It is time to live in His Grace

 

It Is Time To Live In His Grace

I must admit for much of my adult life, I did not live under God’s grace. Instead I chose to live under guilt, regret and condemnation. Constantly re-living my mistakes and sins. Continuing to condemn myself instead of living in God’s grace through Jesus.

Actually guilt, regret, fears and living in condemnation can be an addiction. Making it very difficult to stop living and thinking that way. For some it is nearly impossible to break this cycle if it were not that “nothing is impossible with God”. For me, without allowing Jesus to redo my thinking, I do not believe I would have ever been delivered from this life sucking negative way of thinking.

So how do we live in His grace? How do we stop the cycle? We simply start by turning around and going the other way, our Lord’s way. How? Baby steps, yes baby steps and through prayer and reading God’s word.   Yes, God’s word needs to be ever present in your heart and mind or instead of going His way you will go your way and will end up back on that same road of despair.

Here are three scriptures that will show you how to begin walking with the Lord:

James 4:8: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Isaiah 30:21; “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

You need to trust these scriptures. Here is a little nugget of truth: Don’t try and make grand leaps on this journey. Just keep thinking baby steps. Why? Because I have found, at least in my life experience, that when I tried to make grand leaps in my progress of anything, it did not go as well as expected and I was discouraged. Often that would create a setback or failure to reach a goal. This can easily happen, especially at the beginning and you become so discouraged you give up. Let the scriptures, not your mind, be your guide and your support on this journey.

Going hand and hand with walking in our Lord’s way is to understand what Jesus has already conquered for us, sin, guilt, fear and condemnation. The victory that you walk in now is because of what Jesus our Lord and Savior did for us on the cross. So, while we are walking His way we also need to have the right mind set. Here are two scriptures that you need to meditate on day and night while following this new path of freedom under Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:24; “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

And Hebrew 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Believing and trusting in these two scriptures is imperative to getting you on the right path of living in His grace.

Just think about if you had to run a 10k race, which is 6.2 miles, and all that time you kept telling yourself;

  • You are not strong enough to walk that far.
  • Your legs are hurting already so you will never make it.
  • You are so out of shape that it is going to be impossible to even walk 1 mile.

Do you think you will reach that goal and walk the 5 miles? It is highly unlikely. It is the same with walking in His grace. If we keep dwelling on our sins, our weaknesses and the past, we will not make the journey of living in His grace.

We must begin with the key truth of Christianity. We must know and believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. If you do not believe that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, died on the cross for our sin then that is your real first step. Acknowledging that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take FULL punishment of your sins. After that you need to understand as it reads in 1 Peter 2:24 in addition to taking on the punishment of our sins, we need to know that, “by his stripes we are healed”. His stripes are speaking about the deep cuts and wounds that were on Jesus from being whipped and beaten.

When we acknowledge these truths and keep them in our hearts and mind, the negative thoughts of guilt, regret and condemnation must leave our mind. There is no room for such negative thoughts.

Now, to the second scripture I gave you above. In Hebrews 8:12, the Word tells us that God remembers our sins no more. Did you hear that? I meant it. This is very important. God remembers our sins no more. This is very powerful. In fact I believe this is the most important scripture when it comes to living in God’s grace and no longer living in guilt, regret and condemnation.

It is so important that it is worth repeating. Hebrews 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

So, I ask you the same question I ask myself all the time. If God does not remember our sins, why do we? If God does not remember our sins, why do we bring them back up in our minds? If God does not remember our sins, then how can guilt, regret and condemnation of those sins continue to control our mind and our actions? If we really believe these truths of God’s word and act on them then all those negative thoughts can’t control our mind. If negative thoughts still continue in your mind that is not from God but from the devil who wishes to keep your life in this negative frame of thinking. Or it is from you because you want to live that way.

If God, through Jesus Christ’s dying on the cross for our sins, does not remember our sins, then quit calling God a liar and quit telling our Lord Jesus Christ that his act was worthless. Forget them all and forgive yourself because God already has!

I know accusing you of calling God a liar is a very strong statement. That continuing to dwell on the past and live in guilt and condemnation is saying Jesus dying on the cross was worthless. Does that bother you to read those words, Jesus dying on the cross was worthless? Does it make you very uncomfortable to even think that? Good, that is a great start. Yes, they are very strong words but maybe you need to hear them to shock your thinking into rebuking these negative thoughts and start living in His grace.

If we can truly forget the past, and know in our heart, mind and soul these basic Christian truths: that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, by his stripes we are healed and that God remembers our sins NO MORE! Forget your forgiven sins and your journey will take us to living in peace, free of guilt, regret, condemnation, and walking with our Lord at our right side.

What is it like to live that way? I think one of the best visualizations of this is in Psalms 1:3 “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

So let’s begin our journey of being set free and living in His grace.

The Armor of God

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The purpose of this week’s lesson is to help you learn and understand the Bible so that it can guide you and equip you in your spiritual walk with the Lord and in your every day walk in life. It is also interactive and if you would like to participate in the interactive part feel free to send my your answers to gary@Godmadebubbles.com.

God’s word tells us, in Ephesians 6:10-18, that to be strong and mighty in His power we need to put on the full armor of God. Therefore, I can think of no better way to achieve our goals, in this Bible study, then by beginning the small group with studying about the Armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10-18  – 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 devils 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.

Let’s break down the various aspects of the armor of God.

  1. Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist
  2. Have the breastplate of righteousness in place
  3. Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
  4. Take up the shield of faith
  5. Take the helmet of salvation
  6. Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Let’s think about someone dressed in armor and what each part would do in a battle.

The armor, as in all battles is broken up into three parts, firm foundation, defensive equipment and offensive equipment. First, if you are going to be in a fight, of any kind, you need to try and be as sure footed as possible. If you are off balance, it will be both hard to fight and it will make you vulnerable to being thrown to the ground. Secondly, you have to account for defending yourself when attacked. And finally, when you have to go on the offensive, and you need to attack the enemy, you need to be properly equipped and trained in the use of your armor and weapons.

Let’s first discuss having a firm foundation, which sometimes, can also include some discussion of defense. Imagine, if you had armor on and the breastplate was loose and moving around, and your belt, that was supposed to be holding everything together, was missing. Or you had improperly fitted boots for your feet. You are already at a disadvantage and you’re not even in the battle yet. That tells us how important truth; righteousness and the Gospel of peace are in preparing for a battle. If you are not firmly rooted in all of these you are not ready for any battle.

Find at least three scriptures that talk about each of the following:

  1. Truth and how you think it can help you stand firm and hold the rest of your spiritual armor in place.
  2. Righteousness and how it can act as a breastplate to protect you. Remembering that the breastplate in a battle covers and protects your vital organs. Organs that if struck could easily led to death.
  3. The gospel of peace. Find examples in the words of Jesus Christ that teach us that peace is the way to be firmly planted on solid ground. And that being firmly planted in peace will keep most Christians from ever having to go on the offensive.

Now to the other two are key pieces of the armor needed to defend you in a spiritual battle. You need a shield which gives you the ability to block weapons coming at your from many different directions and you have a helmet which is protecting you head, or better put is protecting your mind from negative thoughts. I believe it is important to see why these two parts of the armor deal with faith and salvation. The devil knows how to get to us mentally and two of the most common ways is through challenging our faith and challenging our salvation.

Find at least three scriptures the talk about the following:

  1. Faith and how our faith can build us up and defend us against doubt, fear, anger, and many more.   Try and show how the faith scripture counters a negative attack and what that negative attack is.
  2. Find scriptures that, to you, best show the definitive truth of how we are saved through Jesus Christ and how knowing we are saved acts as a spiritual helmet.

Now, to the last part of the armor taking the offensive. When you get to a point in a battle that you need to strike down your spiritual opponent, you need to have a very powerful weapon. A sword when used properly, and effectively, can strike down your opponent very quickly. You notice I said when used properly and effectively. Think of a Samurai and how efficient they can be with their sword. Often times, it is one or two strikes and their enemy is defeated.

That is why the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Nothing is more powerful and effective in defense or taking the offensive in a spiritual battle then the Word of God.

Find at least three scriptures that show the power of the Word of God.

It is very important to understand that in order to use a sword properly you have to know the sword and how to use it. Again think of a Samurai. If you go into battle and you have never handled a sword before or you just understand a few aspects of it, you could not only lose the battle but you could hurt yourself or others.

How does that apply to the sword being the sword of the Spirit and the word of God? If you are up against a battle with the devil or someone else that is trying to take you away from the Lord and you never read the Bible, or do not have some of God’s word rooted in your mind, spirit and soul, you could be in big trouble and ill equipped for any battle.

Or if you know some scriptures but because you have not read and understood how those particular scriptures work in context with God’s Word, you use the scriptures the wrong way and you hurt yourself, or someone else or, worse, you cause them to doubt their own faith and salvation.

Take three of your favorite scriptures and tell me why it is your favorite and then show how it is in context with the scriptures before and after it.

In closing, the Bible is the gospel of peace and the Word of God, so it is imperative that knowing the Word of God is a necessary part of the armor of God and a necessary part of our walk with the Lord. In fact, as it reads, in Psalms 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.”

Without God’s word, we walk in darkness. Try fighting a battle in darkness.

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Are We Envied?

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Are we envied? Now that is an interesting question. And one, that at first glance, we feel is wrong. We should not envy so why would we want to cause envy. After all, we read in Galatians 5: 19-21 where it talks about envy being one of the acts of the sinful nature. And even in Galatians 5: 26 where after talking about the fruit of the Holy Spirit, it reads, “ Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So why should we be envied? Why would we want to be envied? Paul talks about it in Romans 11:13-14 “ I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.” Many of the different translations use jealous instead of envy.

What do you think Paul was saying when he wanted the Gentiles to make the Jews envious or jealous? He wanted the Jews to envy what was in us because of Jesus Christ.  He wanted them to envy us so much that they would become followers of Christ.

 

When the unsaved meet us, how should our lives be in order for them to envy us or be jealous of us for being a Christian? Or better put, how should we be living our lives, that makes people want to be like us?

If we can go back and read more of Galatians 5 it gives us a clear description of what type of person we should be and what our lives and actions should be, so that people would want to be like us. Let’s read Galatians 22-26. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Love, joy, peace, forbearance (which also means tolerance, restraint), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, now there are some goals to have. Imagine if everyday we focused on just having one of them. And once we were able to have that in our lives, we can focus on adding the next one. And before you know it, you would be living your life with all of those fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Remember these are fruits of the Holy Spirit, so when I say focus on having them, I mean praying and asking the Holy Spirit to let these fruits grow within you.

I think then people would envy you. And would want to be like you. And hopefully want to be so much like you that they ask “What is it with you. You are always up, you never have a bad word about anyone, and your such a loyal friend and gentle with everyone even when people wrong you.”

I know you may be thinking how would anyone see all of that in your life. Well the people you work with would and do. They see how you act everyday now. What do you think they are seeing now in you? Are you a light for the world? Do people see the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you?

If the answer is no, please don’t put yourself down. Instead, decide today to change. Pray to God for all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And practice using them. Focus on using them. Let me repeat that because it is of the utmost importance.

Practice and focus on using the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your life. Let me explain. I read a story in a book called The Energy Bus, written by Jon Gordon, that explains this very clearly.  The story went as follows: “A man goes to the village to visit with the wise man and he says to the wise man. ‘I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is the positive, loving, kind, and gentle dog and then I have this angry, mean-spirited, and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don’t know which is going to win.’  The wise man thinks for a moment and he says, ‘ I know which is going to win. The one you feed the most, so feed the positive dog.”

Now that is powerful. So what are you feeding your mind and spirit? Are you daily feeding your minds by reading and studying God’s Word and praying for guidance, strength and for the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

And are you listening too?  God will speak to you through his Word, the Holy Spirit, and by what your read.

In my opinion the really battle is with your thoughts. What are you thinking most of the time?  Money, the lack of or something you want to buy.  You job, that you want a new one or why someone else got the promotion instead of you. Things you want like why do others own a nice house and you are still renting?

Why do they other people have this or that and your don’t. I can come up with 1000’s of these, mainly because I said a lot of them for my life. I was always asking God why other people had such wondering lives. Great kids. Great jobs. Nice homes.  And it was not just with worldly things.  It was in my Christianity also.  I would ask God why does He seem to always be giving revelations to other people but not me. Better yet, God why aren’t you talking to me or showing me the way I should go.

Let’s just think about those thoughts for a moment. Which dog do you think those thoughts are feeding? If you said the negative dog you would be correct. Do you see the connection with what you think and what you feed into your mind and spirit with is what will grow in your life? And what will be evident to everyone you meet, know and work with even be evident to your family.

You want to live and walk with the fruits of the Holy Spirit, then feed yourself with the positive things we have been talking about. Grab a hold of God’s Word and don’t let it go. Read it.  If certain scriptures seem to come alive to you, memorize them.  Repeat them.  Tell others about them.  And then read them again and again.

I know a lot of Christians, who are wonderful people with a heart after God and so dedicated to their church but when I ask them how often do they read their Bible, they say “I know I need to read it but I don’t right now. I can’t seem to find the time”. And I ask them how often they pray, or if a couple, how often do they both pray together as a family. They again answer, “I know we need to but we just don’t seem to find the time.” Then after awhile, I will bring up one of the TV shows my wife and I watch and they will say, “Oh we love that show. Watch it every week. Or they record it to watch it later when they have time.”

Now I am not judging. In our family, we do the same thing. We record shows and watch them later. There is nothing wrong with it. In fact, we are so diligent to record these shows that I have them programmed to record each week. So trust me when I say I am not judging about watching TV and making sure we always watch our favorite shows.  But we have to have a balance in our life. We can watch those shows, but if we watch those shows and leave no time in our life for God’s Word or pray, then we are doing what? Exactly, we are feeding the wrong dog.

We need to feed the right dog. I promise you that if you daily spend time in God’s Word and if you pray alone, and with your family, the results will be noticed. By you and everyone around you.

I was going to say you would be envied. But there is still something that bothers me about using that word envied even though, in the context that I am using it, the Bible shows that we want to be envied for this.

I think a better way to put this is people will want what you have. They will see God as such a positive force in your life, that they will crave it. Desire it.  And then ask you what is different about you. You then will get to have one of the greatest privileges in our lives, you will get to share Jesus Christ with them.

Again God’s Word always puts it better than any person or book. It reads in 2 Cor 2: 14, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

I pray for all of us, that we will become the fragrance of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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