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Archive for the ‘new nature’ Category

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

I have always been impressed with the Gospel of John’s opening words.  It seems to reach a peak when John speaks of the Word becoming flesh.  In other words, Jesus takes on human form for the sake of salvation and redemption.

Incarnated godliness in human form.  Total holiness coexisting with total humanity.  All in the same place and at the same time is wrapped up in the same oneness.

I marvel at such a majestic maneuver on the Lord’s part.  Since He is the Almighty, we know He could have spoke and it would have been done.  Since He is the Creator, He could have created a new breed and done away with sinful man just to start over again.

No but He decided to go out of His way for us.  He decided to become like us so that we might have eternal life and life out this earthly life like Him.  He became flesh.  He took on the form of a man.

He became flesh for us and our sakes, our salvation.

Read John 1:1-17.

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If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
– Luke 17:3 (NIV)
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realising you were the prisoner!”
Max Lucado
I don’t forget what I have done.  All of the bad that I have stirred up still has its lingering effects.  I try to cover the scars and the tattoos with navy blue and banker’s grey power suits.  I hide the tears that I want to shed for my wrongs behind the dark lenses of wrap-around shades or under the low-riding brim of a fedora. 
Then, always right before I get totally worn out and weighed down, He speaks softly to my spirit through His Holy Spirit.
I took care of that for you already.
I stand in awe, wondering how could that be.
I fight with myself to come to some understanding why.  Why would the Savior do so for me?
Me? I have all of this baggage, though.
I wonder what I am to do without all of this junk to carry around.
But I sin, Lord.
I forgive.
 No, I mean I really sin. 
I forgive.

I am a real big sinner.  I know I do not  please You.
I forgive.
What about from here on and I mess up?
I forgive.

And if it is more? Or, even worse?

I forgive.

Yes.

And again?

Yes.

And again and. . .

Yes.

How long will you keep that up?

Forever.

Eternity.

Day after day.

Until you make it to your new home with Me.

Amen.*

Amen.*

* Amen is translated as “so be it” or “it is so.” It offers a response of agreement or declared affirmation.

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“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”  ~Benjamin Franklin

Exceed expectations. Are you getting any closer to excellence?  Merely meeting expectations is a minimum.  When you exceed those same expectations, you start to enter into excellence.  We are to offer God our best every step of the way.  Excuses do not excuse us from the expectations of our Eternal Father.

We have to go further than we have ever gone before.  We have to take actions that will lead to exploring new territory.  Excuses are just excuses.  They do not excuse us from His expectations.  They can hinder us from doing His will or walking by faith.  They can harm progress in our spiritual maturity.  They may not even help us at all.  We have to see what excuses really do for us.  They offer nothing but trouble because they lead to procrastination, problems and poor performance or pitiful productivity.  That’s what comes forth out of excuses.

Let excellence serve as your trademark.  Lead by example.  Let excuses go.  Let others see the distinct qualities that set you apart from the crowd.  Demonstrate that you are not simply going with the flow.  In fact, if you live for Him, it may even cause you to go against the grain at times.  You begin to discover that God has put more in you than you think, but you won’t discover it until you have been put to the test.  When the tests, trials and troubles come your way, it won’t be time for excuses.  That will be the time you set your heart on excelling beyond expectations.  At that point, you become David facing a giant called GoliathRight then, you become Moses standing before a raging Red SeaIn the midst of  it, you stand out like Paul, writing as a concerned parent to his dear children, addressing believers in Rome with an assurance that every Christian is more than a conqueror.  We overcome with overwhelming strength supplied by the Supreme God, God Almighty.

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Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.- Eph. 4:26

Paul shared a simple warning to those believers at Ephesus.  He advised that the Christian not let the sun go down on his or her anger.  In other words, don’t get so wrapped up in being angry that it consumes you for the remainder of the evening and into the next day.  At some point, if we are truly faithful and holding fast to the Lord, we will not let our anger lead us into sin.

The verse speaks about being angry.  It doesn’t say that you becoming angry is a sin.  I t warns for you to not allow your anger to linger to the point where it leads to sin and causes damage for the Christian and those around the Christian.  In essence, that isn’t the way that the Lord wants us to live. he wants us to live more abundantly by faith.

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Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven– Luke 6:37 (NIV)

People who have been forgiven should be forgiving people.  Grace, mercy, love and patience should all intertwine in order to offer forgiveness to others.  Since God has forgiven us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, we should forgive others just as He has forgiven us.

Take into account the wrongs that you have done against God.  We call them sins.  They are the little and the big things that separate us from our constant and consistent fellowship with God.  We need to see how our interactions with others are in alignment with our professed faith and belief in God.  Sadly, we may find ourselves more out of alignment with God’s ways and His Word than we would like to think.  How we treat others may not be as glaring to us until we weigh it all in proper perspective with how God wants us to treat others.

 The dialogue between Peter and Jesus about forgiveness has been utilized out of context many times, but it opens the believer’s eyes to a new dynamic about forgiveness.   Jesus assures Peter that what may be viewed as acceptable by human standards is not what is acceptable by the standard set for God’s people.  Even if it is our own people who offend us, we should be able to forgive them countless times.  That’s not easy.

We have to understand that we have been forgiven of all  of our sins by the work of Jesus on the cross.  Therefore, since we have been forgiven, we have an understanding of having a debt that we could not pay for ourselves.  We should see that our brother or sister’s trespasses should be forgiven without our convicting or condemning them for what they have done.  We should, as forgiven people, forgive them because of what has been forgiven of us by Him.

Take your forgiveness up a notch.  If you find that hard, take it to God in solemn and sincere prayer.  drop the grudge and bury the hatchet.  There’s no sense in taking someone else through hell for what they have done against you when your Holy Father has refused to send you to the depths of hell for all that you have done against Him.

God forgives.  Be like God.  Forgive more and more.

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Creating Fishers of Men:

 

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”-Mark 1:17

Practical Applications

 

  • Relevance

“fishers of men”

Jesus shared something that these fishers understood.  They knew about fishing.  Now they needed to learn about fishing for men.

  • Realism

“. . . I will make you…”

Having an understanding that we need something bigger than us to change us helps us to embrace the change as it starts and continues.

  • Relationships

John 1:35-46; 2:1, 11

When you have experienced a previous encounter with Jesus, you can be led into a deeper relationship with as you leave your nets and livelihood behind to follow Him.

  • Reputation

Mark 1:14-15

Jesus had already been preaching in Galilee.  They knew about Him.  Now they could get to know Him.

  • Resourcefulness

“Follow Me…”

The resources are conditional. We must follow Jesus in order to be made into more than we ever imagined and all that He expects of us.

  • Recognition

Matt. 4:20, 22; Luke 5:11; John 2:11

Jesus had more than charisma.  He had more than character.  He was the Christ, the Anointed One.  He was the Messiah.  He was the Son of God.  He was Immanuel, “God is with us.” People saw it and recognized something different about Jesus.  He shared that these men would no longer be recognized as smelly fishermen but saintly fishers of men.

Jesus offered these men aspects of what we all should offer others as they join our ministries.  He offered them a new way of approaching their walk in life through a calling.

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Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…- Matthew 11:29 (KJV)

Grandma M.A. used to always say: “You learn something new every day.” My Grandma was right to a certain degree. You live and you learn.  It happens the more we live.   It becomes apparent to us.

Key Question: Does your learning about Christ lead to you living like Christ?

For all that we learn about Christ, we should be living like Christ.  Our days should be filled with getting filled and fueled by the Spirit to live by the Spirit, leading to us living like the example set by the Savior.  In other words, we need to add some “can-do” and “how-to” with our “know-how.”

It boils down to accepting the challenge to be more like Christ.  Our living can be a mere existence or it can truly be an abundant life.

As He was so we are to be.- Andrew Murray

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Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.Philippians 2:5 (NKJV)

It’s all in your mind.  What makes a difference is already within you, if you believe in Christ as your Savior, but what may be holding it up, what may be blocking it from becoming your way of life, may also exist within you, too.  It may be what’s in your mind.

God wants you to have the mind of Christ.  God wants your thought process to change.  He wants your thoughts to mirror the thoughts of Jesus.  He wants your mind to operate like the mind of Christ.  The New Century Version says that we should “think and act like Christ.”

Yet, a lot can clutter our mind, especially in this “information age.” We are so connected these days through Facebook, IM, Twitter, Gmail, and other means that we can often grow disconnected to the serious business of being a Christian.  We can easily lose our way and find ourselves thriving in worldly success and failing at faith. 

God is calling you to be like Christ.  He wants you to become like the Son.  He is not asking you to be Christ.  He is not asking you to die on the cross for the sins of the world.  He is not expecting you to be Christ, but He does expect you to be like Christ.

We should embody the very essence of Christ’s being, starting with a change within us that manifests through our actions and interactions, even our words.  Yes, we were created in His image at Creation, but we have not been transformed into “new creations” until we accept and embrace being changed by Him to become like Him.

For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
John 13:15 (NKJV)

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…The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.- 1 John 3:1 (ESV)
For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. Luke 16:8 (NIV)
The world did not know him according to the first verse posted above. In fact, John wrote earlier in his gospel account: He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. Believe it or not, John also said that Jesus came to His own people and they did not even receive Him. Needless to say, Jesus was not received well by the world.
Yet, the world did something different with His Word. While many did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and the Anointed One, the world did take His Word to a totally different place. The world took His Word and did something different with it.
The world tainted His Word. It puts everything else alongside His Word and simply held the Word without reverence or much regard. The world twisted the Word. It bent the Word this way and that way to make it work for them. They use the Word in such a that makes the Word as more of a reference source than a relied-upon source. The world tweaked the Word. It added some here and removed some there, straying away from the truth of the Word.
Don’t rely on the world. Rely on the Word. Put your full trust in the Word. As a Christian, the world does not understand you because the world does not understand Him. Stay with the Word.

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Thank God that the kingdom of God is not divided into areas for big, important
people and areas for little, unimportant people.
– A.W. Tozer

We have come a long way since Jesus ascended into heaven, leaving His disciples to await the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit of God. Yet, we seem to have splintered away from the Way. The early church was rooted in its actions and interactions with each other and the outside world. In fact, it was a known fact among the people that many respected the believers of that time. Nowadays, we have many denominations that it can be hard to keep up with who is doing what and what is going on with whom. Nevertheless, we seize the opportunity to possibly bridge some of the divide that men have created and build bonds on what Christ has established as the head of the church.

We need see Christ as the focus. Our agreement should be on the main thing, and the main thing should be Christ. If we can’t agree on baptism, the Lord’s Supper or the gifts of the Spirit, let us at least agree by faith that Christ is the main thing that we should focus upon.

We can agree that there are works to be done. We may not agree on how they should be done. We may not agree on whether they add to our salvation or not, but we certainly can agree that there are works that need to be done.

There is an enemy. He may take many forms. He do many things within this world. Our particular theology may see him as one thing as opposed to what other brothers and sisters may think, but we can agree that we have a common enemy who seeks to kill and destroy us.

Our nature is sinful. We may not be able to recite the whole five-point Calvinism and various “ministries” of the church based on our particular doctrine with agreement. Yet, we can admit that we need the pure and righteous sacrifice of the Lamb of God to take care of our sinfulness. We should be able to agree upon that much.

In doing so, we will find plenty of work to do based upon our common ground. We should find much to pray about based upon what we have accepted as true and agreeable. We can at least agree that we need to pray, even if we don’t agree on how to pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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