Tag: Be Holy

Skillful Living 101—21 Obedience

How many people like the word obedience? Culture—even Christian culture, considers those who are concerned with obedience to be narrow-minded, old fashioned or too religious. Regardless of what we think about obedience—it is a requirement for living skillfully.

Proverbs 21:3 says,

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

God is pleased with a surrendered, tender and obedient heart, far more than with a heart and life that give service (sacrifice) void of love. This is true in all of life; no matter if we are serving God, family, church or our community—a heart based in the love of God can only pour forth love, righteousness, justice, mercy and grace.

Mark 12:33 tells us that loving God with our whole heart is superior over sacrifice,

And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

What this means is that God is far more concerned with our heart. He’s not into empty rituals, or just going through the motions. He doesn’t want to give us a list of rules to follow so we can be qualified as His. No, He wants relationship—the kind of relationship where we live in obedience—simply because we love Him. Obedience birthed out of love is what keeps us from the empty rituals of Christianity.

Proverbs—the book of skillful living, gives solid advice on how to live in obedience and avoid living a life filled with empty rituals.

Proverbs 21

Verse 2—“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs and tries the hearts.”

  • Commit our way (heart and life) to Lord—obey His directives

Verse 5—“The thoughts of the [steadily] diligent tend only to plenteousness, but everyone who is impatient and hasty hastens only to want.”

  • Obedience to diligence pays off

Verse 9 and 19—“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.” (Deep wisdom here for us ladies!)

  • Our relationship with God needs to be the most important or else everything we do will be an empty ritual
  • If Jesus is not enough—women (and men) become unhappy and quarrelsome
  • We must let the Lord be our source of love and joy or we will be contentious

Verse 10—“The soul or life of the wicked craves and seeks evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.”

  • A blameless person obeys God’s directive to love his neighbor as himself

Verse 13—“Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor will cry out himself and not be heard.”

  • Obedience to God regarding a heart for the needy (both physical and spiritual) is imperative for our own answered prayers

Verse 21—“He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.”

  • Obedience to righteous living results in favor

Verse 29—“Unscrupulous people fake it a lot; honest people are sure of their steps.”

  • Dishonesty is an empty ritual
  • Honesty allows us to be confident

Verse 30—“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord.”

  • There is none like Him
  • There is no one who can stand against Him and win
  • Obedience to God’s authority is essential

Verse 31—“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.”

  • Obedience to complete reliance on God brings deliverance

Skillful Living Tool Box

  • Obedience is a requirement for living skillfully
  • Loving God is superior over sacrifice, Mark 12:33
  • God is not into empty rituals, 1 Samuel 15:22
  • Obedience to diligence pays off
  • Our relationship with God needs to be the most important or else everything we do will be an empty ritual
  • If Jesus is not enough—we become contentious
  • Love your neighbor as your self
  • A heart for the needy is imperative for our own answered prayers
  • Dishonesty is an empty ritual
  • Honesty allows us to be confident
  • Obedience to God’s authority is essential
  • Complete reliance on God brings deliverance

Please be encouraged to embrace obedience—for no reason other than love.

Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. 1 Samuel 15:22

Read and apply all of Proverbs 21 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

 

Skillful Living 101—20 Faithfulness

Have you ever spoken to someone confidentially, only to find out your confidence was betrayed? Or have you yourself been the one not able to hold a confidence?

Unfortunately, sometimes a faithful person is hard to find. In today’s culture faithfulness is not a value or high priority. Why? Because being a faithful person requires us to stretch beyond the norm and live selflessly—where we are not focused on our own needs, wants and desires.

Proverbs 20:6 states

Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?

Basic skillful living requires faithfulness. All day, every day, we are faced with the choice to be faithful. We must be faithful stewards of all God entrusts to us—family, spouse, relationships, work, church, the call of God on our life—faithfulness is required in our heart, soul, spirit and body. We have to be faithful with our words, thoughts, actions and reactions, with money and possessions—the list never ends! Who can do it? I know I struggle. The good news is—faithfulness is an attribute of God—the more time we spend with Him—the more we become like Him.

Ascertaining faithfulness first takes humility—an admission of our lack, then a simple exchange—our lack of faithfulness for His abundant faithfulness. It’s a process that happens layer by layer.

The Book of skillful living—Proverbs, has endless advice on how to be faithful. Something to remember as we glean life skills from the book of Proverbs is that skillful living is not just a cloak we wear, nor is it a to do list. The skillful living the Bible teaches has to embed in our very being, becoming who we are—not just what we do. This is why we need to live the Word not just read it!

We could probably go through every Proverb in Chapter 20 and see how faithfulness applies, but we will look at just a few.

Verse 1—“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

  • My father was a drinker—I was a drinker—anyone who loves or even knows a drinker can attest to the fact that faithfulness is not a high priority in their life. Be wise—don’t be led astray by the seductiveness of drinking—even in its simplest form—it’s a substitute for the fulfillment a deep relationship with God can give.

Verse 7— “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”

  • Faithfulness to righteousness and integrity, cause blessings to fall on us and our family.

Verse 15—“Drinking from the beautiful chalice of knowledge is better than adorning oneself with gold and rare gems.”

  • Be faithful in attaining godly knowledge—then we will truly be rich.

Verse 20— “Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in deep darkness.”

  • Faithfulness to authority can save our life!

Verse 23—“God hates cheating in the marketplace; rigged scales are an outrage.”

  • Be faithful in business—who wants to outrage God?

Verse 27—“The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.”

  • When the light of God illuminates our inner person—may He find faithfulness.

Skillful Living Tools

  • Esteem faithfulness
  • Choose faithfulness over selfishness
  • Basic skillful living requires faithfulness
  • Ascertaining faithfulness takes humility
  • Be wise—don’t be led astray by the seductiveness of alcohol
  • Faithfulness to righteousness and integrity, cause blessings to fall on you and your family
  • Faithfulness to authority can save our life!
  • Be faithful in businessdon’t outrage God
  • God requires faithfulness in our inner person

Please be encouraged to seek, find and apprehend the faithfulness of God for every detail of your life.

Read and apply all of Proverbs 20 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

Skillful Living 101—19 Integrity

It seems at every turn our integrity is being tested, pushed or pulled in some direction or another. It’s no wonder when the core meaning of integrity is to be complete. The devil, the world and our flesh are in full rebellion against complete, sound, whole people. With this in mind we should wholeheartedly pursue integrity.

Others words for integrity are: upright, morally sound, truthful and honest. I have found the integrity that God desires us to have is best displayed when nobody is looking—it’s integrity of the heart, found in the deepest part of who we are. As we become integrious in our inner person—our outward person will follow.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Something that will help us to live in integrity and holiness is the realization that God knows all the thoughts, intentions and motives of our heart and soul—nothing is hidden from Him. This should motivate us! And remember, God in His faithfulness never asks us to do what He won’t equip us for. God will help us be people of integrity—hence we have the book of Skillful Living—Proverbs—our integrity equipping manual!

Proverbs is inundated with advice on how to be people of integrity. Here we review a handful of verses from chapter 19.

Verse 1—“Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”

  • A person of integrity is wealthier than any rich man

Verse 2— “Desire without knowledge is not good, and to be overhasty is to sin and miss the mark.” (AMP)

  • Integrity requires Godly knowledge and wisdom

Verse 3—People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed? MSG

  • Acquire integrity and stop blaming God for the mistakes you make

Verse 9—“The person who tells lies gets caught; the person who spreads rumors is ruined.” (MSG)

  • The integrious are truthful and do not indulge in gossip

Verse 11—“Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.”

  • Integrity will help us restrain from anger
  • The integrious do not embrace offence

Verse 13—“A foolish son is the ruin of his father, and the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.”

  • Train children to have integrity
  • An integrious woman makes a good wife

Verse 16—“He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”

  • Integrity keeps us mindful of our obedience to God

Verse 17—“Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full.” (MSG)

  • People of integrity are merciful

Verse 22—“What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar.”

  • The integrious are kind

Verse 26—“He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.”

  • People of integrity honor their parents

Verse 27—“Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

  • The integrious have an ear to hear God’s voice and the heart to listen

Skillful Living Tools

  • Wholeheartedly pursue integrity.
  • God desires integrity in our inner person
  • God knows the thoughts, intentions and motives of our heart and soul
  • A person of integrity is wealthier than any rich man
  • Acquire integrity and stop blaming God for the mistakes you make
  • Integrity will help us restrain from anger
  • Train children to have integrity
  • An integrious woman makes a good wife
  • People of integrity honor their parents

Please be encouraged to indulge in integrity—we can never have too much!

Read and apply all of Proverbs 19 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

Our Reasonable Service

How do you give the perfect gift to someone who literally has everything? What could we humans—really give to the God who created the universe?

Romans 12:1 says,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.

According to this passage of scripture; in light of what Christ has done for us—given us salvation, unconditional love and endless mercy, grace and blessings—let us respond appropriately. It is our reasonable service to be a living sacrifice. A living sacrifice? Okay—this is a very extreme gift—right?

I once talked to a young man, who considered himself to be a believer, who thought it was. I said “Jesus gave His life for you—died on a cross for you, He wants your heart.” He said “I’ve thought about that, Jesus knew He’d raise from the dead and be in heaven back with His Father, it wasn’t really a huge sacrifice”

Over the years I’ve pondered this mind-set. Essentially it says I don’t owe God anything—especially not to be a living sacrifice.

I think this passage of scripture is one of those that a lot of us just might want to skip. But we can’t take the bless me scriptures and ignore our reasonable service.

What would it look like if Christians actually were living sacrifices?

I’m not saying it is easy to be a living sacrifice, but either was enduring the cross.

Mainly, we need to check our response to this urging assignment from the Word. What is our heart attitude towards God when we know He wants us to live a sacrificial, totally abandoned life-style to Him? This will tell us a lot about our heart.

Our response should stem from our relationship of mutual love with God. Not from duty should we be a living sacrifice, but because of our deep love for Him.

My reasonable service as a wife and mother has to come from my heart of love for my family or else I would burn-out really quick! Why would we painfully bear children, change poopy diapers and endlessly clean, cook and serve unless we love? Why and how does a man work his whole life to provide for his family—if it’s not for love?

It’s no different with God.

Presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice is a form of true worship to God.

Deserting self and all its ambitions—is our first step in reasonable service. Be reminded God will never ask you to do anything He won’t equip you for and the only way you can fail—is to disobey.

Please be encouraged to say yes to God—give Him the gift of wholeheartedly diving into the life-style of being a living sacrifice. In light of the abundant gift of God—it is a very reasonable thing for Him to ask of us.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Is Holiness Out-of-Style?

What do you think? Looking at the church today, would you say that holiness is out-of-style or out dated? What do you think of when you hear the words—Be holy? Do these words sound as if they are something from the Old Testament?—something not for today?

Holiness is not a overly worn, out-of-style outfit—that has lost its value. Neither is it something we outgrow. Just the opposite—the longer we are Christians—we move deeper and further into holiness.

For the sake of clarity, let’s define holy, its definition is: set apart, sacred, endowed with purity, devout, godly, virtuous and consecrated.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross sanctifies us and makes us holy—set apart for God. We all love this fact and rightly so—we gladly embrace this form of holiness. Who wouldn’t want to be forgiven of their sin? Where holiness is seen as outdated is when we realize we are to live a holy lifestyle—on a daily basis. The reason being—it opposes our flesh.

The word holy scares some people. Holy is not a bad four letter word! Holiness has a bad connotation because it’s immediately thought of as no fun and/or religious. Instead of by its truth—set apart.

You may ask—set apart for what?

Set apart for relationship with a most holy God, His Son and the Holy Spirit. Both in the Old and New Testament, scripture says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” The Strong’s Concordance describes this kind of holy as “Likeness of nature with the Lord, different from the world.”

Likeness of nature with the Lord…different from the world—what it does not mean is a list of dos and don’ts. Yes, there are things we should not do because they are not of the nature of God. But as  Christians these behaviors should not be our desire, our desire should be to follow Godly principles, thus be of the same nature with God.

We can’t live a holy life if we regretfully hold ourselves to a list of conducts not to follow. If we are to be of the same nature of God, then we will follow Him and be in relationship with Him, because He loves us and we love Him. This love and this relationship cause us to be holy and to live in right standing with God and vice-versa. The reason we don’t participate in sin, is because it is not pleasing to God and separates us from Him. Our heart is to love and please Him—be with Him and be like Him.

God’s Word is clear we cannot partake in a sinful manner of living, understandably some behavior can be disputed—seeming grey and not really sin…but maybe. This is where holiness gets sticky—when questionable behavior has to be scrutinized, categorized or defended—it’s a no brainer—if it’s questionable—don’t defend it—live without it—starve your flesh and be holy!

We should be glad, not disappointed that we are called to be holy and that we don’t indulge in sinful conduct. We should see it as a safety net—protecting us from a empty lifestyle that never stops craving after its self—a lifestyle that finds pleasure in self-indulgence, not God indulgence.

Religion says “I can’t do this or that because I’m a Christian”—relationship says “I don’t do this or that because I love God.”

God is jealous for us to live holy lives not because He loves rules, but because holiness sets us apart for Him and causes us to draw near to Him—which then causes Him to draw nearer to us.

Holiness is about relationship—not rules. Holiness is only out-of-style if we want to please our sinful nature.

A lot of Christians are stubborn towards holiness. I challenge you to be stubborn in your holiness, not allowing the devil, the world and the flesh to manipulate your life. 

Selfishness is easier and more pleasing to human nature, but this is what sets us apart—we do not live according to human nature but God’s nature. The Church—The Bride of Christ, should be set apart—we should be different. Different, but not weird and religious!

How will we make a difference in this world if we represent rules and not Christ? What will we have to offer that’s different?

 If we love our life so much that we outdate holiness—how will we make a difference—a difference that saves lives?

It is not difficult to be holy nor is it a lofty unattainable lifestyle. God never asks us to do anything or be anyone that He will not equip us to be. He gives grace to the humble—grace is a resource—grace fills in the gaps—it is available to us—for holiness. We just have to want to be holy.

Some Christians use grace as an excuse not to be holy—grace is not an excuse, but an endless supply of assistance and support to live a godly lifestyle.

In a holy lifestyle we do not live overly cautious of our sin, instead we live mindful and in honor of God’s presence and of our relationship with Him. 

I’m not perfect, but I am submitted and really passionate to be in closer relationship with God—I’m passionate for the Church to be in closer relationship with God—therefore I’m passionate about pursuing holiness.

I’m bringing holy back! What about you?

Please be encouraged to BE holy as He is Holy!

Ephesians 5:1-6 “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.”

1 Peter 1:13-16  “So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed. [Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.”