Tag: integrity

Suddenly Moments

What do you do when you are having a bad day? Do you ever just worship God? Give thanks, glory or praise? Understandably being the humans that we are—this is not always our default reaction.

But I want to challenge you to step out of your normal default box and into the realm of suddenly moments—that result in God shaking our life to its very core and bringing about change.

I heard an amazing message—totally worth repeating—on Acts 16. Follow along with me as I reiterate what was happening and how God—our Knight in shining armor suddenly comes to save the day.

Paul and Silas, in the will of God—directed by Him—went to Macedonia. As they were lingering in Philippi, they met a God-fearing woman named Lydia who on hearing the Word of the Lord believed with all her heart, as a result she and her household were baptized and insisted the men stay at their home. At this point all is going well, Paul’s preaching—God’s moving and they are invited to stay and be cared for, in a rather nice place. Acts 16:6-15

One day on the way to prayer a demon possessed psychic, slave girl, started following them around, drawing attention to them by yelling out “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!”

Paul, not wanting to be in agreement with her or to be identified as being with her, ignored her for a few days then finally when too annoyed he cast the demon out of her. The slave girl was suddenly free and her owners very upset—their lucrative little business had come to an end. Consequently, Paul and Silas were dragged into the market place—they were lied about and accused, causing the crowd to turn into an angry gang. Their clothes were torn off and they were ordered to be severely beaten and thrown into prison, under high security wearing leg irons.  Acts 16:16-24

Paul and Silas—bloody and beaten, sit chained in prison. Would you say they were having a bad day? Absolutely!

What did they do? Did they accuse God of unfaithfulness by whining and complaining?

No—just the opposite! Paul and Silas were found praying and worshipping.

What would you do?

I love how Paul and Silas handled the situation! Their default heart and soul reaction was to pray and worship God—in doing so they were giving thanks.

I pray our default heart reaction would be to silence the mouth of the accuser and give thanks by worshipping God.

How? Why? Because the truth is—He is always good. We must train our heart and soul to worship and give thanks according to truth—not circumstance.

This is when the suddenly moments of God’s faithfulness rule our life.

What happens next in Acts 16:25-26 is the cry of our heart.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! Paul and Silas’ worship caused God to shake the very foundations and set the prisoners free—the scripture says immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Not just our own freedom from the prisons we find ourselves inoccurs when we worship, but freedom for others as well.

I don’t know about you but I need and want God to suddenly shake the foundation of various situations in my life and in the life of those I love and care about.

This Word from the book of Acts has brought fresh understanding to the scripture in 2 Thessalonians 5:18

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Please be encouraged to grab ahold of and own this concept. Worship God, giving Him thanks in every situation—lifting our eyes from life and circumstances to the God of the impossible—the One who can suddenly shake any situation and change the landscape of impossible surroundings.

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Character Matters

A solid foundation for life is established by our character. Ponder that a moment. If you really think about it—many of life’s issues are weighed and measured by our character—it determines the paths we take and the choices we make. Consequently, it also determines the choices and opinions of other people in regard to us and our life.

Character defined as:  A combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person or thing. Distinguishing quality and characteristic; moral force, ethical quality and integrity of a person.

Excellent character sustains the blessings in our life. I have this concept I call the “sieve theory.” It unfolds as this—God in His goodness continually pours blessings on us—His children. If our character is weak then our ability to possess, preserve and sustain these blessing is inept. A character of poor quality resembles a sieve. Unfortunately, questionable character rots the bottom out of our life and sadly, blessings fall straight through.

How many times has God blessed us with a relationship, a job, money or an opportunity where unstable character ruined all our probabilities?

The sieve theory has operated in my life more times than I choose to count or remember!

A great way to excel in good character is to notice the word nature in the definition of the word character. The definition says “A combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person.” Our nature is who we are fundamentally—at our core. Have you ever heard someone say “That’s just the way I am” this statement is in reference to the nature of a person.

One of the things I love about knowing God is the exchange He has made available to us at the cross. Exchanging our nature with Jesus’ nature is one of the first and most ongoing actions we as disciples of Christ partake in.

No matter who we are, where we come from or what we have been through—our nature does not have to stay the same. We have the amazing privilege to shed off our old nature and take on the nature of Christ. This is the essence of true Christianity—you have got to love this—how fortunate we are!

Having a house full of young adults is very interesting—we are at the stage where some are interested in finding a spouse. When it comes to my children finding a spouse, I never thought it would be such a huge process! But being on this end—where I’m a concerned parent whose been married for 31 years—knowing the intricate workings of marriage—and the sieve theory—it’s a big deal! Why? Because what we want from our kids before they marry is excellent and solid character. And the character we are looking for in a mate is nothing less than blameless and unwavering.

Fortunately, God has set my heart at ease. He’s done this by showing me that the most important character trait that we are expecting in our children and in a mate for them—is not necessarily a virtue—but what we are looking for is—how much they know and love God.

For a heart truly relinquished and sold out to God, His will and His purposes, will possess all the godly and moral character traits one could ever ask for. A person with this conviction will continually exchange their nature for God’s nature.

Thank God—all the world’s problems are solved—all we have to do is be Christ Like!

Please be encouraged to know and love God with all your heart and soul, in doing so you can’t help but to throw off your old sinful nature and take on the character of Christ.

Ephesians 4:21-23

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

1 Peter 1:3-8

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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!

Skillful Living 101—13 Correction

Correction. A common thread throughout Proverbs 13.

It seems an almost unacceptable concept and such an abrasive word these days. We live in a culture that does not want to be corrected, convicted or disciplined—no just pacified with an extreme illusion of grace.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a grace person—I couldn’t live without it. In my less mature stages of life, I used grace—basically as a pass to do what I wanted and to view Christianity from my own narrow perspective. As I’ve grown in understanding of the fear of the Lord and the Bible, I now know grace to be the wind beneath the wings, of my obedience to God’s will.

Proverbs 13 starts and ends with guidance on discipline, obedience, correction and rebuke. By now we see that the entire book of Skillful Living (Proverbs) is saturated with scriptures referring to these topics. The Lord is speaking to us— instructing us, for our own good, to be wise and embrace understanding, discipline, correction, rebuke and instruction.

The following six verses from Proverbs 13 portray the importance of submitting to correction.

Verse 1—A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.

Verse 10—Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.

Verse 13—People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.

Verse 14—The instruction of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death.

Verse 18—Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored. (NKJ)

Verse 24—Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.

Proverbs 13:24 bluntly states, if parents do not discipline their children—then they hate them! Pretty drastic don’t you think? Let’s face it—God’s Word is radical. (To be honest that’s one reason I love it so much!)

Some may protest—how can God the Father, the God of love, discipline or rebuke His children??? Essentially it’s because of love that He disciplines us—otherwise He’d hate us!

God the Father cares enough for us that He will discipline, convict, correct and rebuke us, so that we can be humble and wise. Please do not get caught up in the devil’s plan and get offended by this.

Hebrews 12:7
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

Proverbs 3:12
My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you.  For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

It’s truth—it’s Bible!

Be encouraged to embrace God’s love by accepting correction—you’ll be all the wiser if you do!

Skillful Living Tools:

  • Embrace God’s correction
  • View grace as that which helps you obey God’s will
  • Be humble—take advice
  • Respect a command
  • Accept instruction—avoid the snares of death
  • Regard a rebuke and be honored
  • Love your children enough to discipline them
  • Stay clear of offense
  • Endure divine discipline
  • Don’t get upset when God corrects you

Please share with those who need to live skillfully!

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

Skillful Living 101—11 Righteousness

The common thread woven throughout Proverbs 11 is righteousness. Righteousness is a vital element to living skillfully. But what is righteousness and how do we acquire it?  

The definition for righteousness is: integrity, virtue, purity of life, correctness of thinking, feeling and acting, holiness; purity; uprightness. The state of being in right standing with God; the condition acceptable to God.

Too bad we can’t just take a righteousness pill, be righteous and therefore live skillfully! No, it’s never that easy, besides if we could it would not fill our void for right standing with God or for right living. Anything of value has to be attained by expense. In the case of righteousness we exchange our way of living and being accepted by God for His way of being righteous.

Matthew 5:6 says,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

We have to desire to be righteous, crave it so much that we hunger and thirst for it. Have you ever been hungry or thirsty to the point of embarrassment? You grab for food like a savage, not even bothering to use utensils! You guzzle water as it pours down your chin and neck! How many times as American Christians have we ever been this hungry and thirsty for integrity, virtue, purity and holiness? Or how many times have we been famished for intimate relationship with God?

Our appetite to be in right standing with God needs be ravenous. Where we throw caution to the wind and no longer care what others think. Because we love God so much and know we have to be in right relationship with Him and nothing else matters.

Jesus displayed His passion for the Father and for us, in this very manner. He did not let people’s opinion, or culture stop Him. He loved us so much He humbled Himself and hung on a cross.

Please be encouraged to acquire such an appetite for righteousness!

Righteousness is so imperative to skillful living that it is mentioned 11 times in Proverbs 11. It would appear very important to God that we obtain it.

Following are the 11 verses pertaining to righteousness and the skillful living tools for Proverbs 11.

Verse 4 “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

Verse 5 “The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness”.

Verse 6 “The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.”

Verse 8 “The righteous is delivered from trouble, and it comes to the wicked instead.”

Verse 9 “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.”

Verse 10 “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; and when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.”

Verse 18 “The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.”

Verse 19 As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.”

Verse 21“Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; but the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.”

Verse 23 “The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”

Verse 28 “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.”

Verse 30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”

Verse 31 “If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner.”

Skillful Living Tools:

  • Acquire an appetite for righteousness
  • Let righteousness direct your path
  • Sow righteousness—reap a reward
  • Desire the fruit of righteousness
  • Be wisewin souls

Please share with those who need to live skillfully!

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