Keepin’ It Real

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    The Word of God shows us that real faith makes a powerful difference in peoples lives. But it is also true that there is a profession that is merely words without action behind them. It is a say-so faith that is not supported by a person’s lifestyle. True and living faith is our response to God’s wonderful grace. By faith we receive God’s free gift of salvation, accepting what God has done for us on the cross. The blood of Jesus Christ paid the full price for all the wrong things we have ever done. “We are saved by faith alone; but not a faith that is alone.” John Calvin

    Friends, there is a side of faith that sadly is often overlooked. “Just as the body is dead when there is no spirit in it, so faith is dead if it is not the kind that results in good deeds.” James 2:26 It has been said, “It is not faith and works; it is not faith or works; it is faith that works.” Anonymous Activity and action are outward proofs of a working faith. These are expressions of what can be invisible to others. A head belief alone is a dead belief. “…Without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” James 2:18 The world needs to see the reality of our convictions. We show this reality by the things we freely and lovingly do in the name of Christ our Savior. Clearly, true faith cannot be separated from actions such as sharing the good news, caring for those in need, and supporting others in prayer. “…Believing is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.” James 2:20 The scripture gives two great examples of faith resulting in works: the patriarch Abraham and Rahab, the woman with a past. Abraham proved his surrender to God by being willing to give to God the life of his son, Isaac. Rahab’s faith was proved genuine by choosing allegiance to the God of the Hebrews, whatever the cost.

    What about our lives? Do our actions reveal us to be people with life changing faith? “Am I willing, like Abraham, to offer the dearest thing in my life to God? Am I willing like Rahab to turn traitor to the world in order to be loyal to Christ?” William McDonald May God grant that we become people with a real faith, active in good deeds.

 

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Unlocking Life’s Doors

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    How often do we try to accomplish our goals using our own human resources? We think our natural abilities, logic, reason, insights, and even spiritual gifts are sufficient for the task. But we are sadly mistaken. Prayer is the key that will help unlock every door that blocks our Christian progress. What we need is to uncover God’s vast reservoirs of spiritual power fueled by prayer. This is it, the greatest tool in our toolbox! One person wisely said, “Prayer is man’s greatest means of trapping the infinite resources of God.”

    Have you ever wondered why we don’t pray more? Perhaps prayer grows rusty from lack of use. Perhaps we have felt God is preoccupied and can’t be concerned with our personal needs. 1 Peter 3:12 assures us, “For the Lord is watching his children, listening to their prayers…” Is something troubling you? Then bring your concern before the Father in prayer. Don’t continue to hit your head against the brick wall of an ineffective Christian life. God has provided prayer that we might receive freedom and release from all the cares distressing us. “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything, tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6,7 Prayer exercises faith; the kind of faith that never gives up. This keeps us on track with the expectation of a fruitful life. “Always be joyful, always keep on praying.” 1 Thes 5:17 Don’t forget that best of all, prayer gets results. “The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16

    Dear Christian, let us humble ourselves before the God who knows and understands each struggle. Like Mary we can sit at Jesus’ feet to learn and be taught. Luke 11:1 says it simply. “Lord teach us to pray.” Remember that one of the greatest powers in all the world is the power of prayer. God is willing to enroll you in his wonderful school of prayer. Are you ready to accept the challenge to become a person who’s life is a living prayer?

 

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What Really Counts

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    Do you ever feel frustrated because you wish you were different? Perhaps you long to be more patient or kind. What will cause this change you desire? The Bible gives a wonderful promise to help us become the person we long to be. It all began when a new person was created through asking Jesus to come live His life within us. We discovered we could have a friendship with Jesus in which we talk often with Him, receive His love, learn from His instruction, and follow His perfect leadership. But there was more. Our Savior sent the mighty Holy Spirit to help us through the problems of everyday life. “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control…” Gal 5:22 “Jesus promised His followers that ‘The Strengthener’ would be with them forever. This promise is no lullaby for the faint-hearted. It is a blood transfusion for courageous living.” E. Paul Hovey

    God did not remove our sinful nature at salvation but instead gave us the Holy Spirit to live inside us. Sadly, the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature are always fighting, one against the other. But as we yield to the greater power working continually in us, wrong desires will be defeated and we will be reminded of the complete victory at the cross. “Those who belong to Christ have nailed their natural evil desires to his cross…” Gal 5:24 Now the Spirit is responsible for the miracle of making us more and more like Christ. He is at work making it possible for believers to begin to really change. “If we are living now by the Holy Spirit’s power, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Gal 5:25 “Every time we say, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit,’ we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.” J. B. Phillips

    As a believer change is not optional. The indwelling Holy Spirit causes an ongoing transformation in every person who has truly met Christ. Yes, we can become more and more the person we desire to be with a heart that pleases God. “…What counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people.” Gal 6:15b We will never be the same again.

 

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Of Christ I Am Sure

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    We live in an uncertain world and long to find something to meet our deepest needs. “Life passes, riches fly away, popularity is fickle, the senses decay, the world changes. One alone is true to us; One alone can be all things to us; One alone can supply our needs.” Cardinal Newman This one is Jesus. God the Father sent His Son to die for our sins, fulfilling the greatest purpose in all of history. Jesus said, “For I have come here from heaven to do the will of God who sent Me, not to have My own way.” John 6:38

    Dear Christian, we too have been sent to our world with a great purpose. What does Jesus ask you to do? Have you heard his beloved voice? “My sheep recognize My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 We first heard His voice when the gospel was preached and we responded with joy, believing in Him. Now day by day we hear His voice and treasure His words. As Christ’s sheep we follow Him through saving faith and then walk with Him in obedience. “No man can follow Christ and go astray.” William Faunce

    What does it take to be a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ? “‘If any of you wants to be my follower,’ he told them, ‘you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely. If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good news will ever know what it means to really live.’” Mark 8:34, 35 You can try your hardest to make your own way work, living large and unhampered but until you give Jesus your life liberally, freely, and voluntarily, you have lost the great opportunity to know the powerful Living God one on one. We face the temptation to save our life, to live comfortably, to seek security for the future, and to make our own decisions. Tragically, self-gratification is often behind this choice. This is a wasted life. In contrast, we are called to use our lives to honor God. Our lives are more valuable than anything the world can offer us. What is your decision? How wonderful that in all the uncertainty surrounding our lives we can confidently proclaim that of Christ I am sure.

 

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