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Archive for July, 2013

 

race

Seven laws for running the [Christian] race:

 

1) Run to win: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

 

2) Observe strict discipline: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training… I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

 

3) Don’t look back: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

 

4) Get constant encouragement: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us…run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

 

5) Throw off restraints: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

 

6) Discount pain: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:22-24).

 

7) Don’t let up until you cross the line: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

 

Source: Jim Elliff

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The Secret to Contentment

Contentment-ResurgenceTemplate2

 

If you belong to Christ, like the apostle Paul you can and should learn the secret of a contented life. When Paul wrote “godliness with contentment is great gain” he wasn’t just speaking philosophically (1 Tim. 6:6). He had learned the secret to contentment in every circumstance of life (Phil 4:11-2). While that secret eludes most people, it need not elude any true believer. For those who are willing to learn, here are six steps to a contented life from the life and teaching of Paul.

 

First, learn to give thanks in all things. Paul had learned to give thanks in every circumstance and he exhorted all believers to do the same. Thankfulness is first of all a matter of obedience (1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:18), but it is also a characteristic of a Spirit-filled believer (Eph. 5:18-20).

 

Second, learn to rest in God’s providence. If we truly know God, we know that He is unfolding His agenda and purpose in our lives. He has sovereignly determined each part of His plan for us so that we’ll be benefited and He’ll be glorified (cf. Rom. 8:28). We should not be surprised or ungrateful when we experience trials because we know that God sees perfectly the end result (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-13).

 

Third, learn to be satisfied with little. Paul had learned to make the choice to be satisfied with little, and he knew it was important for others to learn to make that same choice. In 1 Timothy 6:6 Paul exhorted a young pastor with these words: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” Paul understood that covetousness and contentment are mutually exclusive.

 

Fourth, learn to live above life’s circumstances. That’s how Paul lived. In 2 Cor. 12:9-10 he wrote, “Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul didn’t take pleasure in the pain itself, but in the power of Christ manifested through him in times of infirmity, reproach, persecution, and distress. We also should learn to take pleasure in the power of Christ in times of distress.

 

Fifth, learn to rely on God’s power and provision. The apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”; and Jesus said He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Like Paul, we can learn to rely on Christ’s promise. He faithfully infuses every believer with His own strength and sustains them in their time of need until they receive provision from His hand (Eph. 3:16).

 

Finally, become preoccupied with the well-being of others. Paul summarized this mindset in Philippians 2:3-4, where he wrote: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” A self-centered man is a discontented man. But the soul of the generous man, the man who lives for the interests and benefit of others, will find blessing upon blessing in his life (see Prov. 11:24-5; 19:17; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6).

 

Source: http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA149/What-Is-the-Secret-to-Contentment

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lies

 

 

The apostle Paul wrote:

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

We are all susceptible to believing lies at any given time. The world is magical at presenting its counterfeit products as the genuine article. One would assume that because Christians are followers of the Truth, that we would be less susceptible to such lies.

The real truth, however, is that Christians believe many lies. We sometimes don’t even realize that they are lies because they are wrapped up so nicely with what appears to be a “Bible bow.”

 

There are hundreds of lies Christians believe, either collectively or individually. I chose these five lies because I have personally seen them infiltrate the church, the lives of my friends and family, and my own life.

Here are the Top Five Lies Christians Believe (according to me):  

1. Church is not necessary.

In other words, it’s OK to be a lone Christian.

I was a lone Christian for many years. I knew no differently and I honestly didn’t know any better. Somehow in my daily reading of scripture, all the talk of the body and fellowship just flew right past me.

The saddest thing is that it was my lack of accountability and relationship that pushed me to my furthest point away from God. I would wake up every morning and feel hopeless and alone.

2. All Christians need to do is be “good” and act “nice.”

That is what a “good Christian does.” This lie is one of the enemy’s greatest weapons. He wants us to believe that if we just “act” a certain way and keep up appearances (i.e. do good works apart from grace) that we will be OK.

Satan wants to convince us that we are capable, in our own strength, to accomplish God’s will, thereby rejecting the Holy Spirit. We ignore the Holy Spirit and all of His available guidance, power and counsel. We treat the Spirit as either insignificant to create change in our life, or simply irrelevant. We believe wrongly that we can “make it happen.”

Yet, it is through the Spirit that we are empowered to do God’s work. Likewise, our salvation rests on knowing Christ, loving Him completely, nothing else.

God will not ask if you were a nice person when you stand before Him. He will want to know if you knew His Son.

3. God doesn’t care about your small things.

He is much too busy with all the big issues. I have personally struggled (and still do struggle) with this lie.

Somewhere along the line we convince ourselves that God has got a lot on his plate and so we don’t bother Him with our silly little lives. We pray for others, sure. Or make our own requests known only when they are “big” things, and even then we doubt He might care or actually hear.

But oh how He cares.

He knows the number of hairs on your head. He does not just tolerate you or put up with you. He delights in you. He is overjoyed to hear your voice, calling out to your Abba.

He cares about the details of your lives just as much as the “big picture.” He desires you to let Him into the small spaces where He can take up residence and bring peace.

4. We believe that only pastors or those in “leadership” can, in fact, lead.

Churches use words like pastor, counselor, minister of whatever or lay person. They are essentially stating that you must be a professional to serve or lead within the body.

The beauty, however, of the Body of Christ is that God calls ordinary men to do His extraordinary work.

You do not need a seminary degree, a certificate of training or a title from your church’s administration to serve, disciple or equip those around you. You need three things: willingness, faithfulness and the Holy Spirit.

5. God wants us to be happy.

Happiness in scripture is usually mentioned in terms of a fleeting moment or a temporal, earthly event. Neither the scriptures or Christ (or anyone else for that matter) ever tell us that God wants us to “be happy.” He wants us to be a lot of things: righteous, holy, godly, pure, sanctified, etc … but “happy” ain’t in the list.

It’s cliche, but man is it true: God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness.

Americans tend to think more in terms of happiness and immediacy than joy and steadfastness. We want God to just rain down good feelings and good times.

The truth, however, is that being happy and content in our daily lives is a byproduct of following Jesus with an obedient heart, but it is not the reason we follow Him.

We give our lives to Him because His sacrifice demands a response. In turn, as we engage with Him and let the Spirit lead, He offers us the abundant life. Abundance in Christ, however, is not synonymous with happiness.

In fact, I would argue that in some ways, being a Christian is actually harder than not. The reward, blessing, peace and fruit, however, far outweigh our temporal sufferings.

 

Source: Nicole Cotrell
(http://www.churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-blogs/154842-nicole_cottrell_top_5_lies_christians_believe.html?p=1)

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The Sin of Temptation?

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Question: “Is temptation a sin? Is it a sin to be tempted?”

Answer: Temptation, by its very nature, feels wrong. God’s moral law  is written in the heart of every human being (Romans  1:20), and when a sinful temptation is introduced, our consciences  immediately sense danger. However, the temptation itself is not the sin. Jesus was tempted (Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-13), but He never  sinned (Hebrews  4:15). Sin occurs when we mishandle temptation.

There are two  avenues by which we are tempted: Satan and our own sinful flesh. Acts 5 gives an example of someone tempted by Satan. Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, wanting to  appear more spiritual than they really were, lied to the apostles and pretended  they were giving as an offering the full price of some property they had sold. Peter confronted them: “How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you  have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you  received for the land?”(verse 3). In this instance, Peter knew that the  temptation to lie had come from Satan. Ananias and his wife both gave in to that  temptation (verses 7-10). The betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot is also attributed to Satan’s influence (Luke 22:3; John 13:2).

Ultimately, since Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the father of lies (John 8:44), all evil originates with him. However, our own selfish nature is an ally of Satan’s. We need no prompting from Satan to entertain sinful ideas. James 1:13-14 says, “When  tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged  away by their own evil desire and enticed.”

Even though we may desire to  do good, we are all tempted. No one is above it, even someone like the apostle Paul. He shared his own struggle of flesh against spirit when he wrote in Roman 7:22-23, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at  work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of  the law of sin at work within me.”

Temptation is not of itself sinful.  It becomes sin when we allow the temptation to become action, even in our minds.  Lust, for example, is sin even though it may never be acted upon (Matthew 5:28).  Covetousness, pride, greed, and envy are all sins of the heart; even though they  may not be apparent to anyone else, they are still sin (Romans 1:29; Mark  7:21-22). When we give in to the temptation to entertain such thoughts, they  take root in our hearts and defile us (Matthew  17:19). When we yield to temptation, we replace the fruit of the Spirit with  the fruit of the flesh (Ephesians  5:9; Galatians  5:19-23). And, many times, what was first entertained as a thought becomes action (see James  1:15).

The best defense against giving in to temptation is to flee  at the first suggestion. Joseph is a great example of someone who did not allow  temptation to become sin (Genesis  39:6-11). Although tempted to sin sexually, he did not give the temptation  time to take root. He used the legs God gave him and physically fled. Rather  than stay in a potentially dangerous situation and try to talk, reason, justify,  explain, or otherwise weaken his resolve, Joseph took off. The temptation was  not sin for him because he dealt with it in a God-honoring way. It could easily  have become sin if Joseph had stayed around to try to match his wits and  self-control against the power of the flesh.

Romans  13:13-14 (ESV) gives us a guideline for avoiding situations that can lead to  temptation. “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and  drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and  jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh,  to gratify its desires.” If we determine to “make no provision for the flesh,”  we will keep ourselves out of situations that may prove too tempting. When we  put ourselves in situations where we know we will be tempted, we are asking for  trouble. God promises to provide a “way of escape” when we are tempted (1  Corinthians 10:13), but often that way is to avoid the situation altogether.  “Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Timothy  2:22). Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:4), but we have a responsibility to pay attention  to the direction God is leading us and avoid temptation whenever we can.

Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/temptation-sin.html

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The Accomplishments of Christ

TheNailTheCross

 

 

It’s always important for us, as believers, to saturate our minds in the work that Christ has accomplished for us!

Therefore, here’s a brief summary of the six core things Christ accomplished in His death:

 

1. Expiation

Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt. Christ’s death removes — expiates — our sin and guilt. The guilt of our sin was taken away from us and placed on Christ, who discharged it by his death.

Thus, in John 1:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus takes away, that is, expiates, our sins. Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him,” and Hebrews 9:26 says “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

 

2. Propitiation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath.

By dying in our place for our sins, Christ removed the wrath of God that we justly deserved. In fact, it goes even further: a propitiation is not simply a sacrifice that removes wrath, but a sacrifice that removes wrath and turns it into favor. (Note: a propitiation does not turn wrath into love — God already loved us fully, which is the reason he sent Christ to die; it turns his wrath into favor so that his love may realize its purpose of doing good to us every day, in all things, forever, without sacrificing his justice and holiness.)

Several passages speak of Christ’s death as a propitiation for our sins. Romans 3:25-26 says that God “displayed [Christ] publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration of his righteousness at the present time, that he might be just and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.”

Likewise, Hebrews 2:17 says that Christ made “propitiation for the sins of the people” and 1 John 3:10 says “in this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

3. Reconciliation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, and propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath, reconciliation refers to the removal of ouralienation from God.

Because of our sins, we were alienated – separated — from God. Christ’s death removed this alienation and thus reconciled us to God. We see this, for example, in Romans 5:10-11: “For if while we were enemies, we werereconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

 

4. Redemption

Our sins had put us in captivity from which we need to be delivered. The price that is paid to deliver someone from captivity is called a “ransom.” To say that Christ’s death accomplished redemption for us means that it accomplished deliverance from our captivity through the payment of a price.

There are three things we had to be released from: the curse of the law, the guilt of sin, and the power of sin. Christ redeemed us from each of these.

    • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13-14).
    • Christ redeemed us from the guilt of our sin. We are “justified as a gift by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
    • Christ redeemed us from the power of sin: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Note that we are not simply redeemed from the guilt of sin; to be redeemed from the power of sin means that our slavery to sin is broken. We are now free to live to righteousness. Our redemption from the power of sin is thus the basis of our ability to live holy lives: “You have been bought with a price;therefore glorify God in your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

 

5. Defeat of the Powers of Darkness

Christ’s death was a defeat of the power of Satan. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 3:15). Satan’s only weapon that can ultimately hurt people is unforgiven sin. Christ took this weapon away from him for all who would believe, defeating him and all the powers of darkness in his death by, as the verse right before this says, “having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

 

6. And He Did All of This By Dying As Our Substitute

The reality of substitution is at the heart of the atonement. Christ accomplished all of the above benefits for us by dying in our place – that is, by dying instead of us. We deserved to die, and he took our sin upon him and paid the penalty himself.

This is what it means that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20). As Isaiah says, “he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities . . . the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

You see the reality of substitution underlying all of the benefits discussed above, as the means by which Christ accomplished them. For example, substitution is the means by which we were ransomed: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Christ’s death was a ransom for us — that is, instead of us. Likewise, Paul writes that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Substitution is the means by which we were reconciled: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). It is the means of expiation: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 3:24). And by dying in our place, taking the penalty for our sins upon himself, Christ’s death is also the means of propitiation.

To close: Two implications. First, this is very humbling.

Second, “Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

 

Source: http://www.whatsbestnext.com/2011/04/6-things-christ-accomplished-by-his-death/

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