Tuesday, November 15, 2011

True Life

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Jesus did not come to accompany us in a life of sin. He came to lead us into a better life, a life that is described as abundant life. Sin prevents us from enjoying the reward of living abundantly by keeping us separated from God (Isaiah 59:2). The One who created us is trying to show us how to receive the greatest blessings while going through the burdensome trials and agonies of this life on the earth. He has come to lead us in the way of truth that leads to eternal life, and will come again to receive those that are willing to follow Him: "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11). Those who are the overcomers are the ones who deny the flesh and allow God’s Spirit to lead them into this abundant life (Matthew 11:28).

The biggest obstacle we must overcome to enter into this way of life is ourselves. Jesus explained this difficult task when He taught that being a disciple means to be willing to let go of the selfish life we once knew: "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Satan makes choosing the abundant life difficult by making the other way of life look so pleasing and enjoyable. But you must remember that he is the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and his words are designed to keep you from enjoying the blessings of the abundant life. That is why we must go to the Bible to test the words that proceed from the mouths of men: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1). Satan convinces the world that pleasing the flesh is the right way of life, and then he uses their confusion to deceive you to embrace their philosophy and follow their path of destruction.

Jesus came to save us from this destructive nature. He shows us that the abundant life is a life that has a priority system based on eternity: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus goes on to say that this priority system takes the worry factor out of life and this opens the door to enjoying life the way God intended. We spend our time worrying about how to earn the necessities of life that God has promised to supply. This abundant life also enjoys a peaceful tranquility that the world’s way cannot enjoy: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Abundant living is peaceful because it is living by faith. Those who are living this way of life have given all authority over to God and are now relaxing in His care knowing He cannot be defeated. They face the trials of life in a rejoicing mindset just as Paul did when he wrote many of his words chained to his enemies that were holding him captive. In reality, it was the jailers that were the “captive” audience.

God wants you to enjoy the abundant way of living. He sent His Son to deliver this life to us by living to accomplish the will of His Father. But we must look through eyes of faith to behold the value of this life. We must be on guard at all times knowing the evil one is out there to cause us to doubt God’s way. He is working against you by deceiving you to think he is working for you. Look to God’s word for guidance because truth is the way that God can set you free (John 8:32).

In His Grace,

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Changing Desires

“Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (Psalm 34:11).

The Bible is an inspired book in which we have “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,” an acronym that sums up how we should view this treasure of truth. But many seem to find ways in their hearts to bypass these instructions and still believe they are in God’s grace. This mindset is shown as illegitimate: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Knowing God’s word is not enough to keep your soul in His grace. You must make application.

When Jesus traveled through Bible lands, He taught a new way of life. He taught how to live in a way that will keep one in God’s grace. He taught how to have the right mindset to keep you free from sin. In chapter five of the book of Matthew, Jesus taught the Beatitudes to give us a measuring tool to determine where we are in relationship to the holiness of God. We must view these teachings as goals and strive to attain their power.

One Beatitude Jesus taught was humility: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:1). God has a place for the humble. As Jesus taught He came across a few that thought they knew what God desired from them. Jesus referred to them as “healthy” (Matthew 9:12). When Jesus tried to get them to change their beliefs, they thought they were already in good standing with God, in other words they were “healthy”. They were not humble enough to see their spiritual illness and it cost them a chance to be in God’s grace. If we are too prideful to see our spiritual illness we will be left out of God’s grace also. We must be humble enough to see our error and change.

Another one of the Beatitudes Jesus taught was a desire to be right with the Lord: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). When Jesus spoke the words, “hunger” and “thirst,” He spoke of the most extreme measures of these needs. If you hunger and thirst you are to the point of death. It is sad to say but sometimes we hunger and thirst more for a ballgame or a hunting trip more than we do spiritual fullness. Christians are always hungering for a perfect relationship with the Creator of life. Not just craving a snack, but dying if we do not get nourishment that can only come from the word of God. We know that if we are not fed from the Shepherd’s menu, we will die. We hunger for the truth found in His word.

Jesus taught so much more, but these two spiritual lessons really stick out. The further we get from that day at the cross the further we seem to get from the desire that took Jesus there. Remember you have been called out of the world of fleshly desires and into the realm of godliness and spiritual beauty. Continue to allow God to fill your hearts with His goodness and put aside the old ways of reasoning you might have once held. Stay hungry for the beatitudes that made Christ Who He is and remain determined to be made in His likeness more and more each day. This will bring prosperity to your spiritual life and fruitfulness in His kingdom.

In His Grace,