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.”

Disobedience? Compliance? Obedience? Grace?

Disobedience? Compliance? Obedience? Grace?

Disobedience
Do we know what disobedience is these days? Isn’t it choosing to do our own will instead of the will of God? What does scripture tell us about disobedience?

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:34-36 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.34-36.NLT

John 14:15 ESV
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Luke 6:46 ESV
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

Continue reading “Disobedience? Compliance? Obedience? Grace?”

Let’s don’t fool ourselves, let’s examine ourselves.

Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.
John 15:20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.15.20.NLT

A slave to sin is mastered by evil. It is because this slave is not stronger than His master that he cannot overcome the master and break free. Our world is full of people who are slaves to sin.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.
John 8:34 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.34.NLT

And those who are slaves to sin are not the same as those who are freed. Those who are still slaves to sin are not yet a permanent member of the family.

A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.
John 8:35 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.35.NLT

And if we are still slaves to sin, isn’t it clear that we are not strong enough on our own to overcome that which has enslaved us? We need someone stronger than our current master so we might be delivered from slavery.

For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
Matthew 12:29 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.12.29.NLT

But it was not God’s plan for us to remain slaves. This is why Jesus Christ came in the flesh,  to walk this earth as a man,  subject to the law – so that He could fulfill the law and free us from our bondage.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.  And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”  Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Galatians 4:4-7 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.4.4-7.NLT

And if we are His and if we truly believe,  then we are set free from sin – not just free from the consequences – but free from being a slave to sin any longer.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:36 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.36.NLT

And the prompting for us to cry out to Him,  the call for us to believe, it is a free gift extended to us from our Heavenly Father who wants to reconcile us back into His household as His children.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.
John 3:16-18 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16-18.NLT

The reason that we are free is not our own power – but in the authority that Christ gives us over all the power of the enemy. There is power in the name of Jesus Christ, in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach.

When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!  Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.  But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.10.17-20.NLT

But the problem then remains that we are free,  but we remain in a world filled with slaves. And those slaves are still serving their old master. They are still in darkness.

And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. ”
John 3:19-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.19-21.NLT

The revealing and divisive thing about  Jesus Christ is that since He makes His power and authority available to us, we have no excuse for remaining in our sins. We truly have the ability to choose who we would rather love and serve – our old master of sin and wickedness and worldliness and things of the flesh, or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who welcomes us into our Heavenly Father’s house and eternal life. We choose whether we love the things of this world or the heavenly and eternal treasures of God.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.  But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Matthew 6:19-24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.6.19-24.NLT

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
Matthew 16:24-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.16.24-26.NLT

So if the world loves things of the world, if the world is seeking prosperity, and honor from one another, and titles, and pleasures, but we love the things of God – that is going to create some division. 

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.  They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.  Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.
John 15:18-23 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.15.18-23.NLT

Yes, it will cause division because there are two different masters involved. One whose works are evident in the flesh of those he still holds captive in slavery:

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.19-21.NLT

And the one true God who as our Heavenly Father,  by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Son, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit,  produces a new kind of life in those He is reconciling to be like Him:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
Galatians 5:22-24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.22-24.NLT

So we must ask ourselves, are we still slaves to sin, serving the current master of this world’s slaves? Or are we called and chosen, set apart as a peculiar people – because we are light amongst the darkness,  the salt of the earth? And if we are His,  what must we do?

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.  This is my command: Love each other.
John 15:16-17 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.15.16-17.NLT

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
James 1:21-22 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jas.1.21-22.NLT

Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water

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In older days,  before running water and electricity, people bathed in small pans of water that would be filled with water so they could wash. There were no drains or plumbing, attached,  so after they were washed, the water in the pan would be dirty. They would then “throw out the dirty water”. So a saying arose to “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. The point in the saying was that we don’t throw out that which is still valuable along with that which isn’t.

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I see a perfect example of this demonstrated through Christ’s teaching. He demonstrated that grace brings the cleansing waters, but that we don’t throw away the law,  we just need to see the law in the light of Christ’s teachings. Jesus told us that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He told us not to throw it away,  but to understand the Spirit and the purpose of the law,  not just the letter of the law.

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And His reaction to the crowd seeking punishment for the lady caught in the act of adultery is a great example to me of how we are meant to view the law and grace working together in unity.

They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
John 8:7 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.7.NLT

You see,  Christ did not say,  “the law is wrong”, He did not go against the law,  He did not tell her to ignore the law and continue sinning. No, He taught the people who had pointing fingers and accusations and stones eagerly in their hands ready to execute judgement and punishment upon this sinner a lesson about compassion and mercy. And He still upheld the law and Word of God as faithful and true when He tells her to go and sin no more.

Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ———-
John 8:10-11 NLT

http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.10-11.NLT

He doesn’t tell her that she is protected by grace to continue in her sins,  He doesn’t hand her a get out of hell free card and send her back to her old life, He doesn’t tell her that He’s the Savior and she doesn’t need to obey the law anymore – He tells her that He does not condemn her and to go and stop sinning.

This represents a significantly different message than many will live by and teach who claim the name of Christ. Many fall into camps who are either focused on living by the letter of the law and measuring and judging and condemning those who aren’t like themselves – falling into legalism and the leaven of the Pharisees that is the spiritual pride of those practicing an empty religion who are lost in the deep darkness of a separation from the Truth and the love of our Heavenly Father. Or they fall into camps that excuse sin and worldly living,  ignoring the Word of God or dismissing it as not having value or purpose or instruction for their lives because they’ve once said a prayer about Jesus and received a baptism by water and called His name – never having repented of their sins and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit or been freed from their captivity to a life walking in communion with God alive in their lives teaching,  guiding,  and comforting them.

You see, the narrow path is not throwing out the value ofthe instruction ofthe Word of God because of the living waters of grace. Nor is it ignoring the cleansing powers and purpose of grace by leaving the baby sitting in the dirty waters. The narrow path is accepting grace for its cleansing powers and understanding the value of the Word of God as holy and divine instruction for our lives that is more wise than our own opinions and cultural influences and preferences.

I encourage you to not use grace as an excuse to walk contrary to the Word of God saying,  “I’m only a human sinner, I’m thankful that Jesus forgives me because I’m still in sin.” There is nothing in error with that statement, you babes in Christ seeking His touch upon your life,  so I encourage you to strive on. But those who have been walking, we are not meant to remain babes, but to strive for spiritual maturity so that we can say, “I’m a child of God, thankful that Jesus loves in me and through Him I am empowered to go and sin no more.”

So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,  and don’t leave the baby sitting in the dirty water either.

Know the value  and purpose of grace,  of your being equipped daily – in an appreciation and meditation upon the Word of God and in an attentiveness to the instruction of your teacher the Holy Spirit.

A slave is not yet free. Do not remain a slave.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:34-36 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.34-36.NLT

What is grace, and why do I need it?

What is grace, and why do I need it?

Search your heart and ask yourself if there are selfish, prideful things that you have done that benefitted yourself in the short term, but that have negative consequences – either unconsidered costs that you came to realize later, or costs to others that were not a concern to you at the time, or even the bad example that your life choices served for those little eyes around you watching to later replicate your actions.

Does your heart not cry out to you and press you to examine your life and to see a change? And have you not found that your imperfections, your flaws, your addictions – these unseen enemies within you that drag you along in chains into consequences that you would rather avoid – that they are strong and overcome you when you battle them alone?

You are not meant to make war on your own against these unseen enemies,  man of flesh. You are not meant to accept defeat or to be content participating in war against your fellow brothers and sisters. You can know victory.

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
John 1:12-13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.1.12-13.NLT

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16-17.NLT

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
John 4:13-14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.4.13-14.NLT

The battle is not yours to win alone,  but you can choose to be on the winning side. You can choose to bring positive impact and love and change to the world around you. You can live a life guided by the strength that overcomes. You can be alive to a renewed life in Christ, and freed from the slavery of your old life of sin.

I’m not selling you a religion, friend. I’m not convincing you to buy into a once a week religious practice. I’m not manipulating you to put part of your money into an offering plate,  friend. I’m telling you that religion will send many to hell.

What I am telling you is that Christ can take hold of your whole life. He can live in you and through you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – and even more importantly,  breath by breath,  thought by thought, loving action by loving action. You can realize that everything that you have is a blessing rained down upon your life by the creator. You can realize what you deserve by your life’s works is nothing c short of hell,  but that by His grace, He offers you nothing short of heaven, of being a born again Child of God.

We are not just men and women of flesh and blood,  friends. Know your true self,  know your true value in eternity as a Child of God. Cling to your right to become a Child of God. Seek first the Kingdom of God and those things eternal. See past the veil of this world’s lies and substitutions that have no glow at all beside the light of His grace and glory.

Know victory.
Know His grace.
Celebrate His Glory.

The Betrayer

Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him.

He tells us to not look back,  and to follow Him with complete abandon.

He tells us to love our enemies.

He tells us to see past the false security of personal wealth and to consider everything that we have to be His to be shared with those around us who have needs instead of stock piling things and wealth for ourselves.

He tells us to trust in Him alone for our security.

He tells us to “Go and sin no more”.

He tells us to love others, to preach this gospel to the ends of the earth, to make disciples, and to baptize in His name.

He doesn’t say that it is easy, but He does say that His burden is light, He tells us to count the cost, and if we value His Kingdom,  if we value Him above all other things that might stand as idols between us and the Lord – we will forsake all things for Him.

“Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.”
Luke 9:44 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.9.44.NLT

How many times have I betrayed Christ into the hands of His enemies with the sins of my life?

How many sins have I placed upon Him at the cross?

How many stripes within His flesh were because of the works of my iniquities and disobedience and rebellion against the will of God?

How many of the thorns upon His head were the pains of my thoughts,  words,  and actions in opposition to a just and righteous God who created me in His image to bring honor and glory to His name?

How many strikes of the hammer upon the nails were from my selfish pride and vanity?

Oh,  Lord,  I have failed you miserably with the example of my life. I look upon your perfection and your glory and I see all the more in my own life that needs the healing that your touch alone can restore and redeem to righteousness. As I draw closer to understanding the beauty of your grace,  I am overwhelmed by the inadequacy of my own works and words and thoughts and shortcomings. I am humbled by the magnitude of evidence pulled against me by the accuser,  Lord. By all rights and accounts, I have betrayed you into the hands of your enemy,  Oh Lord,  and my very soul,  my heart inside my body cries out, “Let it not be so that I would be the betrayer of my love, my bridegroom,  my Savior,  my Lord”. But my own words now only testify to what you,  Lord already know to be true. My life is far from perfection, it is worthless beside the glory of your example. So I am thankful for grace,  for your tender mercies Lord. Keep me here, faithfully in your presence. Let me not escape your presence. Let me cling to the hem of your garment, let my tears wash your feet, and let me kiss them,  Oh Lord. Lead me in your ways along this narrow path – I have counted the cost c and the world has nothing to offer me if I can’t have you,  Lord. But you ARE mine,  and I AM yours. Take my hand,  beloved,  and walk with me in eternity.