Crucify the Earthly Nature

Crucify the Earthly Nature

Today’s topic is the earthly nature of man with its passions and desires.  The Bible urges us to put to death the deeds of the body.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  (Col 3:5 NIV)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  (Rom 8:13)

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  (Gal 5:24)

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and temporary residents in the world, to abstain from the desires of the sinful flesh, which war against your soul.  (1 Pet 2:11 EHV)

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.  (1 Cor 6:18)

Why do you think the Scriptures urge us in so many passages of the Bible to:

  • Put to death the earthly nature;
  • Put to the death the deeds of the body;
  • Crucify the flesh;
  • Abstain from desires of the sinful flesh; and to
  • Flee sexual immortality?

1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Peter 2 state very clearly the reasons why we should obey the Bible:

  • Because the desires of the flesh war against our own souls; and
  • The one who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

When we allow the lusts of the flesh to govern our actions, then we sin against our very own bodies.  How?  Because our bodies have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Cor 6:19-20)  This type of sin is an offense to our temple and the Holy Guest living within it.   

We belong to God, and our individual bodies belong to God.  We have chosen to follow Jesus of our own, free will; it hasn’t been forced upon us. 

The Lord has sealed each believer and given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  (2 Cor 1:22)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  (Eph 4:30)

We are urged by the Word of God to live a righteous and holy life by the empowering grace of God.  (See Rom 12:1; 1 Pet 1:15-16)  Since the Lord has given us His gift of grace, we are enabled to live obedient, holy lives.  He has given us victory through Jesus Christ.  (1 Cor 15:57)  Let us celebrate God’s goodness and mercy!

We are called, as followers of Jesus Christ and children of God to glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits.  God bless you!

Light Versus Darkness

Light Versus Darkness

Jesus warned His followers that they would have the light for only a little while longer.  We can judge for ourselves if we are living in the light or if we are living in darkness.  Let’s see what the Word of God says.   

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.  (1 Joh 2:9 NLT) 

If we catch ourselves disliking people or even hating them, we know that we’re operating in the dark.  May God give us His grace to walk in the Light of Jesus Christ.

But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.  (1 Joh 2:11 NLT) 

The verse above shows us what it’s like to have been blinded by darkness.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  (Tit 3:3 NIV)

The book of Titus, chapter 3 reminds us what we were like before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.  Titus urged his readers to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.  And then, verse 3 tells us that we were at one time disobedient, deceived, enslaved in sin, and living in malice and hatred. 

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.  (Joh 12:35)

Jesus, our example and beloved Savior, reminds us to walk in the light while it is still available.  Those who walk in darkness don’t know where they’re going, and get off of the path of righteousness. 

One way to remain in the light is to read and to meditate upon the Word of God.  Another test of walking in the light is our obedience to the Scriptures:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  (Phil 4:8)  Let us be obedient to God by meditating upon these worthwhile and noble truths. Jesus told us:  “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (Joh 16:33)  Trust in His overcoming light even when darkness seems to surround everything.  God bless you.

Our Lives Are a Message

Our Lives Are a Message

Would it surprise you to learn that the life of each and every follower of Jesus Christ is an epistle (letter) to the world?

. . . clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.  (2 Cor 3:3)

The word epistle means:  letter, communication, or message.  Every person who has accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord is a message to the world!  The Holy Spirit, who has sealed us for the day of redemption (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 4:30), has been given to us as our guarantee or promise that we are born-again.

I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.  (Ps 40:8) 

The verse above teaches us that every human being [saved or unsaved] inherently knows the moral law of God. (Rom 2:14-15)  One reason that this is true is that all mankind has been created in the image of God. (Gen 1:27)

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart . . . (Pro 3:3) 

Mercy and truth are bound up in the Scriptures.  When we memorize and meditate upon God’s Word, we are cooperating with “writing” them upon our hearts.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  (Heb 8:10) 

The Holy Spirit will bless every believer with grace to enable us to memorize passages of the Bible, thereby putting God’s laws in our minds and sowing it into our hearts.  Only the Spirit of the Living God has the necessary power to “write” God’s moral laws upon the heart of a believer.  This Bible passage says that God has made a covenant with us to do these things, and also to be our God. 

The Lord calls us His people, and what an awesome blessing that is.  God bless you!

Our Weakness Reveals God’s Strength

Our Weakness Reveals God’s Strength

How can weakness or challenges in life reveal God’s strength to us? 

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2 Cor 12:9)

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Cor 12:10, emphasis added)

For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.  (2 Cor 13:4)

Whenever we are weak in an area, it presents an opportunity for God’s strength to be discovered by us.  Our weaknesses, when exposed and humbly given to God, invite God’s love and strength to work powerfully in our situations.

Our weaknesses help us to see that there isn’t much that we can do in ourselves and by ourselves.  We comprehend our utter helplessness.  Problems and weaknesses compel us to turn to the true source of ALL help and power:  to the Lord Jesus Christ.  We must learn to rely upon God’s grace and mercy, both of which are abundantly available to us according to the Word of God.

In times of need, trial, or crisis, we reach a point where we are ready and willing to yield to God’s will in our lives.  Praise God!  As the Scriptures shown at the top of this article demonstrate, God is ready and able to meet our needs and to help us.  And when He does, it is a testimony to His love and mercy.

He loves to bless us and to solve our problems because He loves us.  (Joh 3:16; 1 Joh 4:19; Ps 37:40; 46:1; 63:7)

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  (Rom 8:26, emphasis added)  The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.

After we turn to the Lord and pray about our area of weakness and need, His power will flow into the situation and turn it around.  We then have gained genuine, first-hand experience of the love and mercy of God.  This, in turn, enables us to comfort and to minister to other people who are in similar situations.  (2 Cor 1:4)  It also deepens and matures our faith.

Rejoice in the strength and power of God that is available to you!

Stumble?

Stumble?

Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.  (Ps 119:165)

What does “stumble” mean as used in the Bible? 

It means:  1) to err; to slide into a crime or an error; 2) to have a moral failing; or 3) to place a blockage in someone’s way causing them to sin.

As the verse in Psalm 119 above says, when we have the peace that Jesus has given to us and we love God’s Word, then nothing has the power to cause us to sin.  Hallelujah!

My son, let them not depart from your eyes—keep sound wisdom and discretion; 22 so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck.  23 Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. (Prov 3:21-23)

As we keep the wisdom and discretion that comes from reading and memorizing God’s Word in our hearts, those words are life itself to our souls.  They provide grace to our behavior and character; they give us strength and sure-footedness.  And they prevent us from stumbling.

He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.  (1 Joh 2:10)

When we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we live in the light where all of our actions are open to view.  And in our actions, as we live for Christ and serve the Kingdom of God, there will be nothing for someone to see as an invitation or a cause to sin.  This is just one of the many blessings that living a holy life, committed to serving Jesus Christ gives to us.  Thank You, Lord!

King of Kings

King of Kings

Back in the 70s, there was a sweet worship chorus that said, “Oh!  Let the flag fly high on the castle of my heart, for the King is in residence there.”  Since we serve Jesus who is the King of Kings, it is fitting that our hearts be portrayed as the castles where the King mercifully reigns in love and righteousness, in power and glory.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  (Mt 6:10 ESV, emphasis added)  Every kingdom has a King, and Jesus is our Redeemer King.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world …  (Mt 25:34, emphasis added)  Our King has prepared a kingdom for each one of us.

And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner …  (Ex 17:15)  The Lord Jesus is our banner:  His image is on the flag that flies high over our lives; He is our standard—the rallying point for all spiritual power and resources in battle against the forces of hell.

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”  (Isa 11:10, emphasis added)  This verifies that Jesus, a descendant of Jesse, is our banner.

The King whom we serve is filled with love and compassion; mercy for the lost and the wounded; and health and healing for those who are sick.  He is good all of the time, and His plans for us are good and give us hope and a future. (Ps 34:8; Jer 29:11)

He brings reconciliation to relationships and to families.  (Jer 31:17; Rom 5:11; 2 Cor 5:18-19)  All glory to His name.

Jesus is a King whose grace humbles us without ever demeaning us, and who exalts us without causing us to puff up with false pride or ego.  Walking in a consistent relationship with Jesus, the Lamb of God, will mature us and grow us into mercy-filled, loving servants of the Kingdom of God.  Praise the Lord!

Encourage & Build

Encourage & Build

Have you ever heard this saying?  “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”  Such a person is an ENCOURAGER!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  (1 Thes 5:11 NIV)

There are at least thirteen passages in the New Testament alone about encouragement.  Encouragement means inspiration, reassurance, and support.  Encouragement is a combination of all three.  It has great potential for fostering and advancing critical moments in a person’s, a church’s, and or a nation’s history. 

But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.  (Deu 3:28 NKJV)  As this verse in the Bible demonstrates, encouragement is able to strengthen a person’s soul (mind, will, and emotions) and help them to push ahead to accomplish their goal.  Thanks to encouragement and God’s grace, Joshua accomplished great things for God.

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.  (Acts 11:23)  This is when Barnabas visited the church at Antioch:  He supported them in their faith in God and emboldened them to continue in it.

Here is something interesting to know about Barnabas

“Barnabas” wasn’t his birth name (it was Joseph); Barnabas was his nickname meaning “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). This rather obscure Bible character was so encouraging that it became his name.” ~ Source:  https://www.leadershipresources.org/who-is-barnabas-in-the-bible-10-things-to-know.

. . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ . . .  (Col 2:2)  These words of the Apostle Paul’s are inspiration to the church of his day—as well as to us.  He is nurturing our unity, our faith in and understanding of the Gospel, and our perseverance in faith.

. . . and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith . . .  (1 Thes 3:2)  The Apostle Paul is writing from Antioch about sending Timothy to confirm, reassure and to strengthen the faith of the Thessalonian church during persecution.

As these passages reveal to us, encouragement is powerful!  It has the potential to build (develop, shape, and foster) a person’s faith in God as well as a confidence in their calling to such an extent that they are enabled to accomplish mighty deeds and to produce pivotal moments in history. 

Boldly encourage someone that you care about today.  Blessings upon you!

Check Out Your Clothes!

Check Out Your Clothes!

Do you realize that the Bible is concerned with how we clothe ourselves?  Isn’t that an interesting and provoking idea?

For example: 

  • We are invited to clothe ourselves with Christ in Romans 13:14.
  • We are instructed to dress modestly, with decency and propriety but also to clothe ourselves with good deeds in 1 Timothy 2:9-10.
  • Colossians 3:12-14 directs us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It also prompts us to put on love which is the personality trait which binds all the others together in unity.

Out of all of these instructions, the encouragement to perform good works is probably one of the most frequently mentioned.

. . . having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.  (1 Pet 2:12 NKJV, emphasis added)

. . . who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.  (Tit 2:14 NKJV, emphasis added)

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.  (Tit 3:8 NKJV, emphasis added)

The only way to truly clothe ourselves with good works and holy virtues is through the empowering and enabling grace that we receive through our ongoing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.  Walk in the “Clothing of Salvation”: 

  • The love of God,
  • The grace from God,
  • Faith in God, which is a gift from Him (Eph 2:8-9)
  • The LIFE of God, which is the indwelling Holy Spirit (Pro 12:28; 1 Cor 6:19)

Cling to your relationship with Jesus even as a drowning man clings to a life preserver thrown to him by rescuers.  Jesus provides new grace and strength for each new day, and He will never leave you nor fail you.  Glory to His Holy Name!

Our Need for Improvement

Our Need for Improvement

This article is a reminder for each of us to focus upon our own, individual need for improvement rather than to look around at other people’s failings. 

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  (Mt 7:3)

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  (Lk 18:11)

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  (Joh 8:7-9)

As human beings, we have a tendency to look at other people and compare ourselves to others.  Most of the time, we do that when we want to see ourselves as “not being so bad.”  Other times, we look around at the circumstances of other peoples’ lives and we feel jealous.  It is not good to compare ourselves to others; it is what the Bible would term as foolishness.

As the verses shown above demonstrate, we should never focus on other people.  (2 Cor 10:12)

Also, there are a number of Scriptures instructing us to avoid comparing ourselves.  (Exo 20:17; Mt 7:1-2; Joh 21:22)

Rather, we should focus upon Jesus Christ and yearn to follow in His footsteps.  As we focus upon Christ, He will shower us with His love and encouragement.  He will give us a purpose and a plan for our lives, as well as all of the grace and mercy that we will ever need to fulfill that plan.  (Jer 29:11; 32:19; Pro 16:4; 19:21; 1 Cor 2:9)

Let us trust the Lord Jesus to transform us in His own way, in His own time.  We are His workmanship, and He will see the work through to its completion.  (Eph 2:10; Phil 1:6)  Just trust Him and trust His plan for you!  God bless you.

Narrow is the Gate

Narrow is the Gate

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  (Mt 7:13-14)

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”  (Mt 22:14)

. . . strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”  (Act 14:22)

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  (Joh 15:18-20)

The term “narrow gate” conveys its meaning rather well.  A narrow gate allows the entry of fewer people at one time, than does a wide gate.  A narrow gate doesn’t allow a person who is heavily burdened with packages to get through very easily.

When Jesus said, “Narrow is the way which leads to life . . . “ He was pointing out that the Christian walk is not as easy as it may seem.  Jesus was warning people that following Him would lead to grief and to serious challenges of life. 

“Difficult” is from the Greek word thlibo, which means: “To press (as grapes), press hard upon; a compressed way; narrow straitened, contracted” way (New Testament Greek Lexicon, http://www.biblestudytools.com).

As Christians, we must continuously keep our eyes on the goal of spending eternity with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  In John 15:18-20, Jesus tells His followers that the world will hate them even as it hated Him.  And since Jesus was persecuted, we should expect the same treatment. 

These are tough realities and truths that Jesus was setting before everyone who chooses to follow Him.  However, no one will be able to say that they haven’t been told the entire truth about following Jesus. 

Jesus loves us and wants us to follow Him; and He pours out His love, mercy, and grace upon us to empower us to do just that.  We must remember to add our own willpower and determination to this endeavor by choosing continuously to persist in following Jesus Christ.  Let’s glorify the Lord throughout our lives.