“Your Grace Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far”

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So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there. — Joshua 4:8 NLT

Often when a major event had occurred in the lives of the children of Israel, God would instruct them to set up stones or build an altar.  These stones or altars were built or erected as a token of remembrance for God’s help in bringing them safely this far. It was also a reminder to tell future generations about the goodness and the mercies of God. They were unique in that they were always built with natural, uncut stones.  Crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land for the first time was a once-in-a-lifetime major event. The Israelis put twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan to mark the spot of the crossing and carried twelve stones to Gilgal and erected them there to mark the spot of their first encampment in their new homeland.  We need to be aware of the major events in our lives and construct mental and/or physical landmarks as a way to remember these events.  We need to point out these times to our future generations as a remembrance of what God has done for us.  When Samuel erected the stone between Mizpah and Jeshanah (1 Samuel 7:12) to mark the spot where God had defeated the Philistines for the Israelis, he named it “Ebenezer” which means a stone of help.  It is by the help of God that we have come this far safely.  Let us stop, set up an Ebenezer, pray, worship and celebrate God’s goodness and mercies in our lives.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-12-2018

Press Onward and Upward

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49 “The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth, and it will swoop down on you like a vulture. It is a nation whose language you do not understand, 50 a fierce and heartless nation that shows no respect for the old and no pity for the young. — Deut 28:49, 50 NLT​

Deuteronomy 28 is probably best known for all the blessings that God promises if His people are obedient.  If the Israelis obeyed God by keeping His laws and commandments, they would be the most blessed nation on earth.  In this chapter, God also explains to them what will happen if they are disobedient.  If they fail to keep His commandments and laws, they will be the most cursed nation on earth and will eventually not be a nation at all, but a scattered people.  While the law was fulfilled when Jesus gave His life for us on the Cross and was resurrected, He still expects His people to be obedient.  God’s commandments in the Old Testaments were not just suggestions and His commands to us to be holy even as He is holy and to love Him above everyone and everything and our neighbors as ourselves are not suggestions.  He is the same God, yesterday, today and tomorrow, so we can be sure that if we are not obedient under the new covenant, the same curses will befall us.  We may or may not be a “Christian” nation, but we are a nation with millions of Christians living here.  We can make a difference if we spend time on our knees before a holy God and petition Him continuously for mercy and grace for our nation.  Jesus gave us the example of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8).  Let us follow that example in keeping on keeping on with our requests for our nation.  God told Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, if He could find five righteous people there, let us pray that He will show us the same mercy.

 
17 Never stop praying. — 1 Thess. 5:17 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-05-2018

Show Mercy

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12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” — Matt. 9:12, 13 NLT

This statement by Jesus is in answer to the Pharisees who were complaining about Jesus and His disciples eating with sinners. Jesus had just called Matthew to come and follow Him.  Matthew had  invited Jesus and His disciples to his home to have dinner with him and some other tax collectors and disreputable sinners.  The Pharisees had referred to the group as scum (verse 11).
Jesus knew that the Pharisees would not accept Him and His teachings because they thought they were righteous already.  With whom do we spend our time outside the church building?  Do we, as the disciples of Jesus, spend all of our time with other Christians or do we seek the lost and minister to them?  Do we have a missionary mentality or is it “We four and no more”? Jesus was sent to seek and to save the lost.  Because He did that, He was rejected, offended, persecuted and eventually hung on a cross.  He commanded us to do the same and gave us the authority to do just that.  When we do that, we stand the chance of being rejected, offended and criticized for “eating with scum”?  Suffering these things puts us in the same group with Jesus and God is pleased with us.  Which is better, to live a lifestyle that pleases God and lay up eternal rewards or to live a lifestyle that pleases men gaining worldly rewards but losing our own souls?

20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 
— 1 Peter 2:20,21 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 09-25-2018

His Faith – Not Mine

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6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. — Eph. 2:6-9 NIV

This is a familiar passage to most Christians, yet I wonder if we really grasp everything it says to us.  It explains to us why God saved us and raised us up. It was not just for our benefit, though that would have been more than enough.  He did it so He could show to us and the world the “incomparable riches of His grace”.  The greatest expression of that grace was God allowing Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to die on a cruel cross for our sins. It is that grace that has saved us, through faith.  Not our faith, His faith, His gift to us. That is why we can be sure that our salvation is eternal.  Thanks be to God that my salvation is not based on my faith, which is not always steadfast. It is based on His faith, which is steadfast and eternal.  If it were based on my faith, I could be saved today and lost tomorrow.  His faith is everlasting!

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;  it stands firm in the heavens. 90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;  you established the earth, and it endures. — Psalm 119:89, 90

15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! — 2 Cor. 9:15

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 09-23-2018

Plant+Feed+Water Daily=Reaping

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37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. — Matt 13:37-39 NIV

We are warned over and over in the Bible, that as the end draws nearer, there will arise more and more false prophets even in the church. They will seem genuine to those who do not have the Holy Spirit abiding in them and therefore, have no discernment.  They will preach and teach a “cheap” grace.  A grace based on head knowledge and not on what we have in our hearts.  They will expound doctrines that do not require holy lifestyles or they will add man-made rules that require more than the Bible requires for salvation.  Whether they add to or subtract from the Biblical requirements for salvation, they are both wrong.  When we have truly accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and He gives us the Holy Spirit, we are saved.  We are clothed in His holiness and righteousness.  There is nothing we can do to make ourselves more holy or more righteous than He made us.  A Christlike lifestyle is the external proof of what we believe in our hearts not what we know in our minds.  Our thoughts and actions are the fruit of the Spirit, a good tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree will bear bad fruit.  It is a natural and a spiritual law that we cannot change.  For fruit trees to bear an abundant crop, they require a lot of care.  So, everyday, fertilize the tree with scripture and wash it with the water of the Word.

 
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 09-14-2018

“Be Holy”

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16 For it is written, “You must be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:16 ISV

1 Peter 1:13 -16 ISV

God has made each of us different, but there is one thing that every human has in common, we were all born in sin into a sinful world.  We have all succumbed to those fleshly desires that kept us from enjoying the freedom that Jesus died to purchase for us.  When we have those thoughts that we might be better than others we need to be reminded that there was a time when we lived in ignorance of the goodness and the graciousness of God. Paul warns us in Romans not to think of ourselves as better than others.

 
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. — Romans 12:3 NIV

In Philippians, Paul takes it a step further and advises us to put others and their interests above ourselves and our interests.

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. –Phil. 2:3, 4 NIV

If we practice doing this instead of being judgmental, we will be following the example that Jesus set for us.  If we have this mindset and focus on the fact that the only difference in us and them is the grace that God has so generously given unto us, it will cause us to show those around us the same kind of grace and forgiveness that God has shown to us. That is a step toward being holy even as God is holy.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 08-20-2018

Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness

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13 For the one who has shown no mercy will be judged without mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. – James 2:13 ISV
 
God gave the Old Testament law to the children of Israel to show them that it was impossible for a mere human to live a life free of sin. No one was able to live a life without sin, so God, in His mercy established rituals and procedures for them to keep.  As long as they stayed obedient to these rituals, they were not punished for their sins. Mercy is the lack of or a lesser punishment than our sins deserve(d).  Just as the people back then received mercy, we can and do receive mercy without receiving salvation. It is God’s mercy that allows us to go on living, even when we choose a lifestyle of sin.  We live under the law or covenant of grace. This does not mean that we don’t sin, it just means that we have a way of being forgiven without the rituals. Grace is God choosing to bless us even though we don’t deserve it. It is our faith in His grace that saves us.  When we feel that someone has wronged us in any way, we must show them mercy because of the mercy that God has shown us. We must temper our judgment with mercy, realizing that we have received so much more than mercy from Jesus Christ. We should also show them grace, in the sense that it means showing them affection and kindness even though they are not worthy of it. Neither were/are we worthy of God’s mercy and grace, yet He went so far as to die for us.
 

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:6-8 NIV

This is why we must show mercy, grace and forgiveness to those around us. We can and must forgive them of their sinful acts toward us. But only God can forgive us for all of our sins. Our mercy and grace is limited to what is done to us. God’s mercy and grace is unlimited.  Only His grace can restore our relationship with God the Father. We must ask for His forgiveness believing that by grace through faith we have been saved, are being saved and will be completely saved.
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.25 Therefore he is able to save completely[ those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.– Hebrews 7:24, 25 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 08-03-2018