( All scripture is from the KJV)
Run the Race! 
Robin and I like watching football on Sunday's! We have a few favorite teams and record them so we can cut through those commercials. The ups and downs of your team scoring or not can be exciting or a bummer at times. 
Just like a football game, so can life be. Paul says this in 1Co 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
You see we have a "game" to play too. The game of "Life" you might say, and we are to play to WIN! Now our prize is different and much more important than some trophy. Our game is in salvation and living a godly, righteous life unto Christ. Now we are to strive for that while resting in the Lord. We are to run while allowing Christ to move through us. It is not us running but rather Christ through us. We run for the prize of a good conscience and sincere faith. We will fall short of the "first down" you might say but we are to get up and keep going!
1Co 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 
We get an incorruptible crown not one which is corrupted by the world but a internal, eternal Spiritual reward! It cannot be by works of the flesh for those works are not even in the "ballgame" but rather it must be by faith and by Christ! You see we cannot go around Christ to the goal line for HE IS THE GOAL!
Score a touchdown today by living by faith in Christ! 

The Blood of Christ! 
Col 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Throughout the bible God has used a blood sacrifice. The blood sacrifice shows the greatest sacrifice as it is the life within the body. Without blood you die, it is as simple as that! 
Lev 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. 
Occasionally I hear some "so-called" Christians that say the blood was not necessary and that it didn't happen that way. Well first off to say that goes against the word and second it was necessary to redeem us. Redeem means to ransom which means to pay the price! Let's read from 
Heb 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 
You see animals were used to redeem man and purify the flesh but only a man's blood or better said Christ blood could redeem our spirit and conscience!
The blood of Christ was necessary and too important to say it isn't true and to add while sounding perhaps morbid in some ways it is also so wonderful!
We often hear folks say no greater thing can a person do than to lay down their life for another, and that is exactly what Christ did but for ALL men forever! 

If I said to you "please go clear the trunk out", you might go into the house and take out the trunk of clothes and start throwing things out. Or you might go to the back of the car and look in the trunk and clean it out, or maybe the trunk of the tree that had honey in it!!!
But I was pointing to the elephant's trunk that had mud and food trapped in it as we worked at the zoo!
You see knowing the context, meaning and reason of words are important, and nothing can be as important as the Word of God.  If not understood for the context other meanings can be applied and change the meaning completely. It can actually make the meaning weak and without the power and attention it deserves!
Like this verse, 
1Co 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
Now many would see this word baptized and think water right! They would say this means they got wet, and they would think in the natural as so many use this word, but it is a dry baptism. It means identified into Moses and the law! It means to follow Moses and be immersed in the doctrine of the law which Moses was given by God. It means this is the way of salvation and to God at that time.
This has nothing to do with water nor food as you see it also says Spiritual "meat"! The meat word is used to say what was digested within by the soul! It is not literal food but thoughts! It is not a steak but the Word of God!
Let's read the next verse
1Co 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 
"That ROCK was CHRIST"!! You see they are speaking about being identified in Christ, not water, for the water of Life is in Christ! Don't get caught up in the communion bread and drink but think and be identified in Jesus the bread of life and the work of the cross of Christ!
We are One bread and One Body in Christ....1Co 10:17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 

Suffer for doing something Good? 
Robin and I like watching shows like Dateline and "who done it" type shows. And occasionally like on Perry Mason the guy who goes to prison is innocent. I used to go to the prisons here in Arizona, so I know what that looks like and I wish no one ever had to go through that if they were innocent!
But my point is that at times we all suffer for doing something wrong. There are consequences for speeding or things like this. They can seem severe at times, but we take it easier when we have done wrong. But no one likes to suffer for doing something good! If we have the right intentions and heart, we can't understand why we shoud suffer for that after all are we not supposed to do what is right. Are we not supposed to help our fellow man!
Well yes, we are but Peter says this in 1Pe 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
We are to do what is right no matter what and if suffering comes then so be it. All the Apostles suffered tremendously for years yet they continued to give and serve. 
Don't get to upset when you do something right and good and loving yet get bad feedback from those who cannot see their own hearts and mindset. Who may even be a believer but are just as sinful, harsh and demanding. This comes from pride because they have knowledge of the bible but cannot discern it! They are puffed up with being right and can't love others. They are rude in their approach and speech not realizing how they come across and worse they don't care!
So be patient and at times just move on from them. Be sure and check your own heart and motivation while forgiving them too. Suffering is a part of life and if Jesus suffered than we should be so privileged to do the same! 

Faith is always in the present!
Faith is always exercised in the present tense. We might say "I use to be more faithful" or "I was a better back in the day faith wise"! But you see that is in the past and what matters is in the present. You may be dealing with your past, but "Now faith is..." it says in Hebrews!
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
We exercise faith continually and we walk by faith daily. Nowhere is it more important for believers to understand this then in the area of forgiveness! Paul says in Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
We are forgiven is present tense and look at Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
AND IN Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
The believer is already forgiven, and faith is exercised by receiving, accepting and saying, "Thank You"!!! Asking for forgiveness every time you sin is not faith! It may sound humble but it's not! It sounds pious and spiritual but it's not! It is unfaithful and ungodly and NOT walking by faith.
Over my years of counseling and teaching I have found that every person I have ever met with does not know this and is totally surprised at this. It brings such relief and joy to them as it should. The freedom they now have then teaches them to serve, share and live faithfully!
Now it is sad that they don't know this but the reason for it is that the majority of teachers, pastors don't know or live it either and then teach them to ask or beg for forgiveness too.
Walk by faith and receive what you already have and then say, "THANK YOU"!!!

Take Wrong and Suffer! 
Way to often today I hear of Christian churches, pastors and saints suing one another. To add they it is not the secular or unbelievers causing the problems but the believer who is initiating the suit!  
1Co 6:7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
Now while they are doing this, I find all of us at times doing this in our personal matters. No, we don't sue but we don't take the hit either. We defend and demand from one another, saying "We have our rights"!
Paul was clear that while we do have rights and may even be in the "right" we can lay down that right and be wronged!
Christ is the perfect example isn't He!
Phl 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 
Jesus gave up His rights as a King, Lord and God, by the saying "made himself of no reputation" and "form of a servant" and "the likeness of men"!!! He humbled himself and even died and by a most horrible and public humiliating death on the cross!
So let us not defraud one another by cheating or stealing or even judging selfishly but let us give to one another and even take the punishment, demands and rejection from others. Walk in the power of the Spirit and lay down your rights so that you too can have a good conscience and be as Paul says 
Phl 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 

Oh, How I wish more believers knew this! 
Upon hearing of an old friend who has committed suicide, I can't help but think of this verse and wish every believer could not only understand but experience it!
2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
The reason folks take their own lives is that they still live in shame, guilt and fear! They live in the guilt and shame of the past and the fear of the future. They are constantly looking at self instead of Christ! Failures, rejections and the 'What if's" constantly are on their mind. All the inadequacies, inferiorities and insecurities that we all go through overwhelm them. Their feelings control them, and they don't know who they are in Christ. 
No matter what a person has done and what they may face in the future they need to grasp that it all does not matter to God! What matters most is that they are saved and in Christ and therefore a NEW CREATURE! Don't live in shame, guilt or self-pity but renew your mind and know who you are in our blessed beloved Lord Jesus!

Abased or Abound! 
Phl 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Is it hard for you to go without things. I recently had problems with our satellite T.V.! It needs to have a new receiver I guess and that will take a few days to a week to get. But in the meantime, I struggle with not watching T.V., even though we don't watch that much of it. I am paying for something that doesn't work even though they are to give me a break on the bill.
But I think how silly it is in not having a T.V! That is nothing compared to others that don't have food, clothing or shelter. How trivial and shallow can I be. 
I want to be like Paul, who has learned to be content in Christ. No matter how much he doesn't have or will have he is content. "How to be abased" meaning low or humbled and without.... or "how to abound" meaning to have a lot, plenty or enough....
We too need to be content in Christ alone, after all what else matters! 

The Law of Love!
If a Jew like Paul can say we are not under law and that Love fulfills the law, then what Law or ordinances do we do? 
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The answer is none! No longer is it an external thing but an internal working of the Spirit. It does not matter if taste, touch or handle things anymore. It does not matter if you eat, drink or follow and observe certain days for it is a heart issue daily!  
You see we humans get caught up in "doing" "spiritual" things. If you look at all the religions of the world they all are trying to get to God. They are trying to get approval and acceptance from "a" god! They are always striving to "see" Him.
I was listening to a song by George Harrison the Beatle called "My Sweet Lord". It is a great song musically but the words like many are so off. "I always want to find" or "I want see you Lord" and he is not talking about Jesus by the way! Like John Lennons song "Imagine" which is also so popular today, but the first line of that song says, "Imagine there is no heaven", WHAT!!!! You see Satan's subtle ways are always working and is deceiving! Great tunes that can suck us in but are really anti-Christ and ungodly!
Well the same goes for Christianity. Many still work to "get closer" to God. They do religious things that "look" spiritual or pious but are not! The only thing that is important is to be saved and receive God's love and give that Love to others!

Here are some practical things we are told to do in our daily relationships with one another. Each is directed at the position they are given, and we are to appropriate Christ in all of them.
Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 
First, we are to do everything in the name of the Lord! That means we are to dedicate our hearts and minds to Him. Knowing our identity and who we are as well as "who" we serve first before the human to whom we see and are serving. We are to have a attitude of thankfulness!
THEN, 18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Women set the attitude for daily living. How they react and respond to their husband sets the tone for the home and church. 
19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
Husbands are to care for, and be patient and love in all things. Even when correcting it should be done with gentleness and not in harshness. This harshness, sadly is something I see in alot of beleivers. Even among women, they have been taught by their fathers and husbands to be harsh. I have seen some women act like drill sergents in the Army instead of women who are feminine, gentle and loving.  This comes from parents and husbands that behave harshly and independent from the love God, even if they are believers. 
20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Then we see how the children are to behave. Now again the parents play a huge part in teaching the child from the beginning to obey. If the parents are harsh or abusive don't expect the child to obey. If the parent coddles to much again the child will not obey. They must be taught how to obey, and this is by lifestyle as well as words. The old saying more is "caught than taught" may apply here.   
21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Dads should not provoke or try to get the child to react in some way just to overpower or to show "who's boss"! This teaches the child to fear at first and then as they grow up they become angry, bitter and rebel. They begin to disrespect authority and go about their own way instead of God's way. This is one reason our prisons are full of disrespectful, rebellious and unwanted "kids" no matter what age they are! 
22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 
Servants can mean employees today. When you work for someone else you are their "slave" per say. Now that does not mean in a negative sense, nor does it mean you have to stay there. You can quit and go work somewhere else or you can be self-employed, but the point is IF you work for someone work as if you're working for Jesus. Don't just be good in front of them or only do something for a reward or pay but work hard all the time even if you get nothing from it. 
In ALL these positions and whatever we do, "do it" whole heartily for the Lord! 
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

The more we give, the less we receive
Paul says this in  
2Co 12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
You see often times the more we give the less we receive! Paul gave and gave to the church. He gave His life to protect the doctrine of grace and the name of Jesus Christ. He was beaten so many times and shipped wrecked and hated by both Jews and gentiles. The rejection was huge, yet he pressed on. 
When I see so many pastors that get rich and popular for giving the gospel, I have to think does this not go against everything scripturally. Jesus was put on the cross despised by man and placed in a tomb without a so-called funeral! Most of the 12 were martyred, and without fame or fortune. 
At times I admit to getting down because I don't hear back from you all. We go without financial support from those we give hours of counseling too. Teaching in bible studies and devotionals and things and at times not only not a thank you but an argumentative and nasty response back. While I would love to hear from you and get compliments and financial support and these types of things, I have to remind myself that not getting them is nothing new and really means we are doing something right.
So don't get down when you help and give to others and get nothing in return for this is normal with man. As Paul says 
"...the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved"

Long Live the King!
As I watch some of the Queen's funeral today, I am reminded of how far off man can get. How can we possibly worship a person above our KING! Yes, Long Live the King, JESUS! For He is King above all King's and Lord above all Lord's. 
1Ti 6:14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
The title of King or Queen of England or any of the other nations on earth is man's way of trying to be God on earth. Trying to dress it up in "service" or "loyalty" and "religion" but it is just another way to show how much man can be wrong and sin!
Jesus the ONE and ONLY true KING was tortured, killed and buried by these same "aristocrats" in life yet God has lifted Him up above ALL man!!!
For me I would rather die as Jesus did than to live as the Queen and King of this day and age! 

Sincere Love hates evil! 
God is Love so love is always righteous and Godly! Sincere love hates evil and should not enjoy any part of it. Paul says in,  
Rom 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
... 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
1Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Loving others is always in God's best interest for the person. It never celebrates sin or bad behavior. As some say "God loves you to much to let you stay the way you are"! It is patient but not approving of evil. It is not saying it "is ok for you" but go against the word of God!
God's love is not emotional driven but is righteously driven! It is not perverted or manipulation, but it is genuine, faithful and always good!