Tuesday, May 1, 2018

To Be Rooted in God's Love, Be Established in His Righteousness

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:17)

God wants us to know how much He loves us. It's hard for us to imagine, the great Creator of the Universe wants us to know how much He loves us!

It's not about loving Him, for our revelation of His regard toward us is essential before everything else:

"We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Now, how do we get the best foundation for knowing how much He loves us?

When we are established in His righteousness!

"In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." (Isaiah 54:14)

When we know that we have been declared righteousness, that we are justified despite our failures and sins, we can know that God the Father accepts us fully. Love means nothing if you don't believe that you are accepted, too:

"Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." (Psalm 32:2)

Paul declared to the Jews during his ministry:

"38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)

Be established in the truth that through Jesus, you have been justified, and that your sins have been forgiven.

Then you will have no problem being rooted in God's love for you.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Jesus Makes the Unlearned Wise and The Ordinary Extraordinary

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)

There is something about being with Jesus that takes men from a low estate to a greater place.

In the original Greek, "unlearned" means unschooled, and "ignorant" is literally "idiot."

What is interesting especially is that the people who listened to Peter and John thought that they were unschooled idiots. They judged by appearance, and boy were they wrong!

Jesus instructed the Israelites during His earthly ministry:

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24)

Notice that because of Jesus, these two apostles--no longer are they disciples, since they have received Jesus' life and standing before God the Father (cf. John 20:22)--were bold! They knew the truth and they declared it without fear:

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)

This perfect love comes from being established in Jesus' righteousness (Isaiah 54:17; 1 John 3:7, 4:17).

The same holds true for wisdom and honor. Peter and John were not ignorant idiots in any way. Why?

Because of Jesus!

"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Jesus transforms us from dead in our trespasses to alive and seated in heaven places in Him (Ephesians 2:4-6) so that we are in His standing, and God our Father sees us in His Son!

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)

Hang out with Jesus--and You will become more like Him, all by the power of His Holy Spirit:

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Jesus is in the Restoration Business: Call Out to Him!

"But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore." (Isaiah 42:22)

I have lost so much time and so many opportunities because of false teachers and wrong teachings. For nearly two decades, I was in bondage to the Alcoholics Anonymous Cult, and the further perversion which taught me that Jesus and Bill W. are complementary movements.

Since studying the fullness of the Gospel of Grace, I recognize now that AA is a destructive cult, one based on lies and misapplied Scriptures, teaching men that they can "recover" from their moral failings, or is it a disease of the body? A disease of the mind?! The writings and rhetoric of the program are so convoluted it's hard to distinguish.

At any rate, I spent nearly two years of my life in bondage to this awful program, convinced that I had to spend every day taking my inventory, living a life of constantly keeping short accounts, working hard to stay one step ahead of my sins.

Yet the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins (1 John 1:7-9). It's the perfect, divine, never-ending tide of sinless blood. Where does anyone get the idea that we are forgiven only when we confess our sins?

Since when did anyone get this idea that we are good enough to overcome the hardships in our lives? Not only that, but the wrongs which other people have done to us are not necessarily our fault, too. Yet AA teaches its members that they have a part in every bad thing that has happened to them.

When Jesus died on the Cross, he not only took our sins, but He paid for restoration for all our losses. Jesus enacted a New Covenant for us, in which God is now our God, and He is ready to step into any situation, to help us with any need.

This is our God, and through His Son we are today more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).

Now I am learning that in spite of all the lost time that I endured because of false teachings, because of pain and condemnation, I can expect restoration for all those losses!

Consider that even under the Old Covenant, our Daddy God provided a means by which we would have restoration:

"18And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: 19If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed." (Exodus 21: 18-19)

Satan is our "Adversary", and he seeks to strive with us all the time. The lies and distortions that he pushes upon us may have wounded us in the past, but we can expect full restoration of our time and we can expect a full healing.

Jesus paid for all of it!

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)

"For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them." (Isaiah 61:7)

It's important for us to claim this restitution for ourselves. Jesus is in the restoration business. Call out to Him!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Labor to Enter His Rest

"Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4:11)

In the last two weeks, I have begun to learn what it means to "labor" or work diligently to rest, i.e. to believe God, to take God at His Word that He has indeed taken care of everything in my life.

The initial context, or the account in the Old Testament which reveals the type, refers to the Promised Land, and the moment when the Israelites had arrived at the border in Kadesh-barnea.

Instead of simply taking God at His Word, Moses sent in 12 spies. For forty days, they searched the land, but after their tourney in the Promised Land, 10 gave an evil report:

"32And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 33And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." (Numbers 13: 32-33)

The report had a terrible effect on the Israelites:

"1And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night." (Numbers 14:1)

Instead of taking God at His Word, they believed the Timid Ten. Such unbelief. God told Moses that none of them--except for the two spies who gave a good report--would enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14: 20-24)

They wouldn't believe!

The writer of Hebrews outlines what happened:

"1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." (Hebrews 4:1-2)

They didn't believe! They went with the evil report.

In fact, in our lives, we will find evil reports abounding around us, both from friends as well as enemies.

We need to accept that there are going to be troubles facing us in our lives:

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation ..."

Jesus answers:

" ... but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

He has given us His peace (John 14:27).

He just asks of us one thing:

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." (John 14:1)

Now, our hearts will have troubles pressed in.

How do we respond?

"6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Peter invites us to keep casting our cares to Him. Every time there is a care that tries to afflict your heat, cast it to Him!

That is the labor as we enter into God's rest!

It's a challenge, but it's worth it--a work of not working, but believing on Him whom the Father has sent to us (John 6:29)

Friday, March 23, 2018

God is Busy Avenging His Beloved: Do You Believe Him?

"And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?" (Luke 18:7)

Do you feel that there is great injustice in the world?

It's a fact of this life. There is great injustice, because from Adam's fall to the present day until the Son of Man returns again, evil is still in the world, and Satan remains the prince of the air.

We need to remember, however, that Satan has been judged:

"1And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" (Zechariah 3:1-2)

Jesus told His disciples during His earthly ministry that the prince of the world would be judged:

"8And when he [The Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." (John 16:8-11)

We need the Spirit of God to minister to us, that the prince of the world, Satan, has been judged!

But we tend not to believe it, do we?

We see hurt, we see injustice, we see terrible things happening in the world around us, and even to us.

What are we to do?

Believe on Him! (John 6:28-29)

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19)

More informed translations read "The wrath of God", because the original Greek reads "give place to the wrath", i.e. the wrath of God.

Let Him handle the hurts that have been done to you. God is in the restoration business. That word "Repay" covers not just meting out punishment, but restoring to those who have lost.

"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you." (Joel 2:25)

But will we trust Him to do so? Do you believe that He will restore to us? Will you call on Him to restore? (Isaiah 42:22)

Indeed, it is a labor for us to enter this rest, a rest in which God will restore all things to us.

But He promised, didn't He? His Son shed His blood to purchase that for us, too!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

We Receive His Grace No Matter How We Feel

I have to return to this revelation over and over.

No matter how I feel, Christ Jesus continues to shed His grace on me.

For years, I used to think that I had to feel a certain way, that I had to be "free of anger" in order for God's word, will, and wonder to work through me.

That is simply not true. I can feel any way, even if I am overwhelmed with hurt and anger, and God does not stop blessing me.

The world is still filled with people who are angry, hurt, bitter, etc.

It's OK to be angry, and even if we struggle to release our upset, God's grace is still showering on us.

I used to spend so much of my time trying to feel better, in the sense that I wanted to get rid of the murderous thoughts, the wrathful feelings, all that fleshy stuff.

The truth is that God's grace flows in our weakness, though, and I don't have to struggle to get rid of bad tendencies. When I focus on Jesus, He changes me:

"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." (Psalm 17:15)

and also

"17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

and finally

"11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:11-14)

We receive His favor, which in turn takes from faith to faith (Romans 1:17), and transforms us from dependence on ourselves. No matter how I feel, He still loves me. The more that I understand His love for me, the more that I am transformed!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Rule in the Midst of Your Enemies

"The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." (Psalm 110:2)

A king does not have authority and dominion in the land because there are no enemies.

It does not matter whether people opppose him or support him, just a man is head of the household not because his wife submits to him. God ordained the man to be the head of the household. He gave him that authority.

In the same wise, we must recognize that we are in Christ today, that we are seated with Him, at our Father's right hand because of Him:

"And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1:19-23)

Notice how God the Father put everything under His Son's feet.

And we are in Christ today, seated in Him at the Father's right hand:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 2: 4-6)

God has made us kings and priests in Jesus (1 Peter 2:9), so we now identify full with Christ Jesus (1 John 4:17)

Our royal kinship has nothing to do with the enemies in our midst.

Let us never think that all our enemies must be gone so that we can reign in His life (Romans 5:17).

"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." (Psalm 110:1)

and also

"The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways." (Deuteronomy 28:7)

How can our enemies flee in seven ways ... if they don't come at us in the first place?

There can be no spoils without enemies seeking to make war against us, can there?

"24And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. 25And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much." (2 Chronicles 20:24-25)