Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Heirs of God

Who are the “heirs of God?”  Genuine Christians.

Christians have been brought into the family of God as His adopted children. Therefore, as with any child-to-parent relationship, Christians inherit what is God the Father’s.

Now, how is one adopted into God the Almighty’s family? Jesus--Through one’s belief in Him, one’s acknowledgement of Him as Savior. Anyone acknowledging Christ has His Father’s acceptance, receives His Spirit as a marker, and gains promised adoption.

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

"And you were also included in Christ when you heard the Word of Truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). 

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (2 Timothy 1:14).

Just as Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3), so are Christians the exact representation of the Son, having received His being, or Holy Spirit within their hearts. In acknowledging Christ Jesus as God the Son and as one’s Savior, Christians are made righteous before God through His atonement on the cross. When God the Father looks at believers He passes over their sins, because of Jesus’ blood around the door of their hearts. God forecasted this with the “plague of the firstborn and the Passover” in Exodus chapters eleven and twelve.

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). 

“When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and He will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down” (Exodus 12:23).

When Christ shed His blood on the cross, He was set as the atonement for mankind’s sins. He was the “unblemished lamb” (Exodus 12:5), sacrificed so His blood could mark the doorways of believer’s hearts.

Therefore, Christians are saved from the punishment of rejecting God’s edict of sin’s judgment and condemnation. We are saved from eternal separation from God the Father and eternity in the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20 :15). We are brought from death to life (Romans 6). This salvation is of Christ Jesus only–there is no other way. 

God poured Himself out into human flesh and walked this earth as a human. He “humbled Himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-11). Why did He do this? Love. 

God is love” (1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16). 

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we may live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). 

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him” (1 John 4:16).

So then, what exactly is love? It is the placing of oneself aside for the betterment of those who surround. In Jesus’ own words: .. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:12-14).

Jesus is God. He is God the Son. He willingly “made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7), so He could place before mankind salvation of no charge. This is the meaning of God’s grace–favor without earned merit. There is no other way of salvation than acknowledgment of God in the flesh, as a self-sacrifice for appeasement of His own holiness and righteousness. Without the blood of Christ shielding our hearts, God sees unrighteousness and those slated for condemnation–just like the “Plague of the Firstborn” in Egypt.

Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:47-51); He is the gate for God’s sheep (John 10:7-10); He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16). He is “the only way, the only truth, the only life. No one goes to the Father except through Him” (John 14:6).

In acknowledgement of this absolute, we are considered God’s children: “Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (Romans 8:17).

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:4-7). 

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in Him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16).

Christians are God’s children, Christians are God’s heirs, Christians are co-heirs with Jesus Christ! Just sit back and think about that for a moment. How powerful is this truth? It is a great realization to the one who allows it to sink deep into their heart, mind, and soul. It is life altering. Now is the day for Christians to live and proudly walk with unconstrained honor. We are children of the Almighty God! And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15). 

Abba is Aramaic for papa or daddy. Living life, “keeping in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), and calling out to God as the dad of our souls, the papa of our very being creates a meaningful bond that will mature us as Ambassadors of Christ.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wisdom's Call

Wisdom simply put, is distinguishing between what is true and what is right.  So, what is true and right as followers of Jesus?  Well, it ain't self-help. Too many churches today have a humanistic teaching of salvation. Accept Christ to better yourself  is the theme. 

Secular salvation focuses on the individual rather than the individual focusing upon others. We are to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). God denied Himself when He came as Jesus, dying as a sacrifice on a cross. He took the role of a servant and so should we,  if we are to be true followers of the Word become flesh. Self-denial is putting others interests ahead of our own—love.

However, few in today’s “modern” church have attentive ears toward Wisdom's call (Proverbs 1:20-33).  How can numerous Christians claim on one hand to love God’s Son (accepting Him as their Savior) and on the other hand deny His power, deny being made conformable unto Him?   Why are so many persons who claim Christianity opting for wrong over right? 

Look around, look closely.  Count the number of Christians accepting God’s grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1).  There aren’t many representing Christ Jesus. There aren’t many standing for Him in wisdom, are there?

If there were any day to stand tall for our Savior, it’s now.  The time is near, closer than we think—the storm is on the horizon.  We are able to decipher the seasons around us, yet fail to view signs of Jesus' return.  

We are to filter events through the signs He told us of, yet we listen to the world as they say, “Ah, those can be said of any era.  People have been claiming for generations the end times are at hand" (see 2 Peter 3:4). Take hold of Wisdom's call.  Generations are but a speck in God’s eternal eye. And the current generation has thumbed its nose at God. 

Therefore, just as the Lord had a controversy against Israel in the book of Hosea, He now has a controversy against America.

“ 1Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel (America): for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land" (Hosea 4:1-10)

Does that sound familiar?  

We need to acknowledge the time at hand.   We need to acknowledge Jesus Christ. The signs He gave us are culminating together quickly and profusely—like bellowing clouds of a hurricane. 

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars…Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places…you (Jews and Christians) will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other and many false prophets (teachers/preachers) will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:6-12) (Also read 2 Timothy 3:2-4).

True, all these things have been down through the ages—none having combined into the perfect storm as they are now. Yet, there are naysayers who will convince multitudes the end is but a dream (see 2 Peter 3:3).

Taking all this to heart, the question remains: How long will simple ones love their simple ways? (Proverbs 1:20-33)  Be wise in listening to God’s Word.  Is your salvation a falsehood based upon self-centered statutes of a self-help regime? Or, is your salvation founded faithfully upon the Rock of Christ? Do you deny yourself for the sake of Jesus? 
Raise your eyes, raise your hopes.  Our Savior is knocking at the door. Will you be  ready? Is your heart fully surrendered to Christ Jesus?  These are questions we seriously need to contemplate considering the current age?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Homosexuality is an Abomination

Absolutely no one should be accepted as a brother of Christ, as a co-heir with Him, as an adopted son or daughter to God the Father, without first accepting the absolute of Jesus being the Christ, the Messiah, one’s Savior.  There is no other way, period.  False teachers of this age teach lies, preaching the doctrine of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-2).  That may sound harsh, but what else would they be teaching when they tickle ears by leading people away from Jesus and straight to hell? They tell people what they want to hear, and people want to hear what makes them feel good.  Consider the following verses.
“For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among (us).  They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (Jude 1:4).”
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’  These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude1:14-16). 
“In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.  These are the men who will divide you, who follow mere natural instinct and do not have the Spirit” (Jude1:18-19).
Let’s take homosexuality as a prime example.  Many upon many Christians, churches, pastors, and teachers condone what is clearly stated Biblically as an abomination.
“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” (Leviticus 18:22)
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.  Amen.  Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” (Romans 1:24-27)
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived:  Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”(1 Corinthians 6:9)
 If more is needed, then take a look at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis nineteen.  I have heard said, homosexuality was not clearly stated as to the cause of their destruction.  What?  Chapter nineteen verses four and five clearly portray a city ravenous with detestable behavior: “…all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house.  They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’”    Little did they know, the men they were seeking to rape, and yes, that is what the context of the passage implies, were two angels sent to destroy them.
But today, homosexuality is accepted as normal behavior, even among throngs of churches.  All such goes back to the “men who will divide you, who follow mere natural instinct and do not have the Spirit” (Jude 1:18-19). What does “mere natural instinct” imply?  So many contort that into, “See, that verifies God created homosexuals, they are born like that.”  Nope.  It means one’s instinct of pleasure has corrupted the soul. 
“These men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them” (Jude 1:10). 

We have free will--to do what we want with the lives God gave us. If people want, or feel intrinsically pulled toward the same sex, they have been given over to their desires or "shameful lusts" (Romans 1:18-23). That doesn't make their lifestyle right and/or pleasing to God.  Homosexuality reverses the order God designed--in the beginning God created woman for man.  People can, have, and will ape the truth to meet their own needs.  God did not send His Son to invalidate His intended order--He sent Jesus to save it (Hebrews 6:16-20). God does not change (Numbers 23:19, Psalm 102:27, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17).   I doubt He would offer up His only Son as a sacrifice for humanity to change His appointed plan.
Today, Christians who stand for Jesus and handle Scripture accurately are labeled bigots.  Bigotry, defined by Random Houses Webster Dictionary, clearly spells it out as an extreme intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.  It rubbed me the wrong way initially, because I always associated it with racism.  But in taking a closer look at the definition, and its synonyms, if the world wishes to view Christians as bigots, as dogmatic, fanatic doctrinaires of Jesus Christ, then I guess they are right.
 But let’s ask questions of those who vehemently deny our belief—are they any less a bigot toward our right to profess our belief? How can they stand there in hateful opposition, screaming bigotry, when they themselves shower in it every day under the guise of equal rights? They mock that which they do not understand, and the very things they do understand are the very things destroying them.  
Acceptance of falsehood is not anywhere in the inspired scriptures, truth is. The truth hurts, it stings, and yes it angers those who deny it.  And there it is--the source of contention, lack of tolerance for sin against God.  We are to reach out in love to spread the truth, but that does not mean we are to roll over and deny Scripture’s absolutes.
Love should not be sightless.  Love is not weak, but strong in conviction.  Love is a fruit of the Spirit.  However, love doesn't preclude fighting for accuracy, for what is right and true.  Freedom of speech in this case is just a microcosm of this country's angst.  God gave us free will, this country lives under the motto--"In God We Trust;" we should trust in His wisdom and allow citizens freedom of speech, lifestyles, and religion.  It is God’s place to judge and condemn.  In saying this, I can imagine someone asking, “Aren’t Christians judging others saying their lifestyles are sinful?”  Well, no.  Judgment is always linked to condemnation.  Christians are evaluating life in line with the Scripture.  However, if we evaluate others with hate, if Christians evaluate without extending concern for souls, then we are guilty of sin against God.  Sin is sin, no matter the offender.  God shows no favoritism.
“For God does not show favoritism.”  (Romans 2:11)
“Do not threaten them, since you know He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”  (Ephesians 6:9)
“…It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”  (Colossians 3:25)
“I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.”  (1 Timothy 5:21)
“But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”  (James 2:9)
Sadly, this is not the case among humanity nowadays, nor has it ever been.  Thank the Lord Jesus Christ’s atonement of our sins on the cross.  “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set (us) free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1).  But to those who are not in Christ Jesus, there is nothing but an expectancy of judgment.
The love and peace in this world are fast evaporating and being replaced with apathy, angst, anger, and agitation. I do know things are only going to get worse.  I have no proof of this, other than Scriptural truth.  These are the last times.  Even more reason for Christians to stand for Christ, united together representing God’s grace.
 I know our faith and the world are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but let us not give in to their hate.  Once Satan baits us into fits of rage in hostile arguments over God’s Word, then he has a victory in the minds of those we are to convince.  With some people, we must understand the Truth will never sink in; as pearls before swine, it’s useless to expect them to appreciate the beauty of God’s Truth—they are only concerned with the here and now, unable to contemplate past their own desires.   So, when they continually and aggressively deny Jesus, don’t argue, shake the dust from your feet and move on to a soul who is receptive to God’s love through Christ.
6  NIV Disciple’s Study Bible, p. 1735
7a Erwin W. Lutzer, How to Say No to a Stubborn Habit.  (1979.  SP Publications, Inc. Victor Books, 1989) 16.
7b Lutzer, 21, 22

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

For the Bible Tells Me So

Learning from men is often valuable and helpful. However, it is not without risk. There must be a Holy Spirit driven need to fact-check what the heart is absorbing from external stimuli. The only source without error is God's Holy Word.

Submitting one's heart to Christ Jesus, prayerful communion in the Holy Spirit, and Scriptural-led lives are the hallmarks of true Christians. Sadly, there is a deep divide between persons whose hearts are sincerely Christ-filled and Christless Christians who proclaim the rhetoric of man-made, religious traditions.

How does one safeguard against free falling into fallacy taught by others--intentional or otherwise?

By following and living out the words within God's Word, rather than by the words of corrupt, sinful men. Put your hope, your learning, your key to growth in the Author and Perfector of our faith--Christ Jesus, our Lord. The Spirit of the Living God testifies about Him within the pages of Scripture. Read, follow, trust, and believe the Bible over man's teaching(s).

 Time devoted to Scriptures' applications prevents sin from remaining one's master; it will also aid one from being deluded by deceitful doctrines. It negates stagnant faith by securing and promoting the Christian's ongoing maturity in the Eternal, Risen Lord.

So, the blunt question remains. In whom does your faith reside? Scientific institutions infused with man's philosophies, religions ripe with false teachings, faith riddled with humanistic dogma, pastors pandering for profit, society-soaked Christianity, stewards of Jesus Christ instructing listeners to verify what they say to be doctrinally sound, or in Scripture proclaiming Jesus Christ? 

One's faith cannot be in men, no matter how sincere and Biblically sound they are. Faith is placing absolute trust in Jesus. Trusting the words of Scripture. Living in accordance to the Bible.

Do I believe what I write? Yes!!!

Do I believe in a personal relationship with God the Father, one as an adopted child, as His heir? Yes, I Do. Do I believe the only Way to receive this gift of grace is to accept Jesus? Not only that, but that He is God the Son, God in the flesh, and that I am a co-heir alongside Him (Romans 8)? Yes, yes, I do.

I accept Jesus' acceptance to be the Suffering Servant. That he was willingly poured out into the likeness of a man, living a sinless life, taking on the sins of the world as a substitutionary offering, submitting to crucifixion and death on a cross, and bodily (not figuratively) rising from the grave on third day.

I accept these acts of love, I accept these truths of God the Son. Jesus is the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life leading to salvation.

Why do I believe? Because the Bible tells me so.

I choose it over the world's chaos, over sin's temporary power, over the grave's temporary sting, over society's persecution, over Satan's temporary reign as the ruler of the kingdom of air. The prince of this world already stands condemned, defeated by Jesus' victory on the cross.

God's grace is offered in these Scriptural absolutes and I humbly accept them in Christ's Name.

I pray Christians who have sincerely accepted Christ Jesus as their Savior, will kneel in their hearts before Him as the Lord God Almighty. He was, He is, He shall be--the Beginning and the End, the King of Kings for now and evermore.

 May God the Father be glorified in His Son, through the lives of those Jesus laid His life down for, believers called to earnestly contend for the faith, who love Him, because He first loved us.

To those who follow Jesus, remember:

 Prayerfully season ‘spiritual meals' with the salt of Scripture, rather than allowing others to pepper misguided error and/or deceit into your doctrinal beliefs. Failing to do so will harden the heart and deafen the soul's ear toward the Spirit of Truth.

 The days are cold, abusive, angry, and dark. Guard the well spring of your heart by refusing the pollution of the world to taint it's waters. Allow only He who is Living Water to be the depth of your soul. Filter all others out with Scripture.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Distraction, Retaliation, and Carnality

Many churches are being distracted, falling for lies, giving into desires—committing spiritual adultery. We sit and watch others walk tall in their religion saying, “Their beliefs are wrong, but you gotta admire their effort and determination.”

The unbelieving of Christ, and/or mutated conspirators of Scripture, do have strong walks of deception, why can’t we have strong walks of truth?

It's difficult to understand this “Christian" nation—we call on God when we see fit. We cry out with prayers when things are rough, but when everything is good, we take the credit.

“There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:1a-2) 

America is in a rut of retaliation against God.

Christians are too underdeveloped to stand their ground for Jesus . We are like frightened children and dogs in a thunderstorm. One loud noise of opposition we seek shelter, run, and hide shivering in hopes the trouble will go away. 

Where are the mature Christians? Why are only handfuls standing up for our Brother, our Savior, our King and Lord? Christ stood in defiant opposition to political, religious, social, and spiritual attackers; why are so many professions of Jesus followed up by a refusal to stand for Him

We are a nation of carnal Christians.

The lascivious Christian serves the flesh (Romans 8:5), feeds upon milk and therefore is immature (1 Corinthians 3:1). Their walks are unreliable (Romans 7:19), they are unfruitful (Matthew 13:22), they have lost their joy in Christ (Psalm 51:12), and all their rewards will be stubble in the fire (1 Corinthians 3:15). All this does not mean salvation has been lost; however, it does entail a weak, fearful walk.

We as a nation have become flesh bound. We do not live in the Spirit. We have been preoccupied with the here and now. Life is but a vapor. We exist only for a short time on this earth, and what do we do? We lust after prestige, power, possessions, flesh, and money.

We purse the name of Jesus on our lips because we recognize His saving power, yet we do not walk in His light. We either forget His commandments of love or we modify His teachings to suit our fancy. We are too afraid to stand for Jesus in the face of opposition, because we are terrorized by the reactions of the world. 

Christ Jesus suffered for us and we should accept His call to be like-minded with Him.

What does this mean? To stand with conviction of truth against those who vehemently oppose or desire to kill us. We should count it joy, and an honor, we can return Christ’s favor by bearing up under their rage and venom.

Each of us is guilty of falling by the wayside and not participating in Christ’s kingdom. We idly stand by and watch false ramblers of faith march on, while we do nothing to refute their lies.

Why are we so afraid? I cannot speak for you, but I will tell you of myself. I speak loudly, but at times I leave the big stick at home. This happens when I get sidetracked by desires.

For instance, I rationalize my occasional smoking, by saying it’s just a cigarette, God will forgive me when I ask. Yes, He will, but my devotion to Him wanes each time I decide to fire up another cancer stick. I defile His temple and grieve His Spirit living inside me. I choose to disobey and I suffer the consequences of mounting decisions contrary to God’s will. 

Cigarettes are an overflow from my old self and I have yet decided to hand them over to God. I clinch them tightly, in turn placing them in a higher status than God.

True, each time I ask for forgiveness, but I show no sign of change, no effort toward actual repentance. This eventually creates a barrier between me and the Holy Spirit, who is my source of power, my source of strength, comfort, and counsel. Without Him by my side, I am nothing. I tremble at the thought of standing against those who can tear me down.

When I fail to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, I’m all alone in each battle. No wonder I lack the backbone. Each decision to disobey lays another brick on the wall between Jesus and myself. Before long, I can’t even see Him. This doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process of time. It’s a day in, day out walk of disobedience.

Of course, this is me. But, I do know this is how the mind and soul work. I’ve spent many a year in darkness, and I know the particulars of sinful decision-making. So my vice may not be yours, but the same principle applies. Whatever your brick and mortar are on the wall of disobedience, these are the causes behind a carnal life

We must, and I stress we, pursue a godly life through the ever-present Holy Spirit. We must stand for Jesus. We must spend time in prayer. We must study Scripture. To know Christ is to spend time with Him. This is only accomplished by offering ourselves up as living sacrifices (Romans 12). This is done by relinquishing the grip we have on ourselves, and devoting our hearts and time to Him.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Law, Grace, and Jesus

Proverbs 29:18

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint ; but blessed is he that keeps the law.”

My perspective:

“Where there is no revelation…” means where eyes have not been opened to God’s truth—Jesus is the only way to God the Father.

“…people cast off restraint..” means exactly that, no self-control. Where people lack in reading God’s Word they have no mirror to reflect the depravity of their spirit. They “cast off restraint” and go for the gold in pleasure—what feels good, drunkenness, hate, fits of rage, pride, arrogance, sexual immorality, and on and on and on. Such things are not of God, they are of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air—the devil (Ephesians 2).

“…but blessed is he who keeps the law" We are no longer under law,  but under grace through Jesus, so blessed is the one who maintains a personal relationship with Christ. This entails searching intently for wisdom (ability to discern between what is right and true) through God’s Word, bringing about peace of mind, body, and soul. Doesn’t mean suffering and sorrow will dissipate nor riches will be poured over one’s head, but that through the storms of life our sails will be filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). He will carry us along as a ship in turbulent water if we only learn to rely upon His presence.

Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passion and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-26).

In Ephesians chapter two, Christians are taught we are made alive through Christ like a newborn to its mother. Before Jesus, the law had to be followed to the letter for cleansing and forgiveness of sins. This legalism never established permanence because continual rituals of sacrifice had to be performed to receive righteousness. With every wrong/sin, works had to be performed before God to receive a pardon.

The Messiah put an end to the legalistic era—Jesus has fulfilled the law. Through Him we are cleansed once for all—through Him we, true believers, are alive.

Personally, though I was dead in spirit (hate, rage, depression, etc) through escapism (liquor, drugs, etc), I surrendered to Jesus and now am alive (contented peace). It is by grace I have been saved—the definition of grace being unmerited favor from God that provides salvation. I did nothing to deserve God the Father’s favor—God the Son did it for me. By accepting Jesus’ death on the cross as my eternal sacrifice and believing in His bodily resurrection, I am now more alive than ever before.

No person can go to the Father except through His Son’s life sacrifice.

All I had to do was accept in faith, which is not of ourselves, but a gift from God as well. A gift is freely given not earned. If salvation were based on earnings, it would be based on works and “merited favor." We must soften our hearts and open the ears of our spirit to hear the call of salvation from Jesus. Let go of the pride that deceives one into thinking good deeds/works are sufficient to enter into heaven—they won’t. Good deeds and love are a sign/result of having received Jesus’ Holy Spirit, but in no way do works/deeds in and of themselves provide salvation (James 2:14-26). Let us not be mere listeners of the Word, but doers of the Word (James 1:19-27) and we will be blessed .

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Aiming at the Mark

Better.  That seems to be the mantra today.  Why, as Christians, do we have our eyes fixed on the mark of being better?  We are distracted and deluded by this simple, yet malignant word.

To be better is a mark we fall short of daily.  We promise to lead lives devoted to Christ and end each day as failures. Jesus is the mark to which we should live.  He is our role model.  He came as the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53).  Have any of us ever lingered in thought about that title, Suffering Servant?  It's worth a deep thought or two.

Jesus is the exact representation of God in human form.  He is the stamp of God in the flesh.  He came to sacrifice Himself in order to appease His righteousness.  He did not place Himself in what one would naturally assume God would chose.  No, His choice of substitution was to bear the burdens of life and the rejection of others.  He did not desire to be lavished with wealth and position.

Jesus understands rejection--His own received Him not.  He understands the harshness of life and man.  He knows firsthand absence of fairness--socially, economically, and sadly, spiritually.

In His Sovereignty, God showed us how to be better.  By not concentrating on the 'better me' but by living righteously.  In and of ourselves, impossible--in Christ Jesus, more than possible.   Scripture promises us a participation in the divine nature of God Himself with the indwelling Holy Spirit.  This is an amazing reality to the sincerely saved.

I have heard our lives are to prepare us for eternity,  but I tend to disagree.  True,  we prove our loyalty to Jesus by living this life in faith. However, our lives are more than a preparation.  We exist to glorify God,  to live in such a way that brings our heavenly Father honor. This is not realized by a desire to be better than what we were or even better than what we are--it is only done by imitating Jesus Christ.

Christianity is more than a belief in Jesus or His completed work in Calvary.  Satan himself, along with his minions, believe these truths.  No, Christianity is more than belief--it is surrender. The surrender of one's life by kneeling before the King of Kings, by making Jesus the Head of our lives. This is salvation. This is how we become better, by representing Christ in the power of His Spirit.