Tag Archives: Religion & Spirituality

Loving God, What Does That Look Like?

lov3        

When was the last time you came to God  just love on Him and be close to Him?

          I have three sons of varying ages who are completely different from one another in their personalities, likes, and interests. Each one is unique and I thank God that, He made them that way. I love each one equally and show no partiality to any one of them. They all know that I love them and I know that they love me. This is an understood fact and we all express that love to each other all the time. We live with an awareness of that love and we are conscious of the fact that the love we have will never change. There comes a time though, as they walk through their day-to-day life that the knowledge of that love is not enough.  They need to experience it.

          They need one on one, face-to-face interaction. They need a loving touch, they need to share thoughts and emotions and spend intimate personal time with me. They need to know that they are special to me and that my love is for them is real. There is a wonderful exchange that takes place in these times. I become sensitive to their needs and desires and reaffirm my love for them. It solidifies our bond and their faith in me as a loving father. It enriches and strengthens the relationship that we have.

          Each of my children likes to experience this love in different ways. As they age and their interest changes, our time together begins to look different also. My 13-year-old likes to go to the gun range and I teach him about shooting techniques, safety and responsibility, preparing him for manhood and the challenges that are ahead of him.

          My 10-year-old likes swimming, nature  and art. We enjoy each others company and I see the joy in his face when we are alone together. I encourage him to develop his gifts and artistic talents. My youngest, the 6-year-old, likes to crawl up in my lap and play silly little games. These games may seem insignificant to some, yet to this child it is one of the most important parts of his day and if we miss that time together he tells me about it. This time together is very important to him … It is also very important to me.

 lov2         As believers we need this intimate time with our Father, God. It is not enough to walk through life just knowing about the Love of God, we must experience it. The most important relationship that we have is with our creator. If we invest in this relationship, it pays dividends in all other relationships, making them richer and stronger.

          These times I described with my kids are all very important to me. Your personal time with God is very important to Him too. Is it important to you? As you grow as a Christian these intimate times with God will change and evolve to match your level of maturity and the life lessons that God knows are important to you at the time. No matter where you are in your walk with God, always approach Him as a child. Don’t take for granted that the most amazing thing available to you through Jesus sacrifice is your ability to stand before God like a child with no guilt, condemnation, or shame. Jesus made fellowship and intimacy available through His shed blood. His sacrifice was made so Father – Son relationship could be restored.

Luke 18:17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.

         lov5 I think we tend to get in rut with our “devotional” time and make it mechanical and impersonal. We come to God with a list of prayer needs and a plan to study, or read a certain amount of scripture and we never connect with Him personally. We go through the motions with a legalistic, works mentality, believing that its the right thing to do in order to be a “good Christian.” The truth is, very little fruit comes from actions like these. This is not relationship, and it does not promote growth and change, instead it perpetuates a legalistic mentality which quenches the grace of God and hinders the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

The Righteousness of God – pt.3

22222

Righteousness has a Voice

Romans 10:6-13 (NKJV) But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say?The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

          Righteousness has a voice, a specific way of speaking. There are laws that govern the way righteousness is expressed verbally. If we adhere to these laws it builds a stronghold of faith and we become established in righteousness. This, in turn, produces the fruit of holiness in our lives.

          Notice in the above passage that the first thing righteousness does… is to NOT SAY in your heart. Words are not used in this instance but our thoughts and actions tell what we are saying in our heart.

          When we act like sin still has a hold on us, that it still has a stain, a voice, a judgment, and an impact, we act as if the sacrifice Jesus made was not enough. This is garden variety unbelief. It stops the grace of God from molding and shaping us into His image. Notice, this is done without speaking a word, simply thinking we are less than what God paid for, saying in our heart that we are not worthy,(condemnation) believing we are still sinners, (shame) thinking we are worthy of judgment (guilt). This is the very definition of having a sin consciousness. This is the same consciousness of sin they had in the Old Testament because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away their sins.

Hebrews 10:2-4 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

          The good news is that the blood of Christ CAN take away our sins, and HAS taken away our sins. Past, present and future! Glory to God! He took our sins to the grave AND LEFT THEM THERE! We should do the same, becoming dead indeed to sin, leaving our old man buried with Christ.

Romans 6:11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

44579

          To “reckon” means to think, or imagine. How we think about ourselves determines how we act and how we speak. When our actions and words speak against righteousness, it produces a sin consciousness and is an affront to the work of the cross.

          When it comes to operating in faith, it is just as important to know what NOT to say, as knowing what we SHOULD SAY. Faith always has a voice, a specific language. When we align our speech with the language of faith it makes our faith active, alive and fruitful. It activates grace and all of its transforming power in our life.

          The importance of our words are stressed throughout the entire bible. We have the same type of creative ability that God has. In fact, we are co-creators with Him. He has given us the building blocks, the raw material if you will, of His word. When we put His word in our mouth we release creative power.

5674368

         The righteousness of faith only speaks what God has said about us. It only speaks of our Son-ship, our righteousness, our position as an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ. It speaks of us being holy and blameless children of the King. It doesn’t even acknowledge the old dead man. Not with our thoughts, not with our actions, and certainly not with our words. Look at this passage a little closer;

Romans 10:8-12 But what does it say?The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

          What does the righteousness of faith say? …THE WORD! Specifically, THE WORD OF FAITH.

          We have made Romans 10:9,10 the “go to” scriptures that we share with people when we are convincing them to give their life to the Lord. Unfortunately, we have reduced this to just praying a prayer to go to heaven someday. When we read the entire passage, we see that it is not talking about saving us from hell, but saving us from the law of sin and death. Its emphasis is more about living a transformed life than it is going to heaven. Look at verse 10 again.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.

          We are capable of believing ourselves into actually living righteous and holy. Not by doing, and not doing, not by works, and struggling to live right, but by submitting to the finished work of Christ.

“We must start where He finished and believe Him to produce the fruit of holiness in our lives, even in the face of sin.”

          If we really believe that what God said is true, we will confess that it is true, and this leads to salvation. Salvation from what? From sin and death, from the carnal nature!

          Yes, we are saved from hell, but the entire book of Romans is about living unto righteousness and being free from sin and its effects. It is about being alive to God and embracing the work of the cross. It’s about us becoming who God created us to be. It’s about us being transformed into His image.

          How does this transformation take place? How do we die to sin and come alive to righteousness? By speaking righteousness, by the spirit of faith, and with the power of words!

Before we learn how to speak, think about this:

          What is a word? Why are words so powerful? Why, according to Proverbs 18:21, is death and life in the power of the tongue?

“A word is a verbal or written expression that carries ideas and creates IMAGES. The very nature of the word shapes the image that it produces.”

77654

          If I say; “Black Labrador Retriever with a red collar,” I just put a specific image in your head. You took what I said, you processed it through your memory and experience, and it produced a specific thought/picture in your mind. It produced an image!

          We must have a preconceived image already present in our thinking for images to form. Unfortunately, we have so much memory and experience of our fallen, carnal nature that these images tend to dominate our thought life and make up our minds in advance that this is who we really are. Jesus didn’t die for us to remain the same and someday go to heaven, He died so that we could be transformed into His IMAGE, so that God’s original purpose for mankind could be restored in you.

          If we read the Bible, keep it before our eyes and in our thoughts, we will have a good idea of what the image of God is because Jesus was the express image of God.

The whole reason He was able to redeem man from sin was that He was the Image of God.

Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

          We see in this verse that Jesus was not only the express image of God, but He upheld all things by His word. This means that, among other things, the image of the Father was upheld in Him by the power of His words. God’s image IN YOU is upheld by the power of His word SPOKEN BY YOU!

          This brings us full circle, back to our original text in Romans 10. We looked at what the righteousness of faith doesn’t say, now let’s look at what the righteousness of faith DOES say.

Choosing a Master

55432

Romans 6:19-22 (NIV) I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

          We see in this scripture that being a slave to righteousness, in other words, serving the master of righteousness, yields the fruit of holiness without you trying to be holy! Glory to God! This way the Lord gets all the glory, and no one can lay claim to being a “Super Christian.”

33345

          We are to be DEAD to sin, but ALIVE to righteousness. The one we choose to serve (verse 19), sin or righteousness, causes us to be dead to the other. If we are alive to sin, we are “free” from the control and influence of righteousness. The results are death according to Romans 6:20. However, if we present ourselves as an offering to serve righteousness, we are free from the control of our carnal sin nature (verse 22). This enables the etching tool of God’s grace to mold and shape you into what you are believing….RIGHTEOUSNESS!

          We cast our vote for who will be our master by our confession. Confession means to agree with, to acknowledge, to say the same thing as. We must acknowledge and agree with what the Bible says about us if righteousness is to be our master.

          Righteousness must be appropriated by faith, not by works. The righteousness of the law DOES, but the righteousness of faith SPEAKS. The law is about doing, whereas faith is about believing and speaking.

2 Corinthians 4:13 (NKJV) And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,

          It’s not enough for us to understand the concept of righteousness and mentally agree with it, we must open our mouths and SPEAK IT. LET THE REDEEMED OF THE LORD SAY SO!

Psalm 107:2 (NKJV) Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

          It doesn’t matter how many books we’ve read on righteousness, or how many sermons we have heard. We must believe it and speak it if we want it to become a reality in our lives.

          If we sin and fall short of the glory of God, we must not respond like Adam, hiding and blaming others for our mistakes. Instead, we run to God and say something like; “I thank you Father for exposing that act of sin and helping me to see that it is not who I am. I thank you Father for paying the price for sin and clothing me in your righteousness. I thank you for delivering me out of the kingdom of darkness and translating me into the kingdom of your Son Jesus. I am free from sin and death and I thank You for Your great mercy. Where would I be if you didn’t love me and Father me? I am so thankful that you redeemed me.”

          When we respond to sin like that, God’s grace acts as an etching tool to mold and shape us into His image. We are saying in our heart that we submit to His transforming work of grace and we believe that He is working on us to produce the fruit of holiness in our life, removing even the desire to sin. This is how we become righteous conscious.

           When the righteousness of faith speaks like this; it shuts the door in the enemy’s face and prevents him from seducing us into condemnation, guilt, and shame, producing a sin consciousness.

“Once you know who you are, you can’t be seduced by who you were.”

           Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters. We must be consistent in the confession of who we are in Christ, even in the face of falling short. Habitual declaration of our right standing with God gives no entrance to the enemies deception.

        When we get attacked by the devil, he is never after the NEW man because he is no match for someone who knows who they are IN CHRIST. He is after the “OLD” man (that should be dead) so he can resurrect old things, old habits, and old thoughts, to disturb the new man, and trick him into giving up his dominion, keeping him from flourishing and producing the fruit of holiness. This is what happened to Adam.

        Don’t let a moment of weakness, or a misstep, or a hundred missteps, break the habit of your declaration of righteousness. Hold fast to your confessionn and God is faithful to continue and complete His transforming work in you. Your confession of righteousness keeps the potter’s wheel spinning, and His shaping hand of grace on your life.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

           In conclusion: God has forever removed the barrier of sin. He has, through the offering of His Son Jesus, gained us access to His transforming power by making us the Righteousness of God IN CHRIST. He did this because we are so valuable to Him. He did this so that we may enter the sanctification process and be restored back to our created purpose, His image. He did this because He loves us.

Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

 

The Righteousness of God – pt.2

The Mystery of the Two Natures

          When making reference to the “nature” of something, it refers to its inherent fundamental qualities. In the case of mankind, his nature is the hereditary physical and spiritual characteristics that drive his thoughts and actions and influences the direction of his life.

          God’s original design was for man to have the nature and image of God.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

          When Adam sinned, his nature changed, and the image of God in man was lost. Now fallen man had the nature and image of the devil. The nature and image of God is love, the nature, and image of the devil is carnal, prideful, and selfish. They are polar opposites.

          Man went from being love (God’s image) to needing love (selfish, self-centered). He lost his dominion and authority and he lost his created purpose which was to manifest/reflect the image of God. He was cut off from the Holy Spirit and lost the peace that kept him in perfect unity with the Father. His intimacy with the God was compromised and now his fellowship with his creator was only available from a distance, it was almost non-existent. He stepped out of the kingdom of light and into the kingdom of darkness. He chose the “kingdom of me” over the Kingdom of God and it produced a separation in relationship.

          This wasn’t just a sad day for Adam, but for all mankind, for every human being born on this earth is born into sin and death because of Adam’s sin.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned.

          We are born with a fallen, carnal nature by no fault of our own. God knew this, so He sent Jesus to pay the price that no man could pay. He redeemed man from sin and death and restored the possibility of the nature and image of God back to mankind. For man to enjoy this restoration of the nature and image of God he must be born of Adam, (natural birth) and born of the Spirit.(born again)

John 3:5-7 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

          We are, by default, born of the first Adam, born with a fallen, corrupt, and carnal nature. When we are born again, we suddenly have a new nature on the scene that is diametrically opposed to the old carnal nature, Now we have the chore of stewarding these two opposite natures. This is the biggest challenge that faces us in our Christian walk because we were never created to live with two natures. We were created to have the nature and image of God.

          We find in scripture a description of the two natures and the results of yielding to each.

Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

          We see here that yielding to one nature produces death, and yielding to the other produces life and peace. At first glance, we see the obvious choice, life and peace. It seems so simple, yet the obvious choice is not the easy choice.

Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

          There is a tug of war inside of us, a great battle going on between our two natures. Each nature operates according to very different spiritual laws. Because of this opposition within us, we find ourselves not doing the things that we know to be right. The apostle Paul saw this struggle in his own life and ministry and writes about it in his letter to the Roman church.

Romans 7:15-17 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

765

          Notice Paul’s perspective here. He identifies himself with the new man, the born again man. He views the fallen man as a completely different person, to the point that when he sees sin rearing its ugly head in his life, he says; “it is no longer I that sins.” He sees it as a different person committing the act of sin. Paul refuses to identify with the fallen nature, instead, he chooses to embrace his new identity which is the righteousness of God.

          Paul’s response to the new nature dictates his response to the old nature. Most folks have that backwards. They allow the old carnal man, (that should be dead) to dictate how they respond to God’s amazing gift of righteousness. Paul understood that the man he used to be, is not the man he now is. Look at Romans 6 again in the Message;

Romans 6:2 If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?

          The place we used to be, is not the place we belong. Pack up and leave that old house for good! Sin will always call us back to live in the place we were redeemed from, but when we know who we are NOW, we can’t be seduced by who we WERE. We need to let who we are get bigger in our heart than who we were. When we settle that in our life, transformation and fulfillment will follow.

          If you sin, how do you respond to it? Do you look at the act like it wasn’t even you who did it? Do you say to yourself, and to God, “that wasn’t me, that is not who I am. I thank you Lord for opening my eyes, I am the righteousness of God in Christ, and I thank you Lord that you see me as holy in your sight. I thank you for fathering me and showing me who I am in you, for producing the fruit of holiness in my life so that I don’t stumble”? This is what “confession of sin” should look like according to the New Testament. To confess means to say the same thing about it that God says. Say what God says about you and it will change your desires, your behavior, your thought processes, and eventually, YOUR IMAGE.

          I think most of us respond to sin with being disappointed in ourselves, crying out to God for forgiveness, weeping and wailing and filled with regret that we missed it again. We become ashamed, disgusted with ourselves, condemning ourselves, and judging ourselves unworthy, unrighteous, and unqualified. We open the door to condemnation and turn inward instead of running toward God. We respond from the place of the dead man, identifying ourselves with the sin and therefore giving it power over our lives to bring us into slavery. This response to sin opens the door for the Devil’s tricks and torments. It reactivates the law of sin and death being activated in your life.

          It’s all about perspective. Seeing ourselves from the position of sin prevents us from realizing who we are created to be. It sends a message that we are not righteous and Christ’s sacrifice was not enough. It is an affront to the work of the cross and a denial of your position in Christ as a child of the living God and a citizen of His Kingdom.

          The Jews at Rome had this same problem. Look what Paul says about it:

Romans 10:2-4 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

          Righteousness must be submitted to. It has nothing to do with our performance, it has everything to do with what we believe, and who we believe. This is the righteousness of faith. Righteousness has already been established by Jesus Christ, there is nothing we can do to make it more or less.

          If we respond from a place of guilt and condemnation it says that we don’t believe, or don’t understand, that the cross was enough to make us right before the Father. We say in our heart that Christ has to come from heaven and be sacrificed again and be raised from the dead again because the last time he did was not quite enough.(Romans 10:6-7) This is the response of the fallen nature, the one we must put to death.

262565

          The response of the new nature is one of faith and life, declaring the great work that Christ has done in you. It responds as a righteous son, a worthy heir with head held high in gratitude for the completed work of the cross. It responds by running to the Father and taking the seat beside Him which was prepared for you before you were born. It responds with the truth that “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!” This response produces the fruit of holiness without us trying to be holy.

Romans 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

The Righteousness of God – pt.1

The Righteousness of God pt. 1

          In most dictionaries, righteousness means right conduct. It describes behavior that is characterized by accepted standards of virtue and morality. In the Bible, righteousness is the condition of being in right relationship or right standing with the Lord. The thing that blinds people to a true understanding of righteousness is confusion about how we become right in the sight of God.

          It is commonly thought that our actions, conduct, and behavior determine God’s judgment of our righteousness. That is simply not true. We are not made right in God’s eyes by what we do, but by accepting what Jesus did on the cross, and acknowledging who we are in Him. Righteousness is not about what we do, it’s about who we are. We are new creatures. WE ARE SONS!

           The righteousness of God is what gains us access to God’s presence. Not the righteousness of the law which is by works, but the free gift of righteousness which comes by faith. To approach God requires a righteousness equal to His own. Any vestige of sin would not be able to stand in His presence. The greatest benefit we have from the righteousness of God is our ability to stand in His presence and have intimate relationship with Him.

           Righteousness is a gift. We can’t earn it, and we certainly don’t deserve it on the merit of our performance. It has to be received by faith. Righteousness is obtained by what we believe, not by what we do. If we embrace the gift of righteousness and believe that it truly has made us right in God’s sight, it begins to change our behavior. Our conduct begins to line up with the truth and it produces the fruit of holiness in our lives without straining and striving to “do better” to produce our own righteousness and holiness.

           Failing to understand this truth is at the root of all guilt and condemnation. Satan’s only entrance into our lives is through sin. If we understand our right standing with God on the basis of what Jesus did for us, and not by our performance, then Satan’s power to condemn is gone. Those who live with feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness are not believing in God’s gift of righteousness, but are looking to their own works to obtain right standing with God. This will never work. It will only bear the fruit of frustration and produce more guilt, shame, and condemnation.

           Righteousness can’t be produced by works, it can only be obtained by submitting to it, by believing in it.

Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

567777

          To submit to righteousness means that we must believe that what God said about us is true. We must believe that He looks at us as if we have never sinned. That belief is established by how we act. Unfortunately, we have a problem acting like we have never sinned because we know we have. We see our ability to sin and fail and it makes us believe that we are sinners and failures. We look at our actions and consider our past and we walk by sight and not by faith in what God has done for us.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (AMP) For we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]

          God wants us to live with no consciousness of sin. He wants us to live as though sin never existed. He made us equal to His righteousness because He loves us and wants relationship with us. He gave us the ability to approach Him unveiled, unashamed, righteous, and holy IN HIS SIGHT! For righteousness to become a reality, we must become righteous, holy, and blameless IN OUR SIGHT. This can only be accomplished through faith, no amount of striving to “be right, or do good” will produce it.

           We are born with a sin nature because of Adam. A sin nature has a strong voice. It is always saying, “You are a sinner, you are going to fail, you are not worthy, you are not righteous, and there is no way you can be.” When we listen to that voice we become alive to it, and then we become a slave to it. We have no power over something we are a slave to. We must learn to die to this sin nature so that we may live unto righteousness.

Romans 6:8-11 (NIV) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

         The key to understanding this free gift of righteousness is having the proper perspective, the perspective of FAITH! We must see ourselves as God now sees us, righteous, holy, and blameless in His sight. If we still see ourselves as sinners after we have been born again, that just reveals our unbelief in what He accomplished on the cross. His sacrifice was enough! We need to start acting like it! As verse 11 above states, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” To count, imagine, reckon, believe yourself dead to the old and alive to the new.

~ Walking in heavy F.O.G. (Favor Of God) ~

Psalm 5:12 ~ For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is Favor? How do I get some? How do I know it when I have it?

It is available to everyone in the body of Christ, but not all Christians experience it. Favor is not automatic, we need to learn to experience heavy F.O.G. (Favor Of God) in our lives.

Romans 8:31 ~  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Having the favor of God in your life means that GOD IS FOR YOU! Favor makes a difference! It helps you, sustains you; it means you are “preferred,” and it’s noticeable! Webster’s Dictionary (1828 edition) defines favor as: “an advantage for success.

Have you ever heard the old saying: “If you see a turtle on a fence post there is one thing you know for sure,

  He had some help!”

The point is; favor gets you to places you couldn’t get to by yourself. The favor of God takes you places that you could not go in your own strength and your own abilities.

Our culture, and our government try to equalize everyone—everything “politically correct,” everybody’s a winner, we don’t keep score…. The reality is, everybody is not a winner. That doesn’t work in the real world. We all have different capacities, different abilities, different strengths and gifts. Yes, we all have the same created value. We all bear the same price tag; The blood of Jesus. However, we see in scripture that there are different levels of rank, authority, and capacity.(Read the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25 )

Favor is a major theme throughout the Bible. It goes along with grace, mercy, peace, etc. We see favor in the lives of Moses, Noah, Abraham, David, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, and many others.

There is a way for us to find favor with God and with men:

 Proverbs 3 ~  1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;  2For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. 3Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, 4And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.        

Many Christians don’t experience the Favor of God because they don’t esteem the Word of God properly, they don’t put it first place and they don’t make it final authority in their lives. Being a person committed and submitted to the Word of God is THE quickest way experience favor. Not to mention all the other benefits like spiritual strength, growth, wisdom, understanding, etc.

There are two brands of favor that comes from God: unmerited (we don’t deserve it and we can’t earn it) and merited (we qualify for it). As you cooperate with God, He will put favor on you! And trustme, you don’t want to go bumping along in this life without the favot of God on you.

Psalm 5:12  ~ “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”

To “surround” means “to encircle,” “encompass,” or “protect.” The favor of God will protect and preserve you. We need the favor of God to surround us as a shield!

 Look at what God’s favor did for Israel when He delivered them out of Egypt;

Exodus 3:20-2220 So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. 22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

They exited with silver, gold and cloths—loaded up!—because God gave them favor with the Egyptians, their enemies, the ones who enslaved them!

When you have heavy F.O.G. (Favor of God) in your life, you will never go away empty-handed (at a job interview, at the store, on a sales call, as you travel, in a difficulty, etc.).

Psalm 41:11 ~ (AMP) says, “By this I know that You favor and delight in me, because my enemy does not triumph over me.”

Your enemy is not always a person; it may be a situation, a symptom, a diagnosis, but when you have the favor of God in your life, it means the enemy will not triumph over you!

If favor seems missing from your life, you need to check on it! If you are living without favor, or if you are assuming you have no favor, you’re not looking for favor, or you’re not cooperating with God. If that is the case then you are making it is easy for the enemy to keep you down and hold you back.

Favor is rooted in God’s grace. Everything that God has promised, prepared or provided is contained in His grace—salvation, peace, provision, and favor….

Favor is contained in the grace of God. Favor is divine influence that leads you to success. God will give you unmerited favor, but there’s a merited favor that you qualify for as you cooperate with God. By faith you release the favor that grace contains.

 Daniel 1:9 ~ Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.

Daniel had been conquered and taken captive, but he did not fret, complain, get depressed or compromise. He made godly choices based on God’s Word. God gave Daniel favor with his captors, and Daniel ended up in a better place! He received promotion, preservation, restoration and increase because of the favor of God that got him through.

The favor of God will not only get you through but it will get you ahead. Whether it’s promotion, preservation, restoration or increase, favor will find you!

You will find repeatedly in Scripture people who “found favor.” To “find” something, you have to “look” for it. Part of looking for something means that you are expecting it. Look for favor, expect it, and cooperate with God and you will experience heavy F.O.G. in your life.

JC

VERY SOON…….

images

images3GSU9ZHW

~ What Is Christian Fellowship? ~

fellow

What is true Christian fellowship? It has been said that fellowship is just a bunch of fellows on the same ship, however, it is far more rewarding and enriching than that. There is a wonderful exchange that takes place when Christian brothers and sisters come together in true fellowship.

The key is; true Christian fellowship only occurs when you are interacting with the people who God has ordained you to connect with.

The Greek word for fellowship that you usually see in the New Testament is: “koinonia,” This word has a very intimate meaning and has to do with communion, joint contribution, joint participation and a sharing of something that goes beyond what a single individual can contribute. It is a partnering together to share God on a level that cannot be attained by an individual. It is an activity that brings Jesus into your very midst and produces dynamic discipleship and enriches relationship with God on a personal and corporate level.

Matthew 18:20 ~ For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

God has called you to a particular fellowship, a company of believers that you are to be in relationship with. It is impossible to mature as a balanced Christian without this God ordained fellowship. You have a supply that is needed in that fellowship and the fellowship has a supply that you need also. The supply is both spiritual and natural and it is necessary for balanced growth and maturity in the body of Christ, and for you as an individual.

Ephesians 4:16 – From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Notice in this passage that supply comes from the joints in the body, not the parts of the body.

A joint is where two parts meet together, like your elbow or knee. That joint causes both parts to be more effective, more mobile, and increases the ability and strength of both connected parts. It is no coincidence that Jesus used this analogy. If you have ever had an injured joint like an ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist, you know how debilitating and restricting it can be. If you are not connected properly to the local assembly where God has called us, you hinder the overall effectiveness, productivity, and strength of the body of Christ. Not to mention yourself.

There are people who claim that they can worship God and be just fine without going to church or being around other believers. This is a deception of the enemy to prevent them from getting connected to the life of the body. It is a ploy to keep the branches disconnected from the vine so they can’t bear fruit. It keeps them from maturing and renders them ineffective and unproductive.

Hebrews 10:25 ~ And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

It is important that you be in the right circle of people so that you can experience this kind of fellowship. You don’t need to interact with every person on the planet, but you do need to find your place in the body and develop those relationships around you. It is this kind of fellowship that brings joy to your relationship with God and others.

Almost all of God’s blessings come through relationships. He uses people to bless people. When you are in true fellowship the blessings flow freely. They flow to you and they flow through you. Make it a point to develop and invest in those relationships.

Give yourself to walking in the light of true fellowship, for to fellowship with the body of Christ is just another way to fellowship with Him. In fact, there are realms of God that you will NEVER experience if you don’t engage in this type of “Body Interaction.” As you fellowship together there is a cleansing of sin that allows you to draw closer to God and to each other.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

~Dying To Live, The Mystery of Christ~

dying-to-live

The Lord has been leading me on an amazing journey these last several years. For the most part it has been a journey of self-discovery, finding the truth of who I am in Christ, while also seeing the weaknesses and inadequacies in myself. As one revelation grows, so does the other.

Through this growth and discovery process I felt this constant need for MORE. More love, more faith, more power. As I asked questions of God and searched the scriptures for some kind of answer to my feelings of inadequacy, I found some shocking truths that have changed my entire perspective. Not to mention how I experience God on a daily basis.

To start with, my thought was that God should improve me. I prayed constantly for God to make me a better man, a better husband and father, a better minister, a better servant. I thought He should just download some love and power in my heart, some faith and holiness – and improve me.

Then it hit me: Self-improvement is NOT the answer, and God
will NOT improve your “self”. He has asked you to DIE to “self”.

i-die-daily-

Colossians 3:3 ~ 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

I had spent years of effort trying to improve a dead man, when all along I should have been focusing on putting on the NEW MAN!

Ephesians 4:24 ~ and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:9-11 ~ 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Christ is the NEW MAN! Instead of focusing on the dead man, we should be focusing on the new man. It is Satan who wants to resurrect the old man who is full of sin and death. He knows he can’t conquer the new man in Christ, so he distracts us from developing in the new man by keeping our attention on the old dead one. Pretty slick.

Romans 13:13-14 ~ 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Galatians 3:26-28  ~ 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.   For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

We are made to be containers of God, carriers of Christ, allowing God to live through us, to express His love and power to a lost and dying world. This can only be accomplished by taking our place “IN HIM”. This is the mystery that eludes most Christians, that keeps them from walking in the fullness of God. To walk in the demonstration and power of God on this earth we must have a revelation of our identity IN Christ.

Colossians 1:27 ~ To them God has chosen to make known among the
Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

COLOSSIANS_MYSTERY_Web-2

Although it is a mystery, God is not hiding it from those who seek to walk in the fullness of Christ.

Galatians 2:20 ~ I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

~ To Love God ? ~ So… What Does That Look Like? ~

I was in a time of worship and prayer. I had one of my favorite worship tapes playing and I had been singing to the Lord for about an hour. My devotional time had changed over the last couple of weeks from prayer and reading the Bible to just worshipping Him. Every day God honored me with His presence, and every day that went by, my life seemed to get clearer and less complicated. I began to see everything differently, God, people, myself.

There is something about worship that purifies you and puts life into its proper perspective. It’s like getting into a vehicle that takes you into the presence of the Almighty God. In His presence there is a wonderful exchange that takes place, and we always get the better of that exchange. You honor God with your love and devotion, and He transforms you, and you become more like Him. What a powerful thing worship is. Worship is also anther vital life connection which we will discuss in a later chapter.

As I was enjoying the sweetness of His presence the tape had ended and I just sat there in a holy silence. The joy that I felt was overwhelming. You can’t worship God for more than a few minutes without it bringing some kind of joy in your life.

I wasn’t sure what to do, I really didn’t want to move but I wanted to bless Him, so I said “Lord I love you SO MUCH!” Then I heard this still small voice on the inside, “Jack, how much do you love me?”  Without thinking I burst out with my reply, a phrase that we all have used or at least heard. I said “Lord I love you with all of my heart!”  The Lord then replied in that same small voice “That’s not enough”. With those words I became very still.

The entire atmosphere in that room had just changed. I was very aware that God had just asked me a question and I gave Him the wrong answer. I also realized that the Lord doesn’t ask us questions because He is looking for information. I could still sense His presence, but it was the presence of a Father bringing correction and instruction to His child in a loving and tender way. He was trying to teach me something and I was intently listening on the inside. He immediately brought to my remembrance this scripture:

 Mark 12:30 ~ And you shall  love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  This is the first commandment.

It didn’t take my little brain long to do the math on that one. Loving God with all your heart is only one-fourth of what we are commanded to do. 25%! I thought to myself, “that’s pretty weak”.

I began to meditate on what it meant to love God with your soul, to love Him with your mind, and to love Him with strength. I had to admit that I really didn’t know what that meant. I was intrigued by this new line of thought, and at the same time, I was appalled to think that those three major areas were either weak or non-existent in my walk with God.

I was doing my best to show the Lord how much I loved Him, but my best is only my best until I can do better, I saw areas of my life that I could improve on. God was showing me that I could do better and I realized that I should have been looking for ways to do better all along.

From that point I began to take a long hard look at my life and my relationship with God. A relationship that I thought was pretty strong. I knew God was about to redefine my definition of “strong relationship”. The first thing I did was ask God to teach me about His love. He was obviously trying to show me something and I wanted to get everything He was trying to give me.

The second thing I did was get a concordance and look up the meaning for the Greek word Love. I thought I knew what it meant but after that kind of correction from God I did not want to take any thing for granted. To know how to love I first needed to make sure that I knew exactly what love was. The word for love that is used in Mark 12:30  is the Greek verb agapeo.

Now, I knew that “agape” was the Greek noun for the God kind of love and I had read 1 Corinthians 13 more times than I could count, but this word was new to me. It was far more powerful in its explanation. The definition in short is simply this:

agapeo = Love,  a verb.  “the commitment of devotion that is directed by the will…and can be commanded as a duty”.

It has been said that love can only be known by the actions that it prompts. In other words, love gives of itself and expresses itself in action or it is not love. Love is as love does. It’s not enough to just say you love someone, love is active and  alive, an aggressive force, to love is to give. In fact love is the highest and most honorable form of giving, while giving is the chief expression of love.

Look at the language that is used in the definition, words like commitment and devotion. If you have ever been committed or devoted to something or someone, you know full well that it takes some effort and some work.

Love is tied to your will. We must make a choice to love. By choosing love we have automatically chosen to give something of ourselves. Love is an act of your will, without action it is not love.

I come from a faith background and I knew that faith without works is dead according to James 2:26, but I just found out that love without works is dead also. That made perfect sense to me because Faith works by Love according to Galatians 5:6 . I began to see why my faith was not working at the level I knew it could.

We have all heard the old phrase “I’m falling in love” but you can’t fall in love, that is just infatuation. To fall into something indicates a mistake or something accidental. Love is far more purposeful than that. It takes concentrated effort and focus.

Love is not defined until you have worked at it for a while and invested something in it.

There are a lot of Christians today that are merely infatuated with God and they think that they really love Him. In fact if you told these folks that they really don’t love God they would be ready to fight you to defend their position.

Those that are infatuated with God are the folks like this: They go to church on Sunday (most of the time) because they don’t want to make the spouse mad or they don‘t want to feel guilty. These people know in their heart that God is real and they may even believe that God has great things for them. Unfortunately they don’t serve Him in the church, they don’t give of their finances and they don’t get involved with supporting the vision of the local church body, not even in prayer. Their bibles are dusty and all they do is play church. They always have an excuse why they can’t get involved in serving somewhere in the church and they will drop a few bucks in the offering plate as it goes by so it looks like they are givers and “doing their part” to those around them. These are the people who haven’t committed or devoted themselves to God.

Don’t be discouraged if I have just summarized your Christian life and walk with God. The good news is that it is very easy to move from being infatuated with God to truly loving Him. I have seen many people in my church make this transition as their faith develops. It is a glorious thing to see.

It is easy to tell if someone is really in love with God. You can see it in their expressions, their actions, and even the tone of their voice when they mention “The Lord”.

As a church in these last days we must make this transition into truly loving God with everything that is in us. No more half-hearted, part-time, milky toast Christianity. There is a world out there that is desperate to see this level of sold out commitment. The greatest witness that we have is our love for God and people. A lot of folks are searching for this and don’t even know it. The saved and lost alike.

I have asked the Lord to show me how to Love with the soul, mind and strength and have found that this is revelation that our entire Christian life is built on. Knowing what each aspect of this command looks like can make a huge difference in your life and ministry.

~ Spiritual Maturity vs. Emotional Maturity~

You can’t be spiritually mature and emotionally immature at the same time. The more spiritually mature you are, the less you are led by emotions. A spiritually mature person has control of their emotions, not allowing their emotions to control them. Part of your spiritual development is learning not to walk by sight/feelings, but walking by faith.

Some people can seem very mature spiritually until something happens that brings out strong emotions, then they fall apart. Your emotional and spiritual maturity cannot be on two different levels.

For instance: If your spiritual maturity is on a 7th grade level and your
emotional maturity is on a 3rd grade level… guess what, your spiritual maturity is also at 3rd grade. Your spirit man and your soul (mind, will, emotions) are eternally connected. You need your soul to feed and strengthen  your spirit, that is why the bible says to renew your mind. Lets try to make sure we are balanced in our growth.