Stay Hungry, My Friends

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11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. — Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV

Jesus is the bread of life and the Scriptures are food for the redeemed of God. As babes in Christ, we need the milk of the Word, the verses that explain to us about our salvation. As we grow and mature (hopefully) , we need to dig deeper and learn about our responsibilities as followers of Christ.  Just as there are natural foods that we don’t care to eat, there are Scripture passages we don’t want to learn and adhere to.  Just as the natural man suffers without the proper nutrients, the Spiritual man suffers without a daily serving of different kinds of Scriptures.  We need scriptures that encourage us to study, meditate, pray, praise and teach us to be thankful for every second of our lives. Yes, it is hard to praise in distressful times, but it is necessary if the Spirit man inside us is going to grow. Just as we keep milk in our natural diet as we grow, we need to keep the “milk of the Word”, which is salvation, in our spiritual diets.  But the natural body needs more than milk and the Spiritual body needs to know that Jesus is more than just our Redeemer. He is our example, our righteousness, our shield, our rock, our strength, our healing, our Savior and He wants to be our Lord. To paraphrase Hebrews 5:14: “But solid food is for the mature, who by constantly eating the Word have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matt. 5:6 NIV
Post 08-24-2015

Trials and Temptations

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7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him — Hebrews 5:7-9 NIV

Jesus suffered​ many things in His walk here on earth. He was exposed to every temptation that we are exposed to but never sinned.  Again, we sometimes forget that Jesus was completely human when he suffered these temptations.  We need to be very careful in assuming that Jesus did not sin because He was all God as well as all man.  He suffered as a human. His sufferings taught Him obedience because he was totally submitted to the will of His Father. We might say that Jesus knew He was going to be tempted and suffer here on earth, so He had an advantage. But if we read, study and really believe the Scriptures, we also know that we are going to suffer. The difference is that we often give into the desires of the flesh rather than trust our Father to deliver us. Suffering is not to let God know what our response will be, He already knows.  It is so that we will know where we are in our walk with God. Our sufferings are not to be avoided, they are to be embraced. Testing and temptations are stepping stones to maturity and to help us become more intimate with Jesus.
 

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 NIV

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

— Romans 8:17, 18 NIV

Post 08-23-2105

LIVE!!

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14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV

Sometimes when we sin, whether intentionally or not, we are overwhelmed with guilt. We walk around for days carrying that heavy load, too ashamed to face our actions, confess our sins and ask God for His forgiveness.  That is exactly what satan wants us to do because in that condition, we are useless in witnessing for the Kingdom.   What we need most we are ashamed to ask for because we don’t deserve it. True, we don’t deserve forgiveness but God gives it to us because of His great love and mercy. Humans deserving forgiveness was never a part of God’s plan. Getting us to waste time trying to earn forgiveness is satan’s plan. As usual, satan couldn’t come up with anything original so he just takes the opposite stand on what God has done for us. We need to understand that the Holy Spirit does not make us feel guilty, what He brings to us is conviction that we have sinned and God is waiting, even longing to forgive us.  The times in our lives when we feel guilt is the most “needy” times in our lives. We need to be forgiven and restored so that we can fulfill the plan God has for each of us. Jesus came that we might have abundant lives which start with and always include forgiveness of our sins. Jesus wants us to live, really live a vibrant life for Him. If you spell “live” backward, you get “evil” which comes from satan and guilt is one of his most useful tools for defeating Christians. Don’t let satan cheat you out of an abundant life, get forgiven and get going. We have a Champion on our side who will never be defeated and we are covered with His righteousness. 
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels ​- Isaiah 61:10 NIV
Post 08-21-2015

Garbage In, Garbage Out

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12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. — Hebrews 4:12,13 NIV

​Since God​ knows our every thought we need to be very careful of the thought patterns that we allow to develop. Of course, thoughts drift into our mind and that is beyond our control to a point.  But we do have control over whether or not we dwell on those thoughts.  In Corinthians, we are instructed to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.  We can also take some control of our thought patterns by making better decisions about the things we read, the things we see, the conversations that we have and the people we associate with daily.  We must be careful that our pride doesn’t lead us into believing that we are influencing others more than they are influencing us. The things and the people that we spend the most time with are the ones that influence us the most. Pride says “I would never” but we all have at some time or other done or said those things that we are not proud of later.  Those things that we did and the words that we spoke are results of thought patterns that we have developed over the years.  We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us purify our hearts and minds. We can help by studying God’s Word and making it a bigger part of our daily thought patterns. 
11  I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you. — Psalm 119:11
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. — Psalm 51:10 NIV
 

23 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 4:7 NIV

23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. — Proverbs 4:23 NIV

No Turning Back

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12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. —- Hebrews 3:12-14 
When Jesus was still here on earth, He warned His disciples about being fooled by false prophets that would arise. These false prophets would claim that Jesus is coming this year or they may even claim to have seen Jesus.
 23 At that time, someone might say to you, ‘Look, there is the Christ!’ Or another person might say, ‘There he is!’ But don’t believe them. 24 False Christs and false prophets will come and perform great wonders and miracles. They will try to fool even the people God has chosen, if that is possible. 25 Now I have warned you about this before it happens. — Matthew 24:23-25 NIV
We have been forewarned of the danger of taking our salvation lightly.  We need to study the Word, pray and meditate on it daily.  Our flesh is weak and can be easily tempted to return to its old sinful ways.  It is up to us to “put on the full armor of God” every day.  The armor of God is designed to fight the spiritual battle that goes on in our minds all day long, every day.  

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  — 2 Cor. 10:3-5 NIV

Each day, we need to encourage each other and support each other with our prayers, so that we can persevere.

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. — Hebrews 10:35 NIV

Post 08-20-2015

Behold The Man!

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14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. — Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV

​Sometimes when I am reading about one of the great miracles that Jesus did when He was here on earth, I forget that He was a man just as we are. I want to attribute those miracles to someone with access to more power than we have access to. If I could truthfully do that then I would be relieved of trying to live up to His example. But, woe is me, because to do that would be to deny His full humanity and therefore, it would be a lie. So, I must agree with Jesus that I have access to the power that enables me to do “greater things than these”. 

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. — John 14:12 NIV

​I recognize the sins that I commit and I ask forgiveness for them. But how many times have I sinned by omitting or not doing what the Holy Spirit has asked me to do and used the excuse “I can’t”?  God is not a man that He should lie and He says that we can through His power. To believe anything less is to believe a lie. 
 
So, today, right now,  Father, I ask your forgiveness for those times when I could’ve and I should’ve but I didn’t.  Make me more aware when those situations arise again and arouse in me the boldness and power to do what you have asked me to do. Thank you for your forgiveness, your mercy and your love. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. — 1 John 1:8-10 NIV

Post 08-19-2015

When We Don’t Know What to Pray

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1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. — Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV

​Jesus provided purification for our sins when He hung on a cross.  From that cross, He announced that “it is finished”. His work here on earth was completed. God gloriously raised Jesus from the dead and He ascended into heaven. He is there now, at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us​. 
34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. — Romans 8:34 NIV
There are times in our lives when we become so frustrated or burdened that we do not how or what to pray. Those can be the times that our prayers are the most fervent and the most effective. God, in His great mercy and love for us, has made a way for us to pray at any time in any situation. When we reach the place where we are at a loss as to what to say or pray. the Holy Spirit prays through us and for us.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. — Romans 8:26,27 NIV

When we are praying and we literally run out of words to say, we should stop and consider this fact:  The complete Trinity is involved in every prayer we pray. The Holy Spirit takes our stumbling, bumbling mutterings and groans. He cleans them up and presents them to the Father as Jesus watches and intercedes on our behalf. A simple prayer is sufficient since God already knows what we need. Peter’s prayer “Lord, save Me!” moved Jesus to save him from the angry waves and those three words are still enough to bring salvation.
Post 08-18-2015