The Secret to Living a Holy Life

“All I want to do is be holy just like Jesus, but when I look at myself all I see are my faults and failures.”

Have you ever felt like that in your pursuit of holiness? You are not alone. When we look at the lives of the early church fathers and the great men and women of God who lived down through the centuries, we see this same lament. Each one expressed frustrations about living a holy life.

What is the answer to this dilemma that affects so many believers? It may surprise you, but the answer is simple: If you desire to live a more holy life, take your eyes off of yourself and focus on the Lord and His holiness.

When we look at ourselves, the only things we may see are the faults and the mistakes we have made in the past. Too often we struggle to fix our old man, not realizing that aspect of us is dead. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 NKJV, words in emphasis mine.)

Who is that “old man?” It is the person you used to be before you came to Christ. It was governed by the desires of the flesh and responded to everything that appealed to the physical senses. We could refer to it as our old nature.

Sadly, we often spend a lot of time trying to fix the old man with its fleshly desires, not realizing that Jesus took care of that person when He died upon the cross. Our old self was crucified with Him! God will not help you fix your old self because He now considers it to be dead. Realizing this, we can now live in the knowledge that we have been freed from all of our past sins. They are under the blood of Jesus!

When you received Christ, you became a new creation. That is who the new man is and that is who you are. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV, words in emphasis mine.)

This means that we have to discard the ways of the old self and act according to ways of the new self, who has been created in the image of Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote:

That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts. (Ephesians 4:22 NKJV, words in emphasis mine.)

Then he wrote:

And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24 NKJV, words in emphasis mine.)

Do you see what the Holy Spirit is saying about you? Your new man (self) was created in righteousness and holiness. That is who you are in Christ!

This is why we cannot set our eyes upon ourselves. God wants us to see who we are in Christ. He wants us to focus on the righteousness and holiness we have because we are in Christ. Does that make sense to you?

Religion seeks to please God by doing certain works. God has called us up to a higher level: He has called us into a relationship with Himself. Therefore, we are not saved by our works – we are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the same way, we do not become righteous or holy by our works, but by faith in Christ. When we accepted Christ, we were clothed with His righteousness, and we became holy in Him. God wants us to forget all of our past sins and mistakes because He no longer remembers them. The writer of Hebrews wrote:

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12 NKJV, words in emphasis mine.)

If God doesn’t remember our past sins and failures, then why should we?

Our heavenly Father wants us to continually walk in the newness of life that we have in Christ. He wants us to keep our eyes firmly focused on the Lord Jesus Christ and who we are in Him. It is only then that we will see ourselves for who we really are. By focusing on the Lord Jesus, we will find it is much easier to live a holy life because we will think, talk and act just like Him.

You are holy, dear saint!

Steve Smith

Have you discovered that it is easier to live a holy life when you focus on the holiness of the Lord, instead of yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]

 

Where is Your Focus?

“Why does the devil seem to be giving me so many problems lately?”

As we set our attention on the problems and difficulties we are facing, we may feel alarmed at what the enemy seems to be doing. When we look at ourselves, we may only see weaknesses and failures. Then as we view what is happening in the world and see all the evil that is out there, it often fills us with dismay.

Have you ever noticed that the more we focus on the negative things in life, the darker our world looks? The result is our thoughts may be clouded with fear, doubt, and discouragement. When everything around seems to look bleak and depressing, what can we do? The answer is simple: God wants us to change our focus!

You may recall the story where Peter found himself in a predicament. He had boldly started walking on the water toward Jesus and everything seemed to be going well. However, the moment he got his eyes off of the Lord, he began to focus on the wind and the waves around him. Fear gripped his heart and he began to doubt. Sinking down into the water, he cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” (See Matthew 14:25-33)

Peter got his eyes back on the Lord, and the Lord rescued him.

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ ” (Matthew 14:31 NKJV)

The key to staying above our circumstances is to keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith. When we take our eyes off of Him and begin to pay attention to all the things that are going on around us, we begin to sink down into those negative feelings. When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we need to look up from our circumstances and fix our attention on the One who gives us the victory.

“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV)

The victory begins the moment we fix our eyes on the Lord!

In the Old Testament, King Jehoshaphat was filled with fear and dismay when he saw Israel surrounded by a vast army set to attack them. He looked at the great strength of the enemy, then he looked at the weakness of his own army. The situation looked utterly hopeless, but he got his eyes off the circumstances and upon the Lord. He began to pray:

“O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NKJV, words in emphasis mine.)

As long as he kept his eyes on the enemy, he felt overwhelmed with the feeling of impending defeat. However, the moment he set his eyes upon the Lord, his victory began. The Lord turned his situation completely around and the nation of Israel triumphed over their enemies. Like Jehoshaphat, we need to stop setting our eyes on what the enemy is doing and fix our eyes on what the Lord is able to do.

The Psalmist, David, often found himself in similar situations. One day he gazed off into the distance toward the hills and said:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help?” (Psalm 121:1 NKJV)

Then he looked a little higher, and exclaimed:

“My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1 NKJV)

As long as David’s eyes were focused on this earthly realm, the situation looked bleak. As soon as he changed his focus on the Lord, he remembered the greatness of God – He was the One who created everything in Heaven and on the earth.

We also need to see God as Someone who is bigger than our problems! There is a wonderful promise in the Old Testament that reminds us of where our focus should be:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)

We can go from fear and defeat to faith and victory – the moment we set our focus completely on the Lord!

You are holy, dear saint!

Steve Smith

Have you noticed that your world seems much darker, when you only focus on what the enemy is doing? Let me know in the comments below!

[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]

 

God’s Love for a Little Child

“Daddy, daddy, I’ve got Jesus in my spirit!”

My daughter exclaimed these words to me with a look of excitement on her face. She wanted to impress me with what she had just begun to understand. How was a four-year-old girl able to comprehend such a thing? I hadn’t used that terminology with her. Her heavenly Father had revealed it to her through the Holy Spirit!

When Simon made his famous declaration of faith that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus said:

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17 NKJV)

Little children are no different. The Father is able to reveal the reality of Christ to them, just as He can with any adult. I know this from experience because I also received Christ into my heart before the age of four.

In this part of the world, we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day every year. What makes someone a mother or a father? Their children! Children are God’s gift to us. The Psalmist wrote:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalm 127:3 NKJV)

God has given us these precious little lives so that we can lead them into an understanding of who He is. This applies whether we are a father, mother, uncle, aunt, grandparent or someone who looks after little children at church. Each one of us can have a life-giving impact on the heart of a little child just by letting them know that Jesus loves them.

Some parents see no need to lead their little ones to Christ. They feel that their children can make that decision for themselves when they are older. Others think that little children are too young to understand spiritual things. But Jesus has a special love for these little ones. He said to His disciples:

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14 NKJV)

Sadly, when parents neglect to lead their children to Christ while they are small, many of these children drift away from church later, when they are old enough to make their own decisions. The best time to lead a child to Christ is before the age of four. Christ comes and makes His home in their spirits and they become a new creation in Him. It is not important whether they can understand it mentally because the new birth is a spiritual experience.

Jesus said:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6 NKJV)

The Apostle Paul wrote:

But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV)

This applies to both children and adults!

Once a small child receives Christ into his or her heart, then it is our responsibility to teach them about Jesus and help them understand who they are in Christ.

Solomon wrote:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)

This is not only a wise word of advice, but it is also a promise from God. We have to stand on this verse and believe that God will keep our children from straying from what the Holy Spirit has taught them. It is important for us to believe that the same God who revealed Christ to our little children, is also the One who will keep them walking with Christ when they are older. Don’t you agree?

When the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he thanked God for the spiritual heritage this young man had received:

When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5 NKJV, emphasis mine.)

As in the case of Timothy, who became a great servant of God, the greatest inheritance we can give our children or grandchildren is their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

You are holy, dear saint!

Steve Smith

Do you know a small child in your family or in your care who has received Christ into his or her heart? Let me know in the comments below!

[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]

 

 

 

 

You are a Beacon of Light

Did you know that as a believer, you change the atmosphere wherever you go in this world?

We live in a world of darkness, though some may not realize it. Before we came to Christ we were a part of the world, and also a part of that darkness. We were lost in sin, and death reigned over our lives.

Jesus is the light of the world. The moment that Christ came into our hearts, that light came to dwell in us.

When Jesus lived in this earthly realm, He said to those who followed Him:

I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)

He also explained to them:

While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you might become sons of light.” (John 12:36 NKJV)

When we believed in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we became a child of light. No longer are we a part of the darkness of the earthly system, we are light, just like our heavenly Father. This means that the day we accepted Christ into our hearts, He came to dwell in us and shine His heavenly light through us.

Now it’s our responsibility to let that light shine so that others may be drawn into it as well. In everything we say and do, God wants us to live our lives in such a way that we let the light of Christ shine. He wants it to be clearly visible to those around us. Every time we walk into a room for the first time, we change the atmosphere of that place because the light of the glory of God within us fills the entire room. Isn’t that amazing?

This is why the Apostle Paul wrote:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8 NKJV)

It is important as believers that we see ourselves the way the Bible describes us. Many times we have a poor self-image. We go about our daily lives as if we are no different than the people that we interact with. Many of us lament the fact that we work at a place where there are no other professing Christians, but that is actually a good place for us to shine.

We may not realize it, but God often puts us in difficult workplaces, so that we can shine even brighter. He doesn’t want us to hide our light, but look for opportunities to allow Christ to be seen in us. Our very presence changes the environment of the place where we are working. When people see the love, joy, and peace that God has brought into our lives, they can see Jesus in us. Many times these people have family members who are praying for them, and God may use us to answer their prayers.

Jesus said:

“You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14 NKJV)

He went on to say:

“A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15 NKJV)

If we ask God to help us shine like a beacon wherever we go, whether in our own family, at work, or the grocery store, we will be delighted at what God will do through us. This is why Jesus said:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)

Sometimes, we reveal Christ by praying for those around us. When we see someone going through a difficult situation, we shouldn’t be afraid to tell them that we are praying for them. Eventually, we will begin to see God do things in people’s lives. Our hope is that they will realize that God loves them and cares for them.

It is much easier to love those around us when we have joy in our lives. Praise is a vital key to having joy. When we learn to praise God and be thankful in all circumstances, we soon feel joy bubbling up inside of us. As a result, we will experience the peace of God in our hearts, even in difficult situations. This is what the world is looking for, and this is what they will see in us if we let the light shine.

You are holy, dear saint!

Steve Smith

Have you asked God to help you be a beacon of light wherever you go? Let me know in the comments below!

[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]

 

 

Keep It Simple, Saint

Have you ever thought that living a holy life seems to be far too complicated?

In our zeal to serve God, we often make things difficult and confusing. We may listen to a sermon on Sunday or read a book on the subject of holiness, and receive a long list of what we should and shouldn’t be doing as believers in Christ. We are often taught that the more we do for God, the more holy we will be.

When we look at the New Testament church in the Book of Acts, they seemed to have lived much simpler lives. Their single focus seemed to be to win souls for the Kingdom of God and then enjoy the fellowship of their worship together. After the Day of Pentecost, the early believers eagerly shared their new-found faith wherever they gathered together:

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47 NKJV)

It was the simplicity of their faith that attracted people to the fledgling church. The saints were continually filled with gladness and joy as they gathered together in fellowship with one another. Above all else, there was an atmosphere of love and expectancy in their gatherings. Every day new believers were added to their numbers. It was an exciting time to live for God!

It wasn’t long before some people wanted to add new rules and regulations to a believer’s way of life. No longer was it enough to simply serve the Lord. Eventually, it became accepted that the longer the list of rules, the more pleasing a person would be to God. By the time the Church had become well established, the Apostle Paul could see that the believers were being drawn increasingly away from the simplicity of their faith in Christ. This is why he wrote:

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV)

This deception continues today: that the more we do, the more pleasing we are to God. Jesus doesn’t want us to be burdened down with the weight of things we have to do. He wants our life of holiness to be full of joy and gladness. This is why He appealed to those who sought to follow Him:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

The walk of holiness is meant to be easy and light, not hard and overbearing. God wants us to keep it simple. If things become burdensome, then we know we are going in the wrong direction.

You may have heard the saying: The simplest answer is usually the right one. This word of wisdom that has been passed down through the centuries. It is certainly a principle that we need to apply to our lives today. If we are sensitive to God’s voice, He will guide us in how He wants us to walk with Him. He will speak to us through His Word and through the still small voice we hear in our spirit. It pleases Him when we do what He says:

But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46 NKJV)

Jesus is not interested in how much we know or even how much we do for Him. His desire is that we have learned to obey His voice! He wants us to be only concerned with what He has told us to do, not what others have told us we should be doing.

He wants us to keep it simple, saint!

Can you see areas in your walk with the Lord that need to be simplified? Let me know in the comments below!

[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]

 

 

 

Be a Quick Doer

Have you ever wondered what kind of believer pleases God the most?

Many people in the church today think that those who are the most correct in their doctrine or theology please God more than anyone else. But God is not impressed with what we know, He is more impressed by what we do. In the Parable of the Talents, we see that it was only the servants who did well that received the praise of their master:

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)

God isn’t as impressed with those who have great theology or doctrine, as much as those who seek to please Him by what they do. He is not looking for those who are quick to hear what He says, as much as those who are quick to do what He has told them to do in His Word. This is why the Apostle James wrote:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22 NKJV)

Those who think that having great Bible knowledge is what impresses God the most, are only deceiving themselves. It is only those who practice God’s Word who actually please God. This is why Jesus said:

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17 NKJV) 

With this in mind, let us look at the kind of believer who pleases God the most.

First, God is pleased with those who are quick to repent. Many of God’s children run around with soiled garments because they are slow to repent and confess their sins. God wants us to be quick to admit we have sinned and keep ourselves free from sin. This is why Apostle John wrote:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

It is amazing to realize that God is eagerly waiting for us to acknowledge our sins, just so that He can forgive us. He wants us to live free from the pollution of the world!

The next kind of believer that God is looking for is those who are quick to forgive. God is quick to forgive us for our wrongdoing, and He expects us to be just like Him. He wants us to be always quick to forgive when people do things against us. Jesus made this very clear when He warned:

“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:26 NKJV)

We need to take forgiving others very seriously and be ready to forgive, even before people have wronged us.

It shouldn’t surprise us to hear that those who are quick to humble themselves are also pleasing to God. If we walk in humility, we will be more prone to repent and be forgiving. This is why it is so important for us to learn how to humble ourselves before God and also before others.

Jesus said:

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11 NKJV)

Those who are humble in heart resonate with the heart of the Father. He loves being around that kind of believer!

It also pleases God when His children are quick to believe what He has written in His Word or has spoken to their hearts.

Notice what Jesus said to those who did not believe the report about His resurrection:

“Then He said to them,’O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!’ ” (Luke 24:25 NKJV)

God wants us to be quick to believe what He says, and He wants us to be quick to act on His promises, claiming them for ourselves.

In the same way, God wants us to be quick to obey Him when He speaks to us, or we read a commandment in His Word. When the Lord sent King Saul on a mission, He expected him to do everything He told him to do. However, Saul got his eyes off the commandment of the Lord and began to listen to the people. Instead of killing all the livestock as he had been instructed, he kept them to sacrifice to the Lord. The result was he disobeyed God. The Prophet Samuel then said to him these words:

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV)

When we know that God has told us to do something either from His Word or directly to our hearts, we need to be quick to do it. Those who purpose in their hearts to obey the Lord the moment they know He has spoken to them, are pleasing God far more than those who don’t. Does that make sense to you?

Above all else, God is pleased with those who are quick to love others. If we say we love God with all of our hearts, but we don’t walk in love for those around us, then our love for God is not as great as we think. The Apostle John, who was also known as the Apostle of Love, wrote:

And this commandment we have from Him; that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:21 NKJV)

God has given us a measuring stick by which we can determine how much we love Him: We do not love God any more than we love those around us. God has commanded us to love one another as He has loved us. If we really love Him, then we will also obey Him. He has loved us unconditionally, and He delights in us when we are quick to love others the same way. That is the kind of believer that pleases Him the most!

You are holy, dear saint!

Have you discovered the things which please God the most in your walk with Him? Let me know in the comments below!

[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]

 

 

 

The Mountain that Stands Before You

Have you ever had an obstacle get in your way that seemed as big as a mountain?

Usually, we find solutions to the problems and difficulties that come our way. However, there may be a time that we encounter something so big that it seems impassable. There may be no solution to the situation, and we can’t seem to find a way to even get around it. That is what we might call a mountain!

Sometimes our mountain isn’t an obstacle, but a desire we have in our heart. We may have wanted to accomplish something in our lifetime, but it became too difficult to achieve. Efforts to reach the summit of that mountain failed, and we had no idea how to accomplish our dream.

We can rejoice to know that there is Someone who is bigger than our mountains, and He is always ready to come to our rescue. He wants us to know that the mountain that stands in our way, or the height that we long to attain, will one day be the testimony upon which we will stand. If we are going to ever achieve our goal, it is necessary to believe that.

Whether we are talking about high mountains or deep valleys, we find these metaphors in various places in the Bible. God wants us to know that mountains are His specialty. He knows how to deal with them!

In the Old Testament, after the exile of the Jewish people in Babylon, the  Lord commissioned Zerubbabel to start rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. To Zerubbabel this may have seemed like an impossible task – like a great mountain standing before him! The Lord sent the Prophet Zechariah to encourage him with these words:

“Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” (Zechariah 4:7 NKJV)

God did not want him to rebuild the temple in his own strength. He wanted him to do it by the strength of the Lord! This is why he said to him:

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6 NKJV)

Many times we try to overcome difficult situations in our own might and power. God knows that we cannot do that. He encourages us to stop trying to do everything ourselves and start doing it by His power and ability. With God, we can accomplish the impossible!

When the disciples of Jesus failed to bring deliverance to a little boy, they asked Jesus why they had not been able to cast the demon out. Jesus told them:

Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’ ” (Matthew 17:20 NKJV)

The secret to overcoming mountains is not to look at the size of our faith, how small it is, nor the size of the mountain, as to how big it is. We need to focus all of our attention on God who is bigger than any mountain we may face. He is the One who will make our mountain like a flat plain before us, and it will be accomplished by His grace alone. Faith laughs at impossibilities and declares that it is done, in Jesus’ name!

The Psalmist David wrote:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV)

Whenever we face a great mountain, we need to lift up our eyes above the circumstances and declare the greatness of God. He is far greater than anything we may face. He is the One who created heaven and earth, and He is our mountain mover!

Declaring the greatness of God and lifting up our voices in praise, worship, and adoration is the key to seeing victory over the mountains we face. It is God’s might, power, and glory that will give us the victory. Nothing we can do in our own strength will suffice, we must rely completely on the Lord. He is our victory and through Him, we can accomplish the impossible. We need to see beyond the mountain and see ourselves testifying to the greatness of God when the mountain has been removed. The mountain you face today will one day be your testimony to the glory of God, who gave you the victory and helped you overcome when everything seemed impossible.

You are holy, dear saint!

Have you seen God help you overcome an impossible situation that loomed like a mountain before you? Let me know in the comments below!

[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]