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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 I 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 April 18, 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 the death of Christ 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?

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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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What is the Gospel?

             The word gospel is used ninety nine times in the NASB. The Greek word that is translated into gospel comes in two forms. It is either used as the noun eungelion that literally means good news or as the verb euangelizeo referring to the announcer of good news.

The gospel or the good news is specifically about Jesus. The Angel of the Lord came to Joseph and encouraged him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The Angel of the Lord said to Joseph in regards to this child Mary miraculously conceived, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). If the message is not centered in and on Jesus and His work of redemption on the cross it is not a true Gospel.

The term gospel is used with many references and descriptions in the New Testament. It is called the gospel of grace in Acts 20:24, the gospel of the kingdom in Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:15, the gospel of peace in Ephesians 6:15, and an eternal gospel in Revelation 14:6. However, the gospel is clearly rooted in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mark introduced his gospel as, “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Paul in his introduction of the book of Romans, which is a declaration of the gospel, calls the gospel, “the gospel of His Son.” (Romans 1:9).

Jesus being born of a virgin as the Son of God was uniquely qualified to be the savior of the world. He was also uniquely qualified to be the atoning sacrifice for sin because of His sinless nature and the fact that He fulfilled all righteousness. For this reason Jesus is the only means to salvation. Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Paul told the church of Corinth that he declared unto them the gospel. He then went on to tell them exactly what the gospel was. He said in I Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” The work of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul said that this message was of first importance, meaning that it should be the priority in our lives. Apart from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no good news. Apart from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus all humanity would stand hopelessly lost condemned in their sins awaiting eternal damnation.

The fact of the gospel is not the good news in and of itself. Just knowing the fact of the person of Jesus and the fact of the works of Jesus do not save us. The gospel becomes the good news for our lives when we allow it to have an impact on our lives through faith in who Jesus is and what He has done. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should change every area of our lives as we make it of first importance to us.

The gospel fist impacts our lives for today. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” When we receive Jesus as our savior He comes to live within us empowering us to live for Him allowing us to reap the benefits of a relationship with God as a child or God, a joint heir in Christ Jesus, a holy nation and a royal priesthood. Jesus gives us life today, and not ordinary life that simply exists, He gives us abundant life. Certainly no one should want to die without knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They will be eternally condemned to hell if they do. However, if one were to live to be one hundred and twenty years old he shouldn’t want to live even a moment separated from the abundant life that Jesus freely offers.

The fact still remains that we will not live in these fleshly vessels forever. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” If we die physically without knowing Jesus as our savior we will then be judged for our sins. The punishment for our sins is eternity separated from God in hell. However, those who have accepted Jesus as their savior will not be judge for their sins. The impact of the cross has blotted out our sins and removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We will live for eternity in the paradise of heaven with the Lord. This truly is good news. A good news worthy of accepting, and a good news worthy of sharing.

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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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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 April 14, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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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 the Him. Truly, the Lord has not left us on our own. Even those who continue to rebel against the Lord are convicted of His coming judgment and are therefore still without excuse.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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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 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.

As Christians 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 seek Jesus in our daily lives the more we will know Him and the more we will love Him The 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, and churches. 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?

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Beautiful Feet

“HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:15 NASB

           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.

Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16:13, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They said in the next verse, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked them in verse fifteen, “But who do you say that I am?” At this time Simon boldly answered in verse sixteen, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In the next verse we see that Jesus was greatly pleased with Simon’s answer and said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus then renamed Simon Peter saying, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.”

When Jesus renamed Simon He called him Peter which is Petros in Greek. Petros is a small stone or a rock. A brick can fall under the category of a petros. It is certainly not a foundational stone that someone would build a house on. Rather it would be the small stones, like bricks, that would rest upon the foundational stone.

After Jesus named Simon Petros, He said “upon this rock I will build my church.” The word that Jesus used for rock was a different word than the one He used for Simon Peter. Jesus used the Greek word petra as the rock that the church would be built upon. Petra is a large rock, a foundational stone that is much different than the small stone, petros, Simon was called. Clearly Peter is not the foundational stone that the church is built upon; Jesus is. Jesus is the one who gave His life so He could redemption the church. To say any other is the foundation of the church is not only biblically inaccurate, it is outright blasphemous.

Peter clearly understood what Jesus was talking about. Peter wrote in I Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Who is the living stone? Jesus is. He is the one that was rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God. We are the ones who come to Him also as living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house. This is the perfect portrait of the church.

The church is not a physical building, an address, or location. The church is a spiritual house. Jesus is the living stone that is the foundation. We are living stones being built up on that foundation. Just as bricks are laid atop of the foundation of the building we are laid atop of Jesus who is the foundation of the church. We are also laid atop of all of the other believers who came before us such as Peter. Peter was named Petros because he was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ. Upon our confession of Christ we are saved and therefore laid atop of the foundation of Christ as the church.

After Peter gave us this wonderful picture of the structure of God’s spiritual house he then gave us an understanding of its function. He said in I Peter 2:9, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Jesus didn’t save us to give us a get out of hell free card. He saved us out of darkness and into light so we would have a relationship with Him and so we would proclaim to the rest of the world, which remains in darkness, of His excellencies and His marvelous light so they too would be drawn to the light and have a relationship with Him and not stand in darkness separated from God doomed to eternal condemnation. Clearly, this is one of the main functions of the church; the whole church.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” If the gospel is truly the power of God for salvation, as the Word of God says that it is, and we refuse to share the gospel we are then guilty of condemning this world to hell. How will they repent of their sins if we don’t tell? How will they walk out of darkness and into the marvelous light if we don’t tell? How will they know their sins will eternally condemn them if we don’t tell? “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!” (Romans 10:14-15).

The feet that carry the good news may become callused, bruised, and bloody; they may become dusty, dirty, and grimy; they may become tired, weary, and worn, but they are beautiful to God. Far, they are bringing the good news of Jesus to a lost world of whom He loves.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Great Reward

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NASB

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us what faith is, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11 then gives us several testimonies of individuals that faced a variety of circumstances in their lives. They all had one great attribute in common, “For by it, (faith), the men of old gained approval.” (Hebrews 11:2).

When we have faith in God we must have full assurance that He is. Alongside this assurance we need to have full conviction the He is with us if we are His children. An amazing truth that we often overlook is when Jesus was conceived we were reminded of who He is; He is Emanuel, God with us. Another amazing fact that is often overlooked is the words of Jesus just prior to His ascension, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” From His conception to His ascension He has promised to be with us. However we must believe with assurance and conviction; that is faith.

Although the bible assures us that God will be with us, the Word of God also tells us time and time again to seek Him. This particular verse tells us that God rewards those who seek Him. As Christians our lives are powerless without the presence of God. We should seek Him from the time we wake up in the morning to the time we lay our head down at night. We should even desire to dream about Him. It is only through the presence of God within our lives that we have true victory in life. However, we don’t seek victory, or blessings, or gifts, or power, or wisdom, or might, or anything else within our lives. What then do week seek? We seek Him. God has promised us a reward when we seek Him. What is the reward? He is our reward! He is all we need! He is victory, He is the ultimate blessing and the giver of blessings, He is the greatest gift and the giver of great gifts, He is power, He is wisdom, He is might, He is anything and everything we will ever need. When we seek Him we are rewarded with Him. What a great reward!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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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 March 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Prayer and Fasting

“And He told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29 HCSB

Today in the Catholic tradition marks the first day of lent. Lent is recognized by Catholics all over the world by going to their churches and having an ash cross marked on their foreheads. This day is called Ash Wednesday. Lent is a forty day period of fasting that starts forty six days before Easter, symbolizing the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying. I am not a Catholic, nor do I participate in their traditions such as lent or Ash Wednesday. However, fasting is clearly expected of all Christians.

The bible does not give us a mandate to fast and pray for any certain length of time. The bible does however give us several examples of people praying and fasting. Ester fasted for three days, Israel fasted for seven days, Daniel fasted for three weeks, and Moses, Elijah, and Jesus fasted for forty days. Nor does the bible give us a prescribed method of fasting. We find in the bible absolute fasts, (no food or water), partial fasts, vegetable fasts, and even fasts from sexual relations. There are a multitude of examples in both the Old and New Testaments.

Fasting is clearly not a spiritual diet. It is for the sole purpose of seeking God for a singularly specific reason. It is a time of demonstration to God of how serious we are for the need in which we are praying and seeking God for. It is a time when we are willing to deny ourselves and seek God.

In this text of scripture we find a father who has a son that is demon possessed. The demon that has possessed him is trying to destroy him. While Jesus was up on the mountain the father brought his boy to the disciples for them to cast the demon out. Jesus had already given the disciples authority to cast demons out and they rejoiced that the demons were subject to them in Jesus name. (Luke 10:1-20). However, they could not cast this demon out. Jesus came down off of the mountain in the midst of their failure to cast the demon out of the boy. Jesus with no trouble at all cast the demon out. Later that night the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast this demon out. Jesus then said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

Clearly in the New Testament church fasting and praying was a regular part of life. Not so much today is it? If have preached on fasting plenty of times only to be told by people who have been in church their whole lives that this was the first time they have heard a sermon on fasting. What a shame. Could it be that our prayers are not being answered because we sling shot quickie prayers to the throne of God thinking that is sufficient? Are we not willing to deny ourselves for the purpose of modern day fathers and mothers who stand at the feet of the church looking and longing for a move of God on behalf of their children of whom Satan and his demons are trying to destroy. Will we not fast for their sake or even the sake of our own children, churches, community, and nation? Or are we too consumed with us?

Jesus gave us very specific instructions for fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. Jesus said in this text, “When you fast”, as if it is an expectation from Him. Will you join me in praying and fasting for our children, churches, communities, and nation? They stand in great need. The good news is, we have a great God!

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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