Monday, February 14, 2011

Naci and T'naci

I wish that I could take credit for this story but alas I cannot…it is a story that carries wisdom and it is my opinion that every person should share this with the people in their lives be them adults or children. The book in which this story is given is called Choices by Shad Helmstetter. This book is on loan to me and I looked to buy it and it has been discontinued. So without further ado…..Naci and T’naci

There were, in ancient times two twins, orphaned from birth.
The two infants, who were twin boys, were left on the steps of the royal palace by their mother, who was wise beyond her years. One of the orphans was named Naci and the other was named T’naci. The two were identical in every way.
The orphaned twins were beautiful children. It was clear to the palace guards, even when they first found them, that these two infants possessed unusual qualities. When the king and queen – who were without children themselves – first saw the twins, they too knew that the infants were gifted. And so they took them into the palace and agreed to raise the orphan children as their own.
The only legacy left to each twin was a most unusual deck of twelve cards. And these unusual cards which each of them carried were also identical in every way.
The king and queen were overjoyed with the blessing of receiving the two infants and they raised them with all of the love and attention that they would have given to their own children.
The new parents decided to wait before revealing to the twins that they were a blessing that the king and queen had long prayed for. When the time was right they would tell them. And when Naci and T’naci became old enough at the age of twenty the king and queen brought their sons to them and told them of their birth.
It was then that they gave each of their sons the special cards that had been carefully wrapped close to them when they were first found, twenty years before.
“Your first mother must have loved you very much,” the queen told them. “When she brought you to us, she also left two identical and most unusual decks of cards. On these cards are written, front and back, the choices you will have to make in the life that is in front of you.”
And then she said, in the most loving way, “These simple cards will guide you now more than the King or I could ever guide you through the life that awaits you. Take them, use them and always remember that we have always loved you and we have always wanted the best for you.”
And so Naci and T’naci left the comfort of their home to seek their fortunes.
In the years that followed, Naci learned to read the cards his mother had left with him, but T’naci put them aside and went his way without seeking their counsel. And while Naci prospered, increased his knowledge and always seemed to do well, his brother T’naci floundered. From time to time they would meet and talk but there was a growing difference between them.               
“Why is it you do so well when I struggle and fail?” T’naci would ask.
“Perhaps it is because you have not listened to our mother,” Naci would reply. “Perhaps it is because you do not use the cards. I have learned to read each of them, each morning of every day and when I do, things seem to go better for me. Why don’t you read our mother’s cards for yourself? If you do, perhaps things will go better with you.”
But T’naci did not. In time, Naci became well known and successful in his own right. But T’naci refused to follow the ideas that his mother’s cards inspired and his fortune fell to failure. While Naci prospered, T’naci fought to succeed and only failed worse.
Within a few short years, it was time for the two brothers to return home to the palace of their parents. It was time for a new ruler to be named and one of them was to be the chosen one.
Both of them returned home at the appointed time and both were met with kind and loving joy from the king and queen. Both of them had always been thought to be special and they were received with all the affection that any parent could give.
But there was a difference now. Naci had somehow succeeded in his life where T’naci had not. And T’naci could not understand why.
The day finally came for the king and queen to declare that there would be a new wise ruler in the land. It was a difficult day for all of them. After all, both sons had been raised in the same way. Both of them had been given the same education. And both of them had been given every possible chance to succeed.
The question that weighed heavily on the minds of the king and the queen and all of the royal advisors was, “Why has one son succeeded while the other son has not?”
It was not until they all gathered together at Royal Announcement Ball that they were to learn the answer. As you might suspect, in their most caring way, the king and queen announced that Naci was named heir to the throne.
“Why,” T’naci asked, “Why did my brother gain the throne when in every way we are the same? What did he do that was so different from me?” And it was at the same Royal announcement Ball that Naci gave the answer.
Naci spoke to the gathered council in a firm, strong voice. He said, “Many years ago my mother, for good reason, left me on the steps of this palace. And in the basket that held me, she left me a gift. The gift was wrapped in a small cloth and written on the cloth were the words, “This is the only gift, beyond my love for you, that I can give you. Take it and when it is time, use this gift to create the life that I would have wished for you.”
“Wrapped in that cloth was a deck of cards that my mother had written in her own hand. On each card was a challenge, and on the other side of each of those precious cards was a choice. I am here today because of those simple cards and the choices they present to me.”
And then in the same clear, strong voice, young Naci read what his mother had written on the cards many long years before.
“On the first card are written the words, CHOOSE YOUR STRENGTH. On the other side of the same card is the words I am strong and then the words I am not strong.
“On the second card is written the challenge, CHOOSE YOUR HONESTY. On the other side of that card are the words I am honest and then the words I am not honest.
“The third card says, CHOOSE YOUR BELIEF IN YOURSELF. The other side of the card says, I believe in myself and I do not believe in myself.
“The fourth card says, CHOOSE YOUR GOAL AND DIRECTION. On the back of the card it says, I have chosen my goal and direction and I know what it is. It also says, I have not chosen my goal and direction.
“On the fifth card are written the words CHOOSE TO ACCEPT OTHERS AS THEY ARE. On the back it says, I accept others as they are and then the words I do not accept others as they are.
“The sixth card says CHOOSE TO MAKE YOUR DECISIONS FOR YOURSELF. The other side of this most special card says, I choose to make my decision for myself, and it also adds the words, I do not choose to make my decisions for myself.
“On the seventh card the words say, CHOOSE TO ALWAYS BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS. On the other side of the seventh card is written. I am responsible for my own actions and the words, I am not responsible for my own actions.
“On the eighth card is written the challenge CHOOSE RIGHT FROM WRONG and it is followed by the words on the second side of the card I always do my best to choose right from wrong and that is followed by the second phrase, I do not choose to choose right from wrong.
“The ninth card says, CHOOSE TO WORK FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN and on the other side of this card are the words, I always choose to work for what I believe in and then the words, I do not make the choice to work for what I believe in.
“The tenth card reads, CHOOSE TO LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES and on the back of the card are the phrases, I choose to learn from my mistakes and I choose not to learn from my mistakes.
“On the eleventh card are the words, CHOOSE TO LOVE AND BE LOVED and on the back of the card it says I choose to love and be loved followed by a second choice, I choose not to love and be loved.
“The twelfth card is perhaps the most important of these simple cards. It says, CHOOSE IN EVERY DETAIL OF YOUR LIFE. The other side of this card says, I choose to choose and that is followed by the words, I do not choose to choose.”
And then young Naci said, “These are the words which my mother left me. These are the words which I have chosen to live by. These twelve simple choices have served me well. With them, as your servant, I hope to serve you well.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spiritual Growth - The Ultimate Goal

(NLLT) 2 Peter 1:2-12
2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

Growing in Faith
   3 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. 4 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.
   5 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, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
   8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
   10 So, dear brothers and sisters,[a] work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Paying Attention to Scripture
12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. 

-              -              -              -              -              -              -              -              -              -               -

Do you know how to grow in your relationship with our Lord? When I received Christ I was already an adult. I did not know how to follow the music minister leading the songs – this is when we actually used hymnals. I knew people gave to the church but I didn’t know why. All I knew was of this saving grace that came upon me and I stumbled along for quite a time afterwards trying to figure out how to grow in my relationship with Christ. Since then I have gone through cycles of growth, of stagnation, and then growth again and I realized that it is my ultimate responsibility to take action to learn and to grow in the Lord. What we have already received should feed our desire to know more! Those who will make any progress in their relationship must be industrious in their effort. Why put forth the effort? If you do not you will be aware of this world but unaware of the one to come! Those that are growing in grace and abounding in the work of the Lord shall have an abundant entrance into the joy of their Lord and they shall reign with him forever.
(MSG) 2 Peter 1:3
Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes!

(MSG) 2 Peter 1:5-7
So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

(NAS) 2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

1. We are responsible for renewing our mind
            (MSG) Romans 12:1-2
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going- to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(NLT) 1 Cor 2:16
For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?”  But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
2. We must be ready to admit our failures and assume responsibility for them
(MSG) 1 John 1:8-10
If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradicts God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.

3. After step 2 comes repentance
(MSG) Acts 26:19-20
"What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn't just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world. 
            (MSG) Galatians 5:22-23
But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

This is my challenge to you:
I challenge you to cooperate with God by developing yourself and by being diligent. I challenge you to put your mind on what you already know to prevent you from forgetting. I challenge you to improve your knowledge and reduce this to a daily practice. I challenge you to be established in beliefs of the truth, that you may not be shaken by every wind of doctrine. I challenge you to lead, exhort and present the truth as it is and to be bold while doing so.  I challenge you to remember that your body is a tabernacle of the soul and that your time in this tabernacle is short. I challenge you not to give up but remember that this is a process much like a seed – the seed is planted and although it is entirely present, it is very small and as it grows, it becomes large and helpful. I challenge you to remember that God has planted within us all we need, but these resources require time and growth before they become visible to others. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Obedience - The Adventure Part 2

How many times a day are you able to choose? From the clothes you wear, the color of your hair, the food you eat, the blessings you bring, the blessing you don’t bring, the drama you create, the drama you don’t all you have the right to choose. All through the day many small choices are made with little to no thought. But did you realize that those small choices made throughout the day can lead to a life of obedience to God? Acts of obedience in the small decisions will lead to acts of obedience in the larger decisions.

But what about those times, and we all have had them, where we wonder what we should do? Should I take that new job? Should I date this person? How many kids to have? Should I buy the house? Should I tithe? Should I give of my time? Should I use my gifts to further the kingdom of God? Are we ready for kids? Am I following God’s will? Am I listening to God? How do I know?

The Word of God directs us in all our paths – the way to go and the way to stay away from. How much you understand God’s Word is directly proportionate to you knowing and obeying His Word. For if you do not know God’s Words then how is it that you expect to be able to journey down the road of adventure in obedience.

In reflecting on my past, I made some really bad choices which were a result of not knowing, not caring, and not thinking that the Word of God was important enough to heed. After I accepted Jesus in my life, I still had to pay the consequences of these choices. However, along the pathway of right choices and new found obedience to the Word I found joy, peace, love, strength, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, wisdom and most of all mercy. As far as my sin took me, grace caught me and delivered me into the hands of the one who loves me.

In reflecting on my present, I have found that through the years that I have become His daughter I have made choices regarding Him and have prospered. When I have made choices that are neutral I have neither decreased nor increased in prosperity. When I have chosen consciously not to do as God’s Word says then I feel a withdrawal from Him and the intimacy of my relationship with Him suffers. Notice I did not say that my prosperity is decreased during this time. It could and sometimes does but not always.

In addition, I have found that God is on your side, God is not the enemy in life, God does not hope for you to fail but God has put in place a direction of success for you! God is the one cheering you on when the rest of the world has walked away from you! God is the one, when no one is around to see your insecurities, whispers in your ear: You can do it!

Wow! I tear up with gratitude at His love and provision as I write this today and it has been 13 years since accepting Christ into my life. So let us start and keep on in our daily adventure in obedience!

1.  Attitude towards Obedience can be either:
     Positive --  Blessing        OR         Negative -- Burden
2.   Expressions of Obedience
      Loving/Trusting God    AND  Our acceptance and unavoidance of negative consequences

3.   Choices lead to Obedience
                Be active in choosing to choose obedience
                Be active in listening for His voice to direct you

4.  Focus on Obedience
                Be active in His knowledge – study the Word
                When directed, obey even when you don’t understand

5.  Results of Obedience
                Spiritual Insight
                Building Faith
                Worshipping authentically
    Imitating God in holiness, humility and love
                Motivating Obedience
                Lack of fear
                Receiving Grace
                Expressing Spiritual Freedom
                Deeper love for God
                Relationships quality increases

If you have read through this far, don’t stop, the best is yet to come!

(NLT) Romans 6:17
Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 

(NLT) Genesis 22:18
And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

(NLT) Exodus 19:5
Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.

(MSG) Deuteronomy 27:9-10
Moses and the Levitical priests addressed all Israel: Quiet. Listen obediently, Israel. This very day you have become the people of God, your God. Listen to the Voice of God, your God. Keep His commandments and regulations that I'm commanding you today
(MSG) 1 Samuel 15:22-23
Then Samuel said, 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. Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to God's command, he says No to your kingship. 

(MSG) Romans 16:25-26
All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter. 
     There is no greater love than the love that God directs towards you! Obedience is a path full of blessings awaiting to be discovered and cherished. You may be in a time of testing right now but take a moment and think, is this challenging time a result of obedience or a lack of obedience to God's Word?

     If you will choose to choose God’s way daily, you will be blessed because He loves you more than you know and He will provide for all your needs as you obey Him. He will also take your obedience to the generations that come after you. Just think about that! You have the power, right now, to affect those that will come after you in your family. Wow! God is faithful!!

     So I leave you with this my friend:
The only reason for failure is broken focus. Stay in the Word to keep your focus.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Obedience – To hear God’s word and act accordingly Part 1

Hello and welcome to Obedience! All scriptures are references to NAS version. I hope that you gain useful information from this study in order to gain a closer walk with Jesus. 

Part 1 is going to be the technical aspect of what obedience is and how it affects each person. Part 2 will be containing an adventure in obedience and the blessings of obedience! Yes, obedience brings blessings....more to come.

So enjoy this blog and I hope it is helpful!

Obedience affects one’s spiritual life
*  Obedience is essential for worship:
1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 
John 4:22-23 "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 
Secures God’s blessings :
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
I John 2:17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 
Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 
*  Spiritual insight is gained
John 7:17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 
*  Fruit of faith
James 2:21-26 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on
the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was
perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND
IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God.
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the
harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

True obedience
*  Imitating God in holiness, humility and love
Peter 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another
Phil 2:5-8 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

*  Facing clashing claims for one’s allegiance, the Christian obeys God rather than other persons
Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men”

Motivating obedience
* Grace received
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 
* Expression of spiritual freedom
Gal 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
1 Peter 2:16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 
* Our love for God
John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.
John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. 
John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. 

Affecting Obedience
* Relationship between husband and wife
Ephesians 5:22 Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 
* Relationship between parents and children
Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right
* Relationship between slaves and masters
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
* Relationships among church leaders
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 
Relationships to those who are persons in authority
1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.

Christ’s Obedience
* In contrast to Adam’s disobedience
Romans 5:12-21 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-- for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
* To do the will of God motivated Jesus’ actions
Luke 4:43 But He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose." 
John 5:30 I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 
* Acted and spoke as the Father directed
John 3:34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. 
* Act of obedience to the Cross
Romans 5:19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
Hebrews 10:7-10 THEN I SAID, 'BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.'" After saying above, " SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them" (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, "BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL." He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 

* A failure hear and do God’s Word
Psalm 81:11 But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me. 
* Comes from a sinful heart
Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin. 
* Does not trust God
Deuteronomy 1:32 "But for all this, you did not trust the LORD your God
* Receives judgment
Ecclesiastes 12:14 God will bring every act to judgment everything which is hidden whether it is good or evil
* Receives necessary discipline
Proverbs 3:11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof