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“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

– John 4:34 NIV

What motivates you to work hard? What drives you to excel? What pushes you to be the best at what you do? What inspires you to give your all, not settle for less, go for the gold, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, or never say die?

I have always enjoyed reading the verse in the Gospel of John 4:34. The statement Jesus makes to His disciples about the ‘food’ that drives Him to live out the will of his Father continues, to this day, to be a source of inspiration and motivation for me to remain grounded in the simplicity of the ‘purpose’ of life. Jesus is indirectly communicating, by using the topic of food, what inspires and motivates Him to live and experience the fullness of life He came for us to have.

Food, quite simply, satisfies our hunger and provides fuel for the body. Jesus, then, is using the topic of food with the disciples as a teachable moment to address a greater issue of life’s true purpose, as He had just finished using the topic of ‘water’ to lead the woman at the well towards salvation through revelation of Himself as the source in their dialogue about ‘living water.’

In that same vain, in relation to the questions posed at the beginning of this writing, what is your ‘food?’ For the Christian, should not each of us express the same passion for doing the will of God and finishing the work of God as Jesus expressed? A recent conversation on this verse reminded me of the truth that the same Jesus who declared His passion for living, or His ‘food,’ now lives in me. Which means I can learn to allow ‘doing the will of God,’ and ‘finishing the work He prepared in advance for me to do,’ to be my food as it was for Jesus. Much like the scriptures says about letting this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Father, bless us and help us to allow the mind of Christ to inspire us and motivate us to act in living with the same passion and purpose as Christ lived so we may do Your will and finish the work You prepared in advance for us to do.

OutOfTheDarkness

Discover God’s plan, purpose, fulfillment, power, and glory revealed in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and experience the elevated, expanded, exponential lifestyle encountered walking by faith. Order on-line from the links on my blog!

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

– Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV

Is determination a character trait I am born with, or is it a learned behavior, or both?

Consider the child that learns to walk. What do we learn from this example on the subject of determination and walking by faith? When you read and reflect upon the verse of scripture provided as the inspiration for this post, what is explained as the remedy for overcoming the hindrances of sin’s entanglement?

‘For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.’ – Proverbs 24:16 NIV

Is it that we learn determination, or the troubles of this life Jesus said we would have begin to affect us and influence within us a desire to quit, give up, give in, or is this capacity within us when we are born too? Consider this, even the Son of God sought to renegotiate His divine purpose of surrendering His life on the cross when He cried out to the Father, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ – Luke 22:42 NIV

The baby that learns to walk does so because they are determined to. Instinctually they are internally driven by their desire, and purpose, to achieve the goal of walking because of their desire to and internal drive to fulfill their divine purpose to walk upright. The word of God and the Spirit of God work together in the heart and mind of the child of God to inspire, nurture, and cultivate the same disposition and resolve for the child of God to display ‘determination’ as they walk by faith.

Father, bless us and help us to allow Your word and Your Spirit to continually cultivate within us the necessary resolve and determination to allow us to walk by faith and experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

OutOfTheDarkness

Discover insights on how to experience the elevated, expanded, exponential lifestyle experienced walking by faith and how God uses ‘circumstantial’ and ‘spiritual’ darkness to draw open hearts into a closer walk with Him. You can purchased an autographed copy (free shipping) at authorcjones@yahoo.com! Click the links (Tate or Amazon) on my blogroll to purchase your copy today!

‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.’

– Psalm 51:10, 12 NIV

Ever got sick of succumbing to a sin you’ve struggled and wrestled with in your faith walk with God? Ever wondered why your faith in Christ has not yet brought about deliverance from a particular sin? In the midst of your frustration, remorse, and grief over your sin, have you ever heard the still, small voice of God whisper to you, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in your weakness,’ as He whispered to the Apostle Paul?

Have you discovered the remedy of feeling sick of your sin?

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ – Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV

The word ‘determination’ resonated with me during the time I read and reflected upon Psalm 51 today. And from this 4 thoughts along with it:

  • My conscious recognition of my need for God, His grace and mercy, must increase and outlast my capacity and propensity to sin in order to remain sensitive to God’s holiness, sincere in my faith walk towards holiness, and be deliberate and intentional about not succumbing to the darkness within me, or the world around me.
  • How do I learn to be determined?
  • Am I as determined in my pursuit of intimacy with God as I am with others?
  • Do I consistently allow my sin, my past, the darkness, or the troubles of this life to discourage my pursuit of God?

Resolution: God’s arms are always open to me. ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ – Romans 7:24-25 NIV 

Father, bless us and help us to be determined to press forward, push past, and persevere beyond our sins that so easily entangle us being deliberate and intentional about experiencing the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

OutOfTheDarkness

Discover God’s plan, purpose, fulfillment, power, & glory revealed in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and experience the elevated, expanded, exponential lifestyle encountered walking by faith. Purchase your copy directly from my blogroll on the Tate Publishing, or amazon link.

“Two things I ask of you, Lorddo not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” 

– Proverbs 30:7-9 NIV

Since faith in Christ involves an intimate, personal relationship with God, this post is more about what I understand about what’s written in the Scriptures and I invite any who desire to share their thoughts about what’s written in this post, or their perspective of what they understand about faith & money.

Inspired from my recollection of the show hosted by Robin Leach, along with my recent success in publishing my first book and launching my business, this post is a continuation of talks and reflections I have had on the subject of faith and money.

What was seen as entertainment growing up, much like Entertainment Tonight, the television show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and contemporary shows like MTV Cribs help me to see as an adult the danger, deception, and temptations associated with allowing the love of money, pursuit of wealth, and the ambition for excess to permeate my thinking as a follower of Christ.

Today’s post is inspired from reflections from Psalm 1:1, Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.’

According to Psalm 1 I am blessed if my lifestyle distinguishes me apart from the wicked, sinners, and mockers. When you read Jesus’ sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:1-12, being blessed, according to Christ, involves exemplifying the person of Jesus Christ, or personifying Christ’s actions, attributes, character, and conduct. God blesses both the righteous and unrighteous with material wealth and possessions and the Apostle John admonished the importance of soul prosperity along with external prosperity in 3 John 1:2. Yes I am blessed if I receive financial prosperity from God, but am I not blessed without it?

To be continued

May the LORD bless us and help us to align our hearts and minds consistently and continually with the perspective of the Scripture regarding money so we can live victoriously and unencumbered from the world’s view and inspire others by the light of His counsel!

 

Purchase your copy of Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light today! Use the link on my blogroll to access the Tate on-line bookstore, or Amazon. You can contact me directly authorcjones@yahoo.com for an autographed copy with free shipping!

OutOfTheDarkness

Chapter 4

My Father as a Rolling Stone: God’s Purpose in Salvation

 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
– Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you
to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
– Ezekiel 36:26–27

 

 

In chapter 3, we talked about God’s plan of salvation. Redemption is a divine act by God to deliver the soul of man from sin, death, and Satan. Salvation is God’s divine plan of love, expressed through His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from remaining eternally separated from God, condemned to spend eternity in hell. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s command and ate the fruit from the tree in the garden of Eden, sin entered into the world, for Satan had deceived man to disobey God.

            According to 1 John 3:4–5, sin is lawlessness, and it was for this reason that Jesus came into the world. “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.”

In Romans 5:12–19, the scriptures explain the origin of sin, sin’s effects from the beginning of time to today, and the relevance of Adam’s life in comparison and contrast to the life of Jesus.

‘Therefore just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.’ (Romans 5:12–19 NIV)

            As an educator, I often use the illustration of a boulder, a steep hill, and a little village in a valley to explain to my students what can be the result of their poor choices and actions in the course of a school day and how they relate to life in general. “Imagine being at the top of a steep hill,” I say to them. “Standing before you is a huge boulder, and off to the side is a sign that says, ‘Danger! Please do not push!’ Intrigued by the sign and curious about the unknown danger surrounding this rock, you want to investigate. What possible danger could there be in pushing the boulder? you wonder, and the idea of pushing the boulder becomes even more enticing. You choose to push it. It is only after you have set the stone in motion and watched it disappear from view that you look beyond the steep hill where you stand. You notice a little village in the valley below, directly in the path of the boulder you just pushed over.

          “Immediately you are gripped with horror, anxiety, and guilt for the actions that you now recognize as foolish. You ignored the sign, not realizing the significance of your action until it was too late. As your heart pounds and races, the boulder momentarily appears to be moving in slow motion. You think about what you could do to change the outcome of your actions. I could run ahead of the boulder and try to stop it! Before you can even finish this thought, you realize how impossible it would be, and how foolish it sounds. You then think to yourself, I could outrun the boulder to warn everyone in the village below about the devastation that is fast approaching! You inevitably realize that nothing can be done to stop the boulder from rolling until it comes to a place of rest. The village in the valley is now destined to experience and suffer the consequences of your decision to push the boulder. You watch in agony, guilt, and shame, as you see the devastation and destruction left behind by your actions.”

This is a simple story with a simple message. We must accept the responsibility and the consequences that come with making poor choices. We should learn from our mistakes and recognize when our actions or behavior injure others, ready to be accountable and to make amends for the harm caused to others. Oh, and it may not hurt to heed the warning signs around us. This may be a simple story, but how many of us have ignored obvious warning signs, choosing destructive behavior and actions that have devastated the lives of others, including our own?

            My father made a choice to abandon his family and divorce my mother, leaving in his wake a family that was fractured, displaced, and devastated by the rolling stone that bowled us over. Poppa was truly a rolling stone! To this day, I would not be able to identify my father if he stood right in front of me. His actions and his absence, however, left an impression that our family felt for years after his departure.

            In the same way, Adam made a choice to disobey God, and the effects of his action have been felt for centuries down through the generations until today. Like Adam’s choice, my father’s actions became a curse that affected my mother and his children. Thank God for Jesus Christ! We do not have to languish forever and live our lives under the curse of Adam and the sins of our fathers. God’s purpose for salvation was to destroy the curse of Adam and Eve’s disobedience and to restore our lives from the devastation and destruction caused by the effects of sin that bowl us over like a rolling stone.

            Jesus Christ is God’s divine act of love to redeem man’s fallen nature and to save his soul from death and destruction. This redemption restores man to a right relationship that allows him to enjoy fellowship with God. After Adam committed the sin of eating the fruit from the tree, God began to demonstrate His love, concern, compassion, and justice for man’s fallen state.

              Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:7–11, 21 NIV)

            Do you see how God responded to Adam and Eve? Notice how He came to them in the garden after Adam expressed his fears to God and acknowledged his attempt to try to hide from God because of his nakedness. Do you see that God did not condemn them for what they had done? Did you notice that God did not chastise them for the obvious wrong they had committed? Instead, God responded with mercy, kindness, and grace. God made garments of skin, and He himself clothed them. God initiated an act of redemption by providing them with a covering to cover their nakedness, their shame, and their guilt. God provided Adam and Eve comfort, reassurance of His love, and care for them. He dealt with their immediate need, even though they had committed a sin. Although there were immediate and eternal consequences for their actions (Genesis 3:16–19), God provided an immediate and eternal solution to overcome Satan’s destructive influence and power.

            “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NIV).

            The plan of salvation is God’s promise to redeem the fallen nature of man. God’s purpose in salvation is to restore man to God’s original likeness and image. He does this through the power of His love, His Son, and His Spirit at work in the hearts and minds of everyone who sincerely believes in what Christ accomplished on the cross.

            “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26a–27 NIV). Every man in existence is created in the likeness of the Creator of heaven and earth. Every man has a spirit and a soul, which is housed in his physical body.

            “The Lord God formed the man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7 KJV). “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4 NIV).

God is a Spirit, and He has a soul as well. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38a, emphasis added). “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38 NIV, emphasis added).

The soul of God and man is made up of the mind (intellect), the heart (emotions), and the will (ability to choose). Collectively, these make up our human nature. With the freedom she had been given, Eve was influenced by Satan and chose to disobey God. At first, Adam chose to obey God by ignoring the tree, but he was later influenced and chose to disobey God by taking the fruit from Eve. Since Eve came from Adam, and every man has come from them, we are all born with the capacity to choose the opposite of what God desires for us. Sin distorts the image and likeness of God in man. This is what is referred to as the sinful nature. What we call human nature, the ability and freedom to choose, is also condemned and regarded as the sinful nature. When man’s choices are in rebellion against God’s intentions for man, or they contradict His word, God regards these choices as sinful.

“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5 NIV).

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV).

            “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19–21).

            It was never God’s intention for man to choose the opposite of what He desired for man. Rather, he desires that men choose Him over the influence of evil and Satan. We can only be tempted and influenced by the devil through the desires that are within us, so when we are tempted, God wants us to turn to Him instead of giving in to our temptation. God knew beforehand that man’s fallen nature would make it impossible for us to follow through with the choice to live for Him. This is why He provided Jesus Christ. Even in the beginning, in the garden, God saw our need for His divine help and provided us with an eternal solution for an eternal problem. Since the beginning of time, it has been God’s plan and desire to restore man to His own image and likeness.

By the power of God, Jesus Christ died and rose again so that we may experience God’s love in redemption. Through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit takes residence and lives within us to restore our souls and transform us back into the original image and likeness of our Creator. God’s word is the source of power that provides the knowledge and inspiration that moves us to respond to God and allows Him to work in and through us to accomplish this great work.

Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light is available now on-line to purchase today! Use the link on my blogroll to Tate Publishing on-line bookstore, or amazon.com! You can purchase an autographed copy by contacting me directly authorcjones@yahoo.com

OutOfTheDarkness

Inspired to travel? Ambitious destinations on your vision board? You will enjoy reading the posts of blogger Lesley Carter! Check her out!

myimmanuel:

The journey continues! You can purchase a copy of Out of the Darkness directly from my blogroll link for Tate Publishing! Thank you Chris Mooney for the ‘fuel!’

Originally posted on The Christian Writer's Corner:

This guest post is by Cortland Jones. His new book, Out of the Darkness releases December 23 with Tate Publishing (blurb below). You can follow Cortland at his blogs (links at bottom), on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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The Journey is Worth the Struggle

A Word of Encouragement for the Aspiring Author

In the process of sharing my insights gained from the experience of becoming a published author, I also express sincere gratitude to blogger Chris Mooney, and others like him, who make information available to aid aspiring authors in their quest to become published. Contemplating what I would say, my hope is that I communicate something helpful, insightful, encouraging, and inspirational to individuals aspiring to make being an author a ‘lifestyle,’ and not just the event of becoming published.

‘Where there is no struggle, there is no progress.’ – Frederick Douglass My journey of becoming published began, in 2000…

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