You’re Going to be Perfect

Some days just don’t go well.paragraph spacer for WordPress
Do you have days when it seems like you’re not getting anywhere in becoming a better Christian? Days when you feel like a failure? When you’ve blown it and you know it? I know I do.
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Being a Christian is not for wimps.paragraph spacer for WordPress
If you’re serious about living for God and want to experience real spiritual growth, if you want to see evidence in your life that you are becoming more like Jesus Christ, you’re on a hard road. Some preachers and/or soul winners, in their enthusiasm to win souls, have said or implied something like: “come to Jesus and your troubles will be over.”
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That’s not really true. Jesus predicted persecution for believers. Paul warned in his epistle to Timothy: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” ( 2 Timothy 3:12). We’re still in enemy territory here on this earth. You can expect oppostion from without. And you can expect opposition from within.
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God knows about all this.paragraph spacer for WordPress
Let’s focus on opposition from within because that’s trickier than oppostion from without. God has a brilliant plan of salvation that answers all our needs.
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For example, He knew we would have a battle with sin. He knew we would not be born again and never sin again, of course. So in 1 John 1:9 we read: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NASB)
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Also, God knew that we were not going to be able to perfect ourselves by our own efforts, not even with psychology’s clever self-help strategies, because they wouldn’t make us holy, truly good. So He put Jesus Christ within via His Holy Spirit us like an all-powerful divine seed that will grow, so that eventually we will all be like Jesus. That’s why the Scripture can say with certainly that someday He will set us before Himself, His prefect bride…paragraph spacer for WordPress
That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Ephe. 5:27, NASB).
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Because, guess what? paragraph spacer for WordPress
Jesus within you will not fail to bring you to spiritual maturity. Because God wants us the way He wants us, and that is like Jesus Christ (Ephe. 4:13). And when God wants something, sooner or later, He’s going to have it. After all, He is God.
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So be encouraged. paragraph spacer for WordPress
Don ‘t give up the struggle. Keep trusting God that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6, NASB). “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling;  for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b-13, NASB). 
How do you do that?paragraph spacer for WordPress
How do you work out your salvation? paragraph spacer for WordPress
  1. By living by faith daily, actively trusting God to bring about the growth we all desire (Gal. 2:20; Hebrews 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:7). paragraph spacer for WordPress
  2. By walking with God (Ge. 5:24; Heb. 11:5) , praying constantly (Ephe. 6:18; 1 Thess 5:17), abiding in the Lord Jesus, reminding yourself all the time that He is your source of strength (John 15:5). paragraph spacer for WordPress
  3. And by doing all the other things you know God wants you to do–only being careful to do them all in faith, not trying to “produce” your growth, but  knowing all the while that it is God’s power that gets the job done.paragraph spacer for WordPress

So remember, deal with today’s challenges, firm in your hope that God is at work in you and that He will not fail to make you totally pleasing in His sight…

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy (Jude 1:24, NASB).

What do you do to cooperate with God in becoming more like Jesus Christ?

Ephesians 6:10-12 How do we get real Strength?

6:10  Finally (literally: for the rest, that is of this epistle), be yourselves continually empowered in the Lord and in the strength (or power) of His might (or ability, force),

Paul is heading toward the end of his epistle, and here he focuses on a vital aspect of spiritual living in this world. Our need for God’s strength.

What is the source of  ultimate strength?

This is an age of the individual and self-esteem. And an aspect or side-effect of that cultural emphasis that can affect us all is self-reliance and pride of accomplishment. Taken to extreme this is self-glorification that forgets to give God the credit He is due.

Accomplishments and progress are good.

On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with feeling good about accomplishments and progress. Just be on your guard that it does not lapse into ego when we yield to the ever-present temptation to think we are better than others.  Follow the Scripture: Galatians 6:4 “But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another” (NASB). In other words, if you feel a need to compare, compare how you’re doing now with how you were doing before. It’s wise not to compare yourself with other people.

But give God the credit for all that is good.

On the other hand, what’s essential is to actually live in the awareness that all our accomplishments and good qualities trace right back to the God who made us. He deserves the praise, the glory, the credit. It’s a key ingredient to thanksgiving and gratitude.

What is Paul’s inspired advice for walking in that strength. That’s next…

6:11  Put on (clothe yourselves with) the full armor of God so that you may be strengthened to stand against the schemes (methods, crafts, deceits) of the devil;

He says we should clothe ourselves with God’s armor. It has been pointed out by many that this armor is mainly defensive (with one exception–more on this later).

Why do we need armor?

Because we need it to shield us from the devil’s temptations, which are constant. If we seek to arm ourselves with our willpower alone, we will fail. Only God’s strength alone can assure our victory. And…

6:12  Because our struggle (fight, contest) is not against blood and flesh but against the rules, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spirits (or, spiritual beings) of evil in the heavenlies.

How do we do battle with the evil so evident in this world, with temptation, with evil forces including the devil: Prayer, action, and words. And those words can include faith declarations. On the latter, faith declarations, recall Jesus words: “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” (Mark 11:23, NASB). Jesus’s challenge in this verse could be loosely considered a prayer, but technically it’s more of a declaration, and it takes faith. We have authority in Jesus Christ as his followers.

Would that we had the faith to do great things for Him here and now.

Also, it’s vital to see in this verse that we are greatly mistaken when we blame others for our problems or see them as an evil to be conquered. Certainly there is a necessity for the punishment of crime, but that is a governmental function, not a Christian duty. The force behind all evil is the devil and his helpers. Those are the blame-worthy parties when it comes to our struggle against evil, both done by others and by ourselves. I will even go so far as to say that it is a mistake to try to punish ourselves for our sinful acts. Our duty is to confess those acts and let God take care of them and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).

We waste our time battling humans, not to mention the harm we can do.

The real culprit is the devil in the spiritual realm. Hating others is wrong, Anger is not encouraged in our Bible teaching. Anger is tricky, volatile, and can all-too-easily go too far. Better to take to heart the fact that the wrongs others do to us do indeed have their source in the spiritual realm.

Now a word of caution.

Actually this is from C. S. Lewis’s writing. He advises us be aware of evil spirits but not to be preoccupied with them, which can be emotionally unhealthy. But I strongly advise that you not yield to the temptation to be “politically correct” and let yourself be swayed by the current derision or contempt for the truth of the existence of demons and even Satan himself. To do so is to deny the truth about them contained in our Bible.

So how do we put on that armor, gain that strength of the Lord?

By faith, by believing we already have it, for one thing. Also by being filled with the Holy Spirit, by walking in fellowship with the Lord, making our lives shared lives, meaning ongoing, active friendship with God and with each other.

The verses coming up in the next post get into the specifics of what that armor consists of–good descriptions to focus on for living by faith.

Meanwhile,

Do you feel that you are walking in the power of God, in the strength of His might? 1 Corinthians 3:3 implies that we should be living not as mere human beings.

 

Ephesians Chapter 3:

Here’s a “paraphrased-content-summary” of Ephesians chapter 3.

Use it, if you like, to review the contents and teaching re this chapter quickly.

(3:1-) Because of this, I Paul the captive of Christ Jesus for you the Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of my stewardship of the grace of God  which has been given to me for you, that according to the revelation of the mystery made known to me –just as I wrote before in brief—you are currently able to recognize (by reading) my understanding which flows together within the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of me, as it is now revealed to the saints by His apostles and prophets in spirit…

 

 

(3:5) which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.

3:6  That the Gentiles are now joint heirs and joint members [of the Body of Christ], and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel,

 

 

(3:7) of which I was made a minister (or servant), according to the gift of God’s grace given to me according to the energizing work of His power.

 

 

 

3:8 To me, the least of all the saints, was given this grace to preach to the Gentiles the riches of Christ that cannot be searched out (fully explored),

 

 

3:9 and to bring to light what is the management of the mystery which for ages has been concealed in God who created all things; 3:10  in order that the multicolored wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places—

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11 in accordance with the purpose of the ages which He accomplished in  Christ Jesus our Lord,

 

 

3: 12 in whom we have bold and confident courage and access through His faith.

 

3:13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, which is your glory.

 

 

3:14 Because of this grace I am currently bending my knees to the Father,

 

 

3:15 out of whom (as source) every family in heaven and on earth is being named,

 

 

 

(3:16) in order that He might, according to the riches of His glory, give you the gift of being strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man, (3:17)  so that Christ may thoroughly settle down within your hearts through faith; and that you–in love (His) having  been planted and given a lasting foundation there—

 

(3:18) in order that you may have strength enough to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

 (3:19) and as a consequence to know in your experience the love of Christ which transcends way beyond knowledge, in order that you may be filled up into having all the fullness of God.

(3:20) Now to the One who is constantly able to do all things super-abundantly beyond what we are asking or thinking, according to the power that is itself working within us,

(3:21)  to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus extending into all generations of the ages of the ages. Amen.

 

Claim His Promises!

More of God in Your Life (Part 1)
Would you like to have a closer walk with God? Would you like to have the peace that God is with you and will see you through whatever difficulty comes your way?
 
One of the ways is to claim His promises.
If you’re like me, it’s all too easy to wait until I am facing trouble in my life to claim those promises. Then I exercise faith. Then I desperately cling to them.
But God wants us to walk by faith all the time, doesn’t He? 
The Bible is filled with His promises. Great Bible treachers have told us to take those promises and write our name in them. Because we can claim them–all the way through the Bible. The Bible was written for us and to us.
Bible teacher Kay Arthur in her book on prayer advises us to “pray the promises.”
There’s a lovely story in the New Testament…
it can dramatize for us some important points about God’s promises and about believing His Word.
During her pregnancy, Mary the mother of Jesus, visited her relative Elilzabeth (the wife of Zachariah and the mother of John the Baptist).
Here it is (Luke, chapater 1):
39 Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, “Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.
45“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
We are blessed when we believe God’s promises. 
When the angel announced God’s Word to her, Mary believed and humbly submitted to God’s will. Elizabeth who was filled with the Holy Spirit tells Mary that she is blessed because she believed God’s Word to her, the promise that the angel told her.
And that says so much about prayer.  Praying with faith. That says so much about living our lives right here, right now, on this earth. Living by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. (Galatians 2:20).
We too will be blessed when we live by God’s promises and His Word.
The story continues with Mary’s beautiful hymn of  faith:
46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50 “AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. 51“He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53 “HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54“He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his offspring forever.” (NASB) Luke 1:39-55
Listen to the faith expressed in those words. To me, one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture. Mary is clinging to the promises of God–with joy. That in spite of the potentially embarassing circumstance of being pregnant before her marriage to Joseph. She just flows with promises.
We do not see Mary struggling.
She doesn’t sound desperate, does she?  She’s not fighting to believe, struggling with doubts. She is resting in God’s promises, including the one made directly to her personally. She simply, humbly accepted His Word. She chose it obediently. She chose to believe. Faith, the gift of the ability to believe, is closely tied to obedience. Being willing to trust God and to act on that belief. And at this point in her life, Mary is continuing to believe.
 We can strengthen our faith by speaking God’s promises. Yes, out loud.
And when God promises something…
He is placing His holy reputation on the line. His reputation before His holy angels and the vast throng of believers in heaven with Him. He’s saying you can trust Me, You can trust My Word, you can trust Me to do the right thing, just like I promise.
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.  ISAIAH 55:11
His Word, His promises, God fulfills them. We can trust Him: This is the basis of faith: God’s trustfulness, His truthfulness, His love.
Here’s a promise you and I can claim every time we pick up our Bibles to read:
“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NASB)
Have you had an experience when you held onto one of God’s promises and He came through for you?

Let Jesus Answer the Door

Do you struggle with temptation or fear or with just serving the Lord?

Would you like to find a break through to more dynamic Christian living, a deeper and closer walk with the Lord Jesus? I certainly want that. About a month ago I was reading J. W. Phillips’ excellent book Pursuing a Divine Life in Chapter 12 “Getting God’s Grace,” when I read on page 210 a quotation from John Hunter’s book Limiting God:

… my daily Christian life is a moment by moment experience of receiving Christ. Whatever problem, fear, anxiety, temptation, or frustration comes into my life, it isn’t my job to meet it. My job is to expose the whole situation to Christ Jesus the Lord, and then to walk believing that what he has promised he will also perform.

Every believer has Jesus Christ within, dwelling there permanently via the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote it eloquently:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20, NASB).

Jesus Christ within us is a powerful force.

Paul explains in this verse that he died with Christ (when He was crucified, see Romans 6), and now Jesus lives within him. So that the life Paul was living he was living by faith in Jesus the Son of God. He drew his strength, not from himself, his old man, or his flesh. He placed no confidence in himself but looked to Jesus for the power to live for Him (Hebrews 12:2; John 15:5). I decided to try it out. So the next time one of the old familiar temptations came against me, I remembered this teaching, and I prayed, “Lord Jesus, I can’t resist this on my own. I’m asking you to face this temptation for me.” Of course, I have to choose not to yield to that temptation; it is my choice and responsibiility, but my faith is in the Lord Jesus, not myself. By faith I draw on the power of Jesus Christ to choose to turn decisively from it. In my faith I am looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Death to Temptation

Right after that, that potent temptation lost its power, like a popped balloon losing its air. It was dead. Since that victory over a difficult temptation, I have been praying that prayer in so many words whenever I know I am approaching a situation when the temptation is likely to occur. Again success! That He may be All I had previously read a similar point in F. J. Huegel’s also excellent book Forever Triumphant (on page 55):

To the degree in which it is not I, but Christ, will the Christian be swept along by the heavenly stream of victory…Victory means a day-by-day and a moment-by-moment life of full surrender and obedience to Christ, a willingness to be nothing, that He may be All…

Andrew Murray agrees. He once wrote

A believer can encounter and strive against sin in two ways. One is to endeavor to ward it off with all his might, seeing his strength in the Word and in prayer. In this form of conflict, we use the power of the will. The other is to turn at the very moment of temptation to the Lord Jesus in the silent exercise of faith and say to him: “Lord, I have no strength. You are my keeper.” This is the method of faith. (In Search of Spiritual Excellence, page 88.)

What a blessing! “…by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption…” (Corinthians 1:30, NASB).  He is all that and much more, and He is in us right now, just as we are in Him right now (Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17). And we can, at any moment, by faith draw on His power, His grace, His help–and He will go to bat for us.

So when temptation comes knocking…

I ask Jesus to answer the door.

Have you had or come across insights that brought break-throughs in your life?

Mentor, Tour Guide, and Confidant

Do you want more of God in your life?

Has life been difficult?

There is an easier way to live.

It depends on how you see God.

I’ve spent a lot of years learning how to write and how to paint, mainly watercolors. And I’ve wanted to pass on that knowledge to others, particuarly my grandchildren. And I have been able to at times, thankfully.

My thinking is that if I could just inspire them to find something they want to get good at and work hard at developing the skill, acquiring the knowledge, they could be really great at it by the time they made it to adulthood.  In other words, I want to mentor them. And I have at times.

But I would never want to force them to follow my advice. Instead, I want them to see the wisdom of it and choose to follow it, even dedicate themselves to following that sort of pathway, if they will.

Although God wants to be much more to us, He does want to mentor us.

Let’s say I came into some money and decide I want to take a vacation in France. Now I’ve never been there, so I decide that having a tour guide would be a good idea. That way I could have on hand some help in choosing the best spots to visit or even spend time at. I could avoid unsafe areas.

Also that guide could also fill me in with background information on places visited, maybe even some of the relevant history, as well as provide reliable directions and advice to make my stay as fulfilling as possible.

Advice I’m free to choose to follow or not.

Although its a very imperfect analogy, the Holy Spirit wants to be our tour guide.

Everyone needs a friend, someone to talk to, confide in, someone you can trust totally and who knows you and understands you. Someone you like to spend time with, fellowship with, enjoy being with.

Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24, NASB). By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Hebrews 11:5, NASB).

Abraham was God’s friend (Isaiah 41:8).

David wrote those beautiful Psalms, some of them at least, while alone with God, shepherding those sheep, and at other times. He walked with God, had faith in God.

Incredibly, astoundingly, God wants to be your friend.

How do you see God?

Suffering and Rejoicing

Are you in the midst of a trial? Stress? Anxiety? The temptation to give into fear, maybe even despair?

Trouble is always tough. Suffering is never easy. It tempts us to ask, “Why? Why me? Why is this necessary?”

But there is a key way to respond to such trying times: When we learn to regard difficulties and suffering as precious—as crazy as that sounds—the way is cleared for us to move on with God and become more like Jesus. That is spiritual progress, that is growth toward maturity.

Let’s look at a passage in the Bible spells this out very clearly: 1 Peter 1:3-9

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

“Hope” comes with being born again and the belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. That hope clings to the understanding of what we will be and what we are becoming right now. In the future we will have bodies like Jesus’ resurrected body. Right now we are undergoing a process—God the Holy Spirit is working in us to make us like Jesus Christ in our souls (also called sanctification).

4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The inheritance is the goal

As a result of the completion of our salvation—the whole process, being born again, made like Christ and given a body like His—we will receive an inheritance. And that inheritance will make anything in this life currently here on earth, any worldly thing we hold precious here and now, in comparison look pitifully weak and unimportant. We will wonder why we thought it all was so important and vital to us and our happiness. Our inheritance will be eternal; it will not perish, dwindle away or become in any way less wonderful. It will be pure and holy. That inheritance is reserved in heaven for us—where our real life is (Col. 3:3).

Meanwhile, God’s power protects us

And for now, we are protected by God’s unlimited power through our ongoing faith in Him with the full unveiling of our salvation in the future, “in the last time.”

It’s never easy to go through troubles and suffering. Yet, in the midst of it all and in spite of it all, God protects us through our connection with Him, which is our faith, our belief in Jesus, our trust in God.

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

A most beautiful expression of faith is to be able to rejoice in the midst of suffering and trials. It goes against reason and worldly “wisdom” to do that.

7 that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Metal workers have their reasons

There are two reasons that metal workers put gold in a furnace of fire: (1) to test it and show its quality and (2) to refine, purify it. (from MacLaren’s Commentary, Expositions of  Holy Scriptures, 1 Peter 1:7).

But it just doesn’t make sense!

Why, then, is this illogical rejoicing possible? It is possible when, by faith, you realize that trials and suffering are indeed precious because that very faith, as feeble as it may seem to be to you and me in the heat of such a battle, is being perfected, refined. And when your faith has be revealed by the trial to be genuine with God’s seal of approval on it, you will indeed see it as more precious that the purest gold.

8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (NASB 1977 edition)

And we have, too, this promise:

“10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10, NASB).

May we all be forewarned. Troubles will come.

But may we also be prepared to give glory to God…

…by trusting Him in the midst of it all and dare to rejoice–and even thank Him. That can bring “joy inexpressible and full of glory.”

Grace our Best Teacher

While on my exercise walk this am, I read and meditated on one of my 3×5 memory cards, this one Romans 6:12-14, and especially verse 14: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”

As I thought about it, I realized that grace is not only a free gift and enabling to live for God but also a “tutor.” I recalled the verses in Galatians: “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (3:23-24).

Now like a “tutor,” Grace teaches us, and salvation–all of it, justification, sanctification, glorification–comes to us in Jesus Christ, in His Grace. And it comes by faith. Even more, we learn about God through the lessons of His grace, and those lessons continue throughout life, for God is very gracious, continually gracious.

Sad when we do not realize that we are not under law but under Grace, especially when we try to earn God’s favor, try to please Him via our own efforts. Jesus Christ is our favor, and righteousness, our good standing with God, and wisdom, and faith and so much more.

And Grace is the power that enables us to “not let sin reign” (Rom. 6:12) in our mortal bodies and to enjoy serving God in the newness of life, walking a life in the power of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, beyond the way mere men walk (1 Cor. 3:3). It comes from the Grace of Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:14; 2 Cor. 9:8; Rev. 22:21). His life is power, and we come into that power through faith.

Do you know that we can experience Resurrection life now–and to an extent even in our bodies now?: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwell in you” (Rom. 8:11).

May we realize that the way to walk in victory, the way to please God, is to surrender ego to God and know that we stand by grace alone. We can get there on our own. But because Jesus is in us and we are in Him, we can get on with the challenge of becoming in our very souls like Jesus Christ. Not by working to earn it or struggling to produce His character in us, but by believing. So that we can “know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10).

May we walk the walk of faith today and every day.

When Times are Tough, Rejoice!

Are you going through a difficult time right now? Does you life seem to be nearly falling apart? Have you have a hard experience lately?

Everyone suffers.

I read somewhere once that “all people suffer.” This life is hard at times, sometimes really hard. Don’t we all ask at times, “Why me? Why, God? Why this? Why now?”

Peter wrote to people who were suffering.

The Apostle Peter wrote to Christians who were undergoing severe persecution. They must have asked those questions too. They were undergoing “fiery trials.” They were being slandered. There was the real possibility of fearful persecution from the Roman Empire. Christians were being martyred by Nero in Rome.

Peter’s epistles are a good read for tough times.

In the following verses Peter wrote some remarkable things…

1 Peter 4:12-14:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (NASB)

Rejoice!

He advises us to rejoice! Seems crazy, doesn’t it–certainly from a this-world perspective. We’ve heard the verse so many times, “All things work together for good…” (Romans 8:29), but at times that can be hard to believe.

But Peter counsels us: Don’t be surprised when difficulties come. Instead rejoice, be rejoicing even in the midst of it. Why? So on that glorious day in the future when Jesus is fully revealed, you will be able to rejoice a lot and with exaltation in the victory you obtained by your God-pleasing attitude. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12, NASB).

Believe God now.

You see, then we will be with the Lord, and we experience the blessings of those many trials, especially the ones we endured with a good attitude and with faith in God.  In fact, with Peter we will consider them precious…

More valuable than gold

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…”  (1 Peter 1:6-9, NASB)

More precious than gold refined by fire. That’s a strong statement. How would you like to have a chest full of pure gold coins in your possession right now? That would be exciting, right?  Yet Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says those troubles we hate and all too often fear, are that precious.

Fit for Ministry

One last point: Just like Jesus, who went through the terrible suffering of His cross, can be touched by our troubles and weaknesses and is so able to help us (Heb. 2:18; 4:15), just like the Apostle Paul suffered a lot and yet, it fitted him for such an abundant ministry to believers then and now (Col. 1:24), so our troubles when we endure them with the best attitude (the rejoicing of faith) fit us to be a blessing to others.

And isn’t that a good definition of ministry: being a blessing to others?

I also read once that we should not “waste our sorrows.” How true. So let’s, you and I, remember that God is indeed in control, that we can indeed trust  Him, and set our hearts to do that. (1 Peter 4:19; Heb. 12:4-11.)

 

Believe in God, Daily Trust in Him

Ever wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble getting back to sleep? Or, maybe it’s late and night and troublesome thoughts make it hard for you do dose off? That happens to me, and it happened the other night.

Something was disturbing about a dream, and I woke up. My pulse was throbbing, and I knew I would be awake for a while. Pondering that dream quickly lead me to fearful thinking.

So I sought the Lord, and He brought a small section of Scripture verse to my memory:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.
(Matthew 10:29-31, NASB)

And I thought, everything about us is important to God, so much so that the hairs of our heads are numbered. That’s detail.  God even takes note when a sparrow dies. And we are much more valuable to Him than sparrows.

My next thought was that many things happen in our lives. At times I am convinced that God has a program of events for us to live through, a trouble here, something to worry about there (along with plenty of good times thrown in). But challenges for us to overcome in faith. But the key is this: God is in control.  He’s not asleep at the switch. He knows what is going on. And if He allows trouble to come, it comes only because He allows it and it is for our own good.

Whether or not trouble and events are programmed for us, scheduled to come to our attention day after day–I can’t say for sure. But I know one thing we can control: our attitude and reaction to these circumstances and thoughts.

We need to practice trusting Him in the midst of anything we experience. There may be discomfort and some suffering at times, But nothing can harm us ultimately. Our blessed future with Jesus is guaranteed. As long as we believe in Him, He has saved us, is saving us right now, and will save us in the future. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6, NASB).

We can choose to trust God. In this, our willpower, our personal freedom of choice is vital. When fears attack us, we can say “NO!” to them and reaffirm to ourselves that God is indeed there and on our side and in control. We can choose faith and believe that.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32, NASB.)

So I’m committed to fight fear, stand up to it, and choose to trust God and His Word whenever the need arises.