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Confirming the Son

Confirming the Son

After Jesus stated in John 16:8 that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, He told us exactly why the Holy Spirit would do so. Jesus began this instruction in the next verse stating, “Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me.” The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin because they do not believe in Jesus and He will start by confirming to the sinner that Jesus is Lord.

The first act of the Holy Spirits conviction is confirming the fact that Jesus is Lord. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:3, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” Does this mean that a lost person cannot speak the words, “Jesus is Lord?” Of course not. A lost person can certainly speak the words that Jesus is Lord just as a saved person can speak the words Jesus is accursed. However, those words will not represent the true conviction of the individual’s heart, nor will it represent the direction of the individual’s life.

Paul made this a little clearer in Romans 10:9-10 when he wrote starting in verse 9, “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.” Apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit confirming to the sinner that Jesus truly is Lord they would never truly confess such a statement, and if they do, it will be a lie. However, once the Holy Spirit has brought about confirmation to the sinner that Jesus is Lord through His convicting power the sinner will then repent and confess Jesus as Lord. Paul then writes in verse 10, “For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” The only reason the sinner has confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord is because the Holy Spirit has brought about confirmation of this fact within his heart through His convicting power.

Once Jesus has been confirmed as Lord the sinner will naturally repent from His sins and willingly, and joyfully, submit to Jesus’ lordship. One who has never repented of their sins may have been convicted of the fact that Jesus is Lord, but they chose to reject the conviction and never allowed it to truly bring confirmation within their lives. Since Jesus isn’t confirmed as Lord, they have no heart or desire to repent of their sins and live for Him.

Only after one repents of their sins and turns to Jesus can he come into agreement with Paul when he gave his testimony stating, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (II Timothy 1:12). Oh, how sweet to have the confirming conviction that Jesus is Lord and know that you know. Do you know?

 
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Posted by on February 24, 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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Do You Really Love Jesus?

Do You Really Love Jesus?

In the second chapter of Revelation, Jesus praised the church of Ephesus for their perseverance in the midst of persecution, for staying true to the Word of God and opposing false teachers, and for standing strong in the name of Jesus. On the outside, the church of Ephesus looked like the perfect church. However, Jesus knew they had a deadly deficiency in their midst.

Jesus told the church of Ephesus that they are guilty of a great sin, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4). They began their ministry with passion and love toward Jesus. Yet, somehow through the years, their labor of love for the Lord slipped into the tedious traditions of the church. Jesus warned them and called them into repentance of their improper motivations of service. Just as so many churches today have replaced their passion for programs and their zeal for the name of Jesus for self notoriety, the church of Ephesus fell from being a church with a driving passion for Jesus to a church coasting along in autopilot.

Jesus told them that they needed to repent. Jesus warned the church of Emphasis that if they did not repent, there would be serious consequences to pay. However, if they chose to repent by turning back to their zeal and love of Him, God’s glorious hand of blessing would remain upon them. God always gives us a choice. Clearly, His heart is for us to choose loving devotion to Him that leads to blessing rather than His hand of wrath that is deserved because of our lack of repentance.

Stop and ask yourself right now, “Why do I serve God?” Is it out of a natural overflow of the love you have toward Jesus? If not, you stand in need of repentance! How can so many people who sit in churches Sunday after Sunday not serve the Lord? The answer is simple; it is due to the fact that they don’t love Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me you will obey Me.” Put simply, the Christian that refuses to serve the Lord is a Christian that does not love the Lord. Jesus did not say “If you obey me you will demonstrate your love for Me”; that is legalism. His heart is that we serve Him out of the overflow of love we have for Him with gladness and gratitude.

As I look at the church today, I see signs disregard, disrespect, due to a distant or altogether lacking love of Jesus. This lack of love for Jesus is drowning our world in spiritual devastation. We have allowed Satan to come in and bring devastating pestilence upon the very world God created and loves. We see it in preachers with no passion, deacons who are not dedicated, congregations clutching for control, churches who won’t console the contrite, and the word of God wavered by the ways of man. Our churches have become lodges and social clubs with privileged membership unwelcoming to the stranger. Pastors have become hirelings to do the work that no one else is willing to do “After all, that’s what we pay the preacher for.” The pulpit has become a place where a polluted gospel is preached as to not hurt anyone’s feelings. Dare we say that we are sinners, and there is a place called hell reserved for those who refuse to repent?  If the preacher were to preach the truths of hell, would it really matter? Even if we know our neighbor is hell-bound, do we really care, or at least care enough, to actually do anything about it? We fuss and complain about the wickedness of the world; yet, we hold the very keys to lose the power of God into this world. We have not lost that power; we have surrendered that power to the fleshly desires of man seeking glory for self rather than for God. The signs of spiritual drought are crying out before us, and God has given us the solution. However, we must first repent and return to our first love, Jesus!

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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How Does One Repent?

How Does One Repent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Set Your Mind on Jesus

Set Your Mind on Jesus

In Romans 8:1-4 Paul shares the glory of the gospel by explaining that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. The reason there is no condemnation is because Jesus became flesh for the purpose of being the sin offering for all of mankind. All of mankind broke the law of God but Jesus paid the penalty, which is death, and took upon Himself its condemnation. We all deserve the condemnation but those who have set their minds on Jesus have turned away from the condemnations sentence of death and have set their minds on life; they have set their minds on Jesus.

Paul then goes on to explain in Romans 8:9-11 that if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you, you will have your mind set on Christ, which He talks about in Romans 8:5-9, the Spirit of God will dwell in you, and the Spirit will give you life. This happens the moment you are saved. In fact, the very first act of the Holy Spirit in a believers life is the giving of life; eternal life. Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The very reason we have life is because we have repented of our worldly mindset and have set our mind on Jesus who paid the price for our redemption.

Romans 8:7-8 says of the non believer, “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” The non believer’s mindset that is on the flesh is hostile toward God and cannot please God. His mind is not only not set on Jesus, Paul tells us here that He is not even able to do so. Why can’t he set His mind on Jesus which is setting His mind on life? Because He doesn’t have the Spirit of God. The man void of the Spirit of God cannot focus on Jesus, and the man not focused on Jesus does not have the Spirit of God. If you have the Spirit you have the Son, but if you do not have the Spirit, you do not have the Son. How do you receive the Spirit? By receiving the Son. How do you receive the Son? By faith; faith in the works of Christ on the cross. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If one is a believer he is commanded here to take his mind off of the world and set it on Jesus. An important principle here is that wherever your mind is, there your heart will be also. Take for instance the one who is walking in the sin of bitterness. The more they focus on how the person wronged them the more bitter they will become. Even a Christian can be guilty of this sin. But, only the Spirit of God can refocus the wrong that the person did to them and set their mind on Christ thus giving them the grace to forgive the individual who wronged them setting them free from the sin of bitterness. The non believer is incapable of this act because the Spirit of God is not in Him. The more the believer sets his mind on Jesus, the more in love with Him and the more dedicated to Him he will become.

Once a non believer is convicted of his sin and they recognize that they ways of the world are wrong they repent and turn to Jesus in recognition that His ways are right. This initial act of repentance results into salvation. At this point the non believer is converted and receives the Spirit of God that gives Him life. Then, the Holy Spirit helps the believer keep his mind set on Jesus. If the believer loses focus it doesn’t mean that he loses his eternal life. Rather, the Spirit of God who is now in him will continue to convict him until he regains his focus.

Romans 8:5-6 says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Therefore, repent of the mind set on the flesh and set your minds on Jesus and live according to the Spirit so you can have life and peace.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 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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