BUT GOD!

BUT GOD!

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. —Ephesians 2:1-10

Fellow follower of Jesus get a hold of this!

· You were dead in trespasses and sins
· You walked following the course of this world
· You followed the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience
· You once live in the passions of your flesh
· You once carried out the desires of the body
· You once carried out the desires of the mind
· You were by nature a child of wrath
· You were like the rest of mankind

BUT GOD

· Is rich in mercy
· Has great love
· Loves you with this great love
· Made you alive in Christ when you were dead in your trespasses
· Saves you by grace
· Raised you and seated you in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
· In coming ages will show you the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness in Christ Jesus
· Saves you by grace through faith
· Gives you salvation as a gift
· Makes you his workmanship
· Created you in Christ Jesus for good works
· Prepared these works beforehand that you should walk in them

And you say?

Dear Father, out of loving gratitude for Who You are and what You have done may I truly seek to life faithfully to honor You. May this be so in the authority of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit’s power.

ADOPTED!

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. —Ephesians 1:4-5

Remember the joy of your child or children when they were born into your family? Nothing really compares to the wonder of a child being born, to see them take their first breath and to hear their cry for the first time. It is also true when a person is born into the family of God. What a joy to hear a person truly and sincerely call on the Lord for salvation and to be born into the family of God.

Now think about this fellow follower of Jesus… Before this world was even created, God loved you and chose you to be adopted into His own family. He did this through His Son, Jesus, and it gave Him great pleasure to do so. He did this before you did any right or wrong. He did this fully knowing who you would be.

So it is with those who adopt children. It is unfortunate that many not want their babies but wonderful that there are those who desire to adopt. They chose and adopted these babies before they are born, before they are even seen! These adopted babies then become part of their family and that does not ever change. http://www.today.com/parents/22-photos-show-joy-adoption-1D80302378

This is what God has done for us who have trusted Jesus. He adopted us into His family and it was a decision He made before we were even born or as stated above, before anything was created. Your adoption gave Him great pleasure. Do you understand that? Not only that but as His child you are without fault before His eyes! This is truly astounding and is only made possible through Jesus. This does not change! We who have called on Jesus are adopted into God’s family forever! Rejoice! Now live to honor Him!

Father, it is truly amazing that You have adopted us into Your family through Jesus. Out of loving gratitude may we live a life that is pleasing to You, that honors Your, that shows forth Your glory. May it be so in Jesus and by the Holy Spirit’s power.

SERVE OTHERS!

If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. —Galatians 6:3
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. —Galatians 6:10

When was the last time you did something for somebody out of love of God and people? Why didn’t you help that follower of Jesus when you saw they had a need and you could have helped with it? Did you really think what you were doing was more important than helping that person in need instead— whether they were a follower of Jesus or not?

Sure, we cannot help everyone that has a need and we are not called to do so, but we can help some! Who in the body of Christ could use a hand and will you give it? Are there any people outside the body of Christ that you can give a hand to today? Will you?

Never forget that you and I were so important that God had to help us and yet look what Jesus did for us.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! —Philippians 2:3-8

Oh, that you and I would have that mindset of Jesus as we seek to serve others out of the love of God and people (Matthew 22:37-40). May we walk as Jesus walked (I John 2:6).

Dear Father, please help me to serve those You desire me to today. May it be done in Your love in the Name of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit’s power.

BE JOYFUL AND GRATEFUL

Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then? —Galatians 4:15

Are you and I full of joy because we know Jesus and we are part of His church? Do we have a grateful spirit toward Him and His people— about life in general? Do you think much of the person who shared the gospel with you and are so full of joy for that person that they took the time and effort to do so? Are you grateful for that person? Have you ever shared that gratitude toward them for their being faithful to God in sharing the gospel of our Lord Jesus with you?

We who follow the Lord Jesus should be the most joy-filled people on the planet. The Holy Spirit bears fruit in our lives. The first in the list from Galatians 5:22 is love. The second is joy. When we are truly living in the love of God and have a love for others we will surely be experiencing joy.

When I think of how the Lord drew me to Himself, I am filled with joy and gratitude toward the pastor who shared the gospel with me back in February of 1979. My life took a different direction. Would I even be alive today? Would I be in prison? Would I have just pursued wealth or pleasure? Yes, I am grateful for the pastor the Lord put in my path! Are you grateful toward the one or many the Lord put in your path to lead you to Himself? You surely should be!

Dear Father, thank You for the wonderful ways in which You work. May I be the source of joy and gratefulness in other people’s lives as You work through me to draw them to Yourself. May it be so in Jesus Name!

SET FREE!

Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith… So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith… Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith… But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ… For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. —Galatians 3:6, 9, 14, 22, 26-27

Belief and faith are practiced every day in people’s lives in a wide variety of ways. People jump in their car to go to work because they believe in its purpose and trust that its purpose will be accomplished as they drive off. They are trusting in each of the lug nuts to hold the four tires on as they travel 55 miles an hour down the road. They are also trusting the steering will to work properly so they do not hit on-coming traffic or go off the road and hit a tree. Think about how they trust the brakes and all the components that enable them to slow down and stop. How many of the vehicle’s components do people even think about or understand and yet they believe in the vehicle and trust in the vehicle? http://www.carsut.com/labeled-diagram-of-car-engine/

We may not understand all the details of how God saves a person from their sin and to a new life with Him, but He has given us the information we need. All we have to do is believe and put our trust in what He has told us.

Now, in the above verses we are told that God “counted” Abraham “as righteous because of his faith.” That is, God reckoned Abraham to be righteous because of his belief and faith in what God has said. The same happens to us today. According to the verses above “all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.”

By believing Jesus and putting our faith in Him we, according to the above verses:

· Counted as righteous— this is how God sees us now! (II Corinthians 5:21)

· Share in the same blessing as Abraham

· Receive the promised Holy Spirit

· Are set free (II Timothy 2:25-26)

· Are the children of God

· Have put on Christ— like new clothes— clothed in the righteousness of Christ

So much has happened when we believed and put our faith in Jesus. We may not understand it all, but we understand enough now to live for Him and we will grow to understand more as we walk with Him. Rejoice! You are set free from Satan’s P.O.W. labor camp to live free in Jesus! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMBFchg8Y4g Now… don’t be imprisoned by Satan again… but enjoy the freedom we have in Jesus!

Dear Father, thank You for the relationship You have given me in Jesus. Thank You for the righteousness, the Holy Spirit, the freedom that You have given me in Him. I am grateful.

FAULTY DESIGN

Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. —Galatians 1:4, 6-9

“WASHINGTON — Safety investigators on Thursday singled out undersized steel plates as the chief cause of last year’s deadly collapse of a highway bridge in Minneapolis.” http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/minneapolis-bridge-collapse-blamed-on-faulty-materials/ With improper materials and implementation destruction occurs.

So it is with the Good News of the Gospel. The above verse in context clearly states that “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” The rescue of us from this evil world comes from Jesus giving His life for our sins on the cross. This engineered plan of God does not include Jesus dying on the cross for our sins plus something else. Nothing else is to be added to the Good News or it becomes faulty and is no longer Good News, but will bring destruction- a structural failure!

Paul tells us in the context that if anyone, even one of the apostles or an angel comes along preaching a different Good News than the one he had preached to them then that person would be cursed forever! All Good News messages other than the original are faulty and not adhering to God’s Word. Just as those who built the bridge above did not adhere to engineering guidelines— “Investigators said the half-inch-thick plates were inadequate to handle traffic and other stress factors and did not meet engineering guidelines when the bridge was built in 1967. The safety board, as far back as January, had identified design flaws in the plates as a critical factor in the collapse.”— So a faulty Gospel portrays a false Good News that is actually bad news that will bring eternal destruction to the one intentionally changing the message of the Good News and will cause the eternal destruction of others as well.

Who are some of these that bring a false Good News? Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, Baha’i, Unitarian Universalism and the list goes on which would include any of the world religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc. All these seek to put forth a Good News that is contrary to the Good News that Paul is speaking about— that “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his follower at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church” (I Corinthians 15:3-9). Any message that adds to or takes away from this Good News is false.

Dear Father, help me to hold to and proclaim the Good News about Jesus’ rescue of us!

EXPERIENCING GOD’S LOVE AND PEACE

Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. —II Corinthians 13:11

Do you have joy— a rejoicing or delighting in experiencing God’s grace? Are you an encourager of others? Is your life being lived in harmony and peace with others? If these things are true, then the God of love and peace is with you!

If you are not experiencing joy— a rejoicing or delighting in experiencing God’s grace— what is keeping you from doing so? Resolve it! If you are not being an encourager of others— why not? Encourage someone today! Are you in conflict with anyone? Seek now to work things out with the other party.

To truly experience the God of love and peace, these things must be characteristic of our lives. May it be so!

Dear Father, search my heart and reveal any actions I must take to truly experience Your love and peace to the fullest in Jesus and by the Spirit’s power.

LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, NOT BY THE FLESH

And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure. —II Corinthians 12:21

“I’ve been on a roller coaster for the past two years,” says Leigh Moyer, 31, of Philadelphia. In 2003, she lost 25 of her 155 pounds by diligently counting calories and logging daily sweat sessions at the gym. Four years later, busy with graduate school and her job at a software company, Leigh blew off her workouts and stopped monitoring her portions… and shot up to 175. “It was so sad, so frustrating,” she says. “I let myself down.” http://www.nbcnews.com/id/36716808/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/when-you-lose-weight-gain-it-all-back/#.Vf_iJMuFOpo

The above illustration shows what happens when someone who seeks to lose weight by changing their lifestyle and then goes back to their old patterns. What was lost was regained. Paul mentioned his concern with those who have not left off their old patterns of living. They profess to be believers, but they “have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.” Like the person in the above illustration they were living according to the old life patterns even though they professed to follow a new path. Are these people believers or not?

Well, I did not know these people above personally, but to think believers cannot be unrepentant about grievous actions is to overlook the whole of what God’s Word teaches. Abraham, David, Solomon… were they believers? Yet look at the sin issues in their lives.

“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” —I Peter 4:14-16

If followers of Jesus suffer it should be because of their love and living for Him, not for some evil actions they have taken. Earlier Paul said to the Corinthians that “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?” (I Corinthians 3:1-3). It is possible for believers to act “worldly” and not “spiritual.”

This is also clear in Galatians 5:13-26 where we are told that if we are not walking in the Spirit then we are gratifying the desires of the flesh. In this passage we understand that a person whose life-style is patterned after the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. But we are also told in verse 13 not to use our freedom to indulge the flesh.

Here is the danger— anytime we are not walking according to the Spirit then we are walking according to the flesh and that is a dangerous place to be. Grievous things can happen when we are walking according to the flesh.

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (I Corinthians 10:12-13).

Dear Father, may I stick close that I would not do anything that would bring reproach upon the Name of Jesus. Oh, that I would live by the Spirit and not fulfill the desires of the flesh. May it be so!

GRACE!

But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. —II Corinthians 11:3-4

These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. —II Corinthians 11:13-15

So many things can look real on the surface or at first glance. Imitations abound in our world. Whether we are talking about money or watches, rings or cds the list goes on and on of objects that are counterfeit.

So it is with the gospel. There are those who promote imitations of it and on the surface they appear to be “servants of righteousness.” But this is only a “disguise.” They are actually promoting “wicked deeds.”

The gospel, the good news, what is it? In I Corinthians 15:1-8 we are told what it is—

“Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.”

The gospel in a nutshell is that “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.” Here the gospel is reduced in explanation to a concise statement. But what a statement it is!

“Christ died for our sins” and there is nothing that we can add to that finished work. It is not Christ’s death and something we do. No, we are truly saved from the eternal punishment of sin by “calling on the Name of the Lord” (Romans 10:13). Bearing spiritual fruit will be the evidence that a person has truly repented and turned to God (Acts 26:20). This is a marvel when we can really grasp it. It is all by grace— saved and kept now and heaven one day!

Dear Father, thank You for the marvelous grace you have shed on us through Jesus!

WEAPONS OF WARFARE

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. —II Corinthians 10:3-5

Military weaponry has advanced in leaps and bounds. The technology is truly astounding. For example, “DARPA is working on multiple projects to study the capabilities of hypersonic flight. Several years ago, the agency conducted hypersonic test flights with an HTV-2 bomber; in 2011, the bomber prototype reached a top speed of Mach 20 before losing control. The Air Force has also said it is working on hypersonic weapons that could be fired from aircraft traveling at high speeds.” http://www.livescience.com/51388-hypersonic-jet-could-fly-mach-5.html “The speed of sound varies depending on the temperature, pressure, and density of the medium through which the sound waves travel. For dry air at sea level at 68° F, the speed of sound is 767 miles per hour, or 1235 km/h.” So Mach 20 at 767 miles an hour would be 15,340 miles an hour! Think about that! The distance between the North and South Pole is 12,430 miles. That distance could be traveled in less than an hour!

Yet, however amazing this weaponry of the world is, followers of Jesus Christ do not use that weaponry “to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” No, instead we use God’s mighty weapons. Weapons that are far superior to any worldly weapon. What are God’s mighty weapons? Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us clearly—

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

The mighty weapons of God: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) and prayer. The mighty warrior of God is honest and living rightly before God. This warrior is engaged in the spiritual warfare as he takes the good news into the darkness of the enemy camp. He can do this because of his faith in God and not in himself, understanding that he is saved by nothing he does, but by God alone. Knowing and applying this extinguishes all the weapons of the devil. This warrior’s primary offensive weapons are the Word of God and prayer. He stays in communication with his Commanding Officer and seeks to be obedient to His Word, carrying out His mission. These are the weapons of the faithful follower of Jesus Christ. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

Dear Father, please help me to be using Your weapons of spiritual warfare and not worldly ones. Thank You for the empowerment of Your Holy Spirit and Jesus’ authority. May I yield to Him!