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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

The ultimate act of love is seen in the act of God so love the world. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God didn’t wait for us to change our wicked ways and then turn to Him. Apart from the power of the blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit we can’t turn to God. Apart from the work of God we would never even want too. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

We did not choose to love God, He chose to love us. I John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” He chose to love us despite the fact that we were living in rebellion against Him. He loved us enough to pay the price for our sins on the cross of Calvary, suffering greatly in humiliation and anguish knowing that His sacrifice would purchase redemption of sin and reconcile us into a right relationship with Him. We love the Lord today because He first loved us.

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus demonstrated His love towards us by laying down His life. As a result of the cross God also requires us to lay down our lives. Not as a dead sacrifice, but as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Because of the mercies of God, which is the act of Jesus on the cross, we are urged to give our lives as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.

Jesus told us to preach the gospel to all creation. In order to do this we must sacrifice. We will sacrifice our time, our energy, and sometimes our money. We may think that the world is wicked and cruel and therefore is not worthy of my sacrifice. But, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we worthy of Jesus sacrifice?” Absolutely not! Fortunately for us, God didn’t give us what we deserve; instead, He gave us grace and mercy-because of His love. We to are called to demonstrate grace, mercy, and love to a hostile and often rejecting world. We as Jesus did, are to overlook the hostility and rejection of the world in love, hoping to win a few for the Lord.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). God loves the world and everyone in it. Does He love their ways? Of course not. This is why He sent His Son to die on the cross and save them from their sins empowering them to repent and live for Him. Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” The feet of those who carry the gospel to the unsaved are beautiful to God. They are carrying the good news of Jesus salvation to the world in which God loves so they can hear, and therefore believe. But how will they hear unless we love them enough to go and tell. By telling we carry on the ultimate act of love-God’s sacrificial love.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Turning Condemnation into Compassion

Turning Condemnation into Compassion

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39 NASB

In the 23rd chapter of Mathew Jesus exposed the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and wickedness. He boldly proclaimed truth to them by exposing their wicked ways. While exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus pronounced eight wows warning them of their impending doom for their wicked ways.

Jesus told them of their wicked intentions to kill the prophets that He would send. Jesus was also fully aware of the fact that they wanted to kill Him, and eventually would. Jesus knew that Israel would soon turn on Him and be hostile to Him and His followers.  However, Jesus compassion for them is clearly seen in His statement, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” He loved them even though they were unwilling to love Him back.

I have no doubt that Jesus was not proclaiming the wows to the Pharisees with a smile on His face and joy in His heart. I would imagine He spoke these words with a grief stricken soul and tears on His cheek. He knew if they did not hear and therefore respond to the truth they would stand eternally condemned.

Jesus was not preaching to bring condemnation on them, He was preaching to bring them into repentance. For this reason, He was preaching with compassion. Jesus Himself said, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17). Clearly the unrepentant will be judged. However, Jesus compels the lost with compassion to repent and be saved from eternal judgment. The heart full of condemnation has no desire to see the sinner repent, thinking they deserve what they have coming to them for their wickedness. However, the bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, apart from grace, we all stand condemned. How then am I any better than they? I have repented and therefore received grace. They stand in need of repentance, and therefore need to receive grace.

Clearly the world is becoming more and more wicked. Clearly, the world will remain in their wickedness until the Children of God share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, the good news; and they must share it with a heart of compassion rather than one of condemnation. I have no doubt that the church will never reap a mighty harvest until it repents of its hardened heart. Just as Jesus did, when we evangelize we need to speak the truth. We need to call sin what it is and warn of the impending judgment for those who refuse to repent. However, Just as Jesus did we need to do it with a heart filled with compassion desiring the sinner to come to repentance before it is eternally too late.

The church today needs to be broken with compassion; a compassion that will bring the saint to his knees pouring his heart out to God in prayer on behalf of the sinner; a compassion that will move the congregation out of their comfortable pews and out into the community to proclaim truth and love to the sinner; and a compassion that overcomes selfishness, overlooking suffering and sacrifice for the sake of the sinner. In truth, we need a compassion that looks, acts, lives, and exists, just like Jesus. Until that time, the church will remain in its pews, the sinner will remain in their sin, revival will tarry, and judgment will come.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Boast In the Lord

Boast In the Lord

No man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 1:29-31

The city of Corinth was about fifty miles from Athens, the center of all Greek learning and the heart of all human wisdom.  The people of this part of the world prided themselves in their intellectual human wisdom and boasted in their great learning. They viewed the word of the cross as foolishness, and those who rejected their man made wisdom as ignorant and unlearned. (I Corinthians 1:18).

Paul said among the church of Corinth, “that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” (I Corinthians 1:26). However, they possessed something far greater than any works, or wisdom man could provide. They possessed the wisdom of God which was Christ Himself; a wisdom of God that produced in them righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

We should never come before God thinking we are wise and learned. For this is boasting before God. Does this mean we should remain uneducated so we will not be guilty of boasting before the Lord? Of course not. Paul himself was a greatly educated man. II Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” In other words, work hard at studying and knowing the word of truth so when you proclaim it you will not be ashamed before the Lord and you will handle it accurately.

What then shall we do? We understand that our wisdom and education is not sufficient in progressing the Kingdom of God and bringing God glory. Therefore, we surrender whatever wisdom we have, great or small, to God in service unto Him, knowing He is the all knowing God who has made foolish the wisdom of the world. We submit ourselves to God and present ourselves to the world as knowing nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Of course, this is foolishness to the world, but it is “God who has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” (I Corinthians 1:28, 29). Since it is God at work in us, we understand whether we are greatly educated or completely illiterate we can be powerful servants of the Lord. God’s only requirement is total surrender.

Though we may be fools for Christ to the world, we obtain a wisdom that is far greater than any wisdom the world can offer, we obtain the wisdom of God, Christ Jesus His Son. Therefore, we don’t boast in our works, or our wisdom, we boast in Christ alone. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Greater Love

Greater Love

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB

The English language is a generic language. For instance, if I say I love my wife and then say I love my car, are the two words for love one in the same? Of course not. However, the Greek language is a very specific language that uses very specific words. The Greek word used for love in John 3:16 is agape. It literally means a sacrificial or giving love. A type of love where you put the needs of the one of whom your love is directed above your own; even if it means you will have to sacrifice or suffer. This is God’s agape love towards us that He gave His only begotten Son.

Although we are greatly undeserving of God’s love He has chosen to give it to us anyway. Why? Because He loves us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even while we were living in hostility towards Him in the rebellion of our sin God loved us. How much does He love us? Enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die a cruel torturous death on a cross to pay the price of sin for the whole world, so those who will repent of their sin and believe in Jesus as their Savior shall not perish but have eternal life. God’s heart is to spend eternity with us, because He loves us.

John 15:3 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid down His life for His friends, us, because He knew we would be eternally condemned for our sins. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23.) With Jesus sacrifice in mind II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Whether you have been loved little or loved much within your life you will never find a greater love than the love from which God loves you.  To receive this love you only need to repent from your sins and believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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The Greatest of Treasures

The Greatest of Treasures

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” II Corinthians 4:7 NASB

Every man woman and child stands in need of the grace of God. God has given to us His law as a standard by which we are to live. However, the Word of God clearly teaches that all in one form or another have broken the law. Because we are lawbreakers we await judgment, a judgment that will lead to eternal damnation. However, God is not willing for any to parish but for all to enter into repentance. For this reason God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty on the cross of our judgment. Apart from the grace of God we are utterly hopeless.

Jesus said in Mathew 5:20, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and Pharisees, although lawbreakers themselves, prided themselves in keeping the law through their ritualistic routines within their daily lives. How then is our righteousness going to surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? It can’t. Thus, we need another means to enter the kingdom of heaven. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

So often we overlook and therefore take for granted how great the gift of grace truly is. The greater we understand grace, the more we will come to realize what a treasure Jesus truly is. The grace we have received is through God giving His Son as a gift. Although we are sinfully blemished and undignified God gave us His Son who is sinlessly perfect, unblemished, excellent, and dignified in every way. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21). God gave to us, whose righteousness is as filthy rags, His Son, the King of Glory, the Ancient of Day’s, the one in whom the angels in heaven worship, the one in whom all things was created for. God gave to us, mere men, His Son, His only begotten Son, His Son of whom he loves, His Son who is near and dear to His heart.

What a wonderful treasure we have received in these earthen vessels; a treasure that outshines all others; a treasure worthy of giving all to receive, yet a treasure freely given. A treasure we are unworthy of receiving, yet our God, a God of grace, gladly, and lovingly gives. A treasure we should share with those whose treasures have tarnished. Truly Jesus, given by grace and received by faith, is the greatest treasure.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Fully Trusting in His Power

Fully Trusting in His Power

“And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” Ephesians 1:19 NASB

The clear teaching of the Word of God is that we are saved by grace and not of works. We simply make a choice to repent of our sins and believe on Jesus for His redemptive power. At that moment the power of God unto salvation is worked out by God within our lives. We are fully dependent upon the power of God to convert us and then regenerate us. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (II Corinthians 5:17).

The fact of God’s power at work in our lives for salvation is undisputed among bible believing Christians. However, we often fail to realize the continual need of the power of God in our lives after salvation. The redeemed child of God cannot obtain the holiness of God within his life apart from the power of God initiated it. Are we saved by grace, apart from the law and works, only to be saved and left to our own devices to live out our salvation in accordance to the law and works? Of course not. Ephesians 4:24 says, “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” To put on the new self is to put on Christ. (Romans 13:14). Apart from the power of God at work in our lives we cannot be saved. Likewise, apart from the power of God in our lives we cannot obtain the righteousness and holiness God requires as Christians. We start of fully dependent upon God’s power and remain fully dependent.

James 2:18 says, “But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James is clearly not arguing that one needs works to have faith. Rather, he is arguing one needs faith to have works. Even in our works we are fully dependent upon God’s power. We often quote Ephesians 2:8, 9 declaring that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works. This is a vital truth for true salvation. However, we often forget about the next verse, Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” We are clearly not saved by works but are clearly expected to work. We are not to work in our own power, for that is boastful and arrogant before God. Act’s 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” You will receive power to do the work in which God requires.

Jesus said apart from Me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5). Just as we are full dependent upon God for salvation, we are fully dependent upon God for righteousness, for holiness, and for our good works. Praise God, just as He saves those who believe in His name, He will empower those who continue to do so.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Reflections of Glory

Reflections of Glory

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” II Corinthians 3:18 NASB

Paul reminded the church of Corinth of Moses who caught a glimpse of the glory of God. The reflection of God’s glory caused Moses face to shine. Because of the hardness of the peoples heart Moses had to wear a veil over his face to hide the glory of God illuming from him. Paul also said that this veil remains in the hearts of men to this day and is only removed whenever a person turns to the Lord.

As Christians we are to be living reflectors of the glory of God. We are not to veil or hide the glory of God within us. Nor are we to use the Lord to bring glory to ourselves. We are to let His light shine from within us for the world to see and therefore be drawn to the Him.

In order for us to be a clear and bright reflection of God’s glory we need to be transformed from the fleshly man to the spiritual man. When we walk more in the flesh and less in the Spirit we are dim and dull reflectors of God’s glory. However, when we are full of the Spirit and have denied the flesh God’s glory shines bright. We should desire the glory of God to shine so bright within us it blinds the world from all else.

How then are we to be transformed into His image from glory to glory? The Word of God promises us if we seek God we will find Him. God has given to us several methods of seeking Him and finding Him such as, the bible, prayer, church, and service. All of these are wonderful ways God has given to us to discover His person, fall in love with Him, and then become like Him. These tools are not tools for salvation; they are tools for those who are already saved to seek Jesus all the more. The only means of salvation is to repent of your sins, and trust in the Lord by faith to save you from and forgive you of your sins. Once we are saved we use these tools to grow in our walk with Him, to draw closer to Him and more like Him.

Every believer should spend time daily in God’s Word, and in prayer, and to take every opportunity to be active in the church and in service unto the Lord. However, we need to be careful in not allowing these spiritual acts to become fleshly. When these acts become tedious acts of legalistic works that we do because we feel as though we have to, they are meaningless and far less beneficial. However, when we spend time in the bible, in prayer, and in church for the singular purpose of seeking God our service of Him will then be anointed with the glory of God. Our love and passion for Him will grow immensely and our service of Him will be as natural as breathing. Then the world will not see us and be greatly disappointed; they will see the glory of God and be very satisfied.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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In Pursuit of God’s Righteousness

In Pursuit of God’s Righteousness

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1 NASB

In the previous chapter Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Now we find here Jesus saying, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men.” However the emphasis is, “to be noticed by them.” If our heart is the applause and the approval of men then we have received our reward in full. What reward is that? The applause and the approval of men.

Clearly God wants us to live out a righteous life as a walking witness to His wondrous love and grace. However, we must ask ourselves, “Are we living a life that points other to Jesus or are we living a life that points others to ourselves?” If we are seeking glory for ourselves we dishonor God and have no reward. We must remember Lucifer was cast out of heaven for trying to steal God’s glory, and that God has clearly said, “I will not share My glory with another.” However, if we chose to live a life of righteousness in light of God’s mercy and grace for the purpose of pointing others to Him, our eternal reward will be great. Paul said in II Timothy 4:8, “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

We must also remember that when we live a life in pursuit of God the world will often reject us and possibly persecute us. We do not intentionally try to stand in contrast to the world for the sake of provoking it, for that is another form of self-righteousness. In reality no one is attracted to self righteousness and everyone will reject it. It is probably one of the greatest stumbling blocks to the Christian world today. We are to live a life in accordance to God’s standards. God’s ways are not our ways and therefore will contradict the ways of the world. I am a sinner saved by grace therefore the righteousness that I pursues is not my own, I have none; it is God’s, and God’s alone. God has called me to holiness because He is holy and I simply invite the world to join me in my pursuit of Him.  Will you join me?

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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What Motivates You?

What Motivates You?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NASB

Selfishness, conscience, and love are the three basic motivators in the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike. Selfishness seeks only what is beneficial to the individual with their personal wellbeing as their only motivator. Those who are motivated by conscience are motivated out of a sense of duty and obligation in doing what is right whether it be legal or moral. The one who is motivated by love isn’t concerned for his own well being, nor does he do what he does simply because it’s the right thing to do according to the law or morality.

A Christian’s love should be our only motivating factor. Selfishness is strongly condemned in the Word of God. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.” As Christians we should have a clear conscience of God’s law and expectations of morality. However, Jesus said in John 14:14, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

Jesus commandment for us is to love. If we love Jesus the commandment of love will come naturally, without thought, and without hesitation. The more we love Jesus the more we will naturally obey this commandment of love. When we are living in accordance to the commandment of love it will impact every area of our lives from our families to our churches, in our service, giving, selflessness, even our conscience.

How then do we grow in this command of love? Jesus said we are to love one another even as He has loved us. He is our example. We love God because He first loved us. The more we repent of ourselves and seek Jesus in our daily lives the more we will know Him and the more we will love Him. The more we know and love Him the more His love will have a transformational impact upon our lives. We don’t seek love; we seek Jesus-He is love.

Selfishness and conscience have had great negative impacts on our families, churches, and communities. This negative impact has caused many in the world to turn away from the Lord. Children who are raised in church are turned away by seeing the hypocrisy of selfishness and conscience rather than the love of the Lord and far too many churches are better known in their communities for their fighting rather than their evangelistic efforts and works of ministry. However, the commandment of love when seen by the world will be a beautiful and refreshing sight to them. It will draw them in rather than turn them away. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Are you a disciple of Jesus? What motivates you?

Since godly love is a gift that we can only receive through knowing Christ only the truly repentant can truly love. In fact, I believe that love is one of the greatest evidences of one who has truly repented; a love for God first, then a love for their neighbor. So, what motivates you?

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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The Gift of Conviction

The Gift of Conviction

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” John 16:8

Jesus taught the disciples many wonderful truths about the Holy Spirit. Just before His ascension Jesus told His disciples to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49.) On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell on each believer filling them with power from on high to fulfill the ministry Jesus called them to, and to teach and lead them on their journey of life. Today everyone who believes in Jesus receives the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:9-11.) However, as believers we need to daily seek being field with the power, anointing, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We seek Him by staying focused on spiritual things, (Romans 8:5), and through prayer.

The word convict that is used in this scripture is a word that requires action. When God convicts us we humble ourselves before Him agreeing with Him that He is right and we are wrong. It should produce repentance within our lives. In reality God is always right; if God then convicts us of a wrong we must repent or stand in danger of being in rebellion against Him.

We shouldn’t fear God’s conviction. God’s heart is not to bring us down but to build us up. We should rejoice over God’s convicting work in our lives. God convicts us of our errors to restore us into being healthy and productive. Apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit we would never know we are sinners standing in rebellion against a holy God. Nor, would we ever know His righteousness, or His righteous standards. Even if we did know of His righteousness and His standards we would not have the ability to live in accordance to it. Praise God that the Holy Spirit empowers us, teaches us, guides us, and convicts us to live in harmony with Him. Truly, the Lord has not left us on our own.

Only the unrepentant should fear the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Not only does the Holy Spirit convict us of sin and righteousness, meaning that we need to turn from sin to righteousness, the Holy Spirit convicts the unrepentant, the “World” of judgment. If one is unrepentant he must know that judgment awaits him. Often times when someone asks me to pray for one who is still in their sin I will pray that God will make them miserable until they repent. That sounds harsh but it is a lot less harsh than the judgment that awaits them if they don’t repent. We should truly rejoice and praise God over the fact that He sends the Holy Spirit to convict. No doubt, conviction truly is a gift!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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