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Monthly Archives: August 2007

Encouragement for the Day: VIII

Hebrews 9:11-14,

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Points to Ponder:

1.  Hebrews tells us that Jesus appeared as a perfect High Priest.  What is the main job function of a Jewish High Priest?

2.  A Jewish High Priest was only allowed to enter a earthy Holy of Holies, built by man.  Jesus was and is able to enter the true Holy of Holies built by who?

3.  If the sacrifice of animals and their blood poured onto the alter of God brought forgiveness and redemption from God, what does the blood of Christ, God the Son, do?

4.  The blood of Christ delivers us out of what and into serving who?

5.  The truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection is amazing.  Jesus who is qualified fulfilled the role of the High Priest by interceding before God on your behalf.  He Himself not only interceded for you, but became your sacrifice and poured out His own blood for your forgiveness and redemption.  Once you give Christ control of your life He rescues you from dead works and makes you alive for the purpose of serving the Living God.  Have you taken this step of trusting in Christ as the Lord of your life?

Song of Response: “By His Wounds”

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2007 in Devotional

 

God Forgives!

“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.” 1 Peter 3:18

 

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Have you ever thought that you were too bad for God to forgive, too dirty for God to clean up, or you’d gone too far to ever come back to God?  I have thought all of these things at one time or another in my personal journey.  Even before I trusted in Christ I was plagued with guilt and shame at how I lived.  Since becoming a follower of Christ, I’ve struggled to accept God’s forgiveness.  If you are like me then you have thought, “If I were God I would have given up on me along time ago.”  The good news is that we aren’t God and therefore, God hasn’t given up on you or me.  In this article I want to help you realize afresh that God’s forgiveness is real and encourage you to trust in it.

The truth is the issue of punishment for sin was dealt with along time ago.  1 Peter 3:18, tells us that Christ suffered for sins once for all.  This is a powerful truth.  The penalty of all of my sins has already been paid for through the sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross.  Christ died so that I may live and that He may bring me into an eternal relationship with God.  Do you realize that the path to God is the path of forgiveness?  No person will ever stand before God accepted because they were good enough to earn God’s favor, but those who are accepted will stand before God based on His forgiveness.  Therefore God wants you to respond to His forgiveness.

The first step to responding to God’s forgiveness is to admit that you have sinned and fallen short of God’s best.  It is clear that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness when we think about the results of sin in our lives.  How many times do you have to lie before you become a liar?  How many times do you have to steal before you become a thief?  How many times do you have to kill before you become a murder?  How many times do you have to lust before you become an adulterer?  The truth is that one sin contaminates the whole life.  The goodnews is that through Christ all sin is forgiven. 

The next step to responding to God’s forgiveness is to realize that forgiveness is a promise.  In 1 John 1:9, God promises to forgive you and clean you up.  For God to not forgive someone would make God a liar.  God isn’t a lair, matter of fact the truth is your forgiveness is based on God’s unchanging character.  John tells us that since God is faithful and righteous we can trust in God’s promise to forgive and cleanse us.  Let me illustrate what it means to forgive and cleanse.  There was a little boy who loved to play in the mud.  This always destroyed his cloths and the boy was always a mess.  His mother made a rule that the little boy wasn’t to play in the mud anymore and bought new clothes for the boy.  The next time it rained the boy went out to play.  Soon the boy was in the mud and having a great time until he remembered the new rule.  The boy waited as long as he could to go inside and did as much as he could to clean his clothes, but it was no use.  As the boy stood before his mother, the mother looked disappointed because of the mess the boy was in.  The boy realized that he did wrong and told his mother, “Mom, I’m sorry for getting dirty after you told me not to play in the mud.  I won’t do it again.”  The mom said, “My dear son, you are forgiven.”  Now the boy is forgiven, but the problem is that he is still covered in the mud.  The mother then takes the boy into the bathroom and gives him the bath he needed.  She cleans him until all the mud is gone.  The boy is restored, no more mud.  The same is true with God’s forgiveness.  He not only forgives us, but He cleans us up as well.

The last step in responding to God’s forgiveness is to confess our sin.  It is one thing to admit that we have sins; it is another to repent of them.  Confession means that we admit to God that we are ready for Him to forgive and remove our sins from our lifestyle.  Without confession we miss the forgiveness of God.  Confession connects me to God’s forgiveness because in confession I’m surrendering to His control.  In confession I’m placing my life on the foundation of Christ dying on the cross and rising from the dead.  In confession I’m declaring that Christ is my Lord.  Through confession I receive the forgiveness that God promises to give. 

In closing, I don’t care what you have done; you can be forgiven because of what Christ has done for you.  Are you ready to admit that you are a sinner, trust in God’s forgiveness, and confess Him Lord?  Now is the time for you to realize that God forgives.     

  

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2007 in Devotional

 

Encouragement for the Day:VII

Colossians 1: 15-27,

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

Points to Ponder

1.  Who has control of everything and proved it through creation?

2.  Everything was created for the purpose of exalting who?

3.  Since Christ has already created everything, His job is now reconciling us to God.  What does it mean to reconcile?  Did you know that Jesus is using today to reconcile you to God?

4.  Paul tells us that his hope is found in Christ living in him.  Paul says he does his work through whose energy?  This energy is described as what? 

 5.  Do you realize that the purpose of everything is found in the Lordship of Jesus Christ who is working to reconcile you to God.  Once reconciled, Jesus’ purpose is to live through you and accomplish His work of reconciling others.  Are you ready to open your heart and allow Jesus to live through you today?

Response in Song:  “I Was Made To Love You.”

 

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2007 in Devotional

 

Quote of the Week

Theme: Christian Living

Live as though Christ died yesterday, rose today, and is coming back tomorrow.” by Dr. Carroll Marr, Pastor of Southcliff Baptist Church

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2007 in Devotional

 

Good People Go To Church…

 “Good people go to church and bad people don’t.”  This statement is the common perspective that many people have concerning church and why they should attend.  Many attend church because they already think they are a good person or that by attending church they would become a good person.  On the other side of the coin many don’t attend church because they consider themselves bad and church as a place for good people. 

  Over the last month I found out that my fellow employees where I work are church attendees.  I was surprised because in their speech, lifestyle, and relationships there isn’t any hint of anything Christian.  I’m guilty of thinking first, “Why do they go to church if they are going to live the rest of the week the way they do.”  Then I thought, “They need to go to church if they are going to live the rest of the week the way they do.”  I had to decide what the purpose of church is.  I believe the Biblical church is design to lead people without Christ into a relationship with Christ through proclaiming God’s Word and providing an example of His love.  The church is also designed to lead people with Christ into a growing relationship with Christ through teaching them how to live for Christ and helping them find their area of ministry. 

  After talking to my fellow employees about what church they attended and what they learned from their church experience I found that there is a huge problem.  Most people aren’t getting anything out of church.  I believe the problem is that most church leaders assume that the people that are there at church are good people and they really don’t need to talk about Christ.  The solution is to see the church for what it is the platform for telling people about Jesus Christ and the incredible change He makes in a life. 

   In closing the church isn’t for good people, but for people who need to hear about Christ and His Lordship.  The goal is for the church to become passionate again about sharing Christ with all people.   

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2007 in theology

 

Encouagement for the Day: VI

 

Matthew 14:22-33,

 22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Points To Ponder:

1.  Here we find the disciples in a great difficulty.  They are in a boat, a long way from land, the waves are beating against their boat, and the wind is fighting against the direction they were trying to go.  Are you in a situation like the disciples?  Is life beating you up?  Do you feel like everything is coming against you?

2.  Even Christians experience difficulties.  Our hope is that when we need Jesus most, He is there.  At the very point where the disciples were in the most trouble they looked out and there was Christ.  In the midst of your struggles have you started to look for Christ?

3.  At first they were afraid because they didn’t understand what Christ was doing.  Like them, we will probably not understand why Christ does what He does in our lives.  Jesus tells the disciples to take heart.  Basically, Jesus tells them to trust Him.  Jesus is calling for us to place our trust in Him, even when we don’t understand what He is doing.  Are you ready to trust Him?

4.  Peter calls to Jesus as a sign of faith and Jesus tells him to get out of the boat and come.  Peter gets out on the water.  This was a bold move by Peter, but then he takes his focus off of Christ and starts to worry about the waves and the wind once again.  We have a choice to make when we chose to trust Christ.  We can worry about all the junk or we can live with our focus on Jesus.  Which will you chose?

5.  When Peter started to sink, he called to Christ for help.  Jesus rescued Peter.  Do you realize that Jesus is ready to rescue you?  Will you call out to Jesus?  When they got back into the boat the wind and waves stopped.  The disciples worshipped Jesus.  Who is Jesus to you?  Will you worship Him as Lord?

Song of Response: Be Thou My Vision

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2007 in Devotional

 

“The Real Battleground”

 Hebrews 4:15, 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” 

Matthew 6:13, 

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” 

James 1: 13-15, 

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.   Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

I am very qualified to write about sin and the pain it causes because I sin so much.  If you are like me, I struggle to live for the Christ that I love.  Yes, He is Lord, but so much of the time I end up living for myself.  I know what Paul meant when he said in Romans 7, that the things he wished he’d do, he doesn’t and the things he doesn’t want to do, he does.  Yesterday in my prayer time I realized what I believe to be an important key to experiencing the victory that Christ has given us through His death and resurrection.

This important key to victory was the realization that I’m not called to fight against my sin.  If I fight against my own sin, I will lose every battle and live a defeated life.  I realized that my battle isn’t against my sin, but against temptation.  The real battle takes place at the point of temptation.  In Hebrews 4, Jesus sympathizes with our weakness not because he experienced sin, but because He experienced temptation.  In Matthew 6:13, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells the disciples to pray asking that God wouldn’t lead them into temptation.  Again in James 1, the focus is on temptation. 

The truth is your life is bases on how you respond to temptation.  Rick Warren writes in The Purpose Driven Life that he views every temptation as an opportunity for obedience.  This is great, but no matter how you look at it, you must focus on having victory at the level of temptation.  If you lose the temptation battle you will sin and if you win the temptation battle you will walk in obedience.  For example if you are going to overcome an addiction, you must realize the problem is in how you are responding to your temptations.  Change that response and you will be free.

 Here is my point, stop focusing on sin and start focusing on temptation as the real battleground.  Imagine with me a man struggling with porn.  If he believes the battleground is sin, he will continue run through his mind what he wished he could do if he wasn’t trying to live against sin.  He will look at every woman as an object and live his fantasy with her in his mind.  Then when the opportunity comes where he feels that he can get away with acting on his fantasy he does and feels guilty for his weakness.  He fought the wrong battle.  The battle is with the temptation.  He would gain victory if when the temptation concerning women came to mind, he called on the name of Christ or said, “No, I’m not going to think that way anymore.”  Listen, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, focus on overcoming and avoiding temptation and you will experience freedom.  When temptation comes, already have the plan that you will use it for an opportunity to obey Christ.    

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2007 in theology

 
 
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