As Christians we* should always be alert. Selfish ambition and vain conceit are traps. ~ Lisa Blair
When we focus on others and not ourselves, we are the servants Christ encourages us to be.
The world promotes ‘it’s about you’ in every arena. Everywhere you look the focus is on the individual. The Internet is replete with Instagrams, TikTok, Facebook and many more. We have been indoctrinated by the evil ones ploy to separate us from God pushing the ‘me first’ philosophy.
God is all knowing and alerts us of the ploy of self righteousness and vain conceit through the inspired writings of Apostle Paul, the author of Philippians 2:3-4. I am inserting various versions to clarify, evil is always lurking and we must stay alert and dedicate our lives to making the world a better place by living like Christ.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4 NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/php.2.3-4.NLT
“Let nothing be done out of strife or conceit, but in humility let each esteem the other better than himself. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 MEV https://bible.com/bible/1171/php.2.3-4.MEV
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV https://bible.com/bible/114/php.2.3-4.NKJV
Each version is clear – like Christ, we should esteem ourselves as servants. Servitude in this instance is not waiting for instruction by the world, it is knowing that we were created to build our personal and public lives with humility. We don’t have to daily announce our greatness or victories. We possess greatness and victories as part of our DNA.
Our DNA proves we are part of the bloodline of Christ, part of the Trinity. Our DNA began before the beginning of time, before God created the earth and everything on it, including us.
Jeremiah 1:5 and Ephesians 1:3-6 informs us that God made us and therefore knew us before we were born.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love; He predestined us to adoption as sons to Himself through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace which He graciously bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6 MEV https://bible.com/bible/1171/eph.1.3-6.MEV
* When I use the plural, we, I always include me. My posts are not written excluding me from the discussion. I am also struggling to live life exuding Christlike behaviors, by applying His attitude as Christians. It is not always an easy path, we are in the battle of good and evil and often find ourselves lured by the bright lights of this world. The scriptures in the Bible is the only thing that can point us to Christ, especially in our weaker moments. The Holy Spirit is the only person that can redirect us, though our Christian friends, as the scripture informs, can pull us aside and talk truth without offense-in short help set us back on the path.
Remember, we are not our own.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,” 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/1co.6.19.NLT
In closing, please know that every time I think about you (my readers), I thank God for you. God knew us before we were born and knows the challenges that lie before us. I pray that He keeps you covered and places a hedge of protection around you.
It’s amazing, man took eons to learn how to heal a heart, a physical transition from illness to becoming healthy. But, there are two types of heart surgery. ~ Lisa Blair
The heart surgery in Ezekiel 36:26 ESV is speaking about a spiritual heart surgery. This is not specific to a physical failure of the heart, the muscle is fine, it is speaking about our transition from our old way of living to our new life. Ezekiel was a priest and prophet in the Old Testament who foretold the coming of Christ. Barnes’ Notes informs us that we (individuals) would move from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law, or to put it another way, we will move from the Old Testament Law to the Gospel of Christ. For new Bible readers, we moved from the Law of Moses to the Law of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains, our new heart creates a change in mind and will. It changes our spirit, our motives and principle of action. He further explains, a“stony heart—(is) unimpressible in serious things; like the “stony ground” (Mt 13:5, 20), unfit for receiving the good seed so as to bring forth fruit.
“(A) heart of flesh—(is) not “carnal” in opposition to “spiritual”; but impressible and docile, fit for receiving the good seed. In Eze 18:31 they are commanded, “Make you a new heart, and a new spirit.” Here God says, “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Thus the responsibility of man, and the sovereign grace of God, are shown to be coexistent. Man cannot make himself a new heart unless God gives it (Php 2:12, 13).”
Spiritual heart surgery opens our hearts allowing the Holy Spirit and the individual (you) to live in relationship, to coexist together in our physical being. Our heart becomes a new house, it becomes a home. As with any home, there is family and a head of the family. Our head is the Holy Spirit who guides us, directs us, and corrects us. It is the quiet voice that we here saying, go this way, do not stray, do not go to the left or right, follow me.
Other Posts on this subject. lisasdailyinspirations.com
The road we walk is self-selected, but we are not doomed to walk the wrong path, God gave us a choice.
~ Lisa Blair
This is a long post, please bare with me.
As Christians, we listen to God speak to us and then reinterpret what He said to continue down the path of self-interpretation. In short, we change how we should do what He said to soften the outcome. God’s primary command is to obey Him, yet we often choose to ignore His commands for our lives, thus the quote, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Our intentions are good but fall short of following His precept to be obedient. Obedience a requires 100% response. You cannot be 50%, or 75%, or 99.9% obedient. You are either obedient or you are not obedient, no matter the intention. God speaks to us, we either respond obediently or we disobey.
Take the case of Saul in Samuel 15.
Saul Disobeys the Lord
One day, Samuel told Saul:
The Lord told me to choose you to be king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord: 2 “When the Israelites were on their way out of Egypt, the nation of Amalek attacked them. I am the Lord All-Powerful, and now I am going to make Amalek pay!
The Kenites left, 7 and Saul attacked the Amalekites from Havilah[b] to Shur, which is just east of Egypt. 8 Every Amalekite was killed except King Agag. 9 Saul and his army let Agag live, and they also spared the best sheep and cattle. They didn’t want to destroy anything of value, so they only killed the animals that were worthless or weak.[c]
The Lord Rejects Saul
10 The Lord told Samuel, 11 “Saul has stopped obeying me, and I’m sorry that I made him king.”
Samuel was angry, and he cried out in prayer to the Lord all night. 12 Early the next morning he went to talk with Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to Carmel, where he had a monument built so everyone would remember his victory. Then he left for Gilgal.”
13 Samuel finally caught up with Saul,[d] and Saul told him, “I hope the Lord will bless you! I have done what the Lord told me.”
14 “Then why,” Samuel asked, “do I hear sheep and cattle?”
15 “The army took them from the Amalekites,” Saul explained. “They kept the best sheep and cattle, so they could sacrifice them to the Lord your God. But we destroyed everything else.”
16 “Stop!” Samuel said. “Let me tell you what the Lord told me last night.”
“All right,” Saul answered.
17 Samuel continued, “You may not think you’re very important, but the Lord chose you to be king, and you are in charge of the tribes of Israel. 18 When the Lord sent you on this mission, he told you to wipe out those worthless Amalekites. 19 Why didn’t you listen to the Lord? Why did you keep the animals and make him angry?”
20 “But I did listen to the Lord!” Saul answered. “He sent me on a mission, and I went. I captured King Agag and destroyed his nation. 21 All the animals were going to be destroyed[e] anyway. That’s why the army brought the best sheep and cattle to Gilgal as sacrifices to the Lord your God.”
22 “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him. 23 Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can no longer be king.”
26 “No!” Samuel replied, “You disobeyed the Lord, and I won’t go back with you. Now the Lord has said that you can’t be king of Israel any longer.”
27 As Samuel turned to go, Saul grabbed the edge of Samuel’s robe. It tore! 28 Samuel said, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you today, and he will give it to someone who is better than you. 29 Besides, the eternal[f] God of Israel isn’t a human being. He doesn’t tell lies or change his mind.”
30 Saul said, “I did sin, but please honor me in front of the leaders of the army and the people of Israel. Come back with me, so I can worship the Lord your God.”
31 Samuel followed Saul back, and Saul worshiped the Lord. 32 Then Samuel shouted, “Bring me King Agag of Amalek!”
Agag came in chains,[g] and he was saying to himself, “Surely they won’t kill me now.”[h]
33 But Samuel said, “Agag, you have snatched children from their mothers’ arms and killed them. Now your mother will be without children.” Then Samuel chopped Agag to pieces at the place of worship in Gilgal.
34 Samuel went home to Ramah, and Saul returned to his home in Gibeah. 35 Even though Samuel felt sad about Saul, Samuel never saw him again. (1 Samuel 15, CEV.Biblegateway.com)
The Lord spoke to Samuel and instructed him to speak to Saul. Samuel told Saul to “Go and attack the Amalekites! Destroy them and all their possessions. Don’t have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies. Slaughter their cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.”
When Saul reported back to Samuel, Samuel asked if he completed the mission as commanded. Saul said ‘yes’, but as my pastor said, Samuel could hear the sheep in the background. Samuel asked again and learned that Saul killed all of the Amalekites except King Agag and the best cattle and sheep. This was an act of defiance, disobedience. Best intentions?
In verse 22, Samuel said, 22” “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him. 23 Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you…”
When we begin to manipulate what God told us to do, the outcome is not the outcome God planned for us. Think back to when you were a child. Your parents told you to clean your room and then you can go out to play when you are done. Sound familiar, what did you do? Your friends are waiting for you, so you smoothed out your bed spread and pushed clothes and toys under your bed or in the closet. You called your mother, who entered your room and looked around, but since it only took a few minutes, knew something was amiss. She opened the closet, looked down and saw something sticking out from under the bed and turned around to address you. The result was not as planned, you were grounded and could not go out and play. The story is not about being grounded; it is about partial obedience. The moral of the story is that partial obedience does not result in the outcome you expected.
This is the case when God instructs us in what to do. We try to get around the full request. Sometimes, it is because we are afraid. Sometimes it is because it may cause slight discomfort, and sometimes it just does not seem to be the answer we wanted, again like Saul who tried to justify his decision to only follow part of the instructions he had been given. All too often our intention to obey is lost in self gratification. You cannot receive the intended outcome if you fail to follow the full instructions.
Verse 24 reads, ““I have sinned,” Saul admitted. “I disobeyed both you and the Lord. I was afraid of the army, and I listened to them instead.” We often listen to our inner voice. The inner voice is our carnal voice governed by Satan. It is the same voice Eve heard in the Garden of Eden. The intention of this Post to remind us that we must discern the voices, who are we listening to, the voice of God or the voice of the evil one, the great impersonator.
I will go out on a limb and say, when we alter God’s instructions to fit our needs, we reap the results that look nothing like the intended outcome, instead we reap the consequences of being disobedient. We, like the child, find ourselves in a predicament we created by our defiance to do what we were told.
When we disobey the Lord, we are walking down the road paved by our good intentions, but it is not the road to heaven, it is the road to hell.
But this is not the end. The Book of Samuel is part of the Old Testament and Christ had not yet visited earth or had been crucified. The New Testament informs us that Christ died for our sins, and we have been freed from eternal, no escape, sin. We are not destined to walk down the paved road that leads to hell. God gave us the freedom to choose. We can follow Him if we choose or deny Him and live our lives relying on our own decisions, good intentions. I choose to live in a relationship with the Lord. Do I sin, certainly, I do, we all do, that is, until Christ returns to redeem us.
Life lessons provide wisdom to follow our Lord and live by His Word. As we mature, we more readily repent of the sin we committed and over time, no longer adhere to our old habits. We can choose to travel down the road paved by good intentions, or we can obey the Lord and change lanes from the road that leads to hell, that is – self affirming, manipulated intentions, or to coin another phrase, we can ‘begin to walk down the straight and narrow’ the best we can.
God tells us, ‘not to look to the left or right’. Why you ask, enticement resides on the side roads to the left or right. Do not veer. Walk straight ahead with blinders if needed, God is leading you down the paved road to heaven. Proverbs 4:27 NKJV warns us, “turn not to the right or left; Remove your foot from evil.” The NLT version reads, “Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” And, the EST version warns, “Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
The key terms are: turn not, sidetracked, or swerve. They all lead to good intentions and are unfruitful. They lead us down the path of disobedience, coined the path to hell.
The thing we all must remember is that good intentions or bad intentions, both driven by self gratification are not a form of obedience. Both lead to hell. There is no justification for our actions as seen in the story of Saul. His hell was the loss of being king and possibly the eventual aftermath. Repentance is the catalyst, obedience is the key in moving forward.
Resources: biblegateway.com; biblestudytools.com; biblehub.com. Images: Google Images, sites noted below the image.
Micah 6:8 is a short verse, and is packed with instructions to become a better person. This post could be entitled, ‘How to become a better follower of Christ’, or ‘Improving our walk with Christ.’
“…there is no forgiveness without repentance, and that repentance is but a name, unless there be a ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well…” (Benson Commentary. Biblehub.com)
I have written many posts that focus on forgiveness. There is no end to the process. With each reading we learn more about forgiveness and repentance. They are tied to justice, compassion, kindness, mercy, humility, and sacrifice. These are traits Christ modeled during His walk on earth.
If we want to walk with Christ, it requires more than simply testifying that we forgive, we mush repent and as Benson wrote, cease to do evil. We must replace evil, e.g., being self-righteous, and self serving and become servants, and ambassadors of the Lord. This type of action does not determine salvation. We cannot acquire it to what we do, it is not by our work, salvation is a gift from God. HOWEVER, it is through our work, actions, and practices that we become closer to God because we must think on these things before we act, this links us to God’s instructions in a deliberate way.
We cannot expect justice until we act justly; we cannot expect compassion until we have compassion for others; we cannot expect kindness until we demonstrate kindness through our actions; we cannot expect a merciful society and world until we demonstrate mercy in our daily walk; we cannot expect the world to be a humble place until we demonstrate humility towards others; we cannot expect others to sacrifice until we work to strip ourselves of being self-righteous. Walking with Christ is more than trying to keep in step with His walk. He was sent to earth to model what it means to possess God in our hearts.
We are one people, culture and race create diversity, but does not negate oneness. We are all God’s children. A friend put it this way, Christ came to earth, modeled His purpose, was Crucified, said to the thief, ‘on this day you will be with me’. He did not take time to evaluate if the thief was worth saving, no, He takes us as we are, that is our salvation. The way in which we choose to live life demonstrates that receiving Christ is more that reciting scripture, it is acting the intentions set forth in scriptures in our daily walk. Our faith is demonstrated through our actions.
If our actions do not align with our faith, it is incumbent upon us to ask for forgiveness, repent, and cease doing evil. We are asking God to forgive us. This happens when we experience the need to repent from the heart, not the mind, meaning we truly experience the sorrow our actions we committed that are not aligned with God’s Word. This is Godly sorrow, heartfelt sorrow, not a sorrow we experience momentarily before we repeat the act we are seeking forgiveness for.
You can ask for forgiveness, but until we truly repent, the forgiveness is fleeting (because) there is no heart felt godly sorrow. Godly sorrow creates the process of change. It weakens and eliminates the evil we demonstrate in our walk, we continually become new creatures in Christ as we strip away our carnal behavior.