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Monthly Archives: February 2017

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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The Gift of Hunger

The Gift of Hunger

There are many gifts God gives that we often take for granted; hunger is one of them. Often times we think of hunger as a burden but it truly is a blessing. If we don’t eat we will die, and if we never know we are hungry we may never know to eat. Naturally as adults we know we are to eat if we want to live. However, a new born baby doesn’t know this. For this reason, God designed our human bodies, starting from birth, to become hungry so we will know to eat, so we will grow, be healthy, and live.
In I Peter 2:1-4 the Apostle Peter describes the hunger of one who is a new born babe in Christ. A new born babe in Christ is one who has recently repented of their sins, (I Peter 2:1), and has turned to Jesus. (I Peter 2:4). He said, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (I Peter 2:3). Then he said in the next verse, “If you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”
In other words, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord by recognizing His grace and received it, and you have repented of you sins and tuned to Jesus, and therefore become a new born babe in Christ, you will have a longing, a hunger, for the word of God. Though I am not the one who sits in the judges seat, I seriously doubt that the one who claims to be converted and has never had any hunger for the Word of God, or anything of God’s is a true conversion. The truly converted, especially the new born, will have a longing, a hunger, for the Word of God as well as all things from God.
There are times when the human body will lose its apatite, its natural hunger, and not want to eat. But, those times are a sign that the body is not healthy. In the midst of battling cancer I was asked one question above all else: “How is your appetite?” If the body is not healthy it will not want to eat. In the same way, if we are not spiritual healthy we will not have a hunger for the word of God; we will have no hunger for anything of God. It is at that time that we should know we stand in need of repentance.
The new born will especially have a hunger for the Word of God. Just as a new born in the flesh is limited in its ability to do things so is a new born in Christ. Just as the new born in the flesh has a longing to grow, learn, and do more, so will the now born in Christ. The new born in Christ will have a specific longing for the Word of God for the very specific purpose of growing in respect to their salvation. If there is no longing to grow in the salvation than one needs to seriously question whether or not they have a true salvation.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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