Saturday, December 01, 2012
Philippians 3:12-14 NLT I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is call us up to heaven.
Some years ago, as many of you know, I went through a terribly difficult period after losing my husband. One Sunday I was sitting in church listening to my Pastor's message and God, the Holy Spirit, spoke to my heart and said, “you can't fully embrace the good things that I have for you in your future if you don't turn loose of your past”. It was at that moment that I realized that in order to move forward in my life I would have to leave the past behind and walk into my future expecting God to do what He had promised. Paul speaks of that very idea in this portion of scripture in Philippians. Sometimes we get caught up in what has happened in the past to the point that we lose sight of the possibilities of anything good happening in the future.
Your past does not have to determine your future. The only power your past has over you is what you give it. You may have some things in your past that you really don't want to see show up again in your future. It won't if you don't empower it through fear. Fear is described as false evidence appearing real. God had a great plan for my future which He has so graciously provided in my current husband, Gerald. But I have had to battle the spirit of fear that has repeatedly come to try to steal my peace after having lost my former husband. The spirit of fear is always around trying to tell us that what has happened in the past will repeat itself. It is our responsibility to fight the good fight of faith where fear is concerned.
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
The progression in fighting the fear that all of us encounter at one point or another is to first submit yourself to God. God's will is the most important part of my life. I want to be in the center of His will. When I submit myself to Him I am saying, “Father, not my will but Yours be done”. Regardless of what His will is, I know that I will be content if I am in that place where He is in the center of my life. After we have committed ourselves to Him then we must resist the temptation from the devil to allow fear to step into that place of authority that is only reserved for God. When we resist the temptation presented by the devil, he must turn and run from us. We am then the victors in that situation.
1 Peter 5:8, 9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
The devil is pretty dumb, really. He uses the same tactics over and over again. His main weapon is deception. If he can deceive us through fear and convince us that what he is saying is true then we will come into agreement with him, empowering him to fulfill the fear that he has given us. The scripture says to be sober and vigilant, watching and listening for him so you can identify his strategy. Then we are to resist him being steadfast in the faith.
The Greek word for sober in this verse means “self-controlled”. God speaks to us about being self-controlled in 2 Timothy 1:7 when He says:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
The fear that this scripture is talking about does not come from God. The only fear that God wants us to have is a reverence for Him; a holy awe that is known as the “fear of God”. The fear that is referred to in this scripture comes from the devil; it is a spirit of fear.
The word for “sound mind” is sophronismos and it means “safe-thinking”. The word denotes good judgment, disciplined thought patterns, and the ability to understand and make right decisions. It includes the qualities of self-control and self-discipline.
A part of resisting the devil is using self-control in watching for his strategies. You can't lay down on the job and think that he won't try it again. When he finished his temptation with Jesus in the wilderness the Word says that he left Him for a more opportune time.
Luke 4:13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
We have an enemy who watches to see how we react to his attacks. He cannot read our minds, but he can hear what we say and he watches to see whether we will react or respond to the thoughts that he sends to attack our minds. It is with that in mind that I must remind you that the Word says we are to take captive every thought that comes to us that doesn't line up with the Word of God.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
We are to filter our thoughts! If they are in opposition to what the Word of God says, then we are to cast them down, or arrest them! We do not have to receive every thought that lights upon our minds. We are to judge them and bring those wrong thoughts into captivity. Replace the wrong ones with the Word of God that counteracts the thought. That means that we need to have a working knowledge of God's Word. How can you stop a wrong thought if you don't know it's not right?
Psalm 119:97-100 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.
We come to understand what is a right or wrong thought by meditating on the Word of God. His Word makes us wise so we can recognize the error in a thought and then counter it with a correct scripture. God speaks wisdom to us through His Word as we meditate on it. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness He countered the attack by speaking the correct scripture to the devil with “it is written”. He is our example!
If we want to fully embrace what God has for us in the future we must forget the past, turn aside from fear and wrong thoughts and, as Paul said in Philippians 3:13, reach forward to those things which are ahead. We must “press” toward the goal that God has for us!
As I stated earlier in this post, when I was sitting in that service listening to my Pastor's message and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about turning loose of the past, my Pastor made the statement that “the best is yet to come”. At that time I couldn't see anything good out there in my future. I had to grasp that statement with every ounce of faith that I could muster. I went home with the assurance that God indeed had a good plan for my life even though my past did not reflect a promise of good for my future. We all have choices to make every day of our lives. We can either listen and obey God's voice and directions for our lives or resign ourselves to living a repeat of the past.
Reaching toward the prize and pressing into it requires faith! Faith is trusting God to do what He has promised before we see even a glimpse of the reality of it.
It's not easy to resist the temptation to fear, but it is possible. It's not easy to step out on a limb believing that God is there to grow it out for you, but it is possible. Faith makes it possible; but not easy!
What is it in your past that seems to haunt you and stop you from stepping out in faith to receive the impossible? Praise God, I am living proof that God is faithful to fulfill His promises when you believe Him and obey His directions. He has so blessed me with my Gerald! He is everything that I could have ever wanted in a husband! He is my gift from God!
Father, I thank You for the good future that you have planned for each of Your children. I pray today that those who read this blog who may be experiencing difficulties in life will be able to see that You are good and that You want to bless them with a good future as well. Father, I pray that they will get a glimpse of the good that You have planned for them. I pray that they will turn loose of their past and look forward to the future. Father, I ask You to show them the attacks of the enemy before they happen. Help them to recognize the false thoughts that he sends to attack them with fear and deception. Bring back to their remembrance the scriptures that You want them to use in countering those thoughts. I pray, Father, that they will speak out loud Your promises and use them as the Sword of the Spirit at Your direction. Thank You, Father, for the victory that You promise each of Your children as we fight the good fight of faith and stand firm and steadfast on Your Word. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Friday, November 30, 2012
2 Corinthians 4:18 Amplified Bible: Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.
Both of these two translations talk about “fixing our eyes” and “considering” things that we see going on around us. They caution us about paying too much attention to the things that we see in the natural because they are temporary or “subject to change”. I heard someone say today that certain problems they were experiencing were just visiting and would be leaving soon. I'm sure you've heard the old saying, “this, too, shall pass”.
Instead, what we are to do is focus on what God says in His word about tribulations and trials. We over come by countering what we see in the natural with what God says in His word. Many times I've had to stop myself while going through a difficulty and remind myself of what God's word says regarding that particular trial. There is a promise of God in His word for every difficulty that we encounter in life. For sickness there are healing promises; for financial difficulties we have scriptures that tell of God's provision; for fear there are verses proclaiming that God's love casts out all fear and all of them are available to us because of God's grace and are appropriated into our lives through our faith. Whatever we are experiencing in the natural is subject to change through applying the truth of God's word.
Whatever we focus our attention on will become magnified in our hearts. The bigger the picture is within us the more faith we put into its existence. We may not want it to come into being, but faith is the vehicle that brings into manifestation what we are believing in our hearts. Fear is to the devil what faith is to God. Fear opens the door for the enemy to bring into your life what you don't want to happen.
Job 3:25, 26 For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes.
The more we look at problems, difficulties, negative world events, etc., the more those things take precedence in our hearts over what God promises in His word. Now, I'm not saying to stick your head in the sand and not keep up with what's going on around us. But, what I am saying, is that we need to put them in proper perspective according to the Word of God. God, as a wonderful Father, has our best interest at heart. He cares about His children and promises to care and provide for them. He instructs us to not worry because worry chokes the life out of a person.
Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Worry – Greek word merimnao; “to divide into parts.” The word suggests a distraction, a preoccupation with things causing anxiety, stress, and pressure.
Worry divides your mind into anxious thoughts and when those those take root and grow they crowd out the faith that you need to bring the promises of God into manifestation. When you worry you feel pressure from outside sources that over-rides the peace that comes from trusting God. Jesus tells us not to worry and be anxious about necessities of life because we are under the care of a watchful heavenly Father who is ever mindful of our daily needs. He will take care of His children.
There is an antidote to worry. It is being Kingdom-minded; seeking first the kingdom of God and simply trusting Him to take care of the rest.
Matthew 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
When you become Kingdom-minded you are mindful of the Father's business and seek to do His will in every situation. Then you trust Him to take care of what you can't. Worry doesn't offer a productive end to anything. It just causes stress, anxiety and unnecessary pressure in your life. He will provide for the things that you need.
Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
Anxious – same Greek word as “worry” in Matthew 6:25. Again, God is saying that worry and anxiety can be eradicated from your life through an antidote! In this verse, the antidote is praying with thanksgiving for what God has already done in your life and committing your fears to Him.
God doesn't want you to ignore those things that are trying to cause you to worry and be afraid. He simply wants you to tell Him about them and commit them into His care. Notice what happens when you do that:
Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Acrostic written by Edith Rary on January 2, 2004/2/04
Peace comes as we pray, telling God about our needs and problems, and then leaving them with Him to take care of. Notice that the scripture says that the peace of God will “guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. The picture here is of a Sentinel setting up a guard post at your heart and mind to stop the enemy from bringing harmful thoughts into your heart and mind that would negate the peace that you have placed there through praying and committing your cares to God. That Sentinel keeps out the negative so peace can be magnified in your life.
So, what do we think about if we aren't going to worry? Well, the scripture goes on to say in Philippians 4:8, 9 that we are to think on good things and practice what we have seen in Paul's life that worked for him.
Philippians 4:8 NKJV Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is an virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:9 NIV Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
The way that we cooperate with the Sentinel that has been placed around our hearts and minds through praying and committing our cares to God is by then replacing negative thoughts with God's truth and living our lives patterned after the ones that we see in the Word who have already gained the victory over fear and worry in their own lives. Paul had already learned to pray, commit his problems to the Lord and then to arrest the negative thoughts and replace them with God's truth.
Truth always supersedes facts. It may be a fact that you have an illness. I'm not asking you to deny it, but to subject it to the truth of God's word that healing is yours through the covenant that you have with God through Christ Jesus. (Matthew 8:17) It may be true that your financial status is lacking, but the truth of God's word is that He provides all your needs through His riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19) We may be bombarded with negative world events that show us that our world is spiraling out of control but the truth of God's word is that we are His children and He takes care of His own. (Psalm 55:22) Many times we can't see that the truth is overcoming the negative but our response must be to continue to stand firmly on God's word expecting Him to do what He has promised.
Trust God's heart today! Stand on His word; pray and commit your cares to the Lord and trust Him to take care of you.
Psalm 56:3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
Father, I thank You for Your faithful care of Your children. I know that You love us and care for us and these things that keep coming against us to try to sway us off of our trust in You must be put to an end. Help us to see that You have provided the way of escape for us from the cares that try to attack our minds and hearts. Father, help us to say “no” to negative thoughts of evil and “yes” to Your truth that overcomes and guards our hearts and minds with peace. You are faithful to keep Your promises and I thank You for always providing for Your own. Give us the courage to face our fears with the truth of Your Word. Thank You, Father, for granting us peace in the midst of the storms of life and for giving us the weapons that we need to use to stop the enemy from stealing our peace. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Acts 17:24-31 NAS “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as through He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope or Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.' “Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
Acts 17:28 in the NKJV says: “for in Him we live and move and have our being,”. For me as a born again Christian that means that I am “in Christ Jesus”, my life is not my own and all things that I encounter in this life revolve around my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not my own, but I have been bought with a price; the blood of Jesus Christ. I am His and He is mine! Hallelujah!
I often think about life before being “in Him”. It was one of uncertainty, wondering if I would be “good enough” to enter heaven when I died. I was raised in a denominational church that believed that your works would be what would give you entrance into heaven, but you didn't know if you had been “good enough” until you got there and then it would be too late to do anything about it if you hadn't. It was a “maybe you are” and “maybe you aren't” “good enough” type of situation. I didn't know from one day to the next whether I would “make it” or not.
Acts 17:31 tells me that there is coming a day when God will judge the world to see which ones are “in Christ Jesus” and which aren't. The key is in repenting and giving your heart to Him today so you will be ready for that Day of Judgment.
To “repent” is the Greek word “metanoeo” and it means “to change one's mind or purpose”; to “turn around” from the direction you are going to go another direction. This portion of Scripture says that all men have been made by God for the purpose of seeking Him. As we look into the world today we see a people who are self-centered, focused on one thing only, and that is themselves and what will satisfy their heart's desires. This people, who the Word says have all been made in the likeness and image of God, are seeking satisfaction and fulfillment in everything but Him. The word says that they have been in “times of ignorance” and He declares that they all should repent before the “fixed” day of judgment comes.
I don't often teach on repentance or that there is coming a day of judgment because I don't believe in portraying my God as a “turn or burn” type of God. He is a loving heavenly Father that has created man in His own image so He can fill or “inhabit” His creation to lead, guide and bless them with His presence. My God leads men to repentance through His goodness.
Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, no knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
My mother always said that more flies are drawn to honey than to vinegar. I believe people are drawn to God through seeing His goodness and understanding that He loves them and wants a living and vital relationship with them more than in seeing Him as a God of judgment. But, as the Word says, there is coming a day when He will look at the record books in heaven and determine which ones, by their own choice, have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, thus deserving an eternity with Him in heaven. That is the Day of Judgment. It is simply to determine who spends eternity with Him or separated from Him.
Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”
Repentance brings “times of refreshing”. Many believe that when we instruct people to “turn around” from the way they are going to following Christ Jesus that they will have to give up the good life for a life of dutiful, mundane living. But the Word says that “times of refreshing” will come from the Lord when we repent. The “good life” awaits you when you turn to the Lord. It's not a life of no problems, but you have the Lord of Life living within you to direct you through the storms of life and give you peace in the midst of them. A life of victory awaits you when you to turn to the Lord. You don't life beneath your circumstances, but He equips you to live “above”; to be victorious and more than a conqueror because of His presence within you.
Romans 8:31, 32 NKJV What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
God gave Jesus for us....His life for ours! God is not holding that against us, but He did that so that He could freely give us salvation and all things! He is a loving heavenly Father, ready to provide for our every need that we might understand His goodness.
Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
God wants you to be His so that He can pour out His love upon you and fill you with His fullness. He wants to strengthen you through His Spirit in your inner man, to equip you and give you an understanding of His love. God doesn't love you because He loves; He loves you because He is love. His very nature is love. He can't do anything but love His people.
1 John 4:7-10 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
God loved us so much that He gave His son to be the propitiation, or payment for our sin. This payment satisfied the wrath of God that was there because of sin. It paid the price to establish man “in Him”, to place man “in Christ Jesus”.
Ephesians 1:7, 8 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
“In Christ Jesus” we have forgiveness of sins. We have been “adopted” as sons by Christ Jesus to Himself. (Ephesians 1:5) It is “in Him that we live and move and have our being”. (Acts 17:28)
I woke up this morning with this song on my heart. It says about God: “You are the love of my life; You are the hope that I cling to; You mean more than this world to me. I'd rather have You than silver or gold. I'd rather have You than riches untold. You are; You are my everything”. I can sing that because it's “in Him” that I live and move and have my being.
I want to invite you today to make Him yours and to give your heart to Him that you may also live “in Him”. Won't you accept Jesus into your heart to be your own personal Lord and Savior today? Make this your day of salvation! Pray and ask Him to come into your heart; to save you and live each day with you. Pray this prayer and mean it sincerely in your heart.
Father, I come before You confessing that I am a sinner, both by birth and by choice. I have lived my life for myself but I now realize that I need to repent, to change my mind and turn around and live for You. I ask You to forgive me of my sin, to save me and come and live in my heart to be my own personal Lord and Savior. I receive the gift of salvation that You have so freely given for me in the crucifixion and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I believe that if I were the only person on the face of the earth You would have still given Jesus to pay the price for my sin. I receive Him into my heart and I thank You for saving me. I vow to live every day for You from this moment on. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer for the first time and really meant it, you are now “in Christ Jesus”. You are “in Him” and are a part of the family of God. Congratulations! That is the most important decision you will ever make in your whole life. Your eternity is now sealed with God and will be spent in heaven with Him.
Father, I pray for those who have prayed to receive Jesus into their hearts this morning. I ask that You would make Your presence real to them that they might grow in their relationship with You. Thank You for saving them, for paying the price that they might be set free from sin, death and Hell. Thank You for bringing them into Your family this morning.
Father, I pray for my friends who may be going through difficulties today. I ask that You would make Your presence known to them as well. That You would strengthen them in their inner man by Your Spirit who lives within them that they might be assured of Your love for them. I pray that they will look to You for the answers to life's problems for it is in You that they live and move and have their being. You are the answer, Lord Jesus! May they find comfort in knowing that You have made them more than a conqueror through Your love for them. Thank You for granting them the victory in You! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Colossians 2:6-10 AMP As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men's ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ ( the Messiah). For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the God-head—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].
I love this portion of Scripture. It speaks of who we are in Christ Jesus and the importance of dwelling on His word so that we can walk by faith and not be impressed and swayed by the traditions of men.
As you have therefore received Christ.....how did you receive Christ? I received Him into my life by God's grace, His unmerited, free gift of salvation, appropriated by my faith! I received Christ Jesus by faith and so I am instructed to regulate and conduct my life in the same manner....by faith! So many are out there trying to work to make themselves acceptable to God. But it's all in vain! There is no salvation apart from receiving the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross for the sin of mankind.
Hebrews 9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Christ Jesus paid the price, once and for all, for the sins of mankind. It is now up to us to receive that free gift through faith. And not just to initially receive it, but to walk by it as well. We are instructed to walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. (verse 7)
Have you ever watched a little sapling when it is first planted and how it handles the wind in a storm? While it is a newly planted tree, in the midst of the storm, it bends clear over to where it touches the ground and it seems as if it might not make it through the heat of the storm. But as it's roots grow down deep into the soil it soon becomes rooted and grounded and much stronger to withstand the effects of the winds and rain of a heavy storm. It is more established in it's source of strength, which is the soil of the ground around it. So it is with us when we are firmly rooted and deeply planted in Christ Jesus. We become increasingly strengthened as we are established in the faith!
Colossians 2:8 NKJV Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Friends, it is our responsibility to monitor our spiritual diet! There are all sorts of teachings out there that are contrary to the truth of Christ Jesus! Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: 3, 4 that there would come a time when people would not endure sound doctrine, but they would jump from one teacher to another, turning away from the truth to embrace fables.
2 Timothy 4:3,4 NKJV For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
As the Day of the Lord's return draws closer we will see more and more the fulfillment of this scripture. It is our responsibility to guard our hearts from false doctrine and teachers that draw people away from the truth. The only way to identify a counterfeit is to know the real. A bank teller identifies a counterfeit bill by handling the real bill over and over every day. It is then that she is able to see and feel the difference in the counterfeit. The more time you spend in the Word of God and communing with the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit, the more you will be able to identify false doctrine when it appears to you. When something doesn't appear to be just right you will have an uneasiness within that is the lack of peace that comes from the discernment of the Lord telling you to watch out for that teaching.
For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the God-head—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. (verse 9, 10)
In Christ Jesus is the fullness of Deity; He is the exact representation of the Father. You can look at Jesus and His walk through humanity and see the will of God for mankind.
Hebrews 1:1-3 NKJV GOD, who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Jesus, as He walked upon this earth as a human being, was a living illustration of God the Father. God spoke to us through His life, crucifixion and resurrection. When you see Jesus doing something as He walked on earth you can know that you are seeing the WILL of the Father in action. Jesus did nothing under His own power. He did what He did as an instrument in the Hand of God.
John 14:7-11 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
Now we see in Colossians 2:10 that we are in Christ Jesus, “made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the God-head—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].”
We, who are in Christ Jesus are filled with God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Wow! Let's stop and take that in.....Selah! The NKJV says it this way:
Colossians 2:9,10 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
In Christ Jesus dwells the fullness of God!
Fullness – Greek word pleroma means: full number, full complement, full measure, copiousness, plenitude, that which has been completed.
And you are complete in Him!
Complete – Greek word pleroo – means: to be made full.
Jesus, in His humanity, was made full of God and we are made full of God in Him. It is His will for us that we come to full spiritual stature in Him, with Him being the Head and us being His body.
Ephesians 4:13-16 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ--from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The fullness of God in Christ Jesus is within us, but it is through our yielding to His working within us and our interaction with others in the body of Christ that we grow up into the fullness of His stature. We are shaped by what He is doing within us and what we are doing as a part of the body of Christ, interacting with each other. Each of us, according to our giftings, has a share to give to the body of Christ. That causes us to grow up into maturity to the full stature of Christ Jesus. The truth is that we are made full in Christ Jesus, but the manifestation of it happens as we grow through sharing with one another. Each person is a vital part of the body of Christ! We all have a part to play.
Are you doing your part in the body of Christ?
Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Just as we will see people straying from the truth in the last days, so we are instructed to stir each other up and encourage one another to good works even more as we see the Day approaching. Our part is to gather together to encourage one another and exhort each other to continue living in love and good works. We are filled with the fullness of God in Christ Jesus to pour it out on each other so we will all grow up to the fullness of His stature. We are to be made mature in Christ Jesus; conformed to the image of Jesus as we yield to Him and interact with each other.
My brother and sister in Christ, you are important to me! You are a valuable gift in the body of Christ. Don't ever say that you are of no value or have no real impact on someone else. We need each other!
Father, I thank You for who we are in Christ Jesus. I thank You for making us the fullness of God in Him. We are Your body, Lord Jesus and You are our Head. Thank You for leading us and guiding us in the way that we should go. May we ever wait to move until we hear our directions from You. Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus today, that You would show them how important they are to each other. I pray that they will come to the full understanding that they are complete in Christ Jesus and have the potential for all the fullness of the God-head within them. Father, help us to believe Your word and step out in faith to act on what You tell us to do, that we might have an impact on people for Your kingdom and their eternity. Thank You, Father, for equipping us just as You anointed Jesus, with the Holy Spirit and with power to go about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Thank You for making us Your representatives in the earth today! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.”
Jesus addresses His disciples in this verse in terms that they could understand. The vine and the branch was illustrated through the vineyards of Israel. No plant bears fruit in and of itself. The branch must get the nourishment that it needs to be fruitful from the vine. For the branch to continue to bear fruit it must abide in the vine; it must stay connected to the vine so that the nutrients flow from the vine to the branch. The same is true of the fruitfulness of a believer in Christ Jesus.
Jesus is said in verse one to be the “true vine” and the Father is the vinedresser. The believer is the branch. For every believer to bear fruit he must be vitally connected to the “true vine”, Jesus Christ. A believer cannot give away something that he doesn't own himself; meaning that unless a person stays in vital union with Jesus Christ, through prayer and communion in the Word of God, he can't be filled with the nutrients of Christ's power and anointing to be able to share it with someone else. Apart from Jesus Christ, a believer cannot accomplish anything of lasting value. It must come from the Vine and flow through the branch to be effective in changing something in another person's life.
When Jesus sent His disciples out to minister to the people He sent them out by two's and he said to them: “And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7,8) Jesus instructed them to give away what they had received from Him. He had given them the anointing to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out the demons. They had spent time with Him and now they were told to go give it away; to go out and apply what He had taught them.
The same is true of every disciple of Christ Jesus; we are all told to go and do the same things that He did. Jesus instructed us to go and make disciples of all nations. He said that there would be some tell-tale signs that people would be able to see in His disciples.
Mark 16:15-18 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will be no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Now, it is only our responsibility to do as He commanded; preach the gospel, cast out demons, speak with new tongues, confront demonic powers, and lay hands on the sick so they can recover. How can we do these things? We do them as He works with us confirming His word spoken through us with the accompanying signs.
Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.. Amen.
As we do our part, God will do His. He is the One that does the work; we are only the utensil that He uses to accomplish His work. Jesus said of Himself that He didn't do anything He didn't see the Father doing or say anything that He didn't hear from the Father.
John 5:19 AMP So Jesus answered them by saying, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord); but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the father does is what the Son does in the same way [in His turn].
John 5:30 AMP I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me.
So, what is the secret to accomplishing the works of God in our lives today? Well, I think the key is found in the same way that Jesus accomplished His work. We see in so many scriptures that Jesus often withdrew to pray. He spent quality time with His Father. He was empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the works of God through His prayer time. At one point He withdrew to pray and stayed there all night. It was after that special time of prayer that He learned from the Father who He was to choose to be His twelve disciples.
Luke 6:12 NKVJ Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:
It was a little later in that day that He exhibited the power that came from His time in prayer:
Luke 6:17-19 NKJV And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
The power of God went out from Him and healed them all. The power of God was received from His Father during those times of prayer. Just as a vehicle cannot run on empty, so the believer in Christ Jesus cannot effectively minister without the re-fueling that comes through prayer and Bible Study.
It is recorded in Acts 10:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
God was with Him; He anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power during those times that He spent in prayer. Jesus, in His humanity, was empowered through His relationship with the Father. He was anointed, set apart and consecrated with the oil or power of the Holy Spirit, to do the work of ministry. The same is true of us as we spend time with the Lord through prayer and the Word that He will anoint us to do the work of ministry.
John 14:12-14 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
Jesus spoke that of His disciples and those who would follow after Him; believers in Christ Jesus!
Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Do you have trouble sharing your faith with others? Are you bold in your witness of what God has done in your life? Can you freely give away what God has done in you? Are the signs of a believer evident in your life?
If you answered “yes” to the first question, "no" or “not enough” to any of the others, then I would encourage you to spend more time with the Lord getting filled to overflowing so He can do His works through you. God longs to have His children spend time in His presence so He can empower them to do the works of ministry. He wants a body that will follow His directions as the Head to do what He tells them to effectively minister to the world.
Will you set aside time to spend with the Lord so you can be an effective witness of His? The key is in receiving from Him so you can pass it on to someone else. You can't give away something that is not yours!
Father, I thank You for equipping me for the work of ministry. I know that it is in knowing You that I am empowered to release what You have placed within me to those around me. Father, I lift up to You those who may be longing to be an effective witness for You. I ask You to draw them by Your Spirit into a deeper, more satisfying communion with You where Your anointing can flow freely to them and through them to impact people's lives for eternity for Your Kingdom! Father, I thank You for the anointing of Your Spirit that is upon their lives. I ask You to give them the boldness to step out in faith and be Your hands and feet and Your mouthpiece. Thank You, Father, for the fruit that will be evident through their lives. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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