Our Sins and the Cross

The full impact of what was accomplished on the cross at Calvary is often not fully understood by many Christians. We all know that our sins were washed away, but many assume that now any sin they commit is automatically forgiven. Some continue to keep one foot in the world and others don’t realize who Christ is in them. We need to dig into the scriptures and learn about our sins and the cross. Continue reading

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The Humility of Prayer

 

man repentingAs Christians, we all come to God in prayer with our needs and desires because we believe that He will deliver us from our sorrows, heal our bodies and bless us. Unfortunately, when some of us ask God for things, we are compelled to tell Him what to do and how to do it. We’re taught to “come boldly to the throne of grace”—(Hebrews 4:16), and so we feel that it means it’s okay for us to tell God how to do what we want Him to do for us. Some of us feel as if it’s our right to just tell God what to do for us. This attitude is more of self-righteousness than of humility, and it’s one that the Lord won’t bless. Continue reading

Christians Are Not Perfect: We are Forgiven!

3147461049_35b009962d_mAs we travel forward in our Christian walk we realize that not everyone along the way is in the same place as we are in our personal relationship with God. Some will be brand new Christians and others will have a mature walk with God. Some were once back-sliders, but are now back on the path, while still others need to be prompted to get back on. There are those who are abundant in love and radiate in peace while others are still focused more on the law than on His grace. Some will have a shallow understanding of the scriptures while others have a deep understanding of them. We have all come from assorted backgrounds and been brought through different circumstances, and we all have our own mountains to climb, but the one thing we have in common is that we are forgiven!

We have all sinned, regardless of what we’ve done, and be it  big or little there is no difference to God. Sin is sin and it will separate us from God. That’s why He gave His own Son to be a sacrifice for us. He wanted to take the sin from us and bear the punishment of it for us so that we could get rid of the sin and stand holy before Him. But we’re not holy on our own merits. We are only holy because the blood of Jesus covers us and has taken away that sin. And when we accept His sacrifice and turn away from the worldly sins, we are forgiven and we become children of God.

We are forgiven! We have been redeemed back to God and every sin we committed before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior was forgiven. The record has been washed clean and God doesn’t see it anymore. We now live under grace. We are no longer under the law and sin can no longer hurt us.

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” … Galatians 4:4-5

Without God’s forgiveness we have sin in us, and when we commit one sin, 310702990_21eca830bb_mone felony or offence – a single transgression against the law – then we commit sin against God. He gave us the law through Moses and it’s known as The Ten Commandments as set out in Exodus 20:3-17. If it were possible for any person to live one hundred percent according to this law and never once waiver even in the slightest bit throughout their entire life, then they would not have sin in them and they would not need a Savior. But The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that “we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” so we know that it is impossible to live without sinning. This means that every person has sinned and therefore, deserves to suffer the punishment for their sins.

But God loves us with a love so great that few people can really comprehend it. It grieved God terribly to have been separated from Adam and Eve because of sin. It was His plan then to take that sin away from them and from every person ever born because He knew the punishment of sin. He made the world; He made the law and it stands.

“For the wages of sin is death.” … Romans 6:23

The “death” spoken of here doesn’t refer to the death of our earthly bodies when we leave this earth. It’s speaking of the second death that will come to those people on Judgment Day who are found with sin in them, and the punishment will be a complete separation from God forever.

“Then the king [Jesus] said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” … Matthew 22:13

Jesus is the only person ever to have lived a totally sinless life. He was born of a woman, but His father was God and God is Holy, so Jesus was Holy. He was not born of a man and did not inherit the sin of Adam as the rest of the human race did.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” … Hebrews 4:15

5578273602_79073a7036_mJesus died on the cross and took upon Himself all of our sins so that everyone who accepts it will be forgiven and will live under the grace of God. This means that if during our Christian lives we do something that we know is wrong, we can come to God immediately and ask Him to forgive us and He will not only forgive us, but He’ll erase it from our record.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” … John 3:16

We are forgiven! We live under the grace of God and as we grow and pray and study the Bible and worship the Lord, we become more and more like Him through the Holy Spirit in us. But every Christian won’t be like us. We shouldn’t judge them or put them down, but instead we need to show the love and grace of God toward them. We need to pray for them and teach them at their level so they can see God from where they are.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” … Colossians 3:16

The Christian life is wonderful when we see others through the eyes of Jesus and not through our own ideals. There are many people around us who aren’t Christians, but who watch us and who deep inside want to know God. We need to treat all people with love and compassion, using only scripture as a benchmark and God’s love and grace toward them so they can see Him. But we also need to tell them about His judgment for those who still live in sin so they’ll know why they need to repent.

The only difference between Christians and people of the world is that we are forgiven and His Spirit now lives in us. And for this we are eternally grateful! Thank you, Jesus!

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” … Psalm 32:1

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What does it Mean to be Saved?

3147461049_35b009962d_mMany of today’s modern Christians have a very different concept to the meaning of being saved than what the Word has declared it to mean. They think that to be saved and to ensure a home in Heaven is to simply acknowledge that there is a God and that Jesus came to the cross and died for everyone – so we’re all saved if we acknowledge it. But is this all there is to being saved?

“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” … John 3:16

Jesus did die for everyone, but we need to make it personal and believe that He died for “my” sins, for “me” so “I” can have everlasting life. Just because we accept that there is a God doesn’t make us a Christian; after all, many people acknowledge that God is “up there”, but they don’t love or respect Him. The Bible tells us in James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

The devil acknowledges that God is real and we all know that he’s not saved. So what does it mean to be saved? Saved from what?

We are saved from the punishment of sin that we all deserve for breaking God’s laws.8472731872_67f246af9c_m There is not a single person on earth who can say that they have never sinned or never broken one of the Ten Commandments.  And sadly, even one sin will separate us from God and put us into the court of judgment to be sentenced to hell. That’s for just one sin! We cannot stand before a Holy God if we have even one sin in us and that one sin is enough to condemn us.

 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  … Romans 3:23

Many people think that because they live good, clean lives and don’t break the laws that they are good people, and they likely are but they are still not “whole” before God because it’s not just the big sins that count against us and make us guilty.

Have you ever stolen anything in your life – anything at all? A candy bar when you were a child? A pencil or pen from work? How about time? How many of you have a job and enjoy a social life at work on company time where you should be working as hard as the boss thinks you do. If you can say yes to any of these, then that makes you a thief. And what happened to the thieves in the Old Testament? They were crucified as we see at the time when Jesus was crucified.

“Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.” … Matthew 27:38

6447825367_d360021037_mHave you ever told a lie before? How about a tiny white lie that was really said with good intentions to help someone? Or perhaps you have not told a whole truth or even twisted it a bit to give a better perception of yourself or to protect someone else? If so – and most of us will admit that we’ve done this some time in our lives – then this makes you a liar.

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” … John 8:44

Here’s one for the guys; have you ever walked along the beach in the summer and seen some gorgeous girls out sunbathing and had some kind of “innocent” lustful thoughts? Have you watched a movie that has explicitly sexual content and got lost for a few seconds in the heat of the moment? And what about those adult magazines that some of you have stashed away? You may be happily married and faithful, but if you’ve ever looked upon another woman (or even a picture of one) and had lustful thoughts, then according to the Bible you are guilty and that makes you an adulterer.

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” … Matthew 5:28

What does Jesus say about liars, thieves and adulterers, just to name a few of the commons sins?

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [homosexuals], nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” … 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Although there are only ten basic commandments given to us by God to follow, it’s impossible to live a day without breaking at least one in the slightest way. We cannot live a perfect life and so we will all face judgment and a life apart from God if we try on our own merits. However, God knows this and so He sent Jesus to save us from the judgment that we deserve for breaking God’s law.

311648_715477408477662_866568947_nJesus became the ultimate sacrifice for us. He took all of our sins upon Himself and died on the cross on our behalf and then took the punishment for those sins by being sent to hell when he died. He paid the price of sin for us, and if we will believe that and accept that, then He’ll clean us from the old sinful nature and fill us with His Spirit so we’re whole and righteous because of Jesus before God. We become born again.

Once we’re saved, though, there are changes we have to make. We will no longer have the desire to live the sinful way we did before because the things that once interested us or entertained us no longer matter. Only Jesus matters. BUT if we don’t change our lives and have no desire to change, then we really are not saved and it’s just an acknowledgment of the mind – not of the heart; we just think we are saved and that will be devastating when we die and face God.

“The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” … Matthew 24:50-51

We need to study the Bible and learn all about God because He is the epitome of love, and He loved us enough to die for us even before we knew Him. We want to make God number one in our lives and live for Him and worship Him, and tell others about Him so they can come out of the world and be saved, too.

God is love and when His love abides in us our personalities change and we become more like Jesus; we bear the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and people will look at us and know that we don’t belong to the world of sin any longer. We are different, not just in our words but in our thoughts, in our actions and in our priorities. We begin to see sin for what it is – sin! And we begin to hate sin just like God hates sin, which means that we cannot be Christians if we continue to live in sin.

“Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.” … Psalm 97:10

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” … Proverbs 8:13

We no longer desire the lifestyle of the world. Unfortunately, many believe that they don’t have to change and they say that when Jesus died for their sins, that included all their sins so nothing will be held against them again so it doesn’t matter what they do because they’re automatically forgiven. This is erroneous teaching. The sins of our past are forgiven when we come to the cross and accept Jesus, and we now live under grace, which means that when we slip up – and we all do – we can come to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to forgive us. BUT Jesus expects us to grow and to stop doing them. Grace doesn’t give us a licence to live how we want (how we used to); it gives us the chance to grow and change and be forgiven for mistakes as we get closer to Jesus.

We receive God’s Spirit inside us and He guides us throughout life, and when we die His Spirit calls for God’s angels to come and get us and take us to Heaven. But if the spirit that’s in us is still of the world, then guess whose angels come? And Heaven won’t be the destiny.

Being saved means coming out of the world and serving Jesus with a whole heart; it means loving Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). And the world might not like you anymore (John 15:18),  but that’s because you are no longer like them and the world hates God.

Being saved is the best thing that can happen to anyone, and coming away from the world and praising the Lord throughout eternity for our salvation comes automatic to those who love Him.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” … 1 John 4:7-8

 

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Giving Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving Day to many of us, and it’s a day that’s designated to celebrate all the things we’re thankful for in our lives. For some of us it’s easy because we have so much wealth that surrounds us, but for others it’s hurtful because they have so little or they’ve lost what they had through a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy. Perhaps it’s time for us to give thanks for the love in our lives and not just the things.

It’s great to have material possessions because they make us happy, make our lives more rewarding and more desirable, but tangible things can become a stumbling block for real gratitude and true thanksgiving toward God. In Matthew 6:19 Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” 

These earthly treasures might help to make our lives a little more comfortable and they may give us a sense of accomplishment, but Jesus warns us that it’s these treasures that the enemy will attack because he knows that losing them will get us down – maybe even tear us away from God. That’s why in John 10:10 Jesus tells us that the thief – the devil – comes to steal, kill and destroy, and he knows what our treasures are and how much they mean to us.

Does that mean it’s wrong to have nice possessions? Not at all, as long as we don’t put their value above God, above our love for God or above our love for other Christians.

We need to remember that even greater than material possessions is the love that God has for us, and it’s this love that should be the reason we live each day – and the reason we give thanks. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

There was so much more accomplished on the cross than most of us know. We were not only brought back to God so that we could talk with Him and walk with Him like Adam and Eve did before the fall, but He also gave us victory over the things that would come against us in life.

Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”

Not only were we forgiven and set free from the sin that separated us from God, but Jesus suffered the punishment for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to. We now have eternity with God instead of eternity in hell. He bore the penalty so that we could have peace – His peace – and we are free from the clutches of the devil and his hurtful strikes against us. He will attack us, but we have peace and confidence in God, and we know that He will give us the victory over the attacks.

With the 39 strikes from the cat of nine tails, a harsh whip filled with ground glass, Jesus set us free from sickness and illness and gave us back the right to be healed and to have a healthy body. Sometimes He performs miracles and sometimes He expects us to change what we’re doing and what we’re eating so that we become responsible for our bodies. He gives us wisdom to know the truth about the food and medications we take and when we adhere to the truth, our bodies line up because Jesus has already made healing possible for us.

Some of us have lost loved ones this year and the hurt is still so great that it’s hard to be thankful for anything. But we must remember that this life is short compared to eternity with God, and when someone we love moves on to Heaven we need to keep our eyes on God and on the fact that very soon we will be there, too. It’s lonely here now and the memories and family traditions can be painful, but we have to carry on anyway because even though the one we love is not with us, there are others still here who need us and who need our love.

What can we be thankful for when there is so much hurt and pain in our lives and all around us? We’re thankful that God has redeemed us from the control of the devil; we’re thankful that we have His Spirit in us to give us strength and wisdom to live every day in victory; we’re thankful that any illness or disease that has come against us will fall away because we are healed; we’re thankful that we are surrounded with family and friends who love us for who we are and not for what we have; and we’re thankful that we have a home in Heaven where Jesus has prepared a place for us and where the ones who have already moved on are waiting for us!

We have much to be thankful for, and much to live and hope for because Jesus is alive and has given us life.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”  … Hebrews 13:15  

 

 

 

 

We’re not perfect, we’re forgiven!

One of the most humiliating trials Christians can face is eating their own words at the cost of embarrassment and disgrace.

As Christians, we grow in our knowledge of the Word and in our understanding of God and His commandments, and as we develop a close relationship with Him, He becomes our reason for living. Yet some of us get caught up in the commandments as the only ruler to live by and we put that above the love and forgiveness that Jesus represents.

Some Christians take stands declaring that they would never do this or that their children would never do that. The foolishness of these statements is that if you’ve never been in a specific situation, you cannot predict how you would react. Sometimes emotions can cause you to do the thing you said you’d never do. And as much as you raise your children in the Lord, they face situations today that most parents haven’t experienced so it’s unfair to state what your child would or would not do.

The danger in making absolute stands is that we’re saying we don’t sin, and so when our own words backfire we want to run and hide because we feel so embarrassed. Instead of lifting ourselves up to show others how good we are, perhaps we should humble ourselves before God and realize that no matter how much we love Him, we still live in this world and we’re still tempted by the devil. But when we sin, God forgives us and we grow in His strength to move on. We become stronger and wiser and more understanding of the grace that is expounded to us through Jesus.  

Never say “Never” because none of us are perfect and the world is waiting and watching so they can point fingers at us and mock us and our faith. We shouldn’t be giving them a reason to put down Christianity. We cannot pretend to be perfect because we’re not. We should be telling them that God is loving toward all who come to Him and ask for forgiveness – making this declaration a great testimony to the world.  

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”…Romans 3:23