Run from it run!

Today’s lesson is about running from sin. Often, I have heard from people that they had too much temptation to sin that they had no other choice but to sin. Whether their sin was a struggle with adultery, idolatry, or other more explicit sins, it does not matter. Next time you are feeling tempted to sin, remember my words “run from it run.” It is written, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it,” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NASB). Simply stated, God will always give us a way out of our temptation. A perfect example of this is found in Genesis 39:12. In Genesis 39:12, Joseph was being tempted to commit adultery by his boss’s wife. However, unlike most people, he knew the only way out of his situation was to literally run away from it. It may have not been the manliest thing to do, running away from a girl that wanted him, however, he knew it was a temptation that would lead him into sin. As a human, I am sure that Joseph could have thought to himself, “no one would know.” However, Joseph knew that God was always watching. 

The reason I am writing this lesson is to remind everyone here today that we can never be tempted beyond our limitations. It is written that God will always provide a way out. So, if you are stuck sinning because of a temptation, simply remember to look for God in the situation. He will always provide a way out of the situation. At the least, you can learn from Joseph and look for a door or a window to run out of. It may sound silly, but I rather look like a fool than to fail a test from the Lord. You are strong enough to overcome any temptation and remember it. Our strength comes from the Lord! That is why the Scriptures teach us that no one can stand against us. So, I ask everyone here today if they are being tempted, dig in your heals and run from it run! 

Don’t be rigid!

Today, after I was praying, the Lord placed a short message on my heart that I wanted to share with everyone here today. I think being rigid is a part of our human nature. By rigid, I mean being inflexible and stuck in our ways. Often times, this can keep us from receiving a blessing from the Lord. This blessing could be assistance with a personal struggle or addiction, or it can be to help build a relationship with someone we care about. However, to be able to receive the fullness of the Lord’s blessings in our lives we need to stop being so rigid. When we are rigid, we grow stagnant and refuse to grow into the best version of ourselves. We need to learn how to be moldable for the Lord and this will be the focus of this devotional today.

Isaiah 64:8 identifies God as the creator (potter) and humanity as a lump of clay. I believe that this is not a coincidence. It is the best example that a human can have when attempting to identify themselves with their creator. A lump of clay starts off rough around the edges and has to be slowly molded into what the potter wants. Then, the potter slowly starts to make some changes and takes a step back. The potter may want to slowly change some things about the piece of clay or make some drastic changes to the piece of clay. However, the potter is always looking and molding that piece of clay so it can be the best version of his idea before the potter places the piece of clay in the oven to bake. The reason why the potter puts so much work into the clay is that they want to make a perfect vessel. It does not matter whether the potter is making a cup or a bowl, the same amount of effort must be made to complete the process. However, the wonderful thing about this process is how the potter is constantly molding the clay until it is ready to stand firm (by baking the clay).

Like a potter, the Lord wants to mold and sculpt us to a better version of ourselves. He does this by slowly taking away some things, and in other times, rapidly changing our perspectives or surroundings. God does this because He loves us and wants to be continuously growing. We need to understand that none of us is a perfect creation. We will always need some adjustments throughout our life. This adjustment can be our attitudes or the relationships we allow ourselves to be a part of. However, if we get too rigid and stuck in our ways, the Lord will not be able to mold us further because we are not willing to bend for Him. I think the apostle Paul stated it best when he identified that a lump of clay can be made into something of honorable use (Romans 9:21). The message Paul wrote is the same message that I am wanting to share with everyone, each and every one of us can be made into something of honorable use. We cannot do this is we are stuck in our ways. We need to be able to be molded into what God wants us to be and not what we want ourselves to become. When we can do this, we can receive the full blessings the Lord wants to provide us. However, if we cannot, we are not only robbing ourselves of the fullness of the Lord’s blessings in our lives.

Having a Support Team

Thinking back over my life, I have fallen short many times. To be honest, I think everyone here could say the same. However, the one thing that has kept me striving to be a better husband, father, and Christian is the love of my support team. This team is my wife, my friends, and my siblings. The truth is, that no one that has ever succeeded in anything has done it on their own. It takes the prayers of some, and the actions of others to allow us to have a victory in our lives. When I think of the perfect biblical example of this idea that I am sharing with you all, I think of Exodus 17:8-16.

In this piece of Scripture, Moses sends out Joshua and his men to fight against Amalek in Rephidim. The Bible teaches us that Joshua was faithful and gathered his men to fight against those who wished harm against their people. However, the story does not finish there. Moses stated that he would go to the top of the hill and lift his hands and pray over the battle to be won. Then something amazing happened, as Moses lifted his hands, Joshua and the Israelite people started to win. However, whenever his hands got tired and he dropped them, Amalek started to prevail.

Then, as Mose’s arms grew tired Aaron and Hur supported his hands. This allowed for the Lord’s favor on Joshua and his soldiers. Joshua won the battle, and everyone could not deny the faithfulness of the Lord and His providence over His people who had faith in Him. However, the real lesson that I gained from this Scripture can be applied in two simple ways and I am humbled to be able to share them with you all today.

First, everyone has a role or destiny that God provides them with. When we can accept our calling and embrace it, the Lord can work in our lives. In this piece of Scripture, the soldiers were fighting. They were nameless, however, without their sacrifice there would not have been a battle, to begin with. Then there was the military leader Joshua, it took his decisiveness in the field to allow his smaller forces to defeat the larger army. Then there was Moses. Moses was there for spiritual support and prayed and petitioned the Lord for the soldiers. Lastly, there was Hur and Aaron. Hur and Aaron literally held up the heavy arms of Moses and carried a part of his suffering to win the battle. Each person in this Scripture had a job and did it to the best of their ability. If they did not, the Israelites would have failed and lost the battle. So, if you are not a Moses or a Joshua, be a soldier, an Aaron or a Hur. At the end of the day, this shows others the Christ-like humility in our hearts. Be whatever God is calling you to be and embrace your role. It doesn’t matter what your role is, we all play a part in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The second and most important thing that I would like to share is that the battle was won because of everyone’s faith in the Lord. Faith is not a word, it is an action. Some people had to fight, some people had to pray, while others needed to support the rest. The common denominator was that they all did their best and acted out their faith. It is not easy going into battle, nor praying with your hands in the sky until they feel like you’re holding bricks, but it was done. Every day we have a choice to fight a battle for or against the Lord. It all begins by winning the battle in our minds and conquering our fears and anything that is keeping us from walking out in faith. So, if there is anything holding you back from giving God your very best and allowing you to defeat the armies against you, surround yourself with a support team as Moses did. By having those around you that will fight with and for you, and having those who will pray and support you, there is nothing that can defeat you or even steal your joy. They will give you a piece of mind and through the common love of Christ in each and every one of you, you will do the same for them.

I would like to finish this devotional with a simple prayer. Lord, I pray that everyone who is reading this devotional can take comfort in understanding the calling you placed in their hearts and minds. I pray for them to be supporters if you called them to be supporters. I pray for them to be warriors and leaders if that is what you called them to be. I also pray for them to be encouragers and supporters if that’s what you called them to be. However, I mostly want to pray about the godly relationships in their lives. I pray that you place the people in their lives that will build them up and not set them back as you showed us in your word with Moses. I pray that we call can have the courage to walk out our faith. Thank you for the sacrifice of your son and thank you for allowing us to leave the worst parts of us at the foot of the cross so that we can be instruments for you to use to expand your kingdom while we are on earth. Amen!

Sibling Rivalry

While reading my daily devotional on Romans chapter 14, I started to think about when I was a child still living at home. When I was a kid growing up, I lived in a house full of girls. I had three sisters that used to torture me. I don’t believe that they did the things they did to me out of evil intentions, but the things they did to me hurt my feelings at times and my confidence. Even though we were siblings, at times I really disliked them. Often, I would just leave the house or isolate myself to not be around them at all. However, as we all grew older and matured, we started to help one another, especially if they were having a bad day.  

The reason why I am sharing this story of my childhood with you is that like biological siblings, you should not dislike or even hate your spiritual siblings. Those who partake in the same grace as you and me should never be hated. In Romans 14:7-13, Paul is teaching about this very issue. Every Christian is different. Some are stronger in their walk than others, however, we are all brothers and sisters through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Like how I handled the situations with my siblings at a young age, many Christians today have a habit of isolating themselves from other believers because they are different or because they have done something they did not like. It could be something as simple as judging their life because they are not acting as they should be.  

However, there are three simple things I would like to share with everyone today that the Holy Spirit placed in my heart while reading this chapter of the book of Romans. Firstly, no true Christian lives for themselves. We are to live a life pleasing to God and serving others. Secondly, as Christians, we should always remember that each one of us is going to give account to the Lord for our individual actions. Often, when we rashly judge others without knowing why they are doing what they are doing. When we do this, we can become a stumbling block for them. When we judge one another, it causes animosity towards both parties and will cause one of the two parties to eventually isolate themselves from the other. They could even leave the church if they feel that they are being judged. This brings me to my last point, before we as Christians say or do anything, we should keep in mind that our thoughts and our actions can directly influence how another person treats another. So, we should always focus on being positive and helping someone that we see as struggling. Just keep in mind that you were once the person struggling and someone gave you a loving hand instead of a pointed finger.  

Hearing and Responding to a Word from God

The Lord placed it in my heart to share with you all today when I heard a whisper of the Holy Spirit that changed my life forever. When I was an active duty Marine in Okinawa, Japan, I received orders to Austin, Texas. During that time my wife and I fell apart from the church and my PTSD was really bad. So bad, that when my kids would try to hug me I was dodging them and go into a room because I would have an anxiety attack. My marriage was falling apart and I was an alcoholic. I drank around a bottle of Courvoisier every night to calm my nerves and to help me forget about my problems. Out of pride, I would not accept that I needed help and intercession, and because of this, my life was spiraling out of control. Then one sunny afternoon I was driving between bases in an alley and I prayed a very simple, yet sincere prayer to the Lord. I laid my pride at the foot of the cross and I spoke to Him as the loving Father that He is. I told God that I was failing as a husband, a father, and as a Christian. I told Him that I needed help and I knew that I can’t handle my problems on my own. I told God with all sincerity that I would do whatever He wanted from me and I meant it. I gave it all to him. My anxiety, my depression, my relationship with my wife and my parenthood.

Then I heard a whisper from behind me and my entire body froze and felt at peace. I heard two words that would change my life forever. I heard “stop drinking.” At the time I could not understand the significance of these words but I said: “yes Father.” I ran home and told my wife what I heard and that I submitted myself to the Lord. I told her that I quit drinking and that I needed to change. However, this is not the end of my story. Shortly after coming back to the United States, I required my third shoulder surgery and the day I got off convalescent leave I was sent to a logistics chief conference in Houston, Texas. During that week conference, I was feeling severe back pain and was rushed to the emergency. It turns out that my right kidney was four times the size of my left kidney and the majority of my urine was blood. They originally thought I had cancer, however, the urologist in Austin found out different. It turns out that I was having kidney failure and required emergency surgery to not die within the week.

In the questionnaire from the doctor, he was looking at my blood test results and said that I was lucky that I was no longer drinking. He said that if I would have had one beer, a shot, or even a glass of wine, they would not have known why I died until my autopsy because my toxicity levels were so high. You see, the funny thing about hearing a word from God is that you never know when or why He tells you something or places something in your heart. However, if I did not hear and receive His message and act out of faith and obedience, I would not be alive today. Since then, I have been fully transformed by the power of the blood of Christ and have dedicated my life to help others hear a word from God.

Now that I shared with you all a little bit of my testimony, I would like to share with you how not only to transform your life for the better but how to build a stronger relationship with the Lord so that you can hear His voice in your heart. There are five simple steps that if adhered to, will allow you to be transformed and renewed daily.

The first step is to engage the Lord is through prayer. According to 1 John 5:14, God always listens to our prayers. Not only does He listen to our prayers, but we can also have confidence that he hears us. What this means is anyone can listen to what you say, however, only someone that truly cares about your well-being will hear you. God cares so much about us that He hears ever petition that we make to Him. Regardless of where you are in your walk, He wants to hear from you. He wants to fellowship with you through His Spirit. Therefore, prayer is the first step to hearing from God. You are opening a line of communication with Him.

The second step is to reflect on your problem and repent of it. Often times, this is the most difficult part of the process, especially if you are already saved. This is because you are too busy worrying about everyone else’s sin that is worse than yours that you cannot see the log in your eye (Matthew 7:1-5). Our harsh judgment of others and our pride will always get in our way. Another common problem at this stage is being able to fully reflect on your problem. Often times we tend to give the Lord symptoms of our problems and when we don’t see a resolution in our lives we can think that the Lord is not listening to our problems. However, that is a lie because 1 John 5:14 tells us differently. In this stage, you really need to dig deep and find the root of your problem. If you are feeling depressed or anxiety on an issue, what was the original cause of that problem that initialed a void needed to be filled in your heart? If your children are not walking with the Lord, are you praying for their lives to change, yet you are not living a life of example? It takes deep meditation and reflection to identify the root causes of either your sins and problems. It may be ugly, but it is needed. This is why Christ died on the cross. He takes our sins and our problems and exchanges them with righteousness allowing the Lord to take hold of our situations (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The third step is to fully leave the problem at the foot of the cross. God has your problem once you have fully given Him the root of the problem. It is His now and no longer yours. At this point, you need to renew and transform your mind (Romans 12:2). If you keep thinking about your issues, then you have not fully given it to the Lord. You see, your mind is a very powerful thing. How you think will either give you blessings or take them away. So, get up every morning and give a prayer of Thanksgiving to the Lord. Start your day on a positive note and you will see what it does to your soul. Get up and tell the Lord thank you for taking away your depression, your anxiety, your addictions, for fixing a troublesome relationship. Thank Him for the healing and restoration that He has granted over your life. When you can get up and honestly proclaim the victory, the victory will come.

The fourth step is to listen and receive a word from God. On a daily basis, challenge yourself to read a chapter of the Bible. Think about what it is teaching and how you can apply His word into your walk that day. As you start to do this, you will start to see more of the transformation from the outside. Your relationships with people will get better and the healing you are petitioned for will come. When we walk in the Spirit, your desires of the flesh are no longer gratified (Galatians 5:16-18). When you walk in the Spirit, you are claiming the fruits of the Spirit in your life. You will be filled with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). With these fruits in your life, there is no problem you honestly worry about. There will be no room in your life for fear and stress.

The last step is to act in faith. You will see as your life is filled with the Holy Spirit, the Lord will place something in your heart or in your mind. It may make you uncomfortable at times, but you must trust His voice and act in faith. It can be something as simple as paying for someone’s cup of coffee or helping a single mother with her children or as complicated as walking up to a stranger that the Lord tells you to pray for. Even if they are mean looking, follow where the Spirit is guiding you. When we do this, we are not only being obedient to the Lord, but He will be able to use us to do His will. You never know if you are the answered prayer for that person. That person could have been praying for a sign that God is there to not commit suicide or that someone cares for them. Your lack of acting in faith can cost them their life or even their soul. I know it may sound extreme but brothers and sisters, this is an everyday reality. It is when we can be trusted like Job that your fellowship with God can change lives. He will be able to use you and speak to you because you are transformed and ready to do His will on earth.

Now, the reason why I shared my testimony is to share with you all that you do not have to hit rock bottom to finally give your problems fully to the Lord. I shared my story with you to show you that you can hear from the Lord in your everyday life. This process that I shared with you all has taken me years to get to where I am today. This process is known as the “sanctification” process. This does not happen overnight, however, it can be done and your relationship with the Lord can grow from the process. I am living proof. Even though we all fall short sometimes does not give us the excuse to not try. Give this process a try and see how much freedom you will feel when you fully cast your burdens on the Lord (Proverbs 16).

I would like to finish this lesson with a simple prayer. It was a simple prayer and two simple words that the Holy Spirit gave me changed and transformed my life forever. Heavenly Father, I pray that everyone reading this can receive the message you are trying to share with them. I pray that their suffering, their addictions, their unforgiveness, and their pride can be submitted to you at the foot of the cross. I pray that every one of us can honestly reflect on our lives and submit our struggles to you. I also pray that everyone can be filled by the Spirit and overcome by your peace. I also pray for you to place a transforming word in their hearts or minds. It is on that word that they can fully come to know and understand their purpose in life. I also pray for everyone here today to see themselves not as they see themselves but how you see them. An heir to the kingdom of heaven and a child of the most high God. So, loved that you brought your begotten son Jesus Christ down to earth to be beaten, humiliated, and die for their restoration. It is upon this sacrifice that we have the gift of your Spirit to guide our daily lives. Father, I know that we are not worthy and that we fall short of your glory. However, I am grateful for your son’s sacrifice and I pray that you give us all the strength to live up to that sacrifice, Amen.