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9/28/16 – Being one in the Spirit

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in the spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:1-3

In the verses above, Paul is establishing a foundation of what you have as a Believer because of Christ: encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion. He then says that because you have all of these things, your relationship with other Believers should be described as: like-minded, same love, one in the spirit, and one in purpose. Whenever you get more than two people together, there are usually going to be disagreements. These verses are encouraging groups of Believers to exhibit behavior among themselves that can only be described as having oneness or “unity”. 

Oneness is a very important concept to God. The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) is viewed in the Bible as ONE. When He created Adam and Eve, He said that the two shall become “one”.  In the New Testament, God talks of the body of Christ as being in unity. Therefore, oneness is an important spiritual truth that God has established.

9/21/16 - Do you read and study God’s Word?

For the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. Ezra 7:9b-10

No other book has been studied and read as much as the Bible. It is like comparing the distance from the earth to the moon (the Bible), to the distance from your home to your mailbox (any other book). No other book is like it. And yet, many Believers try to live a Christian life without ever having read the Bible. Most Believers rely on others to explain its contents. Some Believers try to understand the Bible using their own mental capabilities. Most Believers desire to read the Bible but find it too difficult and hard to understand and quit reading their Bible.

9/14/16 - You must believe to enter God's Rest

Life-Changing Verses

 

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.  By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.  Genesis 2:1-3

 

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.  Hebrews 3:12-14

 

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”  Hebrews 4:3

 

When we grow tired from work, we all need to rest. We also would like to have a good long nap (usually on Sunday afternoon).  Everyone likes to have a good rest.  These are examples of worldly rest.  The Biblical concept of rest does not fit the worldly idea of rest.

 

The first Bible passage above talks about a “Sabbath” rest.  This rest is when everything has been completed that was planned.  On the seventh day God rested as a sign that all of His Creation work was complete.  He was not tired or worn out.  He was satisfied with His Creation work; therefore, He rested.  The observance of the Sabbath by the Jews became a major strife between the Jewish leaders and Jesus.  So many rules and laws had been added to define “work” so that a Jew would not work on the Sabbath.  Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man.  God intends for you to set apart one day out of seven to spend time with Him.  His purpose is for you to grow spiritually, and that His relationship with you is stronger and healthier.

9/7/16 - The gospel of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:3

In every class that I have taught, I always introduce Genesis, Chapter 12, as the most important chapter in the Bible. I believe this because of the verse above from that chapter. All peoples on the earth will be blessed through Abraham. This is an early prophecy of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of sins through His blood. This statement is repeated many times in the Bible. For example,

Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:8-9

I am overwhelmed every time I read verses like Galatians 3:8-9. It is almost verbatim from Genesis 12:3. All peoples (nations) will be blessed through Abraham. The full impact of this statement is that a descendant of Abraham (Jesus Christ) will do something that will bless everyone in the world. That something is the forgiveness of sins. I hope you get chill bumps up and down your spine when you put these two Bible passages together.  Also, note that the gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) was announced in advance to Abraham. Abraham could speak fluently about Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God revealed to him what it meant for all nations on the earth would be blessed through Abraham.

Do not miss that in Genesis 12:3, most of us think only of the Jews as descendants of Abraham. The passage in Galatians clearly says that the Gentiles will be justified by faith. Genesis 12:3 is a long way from Matthew 1:1. Consider the following verse:

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Galatians 3:7

Abraham was justified by his faith. His descendants are those who are justified by faith. This includes Jews and Gentiles. Anyone justified by faith is a child of Abraham.  God knew what He was doing in Genesis and carried the gospel story through the Old Testament and into the New Testament.

All believers today can look at the Genesis 12 passage and say, “I am included in that verse.” As a matter of fact, I think all believers should make that revelation a major part of their life since God set in motion the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope you can truly and deeply appreciate the prophecy contained in Genesis 12. God is an amazing God. His Word is an amazing book. Our salvation is an amazing story of God’s love for humanity.

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I continue to be amazed at His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

9/30/15 – Part 6 of 6: A Believer must care for his/her soul

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  Mark 8:36-37

Soul comes from the Greek word “psuche”. You can see its closeness to our word “psyche”. It means the “breath of life.” A worldly definition that I favor is the following: psyche - the human soul, mind, or spirit. The soul could also be called your personality. A personality is a description of a person in how they think, feel, make decisions, their values, and so on.  In other words, the soul of a person consists of their rational thinking, their emotional reactions, and their use of their will to make decisions.

Regrettably, our soul becomes very rigid as we age.  If it is too rigid, we will become obstinate toward God and will not allow His Holy Spirit to guide us on needed changes in our life to become more Christ-like.  This will cause problems in our relationship with God and with others. 

9/23/15 – Part 5 of 6: The soul is the center of the spiritual war with the flesh

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  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. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 

The above passage explains why Christians continue to sin.  You must read through this passage several times and read it very slowly.  The passage is saying that your soul (mind and emotions) will enslave you to things that you think you must do as a Christian.  However, you fail and do what you do not want to do, and you do not do what you should do.  As a Believer, you are not alone.  This is a statement of the spiritual warfare of all Believers.  The flesh pulls at your will through your soul (mind and emotions).  Although the Holy Spirit can provide the spiritual answer, a Believer allows the flesh to be stronger and follows its directions that are always sinful.  You must put to death the flesh in your soul and rely only on the Holy Spirit.

9/16/15 – Part 4 of 6: Your soul is intended to become like Christ

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Knowing that you are a sinner and that Christ died for the forgiveness of your sins is the major theme of the Bible.  The verse above is clear that God is working on your soul to make it more like Christ.  This is a major theme of the New Testament.  As a Believer matures, he or she should be reflecting similar traits as the soul of Jesus Christ.  The verse above also makes the ABSOLUTE TRUTH that these changes in your soul are accomplished only through the Holy Spirit. 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”  Galatians 2:20-21

9/9/15 – Part 3 of 6: The Soul of Jesus Christ

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Matthew 26:38

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  John 12:27

You do not hear many people talk about the soul of Jesus Christ, but we should. In the verses above, Jesus talked about His soul as being overwhelmed and being troubled.  Have you ever thought of Jesus as having a soul (personality)?  Do you have similar personality traits as Jesus?  Examples of the personality of Jesus are the following:

The most important characteristic of the personality of Jesus was that He only did what God told Him to do.  Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19) This is why He could claim that He was without sin.  He was obedient to every word from God.  Do you consciously strive to be obedient to God’s Word?

9/2/15 - Part 2 of 6: The Soul of a human being

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:8-9

There are basically two meanings for the word “soul” in the Bible.  An example of one meaning is contained in the verses above that treat your soul as an entity within you that will experience salvation.  It is what we mean when we refer to life in the physical body.  In many translations, the Biblical word is translated as life instead of soul.  “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their life (soul)? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their life (soul)?” (Mark 8:36-37)  Another example is the following: “And it came to pass, as her soul (life) was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.  (Genesis 35:18) We frequently say the phrase, “save a soul” in reference to evangelism.  Again, what we are meaning is the life of an individual.

9/24/14 - Your Life: Living a Christian Life in an Ungodly World

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 2:11-12

My wife and I have moved numerous times, and each time, we always sought out Christians to fellowship with.  This usually meant finding a church that was true to the gospel of Christ.  No matter where we went, we always found strong Christians, weak Christians, questionable Christians, and pagans.  It is difficult to label those without Christ in their lives.  I am using the word pagans from the verses above.  In reality, I never call someone without Christ a certain label.  They have been called “lost” which has no meaning to them, because they know where they live. They have been called sinners, but we are all sinners.  One possible way is to call them “worldly”.  This holds true because Christians are “unworldly”.

9/17/14 - Your Life: Walking step by step in the Spirit

So I say, 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-18, 25-26

Many Christians have a difficult time in applying the Word of God to their lives.  I admit that you have to study the Bible to get to the meat of what it says.  In all cases, however, the Christian must allow the Holy Spirit to guide them into spiritual truths that can be easily applied to their life.  When it comes to living a life for God, God has made this easy for Believers.  God is a God of understanding and simplicity.  He expects us to make mistakes.  As Believers, we make living a Godly life difficult, because we believe that God expects us to be perfect.  It is not our actions, but how we think before taking action that results in whether we live by the Spirit or the flesh.  The verses above provide great encouragement for all Believers as they try to live a life for God.

9/10/13 - Spiritual Power: All of the Power in the Universe

9/10/13 - Spiritual Power: All of the Power in the Universe

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of words or talk but of power.”  1 Corinthians 4:20

If you have ever wondered about the kingdom of God, then this verse summarizes it as of power.  Jesus spent a large amount of time talking about the kingdom of God.  He compared it to many things on this earth to try to help us, as Believers, to live the kingdom of God while we are living in this world.

I can do all the talking I want, but God works with power.  I can be teaching several classes, but God works with power.  I can give the best lesson based on hours of study, but God works with power.  The kingdom of God is POWER.  I like that!

TRUTH: Who has the real Truth - the World or God?

Note: This article is Chapter 1 of the God and Men: No-Holds-Barred that was published in January of this year.  I encourage men (and women) to buy this book and commit to reading all of it.  If you are married, I suggest that the husband and wife alternate reading a chapter each night.  Based on comments and reviews that I have received, this is a Life Changing opportunity for you.

 

 

And the Word of God says:

 

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

 

 

This is a discussion of TRUTH, because all of your philosophies about how you live your life are based on either believing what the world says or what God says.  Unfortunately, most men base the way they live on the world.  I think it is because men are very logical and “seeing is believing” is a standard of living for them.  One other reason is that the church and Christianity have become overly womanized.  Men would rather abdicate than struggle with spiritual truths.  These themes will be repeated many, many times in the following chapters.