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3/30/16 - Believers think spiritually and not worldly

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  Philippians 3:8-9

The impact of these verses on a Christian is so important to living the abundant life here on earth.  God’s purpose for your life after becoming a Christian is to change the way you think about things.  Instead of worldly thinking, God will bring into your life those events that will cause you to consider things from a spiritual or eternal perspective.  This kind of thinking is a huge jolt to many Christians, because of the importance and the priority we have placed on the things of this world.

3/23/16: Believers consider all things as lost

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:7-8

Paul wrote these words as a summary of his life after he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  These verses are extremely difficult to live out in our lives today as Believers in America.  We desire everything in our lives today to be a gain.  We always want to be on the positive side of obtaining wealth.  It is the culture that we live in.

When a person accepts Christ, there begins a journey for that person to begin thinking spiritually instead of worldly.  The verses above are clear that whatever a Believer thinks was valuable before they became a Christian is now considered as a loss in their life.  This is definitely out of this world thinking.  Many of us become prideful over our children, or our homes, or our cars, or our job title.  All of these things have been replaced with the simple fact of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.  This should be a common purpose for all Believers as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to transform the way we think.  Many Christians do not consider what all will happen to them when they accept Christ.  This transforming of the mind is huge to become a living witness for God.

3/16/16: Believers are not grumblers

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.    Philippians 2:14-16

These are very hard and difficult verses for a Believer to live by.  I have always attempted to overlook these verses, especially where it is said to “do everything without grumbling or arguing.”  Jesus did not grumble or argue.  His nature would not allow Him to do those things.  I do not know where you would put yourself on a grumble/argue scale, but I know that I would be at the frequent end and Christ would be at the never end.    

The world has gotten to a place where others expect you to grumble or argue when things do not go right for you.  It is expected that you complain about poor service at a restaurant.  It is expected that you demonstrate your dislike for political candidates or your local government.  It is expected that you express your displeasure of just about everything that is going on with your job, your company, your community, etc. 

3/9/16 – God’s purpose should always be on our minds

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.  Philippians 2:12-13

This is a clear statement concerning the work of Believers after accepting Christ.  Many times I have read these verses and the wording, “work out your salvation” would cause me to stop and wonder how does work become part of our salvation. 

Most Christians know that their salvation is not based on their works.  You only receive salvation through the death of Christ on the cross.  Jesus took His blood shed on the cross to the perfect altar that is in heaven.  He spread His blood on that altar just like the Old Testament practice of spreading the blood of an unblemished lamb on the earthly altar located in the Temple.  When Jesus presented His blood, salvation was now available to anyone who believes that Jesus took on the judgment from God for all of our sins. 

3/2/16: God expects Believers to think like Christ

Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.   Philippians 2:2-5

These verses are a great summary of the “Christ-like life” that dominates the New Testament.  There are repeated themes throughout the New Testament such as “being like-minded”, “same love”, “one in spirit”, and “of one mind”.  You can easily see that these short phrases used the concept of “oneness”.  God intended for all Believers to be of “oneness”.  There was to be no disunity in the body of Believers.  We all are to work toward unity and remove any dysfunctional items from the church.

The verses go on to define what being dysfunctional means.  The first item is to do nothing out of selfish ambition.  You can find this happening when there is a job in the church that is considered greater than other jobs.  As human beings, there will be things said and done to obtain that job that will result in disunity.  The reason for this disunity is that only one person in a group can have selfish ambition.  Otherwise, there is discord, arguments, and, possibly, broken relationships in the church.  This happens all too frequently in today’s churches. 

3/25/15 – God reveals Himself to everyone

But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.  Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.  Exodus 8:18-19

I encourage you to read about the 10 plagues that God placed on Egypt so that Pharaoh would free the nation of Israel.  You will find them in the book of Exodus, Chapters 7 – 12.  They are fascinating in so many ways.  Each plague was a direct attack on a specific Egyptian idol.  Many of the plagues affected only the Egyptians and not the Israelites.  Millions of people saw these plagues.  Many Egyptians came to know about Jehovah God.  You will meet many of them in heaven.  Read about them and carefully note that God was revealing Himself to every Egyptian.

3/18/15 – Do not grow weary; God’s love endures forever

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9 (NABRE)

“I am tired, worn out, weary, wasted, with no energy.  How much longer can I go on?”  These words occur in everyone’s life.  If we are doing a repetitive action (e.g., going to work), a lack of endurance could be a part of your life.  If you are going through an illness, the discomfort and pain could be so unbearable that you do not think you could survive.  When you are caring for sick children, a seriously ill spouse, or aging parents (or all of them at once), it is very easy to ask God, “How much longer?”  To “endure to the end” is a difficult task for Christians, but that is what God is asking each of us to do.

3/11/15 - All of our sins are removed by the blood of Christ

Since the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement[a] on the altar for yourselves, because it is the blood as life that makes atonement. Leviticus 17:11 (NABRE)

Therefore, brothers, since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary. Hebrews 10:19 (NABRE)

But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 (NABRE)

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Leviticus 17:11 (NIV)

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus… Hebrews 10:19 (NIV)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 (NIV)

After Christ died on the cross, He took some of His blood to the perfect altar in heaven.  When He sprinkled His blood on that altar, all of our sins were forgiven.  God would no longer see our sins but only the blood of Christ that purifies us from all sin.  This is God’s plan for removing sin and guilt from us so that we can enter into the presence of a holy God.   (See Hebrews 7 - 10)

3/4/15 – God rescues me

He reached down from on high and seized me; drew me out of the deep waters.  He rescued me from my mighty enemy, from foes too powerful for me.  They attacked me on my day of distress, but the Lord was my support.  He set me free in the open; he rescued me because he loves me. (NABRE) Psalm 18:17-20

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.  They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.  He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.  (NIV) Psalm 18:17-19

There are so many things in this world that cause fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  The things of this world may seem to be totally out of control.  You may feel closed in or about to go under for the third time, but you have a rescuer – God!

Human beings are the only living creatures that desire to intentionally hurt other human beings.  These people empty themselves of any and all concern for others.  Life is meaningless to them. These kinds of things bother us, because God puts life as His most valuable creation. 

You: Are a new creation

PART 2 – You must realize that God used Jesus for you to have a new life

What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?   Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  Romans 6:1-4

This is the second of a four-part discussion on two Biblical passages.  The first passage was last week.  We continue with that passage this week.  The purpose of this four-part series is to allow the Holy Spirit to show you, as real and deeply as possible, the grace of God.

Sin: Grace

PART 1 – You are a lowly sinner saved only by the grace of God

What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?   Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  Romans 6:1-4

This is the first of a three-part discussion on two Biblical passages.  The first passage is the one above and will be discussed this week and the next week.  The third passage will be an attempt to pull all three discussions together in a way that you have probably never heard or thought of before.  I will do my best to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit in bringing these passages together.

You: Be Holy

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. Obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:13-16

These verses are clear about the goals of living a Christian life.  However, as you read this, you will probably have a “so what” reaction to what I say.  I hope this will not be the case as all Christians should understand God’s expectations for us.  It’s only after we realize what God has done for us and His expectations of us can we go about living the Christian life that will have an impact on this world.

Belief: What is your faith based on?

And God’s Word says,

The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.  He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?  I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.”  Mark 8:11-12

I sincerely believe that our generation has reached a point where Jesus would tell us the same thing that He told the Pharisees in the verses above.  “No sign will be given to it.”  Let me explain why I believe this.