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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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Called for His Glory

Called for His Glory

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” I Corinthians 1:26

More often than not God calls the week to demonstrate His might. Why? He wants His glory to shine and not ours. What we perceive to be our strengths so often become our weaknesses in the kingdom of God. We think we have wisdom, strength, and might, and think our skills and abilities are sufficient, not realizing they can lead us to great failures when we don’t surrender them to the Lord.

Paul was a greatly educated man with great skills as a leader. However, he said, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (I Corinthians 2:2). He also said in I Corinthians 2:4, “and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Paul didn’t trust in his education or his skills; he trusted in the power of God.

Whether we are unlearned or greatly educated God will use us if our heart is to let His glory shine. If we are unwise and unskilled God will give us a great anointing and ability through His power if we are surrendered to Him. If we are full of wisdom and skills they too must be surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. Even the greatest of education and skills are nothing compared to what God will give to us if we are humble. However, if we are full of pride we will fail. God will not share His glory with another.

Repentance isn’t just turning from sin, it’s turning from self. Repentance is turning from our ways, our heart, our desires, our goals, our visions, and seeking God’s. Remember, true repentance is turning to Jesus, making Him the absolute Lord and authority of our lives. Anything else falls short of His glory. After all, why would we want to trust in our abilities since I Corinthians 1:25 tells us, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Saved with a Holy Calling.

Saved with a Holy Calling.

One of the difficulties we often have is understanding how totally depraved we are apart from Christ.  We often think that we are deserving of the gifts and the blessings of God. However, the Word of God says in Isaiah 64:6, “our righteousness is as filthy rags.” Our righteousness is the best we can give, and it alone is not enough. The Bible also says in Ephesians 2:3, “by nature we are children of wrath.” The word of God gives a very bleak picture of the nature of man. Every man, woman, and child that has ever lived upon this earth has made a conscious choice at some point in their lives to rebel and sin against God. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”

The Bible also tells us that God requires death as the payment for our sins. (Romans 6:23). Death had to be paid as a penalty of sin, but praise be to God that I Corinthians 15:3 tells us, “Christ died for our sins.” We should have paid the penalty for our sins but Jesus stood in our place. Although we have turned our backs on Him time after time, God loves us enough to send us His son to become sin for us. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He (God) made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Due to this great sacrifice, John said in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” No one is worthy of this great gift of sacrifice. We deserve death and hell; yet, God gives us grace by giving us His Son.

With this grace in mind, Paul said in Romans 12:1, “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.” He is urging us, because of the mercy of God, to give ourselves entirely to Himself as a living and holy sacrifice. God doesn’t want dead sacrifices. He desires living sacrifices that are set apart for His own purposes. If we truly understand the mercies of God and the great grace that God has bestowed upon us, we will have no problem serving Him. The mercies of God have purchased us from sin, death, and hell and have reconciled us into a right relationship with Him. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (Ephesians 2:4).

As the Apostle Paul began to write his second letter to young Timothy, he knew his life was going to end soon. He was imprisoned and about to be executed because of his faith in Jesus and his faithful service to Jesus. With this in mind, Paul wrote these words to Timothy in II Timothy 1:8, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” Now, anyone else would have said, “Are you out of your mind? You are about to die and you want me to come join with you in suffering!” What reason would Timothy have in joining with Paul in suffering? Why would he continue to walk down this path of service and loyalty to Jesus when this is the very path that has Paul where he is? Paul answered that question in the very next verse when he said, “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” I will serve Him for no other reason than that I am saved by His wonderful grace.

What an honor and a privilege to serve God. When God saves us, He calls us; however, we must also understand that when He calls us, He equips us. When we are called by God, we are not our own, we are His! The bible says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Through Christ we are called to good works. By the hand of God we are shaped, formed, and fitted to fulfill them. God may not have called you to be a pastor or an evangelist or to go to a foreign mission field, but you are called nonetheless. The calling He has placed upon your life may be done in a manner where no one in the world may ever be aware of it. However, it is still a glorious and honorable calling. If we were to be called upon by a king or dignitary of this world to render service, we would consider it an honor. We, however, have been called by the King of Kings. What a glorious honor; for He has saved us and called us with a holy calling.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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How Does One Repent?

How Does One Repent?

As already stated, true repentance is initiated by the recognition of the grace and mercy of God and isn’t only turning away from sin but turning to Jesus. But the question remains, how does one repent? Paul in Ephesians 4:22-24 explains what repentance is, and how we go about doing it. It is enacted by the decision to repent, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and made possible by Jesus.

Paul said they must first, “in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” (Ephesians 4:22). Once they have been convicted of their sin and they recognize the grace of God, they lay aside the former manner of life. Why do they lay aside this former manner of life? Because, they have discovered that it is useless and of no value. Too many people are holding onto their lives because they think it has value. What they don’t understand is that their life has been totally corrupted by sin, even a little sin, and is now of no value; it is worthless. Jesus said in Luke 9:24, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” In order to truly save our lives we must lay them aside.

At the moment the sinner has made the choice to lay down his old life and turn to Jesus God gives to him the gift of the Holy Spirit. Making us holy is one of the primary purposes of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:23 says that after one lays aside the old manner of life, the old self, “that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” After one lays down his old life the Holy Spirit immediately begins the transformational process of renewing their minds.

Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word conformed literally means to be pressed into a mold. Through pressure, intimidation, and lies the world tries to press you into its mold. The word here for transformed is the same word we get metamorphosis from. It would be an accurate description of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. This is the very word God chose to use for the one who was once a sinner but has been transformed into a saint. The things that the sinner once thought was right he now realizes is wrong. The things the sinner once wanted to do, he no longer wants’ to do because he has been transformed from a sinful mindset to a mind set on righteousness through the power of the Holy Spirit. One cannot will themselves into righteous thinking, work themselves up, or hope hard enough. Nor, will hanging out with other righteous people rub off on them. It is only the transformative power of the Holy Spirit that makes this possible; thus the necessity to lay down ones old life and pick up the new one.

Paul then goes on to tell us in the next verse, “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” What do we put on? We put on Jesus. Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” The literal meaning of this is to cloth yourself in Christ. We do this by faith.

So then, how does one repent? One repents by laying aside the old life and picking up Christ; literally clothing oneself in Him. The sinner does this once for salvation. However, the Christian should do this daily. They are not being resaved daily, they are simply making the choice to continue walking in the new life that has been made accessible through the blood of Jesus and daily empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Born Again

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.”

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Pay Close Attention to Yourself

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, far 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.

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 January 24, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Our Authority

Our Authority

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 4:6, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” In this verse he is telling the church of Corinth that he and Apollos have made a standard for themselves not to exceed what is written. He is now telling the church of Corinth to follow their example. What was written? The scriptures. Clearly the Word of God is our authority that we are not to exceed or go beyond.

Paul also wrote in II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” When one looks at this text in its original language they will see that the literal meaning of “inspired by God” means “God breathed.” God used many men to write down His word but all Scripture comes directly from the breath of God. It is God’s word not mans. II Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” For anyone to go beyond what is written is arrogant, boastful, and blasphemous. God has given to us His word “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (I Peter 1:19).

Paul said that Scripture is profitable. He then listed several things it was profitable for. Since it is profitable we will gain and increase through the study of the Word of God which is God breathed. The end result we gain from Scripture is “that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Through God’s word we have everything we will ever need to be thoroughly equipped for service unto Him.

Paul first mentions that Scripture is profitable for teaching. When we are taught, the teaching must be centered in Scripture. When we teach, our teaching must be centered in Scripture. He then says that scripture is profitable for reproof. To reproof someone is to call them out for an error or a wrong. When calling one out for being wrong or for an error in their lives or teaching we must use Scripture. Our opinions are always susceptible to being wrong. However, Scripture is always right. Paul then said Scripture is profitable for correction. Correction is restoration to an upright position. We don’t want to be reproved and not know how to correct the error of our way. Scripture brings us back into the right path, out of the error. It corrects us.

Paul then tells us that Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness. Romans 3:10 tells us that, “there is no one righteous, not even one.” Most everyone will admit that they are a sinner. However, not everyone knows the guilt of their unrighteousness. Scripture makes it clear. Romans 3:22 then tells us that we receive righteousness by placing our faith in Christ and Romans 3:26 tells us that faith in Christ justifies us-makes us righty with God. Yet, how will we or anyone else know these truths apart from the authority of God’s word? We won’t. And, apart from Scripture, how will we grow in righteousness? We won’t.

Whether it is for our personal growth, or teaching others, we trust in the authority of God’s breathed word. Paul said not to go beyond what it written. If we were to go beyond what is written it will profit us nothing and more than likely will cause great harm. However, when we trust in the authority of the written word that was breathed from God with our lives and our ministry we will be adequately equipped for every good work. In other words, we will be lacking in nothing.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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