Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bite-Sized Bible Studies: I Am With You

“For behold, I have made you this day A fortified city and an iron pillar, And bronze walls against the whole land--Against the kings of Judah, Against its princes, Against its priests, And against the people of the land. They will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you," says the LORD, "to deliver you."
Jeremiah 1:18-19

If God is for us, who can be against us? And yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:31, 37

The end of the age is upon us. And like Jeremiah, we must share an unwelcome message of a coming calamity unfolding before our eyes. Share Christ today no matter the cost. We are safe in Him. He is with us and will deliver us. He will be with His people, He will be glorified and He will deliver us, “by life or by death (Phil. 1:20),” all the way up to the rapture of the church; then we will be with Him and will return with Him to establish His Kingdom on a New Earth. Bless and empower your church, and come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bite-Sized Bible Studies: United with the Risen Lord

...you are united with the One who was raised from the dead. Now we can really serve God, not in the old way by obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way, by the Spirit (from Romans 7:4,6).

There is nothing in this world, nothing, that can even come close to the eternal satisfaction found only in our intimate unity to Jesus Christ and our new life walking with Him, in Him, each step of our life. This new spiritual/miraculous life is lived out not by our own strength, but by this unity to God's Spirit, by the Spirit living in and through us. Being a Christian is spiritual, not of the natural order, so we must allow the Holy Spirit to live through us. Paul said, "it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me."

At Easter, when we are praising our Risen Lord, remember this: by grace through faith in Jesus Christ you are united to our Risen Lord, a co-heir of God's glory right now and for all eternity. As we live in full dependency on His Spirit alone, we live and walk in the Kingdom of God today.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bite-Sized Bible Studies: Heirs of God through Christ

Galatians 4:6-8
"And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"

Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods."

In Christ, we are free, like the eldest son in ancient Israeli culture who is not a servant but inherits all his father leaves behind. Christians, men and women in Christ by faith, like these eldest sons, are free from serving sin but can now worship God freely, and, through Christ, shall inherit all of the wonderful things our Heavenly Father has for us for eternity!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Finding Real Life in Christ

"He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:39)."

In the allegorical sense, to lose your life means to give up all self-interest and to live for Jesus' interest. If you will die to self for Christ, then and only then will you find real life. Our life’s true meaning and purpose, the soul’s true longing and satisfaction is found in our Lord Jesus Christ alone. Everything we do in this life for self will be lost. Everything. Through faith in Christ, we have died to sin and death, we’ve died to the old life here in this fallen world and in this fallen body. Just like Christ, we are alive to God now. In and through Christ, we are now seated with God in the eternal realm. Our old nature is dead to this life (crucified, Rom. 6-8) and our spirit is alive to God’s Eternal Kingdom. Everything I do in this short time left here on earth is either for His sake or mine. The body has literally been sentenced to death. The phrase “dead man walkin’” applies to each of us. So, I can either work for a dead man and ultimately receive the wages of a dead man, or I can work for the Eternal King and have treasures stored up in Heaven! What a waste my life has been! O, what I have wasted, Lord. Everything done outside of Christ’s will is self will and amounts to nothing. It will burn; it’s useless, meaningless. Paul said as much:

I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and be found in Him...  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (see Philippians. 3:7-11).

I am dead to this life because I am united with Christ in His death. I am alive to God because I am united to Christ in His life to God (Rom. 6). Christian, do you know that in Christ you are dead to this world, to sin and to death? Do you know that all we do for ourselves we will lose? All that we do in the flesh, in accordance to the old nature that seeks for self-interest and self-ambition, is literally going to burn and count for nothing. Anything we do outside of our New Life in Christ works against what He is going to accomplish in our lives one way or another, now or later, thanks to His unfathomable grace and never ending mercy showered on us through Jesus!

Live for self and lose it all and die over and over and over, and end up with no eternal treasure or reward. Or, live for Christ’s will, purpose and pleasure alone, and find your life hidden in His, and truly live for the first time and forever in the glory of God. I would rather die to self once and for all, Lord, than spend one more second drowning in my own selfish interest again and again!

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:11-15). -Paul

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up... Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3). -Peter

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christ Is Our Life

Stay focused on Jesus and what the Lord has for you today. Do that everyday. Make Him the thing that today is about- everyday. Make today about knowing Him more, hearing from Him and knowing His will for you today as clearly as you can. Make today about doing what He wants you to do, thinking what He wants to put in your mind and feeling His great love and assurance and comfort. Make everyday about Him first and foremost.

This is what each day is about no matter what is happening and where we are. That’s it. Just knowing Him, hearing Him and following Him. Anything else is like running in circles, walking in place or falling through a bottomless pit.

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).

No matter where we are, the Lord is working on our behalf. Without a doubt, everything happening is by His authority alone. Without a doubt, God is good and everything happening the way it is happening will turn out for good for those who love Him. It is not wrong. It is not worse. This is what you need, what I need. The work that the Lord is doing is of an eternal value. It has it’s temporal benefits at times, but many times the natural circumstances are not appetizing to the flesh. But, it is an eternal work that God is accomplishing, and many times it is as foreign and distant to us as a place and people in a distant land that we’ve never seen or heard of. But, His love is real and His work is only good, all the time, and eternal in it’s nature. It is spiritual because, the Bible says, God is Spirit (not flesh).

It is time to let go. No matter what, we will be here until the day the Lord, our God, our Father, allows. He has not abandoned us but loves us enough to discipline us and see our change through to the end. It is time to let go of everything and just hold on to Jesus. Cling to Jesus alone. Let go of your hardships, the things you are missing and your difficulties. Let them all go and just keep your eyes on Jesus. Make Him EVERYTHING to you. Make Him the center of your life.

Jesus is the only way to be fulfilled truly, liberated completely and loved eternally. We are called to drop everything and follow Him. He is calling you and has been calling you and you are missing, to a certain extent, what He has for you and what He wants for you TODAY, right where you are, right there with who you are with.

You want release! It’s not outside those bars, it’s in Jesus. The grass is always greener, but the Lord has you right where you are on purpose. You want to love and be loved. It’s not in another person and it won’t be discovered in you. It’s in Jesus alone; anywhere, anytime. When you don’t have Jesus, you can be the richest, most famous beauty the world has ever known and be miserable, in a hell of your own making. When you have Jesus and you have let all else fade away, you are the most truly, deeply satisfied creature ever to exist- no matter your current habitation or situation! Let your heart go to Jesus! Let it be freed by the power of Jesus and let the world around you fade away. That won’t lead to loving less, but more! As much as Jesus can love through you, which will grow every day. It won’t make you less meaningful in the world but more, as the Lord Jesus begins to live His love through you to accomplish His eternal plans. In Christ, we have died to sin, the law and the world.

For I through the law [of God] died to the law that I might live to God [the law condemns us rightfully, but that should lead us to the only One who can redeem- God and His mercy]. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God [for a works based righteousness]; for if righteousness comes through the [keeping of the] law, then Christ died in vain [we are not made right with God, justified/saved, by our good works but by faith in Christ and what He did on the cross alone] (Gal. 2:19-21).

Notice, Paul says that he died through the law to the law, that he has been crucified with Christ, and that He no longer lives. He also said that he died to the law that he would now live to God, that it is no longer he who lives but Christ in him and that the life he now lives is the life of trusting in and obeying in every way and at all times the One who loved him and gave Himself for him. This is not for apostles only. This is the Christian life. There is no other. There is no life outside of Jesus.

For I know that this [Paul’s imprisonment because of preaching Christ] will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body [life], whether by life or by death [living or dying]. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh [alive here with you] is more needful for you (Phil. 1:19-24).

Jesus died so that we could die to sin. He rose so that we could be alive to God. He is seated at the right hand of God so that we could enter into the presence of God beyond the veil, seated in the Heavenlies with Him.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).

...the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- (1 John 1:2)

To live is Christ and to die is better. Whatever we are doing in this life, no matter our circumstances, God is on His throne and in control. He has not forgotten you or misplaced you. He is working out eternal purposes for you. Our whole life is to become Him living in and through us, until we go to be with God, glorified in bliss with Him and each other forever. Whether by my life or my death, or my suffering Paul would add, let Christ be magnified! This is the heart of Jesus working through Paul. This was Jesus’ attitude toward the Father, which is our example. And at the close of Paul’s life, allowing God to have His full way with him, Paul too is an example to us for how we are to live.

The Lord is agonizing for Christ to be formed in you more fully. He wants you to know Him more completely. Be with your Creator today. Be with Jesus in all your nows and todays, and you will see amazing things and wondrous works beyond measure and description, in this life and in the eternal life to come.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No Condemnation in Christ

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus... (Romans 8:1)

In Genesis it says that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Gen 15:6, Rom 4:3).” And Paul tells us in Romans 4:23-25: “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed (accounted) to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

By our faith in Jesus Christ, God has accounted our sin to Christ, who bore our sin on the cross, and accounted Christ’s righteousness to us, and this because of God’s amazing grace. His love for us is truly immeasurable!

In Romans 7:21-25, Paul says, “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man (faith). But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

That brings us to Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

The word Gospel means “Good News”, and oh what good news it is! Justified by faith in the atoning death of Christ. There is no good work that we can do to justify ourselves before God, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Even though there is a battle between “this body of death” (the sinful nature still resident in our bodies) against the Spirit of God now in us, we have forgiveness (God is not accounting our sin against us anymore) and we have eternal life, in Christ. Glory in the grace of God today, all of us who are children of God! He has freely forgiven and has given you all things in Christ. Go boldly to the throne of His grace and praise His name. Worship Him in His holiness. Do not let anything separate you from your Father’s love today. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. By faith we no longer walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; born again, born from above, worshiping in spirit and in truth. We are a new creation in Christ, who loved us and died for us. Be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit today.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (Acts 1:8) and He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). Go and get this dynamic power from your Father today!

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? … just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom 6:1-4). If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive to God because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Rom 8:10-11).

The only way to live in victory over sin and in closeness to the Lord, and to have powerful ministries of the Lord, is through the power of the Holy Spirit living in and through us, overflowing and pouring out of us. We can be filled with the Spirit to overflowing and surrounded in Jesus’ presence by drawing near to Him daily, through prayer and through God’s Word. A life empowered by God Himself is the only way to overcome our weaknesses and have lives yielded to Him, lives that bring glory to His name! This happens, for the most part, through a daily relationship with the King Himself over many weeks and months and years. It happens in a day and it happens over a lifetime as we mature in Christ. Our life with Jesus is minute by minute, day by day.

In God’s view of things your salvation is a done deal if you have received Christ as your Lord and Savior! So, enter in today. Take hold of Him now! Walk in His glorious freedom from sin and enter into His rest.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom 12:1-2). …put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Rom 13:14).

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (Rom 8:29-30).

 It is done! Now we enter in by grace moment by moment and take hold of all that God has given us!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Seek First the Kingdom of God

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever (2 Peter 3:18).

We want to mature in Christ. We need our growth in Christ to abound. Three essentials must be present in our lives and taking priority over everything else: prayer/communion with God, the study of the Word of God and fellowship with other believers.

First of all, prayer is our time with Jesus. If we know that we can come to Him anytime and receive from Him His grace and forgiveness and lovingkindness, we will be seeking Him everyday. This time with the Lord, through His Holy Spirit in our lives, is so sweet and empowering. Lay your burdens at His feet and trust that He knows everything happening in your life. Just spend some time with Jesus, away from everything else. Don’t leave His presence until you’ve heard from Him and have His comfort and peace. Many times the Lord speaks through our worship and through His Word, so use your Bible and worship in prayer.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Secondly, reading and contemplating God’s Word is what helps us to be sure that our beliefs and views of Him and Scripture are founded on His truth. We are also able to hear from God more easily and accurately. We must be born again by faith in Jesus Christ to fully understand the Bible and to hear His voice in our hearts because “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).” Pray that the Holy Spirit Himself will teach you His Word. The amount of growth and the rate of maturity will be directly linked to the amount of time we spend in God’s Word learning from Him.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious (1 Peter 2:1-3).

Finally, fellowship with other children of God in the Lord and in His love. Along with our time with the Lord in prayer and study of His Word, fellowship in Christ helps us to grow in grace and knowledge. We receive encouragement and strength as Christ reaches out to us through His body.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:18-21).

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:14-16).

By doing these three things first in your life, every day and every week, before all else, you will begin to experience new and powerful growth in your walk with the Lord like never before. Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (your needs) shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).”