Monday, December 30, 2013

Master's Card


I'm here to advertise my credit card. I'm a card carrying 
representative for the Master's Card.
That's right, the MASTER'S CARD. Let me tell you about it. There are no finance charges, no payments due. My bill has already been covered . . . it's a prepaid deal. I couldn't afford the price. Jesus paid it for you and me. It is accessible twenty-four hours a day from anywhere in the world.

The MASTER'S CARD has so many benefits it's hard to list them
all. Let me share some of them with you:
  • Just for starters there is unlimited grace.
Apply for the MASTER'S CARD.
  • Looking for love in all the wrong places?
Apply for the MASTER'S CARD.
  • Want real joy despite the difficulties of life?
Apply for the MASTER'S CARD.
  • Want a lasting peace?
Apply for the MASTER'S CARD.

How do you obtain the MASTER'S CARD?
Dial 1-800-BeSaved for the following messages:
Romans 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is
Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the 
dead, you will be saved."
Jesus is standing by right now to take your call. Don't delay. 
This great offer won't last forever.
There are some things money can't buy. For those things, there's the Master's Card.
- Author Unknown

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Lord is my shepherd

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd - That's Relationship!

I shall not want - That's Supply!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures - That's Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters - That's Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul - That's Healing!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness - That's Guidance!

For His namesake - That's Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death - That's Testing!

I will fear no evil - That's Protection!

For Thou art with me - That's Faithfulness!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me - That's Discipline!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies - That's Hope!

Thou annointest my head with oil - That's Consecration!

My cup runneth over - That's Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life - That's Blessing!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord - That's Security!

Forever - That's Eternity!

What is most valuable is not what we have in our lives, but WHOM we have in our lives!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Geese and the Snowstorm

There was once a man who did not believe in either the virgin birth of Christ or the spiritual meaning behind it, and was skeptical even about God. He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in the faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her belief and mocked her religious observances.

"It's all nonsense, why would God, if there is a God, lower Himself and become a human like us? It's such a ridiculous story," he said.

One snowy Sunday, the wife and the children left for church while the husband stayed home. After they had departed, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window of the house, and, still another thump. He looked outside but could not see anything so he ventured outside for a better view. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of geese. They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but they had been caught in the snowstorm. The storm had become too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter, unable to do more than flutter their wings and fly in aimless circles. He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, "the barn would be a great place for them to stay. It is warm and safe, surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm." So he opened the barn doors for them. He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn door and go inside. Nevertheless, they did not notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear. He went into the house and came back with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail to the barn. They still did not catch on. Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them towards the barn. They panicked and scattered into every direction except toward the barn.

Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter. Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don't they follow me? Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm? How can I possibly get them into the one place that would save them?"

He thought for a moment and realized that they just would not follow a human. He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I could become like one of them. Then I could save them. They would follow me and I would lead them to safety."

At that moment, he stopped and considered what he had said. The words reverberated in his mind; "If only I could become like one of them, then I could save them." Then, at last, he understood God's heart towards mankind...and he fell on his knees in the snow.

 author unknown

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Who is Jesus? Why did he come to earth?

The Exchanged Life concept may have originated with Hudson Taylor, a missionary living in China. He wrote a letter to his sister dated October 17, 1869.
“    My own dear Sister…As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been, perhaps, the happiest of my life; and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul…..
    But personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God. I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently…but all was with out avail….I knew that if I could only abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not…but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, often caused me to forget Him. Them one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control…Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin…I felt I was a child of God; His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all, ‘Abba, Father’; but to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless…
    When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus….’But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.’…’I will never leave you.” I’ll strive no more. For has He not promised to abide with me-never to leave me, never to fail me?’ And, dearie, He never will!…

    No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. All this springs from the believer’s oneness with Christ….

“He tells us in His own words. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Luke 4:18,19
It is our belief that freedom is the birthright of every believer. We believe that freedom in Christ is God’s answer for every bondage. Many struggling with addictive behaviors and bondage are taught to cope. The emphasis is on the problem and what we must do. That is not why Jesus came.
Shift the focus from man and the problem to God and the answer. We must focus on what Jesus came for:
  1. Preach the Gospel-The Good News of what God has done-not what we should do.
  2. Proclaim freedom-our rightful inheritance as children of God.
  3. Recovery of sight to the blind-To see and believe the Truth that sets you free.
  4. Release the oppressed-Don’t put burdens of behavior and condemnation on people.
  5. Proclaim the year of God’s favor (grace)-Proclaim God’s grace.
If we focus on what we do-our program, our group, our freedom will be limited to our ability to carry through. If we focus on God and what He has accomplished on the cross, we will be able to experience freedom in Christ. Freedom is your birthright. Don’t settle for Less!”
Mike & Julia Quarles Freedom in Christ Recovery Ministry 770-998-6487

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How to love unconditionally and be loved unconditionally

Be a Love-Spreader
   The world is starved for love. It doesn’t take a survey or a study to figure out that a root cause of many social ills is a lack of genuine love. For those who do not know the love of God, the empty space in their hearts gnaws at them continually, regardless of whether they consciously acknowledge this void…
   With a Savior and Friend who attends to every need and covers your life with His promise of eternal care, you have His unlimited resources at your disposal. In difficult circumstances, under stress, in times of confusion, you have a relationship with the one with the answers and the strength to see you through. Now you have the opportunity to share this love with others…
   Before you really can be an effective love-giver, however, you must learn to love yourself properly. How you treat others depends in large part on how you love yourself…
   “And a second [command] is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
   Jesus is talking about treating others with the same respect and concern you naturally give yourself. If you have a low self-esteem, devaluing your worth in God’s eyes or paralyzed by a sense of inadequacy, then you are not equipped to reach out to someone else. You are a needy person yourself, and your interactions with others often become attempts to fill your own wants rather than satisfying theirs. You run the very real rish of becoming a “user,” perhaps even without knowing it.
   The best treatment for a low self-esteem,…is to supply your thinking with truth about your “Jesus-esteem.” Find verses in the Bible that reaffirm your value in His eyes and memorize them. (Psalm 139, Mathew 10:29-31, and 1 Samuel 16:7 provide a good start.)…
   Let the Lord pour His love through you. Being the vessel in His capable hands relieve you of countless stressful burdens He never intended for you to carry…
v  Love is not a feeling or passing emotion-it’s a commitment.
v  Love is an affirmation of belonging, competence, and worth.
v  Love continues to care, even when it is rejected or ignored.
   …And you’re right-nobody can love this way on his own…That is why you need to rely on the Holy Spirit to administer God’s love through you. He enables you to go beyond what you want or desire to treat others soleyly for their good.
   What is the meaning of life? It’s exactly what Jesus said it is-receiving the love of God and allowing him to use you to give it to someone else. (Galatians 5:6)

The Spiritual Foundations Series, The Love of God by Dr. Charles Stanley

Friday, December 20, 2013

God's sacrifice

God Spells Love S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E

   “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. This is the kind of love Jesus demonstrated when He came to earth to die for your sins. He gave up everything for a time on your behalf, forgoing the honor and glory that are His due to becoming a human being-God in the flesh, fully God and fully man. (John 1:1)
   Why did He go through all of this for you? He did it to get rid of the one thing that separates you from the love of God-sin. Anything in your life that is displeasing to God and contrary to His law, God calls sin, and all of us are born with sin already in our hearts. (Romans 3:23)
   Sin is the big love-blocker, and only someone without sin can remove it from you. That Someone is Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. He literally took your place by taking your punishment. When you believe that He did this for you, placing your faith in Him as your Savior, He wipes away every ounce of guilt and wrongdoing. (John 3:16; 13:1; Romans 8:1; 1 John 4:9-10) You are covered by His love and continue to live in His love forever.
   Understanding the absolute, unconditional security of His love is vital to having a free and stable relationship with Him…
…Jesus’ sacrifice is part of God’s agape love; you cannot fall out of God’s favor or lose His love as a result of anything you say or do or think. Ephesians 2:8-9 gives you this assurance: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one may boast.”
   You did not have to perform certain actions to earn His love. God loves you because He want to, and He never changes His mind-no matter what. (Romans 5:8)
“Telling God “I Love You Too”
As you feel His love surrounding you, enveloping your whole being with divine affection and unending attention, your natural response is to show Him love in return. Gratitude, adoration, closeness, respect, affection, a holy awe, tenderness-all these feelings and more can well up inside you, causing you to want to celebrate your fellowship with Him.
   …What you do with God’s Word, how much you jpay attention to His directions and commands, reveals a great deal about your love for God…Obedience is not an evaluation measure of performance but an indicator of priority.
   …As Jesus moves you to maturity and instills His principles into your life, you have the growing desire to do what pleases Him…
   …Obedience is not a mechanical, dull exercise of drudgery; it is the key to a true, godly liberty that knows no boundaries.

The Spiritual Foundations Series, The Love of God by Dr. Charles Stanley

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

God is Love

   You were born to love and be loved. Did you know that?
   Your purpose in life goes far beyond earning a living, taking care of your family, or just making it from day to day. You were created by God to have a fulfilling, one-on-one relationship with Him and to share this love with others. In a complex world, filled with emotional pain and complicated social problems, this purpose statement may sound simplistic, but it is not.
   …A lawyer and Jesus Christ once had a very important conversation: “’Teacher,’ [the lawyer asked], ‘which is the great commandment in the Law?’
“And He said to him, “’ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets”’ (Matthew 22:36-40).
   …From the moment of your conception, and even before that, God loved you. (Ephesians 1:3-6, Psalm 139:15-16).
   …God’s goal for your life is that you come to know him as the one, true God. Through knowing God, you come to worship and serve Him, praising and honoring the Lover of your soul with your words and with your life. God did not have to make you; He does not ‘need’ you in the way that you need food or water or companionship. God is complete and lacks nothing, but He chose to create You. He chose to bring you into being as a person to receive His divine affection and to give affection back to Him. To God, this fellowship means everything.
   …Agape love is the perfect, consuming, unfathomable, unconditional love of God. It is completely unselfish, forgiving, and dedicated to your complete welfare. On your own, you cannot generate or experience agape love; it only can come from God. If you try to think of the most generous or benevolent act a human being could perform, even that does not compare with the magnitude of God’s eternal, unshakable love for you. Jeremiah 31:3
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). His love is therefore unalterable.

The Spiritual Foundations Series, The Love of God by Dr. Charles Stanley

Monday, December 16, 2013

The will of God

Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

   There will be times when you will experience a crisis of belief. Pressures of life increase, and your bright outlook on the future dims. Your path becomes unclear because of the trials you face. When this happens, how do you handle your circumstances?
   The world tells you to judge the situation by what you see. God asks that you keep your eyes on Him. The world commands you to overcome obstacles by strength, with, affluence, and power. God asks you to trust Him.
Romans 12:2 admonishes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
In other words, once you accept Christ as your Savior, you are to live by different standards. Handle your situations by placing your trust on God, not on the world’s rules.
   A. J. Conyers writes, “Christians must never forget that this world is not home…Adaptation may be second nature, but it can also be the death of our first nature―that created in the image of God and then recreated by the grace of God in Christ.”
   As Scripture prescribes, do not be conformed to this world. Renew your mind in the midst of difficulty. Rely upon God’s love and be confident that His will is good, acceptable, and perfect for you.
 July 2001
                In Touch page 28
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God―this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is―his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:1-2

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to surrender to God

Lord here I am, my sacrifice to you.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God―this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is―his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:1-2

   If our hearts are going to truly surrender to God, we must be willing to allow God to define good and evil and shape us according to His will. We must be willing, not only to do what is right, but to let God define what is right. Good is whatever God desires, evil is whatever God prohibits.
   At first, conforming may simply be an act of the will. We may obey God, not necessarily because we want to, but because we may know we should. However, if we are faithful in surrendering our will to God, over time we will soon begin wanting to obey. [William] Law said, “When you love that which God loves, you act with Him, you join yourself to Him, and when you love what He dislikes, then you oppose Him and separate yourself from Him.”
   This is why it is so spiritually debilitating to ever willfully rebel against God. Obedience and disobedience are both habitual. Our appetites and passions are like our taste buds-we crave what we grow used to. To experience true surrender, we must die to our own desires so that God can give us new desires.
   When God birthed thanksgiving in my heart, my purest cry was simply, “God I want to be on your side.”

   Consider this beautiful doxology recorded by Paul in Romans 11:34-36: “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
   Paul’s amazing confidence in God shines forth throughout history and has affected innumerable generations. No matter what happened to Paul, he had faith in God. He trusted that God’s wisdom and power far outclassed his own.
   Which is why Paul admonished, “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
As Paul, whenever anything happens in your life, it is an opportunity to worship God. You have a choice. Either you will turn away from God because you blame your troubles on Him, or you will turn to God and cling to Him.
Your life can be a song of worship to the God who loves you and has a perfect plan for your life. He is wise and full of love for you.

   Will you depend on God for every area of your life? Will you trust His hand in the most difficult circumstances? Will you reject His ways or sing His praise?
July 2001 In Touch page 27

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Frustrated with life?

The Gift of Freedom

  “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
  Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But not that you know God-or rather are known by God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?”
Galatians 4:6-9 
  Frustration is defined as “a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.”
  Though “frustration” hardly seems like a tool God would use, Romans 8:20-21 reports that it is an avenue by which God teaches us how to enjoy the freedom He so graciously provides: “The creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
  Do you experience a deep sense of frustration that derives from problems or needs beyond your control?
  Remember God is in the process of revealing a great lesson to you. He allows frustrations to build so you will be driven back to Him in prayer.
  It is in times of quiet devotion that we hear the Savior whisper to our confused and frustrated hearts words of hope and peace.
  Only God can offer the freedom we need to survive the greatest frustrations. He is the One who knows how to satisfy perfectly our every need.
  Are you feeling frustrated today? Rejoice! God is at work in your life. Ask Him how you should handle this frustration. Never allow feelings of doubt and confusion to rule your emotions. God has set you free!
In Touch July 2001, page 23, July 4

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Freedom from sin - Freedom in Christ

All sin is rebellion against God, but because of Jesus Christ, we can be set free from its entanglement.

  “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
Romans 6:11-18
  There is a sure way to deal with sin and that is by applying God’s Word to whatever temptation you are facing. If not dealt with, temptation will turn into sin, and sin will gain a stronghold in your life. From that point, it will permeate all you do.
  People like to think that sin only affects them. For example, they deny the seriousness of adultery by thinking it won’t hurt anyone else, but it always does!
  Sin destroys families, friendships, but most of all, it destroys our fellowship with God. The aftershock of David’s sin with Bathsheba was felt throughout his family and kingdom. It weakened his ability to rule Israel and cost him the respect of family and countrymen. However, the most dramatic result of his sin was how it clouded his fellowship with the Lord.
  In Psalm 51, David prayed this prayer to God: “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge” (v.4).
  When we cry out to the Lord, He provides the strength and power we need to deal with our sin. He forgives and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. While there are consequences to sin, God will not caste us away. We may have to endure sorrow and embarrassment, but He will walk beside us and strengthen us in our walk with Him.

In Touch June 2001, page 35, June 29

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Freedom in Christ

“…know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 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.”
Galatians 2:16-20

Perhaps, you thought you had conquered every sinful impulse. That was, until temptation or a new set of trails brought to light some area of your life that you thought had been conquered. This is when you wondered, “How could this happen? I am supposed to be free from sin.”

Oswald Chambers explains, “The Savior has set us free from sin, but this is the freedom that comes from being set free from myself by the Son. It is what Paul meant in Galatians 2:20 when he said, ‘I have been crucified with Christ.’ His individuality had been broken and his spirit had been united with his Lord; not just merged into Him, but made one with Him.”
If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, then you are one with Him. His likeness and holiness are present within your life. However, there remains within you a sin nature that must be surrendered to God.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
The gift of freedom that Jesus gives requires faith. We must believe that He can root out the strongholds within our hearts and that He continuously works to make us free from all sin and bondage. Our responsibility is to say no to sin and yes to God as we trust Him to provide the all-encompassing liberty that our souls crave.
In Touch July 2001, page 22, July 3

Friday, December 6, 2013

Forgiveness - God's Forgiveness

Let us go to Calvary to learn how we may be forgiven. And then let us linger there to learn how to forgive. 
Charles Spurgeon

   On our own we have nothing worthy of His forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t look at us and decide whether we are good enough to merit His forgiveness. He knows we’re not. His forgiveness is unconditional and based in His eternal love for mankind. If there were something we could do to merit His forgiveness, then God’s forgiveness would not be based on grace. It would be founded in performance…I am forgiven by God because of His Son’s love and death at Calvary…His death is sufficient payment for my transgressions and I now stand accepted and loved by God…The way we receive God’s eternal forgiveness is by acknowledging our sinfulness and asking Jesus Christ to come into our lives and cleanse us from all transgressions (Romans 6:23).
   Jesus came into this world as a man to die upon the Cross, and bear the penalty of our sin. All of our sinfulness was placed on Him at Calvary’s cross. God in His mercy accepts the atoning death of His Son as payment for our sins-past, present, and future. We are justified (proclaimed not guilty) in the eyes of God because Jesus died in our place. Therefore, we are set free from sin’s power. We are liberated to be all that God has planned for us to be. And we can now enjoy His fellowship through the presence of His Holy Spirit in our lives…
   Forgiveness, in God’s eyes, is the act of setting someone free from an obligation that resulted in a wrong done against another person.
Forgiveness is something all of us will have to deal with at one point in life or the other. We each will face varying degrees of injustices. Some will be easy to overlook; others take time. Regardless, the process of forgiveness cannot be overlooked.
   If we want to become what God has created us to be, forgiveness needs to be a part of our lifestyle. When we refuse to forgive, our relationship with God suffers. ...The first step to forgiveness and freedom is realizing that you are forgiven by God. When God looks at you, He sees the testimony of His Son declaring you not guilty.
   …Ask God now to make His forgiveness and unconditional love toward you very real. Then you are ready to take a step forward into a life that is unshackled and free-a life of praise and glory to God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Spiritual Foundations Series Freedom Through Forgiveness by Dr. Charles Stanley

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Grace - The Grace of God

    When we learn about grace we learn what life is all about.  We learn about who we are.  But more importantly we learn about who God is, what the gospel is and our relationship with Him.  We enter into a dimension of life we never dreamed possible.  Nothing is changed and yet everything is changed.  Grace is not just getting what you don't deserve.  Grace is getting the opposite of what you deserve.  Grace is not just another doctrine.  Grace is the way God relates to us.  Grace is the gospel as the bible says (Acts 20:24).  What is grace?
1. Grace is knowing that there is no more guilt, condemnation and punishment (Rom, 8:2).
2. Grace is knowing that God loves me and accepts me just the way I am not because of what I do, but because of the cross (Rom. 5:5-8).
3. Grace is knowing that Satan was defeated at the cross and has no power over me and the only weapon he has is the lie. (Col. 2:15).
4. Grace is knowing that because I died to the law and have been released from it (Rom. 7:4,6), I don't have to live up to anyone's standards.
5. Grace is knowing that I am not under law but under grace (Rom. 6:14) and that Christ is the end of the law (Rom. 10:4), it is not up to me to live the Christian life, but to trust Christ in me to do it (Gal. 2:20).
6. Grace is knowing that there is nothing I can do to make God love me more and nothing I could do to make him love me less (Rom. 8:39).
7. Grace is knowing that Jesus said that all who come to Him will find that the Christian life is easy and their burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).
8. Grace is knowing that it is not up to me to do or die or strive and strain, but to believe that He will do it all for me (1 Thess. 5:24).
9. Grace is knowing that my sin and failure cannot overcome the grace of God (contrary to popular belief) (Rom. 5:20,21).
10. Grace is knowing that no matter what I do or how I mess up, God is going to love me through all eternity (Rom. 11:6; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 4:6).
11. Grace is knowing that I have all I need because Christ is in me and I am in Him and He is in the Father (John 14:20).
12. Grace is knowing that freedom is my birthright as a child of God and not something I have to attain (Gal. 5:1; John 8:32,36).
13. Grace is knowing that I am dead to sin and alive to God because of what God has done and nothing that I do (Rom. 6:4-7).
14. Grace is knowing that I am righteous because God has placed me in Christ and not because of anything I do (I Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21).
15. Grace is knowing that I have died to the world, it's customs, ways, values and people's demands and expectations of me (Gal. 6:13).
16. Grace is knowing that the important thing is not what I do or don't do, but faith in what God has done and who I am in Christ (Gal. 6:5,14).
17. Grace is knowing that I am secure in Christ, that I do not have to fear any person and that He will never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5,6).
18. Grace is knowing that Christ is my life; that my life is hidden in Him and I have everything I need for life and godliness (Col. 3:3,4; 2 Pet. 1:3).
19. Grace is knowing that victory is not something to work for, but it has already been given to me (1 Cor. 15:56; Eph.2:6; Eph 1:19-21).

We have just waded into the vast, limitless ocean of God's grace.  The list is endless and we will spend the rest of eternity adding to our list.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Spiritual Bondage

 How We Get Into Bondage and Why We Don't Get Out
1.  Our greatest needs are to be accepted (loved) and have worth (value).  This is what drives us to do what we do.  It is the motivation behind all behavior.  God made us that way and His design is that He will meet all our needs when we look to Him.
2.  As we grow up, have problems and go through life we get messages about who we are.   At first they are only feelings about ourselves, but they quickly turn into what we believe about ourselves.  It is the way we see ourselves and who we believe we are.
3.  As a result we all develop a false identity about who we are.  This false identity comes from the world (family, environment, hurts, trauma), our flesh (ways we try to live life in our own resources) and the devil, who constantly accuses us and tells us lies about ourself, God and what we need in life.  It shapes all of our life and everything we do.
4.  We begin to try to meet our needs for acceptance and worth the best way that we can -- in our own resources (flesh).  As a result we develop ways of living as we attempt to cope, escape, defend ourselves, succeed (or avoid failure). These are flesh patterns or ways that we learn to live life independent of God.  We develop these patterns based on how we perceive ourselves, what we believe about God and how we think life works.
5.  A flesh pattern is simply a way that we have learned to meet our needs independent of God.  All of us have them because none of us were born Christians and none of us look to God to meet all our needs all the time.  We wrongly think it is just the way we are. One of Satan's biggest lies is that what we do determines who we are.
6.  Some of these ways (flesh patterns) are unacceptable such as irresponsibility.   Some of them are very bad such as drug and alcohol addiction.  But some of them are acceptable such as perfectionism and driven to succeed. We need to know that anything that we do to meet our needs apart from God is flesh.  It could be good, right, noble and even spiritual, but if we are trying to meet our needs instead of looking God, it is flesh.
7.  Some of these ways develop into strongholds such as drug addiction which causes a lot of problems in our lives.  As we seek help, more than likely the counsel is to focus on the wrong behavior and try to change it.  This is the reason we don't get free.   The root problem is not the behavior.   The root problem is the misbelief behind the behavior.  As long as a person believes lies about himself he will never get free, no matter what he does.
8.  Alcoholism, addiction, eating disorders, etc., are not the problem.  The problem is the lies we believe about who we are that causes us to try to meet our needs in our own resources. The reason we don't easily give them up is that the way we meet our needs for acceptance and worth is the way we find life and identity.  It is deeply ingrained in us.
9.  When a person learns that they are not a failure, an addict, unloved, insecure, inferior and guilty -- BUT are forgiven, accepted, competent, complete, righteous and secure in Christ, they will begin to change and experience freedom. A person who understands who they are in Christ will not engage in self-destructive, addictive behavior as a life style.
10.  The reason few are finding freedom is that they are trying to change their behavior. They may be trying to change it through spiritual disciplines, but that is nothing but Christian behavior modification (legalism). A person will always act in accordance with how they perceive themselves.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Security - My security in Christ

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 love me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

   For a study, read the books of Galatians and Colossians. With a marker, mark every time you read the word “In.”
   This shows me my position “Christ in me and me in Him”

What security!!!

   For a visual reminder of my identity, do the following project.

Use three envelopes that will easily fit inside each other:
4  Write GOD (largest) Gen. 1:1, 27; John 1:1; 10:38; 14:10-11; 17:21; 14:20.
4  Write JESUS (middle size) John 1:29; 6:35; 8:12; 10:9-10; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 1:21; Gal 3:27; 1 John 5:20.
4  Write my name (smallest) John 17:23; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal 2:20; 1 John 5:20.
4  Write Jesus position on a card or note (Jesus is in me) to be placed in the smallest envelope.

   Decorate or write what is meaningful to you on each envelope.  The above scriptures are only suggestions.
   Place the envelopes inside of each other.
Anything that comes into my life must come through God, through Jesus, to get to me; and when it gets there, it will find me filled with Jesus, so what is there to fear.

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
John 14:20