Saturday, May 30, 2015

Live Up to the Truth We've Attained

We are to live up to whatever truth we have attained according to Philippians 3:16.

Truth exist just like gravity. We are subjected to gravity whether we believe it or not. The law of gravity indicates that if we jump off of a building, regardless of whether we agree with the law of gravity, we are still going to fall to the ground.

I believe as we search the scripture and look to God to shine His light, we will be able to comprehend His truth. For He is the true light. He is the lamp to our feet and a light to our path. So He reveals truth to us by making them visible as if shining a light on the truth. We then are responsible for the truth He has revealed to us.

Becoming the Living Word of God by Faith

As I have shared earlier in the year, I am memorizing scripture. The method I am using is actually working for the first time. I joined a group online called SSMT, and we committed to memorize one verse every two weeks. I even participated in making this nice index card notebook complete with cover and all. So what has happened? The word has become more available to me and is becoming alive in me.

I have finished the second week in Living Free and combined its review with the group of scriptures in Philippians 3 that I have been memorizing.  As part of solidifying it in me and helping me make sense of it all, I decided to share it here.

Paul starts with a warning to the Philippians to watch out for those who try to teach them to live by their own righteousness.  (Even some who mutilate the flesh to conform and beat the flesh into submission and obedience to the law.) He then list the multiple reasons he has for having confidence in his flesh.  He talks about how he kept the letter of the law.

Then he gets to verse 7 & 8 where he tells them that ALL of his works he counts as garbage, refuse, & filth so that he may gain Christ. Keep in mind he is counting all of his self-righteousness also as filth.

He desires to know and be found in Christ Jesus his Lord.  He says that he wants to be found in Christ not having a righteous of His own, but one that is through faith in Christ – which is a righteousness from God based on faith.  His goal is to KNOW Christ, to KNOW His resurrection power, to fellowship in His suffering and to be conformed to His death.

He notes that he has not fully reached the goal or is already mature, but he makes every effort to take hold of it because he has been taken hold of by Christ.  Although he hasn’t taken hold of it, he forgets all the past (good and bad – shame and accomplishments) and reaches forward to the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

He says that all who are mature should think this way.  However, if any of them think differently, God will let them know. So they need to live up to the truths they have attained (reached or grasped).  They need to follow in his example.

Therefore, our right standing with God is not determined by our effort, work and determination; it is simply through faith in God's completed work through Jesus available to us by His Holy Spirit. It is through believing that God made a way for us to fellowship with Him, and that way is believing what He says about Jesus, about us and about everything. We are made right by our belief and saved by our verbal confession of this belief that He is our Lord (Rom 10:10). Oh that we would remember it is that simple. Believe and confess. 
(We strive for the wrong thing - often times we strive to become what we already are -  instead we should simply strive to know Him)

We spend so much time working for Him, and He wants and desires to just work with us and through us.  Why, because He desires fellowship, friendship, relationship, closeness with us. He wants to talk to us, and He wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to KNOW Him intimately. He also wants to use us as His instruments of righteousness so that the world will know Him, believe Him, enter into a relationship with Him and so on and so on...

Sin interferes with our ability to fellowship with Him. We need to deal with our sin because sin interrupts our connection with God. It interrupts our ability to be used by God in a world that is in desperate need of Him and His mighty hand; which is us.

We do not need to pursue right standing with God because we have that when we believe! Rather, we need to strive to take hold of the prize promised by God in Christ. The prize of knowing Him. The goal of becoming His glorious masterpiece when we walk CLOSELY with Him, pursue HIM, resemble Him. The end result is that we become the very glory, reflection, image and manifestation of Christ to the world. We then are able to be satisfied in all situations. We are able to enter into a peace that passes all understanding regardless of our circumstances which provides us much needed rest.  We can truly enjoy His Presence in our lives. His presences is the Holy Spirit which brings to life the entire Word of God in us over the course of our lives.

Note that Paul says to live up to whatever truth you have attained. I believe as we mature and grow up in our salvation, we live out more and more of the Word, not through determination of the will, but through the enabling power of God in us, equipping us through the Holy Spirit. (That enabling power in us is the RESURRECTION POWER- the power it takes to bring back to life that which was dead is equipping us and maturing us!!!  AMEN! Hallelujah! That should make us all shout for joy)

We develop a close relationship with God by His Holy Spirit. That closeness begins to produce in us the fulfillment of the law. (Not by our effort, but by His.)

When we see we fall short of whatever truth we have attained, note to self: Walk closely with God. We should ask Him to help us live up to this truth. 

The revelation that we fall short of whatever truth is made known to us, may be an indicator that we have quenched His Spirit by our actions (sin). We just need to confess and repent. Which simply put is to agree with God that our actions are offensive to Him and stop the action.
All of this is simple, it is just hard!!!!
Just like digging a hole is a simple task, it is just hard work!!!
But if you need the hole the hard work is worth it.
This is true of knowing Christ Jesus, the effort it takes is worth it.  The value of knowing Christ is priceless!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Worship excerpt from Skip Heitzig

Listening to Skip Heitzig's podcast today entitled Luke 24. This is a quote from it.

"When Jesus reveals Himself to you, He will set your heart on fire. And when Jesus sets your heart ablaze, you know what will happen? You will worship.  I'm convinced that one of the reasons people do not engaged in a worship service, its more for them about observation than actually being a part of it. and inclusion in the service. They are sort of looking around and not really singing. They are just watching. They need heartburn. They need the Lord to reveal Himself to them so their heart is on fire. And even if you have walked with Him for years, yes it can be a controlled burn, but it ought to be a blaze. and when your heart is on fire, you are a worshipper.  No one has to tell you 'come on let's worship'. You'll do it. First chord, you are there.

I'm singing to God, I'm talking to the Lord. Lord don't go further, stay with me, abide with me. "

He ended his prayer with these parting words: "Let's not just be church goers, but be Christ's followers!"

Just wanted to share this today and let those words fall on our hearts as we read it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

We Can Stand Right Before God!!!

Looking at the issue of righteousness, or better said, right standing with God; I really wanted to talk a bit more about this issue of right actions versus being right to follow up on an earlier post

I believe that by our confidence in Christ, our being convinced of Christ and our assurance of Christ as our savior and accepting it, is what believing/faith in Christ is all about. We accept it and believe that the Word of God regarding us and Christ is true, therefore we are right with God. 

Once we have believed and are righteous, we live our lives with our new standing with God. Our actions begin to demonstrate and produce evidence of our right standing with God. We are first proclaimed to be right by our faith. Then there is a process which begins to refine us. Our actions begin to transform into righteous actions. It doesn't mean we will get it right all the time, that is the reason we see in the scripture the need for "there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." 

We will fall short of God's glory. We will sin. Scripture tells us that if we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves. That is why we need a savior to save us from our tendency toward sin. However, as we walk in fellowship with Him. there is a transformation that occurs. 

I pray that we will remember that for ourselves as well as for others. I read the following blog today and really wanted an excuse to link it to my blog. I really appreciate what it was about. You can click on the link. Some of us may be able to identify with the girl at the prom who had fallen in one way or another. I hope we are sometimes the husband applauding and encouraging those who have fallen or struggling. I hope that if we are the ones casting the harsh looks or judgment, we would take the time to put ourselves in the shoes of the fallen or stuggling, and imagine how you would like to be treated. This is where we can apply the golden rule, treat others the way you would like to be treated.  

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nutritional Bootcamp

I have been taking a Nutritional Bootcamp class at the wellness center where I teach. I have really been learning a lot and much of what I already know is getting confirmed and better defined. 

I have been using My Fitness Pal app to track my food intake for some time. I have tied it to my Fitbit that I wear daily. This allows me to see the impact my activity has toward my eligible calories I can consume in the day. 
In My Fitness Pal, there is a pie chart that shows you daily your ratio of food
consumed. According to the instructor, ideally half of your calories should come from carbs, about one fourth from protein and the remaining one fourth from fat. The Nutritionist leading the class recommends our carbs come from vegetables as well as grains. This allows you to have more volume without the higher calories.  

If you are wanting to lose weight then no more starvation diets. Eat regularly. Eat wisely. Eat a balanced diet. Eat low-cal healthy snacks between meals to balance blood sugar. This will keep you from sabotaging yourself. Supper is the worst time to blow it since your body is going into a short hibernation overnight.

Think about changing your mindset. Do not look at healthy eating, portion control and weight loss as deprivation. In order to be successful, it needs to be a lifestyle change where you eat moderately. You have to make healthier choices and exercise regularly. Drink at least 8 cups of water per day. Begin to look at ways to be consistent. Habitual.

This should not be seen as a punishment or a list of all the things you can't do. It isn't about beating yourself up if you indulge. It is about having a positive attitude. Embracing a healthier mindset. Determining to make great choices and being in control of you with Gods indwelling power instead of your stomach telling you what to do. Or should I say demanding. OUR STOMACHS ARE NOT OUR GOD!!!

As for exercise. get active daily. Try to make it fun and regular. Try joining a gym or running group. Buy you a treadmill, stair climber, elliptical, or any cardio machine for your home. You can hire a personal trainer. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and desire. Accountability is very helpful to aid your success. If you do not like the gym and do not want to invest in equipment, try going for long walks with a friend, spouse, child or dog. You will improve your health as well as strengthen your relationships, eliminate loneliness and elevate your moods.

Looking at this from a spiritual perspective, think about what you believe. Not what you think you are suppose to believe, but what you really believe about yourself, your image as well as your belief of God. I am not looking for what you should believe but what is it you really believe. What would you say if I told you that I believe that our outward actions reflect what we really believe. So if we want our actions to change we need to figure out where we are believing lies from the enemy. We need to change our beliefs so that they line up with what God says, and then the actions will follow. 

You see I think we know in our head what we ought to believe. But it is another thing entirely to believe it. 

We know that Abraham believed God.  How do we know that, because he did what God commanded. Our actions demonstrate our true beliefs. Jesus believed God, how do we know that. He demonstrated it by his action. (even to the cross -- although he asked for the cup to be taken from him)  

It is not for our condemnation if our beliefs are askew. It is for our enlightenment when we realize it. We can come to the Father and say I believe. Help me with my unbelief. Totally reliant on Him to help us believe correctly. 

So if we will come to Him and ask Him to help us line up our believing, we may see that our physical health as well as our overall well being just begins to get line up. 

It is possible that our eating has become our stronghold.  (click on stronghold to read further)

The Law's Purpose

The law instructs us but doesn't save us. The law does not make us righteous. See blog Being Righteous or Acting Righteous Christ makes us righteous by our faith in Him and by our confession we are saved. Once we get to know Christ, we can't help but love him. That love equips us and spurs us on to surrender to obey his leading, instruction, and orders. The law is dead without Christ, so we follow Christ out of love and thankfulness, gratefulness, in an attitude of thanksgiving we desire to follow the law. The love we have fulfills the law in us. The law in its self does not save but mere adherance to the law does bring about order. We need Christ to fulfill the law in us. We are not capable by ourselves to keep the law.

I for one am so thankful that God made a way and it is by faith in God's provision of Jesus Christ on the cross for us. It is by our relationship with Him by the Holy Spirit in us and by the Word of God guiding and directing us we grow in love. The love will fulfill all the requirements of the law.

I hope this makes sense. It sure does to me.

Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe. Sin left a crimson stain but He washed it white as snow. I just have to believe.

Being Righteous or Acting Righteous

Does the dogwood have to do anything to bloom? The dogwood was created to bloom and have leaves. It just stays put and absorbs the nutrients that surrounds it both in the soil and the air. In times of drought the roots just go deeper to find water which enables it to get more firmly rooted. Wonder how much we could learn from the dogwood?

I was pondering the ever so slight difference in being righteous and acting righteous.

According to scripture we are righteous not by our doing but by our believing. The Word says "if we confessed with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved.  For it is with heart a man believes and is made righteous and with the mouth he confesses and is saved." Roman 10-9-10

I know that in Philippians 3:9 we do not have a righteousness of our own from keeping the law, but one that is through faith in Jesus, the righteousness that is from God based on faith.

I truly believe that  I am righteous by my faith in Christ. Which means we have been made right with God by our faith in Jesus Christ payment for us.

So just as a the dogwood doesn't strive to be a dogwood, it just is, so we are righteous by our faith. We do not have to perform or try to be righteous. Based on that belief and our right standing, our righteousness will begin to be displayed in our actions.

This righteousness / right standing with God means we are at peace with God. But since we are already righteous does that give us a right to go on sinning? Paul looked at this in Romans 6 as you can see below.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master,because you are not under law, but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin,which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of ? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans tells us that the law demonstrates and reveals sin. It shows us we cannot measure up. It shows us that our righteousness comes from our belief. So if we believe and we are right with God because of it, I believe our actions will begin to line up with our beliefs. I recommend spending some time in Romans and see what Paul was talking about.

I dare you.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Living Free... Day One

Our Monday night small group just finished watching a video series "He Is". It was great. We are
now in the process of doing the first week of a 6 week study, "Living Free". Living Proof Blog

I have only made it through the first week and already reminded of so many things I have known to do, but over time forget to do them. I really wanted to write it out as much for me and hopefully to solidify it in my own mind as much as share it with you readers.

The first week is all about "demolishing strongholds". It explains what a stronghold is and how it can be good or bad. Ultimately the only stronghold that should remain in our lives is the one from God. We can be hidden in Christ.  HE IS our stronghold, fortress, protection; HE IS our strong tower where we can go and seek refuge from the storms in this life. The definition in the book for stronghold and refuge: "to be too strong for, to be lofty, be exalted, to lift high, to protect, to be kept safe."

"God is (HE IS) our greatest stronghold"

We need to take all other thoughts that try to be higher than God in our minds and make them obey Christ...line them up with the word of God.

If God is our refuge and strong tower, the righteous can run into it and be safe! I don't have to be afraid of the days to come even if there is trouble ahead for He will protect me, lift me up and get me through. He will not leave me as an orphan in the midst of difficulty. He may choose to not rescue me from those trials to come, but He most certainly will be with me through it all.  Hallelujah!!!

We have determined that God is the good, right and appropriate stronghold. Now let's take a look at the false ones. See 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (KJV) Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

We typically produce many strongholds with a little help from the enemy. These strongholds are identified as those things we "substitute for God and the bondage they create." A stronghold is "anything that exalts itself in our minds, pretending to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled, Mastered"

Examples of strongholds: "Addictions, unforgiveness, despair.  Anything that consumes our emotional and mental energy and strangles out our abundant life."  The part that really got me is this: "Our callings remain unfulfilled, and our believing lives become ineffective." (which is the goal of our enemy) "Strongholds steal our focus." See 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 "We live in this body but we do not do battle that way, since the weapons of our warfare are not of this world. They are powerful through God and able to demolish strongholds. We destroy/tear down arguments and everything pretending to be bigger than God and take all thoughts captive and make them line up with the word (Christ)."  We need to make our thoughts behave and line them up with His word.

So how do we know what His word is? It is the scriptures.  We need to read it, ponder it, study it and meditate on it.  In the study, the author suggest that we pray it. I wholeheartily agree. Please refer to my last blog to study this topic further. Do We Need the Word of God?

Do We Need the Word of God?

Why do we need the Word of God?

What is its purpose?

Oh there are many purposes of His Word, but for me personally it has enabled me to KNOW HIM! It has taught me His ways, His heart and truly helped me walk in a more intimate relationship with Him.

Yes, we need the Word of God in our lives. We need to read it, study it, meditate on it, write it on our hearts and finally we need to live it out in our daily lives. Without it, how would we be able to distinguish between the thoughts that are from God and those that are our own or even from the enemy?

The Word of God is a true light that illuminates the path that God has laid out for us. It directs us. It teaches us how to live a life that pleases God (like an owners manual for humanity.) It gives us a glimpse into what humanity is capable of doing when they are not led by God or seeking His ways. It also gives us a glimpse into what humanity can attain when a person is fully surrendered to the will of God, even forsaking one's own desires to pursue God. I believe that the Word can help us stand strong amidst the battles and storms of this life. It is an effective offensive weapon of all believers who go into battle prepared to fight the enemy of our souls. The Word will help us determine the will of God, and recognize His voice. The Word clarifies that which is good and that which is not good.

Psalm 119:105 tells us that God's Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. Hebrews 4:12 says it is alive and active (effective) and sharper than any two-edged sword. The Word is Truth. God sent His word to heal us. ( honestly the list is exhaustive...) God didn't leave us here without guidance, direction and help. He left us His Word and His Holy Spirit. By these two things we can determine His direction and His will for us. The Word of God can equip us to walk out our calling filled with His Holy Spirit.

Once we know His will because we searched the scripture, we can then fully surrender to His leading. His leading will always line up with the scriptures. He will not lead you in a way that is contrary to His word. NEVER!

I believe the scripture is the weapon we use just as Jesus used it to do battle against Satan. Every time that the devil would tempt Jesus, Jesus would say "it is written". We cannot use our own wisdom, logic and reasoning with the devil.  We certainly cannot outsmart him. He has been around for a long time and we are no match for him.  The Word of God according to Ephesian 6:17 is the sword of the Christian soldier when he goes into battle. All of the other armor mentioned is Ephesians 6 is for our protection, but the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is our only offensive weapon. We need to be able to use it to go to war with our enemy. Remembering that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood but war against principalities, powers and rulers of darkness according to Ephesian 6:12.  2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us that the weapons we fight are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

I firmly hold to the evidence that the Word of God when placed in the hands of a prepared, trained believer can be very effective in directing life, determining the will of God, and doing battle with the enemy. Therefore, my conclusive answer to the title question is YES!!! We desperately need the Word of God.  We need it to not just sit on the bed stand, book shelf or coffee table. We need to be saturated in it. We need it to be in our head and in our heart. That is the only way to know the truth and the truth WILL set you free!

So I hope to encourage you today to pursue the Word with all your heart. Search it as if you are searching for riches and treasures. (because you are) Dig in. Ask God to give you a desire for Him and His Word. I promise: you will not be disappointed.