Saturday, October 30, 2010

Character: A Spirit of Repentance

The first character trait we will explore is a 'spirit of repentance'. Jesus said that He came to call us to repentance.  His call is for us to exercise a change of mind--a turning from personal motivations to His revealed truth.  Without a doubt that is a most unnatural characteristic.  Only a character built on Christ is able to receive the gift of repentance.  It is a gift which initially brings great pain; but it is pain that is transformed into spiritual character.  The blessing of a spirit of repentance far exceeds the initial suffering.

This gift is a depth of sorrow which impels one to change direction.  Recognizing sin is not the same as repenting.  Too often we see our sins and seek to justify or excuse them.  We may experience regret--sorrow for the consequences but not grief for our pathway.  A Spirit of Repentance recognizes that the choice to walk apart from God's revealed truth is the underlying problem.  Regret sees the problem as the end result or the situation which prompted the diversion from God's path.  Repentance recognizes that God's ways are not situational or conditional; His truth has an integrity that makes His ways work ALL the time. Repentance propels us back to His ways!

Believers in the early church were known to pray for loved ones to receive the 'gift of tears.'  Such a prayer captures the spirit of repentance.  Tears which flow from a heart broken by its own willfulness create a place of growth.  God's grace and mercy sprouts bountifully in a heart softened by repentance.  May we all receive this Spirit with confident hope in Christ and be transformed!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Today's promise comes from 2 Corinthians 3:18.  Deliberately seeking the Lord will transform us into His image.  I love the old saying of "Praise God I am not what I was and I am not what I will become!"  Just as God's changeless nature is a rock-solid foundation, so our transformation is a glorious promise.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2 Corinthians 3:18

Character. It is a critical aspect of each individual. Character is the substance of an individual.  We live in a world which encourages us to indulge ourselves and never give a thought to our inner character. It is a tempting encouragement.  Pleasing ‘self’ seems like a good idea.  Unfortunately, though, character is never grown in a soil of pleasure. Character is not found in a church pew or a book.  Character is built through sacrifice and hard choices. It has been said that life is God’s gift to man; what man does with that life is his gift to God. This series will explore the traits that typify Christian character.

It bears stating that human character can be developed outside of Christ. Human character, though, is bound to earthly dimensions. Our focus will be on building godly character upon the hope of the glory of God. If you do not have your heart filled with the beauty of that hope, please take time to visit this blog page Hope of Eternal Glory and/or send me a note. Human character can be impressive--beautiful and even powerful--but it is so limited: DO NOT SETTLE!

God’s Word tells us that character is developed through perseverance. As we trace the source of perseverance, our hearts will tremble—for the source of perseverance is suffering. For the Christian, suffering can be a source of joy BECAUSE the hope of God is a certainty that sustains. The hope of God produces eternal blessing that outweighs and outlasts every heart ache. A character rooted in God’s grace and built on faith in Christ will produce blessing all around!

Next week's character trait:  A spirit of repentance

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Heritage and Legacy

Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. Psalms 119:111

We are each a recipient of a family heritage and we are producing a heritage by the life we live.  Each of us provides a thread in the tapestry of humanity.  We receive characteristics from our ancestry; we are molded by the social culture we are born into.  Yet, God gives us the responsibility and the privilege to choose our heritage.  We are created to be His children and receive the abundance of all He has planned; too often we choose an earthly inheritance--failing to realize the frailty of it!  We fail to realize that any inheritance outside of God's kingdom will lead to death and destruction.  Our lives matter; they are a tremendous gift.  We must invest it for eternity.

The scripture passage this verse is lifted from offers great encouragement to choose wisely.  The Psalmist reminds us that the view which fills the heart with rejoicing focuses upon the testimonies of God.  Eyes fixed on the path illuminated by God's Word will lead us into His abundant blessings.  The testimonies of God will bring joy into our heart as we seek to follow His way.  Perhaps more importantly, the trail we mark for those who walk with us and for those who come behind becomes the heritage we leave!  Our lives count for more than today.  Let's purpose in our hearts to fix our eyes firmly on Jesus claim our inheritance and lead others to the source of legacies of life.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Not by might!

Now here is a promise I love to grab hold of:  Not by might but by my Spirit saith the Lord.  Whew, what a relief:  It is not about ME!  All of our natural life points us toward doing and achieving; all of God's Word points us to His sufficiency.  He is able--and willing--to do more than I can ask or think, let alone 'do.'

This particular promise is found in the book of Zechariah.  It was part of a vision given at a time of discouragement for the recipient:  Zerubabel, a builder for God.  We all become discouraged.  Life is hard.  Loved ones suffer; frail bodies die and grief surrounds us.  Our good intentions fall short and our best efforts often do not scratch the surface of the troubles which afflict us and our friends.  Yet throughout scripture God reminds us that faith in Him is the key to living well.  Faith is the victory that overcomes all that seeks to rob us of our joy.

Is there a situation, a fear or a grief attacking you today?  Turn your eyes to Jesus, trust in His goodness, His power and His love and know that He who has promised is faithful!  This world is not our home; we are on a pilgrimage and He will sustain us as we journey.  Encourage those you are traveling with and feel His power flow through your life.

Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

(Psalms 46:10)

As with all of God's commands, there is a treasure that accompanies obedience.  Heeding the call to 'be still' precedes knowing Him!  Knowing...the deep kind of knowing that transforms the the essence of a relationship with Jesus Christ.  In many ways we live in a culture that 'knows' too much.  The majority of our fellow citizens have received a 'shot' of truth which has inoculated many to true heart penetration.  Knowing Jesus in the depths of our heart will lead us to revere Him.  Simply hearing of Jesus, having facts in the head, simply teases our mind.  We glimpse a beauty, a promise that seems too elusive.  We strive and strive and fail to achieve the vision...because we fail to heed the simple command:  Be still.  We are so convinced that we must 'do' that we think God has failed.  The truth is we have never given Him a chance to reveal Himself. 
God created us with needs that we would come to Him to fill those needs.  We choose to seek to fill the needs in our own way...that is the essence of sin.The needs of our heart drive us to find a way to fill those needs.  Our attempts to meet needs will fail and hurt our hearts -- and others -- when we design our solutions.  Sadly, even when we recognize the inadequacy of our attempts, we often mis-diagnose the problem.  Our natural inclination is to 'do' rather than 'be still', so we simply alter our plan and attempt to meet our needs again.  We are beloved treasures of the Master.  He has a plan for us and we must be still and hear Him.  If your heart is hurting today, sit before Him.  Ask Him to show you that He alone is God.  The solution is not within our own efforts; it is in His power and His love. 
This week perhaps you would be blessed to focus on a name of God:  Elohim.  All of God's names reveal a nugget of truth about who He is!  Elohim is a combination of two Hebrew words which speak of God's unlimited power and His covenant-keeping character.  Our God is a God who is able and committed to keeping the promises He has made.  He is worthy of our trust and awe!