Friday, February 08, 2013
Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense. And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
To God there are no race, creed, color or culture differences in people all over the world. There are only two classes of people: believers and unbelievers; the saved and the unsaved; those who have sought to attain His righteousness through faith, and those who have tried to attain righteousness through works. Which class of people are you in?
Israel in this portion of scripture represents those who try to attain right standing with God through their works. Everything to them is considered as a work of righteousness as they try to be good enough to gain God's approval. They go to church regularly; make sure they pray and read their Bibles every day and try to live according to the Ten Commandments. They are rule conscious. They never are quite sure they will be received into heaven when they die because they don't know for sure if they have been good enough to make it in. They live with a gnawing unrest within their hearts; never an assurance that they are a child of God and as such will be welcomed into His heaven with open arms!
The Gentiles are those who have received Jesus' work on the cross of Calvary as full payment for their sins. They have exercised their faith by believing in their heart that He is God's Son and was sent to the earth to redeem them from their sin and give them an opportunity, by faith, to step into all that God has made available to them through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. They know that once they believe in their heart that Jesus died for them and confess Him as their Lord that their sins have been forever forgiven and they are in right standing with God and have the full assurance of an eternity spent with Him in heaven. Peace overwhelms their hearts because they do not have to work to try to be good enough to gain God's approval. They simply rest in His assurance that they are children of God, with full rights of son-ship, able to walk in the promises of God for their lives. Faith has become the signpost around their necks that says, “I am God's child and I receive His promises fully as I walk out my salvation by faith.”
So I ask you this morning: “Which group of people are you in”? Do you belong to the camp of the Israelites or the Gentiles? Are you trying to attain right standing with God through the works of the Law or are you living out your salvation by faith?
Hebrews 4:15-19 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
The Israelites could not enter into God's rest, or their Promised Land, the place of salvation, because they did not believe. There hearts were filled with unbelief. Faith was not a part of their lifestyle. They believed they had to live by a set of rules in order to be good enough to please God. It was impossible to live perfectly without sinning. So they forfeited the right to be pleasing to God because they did not believe Him.
How does that apply to our lives today? In 1 Corinthians 10 the Word of God says that the things that happened to the Israelites while they were in the wilderness were written as examples for us that we might not get caught up in the same things that they did. We are to learn from their example.
Hebrews 4:1-3 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith I those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
The Israelites didn't not mix God's word to them with faith, so it was unprofitable in their lives. They couldn't receive from Him all that He had planned for them because of unbelief in their hearts. God's promises must be received by faith for them to be appropriated in our lives.
My Friend, are you trying to gain God's approval through good works? Do you feel that you are not good enough for Him to love and accept you into His kingdom? That's a lie from the devil! God's promises are yes and amen to those who will receive them by faith! God loves you so much that He proved it by giving His very own Son to die for your sin so that when you exercise faith to receive that promise of salvation it will be yours. Won't you open your heart to Him today and make this day your day of salvation?
Maybe you have been going to church for years and trying to live as good as you can to earn your way into heaven. Friends, that will never work. You can't pray enough or read your Bible enough or do enough good works to pay the price for your sin. Salvation is not passed down from parents to children and baptism, in and of itself, is not going to pay the price for your sin. The only way it can be paid is by realizing that Jesus paid it all for you and accept His free gift of salvation into your heart by faith.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 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.
Father, I pray for those this morning who my be trying to reach you through good works. I pray for those who are lost and without any hope in this world of ever being able to spend eternity with you. Your word says they are separated for eternity from you and are without hope in this world because they have not accepted Your free gift of salvation. I pray that the scales will fall off their eyes this morning and they will see that their works can never make them good enough to be acceptable to you. I pray that no matter how religious they are they will see that it is only by faith that they can know You and receive Your salvation. Father, break into their hearts and shine the light of Your glorious gospel of Jesus Christ into their hearts and cause them to see that the only way to heaven is to come to You in faith receiving His shed blood as the payment for their sin. I bind every work of the enemy that has stopped them from receiving you in the past. I cancel the assignment that he has on their lives and ask that You, Father, would break through the hardness of their hearts to show them the way to salvation. Father, You said that You are not willing that any should perish but that all might come to salvation. I ask You to do that work in the hearts of the lost today. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
This is your call to salvation my friend. You are not assured of tomorrow. Today may be your last chance to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Please pray this prayer of response to His call on your heart:
Father, I come to You this morning to say that I have tried to live my life in such a way as to please You. I realize today that my works of righteousness will never be good enough to earn my salvation. I ask You to forgive me of my sin, to come into my heart and save me. I receive Your salvation by faith knowing that Jesus paid the price for my sin and it is only through receiving His finished work on the cross personally, for myself, that I can receive son-ship and a inheritance of all that You have provided for me. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving me. I will live for you from this day forward and I will rest in Your salvation. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, February 07, 2013
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those wo are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
Paul never saw a person, regardless of their stature in life, as someone undeserving or as not needing the gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation that comes through receiving Him as their personal Savior and Lord. He went to all people groups and became as one of them, identifying with where they were in life so he could share the gospel with them to see them come to salvation.
Romans 1:16, 17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
The gospel of Christ is for all people regardless of race, creed or color. It does not discriminate between one people group or another. It's power is the same for all who come to in faith to receive it's saving grace.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 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.
Have you received God's free gift of salvation? If not, you may receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior and enter into the family of God through prayer and all that He offers will be yours. Simply pray this prayer and mean it in your heart:
Father, I come before You recognizing that I am a sinner. I have not followed Your principles but have lived my life selfishly for myself. I believe that You gave Jesus, Your Son, to die for my sin as the payment that was necessary to cleanse me from sin and make me able to be Your child. I receive Your free gift of salvation by asking You to forgive me, save me and come to live in my heart by Your Spirit. Lord Jesus, I thank You for saving me. I promise to live each day from this day forward for You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Father, I thank You for those who have come into your kingdom today through receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord. I pray that You will make Yourself real to them in their everyday life that they might come to know You and understand all that You have provided for them through the gift of salvation that they have received. Open the eyes of the blind so they may see, set the captives free from oppression and heal the sick and hurting. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Colossians 3:1-3 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
I was awake early this morning and as I walked through the living room the lights in the valley below caught my attention and I paused to sit for awhile on the couch to reflect on the beauty of God's creation. The stars were shining brightly in the sky and the view of the world below my home caused me to reflect on how God has placed us, as believers in Christ Jesus, far above worldly thoughts and aspirations. We live in the world but we are not of this world. We have been born from above and our thoughts and actions are to reflect the One for whom we serve.
When Christ Jesus came to live within me through His Spirit my whole life changed. Colossians 1:13 says that I changed residences from darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
Colossians 1:13 NLT For He has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and He has brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.
When I married my husband I moved from Kansas to Tennessee. My whole life changed. My home was different, my church was different, my associations with people were new; my daily activities changed. Through my name change I became a different person. So it is when a person becomes a born again believer in Christ Jesus. We call that becoming a “Christian”; which means a Christ follower. That's what Colossians 3:1-3 is talking about. The Apostle Paul said this about becoming a Christian:
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!
When a person receives Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior they become a new person! The old way of life is changed and a new way of life begins. It is by thinking and acting on what God has said in His Word that the transformation takes place. Day by day old thoughts are forgotten and new ones take their place. As a person takes their rightful place in Christ Jesus far above all that is taking place in this world they are changed from faith to faith and glory to glory.
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The New Living Translation of Romans 12:2 says: “Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
Let heaven fill your thoughts as Colossians 3:2 says in the New Living Translation. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Be heavenly minded! God has given you a new home!
Philippians 4:8 NLT And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
These are the thoughts of heaven. This is what we are to fix our minds on. Not the “what ifs” that come when a thought of fear enters our minds. It is at that time that we must arrest the negative thought and replace it with one that is true and honorable and right; that which is pure and lovely and admirable. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we are “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” when we change from a negative thought to a positive one.
Romans 8:5, 6 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Are you caught up in thinking about what is taking place in the world around you? Do you dread the future because of what you see happening in the world? If so, then you need to change what you are setting your mind on. For the mind that is set on the things of the flesh, of the world around you is death, but the mind that is set on the things of the Spirit, or of heavenly things is life and peace. Do you long for peace in your life? Then change what you are thinking about. Begin to look into the promises of God and see who you are in Christ Jesus and all that He has promised you as a child of God.
I remember as a new Christian how my mind was being changed from the fearful thoughts of the “what ifs” to the promises of God. I used to have to stop myself in the middle of a thought and say “now, wait a minute, what does the word of God have to say about my situation?”. Then I would replace the fearful thought with a scripture that promised God's goodness in my life. I had to arrest that thought and replace it with the truth of God's word.
2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
God has delivered us from the “power” of darkness! His promises are Yes and Amen, so be it, to the glory of God through us. The devil and this fallen world of pain and heartache no longer has a hold on a believer in Christ Jesus because the truth of God's word supersedes the negative thoughts of this world. Colossians 1:13 says that “He has delivered us from the power of darkness....”. That word for “power” in that verse means “authority or right to act, ability, and privilege”. That means the devil has no more authority, the right to act, ability or privilege to control the life of a Christian. The only ground that he gets is the ground that we surrender to him. When we change our thoughts from negative to God's positive promises we shut the door on the enemy's right to act in our lives. He no longer has the authority to wreak havoc in our lives. But as long as our thinking lines up with his negative thoughts and actions we open the door and welcome him into our lives.
Will you line your thoughts up with the positive promises of God today? Or will you continue to think on the fearful, negative thoughts that the enemy brings into your mind. The choice is yours. As Joshua said in Joshua 24:15: “....choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve....But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Today I choose to serve the Lord in my thoughts, words and actions!
Father, I thank You for delivering me from the power of darkness and conveying me into the kingdom of Your Son. I thank You that the devil and all his worldly cohorts no longer have any control over me. I am seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus and my home is not this world, I am just passing through. Thank You for changing my whole life when I was born again. I choose now to follow You, to live for You, to think like You and to act like You. You are my God; there is none above You nor beside You and my thoughts will be those of Your promises, not the negative fearful thoughts of the “what ifs” that the devil tries to shoot into my mind. His arrows of negativity are stopped through the helmet of salvation that You gave me when I was born again. I do not receive thoughts of defeat, discouragement, fear, anxiety or negativity. My thought are of peace, hope, and victory through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. I thank You for the victory!
Father, I pray today for those who may be struggling with fearful thoughts. I pray that they will saturate their minds with Your thoughts of peace and not evil, of victory and not defeat, of hope and not discouragement, for You came to give them life and that more abundantly. Father, help them to focus on Your ability within them to win over the attacks of the enemy in their lives. Help them to see You as the bigger and greater One that lives within them, bigger than anything the enemy would throw at them. Father, help them to replace the negative thoughts with the positive promises in Your word. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Choose to love the LORD your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
The power to choose! God has given us all a free will to choose those things that are the best for us. We each have 24 hours in every day and choices come up all throughout the day. What will we choose? Will we choose to live for Him or to live for ourselves, the world or even the devil? Will we choose to make healthy choices that will not only affect our futures, but the futures of our children and grandchildren? Choices and decisions lie within our power! What will they be?
Choices bring paychecks! When we choose to follow God we reap the benefits of God's blessings. When we choose healthy choices regarding our physical bodies we reap the benefits of good health. The choice to exercise produces a strong physical body. Good financial choices produce savings for the future; a retirement income and the security of being able to meet our obligations when we reach the age where we can no longer work to earn a living. Good, healthy choices produces the desired results: a good, healthy future!
What will you choose today?
I choose to spend time with the Lord to hear what He wants to say to me.
I choose to develop my relationship with Him because I love Him and want His will to be done in my life.
I choose to walk in His ways according to the principles laid out in His Word!
I choose to feed my physical body food that will fuel it for maximum performance!
I choose to exercise my body so it performs well throughout the remainder of my life.
I choose to love and receive those around me as Christ loved me and received me as I am.
I choose to walk in love, not hate towards my fellow man.
I choose to take control of my life before it takes control of me!
I choose to win in the challenges of life because God created me to be a winner!
I choose life over death; blessings over curses and gratitude over selfish desires!
The choices I make today will determine the quality of my tomorrows!
Father, I thank You for giving me the freedom to choose my path for today. Thank You for loving me so much that You didn't create me as a robot but You gave me the choice to make these decisions for myself. I pray that my choices today will reflect Your life within me and will line up with Your will for my life. Thank You for empowering me to win through proper choices. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, February 04, 2013
John 9:4, 5 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
I awoke this morning with Chris Tomlin's song, “I Will Rise” running through my mind. There is a reward that awaits every born again believer and it is the day that we rise to meet Jesus and spend eternity with Him, worshiping and praising Him and enjoying the good things that He has gone on to heaven to prepare for us. As I prayed this morning about that day the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “that day awaits you, but for now there is work to be done.”
Jesus said that He came for one specific reason and that was to do the works of Him who sent Him. He came to destroy the works of the devil and reconcile mankind back to the Father.
Works – Greek word ergon – means toil, occupation, enterprise, deed, task, accomplishment, employment, performance, work, labor, course of action. The miraculous accomplishments and deeds of Jesus are works of God implying power and might.
He said as long as He was in the world that He was the light of the world. As long as believers are still here we are the light of the world because the Light lives within us. We do the works of God because the Spirit of God lives within us empowering us to light up the world with His love, mercy and grace. He has given us the Light, Jesus Himself, to live within us through His Spirit, to be salt and light to those around us that need the Savior, that need to see Jesus with skin on and experience the love of God that never fails, never turns them away, never quits loving them or changes from love to hate. We are here to do the works of Him who sends us out into the world!
John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
The main focus on Jesus' mind was to do the work of His Father. When others around Him were talking about food His mind went to a totally different place; the place of spiritual, not physical needs. His Spirit's hunger had priority over His physical appetites. He found deep communion with God and in doing His Father's will. Applause and material acquisitions only satisfy temporarily, but spiritual food feeds a person's inner being where the need to connect with their heavenly Father resides. God created man with a need for Him and Him alone. That quest to find God and be content and satisfied within is a spiritual need, not physical. It can only be satisfied by meeting and communing with the Father through His Spirit. Jesus came to make the way possible for man to be re-connected spiritually with our heavenly Father. Now that He has gone back to heaven His Spirit has taken up residence within believers to continue the work of leading people back to Him.
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 has gone back to the Father and we are left here as His body to do the works that He did as He instructs us. His Spirit lives within us to lead us, guide us and empower us to do those same works. When we are doing those works He has given us the assurance that He is working with us by answering the prayers that we ask in His name that are needed to complete the works that He has called us to do. Will you join me in working while it is still day....while there is still time?
Father, I thank You for filling me with Your Spirit so that I might be equipped to do the works that Jesus did. I thank You for the equipping that is necessary to continue the work that He came to do, to destroy the works of the devil in people's lives. Father, I thank You for the many born again believers that are still on this earth working while there is still time to share the good news of the gospel with the lost. I thank You for showing us where to go and for telling us how to accomplish what needs to be done. Father, I pray that we will go out with boldness to tell others about Jesus, to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast the devil out of the oppressed and to raise the dead back to life again! Thank You for giving us the opportunity to work with You in establishing Your kingdom on this earth as it is in heaven. May Your will be done, Father, in the hearts and lives of the people that we come into contact with. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
The reward lies ahead of us, but for now there is work still to be done!
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