“It Is the Gift of God”

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6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. — Eph. 2:6-9 NIV

This is a familiar passage to most Christians, yet I wonder if we really grasp everything it says to us.  It explains to us why God saved us and raised us up. It was not just for our benefit, though that would have been more than enough.  He did it so He could show to us and the world the “incomparable riches of His grace”.  The greatest expression of that grace was God allowing Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to die on a cruel cross for our sins. It is that grace that has saved us, through faith.  Not our faith, His faith, His gift to us. That is why we can be sure that our salvation is eternal.  Thanks be to God that my salvation is not based on my faith, which is not always steadfast. It is based on His faith, which is steadfast and eternal.  If it were based on my faith, I could be saved today and lost tomorrow.  His faith is everlasting!

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;  it stands firm in the heavens. 90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;  you established the earth, and it endures. — Psalm 119:89-90

15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! — 2 Cor. 9:15

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

“Draw Near to God”

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8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded– James 4:8 NKJV

James 4:6-9 ISV

​The Old Testament law was given to show man that he could not live up to the perfection required for redemption.  Man could not and cannot do anything to save himself.  Those living in that time who thought they were doing a good enough job to satisfy God’s requirements for redemption were caught up in prideful thinking. They became so full of pride that they actually added laws to the ones God had already given.  We can only assume that they thought they were improving the situation, when, in fact, they were putting burdens on the people.  So, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who was full of grace and mercy.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14 NIV

We are saved by grace through faith and Jesus wants to continue to give us grace upon grace.16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. — John 1:16 NASB

It is this continued gift of grace that allows us to overcome the flesh and submit ourselves to God. Without it, we would be like the religious leaders of ancient times and become so full of pride that we would be useless in spreading the word of God. There is nothing in this world that is worthy of praise when it is compared to the joy and the hope that we have through Jesus Christ.

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” — 1 Cor. 1:30-31 NIV

If anything or anyone in this world brings us greater joy, pleasure and happiness than knowing Jesus, then we are double-minded.  We should mourn and wail while asking God to forgive us and bring our focus back on Him and Him alone.

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

“It Trains Us”

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12 It trains us to renounce ungodly living and worldly passions so that we might live sensible, honest, and godly lives in the present age – Titus 2:12 ISV 

Titus 2:11-14 ISV

We who have accepted Jesus are saved by grace through faith.  That offer is made available to everyone.  Once we accept the gift of salvation, there will be a change in the desires of our hearts. Worldly, material things will mean less and less to us as we allow the Holy Spirit to change us.  There will be things that we used to do, that will no longer hold any attraction for us. Whereas, before the flesh was in control and we followed after the things of the flesh, now, the Spirit is in control and we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  We now want to live a lifestyle that is upright and Godly.  If we have truly repented and turned from our sins, we will now focus on Jesus and use His lifestyle as an example for us to follow.  As Christians, we have a living God and Savior, a claim that no religion can make.  We have a high Priest who became flesh and has endured the same temptations that we endure.  Our hope, the hope of an eternity with Jesus, cannot be offered by any religion.  God, as Jesus, gave Himself to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify us. This purification process starts after we accept Him and continues as long as we are in the flesh.  We are being changed from “me first” creatures to “Jesus first, others second and us last”  images of the living God. The death and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled the law and brought the dispensation of grace.  There are those who will choose not to believe, but others will believe and turn to the Lord,  It is God’s desire that everyone should be saved and transformed into His image.

15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. — 2 Cor. 3:15-18 NIV

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

“Always Full of Grace”

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5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:5-6 NIV

As Christians, we need to be constantly reminded that the “outsiders” , those that have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior, are watching every move we make and listening to every word we say.  Not only to what we say but the tone of voice we use when we say it.  Every day, everywhere we go, we are witnessing.  Will our lifestyles attract others to Christ or cause them to turn away? Our conversations and our attitudes must be full of grace. The grace of God, in giving us Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior, is the one great difference between Christianity and worldly religions.  We are different.  We are the only ones who serve a living God.  No worldly religions make that claim. The fact that we serve a living Savior makes us accountable to Him.  That is why the name of Jesus always requires a decision.  When you hear that name, you either accept or reject Him, there is no middle ground.  This is a stand from which we cannot back down.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. — Matthew 10:32-33

We must hold our position and do it with grace and love. We must study the Scriptures so that we will be instantly ready to answer anyone and everyone who questions us.  Our whole lifestyles should be seasoned with salt, the great preservative and flavor enhancer.  If we are seasoned with salt, we will attract others to our living God and they will remain forever.

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

“Be Of One Mind, Live In Peace”

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11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings. 14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. — 2 Cor. 13:11-14 NIV​

Rejoice!  Isn’t it amazing that after all Paul has gone through and was still going through at this time, that he could say rejoice?  Through all the persecutions, beatings, attempts on his life and bearing the burden of wayward people in the churches he had established, Paul was still rejoicing and encouraging others to continue in faithfulness. One of our highest priorities as Christians should be to pray for and encourage others. Compared to what Paul went through and what our brothers and sisters in other countries are going through today, anything we have to suffer through is certainly “a light affliction”. Yet, some of us are so focused on our own problems that we walk around like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh thinking “Woe is me.”.  All of us need more encouragement and more reminding of who we are in Christ Jesus. We need to “zoom out” on our lives and look at the whole panorama that God has given us. The more time we spend focused on Jesus and others, the less time we will have to focus on our own issues. When we take time to fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we find that our spirits are lifted and we can truly rejoice.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.– Phil. 4:4-7

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

“His Indescribable Gift”

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15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!  ​- 2 Cor. 9:15 NLT​ 

2 Cor. 9:12-15 NLT

God doesn’t need our tithes, giving back to God and helping others is how we express our love for Him for all the wonderful things He has done and continues to do for us.  Jesus went about doing good and He expects us to do the same. We should cheerfully give expecting nothing in return.  Our acts of kindness in a world where lifestyles are based on greed will attract others to Jesus .  God doesn’t need any proof of who we are or where we are in our relationship with Him, we do these things to prove to ourselves and those around us that we are true, obedient followers of Jesus. This will show those around us that Jesus makes a difference in how we live and respond to others. We can only do this through the generosity of the grace God has shown to us  Acts of kindness will cause others to praise God and bring us joy. We should continually show forth the praises of God because of the indescribable gift He has given us. The gift of giving. Having received this gift of grace and mercy, we should pass it on to others for the glory of God.

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. — 1 Peter 2:9-10 NI​V

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

“Now Is The Time of God’s Favor”

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1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. — 2 Cor. 6:1​-​2 NIV​

Now is the time!  We are not promised the rest of today, much less tomorrow. As we go through our day, let’s take the time to look around..  As we look at each person God puts in our path, we should ask ourself this question:  Should I speak to this person about Jesus?  If we feel that little nudge from the Holy Spirit, don’t hesitate. Speak!  Buts, what ifs, and all those negative thoughts come from the devil. There is no guarantee that they will accept what we are saying, never has been, never will be.  We are not responsible for the results of our witnessing. It is our duty to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. There is a guarantee that God’s word will do exactly what it is supposed to do.

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,and do not return to it ​ without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.​ — Isaiah 55:10, 11 NIV​

We are sent to rescue the perishing.  Sometimes that requires talking with them.

20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. — James 5:20 NIV

“The City of the Living God”

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22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. – Hebrews:12:22 NLT

Hebrews 12:22-25 NLT

When God gave the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai, the children of Israel were warned not to touch the mountain or they would die.   Mt. Sinai represents the law and the law brings death.  

6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. — 2 Cor. 3:6 NIV​

Mt Zion is the heavenly Jerusalem and represents grace and salvation. We not only get to touch it but we are invited to join in the joyful assembly of those whose names are written in heaven.  When we come to Mt. Zion, it should remind us of coming to Jesus who shed His blood on the cross for us.  With His blood, He has cleansed us and clothed us in His righteousness.  He has mediated a new covenant that brings life, not death.  The Holy Spirit calls each of us to repent of our sins.  If we continually refuse to heed the warning, we run the risk that our consciences will become “seared over”.  At that point, the Holy Spirit will have no way to communicate with us and we can no longer hear the call to repentance.

2 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.​– 1 Timothy 4:2 NIV​

So, while we can still hear the call to repentance, let us run to the mountain of grace, fall on our knees and join in with the church of the firstborn worshiping our Savior and Lord.

1 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. — Psalm 48:1-2​ KJV

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

“More Grace and Peace”

May God give you more and more grace and peace. – 1 Peter 1:2b NLT 

1 Peter 1:1-4 NLT

How are we supposed to live a holy lifestyle in today’s world?  We are bombarded by filth and violence continuously. How do we find grace and peace in abundance in our world today? By accessing the Divine power that raised Jesus from the dead and now gives us everything we need for a Godly life here and now. The word translated “life” here in verse three is the Greek word “zoe” and it means life that is real and genuine, a life full and complete, devoted to God, blessed, even in this world when we put our trust in Christ, and it will be consummated after the resurrection into a more perfect body that will last forever. God has given us “very great and precious” promises so that we can participate in the Divine nature because we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We have been redeemed and cleansed from the corruption of this world and the evil desires of our flesh. In and of ourselves, we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Jesus Christ.

13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. — Phil. 4:13 NIV

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

“Called To Be His People”

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,​ 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called​ ​to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name​ ​of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:​ 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.—1 Cor. 1:1-3 (NIV)

Paul founded the Church at Corinth on his second missionary journey in A.D. 50 -51. While he was in Ephesus on his 3rd missionary journey, he received some negative reports concerning the morality of the believers there. He immediately sent Timothy to correct the situation at Corinth. He also wrote this letter to the church, probably thinking that it would arrive before Timothy got there. The members of the church were starting to return to the old ways of idol worship. In particular, the immorality with the temple prostitutes and overindulgence in both food and drink. But, if we read verse 2 very carefully, we find that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote this letter to me and you. It reads: “to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.” That includes us and we should take it as a stern warning not to go back to our old ways. While we may not have shrines where all types of immoral acts are carried out, we have more than enough idols of our own making. Each one of us needs to take a few minutes and ask God the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the idol(s) that are standing between us and our God.

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)

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