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.

Lost and Lonely People

There are several scriptures that keep reminding me that I need to help more people in need. That I need to be more aware of my surroundings because someone right next to me could be in such emotional pain or need and I just walk by. There is a song by Casting Crowns titled” Does Anyone Hear Her?”

It is powerful. I tear up every time I hear it. I love to sing and I have yet been able to sing this entire song without breaking up. The link I have above is a music video of the song. I hope it speaks to your heart as much as it does for me.

So why is lost and lonely people the subject of this week’s lesson? Because God’s word talks alot about lost and lonely people. Also about the sick, the needy and more.

Matthew 25:31-46 covers it all in a very powerful way. As we go through it, I hope that it will convict you as much as it has convicted me to do something. Anything but ignoring it.

I encourage you to read the entire Chapter 25, because in the entire chapter Jesus was talking to his disciples and the crowds of people who came to listen to him. He talks about the kingdom of God and being ready for it. You will learn so much.

Starting on verse 31 is where Jesus is talking about when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him and He will sit on His glorious throne. It goes on to talk about the Son of Man separating the people as a shepherd would separate his sheep from the goats with the sheep on the right and goats on the left.

Let’s pick up what Jesus is saying in verse 34,  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

That is important so I am going to repeat that last part. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” I have always wondered what I could do for Jesus because I am always asking him what he can do for me. Then when I read this I have my answer. It’s pure and simple. You now know how to do something for our Lord.

If helping the lost, the lonely, the needy, the stranger, the sick and those in prison is not motivation enough. Then perhaps doing it for our Lord hopefully will get us moving in the right direction.

I do not mean this in a condemning way. Trust me when I say, I am not just talking to all of you but also to myself on this.

I need to ask God to keep me more aware and to hear from His Holy Spirit and see these lost and lonely people. In the song I mentioned above by Casting Crowns, there is a line “Does anybody hear her? Does anybody see? I know I am missing many of them. But if I were perfectly honest, there are one’s I do hear and one’s I do see. And I do nothing. Have you been there also?

Oh I know, we had our reasons why would could not help them at that point in time. Some of the reasons were very valid. We were on the way to work or picking the kids at school. But again if I am being honest with myself, thee were other times where I could have stopped or could have gone to help someone. It was more of just an inconvenience. So I would come up with some reason or excuse.

Why do we do that? Are we embarrassed, afraid of the person? Why? Perhaps if we know the reasons, it might help. We need to be true and honest to ourselves if we ever want to grow in life and in the Lord. We need to examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we can help these people. There is one positive thing we can do. Something that may help us to get involved, to help the lost and lonely, hungry, needy, sick and in prison.

Bring some Christian friends along. I have found that when a group of Christians get together they are more willing to go to places when by themselves they would be uncomfortable or unsure. With a group people, many are more willing to move out of one’s comfort zone. This is scriptural. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”   Now there is the perfect way, you, Christian friends and Jesus helping the least of His brothers and sisters. You just can’t go wrong with that. Praise God.

Thank you Father for this word. I pray that all of us listen to your instructions and help those in need.

Why do we pretend to God?

Why do we pretend to God

It reads in Psalms 139:1-4 says “O Lord, your have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”

This being true, then why do we pretend to God? As if we can keep a secret from him. As if he does not already know what we are thinking?

This was one of the most disconcerting parts of my relationship with the Lord for a very long time yet it finally became the most liberating part. Once I was able to grasp the fact that I cannot hide anything from God, I was then able to REALLY talk with Him in my prayer time.

It is key that you understand you cannot hide anything from God. More proof is in Hebrew 4:13 – “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Think about that for a moment. Everything you think, everything you desire he knows. Let’s get a bit more personal, every one of those thoughts of lust, greed, anger, jealousy, fear, and more, He knows you are thinking it.

AS YOU THINK IT.

On the other hand, He also knows and sees every act and thought of love, peace, kindness, joy, generosity, and love for Him.

Yes we have a direct connection to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but how we use that direct connection dictates how productive our prayer time is with the Lord. Let’s look at this concept another way. We all have, sometime in our lives, been talking to one of our children, or our husband or our wife or a close friend and they are telling you a story about something that happened. And in this case, you already know about the whole situation and what really happened. So as they are telling their story, they are telling it different from how it really happened. They are completely unaware you know what really happened or how they really think. Most likely they are telling it in a manner that puts them in a better light and/or takes the responsibility off of them.

Now while they are telling you their story you are thinking to yourself “this is not what happened” or “why are they holding back parts of the story”. Then at sometime in the conversation they ask for your advice or for help. Perhaps it is a financial need and they are asking you for money.

Now knowing all that you know about the situation and knowing that they are keeping a lot from you, how do you feel about helping them or giving them advice? Possibly you would be thinking “how can I help this person when they won’t own up to the whole truth and facts about their lives.” Well that is basically what our Lord experiences with a lot of us day to day.

There were, and I admit still are, times I will be praying to God and my thoughts are the opposite of my prayers. I may be praying “O Lord, I praise you, I give you thanks for all that you are doing in my life” yet in my mind I am thinking “God why am I struggling financially. I am a tither, why am I broke. I do not understand what you are doing in my life.”

Let’s move from thoughts to actions. Most of the time your thoughts are much different than your actions. Some thoughts are pretty out there especially some of the lustful ones. And many Christians seem to be able to control their actions better than their thoughts. Not all though. God sees all our actions even if we do them in private.

Please understand this lesson is not written to condemn you or hold you in condemnation but it is written to set you free, to liberate your relationship with our Lord and Savior.

If there would be one thing I would want you to take away from this lesson, it is the fact that no matter what you are really thinking or doing God does sees it. And if He sees it then we need to be honest and open with him at all times. Believe it when God’s Word says in Matthew 6:4 …. “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”; and in 1 Samuel 16:7 …..”People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Now if you believe this is true, then act and pray that way. If our Lord looks into our heart and knows every single feeling and thought we have. If our loving Father sees every thing we have done in secret, then I challenge you to be very blunt and honest when you are talking with Him.

I can guarantee you, yes guarantee, that the next time before you start to pray or talk with God, and you truly believe that He has searched you and knows you that you many not even know what to say, your prayers will be much different.

When you finally realize, that He knows when you sit and when you rise; He perceives your thoughts from afar. He discerns your going out and your lying down; He is familiar with all your ways and before your speak a word He knows it completely, your perspective on praying will completely change.

In your prayer time, you may try and say something but, knowing that God knows everything you are going to say and everything your thinking, you begin to realize that you may not even have to say anything. And then you have reached that intimate zone with God, the zone that I call the “Be Still” zone. When you are their, just do what the Bible says in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know I am God”.   Just listen or let the Holy Spirit pray for you, as the Word says in Romans 8:26 – “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

And, at those times that you do pray with words, you will be set free in your prayer time knowing, that he knows all your thoughts and actions. You can talk with him and say things like, “Lord you know that I am angry, please help me with it.” Or “Lord you know I’m doubting your help with my finances, please help me with this unbelief.” Or “Lord you know what I did earlier. I need to stop that. Can you show me what to do, where to go for help or how your Word can set me free.

I’m sure for many of you right now as you read this; there are thoughts and actions that you have not been honest with God about. And yes He knows that already so quit pretending He doesn’t. Again don’t be condemned instead talk with Him about these things. Bring them out into the open when you are talking or prayer to our Lord. The burden will lift from you when you openly and honestly talk with God about all those things you think your are keeping to yourself. I know I have repeated that many times but it is only because I want you to feel the liberty and peace you can have when you talk with God knowing He knows everything about you.

And that takes us to the final portion of this lesson, the fact that He knows everything about you. If our Lord knows everything about you, then who better to help you in your life when facing your own demons, so to speak. Or when you are fearful, sad, angry, and lonely or you have major decisions to make in your life. He can help you and counsel you better than anyone.   And He can guide you in the way you should go for help. You just need to trust Him and be yourself and quit thinking you can keep secret from our Lord.

Praise God for the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.

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Are We Envied?

envy-fw

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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