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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 alone...no 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.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Redeemed and Forgiven

The word "redemption" is a familiar word to people in Bible times. One could pay the ransom for a slave's freedom. Through Christ's atoning sacrifice, God redeemed us from eternal damnation! Christ's death (through His blood) is the ransom necessary (required) to free sinners (slaves to sin) from the bondage of sin. "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:22b) Christ died on the cross once and for all to deliver us from sin and forgive all our sins. He paid the debt we could never pay.

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work of redemption at the cross, we go from death (eternal separation from God) to life (eternal life with God) and from rags (filthy rags of our own efforts to free ourselves) to riches (of God's grace). "Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace yo have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the Heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7) As long as we're still breathing, we will struggle with sin in this fallen world. When we repent and rely on the blood of Jesus Christ, He forgives us and covers us with His perfect righteousness. As believers in Jesus Christ, we can rejoice in the forgiveness of sins (past, present, & future). This is an everlasting comfort to the soul! We are redeemed and forgiven. We are rich (with spiritual blessings and eternal inheritance) and free (from power and penalty of sin).

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your indescribable gift of redemption and forgiveness through Jesus Christ's sacrifice! Thank You for the bottomless ocean of grace in Christ You have lavished on me! Thank You for blessing me in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ! Thank You for choosing me before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless! Thank You for loving me and adopting me into Your family! 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Struggle Is a Good Sign

"For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." (Romans 7:18)

We can totally relate to Paul's earnest struggle to do what is good (what God wants us to do). Don't get discouraged (that's what Satan wants us to do)! This struggle is actually a good sign. It shows that we have had a heart's transformation. Our heart's desire now is to do what is right (according to God's Word and will), to please, obey, honor, & glorify God. At the same time, it makes us realize that we cannot achieve this goal on own own strength. It strips us from self-reliance and shows us our need to rely on God. It helps us to be humble and grateful for Christ's deliverance, power, and sufficient grace. "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3) 

Don't give up when you fail (that's what Satan wants us to do)! We all need Jesus! Without Him, all our good deeds are filthy rags anyway. This war within between the flesh and the Spirit is an evidence that we are saved and are being sanctified (sanctification is a life-long process). It shows that we are aware of our depravity, lament over sin struggle, and acknowledge our need for God's help. We need His strength and wisdom. We need His grace and forgiveness. The struggle is real but we should not ever feel defeated because we are more than conquerors in Christ. The key is to keep dying to self/crucifying our flesh/saying no to temptations and sins. Submit to God and listen to Him (His Word & His Holy Spirit), instead of our flesh. "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are NOT to do whatever you want...Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:16-17, 24) The solution to Paul's struggle is in the next chapter (Romans 8: Life Through the Spirit). "For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." (Romans 8:13) This is a continuing action. We have to choose whether to live by the Spirit or to live according to the flesh. Sin no longer has dominion over us! As long as we live on earth, we're not free from the presence of sin, but in Christ we're free from the punishment and the power of sin. Stand firm in God's grace. Get back up (when you fall) in God's grace. Press on (never give up) in God's grace. 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) 

Have you heard of a Cherokee story called "Two Wolves"? An old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle between two "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, arrogance, resentment, and lies. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The grandson asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?" His grandfather replied, "The one you feed."

Do you notice that the qualities of the good wolf is very similar to the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23? What I take from the story is: Quit feeding the flesh (our old sinful nature)! Starve it to death! Instead, feed your new life (new nature) in Christ by spending time with Him in prayer & His Word and keeping "in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).

"The Bible-Christian, the more he is conformed to God, advances just so much the more in tenderness and perspicacity of conscience. Sin grows more odious, just as holiness grows more attractive." (Robert L. Dabney)

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your immense patience, love, and kindness towards me! Please forgive me when I fail to do what is good and right in Your eyes. Please empower me by Your Holy Spirit to live a life of holiness, being continually conformed to Christlikeness. Please enable me to say no to my flesh and to faithfully walk in the Spirit. I surrender all to You. Have Your way in me always! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

To Follow Your Heart or Not

This verse talks about the spiritual depravity of the heart which indicates the desperate need for God! The heart includes our emotions (feelings, desires) and thoughts (attitudes, motives, reasoning, decision-making), which in turn determine our actions. Because of our sinful nature, our heart is deceitful and wicked. Who can comprehend how bad the heart really is? None of us can; only God can!

"The human heart is full of hostility against God. 
The human heart is the very nursery of sin.
The human heart is the storehouse where all
the weapons of unrighteousness lie.
The human heart is a lesser Hell.
'For from within, out of a person's heart--come
 evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,
 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful
 desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.
 All these vile things come from within; they
 are what defile you.' Mark 7:21-23
" (Thomas Watson)

Our heart is naturally self-centered, self-serving, corrupted, and polluted. Our deceitful heart deceives us into taking sin lightly. Our deceitful heart loves to minimize the seriousness of our own sin ("not a big deal" or "nobody got hurt") while magnifying other people's sins. The deceitful heart chooses an easy way out (but a wrong way), excuses, personal gain, self-indulgence, instant gratification, vanity, and hypocrisy. The deceitful heart twists God's truths to satisfy and justify its own desires. 

Now ponder this...God knows our deceitful, sick, & ugly heart yet He still loves us and wants to have a relationship with us! Moreover, He gives us His redeemed children a new heart! "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws." (Ezekiel 36:26-27) Therefore, our new heart should look nothing like an unregenerated heart (pictured below).

"Just follow your heart" is a common, popular advice nowadays, but unwise and sometimes quite dangerous. The heart that is deceitful is certainly not reliable. It misleads many on the wrong paths. Think of how many divorces, adulteries, murders, atrocities...have taken place as a result of following one's heart! We must always consult God's Word and we only follow our heart when our heart follows God's heart. This requires retaining an intimate relationship with God, growing more mature spiritually through prayer and God's Word, and cultivating a heart that is sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit . "Our wisdom in daily decisions is dependent on our relationship with God and having a right relationship with God." (David Platt) We must constantly guard our hearts and examine our motives. "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23) In addition, don't rely on your feelings. Walk by faith and walk in obedience, no matter how you feel. Do what is right because it's the right thing to do, regardless of how you feel. 

Prayer: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me! Please make me a woman after Your own heart. Help me take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Please give me Your wisdom and discernment to know when my motive is wrong. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.
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