“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

“A Living Hope”

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3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. —– 1 Peter 1:3-5​ NIV

We should spend as much time as possible each day praying and praising God for all that He has done and is doing for us. We should make every effort to start and end our day with a conversation with God.  That prayer will lead us to praise and we will find that our days go so much better.  We, of all people, should be filled with praise and joy all day long.  We are the only ones with a hope of eternal life with a living Savior and Lord.  We have received this hope as a gift from God that was purchased with the death and resurrection of His Son. Through the blood of Christ, we have become sons and daughters of God and we have an eternal inheritance that “can never perish, spoil or fade”. No religion on this earth can make such an offer, a gift that is available to everyone but only received by those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are kept and shielded by God’s power.  That resurrection power will keep us until our “the coming of the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”.  Until that comes for each of us, we should practice the three Rs of Christianity:

Recall all the good things that God has done and is doing for us. Rest in His everlasting arms that will never fail to catch us. Rejoice because you are filled with the Holy Spirit and have eternal life.

If this doesn’t fill our hearts with joy and our mouths with praise, perhaps we need to re-examine our relationship with Jesus.

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

“Peacemakers Who Sow In Peace”

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17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. — James 3:17-18 NIV

As we read yesterday, wisdom is defined as more than just getting facts and knowledge of things, places and people,  It includes the ability to use that knowledge to make proper decisions that lead to correct actions.  We can have knowledge upon knowledge, but it is worthless, perhaps, even dangerous, if it is built on the wrong foundation, a foundation of inerrant knowledge. That is why the Holy Spirit, through the writer of Proverbs, tells us.

7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. ​– Prov. 4:710 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. — Prov. 9:10

So, we lay the foundation with knowledge, we build walls with wisdom and the finishing touch is understanding.  Therefore, we must be very sure that our knowledge is based on a foundation of knowledge that includes The Holy One (Jehovah God) and Jesus Christ. Then we must be sure that our wisdom comes from heaven.  We can know this if it is ” first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”‘  So, any so-called wisdom that advocates anything less than these qualities is not from heaven and is not of God. (Kind of reminds me of the parable of the houses — one built on the Rock and one built on the sand,) If we want others to recognize us as the children of God, then we must show love to our brothers and sisters.

10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. — 1 John 3:10

Since the wisdom that is from above is impartial, we must show love to all of our fellow human beings. This love requires us to be peacemakers.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,  for they will be called children of God. — Matt. 5:9

If we want to be obedient to our Father in heaven, we will endeavor to become peacemakers unless that action requires us to violate the Holy Scriptures. Jesus was/is the ultimate peacemaker, but He had limits as shown by His words to the Pharisees and His actions when chasing the traders out of the temple. He had perfect knowledge, perfect wisdom and perfect understanding.

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

“Because of His Mercy”

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. — Titus 3:3-​5a ​NIV

We are often reminded of the things we did in the past. The thing that causes us to remember can be a single word, a song, a picture, a place, a taste, or a chance meeting with someone we used to know.  Even though there is no situation that can ever be duplicated exactly as we remember it, the memories sometimes cause a great longing in us for “the good ole days”. But, as Christians, we need to be very selective in the memories we hold onto. Very few memories are neutral, they remind us of good times or bad times.  They also remind us of the evil that was in us before we accepted Jesus as our Savior and hopefully, as our Lord. If we can use our memories and experiences to glorify God, that is a wonderful thing. But we should be careful that when rehearsing our memories that they don’t give more glory to a sinful way of life than they do to the one who gave His life that we might have a glorious future with Him.

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. — Luke 8:38-39 NIV

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

“For This Very Reason”

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.— 2 Peter 1:5-​7 NIV

We have accepted Christ as our Savior, what now? We are now new creatures in Christ Jesus and the new creature needs different food.  Our fleshly desires will want us to continue in the old ways consuming the same old garbage, but these ways will not satisfy the new spiritual man. There will be a hunger and a thirst that we have not known before and that hunger and thirst can only be satisfied by the goodness of the Word of God. We need to add some spiritual food to our daily diet. Here in these verses, Peter has made us a short list of what is to be included. The list ends with love, which holds all the others together and without love, the diet would be incomplete and ineffective. We have been saved by grace through faith, now we need to add goodness and the knowledge of God. This is done by studying and meditating on the Word of God. It also includes prayer and conversations with other Christians. God has called each of us to a work that He planned for us long ago. But, first we need some training because God will never send us where He has not prepared us to go. We are sent to make disciples, but first, we must become disciples.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. — Romans 1:16 NIV

This verse must become alive in us and be the force that drives us to be a disciple. It can only be accomplished through “the power of God”. 

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

“So That I Might Live For God”

19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. – Gal. 2:19 NLT

Galatians 2:18-21 NLT

Paul continues his case against the law. There were three items in the Ark of the Covenant:

4 having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat;–Hebrews 9:4-5 (NASB)

Each of these items represented the rebellion of man against God. The manna reminds us that men had rejected God’s provision, men wanted more. Aaron’s rod reminds us that man had rejected God’s authority and the Tablets of the Ten Commandments remind us that men had rejected God’s standard of living, His Law. All of these were hidden under the mercy seat of the Ark. That mercy seat was a shadow of the Cross where Jesus died and put all of our sins and rebellion under His mercy and grace. Paul is saying that if we resurrect the law then we become transgressors. Jesus died to fulfill the law and put us under grace. If the law had been sufficient to redeem us then Jesus did die needlessly. But men have constantly rebelled against the law and against God. Man is incapable of obeying every part of the law, therefore we need a Savior. And, at just the right time, God sent His Son who died that we might be reconciled to Him.

2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.–2 Cor. 6:2 (NLT)

Under the law, man was separated from God, with no hope. But under grace, mercy and forgiveness is available to each of us. No matter what you have done or thought about doing, no matter where you are or where you have been, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart knocking, open up and let Him come in.

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with MeRev. 3:20 (NASB)

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

“Do You Want to Be Made Well”

6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” ​ – John 5:6 NKJV

I Have No One

This is an amazing story in more than one way. The name of the pool, Bethesda, can be translated as “house of grace” or “house of mercy”. It tells us of an amazing event that happened at certain times when the angel came down and stirred the water. It shows us God’s amazing grace when Jesus healed this man. But the most amazing thing is the man’s answer to Jesus’ question. “Do you want to be made well?” Here is a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. You would have thought his answer would have been more along the lines of “I certainly do” or “Yes, yes, yes, I do” But instead he goes in a completely different direction and says “I have no”. Does this type of answer sound vaguely familiar? When Jesus asks us to help with His work, is our answer, “I can’t talk to people about that”, I don’t have any abilities” or I don’t have the resources”? To those responses, Jesus says to us: “Take up your ______ and walk” We can fill in the blank with whatever excuse we used, our weakness, our inability, our brokenness, our lack. Just as Jesus healed this man, He will provide whatever we need to do whatever He has asked us to do. It is not about our abilities, but it is about our availability. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send more workers into the field.

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

Post 03-19-2020

“This Is How God Loved”

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[c] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. ​ – John 3:16 NLT

Eternal Life

The finite human mind finds it impossible to understand the infinite love, mercy and grace of the heavenly Father. If someone tells us facts about earthly things and we refuse to believe, how is it possible for that person to tell us about heavenly things? Without the Holy Spirit, it would be impossible. But, because of His great love for the creatures He created, God has made the salvation plan free and simple. He gave us His Son to redeem us from all our sins, past, present and future. Jesus is the perfect, eternal gift. When God looks at us, He sees us through the Perfect blood of Jesus, even though, in our flesh, we are not perfect, that is how He sees us. To those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, there is no condemnation nor can there be. Jesus came that we might be redeemed and have an abundant life here and hereafter. Start enjoying the freedom and liberty that we have now in Christ Jesus.

No Condemnation

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

Post 03-08-2020

“Take Others Out of the Fire”

23 Take others out of the fire, and save them. Show mercy mixed with fear to others, hating even their clothes which are dirty from sin. ​ – Jude 23 NCV

Jude 17-23 NCV

We live in the times Jude is describing in these verses. Everyday, we read more and more articles and hear more comments about people who either disrespect Christianity or refuse to believe in God. They are becoming much more militant in their actions each day, demanding more and more rights but at the same time wanting to limit the rights of others. They use all manner of deception and false claims that others are mistreating them. We must stand firm in our beliefs and refuse to compromise the truth that is laid out in the Scriptures. God has not changed His mind about what He knows to be sin. After all, does the Creator not know what actions will harm the creatures He so lovingly created? Which of us can say to the Creator, “hey, you made a mistake”? After all God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. We must encourage new believers to stand firm and grow in the faith. We do this with love and mercy, just as God has shown love and mercy to us. We “snatch others from the flames of judgment” by witnessing to them about Jesus. We must do this also with great love and mercy, not judging them for their sins, but showing them a different way of life. We must love the sinner and hate the sin just as God does. As we do this, we must be sure not to allow the sins to contaminate our lives​

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

Post 02-22-2020

“More and More Mercy”

2 May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.

Jude 1-4 NLT

Jude opens his letter with great humility. He identifies himself as a slave of Jesus Christ, which is how we should all feel. His heart is to deliver a message of salvation to the unknown community of people that he is addressing. But, because some false teachers had started teaching that God’s grace allows us to go on sinning as much and as often as we want to, he feels it is much more important to rebuke these teachers and correct their teaching. These teachers had not had a real experience of salvation that changed them from their sinful ways, they were not “new creatures” in Christ Jesus. While forgiveness and grace are certainly there for those of us who fall, it is not meant to allow us to live a sinful lifestyle. This would be in direct conflict with Romans 6:

1​ Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.–Romans 6:1-4​ ​(NLT)

Those who do these sinful things and teach this false doctrine are making a mockery of God’s grace that He has shown to us. As we are told in Galatians 6:

7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.– Gal. 6:7-8 (NLT)

So we must stand firm in what we know to be the truth. When we accept Jesus, we are no longer slaves to the flesh, we are “New creations” and now we are slaves to Christ Jesus and we walk in the Spirit. Do not be deceived by every “new” philosophy that comes along. Stand on the Rock and teach the Truth, even though it is no longer popular to do the right thing.

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

Post 02-18-2020