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An important quote for those hurting

This is a quote from Charles Spurgeon.  I think the verse is taken way out of context, but I think his message is inspired and worth reading and wanted to share it.  I also added a quote from Warren Wiersbe at the end.

“My grace is sufficient for thee.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

If none of God’s saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace. When we find the wanderer who has not where to lay his head, who yet can say, “Still will I trust in the Lord;” when we see the pauper starving on bread and water, who still glories in Jesus; when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction, and yet having faith in Christ, oh! what honour it reflects on the gospel. God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring—that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily, or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as he is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace. There is a lighthouse out at sea: it is a calm night—I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm; the tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand. So with the Spirit’s work: if it were not on many occasions surrounded with tempestuous waters, we should not know that it was true and strong; if the winds did not blow upon it, we should not know how firm and secure it was. The master-works of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties, stedfast, unmoveable,— 1

1 Spurgeon, Charles H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.

“As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered” (James 5:11, niv). But you cannot persevere unless there is a trial in your life. There can be no victories without battles; there can be no peaks without valleys. If you want the blessing, you must be prepared to carry the burden and fight the battle. 2

2 Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996.

Do we really think our actions cause God to forgive us for sin?

Many people will try to tell you that you must do something for you to be forgiven of sin, or to “receive” forgiveness.  They will tell you it is up to you to: repent, be sorry for your sin, have saving faith, quit sinning, confess, go to church etc, etc, etc.

In his book; My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers said: “We trample the blood of the Son of God under foot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only explanation of the forgiveness of God and of the unfathomable depth of His forgetting, is the Death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the outcome of our personal realization of the Atonement which He has worked out for us. “Christ Jesus … is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” When we realize that Christ is made all this to us, the boundless joy of God begins; wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is at work.

It does not matter who or what we are, there is absolute reinstatement into God by the death of Jesus Christ and by no other way, not because Jesus Christ pleads, but because He died. It is not earned, but accepted. All the pleading which deliberately refuses to recognize the Cross is of no avail; it is battering at another door than the one which Jesus has opened. ‘I don’t want to come that way, it is too humiliating to be received as a sinner.’ “There is none other Name …” The apparent heartlessness of God is the expression of His real heart, there is boundless entrance in His way. “We have forgiveness through His blood.” Identification with the death of Jesus Christ means identification with Him to the death of everything that never was in Him.

God is justified in saving bad men only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The Atonement is a propitiation whereby God through the death of Jesus makes an unholy man holy.”

I thought this was worth sharing.

 

Religion – Evil in the name of God

Most people would think religion is a good thing. We usually associate it with a strong moral code, and piety. In actuality it is one of the most evil practices of mankind. One does not have to look far to find examples of how religious organizations persecute anyone who believes differently than they do. Perhaps the word persecution is not strong enough. Attempts to annihilate, eradicate, destroy and torture are common in religious disputes. We usually associate religion with the worship of God, however God would never want His followers to condemn, torture, or murder people who follow a different code.

Why are religious people so hateful and intolerant of anyone who believes differently? As soon as one converts the persecution stops. Why are we so threatened when someone has a different concept of serving God? Does it threaten our position with God if someone follows another way? Does it confirm our faith if others believe the same way? Does God condemn us if we don’t believe the “right way”? Is God’s love dependent on our actions? Do we earn His love by believing?

One definition of religion is “Man’s attempt to reach that which is ultimate”. In its pure form, Christianity is not a religion because Christianity is God’s attempt to reach mankind. Man’s attempt results in law and legalism.

Galatians 3:11–15

15 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”

12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.”

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—

14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

 Whenever man tries to change his position with God by rules, does and don’ts or law, he has become religious. To justify his actions, he must define God in terms that he can understand. He places God in a box, as something he understands and controls, yet he would never admit this.

Christianity teaches that if you walk with God, do not reject Him, but allow the Holy Spirit to guide your actions, you will fulfill the law. The emphasis is not on your actions, but your mental consent and submission to God, saying “Lord your will in my life, not mine”. That is not religion, that is a relationship. It comes from understanding what Christ accomplished at the cross, when he cleansed us all from sin, the punishment from sin, and the guilt from sin.

It seems odd to have to say so, but too much religion is a bad thing. We can’t get too much of God, can’t get too much faith and obedience, and can’t get too much love and worship. But religion—the well-intentioned efforts we make to “get it all together” for God—can very well get in the way of what God is doing for us. The main and central action is everywhere and always what God has done, is doing, and will do for us. Jesus is the revelation of that action. Our main and central task is to live in responsive obedience to God’s action revealed in Jesus. Our part in the action is the act of faith.

But more often than not we become impatiently self-important along the way and decide to improve matters with our two cents’ worth. We add on, we supplement, we embellish. But instead of improving on the purity and simplicity of Jesus, we dilute the purity, clutter the simplicity. We become fussily religious, or anxiously religious. We get in the way.

That’s when it’s time to read and pray our way through the letter to the Hebrews again, written for “too religious” Christians, for “Jesus-and” Christians. In the letter, it is Jesus-and-angels, or Jesus-and-Moses, or Jesus-and-priesthood. In our time it is more likely to be Jesus-and-politics, or Jesus-and-education, or even Jesus-and-Buddha. This letter deletes the hyphens, the add-ons. The focus becomes clear and sharp again: God’s action in Jesus. And we are free once more for the act of faith, the one human action in which we don’t get in the way but on the Way. [1]

The religious person that appears to be successful in living the Godly life as they define it, is usually full of condemnation for those who do not live up to their standards. They will not associate with anyone that believes differently, because that threatens their definition of God. The God that they created in their mind could not possibly fit in someone else’s box.

 

[1] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Heb.

Abide in Me Lord

Jesus said:  John 14:4-13   4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Oswald Chambers said in his book My Upmost for His Highest: “The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by the Atonement, then I have to construct with patience the way of thinking that is exactly in accordance with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus, I have to do it myself; I have to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. “Abide in Me”—in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is.”

and: ” Think of the things that take you out of abiding in Christ—‘Yes, Lord, just a minute, I have got this to do; Yes, I will abide when once this is finished; when this week is over, it will be all right, I will abide then.’ Get a move on; begin to abide now. In the initial stages it is a continual effort until it becomes so much the law of life that you abide in Him unconsciously. Determine to abide in Jesus wherever you are placed.”

 

 

 

 

 

Defeating the fleshly impulse to do works

It is in our DNA to strive. When God said to Adam in Genesis 3:17- 19:

17 Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.  18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field;  19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground

God built into us a desire to work.  It is part of our flesh, and our flesh needs to work.  The desire for a sense of accomplishment, praise, recognition or credit drives mankind to strive.  But as a part of that nature, We also want to strive either against God, or to earn His favor.  We cannot earn favor from God by our works or our striving.

Galatians 5:4  4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

It all depends on your motivation. If your works are meant to please God or earn favor, then they are in vain and you need to change your motives. When you walk with God in love, your love in turn will result in good works that are of the right motive. To do this you need to die to the law, die to your own selfish desires and die to your guilty conscience.

I have been crucified with Jesus Christ representatively. In God’s sight my evi nature is dead. My sin was put to death on the cross of Jesus Christ and my sins were paid for. I was released from the bondage to sin. (Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans, 1994)

But now that we know that we need to die to self, and live only for Christ, how do we prevent that from becoming a type of works.  Our flesh always wants to take over.

The way we do that is to meet Christ daily face to face, and to let His love wash over you, and you will respond to his love.  That is not works, and it will result in a life that exhibits God’s Love to others, because when we comprehend God’s love, it manifests itself in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Love – Not condemnation

We were saved (past tense) for a purpose.  I believe the only purpose we were cleansed is so that we can love.  We are called to be the arms of God’s love.  When we take hold of the love that God has poured out on us, then our love can be His love directed to others.

I constantly here Christians try to explain how they can love sinners, but not the sin, they are still missing the point.  I listened to a “Church Leader” the other day on the radio talk about how he had to explain to his son about Homosexuals.  The first thing they talk about is how much of a sin and an abomination to God it is.  They of course refer to Romans 1 but they seem to skip over the rest of it:

1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things

Yet they judge. We are all sinners, and no, not some worse than others, you guys are just as bad as me!.

I believe that since Christ took care of our sin, we need to forget it, get off of it, let it go, don’t even talk about it and move on, to the whole reason He took care of it, which is so that we are now able to freely share His Love.  I am convinced this is the whole reason for our existence, and only the Holy Spirit can enable us to walk this way. I want to know how I can do it better, every day.  How do I remember to die to my selfish desires, and live for Him?

I am constantly amazed that I see such acts of love, from non-believers, or at least not the way (we evangelicals, or whatever we are or used to be ) I categorize them as believers, but maybe that is because they are not so bound up by the conscience, and the law, and guilt, they are free to allow God to love through them.

 

Excerpt from the chapter on “The Conscience”

Adam and Eve sinned against God when they ate the fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil“. As soon as they ate it, they realized that they were naked. They had been naked all of the time before this and didn’t even realize it. It had never hurt their relationship with God before this, so why the sudden change? It was because they now had consciences.

Look what it made them do. They hid from God!

 Genesis 3:8

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

This new knowledge caused them to hide from God, because they now knew they were naked. They covered themselves with fig leaves, but it was not enough. They now realized that God knew everything about their inner most thoughts, and they felt guilty in front of God. This started a trend of man hiding from God. Because he has a conscience—the knowledge that he did wrong—it kills him and his relationship with God.

They covered themselves with fig leaves, and it did not do any good. You could say this is analogous to man trying to cover his nakedness before God with good works. That does not work, either. Let’s see what God did with Adam and Eve to solve this problem with a conscience.

Genesis 3:9

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

Just a note: if God is all-knowing (He is), then why did He ask, “Where are you”? God wanted them to confront what they did wrong in His presence. Confession of your sinful state to God is the first step toward relieving a guilty conscience.

Genesis 3:10–13

10 And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

12 And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Notice how the first reaction was to blame their sin on someone else. They wanted God to think they were victims, not taking responsibility for their actions. Here comes the punishment.

Genesis 3:17–19

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.

18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; vAnd you shall eat the plants of the field;

19By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

Eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil caused all mankind to die. Before this, there was no mention of death. Satan was a liar. It is interesting to note here that the curse is not on Adam and Eve, but upon the ground and the creation.

Genesis 3:21

And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

This is the first time in the Bible that an animal was killed. Blood was spilled so that an animal’s skin could be used to cover the nakedness of mankind. You could say that the animal whose skin was used gave his life for the sin of Adam and Eve. This is prophetical, because from this point on, blood is used as the sacrifice for sin; first the lambs in the Old Testament, and then the final completion of all sacrifices: the life of Jesus Christ. He gave his life for your sins.

When I first became a Christian, I was taught that God hated sin so much that He couldn’t fellowship with sinful man. To look on man, or to have fellowship with him, He had to cover us with the blood of Christ. I am now convinced that it is not God that has the problem, but man. People require a blood sacrifice in order to believe that they have been forgiven. From the first blood sacrifice in the Garden to all of the blood sacrifices in the temple, blood appears to be required for mankind to believe they are forgiven. Man’s guilty conscience is the reason that God had to send Jesus to die on the cross, so that man could and would believe that God loved him.