Seek His Face

I hope you’ve formed, and continue to cultivate, a consistent prayer life. Prayer is integral to the health of every believer. To have a strong relationship with someone you have to be in communication with them. That is why long-distance relationships often fail. Believers should not have a long-distance relationship with God. We should have a close one. But when you pray, what are you praying for? Are you always coming to God with your hand out, or are there times where you come to him just to seek his face? Check out this psalm - this prayer that David wrote for our God. In Psalm 86 verse 11 we find these words:

"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."

When Solomon was to become king, his request to God was for wisdom. And God was pleased to find that Solomon’s request wasn’t for something selfish, like riches or victory over his enemies. His request for wisdom was so that he could righteously and wisely rule God’s people. In this psalm, David asks God to help him in his walk. He asks for an undivided heart. How do you think requests like these make God feel? The next time you pray, I encourage you to put aside your prayer list and to seek God’s face, not his hands. Give him praise, worship him, adore him, and like David, ask him for things not for yourself, but for things like an undivided heart that will better help you in your relationship with him.

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There is a little girl in Haiti that I try to visit about once a year. When I see her, I’m often bearing gifts that I hope will put a smile on her face. But what always floors me is that when I see her, she is much more interested in spending time with me than playing with any gifts that I brought her. And as a father figure to her, nothing makes me happier. Think about how God feels if all you want to talk to him about are your needs or the needs of your family and friends. Sure, God wants you to bring these requests to him, but how much more joy do you think you would bring him if all you wanted to do was spend time with him? In encourage you to make efforts to seek God’s face, and not only his hands. Pray for things like an undivided heart. Pray for things that will put a smile on God’s face.

Grace of God

If you are a believer, what led you to Christ? Was it the fear of hell, or the love of God? In my mind, those are the two leading factors of one coming to the faith; fear and love. But I wonder if the salvations that are strongest at the start are those that give their lives to Christ out of love; love for the grace of God. Any reason to come to Christ is a good one, but the bible teaches us that it is the grace of God that not only brings salvation, but also teaches us to remain faithful to him by saying “no” to sin. Titus chapter 2 verses 11 and 12 says this:

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,"

It is often God’s love and grace that brings us to lasting repentance. Because once we understand grace, I believe our heart softens to God’s way of thinking. His grace offers us salvation, but it also teaches us to remain faithful. Ask yourself, would you rather be led by the stick or the carrot? Would you rather be pressured, punished or coerced into doing what’s right, or would you rather be driven by the desire to please and align yourself with the one who has encouraged, loved, and sacrificed himself for you? I always encourage you to say “no” to ungodliness. But if the fear of hell hasn’t been enough to keep you on track, I encourage you to try the grace of God.

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It is the grace of God that can teach us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions. The grace of God can help us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives even in this present age. Those are words lifted directly from the bible. Everyone needs a healthy fear of the Lord, but I encourage you to focus most of your energy on the grace of the Lord. His love for you is a strong agent to remain faithful to him. When you think about the things you love about those you love, doesn’t it make you love them all the more? I encourage to continue to think about what you love about our heavenly Father. Love of him and his grace can be the key to setting you free if you are in bondage. After all, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commands”. Looking through the lens of Titus 2, that could be less of a warning and more of an answer as to how to stay faithful.

Watch Your Life

Even if you are a believer and consider yourself to be a follower of Christ, you still may not think of yourself an evangelist. But even though you might not preach from the pulpit or the street corner, and even though you may not knock on doors or pass out tracts, you are still an ambassador of Christ. Your very life can be a testimony to him and his work within you. Every believer, whether they want to admit it or not, is in fact a living testimony of their faith. Sometimes our life can glorify Christ, and other times it may not. But we need to continue to be on guard and watch our life closely so that we reflect Christ when others observe us. First Timothy chapter 4 verse 16 says:

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

I’ve heard it say that we should preach the word of God to everyone, and when necessary, use words. That implies that our life is always on display. And if we identify with Christ, then our life, and in truth our “doctrine”, may be scrutinized. The bible says that if we persevere in our efforts to live a life that lines up with the word of God then we will save both ourselves and our hearers - or in some cases our “watchers”. So I encourage you with the words from first Timothy; “Watch your life and doctrine closely, persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers”.

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One of the biggest turn offs for unbelievers of Christianity is hypocritical Christians; when we display hate, judgment, sin or any act that is contrary to the Spirit. We need to live what we believe whether it be in public or private; whether we think people are watching or not. The love and the likeness of Christ should shine through our human short-comings so that when others see us, they see him. But of course, we are not perfect. We can’t be on our “A” game all of the time. Though in as much as it is possible with us, we need to strive to not become a stumbling block to those who are searching. On the contrary, we should be the light of Christ. So I encourage you to watch your life and your doctrine closely. Because you may be the only reflection of Christ that someone may see.

Written For You

Belief in Jesus is everything. Without the faith to believe that he is the messiah prophesied about in the bible; the one who is the Son of God who came to take away the sin of the world; without this kind of faith, we would be dead in our sin. That is why the bible exists and that is why the account of Jesus’ life was written down. John puts it this way in chapter 20 verses 30 and 31:

"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

The bible doesn’t exist for historic purposes. It wasn’t assembled and inspired of God so that we could form a religion. It was written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”. I encourage you to revisit the gospels; the first four books of the new testament. Read the account of Jesus. Hear from the Son of God himself. Allow the Spirit to remind you, or show you for the first time, the love of God and the plan he devised so that sinners like you and me can be saved. Read and gleam from the scriptures the truth that is intended for you to understand that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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The account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were recorded so that we might believe and be saved. We don’t have to rely on oral stories told from generation to generation throughout history. We have the written account. The words we read have not changed for thousands of years, and are as powerful as they were when they were first pinned. It holds just as much power for you and me as it did for our great great grandparents. And after we die, it will hold just as much power for our children and our grandchildren. I encourage you to reverence the holy bible. It was written for you and me. It was written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in his name.

Enemy of God

Have you ever heard the term, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”? We always want to have it both ways don’t we? We want to eat whatever we want, yet not gain any weight. We want to have expensive clothes and the latest tech gadgets, but we don’t want it to hurt our bank accounts. We want get away with neglecting our responsibilities at work and still get a raise or promotion. We want to have the best of both worlds with the consequences of neither. But one thing that life teaches us is that, more often than not, we can’t have it both ways. With God, that truth is even more stark and the results are even more devastating. In James chapter 4 verse 4 it says:

"You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

As the cultural temperature in America becomes more and more friendly with sin and reject more and more the values of God, we, as believers, must choose a side. We must decide who we will align our hearts with. Because even if we wanted to, we can’t have our cake and eat it to. We can’t have it both ways. James tells us that we are either friends with the world and an enemy of God. Or we are opposed to the philosophy of the world and are dedicated to the way of our creator. Where do you land? Do you find yourself more and more accepting cultural values and philosophies that are contrary to the holy scriptures? You can’t have it both ways, because James warns us that friendship with the world is hatred toward God.

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I love the book of James because he never menses words. He is very blatant and very straight forward. Sometimes his words are hard to hear, but at times, they are exactly what we need to hear. He tells us that friendship with the world is hatred toward God; that when we become friends with the world we also become enemies of God. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t condone and agree with the moralistic and spiritual decay of our society while at the same time truthfully align ourselves with God. So I encourage you to heed this warning from James. With God, sin is sin. There is no gray area. If we begin to agree with the sin that our world says is good, then we automatically become enemies of God.