A Better Way

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When Jesus came to walk among men He had a mandate, a mission to let us know that every word of scripture is true and accurate.  He stood behind all that was written by the prophets and men of God.  He wanted us to understand that everything within the Bible is there for a reason and is a part of knowing God.  The Word is complete.  “With all the earnestness I have I say: Every law in the Book will continue until its purpose is achieved.”  Matt 5:18

The tragic problem is we are all law-breakers by nature.  We disobey the Ten Commandments, we wrong our neighbors, and we dishonor God.  By breaking the law we come under the penalty of death, the automatic consequence for crimes against God.  When Jesus came into the grand picture He paid the full penalty for our misdeeds by way of the cross.  Only He could pay the debt we owed because He was never guilty, the only man without a drop of sin or wrongdoing.  “He met the full demands of the law by fulfilling its strict requirements in His life and in His death.”  William McDonald.  Jesus fully satisfied all that the law demanded.  Now all who trust in Jesus are no longer condemned by the law but instead find that amazing grace and mercy rule.  For believers the Ten Commandments are still valid and vital becoming training in righteousness without the attached death penalty.  Jesus permanently paid our death penalty.  This will never to be the critical issue again.  Jesus teaches us that instead of living under the law we live by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the very One that guided men as they wrote the Bible.  Jesus upholds the law and the prophets but now their inspired words are enlarged and develop a deeper meaning. For example, the Sermon on the Mounts sets a higher standard than that set by the law. Where the law said, “Do not murder” Jesus says, “Do not even hate.”

This is the truth: external righteousness without internal reality is not the message of Christ.  Where there is true faith in Christ there will also be practical Spirit-led living.  In the end we believe with certainty these simple yet profound words, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  I live for Him because He loves me best, the Living Word who fulfilled it all.  He satisfied not only the requirements of the law but also gave me a new and better way guided by the Holy Spirit, the amazing law of Christ!

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts on how God’s forgiveness of us enables us to forgive others.

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Unexpected Happiness

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Everyone wants to be happy.  “Do you wish never to be sad?  Live rightly.”  Isidorus of Aegae   How surprising that the Bible shows us many sources of unexpected happiness.  “Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him.”  James 1:12

So how do we respond to temptation or the problems that come into our life?  It’s easy to complain and be frazzled yet the wisest and best response is to thank God for these challenges that cause us to grow.  “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations?  Then be happy, for when the way is rough your patience has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems.  For when your patience is finally in full bloom, strong in character, full and complete.”  James 1:2-4   Problems are not our enemies but can be friends that will help us develop Christ-like character.  Without problems we could never develop endurance.  We can partner with God to become mature well-rounded people, ready for the challenges that lay ahead.  This next verse is hard to embrace, especially when attacks come.  “When you are reviled and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers- wonderful!  Be happy about it!  Be very glad for a tremendous reward awaits you in heaven.”  Matt 5:11, 12   Our first response probably is, “You’ve got to be kidding!”  Do we really understand that we will be mistreated because of our association and loyalty to Christ?  The words of this beautiful song remind us, “it will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”  The next unexpected delight is found through learning contentment.  It brings a special happiness factor into a person’s life.  “I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little.”  Phil 4:11   In essence this means to be content no matter what our financial condition might be.  Contentment should be our personal priority because it yields greater dividends than riches.

Finally, in 2 Corinthians Paul writes, “I close my letter with these last words.  Be happy.  Grow in Christ.”  2 Cor 13:11   Do you notice how these two statements fit together?  They are perfectly intertwined.  We can be increasingly happy as we seek to know and honor Christ in all we think, say, and do.  Let us thank God for sending unexpected sources of gladness for those who seek the most enduring happiness of all, a faith in full bloom.

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts about God’s love.

Becoming a Living Miracle

Do you remember that Jesus wants the very best for you?  “…He will teach the ways that are right and best to those who humbly turn to him.”  Ps 25:9   “Where is the man who fears the Lord?  God will teach him how to choose the best.”  Ps 25:12 These incredible blessings include frequent miracles of God.  God’s Word describes two types of miracles every person must experience.  The first is blessed forgiveness and next is learning complete surrender.

When we forgive someone our human capacity will only take us part way.  God will take us the rest of the way and at times that’s a far piece.  Second, as we break before God we join with the mighty Holy Spirit to achieve what only God working in us can accomplish.  The Christian life is about continual lifestyle surrender.  Whether it’s humbling ourselves to become teachable, giving up our desires in order for God to achieve his purposes, or become like Jesus in our personal character, a Christian’s life consists of constantly breaking and changing to become something new and usable.  As much as we want to love and enjoy life, a growing believer understands there is pain in daily living.  As we break before God to achieve His best we often experience pain ranging from uncomfortable to intense. (See Hebrews 12)  “Christianity can never come to us as a bargain; it can never be had at a wholesale price.  We must be willing to pay the full price of surrender and trust.”  William L Krutza   A Christian must always be proactive.  Prayer is the key to change as we are learning and waiting for God to complete the work of forgiveness and the needed breaking or surrender.  Never stop asking God for these miracles. The earthly reward of becoming like Jesus is like no other.  It is to be a person at rest, at ease, at home in God’s will and ways, to learn to see more and more through the eyes of God.  We can honestly say the colors are brighter, each treat and delight in life more appreciated.  “Joy is distinctively a Christian word and a Christian thing.  Joy has its springs deeps down inside.  And the spring never runs dry, no matter what happens.  Only Jesus gives that joy.”  Samuel Gordon

Friends, don’t settle for a nominal Christian experience.  Whatever it takes it will be worth the pain.  Growth hurts for a while but joy lasts forever.  There is a time for our resources to run out for often when the resources are gone the miracles begin.  Join me in trusting God today to become a living miracle.

We are Loved!

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Sometimes it seems that despite all our Bibles, spiritual seminars, prayer times, and church services the body of Jesus Christ is more wounded and hurting than ever. We long to be accepted for who we are. Not what we will someday become but who we are today. We long for value and worth in a world gone awry. Most of all we desire to love and be loved.

Where do we find our value? Where do we look for love? I like how Robert McGee expressed his answer. “Our value is not dependent on our ability to earn the fickle acceptance of people but rather, its true source is in the love and acceptance of God. He created us. He alone knows how to fulfill all of our needs.” In order to receive the benefits of knowing God we must live with unreserved confidence and trust in His love and authority. In other words we must jump in with both feet. Trusting his authority is acknowledging that He has the right to tell us what to do. Because He created me and the world around me, I accept Him as King and Boss of my life. Believing in God and His Son Jesus Christ, all of life is now centered on God’s Word. The Bible gives us complete security. “As for God, His way is perfect, the word of God is tried or flawless.” Ps 18:30 The Word is The Living Power and is 100% reliable and true. “Thou art near, O Lord, and all thy commandments are truth.” Ps 119:15 “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” Ps 25:10 Matthew says that when everything else has passed away God’s word will still remain. “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, in His words do I hope.” Ps 130:5 As we welcome the scriptures into our life we find tremendous joy. How incredible that the Lord Himself comes to talk to us and offer His friendship to us.

There are many things we are unable to understand and many unanswered questions. But in the middle of a world gone wild Jesus Christ is the calm. He alone can still your anxious heart. Jesus is telling you in 2015, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid.” John 14:27 He says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11 May you place your todays and tomorrows in His hand. For in Jesus Christ is abundant love and joy for all!

Click here to read another’s blogger’s encouragement to see God’s love for you.