Thursday, January 8, 2015

A New Direction

About a year ago I was praying for direction in my life. More specifically, direction with my writing. I had been writing regularly for awhile, but had shared it with very few people. That is when I started my blog. I felt God leading me to do this as a way for me to continue writing and challenge myself by sharing it with others. When I started doing my daily devotions through my blog I didn't want to start and do it for a couple of days and then fizzle out, so I committed to myself to do it for a year. Then, when I made it a year, I would determine whether I would continue with it, or whether I was to do something else. Well, that year has arrived.

Over the last year God has really spoken to me through my blogging, and I have been very challenged. There were times when it was hard to make sure I made my post, but with God all things are possible, and I made it through faithfully. My prayer is that my blogging has spoken to some of you as I was sharing my heart and what I was getting from God's Word, I know it spoke to me.

More recently there have been other writing projects that God has impressed upon my heart to tackle. Now that I have reached my goal with my blogging I feel that it is time to redirect my focus towards another goal. My first project I am going to take is putting my story on paper. God has brought me through a lot in life and I feel it is time to put that to use to help others.

Now to be clear, I am not done with my blogging. I still plan on doing some writing on here from time to time, just not everyday. Another thing I want to spend more time on is writing my rhymes, which I hope that the few I have shared over the last year have been inspiring. This is something I enjoy doing and I feel that God has been developing in me over the last couple of years.

Last of all I want to thank you all for staying with me through this journey of daily devotions. You have been an inspiration to me to keep going and stick with my commitment. Every time I would think about quitting God would bring someone along that would tell how much it meant to them, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I pray that as we go forward you would continue to follow me as I explore new avenues of writing. God bless you all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:2 - Carry each others burden, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God.” He then continued by saying, “The second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Later Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) Jesus did not answer this question directly, but told a story of a man who was traveling and got attacked by robbers. These robbers took everything from the man and left him on the side of the road beaten and bloody. A series of men walked by, most of whom avoided this man and walked by on the opposite side of the road. It wasn't until a Samaritan man came by that this man received any sort of help. Now you have to understand that in the eyes of the Jews Samaritans were like dogs. And this ‘dog’ was the only one who helped the dying man on the side of the road. After tending to his wounds the Samaritan carried this man to a nearby Inn and paid for him to stay there until he got better. Now Jesus returns the question, “Who was a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” “The Samaritan man,” they answered. Then Jesus left them with a simple, but powerful statement, ”Go and do likewise.” That is how you fulfill the law of Christ. “Go and do likewise.” If you see anyone who needs help follow the example of the Samaritan in Jesus story and help them. We are to carry each others burdens. Do you see someone hurting? Is there someone close to you that needs help? Of course there is. To deny it would be living in ignorance. It doesn’t take a detective to find someone who could use your help. There are people all around us. And here’s the beauty of it: it doesn't take much. God will never ask you to give what you do not have. Sometimes it is just befriending someone and talking to them. Other times it may be an act of service or a gift of money. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to give it. As you follow God’s commands and give to those around you He will always take care of you as well. Paul says that God gives seed to the sower and bread for food (2 Corinthians 9:10). You can rest assured that God has given you what you need and given you what you need to give away. So, carry each others burdens. Help out those around you who are less fortunate than you. And in doing so you will be fulfilling the law of Christ.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Galatians 5:22-23

Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

In Galatians chapter 3 Paul tells us that “all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” What does it mean, though, to be clothed with Christ? As we read through the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, we see how we are to imitate Jesus. We are to live like He lived and do what He did.

As Christians our actions ought to be like those of Jesus. Now, to be clear, it is not our actions or works that save us. It is faith in Christ that saves us. Our actions should, however, line up with our salvation. And what should these actions look like? This verse is a great place to start as we answer that question.
Our actions should look like the fruits of the Spirit. We should have Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control showing up in what we do. When we act in accordance with these, there will be no law that can come against us. That doesn't of course mean that the law will be gone, it just won’t have any hold on you.
When you sin and do things contrary to the law it will come against you and punish you according to what you have done. But when you live according to the fruits of the Spirit you will not break the law, because you will be holding yourself to a higher standard. Now the law will not be able to come against you, because you will not have broken it.
As you live your life be careful to watch what kind of fruit you are producing. You ought to be producing fruit that lines up with your salvation. In Christ we are a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come. If the fruit you are producing does not line up with Christ, then you need to take a look at what is inside you and make sure you have given all you are to Jesus.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Galatians 4:4-5

Galatians 4:4-5 - But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full right as sons.

In yesterday’s blog we addressed how you know whether you are a son or daughter of Christ. In this verse we see how that is all made possible. Of course on our part it is by faith. We are to believe in Christ and all that He did, but what exactly did He do? How is it all possible?

This verse holds the answer. Paul breaks it down for us like this, “God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law.” But why did Jesus have to come to earth as a man? What is the importance of those details? Wouldn't it have been easier for God to just save us?
In reality, God couldn't do that. Not because He didn't have the power, but because He cannot deny who He is. God is Holy and Just. Sin deserves death. In order for God to be God He couldn't allow sin to go unpunished. That is where Christ came in.
In order for Jesus to be able to pay the penalty for sin He had to walk as we walk. He had to come to earth through all the same ‘channels’ as we do, including ‘born of a woman’ and ‘born under law.’ By coming in this way Jesus was able to go through all that we have to, but He did it without sin. That allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice and He could take care of sin once and for all.
Now, since Jesus has faced it all and won, we can become like Him. As Paul explains here we have full right as sons. Everything that Christ deserves we also have a right to. We have become joint-heirs with Him. Now we are redeemed and sanctified as God’s children.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Galatians 3:26-27

Galatians 3:26-27 - You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

        Recently I watched the new movie ‘Left Behind’. This is a remake of an older movie and both are based on a book of the same name. The movie follows the experiences of a family that was divided in their religious views as they went through the rapture.
        In this movie the husband and daughter get ‘left behind’ as the mother and brother get taken to heaven. As the daughter runs frantically around trying to find answers to what has happened she finds herself at her mother’s church and finds the pastor still there.
        At first she is relieved because she thinks that there must be some other explanation other than Jesus returning. He assures her that it was indeed the rapture and he is still there because even though he knew all the right things to say, he didn't believe it in his heart.This, then, brings up the question, “If there could be a pastor who is not saved, how do I know if I truly am?”
        Of course this is just a movie, but Jesus did say, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22-23) So then, how can some people who say they are saved, not be?
        Some of the confusion I think comes from how we teach salvation. We will have an alter call and tell people that if they ‘pray this prayer’ they will be saved. Too often we base salvation on a prayer and whether or not you said it. “I said the prayer, that means I’m saved,” we might say. Does it though? When did Jesus ever tell anyone that their salvation was based on a prayer? Where is that in the Bible?
        As we look in God’s Word we see that salvation is linked to faith and confession (Romans 10:9-10). The reality of it is that it really doesn't matter how many times you’ve said ‘the prayer.’ What matters is what you believe in your heart.
        This verse in Galatians gives us a clear picture of our life with God through faith as it reads, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” It is faith in Christ that brings salvation, and no one can say whether you are ‘saved’ or not, except you and God; no one else can see your heart and what you truly believe.
        I will say this, though, if you believe in Christ and are baptized into Him, then this verse also says that you have been clothed with Him. That means that if you are truly saved you will look like Christ. It is not works that saves you, but your works and actions ought to line up with your salvation. That’s just something to think about.

        The bottom line is this: besides God only you know if you are saved. And if you know it, then you have nothing to worry about; but if you don’t know it, you better figure it out.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

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.

        Who are you living for? This world would have us believe that we need to live for ourselves. If you look out for yourself who else will, right? In this way of thinking we will always be looking to meet our own wants and needs. It won’t matter who we hurt along the way, as long as we benefit from it. If you live this way you will lose a lot of relationships and will find yourself alone and uncontent, because even if you achieve your goals you find them unfulfilling.
       Then there are others who have decided relationships are more important and they focus on serving another. Sometimes they will serve their spouse or family. At first glance this seems like a noble cause. A person committing his or her life to their family; it is a good cause. What happens, though, when you have given all you have to give? You've spent so much time giving that you have grown weary and exhausted. Then you begin to grow bitter, and the very people you committed your life to serving become a source of pain.
       Unfortunately, both these mindsets will leave you wanting. There has got to be a better way! And that is where Christ come in. He gives us a better way to live; a way that our needs can be met while meeting the needs of others, and we can find fulfillment and contentment. I know, it sounds too good to be true, but it is not.
       If you give your life to God through Jesus Christ this life is possible. As we look at this verse we see the course of action that we need to take. “I have been crucified with Christ.” That is the start, and it can be painful, but after that comes the good part, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Now we can join with Christ in everlasting life as we allow Him to work through us.
       This is how it all becomes possible. Matthew 6:33 promises that if we seek Him first everything else will be added back to us. See, if we focus on and give all we have to God, we actually will have more to give to those around us, and God will meet our needs in the process. He fills us and refreshes us when we seek Him so that we will not grow weary or burdened. And our Love for others will be everlasting because it will come from God, who Loves you more than you know.
       So I challenge you. Find God. He is the only one worth committing your life too. Giving yourself to Him and living to fulfill His plan for you is the only way you can have lasting contentment in your life.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Galatians 1:11-12

Galatians 1:11-12 - I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

In Paul we see a man who committed his whole life to furthering the gospel in the known world, but it was not always that way. When we first see him in the book of Acts we see him as a well trained Pharisee. He had learned everything there was to know about serving God, or so he thought. At that time he was preaching and enforcing a gospel that had man’s fingerprints all over it. It wasn’t until he was on his way to Damascus that he realized he was wrong.

Paul knew the difference between a religion made up by man and a religion that came from God. He had lived in both worlds. As a child he learned all of the rules and regulations of being a Pharisee. When he became a man he was committed to following the religion that he had been taught. Then Christ came in and he received a revelation of God that changed his life forever.
That’s the amazing thing about the gospel we preach. You could spend your whole life studying and know the bible inside and out and it will do nothing for you. It doesn’t matter how many sermons you have heard, or for that matter, preached. Without revelation of God through Jesus it will all be for nothing.
Like the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It is important to know God’s Word, but without knowing Him it is just another book. If you commit your life to knowing all about God, you will grow weary. But if you commit your life to knowing God and following His plan for your life you ‘will soar on wings like eagles; run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.’ Surrender yourself to God and trust Him to give you revelation of the gospel.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2 Corinthians 13:4

2 Corinthians 13:4 - For to be sure, Christ was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.

         In order to live on earth and be like us Jesus was made weak. He was made like us in every way, yet He was without sin. How did He do it? He surrendered His life completely to God. Christ did not find His own strength to make it through everything; He had to rely on God’s strength and power.
        When Jesus went to the cross it showed His weakness; it showed His human side. He was crucified in weakness, but then God’s power was made complete in Him through resurrection. Now He lives by God’s power.
        We too must recognize that we are weak. In our own power and ability there is nothing that we can do. Yet just as Christ was able to live by God’s power, we also can live by God’s power through Him.
        For the last couple of chapters Paul has been talking about weaknesses. He tells us that if he is going to boast, then he will boast in his weak areas. See, Paul understood that it is only when we see ourselves as we truly are that God can use us. When we see ourselves as weak it allows us to completely rely on God, because we know that we cannot do it on our own.

        Let me explain it this way, if we think we are strong enough to handle something on our own, we will never ask for help. And without God’s help in an area His glory will not be able to shine through us. When we are trying to do things in our own ability we will ultimately fail. Even if we make it for a while, it will not last. Surrender to God and find your ability through Him.