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Four Essential Qualities of a Committed Christian
It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal… the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal. ~ Pope John Paul II
When I got married several decades ago, I have to admit I didn’t have much faith that the marriage would work. I’d been married before (which didn’t go well), and I did not really believe that any guy (especially a 60’s hippie-type) would be – could be – committed to a long-term relationship. Mentally, I gave us a year, maybe two.
Almost forty years later, we’re still together. That’s a testimony of our commitment to and faith in each other. We stood the test of time – and survived a lot of major and minor crises and ordeals. I have to say it was worth it. The benefits of our long-term relationship far outweigh any suffering and sacrifice along the way.
The Bible compares our relationship with Christ to marriage, and that relationship requires commitment from us as believers. The marriage vow, ‘Till death do us part’, is intended for a lifetime, despite richer or poorer, sickness or health, happy or mad. With Christ, however, death is not when we part – it’s when we celebrate together in heaven!
Some might say the institution of marriage is out of date, that it has little meaning in today’s world. I’ve heard the same thing about Christianity. However, Divine Truth does not become inconsequential, inappropriate or out-of-date. As we strive to emulate Christ, to honor Him not just as Savior, but as Lord over our lives, we must be committed to follow the mandates of our Covenant with Him.
The Apostle Paul begged the Ephesians to walk worthy of the vocation wherein ye are called (v. 4:1). He wrote similar instructions to the Colossians, saying, “walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance and recognition]” (Col. 1:10 AMP). He also wrote to the church at Thessalonica:… walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His Kingdom and glory (I Thess. 2:12-13). In other words, he wanted them to honor their commitment as followers of Jesus Christ.
That’s essentially what any marriage is all about – to develop a deeper knowledge and relationship with the other partner. To be worthy means deserving; in this case, deserving, or meriting the designation of Christian. Later in that chapter, he reminded the Ephesians to grow up in Him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ (v. 15). The Amplified Bible says, “let us grow up in every way and in all things”.
Paul and the other Apostles spent a lot of time reiterating the tenets of Christian life. Why? Paul answered that question in his letter to the Corinthians: I have fed you with milk and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able (I Cor. 3:2). In other words, they (and we) aren’t following the basics, so there’s no sense trying to go deeper. Asking God for deeper revelation before we are fully developed in the basics of Christianity is like trying to do algebra or trig before we’ve learned basic math.
We all know the list, of course – the things we are commanded to do so that we bear much fruit (results) for the kingdom. If we live like the rest of the world, our Christian testimony is weak or non-existent. People should be able to look at us and see the love of Christ, strong faith, kindness and compassion. But let’s dig a little deeper.
Faith – But without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Faith means absolute trust. We must believe wholeheartedly that what God said in His Word is absolute and that he will do what He said. Is your faith strong enough to stand the test of illness or lack, knowing without doubt that God not only can but will turn your situation around? Or do you worry and fret about it, crying and begging for answers?
The longer you’re in a relationship, the more you learn to trust the other person. I trust my husband. I know I can depend on him absolutely to protect and provide whatever I need. If every other person in the world let me down or tried to hurt me, I know that he won’t. I know the same thing about God and can say like the Psalmist: I trust in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, without fear or doubt] (Ps. 86:2 AMP).
Love – A new commandment I give unto you: that ye love one another as I have loved you… (John 13:34-35). There are at least 440 Bible verses that talk about love, over a hundred more than faith. When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, He picked love. This world should be so overrun with the love of God that there’s no room for hate, lack, depression or any of the devil’s tools. In the ‘love chapter’, First Corinthians 13, Paul explained that though I have all faith… but have not charity, I am nothing (v. 2).
The depth of love we demonstrate is the measuring stick of true Christianity. It’s easy to love friends, a bit more challenging to walk in love with our relatives consistently; and even harder to find compassion for the grumpy, difficult people around us. Yet that’s what we are commanded to do – to set aside our human feelings and demonstrate agape love: love [that] endures long and is patient and kind… never envious… jealous… conceited… rude… does not insist on its own way [and] is not touchy, fretful or resentful (I Cor. 13:4-5 AMP). Verse 5 continues: [love] pays no attention to a suffered wrong. To do that requires a strong commitment to God, trusting Him to take care of us no matter what anyone else does.
Forgiveness – and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Eph. 4:14). Hand-in-hand with love is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. We must learn to forgive on purpose – because God asks it of us – not because we ‘feel’ like it.
There have been plenty of times when I’ve had to walk away from my hubby because he ticked me off about something. I’ve learned (the hard way I might add) to push those feelings out of the way and say, “You and me, Lord. You’re all l need.” It’s my way of casting my care on Him because I know He cares for me. I like how the Amplified explains it: casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns once and for all] (I Peter 5:7). My commitment to both God and my spouse require me to instantly forgive and forget. I’ve got to let it go. Holding a grudge is no way to maintain a relationship. That’s true for everyone with everyone. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6:15). God expects it – demands it – of us.
Patience – be not slothful, but followers of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12). Patience is the ability to maintain your joy, peace, love, etc. despite the irritations and delays that inevitably occur.
Can you stand in a long line at the check-out counter without showing impatience? Can you be content with what you have while you wait in faith for God to change your situation in His time? Can you honestly say, “In You I trust” without trying to solve the problem on your own?
I remember how impatient I was when I was younger. I wanted everything and I wanted it NOW! Waiting was such a challenge. The result was unbearable debt, constant worry and struggle – all because I had to have whatever-it-was right then!
My dad had a saying printed at the top of the time-cards in our family business: “Do what’s right. Do it right because it’s right.” Patience helps us do the things we don’t want to do, to wait for the things we want because it’s the right thing to do, and to do what’s right regardless of how we feel. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land… (Deut. 6:18).
There are plenty of other qualities to emulate and practice as part of our commitment to God, but these four, faith love, patience and forgiveness, are essential. As we focus on His wisdom and ways, He has promised to guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. (Is. 26:3 AMP) If we do our part, He will see to it that His promises come to pass in our lives. All it takes is commitment.
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