Straight talk by Paul (points us to Christ like behavior)

In this last section of Ephesians 4 Paul gets down to serious talk about sins that he has seen or heard of among the believers.  He mentions lying or speaking untruthfully with each other.  Anger that is not righteous but rooted in resentment, hostility or jealousy.  Also some had been thieves prior to becoming believers, and Paul tells them they must work and be useful so they will have things to share with those in need.  He mentions gossip or unwholesome talk, saying things that bring others down instead of building  them up.  He straight out tells them to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger fighting, backbiting, slander, and any and all kinds of malice.   All of these things are undesirable and incompatible with a life given to Christ.

Several verses jumped out at me in this section, Ephesians 4:26, 30 and 32.  26 “Be angry ephesians 4 26and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”  This verse is frequently said, “don’t go to bed angry”.   Anger that is rooted in sin is filled with resentment, jealousy, bitterness and even hatred.  Paul is saying, anger is a valid emotion but do not let it be for the wrong reasons.  Jesus was angry with the money changers buying and selling in the temple and threw them out (Matthew 21:12).  He was angry with the Pharisees for wanting to trap him and keep a man from being healed on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5).  Both of these were cases of righteous anger.  They were not rooted in self but in wrongs done towards God.  When we harbor or coddle our anger, it will fester and grow.  Paul is telling us to not let that happen as the results will be harmful to us and to those around us.

30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”   What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?   As a believer, Jesus’ Holy Spirit lives within us.  When we deliberately sin- steal, lie, cheat, act with wrong motives in anger, harbor bitterness, etc, it grieves the Holy Spirit that is within us.  God hates sin and doing sinful acts gives His Spirit grief, or makes His Spirit sad over our sin.  Paul reminds us that when we received Christ,  we were sealed by God’s Holy Spirit forever.  That is a wonderful privilege and honor,  and we should love Jesus enough to desire to not deliberately sin against Him.

32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  I love this verse as Paul lays it out directly for us as to what kinds of actions should characterize a believer.  These will bring delight to our Savior.  They should be our response to His marvelous forgiveness and grace.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God. 

ephesians 4 32Focus today on right living, good thoughts and actions towards others, putting away all bitterness, jealousy, anger …..  Don’t let  yourself fall into anger over your current circumstances,  but look for the good and seek to see how you can ‘be Jesus’ to each one you speak with today.

Linda

 

Full text in the New Living Translation:

25″ So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,  guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Second Sunday of Lent, 2020

This first full week of Lent we have uncovered some amazing truths.     Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave:  we can go directly to God in prayer, Ephesians 1:15-16,   we can experience His Holy Spirit within us, Ephesians 1:18-19,  we are connected with Him and to all other believers, Ephesians 1:20-23,  we are no longer slaves to sin and will not suffer God’s wrath,  Ephesians 2:1-3, we are saved by grace, Ephesians 2:4-7, and we are God’s masterpieces, Ephesians 2:8-10.    I pray these truths will seep into your soul and cause you to trust God more and more and that they will add knowledge to your faith in Him.  We serve an amazing, grace-filled, loving God!

Let us praise God together today:  Psalm 100 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

psalm-100Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Linda

#6 Practicing Your Devotion to God-by Repentance

Sin is something we all have to deal with in our lives.  We were born sinners, with a sin nature.  You only need to look at the willfulness of a small child to see they came that  sin separatesway with a rebellious, willful nature built inside.  It was not something they learned.  However, as we grow we learn to sin even more by fulfilling our own desires.  Adam and Eve fulfilled their own desires in the garden of Eden when they willfully sinned against God by eating of the forbidden tree, the tree of good and evil.

Each of us needs to come to the realization that we are sinners and approach God with a sin bridge Jesusrepentant heart asking Him to forgive us through faith in Jesus Christ.   Our faith in Jesus allows us to be cleansed and made whole.  However, we still have that sin nature within us and we need to grow and learn about Jesus, depend upon Him and stay repentant to walk with Him by faith.  Our heart’s desire is to walk with Jesus and grow more and more like him.  Sanctification describes this process in our lives and it is the work of the Holy Spirit within us that enables us to grow stronger in Christ and sin less.

David knew the key to a clean and whole existence with God was to be repentant and humble, confessing his sins to God.  Psalm 32 describes David’s thoughts about this:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,            Repentance brings blessing.
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away                  Being unrepentant can cause
    through my groaning all day long.                                              you physical illness.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,                                               David resolves to repent with
    and I did not cover my iniquity;                                                 an openness to God.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Psalm 51:1-2, 10    David knew that God alone was able to forgive sin and lays his sins before Him.   He knew he was unworthy of forgiveness but trusted God in his infinite mercy to forgive him.

psalm 51 1Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

He knew God alone could create a new heart within him.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.

What about you?  Do you know the truth and reality of 1 John 1:9 ?  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   This is a promise we can claim and depend upon.   God is faithful and will keep His promise to forgive all our sins.  All we need to do is confess and have a repentant heart before Him.

Practice repentance daily for a closer walk with Jesus.

Linda

I AM… the light of the world

Jesus made this claim and it is recorded twice in John.  Once when challenged by the Pharisees in John 8:12 and again in John 9:5 when questioned about the sin of  man that was born blind.

In John 8:12-15 the Pharisees were seeking to discredit Jesus’ claims saying He could not be His own witness to who He really was.  Jesus’ answers are straight forward and He John_8-12_2_turns the statements back to them so that they will examine themselves. 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.”   Jesus’ statement is bold and shows purpose and direction.  He knew where He was going, what He was doing and why.  He assures us that if we follow His light, His truth, and His ways we will not walk in the darkness of sin but have a life filled with His light and truth!   What a wonderful assurance.  

In John 9 Jesus encountered a man born blind and His disciples asked, who sinned and made this man blind- his parents or him?  Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”   Jesus assured them that the blindness did not come from sin but was to be an opportunity to show the works and power of God.  Jesus performed many miracles of this kind during His ministry.  Giving sight was a living example of what Jesus can do for us as He can give us sight.  His light brings salvation, hope, understanding of God’s Word, a pathway to stronger character based on Him, guidance and direction.  He shows us the way to God.  John calls Jesus the Word in John 1:1-4 “In the beginning was the Word, john 1 4and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”   Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet  and a light to my path.”   Jesus is God’s Word brought into our lives to bring us to Him and to be the light by which we can come to God.  Praise God for His mercy and grace towards us by sending Jesus to be our light in this dark world.

Ask yourself,  Am I walking fully in God’s light, letting Him guide and direct my way?  Or am I walking part in light and part in darkness trying to live in the world, keeping worldly thoughts and actions a part of my life?   How can I walk more in God’s light and less in the shadow of the world’s darkness each day?  David gave us a glimpse of an answer in Psalm 119:9-11:                                                                                                          How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.               Stay in the Word (Jesus)
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!          Follow the Word (Jesus)
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.                     Keep the Word in your heart. (Jesus)

psalm 119 11Does this describe how your heart looks?

Have a blessed day walking in the LIGHT of Jesus.

Linda

Free to be me in Christ!

romans 6 22Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been made free from sin.  By nature of birth, I am a sinner and will always be a sinner until I go to heaven.  Knowing Jesus as my Savior allows me to be free from the power of sin over my life.  When I go to heaven, I will be freed from the power and presence of sin, but until then I need to walk humbly with God and keep short accounts, meaning repent of my sins and not allow Satan a foot hold into my life.

There are many verses that assure us that we are freed from sin’s power through faith in Christ.  Here are a few:

Romans 6:6-7 “We know that our old self  was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free  from sin.”  Through faith our old nature, the person within that desires to do sinful things, is dead and made powerless so that we are free in Jesus.

Romans 6: 17-18 “Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.” (NLT)   Since we are free in Christ, we can live for Him doing and thinking right things.

Romans 6:22 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”   Freedom in Christ allows the Holy Spirit to grow us up in Christ making us more and more like Jesus.

romans 6 17Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”  We are free in Jesus no longer condemned to eternal death by sin!

Revelation 1:5b “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”   John opens his revelation about end times with this prayer.  He knew that Jesus was the one responsible for our freedom from sin and our status in God’s eyes.  Thank you Jesus.

freedom in christEnjoy your freedom in Christ today!

Linda

Suggestion: reflect on your life-  How are you thinking, talking or doing things differently since having Jesus in your life?  Thank Jesus for that change.  What are you still doing, thinking or saying that you want to stop so you can be more like Jesus?  Ask Jesus to change that within you and free you from that sin.  He will!

Rescued and Redeemed for Eternity Thank you Jesus!

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been rescued from Satan’s domain and transferred into the kingdom of Christ.  These truths are stated by Paul in his letter to the Colossians.  He opens the letter with thanksgiving and prayer for the state that all believers find themselves in because of Christ.  Colossians 1:13 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.”  Our state of being before knowing Christ is one of eternal darkness and sin.  Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Our sin separates us from God and Jesus tell us that He is the light in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  Without Jesus we are dead in our sins and trapped in darkness.   Following Him bring us into the light, truth and knowledge of God.  Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, a man who was seeking to know if Jesus was the Messiah.  In John 3:5 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  Jesus went on to explain we have 2 births.  The first is our physical birth given by our mothers and then our spiritual birth that is given by God’s Spirit when we accept Jesus as our Savior.  In John 3:16 Jesus tells Nicodemus why God sent him, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Eternal life in His kingdom is ours when we believe in Jesus.  He further explains the difference between His light and darkness of the world.   John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”   Jesus wanted Nicodemus and you and me, to know and understand that being apart from Him is darkness, sin and condemnation.  With Jesus there is light, love, hope and eternal life.  He has indeed rescued us from the domain of darkness ruled over by Satan and brought us into His light and His kingdom to be with Him forever.  His death on the cross and resurrection made this possible.  Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice on my behalf to rescue me from the fate of death and condemnation.

Linda

Suggestion:  Spend some time in prayer thanking Jesus for your salvation and eternal home with Him.  Remember in prayer someone you know who does not know Jesus and pray that they will come to know Him.We can be assured that Jesus wants everyone to know and come to Him.  2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow  in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

True Freedom, only found in Christ

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have freedom in Christ.  What kind of freedom does Christ give?  First and foremost,  we have freedom from the romans-82bondage and penalty of sin.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”  Romans 8:1-2 We do not have to worry about paying the penalty for our sins as Christ paid with His life to redeem us.  We simply need a repentant, thankful, believing heart committed to Jesus.

Another freedom we have in Christ is we will not suffer eternal death but live eternally with Him.  the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”  Romans 8:21  and John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Heaven will be a place where there will be no more tears, no more death, and we will not suffer the decay caused by sin and death.”

The last freedom I want to mention is found in 2 Corinthians 3:17. “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”   The indwelling Holy Spirit brings within us freedom that is from the Lord.  He unleashes our full potential and puts us on a course to do great things for Him.  I love the benediction the author of Hebrews gives in Hebrews 13:21 when he reminds us that God is equipping us to do good works for His glory and our good.   “may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

freedom in christIn Christ we are free from sin’s penalty, free to live eternally with Him and free to do His work.  May you feel His freedom today!

Linda

Suggestion: Choose something to do today for the Lord.  As you do this task, thank God for the freedom to choose to do this in His power and for the ability to perform this task.  He has equipped you so that you can exercise your freedom to choose to work for Him  bringing Him glory and yourself contentment.

From Sin to Blessing because of Jesus

Paul makes a case for the blessed man in Romans.  He is talking about the blessed state of  a man who has faith.  He is blessed by God because of his faith and trust in Him and the man did or does nothing to earn that blessedness.  It is a gift from God through Jesus.   Paul quotes David’s words from Psalm 32 in Romans 4:6-8.

just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Romans 4 7 8Our blessedness comes from God and has nothing to do with our ‘works’ as it is all God working in us.  Only God can forgive sin and through Jesus’ shed blood God covers our sins.  He does not count our sins against us!  Now that is blessedness!  The believer is mightily blessed by God through his faith and trust in God.  Jesus’ work on the cross eradicates our sin and presents us whole and blameless before Almighty God.

Thank you Jesus for your work on my behalf!

faith inMay you have a blessed day as you consider your privileged position before God- pure, blameless and saved from eternal destruction through your faith in Jesus the Son.

Linda

A Transformed Heart is filled with…obedience

Do you think of yourself as obedient?  Do you readily obey your parents, the codes of conduct in your society or even your own heart’s desires?  All of those may be in conflict with God’s desires for your life and the necessary obedience needed to follow Him.  Because we are sinners and live in a sinful world, obedience does not come naturally.  It is against our sin nature to do what others desire of us or even what we desire ourselves for our future since we are rebellious at heart.  So how do we become obedient to God and His Word?  Peter gives us direction in 1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  God calls us to be holy and to follow Him in obedience.  Peter goes on in verses 18-19 to explain to root of our ability to obey, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”  Because of Christ’s death on the cross we become His children through faith in Him and His redeeming work.  We are given the godly motivation, godly direction and ability to be obedient from our heart through our faith in Jesus.   

romans 6 17I love the way Paul explains this transformation in Romans 6:17-18  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”  Faith in Jesus sets me free from the bondage of sin that holds my heart and actions and frees me to serve with an obedient heart the Jesus I love.

What about you?  Does your love and faith in Jesus cause you to desire to be obedient to Him and His Word?  Do you find following Jesus hard?  Even Paul stated in Romans that I hate what I dohe struggled to do what God wants him to do because of his own sin nature.  Romans 7:19-2019 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”    He summarizes his condition of faith in verse 24-25.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 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.”  His final conclusion to this dilemma is profound in Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the romans 8 1-2law of sin and death.”   Jesus is the answer and He frees us from our bondage to sin.

May your heart be filled with the love of Jesus today so that you may live with a heart that is wholeheartedly obedient to Him.

Linda

Transforming a Sin Sick Heart

What is the true nature of the heart?  Scripture teaches the hard truth of what our hearts are like because of sin.  Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;  who can understand it?”  God knows the nature of our hearts and is the only one who can transform a sin sick heart.    10 “I the Lord search the heart  and test the mind,  to give every man according to his ways,  according to the fruit of his deeds.”   God searches our heart, tests our mind and will evaluate us according to our deeds.  This does not mean we have to earn our salvation.  It means there will be a day of accounting where God looks at our actions.  We are clean and purified by the blood of Christ, so He will not be looking at sin, but at our heart for Him.   What causes you to do good or hard things for God?  Is it love, devotion, thankfulness, zeal for the gospel?  

I totally identify with David’s plea to God in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.”  By nature our hearts are filled with sin but God can create a clean heart within us.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be transformed by faith in Him.  Jesus is our pathway to cleansing, restoration and hope.  Just like David, we have to desire it and ask God for it.  He promises to renew our hearts and make them pure, and committed to Him.

Will you ask Him today to create a clean heart within you?  It will be a new beginning and a step that pleases God, renews and revitalizes life, and brings hope and restoration.  Ask Him today.

heart inside outPrayer:   Lord Jesus, I believe you have the power to transform my heart and make me clean and pure.  Root out the sin that plagues me and bring me into a vibrant relationship with you.  Create in me a clean heart that will be devoted and steadfast in loving you.  Create in me a new life with new desires and new hopes that are firmly placed in you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Redeemed and transformed by faith in Jesus,

Blessings today.

Linda