Saturday, May 31, 2014

1 Thessalonians 3:12

1 Thessalonians 3:12 – May the Lord make your Love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

         In this passage we see Paul praying for believers; that our Love may increase and overflow, first for each other and then to everyone else. We, as Christians, need to walk in Love. Too many of us fight over trivial things and hold onto past experiences. We try to go to the world to show them Jesus, and in the end all we show them is that we cannot get along with each other.
         Jesus told us that the world will know that we are His followers by the Love we have for each other. How is that going to work if we aren’t showing that Love? People are looking for a place to feel accepted and Loved. That place should be in the body of Christ.
         In Paul’s prayer he first prays for us to Love each other, then continues by adding, “And for everyone else.” That is not by accident. We must make the house of God look appealing and inviting. It should be a place that welcomes anyone who comes in. I’m not talking here about coming in to a building either. You take the body of Christ with you wherever you go, as you are part of it. I’m speaking to you as an individual inasmuch as I am talking to the body as a whole.
In order to welcome and Love those whom we come in contact with, we must put aside our differences and Love each other. If we Love each other, then when we Love others it will mean something, because it will be evident that you are not putting on a show. We are all rooted and established in God’s Love and it is time that we started walking in it every day.
So, as Paul prayed this prayer I also pray it for you: “May the Lord make your Love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” Love like Jesus Loves; not based on action, but on people!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

1 Thessalonians 2:4

1 Thessalonians 2:4 – On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests our hearts.

       Who are you trying to please? Fear of man is one of the biggest hindrances we face in our lives. Especially these days; you can be sued for saying the “wrong” thing. Every word you speak is scrutinized by those around you. People are looking to blame their situation on something or someone and you could end up being their target. So we do have to be careful of our words, but we also need to speak the truth. Who are you trying to please?
       As children of God our desire should be to please Him above all else. He should be our everything and the reality of it is that if you are relying on Him and trusting Him to lead you, He will also give you the words to say. As His children He has entrusted you with the gospel. That means that God trusts you to portray the message of His Son, Jesus, in a way that is glorifying to Him.
Think about your testimony. This is the story of how you came to know God and how God delivered you from who you were. Other people might try and share your story, but it will not be as accurate. They weren’t there; they didn’t experience the change in their heart the way you did. It’s possible that they could screw it up and portray you in a light that is contrary to your story.  Their portrayal of you might not even be dignifying.
That’s how it is for God when He entrusts you with the story of His Son. You weren’t there. Your interpretation is second hand, but He still trusts you. That is an honor that we should all take more seriously. So as you speak the gospel remember who you are trying to please and speak in a way that honors God.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

1 Thessalonians 1:3

1 Thessalonians 1:3 – We continually remember before our God and Father your works produced by faith, your labor prompted by Love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith, hope and Love; Paul mentions these as traits that the Thessalonians possess. He doesn't, however, just tell them, “I see these things in you.” When he talks about them he mentions them by the fruit they are producing in their lives. First he mentions faith, but he does so by the works that their faith produces. If your faith is real it will be followed with action. James says “You show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by what I do!!” His point being that there is no way to show your faith without doing something. Our actions prove our faith real. “Faith without works is dead.” Next Paul mentions their labor which he says is prompted by Love. Love is a lot like faith in the in the sense that it also should produce action. If you truly Love someone you will labor for them. You will do what you can to make their lives easier and more enjoyable. If you walk past a man sleeping on the street and say to him, “stay warm and well fed,” but then continue on and do nothing your words are hollow. They do not show Love. But if you see that same man and give him a blanket and a meal to eat your actions show that your words are sincere. Those same words will show Love because they are backed with action. Love without action is meaningless. Now Paul mentions endurance which comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Hope inspires us to keep going. Without hope we would lose the will to push on through the hard times. There is so much depression and suicide because too many people have lost their hope. Jesus gives us the hope we need to endure through life and we must pass it on to those around us. So it is important for us to possess these character traits as well; faith, hope and Love. It is not enough though to just have them, we must act on them. They must be proved real in our lives by our corresponding action.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Colossians 4:6

Colossians 4:6 – Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

       How would you describe your conversations? Are they full of grace? Are they seasoned with salt? What does it mean for our conversations to be seasoned with salt? There are a couple different ways to look at that. In order to answer that question we must first look at what salt is used for.
       First let’s look at salt as a preservative. In years past people would use salt to preserve meat and make it last longer. It would keep it from rotting so that it could be eaten at a later date. Today you will find salt in many things to prolong shelf life. In this sense salt prolongs the life of whatever it is put into. To look at the salt in our speech from this perspective would mean that our words bring life to people. Our words will prolong their life and keep them from “rotting” away.
       We also see salt used as a seasoning. It enhances the natural taste in foods so that they taste better and we want to eat more. Salt also makes us thirsty. In looking at it this way we see that our speech ought to be fresh and inviting, bringing out the natural flavor of Christ that is within us. Thus, our words will cause others to desire more. They will be hungry and thirsty to hear more of the Truth that you have within you.
As for being full of grace, you speech should not be judgmental or condemning. You must show Love to all and it should be evident through what you say. It is not your job to convict people, that job belongs to the Spirit. Your job is to represent Christ in all you do and let your words be full of life.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Colossians 3:23-24

Colossians 3:23-24 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

How many of you absolutely Love your job? There are some working their dream and doing something they enjoy, but for a lot of us that is simply not the case. We are working because we know we need to and we need an income.
Now, we may not mind our job, but we would prefer something different. Whatever your case may be, though, we all reach a point when we are exhausted. For whatever reason we have grown tired of what we do and, at least to an extent, dread going to work. I know I’ve been there. It can feel like our job is pointless in the overall scheme of things. That’s when this verse becomes most helpful.
This verse should always be at the forefront of our minds; but when we are growing weary of our job is when we need it most. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Let me ask you this: If God asked you to do something, would you do? Yes, of course we would. If we heard God speak audibly to us to tell us to do something we would jump at the opportunity to do it. And we would do it to the best of our ability.
Well, just because God doesn't always speak to us audibly doesn't mean He’s not directing your path. He has brought you to the place you are at. It is time to renew our minds to that thought and remember who we are serving. God has placed you where you are. You are His and He is yours. No matter what you find yourself doing, know that you are doing for Him.
Even though you have an earthly boss, you are ultimately serving a heavenly one. As we begin to see it this way our jobs become easier and more fulfilling, because we know that it is God we are serving.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Colossians 2:6-7

Colossians 2:6-7 – So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the Faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

       This passage opens up by addressing those who have received Christ in their lives already. If you have not yet received Him, that is your first step. For those of you who already know Him, this passage is for you. You already received Christ, but don’t let it stop there, continue to live in Him, as it says here, “rooted and built up in Him.”
       Let’s take a look at that for a moment. What does it mean to be “rooted” in Christ? Compare it to a plant. If you plant something in the ground you want to first check the soil. You know that if the soil is hard and full of clay you will need to prepare it first. If you want your plant to do well you must make sure the soil is rich and full of nutrients. You may have to add fertilizer or manure or something like that before you put your plant in the ground.
       See, your plant takes its life from the ground. Whatever is in the ground comes through the roots and feeds the rest of the plant. If the soil is good, the plant will be also; if the soil is bad, the plant will not survive.
       As we compare this with our life in Christ we see that He is the soil. If we are rooted in Him we will receive His life in our bodies and we will thrive. Just like with the plant though, there are other elements that contribute to a healthy life. But as long as we are rooted in Jesus we know that even if our “leaves” wither away due to life’s circumstances our roots will remain strong.
Then there is faith. It is through faith that we receive all the promises of God. Our faith is strengthened through Christ. All we have is given to us through Him, so be thankful. Be sure to give thanks in all things so that you will not take for granted the blessings of God.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Colossians 1:21-22

Colossians 1:21-22 – Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you Holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

       There was a time when our lives were full of sin. Before we knew Christ we were by nature, sinners. That is what we did; there was nothing different. Since we were sinners our minds were controlled by that nature. We did not think about God, in fact, our thoughts were contrary to Him. As a result we were, in our minds, enemies of God
Even though we were enemies of Him, He never saw it that way. God has Loved us since the beginning and He always will. When He saw that we had strayed from Him He figured out a way to bring us back. Jesus was His rescue plan. “For God so Loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Jesus came and died and now through His death we are brought back to God. We are now spotless and stain free. All our sin is washed away and we are Holy in His sight.
As we see in this verse we are free from accusation. That means we have nothing to be accused of. We used to be sinners; now we are saints. Our lives have been forever changed and we now have to change our way of thinking. We are no longer alienated from God; we are now alienated from the world.
Don’t think of yourself as “a sinner saved by grace.” You are not a sinner. That is no longer your identity. You may still sin occasionally, but you are now a child of God. Your life is made new and it is time to change your mindset to embrace it. You are a child of God, Holy and blameless in His Sight.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Philippians 4:6-7

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

       We find new things to worry about on a daily basis. What we are going to wear, or eat or how we are going to pay our bills. There are so many things. You name it, we worry about it.  If we are not careful our whole life will be a mess of anxiety and worry.
       If we look to the bible, though, we see there is another option. We are told, “Do not be anxious about anything.” As we read on we see how to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. Instead of holding onto our wants, desires and needs we are to give them to God with thanksgiving.
       Give all your requests to God, being thankful of all He has done for you and believing that He will take care of whatever you need as you remain in Him. And now comes the promise: “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace goes beyond all we know and understand. That means when everyone else is running around in confusion and panic due to the circumstances you will have peace.
God’s peace is better than any peace we can achieve on our own. He takes care of us better than we can take care of ourselves. So, instead of worrying, give it all to God. Thank Him for all He’s done and will do. Then rest in the peace that He gives you. Trust Him and He will give you rest.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Philippians 3:12-14

Philippians 3:12-14 – Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

        Our goal is perfection. None of us are there yet. We all have work to do. As long as we are on this earth we need to be continually improving and moving toward that goal. We will not fully reach the goal until the day when Christ returns and we are made perfect in Him, but in the meantime we continue to work toward it.
        We must remember that God has called us. Each of us has a specific plan and purpose for our lives that was preordained by Him. We need to recognize that it will take work to achieve it. In this verse we see Paul understands that he is not there yet, but we also see his desire to keep working toward it. We, too, must look at our lives and take stock in where we are and then look at where you want to be.
        Your goal should be your focus. You will travel in the direction that you are looking. If you are looking in the past, your life will never move forward. Join with Paul in “forgetting what is behind,” and let go of the past. It made you who you are today, but has nothing to do with who you will be tomorrow. Let it go and focus on what God has for you to do now.
As long as you are focusing on God you will be moving towards your goal. He says, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven and His righteousness.” When you do, everything else will fall into place. So, as Paul said in this verse we must say now: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Philippians 2:3-4

Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

       It is our nature to be selfish. We naturally want to make sure that we are ok, without as much concern for those around us. Our society teaches that we ought to look to our own needs first and above all. While it is not wrong to take care of ourselves it should not be our priority. There has to be a balance.
       If all we are doing is looking to our own wants and needs we will walk all over those around us. On the flip side, though, if all we are doing is looking out for others needs and neglect ourselves then we will end up running out of resources to help others and we will be taken advantage of.  That’s why there has to be a balance.
Here we see that we are to consider others better than ourselves. This is done out of humility, which is often misunderstood. Many think that to be humble is to put yourself underneath others. This is not true. Humility is not putting yourself down, it is lifting others up. You must maintain a positive view of who you are because you are a child of God. It’s all about perspective.
In the next verse we see again that we are not to ignore our own needs. It actually tells us to look out for our own interests, as well as the interests of others. I can’t stress enough that it is about balance. We don’t neglect one to do the other. If you can’t manage your own needs what makes you think that you can manage the needs of others.
If we have a proper view of who we are in Christ we will take better care of ourselves and in turn be able to better care for those around us. So, live life in humility, and remember that humility is not putting yourself down, it is lifting others up.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Philippians 1:20-21

Philippians 1:20-21 – I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

         Presenting the gospel well  is something that we all deal with. Paul was no different. He too worried about whether he would be able to portray Christ as he should. In Romans we see him boldly proclaim, “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” but now he is showing us his concern to keep this statement a reality. Just like each one of us he also dealt with the fear of man.
         In our minds it is easy to make the proclamation that we are not ashamed, but when you are in the situation it can be different. Sometimes when we are in the middle of life courage fails us and we remain silent. As we look at Paul’s example we see that it was his desire that Christ would always be magnified through his life. He wanted people to look at him and see Jesus, not Paul.
         This should be our desire as well. Pray for courage; believe for it. Then when the situation presents itself you will be ready. Instead of faltering and failing you will stand boldly and proclaim the message of Christ through your life.
         Whatever the situation or circumstance you find yourself in, believe that He will be magnified through you. When you get down to it, proclaiming the gospel becomes more than just speaking the right words. It is a lifestyle change. It’s like the quote from Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” 
That is the reality of it. We must live as Jesus lived; walk as He walked. Everything we do needs to scream Jesus. Our life needs to be Christ and then when we die it will only be to our benefit, because we will be with Him.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ephesians 5:25

Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, Love your wives, just as Christ Loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

This chapter in Ephesians is often referred to as the marriage chapter, but I see it as a call to husbands.  It is a call for men to stand up and stand out of the crowd in the way they lead their wives and families. We, as men, have a responsibility in marriage that we have been falling short of. Think about it: we are to Love our wives as Christ Loved the church.

Marriage was setup to mirror the relationship between Christ and the church. So in order for us to understand what our role as a husband looks like we must look to Christ Jesus. Here it mentions that Christ Loved the church so much that He gave Himself for her. Christ died for us, that is the most important thing, but He did much more than that.

Jesus came to earth to show us how to live, and even now He helps us in this. Look at the reason that He had to come. We had lost our connection with God because of our sin. It began with Adam and has continued on through us, one sin after another. Christ came to bridge the gap and give us a way back to the Father. He made this possible by laying down His life.

Jesus role as head of the church is basically to show us how to live by the Spirit and have a relationship with God. He not only made the way for this to happen, but He is also our example. In marriage, we, as men, must take this role. We are the spiritual head of the household and it is our job to live our lives in such a way that leads our wife and children to God.

It is all still through Christ, of course, but it is our example they will follow. This is not by any means a place of dominance. In fact it is quite the opposite; it is a position of servant hood. Jesus leads the church to God by Loving and serving those in the church. We too must Love and serve our families in this place of leadership.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ephesians 4:22-24

Ephesians 4:22-24 – You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your mind; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

When we receive salvation we are made new, but to live that new life sometimes it takes some effort. We often have old habits and things we used to do that are no longer what we ought to be doing. It is time to put off our old selves.
Our old self is full of selfish desires, because before Christ we were living for ourselves. That is what needs to change. It’s not always the action itself, but the motivation behind it. The old self was corrupt. Everything you did was corrupt. Not because it was necessarily bad, but because it corrupted by your deceitful heart.
Now our hearts are made new and we have to line up our thinking with our new way of life. Paul says it like this, “be made new in the attitude of your mind.” Our way of thinking has to change. Romans says “do not conform any longer, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Your new self is made to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, so start living like it.
Our old habits can return us to our old way of thinking, so if you see that happening, get rid of them. Cast them off. Live your new life. Take hold of what Christ has done for you by renewing your mind with God’s Word.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ephesians 3:16-19

Ephesians 3:16-19 – I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in Love, may have power together with all the Saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ, and to know this Love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to a measure of all the fullness of God.

Paul prays for the Ephesian church that they would come to know God’s Love more.  There are a couple of things that we need to understand about God’s Love. First, His Love goes beyond all knowledge. Before the world began God’s Love was there, and when everything comes to an end His Love will still be there. It is the most important thing.

We also need to understand that we are already in God’s Love. Paul prays that we are able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep that Love is, but before that He tells us that we are rooted and establish in God’s Love. God created us in Love and we are already engulfed in it, we just don’t always realize it. That is why Paul is praying for us to have a deeper understanding. He does not pray that we receive the Love, because we already have.

God’s Love is already in us and around us; we just need to learn to walk in a greater awareness of it. Jesus tells us to Love God and to Love people, but first we have to realize and recognize that we have God’s Love through Christ. He is in our heart and mind and with Him comes the Love of God. It is this Love that gives the ability to fulfill the command that Jesus has given us.

It begins with God’s Love and in the end all things will be made complete in His Love. As we become God’s children it is our responsibility to Receive, Return and Reciprocate the Love of God. First let His Love come to you (Receive). Second, Love Him in the same way (Return). Third, Love others as He Loves us (Reciprocate). 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ephesians 2:8-9

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

This verse comes against our modern way of thinking. In our society success is based on what you do and how well you have done it. “If I get a job and work hard I will be successful.” You may not have said this specifically, but I know you’ve thought it. We all have. Our culture teaches us this from the time we are born. If you have a nice car and a big house or if you have nice clothes and “cool” toys then you will be successful. Society’s idea of success is based on material possession, which can come and go like the wind.
Then there’s salvation. Some people think, “If I am a good person it will all work out in the end.” We seem to think that our eternity is based on what we ourselves do, that if we are nice and do good things we will be saved. Let me tell you: It doesn’t matter how good you are or how much “stuff” you have. None of that matters.
Our success in life comes not from anything we did or ever could do, but from Christ Jesus and what He did. On our own we could never measure up to God’s standard. It is by His grace that that we are saved. Our salvation is not based on what you’ve done or ever could do; it still comes down to the grace of God. We receive it by faith and it is a free gift. Salvation is not something any one of us could ever deserve. It takes away our boasting rights and our ideas of success and salvation and puts it all on Jesus. Believe in Him and you will be saved.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ephesians 1:22-23

Ephesians 1:22-23 – And God placed all things under His (Jesus) feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.

       It is amazing to think about all that God has done for us through His Son Jesus. Jesus came to earth and died for our sins. Then He was resurrected and His name was lifted above every other name under God.
       If you were raised in the church or even if you’ve just become a Christian the first thing that you learn is that Jesus died for our sins. It is common knowledge among those who are in the church. This verse, however, takes us beyond just being saved by Jesus to being part of Jesus. It tells us that Jesus was placed at the head of the church, which is His body. So think about that for a moment.
       We, as the church, are the body of Christ. In verse 22 we are told that God placed all things under His feet. Well, the feet are part of the body, so that means even the “least” in the church are still above every other thing.
       Jesus is our head, so He is the one who leads us and tells us what to do, but we are part of Him. That means as we work together for His purposes there is nothing that can stand in our way, because we are above everything. That is pretty amazing if you think about it.

       Then we look at the second part of this, “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” So first we know that Christ fills us and makes us whole (He who fills everything in every way), but we are also the fullness of Him. We are His body; His hands and His feet. As the church we complete Christ on this earth.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Galatians 6:9

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

         Do not give up. Do not give in. Never compromise your stand. You are a beacon of light to the world and all you do matters. Even though sometimes it seems like what you do doesn’t get noticed or it is like nobody cares. Those thoughts are not true. All the good you do is getting noticed; it does matter.
         There are a few things we need to keep in mind when we are doing God’s will. If you are walking in God’s plan, be sure that He is taking notice. He sees what you are doing and knows your heart. God will reward you at the right time. He will bring you a harvest if you do not give up. Even though it may seem like people are taking advantage of you and walking all over you, keep on doing what you are doing. To quote Matthew Barnett: “If you want to be a bridge of hope to the world, you have to expect people to walk over you.” Let them walk on you; and know that you are storing up treasures in heaven.
         Another thing that is important to remember is that if all you do is reach one person it will be worth it. Even if you work your whole life for God and all you do is bring one person into the kingdom you will have changed the world. Maybe not for everyone, but for that one person you did. All heaven rejoices when one person comes to know Jesus.
This life we live on earth is but a breath compared to the eternity we have with Jesus. If our efforts bring one more person into eternity with Christ we are not working in vain. So to repeat Paul, don’t grow weary of doing good. Keep it up and never give up. God will give you a harvest at the proper time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Galatians 5:13-14

Galatians 5:13-14 – You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in Love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” God has called you to be free and through Christ Jesus we can have that freedom, but be careful. Just because we are free to do what we want does not mean we should. “Everything is permissible for me,” Paul says, “but not everything is beneficial.” We need to be careful to only do what is a benefit to us and those around us.
Do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature. We will always have our sinful nature while we are in this world. It will always be craving the things that are contrary to the Word of God. If we choose to indulge or give into the cravings of the sinful nature they will get stronger.
Let me give you an example: Have you ever gone without eating for a time? Say you missed lunch, not because you are fasting, but just because you were busy. Time flew by and before you knew it dinner time was approaching. You are starting to get hungry, but not overwhelmingly so. You decide to have a snack. Before the snack you were fine, but afterwards you realize just how hungry you are and now you feel like you are starving.
When you give your flesh a taste of what it wants the desire for more increases exponentially. So be careful not to indulge your sinful nature; instead serve others in Love. When you are serving in Love, the desires of the flesh tend to fade away.  If you try to avoid sinning by obeying the law you will fail, but if you just Love people you will end up obeying the law because your desire to treat them well will supersede your desire to sin.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Galatians 4:6

Galatians 4:6 – Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba; Father.”

         You are a child of God. We are all trying to find out who we are. If I asked you today, “Who are you,” what would your answer be? A lot of people base their identity on what they do, such as being a doctor or a carpenter. Some base it on where they come from. Or if your parents are “great” people you might find their identity in who they are. Others may relate it to what they like doing, such as a soccer player, golfer or even a car enthusiast. Or maybe you try to explain who you are by your personality and how you relate to others. All these are great things and can help you in life, but they are not who you are.
         When we receive Christ in our life it changes who we are from the core. All this other stuff may stay the same, but you yourself are changed and made new. You are a different person; the old is gone.
         Now we see that God’s Spirit, that is the Spirit of Jesus, comes into our hearts. This happens because God has adopted you into His family. As an adopted child you become an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ. You must understand that this is now who you are. You must find your identity in Christ Jesus.
If you find your identity in any of the things we mentioned earlier, say your job, what would happen if you lost it. All of a sudden you lose your identity. You don’t even know who you are any more. In our society we have seen a steady increase in depression and suicide. This is a large contributor to those numbers. Too many people find their worth in fallible things and then lose them and in doing so lose themselves.
When we find our identity in God we will never lose it. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and our position in Him will never change. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Once we have become His child, we will always be His child. Let Him come into you and show you who you truly are.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Galatians 3:26-28

Galatians 3:26-28 – You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who are baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

           You look like Christ Jesus. This is an amazing thing. We talked about how we have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer us who live, but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). So Christ lives in us, but now we see it goes beyond that as well. Not only does Christ live in us, but when we are baptized into Him we are also clothed with Him. This is how we become sons of God.
           We are one with Christ, the Son of God. All of us are together in Him, so it takes away all that separates us. As it says here there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female. It does not matter what your race or background or even what sex you are. We are all one in Christ Jesus. It is faith that gets us there, and we need to hold onto that faith.
           In our lives we like to create individuality, but Christ wants unity. Don’t get me wrong, we all have a purpose and a plan that is specific to each one of us, but that gift is given to strengthen the body. It is not given for you to be a loner.
Everyone’s purpose is in relation to the body of Christ. Just like an arm has a different purpose than a leg, but both are guided by the overall purpose of the mind, which in our case is Christ. Stop trying to isolate yourself off from other believers; we are all the same in Jesus. This goes for denominations as well. I like how my brother Matthew put it in his blog when he said if Paul were writing this today it might read a little more like this:

“There is neither Baptist nor Methodist, neither Charismatic nor Pentecostal, nor any other denomination; there is neither Protestant nor Catholic; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

We need to let go of our petty differences of opinion and unite on the reality that is Christ Jesus. He made us all one and it is time that we start acting like it.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Galatians 2:20

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who Loved me and gave Himself for me.

           What or who are you living for? Do you have a purpose beyond yourself? Where does your life come from? These are questions we all must ask ourselves as we seek to discover what our purpose in life is. When we are born we are born with a sinful nature. Because of that nature we are looking out for ourselves, and the life we live is a selfish one.
           Then there is Jesus. He was born with the same sinful nature as we have, yet He was without sin. He lived His life to God and for us. Jesus was 100% God, but He was also 100% man. You might say that He had an unfair advantage, but I say thanks be to God for coming to earth to save us. Without Jesus we would have no hope. He went to death for you and me.
           As we give our life to Him we are joining Him in His death, but we also join Him in life. We die to our sinful nature and are reborn in the Spirit. Now we are in the same place as Jesus. We are still 100% man, but now we also have 100% God inside of us. Our life is no longer our own; we belong to God.
           Paul’s statement, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” now becomes ours as well. This new life that we live is by faith in Jesus and all He did. It is through His Love that our renewed life is possible. We have to make the choice to accept it. Then we renew our minds to this new Christ-life.
Through faith we make the statement, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who Loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Friday, May 9, 2014

Galatians 1:10

Galatians 1:10 – Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Are you trying to please people or to please God? When asked the question it seems like a no-brainer. Of course our desire as Christians is to please God, and as we look at the big picture it seems like an easy choice. We either want to please the creator of the universe, the Almighty, most Holy, always and forever, never changing God; or to please men, the created being, who is here today and gone tomorrow. It seems like an easy choice, but what do our actions say?
Fear of man is one of the biggest obstacles we face in our lives. Even now as I write this I struggle every day to remember who I am trying to please. We, as men (or women), desire to fit in; we want people to like us. There’s always a struggle for popularity and we, whether we admit it or not, feel that part of success is being popular. This is not always the case.
Success comes, not in how others view you, but in how you view yourself. That is why it is so important to remember who you are trying to please. If you place yourself in the hands of men you will fail. Even if you are “popular” and well liked it will eventually pass; and what then? What will you do when it seems everyone has turned against you? If that is where you find your identity then you will lose the life you have lived. But if you find your identity and purpose in Christ, and trying to please God, you will never lose. Even if the whole world turns on you, God never will. Your identity will be secure for all eternity.
So, are you trying to win the approval of men or of God? Make a point to live for God no matter the cost. If He is for you, nothing can be against you.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

2 Corinthians 13:14

2 Corinthians 13:14 – May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

           We see Paul referencing the Trinity here. There is Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. They are all individual beings, yet they are also One Being. This is hard for us, in fact, it is impossible for us to fully understand how this works. How can three separate beings also be one and the same? It has to do with unity and how they work together. Here we see all three at work within our lives, all at the same time.
           First is mentioned the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace is what entitles us to all the promises of God. We don’t deserve them. In reality we deserve death, but by God’s mercy we have been delivered from death and by the grace of Jesus we are given life in God.
           Next we see God’s Love. God’s Love is what binds us to Him. We are rooted and established in Love and our lives depend on His Love. Love is a choice, and God, through Love, chose you. His Love is why Jesus came to earth to save us and His Love and the grace of Jesus brings us the Holy Spirit. This is where the fellowship comes in.
           The Holy Spirit, also known as God’s Spirit (since they are one and the same), actually houses itself in us. Through the Spirit we are united in fellowship with God and Jesus. We are also united with each other. You have the same Spirit in you as I have in me. With God’s Spirit inside us we are brought together under God.
God desires us to walk in the same unity that He has with His Son and His Spirit. They are unified to the point where we cannot tell where one stops and the next one starts. We may not fully understand the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but we can clearly see them at work in our lives at all times.