Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Beautiful Feet

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those
who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!

(Isaiah 52:7)

"The vision is of the feet of the one who runs from the scene of battle across mountains to the city waiting for news (2 Sam. 18:26) The glorious message of this runner is salvation, meaning 'victorious deliverance'. This is good news or glad tidings. The idea appears in the NT as 'to tell the Good News.' The message Your God reigns stands behind all history; the Lord controls every power on earth." (commentary from my NKJV Study Bible)

"How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"" (Romans 10:14-15)  Feet are usually considered dirty and disgusting, especially after traveling in the dust...thus we see the custom of foot washing in the Bible. However, the feet of those who bring good news/glad tidings of salvation and proclaim God's sovereignty and peace are seen as beautiful and attractive because they do the Lord's work (the Great Commission). They are beautiful instruments of motion in the hand of God. They are "feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Ephesians 6:15) If the coming of a messenger declaring that the captivity at Babylon was ended, was delightful and exciting, how much more so should be the coming of the messenger proclaiming that people can be reconciled to God and be forgiven & free (from the captivity of sin) forever?

"What is the greatest crime in the desert? Finding water and keeping silent." (Eastern proverb) We Christians have found the living water, but...have we been keeping silent? Have we committed the greatest crime in the spiritual desert? We must be vocal and active in sharing the Good News that offers the living water to the thirsty, pardon to the guilty, deliverance to the oppressed, hope to the hopeless, and salvation to the lost.

The character of the messenger should correspond with his/her message. Can others see in our lives the joy of salvation, the beauty of transforming grace, and the peace of putting our trust in God alone? May we, who are to be joyful messengers of the Gospel, always walk in faith and obedience, in love and holiness, exuding grace, mercy, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and gentleness! Often, people really don't care to hear what we have to say about God, Jesus, the Bible, Heaven, the Good News until they are convinced that we sincerely care about them.

Let's do all we can to reach the lost (especially the unreached) with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The harvest is ripe.  The need is urgent.  What are you doing about it?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ministry of Reconciliation

"All this is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

God is the Initiator of reconciliation. God's plan of redemption and reconciliation is accomplished by Christ's finished work on the cross. His death removed the barrier to reconciliation as described in Isaiah 59:2, "Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." Sin separates us from God; Christ restores our relationship/ fellowship with God. "All this redemptive work that Christ has done to help and transform men is from God. Men neither deserve it nor share the credit for the results." (James Reid) The unsaved (those without Christ) are enemies of God. Those who are in Christ are friends of God and children of God.

One of the jobs
 God assigns to all His children (no exception) is a ministry of reconciliation. Ministry ("diakonia" in Greek refers to servanthood/service). As Christ's followers (who have been reconciled to God through Christ), we are to serve as Christ's ambassadors. We are called to be His representatives spreading His message of reconciliation to the broken world...that by our words and actions, we might bring others into reconciliation with God. We should take this task and responsibility seriously with passion and conviction as though God were making His appeal (urgent request) through us. We are to implore (plead or beg for urgently) people on Christ's behalf to be reconciled to God. Can you see the sense of urgency? Tons of people die and go to Hell every day. Are we diligently doing our job of sharing the Gospel? Are we living out our faith in Jesus boldly and faithfully? God has entrusted us to share the Good News of redemption and reconciliation with others so that they too can be at peace with Him. We must tell people that Jesus died on the cross to forgive all their sins, resulting in the canceling of the debt they owe God because of their trespasses. Because our trespasses were imputed to Jesus, the justice that our sin demanded is satisfied (not excused). When we trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we make the greatest exchange--our sin for Christ's righteousness. Our sin was laid on Christ at His crucifixion and His righteousness is imputed to us at our conversion. We must help others see the need for repentance, reconciliation, and redemption. Tell them that God loves them and wants to restore them to a relationship with Himself. May we share Paul's resolution: "I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace." (Acts 20:24)

"How tragic when God's messengers of peace harbor enmity toward each other. It is a travesty to carry a message of love and yet be filled with hatred. If there is someone whom you refuse to forgive, your message of reconciliation is hypocrisy. The evidence that you are a disciple of Jesus is that you love your fellow Christian (
John 13:35). In each of your relationships, make certain that your actions share the love and forgiveness that reflect what you received from God. Then you will not only speak the message of reconciliation, but you will live it as well." (Henry Blackaby)

"God has a purpose and plan for your life
When from your sin He has given release;
You're an ambassador for Jesus Christ—

Go and tell others of His perfect peace."

"The goal in ministry isn't culture, relevance or innovation. The goal is Jesus. Let us please Him, preach Him & prepare the world to see Him." (Paul Chappell)

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for reconciling me to Yourself through Christ! I am forever grateful for Your rescue, redemption, reconciliation, and regeneration! Please remind us to take our job as messengers of reconciliation seriously since it is Your will and commission for us. Please empower us to faithfully and boldly spread the Gospel and be effective in our ministry of reconciliation. I pray for unity among Your children that we may love one another and work together to further Your kingdom. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Choose Joy

Habakkuk goes from complaining to God and arguing with God to praying to God and praising God. In the end, he remembers that God is always faithful, powerful, and good. He is resolved to rejoice in the Sovereign Lord, who is his Savior and Strength, no matter what happens.

We, God's children and heirs, who are redeemed and forgiven, who are blessed with every spiritual blessing, and who are born again into a living hope of eternal life with an imperishable inheritance, always have reasons to rejoice ("agalliao" in Greek, meaning "jump for joy")! "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4) We can rejoice even in our trials and sufferings for we know Whom we trust and Whom we belong to. 
The joy of the Lord is our strength! Rejoice in His forgiveness. Rejoice in the Lord always. This joy of the Lord gives us strength to obey and persevere. Find joy in Who God is, in His faithfulness, in His presence, in His provision, in His power, and in His promises. A heart that always sees God's goodness and praises Him cannot help but being joyful. Rejoice at God's Greatest Gift, Jesus Christ. Rejoice at His redeeming grace. Rejoice that you are forgiven and free. Rejoice that someday Christ will return.

Is Jesus your constant Joy and Delight? Joy is the deep gladness that is not dependent on circumstances. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit living in us. Joy is found in our gratitude to Jesus for loving and saving us. Joy is found in knowing Jesus. Joy is found in having an intimate relationship with Him. Joy is found in relying on God and obeying Him. Joy is found in living for God and doing His will. Jesus is the Source of joy. O let us take joy in the God of our salvation! Joy unspeakable... unexplainable...undisturbable! 

When we struggle to understand God's ways and/or when our prayers are not answered the way we hope they would be, it's important for us to remember God's faithfulness over the years and choose to trust Him and be joyful in Him. Remember that we cannot always choose what happens to us or around us, but we can choose our attitude towards each situation and how to respond/react. "I can alter my life by altering my attitude of mind." (Unknown) "It has been said that the habit of always seeing the bright side in life, is worth a large income to a man. It makes life a great deal easier." (J.R. Miller)  When we change our attitude into one of gratitude, we can experience joy. It's also important to remind ourselves that God is ultimately in control. "There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty hath ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all." (Charles Spurgeon)

"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." (Psalm 16:11)
There is fullness of joy in God's presence. Each day is a gift from the Lord filled with new possibilities. Though.....(fill in the blank), yet I will rejoice and take joy in my God who loves me and saves me...who never leaves me nor forsakes me. The omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Jehovah is always with me and for me. When all seems lost and all else fails, remember that God alone is enough and He never fails. Circumstances change but God never changes. May we live by faith in God's strength with joy always!

The secret of Christian joy is to believe what God says in His Word and act upon it. Faith that isn't based on the Word is not faith at all; it is presumption or superstition. Joy that isn't the result of faith is not joy at all; it is only a 'good feeling' that will soon disappear. Faith based on the Word will produce joy that will weather the storms of life." (Warren Wiersbe)

PrayerHeavenly Father, thank You for loving me and saving me! Thank You for always being with me giving me grace and mercy in all circumstances. I am so grateful for Your presence and sovereignty which bring me much comfort, confidence, peace, and joy. Please help me to keep my eyes on You. Please empower me to trust in You totally and choose gratitude & joy through any trials and uncertainties. Please make my life a joy to You & to others everyday. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Be Merciful and Forgiving

"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:12-13)

"Debts" here refer to sins. As we ask and accept God's forgiveness, we are to forgive others. A forgiven child of God operates by the principles of love and grace. It's unthinkable for us to seek God's forgiveness while withholding forgiveness. A forgiven person should be a forgiving person. Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is. Reflect Christ in all your interactions with everyone, including those who have wronged you. You're freely and fully forgiven by God. Now go and do likewise.

We need God to keep us from temptation and deliver us from the evil one (Satan) that tries to put in us evil thoughts. When someone mistreats you, it may be tempting to retaliate, to hold grudges, to indulge in self-pity, to complain, to gossip, to slander (your offender), or to employ silent treatment (ex: when you're mad at your husband for something he did or said). We need to pray and ask God to empower us to respond in Christlike manner with a forgiving spirit.

"Nothing humbles and breaks the heart of a sinner like mercy and love. Souls that converse much with sin and wrath, may be much terrified; but souls that converse much with grace and mercy, will be much humbled." (Thomas Brooks)

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
(William Shakespeare)

"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wand'ring heart to Thee;
Prone to wander--Lord, I feel it--prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart--O take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

(the last stanza of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, written by Robert Robinson)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Forgive Everyone Everything

Unforgiveness/bitterness/resentment/holding grudges is a hindrance to our prayers and our intimate relationship with God. If you don't forgive, you disobey God. God wants us to forgive anyone anything. Treat others with agape love, grace, kindness, and compassion. If we want our prayers to be answered, our hearts must be right with God, and that includes having a right attitude towards people. This alone should be enough motive to forgive :). "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer." (Psalm 66:18-19) Yes, unforgiveness is sin!

By the way, in this verse, Jesus is not referring to God's forgiveness (that comes with our salvation and reconciliation) which we receive when we repent and believe in Jesus Christ and His finished redemptive work on the cross. The penalty for our sin is fully paid by Christ and we are fully forgiven by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Our eternal destiny does not depend on our forgiving others. Here Jesus is referring to our day-to-day prayer of confession, asking God to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). Our sweet fellowship with our Heavenly Father is interrupted by sin (including the sin of unforgiveness).
"The person who is living by grace sees this vast contrast between his own sins against God and the offenses of others against him. He forgives others because he himself has been so graciously forgiven. He realizes that, by receiving God's forgiveness through Christ, he has forfeited the right to be offended when others hurt him." (Jerry Bridges)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Overcome Evil With Good

"Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good." (Romans 12:21 NLT)

This is a command. Do not let yourselves be conquered or overwhelmed by any evil/wicked person or thing done to you. Do not allow yourselves be overcome by your own evil responses (fleshly reaction). It is a battle. To win over evil, we must use the weapon of goodness and kindness. We cannot do this with our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit to empower our heart, mind, soul, spirit to respond the right way that will bring glory and honor to God.

"To render evil for evil, is to let evil have the victory... The true victory over evil consists in transforming a hostile relation into one of love by the magnanimity of the benefits bestowed. Thereby it is that good has the last word, that evil itself serves it as an instrument: such is the masterpiece of love." (Godet) 

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not take revenge. "To repress the desire for revenge is to gain a victory over self." (Ellicott) Forgive as the Lord forgave you. "By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am." (Yancey) If we respond to our offenders with hostility and/or revenge, we are no different than them; we'd be displaying exactly the same character which we dislike in them. Don't let hurts and pains caused by others rob you of peace, joy, love, and benevolence! "If my bad temper puts you in a bad temper, you have been overcome of evil." (Darby) I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate him.” (George Washington Carver)

Ways to Overcome Evil: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." (Romans 12:14) "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:44-45a) "When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly." (1 Corinthians 4:12b-13a) Shine your light when you meet darkness. Share God's love when you face hatred. Do good when evil is done to you. As a result, evil is disarmed; it has neither control nor influence over you whatsoever. It's been totally defeated! You and I are called to live by Biblical principles, reflecting the character of Christ so that others may see what a Gospel-transformed living is like and be drawn to Christ. May we be living proofs of God's love!

"As children of God, we must live on the highest level—returning good for evil. Anyone can return good for good and evil for evil. The only way to overcome evil is with good. If we return evil for evil, we only add fuel to the fire. And even if our enemy is not converted, we have still experienced the love of God in our own hearts and have grown in grace." (Wiersbe)
"The best way to overcome an enemy is to make him your friend." (Abraham Lincoln)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Unlimited Forgiveness

It's interesting that Peter asked Jesus a question about how many times he is supposed to forgive someone who sins against him but without waiting for an answer, he immediately offered his own suggestion (7 times). It seems he's sure there should be a limit (he probably thought he was generous with his number). Jesus clarifies that in essence, there's no limit. We must forgive indefinitely. Love "keeps no record of wrongs!" (1 Corinthians 13:5b) That means no keeping track of offenses. It means seeking no revenge and having no resentment. Consider how much God has forgiven you and me. Countless times, right? Go and do likewise. Compared to the extent and degree of offenses we've committed against God (how enormous our debts to God are), whatever offenses done to us by others are puny. Yet, we have trouble forgiving them. True forgiveness from the heart is not easy, specially if the same offender keeps repeating the same offense over and over again. We need the Holy Spirit's help to enable us to offer forgiveness over and over again. May we treat others with the measureless grace and mercy that God has poured out upon us! Live forgiven and live to forgive readily!

P.S. Some commentaries state that we are to forgive only those who repent and ask for forgiveness since God forgives only when we repent of our sin. I personally believe our forgiveness should not only be unlimited but also unconditional. It's for our own good (health and peace of mind) and it's for God's glory. I believe we should forgive anyone about anything, regardless of whether the offender acknowledges his/her wrongdoing or asks for forgiveness or not. "Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying our heart." (Unknown) "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." (Lewis B. Smedes) "We don't forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it--because we need it." (Bree Despain) There is freedom that comes through forgiving others! When we choose to/are willing to forgive, we move away from the hurts towards the healing.

Friday, September 23, 2016

World Overcomers

"For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4)

Who overcomes the world? 
Those who are born into God's family through faith (believing that Jesus is the Son of God and trusting Him as Lord and Savior)! 

Our regeneration along with faith in Jesus Christ gives us victory that has overcome the world.  Those who love God and obey God rather than following the way of the world are world overcomers. To overcome the world is to be victorious over its sinful patterns of life. Our (God-given) faith (God-confidence that overcomes fears & doubts) and the indwelling Holy Spirit empower us to live a life of obedience to God and to have daily victory over the world (overcoming the sinful, carnal ways of the world). And when the world tries to knock us down and discourage us, faith in Jesus will help us get back up and keep on keeping on. We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us! "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." ~Jesus (John 16:33)

"The world gains the victory over the unregenerate by captivating their affections and capturing their wills. But the Christian overcomes the world, because his affections are set upon Christ and his will yielded to Him.

Here--then, we have a sure criterion by which we may determine our Christian progress or spiritual growth
. If the things of this world have a decreasing power over me--then my faith is becoming stronger. If I am holding more lightly the things most prized by the ungodly--then I must be increasing in an experimental and soul-satisfying knowledge of Christ. If I am less cast down when some of the riches and comforts of this world are taken from me--then that is evidence they have less hold upon me." (Arthur Pink)

"Growth in faith will be manifested by increasing deadness to the world. The more faith discovers of the beauty and glory of the Savior, and the splendors of that heavenly country to which the Christian is bound--the more worthless will this world appear!" (William Nicholson)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

No Longer Slaves to Sin

"For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." (Romans 6:6)

Our old, unregenerated self was crucified with Christ in order that our sinful desires would be done away with. The chains are gone; we have been set free. Christ's death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin and set us free from slavery to sin. We are no longer enslaved to the old sinful nature. Through Christ's suffering and death, He destroyed the power of sin so that we may be dead to sin and alive in Him.  As a result, we now ought to live by the Spirit and live for God and His will, not live the rest of our earthly lives for evil human desires or worldly pleasures. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (Galatians 5:24-25) Die to self and sin. Live to glorify God, not gratify selves. Walk in newness of life serving God, not sin. 

Sin has no power over us. Instead, under a new management (grace), we (because of the Holy Spirit in us) have the power to say no to sin. "For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14) For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14) 

Paul wants us to know about our union with Christ (being identified with His death and resurrection), to reflect on our position in Christ (dead to sin but alive to God), and to live it out (by refusing to yield our body to the service of sin as an instrument of wickedness and by surrendering all to God to serve Him as an instrument of righteousness). "Don't you know that when offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one 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 have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness...leading to holiness." (Romans 6:16-18, 19b) This is the transformation that follows our salvation! We cannot serve two masters. We cannot be servants of sin and servants of God; we must choose one or the other. It is not possible to please God and continue to live in sin at the same time.

"Do not ask, "How far may I go, and yet be guiltless?" 
Rather ask,
"How may I walk more closely with God?"
"How may I enjoy most of the love of Christ?"
"How shall I best glorify my Father in Heaven?" 
Above all, bear witness for Christ in the world by a very holy and consistent life...

Keep a very tender conscience.

Don't make light of little sins, as many think them. Little acts . . .
of dishonesty,
of selfishness,
of neglect,
of indulged vanity,
of pride and self-conceit,...
of petty deceits and half-untruths--
who can tell how much harm is often done by these things, and to what far greater evils they often lead?

Do not judge of sin by the standard of those around you, but . . .
in the light of God's Word,
in the light of the cross, and
in remembrance of the day of judgment.
" (George Everard)

Prayer: Thank You, Abba Father, for Christ's death on the cross! It is there that my sins are forgiven and I've been set free. Please help me to daily die to self and walk in freedom to serve You and others. I'm so happy and blessed to become Your bondservant. Please enable me to serve you faithfully with a grateful and obedient heart. Please empower me to say no to temptations, ungodliness, worldliness, and sin. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mind Metamorphosis

"Do not conform 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 12:2 NIV)

Do not conform to worldliness (the world's evil and corruption). Do not be molded by the values of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The Greek word for "transform" is metamorphoĆ³ (meaning "to change form") from which the word "metamorphosis" derives. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, metamorphosis is "a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something." For example, a fuzzy, crawling caterpillar is transformed into a graceful, flying butterfly. Metamorphosis provides a wonderful illustration of the amazing spiritual transformation in a believer's life. A good example is Paul who wrote more than half the books in the New Testament. He used to be Saul who persecuted Christians. After encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul was completely changed and became an effective & enthusiastic evangelist.

Spiritual transformation begins in the mind and heart (inwardly, not outwardly) and continues throughout our lives. We are gradually changed into the likeness of Christ as we spend time in intimate fellowship with Him. Our mind (thoughts and will) must be renewed by God's Word/God's truth and guided by the Holy Spirit to be able to discover/understand that God's will is indeed good (it is good for our spiritual growth), pleasing (to God, not necessarily to us), and perfect (no improvement is needed). Mind metamorphosis is a prerequisite to being fruitful in every good work and growing spiritually. To know God more & more and to understand His heart/will, we must spend much time with Him in prayer and in His Word. There are no shortcuts! "This kind of transformation can occur only as the Holy Spirit changes our thinking through consistent study and meditation of Scripture. The renewed mind is one saturated with and controlled by the Word of God." (John MacArthur) It is only through God's Word that we can understand what God's will is and resist the pull of our own flesh, the Enemy, and the world. Seeing our circumstances, trials, tasks, identity as our Heavenly Father sees them changes our attitudes and actions. Think right thoughts. Think God's thoughts.

"Without the renewed mind, we will distort the Scriptures to avoid their radical commands for self-denial, and love, and purity, and supreme satisfaction in Christ alone." (John Piper)
Sad but true, we have seen people, including those who appear to be "active" Christians distort the Scriptures to justify their sins, to serve their own agendas, and even to commit crimes. Satan knows the Scriptures. Most atheists know the Scriptures. Pharisees and false teachers know the Scriptures. What do they all have in common? The lack of the renewed mind (and transformed heart)!

The difference between worldliness and godliness is a renewed mind." (Erwin W. Lutzer)
Without the renewed mind, the world continues to have a hold on you. Self is still on the throne of your heart. Love is still conditional and selfish. Purity is only for nuns and monks. Supreme satisfaction in Christ way. However, the Scriptures are clear about denying self (Mark 8:34-36), sacrificial love (1 John 3:16), purity (1 Timothy 4:12), and the spiritual satisfaction which can only be found in Christ alone (John 4:10, 13-14). This quote from St. Augustine comes to mind: "If you believe what you like in the Gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."

We're a new creation in Christ. We no longer think the way our old self thinks or the way the world thinks; we embrace the mind and the attitudes of Christ. Our old way of thinking and living has gone, being replaced with the new way of thinking and living according to God's Word.

"Conformity to the world, in all ages, has proved the ruin of the church!" (Rowland Hill)
We live in a culture that bombards us with non-Biblical messages. We really need to spend much time in prayer and in God's Word to transform the way we think. 
Worldly pleasures are enticing and deceiving. We must prayerfully guard ourselves and our children. We must teach our children that God's Word is the final authority for our faith and practice and teach them to be like the Bereans (look up what God says about any given thing). 

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Farewell, vain world; my soul bids you adieu.
My Savior taught me to abandon you.
Your charms may gratify a sensual mind,
but cannot please a soul for God designed.
          ~David Brainerd

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26a

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:15-17

Prayer: Lord, please mold me and make me be more like You every day. Please renew my mind to reflect Your mind/Your thoughts/Your will. Please give me the strength to remain steadfast in faith and in pursuit of holiness. Please protect my children, my husband, and me from the enemy's lies, the world's lures, and the fleshly desires. Please empower my children to resist the negative peer pressure and immorality of the society in which we live and hold true to the values they learn from Your Word. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Creation in Christ

Praise God for our new birth/new lives in Christ! Those who are saved by grace through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ are made new creations through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Transformation follows salvation. God gives us new heart and new identity. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are now beloved children of God and saints, equipped to do good works. When we die to self and surrender all to follow Christ, the Holy Spirit does His recreating work in us and we evidently have new priorities, new values, new vision, new character, new worldview, new perspectives, new attitudes, new affections, new direction, new habits, and new desires. "The new has come!" By the grace and power of God, we are being transformed into Christlikeness.

"The old has passed away." Don't go back to your old life. 
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24) We are not to be driven by the old sinful nature. We must daily put on Christ and have the mind of Christ, the new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit gives. "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." (Romans 13:14) We are to glorify Christ, not gratify selves!

Don't let your past define you, either. You are now forgiven and free. When you let your past pain and failures be your present identity, you are stuck in a prison of shame. God's grace and forgiveness can heal you and help you break free from the shackles of shame. We cannot change our past but we can do something about our present and future. We are not what we did or what happened to us; we are who God says we are. Give God all your broken pieces; He will make a beautiful mosaic for His glory.

Prayer: Thank You, Abba Father, for Your forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and sanctification! Thank You for my union with Christ that gives me a new life to live for You. Please continue to mold me to be more Christlike and enable me to walk faithfully in obedience. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and change me from the inside out. May the fruit of the Spirit be evident in my life so that my life may be a blessing to others and point them to You! May my life manifest Your transforming grace! Please help me boldly share the Good News with anyone who needs to experience Your grace and forgiveness. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.
"Does anyone ask me what we may expect to see in a true conversion? I reply--there will always be something seen in a converted man's . . .
  and daily life. 

You will not see perfection in him; but you will see in him--something peculiar, distinct, and different from other people.

You will see him . . . 
  hating sin, 
  loving Christ, 
  following after holiness, 
  taking pleasure in his Bible, 
  persevering in prayer. 

You will see him . . .

These, at any rate, will be his aims--these are the things which he will follow after, however short he may come of perfection.
In some converted people you will see these things more distinctly--in others less. This only I say--wherever there is true conversion, something of this kind will be seen." (J.C. Ryle)

"He who is born again, gives evidence that he has passed from death to life. It is visible in his conduct--the observer of him perceives the change. How different now, from what he once was! The following are the principal evidences of regeneration:
(1) Hatred to sin.
(2) Victory over the world.
(3) Brotherly love.
(4) Delight in spiritual duties.
(5) A life of holiness.
(6) Self-loathing, and constant faith in the sacrifice of Christ. 
(7) Sincere love to Christ.
" (William Nicholson)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

List of Things to Ponder

A Curious Meditation
by James Smith, 1855

As I was walking out for exercise in the fields one morning, having been pleading with God to give me some profitable subject for meditation--I suddenly fell into this train of thought, which I afterwards wrote down; and, as it may interest and profit some, it is here inserted.

There are three things which I especially desire:
more communion with God, 
more likeness to the Lord Jesus, and
more usefulness to his Church. 

There are three things which I deprecate:
the withering of my gifts, 
the decay of my graces, and
to become useless in the Lord's vineyard.

There are three things which I dread:
that I should become a proud professor, 
that I should become a lukewarm Christian, and
that I should fall into the hands of man.

There are three things which I sometimes wish for (but which God will never grant me on earth):
to be totally free from sin, 
to be delivered from a daily cross, 
and to be always happy. 

There are three things which I feel sure of:
hatred by the world, 
opposition by hypocrites, and
love by spiritual believers. 

There are three foes which always oppose me:
the world, 
the flesh, and
the devil.

There are three friends which will always stand by me:
a peaceful conscience, 
the bride of Jesus, and
the Lamb of God. 

There are three deaths which have been experienced by me:
a death in sin, 
a death to sin, 
a death to the law of God.

There are three lives which shall be lived by me:
a temporal life, 
a spiritual life, and
an eternal life. 

There are three things which burden me:
a body of sin and death, 
the opposition I meet with, and
my own ingratitude.

There are three things which support me:
the Father's love, 
the Son's redemption, and
the Spirit's work. 

There are three things which are a sore trial to me:
an irritable temper, 
a flippant tongue, and

There are three things which bring strong consolation to me:
the open fountain of Christ blood, 
the promises of God, and
the Savior's free invitation. 

There are three things which are especially dear to me:
the Word of God, 
the throne of grace, and
the ordinances of the Lord's house. 

There are three things lacking in me:
perfect penitence, 
entire resignation, and
fervent love.

There are three books which are very useful to me:
the book of nature
the book of Holy Scriptures, and
the book of my own experience

There are three teachers which are employed to instruct me:
the Holy Spirit, 
a special providence, and
the rod of God. 

There are three things which are manifested in me:
the nature of sin, 
the power of grace, and
the faithfulness of God. 

There are three things which would be greatly useful to me:
more humility,
spiritual wisdom, and
enlightened zeal. 

There are three things which characterize me:
poverty, and

Yet, there are three things which may be seen in me:
Christ's strength,
God's grace, and
the Spirit's holiness. 

There are three things which are feared by me:
a stiff neck, 
a hard heart, and
a presumptuous spirit. 

There are three things which are matter of joy to me:
the conversion of sinners,
that my name is written in heaven, and
the glory to be given me at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 

There are three things which must be renounced by me:
preconceived opinions, 
worldly wisdom, and
natural religion. 

There are three things which must be held fast by me:
the Word of truth, 
my confidence in God, and
my profession of the gospel.

There are three things which are especially required of me:
to do justly,
to love mercy, and
to walk humbly with my God. 

There are three things which are promised to me:
tribulation in the world, 
sufficient strength in Jesus, and
eternal life at the end of my course. 

There are three things which the Lord observes and approves in me:
the work of faith, 
the labor of love, and
the patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

There is a threefold deliverance which is effected for me:
from the dominion of sin, 
from the present evil world, and
from my deserved doom. 

There are three things which I would trample under foot:
unfounded prejudice, 
vain distinctions, and

There are three things which I would aim at daily:
to exalt Christ, 
to glorify God, and
to bring sinners to repentance.

There are three things which are still sure to me:
a rough road, 
changing experiences, and
safety at last. 

There are three things which are behind me:
a wicked life, 
a broken law, and
the pit of destruction. 

There are three things which are before me:
perfect conformity to Jesus, and
eternal glory. 

There are three things which are on my right hand:
Satan to resist me, 
the Lord Jesus to save me, and
my own heart set on things above. 

There are three things which are on my left hand:
the lust of the flesh, 
the lust of the eye, and
the pride of life. 

There are three things which I greatly admire:
the Savior's person, 
the promises of God, and
the instruments he employs in carrying on his work. 

There are three things which much please me:
the doctrines of the gospel, 
the witness of the Spirit, and
the light of God's countenance. 

There are three things which I delight in:
that Jehovah is my God, 
the comfort he imparts to me, and
the riches of glory which are set before me. 

There are three things which I hate:
the cant of hypocrites, 
the flattery of friends, and
the pride of professors. 

There are three things which are good for me:
to draw near to God, 
to be afflicted, and
to sing praises unto the Lord. 

There are three things which often disgust me:
Satan's temptations, 
the powerful working of unbelief, and
the conduct of religious professors.

There are three things which are prescribed to me:
to believe in God, 
to love the saints, and
to observe the Lord's ordinances.

There are three things which are too often neglected by me:
diligent reading of the Bible, and
secret prayer. 

There are three things which are too deep for me to fully know:
the depravity of my heart, 
the devices of Satan, and
the manner of the Spirit's working. 

There are three things which I wish to leave with the Lord:
to choose my lot in life, 
to fight my battles, and
to supply all my needs. 

There are three things which I do not consider worth having:
a form of godliness, without the power, 
a name to live, while dead, and
the commendation of the enemies of Christ. 

There are three things in which I glory:
the cross of Christ, 
my saving knowledge of God, and
the everlasting gospel. 

There are three things which have been taken from me:
proud free will, 
vain boasting, and
enmity to God. 

There are three things which abide with me:
hope, and

I am made up of three men:
corruption--the old man, 
grace--the new man, and
the body--the outward man. 

I fill a threefold office:
prophet in the Church of Christ, 
priest before the altar, and
king anointed to reign with Christ. 

I wear a threefold garment:
the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, 
the graces of the Holy Spirit, and
the garment of humility. 

I have been condemned in three courts--and yet justified in them all:
the court of conscience, 
the Church of God, and
the court of God's justice. 

I have been justified three times:
at the resurrection of Christ my substitute, 
when faith received his righteousness, and
when good works justified my faith before the world. 

I am the subject of a threefold sanctification:
by the purpose of the Father, 
by the blood of the Son, and
by the cleansing operations of the Holy Spirit. 

I am a free man of three cities:
the present world, 
the church below, and
the Jerusalem which is above. 

I have been an eye-sore to three parties:
the devil, 
the world, and
envious professors. 

I shall have occupied three peculiar seats:
a dunghill by nature, 
among the princes in the Church by grace, and
the throne of glory by special privilege. 

I shall have three grand holidays:
one when the Holy Spirit sets my soul at liberty, 
another when death sets me free from this mortal clay, and
and another when Jesus comes to be glorified in his saints. 

I shall then have appeared in three different characters:
a vile rebel against God, 
a supplicating sinner at mercy's footstool, and
a justified son of God before his throne. 

I shall have had three fathers:
a human father, 
the devil, and
Jehovah himself. 

I shall have received three laws:
the law of nature, 
the moral law of God, and
the law of the Spirit of life. 

I shall have passed through three gates:
the gate of hope, 
the gate into Christ's sheepfold, and
the gate of death. 

I shall have walked in three ways:
the broad road of destruction, 
the highway of holiness, and
Jesus Christ the only way to the Father. 

I shall have conversed with three distinct classes of beings:
carnal men, 
spiritual Christians, and
the Lord himself. 

I shall have made three appearances:
once all black--like the devil, 
then speckled--with nature and grace, and
then all pure--whiter than the driven snow!

I shall have undergone three momentous changes:
one at regeneration--when I passed from death unto life, 
one at death--when my soul shall be admitted into Heaven, and
one at the resurrection--when my body shall be raised powerful, glorious, and immortal.

I view three things as pre-eminently excellent:
the fear of the Lord, 
a sound judgment, and
Christ formed in the heart, as the hope of glory. 

There are three things which I may covet:
the best gifts, 
a contrite and humble spirit, and
to be filled with all the fullness of God. 

There are three things which are removed from me:
the burden of sin, 
the wrath of God, and
all condemnation. 

There are three things which I do not know:
what is before me, 
how God will provide for me, and
what I shall be. 

There are three things which I do know:
that in my flesh dwells no good, 
that though I was once blind, now I see, and
that I must needs die. 

There are three things which are prepared for me:
fountain to cleanse me, 
robe to adorn me, and
mansion to receive me. 

There are three things which await me:
a crown of righteousness, 
a palm of victory, and
a throne of glory. 

There are three things which shall be done for me:
God shall wipe away all tears from my eyes, 
God shall remove all cause of pain and sorrow from my nature, and
the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall eternally satisfy me. 

There are three things which shall never be known by me:
the frown of divine justice, 
the curse of holy Jehovah, and
the power of God's anger. 

There are three things which are hurtful to me:
carnal ease, 
the flattery of professors, and
fullness of bread. 

There are three things which benefit me:
affliction, and

There are three things which are pursued by me:
to know more of the Lord, 
to live in peace with all men, and
thorough sanctification. 

Satan tries to thwart me in three things:
by spoiling my comforts, 
hindering my usefulness, and
seeking to devour my soul. 

Satan has three things to expect:
to be disappointed of his prey, 
to be judged by the saints, and
to be eternally punished for his wickedness. 

There are three things which I would never trust:
my own heart, 
an arm of flesh, and
my treacherous memory. 

There are three subjects which I should never meddle with:
the fall of the angels, 
the origin of moral evil, and
how God will justify himself.

There are three things which I cannot understand:
the nature of God, 
the cause of my election, and
how divinity and humanity constitute one person.

There are three things which I should often think of:
what I have been, 
what I now am, and
what I shall be. 

A threefold freedom is granted me:
from the law of God,
from the reign of sin, and
to make use of, and enjoy the Lord Jesus. 

I am an heir of three worlds:
the natural, 
the spiritual, and
the eternal. 

There are three things which will never grieve me:
that I have been poor in this world, 
that I have preached the gospel fully, and
that I am related to Jesus Christ. 

There are three things which comprise all I wish:
to know God, and glorify him, 
to see Jesus, and be like him; and
to be united to the saints, and be eternally happy. 

There are three things which shall never be heard by me
Christ reproaching me, 
God disowning me, and
the devils triumphing in my everlasting destruction. 

There are three things which shall be eternally enjoyed by me:
the love of God, 
the presence of Jesus, and
the company of the saints. 

There are three things which will eternally delight me:
to be filled with holiness, 
to be employed in praising Jehovah, and
to have gained a complete victory over all my foes.

There are three things which must come down:
the pride of men, 
the devil's kingdom, and
the cause of error

There are three things which will stand:
the house built on the Rock, 
the purpose of God, and
the Messiah's kingdom. 

There are three things which cannot be removed
the church of God, 
the covenant of grace, and
the kingdom we receive. 

There are three things which will stand the fiery trial:
genuine faith, 
the Word of God, and
a real Christian. 

Lost sinners are like Satan in three things:
their nature
their employment, and
their end

Three things make Hell:
the wrath of God, 
the stings of a guilty conscience, and
black despair. 

Three things prove a man a Christian:
worshiping God in the spirit, 
rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and
having no confidence in the flesh. 

Three things are never satisfied:
a doubting Christian, 
a worldly miser, and
the man of pleasure. 

Christ fills three offices:
prophet--for the ignorant, 
priest--for the guilty, and
king--for the depraved. 

Christ has been in three states:
ancient glory,
deep humiliation, and
merited dignity. 

What more shall I say! 

If you, reader, are a sincere Christian--do three things daily:
search God's Word, 
be much at God's throne, and
be diligent in God's work. 

If you are an unconverted sinner--do three things immediately:
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, 
repent of every sin you have committed, 
seek the witness and pledge of the Holy Spirit in your heart, so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

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