“Love Your Neighbor”

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

“Never Pay Back Evil”

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable – Romans 12:17 NLT

Romans 12:17-21 NLT

When we feel that we have been wronged by someone, usually the first thing we feel is anger. Where we go from there depends on the habit patterns we have developed. Our flesh rises up and demands retribution. It takes a lot of prayer and practice to learn to respond and not react.  Most of us will never get it completely right and certainly not all the time. Nevertheless, our commitment to Jesus Christ requires us to keep trying. We must learn to make every attempt to bring about a peaceful resolution to the issue.  If the other(s) involved won’t allow this, then we must pray for them.  Never, never, never hold a grudge which will eventually become a root of bitterness in your life. The longer the root is allowed to stay there, the harder it is to remove. Revenge is God’s business, not ours and He never fails to take care of His business. God, alone, is good and He is the only one that can completely overcome evil. Forgive immediately, pray for as long as it takes and trust God with the rest.

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

“Bless And Do Not Curse”

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.—Romans 12:14 NIV​

Praying for and blessing those who persecute us is hard.  The flesh wants to scream, strike back and get revenge. Paul tells us this is a constant battle and we know from our own experiences that that is true. Why? Because the flesh wants what it wants and it doesn’t give up easily.

18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.–Romans 7:18-19 NIV 

We were born in sin into a sinful world. We are constantly tempted by the things we see, hear and read. That old father of liars, satan, knows where the chinks in our armor are and he pokes at us through those holes continuously. We are taught the “it’s all about me” philosophy on a daily basis. “You’re okay, I’m okay”  is a lie from the pits of hell. No one is okay without Jesus and no one can do Godly things without the leadership of the Holy Spirit. As long as we live in this old decaying tent of flesh, we will be tempted and we will have to fight a daily battle against those temptations. But, God has not left us alone to do this, He has made provisions for us. There is always a way out. 

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.–1 Cor. 10:12-13 NIV

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

“Led By the Spirit”

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.–Gal. 5:16-18 (NIV)

What does Paul mean when he says “walk by the Spirit”? To understand what Paul is talking about, we have to understand that every word we say and every conscious action we take is a direct result of a decision we have made. The decisions we make are a direct result of our thought patterns. Our thought patterns are controlled by what we spend the most time thinking about. We spend the most time thinking about what we feel is most important to us. The more we think about one thing, the more important it becomes to us. It becomes a cycle of our thoughts producing actions that produce more thoughts about the same thing. We are born in sin into a world that is saturated in sin. so we are going to have sinful thoughts. More and more of the things we hear and see are designed to tempt us to satisfy the flesh. But the flesh wants the things that are contrary to what the Holy Spirit knows that we need. The indwelling Spirit is there to guide us and help us break the sinful thought pattern. Does the Holy Spirit audibly speak to us? Yes, sometimes He does. But most of the time, He just nudges us with a whisper that we sometimes think is our own thought. Sometimes He has other Christians speak to us. Sometimes, He speaks to us through God’s Word. When we have humbled ourselves and seek His guidance, He will get the message to us. If we listen to hear and obey the message, we are being led by or “walking by the Spirit”.

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

“We Have Been Transformed”

15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. – Gal. 6:15 NLT

Gal. 6:11-18 NLT

Paul is still troubled by the religious leaders trying to get the new converts circumcised. They are only trying to impress others by an outward physical manifestation of their obedience to the law. If the people know they have been circumcised then they will assume that they still adhere to the tenets of the Old Testament law. This will keep the leaders and other non-believers from persecuting them. Since they didn’t keep the other points of the law, it really wasn’t about keeping the law at all. It was just something for the flesh to boast about.
Under the new covenant of grace, circumcision has no meaning. The only thing that matters is that now we are new creations. We must die daily and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our outward appearance is temporary and decaying daily. Once we shed this old tent, we will be like Jesus!

2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.—1 John 3:2-3 (NIV)

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

“You Took Me In”

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

Gal. 4:12-16 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.

“Now That You Know God”

9 So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? – Gal. 3:9 NLT

Galatians 3:8-11 NLT

Before we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we were enslaved by our sinful flesh, just as the Galatians were back then. Before Paul came into Galatia, they worshiped idols made by men and were in bondage to all sorts of immoral acts. Once, they accepted the Good News, they were free from that bondage. Paul had started churches in the area earlier. After he left the area, the people started to fall back into their old worldly ways, practicing useless traditions of men. Eat this , don’t eat that, do this on this day and not any other day, etc. Paul was writing to them to encourage them to continue on their new Spiritual journey. We see the same thing still happening today when the founder of a new church retires or moves on. We have to focus on Jesus and the Gospel message, not on the messenger. Except for Jesus, there never has been, isn’t now, and never will be a perfect man. We all fall and come up short. Just don’t make falling a lifestyle. Ask for the forgiveness that Jesus has already paid for and move on. Let’s learn to be “Jesus conscious” and not “sin-conscious”. If satan can keep us focused on our failures, he has won the battle and we will live defeated lives, Focus on Jesus, our Champion and our Defender. We can be more than conquerors.

15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.—2 Chron. 20:15 (NIV)

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

“Love Each Other”

17 This is my command: Love each other. – John 15:17 NLT

John 15:16-21 NLT

Are you getting the feeling that we are stuck on this “love” theme. Love the Father, love me, love each other? We are and we should be. After all, the author of the Bible is perfect, complete Love.

8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.–1 John 4:8 (NCV)

The world is full of hate. Those that walk in the flesh despise people that love. We have been chosen out of the world, but as long as we inhabit this fleshly tent, we will remain in the world. While we are here, it is our job to show the world love. Some of them will be drawn to Jesus through that, others will not be so kind. The name of Jesus is powerful. Every time a person hears that name, they have to make a decision. They will either be for Jesus or against Jesus. If they are against Jesus, they will offend and persecute us. We hear about it in the news every day. You can talk about religion all day and nobody cares, but just mention the Name of Jesus and there will be, there must be, a reaction. It gets personal because it is personal. It requires each of us to build a relationship with a living Savior that is founded on and built with LOVE!

“You Can Do Nothing”

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5 NLT

Branches

Jesus is the true vine. He has fulfilled the law and now we are branches grown from a new and different vine. We are in Christ Jesus once we accept the words Jesus has spoken. Jesus has removed all the old fruit from us and has made us clean. But we still need something more if we are going to produce good fruit. The flesh cannot of itself produce love, joy, kindness, long-suffering, or any of the other fruits listed in Galatians. There is no goodness in our flesh. For us to produce Holy Spirit fruit, we must have that Holy Spirit flowing through us just as a branch must have the sap from the tree flowing through it to be productive. When Jesus was here in the flesh, He could not physically be inside us, but the Holy Spirit can and does abide in us. That is why Jesus said that He must go to the Father so God could send His Spirit. As we we meditate on the word, the more fruit we produce and the fruit that we produce will be more like the vine.

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

Post 06-06-2020

“He Loved Them to the Very End”

He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. – John 13:1b NLT

John 13:1-3 NLT

Jesus never had any question about what His purpose was here on earth. This was decided before the beginning, He had laid aside all of His royalty in heaven and come to earth as Love incarnate. He lived a simple life doing what He saw the Father do and saying what the Father said. Now, the time for Him to return to His glory in Heaven was quickly approaching. He loved people with a love that our human minds cannot fully embrace. Even knowing that Judas would betray Him, He allowed Judas to be one of His disciples. The Father had given Him all authority over all things and He could have used it at any time. Yet, He stayed the course and died a cruel death for our redemption. He was love clothed in human flesh for our benefit. Through the blood of Jesus, we have access to that same love. Jesus was perfect and could love perfectly, we are imperfect and so we love imperfectly. But one day, we will love as He loves. Then we will know fully just as God knows us now. We need to practice showing love to others every day so they will be attracted to Jesus. Love will never fail.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.​ – 1 Cor 13:13​

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

Post 05-23-2020