By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
We all have goals and aspirations; we want to be better at this and we want to learn that. Somewhere along the way our goals may have changed. It is important we understand that change was likely driven by what we learned and experienced along the way. As we have successes, we have a choice that can lead us to pursue greater endeavors or to become comfortable in our achievements. It is equally probable, we may have encountered failures that have caused our aspirations to dwindle or motivated us to pursue even more earnestly. Other times, it is our life experiences that have provided clarity to what makes us happy and what is truly valuable.
1 John 5:4-5 (ESV): For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
After joining the church, we can find ourselves conflicted with what we “want to do” and what we “want to do”. We may want to continue those friendships with people that we use to hang out with. We don’t want to come off as if we think we are better; and more importantly, we genuinely enjoyed their company. They helped us through tough times and they continually showed us they have the best intensions. While at the same time, we want to live a life that Christ can be proud of. We want to honor His sacrifice on the cross for our sins and we understand how difficult that can be.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (NKJV): And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Our goal is to preach the gospel to all who will listen and that includes our friends and family. Just sharing our faith with them may be enough to provoke a change in their life. Our faith has the power to “overcome the world” and we should cherish our opportunities to share the gospel with those we love. Obedience to our faith may not enable us to partake in the same type of activities we use to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find other interesting things to do with our friends. To be clear, change is difficult for all of us and it may be too much for the relationship to bear (for a time); but we cannot compromise our faith. If some would rather we forsake our Christ-centered aspirations to keep things the “way they use to be”; that person is not our friend (1 Corinthians 15:33). Friends encourage us to pursue our dreams and are willing to be an active participant in ensuring its success. Friends appreciate honest council and will understand when we share our faith; we are coming from a place of love and not arrogance.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
The task of becoming a Christian can seem daunting; and the task of remaining faithful until death can be equally overwhelming (Revelations 2:10). For this reason, many feel they are not worthy or unable to devote their life to Christ in baptism. The reality we all have shortcomings should be a call to action; not a reason for inaction.
Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV): “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Jehovah is a loving Father who is willing to give His children whatever they need to succeed. The first step is ours to take; we only need to humble ourselves and ask the Father for help. If we pray to the Father to allow us to read the Bible more, we only need to be willing to accept the Bible teacher position offered to us the next week. If we pray for patience, then we should be accepting of the manner in which God helps us to grow our patience. That could be God chastening us by providing us with interactions where others are showing us more kindness than we would show others in the same situation. God is going to give us what we need to be able to achieve the results we ask for. We have to be aware of these blessing by seeking them out. At times we will find the grace of God in some unlikely places; but if we labor for the Lord, we will find our reward.
Matthew 7:9-11 (ESV): Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
We ask God to help mold us into a better person because we want to be pleasing to Him. We seek God’s satisfaction for our work in His church because we ultimately want God to open the gates of Heaven when we knock. Jehovah is righteous, trustworthy, and honest in His interactions with His children. If we live in obedience and earnestly try to learn God’s will, He will reward us. Since all good gifts come from above (James 1:17), it is up to us to our requests known to God. It is not His role to give us any more than what He has already given us. The Apostle Paul speaks on the beauty of the world as a way for the world to know there is a Creator (Romans 1:20). His willingness to give His Son on the cross while we were still sinners shows a love that words cannot describe (Romans 5:8). There is enough evidence for us to comfortably be able to know there is a Creator and that the Creator loves us beyond words. All we need to do is be humble enough to ask, diligent enough to seek; to know that when we knock, the door will be opened.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Whenever we read in the Bible that Christians are promised the desires of their heart, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Psalm 37:4 (ESV): Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
If you are like me, you probably start off by listing some new gadget, a vacation to an interesting location, or even a new job. Oftentimes, we forget to start with the “delight yourself in the LORD” part. To delight ourselves in the Lord is to understand there is nothing more rewarding than obeying the commands of God.
Psalm 19:7-10 (ESV): The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
To delight in the LORD is to understand that our life on earth would be significantly better if we obey the word of God. Sometimes, it may seem like the commands of the Lord are restricting, but if we live long enough; we realize the laws of the Lord are freeing. It is sin that provides the illusion of freedom, while it is actually providing the chains of bondage. Sinful actions can have us imprisoned, confused, and full of regret; while obedience to God will offer clarity, peace, joy, and understanding. Sin will cost us our place in the kingdom of God; while obedience puts us on the path of righteousness, abiding in God’s will. It is to seek the Lord and His will with all of our being; and being willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to be closer to God that defines someone who delights in the Lord. If we focus on God and His commandments, our heart will desire nothing more than the Lord because it will understand there is nothing more precious than His word. Then as we gain and lose wealth, as we gain and lose adoration with the world; we will be unmoved because what is of value to the world is not of value to us. We understand that all good things come from above, and it is the Lord that gives and the Lord that takes away. That is why we pray for the will of God to be done in all situations, because we understand we would rather the will of God be done and it contradict our wishes than for our will to be done and contradict His wishes.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Paul wants the church to appreciate the work of those laboring to further God’s kingdom. While this is a task all members of the church are to partake in; we should not take for granted the effort of our brethren. I am thankful for the year of toil our ladies put into preparing for their 1st annual Ladies Lectureship Retreat. Their toil produced much fruit as it was one of the best attended events I have seen in some time. The reason Paul wishes for us to encourage and uplift each other is because sharing the Gospel with the world is not easy. It requires a motivated and caring person who is willing to step outside of their comfort zone.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 (ESV): We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
As a church family, we are to be a refuge for each other in a world of turmoil. There should be a peace among Christians where we feel comfortable expressing and discussing any issue. The environment should be an honest place where we can let each other know when we believe someone can do better. We should give thanks in all circumstances because there is a blessing in each interaction; we have an opportunity to learn more about ourselves (and others) and we have a chance to grow. Paul is giving us the antidote to deal with depression, anxiety, grief, and sadness. We must learn to encourage each other throughout our endeavors and we must learn to appreciate each other in the good times and the bad. We cannot allow the Spirit to be quenched due to inaction, nor should we allow the world to steal anyone’s joy in the Lord. We have to focus on the good, while avoiding evil thoughts and deeds. This is the recipe for happiness, and as simple as it may seem; caring for others, communicating with God daily, avoiding evil, and being thankful in all circumstances will go a long way. We are to be the calm in the storm, the clarity through calamity, and the light in the darkness; giving thanks to the Lord for all He does.