The New Is Here Now!

even-smaller-bug-light14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! — 2 Cor. 5:14-17 NIV

Our human, finite minds cannot fully grasp the height, depth and width of the kind of love that would cause God to send His only Son to die on a cross for our sins.  But, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are allowed  a glimpse into the depth of that love.  If we are truly convinced of that love, it should be more than enough to compel us to share His love and His story with others. He died for all of us and was raised again for our salvation.  If we truly believe this, then we no longer see others through our eyes but through the eyes of Christ. Once, before we accepted Jesus as our Lord, we saw Him as the world sees Him, just a good man and teacher, but when we received the Holy Spirit, we began to see Jesus in a whole new way. Everything and everyone around us looks different because we are or should be looking at those around us just as Jesus sees them.  As C S Lewis said:  “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”   Thus everything has become “new” to us.  But, in reality, what has become truly new is us. We are a new creation!  
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. — 1 Peter 1:23 NIV
​So, let us turn from our old, wicked ways and walk in the newness of life led by the Holy Spirit!​

Under His Wings

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19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds — Hebrews 10:19-24 NIV

God did not promise us that the way would always be smooth. In fact, Jesus told us just the opposite that we will have troubles in this world. He also told us that in Him we could have peace in the middle of all the troubles.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NIV
We have our God living inside of us to assure us that we can never be alone,  He is always with us. God is faithful to fulfill every promise He has ever made.  As Christians, we have a hope that no other belief system has.  All the other so called gods and leaders are dead.  Our God is a living God who has eyes to see, hears to ear and hands to touch and heal. Even more than that, He has a heart overflowing with love for His children. Because He has this incomprehensible love for us, He watches over us constantly. He speaks to us and carries us through the hard times.  He doesn’t always deliver us from trouble as quickly as we would like but, He always delivers. Don’t talk to God today, talk with Him. After you have praised and prayed, listen for His words to you. He wants to hold you, love you and shelter you under His wings.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday. — Psalm 91:4-6 NIV

I’ll Never Walk Alone

Post 08-27-2015

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

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

A Debt of Love

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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?
Post 08-09-2015

The Love Test

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4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails — 1 Cor. 13:4-8a NIV​

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? 
Does it make me appear to be envious?
​All the above should be answered with a “Yes”
All the below should be answered with a “No”​ 
Is it boastful? 
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

Post 07-21-2015

Mourn Together – Rejoice Together

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22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. — 1 Cor. 12:22-26 NIV

​Some of us feel​ that others are better qualified to do the work that God has gifted us to do.  There may be others who are better educated and better speakers than we are in the body and they might be able to do a “better” job from a human viewpoint. But there is no one who can be as effective as the person that God has called to do the job. Our churches, the body of Christ, are decreasing because we, the “called” are unwilling to tithe our time as well as our finances. The only way that we can show God and those around us that we truly love the Lord is to step up and do our part. Our part might be to mourn and pray because the body is suffering.  If that is your calling, then do it with fervency and passion. Be an Epaphras.

12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. — Col. 4:12 NIV

Then when victory comes, and it will. we can all rejoice together as one body!

Post 07-17-2015

Are We Doing Our Part?

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21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.—1 Cor. 12:21-2​2 NIV

​There is a reason for every part of the human body.  In today’s world, we know that there are parts of the body which we can live without. We can live without an appendix, but our excretory system will not function as well as it was designed to function with a healthy appendix. Scientists have now determined that the appendix holds good bacteria.  After a bout of diarrhea that destroys the good bacteria in the gut, the appendix repopulates the good bacteria. Tonsils and adenoids help prevent infections from entering the body. We have two eyes and two ears which suggest that we should watch and listen more than we talk. We can live with one eye and/or one ear, but we will be hampered in some areas.  The body of Christ is the same. It can function without everyone using the gift that God gave them to edify the body, but it will not be as effective as it should be. Each of us should seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit in determining and using the gift that God has given us. Then our part of Christ’s body (the congregation where we worship) will be helping and not hindering the work of the Kingdom.
The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.—1 Cor. 3:8,9 NIV
Post 07-16-2015

Don’t Just Sit There – Run!!!

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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

Post 07-06-2015

Give to Live – Live to Give

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13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.–Romans 12:13 NIV
​God has appointed each of us to be stewards of certain resources.  We should always remember that those resources originated from and belong to Him. We, as His children, are the distribution system He has chosen to use. How well we do that can have a direct result on how much of His resources we are allowed to manage.

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’–Matt. 25:21 NIV

​Our love and charity should begin at home.​

8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.–1 Tim. 5:8 NIV

Then, each church congregation should take care of it’s members.

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.–Gal. 6:9,10 NIV

Then, we​ are instructed to love our neighbors, which, in Biblical context, is everybody. We show this love by practicing hospitality to everyone.
It behooves each of us to ask the Holy Spirit to show us how to be better stewards of the resources God has given us.
Post 07-05-2105