Jesus came to set us free from the captivity of our sins. When we spiritually died with Christ and we were raised up again, we were set free from the powers of this world. Our lifestyles should reflect that death and resurrection. We should live our lives free from old laws and traditions. As Jesus instructed Peter in Acts 11: 9 The voice spoke again from heaven, ‘Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.” But we must never let our liberty be a stumbling block to outsiders or those that are weaker. We should use our liberty in Jesus to attract others to Him. We are to be filled with the Spirit of the Living God and led by His directions. Only the love of God and His Spirit abiding in us can stop us from doing the evil things that the flesh continues to want to do. We should be Spirit-fed and Spirit-led. Will we be accused of trying to be little “Jesuses”? Probably so, but is there anyone better for us to attempt to imitate than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
Our attitude should always be one of obedience to God. This attitude should be reflected in our love and service to our fellow man. What that relationship is does not allow us to change the way we do things. We are working for Jesus, He is our only Master. If we can be sure that what we are doing and how we are doing it pleases Him, then He will give us an inheritance with Him as our reward. Working here on earth does not get us rewards from God in the here and now. Those rewards are laid up in heaven where nothing can destroy them. The blessings we receive here on earth are just that, they are blessings given to us freely by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
5 It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfill the oath he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.6 You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people. — Deut. 9:5, 6 NLT
It is very easy for us to read the account of the journey from Egypt to Canaan and criticize the children of Israel for all their stubbornness and lack of faith. God chose them, called them out of Egypt, provided for them and kept them safe by His own arm and great power. Their response was to moan and groan about the things they didn’t have instead of being thankful for what God was doing for them. Had it not have been for the prayers of Moses, God would have compeletely destroyed these people and started over with just the family of Moses. God reminds them that it is not because of any goodness in them that He has allowed them to come this far. It is because of the wickedness of the people that live in Canaan and the oath He has sworn to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Let us look at our lives today. How often do we, who live in the lap of luxury compared to ninety percent of the world, moan, groan and complain? How often do we consider what we don’t have instead of being thankful for what we do have? Let us honestly and truthfully consider our thoughts and how we spend our time and resources. Are we not just as stubborn and rebellious as these people were? If Jesus came to our house today, would He feel welcomed by what He sees or would He wonder if we even knew Him? If Jesus walked with us everyday, is there anything in our lifestyle that we would change? If the answer is “Yes”, then let’s not be stubborn, let’s change it today because Jesus is walking with us everywhere we go.
20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” — Matt. 28:20 NLT
17 “Jeremiah, get ready. Stand up and tell them everything I command you to say. Don’t be afraid of the people, or I will give you good reason to be afraid of them. 18 Today I am going to make you a strong city, an iron pillar, a bronze wall. You will be able to stand against everyone in the land: Judah’s kings, officers, priests, and the people of the land.19 They will fight against you, but they will not defeat you, because I am with you to protect you!” says the Lord. — Jeremiah 1:17-19 NCV
God had just told Jeremiah to go and tell the rulers and the people of Jersusalem that the city would soon be overrun with armies from the north. Once the disaster started, it would be over quickly, like water pouring from a pot that has been tipped over. It is understandable that Jeremiah probably was not too excited about delivering that message to the kings and their armies. Jeremiah would soon learn the lesson that we need to learn. God never sends us on a mission that He has not prepared us to go on. He never sends us alone, He is always with us. If He says we will not be defeated, then we can be assured that He will prevail for us. It is our weakest moments that God uses for His glory. He wants the odds against us winning to be so great that when we do win and the world sees it, they have no choice but to say that our God is the Great Almighty God. Jeremiah was told to “gird up his loins” (KJV) to prepare himself physically for the battle since he would be facing people. Since our warfare now is not against people but against spiritual rulers and demons, we are told to “gird up the loins of our minds”. (KJV).
13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. — 1 Peter 1:13 NLT
Whether the battle is physical or spiritual, the battle is not ours, it belongs to the Lord. He will overcome and we will not be defeated. But, just as Jeremiah was directed to stand up and deliver the message to the people, our instructions are the same. So, we need to prepare ourselves and our minds for the tricks of the devil and be ready to stand up and tell the world everything that God will give us to say.
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? 20 Listen, I received a command to bless;God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it! — Numbers 23:19, 20 NLT
God is the Creator, we are the created. We are bought and paid for with the blood of His Son, Jesus. He has every right, legal and anywise, to do with us as He pleases. He can, and does pour out blessings on those He chooses to bless and curses on those He chooses to curse. However, being a just God, He does not make random decsions out of anger or fits of jealousy. His decisions were made before the foundations of the earth were laid and they are based on HIs foreknowledge of our actions. He is never taken by surprise by any thoughts that we have or any actions that we commit. He can only reveal those decisions to us after the fact, so they often seem to be made in haste, but nothing could be further from the truth. Because of His great love for all of His creation, He has and still does warn us over and over about the consequences of unbelief and disobedience. The fact that He has complete foreknowledge of how we will respond has never and will never keep Him from warning us over and over and weeping over our disobedience. Recall what Jesus said about Jerusalem, how God had sent all the prophets to warn them and yet, they refused to be obedient and even murdered the prophets. Jesus wept bitter tears over Jerusalem saying “how often I have wanted to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not” (Matt. 23:37). He still gives us those warnings about greiving, bringing sorrow or rejecting the Holy Spirit.
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
. — Ephesians 4:30 NLT
So, let each of us today, make a new commitment to listening to and following the leadership of the Holy Spirit so that God will be pleased with us.
36 The almond buds and branches must all be of one piece with the center stem, and they must be hammered from pure gold.37 Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward.38 The lamp snuffers and trays must also be made of pure gold.39 You will need 75 pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. — Exodus 25:36-39 NLT
For those who think God has something against money, prosperity and being rich, here is something to think about. Seventy-five pounds of gold is 1200 ounces. On today’s market, gold is listed at $1114.30 per ounce. That means that in today’s world, the cost of the lampstand and all of its accessories would be $1,336,800 in US currency. Extravagant? If you own all the gold in the world, does extravagant even have a meaning? One could object that God took all this money from the poor, homeless Israelis. Why would He do that? But, we must remember when they were slaves in Egypt, they had nothing and when God called them out of Egypt, He caused the Egyptians to give the Israelis all of their jewelry and gold. He was the reason they had the gold in the first place, they were just carrying it for Him. The same is true of us today, anything that we have came from God and we are just carrying it for Him. The next time the offering plate is passed, we need to remember where our gold came from and give a goodly portion of it back. When we have an opportunity to share the bountiful gifts God has so freely given to us, let us share it with a joyful, thankful heart. Take a moment to remember and thank God for His extravagance in giving us His Son. We will never be able to give to God more than He has given to us. When we seriously think about it, God doesn’t really require much of us.
8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy,and to walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8 NLT
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor,so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. — 2 Cor. 8:8-11 NIV
God is not impressed by the amount of money that we give. He is impressed by the attitude that we have toward giving into His work. We see this from the story of the widow who gave her mite. A mite is thought to be equal to about one half of one of our pennies. Regardless of what the world thought about it’s worth, because of the attitude and the sacrifice the woman made, Jesus thought it was much more valuable than the gifts of those who gave out of their abundance. God doesn’t need us to return a portion of the money He has allowed us to be stewards over. He wants us to give out of love and a grateful heart. He wants us to give with joy and hilarity because of our relationship with Him. Just as we give gifts of time and money to those around us that we love, we should offer up the best of both to Him. Would we invite a special guest to dinner and give him/her leftovers? We have the most special guest that lives with us all the time. Why do think that He is happy with our leftovers? He gave His life, we must make every effort to give Him the best of what we have simply because we love Him.
12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. — 2 Cor. 8:12
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”—1 Cor. 1:10-12 (NIV)
The only way the church at Corinth or any church can be in unity is through the leadership of the Holy Spirit. As long as we follow after fleshly desires, we will each have our own opinion about every little thing. There have been churches that have split over such insignificant things as the color of the carpet. The world sees these things going on in the church and wonders, rightly, what we have that they don’t have. Before two or three people or a group of any size can be united, each individual has to be willing to give up their “rights”. When we go to church or to any group for that matter, we need to leave our egos at the door. As Christians, we do not receive a “bill of rights”. Our leader, Jesus Christ, modeled an attitude of service and good works. If our focus is on what Jesus wants and not what our flesh wants, we will be united in our worship and our service to the community. If we set this example, the world will want what we have. 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”—Matt. 20:28 (NIV)
— Post 04-23-2015