Tag Archives: faith

Tomorrow May Come

Matthew 6:34

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

”One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time”

These words from the gold gospel song “One Day At A Time” express this verse very well. The truth is that we are not promised tomorrow so why do we spend so much time worrying about tomorrow? One of my favorite authors, whom I simply know as Fenelon, says “Don’t insult today by looking for a better tomorrow.” But we tend to do this all the time.

First of all, this verse does not give us liberty to waste all our resources and not plan for retirement. In today’s world, there is a need to put something back for our older years. Social Security just does not quite cut it unless you have no debt whatsoever. We are living longer and it takes more resources to live all the time. I have been one who has been slack in planning for my retirement so most likely I will be working for many years hence unless God brings in funds by some miraculous means.

At the same time, Jesus warns against building up our own riches for ourselves. In Luke 12:16-21 He tells the story of a rich man who has a good harvest. He builds bigger barns to store the harvest in. But God comes to Him and tells Him that his life will be taken that night. All that is in his storehouse will go to someone else, not him. This is told as a reprimand that we should not store up things for ourselves.

I believe God will supply for us as we continue to do His work. God has given me new tasks as I grow older. I had to stop working when cancer interrupted my career. Now my fatigue level is still too high so I can’t drive out of town. But God has brought other ways for me to earn income. I update land maps for a local company which brings in some income. I just published a book which is selling slowly but surely. Social Security is helping. I do not have a nest egg to fall back on, so I have to keep busy. But I believe God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory (Proverbs 4:19).

On top of that, I know that God has a plan for me that will bring me peace and give me an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). He will only do good for me (Romans 8:28) and He will finish the good work He has started in me (Philippians 1:6). I may not know what His plans are or where they will lead because His thoughts are much higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9). In every case, I will trust Him implicitly (Prob 3:5).

When we remember these things, we will not worry about tomorrow. We will not be alarmed when things do not go as planned. Our plans are putty in His hands. He is the potter, we are the clay (Jeremiah 18). Yield yourself to God and He will form your days before you. We do have to make certain plans like doctors appointments, business appointments, birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc. However we should never be disappointed if these plans go differently than we expected. God might have other ideas on how those days should go. He always knows what is best for us. Believe it!

Concentrate on today! God has only given you enough grace for this moment. He will give you grace for tomorrow’s situations when tomorrow comes. There is so much we can do today for Him, why look ahead to tomorrow. Let’s all concentrate on what he has for us today.

In the book of Haggai, the people were busy building their own houses and letting God’s house just sit in ruins. It had been sitting there for almost 100 years when Haggai showed up on the scene and said “Consider your ways.” He reminded the people that they were building their houses for themselves and disregarding God’s house. As a result, their crops were not growing and money was slipping through their fingers. They were too busy building their own kingdoms and ignoring the kingdom of God,

The people took the warning seriously and began to build the foundation of the temple. In Haggai 2:18-19 we read the following:

18 Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid, consider it.
19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.

At first God was telling them to consider their ways because they were building their own kingdoms. Now, as they have started to build the kingdom of God by laying the temple foundation, He tells them to consider something else. They have planted seeds, but seen no harvest yet. God tells them that from this day forward, He will bless them.

I believe this is a word from the Lord for 2019. Have you planted seed? Have you witnessed to souls, hoping they will accept Christ? Have you been praying for healing, finances, deliverance, or anything else? From this day, God will bless you! There is nothing you can do to bring a harvest out of seeds you have already planted. Oh, you can water them and provide light, but you cannot grow the seed itself., That’s God’s job. He is going to start growing those seeds.

Don’t give thought about tomorrow. Don’t worry about what it holds. Put your hand in the hand of the one who stills the waters. Trust and obey for there’s no other way. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. What have I to dread. What have I to fear. I’m leaning on the everlasting arms. There’s victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. The songs just keep on coming. We sing them all the time. Let’s now take the advice of these great songwriters. Let’s leave tomorrow in God’s hands and do all we can for Him today.

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Be Perfect

Matthew 5:48

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

I would guess that there is not a single person reading this who has ever looked at this scripture and said “No problem.” Actually quite the opposite has always been true with me. How can I ever live up to this? Perfect, as God is perfect? Jesus must have misspoke. He didn’t really mean what He says here, did He? But then again, Jesus always meant what He said. I also don’t believe Jesus ever told us to do something that was beyond accomplishing in our lives, including this verse.

First, let’s look at this word perfect. Our human concept is that it means flawless or without any blemishes of any kind. Our human concept is that it is impossible to attain perfection because we will never be flawless. Our flesh is always messing up, making mistakes and marking us with sin. Day after day we struggle to stay above this sin filled world, but we slip and fall and have to repent once again. Our flesh will never stay perfect and for that reason we will never see ourselves as perfect in God’s eyes.

But there is more to the Greek word than that. In the Greek, this word means brought to its end, finished or lacking nothing necessary for completeness. This is an entirely different picture of the word. I think of the potter. He molds and shape the clay until it forms the vessel he is trying to make. He smooths the clay, works it with his hands and applies the water to smooth it out. Once it is in his desired shape he will fire it in the kiln and allow it to harden. When done it is perfect in his eyes. To is complete and ready for his use. There may be small imperfections in the vessel, but the potter ignores them because he knows the vessel is ready to meet his use, so that is all that matters to him. He sees it as perfect.

I never want to think I am perfect. If I do, pride will rise up within me that I have accomplished something and I am something special. I have been there before and I don’t want to go back. When the spirit moved on a service, I would think I put together the perfect worship service. When many people came to the altar for prayer after a message, I would think I delivered the perfect message for that day and gave the perfect altar call. I did this or I did that. Perfection will never come from within me, nor will I probably ever produce perfection. There is just too much flesh covering my life that I can’t get away from its imperfections.

We have to look at this word differently. Jesus is not saying we have to be perfect in our own eyes. He is saying we have to be perfect in God’s eyes. The difference is huge! God knows where He wants us to be and what He is trying to accomplish in our lives. Only He knows when we are perfected to the place He wants us. We might still see all our flaws and failures, but He may see us as perfected for the purpose He has for us today. That perfection will change as we grow and mature in Christ. God is the one who sees us as perfect.

“How do we get there?” has to be the next question. The journey starts with our salvation. The sin stained life of Adam must be covered with the redemptive life of Jesus Christ. 1 John 2:2 says Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. That means he covers our sins so that God does not see them. In fact, God removes them as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). He tells us that though our sins are scarlet, He will make us white as snow (Isaiah 1:8). He says if we confess our sins, He will forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9). Our sin must be removed before we can even think about being perfected by God. That is the starting point.

There are many verses in the Bible that talk about the Lord purifying us like gold and silver is purified. This points to a process of perfecting us by removing the things that hinder us in our spiritual walk. Malachi 3:2-3 tells us God will purify the sons of Levi so that they may present the Lord righteous offerings. We are the spiritual priesthood and God wants to purify us so that our works are righteous and pure before Him. Psalm 66:10 says that the Lord has refined us like silver. He has taken away the dross and left those things that are pure before Him.

But how does He do this? This is the thing we must grasp onto. He does the purifying through our trials and tests. Those difficult things God allows into our lives are the very things that remove the dross and imperfections from our lives. Isaiah 48:10 tells us He has tried us, but not like silver, because He has tried us in the furnace of affliction. 1 Peter 1:7 tell us that our faith is more precious than silver or gold and it is tried by fire. Our faith is tried and purified by the fire of afflictions that come into our life.
The key verses to me are James 1:2-4:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Perfect and entire, wanting nothing. There it is again. James tells us that this is attainable. We can be perfect and entire before God. This is not the kind of perfect that has no imperfections! It is not someone who does absolutely no wrong, who is what we would call “squeaky clean.” It is not a person who says the right things and does the right things all the time. It is not a perfection of this world. It is a perfection in God’s eyes.

James tells us first to be joyful when troubles and trials come out way. Sounds impossible, but it is not. This is the Fruit of the Spirit joy that is always there no matter what things may come. It doesn’t laugh uncontrollably or leap for joy or shout for joy. It’s a joy that knows God is doing something good and will rejoice because He is working in us, right at this very minute. The trials we go through are going to exercise my faith. We all know that exercising something will make it stronger. Our trials make our faith stronger.

As our faith grows, so does our patience. We learn to wait on God. We learn that the answer does not always come within the time frame we are hoping for. We learn that His answer always comes at the time appointed by Him, not us. So we have to wait, not really knowing when the answer comes. We have to continue to extend our faith in expectation of that answer, knowing He will answer our prayer because He promises He will. We also have to have wisdom to know when the answer comes because His answer is not always what we expect. He will send His perfect answer, where we always want what we want!

Patience eventually takes over. We no longer worry or fret when the answer will come. We just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has everything under control. We wait and pray, knowing God will bring the best answer at the right time. Patience with God is a critical thing. Patience with ourselves is also a by-product. Patience with others is a result of it all. Being able to endure when things aren’t going exactly the way we want is patience. Being able to hold your tongue is patience. Allowing your life to be led one step at a time is patience. It is when patience is completely working in every part of our lives that we are perfected. That’s is when God looks at us and sees a perfect vessel ready for the Master’s use.

When I first saw this truth, I was blown away. Knowing that patience is so critical in our walk with God will change our perspective. It sure did mine! I realized that all those trials I have gone through, and am still going through, are God’s perfecting agents for my life. That is why I can have joy in the midst of every trial and test. I know He is brining me closer to perfection in His eyes. I know that this trial is bringing me to the place where I am perfectly ready to fulfill His call on my life.

Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect. Not in your own eyes, but in His eyes. He sees our heart, we see our flesh. We see an imperfect vessel, He sees a perfect heart if we have come to that point. Allow yourself to be perfected by God, and be perfect.

Fruit of Faith

Galatians 5:22-23 KJV

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

When I first saw that faith was list as a fruit of the spirit, I thought that this was some other form of faith than the one I practice every day. After all, there is a gift of faith, and that is a gift is a faith that surpasses a normal every day faith in God, right?

The gift of faith is an actual infusion of the faith of the Holy Spirit into our souls to believe God for what our human mind would have a very hard time believing God for. Then that gift if Faith, since it has no doubt and does not waver, accomplishes what the bearer of the gift asks. This divine infusion may then stay until the prayer line is done, or it may leave after that particular person – it does not stay with the believer at all times. At least that is how I perceive the gift of faith.

But the fruit of faith – is that something different than our own faith? The faith we used to accept Christ, the faith we used to believe God for things during our walk with Him, the faith we practiced when believing God for healing? The answer is no! The fruit of faith has been with us since even before we were saved, because it is the faith that was given to us by measure from the time we were born (Rom 12:3). If not for this seed of faith, no one would come to the Lord! No one would have that faith it takes to accept His grace. It is a gift, a seed planted at the time we were conceived. It has operated in us while we were children believing for the tooth fairy to come at night. This faith is what we have relied on all our lives.

The fruit of faith may have grown in us before we accepted Christ. Some have more faith when they are children and can pray with the sincerest elder saint in the world. Then, as they grow older, they neglect this fruit and wander away from faith, and the fruit starts to whither on the vine. This would describe my walk. My faith withered, but a friend started to water that seed, and nurture it, and the fruit of faith once again started to grown within me. I finally accepted Christ at 24 years old. I thank God my faith did not fully wither away.

For others, their faith just grows on a steady curve because they stay in the word and practice their faith. They keep it active and alive through worship, prayer and the word. They understand that their faith grows and is tested when trials come. They know that the greatest victories come out of the worst trials – their faith tells them this. The fruit of faith just keeps growing, and as a result, we plant seeds of faith in others and cultivate and water those seeds. Their fruit produces more fruit and becomes fruitful. This is a glorious fruit indeed!

The most wonderful thing about this is that if you don’t have the faith you would like to have, you can rest assured faith can grown in you because that is the nature of fruit! Fruit grows and multiplies. As you take little steps of faith and believe for the smallest of things, your faith can grow (Matt 17:20 says all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed). As you recognize God is delivering you from one thing after another instead of giving credit to luck or circumstance than your faith can grow (Proverbs 3:6 says acknowledge Him in all your ways). Then there is this:

Romans 10:17
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

As you read the word, take note of all the acts of faith that are recorded there. Take note of all the miracles, all the healings, all the times of deliverance, all the obstacles overcome, all the divine prophecies that come true. All of these things happened by faith. Read Hebrews 11 – the faith chapter – and see all the works of faith. All these things are in His word to help build your faith! Spend time in the word of God and you can’t help but have your faith built up.

We all have gone through times when our faith is stronger, and when it is weaker. It is in these times that God will direct us to His word or will bring about situations in our life where we have to extend our faith. He will put us together with people who have less faith so we can see our faith working. These are the times we must take note of because these are the times our faith will grow and be fruitful. Never doubt for a minute that God wants this fruit to grow in you.

Romans 5:1 King James Version (KJV)
5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Justified by faith. I have heard that word justified described as meaning “just as if I’d never sinned”. I like that! It is by faith we accept the sacrifice of Jesus as a replacement for us. We are the ones who sinned and deserved death, yet by faith we acknowledge He is our substitute. It is only by faith we can take that step. Our logical mind will never comprehend it. Faith is what brings that truth inside us.

In fact, our whole salvation experience is by faith. Yes, we can explain what happened to us, and all that Jesus has changed in our life, but in the end, it is faith that attributes all those things to Jesus being alive in our life. That is why the secular world just doesn’t get it. They want physical proof – science – to explain everything. If science can’t explain it, it can’t be true. It may indeed be true to us, but not to them and their logical mind. Creation, original sin, virgin birth, Red Sea parting, Jordan river parting, Holy Spirit infilling – all of these and many more are by faith. Your and my salvation is at the top of that list.

James 1:5-7
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

Whether it is wisdom or healing or deliverance or any other thing, we must ask in faith. It is our faith that makes these things become a reality to us. Remember, God always knows what we need. But He wants us to verbalize it so He knows that we know what we need. The story of blind Bartimaeus is a perfect example. It was obvious to everyone the Bartimaeus was blind, yet Jesus asked Him what He desired. God wants us to recognize the needs in our lives, and then come to Him with those needs. This fruit of faith then does its work.

However, if we truly expect a response, our faith must not waver. It must not stop at the request. It must not give up if the answer does not come right away. Our faith must be steadfast, immoveable and resolute. The fruit of faith must remain through every test and trial it faces, through every prayer that does not get answered immediately, through every persecution the world would bring when prayer is not effective for them. This fruit continues to bloom as we acknowledge God in the littler mercies He gives us amidst the bigger prayers and requests. We keep it growing by knowing He is at work at all times. Make sure your faith is always working, always growing!

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

When our faith is truly engaged, we can see the answer before it comes. We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt our request will be answered. Why? Because our faith makes it a reality in our life. Faith extends beyond the circumstances and brings the result into our mind, and we walk toward that result by faith. Our prayers are given substance by our faith, and our mind realizes then evidence.

My cancer is a prefect example. When I was diagnosed, I prayed a simple prayer – that God would use it for His glory. I asked God for complete healing, to be stronger when I finished than when I began. I knew He would grant that request. I could feel it and see it in my spirit. I could sense the testimony of healing that would come out of this disease. I just trusted Him all the way through, because my faith had been extended, and the substance of that prayer of faith was and still is a reality to me. I am close to normal again. The neuropathy in my hands legs and feet is about all that remains of the cancer (from treatment). I know that will be gone as well – by faith.

1 John 5:4
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith

Our faith enables us to overcome this world. We can try to hide from it, to fight against it with words or actions, or to do it in our own strength. But in the end, it will be our faith that will bring us victory. It is faith that gives substance to our prayers of deliverance out of any bondage that would still remain within us. It is faith that allows us to rest comfortably when others would panic. It is faith that brings us joy when our world is crumbling apart. You cannot just summon these things up. It is faith that they are there that will bring them to the forefront.

Overcoming the world is serious business. There are so many attractions, so many things to lure us away from Christ, so many thigs that can capture us and our imaginations. But through faith, all of these allurements can be overcome. All of them can be put behind us. We just have to believe that and then act upon it. It takes a faith that will reach out every day, every moment of every day. A faith that will listen to the voice of truth and not the leis of the world. A faith that never wavers and never ceases. This fruit of faith brings us the victory – and we overcome!

Romans 4:21
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

I put this verse in last because even though it does not mention the word faith, it is all about faith. Being fully persuaded means that we have been brought to a place where we are convinced of something. There is no doubt in our mind. This takes faith! His word will fully persuade us if we spend the time in that word to search out the truth. We must take the time to learn about this faith, this marvelous fruit, that He has given us. When we understand the depth of faith he wants us to display, then we can work toward cultivating this fruit to that place.

Once our faith has come to it’s full state, we then are persuaded that He will do what He says He will do. That means every promise in the book is mine! Do you know what he has promised you? He has promised healing, deliverance, wisdom, blessing on your family, flocks, career, home, land, etc., and so many more things. They are all yours when you become fully persuaded – when your faith is engaged.

This is probably one of the easiest fruit to grow within ourselves. I could cite many more scriptures, but I want to wrap this up with a quick reference on how to make your faith more fruitful. It’s not hard at all!
1) Read the word of God and recognize all those things that faith accomplishes.
2) Acknowledge the hand of God in everything that transpires in your life
3) Realize that prayers are answered all the time, and give thank for those answers
4) When answers are taking longer, recognize the little mercies along the way
5) Don’t allow anything to minimize your faith – let it be unstoppable.
6) Trust God in everything and give Him praise for everything that enters your life

If you follow these simple steps, you will see your faith growing steadily. The results will amazed you!

Redeemed From the Curse

Galatians 3:10-18 KJV

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

One of the things that becomes very obvious if you really look at the law that was given to Moses is that we are all cursed under the law because we cannot keep it. And the law specifically says that anyone who does not keep the words of the law is cursed!  Here is some of what the Word says about that in Deuteronomy 28:

15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
20 The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

Pestilence, fever, consumption, a botch, hemorrhoids, scabs, itch, blindness, madness – all these are listed in just 14 verses of the chapter – there are 29 more describing what happens to those who do not follow all the law completely!  God is serious about following the law!

But we are not under the curse of the law.  Jesus Christ gave His life so we would no longer be obligated to the law.  Paul says Jesus became a curse for us, taking our place.  Deuteronomy 21:23 tells us that cursed is everyone who hangs in a tree.  When Jesus hung on that cross, bearing all our sins, He reversed the curse of the law and made us all free from that curse.

The law was all about works, not faith.  You could not fulfill the law by faith.  The law was all about the things that the people did to show their worship, repentance, and awe toward God.  That is the Old Covenant.  The New Covenant which Jesus brought is based on belief in Him and His sacrifice.  If we decide we want to live by the law, then we have to do the whole law – not just parts of it.  Why would I ever choose the law over grace?

This also applies to our works.  Grace is what saves us – the grace of God.  We extend our faith to accept that grace.  It is not our works.  I know I keep repeating this fact, but we must understand that God has done all He needs to do to save us.  We cannot add anything to it, and so many do!  So many say works are a requirement for heaven.  Don’t fall back under that trap!  

On another note, in verse 16 Paul mentions that the promise was made to Abraham’s seed.  This is a singular form of the word seed.  The promise of blessing was not to his offspring, which would be seeds.  The seed is one – the seed of faith.  The faith that God counted to Abraham for righteousness.  That seed is in everyone who believes God.  We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born to take away our sins, died on a cross to redeem us and rose again to grant us eternal life.

If you ignore the fact that God promised this way before the law was given, then I can understand why one would think works are needed for redemption.  That is why this is so important!  God’s promises are true, throughout the Bible.  The law does not negate the promise to Abraham any more than the law negates the promise through Christ. 2 Cor 1:20 says For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.  Through Christ, all the promises are ours!

I will be the first to say that once we get saved, we must be about the Father’s business.  We have so much work to do in this world.  There are so many hurting people and each one of us can touch a soul each day.  It is imperative that we do all we can to spread His love to all we know. God has entrusted His grace to us so that we can show grace to others.  How do we do that?  By being a blessing to them!

Here’s a short list from a website called moreradiance.com.

  1. Smile and say hello to others
  2. Give up a parking space for someone else
  3. Pay for someone else’s meal
  4. Be kind and patient towards your waiter
  5. Leave a generous tip with a gospel tract
  6. Hold the door for others
  7. Let someone else go in line ahead of you
  8. Share coupons at the store
  9. Pick up things that have fallen off the shelves
  10. Be kind and patient towards the cashier
  11. Say “thank you”
  12. Give a stranger a sincere compliment
  13. Put extra change in a parking meter
  14. Pick up trash
  15. Wave others on at a stop sign

For the full list of 100 things, you can go to https://moreradiance.com/100-little-ways-bless-others/

It does not take a grand gesture to bless someone.  We pass on grace with a smile, a handshake, a good deed, a shoulder to cry on.  These works are necessary to work out our salvation (Phil 2:12).  In the end, we will be judged on how well we performed these works of grace.  We will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ!  Second Cor 5:10 says “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  Don’t think that just confessing Christ as your Savior will get you there!  If you make that confession and then turn away and just do your own thing, this verse is a warning!

Works does have a place, not in initial salvation, but in refining and molding us into our salvation.  Salvation is an ongoing experience. We keep growing in the grace of God – or at least we should.  If you are not growing, please take a hard look at why and correct it.  Do what the Father asks you to do.  Your eternal life depends on it!

The Blessing of Abraham

Galatians 3:4-10
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Paul first asks the Galatians if they have gone back to the works of that law for no reason.  It is useless to expect salvation from the works of the law.  It is vanity!  The law was merely a covering for sin – salvation erases it.  Jesus too away our sins – removed them as far as the East is from the West (psalm 103:12).  He has washed me white as snow (Is 1:18).  He will cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  Notice these verses do not say this will happen by the works of the law.  They are accomplished by faith alone, by confessing our sins.

The miracles that were being performed by the disciples are covered next.  Were they the result of the law?  NO.  They were the result of faith – faith in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit within them.  Remember Jesus what Jesus said just before He ascended to heaven in a cloud;  Acts 1:8 records these words:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Note that in verse 5 He tells them they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.  We spoke of this in the last lesson. Now He tells them this Holy Ghost will give them power to witness.  This witnessing is by many different means, not just verbal in nature.  This witnessing includes the Gifts of the Spirit, which we read of in 1 Cor 12:8-11

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spiit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

These gifts  are still the sign of the Holy Spirit.  Miracles back then were recorded often, and the people flocked to them.  Just look at all the people that followed Jesus.  He performed miracles all the time.  We read accounts of miracles the disciples performed, and I’m sure there were many not recorded.

Peter and John at the steps of the temple heal a lame man (Acts 3:1-10)
Ananias and Sapphira fall down dead for lying to God (Acts 5:1-10)
Peters shadow and has hands heal multitudes who have gathered (Acts 5:15()
Paul casts out an evil spirit from a woman (Acts 16:18)
Paul sends handkerchiefs to the sick and they are healed (Acts 19:12)

We will not delve into the rest of the gifts at this time, since Paul only mentions miracles here.  We will leave that for a future study.  Jesus told them miracles would be a witness to Jerusalem first, then Judea and Samaria and then throughout the earth.  Paul started the last part of this prophetic word from Jesus. I think at first the other disciples forgot about it.  Peter at first protested about going to Cornelius, but later went and had a great result (Acts 10).  These miracles are works of faith, not a result of the law.

Next, Paul dicusses how Abraham pleased God by His faith in God.  Abraham had left Canaan with his family, gone to Egypt, then back to Canaan.  He separated from Lot and then fought the battle with the 5 kings to get Lot back.  Then these words come in Genesis 15:5-7

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.

This is before offering Isaac.  The belief He had to gain that righteousness was based on the promise given by the angel of God above   That his seed would be like the stars of the heaven.  At this time Abraham was 100 years old.  This part of Genesis is commonly known as the 2nd Covenant between man and God, or the Abrahamic Covenant.  God never breaks His Covenant, and this one is today passing onto Abraham’s seed.

The important thing to remember here is what that seed is.  It is not just Abraham’s fleshly seed, although the Jews are blessed by that part of the Covenant.  The seed of faith in God’s promise is the important one.  It has passed down to us today!  We are Abraham’s seed by faith, and God blesses us on that Covenant when we believe Jesus Christ and confess our sins. Nothing about works.

God told Abraham that his seed would be like the stars of heaven.  The stars are too numerous to count.  They cover an immense area and are afar off.  This was a promise that eventually, the seed of Abraham would be greater than the nation of His offspring.  It would include the Gentiles as well.  At this time there was no Jerusalem, no Jews, no Israel.  The seed of Abraham is greater than that.

We should all be eternally grateful for Abraham believing God.  I think we often forget how important he is to us and to this faith that we have.  Without this Covenant God would not be obligated to bring in the Gentiles.  He would not be obligated to pass the blessing on by faith alone.  This covenant is one of five God has made with man.  The others are:

Covenant with Noah that He would never flood the earth again  (Geneses 9:11-17)
Covenant with Moses to make Israel His nation (Exodus 19:3-6)
Covenant with David that his heir would sit on the throne of Israel eternally (2 Sam 7:12-13)
Covenant through Jesus – the New Covenant of salvation by grace and faith and the symbol of that Covenant being His blood shed for us (Luke 22:20,Heb 8:8-12)

When you look at these Covenants, you can see how important the Covenant with Abraham is. While we know that God keeps His promises, He puts the highest regard on these Covenants.  We should take special note that all of them apply forever.

Paul concludes with stating the fact again.  All who come to God by faith are included in the blessing of Abraham.  He will go on to explain further as we proceed.

 

 

Holy Spirit by Faith

Galatians 3:1-3 KJV

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Paul opens chapter 3 by calling the Galatians foolish and asking them who has bewitched them. What an interesting way to start a chapter!  If I was a proud Galatian, I would probably stop listening at this point. Sure, Paul was a respected teacher, but who is he to call me foolish!  I would say to that person that their pride has made them foolish.  It has made them drop the teaching of a man they all admired and loved for the preaching that put them under bondage.

The word foolish means lacking good sense or judgement. Foolish also means unwise. We saw in the last two chapters why Paul calls them foolish. They ignored the grace message and thought that their works is what would get them to heaven. If you are believing that today Paul would apply that word to you. Knowing the truth about God’s amazing grace is not rocket science.  Yet it is the most profound thing in the Bible!

Next, Paul tells them they have been bewitched. This is the only place in scripture where this word appears. It actually means to put someone under a spell so they no longer can think according to reason. It can also have a connotation of exercising evil power over someone. These are very strong words from Paul.  We need to be careful who we listen to and who we follow. Paul was pretty harsh to the Galatians by saying this and I think we should all take heed to his warning.  Make sure you can defend your position in the Bible with sound understanding of scripture.

We must stay in the truth of the grace message that Paul preached. We have talked about this for the last several lessons so I’m not going to get back into it now. I only ask that you look take a hard look your life.  Did you accept get saved initially by grace or do you think Heaven was yours by works. Once we are saved and made heaven our home, then works should result.  These works make our salvation complete.  They keep us headed to heaven.

Jesus was crucified for us. He was crucified to provide our salvation. It was the greatest mercy that was ever done by God. And we should try not to add anything to it. Christ did everything necessary to provide our Salvation on that cross. All we need to do is accept His mercy.  Paul says if we require anything else, then Christ’s death was in vain.

Now Paul asks a different question. Did they receive the Holy Spirit by works or by faith? I want to take you back to Acts chapter 2 and The Upper Room experience. There were 120 gathered in that room on the Day of Pentecost.  They were worshipping God and they were all in one accord. Suddenly, there was a mighty rushing wind in the room.  It was the Holy Spirit. Tongues of fire settled in above each one. They started speaking in these tongues and it ministered to the crowd outside.  At first the crowd thought they were drunk, but then realized that God was doing something supernatural.

This experience of Holy Spirit baptism is something that Paul firmly believed in. But we cannot gain that by any works that we do. It is taken only by faith once we are saved by grace. You cannot receive the Holy Spirit before you get saved. It must come after. But there is nothing you can do for the Holy Spirit to come into you. It has to be by faith. You have to trust the Lord that He wants you to have it and that He will give it to you.

Jesus said that earthly parents will give good gifts to their children.  Then He asks how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those that ask (Luke 11:13). Have you asked God for His Holy Spirit?  Have you asked him to fill you to overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit? He wants you to have the Holy Spirit because it’s his greatest gift besides salvation. It’s something that will give you power.  Power to witness, power to be bold. It was promised to the disciples in Acts 1:8.

Along with the Holy Spirit comes a prayer language.  This language is not for our understanding, but for God’s.  I believe it is some language that is spoken somewhere in the world.  We use this prayer language when we are not sure in our own understanding what to pray for.  This heavenly language makes intercession for us in “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26).  Paul says he prayed in the spirit (1 Cor 14:15).  He is telling us he prayed in tongues here. Acts 19:6 and Acts 10:44-46 both show us this sign being given to those filled with the Holy Spirit.  Even Jesus said we will speak with new tongues (Mark 16:17)

 

Paul also says he spoke in tongues more than anyone else (1 Cor 14:1-6).  This speaking in tongues is the gift of tongues mentioned in 1 Cor 12:10, and should always be followed by the gift of interpretation of tongues.  This is not to be confused with out prayer language.  Our prayer language is operate and distinct.  There is no interpreter except God, or except we are in a place where that language is known. Paul goes on in 1 Cor 14:7-24 to discuss speaking in tongues of both kinds.  Make sure you understand the distinction between the two.

Paul uses the word foolish again.  He asks them if they started in the spirit by faith, how can the flesh possibly be the thing that will perfect them. How can works of the flesh be a perfecting element in our lives. Our flesh needs to be put aside. Here is where working out our salvation with fear and trembling comes in (Phil 2:12).  Here is where allowing patience to work in our lives brings us to perfection, or maturity in Christ (James 2-4).  Paul and James do not contradict this statement fond in Galatians 3:3.   We have discussed this at length in our studies.

What Paul is saying here is that the Galatians received the gift of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit by faith, not works.  How can they now think that both come through works that they do in the flesh?  Works come AFTER these two things are part of our life.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not necessary for salvation, but salvation is necessary before the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I believe this baptism brings us to a deeper spiritual walk.  I feel many may disagree with that statement.  Jesus said it will give us power.  Paul says it gives us a special language to pray more effectively.

I will not go to the point of saying it brings me closer to God than someone without it.  I know many people that are deeply devoted and in tune with the Holy Spirit who do not have the baptism we have spoken of here.  I am keenly aware that God has mercy on whom He will have mercy (Exod 33:19).  He will give to whom He desires, and who has he desire.

I am convinced this gift will give us a more powerful prayer life, because we pray God’s will every time.  We pray what the Holy Spirit speaks to us.  When we speak with our own understating, we are thinking about our words, and it’s easy to put our desire in there.  We pray “Lord, heal them now. They need a miracle now”.  We should pray “God, give them strength to go through this trial until you are willing to heal them.”  Maybe they will miss a huge blessing of they are healed now.  Perhaps God is going to do great things in their life, as He did in mine.  A magnificent testimony of healing will strengthen others, especially if this healing is a visible one.  Seeing someone recovery slowly builds faith!  Who knows, we could find ourselves praying against God with our understanding.  That will never happen when we pray in the Spirit.

I you desire this baptism of the Holy Spirit, ask God.  He is a loving Father and this is a special gift.  The sign that you have received it is your prayer language, just like in that upper room.  It is allowing your tongue to speak what the spirit speaks to you.  Sometimes the spirit speaks to us in our own language, and we understand that.  But other times He speaks in a foreign language.  Without this gift we dismiss this and toss it out of our minds, not even remembering He has spoken it.  This gift is accepted by faith only.  Ask today, and allow your tongue to speak His words.

Justified by Faith

Galatians 2:16-19 KJV
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
After talking about his confrontation with Peter, Paul goes into a short discussion on why he preaches the grace message. Remember that this message was given to him by God as he spent time in Damascus and Arabia. From my own perspective, I will try to recap what Paul had concluded. He was well versed in the law! After all. He says he was a Pharisee (Phil 3:5), which means he knew the law well.

The Old Testament was full of laws and decrees that instructed people how they should serve God. These can be found in the first five books of the bible, known as the Torah to the Jews. Some were laws of things that had to be done to cover their sins, like the sacrificial system (Lev 1-7). Some were laws of behavior between people. Some were laws that forbid certain things, like what animals were clean and unclean. The book of Leviticus is filled with many of these laws.

The sacrifices were required to cover their sin. This was a large part of their worship to God. I’m not going to go into a long discussion on the sacrificial system but there are five basic sacrifices that were required. The burnt offering, the meat offering, the peace offering, the trespass offering and the sin offering. All of these have different functions and were carried out in different ways. But all they could do was cover the sins of the people. They did not take the sins away. The other behavioral laws were put in place because God didn’t want his people to treat each other like the pagan religions that were around them.

Paul makes the statement that following these laws did not justify anybody (v 16). The word justify means to make righteous. It gives the connotation of someone who has been freed from a sentence that they should have gotten. Justification is the giving of mercy to another. It also carries the meaning of being declared guiltless. The sacrificial system or the law did none of this. It was only a way that they could cover their sins but they were not completely freed from their sins.

When Christ died on the cross He carried all of our sins with Him (1 Peter 2:24). When He died those sins died with Him. His death and resurrection provided a way for us to be justified before God (Romans 4:25, 5:1). There are many who believe that His death immediately made everyone heaven bound. That is not true. God does not force His will on any of us. His death provided a way for everyone, but it is up to each of us to accept His sacrifice in order to be justified. In other words, we have to do something. By faith we have to accept His sacrifice for our sins and then allow him to be Lord of our lives. Once we are saved, we have an obligation to follow up with good works.

I liken it to a Christmas present. Somebody buys you a present and they told you it is sitting underneath your Christmas tree. They describe the package in full detail to you so you know that it came from them. They even tell you what’s inside will be amazing. All you have to do is open it up. If you don’t take the gift, it will sit under the tree forever. You will never gain the benefit of owning it. You go back to your house and you look at the box under the tree you have two choices. You can take the gift or you can let it sit there.

You would think that everybody would want to take that gift! After all it’s free. Somebody else paid the price for it. But yet so many leave it sitting under the Christmas tree. Our suspicious nature tells us there must be a catch. Why would anyone do such a thing for me? I know this will end up costing me something. In the end, we just decide that blessing can sit there.

That’s the way it is with Christ. People hear the gospel message all the time and refuse to believe it. They refuse to ask Jesus Christ to forgive them of their sins. They refuse to turn away from their sins. And they refuse to start working the righteous work that He wants us to do. They will remain in sin and head for hell’s stronghold when they die if they don’t accept this free gift that has been offered.

Others will say they don’t need the gift of salvation. They have lived a good life, and God will take them to heaven because of it. But the bible is very clear that we all have sin within us (Rom 3:23). There is none of us that is good in ourselves (Psalms 14:3, Rom 3:12). That is because when Adam sinned, his seed passed sin to all who were born after him (Rom 5:12). We are all born with sin in us. In Psalm 51:5 David says he had sin in his mother’s womb. Most believe that until a child can understand their decision to refuse Christ’s grace, they are not held accountable for accepting that grace. This would also apply to those who are incapable of understanding.

Jesus was not born from the seed of man, so never had that seed of sin within Him. Mary conceived Him by the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:35). Because of this, He became our sinless sacrifice. In the Old Testament, the sacrifice of the people had to be unblemished. Christ is the only person ever born this way, and so He is the only one who could fulfill the sacrificial law and become the atoning sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10). This is a very brief explanation of why Christ is that gift given to us (John 3:16) to save us from our sins.

All of the wonderful things we do will not get us to heaven unless we take that gift. We are only justified by faith in Christ, and not by works. Verse 16 says “by The Works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Have you accepted Christ into your life? If you haven’t, pray this prayer with me and then find a good church and talk to the pastor. Tell him you just got saved and you want to start your new life.

Dear Jesus: I believe that you died for my sins. I repent and ask you to forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me from all my sinful ways and put me on the right path. I believe you rose again to give me eternal life in heaven. I now turn from my former ways and make you Lord of my life. Thank you for saving me!

Once we have taken that step we are supposed to stay out of sin. Jesus justified each of us – we should no longer walk in our old sinful ways. They have been destroyed by Christ and I have no business building those foundations again in my life. If I do, then I make myself a transgressor. We know Jesus will forgive us, but we still must stay out of sin.

If we sin knowingly, that is our pride at work. We come to a place where we think He loves us so much He will continue to forgive us. I am not saying He won’t, but we certainly take advantage of His grace if we sin knowingly. I would not want to take that chance. Christ is not the minister of sin. He is a minister of righteousness. He has made us dead to the law so that we might live to God. He did not save us so we could just fall back into the trap of sin. He saved us so we could rise above that, with His help, and enjoy all the blessings He bestows. Why would we ever leave those blessings behind? Let us leave our sin behind instead.

Paul goes on to explain further how we have died to that old sin. The next verse is one of my favorites – hope you’ll join us!

Be blessed!