Posts Tagged ‘grace’

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Filters

February 26, 2017

CThe Lord has given us many “filters” in His Word.

As we move through our daily lives, we are bombarded with all kinds of distractions. Jesus told us to have peace and, not only that, He gave us peace that surpasses understanding. He gave us His peace! Wow, that is good news! But, wait a minute…then why don’t I “feel” it? What’s missing?

I know, some of you will say, its sin! I am in a state of sin, so I can’t have that supernatural peace. I have to repent, I have to have the Holy Spirit shine the light inside and show me where I have missed the mark! I have to DO SOMETHING! Well, part of that is true…except for the sin part.

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15-17:

15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

So, there is something we need to do. We need to “let” peace rule. So, the question we might ask ourselves is: how are we blocking it? What are we saying “no” to God about? Again, I am not talking about sin.

Paul gives us some filters here:

  • Does the Word of God dwell in me? Am I familiar enough with the Bible to find a scripture that might apply to whatever I am stressed about? Is it part of me? Can the Holy Spirit bring to my remembrance what God has said?
  • Am I teaching or encouraging another person, or am I angry, judgmental or resentful of the other person. Am I using “wisdom” found in the Word of God about that person or situation? Is that my problem?
  • What’s in my heart? Am I singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God? What am I listening to? I cannot concentrate on singing about my Lord and keep peace at bay. What is in my heart and mind?
  • Grace! Am I operating in grace? Grace is both a person, Jesus, and a gift from God. It’s the freedom to both be “free” and to allow others to be “free” also. It’s unconditional love!
  • Who am I serving? Myself, or my Lord? Am I doing all things in His name? Am I His ambassador? Do people see Him when they see me? If I’m serving me, I’m saying “no” to Him.
  • Am I thankful?

 

The Bible has many “filters”. There is always an answer for us. Again, this is not about sin; it’s about living the abundant life that Jesus gave to us.

We are predestined to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29) and as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) why not use the tools given to us to make our journey peace filled?

Use the Armor of the Lord (Eph. 6:6-18) as another filter:

  • The loin-belt of TRUTH. All the other armor is attached to this belt (except for the helmet). We have to know the truth. His Word is truth. As we use “truth” as a filter: we can check our motives, we can compare our thoughts with His word and find out what is really going on. We can ask the “Spirit or Truth” or the Holy Spirit to show us. (John 16:13).
  • Shoes of PEACE. We already went over peace. This says “shoes of peace”. We need to walk in it.
  • Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS. This protects our heart! We are the righteousness of God! (2 Cor. 5:21) because Jesus became sin for us and we are righteous because of Him. Sin has no power over us. We need to always remember that! We are new creations. (2 Cor. 5:17). Old things are passed away. God isn’t judging us any more. “It is finished!” Guilt, shame and remorse have no place in us. Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 2:10). There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Ro. 8:1)
  • Shield of FAITH. Our faith in what Jesus has done shields us from every dart the enemy can hurl at us. (Eph. 6:16). We can safely stand behind it.
  • Helmet of SALVATION. This protects our minds. No thought can penetrate our minds unless we let it. We can cast down “vain imaginations” (2 Cor. 10:5). We don’t have to listen to negative thoughts or impulses…we can throw them away.
  • Sword of the Spirit—THE WORD OF GOD. The best weapon ever! Learn it, live it…enjoy the peace and joy that God has given us!

 

Be filled with the Spirit! Choose life today!

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Stop, Look and Listen

August 22, 2015

Exodus 3

  1. Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.  So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 

In Exodus 3:1-2 Moses was doing what he always did. He was doing his own thing, minding his own business, just moving along in his life. He’d been living in Midian, had a wife and family and had been there for about 40 years.

So, here he was on the far side of the desert at Mount Horeb. He led his sheep up the mountain.

There was a flame of fire that caught his notice because the bush that was “burning” wasn’t burning! He noticed the fire, but not the Angel of the Lord. The flame drew him to the Angel of the Lord.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell as tongues of fire.

(Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.)

Most Bible scholars agree that “The angel of the Lord” always refers to a visitation of the pre-incarnate Jesus.  So, the Holy Spirit drew Moses out of his normal, everyday life and introduced him to Jesus.

            When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” Moses answered, “Here I am.”

 When Jesus (The Lord) saw that Moses noticed and came to look, God the Father called to Moses by name. Jesus told us that no one comes to the Father except by Him/Jesus and that no one comes unless the Father draws him. Jesus tells us that He, Jesus, calls us by name.

(John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 6:44  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.)

Moses couldn’t even hear God until he responded to the Spirit and the Son. Once he did, he heard God call his name.

God doesn’t change. Even back in the Old Covenant times, He was preparing mankind for the New Covenant.  The trinity works in the same way.

Moses was not seeking God when the Holy Spirit (or the flame) got his attention. Moses couldn’t yield to the Lord until he saw Him in the flame, the Father couldn’t call him to his ministry until Moses went through Jesus first.

It is still the same today. We all yielded to Christ when the Holy Spirit prepared our hearts to see Him. We responded when we heard our own name, when we knew that He was calling us personally. What a wonderful God we serve!

We’ve been told that we have to decide to accept Christ in order to be saved.  Just like Moses, all we did was notice Him and He did the rest. We entered into His kingdom the moment we saw Him. Also, like Moses, we cannot miss our “burning bush” experience. God Almighty, Elohim, gets our attention Himself in whatever way will best capture us, then He completes it in us.

The next thing that happened was that God told Moses to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.  He was already in the Kingdom. Again, Moses did nothing but listen.  “Holy” means “set apart for God. ” Moses was standing in a piece of heaven on earth. The “dirt” of this world (his sandals) doesn’t belong there. When we acknowledge Jesus’ call, our “shoes” are removed also and we now stand in God’s kingdom on earth. The great thing about the New Covenant is that Jesus removed our shoes for us. Moses, being Old Covenant, had to remove his own.

                        5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses, a murderer, one who ran away from God is now afraid. He is face to face with the Almighty. Even we, in the New Covenant, are aware of our sins and our unworthy condition the first time we hear our name called by God. God, however, goes on speaking to Moses without acknowledging Moses’ fear. God wasn’t interested in his shortcomings or his past, God now focuses on the future.  Just like what He did and does with us.

God laid out the whole plan. He told Moses that he would be the one to set the people free from Egypt, that they would leave there wealthy, that the land promised to Abraham was waiting for them. He tells Moses what His Name is and answers all of Moses’ questions.  The next thing Moses did was try and get out of it, but that’s another story.

The takeaway here is that God never changes.  Moses didn’t deserve grace, neither do we. Moses was a sinner, so were we. Moses was called, so are we.

We receive eternal life not because we gave our life to Christ, but because He gave His life for us.

           God So loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

        God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:19)

        In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

So, like Moses, it’s not about us, it’s about Him and His love. (With Moses, it was His love for the Jewish slaves in Egypt; with us, it’s His love for us who were slaves to the world.)  He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs  according to the hope of eternal life.      

All we need to do is say “Thank you” and spread the good news to others so they can be set free too!

 

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The “Grace” Controversy

July 28, 2014

GOD’S GRACE. Controversial?

Who’d have ever thought that God’s grace could be controversial?  Yet, it seems to be a controversial topic among preachers and teachers today.  What a strange world we live in (oh, the world has always been strange).

In Paul’s day, the religious Jewish folk said he was “blaspheming the Law of Moses and the temple” because he was not telling Gentiles (non-Jews) to become circumcised or that they had to follow the Jewish laws.  Today, there are those who say that persons who preach grace want to throw out the Old Testament….similar? [If you read the Book of Acts in the Bible, you’ll see this everywhere Paul went.]

The Old Testament was the only “Scripture” available to the first Apostles.  Paul, as a teacher and lawyer, used it to prove that Jesus was the Messiah to the Jews.  Paul proved Jesus was Messiah to the Gentiles by signs and wonders.  The Old Testament scriptures would have had no meaning to non-Jews.  Paul used whatever he could to show the non-Jews that God loved them; however, they wouldn’t be able to connect the dots using a scripture that had no relevance for them.

As Christian believers in this time, we have the wealth of the Old Testament to peruse as we see Jesus Christ throughout.  We can see God’s plan of redemption beginning in Genesis and follow it all the way through.  We can see God’s character and how patient he was to the Jewish people and how He loved them.  We see his plan to return mankind to a place where they are one with Him again.  We see how blessed we are that we have a new contract (covenant/testament) and that, as believers, we have been set free from the law of sin and death. {Romans 2:8}

When Jesus walked the planet among us, he was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub (Satan).  [Luke 11:15]

When Jesus was here, there were no Christians.  He came to the Jews to explain to them who he was and to show them that they were not able to keep the Mosaic Law perfectly enough to ensure salvation.  He showed them how impossible it is to keep the Law so that they would know that they needed a Savior (Him).  Most of them eventually did not believe and many of them called for his crucifixion.

He had a dual message:  1) that no one can keep the Law well enough to be saved and, therefore, God sent His Messiah to save them; and 2) to prophecy about the New Covenant (or agreement, contract or Testament) and what would happen after He died, took our punishment, and rose again to a new life…ushering in that New Covenant.

I knew the grace of God when Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior. John 3:16-18 says

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Just believe?  Isn’t that grace?  This was God’s plan from the beginning.  No hoops to jump through, no Law to obey, just receiving His gift of mercy and grace.

So…we just believe and go on living however we feel like?  Well, we could, but there is another component…the Holy Spirit who comes and lives in us when we turn ourselves over to Jesus Christ, believing He has done it all.  The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus in us.  Our lives begin to change as the Spirit begins changing our desires to match up with God’s desires. We cannot remain the same as we were…we are alive for the first time, we KNOW love for the first time and we respond to that love. [John 14:17; 16:5-15]

Many of those who are so uptight about grace forget the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and our new ability to respond.

When you fall in love with someone, even on an earthly level, you want to please them, you want to learn all about them, and you change your life for them.  Think about how it would be if that person’s spirit was in you helping you to understand them, showing you how to love them and, more than that, showing you that they love you more than you could even absorb.  That’s what grace is like…that’s what grace is.

             Grace is Jesus.  Grace is Love.

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He loves me, He loves me not!

June 28, 2014

*This post is geared to born again Christians.  If you are not among us, scroll down to the bottom and I’ll tell you all the hoops you have to go through to become one.

To my brothers and sisters in the Lord:

Why did you accept Christ as your Savior?  What called to you, what intrigued you, what moved you?  What were you responding to?

Think back.  We all have our own story, our “testimony” about our first encounter with the Living Lord.  Did we come to Him because we “had to”?  Did we believe out of fear?  What was our first experience with Him, with Jesus?  Was it LOVE?…just absolute love and acceptance as a beloved child? All of a sudden, did we “know” Him? Did we KNOW that He loved us just because He loves us? Did we just KNOW?

At that beautiful moment, did He give you a list of “do’s and don’ts, or rules and regulations?  Did you feel burdened down by His yoke?  Did you think that you had to do anything to keep His love?

I know I didn’t.  All I knew was that He died for me, paid the penalty for my sins, loved me enough to call me to Himself and He set me free to tell others about this GREAT NEWS!  I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew what and Who I found and to tell them that they could find Him too!

I found his unqualified, undeserved, absolute, unconditional acceptance and love.  I was filled with Him and His love.  I was on fire for Him.  Nothing would ever be the same because of Him and His mercy and grace.

That was about 45 years ago for me.  During those years, many things happened and life continued.  I wandered off for a while (all the while knowing He was with me and calling me back). I returned to Him again. I always knew He loved me. I always knew He’d take me back. Did I always feel great about me? No. But, I realize that, just as my salvation was not about me, neither is His love.

His love is about Him.  He IS LOVE.  He has placed His seed in me, has sealed me with the Holy Spirit, and has made me eternally His. I did nothing to deserve His love and I can do nothing to un-deserve it because it’s all about Him.

Over the years, I wanted to learn more about Him. I diligently studied the Bible to learn more.  I found that I was loved and secure. I found out that I was one with Him, just like He was one with the Father.  I was moved from glory to glory!  I discovered the power of faith and of declaring His word. I was baptized in the Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Unfortunately, with my desire to know more, I began taking in the teaching of men.  I began taking in “rules and regulations” into my Spirit and my Spirit began to become heavy…I began trying to “work out my salvation” by doing, or not doing, things to improve my walk with God.  I tried pulling the ox cart all by myself, or yoked with other sincere people…but not yoked with the One who asked me to take “His yoke” which was not heavy, but light. I began to rely on me instead of Him.

Recently, I was blessed by a new/old revelation…It’s not my job!  He, just as in my salvation, has done it all. I repented of my pride, let go of my lopsided yoke and gave myself back to Him.  Now, He does the heavy lifting and I walk along side Him.  He leads, I follow. He teaches me of His Love and I am in love with Him again.

No longer do I live in “He loves me, He loves me not” based on my performance, but in HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME!

Again, I ask you, remember the first things…how you felt in the beginning and drink in the joy of your salvation again.  HE LOVES YOU TOO! JUST THE WAY YOU ARE…JUST AS YOU AND I CAME TO HIM. He still loves us more than we can love Him back and He will lead us from GLORY to GLORY!  He can’t help Himself because He loves us so much.

To Him be the glory forever and ever, amen!

***

*The “hoop” is found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verses 16-18.

 “John 3:16-18  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

ONE HOOP: BELIEVE IN HIM!   Oh, and before I forget…I didn’t say this, Jesus did.

           Try it, you’ll like it.  He loves you!

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CELL PHONE IDOLATRY

March 26, 2014

The email said “Free iphone 5c!”  All I had to do was upgrade an old phone which was no longer under a contract and renew the contract for 2 years.  Wow!  I love gadgets and I love new cell phones.  I was so excited!  I looked on the website and, yup, it was true.  I could get a brand new, top of the line phone…free!

We use cell phones for business and for personal use.  None of our phones are currently under contract, we are on “month to month”.  Our phones are “obsolete”, I’ve been told.  This sounded like such a great deal.

I have learned not to jump when I see a great deal (the hard way).  So, I talked to my husband about it (he wasn’t excited), I talked to the local store about it (they weren’t excited either-no commission).  I told my friends (no excitement there either).

Well, having all this “counsel”, I decided to wait a little.

I found myself thinking about this phone, arguing with myself as to why it was a good idea (or less: why it was a bad idea).  For a few days, I wrestled with whether or not to do it.

One night, I woke from a deep sleep thinking about THE PHONE!  Oh No!

I realized that I had made the phone an idol!  It was consuming my mind!  I knew at that moment, I could not get the phone.  Not because it would be a sin, but because I agreed with God that it was getting in between Him and me.

It’s amazing how subtle our flesh is, how even a free phone offer can move me from focusing on those things that give me peace, in Christ to obsessing and lusting for an inanimate object.

So, I’ll do with my old “dumb” phone and move forward with a better perspective.  Thank you Lord.

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HUMBLE EGO TRIP?

February 24, 2014

            I remember thinking, during a worship service, how grateful I was for the cross.  I was imagining myself standing at the bottom, looking down at his blood, and feeling so very overwhelmed with my own unworthiness.  In the midst of this tremendous emotional drama, I heard in my mind (in my own voice…like a random thought) the words, “You are on the wrong side of the cross.”  It caught me up short!  What?  What does that mean I thought, wrong side?

            At the time, I didn’t realize the importance of that statement.  I understood that it meant that I needed to get into the forgiveness side of things, but didn’t really know what that meant.  But, I knew it was the Lord.

Most of my Christian walk (since 1975), I’ve felt unworthy or less than.  When I was first born again, I didn’t care if I was worthy or not.  I knew that I was saved, loved, forgiven, set free…had a clean slate and a new beginning.  As the years went by, I started putting things on my slate.  I put on a lot of “should’s”, “have to’s”, “must not’s”, etc.  I also always fell short of all those goals.  Some were taught to me, some were found in the Bible, and most came from my own mind.

So, I got involved in church, got counseling, studied the bible, listened to certain TV preachers, etc.  All the while, I still felt like everyone else “had it” but me.

Recently, the scales fell off my eyes (just like the apostle Paul in the Bible (Acts 9)) and I saw Jesus again!  I was reading a book entitled, “God Without Religion”, by Andrew Farley, on New Year’s Eve and by the next morning, I couldn’t’ put it down.  He plainly explained grace in his book and brought me back to the “joy of my salvation” (Psalm 51:12).  When Jesus said “It is finished” it was finished!  I didn’t have to be concerned about “should, have to, mustn’t” words.  Jesus covered everything.  He left us with only two commandments:  “Love God and love others.”  We can’t love God until we know that God loves us.  Once we know, we begin to love him.  As we get to know more about his love for us, we begin to love him more and more and we want to tell others about Jesus.

Does this give us an excuse to keep living a life of sin?  Why would we want to?  Why, after being touched by his love, would we have any desire to do anything that would move our focus from that love?  He said he will complete the work he started in us (Phil. 1:6), He will take us from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).  We are his forever, He tells us that we know his voice and no one can snatch us out of his hands, and because the Father has given us to him, no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hands.  (John 10:26-29).

Humble?  Who cares!  Jesus loves me just as I am and will make me whole, through the Holy Spirit.  I just have to love Him back and share that love with others.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM! (2 Cor. 3:17)

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The Old is New Again!

February 17, 2014

     I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1975. That was a long time ago.  One thing I knew, then, was that I was forgiven, my sins were removed, my slate was clean.  He loved me and died for me to set me free.  I KNEW that!  I didn’t know the Bible, I didn’t belong to a church, I only knew that I was forgiven and new. 

I was so excited I couldn’t wait to tell others.  I was so excited that others hid when they saw me coming, and then…they too accepted the Lord and they became “born again”.

This was during the Charismatic movement in the Catholic Church and, following my mother, I began to attend prayer meetings.  I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, Wait! Don’t stop reading because you don’t believe that is for today, or that is only for the Apostles.  Who told you that anyway?  No one told Stephen, Philip, Barnabas and many others, so they just did what Jesus said. Look for yourselves.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to start reading the Bible and finding out what is said.  It came alive.

That excitement lasted about three years.  I saw miracles. I saw addicts set free and arthritis and migraine headaches healed by the laying on of hands (by just plain, ordinary believers, just like Jesus said).

Over the years, the excitement wore off and the world crept in.  I was leaving my first love and becoming self-consumed again.  Little by little, like Chinese water torture, self became more important.

When I attempted to get back what I had, I joined a bible teaching church, I diligently listened to the Pastor.  I learned about faith and the power of it.  I learned and learned.  I liked my church and loved my Pastors.  I became involved in service and small groups and training, and the like.

We eventually changed pastors and our new Pastor began really teaching the Bible.  He took more than a year and a half to go through the Old Testament historical books giving us a clear understanding.  He had us do daily readings and we read the Proverbs and Psalms.  His teaching was clear and concise.  I began to take BibleCollege courses to learn more.  He took us through the Gospels, tying the Old and the New Testaments, showing threads and shadows and how it all led to God’s Plan to set us free.

I was filled with knowledge, filled with faith, yet something was missing.

On New Year’s Day, 2014, in a little book, I found what it was.  It was just plain Jesus!

That day in 1975, I met Him. I knew He loved me unconditionally.  But, over the years, I forgot.  I started adding have to and if  to the Gospel…“conditions”.  Then, I tried to meet all the “conditions” I had imposed upon myself, or had imposed upon me by various teachers, books, etc.

Jesus spoke to two types of people: religious and believers.  To the religious, He said, in essence: “You’ll never be good enough. You have to be perfect to enter into My Kingdom.”  To the Believers, He said, “I have covered it all, you only have to believe in Me and tell others about the good news!”

I now know when I read the Bible or listen to teaching, I must rightly divide the word of truth…there are no if’s or have to’s in the Good News, just Jesus, who did it all for us and finished it.

It’s called “Grace”, unmerited, empowering, freeing, loving Grace!  Grace to just love God and others.  Grace to set others free!  He just plain loves us!  We can’t escape His love and we can’t make Him love us more!  All I had to do is believe…and it’s still all I have to do. He did all the rest.