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Archive for September, 2011

“Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all” Isaiah 53:4-6 NLT.

Every spiritual blessing that we have as believers is because of what Jesus did on the cross for us.  He did not die for any sin he had committed, He died for our sin. By His stripes we are healed of the sin which is a sickness that only God can cure. He untwisted our twisted sinful nature. He redeemed and restored us to right relationship with God and each other. He is our good shepherd who died so that His sheep can live.

Today, run to the cross. Be changed and transformed through the power of the cross.

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“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT).

When you meditate on the love of God do you fall to your knees with awe, wonder, and joy?  Do you ponder that heaven’s resources are unlimited and His strength is eternal?  Do you fellowship with Jesus every day, talking to Him, walking with Him, allowing Him to be Lord of every thought and attitude?

If you are like most Christians, you may spend more time thinking about your problems then meditating on the rich fulfillment of Christ.  You will magnify whatever you meditate on.  Stop right now!  Contemplate how wide, long, high and deep is God’s love for you. Paul’s prayer for you in Ephesians 3 is that your inner life would have spiritual strength to lead you to a deeper place with Christ.  This deeper walk will enable you to lay hold of the greatness of God’s love, and will result in you being filled with the fullness of God. Embrace fully your spiritual wealth by going deeper with Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or think.  It’s His power that flows through you to give you fullness in life.

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“‘ You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’” Isaiah 41:9b-10 (NLT).

God’s tender declaration over Israel reassures them of their special calling as descendants of Abraham.  Chapter 40 of Isaiah is a turning point where God is seen as the answer to all of Israel’s troubles.  God pardons their sin of idolatry and immorality as a nation, and encourages them to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. He declares that He is greater than any negative circumstance and greater than all of their fears. In spite of their past rebellion, God was still working on their behalf. He was their kinsman redeemer.

Today, no matter what mistakes you have made or patterns of sin that have entangled you in the past, God is your Answer to every situation and need in your life.  When He forgives you He also restores you and cleanses you.  He forgets your past failures and does not hold them over your head, waiting for you to fail again.  Today, let the tenderness of the Father’s love, the redemption by the Son’s blood, and the sanctifying work through the power of the Holy Spirit encourage and strengthen you.  He is the One who holds you up with His righteous right hand of favor.

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“God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us His mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill His own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan” Ephesians 1:5-11 NLT.

Part of being born again into God’s family is that you are adopted with full inheritance of all of God’s wealth and resources.  By God’s grace He accepted us and claimed us as His own.  He paid the price to set us free and redeem us.  He forgave us so that there are no written accusations against us.  As Warren Wiersbe says in the NT Bible Commentary “Sin made us poor, but grace makes us rich” (page 587). Our life in Him is to be lived with purposeful confidence in His divine plan being accomplished. Today, live your life fully for God, knowing that He has accepted you and adopted you as His own.

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“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load” Galatians 6:1-5 NKJV.

Do you feel burdened and overloaded?  Are you weighed down by sin in your life?  One pattern of sin in the American church which is often overlooked is self-sufficiency.  God has designed each one of us to live in Community.  We are not graced to carry burden’s by ourselves. He gives us grace for our own load of purposeful responsibilities.

In Galatians 6:1-5 Paul is addressing the legalists who are not interested in carrying other people’s burdens.  In fact the legalists add to the burden to others shoulders with extra requirements.  Paul is given an example of someone who is “overtaken” with sin.  In other words they were surprised by this sin.  Paul is contrasting the way that those who are spiritual deal with sin and the way that those who are legalists.  A legalist condemns, but one who is spiritual walks in discernment of whether something is a “burden” or a “load.”

The word for burden in this passage comes from the Greek word baros which means a weight that is heavy or crushing.  Rick Renner who wrote Sparkling Gems translates Galatians 6:2 like this “When someone is burdened by crushing cares and difficult events in life that are too much for one person to carry all by himself, crawl up under that burden and help that person carry it, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (page 354).   Paul goes on in Galatians 6:5 to encourage each one to carry his own “load.”  The word for load in Greek is phortion which refers to something like a bag, kit or backpack.  Rick Renner translates Galatians 6:5 like this “For every man is accountable for a certain level of personal responsibility in life, and he cannot look to anyone else to free him of these obligations that are his to take care of himself” (page 357). If you are spiritual you will seek to restore a brother in love and help him carry His burden, and then you would help him know what is his load to carry.

So today, discern what is your “load” to carry and what has become a “burden.”  You are graced by the Holy Spirit to live a life of liberty before God.  You do not need to be weighed down, you are called to live in a fulness of joy. Don’t allow other people to put bricks of their responsibility into your backpack of your life. Today determine in your heart to become unencumbered by extra weight and walk fully in the grace of God.

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“Strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts,‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.’ And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there” Isaiah 35: 3-8 NLT.

Isaiah wrote this wonderful promise to the people of God when they were facing the threat of utter destruction from the Assyrian Army.  Assyrians invaded and ravaged lands, destroyed crops, and made highways unusable. In the face of complete destruction, Isaiah paints a picture of future expectancies.  In ancient cities there were special highways that only Kings and priests could use. Isaiah was pointing the people to picture the coming of the Messiah, who when He reigns, all the people would be able to use this highway of holiness. On this highway evil fools would not be able to travel but only God’s ransomed and redeemed who come with singing and gladness.

Think about the path you are presently traveling on. Do you need fresh encouragement?  Do you have tired hands or a troubled mind?  Are there places where you feel afraid of your future?  Are there enemies that have hounded you?  You have a clear promise. Be strong! Don’t be afraid!  He Himself will overcome every enemy.  If your eyes have become blinded by your problems, He will restore your sight.  If your ears are deaf, He will cause you to Hear His voice. If you feel lame, He will cause you to leap up with joy and gladness.  He has a way for you to travel.  He is calling you to travel on the Highway to Holiness.

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Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off” Proverbs 23:17-18 NKJV.

Do you live your life with eternity in mind?  Last Sunday when the United States commemorated September 11, you probably thought about where you were 10 years ago when you first received news that the twin towers had collapsed.  That was a day when people were thinking about the shortness of life and asking questions about eternity.

When you are viewing life with eternity in mind, you do not concentrate on petty things like envy.  In fact envy is often skin deep; it is shallow and temporal.  In Proverbs 23:17-18, you are challenged to guard your heart from envying a sinner.  You are called to fear the Lord and look at life with the perspective of the hereafter.  You are promised that your hope will not be cut off.

You have been created by God to live eternally with Him. Today, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Don’t look at things that are passing away.  Fear the Lord and zealously hate sin.  Put your eyes on your eternal promise of life with Him.

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