The Real Miracle of Christmas

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Christ came in the flesh as a baby and Christ still comes today – manifest in our flesh as we yield our lives to Him.

Scriptures of the Day:

John 1:1-5

1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.”

Hebrews 2:14

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil.”

Movies abound today about the “magic” of Christmas.  Somewhere a child inside hopes it really is true that someone esoterically posing as Santa is the real deal.  Not so much.  But there is One Who really does know when we are sleeping and awake – One Who truly does provide for our needs and watches over us.  He certainly knows whether we have been good or bad and keeps a thorough record of it in His Book of Life.  Even more amazing, when we truly do deserve a boatload of lumps of coal, He gives us eternal life – freely.

But sometimes the miracle of Christmas can get lost in the simple fact that it is a well known story that has been told and retold and we forget just how amazing a reality the miracle of Christ’s birth is and what Christ accomplished in His birth.

Mankind was condemned to a fallen world, no thanks to Adam and Eve (well, we all would have done the same thing).  But right there in that moment, God knew we needed a Savior.

In His sovereignty He planned to come and Himself crush the head of our mortal enemy.  He did it as a baby.  Talk about the enemy being whipped.  

This baby was born miraculously, fulfilling prophecies, fulfilling perfectly the genealogy of Christ, born of a virgin.  A miracle indeed.  Holy.  Righteous.  Fully God and fully man.  How amazing.  Much more amazing to me than reindeer flying through the air – just sayin’. And this same Christ is now revealed through us, His people.

So if we are struggling to get that Christmas “spirit”, perhaps what we need is a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it is in the simplicity of stepping out of our ordinary routine to give that we have that “Christmas feeling”. How is God leading us now to give during this season? How can we help others around us? Christ modeled what it meant to serve by giving His all. May we do the same.

The miracle of Jesus is not confined to one day. We can search for opportunities to give and serve others not just when we feel celebratory or the calendar dictates the moment.  The miracle of Jesus lives on in the hearts of those who choose to accept Him.

Christ came in the flesh as a baby and Christ still comes today – manifest in our flesh as we yield our lives to Him.

What a miracle this is – Christ in us. When we operate in a manner just like our Father did – giving of Himself, we have the greatest joy, and it is a miracle indeed that He uses us at all.

Merry Christmas, all.  Be a part of the miracle in someone’s life this Christmas.

Lord, thank you for the miracle of Your birth.  I stand in awe of You.  Fill us with the wonder of what You did and Who You are.  Love you!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 14 – The Word of God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the faithful daily reading of Scripture that a relationship with God is built.

Scripture of the Day:

Matthew 4:4

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The Word of God is precious to me and I am beyond grateful for the gift of Scripture, but it has not always been that way. Even as a Christian there were times in my walk where my Bible sat and gathered dust. It felt like a duty, void of relationship. Thank God that He has shown me the living treasure that His word is!

I can hardly read Scripture without being overwhelmed with the presence of God as truth washes over me. It is in the faithful daily reading of Scripture that a relationship with God is built.

This daily habit of reading God’s Word will have to be guarded and fought for tenaciously, as our flesh does not want it. When we apply God’s Word to our lives, our flesh dies. When the church lives according to God’s word, quarrels and fleshly pursuits go by the wayside.

His Word is a lamp to our feet, His precepts at the core of our salvation. He communicates His love and grace, commands and purposes to us through His Word. He gives wisdom to the simple, understanding to those who were once far off. His Word is alive and able to humble us with its piercing, loving truth. Amazingly, time and again the Holy Spirit applies our daily reading into the context of our daily lives.

Although the Bible is such an amazing gift from God, many neglect it and pursue religion instead of the relationship garnered through the study of Scripture. For the God of this world to communicate through pages carefully preserved is a miracle.

Don’t let fleshly excuses keep you from God’s Word – it is your very life. Don’t let the enemy keep you from it, as well. His Word is our daily bread – we get daily inspiration and empowerment to live for God when we bask in His Word. Who knows what God can accomplish through a people yielded to Him and abiding in His Word?

If reading the Bible is intimidating, try a reading plan. I choose from this website every year. In this relativistic world, it is so encouraging to know that God has not left us without instruction. His Word is absolute truth. This article discusses the authenticity of Scripture and how the amazing sovereignty of God worked to preserve His Word.

Oh God! I cannot thank You enough for Your precious Word! Open the eyes of all who might read this blog to see their need of consistent time in Scripture. Draw us nearer to You and may we rightly apply Your Word in our lives.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 13 – The Holy Spirit

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In God’s amazing compassion and mercy, He gave us Himself in the flesh and in the Spirit.

Scripture of the Day:

Acts 2:38-39 

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.'”

John 14:16

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

“And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)–when you believed in Christ–you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.”

Job 32:8

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” 

Today I am grateful for the Holy Spirit and His activity in the life of all believers. In God’s amazing compassion and mercy, He gave us Himself in the flesh and in the Spirit.

We are not merely one dimensional; not just fleshly beings. We were made for something so much more. We who are in Christ, who have been forgiven every single transgression, were also given the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us to live this life for God’s glory.

The Holy Spirit comforts and counsels us in our relationship with God, guides us and emboldens us to do the work of the LORD, reveals truth and convicts us of sin, fills us and produces beautiful fruit and character within us, just to name a few of the activities of the Holy Spirit within believers.

As we consider the many various denominations within the body of Christ today, God is LORD over them all and the Holy Spirit is evident in them all. He fills every person who has believed on Jesus Christ and accepted the gift of salvation. As we ache for the LORD’s return, we have not been left alone.

Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit and continual communion we have in Your presence because of Your amazing grace and atonement for our sins.

This article by author Frank Viola lists 50 things the Holy Spirit Does in the life of every believer.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 9 – Salvation/Forgiveness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God stepped into time and flesh and radically demonstrated His love for us all.

Scripture of the Day:

James 1:18

“By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

1 Peter 1:23

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

2 Timothy 1:9

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Created in the image of God, we lost our way and worshiped something less worthy – the creation itself. How it must have hurt the heart of our Creator that we would not see how much He loves us and choose to live as objects of wrath rather than as His children.

But God.

Stepped into time and flesh and radically demonstrated His love again, wooing us back to Himself. I am forever grateful that God would cover our sins with His own blood and restore us into a relationship with the One Who made us.

This lavish love and redemption from God fills us with 

Joy  –  affects our

Eternity    –  Leads to our

Salvation  –   Transforms the sin

Underneath – and makes us

Sons and daughters of the King of kings!

When we consider so great a salvation that He has given to us, we have to proclaim that He is Worthy of worship! My new song, “You are Worthy” depicts our need to worship one Who is greater than ourselves and the peace we find in so doing.

Lord, thank You for forgiving our sin and the guilt of our sin, setting us free to live for You! You are Worthy of worship!

Worshipful Wednesday: Integrity is all in the Mind

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus is our integrity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 101:1-3

1 “Of David. A psalm. I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. 3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. 4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil. 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.”

Sometimes we can look over the landscape of life and wonder why so much evil is happening. When it happens in the church, we are often surprised. How do godly people acquiesce to wickedness? Very easily. Demonic influence and our flesh point us that direction naturally. But there is hope.

When we truly recognize the spiritual battle all around us, we see that the biggest battle will be that of truly living an authentic life of integrity. But integrity is not just our outward behavior.

Thoughts. The gate of our minds is the first place where we have decision after decision of what we will set our mind upon. Our thoughts matter – for they become our actions or, equally as pervasive – torment and distract us from a godly life – if they are not kept in line. But if our thoughts are brought under the authority of the Jesus filter, we can think clearly and recognize thought patterns that do not glorify Him.

Vain imaginations, prideful thoughts, thinking ill of others, dwelling on unrighteous deeds – all have to be brought underneath the LORDship of Jesus Christ. We are deceived if we believe that we can think a hateful thought about another person and be right in the eyes of God.

Action. But it is not enough just to refrain from evil. We are to be proactive and “Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8).

Content. What we feast our minds on is the largest impetus or detraction from integrity. God’s Word is living and active. Consistently meditating on His Word and applying it to our lives provides strength, conviction and enablement to walk in integrity.

Maintenance. Our thought life takes constant maintenance, we can never rest. But the beauty in feasting on God’s Word makes the maintenance of our minds a treasure trove and a delight. It does not have to become a daunting task of to dos where we think we could attain righteousness on our own. We just need to position ourselves to be soaking in God’s truth and ask Him to help us apply it to our lives.

Prayer. When we ask the God of this universe to help us live in accordance with His word, He honors a prayer like that. Even better – we can pray for those who appear to be against us. This is spiritual warfare that makes the enemy flee!

Humility. When we see the fruit of integrity in our lives, we cannot think it is us doing it. That sounds strange, huh? After all, we are seeking to do our part. But apart from God, there is nothing good in us. We are just yielding and letting Him live through us. Jesus is our integrity.

Fellowship. We truly were not created to be islands, isolated from others while we struggle and battle against resident and outward evil. We need to point one another to truth every single day, for the days are evil. This accountability is not to be judgmental, but caring enough to get up close and personal win sin is waging war and seeking to destroy people’s lives.

The life of integrity is a pleasant one, despite all the battles to get there. No need to hide anything, no fear in discovery, for all is exposed. Thank God that as we seek to walk uprightly with Him and make our mistakes along the way, that His forgiveness is eternal and His grace overwhelming. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even now we can choose to be people of integrity for God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for your mercy – new every single morning. Thank You that You walked a life of perfect integrity. Give us the mind of Christ and may the people of God be Kingdom-minded. Help us to not get involved in civilian affairs that distract us from our God-given purpose – knowing and enjoying You and making You known, oh my God.

Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”–but the immoral person sins against his own body.”

I confess I have had this blog entry scheduled before but just did not want to write it. Still, my Spirit urges me on. I could never do justice to the pain so many have endured, but perhaps I can ease that pain with the truth of God’s comfort in the midst.

Abuse is one of those words that causes the human spirit to want to avoid the subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable and often victims of abuse themselves feel ashamed or judged, too. The mere thought of such a carnal act happening to one who is made in the image of God is unspeakable.

Sins committed outside the body are bad enough, but harming another person by abusing them physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually produces devastating consequences that are not easily overcome and repercussions can last a lifetime.

I know what it was like to be a little girl told to be silent. As much as the pain of multiple attempts was on my soul, I can look back and see the hand of God guiding me. I have walked through emotional and spiritual abuse, as well, and the ensuing torment of trying to be free from it. Through it all I learned that God did not cause the devastation of my soul – His character could never do such a thing – but He would heal me and help me to overcome.

Even though the enemy of our souls can use hardship to create doubt in our minds over the goodness of God, our God does not cause the evil that man chooses by his own free will. Instead, our God chose the human suffering we sought to avoid and to bear our pain and sorrows.

So what causes abuse? This fallen world is full of people needful of God, but many who choose to satisfy their flesh instead and fill their righteous need with a wicked counterfeit. The lust of the eyes and the flesh never have their fill, but those who have seen their true need of God and choose to accept His grace and salvation are redeemed from living for the flesh. They see their God-given purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of living a godly life – and don’t waste it on sin.

But what about the wounded people, left in the wake of someone’s decision to harm them and to take the most personal thing they have to offer? What hope is there for them? Abundant hope. Raw, transparent moments. Encounters with a living God. Patient healing.

Hurting another human soul in such a manner is evil and damages the faith of the victim. But God. I love those two words. God is indeed able to take the deepest wound and heal. The process is itself painful, but with such a wound it takes time.

Recognizing our hurt and not concealing it is so hard to do. Seeing what the abuse has caused in our lives and courageously exposing the bitter root and possible resulting sin in ourselves is the path toward victory. Sometimes the pain is so deep we just don’t want to face the reality of it. But the word of God can meet us in that place if we will apply it.

As we peel back the layers of our heart to reveal the root of our hurt – how God could allow this suffering in the first place, we begin to understand our wound is first a spiritual one. Why does God not spare us from the sins of others hurting us so deeply? Perhaps we are even asking, “Why doesn’t He give us a perfect life?” Such questions reveal a desire for God to bless us, but they also reveal a heart attitude that says we will love and trust God only when good is allowed into our lives.

But it is scary to trust God again, isn’t it? How do we trust again? When we feel like God does not see, we refute that lie with the many Scriptures that show He does. When we feel like he will not defend us, we focus instead on the truths in God’s word that He is a righteous judge – our Defender, Protector and Savior.

God cares about our feelings – we can run to Him with our turmoil and grief. But feelings are not facts. He will transform our understanding as we get into His word. This website offers a lot of verses to help. God also helps us to have faith that He can heal us as we place our burdens in His hands.

Whether it is a wound from being abused, or having dear loved ones harmed in such a way, God is able to help us trust again and to forgive, as well. Sometimes life will look a lot different and we have to protect ourselves from relationships that could cause further harm, but in all of it we know that God will use it all for His good and our glory. He promises to and He is not a man that He should lie.

The scars left behind, the searing pain in the soul will soften over time. The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead. Here is a song the LORD gave me when He revealed my lack of trusting in Him from all that I had suffered: Layers. God wants to heal you. He knows your pain and sees you. He is trustworthy and He loves you so very much.

Lord, thank You for setting our hearts free and healing us from all the sins in this world. You have overcome and we walk in Your victory because of Your amazing grace!

Freedom Friday: Fleshly Persuasion

Photo Credits Jordan Dewitt

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Don’t settle for the excuse of “I’m only human” – in Christ you are a child of the King. Walk in the spirit and resist the flesh!

Scriptures of the Day:

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery. 7 You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 16 But I say live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are in opposition to each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Galatians 4:31

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.”


I was only a small child when I first saw the movie “The Body Snatchers”. It still makes me shudder. The thought of being ignorant to an entity that takes over our identity and takes over all of mankind was enough to make for many sleepless nights. The horror of friends and loved ones no longer residing in their bodies is freakish and terrifying.

I had written another blog entry previously about this movie – it obviously had a profound effect. But while this idea of our souls being snatched makes for an intense sci-fi thriller, it is also ironically a reality for many. No, I am not an advocate for the belief in martians coming and taking over our bodies, but I have seen within myself and others the propensity to let the flesh rule what is otherwise the property of God.

The flesh is persuasive. It wants what it wants and often goes unchecked. After all, we reside in these casings of flesh and it is difficult to recognize the worldly influence steadily creeping into our lives.

Sometimes we do not stop to reflect in our fast-paced world when our impulses seem so natural. After all, the flesh makes things look attractive, pleasing to the eye. Kind of reminds me of Adam and Eve and that fruit on the forbidden tree.

But a pig with lipstick is still a pig. If we drink the Kool-Aid without checking our thoughts and actions with the word of God, recognizing the flesh will become increasingly harder.

Like Paul, we ask the burning question, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Although Paul acknowledge that we are easily controlled, he did not leave us there. His vivid description of the battle against the flesh ends with gratitude: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

We do have a choice. We are not slaves any longer to our flesh. It will be hard to resist the flesh, but perhaps clearing up the lies our flesh is telling us might motivate us to not swallow its prescription. If Jesus has given us everything we need, why would pursuing the flesh when its fruit is exposed and it is stripped of its deceit be desirable at all?

The days are evil and we live in a flesh-saturated society. Marriages and families are wrecked because of fleshly deeds being unchecked. The Christian must be in the Word of God to be able to see clearly. The cost of Jesus’ sacrifice was too high for His followers to live for their flesh. We were crucified with Him and must be a testimony of the life of Christ within our members. Others around us are depending on it and it just might be what makes the difference for all of their eternity.

Know who you are, friends. You and I are children of the righteous King, Jesus Christ. Our identity is sealed in Heaven. No more playing church – let us live wholly Holy lives for God, provoking one another toward righteousness. May we stop playing in the mud and walk in the light. We are not slaves anymore – we are free from the influence of our flesh in Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!

Jesus, thank You for revealing our sin and showing us where our flesh is taking over. Open our eyes to see and help us to live victorious lives as a witness in this fallen world, all for Your glory. 

Fickle Friday: Endless Pursuit

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Even though our work on earth is temporal, that which is done in the spirit lasts forever.

Scripture of the day:

2 Corinthians 1:17

“Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time?”

We have a lot of goals that we pursue, but any purpose that is attempted in the flesh will ultimately fail – even if it appears to be successful according to the world’s standards.

Our desires change and fluctuate moment by moment. That’s just our nature. As Solomon questioned all the activity underneath the sun, he wondered what really mattered. Even though our work on earth is temporal, that which is done in the spirit lasts forever.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results, I think we would all qualify.  So many resolutions offered your after year with few ultimately accomplished.

Wow. I really sound like a downer. We certainly never should cease trying to be more like Christ and working toward goals that he puts on our hearts.  It is the vain pursuit of success apart from His leading that is a futile effort, even if we achieve our objective.

Sometimes when God calls us to do something, it will take a lot of effort and tenacity. But when we know that He has placed a vision on our heart, we cannot deviate or vacillate from it.

Our double-minded, fickle nature makes it a challenge to discern between pursuits that don’t matter and ones we were destined for.  But in our weakness he is strong.  He knows we are flesh and His grace is greater.

Lord, help us to know your will for this life and to be faithful to that calling all for your glory.

Denise Pass | Seeing Deep

 

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s in a Name?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

There is None like our God.

Scripture of the Day:

Judges 13:18

“The LORD’s messenger said to him, you should not ask me my name, because you cannot comprehend it.”

Genesis 32:29

“Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.”

When the God of the universe says we should not ask His name, the only response we can have is complete awe.  In a culture that screams familiarity and a lack of reverence, it is perhaps foreign to consider that there is One in authority Who has the right to permit and prevent access to whatever He desires.

I don’t like secrets.  My flesh does not want to be left out of knowing things – especially if it is something important.  The Name of God is esoteric and yet revealed in part to His children.  We see His Name by observing His character, and yet we cannot fully know Him.

I might not understand this boundary fully, but when I consider how He is Spirit and I am flesh, He is Holy and I am unholy, then I contemplate the miracle that we can know Him at all.

I am thankful that God has established in His Word that He is so far above us and yet demonstrates unconditional love and lets us – frail man – get a glimpse of just a fraction of how awesome He is.

Manoah offered a sacrifice right away when he realized He was in the presence of the LORD’s messenger.  Moses was hidden in the cleft of the rock when the glory of God passed by.  When we, God’s people, have the indwelling Holy Spirit – the very presence of God – within us, how then should we respond?

Oh God, You are Holy!  You are far above anything I could ever imagine!  Thank You for Your mercy!  Help us to know You more and to never cease to be amazed by You, our Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace, King of kings, Omniscient One, Righteous, Holy Savior and Creator of All.

Truthful Tuesday: Whose Lead Do You Follow?

Whose lead do you follow

Romans 8:5

“For  those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

We’d all like to think that we are led by the Spirit and are making decisions that are wise, but often we do not see the spiritual realm all around us, affecting our thoughts and actions.  The impact of flesh versus spirit affects our lives and those around us.

The choices we make moment by moment are filtered by our mindset which is impacted by many factors in our environment.  Evident in our choices about what we eat (ugh . . . chocoholic confessions here for me), to the clothing we wear, the words we say and the attitudes we have toward other people, we have impressions or feelings that bombard us constantly.  If we are not careful and discerning, we can allow our perception or someone else’s opinion to affect our own behavior.

One main way this flesh is played out is how we treat one another.  Rejection of others who aren’t like us is common in the world, but unfortunately, it also happens at church. People shun others or just plain old don’t like other people who are made in the image of God.  Where does this come from?  If it is not from God, then the answer is obvious, but all too often we do not stop to consider why we don’t like someone.  We might all have different personalities, but we ought to love one another so the world can see that body of Christ is indeed different.

The truth is we are more apt to be carnal than spiritual beings and when we are spiritual, we often get in the flesh and think it is us who are righteous, when Christ alone is our righteousness.

While this is a humbling truth, maybe it can provoke us to be aware of our thoughts and behaviors.  Do they honor God?  Are they of the Spirit or of the flesh?  If we could grab a hold of this reality, Christians would turn this world upside down with godly lives and choices that no longer appear hypocritical, unconditional acceptance and love instead of judgment and forming cliques.

Pleasing self or others and seeking acceptance from God’s creation does not compare with living for the audience of One.  Like Paul, we will have to battle the flesh, but staying in the battle is far better than not recognizing the battle of the flesh versus spirit in the first place.

Lord, may You increase and may we decrease.  Help us to recognize the things that are from You and the things that are not and to walk in the Spirit.