Noticing the Change {{POTF}}

I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry— even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 1:12-14, CSB).

I needed this truth: our Lord Jesus is the One strengthening us!

While I am a person who struggles with sin, I am absolutely saved by His grace alone. God has shown me His mercy. He has purposely loved me, despite the person I used to be. When my sin nature is in charge, I have the ability to crave being unkind. Yet, the Lord, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, is showing me how I can live a brand new way of life! He continues to deliver me from my old self on a daily, even hourly, basis.

My sin shows me my desperate need for our Lord Jesus who rose from the grave! In Scripture we are given the opportunity to see the difference between drawing nearer to Christ and living for ourselves. Galatians 5 is the number one Scripture that comes to mind on this subject. It shows us the absolute different in our lives when we focus on this relationship with God through our Savior.

For myself, I know our Lord Jesus is the One making the difference! He is doing the work that only He can. Routines, diets, and other things cannot ever change the “inside me.” This is something only our Lord Jesus can do.

The grace of our Lord has been abundantly poured out on me, along with faith and love found in Jesus Christ. The change I need in my personal life is something only Jesus can do. I need the Lord to take my life fully. I need to keep my words and attitude in check, because honestly it is easy to slip up. When life happens, it is easy to fall into the hard place of old ways. Take a look at this encouragement.

take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth (Eph. 4:22-24).”

Friends, let us keep daily putting on Christ.
Let us choose the things of God over this world.
We are given the Holy Spirit to help us in our journey.

How are you making sure you don’t “sober up” from the Holy Spirit? (Just that statement alone, takes a bit to digest – Reading our Bible’s, prayer, and Christian fellowship are all ways to get “drunk on the Spirit”.) Friend, keep drinking in the Lord through coming nearer. We need our Living Water, and drawing nearer is the best way to govern our lives. The Holy Spirit is our tool for every day living, so let us allow Him to strengthen our lives!

Seeking Him,

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Accepting God’s Word {{Week 4}}

Welcome, friends!

I invite you to get out your study journal and Bible, if you have it nearby. If you haven’t had the privilege of ordering your study journal yet, you can do so here (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link).

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:19-20; Proverbs 30:12; Luke 18:11

So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! (Matthew 5:19-20, NLT)

They are pure in their own eyes, but they are filthy and unwashed (Proverbs 30:12).

 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[a]: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! (Luke 18:11)

Devotion

To ignore God’s commands, is a deliberate act. When we ignore something, we overlook it and there is thought that goes into it. In today’s Scriptures, we learn that it is a holy offense to our holy God – to ignore His written word. We can’t ignore part of God’s Word. We need to accept all of it, for it is food for our soul and pivotal for our relationship with our God through Jesus Christ.

God has breathed life into all Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. By using Scripture, the servant of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing (NIRV).

Like we are taught in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, all scripture is God breathed and has an important purpose.  We may struggle to read and certain books of the Bible like Leviticus and Revelation, but we absolutely cannot discount these parts of God’s Word.

God has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us in reading the Bible and learning how His truths apply to our lives.

It’s in God’s full written word that we learn our righteousness isn’t righteousness at all. When we study and teach the Bible in its entirety, we learn how much we don’t have it all together and need Jesus Christ to enter our lives, displaying His power.

Our righteousness isn’t enough; it’s like filthy rags. The righteousness of Christ far exceeds our own, and His righteousness and grace is what we desperately need and seek for.

The Bible teaches us about Jesus and why we need a Savior. Our righteousness is not righteousness at all.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for Your beautiful Word and grace. Teach me Your Word. Help me to not ignore any of Your commands, designed with my blessings in mind. I pray You would give me the understanding I seek. Amen.

Trials Tuesday: Mortality and Our Pursuits

Trials Tuesday 2.9.16

“For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers
the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So
also will the rich man fade away in the midst
of his pursuits (James 1:11, ESV).”

As human beings, we genuinely do not like being reminded of our own mortality. Which is why God teaches us that we are a breathe away from eternity. The “here-and-now” won’t last forever. We touched on this two sessions ago. But, it affects where we are going TODAY!

The Big Question

… that stands out to me is this – What am I pursuing? While I am not rich, I am still a human being. A human being whose time on earth is limited. It’s crazy to recite this verse again, but we need to grasp this –

“This is how the rich person will fade away in his pursuits (ISV).”

Like I said, I am not rich. Far from it. There is thanksgiving in this realization, but those with wealth and statute probably have a harder time grasping this reality than “normal folks”.

Why Would I Say This?

Because Jesus said it!

Unlike most, Jesus doesn’t want to ignore the hard-truth. Because He wants to prepare His people and make all men come to Himself and find His AMAZING salvation and rest!

“It is much harder for a rich person to enter the
Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through
the eye of a needle (Mark 10:24, GNB).”

Scripture reminds us that it is harder for those with “financial freedom” to come into the Kingdom of God. It comes with the act of surrender. Money is the one thing that sets them apart. In the world, they have it all. But in God’s Kingdom, He is commanding them to give it up. To be willing to give it up. Our financial wealth can be a hindrance to our walk with God.

We see an example of this with the rich young ruler, when Jesus

‘… looked at him and loved him. He told him,
“You’re still missing one thing. Sell everything you
have. Give the money to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven. Then follow me (vv. 21, GW)!”‘

Knowing God

The whole thing about God is knowing He is sovereign, and there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. Jesus sums it up, by stating the biggest “but” we could ever ask for as human beings.

‘Jesus looked at them and said, “It’s impossible for
people to save themselves, but it’s not impossible for God
to save them. Everything is possible for God (vv. 27).”‘

This is the POWER OF GOD!! God alone saves. It is not by our own merit that we are saved. Because, we could never be “good enough”. In Romans 3:10-12, we are reminded that none are righteous. Secondly, we are taught that the best deeds we could do – is nothing more than filthy rags (see Isaiah 64:4).

How do we define what is righteous?

Take a moment to read Romans 3:9-18.

What does it say about righteousness?

How does it define the people’s hearts for/against God – their Creator?

Read Romans 3:19-20.

What does it teach us about accountability to God?

Why are we accountable to God (see Matt. 12:30-37)?

We need a Savior. This is why Jesus Christ came – to save us. I love the passage found in 2 Cor. 5, where we are taught that we are given the righteousness of Christ. Why are we given such righteousness? Jesus carried our sins and death, bled on our behalf, died a sinner’s death, and rose again on the 3rd day. 

Take time to read 2 Cor. 5:14-16, 21.

What does verse 15 teach you?

Read 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

What does this passage teach you about the power of God through His Son Jesus Christ (Hint: See verse 11)?

With This in Mind…

let’s return to our Scripture for today.

For my life, accountability to God means everything. It means I will choose not to do something, because I want to honor my God. It doesn’t always mean I won’t do something. Because of the faith I have in Christ, I will choose to do something. I will make decision to activate my faith, and walk by it in my daily life!

With morality, comes a hard truth. We see it in today’s passage of Scripture.

“So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits (ESV).”

Mortality means that we can be busy in our lives…

pursuing one thing after another…

and we could DIE before it is all finished.

In fact, we probably will die before “our plans” come into fruition. This is the difference between chasing ourselves (and own pursuits) and chasing after God!

Will you choose to chase after God or your own pursuits? The line isn’t always crossed, but as 1 John 2:15-16 teaches – we can be pursuing something that is far from God’s will. We need to seek God honoring pursuits. Where God is found right there in the middle of what we are pursuing after.

We need to live today like we will meet Jesus tonight!

As it says in Isaiah…

“At the LORD’s command, flowers and grass disappear,
and so do we. Flowers and grass fade away, but what
our God has said will never change.  (Isa 40:7-8, CEV)”

In Light of Our Position in Christ

… we should be considerate of what we are pursuing.

I love the last part of Isaiah 40:8: “But what our God has said will never change.” This means that God’s Holy Word. This is the stuff that will last for all eternity. We need to consider what we are honestly pursuing.

I am sure there are things that need to change, so we can change the direction our lives are headed!

How are you living for eternity?

Make a list of your best laid plans. Divide your list into your plans for this week, year, and yes your “bucket list”. How do they fall in line with the Word of God?

“You were raised from death with Christ. So live for what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Think only about what is up there, not what is here on earth. Your old self has died, and your new life is kept with Christ in God. Yes, Christ is now your life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory (Col. 3:1-4, ERV).”