We gave no such commandment

And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He  did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: “Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “ You  must be circumcised and keep the law” —to whom we gave no such commandment— it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.
Acts 15:4‭-‬13‭, ‬18‭-‬20‭, ‬24‭-‬29 NKJV

The commandments we hear from Christ are, “Repent”, “Follow me”, “Go and sin no more”, “Love”, “Walk with me”, “Abide with me”. And yes,  these will keep us from sinful ways when we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh – but I wonder how often we argue for or against our weak,lost, and broken brothers and sisters when we mean to be standing against sin but end up entangling perfect grace with the law of Moses instead of the law of liberty. 

Yes, the law is beautiful to the man freed from it to look upon its beauty as a demonstration of guidance and instruction. But we must remember that to those still under the law, it is a curse – and we do not bring cursing upon the people but we bring Good News. Don’t let us submit ourselves to be slaves to sin or slaves to the law of Moses – let’s walk in the freedom of a life reborn to live with Christ living in us and through us.

Go, Baptize, Teach

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:19‭-‬20 NKJV

Christian, you are purpose built and newly created to fulfill that purpose. And it is in your weakness that you are strong. God did not use the army to defeat Goliath,  but a young boy. God repeatedly shows His power through those who are just willing to say “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” – and “Send me, I will go”.

God uses words of action and purpose in His directions – He isn’t satisfied with the learned thinking man’s prayer for deep knowledge and understanding of the Word of God that is never put into practice. He isn’t satisfied with the religious who want to be powerful by their own knowledge that puffs up, He wants people that will humble themselves and ask Him for the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit.

He is interested in our walking close with Him, becoming more like Him. He wants our sin to make us aware of our need for repentance. And our reliance upon Him for the synthetic to truly repent to reveal grace. And our grattitude for grace to reveal the opportunity of a life of discipleship. And our reliance on His Holy Spirit to be that faithful disciple and servant to reveal sanctification.

The walk of a Christian is in God, in this body that He has given us to be a vessel for His Holy Spirit – not just in a religious practice where we tithe to Him a piece of our time. Not just in a check we give to a hireling to tithe a piece of our money. Not just in generous gifts to family and friends a few times a year to tithe a piece of our generosity. Surrender to Christ is meant to consume our lives like a roaring fire – both freeing us from the chains of our sinful past and burning away those things that don’t bring Him honor and glory – refining us to be more like Him.

So, Christianity is not whether or not you’ve said a prayer with your mouth, but whether you’ve believed in your heart.

So, Christianity isn’t whether you talk about Him and hear about Him on Sunday,  but whether or not He lives in you and His will is being done in your life each day.

So, Christianity is not about your church membership or religious pedigree,  but whether or not you love Him and His ways.

If you love Him and His ways, Go, Baptize, and Teach.

If you do not yet love Him and His ways, Repent, Believe, and Prepare yourself.

If you will not love Him and His ways – if you insist on your own way,  go and chase your desire for sin,  and He will give you your heart’s desire,  but do you know what you are giving up? Is there anything in this world worth your eternity?

The “AND” really does matter

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
– Hebrews 12:14 ESV

Peace and Holiness.
Christ as Savior and Lord.
Forgiveness received and Repentance lived.

Do we see the AND?

Many will fall to one side or the other, interested in one but not the other,  because that is the goal of the enemy – that there would be those that fail to receive grace. Yes, the very next verse warns us of this great danger.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. – Hebrews 12:15-17 ESV

If we want peace, but have no interest in holiness, the enemy can falsify peace by giving us a life of wealth, comfort, false security or worldly pleasures in this life so that we might ignore and avoid any interest or urgings towards being holy. He will speaks lies of all kinds to keep people on this carnal path of lasciviousness and worldliness – even letting them call themselves Christians and participate in religious ceremonies and practices as long as they keep God at a distance from their actual lives.

If we want holiness,  but have no interest in peace,  the enemy can falsify this by encouraging an air of spiritual pride, offering us works and honor amongst men and the ability to sew and point out the specks in others eyes without seeing the log in our own – so that we might know about law and scripture but know little about love and peace amongst our brothers and sisters. He will speak lies of all kinds to keep people on this prideful path of legalism and loveless religious practice and bitterness towards the lost, the hurting, and the afflicted – even Leyva them call themselves Christians and be leaders as long as they keep others at a distance from the forgiveness and love that they have to offer.

Yes, the path of the AND is critical,  because without it, “no one will see the Lord”. And that path is narrow and few will find it,  but will be satisfied with those broad ways that go to destruction.

Which gutter is the enemy trying to drag you into today? Which of the two would you rather avoid and instead cling to the other? God seeks a greater righteousness be born and grow in us than that of the lawless sinners or the loveless religious hypocrites. This is the Law of Christ. And when strived for as peace with everyone AND with holiness towards God – we understand His commandment:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

Just like the churches in Revelation needed to examine themselves to recognize their strengths and their weaknesses and then act – we need to examine ourselves and then act.

The life of a Christian is not passive – it is not a powerless mentality of “once saved always saved because I’ve baptized” and “I’m just a sinner saved by grace that will continue to sin every day” – with people existing their remaining a slave to sin when Christ doesn’t just set us free from the consequences of sin – He sets us free indeed to walk as a new creation!

The life of a Christian is not war against flesh and blood or building a tower of works to get to heaven either. It is nothing that would have us standing in front of others, proud of what we have done. If something is commendable in our lives,  He must receive the praise and honor and I must humble myself with the realization that it was Him who lives in me and not me.

Whichever of these two you are most comfortable accepting is not the one that you need to work more on – and that is our tendency – to fall into one ditch and keep digging deeper.

We must climb out. We must get back on the narrow path.

Sincere love

Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
Ephesians 6:23-24 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/eph.6.23-24.NKJV

Grace for all those who truly love our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, grace is available to all,  it is a gift extended and avaliable. And grace isn’t just a promise of escape from consequences – it isn’t just an idea of a loving Father and merciful Savior. Grace is being born again, with a new seed of life planted within the tilled up soil of our old lives. Those of us who love Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives, who seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness – yes, this grace is for us.

And what a simple, but complete requirement to receive the gift of life – sincere love of Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. Yes, something like this takes faith.

Do you love Him?

That is my question. At its essence, that is the gospel. Because if we believe, then how could we not love Him? He is the light come into the darkness, not to condemn us for our chains of sin, but to deliver us to new life. Are we running from the light to hide, or running to the light in grattitude for His revelation, for His truth, for showing us the way?

Thank you, Lord, for opening our eyes to your love. For revealing your very nature to us. For bearing out your fruit in our lives as evidence of your life breathing within these dead bones. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms as the loving Father, when we were just hoping to come back to your house as a humble servant. Remind us that it isn’t about our works, but about your love, and our love in response. Teach us to love more today, so that others might find us peculiar enough to want a taste of this sweet grace, of this wonderful for of your love that is alive in us. Amen.

Deep Need, Great Mercy, Amazing Love

I have heard all about you, Lord .
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger, remember your mercy.
Habakkuk 3:2 NLT
http://bible.com/116/hab.3.2.NLT

We have heard about Him. In fact so many have heard the name of Jesus in today’s world where there are churches on so many corners. But how many of us are in awe of God when science offers us the answers of men in their attempt to understand and explain the wonders of creation and existence? How many of us recognize our deep need for Him and cry out to Him for help?

The Lord  is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The Lord  is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
Psalms 145:17-19 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/psa.145.17-19.NKJV

God is Holy and righteous. And those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ,  who believe and receive the cleansing and redeeming Blood of the Lamb of God are not only forgiven, but receive His Holy Spirit to guide and teach us His desires, His will, His purpose for our lives. Our old ways of slavery to sin and death are cast away and we are free to live a new life being reconciled to be more like Him. We are to be equipped and prepared for His Holy use. Yes, us who were once wretched and wicked and proud and lost and blind – we who were serving another master – are now offered a place in our living heavenly Father’s family.

I will exalt you, Lord ,
for you rescued me.
You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
O  Lord my God,
I cried to you for help,
and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave, O  Lord .
You kept me from falling into the pit of death.
Sing to the Lord , all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Psalms 30:1-5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.30.1-5.NLT

We have so much to be thankful for. God has given us eternal life, life abundant, life filled with His ways, His Truth, His life. What can we offer in return for such an unmerited, undeserved gift?

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.12.1-2.NLT

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.22.37-40.NLT

Learning Repentance, Receiving Peace

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
2 Peter 3:9-11 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2pe.3.9-11.ESV

Teach me Your way, O Lord , And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence. I  would  have  lost  heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord ; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord !
Psalms 27:11-14 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/psa.27.11-14.NKJV

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the  death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the  life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:8-14 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/rom.6.8-14.NKJV

“The Lord  bless you and keep you; The Lord  make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’
Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/num.6.24-26.NKJV

Your ways confound the wise. Men of flesh fear their own deaths, as their instinct is to avoid it at all costs. But you have taught us that death is the way to life. Help us to do what is difficult – to die to ourselves, to kill our old ways and to become new, walking in your will.  Teach us to be genuinely sorry for our sin,  to hate it more and more,  and to run away from it and into the life and purpose you have for us. Teach us to bring glory and honor to your name in the lives that we live. Strengthen us to see our enemies of temptation, rebellion, worldliness, and self fall dead and defeated at the foot of the cross. Amen.

Created for Good Works

And you He  made  alive,  who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it  is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:1-10 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/eph.2.1-10.NKJV

It is not our good works that earn our salvation, but through good works are a blessing and an opportunity to participate in His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Yes, we are familiar with the wages of sin. We have walked that path before and we have experienced the consequences of that life. But God has offered us a new, abundant life in Christ – one of forgiveness, fellowship and relationship as we learn and grow in a new life,  following His example.

Lord, do not let us forget our past, otherwise we might become proud thinking that we have accomplished something on our own. Do not let us be paralyzed by guilt and shame of our past disobedient ways,  otherwise we might miss out on the glorious opportunity to serve you now. Let us remember the redeeming powerofthe Blood of the Lamb, and the strength and power of your Holy Spirit. Help us to realize the value of this amazing gift of grace and to walk in grattitude today, Lord. We love you. Amen.

Waiting for rescue

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The past weeks have been especially challenging. Sickness,  vehicles breaking down, the extra stress work of coordinating for my daughter’s birthday and the holidays, things at work seem to have been falling apart at a greater rate, multiple weekends in a row of late night maintenance work scheduled, more people hurting around us in deeper and more challenging ways. And the impact is cumulative,  almost like a snowball gathering up stream as it swells into an avalanche.

May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
Galatians 1:3-5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.1.3-5.NLT

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There is a camp who would tell me,  just think positively and you will see positive results. And I understand the dangers in letting our trials bring us down into the dumps emotionally, but instead of a concept of my own attitude having the power to change either my circumstances of my perspective,  I think that it’s safer if we let our trials draw us closer to the Lord and if we find peace and comfort in handing it over to Him. Yes, there is only a subtle difference between the two,  but it is an important one.

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There is a difference between the blessings of grace and peace and the trappings of self confidence and pride. And it comes down to who we trust to have the strength to bring us through the trials. For those of us who have relied for so long on our own strength,  or own gifts, our own power to bring us through this life and it’s many challenges – sometimes it can be hard to hand it over to God instead of striving to be strong enough on our own.

And especially if we have historically thought of ourselves as a strong and confident person, when we start facing challenges and trials beyond our own control, it can either result in our watching our dreams be shattered as we continue to struggle on our own against the raging ride – or we can trust in the Lord and instead of resisting and insisting on our dreams and plans,  we can learn to be content in what He has in store for us.

Due to sickness, I’ve missed work,  I’ve had to cancel ministry plans, I’ve let down my coworkers, I’ve let down those counting on me for assistance, I’ve let down my family, and I’ve struggled to make it through the basics of each of these past several days as my body has just been too weak for the demands of this world. I don’t know what those consequences might be, I don’t know what opportunities might have been lost, I don’t know the weight being carried by others while I cannot bear it myself. In fact, it might be prideful for me to think that anyone would experience any noticeable extra burden due to my weakness, due to my absence. Maybe I need to be humbled by realizing how very unimportant and replaceable I am in each of those areas that my life touches.

You see,  I don’t yet understand the why behind my sickness. I don’t yet understand if there is a lesson to be learned immediately or if I will one day have my eyes opened to see the beauty of the whys behind all of the struggles and trials of this life. But I can know His grace and find peace and comfort in knowing that He is in control.

You see, I’m off the camp that believes that God is more interested in changing me than changing my circumstances. This is a different camp than those who believe that God is there to service their requests when they call upon His name. You see, one group is interested in crying out to a master that will give them what they want, while the other group is interested in crying out to a master that will teach them what He wants. And shouldn’t we wonder whether or not these two might be very different masters?

I’m so thankful for His grace,  for His peace, that He is rescuing us from this evil world. The tricks and traps of the enemy lie all around us. The enemy strides around, waiting for an opportunity to devour us. But we cannot be snatched from our Father’s hand. And what are the trials of this life in comparison to what awaits us on the other side of eternity?

Praise the Lord,  He is worthy of praise and honor and glory.

NOTE: Please extend some grace in reading my journal entry today. I’m still battling a cold and taking medicine. Today’s entry was probably a lot more of my own thoughts and concerns as opposed to message from the Holy Spirit & Word of God. Love y’all.

Let’s take a walk…

…will you stay with me to the end?

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SINNING = LAWLESSNESS = DEATH

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:4-10 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.3.4-10.ESV

UNRIGHTEOUS = NO HEAVEN

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

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DEFILED = POISON FROM EVIL HEART

Mark 7:20-23 ESV
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

SIN = WORKS OF THE FLESH

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.19-21.ESV

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SLAVE TO FLESH/SIN = DEATH

Ephesians 5:5 ESV
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

SLAVE TO SIN = NOT A SON = DEATH

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.8.34-36.ESV

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WASHED = JOINED = SANCTIFIED
DOMINATED BY SIN = SEPARATED

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
1 Corinthians 6:11-12, 14, 17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.6.11-17.ESV

WASHED = LIFE
DEFILED = DEATH

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Revelation 22:14-15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rev.22.14-15.ESV

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PASS THE TEST = LIFE
FAIL THE TEST = DEATH

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2co.13.5-6.ESV

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CONTROL & DISCIPLINE= PRIZE
LACK OF DISCIPLINE = DISQUALIFIED

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.9.24-27.ESV

LIVE BY FLESH = DEATH
LIVE BY SPIRIT = LIFE

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:13-17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.8.13-17.ESV

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LAW = KNOWLEDGE OF SIN

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.” 
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;  in their paths are ruin and misery,  and the way of peace they have not known.” 
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:10-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.3.10-20.ESV

THE LAW DOES NOT JUSTIFY
FAITH & LOVE = OBEDIENCE
GODLY LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.  You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Galatians 5:4-8, 13-15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-15.ESV

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BELIEF RECEIVES GRACE
GRACE PRODUCES LIFE

“For  God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.3.16.ESV

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GRACE = FREE GIFT
GRACE = JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
FAITH UPHOLDS THE LAW

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:21-25, 27-28, 31 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.3.21-31.ESV

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BATTLE = FLESH DESIRES VS SPIRIT
HOLY SPIRIT LED = GRACE COVERED

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Galatians 5:16-18 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-18.ESV

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GRACE PRODUCES FRUIT
FRUIT = LOVE

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-26.ESV

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LOVE RESULTS IN OBEDIENCE

“If you love me, you will  keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
John 14:15-17, 21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15-21.ESV

BELIEF = PEACE IN CHRIST
BELIEF = TRIAL IN THE WORLD

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:31-33 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.16.31-33.ESV

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TRIAL SEPARATES TRUE FROM FALSE

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
2 Timothy 3:1-9 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2ti.3.1-9.ESV

No excuses, faith. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget about the law.

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.
People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 
Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
Romans 3:19-28, 30-31 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.3.19-31.NLT

Continue reading “No excuses, faith. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget about the law.”