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Understanding the Lost

Understanding the Lost

Naturally, everyone is an individual, therefore everyone is unique. They have different cultures, religious influences, and social influences. Members of the same family can often be vastly different from the other. However, we must keep in mind that we are not focusing on the flesh. The battle we are waging war against is a spiritual battle. Since this is a spiritual battle we can better understand the one who is not led by the Sprit of God, the lost person, but led by the god of this world who is Satan.

Ephesians 2:1-3 gives us the perfect portrait of the one who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 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.”

Paul says that they are dead in their trespasses and sins. They are dead because of their sins. They are spiritually dead because their sins spiritually separated them from a holy God. They are walking according to the course of this world rather than by the Spirit of God. They are free moral agents able to willingly choose between right and wrong. God has given to the Jews the law but all men have been given the law of conscious. Romans 2:15 says, “They show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.” Although they have the ability to choose what is right they are by nature children of wrath and will inevitably rebel against God since they do not have the Spirit of God to guide them. They are spiritually dead.

Since they are in rebellion against God they not only walk in accordance to the world but also in accordance to the prince of the power of the air. This prince of the power of the air is none other than Satan himself. Satan cannot force anyone to follow him. However, when one makes the choice to rebel against God he has then made the choice to follow Satan. They may disagree with this truth but the bible is clear, they are now on his side and he is now working in their lives manipulating them for his purposes. Paul said they are “of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”

To counter act their rebellion we must firmly proclaim God’s righteous standards that stand in direct contradiction to their fleshly ways. All men will admit that they are sinners. However, all men do not understand that they are in rebellion against a holy God and therefore stand guilty and condemned before Him. James 4:4 says, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” As we proclaim the righteous standards of God we must also proclaim the fact that rebellion against God makes one His enemy. There is no neutral ground. You are either for Him or against Him. Those who choose to live for Him will receive His grace while those who choose to rebel against Him will receive His wrath. God’s will is for all to choose His grace. However, He is a just God and must punish unrepentant and un-atoned for sin.

As those who are in Christ we need to stay mindful that Paul said, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh.” We must remember that we to were once in this unregenerate state of rebellion against God. We need to continually remind ourselves that it is only by the grace of God that we were saved and brought out of death and into life. With this in mind we realize that we are no better than they. We are only better off than them because we have accepted the grace of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our boasting should only be found in the grace of God provided through the cross of Christ. As a result we should be busy boasting among those who are perishing so they too will be drawn to the grace of God; drawn out of death and into life.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Futility of Mind

Futility of Mind

Ephesians 4:17 says, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind.” Normally when the bible references Gentiles it speaks of those who are not Jews. Since the Church of Ephesus was a mostly Gentile church and not an exclusively Jewish church this is obviously not the case. Here, Paul is giving instructions not to walk as a Gentile indicating that their walk is one like a non believer. In this text Paul is giving a clear distinction between the believers walk and the non believers walk.

In this verse Paul says that the Gentiles walk in the futility of their mind. The word futile literally means pointless. The wording here, futility of mind, is the best translation but I do love how the New Living Translation states it as it says, “For they are hopelessly confused.” Since the futility is of their mind their thoughts are therefore pointless and have no purpose or value. They are abandoned to a pointless word and humanistic view.

The next verse tells us why their mind is futile as it states, “being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18). This verse literally states that in their mind the lights are off. Now we need to remember, this is speaking of the spiritual mind. There are obviously many extraordinarily intelligent people who are not believers in Jesus Christ. However, all non believer are spiritually in the dark; spiritually, they are dim-witted. Why? Because they are “excluded from the life of God.” They are not excluded from the life of God because God doesn’t want them. God wanted them enough to send His Son to the cross to die for them. They are excluded because of the “hardness of their heart.” The hardness of their heart causes them to remain in ignorance to God and His kingdom; therefore, they are excluded; excluded by their own choice.

Because of this ignorance, darkness, and futility of mind due to their exclusion from God verse 19 says, “and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” They have become callous, or hardened so they have no shame, lost all sense of shame, cast off all feeling, or given themselves over as other translations state it. What have they become hardened to or given themselves over to? Sin. They stand in direct contrast to God, and they could care less. They are perfectly happy in their sin. Why? Because their heart is hardened towards God and they are ignorant of Him and His ways because they have no part in Him; they are excluded.

To put it simply, Paul is saying, don’t be like that. Again, we see the call to repent. We once were all like that, but if you know Him, God called you out of the futility of mind and included you in Him. Paul then writes in verses 20-21, “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him.” We didn’t learn Christ in this way, in other words, come to Him or come to know Him. When we discovered His grace we repented from the darkness and turned to the light.

Paul also said that they have not been “taught in Him in this way.” As a non believer we are taught the gospel and we choose to believe it or reject it. As a believer we are still taught. Now, we are taught how to walk in God. However, we can’t walk in God if we are excluded from Him. We must first turn to Him. Then, and only then, are we teachable. Then, and only then, are we able to walk in Him. As believers, we are taught by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are taught by studying the Word of God on our own and by allowing others who are called by God to teach us the Word of God.

Paul continued the theme of repentance in verses 22-24 as he stated, “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, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Again, true biblical repentance isn’t just stopping the sin in your life. Apart from Jesus you can’t. True biblical repentance is turning away from sin and turning to Jesus. Anything else is futility of mind-pointless.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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There is a Way that Seems Right, But You are Wrong!

There is a Way that Seems Right, But You are Wrong!

Some say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, I think it’s much more difficult to teach a stubborn man new thoughts. The mind of man is stubborn indeed. If a man, or woman for that matter, thinks they are right about any given subject you cannot reason with them. With the stubbornness of man you can clearly show them which way the water is flowing in the stream, but, they will argue with you the opposite. You can even give evidence by throwing a twig into the stream and telling them to watch which way it flows, but, they are still unconvinced. The stubbornness of man is indeed great. The more educated with the ways of the world a man is the more difficult it is to convince them of the ways of God. Their mind is made up and they simply will not be confused with facts. This is why praying for the lost is so important.

I am also thoroughly convinced that the stubbornness of man is the most destructive force on earth. We often try to blame the devil for our wows but the truth is, most of our wows are on account of our own stubbornness. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to God as he refused to submit to the authority and power of God by not releasing the Hebrews. This stubbornness led to his own demise. It is truly mind boggling to think of how many individuals, families, churches, communities, cultures, and countries have suffered from the same form of stubbornness?

Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” The way of man might seem right, reasonable, and rational but it will ultimately ruin them. For this reason, Romans 12:2 tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The ways of the world, the thought of man, will destroy us, but, the ways of God will always bless us. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”

This is the very reason that God tells us to repent. He doesn’t tell us to repent because He doesn’t want us to have fun or is trying to hold out on us. He tells us to repent because He loves us and He knows what is best for us. Just as the fire may look beautiful and intriguing to the child, the loving parent tells the child not to play by the fire because they know the fire will burn them and potentially kill them. For this reason we should always turn to and trust in God’s ways while turning away from our own. Our own ways have been tainted by worldly philosophy that is deadly and destructive.

Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Therefore, let us not be fools and let us repent of our own ways. Let’s be wise and seek God’s.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Have you Believed?

Have you Believed?

The most important question is, “Have you believed on Jesus?” John’s conclusion as to whether or not one has eternal life was based on whether or not one has believed on Jesus Christ. He wrote in I John 5:10, “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.” The bible is abundantly clear that we are saved by placing our faith in the person and works of Jesus Christ. I have already covered this topic so I will not further elaborate. However, I must make this point clear, simple repentance of sin will not save you; only faith in Christ will save you.
If we have set in our heart to deny ourselves and follow Jesus as Lord of our lives, trusting in His work on the cross as being sufficient for the atonement of our sins and His person being sufficient to lead us as an example, we will receive eternal life. John wrote in the next two verses, “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”
However, the one who is saved will naturally and willingly keep His commands and turn from his sin. John writes in I John 2:3-6, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” The one who has faith in Jesus will keep His commandments. He will have died to self and allow Jesus to be Lord of his life.
The lordship of Jesus is the biggest test to the doubter. I never ask anyone if they are a Christian. The term Christian has become a cheap and meaningless word in our society. Not that the word is cheap; it is precious and valuable, yet, people have abused and defaced it with their cheep view of Christianity. I simply ask, “Is Jesus the Lord of your life?” I also never ask what someone did years ago or what type of religious experiences they have had. Too many people are depending on a religious experience they had once in their past to save them. That isn’t the biblical picture of Christianity. Jesus told us to follow Him. This is a daily commitment, not a onetime act that we do and then forget about the Lord until we get to heaven. Again, I simply ask, “Is Jesus the Lord of your life?” We are saved once, but by faith we daily pick up our cross and follow Him.
Jesus asked in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” If Jesus is truly the Lord of one’s life he will keep Jesus commandments. Will he do this perfectly? No. He will however, do this consistently. Again, he is not keeping the commandments of Christ to earn salvation since his faith in Jesus gives him salvation. He is keeping the commandments of Christ because of his salvation, because of his faith in Jesus. It is the fruit, the evidence, the result of salvation. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
The word keep is an interesting word. It was a word that was widely used by ancient seamen. While out in the open waters they would “keep” the stars. The sailors navigated their ships by the stars. If they weren’t skilled in “keeping” the stares they would be forever lost at sea. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” Jesus is our navigator to the Father. (John 14:6). When we focus on and follow Jesus we lay aside our sin and keep His commandments. When we do not focus on Him we wander aimlessly lost. He is the one on whom we focus for He is the one in whom we have faith. When we focus on Him through faith, He perfects our faith and gives to us the ability to keep His commandments. True repentance is turning from sin and turning to Jesus by faith who will keep us from sin.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Is Turn or Burn Biblical?

Is Turn or Burn Biblical?

When we hear the term turn or burn it often rises negative emotions in the Christian and non Christian alike. I could never imagine Jesus standing across the street from a sin filled event with a picket sign shouting “turn or burn” or “sanctify or french-fry.” Rather, I see Him in the midst of the sinners showing them who He is along with the grace and love He has to offer just as He did with Matthew. (Matthew 9:9). The call to repentance was still there since we see that Matthew still had to make the choice to get up out of that tax collectors booth and follow Jesus.
Just after the call of Matthew we see Jesus reclining at the table with “many sinners.” After the Pharisees protested Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13). Jesus wasn’t acceptant of their sinfulness, just as a physician isn’t acceptant of sickness. Jesus knew that their sin was deadly and if they weren’t told about the cure they would die, just as a physician tells the sick about the cure so they will be made well. The choice is still up to the sinner and the sick as to whether or not they choose to accept the cure or continue on in their sickness that will ultimately kill them; and for the sinner, kill them for eternity.
That being said, though the term turn or burn isn’t found in the bible, it is biblical. Jesus Himself said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Biblically speaking, to perish isn’t just dying physically and having your body placed into a tomb. Biblically speaking, to perish is to be cast into the lake of fire, Hell, for all eternity. And, remember, biblical repentance isn’t just turning away from sin, but also turning to Jesus. Therefore, those who make the personal choice not to turn from their sins and turn to Jesus will perish and spend eternity in the fiery pits of Hell.
So yes, the term turn or burn is very biblical. Though it may sound harsh, we must always think of it in light of the grace and love Jesus has to offer. If you ever see a preacher preaching on Hell with a smile on his face don’t walk to the exit, run. Though the lack of repentance will bring God’s wrath and judgment on an individual we must remember that it was their personal choice and not God’s. II Peter 3:9 shows us God’s heart stating, “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.” And, when the sinner does repent his sins are wiped away and times of refreshing from the Lord come. Acts 3:19 says, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
Now, though I don’t think it’s the best term to use, when we hear the term turn or burn we should understand that it isn’t negative at all. This term in its proper understanding is in fact very positive. It is positive because God has given to us a means to escape the burn. It is positive because God has made us aware of the need to turn, and, has made us aware of both the blessing of repentance, and the curse of remaining unrepentant. It absolute baffles me as to why anyone would choose to stay unrepentant and not turn to Jesus.

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

 

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What is Biblical Repentance?

What is Biblical Repentance?

Some think that repentance is getting their act together or straightening their life out. They think that they need to get their lives right prior to turning to God. The fact is, we cannot straighten our lives out on our own. Only God can do that. For this reason Christ died for us while we were still sinners. We can’t simply change our sinful nature. Trying to do that on our own is a works based salvation, which isn’t a salvation at all, that will only lead one into legalism, or drive one away from the true gospel of grace altogether.
True biblical repentance will result in a change of action and a change in our life style but it must first take place in the heart of man. Biblical repentance doesn’t start with action, it starts with reaction. It starts with a reaction to grace. In the fifth chapter of Romans Paul explains how a just God justifies unjust sinners. The fact is, we cannot comprehend this truth. We can comprehend being saved by faith through the works of Christ on the cross but can never comprehend how or why He who knew no sin became sin for you and I and how or why a God who is just in every way can justify a sinner like you and I.
We can comprehend the means by which we are justified, the blood of Jesus, and why God chose to justify us, to save us from His wrath. Romans 5:9 tells us, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” We can also comprehend how we receive this justification since Romans 5:1 tells us that we are justified by faith. However, Romans 5:10 tells us, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” We can never comprehend why God would choose to save us through the death of His own Son Jesus even though we have set ourselves up as His enemy by sinning against Him. This fact of the gospel is simply incomprehensible.
Though we cannot fully comprehend this truth we recognize it as God mercy and grace. What is mercy? Mercy is God withholding from us what we deserve; we deserve His wrath. What is grace? Grace is God giving to us what we do not deserve. We do not deserve salvation through the shed blood and through the death of His Son Jesus. Though we don’t deserve it, God chose to offer it to us anyway. Again, incomprehensible.
For this reason, true biblical repentance isn’t action alone; it is reaction that results into action. Biblical repentance is a reaction to the recognition of the grace of God. A reaction to the abundance of grace Paul mentions in Romans 8:17. True biblical repentance starts with a change of though. It starts with considering yourself dead to sin and alive to God. It starts with keeping your eyes focused on the things above rather than the things below. It starts with the comprehension that every sin, and everything on this earth, pales in comparison to the wonderful abundant grace God freely offers to those who will receive. The unrepentant stay unrepentant because they don’t understand God’s grace. The repentant love God because God first loved them. (I John 4:19). The repentant love Jesus and will therefore obey Him. (John 14:15). The truly repentant person will willing forsake sin and live for Jesus as a direct reaction to the grace they have freely been offered.

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

 

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Follow Me

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 just 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 nor have I ever had a personal relationship with them. I do however know Jesus, because I have committed myself to following Him and I therefore have a personal relationship with 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 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.”

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

 

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