Monday, April 29, 2013

Obedience






One evening a Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle going on inside him: "My son, it is between two wolves. One is evil: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it and asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee replied, "The one that I feed."

Like the old Cherokee in the story, and like all of us, David had a battle raging inside of him. He asked, "How can a young person stay on the path of purity?" In other words, how can we guarantee that the good wolf will win? In the tug-of-war within every human being, how can we change the odds in favor of good and less in favor of evil?

Obedience calls us to challenge and lay aside anything that hinders our walk with God. Instead, we refuse to forsake cherished sin, allowing wrong attitudes to take root and prosper while harmful habits hold us prisoner. The writer of Hebrews offers compelling direction for the captured soul longing to be free. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Obedience brings freedom.

In the same way, when we follow God's path, he goes with us. His presence with us on the journey is more important than anything else—even the destination. "How good it is to be near God!" (Psalm 73:28). God can see the end of your journey from the beginning, and he will go with you.

Until we understand who we are in His eyes, we will never truly be free. Our value and worth rest solely in the fact that we were created, chosen and pursued by God – for God. We belong to Him. His unconditional love sets us free to become all He created us to be which is more than we ever dreamed we could be. In Romans 5:8  the words of Paul celebrate our identity in Him, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners.” Recognizing our worth and value to God sets us free from the chains of human expectations and earthly demands. Understanding brings freedom.

Christ really has set us free. The question is - are we living in that freedom? Don’t live another day chained to the old ways. Seek His truth, walk in obedience and celebrate your God-created identity! Free – free at last!

The Cross established Christ's memorial in the form of Communion. As Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples, He also began Communion, the First Supper. Communion reminds us of the enormity of our sin, and the generosity of God's grace. Communion reminds us of the price that Jesus paid for the forgiveness of sins.

Whenever we receive Communion, we must do so in humility and brokenness before God. We must rejoice and be grateful and thankful for our salvation.

This Cross that fulfilled Passover and began Communion has power in our daily lives. When we live under the Cross of Christ, we can say to whatever guilt or shame plaguing us: "Jesus nailed it all to the Cross." When Satan accuses us and reminds us of past sins, we can say, "Jesus nailed it all to the Cross." When we are tempted to think of ourselves as failures, we can remind ourselves that Jesus made us victors when he nailed it to the Cross.

Only in the Cross of Christ will we receive power when we are powerless. We will find strength when we are weak. We will experience hope when our situation is hopeless. Only in the Cross is there peace for our troubled hearts. 

Abraham Lincoln said, 'Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.' If people don't have the right outlook in life, you, and a hundred others like you, won't make them happy. 

Jesus said, '...In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world' (John 16:33 NKJV). As long as you're in this world you'll have problems. Nobody gets a free pass. But don't worry; the Lord's got everything under control. Just learn to be realistic. You will always have to deal with unpleasant situations, stubborn problems and difficult people. But your attitude (not theirs) is what determines whether or not you enjoy life.

Sometimes we need to feel inspired and connected; other times we need to simply walk in obedience. As we keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate goal, we will succeed.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


Friday, April 26, 2013

Prefer to grow in faith




For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 2:16,17 NASB

God can give you rest in the midst of trouble, and peace in the midst of conflict. That includes a difficult workplace, or a home that's in constant turmoil. God's presence can help you to show love in the face of mistreatment, and patience in times of stress. It can help you to bring positive change without a lot of words, and end up feeling good about the way you handled things. So spend time in God's presence today.

Yet if we believe He is who He says He is, how can surrendering to His way not be to our benefit? Think about His unique, praiseworthy qualities:

    His all-encompassing knowledge. Unlike us, the Lord has complete awareness about our world and the details of every individual life--past, present, and future.

    His complete wisdom. God understands man's every motive, whereas none of us are able to accurately discern people's intentions. We make choices based on partial information, whereas He has the wisdom to take action based on truth.

    His unconditional love. Our Creator is always motivated by love and constantly has our best in mind. Unless we trust His heart, our view of reality will be distorted.

    His perfect sufficiency. At just the right time, God will provide us with everything we need to carry out His plan.

Frequently, a Christian's trials involve people, often those close to him: relatives, business coworkers, or social acquaintances. Nothing is more consistently difficult than interpersonal relationships. Paul writes in Philippians 2:14-15, "Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." He tells the Corinthians, ". . . nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer" (I Corinthians 10:10). Finally, Peter advises, "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling" (I Peter 4:9). Frankincense represents the pleasant satisfaction God experiences when His children endure without grumbling the hardships of unstinting service, especially to their brethren.


Your dream will never be fulfilled unless you're willing to pay the price that comes with it. And that price is paid not once, but over a lifetime.

First, there's the initial cost. You will have to make personal and sometimes painful sacrifices. You may have to walk away from attractive options and valued relationships because they don't fit into God's plan for your life. Leaving things that have given you your security and your identity will require grit and grace that only God can provide. Paul's résumé included being '...of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews...a Pharisee' (Philippians 3:5 NIV). Paul once had wealth and status. Scholars reckon that when he committed his life to Christ, as was customary, his friends and family would have held a funeral service and considered him 'dead' to them from that point forward. Paul's calling was to cover Asia with the Gospel and write half the New Testament. But great assignments call for great sacrifice. And Paul wasn't alone. 'By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward' (Hebrews 11:24-26 NIV).

So the questions are: Has God given you a dream? Do you have the faith and fortitude to fulfil it? Have you counted the cost and are you ready to pay it?

In my closing, I would like to share an interesting note:

Fields Industries was made great by one man: Sam Fields. He devoted himself to his work, and he made a fortune by his efforts. During his climb to the top, he experienced two divorces; lost both parents, but was unable to attend their funerals because of business conflicts; watched his health deteriorate; and was in part responsible for the suicide of one of his competitors. To his way of thinking, the benefits always outweighed the costs.

Men like Fields are not unusual in our world today. Nothing stands in the way of their climb to the top. Sadly, these men do not realize they have set an inferior goal for themselves. The top of the corporate ladder is far short of the top of the eternal ladder that God has set before us. What does it profit a man to save his life, if he forfeits his soul? Men and women who have sacrificed themselves totally to earthly gain can carry nothing with them beyond the grave. There they will stand naked to face judgment for a life poorly lived. Is it worth the price?

We would probably all prefer to grow in our faith without ever making a mistake before God's eyes, but we cannot deny that missteps are instructive. Failure teaches believers that it is much wiser and more profitable to be obedient to the Lord. That's a lesson we all should take to heart.

We need to be crystal clear about where we are headed in life if we want to ensure that we stay on the right track. Every decision we make and every step that we take ought to be guided by our desired destination. Wherever we go, let’s make sure that we are headed toward God.

Blessings

Raj Kosaraju