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Tag Archives: Redemption

Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

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 February 17, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Greater Love

Greater Love

“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 NASB

The English language is a generic language. For instance, if I say I love my wife and then say I love my car, are the two words for love one in the same? Of course not. However, the Greek language is a very specific language that uses very specific words. The Greek word used for love in John 3:16 is agape. It literally means a sacrificial or giving love. A type of love where you put the needs of the one of whom your love is directed above your own; even if it means you will have to sacrifice or suffer. This is God’s agape love towards us that He gave His only begotten Son.

Although we are greatly undeserving of God’s love He has chosen to give it to us anyway. Why? Because He loves us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even while we were living in hostility towards Him in the rebellion of our sin God loved us. How much does He love us? Enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die a cruel torturous death on a cross to pay the price of sin for the whole world, so those who will repent of their sin and believe in Jesus as their Savior shall not perish but have eternal life. God’s heart is to spend eternity with us, because He loves us.

John 15:3 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid down His life for His friends, us, because He knew we would be eternally condemned for our sins. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23.) With Jesus sacrifice in mind II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Whether you have been loved little or loved much within your life you will never find a greater love than the love from which God loves you.  To receive this love you only need to repent from your sins and believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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The Greatest of Treasures

The Greatest of Treasures

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” II Corinthians 4:7 NASB

Every man woman and child stands in need of the grace of God. God has given to us His law as a standard by which we are to live. However, the Word of God clearly teaches that all in one form or another have broken the law. Because we are lawbreakers we await judgment, a judgment that will lead to eternal damnation. However, God is not willing for any to parish but for all to enter into repentance. For this reason God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty on the cross of our judgment. Apart from the grace of God we are utterly hopeless.

Jesus said in Mathew 5:20, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and Pharisees, although lawbreakers themselves, prided themselves in keeping the law through their ritualistic routines within their daily lives. How then is our righteousness going to surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? It can’t. Thus, we need another means to enter the kingdom of heaven. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

So often we overlook and therefore take for granted how great the gift of grace truly is. The greater we understand grace, the more we will come to realize what a treasure Jesus truly is. The grace we have received is through God giving His Son as a gift. Although we are sinfully blemished and undignified God gave us His Son who is sinlessly perfect, unblemished, excellent, and dignified in every way. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21). God gave to us, whose righteousness is as filthy rags, His Son, the King of Glory, the Ancient of Day’s, the one in whom the angels in heaven worship, the one in whom all things was created for. God gave to us, mere men, His Son, His only begotten Son, His Son of whom he loves, His Son who is near and dear to His heart.

What a wonderful treasure we have received in these earthen vessels; a treasure that outshines all others; a treasure worthy of giving all to receive, yet a treasure freely given. A treasure we are unworthy of receiving, yet our God, a God of grace, gladly, and lovingly gives. A treasure we should share with those whose treasures have tarnished. Truly Jesus, given by grace and received by faith, is the greatest treasure.

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

 

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Seeking God Produces Holiness

Seeking God Produces Holiness

In the eyes of the world, the Prophet Isaiah was a holy man. He was a righteous prophet of God who others strived to be like. In the fifth chapter of the book of Isaiah, the prophet pronounced six woes upon the people of the land proclaiming the judgment of God upon them, as well as the punishment that would come as a result of the wickedness of their hearts. Isaiah was correct and justified in every woe he pronounced. However, in the next chapter we find Isaiah in the very presence of God where he then pronounced a woe upon himself as he says in Isaiah 6:5, “Then I said, Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”  

What was the difference between the fifth and sixth chapters? In the sixth chapter Isaiah was standing in the very presence of God. In Isaiah 6:1-4 he describes how he saw “the Lord lofty and exulted sitting upon His throne.” He saw the angels before Him worshiping Him and heard them proclaim, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” When Isaiah stood in God’s presence and saw Him in all His majesty and glory and when he recognized the absolute Holiness of God, he also recognized that any righteousness he thought he had pales in comparison to God’s.

Upon the recognition of his sinfulness in the presence of God’s holiness, he proclaimed in verse five, “woe is me, for I am ruined.” He knew that sin could not come into the presence of God and would, therefore, be destroyed. He knew in his heart that he would be ruined, undone, destroyed. However, upon his confession of sin, God chose to give him grace and cleanse him from his sin instead of condemn him. When Isaiah recognized the grace that God had given to him, he chose to worship and serve Him all the days of his life.

Many years later Isaiah proclaimed the word of the Lord in Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” We see that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts; and His ways are not our ways, when we are okay with sin. We have no problem with the little white lies or the stirring up of strife so long as we get our way. We have no problems walking in the conformity of the world, although we are ignorantly walking against God rather than with Him. For this reason, we so desperately need to seek God! We need His presence in our lives to show us His ways so we can repent of our own, to know His thoughts so we can rebuke the lies and deception we thought were truth.

When we seek God and find Him as His word promises us we will, we discover how sinful we truly are in light of how holy He truly is. This should then provoke repentance of sin within our lives, drawing us all the more in love and on fire for a holy God. God has promised us in I John 1:9 that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When He forgives us of our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness, we then can have true fellowship with God.

However, we need to truly seek God in our lives. Apart from Him we have no desire to repent from sins. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God gives us the “will” to live “for His good pleasure”. Apart from the presence of God in our lives, we won’t have any will to repent of our sins and serve Him. Jesus also said in John 16:8 that He sends the Helper, which is the Holy Spirit. “When He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” Praise God we do not have to fight the battles of the flesh on our own. He has given to us a Helper.

However we need to submit ourselves to the standards of God and seek the Helper to guide us down that path. A great scripture that I often pray is Psalm 139:23, 24 which 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.” I seek God asking Him to search me and try me because I may be unaware of sinful attitudes and actions within my life. Everyone else in my life may know of my sins, but I could be totally in the dark. However, when I seek God and ask Him to search me and try me and to show me everything in my life that does not line up with Him, He will. This then will produce a heart and a mind of repentance to where I will fully know the grace and mercy of God through a life of fellowship with God. He is a holy God that not only requires holiness within my life but will also produce it, if I seek Him and allow Him.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Our God is a Holy God

Our God is a Holy God

We try so hard to justify our sins. We say things like “A little white lie has never hurt anyone” or “It’s okay if I take a little more than what’s mine; after all I deserve it.” We entertain ourselves with things that curse God’s name and promote the very things that God calls an abomination. We have allowed ourselves to become conformed to the ways of this world yet God’s word says in Romans 12:2, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” We need to understand that God is not okay with sin-any sin-not even a little white lie!

I Peter 1:15, 16 says, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” God is holy in all His ways, His thoughts, His actions, and His motivation; even in His wrath and anger, He is holy. We so often fail to recognize the holiness of God. We fail to recognize that when we choose to sin (yes, even the small sin) and make excuses for our sin, we are dishonoring the very nature of God and who He has created us to be. He is holy and, therefore, requires His children to be holy. We ask and seek and knock; and when the door does not open, we automatically assume that there is something wrong with God. Rest assured there is nothing wrong with God. The short circuit will always be found on our end.

We need to ask ourselves, “Are we living out the holy lives God has called us to live”, or are we living lives that glory in the flesh and the things of this world? Have we been conformed to this world? Are your daily thoughts of God, or of this world? Do your actions glorify God or point to the world? Is your attitude one of Christ-likeness or of careless desires that lead down the path of least resistance? Is God your constant object of worship or do you marvel at the mortal ways of man?

It isn’t difficult to discover who we are living for if we simply take an honest look at how we are living. I John 1:5, 6 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Clearly this scripture is teaching us that if we have fellowship with God we will not walk in darkness. Walking in darkness is walking in sin. If we walk in darkness we are walking in sin and, therefore, do not have fellowship with God. God is holy and, therefore, will not fellowship with an unrepentant sinner.

I am not saying that a Christian cannot sin. All Christians are susceptible to slipping into sin. However, this scripture is talking about walking in sin, not slipping in it. If you slip and fall, you get right back up, repent of your actions, and continue walking in the right path. However, if we are walking in darkness it is a demonstration of who we are. It is the consistent pattern of our lives. I Corinthians 6:9, 10 says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Does this mean that anyone who has ever been drunk or stolen anything or has been guilty of coveting cannot be saved? Of course not! Paul is speaking here of the unrepentant soul whose sin define who they are. They are continually walking in and practicing the very things that God tells them to turn away from. The holy nature of God will not allow Him to fellowship with the unrepentant sinner. The Bible is clear, if we say we have fellowship with God yet we have unrepentant sin in our lives, we are liars. The Bible tells us to repent of our sins. (Acts 2:38). To repent is to turn away sin and turn to Jesus.

As we have already discussed, the church is the representation of the Kingdom of God upon this earth. We are commanded in God’s Word to preach the gospel of repentance to the whole world. The church should with open arms be inviting and welcoming to the sinners just as Jesus did, but expecting repentance and change within their lives. However, to the one who calls himself a Christian yet chooses to live in open and rebellious sin against God,  II Corinthians 5:11, 12 says, “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.” Although we think little sins like little white lies are acceptable, be reminded that due to a little white lie about an offering God was the first to remove the wicked man from the church. (See Acts 5:1-11). God is holy and is in full expectation of His children and His church to be holy.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 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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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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