“For You Have Been Born Again”

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23 For you have been born again-1 Peter 1:23a ISV
Having received Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are being purif

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ed by His grace and His love. He has placed His Spirit within us to teach us to love others as He loves us.  This change will not come overnight, but it will come if we practice listening to and following the Holy Spirit.  Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to teach us all truth.  As we obey that voice of truth that is within us, we will learn to appreciate the love that Jesus has for us and we will reciprocate by showing that love to others.  At first, it may just be words that we speak, but as we allow the Holy Spirit to be a bigger part of our life, we will find that we really do love and care for others.  With humility and patience, that love will evolve into something similar, but not nearly as great as the love that Jesus shows to us.  As John the Baptist said about Jesus “He must increase, I must decrease”. so, it must be true in our lives as well.  We must think of ourselves less and less and of Jesus and others more and more. The flesh perishes and decreases while the Spirit is imperishable and increases.  This is the Word that was preached to us and is alive and living in us.  Everything will perish except the Word of Jesus, it will stand forever. Just as Jesus was determined to go to the cross knowing that glory awaited Him on the other side, we need to be firm in our stand regardless of the personal cost knowing the hope that we have to spend an eternity with Him in His glory.

 

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. — Luke 9:51 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 08-21-2018

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. – Col 3:12 ISV
The characteristics that Paul talks about here are totally contrary to the flesh. Yet, these are the goals that we should be striving toward in our daily walk with Jesus. All of us have certain areas in which God has gifted us and the change from natural to spiritual in these areas are easier for us than for others.  The flesh is stubborn and wants to hold onto the old ways. Nevertheless, we must strive every day to improve in all of the areas. Being humble is hard for the flesh. When we do good deeds, we want to be recognized and praised for those good deeds. But, we must remember that we are doing these things for Jesus and laying up our rewards in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. —  Matt. 6:2-4

Probably the toughest of all of these things is to learn to truly forgive.  We say that we have forgiven those who have hurt us, but how do we treat that person after we have said those words.  Does remembering the incident still cause you to act differently toward that person?  Forgiveness is not a pardon for the person’s wrong,  It is not saying that what they did is okay.  It is saying that we all make mistakes and we all need forgiveness at times, so we should forgive others because of the forgiveness we have experienced in our lives, particularly, the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus. We need to forgive for our own benefit and not allow a root of bitterness to grow in our hearts that satan can use to destroy relationships with others and eventually destroy us.

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. — Ephesians 4:31

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-06-2018

Strong Ties of Love

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 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. – Col. 2:2a NLT
 
Paul continually intercedes with God for the churches that he has planted and for those churches that his coworkers have planted. He realizes that when there are only a few believers present, it is easy for them to become discouraged and start to drop out.  He wants them to be encouraged and united in love. All Christians, particularly new Christians need to be encouraged and taught the riches of the Gospel.  We do new converts a disservice when we fail to mentor them in their walk with Christ. The world, satan and his gang are going to immediately start a concentrated effort to make the new converts doubt that there has been a change in their lives.  We must strive to get them rooted and established in the depth of the riches of the word of God. If we or they are not consistent in our study and our walk with God, it is easy for satan to separate us and make our lives to be miserable and ineffective for God. We must understand and teach others that regardless of our own feelings and the exterior circumstances, there is great wisdom and greater joy in serving Jesus and living a lifestyle that follows His example. Just a glimpse of the vast expanse and depth of His love and power should be sufficient reason for us to carry on.
 

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 06-27-2018

“Love The Lord Thy God…..”

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9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. — Hebrews 13:9, 10 NIV

Ever since lucifer revolted and was thrown out of heaven, there have been those who disagree with God.  This will continue to be true until Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom here on earth.  They teach all kinds of differing philosophies in an effort to deceive people.  Some are openly opposed to the Bible and easily discerned. There are those that are very subtle in the way they teach their beliefs and the misconceptions are hard to discern.  Everyone needs to believe in something and therefore everyone establishes someone or something as their “god”.  There are those who will never consciously admit that they have an allegiance to some false deity because they do not want to be accountable to anyone or anything.  They choose to think that they are “in control” of their lives. No matter what we hear, it is our responsibility to pray for a discerning Spirit so that we will not be misled. It is up to each of us to decide who our god or gods are going to be.  Do not be deceived there is only one true and living God.  

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. — Gal. 6:7, 8 NIV

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ — Mark 12:29, 30 NIV

He created us and loves us so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross for us. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is now at the right hand of God interceding for us. He is the one God has chosen as worthy to be Lord. He and He alone is worthy of our allegiance, our praise and our worship.

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,  and by your will they were created and have their being.” 
— Rev. 4:11

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

 

Post 05-25-2018

“Love is A Debt We Owe”

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8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. — Romans 13:8-10 NIV

God is love, Jesus was God in the flesh, so Jesus is love and therefore He was the fulfillment of the law. The death of Jesus on the cross for our sins was love beyond our comprehension.  It wasn’t just love squared or love cubed, it was, and still is love to the power of infinity. The flesh is incapable of love in any degree, much less to the level of love that God has for us. Yet, we are instructed to work toward that goal. Is it a work  of futility?  For the flesh, yes.  For the Holy Spirit, no. While there is a plethora of emotions associated with love and acts of love, those feelings and emotions are not the reason we love. It is a decision we make. The death of Jesus on the cross was not a result of some emotional explosion in heaven, it was a decision made by the Trinity. Jesus paid all of our sin debt and we can never repay Him for that.  But, we still have a continuing debt that we can never pay in full. It is somewhat like a “full life” insurance policy. As long as you live, you owe regular payments on it.  Our debt of love will never be marked “Paid in Full”.  But we still need to be sure that it stays “paid up to date”.  Are we making regular, daily payments on our debt of love?

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 04-25-2018

“Love Hurts!”

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But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed. – Isaiah 53:5 NLT
Because   He loved us, God gave us His Son who loved us so much He gave His life for us.  He suffered the most painful, undignified death that one could suffer. Love hurts.  Despised, rejected, acquainted with deepest grief. Love hurts.  “Pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins, beaten so we could be made whole, ​and whipped so we could be healed.”  No one took His life from Him, He gave it freely. And still, He is rejected. Love hurts.  Redemption requires blood, blood requires wounds. Love hurts.  
​Our love for Him will cost us our lives which we freely lay down to gain eternal life with Him. But instead of wounds, we receive healing spiritually and physically. On a lesser scale, showing His love to others can cause us to be rejected and yes, even beaten and persecuted. Love hurts.  The difference?  He suffered alone but we are partners with Him when we suffer.
 
Partners

 
 Love Hurts​ but in the end, it brings glorious joy!

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 04-22-2018

Does My Love Reach the Mark?

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Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – 1 Cor. 13:7 NLT
 
What if our every thought had to pass a test before it could be converted to spoken words or to actions?
Does this thought show others that I have patience?
Does it show kindness?
Is it truthful?
Does it show concern?
Does it reflect my trust in God?
Does it show the hope I have in Jesus?
Will it help me or those around me to endure trials and persevere?

All the above should be answered with a “Yes”
All the below should be answered with a “No” 

Is it boastful? 
Does it make me appear to be envious?
Does it disrespect or harm others?
Is it just for my benefit?
Is it a knee jerk response to something that has angered me?
Is it a resentment caused by past actions?
If it fails in any area, we need to reconsider before we speak or act.

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ​ –​- Matt. 19:26 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 04-05-2018

Show God’s Love to Others

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If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. – 1 Cor. 13:3 NLT
 
Anyone can do good works and have good intentions. You can help people without getting involved in their lives. It seems that in today’s society, that is the preferred way to help. If we just throw some money at the issue, maybe it will go away. But, our example, Jesus, got involved. He knew and we are learning that money is not the cure for a sinful world. We can take vows of poverty and give away all we have, but if we don’t love, it is a useless endeavor. Our churches can exercise all the God-given gifts, but if we don’t show love, it will not bring others to Jesus. We tend to show others “love” when it is convenient and cost us very little in terms of investing time and touch. Before anyone can really show love, they must have the love of God in their hearts. True love comes only from God.16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.​ God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.  ​ – 1 John 4:16-17 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 04-04-2018

“Let Love Be Your Highest Goal”

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31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.​ ​

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.–1 Cor. 1​2:3​1-​1​3​:1 NIV

​In chapter 12, Paul has been explaining the importance of each individual in being part of the body of Christ. He ends chapter 12 with the instructions to desire the greater gifts. Before the translators came up with  divisions of chapters and verses, this would have been a continuation of Paul’s words without an interruption. Paul immediately launches into an elongated definition of love, giving us the “love” chapter of Corinthians 13. This is a pretty strong hint in what Paul considers to be the most important aspect of Christianity. Unless our words are backed up with actions of love, we are just making noise and creating much ado about nothing. Then Paul starts chapter 14 with this verse
 
Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy   –1 Cor. 14:1 NLT

Paul continues his letter with a discussion of gifts and their use in  the church.  Remember that Paul wrote these two letters to the Corinthians because they were having issues in the church about gifts and who was the most important. So, right in the middle of this discourse on the body of Christ and the gifts God has given us, he pauses to emphasize that none of this is about us.  It is about serving God in love and unity. Use your gift in love to edify others, but don’t think that it makes you any more important than anyone else in the congregation.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post  04-03-2018

Show Them That You Care

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 14 But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself. – Gal. 4:14 NLT
 

In this letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds them that he became as much like them as possible without violating his conscience. In our words today, we would probably say that he spent time making friends and building a bridge of confidence so that they would be more willing to listen to him. As the saying goes “people have to know you care before they care what you know”. As it turns out, Paul got to spend quite a bit of time in southern Galatia because of his sickness that he developed. This may have been the beginning of what Paul later referred to as “a thorn in the flesh”. It was very possibly a severe eye disease causing some amount of pain and facial dis-figuration. Paul implies that it might have made some of the people treat him badly and others would have plucked out their own eye and given it to him. But Paul pushes on and asks them the same questions we must ask ourselves and others today. Does our telling you the truth make us your enemy? Or once you know and understand the truth, does it make any sense to turn away from it? Just as Paul did, we have to get the people to understand that our witnessing to them is not because we feel that we are better or more holy than they are. It is because Jesus died for all of us simply because He loved us enough to do that for us. And His love for us requires us to show that same love to others.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 01-09-2018