Attitude…it’s YOUR choice!

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Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Eph 4:29-32)~ Have you ever heard someone talking about they can’t help being the way they are – that the circumstances of their life’s history and other people make them bitter and resentful and unkind and moody toward others? Okay…being very frank here…that’s a lame and lazy excuse to be able to hold on to that negative attitude. Being negative, bitter and cynical; saying ‘no’ to a positive light affords one the opportunity to just say ‘no’ and sit there with their arms folded and their lip stuck out and they don’t have to do anything else…. they get to be ugly and do nothing… and yes, they ‘could’ help it… they CHOSE to be bitter! There are plenty of us that have tough lives (man born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble – Job 14:1). Being kind though is the CHOICE that God wants us to make. Kindness is a CHOICE we get to make to share what we have with someone in need. It’s a CHOICE to encourage someone with a sincere compliment. God cares just that much how we treat each other. In Matthew 25:31-40, Jesus talks about people’s treatment of one another; and since He lives in us, what we do to each other we in turn do to Him. Thinking about it then: As you flaunt around your bad attitude at people, would you carry such a nasty disposition to our Lord? As you cuss out that person, would you cuss Jesus that way? As you abuse that person, would you abuse our Savior that way? How do you have it within you to mistreat that person and the Son of God so brutally? All lying, and corrupt language, that stir up evil desires and lusts, grieve the Spirit of God. Corrupt passions of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil-speaking, and malice, provoke the Holy Spirit. We should beware of all such demeanor. Ask God to help you make the CHOICE to be kind, especially when you don’t feel like it. It is our duty to seek, by the blessing of God, to bring others to think truthfully, seriously and positively; and to encourage others by our conversation; not belittle and tear them down with ridicule and disrespect. Being kind one to another sets forth the principle of love in the heart, and the outward expression of it, in a humble, courteous behavior. Would you want other people to treat you that way? Would you want Jesus to be treated that way?  Talk about tough lives… Jesus was TOTALLY innocent but HE took on the burden of sins for the WORLD… Yet HE loves everybody!!! Choose your Attitude! 

What excuse is there? Absolutely NONE!!!

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Yet again it rears its ugly head!!! Unfortunately, Racism will not go away anytime soon– despite all the efforts from people to proclaim our society as post-racial. We keep seeing examples like this ugliness… right in our own neighborhoods… THIS one was on a military base in Tennessee!!! The very fact that someone who represents our military, that by the way reports to a commander in chief that happens to be of the same race represented by what hangs in effigy, would do such a thing, shows you just how disrespectful people are today and how low a value is placed on human life just because the race is different!

A sad truth is that the more people start to realize the power of their ugly, bigoted words and actions… The more they just keep USING them; No matter what the extreme, from laughing at or posting a stereotypical joke on social media to committing a hate crime because we have that nagging urge to dislike someone that’s not like us. Racism is more prevalent today than it ever was and if not for the laws protecting the human rights of the targets of this ugly cancer of society, things would be much worse. The only reason the crimes aren’t any worse is because the fear of retaliation or punitive recourse holds force.

People, we need to go above our horrible base instincts of ignorance and lay off the acts steeped in belittling a culture other than our own. There is NOT ONE justifiable reason for racism to exist!!! There is NO EXCUSE for the ugliness that happens: If “whoever” is good enough for God then they have to be good enough for the “people” of God! Jesus is not looking at the color of someone’s skin but the condition of their heart. Why would God bring the nations and races and souls together in Heaven but keep them separate on Earth? Being “unequally yoked” isn’t about race, it’s about religion. Jesus has interracial marriages in his lineage. Are you better than Him? It doesn’t matter that your ancestors have been this way for generations…. we love to bring up what happened hundreds of years ago as our reason for not liking someone. Half of us don’t understand or even TRY to understand why, we just do it because it’s the way our families or our communities have been all of our lives…no wonder things are so backwards!!! When your family values are rooted in sin, it’s time to change your family values. Nobody’s born a bigot; it’s a learned behavior. This behavior always leads to us treating people how Jesus would never treat people. Hatred, Unforgiveness, Anger, Arrogance, Racism… not liking the person because their skin is a different color, their beliefs and heritages are different, their likes and dislikes don’t match ours…these things are always rooted in ignorance. We need to Stop defending the ignorance…. we really aren’t any better than the next person! Just END IT NOW!!! For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to EVERY man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another (Rom 12:3-5).

There will be a point when it’s time to break away from your Crew, Buddies and Friends

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He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed (Prov 13:20)~  I guess another way of putting it…Birds of a feather flock together. Regardless of the way you word it, the outcome still means the same. One of the biggest challenges of a person’s life is peer pressure. Growing up, we were (hopefully) taught how important it was to be around the right people to avoid ending up in the wrong place. Those of us who listened to our ‘teachers’ weren’t often in the popular crowd! But I’ve learned (time and time again) that God’s plan for our progress is rarely popular (or convenient). But I’ve also learned that He blesses those who are willing to do and align with what others won’t… Him! Therefore I’m energized when I think on Romans 12:2 (be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind) because the world makes us think we’re supposed to be this way or that way and we look for people that are the way we think we are supposed to be and get in deep with them…just because everybody’s doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for you…or right at all! But in a renewed mindset I know that it’s okay to not necessarily “fit in” with the crowd. When we stand different from “the crowd” and stand for the things of God, we walk with a different crowd…we adopt a truly foundational element of walking in wisdom. With this wisdom we experience some amazing things with God. When we choose to align with the right people, it results in us ending up in the right places. It’s not only about who you know, but who you keep company with!

The costs of forgiveness are investments in true freedom ->

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Forgiveness. It’s a basic concept for every Christian. This is the message of the “Good News”: through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, God offers us forgiveness. Christ took on our sins so we could be reconciled with God, now and eternally. Our sins will no longer be held against us, and we are free from condemnation! Although forgiveness is offered to us as a free gift, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost us something. How could something free cost us something? Although God’s forgiveness is free, we may not choose to accept it because of the costs. The debt of our sin is paid, but accepting the Lord’s forgiveness costs us some things we may not be willing to abandon. 

It costs us our dignity to admit our sin — that we are helpless before God without Christ’s redemption. We would do anything to save face rather than stand before God and confess our sins and accept His forgiveness. We like to believe we can pay our own way to redemption. It is humbling to come before God, desperate for His grace. 

Forgiveness also costs us our unbelief. Jesus often told men and women who came to Him, “Your faith has made you well.” There are so many of us who believe in the concept of forgiveness but can’t accept it for ourselves. There is something—an abortion, sexual sin, a mistake with a child, divorce — (insert your sin here), where we allow ourselves to believe it’s beyond God’s desire and ability to forgive. God’s forgiveness just doesn’t make sense to our logical minds. Intuitively, we know that when we have sinned, we deserve consequences. Without realizing it, we often “sentence ourselves” to periods of depression and guilt to compensate for what we have done. We may sabotage relationships and gifts that could bring us pleasure because we know we don’t deserve such good things. This is why it requires faith to walk in this truth: “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

Forgiveness costs us our sense of justice. If God promises to forgive me, then His redemption is also available to people who have done horrible things. That means forgiveness is possible for murderers, child abusers, and others who we believe deserve the hottest places in hell. On a more personal level, it means extending forgiveness to people who have hurt us deeply. Forgiveness fights against every desire we have for justice. Embracing forgiveness doesn’t mean ignoring our cry for justice. Instead, by faith, we put our faith in a righteousness that is beyond our understanding. 

God asks us, not as a condition for our own forgiveness, but in turn, to forgive others just as we have been forgiven. While walking in forgiveness is costly, refusing to accept or extend it has a much higher price tag. It is really hard to forgive, whether it is forgiving yourself or others. We all could use some help learning to do it better. Learning to forgive is good for both our mental and physical health. When we are better at forgiveness, we experience lower stress, tension, levels of depression, anxiety, and, perhaps most important, anger. When we have trouble being able to forgive, we hold in anger, resentment, and bitterness that can harm us in multiple ways and at multiple levels. Although it may seem to cost too much to embrace it, true forgiveness is the only gateway to freedom — freedom to love deeply and to live authentically.

Indeed the costs of forgiveness are the investments of true freedom.  

Surrender and Submission – Not Acts of Weakness, but Signs of Strength!

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Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:7-10)~ Submit to God; Submit your understanding to the truth of God; surrender your wills to the will of His precepts, the will of His providence. Submit yourselves to God, for He is ready to do you good. If we yield to temptations, the devil will continually follow us; but if we put on the whole armour of God, and stand out against the enemy, he will leave us. Let sinners then submit to God, and seek His grace and favor; resisting the devil, and the Lord will not refuse to comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who humbles himself before Him. Submitting to God means you will have to give up ‘you’…you will have to surrender your ways, desires and life… you will surrender your control to the control of His will. So often we are afraid of surrender. We fear giving up everything. We think we have to be in full control and rather than trust the guidance of His will, we look for what the world approves of. We think that giving our lives to God means we now have a mundane and boring life and that life as we ‘knew’ it is over.  Truth is, surrender to God is the beginning of an amazing ride. It means the trusting of God to show up in amazing ways and provide incredible opportunities and blessings in your life. It means a sweet relationship with Jesus that you just didn’t have before. Surrender is the beginning of your life, not the end. It is not an option, but a calling. But you have to quit making life about you. The world wants us to focus on self love and gratification. God’s calling says love Him and love our neighbor! Lay everything (your life & plans) on the table and entrust it to God. Isn’t He more than worthy of your trust? Isn’t He greater than any other to hold your life and heart? Isn’t it time you tried His way since your way has always left something to be desired? Are you strong enough to surrender?

God’s way or the World’s way! Make a choice!

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Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Ps 1:1); Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Prov 4:23)~~ Today’s world is full of drama and mess. Trouble is widespread and popular in today’s culture, with bolder and more aggressive exposure than ever before. Its catalysts are everywhere, and the various media promote them at all times in most attractive ways. Today’s world creates situations to make things that are positive into negative, the negative look positive, turn the truth into a lie and make what was a lie the truth. The wiles of evil are so crafty that they are setup to attract us toward things that are really not good for us, making them look right for us…only to find out after we’ve “dabbled” despite our doubts and better convictions, that we are in a world of drama, trouble and mess.

This is why it’s so important to guard your heart and stay on point with what’s good and true! When we keep our hearts and minds involved in trouble, mess and drama, it’s no wonder that our lives are in just that. The state of our hearts and minds comes from thoughts and affections from inputs. If you feed it holy and noble material, you will have a holy and noble heart. If you feed it the television, magazines, books, music, philosophy, images, and friends of this world, you will decline to the world’s ways. You will think like the world and be vulnerable to its sinful advances. We must reject the advances of the drama-filled lifestyle and it’s activities. Trouble, mess and drama do not occur in noble places, while engaged in noble activities. Certain places and lifestyles will seduce and trap you with enormous temptations to sacrifice your virtue to where you cannot escape. You will walk yourself into hell! Stay away from the cares of this world and its activities! Exercise your heart and mind in spiritual and noble directions; do not let it slip to carnal and lascivious ways. Want your life to be free of trouble, mess and drama? Then stop associating with it; stop dealing in it; stop going where it exists and stop allowing it into your life and home. Want to stay out of trouble? Stay out of trouble!!

Rather than cast us down, the Love of God lifts us up! – ->

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For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom 7:19, 23-24); Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me (Ps 142:7)~ The knowledge of our own shortcomings produces levels of guilt within us that can be so strong as to make us feel like God would rather discard us by the wayside than have us under His hand. Some of us have gone to the extremes of even imposing certain punitive acts upon ourselves whether in guilt or as our misunderstood interpretations of penance for our failings. When we sit down to think it over, the lies of the enemy will drive us to self-hatred and self-destruction as we look at ourselves as undesirable and unusable to God.

Friend, be comforted! You are never beyond the love of God (Rom 8:38-39) for the Word says there is NO condemnation to those that are in Christ (Rom 8:1). There can be no situation so distressing or dangerous, in which faith will not get comfort from God by prayer. Rather than show our troubles too much to ourselves, dwelling on them, which does us no service; we find comfort, by showing them to God, that we might cast the cares upon Him who cares for us, and thereby ease ourselves. Never should we allow any complaint to ourselves or others, which we cannot make to God. When our spirits are overwhelmed by distress, and filled with discouragement; when we see snares laid for us on every side, while we walk in His way, we may reflect with comfort that the Lord knows our path. Those who in sincerity take the Lord for their God, find Him all-sufficient, as a Refuge, and as a Portion: every thing else is a plot of the enemy; a refuge of lies, and a portion of no value.

It is our duty and of our interest to beg of God to set us at liberty from our transgressions, that we may run the way of His commandments. The Lord delivers us from the powerful persecutions of sin, and yet deals bountifully with us! He raised the crucified Redeemer to the throne of glory, and made Him Head over all things in Heaven and Earth. Now we, the convinced sinner have His salvation over our cries for help, and we are brought to praise the Lord in the company of His redeemed; delivered from this evil world, from sin and death, to worship our Savior forever!