jesus

Character

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Happy New Year!

 Goals are what most people focus on at the beginning of a new year. As I was praying about what to write, I felt I should discuss character. For without good character, success means nothing.

 Character has to do with the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual; a person’s good reputation. Synonyms are: integrity, honor, moral strength, moral fiber, strength, fortitude, backbone, resolve, grit, willpower, reputation.

 In the bible, there are several places that tell us where strength of character comes from.

 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Jesus is our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. As believers in Christ, we get strength of character through our relationship with the Lord. It’s in our DNA. We grow in it as we grow in our knowledge of who we are in Christ. God is holy and we are too because we are in him.

 Trials and troubles help form character as we endure through them. Enduring means we continually put our trust in the Lord through tough times. As we trust him, it develops strength of character in us. Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4 attest to this. When our faith is tested, endurance grows. As our endurance is developed, we become strong in character and ready for anything. It’s going through those tough times with joy because of our trust in the Lord. We have joy and peace in believing. True character development comes through faith in God.

 In Matthew 13 and Mark 4, Jesus tells the story of a farmer planting seed. In it, he speaks of different types of ground the seed is sown on. The seed that lands in the gravel is like a person who hears God’s word and instantly responds with enthusiasm. Because there is no character, when the emotions wear off and difficulty arises, they have nothing to show for it.

How often do we hear something, get excited about it. and when it gets difficult, stop going in the right direction? It happens at this time of year all the time. We make New Year’s resolutions and don’t keep them. The gyms are packed in January. After that, the numbers continually go downhill because people don’t endure. They give up. We all do it. We decide we are going to improve, but don’t want to pay the price for the improvement. When we do stick to it and pay the price, the benefits far outweigh the cost. We accomplish something and good character is built in us.

I want to encourage you to endure through the hard, difficult times. When you do, good character is developed and it makes for smooth traveling. Proverbs 11:5

Generosity

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What is something God cannot do without? According to 2 Corinthians 9:7 in the Amplified translation, he can’t do without “a cheerful, joyous, prompt-to-do-it giver whose heart is in their giving.”

Christmas is a time for giving, as we all know. Sometimes the purpose of our heart is not to give. Sometimes we give because we have to. Have you ever given somebody something because they gave you something? Many times I’ve heard people say they needed to send someone a Christmas card because one was sent to them. OR how about buying someone a gift because they bought you one?

God’s not looking for us to give without having heart. 2 Corinthians 9 talks about allowing giving to be the purpose of our heart. It exhorts us to give not because we have to and not to give reluctantly, half-heartedly, or unwillingly. It should be a main part of the purpose for living.

God’s nature is to give and if you are a Christian, it’s your nature too. John 3:16 is the most familiar verse in the world. What does it say about God? It says because he loved, he gave. This doesn’t mean we only give to people we love. God gave to us while we were in a vile state, as sinners. God didn’t love that about us, but he loved us and wanted us to be part of his family. The only requirement for it was to receive his son, Jesus as the Lord of our lives. It was to receive his gift.

When someone is given a gift, they can receive or not. They can decide to use it or let it sit on a shelf. It’s the same with the free gift of God in Jesus Christ. We can receive him and allow him to make a difference in our lives, or hear the truth and let it sit dormant somewhere, or say “No, I don’t want this gift.” It seems crazy for us to do either of these things, but we do.

When my husband, Robb, first received the Lord, I said, “No thanks. I’m a good, religious person. I’m not like you.” Then I saw the change God made in Robb’s life. He was a completely different man. It was faith in God that changed him. I realized I needed what he had. He had a relationship with God that I did not have, although I was religious.

Let’s get back to allowing giving to be the purpose of our heart. When we have God’s nature in us, we can give to people we don’t want to because it’s the purpose of God’s heart to be a giver. Our purpose should be to give, not because we have to, but because we get to. What a joy and privilege it is to give to others! 

During this Christmas season allow God’s love to control you so the purpose of your heart is to be a giver like he is.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

Shame

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All of us have experienced shame of one form or another. It may have been in a minor way (which actually is embarrassment), like having your pants split in public, or in a major way, like something really bad you did from your past. NO matter what, we all deal with it.

The truth is Jesus bore our shame. He wiped our slate. He made us righteous in him. We are his masterpiece. As we embrace what God’s word says about us, it enables us to stand tall knowing who we are in Christ and whose child we are.

Romans 10:11 is a powerful affirmation of this.

Rom. 10:11 “NO ONE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL HAVE REASON TO FEEL ASHAMED.” Weymouth

Rom. 10:11 Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed.” God’s Word Translation

Colossians 1:22 says that we are blameless in God’s sight because of the blood of Jesus. This means we are innocent of wrongdoing, without guilt, faultless, above reproach. With this there is nothing to be ashamed of. When God looks at us he sees Jesus.

Recently, I saw a movie about a girl who was a little chunky and did not like herself. She fell and hit her head. As a result of the fall, she began to think she was pretty. She walked confidently, faced people and challenges, and went after her dreams as a result of the change.

When we come into a relationship with the Lord, we change our thinking. We renew our mind to what God says about us in his word. Shame leaves because we embrace what God says.

Shame keeps us from walking confidently.

Shame keeps us from pursuing our dreams.

Shame makes us shrink back.

In Christ the shame is gone. It’s been lifted.

We can do all things through Christ which strengthens us.

We are more than conquerors because of God’s love for us.

We are without fault.

We are blameless.

We are God’s masterpiece created in Christ.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

We are made in God’s image and likeness.

No matter what kind of shame tries to come our way, we have the antidote. It is a Father who loves us and has written many wonderful things about who he created us to be. We look and act just like him.

We have the ability to stand with confidence before shame or any negative thought that comes our way and declare,

“NO SHAME FOR ME. I AM FREE.”

 My prayer is that we would believe what God says about us so we can walk free from any shame.