will wish evil upon us, and use us in ways that only benefit themselves, but Christ commanded us to bless and pray for them regardless of their selfish motives.

Christians are to extend love in all areas of their lives, including giving. We are to be wise in our giving, but not hold back from those in need, especially from our enemies. We are to also give freely from our hearts, not expecting anything in return. How many people have you run into who refuse to give, unless they know you’ll pay them back? As believers, our motives and intentions differ greatly from the world’s. We treat others the way we wish to be treated, knowing that God loves all men, and desires that they will someday give their hearts to Him. The world holds grudges, remembers faults, and uses past instances for selfish reasons, but the children of God operate in love and mercy, as their Father in Heaven does, and they easily forget hurts, faults, and continues to do good despite how they’ve been treated. At times it seems unfair that we have to endure suffering and persecution, but when I consider all the things Christ went through, yet continued to love and forgive, I get inspired to love even the more. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).

Walk in love,

Ell

The gift of Love

1 Corinthians 13

Of all the spiritual gifts granted to men by God, the greatest of them is, love. Every characteristic attributed to godliness is indeed effective, beneficial, and useful in fulfilling the will of God the Father, but none can even begin to have a positive impact, except love first abide to give it relevance. In the same way that an automobile joined together with all it’s essential, and non essential parts cannot perform effectively without gasoline to power its systems, faith, hope, patience, and all the other godly likenesses will remain ineffective unless love is present to give them purpose and power. God is love, and He extended His love to the world, so that we could share like passions as He does in our everyday living. God loads His people daily with blessings and benefits, but love is what makes those benefits worth operating in. All members in the body of Christ were bestowed gifts and talents intended to be used to win the lost, and edify the members of the body, but there are some who have lost focus on the purpose of their gift, and instead found pleasure in the attention their gifts bring to themselves, while excluding love from the equation. There are countless individuals operating in their gifts from a backslidden state, thus rendering their gifts useless and ineffective. It’s almost like owning a nice car that you constantly brag about to others, but can’t use it because you can’t afford to put gas in it. So, it stays parked in your garage collecting dust and cobwebs until it gets what it needs to become an effective commodity.

We live in a world where men are awed and dazzled by entertainment, while rejecting the simplicity of the Gospel message. Even modern churches tend to follow the world’s standard by showcasing the splendor of the big stage, as lights, smoke, and loud godless music fills their buildings. Although these methods may attract large audiences of souls seeking help, they do little to change men’s hearts, unless love runs the show. God’s love is many things the world today rarely makes mention of. While men define love based mostly on emotions and feelings, real love resides on a level far beyond carnal comprehension. Love is patient; never in a hurry, suffers long, and endures all things. Love never acts rashly or out of character, is consistent, and is never proud or puffed up. Love is generous, respectful, and not envious. Love is humble, doesn’t parade itself, and never gives up. Love is always polite, never rude or discourteous, and does not behave itself unseemly. Love is giving, not selfish, and only seeks good in others. Love hates sin, and doesn’t celebrate other’s downfalls. Love promotes the goodness of others, and is always slow to expose their wrongs. Love is sincere, always true, and knows how to be silent and listen.

Love is a gift like no other, and operating in it guarantees that your life will always produce fruit that is pleasing to the almighty God. The next time you consider blessing someone with a gift for a wedding, birthday, or other occasion, try giving them the gift of love, and enjoy the eternal benefits that will inevitably follow.

Walk in love,

Ell

Trust and honor God

Proverbs 3:1-12

Who’s side are you leaning on, as you live your days on this beautiful, yet perishing earth. On the one side, there’s the true and living God; The creator of the world, and the One who sustains all human life, and every living thing upon the earth. The very God who brought all things into existence, also set rules, guidelines, and commands for His people to abide by, in order to ensure that their days will be purposeful and filling. Obeying the commands given by God render a 3-fold blessing of peace, long life, and length of days. What an awesome combination of blessings rewarded to all who willingly trust in the Lord with all their heart, and refuse to depend on their own wisdom and understanding! Leaning on the Lord’s side not only grants an individual more life, but good health and prosperity also come from walking in the ways of holiness. When we choose to acknowledge God in all our ways, we will never be left to walk a path without His wisdom and protection accompanying us.

Standing in stark contrast to the God of love is, satan. Choosing to side with this spirit-being who shuns all things holy, can only lead a person to a disastrous end. Rather than trust and honor God in all things, an individual not grounded in godliness will be an easy target for the enemy to influence, and cause to do things that may seem beneficial at first, but will only lead to their utter destruction. The devil manipulates men to trust in themselves, and embrace evil, because he knows his time is limited, and intends to turn all he can away from believing in God. Our adversary, the devil, is anti-God. Where God says love, satan influences men to hate. For God so loved the world, He gave, but satan hates God and His people, so he makes unyielding attempts to take away our love, joy, peace, and happiness every day. Trusting and honoring God means choosing life, but joining the side of satan will reward you with death in this life, and the next. Choose wisely.

“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

Walk in love,

Ell

The call of the Gentiles

Romans 11:11-24

Growing up playing multiple sports, one of the worst titles one could be given by fellow teammates, or opponents was, scrub. A scrub was a player on a team who was appointed as a backup to the backup, or a “just in case someone gets hurt player”, who usually sat on the bench during games while the starters hogged the spotlight. Scrubs were usually picked on, ridiculed, and laughed at by other members of the team, mostly because their skill levels weren’t on par with the others. I can vaguely remember a time when I could have possibly, but not certainly, perhaps, but don’t quote me on it, been a scrub. At least I think it was me. Maybe it was someone else I was thinking about who resembles me, because I was awesome! Okay, it was me, but it was during my baby shark days when I was still developing and learning the ropes of football. When the coach called me into the game, after someone got hurt, I thought I was dreaming, and remained on the bench with my eyes and mouth wide open. I think I missed the next play because I was so caught up in the moment of hearing my name called. When my spaceship finally landed back on earth, I ran on the field and actually exceeded everyone’s expectations, including my own. After the game, I was assigned as a starting player for the remainder of the season, but my coach told me to appreciate the moment and opportunity, and never let it cause me to become haughty and high-minded. Although I was granted the privilege of being a major part of our team’s future success, it could all be taken away if my character and behavior didn’t meet the coach’s expectations.

In God’s plan of redemption, the Jews were His starting players. They were the first to be blessed in the Gospel, and had access to God’s gameplan. Because of their unbelief in God’s plan, they were benched in place of the Gentiles, or scrubs. The apostle Paul helped the Gentiles gain a better understanding of their new position on God’s team, in our text. Their elevation came at the expense of the Jews’ demotion, so Paul warned them not to boast of their being accepted of God in the place of the Jews. The same way my coach could have sent me back to the bench if I allowed pride to control my behavior, is just how God could’ve removed the Gentiles from their position, if they had boasted in their new role.

God still loves His starting players, the Jews, and will engraft them back into their previous position, but they must first change their behavior, and make a choice to follow His gameplan over their own. The body of Christ is composed of many members, yet remains one team. Play your position well, or you’ll get benched for the next man up, until you get your act together.

Walk in love,

Ell

All peoples saved by faith

Romans 11:25-36

The cares of life can become so cluttered in our minds until we, at times, have to take a few steps back, and look at life from a bird’s eye view. Between working jobs where you get little to no recognition for all the sacrifices you make, to simply trying to live a godly life, it’s easy sometimes to lose focus of the bigger picture. Although believers have been saved from sin, by grace, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we still have to maintain balance in our natural and spiritual lives, until Christ returns. It’s important that those who claim to be born-again believers, keep their lives aligned with godliness at all times, because many who are lost in their sins need to see what a true follower of Christ looks like. Many know what the Bible entails, but they are more influenced by witnessing godliness with their own eyes.

Christians are to prove their salvation by the way they live. I often say, “you can make your mouth say anything, but your actions reveal what’s in the heart”. There are many in the world today who are blinded by the mysteries of godliness, due to their submission to the world’s standard of living. If only they would taste, and see that the Lord is mmm mmm goooood! The apostle Paul takes a moment to boast in the Lord, in this text, as he acknowledges the depth of the riches both of God’s wisdom, and knowledge. Men today think they’re so smart, and some are to certain extents, but man’s wisdom when compared to the wisdom of God is senseless. The God who extends the free gift of salvation to all peoples is in a league of His own. He is the full embodiment of love, His mercies endure forever, His grace is sufficient, the Heavens declare His glory, and the firmaments show His handiwork.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:7-10). The world needs to see the manifestation of changed lives through the believers. We are the ones who make God attractive, or an afterthought in the eyes of others. Live your life making sure you represent God well. Boast in His power, make His name glorious, so that others will be drawn to Him from the wonderful testimonies of our godly living.

Walk in love,

Ell

Israel’s rejection not final

Romans 11:1-10

Parents who love their children, try hard to keep them in line and focused on doing things the right way. Even when discipline is required to correct or teach them a lesson, they apply it as necessary, but only for the purposes of making their children better for themselves, and their future. No matter how far away a child may stray from the training and teaching of their parents, love will never allow mom, dad, or legal guardians to ever give up on, nor disown their child. Being rejected sucks, and I’m uncertain how a parent feels while experiencing this from their child, but no matter how long it takes, a good parent will wait until the end of times to welcome their weary child back home. It’s unfortunate that some children never find their way back home, but this doesn’t stop a parent from loving, and covering them in prayer, that God keep them safe as they wander in the wilderness.

Of all the people and nations on the earth in the beginning, God chose Israel to represent Himself, and His agenda to the world. Israel was no better than any other nation, and God could have selected anyone, but He picked the Jews simply because He wanted to. As His chosen people, Israel started out well (as young babes clinging to their mother), but began to stray away when other influences presented to them different ideas and beliefs. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Hebrews 12:6). God loves His chosen people, despite the fact that many have rejected Him. Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs, “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:12). Although there are many Jews who have separated themselves from God’s original plan for them, there remains a remnant, according to the election of grace. It’s because of God’s grace, everyone has the opportunity to believe in Him, although many elect not to. How a person chooses to live, God will not keep them from doing so. Israel had become blinded through rebellion, and God gave them the spirit of slumber; eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear. God indeed loves His people, but He’ll never dishonor the decisions they choose to make, no matter how detrimental they may be to their eternal future.

One thing I love about God is, He has patience that allows Him to wait as long as it takes, for those who are lost to come back into the fold of safety. The single most powerful thing we hold as humans is, choice. How we choose to live, will determine our quality of life on the earth, as well as for eternity. God created us, and loves us unconditionally, but we have a duty to fulfill our love assignment by staying true to His Word, will, and way. Even when we reject the purpose God predestined for our lives, He doesn’t give up on us. Instead, He has enough patience to wait for everyone to turn back to Him, and walk in obedience to His plan. Many have made up their minds to continue in disobedience, and I can only hang my head down for them, but to those who are tired of living in sin, and trying to live outside of the safety of God’s divine confines, I urge you to come back home, where there’s an endless supply of love, peace, provision, and protection.

Walk in love,

Ell

Testimony of God’s grace

Acts 20:17-24, 32

To what extent would you go to win souls for the kingdom of God? Are you fully committed to the cause of Christ, and serve with all humility of mind, or do you wear the title Christian, because of the supposed popularity that comes with it? Being born-again of the Spirit, means that Christians, from that point on, are given an assignment to do the works of Christ. Just as we work faithfully and diligently on our jobs for employers who care little to nothing about our eternal future, we are to strive even harder to fulfill the works God commanded us to do. Many of us are overly committed to our earthly jobs, so much until we rarely miss a day, and even choose to work when we are scheduled to be off. Some of us even abuse our physical bodies while working when we should be resting. We invest so much time to make another man’s business prosper, while at the same time, neglecting to build up the kingdom of God. Think on that for a moment. God gives us life, health, strength, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, love, and all the other heavenly characteristics that flow from His presence, but we use all those amazing qualities to work a job that does nothing to promote kingdom business. I’m not oblivious to the fact that work is necessary in our society, but I’m only stressing that we should not work so hard for a check, and forget that our spiritual assignments will determine our eternal reward.

The apostle Paul set a good example of how believers should carry themselves as children of God. After his conversion from sinner to saint, he went full throttle for the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, without letting off the gas pedal. His life and experiences outlined what every believer would eventually face during their mission for the Lord. Being apt to teach, with an unprecedented zeal for serving God, Paul kept back nothing that would profit the churches he ministered to, even in the face of persecution. This behavior is foreign to those today who push the “prosperity gospel”, and willingly take from the church, rather than pour into them.

Our lives are to be testimonies of repentance toward God, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and all the great things God has done through and for us. The world should see a difference between the church and themselves. They should feel uneasy when you come around, not from a feeling of mistrust or confusion, but from conviction of the things that separate them from godliness. Love not the world, neither the things in the world, but love the people God created, so much until you’ll not let a moment go by without offering them a few words that could change their lives forever. Let your life be a living testimony for others to see that if God can use you to do great things on the earth, and reserve a place for you in His kingdom, then He awaits to do the same for them as well.

Walk in love,

Ell