Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Completely Sanctified

 Many of us, as Christians, do not have a clear understanding of what is supposed to happen after we become believers. We know that we have put our trust in Jesus, so that our sins are forgiven, and we have eternal life. That is just the beginning of the Christian life, not the end. God still has a plan for each of us as we live out the rest of our days on this earth. His plan is that we become more and more like Jesus. We call this process sanctification. It comes from the word that means to be "set apart." We are to be set apart from the world, which is led by Satan and his forces. We are to be set apart to the Lord, so that we follow His will, not what others are doing. Paul gave us a clear summary of what should be happening. (I Thessalonians 5:23) He prayed for the believers in Thessalonica to be sanctified completely by the God of peace. Also, he prayed that their whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's unpack this important verse for a minute. 

Every one of us is a spirit, soul, and body. The spirit is what enables us to relate to God and draw near to Him. Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. It is who we are as a person. The way we think, make decisions, and feel. Our body is how we relate to other people and to this world. In order to be completely sanctified all three parts of our person must be set apart for the Lord. We must decide to give our whole heart to the Lord in surrender to Him every day. We must give Him our mind, will, and emotions, and ask the Spirit to make them function as God designed them to function, not as sin had corrupted them before we were saved. We even need to give Him our entire body, and ask Him to set it apart from all evil actions and words. This is possible to accomplish, though we will not be perfect. We can become like Jesus as a mature Christian. Then, we are to maintain that relationship with the Lord every day through focusing on Him and His will for us until Jesus comes back to receive us to Himself.  See what I mean? God has a great plan for us, and if we miss this process, we will live outside of His will, and our lives will not be pleasing to the Lord, so He can't bless us the way He wants.

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Tomorrow, I intend to read II Thessalonians 1-3.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Welcoming the Word of God

 Many people are extremely skeptical about the Bible. They think it was just written by men. They even think that there was some ulterior motive to why they wrote it. They do not welcome the Word of God, but they keep it at arms distance, so to speak. They hear about it, and they hear quotes from it, but it never gets into their hearts and minds as it should. This is a tragedy. Without welcoming God's Word, they will never be able to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior by receiving the truth they hear or read. Paul ran into this problem in many places he went on his missionary journeys. However, one place was definitely different. (I Thessalonians 2:13) When Paul thought of the people of Thessalonica, he was always thankful for them, because when they heard the Word of God, they welcomed it, not as a human message, but as it truly is, the Word of God. Because of the way they welcomed the Word of God, it was working effectively in them and in all who believe like they did. We need to apply this to our lives, so the Word can do its work in us. 

Each of us must decide for ourselves what the Bible is. We must decide if it is merely a human book written by men, or if it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it is the words of God to us. Let me challenge any of us who have not welcomed it as the Word of God to do the research. Notice that it contains numerous prophecies that have come true 100% of the time. In fact, there are at least 39 specific prophesies about Jesus that have come true, and no one could have known these things in advance except God. There have been many archeological discoveries that verify what the Bible says. In fact, there are not any of these findings that have disproven anything in the Bible. Then, we have the words of Jesus in the Bible, and He always affirmed the truthfulness of the Old Testament books. Also, Peter gave us his assurance that what was written was written by God's inspiration, and it was not just humans writing what they thought was correct. (II Peter 1:16-20) Paul assured us of the same thing. (II Timothy 3:16,17) When we put all of this together the evidence for the Bible being God's Word is overwhelming, and we need to welcome it, believe it, and trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior based on what God has told us. Then, we should continue to consume His Word, so we can be sanctified by the Word and the Holy Spirit's power and become more and more like Jesus.

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Tomorrow, I intend to read I Thessalonians 3-5. 


Sunday, December 04, 2022

Continuous and Complete Forgiveness

 It is obvious that we can have problems with other believers and other non-believers for many different reasons. These problems can cause us to become angry, resentful, and even bitter. We must not allow this to happen for at least two reasons. When we are angry, resentful, and bitter it hurts our relationship with God and other people, not just the person with whom we had a problem. Also, if we carry these things around, it is a very bad testimony to people about Christianity. We turn them off to Jesus, so they are liable not to ever to trust Him and be saved. Therefore, we need to heed what the Bible says. (Colossians 3:13) We must be bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a grievance against another. The way we must forgive is just as the Lord has forgiven us. Got it? Forgiveness is a big deal, and we need to make it a priority.

When the Bible says "bearing with" and "forgiving," those are present tense participles. That means they show continuous action in the present. We are to be continuously bearing with one another and forgiving one another. It is not a one time thing or maybe we forgive two times. It is to be always going on every day. This prohibits staying angry and holding grudges. It guarantees the unity of the Spirit, too. That is God's goal for every believer all the time. I know we can't achieve the unity with non-believers all the time, but that should be our goal, so they see the love of Jesus in us. Then, when we forgive like Jesus, we are to forgive them completely. Jesus forgives all of our sins forever by His grace. We can't earn forgiveness. He decides to send our sins away as far as the east is from the west. When He forgives, He never brings up our sins again. We must do the same thing for others. We must not make them try to earn our forgiveness or come groveling to us for us to love them and completely let go of anything between us and them. I hope I have been able to make this plain, because it is vital to our growth as Christians and the growth of God's kingdom in this world.

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Tomorrow, I intend to read Colossians 4 and I Thessalonians 1-2. 

Saturday, December 03, 2022

The Secret of Being Content

 I have found that some people are never content. Some of us can find something to be dissatisfied about in whatever happens or whatever we have. This is a serious problem of the heart. God doesn't mean for us to have to have everything go perfectly well and for us to have to have all we need all the time to be in a positive frame of mind. Instead, God expects us to be content with what we have. When we are content, our life is much better. That is what Paul learned from all of the trials of his ministry. (Philippians 4:12) He knew how to make do with a little, and how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances he had learned the secret of being content. He was content when he was well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. All Christians need to learn what Paul had learned. It will help us so much every day.

When we are able to have a positive outlook on life, things go better. We are more energetic, and we do not get down or discouraged. Contentment is necessary for us to remain in the positive frame of mind. We must decide to be content. How can we do that? It is when we realize that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13) Christ can give us stamina and joy even when we are hungry. Jesus can fill us with peace, even when we don't have enough money or other things. This happens when we trust Him in everything, and we find out that as we trust Him, He supplies what we need, not what we want. He shows us that what we need is always enough for us to be satisficed. It all depends on whether we are trusting Him or if we are trusting in ourselves and the material things of this world. Always remember that Jesus can and will supply all our needs as we trust Him, so if He doesn't supply it, we don't need it. We simply need to wait for Him to show us the way and to supply our needs in His way.

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Tomorrow, I intend to read Colossians 1-3. 

Friday, December 02, 2022

The Full Armor of God

 God has given us everything we need to live the Christian life and to have a victorious life by His power. The Bible gives us this promise over and over. However, many Christians think it is supposed to happen automatically when we get saved. Then, when Satan defeats them, they become discouraged, and they feel like it is impossible to live like Jesus. That is the devil's lie. What they are missing is that we have to "put on" the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:11) It is there for us, a gift from God, but we have to take the initiative and put it on every day. We must use these things every day. Then, we can stand against the schemes of the devil. I want us all to understand this from this important passage.

Paul uses the analogy of a Roman soldier and his armor to teach us what God has given us to live the Christian life. Roman soldiers were well equipped and very strong to overcome their enemies. Therefore, he takes each part of the armor and explains a spiritual significance to it. When we realize we have those things, and we live in that assurance each day, Satan has no power against us. We can take up God's Word, our sword against him, and he will flee. We have all kinds of prayer to keep us in touch with Jesus who commands us and directs us to victory. The key is that we must put on the armor and take up the vital weapons each day and keep  using them against Satan as he comes against us. We must not try to defeat him on our own.

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Tomorrow, I intend to read Philippians 1-4.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Having Access to the Father

Our identity changes drastically when we come to know Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. At that point it doesn't matter, where we were born. Our culture or former religion is of no consequence. Everyone who knows the Lord Jesus is brought together. There is no separation between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. We are one in the Lord, equally worthy of His blessings. Paul explained this great truth to us well. (Ephesians 2:18,19) Through Jesus we all have access in one Spirit to the Father. We are no longer foreigners or strangers. No, now we are fellow citizens of heaven with all of the saints. We are members of God's household. What identity could be better than that? That new identity allows us to have access to the Father any time and all the time. What a blessing!

There are a lot of people in this world with whom we do not have access. We can't just go to the White House and visit with the president whenever we want. We can't even get access to the president of a company, unless it is a special situation.  However, we can meet in person with the King of the universe at any time of day or night. In fact, we don't just have access to the Father, the Holy Spirit is in us, and He ushers us into God's presence as we pray and seek Him. All of this is possible because of Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection for us. We were only citizens of this world, now we are citizens of heaven. Now, we are members of God's household. We are part of His family. He loves us, and He wants to have fellowship with us and help us all the time. Let's not take this access to the Father for granted. Let's go to Him early and often, so we can benefit from what our Father has for us.

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Tomorrow, I intend to read Ephesians 3-6.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Keeping in Step with the Spirit

 Many Christians are frustrated because they can't stop giving in to the temptations to fulfill the desires of their flesh. This failure leads to all types of sins. Those sins keep them away from the Lord, so their lives are not happy and fulfilled, but discouraged and defeated. God has a sure remedy for this common situation. In fact, He has given all Christians a precious promise. (Galatians 5:16,25) If we will walk in the Spirit every day all day long, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. It just makes since that since we live by the power of the Spirit who transformed us in salvation, we should keep in step with the Spirit as our way of living each day. Let me expand on this promise and admonition so we all understand it.

When we "walk" by the Spirit, we are living by His direction and power. As long as we listen to Him and allow Him to control our life by filling us, we will not carry out the desires of the flesh, because He is able to direct us and empower us to defeat the world, the flesh, and the devil every time. To do this we must begin every day by confessing any sins the Spirit brings to our attention, and then after being cleansed from those sins, we ask the Spirit to fill us, completely controlling and directing us with His great power. He will show us each time a desire of the flesh arises, and He will give us the power to resist it. Therefore, if we keep in step with the Spirit all day long, we can live in God's will, never failing to do things His way, not our way. Now, we have to decide to do this, and we will never become perfectly sinless, because we will fall into sin, at times. However, the more we walk in the Spirit and keep in step with Him, the easier it will become to live out God's perfect will for us. I pray each of us will cherish this promise and do what God says, so we can live in victory over those things that would harm us and our families.

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Tomorrow, I intend to read Galatians 6 and Ephesians 1-2.