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You Shall be My Witnesses

You Shall be My Witnesses

Clearly the church is failing in regards to evangelizing this lost world. Thom Rainer recently wrote in a blog titled, Where Have All the Baptisms Gone? “I recently reported the latest statistics for our denomination. It’s not a pretty picture. Our membership declined again, this time by 105,708. And our baptisms were down to 314,956, the lowest level since 1948. But in 1948, we only had 6 million members. Today we have 16 million members. We are reaching less people for Christ, even though we have 10 million more members than we did in 1948.”
Even the most spiritually blind person among us today can see that this world is becoming morally bankrupt while they slip further from the Lord. Immorality of every sort is socially acceptable toady in almost every facet of society, even in many churches. Bible believing Christians are left asking the question why. Why is this world slipping further and further away from God’s righteous standard?
We are quick to make excuses that it is a sign of the times we are living in. We say the Lord is coming back soon and we are therefore seeing the apostasy. There may be truth in these statements, but this truth should cause us to work even harder for the kingdom and not less. We are even quick to pass the blame on everyone else. We say that the government, the judicial system, the news media, and the entertainment industry for the most part are anti Christian liberals who stand against us. We say things like, “If we can get Washington right we will reclaim this nation for the Lord.” However, there is a major problem with statements such as this. It is not the government’s job nor responsibility to lead this nation to the Lord-it is the churches.
The clear picture that statistics such as this, that Thom Rainer quoted, and many more like it, is that the church is not doing its job. God has given a clear biblical mandate to all Christians to share the gospel message of Jesus. Just prior to His ascension Jesus gave the final instructions to His disciples to go into all of the world and proclaim the gospel. (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47-49, John 20:21). Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “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.” He said, you shall be, or you will be, My witnesses. Jesus intentions for His church to share the gospel are abundantly clear.
If we are not being the witnesses of the gospel of Jesus that He told us we shall be a witness of we are then living in a direct rebellion of a commandment of Jesus. That is sin! Not only is it sin, seeing as how those around us will spend eternity in hell if we are not Jesus witnesses, it is one of the worst forms of sin and rebellion imaginable.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Day 21 Praying for Revival

Day 21 Praying for Revival

Humility will Lift us Up

Just as Satan is the perfect example of pride bringing us down, Jesus is the perfect example of humility lifting us up. Philippians 2 explains how Jesus humbled Himself to the obedience of His Father by becoming a sacrifice for us. Verse 8 says, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Because Jesus humbled Himself by giving of Himself as a perfect sacrifice, the very next phrase in verse nine says, “for this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” The reward for Jesus great act of humility was the highest of all exaltation.

Although there will never be any other name exalted above the name of Jesus the Bible assures us that if we humble ourselves in obedience toward God He will exalt us. As we have already discussed, Peter says in I Peter 5:5, “God is opposed to the proud. The good news is that the rest of the verse say but gives grace to the humble.” With this statement in mind, Peter says in the next verse, “therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” The consistency of God is clear throughout his Word that He humbles the proud yet He exalts the humble.

Sometimes we feel as though we should be honored or that we deserve exaltation. We may feel as though we deserve special recognition because of who we are, what positions we hold, how gifted or how well-educated we may be. However, with the humility of Christ in mind Philippians 2:5 says, “Have this attitude in yourself which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:6 tells us that Jesus is God; yet, verse seven says, He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” If anyone deserves exultation it is the Son of God, the God who took upon flesh, Jesus Christ. Yet, He chose to humble Himself. To have the attitude of Christ is to have a humble attitude.

Paul stated in Philippians 3:4, “If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more.” He wasn’t bragging; he was right. He began to state his credentials in the next few verses as being a man who had everything according to the flesh going for him. When you examine his life, you realize that he was born into the right family, he was born into the best citizenship, he had the greatest education of the day, and he greatly excelled in his former occupation. He had every reason in this world to proudly stick his chest out and brag in the flesh.  Yet he stated in Philippians 3:7-10, “but whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Paul demonstrated in every area of his life as having the attitude of Christ. Although he was a well-accomplished man, he chose only to boast in the Lord. His life was by no means an easy life. I often look at Paul’s life and ask myself, could I have been strong enough to endure all he went through in his life for the Lord? One of the most misused verses in the entire Bible is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him, (Jesus), who strengthens me.” To hold that verse in its context, Paul is saying that regardless of what I face in life (good or bad), in Christ He will get me through it. If I humble myself before Him, He will lift me up.

Day 21 Prayer Guide

  • Ask God to reveal any sin or mindset that would prevent Him from hearing your prayers.
  • Repent of any such hindrance and ask for God’s forgiveness.
  • Ask God to remove any doubts and keep you focused on Him.
  • Seek the Holy Spirit to consume you during this time to lead you. Be obedient to Him.
  • Spend some time praising God for the fact that He is able. Quote some scriptures or some of His characteristics to Him in praise.
  • Pray that the people of God will repent of sins and mindsets that dishonor and hinder Him.
  • Pray that God would reveal prideful attitudes of self-sufficiency and bring about repentance.
  • Pray that the body of Christ will have the mind of Christ-humility.
  • Pray that the church would never put their hope in man and their hope would be in God alone.
  • Pray that the people of God will stand in faith knowing God can reclaim this land.
  • Pray that our churches would be devoted to, and peruse the things that honor God.
  • Pray that the people of God would see the need for revival and begin to seek God for it.
  • Pray specifically for revival in your church. Pray for your pastor and church leaders.
  • Pray for humility upon the people of God that leads to total obedience.
  • Pray for humility upon the people of God that leads to total dependency on Him.
  • Pray that the people of God will be broken hearted over the lost.
  • Pray that the church will be a gospel centered church with a heart to evangelize the world while starting in their own back yard.
  • Pray that the power of God would fall on the church moving them to prayer and sowing the gospel seed.
  • Pray for a great awakening in your community. Name off streets and neighborhoods.
  • Do not be judgmental in this, but pray that if there is any within the church who do not have a genuine relationship with Jesus that God would convict their heart and save them.
  • Make a list of individuals who are not saved and begin petitioning God for their salvation.
  • Pray for repentance of sin and a great awakening in our nation.
 
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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Pay Close Attention to Yourself

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (I Timothy 4:16).

If we are going to be effective tools for the Lord, we must take heed to the words of Paul and pay close attention to ourselves. With this in mind we should continually examine ourselves. We examine ourselves through the Word of God and through prayer. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” This should be a continual prayer from our heart.

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” If God will not hear us, he certainly will not use us. Therefore, as we examine our heart we must ask God to reveal any wickedness we may have hidden in our heart. One may say, “I have no need for this, for my heart is pure.” That is pride, which is in every way, wickedness. Remember, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18). The Pharisees were prideful in what they perceived to be their righteousness, but, Jesus called them sons of Hell.

Iniquity and wickedness is sneaky, hiding in the darkest corners of our soul, unwilling to show itself for what it is, so it can control your will and manipulate you into thinking you are right with God. Some iniquity could have been lingering in the darkness for years while we are clueless of its power over us. Other forms of wickedness could have recently crept in trying to take root. For this reason we must pay close attention to ourselves and seek God for revelation of any form of wickedness hidden deep within.

Wickedness can come in many forms. It is found in the heart that is unloving and selfish. It is found in the soul that is self-centered and self-seeking. It is found in the heart of the prideful trusting in their own power rather than God’s. It is found in the heart of the prejudice thinking they are better than the other. It is found in the vengeful, spiteful, resentful, and unforgiving spirit. It is found in the one who is seeking his own kingdom with worldly ambitions, rather than the advancements of God’s. It comes in many forms and in many ways, but the worst form of wickedness is the stubborn soul that refuses to repent and submit to God.

As we pay close attention to ourselves, we are sure to find flaws in our character that do not line up with God’s. We first trust in His grace and receive forgiveness, then we seek His transforming and renewing power, trusting that He will restore us into right relationship. We realize that we never reach the pinnacle of maturity as a Christian. We are perpetually learning and growing. For this reason, if we are going to be effective workers for His Kingdom, we must perpetually seek the power of God in our personal lives, submitting ourselves to His will, and His ways.

In order for us to achieve this spiritual success we must be devoted to the Word of God. Not devoted only to enhance the ministry in which God has called us, but first and foremost devoted to the Word of God for our own spiritual growth and well-being. We must be seekers of God, continually seeking Him through His Word. At the same time we must pray without ceasing. Again not only for the purpose of the ministry, but as seekers of the Lord, allowing our lips to never cease praising Him, and never cease requesting His presence in our lives. Not for what we can get from Him, but for the simple purpose of having Him central and exalted in our lives.

If Jesus is not central and exalted in our lives, we open the door for wickedness to enter in, and close the door for the power of God to work through us. Therefore, when we pay close attention to ourselves, the main question should always be, “Is Jesus central and exalted in my life?”

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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Follow Me

Repentance means to turn away from something. It is making a u-turn, going the opposite direction from where you were going. Repenting from sin is turning away from the sin. Biblical repentance not only requires us to turn from sin, it calls us to turn to Jesus. Repeatedly throughout the gospels Jesus says, “Follow Me.”

Biblical faith in Jesus isn’t simply believing facts about Jesus, it is also following Him.  James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” Although Satan probably won’t admit it, he believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He was there. He saw it. Too many people today have a Christmas and Easter type of faith. They believe the facts of Christ but have never committed their lives to following Him. I am a huge Mustang fan. For this reason I know all kinds of facts about men who influenced Mustangs like, Lee Iacocca, Carroll Shelby, and Steve Saleen. Yet, I have never met any of them. I have never had a personal relationship with them. I do however know Jesus, because I have committed myself to following Him.

Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Clearly we need to believe the facts about Jesus. God did raise Him from the dead and that should be our foundation of faith. However, that alone isn’t good enough. Along with our foundation of faith we are to confess Jesus as Lord. This is our statement of faith. If Jesus is Lord over our lives we follow Him every day in every way.

In the tenth chapter of Mark we find one who obviously had great respect for Jesus. He came to Jesus knelt before Him and called Him “good teacher.”  He inquired of Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him that he needed to keep the law. The young man quickly responded to Jesus that he has kept the law since his youth. Jesus then told him to go sell everything you own, give it to the poor, and follow me. Jesus was showing him that he hasn’t really kept the law. Although he had respect for Jesus, he was unwilling to obey Jesus and unwilling to follow Him. Many people in our world today have great respect for Jesus, yet they too are unwilling to obey Him and follow Him.

Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” Notice that He said “you must.” The requirement for following Jesus is denying yourself and taking up your cross. We need to remember that the cross was an instrument of death. It was the form of execution for the day. In other words, just as we talked about in being born again, Jesus is saying if we are going to follow Him we must die to self and follow Him. We need to have more than just respect for Jesus. We must have total surrender; a surrender that leads to denying ourselves and obedient service of Him. Jesus said we must.

While sharing the gospel with the lost we must make it abundantly clear that if they choose to accept Christ as their savior and Lord they are entering into a lifetime commitment. We need to make it clear that this walk should impact and influence every area of their lives. We have way too many Sunday-go-to-meetin Christians in our society who don’t mind going to church on Sunday morning but won’t allow Jesus to impact their daily lives.

We need to clearly communicate the fact that entering into a relationship with Jesus is a onetime decision. It is a death to self and life in Christ decision. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” At the same time we need to clearly communicate the fact that following Jesus is a commitment that is renewed daily. Paul also said in I Corinthians 15:31, “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”

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Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Praying for a Great Awakening in America

My heart is to see revival in our churches leading to a great awakening in our nation. God has stirred in my heart to call on all Christians to pray and fast for 40 days seeking God for revival in our churches and a great awakening in our land. The prayer and fast will begin on February 18th and go through March 29th, Easter Sunday. I am asking Christians to pray for 30 minutes a day during an agreed upon time. My hope is to have intersession being lifted up to the throne of God 24 hours a day for 40 days. During that time I will email those who commit to this challenge a daily prayer guide along with a daily devotion that will coincide with the prayer guide. America is in desperate need of revival and revival will not happen unless we humbly seek the face of God and pray. (II Chronicles 7:14). There is power in numbers. So, will you join us? If you feel God calling you to participate in this email me at reclaimingtheland@ilovejesus.net and write prayer in the subject box. If your heart is for revival share this information with everyone you know.

In the name above all names, Jesus

Rusty Kuhn

For more information about the heart of Reclaiming the Land Ministry visit: www.reclaimingtheland.com

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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Repentance Required

            After the resurrection, Jesus spent forty day’s with His disciples opening their eyes to the scriptures teaching them the reason He came so they could proclaim the gospel to all creation.  Jesus told them that one of the requirements of accepting the gospel message was repentance from sin. Jesus said in Luke 24:46-47, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

What did Jesus mean when He said “repentance for forgiveness of sin?”  When we believe on Jesus we believe on all of who He is, all of what He has done, and all of what He has taught.  Jesus preached repentance of sin and holy living. True faith in Christ requires repentance from sin.

After Peter preached the first gospel message just after he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit the crowd was pierced to the heart and asked Peter, “What shall we do?” They wanted to know how they were to respond to the gospel. Peter said they needed to repent. (Acts 2:38).

Sin hinders our relationship with God. It was our sins that Jesus went to the cross to pay for. When we choose not to repent we are telling God that we are not truly interested in a relationship with Him and that we would rather live our lives our own way through our own strength and wisdom. Make no mistake, people who refuse to repent refuse relationship and fellowship with God. John said in I John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” In other words, if we say we are walking with God yet we are living in open rebellious unrepentant sin, we are liars.  However, I John 1:6 says, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  We walk in the light when we have repented of our sin and received the cleansing power of the blood of Christ that paid for our sin.

Paul went so far as to tell us not to associate with any “so-called” believer who is unrepentant and living in sin.  He said not to even eat with such a one. (I Corinthians 5:11). Associating with an unrepentant individual only gives them a false since of salvation.  If there is no repentance, there is no salvation.

In the next chapter, he gives a non-comprehensive list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God.  In I Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul said, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Does this mean that anyone who has ever been drunk or stolen anything will not be saved? Of course not.  Paul is declaring their identity. This is who they are and how they live. This is the identifying mark of their lives. They are identified as a drunkard or a thief or whatever the life of sin is that they have not repented of.      Paul went on to say in the next verse, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Such were some of you, but not anymore, for they had repented and were washed with the blood of Christ. The Christians identity is found in Christ-not sin.

Does this mean that those who slip into sin from time to time are not saved? Galatians 2:11 tells us that Paul opposed Peter to his face because he stood condemned. Peter was being a hypocrite acting one way in front of the gentiles and another way in front of the Jews. Was he condemned to hell for his hypocrisy? Of course not.  Peter was very much a saved man that loved Jesus with his whole heart. He was eventually martyred for his faith. He however, slipped into sin and needed someone like Paul to help set him straight. Those who are indentified with sin due to their lack of repentance are not saved. Christians can and will slip into sin from time to time. However, since they have a relationship with God, they will be convicted of their sin and repent. An unsaved person will live in sin with absolutely no conviction or remorse and be perfectly happy it.

When we share our faith with sinners, we must preach repentance.  A gospel proclaimed without repentance is no gospel at all. We are setting the hearer up for failure if we do not proclaim the need to repent. Not preaching repentance is as foolish as a patient going to see a doctor for a chronic cough. The doctor not wanting to pry into the patient’s personal life by telling him he needs to stop smoking simply gives him cough syrup instead. Smoking is clearly the root of his problem, just as sin is the root of our separation from God.

When preaching repentance we must do so with the love and compassion of Christ.  While preaching repentance we must have a heart of love desiring the sinner to turn from his sin and trust in Jesus. God will not bless the efforts of the self righteous who simply want to condemn the sinner for his sin. We must get the log out of our eye before we can get the spec out of others. Remember, such were some of us. We once were sinners in need of salvation. Who are we to condemn others for their sins? We repented and received grace. This too should be our heart. It most certainly is Gods.  For this reason out of an act of love and compassion knowing the destructive power of sin, we preach repentance.

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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Not Everyone Who Say’s to Me Lord, Lord

Now that we have a better understanding of the gospel we need to be clear on what true biblical Christianity is. There are two extremes in our world today. We first see the one who believes his good works can get him to heaven then we find the unrepentant using Jesus as a ticket to heaven although they truly do not love Him nor have any desire to live for Him.

Let us be clear, not everyone who calls himself a Christian is truly a Christian.  One of the most freighting statements that Jesus ever made is found in Matthew 7:21-23 where He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

First Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.” These are people who are calling Jesus Lord. Then Jesus said that they are doing works in His name. Why would these people not be saved? Jesus gave us a better understanding of why these people are not truly disciples of His when He quoted the prophet Isaiah in Matthew 15:8, “THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.”

Much like the Pharisees who honored God with their lips they don’t truly know God or follow Him with their heart. They are too consumed in the accomplishment of self to serve God. They are more interested in the rules and rituals of religion than they are with seeking a relationship with the Lord. They are more concerned with the pat on the back than they are with the praise of the Lord. They are more in love with the idea of heaven than they are with the King of Glory and are more interested in building their kingdom than His. Their actions point to self rather than the Savior, therefore, they honor Him with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. Jesus said that they “practice lawlessness.”

Jesus said that He will say to these people on the day of judgment, “I never knew you.”  Not that He once knew them and they slipped away but, He never knew them, therefore, they never truly knew Him. Since their heart was set on serving self rather than the savior they never knew Jesus nor served Him. They never had a genuine relationship with Jesus.

Another frightening statement that Jesus made in this scripture was, “many will say to me Lord, Lord,” Many, He said!  Just before Jesus made this statement He said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mathew 7:13-14.) According to Jesus, only a few are saved, while many reject Him and are lost.

It is abundantly clear that the people out in the world who live lives in absolute rebellion against God are not saved.  However, Jesus is now telling us that there are many who are serving in ministries that are not saved; teachers, deacons, pastors, and the faithful who sit in the pew week after week; yes, even tithers.  They look Christian, they act Christian, they talk Christian, they do Christian acts, but Jesus said their walk is not genuine. There is no doubt that they think their walk is genuine. However, they fall under the category of people who believed in vain. (I Corinthians 15:1.)

Let me give a strong warning here. It is not our job to sit on the judgment seat and try to figure out who these folks are. Remember, they look and act Christian and because they are trying to be saved by their works and religion rather than a genuine relationship with Jesus they may act more Christian than some of the genuine Christians sitting in the pews. If God would open our eyes to the spiritual realm and allowed us to see who is saved and who isn’t we would more than likely be astounded.

Our job is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember the seed sewer? We are to be like him sewing seed everywhere we go. This is one of the reasons the gospel should regularly be preached in the church. Along with our seed sewing we pray for the power of God to draw people unto salvation. God knows their heart. We don’t. I pray for every service that God would not allow one lost soul to leave without knowing Him. If we do our part, God will be faithful to do His part.

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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Walking in the Newness of Life

Prior to being born again our lives were carnally minded. Our hearts, minds, dreams, goals, desires, wants, and what we thought were needs were all fleshly and carnally focused. Ephesians 2.3 says, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” When one indulges in the desires of the flesh and mind they walk in the flesh and are greatly displeasing to God. Romans 5:8 tells us, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

However, when we become born again we die to the flesh and come alive through the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit teaches us the ways of God and rebukes us when we walk in the ways of the flesh. Apart from the Spirit of God teaching and guiding us we cannot live for the Lord. Yet, when we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord the Holy Spirit comes to live in us giving us new life. Christ is in us and we are in Him. We are alive.

The carnal man cannot live for the Lord, nor will he want to. However, the spiritual man who possesses the Holy Spirit can live for the Lord, far the Lord is with him, leading and guiding him. Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” When we became born again we were buried with Christ in the likeness of His death, not physically but spiritually. Just as we were buried with Christ we were, past tense, raised from the dead. Again this is a spiritual act, not a physical one.

The bible clearly teaches that those who are in Christ will one day be given a resurrected body. However, the bible also clearly teaches that the moment you accept Christ as Savior and Lord you die to self and come alive to God. Prior to being born again you were dead in your transgressions and sins. Once you became born again you are alive to Him and dead to sin.

A Christian is dead to sin. Therefore, he cannot live in it. “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2.) Living in sin means that sin is your lifestyle; it defines who you are. Living in Christ is also a lifestyle that defines who you are therefore the bible tells us to walk in the newness of life. One cannot live in sin and Christ. It is a spiritual, physical, and philosophical impossibility.

Living for Jesus is a choice. God can but won’t force us to live for Him. Jesus called the rich young ruler to follow Him and the rich young rule said no. If he said no to Jesus, we too can say no. Yet, when we make the choice to live for Jesus we are not alone. We have been empowered by the blood and led by the Spirit. Wow! What a powerful combination. Therefore, we choose to walk in faith.

I have had people over the years tell me that they cannot repent of their sins because their sins have too much power over their lives. That is a lie straight out of Satan’s mouth that directly contradicts the Word of God. I John 4:4 says, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” As a former drug addict trust me when I say that I know the power of sin. As a delivered drug addict I also know the power of God. God’s power is much greater. Again, we have a choice. It is a choice of who to believe. I chose to believe God.

If I chose to believe God I will then walk in the newness of life, repenting from my fleshly life, staying focused on things above rather than the things below, focused on life rather than death, and focused on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of my faith. Will I do this perfectly? No. Neither will you nor anyone else. However, we should do this consistently as it is the identifying mark of being a Christian.

Not if, but, when I lose focus I will repent and ask Jesus to forgive me. I then will ask Him in faith to deliver me from whatever areas I have failed Him in and continue to walk in the newness of life. This process will be repeated many times in a Christian’s life. God isn’t interested in the amount of times you have slipped. He is longing for you to get back up and pursue Him again. Being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect. But, you should be consistent. Jesus death, burial, and resurrection purchased for you a new life. Therefore, we should walk in it.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Born Again

In the third chapter of the book of John we see a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night seeking answers as to who He was. Nicodemus recognized Jesus was from God but wanted to know more. Jesus then startled Nicodemus with a statement he had difficulty understanding. Jesus said in John 3:3 to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus not understanding Jesus statement asked in the next verse, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus then answered in verses five and six, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

At first Jesus said unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Then Jesus said, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. I believe Jesus was basically making the same statement, but rewording it a little for Nicodemus to better understand.

If we are alive today we were delivered from the water from the flesh as flesh. In other words we were conceived and formed into flesh in our mother’s womb and thus we were born. If we are born again we have been born of the Spirit of God. If we are not born of the Spirit of God we cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God.

The question that is now before us is, “How do we become born again?” The simple answer is, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior by believing in who He is and the works He has done on the cross to purchase redemption. By grace we are saved by faith and not by works. (Ephesians 2:9-10).

Paul said in Romans 5:20, “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” In other words, regardless of how much sin we have had in our lives, God has more grace. Therefore, all our sins, regardless of how much, will be washed away if we place our faith in Jesus.

Paul then asks in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Since God has more grace than we have sin should we just keep on sinning so God’s grace can increase? If we ever see yelling in writing we see it in Romans 6:2 when Paul said, “May it never be!” He then goes on to explain through the remainder of this chapter that those who are in Christ are dead to sin. They have died and have been buried with Christ.

For one to be born again he must first die; not physically but spiritually. One must die to his flesh, his hopes, his dreams, his goals, his ways, his ideas, his thoughts, and basically everything that has made him, him. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Jesus said that the requirement of following Him was denying yourself and taking up your cross. Remember that the cross is an instrument of death.

Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Paul’s hopes, dreams, goals, ways, ideas, thoughts, and everything that made Paul, Paul was no longer about him, for he denied himself, it was about Jesus. He was born again. He died to Paul and came alive to Jesus. How did he do this? He explained how in the second part of Galatians 2:20 where he wrote, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Far too many people have a fire insurance type of faith. They don’t want to go to hell but they don’t want to live for Jesus either. They are unwilling to turn from their sinful, fleshly, self-centered, and self-serving ways to truly live for Jesus. Remember, Jesus said, unless you are born again you cannot see, nor enter, the kingdom of Heaven.

To be born again we must die to the flesh and come alive to Jesus. Paul saw the love that Jesus had for him and the actions of the cross that demonstrated His love. With this in mind Paul said in Colossians 3:8, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” Paul realized that he, Paul, was not worthy to live for, but Christ was more than worthy.

Have you been born again? Jesus died for you to give you life. He gave up all so you could have all; all that matters anyway. Have you died to you and come alive to Jesus, or do you simply have a fire insurance policy? Romans 8:12-13 says, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Born-Again

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Life is in the Blood

As we look into the Word of God we see how brutal and bloody Jesus death was. People often ask, “Was this bloody brutality truly necessary?” I think that in part God was showing us how ugly sin truly is. However, everything Jesus did in His life, death, and resurrection had meaning. Everything was preplanned and very intentional.

Whereas death is the wage of sin, life is the required payment for sin. Leviticus 17:11 tells us that life is in the blood. For this reason in the Old Testament sacrificial system God required the life’s blood of animals to be offered as a sacrifice for sin. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”

While Israel was still enslaved to Egypt God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand he let God’s people go. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he refused. God sent nine devastating plagues on the nation of Egypt and Pharaoh still refused to let God’s people go. The tenth plague would however change Pharaoh’s mind. This plague would bring about the death of every first born male child in all the land. God told Moses to tell His people that they would be spared from this plague of death if they would sacrifice a lamb and place its blood on the doorpost of their homes. When the angel of death came, it passed over every home covered with the blood.

Sacrifice didn’t start in Egypt. It started when God Himself sacrificed an animal to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve after they had sinned. The life’s blood was taken from this creature not only to cover their nakedness, but also their sin. The giving of life’s blood was clearly the requirement of God from the very beginning of creation and passed down from generation to generation. Eventually it was commanded by God in the Law of Moses for Israel to abide by.

God knew that He would have to give His Son as a sacrifice for sin before He ever created Adam and before He ever laid down the foundations of the earth. Revelation 13:8 says, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” This verse does not mean that God predetermined whose name would be written down in the book of life and whose name would not be, as some would suggest. For God to create people He had no intention of saving would make Him an unjust God. This verse tells us that God foreknew whose name would be written in the book of life. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

The bloodiness of the cross was necessary for the salvation of mankind. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption of sins.” One of the cruelties of the cross was that those who were crucified died a slow agenizing and humiliating death as their life’s blood slowly drained from their bodies. They were literally bled out.

The blood sacrifices of the Old Testament were temporary and insufficient. For this reason the process needed to be continually repeated. I peter 3:18 says, “Christ also died for sins once for all,” and Romans 6:10 says, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all.” Jesus sacrifice was sufficient putting an end to all sacrifice. The Old Testament sacrifice only covered the sin causing God to pass over the sin while the blood of Jesus washes away the sin. I John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The blood of Jesus sets us free and releases us from our sins. Revelation 1:5 says, “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood.” Having been cleansed by the blood we are also sanctified, made holy, by the blood, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood.” (Hebrews 13:12).

Just before Jesus breathed His last He said, “It is finished,” letting us know that all of the work for the redemption of sins was completed. Nothing else needed to be done. Christ work on the cross and the shedding of His blood is sufficient for salvation opening the door for whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. When Jesus breathed His last the word of God tells us that the veil that separated the outside world from the holy of holies, where the very presence of God dwelt, inside of the Temple, was ripped from top to bottom. Because of the blood we can now enter the presence of God. Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

The cleansing power of the blood of Christ is available to anyone that will turn to Him and believe on Him. But how will all know, unless we tell them?

calvary-jesus_feet_nailed

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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