Archive for February, 2017

Two-Sided Salvation – part 7

On the one side, the unsaved side, we are mercilessly buffeted by temptations that attempt to entice us to transgress against God. These temptations are not some kind of God test:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). James 1:13 ,14. AMP

Temptation is what Satan beguiles you with, hoping that you will fulfill the desires of your flesh:

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 Jn. 3:8 NKJV

The devil speaks, many times we listen and then make the free-will decision to act upon his suggestions. Ultimately, it’s our own fault.

So, what about when you reach the side of salvation? Unfortunately, the temptations persist. And the patterns can remain the same – in spite of our best intentions. Look at what the apostle Paul (who was Holy Spirit-inspired to write most of the New Testament) had to say about his own struggles:

We know that the Law is spiritual, but I am a creature of the flesh [worldly, self-reliant – carnal and unspiritual], sold into slavery to sin [and serving under its control]. For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness – my sinful capacity]. Rm. 7:14, 15. AMP

Paul is saying that regardless of what he knows to be right spiritually, he still yields to the weakness of his flesh, and sins. Why? When we are saved, our spirit is perfected in our union with God. With regards to our flesh, we are still humans being perfected. (2 Cor. 3;18) Even those who are saved will continue to sin:

“…there is no one who does not sin…” 2 Chr. 6:36

And unrepentant sin leads to death (James 1:15), but those who have received the salvation of God through Christ, are blessed with an entirely different outcome. First, lets return to the struggles of the apostle Paul, knowing that this mighty man of God had to fight the same battles that we do:

Now if I habitually do what I do not want to do, [that means] I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good (morally excellent). So now [if that is the case, then] it is no longer I who do it [the disobedient thing which I despise], but the sin [nature] which lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness – my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good is present in me, but the doing of good is not. For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it [that is, it is not me that acts], but the sin [nature] which lives in me. Rm. 7:16 – 20. AMP

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Rm. 7:21 – 25. ESV

As we’ve seen, salvation (on this earth) involves the cleansing (sanctification and justification) of our spirits. Our flesh is a burden that we must contend with until the final (heavenly) realization of our deliverance – when our bodies are transformed and transcendent over their former state:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raise in glory. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:42 – 44. NKJV

Wow. But until then, we must struggle with our flesh while cultivating our spirit. Cultivating our spirit consists of continually immersing ourselves in the word of God and reminding ourselves of the sacrifice of the Father and of the Son for our salvation and of the magnitude or their love and the changes that it makes in our lives. We honor that by living as Christ lived to the best of our ability.

We were created to be free from the clutches of the world and of the puppeteer (Satan) who is pulling the strings in the shadows of it. In our redemption, we are given an unction to see the world through the eyes of God, knowing the difference between good and evil and the connection between our actions and their consequences.

Our minds must be renewed in Christ daily:

…regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit to your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God you gratitude for your salvation]. Eph. 4:22 – 24. AMP

That way we remain present to our actions, able to guide them as best we can. The holds true for our emotions, embracing them to understand them instead of letting our old unconscious hurts drive our conduct. We understand that our thoughts and actions also affect everyone around us; and when those actions are based in love and compassion there will be less suffering and more joy.

Whatever happened in the past is in the past. God has renewed you in your redemption; given you a new lease on life. There is no one to blame anymore, no grudges to hold, no sorrow to harbor. Let everything go. You have everything you need to be happy right now. Focus on that.

Christ has set you free. (Jn. 8:36) Always be honest with yourself with regards to what you think or do, so that you walk in truth and give up self-condemnation – doing your best to curb your old ways of being:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Rm. 8:1 – 4. NASB

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Rm. 8:10, 11. NASB

God’s love for you never waivers, regardless of what side of salvation you are on. However, once you pray for your redemption, you are now living under God’s gracious approval, crossing the open gate to His presence forever.

Oh, you will still fall down from time to time. That ball and chain that is your flesh can weigh you down at times, and sometimes you’ll give in. But now, you are practicing awareness. Instead of burying these mistakes and have them eat away at you, you can go to your Father on your knees in confession and repentance, and you will have access to the forgiveness of your deliverance.

You can pare down the frequency of these ‘falls,’ by relying on Christ when you feel temptations coming your way:

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to HIs word – He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and[ will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy]. 1 Cor. 10:13 AMP

Also, you can evaluate your intended deed against the word of Christ before you leap. As you apply more of Jesus in your life, your desire to partake in worldly behavior will decrease. You become more of your real self and less of that one that took on the ways of the world.

God has already accepted you. You cannot earn your way to redemption. Neither can you lose it unless your sinning becomes chronically and rebelliously willful; but it will never happen because of your human frailty. That’s why God offers you salvation in the first place. You can’t do it on your own. He pardons you with the gift of His love. In Christ, He loves the sinners and reaches out to pluck them from their deathly predicaments:

…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners… 1 Tim. 1:15 NASB

God encourages us to come to Him just as we are, so that we can get all our sin-debts wiped off of His Book of Life, leaving only a Christ-purified signature of permanent membership. When we do that with faith in what the gospel says, absolution is guaranteed.

Salvation is already set up for everyone. Your sins have already been forgiven. God is just waiting for you to bring your faith in that it is done (through Christ), and for you to receive it with thanksgiving…

Goodnight and God bless.

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February 23 2017 | experiencing god's love | 2 Comments »

Two-Sided Salvation – part 6

Often, those who reside on the side of life prior to salvation are plagued with faithlessness. Why? Many of us are raised in this world with a ‘scientific’ viewpoint; i.e. ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ Yet a plethora of the population believes in the ‘Big Bang,’ while not ever contemplating that it takes some kind of ‘faith’ to believe that the universe and how we got here was resulted from a series of random events.

Many take for granted that every time they flip the light switch, illumination will result – even though electricity, for the most part, cannot be seen.

Lack of faith can produce several deleterious results. For example, what if you don’t have faith in a hereafter? If you haven’t noticed, this life flashes by in heartbeat. Moreover, it is chock-full of trials and tribulations, with no true path for navigating them or rising above them. To make matters worse, the world’s concepts of happiness yield fleeting results at best. Contentedness is a rare commodity.

What if you don’t have faith in love? It’s hard to possess sometimes, given the inherent shortcomings of our humanity. We can’t trust most people to put other’s welfare above their own. And again, the world provides so many destructive paths that lead to failure in love.

If you don’t have faith in yourself, life will be doubly hard. Life keeps coming at you whether or not you are prepared to weather it. If you don’t know how, you’ll view yourself as weak, flawed and unacceptable. Hardly fertile ground for growing relationships. Instead, you can find yourself in isolation, depression and subsequently suffering from all the self-destructive activities one dives into to suppress them.

If you don’t have faith in God, who then are you going to turn to deliver you out of this mess?

That’s where salvation comes in. God has been waiting for you since before your first day of life on this earth, yearning for your return to His original purpose for you:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved (Jesus). Eph. 1:3 – 6. NKJV

God had every intention of delivering you from the world and its ways and its consequences. He built it into your path. And the gate to the path is Christ:

In Him we have redemption [that is, our deliverance and salvation] through His blood, [which paid the penalty of our sin and resulted in] the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin, in accordance with the richness of His grace which He lavished on us. in all wisdom and understanding [with practical insight], He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ, with regard to the fulfillment of the times [that is, the end of history, the climax of the ages] – to bring all things together in Christ, [both] things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have received an inheritance [a destiny – we were claimed by God as His own], having been predestined (chosen, appointed beforehand) according to the purpose of Him who works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him as our Lord and Savior] would exist to the praise of His glory. Eph. 1:7 – 12. AMP

So, God wants to draw you to Himself but He cannot do so unless you are holy (sinless). Can we of ourselves come into His presence in that state?

…for there is no one who does not sin… 1 Kings 8:46 NKJV

But we are all like an unclean thing, and all of our righteousnesses are like filthy rags… Is. 64:6 NKJV

Thus, not only are we sinful, our best efforts to atone for them are for naught. But praise be to God, you can see that He has made us ’acceptable’ in His grace through the blood of Christ that pays the price for our transgressions and gathers us into His love for eternity. That is the gospel message, that is salvation.

Notice though the last line of the scripture, we who were the first to hope in Christ; (emphasis mine). ‘Hope’ equates with ‘faith.’ If you have no faith in Christ, who He is, what He’s done and His gospel, you will have no salvation. The consequence is that at the end of time, you will be placed into the category of what Jesus says are ‘goats’ that He gathers in HIs left hand:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 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’…Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’ “… Mt. 23:31 – 34 & 41. NKJV

Doesn’t sound like a great outcome for those goats.

Bottom line: it takes faith to receive salvation. So, what is faith?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11:1 NASB

Faith is the hope in things that are not tangible to our five senses. And faith is required to have a relationship with God:

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and act He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. Heb. 11:6 AMP

We can’t even approach God without some measure of faith. When we possess that faith, the love of God confers upon us our salvation – totally by His doing, not by any efforts of our own:

For we hold that a man is justified and made upright by faith independent and distinctly apart from good deeds (works of the Law). Rm. 3:28 AMP

The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled (completed), and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (have a change of mind which issues in regret for past sins and in change of conduct or the better) and believe (trust in, rely on, and adhere to) the good news (the Gospel). Mk. 1:15 AMP

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” Jn. 5:24 NASB

It’s all about the faith, because if you don’t have it, you cannot be delivered from that stain of worldly dross:

“…if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Jn. 8:24 NKJV

We need the faith, but how do we get it? That’s the best part!

…God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Rm. 12:3 NASB

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… Gal. 5:22 ESV

…let us with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. ESV

So faith comes from hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ. Rm. 10:17 AMP

Thus, God gives us a free gift of faith that He created through His Son, which is delivered by the Holy Spirit and nurtured and strengthened when we immerse ourselves in the hearing of the gospel.

God never leaves us hanging. Once, Jesus came upon a boy that was suffering from demon-induced epileptic seizures. The boy’s father asked Christ to cure the him if He was able. Jesus replied:

“All things are possible for one who believes.” Mk. 9:23 ESV

The father immediately responds, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mk. 9:24 ESV

And Jesus healed the boy.

So, not only do you receive divine faith when you ask for it, Jesus makes sure you have enough.

Have faith.

Goodnight and God bless.

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February 18 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Two-Sided Salvation – part 5

The side of the state of man that is ‘unsaved’ is often accompanied by fear. Fear is not a natural state. We have to be indoctrinated to feel afraid, to reflect the mindset of an anxious world. It is our most formidable defense mechanism.

However, what is it defending us from? Pain. It is a pain that we seek to avoid at all costs. Fear tells us, ‘It’s coming! Run!’ Yet most of the time, what it is that we are running from is some imaginary thing we think might happen.

Fear keeps you from being still and facing the truth. It is not a helper; it’s a killer – often inflicting its host with anxiety, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Fear is the sum result of childhood conditioning which impresses upon you a sense being inadequate with regards to living life. It’s a state being immensely overwhelmed by false beliefs.

When you are in that state, you can never plant your feet firmly in reality, in the present moment, because you are always running away in your mind. Some people even try to hide in their ‘spiritual’ pursuits, paying attention to their rituals rather than opening themselves up for the transformation of the Holy Spirit.

There are many other distractions and addictions that we use to hide as well; but this robs us of the ability to see what we are truly up to, to stop and notice if fear is working for us. Not! When we let fear reign, we steep in denial regarding the innate goodness that God has molded into us. Often, we are given into despair.

The three primary fears are: the fear of death, of abandonment and of impermanence (change). The fear of death grows from a fear of the unknown, abandonment from a belief of being unacceptable, and change from a deep desire to be in control.

The answer to beating fear is the answer to living life. We need to hop over the fence to the side of salvation in order to connect to God through Christ. God has always been in control; we just have to connect with Him and He will make your life blossom by guiding you on the path that He gave you at birth:

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. Pr. 3:5 – 7. NKJV

Ask Him to examine your soul and untie all the knots that you fettered yourself with. He’ll do that by revealing the truth of the wonder that you are, as well as expose the lies that you had heretofore believed in:

The spirit (conscience) of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching and examining all the innermost parts of his being. Pr. 20:27 AMP

God tells you that fear has nothing to offer you:

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high. Pr. 29:25 AMP

How many fears will God remove?

I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Ps. 34:4 NASB

All of them.

You don’t have to fear other people (which usually is a product of misunderstanding through poor communication. Indeed, you may only be reacting to the other person’s fear of you, because they haven’t seen God show up in your behavior):

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Ps. 56:3, 4. NASB

You don’t have to be afraid of evil. Christ did not come to tell us how be victorious over the satanic machinations in the world. He’s already doing the work. He just wants you to stay connected to Him:

Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have already defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He who lives in you is greater (mightier) that he who is in the world. 1 Jn. 4:4 AMP

You can also put your past behind you because the blood of Christ has cleansed you of all transgressions, and you can now focus on the newfound love in your heart:

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Is. 43:18, 19. AMP

Being saved, you will now look forward to change. Why? It’s because you will now be connected to the only source of stability:

“For I am the LORD, I do not change…” Mal. 3:6 NKJV

And, you can take it to the bank that every change you will experience will be one that is sanctioned by God to bring you to the next step in your highest and best life.

Finally, the greatest perk of salvation is that you need not fear death any longer:

“Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.” Rv. 21:3, 4. NKJV

Praise God for His salvation!

Goodnight and God bless.

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February 09 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Two-Sided Salvation – part 4

Speaking of life before and after salvation…

In our unsaved state, we are totally attached to ourselves – especially with regards to how we perceive that others see us. This attachment is based upon an obsession with our past or anxiety over our future, all of which is centered around a belief of being ‘unacceptable,’ due to some association with a past experience.

Something we did or that was done to us has led to a belief that we are undesirable for relationships and that we must be someone other than ourselves to ‘measure up.’ Thus, we get trussed up by our efforts to do the impossible, which keeps us locked out of the present moment – the only timeframe where happiness and acceptance can be found.

In our makings of this despair, we see ourselves as being separate from the rest of the humanity. This feeling of ‘not belonging’ leads to anger, fear and jealousy – all of which promotes suffering. Consequently, we live life in a series of hurtful knee-jerk reactions and thoughts (blaming others and our situations) that perpetuate this misery. All the while, the life that God meant for us to have, passes us by.

We are alienated from our spirit, trapped in this false self. When we are self-absorbed, we join in with most of the rest of the world who flounder, stumble and wrestle in futile attempts to find peace and happiness by chasing after the yearnings of the flesh.

You are imposing your will upon your spirit and on others, rather than yielding to the will of God.

None of this is what God wants for you or does your opinion of yourself reflect how He sees you. So, how does God see you?

So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created them; male and female He created them. Gn. 1:27 AMP

Thus, God sees you as He sees Himself. Moreover, He planted Himself inside of you:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Cor. 3:16 ESV

And then He set you on your path to righteous deliverance, fully equipped to find your way:

For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained to me, when as yet there were none of them. Ps. 139:13 – 16. NASB

We were created perfectly at birth, already saved! However, once we reach the age of accountability (when the Law that God planted in our hearts manifest), our need to remove the taint of Adam’s sin becomes apparent. Yet even then, God has already planned for the reconciliation that you need to return to Him:

For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness]… Rm. 8:29 AMP

…God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 2 Th. 2:13 NASB

We see then, that God does not make mistakes. There are no flaws in His creations.

Oh, you might say, ‘What about those who are physically / mentally challenged?’  It is my personal belief that they were put here to inspire us as they overcome their differences, or to help us learn to plant the seeds of greater compassion, love, kindness and service within. Regardless, I believe that after their transient life on this earth is done, their heavenly selves will be exceptional beyond our imagination.

His kingdom is for everyone. God accepts us all.

What He cannot accept is sinful thoughts and actions; but praise God, that’s where salvation comes in:

…in every nation the person who fears God and does what is right [by seeking Him] is acceptable and welcomed by Him. Acts 10:35 AMP

When you come to Jesus for salvation, your old sin self is removed as you receive the covering of Christ’s righteousness:

But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor. 6:11 NKJV

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Eph. 1:7, 8. NASB

Therefore if any person is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. 2 Cor. 5:17 AMP

Jesus has done the work, not you! You are freed by grace. And what does God do?

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Ps. 103:12 NKJV

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” Is. 43:25 NKJV

So, if God accepts you, who are you not to? You are exactly how God created you to be – a soldier for the kingdom to complete His will as only you can. If God accepts us as we are, there is no perfection that we must strive for. He’s done it already! All that is required is for you to have faith that it is complete.

It doesn’t mean that you won’t screw up from time to time. You will. God’s love and acceptance is never conditional. He always stands ready for you to come back to Him to love you through your repentance so that He can restore your place in His presence.

Even when God’s Law convicts us, we can rely upon and embrace Christ’s gospel salvation that removes all transgressions from our goodness.

Finally consider the immeasurable love of God who cleanses us from our sins yet uses those that have committed them to spread the love and grace of His salvation to the hopeless and lost.

God is good…

Goodnight and God bless.

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February 04 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »