Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dual citizenship

These quotes are from U.S. Government websites:
"If you decide to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you will be showing your commitment to the United States and your loyalty to its Constitution. In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship. "
"The concept of dual nationality (emphasis added) means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time." 
I have dual nationality (or citizenship). I was born in the United States, so I am a citizen by birth. I also decided to accept Jesus Christ as my LORD and Savior, which made me a citizen of heaven as well. In doing so, I was rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of heaven!

However, in addition to being rewarded with those rights and privileges, I also have the responsibility to show my commitment to God and my loyalty to His Word. How? By obeying it. This morning I read in Philippians 1:27 (NLT):
"Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Jesus Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News."
There is one way to live as citizens of heaven and that is to live a life of holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1). That's what we'll be talking about this Sunday.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What counts

"It doesn't matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation." Galatians 6:15
This process of transformation is one that begins with regeneration (when we are born again) and continues until we go to heaven (and are glorified). This process is also known as sanctification. It is God alone who does the transforming, or sanctifying work. For people like me, who are "works oriented," it is hard to let go of control, but let go, I must. Our verse for this Sunday is from First Thessalonians 5:23-24:
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it."
Another group of people who has trouble letting God do the work of sanctification is intelligent people. People who we refer to as "smart." You know, the ones who excelled in school, have an impressive degree or two and even know about the Bible. The "smart" person accepts Jesus as their personal Savior by faith. They realize that they could do nothing to earn this salvation. But slowly, the great love they had for their Savior, and other believers, begins to turn cool as they combine faith with their "discernment". Slowly, it turns into a "co-op relationship," which eventually turns cold. I heard a quote today from D.A. Carson:
"There is a place in regard to exercising faith where intellect has to step aside."
Wow! that's powerful. I must realize that it is faith alone that saved me and faith alone that will lead me home.  Nothing I can do will add to it. And it is no co-op relationship. He is Master and Savior.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

English lesson

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
This is the verse we will be looking at on Sunday. It is a verse that every person who calls themselves a Christian should memorize and meditate on.

In the above NIV translation, there are 7 personal pronouns (I, me) used. Paul is saying that this relationship with Christ is one that can only happen when you accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Paul cannot do it for you. Your mother cannot do it for you. Your spouse cannot make it happen, etc.

In the same way, I cannot make my son or anyone else enter into a relationship with Christ. I can bring God to them, but it is God who brings people to Himself.

The fact that Paul uses the Present Perfect Tense "I have been crucified," is crucial, because it means that the action has been completed. It stands accomplished! This verse comes after Paul is telling how he had to correct Peter in front of everyone, because Peter was falling back into legalism and causing others to stumble. By his actions, Peter was showing others that Christ's work was not complete. Paul could not sit by and let this happen.

It is so tempting for me to fall back into the selfish pride of legalism. To try and control myself and/or others. I am thankful for this admonishment by Paul. By God's grace, I will try to live by faith and be obedient all that He shows me to do.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Prayer + persistence = power

You might have heard it said that when God has something important to say to you, He doesn't just say it once; He usually says it two or three times. I've experienced this concept recently.

God got my attention when I watched the new film War Room (out in theaters now - watch the trailer at The concept of a "Prayer Closet" or "War Room," is not a new one, but I needed to be reminded of how important it is in our personal war against the sin and destruction that is wreaking havoc in us and around us. On the way home from the movie, God followed up what He was trying to say, by bringing Hebrews 12:4 to my mind:
"In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."
Ouch! Truth hurts. But truth also can bring healing. I read God's Word diligently every day. I journal almost every day too. But do I have a battle plan for my prayer life? Have I resisted sin to the point of shedding blood? Sadly, no.

Then God spoke to me a third time. I was in my van and "happened" to catch the Revive Our Hearts program on the radio. Nancy Leigh DeMoss was interviewing a mother and son who co-authored a book titled Out of a Far Country. Subtitle: A Gay Son’s Journey to God and a Broken Mother’s Search for Hope. I listened intently to this soft spoken mother tell how her son broke her heart when he began using drugs, then selling drugs, and then entered into the homosexual lifestyle. Not only did she turn to God, but over the next seven years, she became a prayer warrior. Like the main character in the War Room movie, this mom turned a room in her house into her prayer closet.

I have included the link to the first one of these amazing broadcasts. There are 6 broadcasts in all (the last one won't air until tomorrow, September 4th). Listen and be inspired!