Sunday, September 18, 2016

FAITH'S LIFE AND ACTION

(Hebrews 11:1) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is the reality. Faith is the assurance of what God tells us to hope for. Faith is the conviction of what we don't yet see. Faith is an action inside of our inner being that must act always. What we truly believe in our hearts, is what we truly act on. We may say one thing and do another, only because we don't truly believe what we say. We will ultimately act on what we truly believe in our heart of hearts.

Vincent Word Studies on faith: " Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing."

Faith comes to the child of God through the Holy Spirit coming to abide in him, as he believes in the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, as revealed in God's Word, the Bible. That faith will be tested sorely through fiery trials in this life, and genuine faith will be purified and shown to be what it is in that fiery furnace, just as it did for Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. What it may otherwise show to us, is that our faith was in the wrong place, and a genuine faith in the God of the Bible was never there. The book of Hebrews tested the Hebrew believer's heart, to see if they had this kind of faith, or were they rather holding on to the Jewish system and law rather than truly embracing the only true salvation through Jesus Christ. Did they truly "enter in?" (Hebrews 3:19-4:3). It's interesting to do a look at the list of faith actions listed in Hebrews 11, and see what faith - genuine faith in God - the confidence His Word is true and alive, the "assurance of things hoped for, and conviction of things not seen," produces in the lives of those who have it.

Look at all the action words of faith in the chapter and list them.
received, v. 12
understand, v.13
offered, v. 4
even in death still speaks, v. 4
was taken up, v. 5
pleased God, v. 5
constructed an ark, v. 7
condemned the world, v. 7
became heir of righteousness, v. 7
obeyed, v. 8
went out, not knowing where, v. 8
went to live in a foreign land, in tents, v. 9
looked for a city designed and built by God, v. 10
received power to conceive though past age, v. 11
considered God faithful Who promised, v. 11
had descendants born to him even though "as good as dead," v. 12
died in faith having not received promises but only greeted them afar, v. 13
considered themselves strangers and pilgrims on earth, v. 13
seek a homeland that is not on this earth, v. 14
desire a better country, v. 16
when tested offered up his only son, v. 17
considered God able to even raise the dead, in order to keep His Word, v. 19
received his son back again, v. 19
invoked future blessings, v. 20
blessed each of his sons, v. 21
prophesied of the exodus of Israelites and gave directions for his bones, v. 22
Moses hidden by parents, v. 23
no fear of the king's edict, v. 23
refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter, v. 24
choosing mistreatment over pleasures of sin, v. 25
left Egypt, not afraid of the king, v. 27
endured as seeing Him Who is invisible, v. 27
kept the passover and sprinkled the blood, v. 28
crossed the Red Sea on dry land, v. 29
encircled the walls of Jericho and they fell down, v. 30
gave friendly welcome to Israel spies, and did not perish, v. 31
conquered kingdoms, v. 33
enforced justice, v. 33
obtained promises, v. 33
stopped mouths of lions, v. 33
quenched the power of fire, v. 34
became mighty in war, v. 34
put foreign armies to flight, v. 34
received back their dead, v. 35
refused release from torture, v. 35
suffered mocking and flogging, chains and imprisonment, v. 36
were stoned, sawn in two, and killed with the sword, v. 37
went about in sheep and goat skins, destitute, afflicted, mistreated, v. 37
wandering about in desserts, mountains, and dens, caves of the earth, v. 38

Hebrews 11:39-40
(39) And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
(40) since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

How then, should we be, if we are born of this same Spirit, Who is a guarantee of an eternal inheritance, incorruptible, kept in Heaven for us. How should we walk, if indwelt, truly, by the Holy Spirit... the Spirit of the Holy God of the Bible? Is He truly living in your heart? Have you "entered into" that "rest of faith" in His work alone? No, not a set of beliefs about Him, but He Himself, indwelling you by the act of being born again. This chapter tells us there is evidence of that in our lives when put to the test. Faith always acts on what it truly believes. When one has the Spirit in them, living in them, counseling them, guiding them, leading them, then their actions will ultimately be in accordance with all He says to us in His Word, rejecting this world, and embracing His promises. "Whether we live or die we are the Lord's." (Philippians 1:20-22)

Hebrews 12:1-4
(1) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
(2) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(3) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
(4) In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

We don't "act on faith" trying to have faith in our faith, but faith acts in us and through us because it has to. It's true faith in our hearts produced by the Holy Spirit in us, convincing us of His Word, that it is true, that makes that Word as much or more of a reality to us than those things we see around us, that causes our actions to have to follow that conviction. It's because we know and are convinced. Not because we conjure up a faith in the power of our faith, as though we are gods and can make anything happen if we "believe" hard enough.

Those who are born again know. Those who aren't let themselves be convinced by another voice, another shepherd, not the true Shepherd. So eventually those who are of a different flock will reveal themselves.

John 10:1-5
(1) "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
(2) But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
(3) To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
(4) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
(5) A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."

How do you know if you're following the true Shepherd? Only by listening to His voice... His Word. If you disagree with His Word, you disagree with Him. If you hate His Word, you hate Him. If you neglect or deny His Word, you neglect or deny Him. If you take a man's word over His, disregarding His, then you are following another shepherd, one who is "the hired hand, and not a shepherd," but who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

John 10:10-15
(10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(11) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(12) He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
(13) He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
(14) I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
(15) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

If we follow the true Shepherd of our souls, and have His Spirit abiding in us, we have an assurance from Him that produces faith through anything we have to go through in this world, knowing we have a better inheritance waiting for us. We know that nothing or no one can snatch us out of His hand or take Him away from us or separate us from His love.

John 10:27-29
(27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
(28) I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
(29) My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

Romans 8:35-39
(35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
(36) As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
(37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(38) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
(39) nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Be careful who you listen to. Be careful where your faith is. The testing of it will prove it, not to God, as He knows all, but to our own hearts. If we fail the test, it causes us to look into His Word, to seek His face, to learn from Him, and to submit to Him. God will never fail us. If we ask Him for true faith, He will give it. It's not about whether or not we are strong enough, or how much we can endure. It's about His indwelling presence and His strength, endurance, and faithfulness, and the knowing and conviction of things He promises. True faith allows all the dross to be taken away, and willingly allows itself to be refined in the fire, because it must. It can do nothing else. It says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68-69)

May the Lord cheer our hearts and encourage us in the day of evil, with His Word of faith and hope and love. "For, 'yet a little while, and the coming One will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." (Hebrews 10:37-39)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

LOVING OUR FATHER'S WILL

1 John 3:1-3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (2) Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (3) And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

I remember a time when I was in Bible college, earnestly seeking God's direction and will for my life. I wanted to do something great for Him. Was He calling me to be a missionary? A Pastor's wife? Did He have some fulltime ministry for me? I knew I wanted to give my whole life to serving Him, but how? I was on my knees at a prayer meeting asking Him, "Lord! Please show me what You are calling me to be!" That still small voice came to me, simply saying, "to be my child." I had been a Christian for 2 years. I had no idea what the Lord meant by that. I AM Your child Lord! What do you want me to be? But in my forty-some years of being a child of God, He has been showing me what it means to be His child. I am His child always, in every walk of life I am in, wherever that leads, and whatever work that calls me to, or whatever circumstance. I am His child.

An amazing thing - to be actually a child of God, His offspring, His inheritance, His own family. The world wrongfully talks about the "brotherhood of man" claiming God is the Father of all, but the Bible tells us differently. God truly is the creator of all, and calls all to be His children, but only those who are born of His seed and have His Spirit abiding in them are become His children. And we don't even fathom at this time what we will ultimately be when our redemption is complete. We only know we'll be like Him!

So what is He like? The "church" of today has apostasized from a Biblical Christianity to a postmodern Christianity, sadly, and they've made their own Jesus, whom they decide is much more fitting for their lifestyle, dreams, and ambitions in this life. They've thrown out the Bible, and created their own. They practice new age mysticism rather than having the Holy Spirit. But those who want to know the real Jesus, those who want to find Him in truth, know that the one source of finding that is the book He gave us to reveal His truth to us, to reveal Himself to us, to give us a revelation of all that He will do and has done from beginning of time to the end of time in this world. Those who are His true children have something in common, they love their Father's will. They love His Word. It is from this Word, and this Holy Spirit they are born again and receive new life.

When we become His child, it's because of a new birth. It is not a decision to join a church, or to join a Christian mindset, or an ideology, or to start fixing yourself up to look like what you define as a Christian. It is an act of God. It is not an act of man.

John 3:3-6 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (4) Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" (5) Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

God Himself has to give you that "right" or "power" to make you His child. You cannot just decide, "I'm going to be a child of God from now on. I'm going to follow God's law and go to church, and join with other Christians and clean up my life." It is when we see that we are so completely separated from Him, so lost, so full of sin that He could never call us His own, or have anything to do with us; and then we see that He alone out of His own love, His own sacrifice by His blood, made the only way that we could be justified before Him, cleansed from all our corruption, and that He being God, is able to, by His power, remove that sin "as far as the east is from the west" and give us a whole new nature, a divine nature, by coming into our hearts, renewing it, and dwelling there, making us a whole new creature in Christ. It is then we are His child. It is ONLY then.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

If we are His child it's because we are "of His seed." Just as we are the biological children of our parents because we are born of the seed of our father. Those born of the earthly seed of their father have characteristics of their father. They will resemble their earthly parents and people will recognize them as being a part of that family. Those who are of the seed of God will also have His characteristics growing in them, so that they will be recognized as part of His family.

1 John 3:7-10 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (8) 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. (9) 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. (10) 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.

These characteristics come about in them because of the "seed" in them. Not because of their strong enough willpower, or their strong enough faith to keep doing the right things or tow the line. But because of the Spirit of God Who now abides in them, Who remains in them forever.

John 14:16-17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, (17) 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.

Another characteristic of being His child is that the more we grow in this new life, the more we grow to be conformed to His image. We take on His nature, becoming like Him, and like Him, loving our Father's will (John 4:34). Doing His will becomes our desire, not something we must against our will submit to. We have our fleshly human nature, and there is always a battle with it. The flesh is always lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. If you are His child, you will have this battle raging in you. One who is not, does not have this battle. But His Spirit in us has power to raise us up above those fleshly lusts when we agree with Him and submit ourselves to Him, trusting in His power alone to "raise us up to newness of life." It's understanding our position in Him, as His child, and knowing what He has done in us (Ephesians 1-2) that enables us to walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh. It is not having a strong enough will, but being filled with His will through His Spirit. It is having a "renewed will," renewed by the Holy Spirit (Colossians 3:10, Titus 3:5).

Galatians 5:16-18 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) 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. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The more we walk in the Spirit, the more we love what He loves, the more we desire His will and to put away our own will. The more we trust our Father's will, the more we will love His will. The flesh desires what makes it feel good and comfortable and satisfies its lust or pride. When we see God's will, and love it, we are empowered to put aside the comforts and desires and pride of our flesh and embrace His will. The more we do so, the more the love for that will grows in our hearts.

Many times we find a conflict in our soul with our will vs. God's will. But as His child, we do want His will. We often let the flesh deceive us, however, in desiring to bring together His will and our own, and find ways to manipulate the Word of God to somehow convince ourselves His will is really the same as ours. We convince ourselves that God wants us to be happy and feel good, and have a good life, so He must want what we want for ourselves. Even though the Bible may tell us what we desire is sin, we somehow let our emotions guide us into believing a lie. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

How dangerous that is. How dangerous it is to get away from His Word - His light - His truth exposer. We cannot separate His Word from His will. We cannot separate His Word from Him. When we do we believe the lie our flesh and it's lust deceives us with. Sin is extremely deceitful and our only way of overcoming it is to abide in His Word, letting that Word, His will, fill our spirits. Many of His children don't resemble Him, sadly, because they have gotten away from listening to their Father's voice and began listening to the voice of a stranger. If they are truly His children, His Spirit will continually be calling them back to the truth of His Word, and though He may chastise for a time, it is for the purpose of restoring, as a loving Father Who chastises the children He loves. He will not let His children go. He will chastise and correct. Many of His children suffer needlessly because of following their own heart rather than their heavenly Father's. If they are His children, they will never feel comfortable outside of His will.

As His children, we will also suffer with Him, as Jesus suffered in this world. Because the world rejects God, they also reject His children. Because they hate the truth (which is Jesus Himself, and His Word), they will hate those who love the truth, who obey and cling to and keep His Word. Again we have a choice. Will we love our Father's will, even to suffer with Him, in order to do His will in this evil world? Will we give up our own will for happiness in this world, possibly losing all earthly possessions, or position, in order to embrace our Father's will and share in the same sufferings Jesus did? Will we share in His shame - the shame of the cross - with He, Who took on our shame? I think of the shame of my past sins, and cringe, and am so grateful that Jesus took all my shame. How can I say no to accepting the shame this world gives me for identifying with Him? As His child, I must take humiliation, ridicule, embarrassment, and all that the world does to me because I am His. I desire to do that with thanksgiving, knowing what an honor it is to be counted worthy to do so. I pray more each day that my Father will enable me to grow in my love for His will, no matter what it costs me. I pray for each of us that during this awful dark hour in this world, all the more we will stand in His light, embracing His will, no matter how much the world hates us for it. Father give us the power to do so, for it is You Who works in us to will and to do of Your good pleasure always.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS

"What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer"

There was a time in my life, before I was a Christian, when I was a teenager, that I was (as most teenagers are) in turmoil over boyfriends, friends, peer pressure, battling emotions I didn't understand, etc. and I would lay on my bed and look at a picture of Jesus I had on my wall, and say, "Jesus, You're the only one who I can trust. I just want you to be my friend." I was beginning to seek Him more and more and wanted to find Him, but didn't understand that I couldn't just make Jesus my friend. That still small voice which I didn't quite understand at the time, would say to me, "I can't be your friend because your sin separates you from me." I began to be drawn to my Bible. I couldn't resist it. I had to read it and find out how I could be a friend of Jesus.

So often today I see those who want to be a friend of Jesus, but not the Jesus of the Bible. He's the only real Jesus. He is indeed very real. He's a person, not a religion. And He is indeed wanting to be your friend, and has made the way Himself so that though He is perfectly holy, without sin, and cannot tolerate sin in His presence, you can come to Him, and be made perfectly acceptable to Him. You can be a friend of the real Jesus. But rather than seek the real Jesus, people today want to make one up that is more to their liking. They want a fictional Jesus they find in a novel, or a very charismatic preacher tries to give them. They, don't want the real Jesus to judge their sin, or to tell them it must be repented of.

As I read my Bible I saw how grave my sin was. Nobody had to tell me I was a sinner. Today if someone tries to tell you that your sin separates you from God's love and friendship, they are accused of being hateful and judging. We are all sinners, and God is the One judging. A true Christian is only trying to tell you of His judgment, in order to let you know also of His remedy, His own sacrifice of blood - His own blood - for your sin, in order that you could simply come to Him in faith, accepting Who He is, what He did, and trust in Him to save you from that sure judgment. I'm so glad Jesus told me of my sin, convicted me of it, and led me to find His love.

In fact as I read God's law, I was gripped with how separated from God I was. I was gripped with my sin and its sure judgment, and so much so that I feared there was no hope for me. I thought I was beyond saving. I knew I had done things worthy of death according to His Word. I knew I was sure to end up in hell if I died. Many don't want to believe in hell. A loving God wouldn't send people to hell. But what they don't know is that a loving God did all for them, paid the ultimate price giving His own body to torture and rejection and a horrible death, completely undeserved, so that they could escape hell. It wasn't made for those He created to love. It was not intended for those He created to enjoy His glory forever. Hell is the ultimate separation from God. God is life, He is love, He is light, He is the One Who created all things for our enjoyment and pleasure, and they are not without Him. Right now the rain falls on the just and the unjust. All of life's good things, all that we see and enjoy, and even light itself, is enjoyed by those who love God as well as those who hate Him - for a time. Because of God's goodness He is giving much time for all to hear the Gospel and be saved, yet those who refuse, choose hell - eternal separation from Him. That is eternal darkness of the soul, no light, no pleasure, nothing that satisfies the passions or desires, no food, no love, nobody. All He created you for you rejected willfully. You chose rather to abuse and pervert His creation now for your own selfish passion, rather than to see that He gave it to reveal Himself and His love to you and to call you to an eternal inheritance with Him.

Well, after a couple years of terrible fear of death and condemnation in those teen years, I continued being drawn to God, seeking to find Him, asking Him to show me how, to show me the truth, and one day I was led to a church where I heard the Good news - the Gospel which means good news, and I was shown a Scripture, John 3:16, that told me I could indeed be completely forgiven and set free from my sin. This after trying to clean myself up, and to live like a Christian, which was not working at all. I kept stumbling. I kept falling into sin. I could not change my heart. But this day, I was shown something that changed me forever.

John 3:14-18
(14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
(15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
(16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

As I read those words, this woman said to me, "are you a whosoever?" I said, "yes." She then said, "then put your name in there and read those words again." So I read again, "that if Ginny believes in Him she should not perish but have eternal life." That happened in December of 1971. I had no idea that day of what would become of it, but I knew I was different. After reading those words, I put my faith in His forgiveness, and surrendered my life to Him. I invited Him into my heart, and He came in. I knew that He was there, that finally, this real Jesus, this Jesus of the Bible, this Jesus Who said these words, and spoke them clearly to me that day, was now my friend, and would be forever. What I did not know yet was just how wonderful He would be in revealing and manifesting His presence and love in my heart. I was not alone anymore. I was becoming more and more aware of this presence in me, of the fellowship I was having with Him in my soul.

John 14:23
(23) Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Jesus had come into me and made His abode in me. Though I sought Him, I now know it was He all along drawing me, knocking at the door of my heart, waiting for me to open it to let Him in.

Revelation 3:20
(20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Now He was in my heart supping with me and me with Him. And over the years, that love and fellowship has grown. If one only has a religion or a philosophy of life, or an ideology, they can change it. But when one becomes a new creation through an act of God coming into them to dwell in their very inner being and give them a new heart, there is a life that grows and blossoms until it reaches its eternal goal, living right in the very presence and home of God, in heaven where He dwells, forever enjoying His perfection, all He is, and all the life and love He intended for His creation.

"Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer"

How grieved the Lord must be at those who He reaches out to continually, still giving them life and hope to find Him, bearing with their sins and blasphemies against Him, reaching out to them through others who try to bring them His Word of life, yet they call it hate speech, they turn it away, and they turn to the most perverted evils instead to fill up their passions and lust which will never be satisfied, becoming more and more hardened against all the life He wants to give them, and the true satisfaction their heart yearns for. They don't understand that they were created with a huge vacuum that can only be filled with His own presence living in them. So they go on to justify and fill themselves with the most perverted evils, until they are hopelessly lost and can no longer be reached or persuaded with the truth.

Love, hate, judging, all these words have been perverted by the enemy of our souls in order to turn people away from their creator and redeemer, in order to pervert the truth and the love of God. But God reaches out still, to whosoever will, to come and receive freely, to drink of the fountain of life, freely, to sup with Him and learn of Him.

Matthew 11:28-30
(28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
(30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

But who will come? Some think by turning away those who tell them of God's judgment of sin, and not listening to it they will escape it, but they don't realize they are already condemned and all they are trying to do is let you know you don't have to be! You have to understand your condition before you can understand your deliverance and salvation. It's hard to hear. It's hard to come into the light and see yourself. It's the most painful thing in the world. But it's the truth that will set your free. We're not trying to judge you, we're trying to show you the way out of His judgment.

John 3:17-21
(17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
(19) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
(20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
(21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Thank You Jesus, for being a true friend to me. Thank You for showing me my awful sinful selfish heart. Thank You for making me to see it even when I didn't want to see it or acknowledge it. Thank You for showing me Yourself, Your love, Your truth, and coming into my heart to abide in me forever! What a precious gift! I cannot fathom the wonderful things that are yet to come!

1 Corinthians 2:9-14 (9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
(10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
(11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
(12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
(13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

If you want to know this Friend, and make Him your true Friend forever, I plead with you to go find a Bible and read it, and read it as though you were having a conversation with God, asking Him to reveal Himself to you in it, and reveal to you the truth of your own heart, seeking His heart for you.

Friday, August 5, 2016

SOLID GROUND




"On Christ the solid rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand."

I once had a dream, a long time ago, when I was going through spiritual turmoil and confusion.  There were different doctrines being taught around me, books being passed around the church, people saying you have to listen to this person!  He has true victory for your life!  But something was strange about it.  Yet something about it seemed Biblical and drew me.  Always, in my inner being, there was a voice of warning, what many would call a "red flag."  Yet I was new in the Lord.  I didn't yet know how to discern, and I didn't yet know my Bible well enough.  I knew one thing. I loved the Lord and wanted all He had for me.  And I knew His Word gave me that, if only I understood it correctly.  I knew whatever He had for me, it had to be in line with His Word.  Somehow early on in my life, even before I became a Christian, I knew the Bible, God's Word, was the truth, and all truth was to be found in it, and anything that went against it was a lie and to be turned away. 

Matthew 7:24-27
(24) "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
(25) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
(26) And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
(27) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

So back to my dream.  I was in a cloud, my feet were slipping and there was no solid ground under them. I was desperately trying to find my way through it but all I could see was the fog and darkness.  Every step I took I would fall a little further down and find nothing to put my feet on to hold me.  I cried out, "Oh Lord!  I feel like I'm falling!" Suddenly God's hands appeared to me through the fog reaching out to me.  I heard His voice saying, "Here, take my hand."  I grasped His hand and He held my hand tightly and though I still could not see through the fog, I was no longer afraid, and I felt secure.  I knew even if I could not see through the darkness and fog, that He had my hand and would lead me Himself, because He could see the way clearly.  When I woke up I immediately knew that God had spoken to me to trust Him to guide me through it all, through the subtle deceptions to what was truth and what was not.  If only I leaned on His sure Word, it was my solid place to put my feet down.  Feelings, men's teachings, what appeared right to the senses, what appeared right according to human reasoning, and even what appeared spiritually good, was all nothing but fog.  My own understanding was nothing but fog.  But God's Word, understood and trusted in, was a strong hand to lead me through the fog of this world.  I wrote a song out of that dream and experience which came from this Scripture that the Lord gave me to cling to.

Psalms 27:13-14
(13)
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
(14) Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
 
The song was entitled "I Am Still Confident."  The chorus said, "I am still confident in this, that I will see the goodness of the Lord."  I knew if I trusted His Word, His hand, and waited on Him, I would see His goodness in the end.  And I did.  There were many temptations, struggles, and decisions I was forced to make, yet the Lord showed the way through them, and always brought me back to His Word.  There were many false teachers, prophets and deceivers whose path the Lord brought me under, yet through each one He showed me the contrast of them with His Word.  I had to choose each time.  Would I listen to them, or God's sure Word...His solid ground.  There was one sure footing through all, that brought me through all...His Word. 

Many today try to do away with that Word, saying they don't need it because they have His Spirit.  But His Spirit is the One Who leads us to that Word where we learn of Him.  His Spirit is not a subjective voice or spiritual experience that leads us to neglect or deny it.  His Spirit and His Word are one.  Jesus is the living Word, and His written Word was given to us by His Spirit.  They are all one.  To deny one is to deny all.  To neglect one is to neglect all.  To put the word of a prophet, pastor, or teacher above His written Word is idolatry. 

In today's world, which I believe is the last of the last days that we are in, deception abounds, and if we don't have something solid to anchor us then we will be deceived.  If we rely on our own ability to discern or understand, we will be deceived.  Many times I was sure I was listening to the truth, and it seemed Biblical, but when the Lord drew me to His Word, true discernment and light came, the fog cleared and He exposed the deception.  It is the most humbling experience to find out you were deceived.  At one point I even felt hurt by God.  I felt as though God Himself deceived me, as I was sincerely praying for His revival and for His power in my life.  When finally He led me out of it, I saw it for what it was, and prayed, "Lord, I was seeking you sincerely, why did You let me be deceived?"  He led me to this verse in His Word...
Deuteronomy 13:1-4
(1)
"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,
(2) and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,'
(3) you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
(4) You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.
 

There are many "prophets" and "dreamers" today, showing signs and wonders, and claiming to have a new revelation from God, that we don't need the Bible anymore because we have their word, or the subjective inner voice of God's Spirit, which they claim can replace God's written Word and is to be more relied upon.  They don't say the words, "let us go after other gods," but they say the same as they draw people away from the God of the Bible to a false made up god in their own dreams and visions, telling people to trust in them instead of going to the Word to examine their dreams and visions and holding fast to His sure written Word that proves all things true or false.  When someone with discernment from that written Word by the Holy Spirit (the true Holy Spirit) confronts their error, those who try to correct are defamed and demonized before the church, and the church is told not to listen to them, and that they are of the devil, that they are "touching God's anointed."  They may even use portions of Scripture taken out of context or twisted to do this. But the Bible tells us to discern, to judge from His Word right from wrong, to uphold His Word, and nobody is above that...not even the apostle Paul thought himself to be above that...

Galatians 1:6-10
(6)
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
(7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
(8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
(9) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
(10) For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Are these teachers/prophets/apostles/dreamers seeking the approval of man, or God?  If God, then they would not be afraid to stand before His Word to have their word examined and proved true or false.  They would love God's Word and hold to it and be appalled and repentant to find themselves in error, and allow themselves to be corrected, rather taking the shame than to dishonor God and His Word.  When a person truly loves God, their defenses come down, and they would rather be humiliated than fail to please God.  If God is first, then they don't care what it costs them personally, but look to glorify God at their own expense.  Yet these deceivers build up a kingdom for themselves, drawing men to themselves, selling books, making thousands on gullible people, and all the while truly living for themselves, their own indulgences and pleasures and satisfying their own egos. They are self-deceived sociopaths.  And people allow themselves to be sucked in and deceived and brainwashed. 

There is one solid ground, one anchor of the soul to stand on, one place of surety and refuge, even though many times it means standing alone.  That is God's sure Word spoken by His true prophets, as they were inspired by His Spirit, which has been proved tried and true.  It never fails.  God always upholds His Word.  He will never fail it.  Even if a man has been a trustworthy teacher of the Word, he must be held accountable to that Word, for his own sake, to keep him on the right path, for the sake of the body of Christ, so they will not be led astray, and most of all for the honor and glory of God, and not man. 
We don't realize in our day how gullible we all are really.  I hear people parroting their favorite political leaders.  I wish they could hear themselves. It's as though they had a recording placed in their brains and all they do is parrot what they have been listening to, regardless of how false the information is.  They become pawns in the hands of manipulators and unwilling participators in their evil. They don't check out facts.  They don't listen critically to check to see if their sayings are true or false.  They aren't aware of the subtle strategies these people have learned in how to manipulate a crowd.  They are experts at it.  If you listen to one-sided propaganda, not comparing to what is actual facts, not looking at history, or records, but only their spin on what the other side is saying, you will not have the ability to discern or reason.  You are only allowing yourself to be brainwashed into a one-sided worldview. You are being convinced of a lie, and inoculated against any argument of facts or truth that will refute it.  You've been taught not to discern, but to let yourself be led.

There is our anchor, our solid ground, even with what is being said, politically, and that is God's Word.  It is how we test all things, with what is pleasing to Him or what is not.  Satan's tactics are to deceive by twisting truth, turning it backwards, calling good evil and evil good.  If we don't have a solid foundation for what we believe, we will be made to believe anything.  How do we know what is good?  In God's Word He tells us, clearly.  In His whole Word, not portions twisted to make them fit with humanistic goals. If we don't learn to systematically study His Word, understand it as a whole and with our hearts yielded to Him, we will be deceived in this age of deception.  Humanism is simply man's own worship of himself in rebellion to God.  Humanistic teachings sound reasonable to people who rebel against God, and live for their own selfisms.  These selfisms are even taught in the church, as the "gospel" of psychology, which is replacing the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and is opposed to it. When they are blended together, they turn the Gospel into a false gospel that is no gospel at all, but in fact annuls it.
Learn to recognize tactics and phrases that are often used over and over.  Teach yourselves to be alert to common arguments and analyze them carefully. Is the basis of their argument legitimate, or are they setting up a straw man argument?  Check out their premiss.

Check out these Scriptures in this regard.  We must understand and learn to recognize the wiles of the devil in order to not be deceived by them.
Ephesians 4:14, Mark 13:22; 2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Peter 2:1-3;

Jesus Himself, used the Word to rebuke the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness.  Though the devil tried to use the Word himself to tempt Jesus, he used it wrongly, as he always does, twisting its meaning to try to get Jesus to bow down to him and worship Him.  But Jesus knew the Word and its true meaning and used it rightly to discern and rebuke the enemy.  We must do the same, whether that false word is coming to us in our own minds or through men or women.  We must first discern the Word rightly in order to discern their false words and send them away. 
John 10:4-5
(4) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
(5) A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.


If we are not in His Word, familiar with it, understanding it, submitting to it, we will not recognize His voice, and we will end up following a stranger, whose voice may sound similar in our minds, yet it is not our Shepherd's voice at all. In fact it is the voice of the thief, disguised as the Shepherd.

John 10:10-11
(10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly
(11) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Father, draw us to Your Word, Your true and living Word, that gives life, that glorifies You, that reveals Your heart, Your will, Your promises, Your hope and salvation!  Convict those who have strayed from it, and open their eyes to Your truth.  I ask for a revival of love for Your Word, dear Lord.  I ask for it in Jesus name, amen. 


 

Monday, July 25, 2016

THE IMMEASURABLE POWER THAT WORKS IN US






Reading: Ephesians 1-2:10

Have you ever just meditated on all that the Bible says we have and are "in Christ?"  This morning as I do that I find it's more than this fleshly body can even contain!  The joy, the life, the love that we have in Him is unfathomable to our minds. Yes, we find it "immeasurable."  We cannot even contain it.  We find it a "joy unspeakable and full of glory."  Oh how much we need to lift ourselves, our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to those things, because they are every bit as tangible as the darkness, the depression, the sicknesses, the problems and trials that we face here in this world.  In fact they are more real, more lasting, and more certain than anything, IF we are in Christ Jesus.  Are you "in Christ?"  Can you say you have an assurance that you are, that He is in you?  If not, I have good news for you.  You can be sure. His Word gives us that assurance. We don't have to hope for it not knowing.  We don't have to look to ourselves and our goodness hoping it somehow outweighs our sins on that day.  We don't have to try to overlook or excuse our sins away as though if we hide them from ourselves or others, God will not see them either.  No, we can face our sins, our weaknesses, and our shortcomings head on, with humility, admitting them to this holy God, Who we know judges those sins.  In fear we face them, we come humbly before His cross.  We see them in contrast to His pure holiness and love, and righteous demands, and see that in no way we can measure up. In no way can we save ourselves.  Our own works are as filthy rags.  Then we look up to His cross.  We see that He took all our sin, it's ugliness and its penalty, on Himself (He Who knew no sin became sin for us), and then He imputed to us, all His perfect righteousness and goodness and holiness (that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ), 2 Corinthians 5:21. Yes, it is "too good to be true" except it IS TRUE!  All that is required is that we humble ourselves before Him when we see our sin, confess (agree with God) it to Him, taking His side, turning from sin and self to Him, in faith receiving in our hearts what He has done for us, through His blood, forgiving our sins, and trust Him to give us His Spirit to make us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  It is His work.  When we once become His child, as soon as we believe on Him, we have entered into a whole new realm.

Ephesians 1 and 2 tells us of this new realm, this new creation, what we have in Christ, as His own child now.  It tells us of the assurance we have of that salvation.  It tells us the power and completeness of it, in such detail that it cannot be denied.  It tells us the eternality of it.  It is a hope that is so wonderful that it "blows the mind."  It cannot be fully grasped, I don't think, by our finite minds, yet it can be believed and received and as we walk this life below, He makes it more and more real and manifested in us and to us, as we abide in Him in faith.  He created it, and He works it in us, and He finishes it.  We find relief in knowing it is not up to us to save ourselves, and we find all our power for living is in this hope that is a sure hope, this certainty that He will fulfill all.  Our hearts are filled with love and joy in Him then which gives us the power to walk through anything He calls us to.

Oh how the enemy tries to rob us of this power and take away our hope, filling us with doubts and fears, getting our eyes on ourselves and away from Him and all He is to us and in us.  He tries to get us ever doubting our salvation and looking inward striving harder and only producing a self-righteousness, rather than living in and rejoicing in the perfect completed salvation He has given us with assurance.

If you are in Christ, a child of God, through faith in Him, take a look at Ephesians 1 and 2 and ponder all that He has given you.  Jamieson, Faucett, and Brown commentary does a wonderful job of summarizing this...
Ephesians 1:3

The doxologies in almost all the Epistles imply the real sense of grace experienced by the writers and their readers (1 Peter 1:3). Ephesians 1:3-14 sets forth summarily the Gospel of the grace of God: the FATHER’S work of love, Ephesians 1:3 (choosing us to holiness, Ephesians 1:4  to sonship, Ephesians 1:5 to acceptance, Ephesians 1:6): the SON’S, Ephesians 1:7 (redemption, Ephesians 1:7; knowledge of the mystery of His will, Ephesians 1:9 an inheritance, Ephesians 1:11 the HOLY SPIRIT’S, Ephesians 1:13 (sealing, Ephesians 1:13 giving an earnest of the inheritance, Ephesians 1:14).

He goes on after describing what we have in Christ, our blessings, our inheritance, our guarantee, to pray that we would be made to truly see, by revelation, and grasp the power of this life in us, as though he were at a loss for words to really describe it fully, knowing only God can truly give that revelation in the heart of those who love Him, in verses 17-23.  That same power, that resurrection power, that raised Christ from the dead now permanently lives in us, and raises us up also with Christ to actually be seated with Him in the Heavenlies (Eph. 2: 4-6).  Yes, it is past tense... not future, although it is assured to be our future, it is also present... we are even now "seated with Him in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  He has placed us there already.  It is our position in Him.  It is a done deal, once He has made us His child and given us His Spirit.  He, Who is outside of all time, sees us there in Christ, and will never again see us outside of Christ.  He sees the imputed righteousness of His Son in us, and us in His Son, and all is accomplished.  We only now wait for our final redemption, the redemption of our bodies, when this "corruption shall put on incorruption" (1 Corinthian 15:50-54), and our bodies will be made like His, and we will be with Him forever, freed from sin and evil forever more. 

This blessed assurance and guarantee is the power of our Christian life.  It is the joy that we rejoice in always, even as we go through trials beyond what we think we can endure.  It is our endurance, our strength, our life, our joy, and our hope that never fails.  No wonder in Ephesians 6:10-18, he tells us to "be strong in the strength of His might," and to "put on the whole armor of God," which truly is a visual of all Ephesians 1-2 tells us... the assurance and hope of all we are and have in Christ.  In this alone can we stand, and walk, and overcome the enemy.  In this alone can we quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  In this alone can we pray and intercede for others.  In Him we live, and in Him we stand.

What an immeasurably great salvation He has given to us! What immeasurable power!  It is His power of resurrection!  There is nothing in this world or in ourselves that can hold it down!  Our humble thanks is not even enough dear Heavenly Father!  May our lives each day be pleasing to You as we look on this great love and salvation, yielding ourselves to You that Your glory may be manifested in us.

 
 

 

 

Friday, July 1, 2016

IT'S NO LONGER I WHO LIVE




For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:19-21)

 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

Our works - what are they? What do we see as works acceptable to God?  What works are in vain? What works were "prepared beforehand for us to do?" (Eph. 2:10).  We can heartily "serve the Lord" full of zeal, but all be works of flesh that count for nothing, and perhaps even be harmful to truly reaching people for Christ.  Many organizations have been started in the name of Jesus that are nothing but men's organizations and contrary to God's true Word.  None of us as Christians who love the Lord want that!  None of us wants to be an offense to the Gospel, even while we think we are sharing the Gospel.  Yet it happens.  While well-meaning, we can even drive someone further away from Christ.  We can misrepresent Him, as Peter did in the Garden of Gethsemane, acting of his own accord, when he struck a soldier with the sword, cutting off his ear, thinking to defend His Lord and thinking to serve Him.  We can be used by the devil, thinking we are speaking for God, as Peter did when he rebuked Jesus for saying He must die.  Shortly before, the Lord commended Him by saying the Father had revealed truth to him, when He proclaimed Jesus was the Son of God.  Now Jesus said, "Get behind me satan!" and stated that Peter did not have in mind the things of God but the things of man. 

Until we learn the meaning of what it is to be "in Christ" and "Christ in me" we also will not learn the works that are acceptable to God in our daily lives.  In fact what we perceive as works are not always the "works" He is looking for.  What we miss and don't necessarily call works, is His working in and through us in our normal daily lives, sometimes without us being aware.  How we respond to someone, how we reach out to someone, how we go about our chores in what frame of mind, faith, acceptance, disposition, these all are works that we don't think of as important, or even as "works."  Until He has worked in us the nature of Christ in the little things, how can we truly please Him in the big things?  If we grumble over the small tasks and the irritations of a normal day, forgetting to "put on Christ" how can we in Christ walk out as His representatives a true witness to those around us.  If we are not loving our families and the body of Christ how can we represent Christ?  We can zealously serve others all the while neglecting our relationships. All we do then, is wood, hay, and stubble, and lost.

To be in Christ is the theme of all of the apostle Paul's teaching.  All begins there.  We were crucified with Christ, to law, to sin, to ourselves and our self-pursuits, to this world, and to the devil's reach.  We were risen with Christ to Heavenly places where He is, where our true life is hidden.  It is past tense.  It is not something future, it is now as we were placed "in Christ."  If we don't walk and work in faith in this life, in the reality of it, and the power of it, and the life of Christ Himself in us, our works are dead works.  They are only flesh trying to please God.  Religious flesh cannot please God anymore than non-religious flesh. 

Only the works of Christ are acceptable to God.  Only HIS works are "good" works.  Only HIS righteousness is acceptable to God.  So only as it is His life working in us and through us to do His good will, can we be pleasing to God.  Only what is of faith can be pleasing to Him.  Our faith in Him through difficulties, learning to stand dressed in His full armor, learning to overcome by believing and embracing His promises, these are works empowered by the Holy Spirit in us.  When these are happening in us as a result of our abiding in Him, then true outward works are the natural fruit that will please Him and glorify Him to others.  Only He glorifies Himself, we cannot glorify Him with OUR works, but His through us.

Every day we are to be a "living sacrifice unto Him" - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

We present ourselves to God in faith, knowing He alone is the power in us, as we go about our day, that we would see ourselves as His vessel, that He is able to work through in every part of our daily life, not just when we are doing some "Christian service."  As I clean my house, I present myself to Him, to do it for His glory.  As I have conversations with those I encounter, I present myself to Him, that He can use as He will in those conversations, keeping me from saying anything that would not glorify Him or benefit another.  As I have free time, I present myself to Him, and make myself available to what He wants me to do with it.  I present my mind, my eyes, my ears, etc. to what is pleasing to Him.  Our works is everything that flows from us in thought, word, and deed, unto Christ out of our faith in Him.  Only as it is "Christ Who lives in me, and the life I now live I live by faith in Him" can I be pleasing to Him. 

We cannot work to sanctify ourselves.  By faith, rather, we work out in our daily lives that which He has worked in us.  "Sanctification is the imparting to us of God Himself by the Holy Spirit in the soul." - Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on 1 Peter 1:4.  Our sanctification is His life in us, and through us, and our working it out even as He works in us to "will and to do,"  by faith. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

We cannot work to keep ourselves, it is His power that keeps us through faith in His finished work alone, which is given by the presence of His Spirit in us through regeneration.  It is not a faith in our faith to keep us, but in His work in us and His power…a rest in the eternal life He has given to us and the power of His life in us. We walk in that faith in which His works flow, and respond to the Spirit He has given us as He works in us.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

We cannot work to justify ourselves before God.  Nor can we be perfected by or works.  O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Galatians 3:1-3)

It is Christ alone and His work, embraced through faith (a complete reliance in Him, all He is, and all He has done), that we are saved, that we are kept, that we are perfected.  His works were completed and accepted in Heaven.  We have been raised up with Him, in Him, and His work of righteousness becomes imputed to us, as we embrace and rely on all He is and has done, abiding in Him.   Only the fruit of His Spirit in us then is acceptable in Heaven.  Abiding in Him, is what enables us to bear fruit unto Him.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:4-8)

Father, enable us to see and grasp the life of Christ in us, the reality of our being "seated in Heavenly places with Christ" and abide in You daily, that our works will not be burned up but well pleasing to You, on that day when we stand before You, and You are glorified in us! In Jesus name may it be so.  Amen.

 

Monday, June 13, 2016

PSALM 91

A little encouragement today in light of recent happenings in the news. It's so easy to become downhearted by it all, especially when good is called evil and evil good, and it seems lies prevail and truth is squashed and people believe the lies. Thank God we have a refuge and a fortress, a very present help in times of trouble. We can take shelter under His wings, and dwell in His secret place.