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Our DAILY GOSPEL DEVOTIONAL is the story of Jesus from Incarnation to Ascension. This is a chronology and harmony of the gospel accounts in which the ongoing narrative and doctrinal context are carefully considered. In one year we reflect on every passage of every gospel.
May God bless you as we follow the disciples on the journey through the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gospel Power (Radio / Podcast)

…for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth…
(Romans 1:16b)

Recall where Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel. He was not ashamed of the way to the gospel (preaching), the truth of the gospel (the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sins), or the life from the gospel (we die to self and live for Christ). We discussed the signs of being ashamed of the gospel, ashamed of Jesus Christ. It is when we don’t preach it – sugar coating the offense of the gospel – take off the hard edges and it won’t penetrate the heart. When we don’t believe it, we present the good news as self-improvement rather than self-denying. We change things or add a thing because we don’t believe what God did is enough for today. When we don’t live it – when we aren’t lights in the world, having the dimmer switch on.

Here Paul begins to say why he is not ashamed, and he begins by telling us that the gospel is God’s power revealed for the salvation of men. Now, every one is looking for salvation these days, in whatever way they define it, but Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel because IT IS the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes it to be so.

What is salvation? What are we saved from? People define salvation in temporal terms most often, but philosophers and thinkers have realized that we are in no way capable of actually delivering ourselves ultimately. Salvation is justification, sanctification, and glorification (Romans 8:28-30 / 1 Corinthians 1:30). We are saved from God’s wrath, and saved to Jesus Christ. We have been saved from the penalty of sin, and we are saved from the power of sin, and to the degree that we continue to believe it (John 8:31-32 / Mark 4:26-28) we will realize that, and in the eternal state in heaven we will be saved from the presence of sin, amen. What we should pray for now is to be saved from the pleasure of sin (Hebrews 11:25).

God is not mad at you. He is not against you for your sin; He is for you against your sin. He isn’t charging the sin to your account any more if you are a Christian. So then why do bad things happen when you sin? Because sin has its own penalty here on this earth, it has consequences, the death that naturally occurs (Galatians 6:8 / Romans 8:13).

Every one is looking for power – and Paul had seen it at work – if you are carrying the gospel you need not be ashamed at your lesser status, you have the most powerful message in history, and you have what everyone is truly looking for, salvation. The gospel isn’t a way for people to lift themselves up; it lifts them up. It doesn’t bring power; it is power, God’s power. God must do the work. He is the potter and we are the clay. We carry this power as jars of clay. He is the vine and we are the branches. We don’t grow the fruit we only show the fruit of the gospel. Rome had all the power in the world but the people were powerless to make themselves righteous before God. It is the same with the USA today, and all nations and peoples.

Every one is looking for something or someone to believe in – Who would be ashamed of the power of God, except those that don’t know it or believe it as such?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, November 27, 2009

In the Spirit (Radio / Podcast)

...worship God in the spirit…
(Philippians 3:3)

Paul points to the truth that the true Israel are the ones who are circumcised in their hearts (Romans 2:28-29 / Romans 4:12 / Romans 9:6-8 / Colossians 2:11), and that these are they who worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Let us realize that God created individual taste and culture, and that music style, etc., isn’t what is important, but the substance of our devotion and faith towards Him is.

This is part of what Paul means by having no confidence in the flesh, or confidence in external rituals, which Jesus has done away with. Ritual such as circumcision is obviously not worshipping in the Spirit, and worshipping God in the Spirit does not mean using spiritual gifts or a way of doing things. It is a way of not doing things in a sense. It is worship aided by the Spirit, yes, but it means heart matters, not outward show.

An experienced, wise man once wrote what many men of God have grieved over. He said, “As a pastor I again and again observed folks who could never be content in a church that seeks to be Christ-centered, and to preach the Word, if it doesn't engage in certain peripheral activities. They can't "feel the Spirit" without certain worship-styles, entertainments, playtimes. For them, "feeling the Spirit" – not preaching Christ – is the be-all and end-all.”

That is the truth. People just seem "bored" with the Bible, and "casual" with Christ. What they want is to feel what they call "the anointing", as if that is anything other than Christ Himself. People think being “in the Spirit” means some sort of mystical feeling, or extraordinary emotion. They will even point this out to others, telling of times when someone or something was “in the Spirit” or “in the flesh”, as if they have some modern day detect-o-meter.

You see, if some aren’t smart enough or learned enough to be puffed up by knowledge, they will point out the perils of being puffed up by knowledge. Many of these same people will be puffed up by their own imagination, leading them to believe they have some innate spiritual power of discernment. They can just “feel” if someone is being fleshly or spiritual. Funny how these types fall prey to every fad that comes down the pike.

Friends, rejoice about Jesus, and forget the show – get back to justification by faith, and the sanctification will follow. The reason some have to try everything under the sun is that they fail to focus on their justification, from which sanctification flows (1 Corinthians 1:30). They treat their salvation as a common thing and believe spiritual worship to be something other than the simple adoration of Christ. But the Holy Spirit has the role of pointing us to Christ as our all in all. When that is happening, then we are “in the Spirit”.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Crucify Him! (Radio / Podcast)

And after saying this he said to him, "Follow me."
(John 21:19 – ESV)

As Romans 8:13 declares, if you through the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live. We think this means that the Spirit gives us power to put those deeds to death, but the reality is not that we put to death the flesh, but that through the Spirit we are to do it. This may seem subtle but it is important, very important. Now, what does this mean, through the Spirit?

Well let’s think about that for a second. Those led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). The Spirit is leading to the cross and all the sons of God are to follow Him there to their own cross. We think to put to death the deeds of the flesh means to do it ourselves, that we crucify our flesh ourselves, but again, let's begin to think more clearly.

When we think of going to the cross, of taking up our cross, of following Jesus we think we do it, like we go running to it, but that winds up having us just bring those things we want to end to the cross, and not all of us, or not those things Jesus wants dealt with first. We pick and choose which part of our flesh will die. That isn’t what the “crucified life” is all about.

Now some of us know better than that and we think we let Him do it, but this winds up just being us praying harder and going up to the altar every week and wondering why we still want to do those same old things. With both scenarios it is still we doing it in sense.

However, the bible says we have already crucified the flesh, and that we just need to walk in that (Galatians 5:24-25). That is where the misunderstanding takes place, going from the position in Christ to the condition in life, and beginning to realize, to make real this crucified life in our daily walk. The truth is that this should be a daily walk to the cross.

Now consider this about crucifixion. Crucifixion is not putting yourself to death. Rather, it is yielding yourself up to death at the hands of others. The crucified victim doesn't get to choose his own death (John 13:37-38, 21:18-19). You don’t kill yourself, you let yourself die; you let yourself be killed. The truth is that you are already dead (Colossians 3:3); the role of others whether they realize it or not is to help you to reckon it so (Romans 6:11).

This is a big difference that people just don’t seem to get. When Jesus says follow me He means to the cross and into the hands of people who want you dead, it is the other people and other situations that kill you, but of course this is used by God to bring resurrection life.

Just as it was with Jesus, to be able to see and understand the resurrection power there must first be the cross, and before the cross there must be the garden. The question is in that garden will you plant the seed of surrender (not my will but thine be done) or the seed of self. You surrender and suffer death in the church community, or you barricade yourself in your own flesh at home. You visit the garden every day, friends. There are always new crops to harvest.

Consider John 21:21-22 – looking at others and their cross is not the Way in it is looking for a way out. Live out the truth of 1 Peter 4:1 – believe it and receive that cross when it comes, carry it, follow Him, and have life. If we win the battle of the mind we will win the battle with sin. It is time to stop sinning and start winning.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

American Idol (Radio / Podcast)

…worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…
(Romans 1:25 – ESV)

It is part of the sinful nature to love ourselves more than we love God (2 Timothy 3:1-5 / Romans 1:30). Just as in Paul’s time, it continues today, but to love self more than God is to hate God, and ourselves. When we value what God has made more than we value God, we devalue God and we will inevitably devalue man. It backfires on us; we don’t even love ourselves.

We may not be doing some of those things the pagans are doing, but we have exchanged our heritage as God’s special creation and traded the value of God for less so often that in Christian circles we have bought into the secular/spiritual divide. In so doing we think we can pick and choose things out of the world such as gothic fashion or “Christian yoga” and say that it is harmless, without examining what the roots of these practices are.

The root is Mother Nature or our own nature, but we don’t recognize the source of the idolatry and so we don’t realize the scope of the sin. Why do we feel the need to do these new things? Perhaps it is because we are not comfortable with how God really is, and we must invent a god who is like us, instead of becoming like Him.

We want to worship a god who worships us. We think things have no spiritual significance because we have limited our spirituality to our quiet time in the morning and once a week at church. Of course that also goes for the thinking that we can “do” church any old way we want to, or not at all, and still call ourselves Christians.

We have made an idol of God, and often we rationalize our behavior in light of what we think are good intentions, but we are actually trying to carry out our own will without truly knowing the big picture. We might do some small good, in order to bring about our own desired end, we help others because of what they can or will do for us. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit (Proverbs 16:2 – ESV).

We must yield to God, and know His Word in order to have true judgment. The key is to know “I the Lord search the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10). Then we can pray, like David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Are you making the right exchanges in your life? Is Christ being formed in you (Galatians 4:19) or are you making an image for/of yourself?


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Church of the Living Dead (Radio / Podcast)

…but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
(John 12:24)

There has always been a lot of talk by people about leaving, visiting, or experiencing a so-called “dead” church. To most, I suppose what they mean by “dead church” would be that it was cold and formal. When people say it’s a dead church they mean that it feels dead. This could be true, and as the venerable Jonathan Edwards said, you have to have both heat and light.

However, lets consider the other side, because I have seen just as many churches that are just as dead and yet have a whole lot of buzz about them. You know, they even have a buzz conference these days. They may have a lot of hype but no holiness, a lot of passion, but no power. So to me a dead church can look like a really lively one, for sure.

Today we have the church of the upwardly mobile, the church where everybody is somebody, the church where you can become the best you that you can be, and we even have a laughing church or two out there. We have the liberated church, the empowered church, the militant church, and the dead churches. I would put all of the above in the last category.

Today what we need is for people to be on fire for the gospel, but what we see are just more and more programs, promotions, politics, and purpose. We may have passion, but we don’t have any real power, because we lack purity (fuel): where there is no fuel the fire dies out. Flash fires, flash paper, and the flash in the pan all fade. Soon enough a fire that doesn't have real fuel dies out, and often gets replaced by a false fire built on feelings, fellowship, or flurry. People try and live off the fumes of a faded fire, and that, friends, is a dead church. Too many preachers in the pulpit and people in the pews are confusing anointing with adrenaline, and the busyness of man with the business of God.

A pastor in Illinois said something like this. “The modern day church looks exactly like a community service organization, like the YMCA. I love the Y, but I would not say I love the ministry of the Y. It is a health club, a safe place for families, and a place to go to have fun. The YMCA boasts having introduced millions of people to sports. One of their themes, “It’s more than a gym, it’s a community,” sounds a bit like the theme of the modern day church. Go to www.YMCA.net and view their website and compare it with most church websites. They are almost identical. Sadly, the modern day church has a lot in common with the YMCA.”

“Pastors who want to build churches by attracting people through programs and that sort of community, the YMCA could use your help. No one would say the YMCA functions like a church, but we can say many churches function like they are a YMCA.”

You see, church today has become little more than a socialistic country club atmosphere of fun seekers – not God seekers! Psalm 127:1 – Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.

The question remains: what do you want to be a part of?

It’s good to be active, and organized, and lively, but it’s a must to be alive!

Do you want to know what an alive church is?

A church that is alive is a church where people are dying!

Dying to self that is…


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Go Green, Get Rich (Radio / Podcast)

…for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
(2 Corinthians 8:9 – ESV)

Recently (1/28/07), CNN Money had an article online with this title, “Go Green, Get Rich”. It revealed 9 companies that were aiming at tackling humanity's supposedly biggest problems. The headline read, “Meet the companies tackling nine of humanity's biggest problems – and making millions saving us from ourselves.” I’d like to take a look at what they say are our biggest problems, and relate these to the church world, and see why we think we are rich, but we are not.

Problem #1: Global Warming – the problem in the church is that we are warming up to the world, we are on fire for the wrong things, and instead we are getting cold.

Problem #2: Oil Dependency – the problem is a limited supply, and so we rely on foreign oil, which is worldly oil, fleshly oil, because there is not enough oil of the Spirit.

Problem #3: Hunger and Malnutrition – Amos 8:11 – churches are starving for the Word of God.

Problem #4: Dirty Air – the problem in the church is that we won’t clear the air of bitterness, envy, strife, and vanity (Ephesians 4:29 – 5:6)

Problem #5: Dirty Water – James 3:11 – corroded pipeline / Jeremiah 2:13 – no water

Problem #6: Overfishing – the problem in the church is underfishing.

Problem #7: Epidemics – the problem in the church is crisis Christianity.

Problem #8: Drug-Resistant Infections – the problem in the church is we don’t use God’s prescriptions. The Word of God will pierce through any poison (Hebrews 4:12).

Problem #9: Waste Disposal – the problem in the church is we just hang on to all our old garbage

Oh, they missed #10, and it is kind of a big one, it is #1 really: SIN. That is humanity’s biggest problem.

The world thinks it knows what the problems really are, and it thinks we can educate ourselves into a solution. They are wrong, of course, as we could “solve” all these problems but the heart of man would still be beating after its own master, itself. A new host of hellish problems is just waiting to be born in the heart of man. No amount of “going green” is going to change that. Companies may get rich, and people may get wealthy in the world’s eyes, but their money will fade away and their problems are only the latest fashion of the foolish heart. Instead, if you tend to God’s greenhouse, you will be indeed rich, with a harvest of the fruit of the Spirit.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Charge to the Congregation (Radio / Podcast)

My authority to speak to you and give a charge, even though I am a pastor of a different congregation it is the same authority any man of God has in addressing any person or group of people. It is the Bible, the Word of God; if I give you that, then what I say is worth receiving.

1 Corinthians 16:15-16
· In subjection to servant leaders (support their service)

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
· Know them (Respect them)
· Esteem them

Hebrews 13:7, 17
· Watch their walk and imitate their godliness
· We should be in submission to our spiritual leaders because they have to give an account
· We should attempt to be a blessing not a burden

To the deacons in front of congregation so as to let them know ahead of time:

1 Timothy 5:19 – No accusation is to be listened to against an elder unless there is evidence from 2 or 3 witnesses, they are always in public eye and accusation can be common. People will be coming to you from time to time with criticism for the ministers. I'd like to tell you how to handle that. Tell the person to come with you right then and you'll go see the minister in question and deal with it. If they go with you, fine. However, if they refuse to go with you, tell them you'll go but you will be using their name. If they agree, fine. But if they refuse to let you use their name, that's the end of it. Tell them you will not take anonymous criticism to the ministers.

Romans chapter 12

· Vs.1-2 – daily commitment to God
· Vs. 3-8 – doing your job well, answering the call to service with diligence, don’t fret over theirs, focus on yours
· Vs.9-21 – devotion to one another. Several times in this passage, believers are told to humble themselves, restrain their egos, and to act in love to one another.

This gives us a blueprint for a healthy church. Let a congregation do these three things – daily commit yourself to God, do your job well, and love one another – and most of a church's problems will disappear. If you do these things, the deacons will do well. This church will become a leading light in this community. You will know it, the people of this community will know it, and I will know it, and most importantly God will know it. This is the charge that God gives to you as a congregation from His holy Word.

Romans 15:14 – you can do it

2 Timothy 2:2 – four generations (reproduction)

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

How to be Different (Radio / Podcast)

… put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
(Ephesians 4:24 – ESV)

In Ephesians 4:17-24, Paul tells Christians that they must not act like they used to, being guided by the dictates of the old, hard heart and unregenerate mind that unsaved people have because they have a new nature in them, a new heart that can be renewed in its mindset and follow after God in truth. Paul says that as we learn of Christ we should act in accordance with that. Paul describes this process as putting off the old man and putting on the new, and then in vs.25-32 he gives us five specific, practical ways that God tells Christians to be different.

Truth (vs.25) – not just stop lying but also avoiding deceitfulness

Temperament (vs.26-27) – righteous anger not rage – continuing in wrath gives a place to the devil

Talent (vs.28) – ascending nature – from stealing from others to supporting others

Talk (vs.29-30) – corrupting talk grieves God, not just stop that, but start edifying instead of lying (match with verse 25)

Tenderness (vs.31-32) – forgiven people become forgiving people


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to A-S-K in Prayer (Radio / Podcast)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
(Matthew 7:7-8 – ESV)

Ask according to His direction, His will, His Word

Seek Him with your whole heart

Knock with sincerity, like you really want it, with diligence (fervency + frequency)

Luke 18:1 – Prayer is many things and we are not going to cover everything here, but what we want to do is give some specific principles that you will find as you come to understand God more fully. These things could be backed up with hordes of proof texts, but the point is that God has revealed His character in the Bible so clearly as to render these principles obvious to anyone who wants to truly have a prayerful relationship with Him. These are good to remember.

Thank Him for what you have before you ask Him for what you need.
He already knows what you need (Matthew 6:8, 32); what He wants is to hear how much you appreciate what He has already done.

Tell God what you have done wrong before you ask Him to make it right.
God already knows what you have done wrong, but He wants you to live in constant view of the fact that He does know all that is going on about you, more than we know about ourselves. Realizing we are open to God (Hebrews 4:13) helps us to live a more holy life.

Praise Him for who He is no matter what He does.
Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory – our prayers should have doxology in them. Until our hearts find their safety, satisfaction, and rest in God, they will have no rest. We cannot glorify God in the world until we have glorified Him first in our hearts.

Why do we pray?
P
ersonal
Relationship
As
Your
End
Result


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Joyful Captivity (Radio / Podcast)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 – ESV)

Jeremiah 29:11 is certainly applicable as a great and precious promise from God to us. However, we need to see the fuller context, because the surrounding verses give us a clear picture of the often difficult process God uses to deliver this promise into our lives. Let’s briefly outline the passage, and consider some vitally important concepts that arise from the text.

Vs.4 – God is orchestrating these events

Vs.5-6 – Bloom where you are planted, wherever you are planted. Yes you are moving on, this is only temporary, but make your mark for Christ while you are there.

Vs.7 – Be a blessing even when you are bound and you will be blessed. Do everything right that you would normally do because God can and will use it. Think about the stranded man whose hut was set on fire by lightning but that acted as a smoke signal. We don’t always see beyond the surface.

Vs.8-10 – Don’t listen to those who say your faith will never be tested, your situation will never have sorrow, and you will never have to go through any pain. They lie. You will have seasons of pruning, purifying, but they are for producing a closer and more passionate walk with God. They will get you to plug into the power source.

Vs.11 – God says my plans include this prison. You have to go through it but I mean it to give you a future full of hope. You will be captives to them but captured by me.

Vs.12 – this will cause you to look to me.

Vs.13 – now you will seek me without reservation, with prayer and worship.

Vs.14 – I will be available to you and will reverse your plight.

Here is something vital to think about. In considering that scenario, we can see that many were born into captivity, many would have to die in captivity, and many would live most of their lives in captivity. Yet God says they had a hope and a future, and He tells them it includes coming back into their own land. Now, does that only mean as a whole and exclude individuals, since many would not be alive to witness that day? What about those others, how could they be promised a hope and a future while still living and dying in Babylon? What could it be?

This is where we need to expand our vision. God WAS their hope and future! We follow Christ and lead the way for others, with God Himself AS our hope and our future. God allows us in our lives to go through some things to show others the way out. Moses got to see the Promised Land, but never got to be in the Promised Land. God gave David the plans to build the Temple, but David never got his hands to build the Temple. The Apostle John saw the vision of the triumphant Second Coming of Christ but it was for the future. Some of us may or may not be here for that Triumphant Return, but we get to walk in the Triumphal Procession even now.

You may think you’re going nowhere but you need to see the Triumphal Procession for what it really is. Paul was in it, he was a joyful captive of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14). That paradise parade may lead you into prison, into poverty, into persecution, into pain and into all sorts of problems, but Christ is also leading you all the way home. If you truly want to be filled with spiritual passion and power, you can’t just sit on the sidelines and cheer on Jesus like a spectator. You must be a spectacle (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9, 13); the world must see Christ as having conquered you.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, November 16, 2009

They Are Connected (Radio / Podcast)

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
(Ephesians 5:32 – ESV)

The whole of Ephesians 5 is referring to relationships, and Paul gives us some invaluable insight, as through this chapter we see that marriage, church, and God are all connected. The commitment to one and the others are all mirrored by each other. These aspects about commitment are something we dare not gloss over. Let’s take a look at marriage, and then connect the other relationships.

Whether it is for premarital or marital counseling, we need to be clear about commitment. We often understand the bottom line, “I will not quit” facet of our vows. We are committing to covenant with the other person in an unbreakable bond, with God as the glue. However, we often are not told or do not understand that this also includes positive action, the “I will keep building this relationship” facet. It is a continuing project, with Jesus being the foundation stone and the mortar between the bricks.

The truth is that when making a marriage covenant, it is not just a commitment to avoid breaking up the relationship; it is also a commitment to be actively building up the relationship. It isn’t just “I won’t cheat on you” it is “I won’t cheat from you” by failing to give your all to the relationship, holding back a corner of your heart.

This is true for all types of counseling, and discipleship. Liken these “breaking up” and “building up” principles to our relationship with the Lord, which Paul does liken to marriage and our relationship to the church. These things are connected, so says Paul with words written with the pen of Inspiration. If you are not building your relationship to your wife, your relationship to God is suffering. If you are not building your relationship to your God, your relationship to your wife is suffering. If you are not building your relationship to your local church, your relationship to God is suffering, and your relationship to your brothers and sisters in Christ is suffering.

If you are not actively building your relationship to your wife, your God, and your local church, what exactly are you spending your time on? Paul was in jail when he wrote the book of Ephesians, yet he was still focused on building up the local bodies of believers.

Do you realize that if you are not building these things that you are in effect breaking them down? We can say that we will never lose our trust in the Lord, and we will be committed to the church, but are we actively building up those relationships, or are we fooling around in our marriage to God and our brothers and sisters? It is time to stop being just a cheerleader who says they are on the team while wearing another team’s jersey. It is time to start building your relationship to your wife, to your church, and to your God. Not just “I won’t break up”, but “I will build up”. Many think they haven’t broken up but they have broken away, and that certainly isn’t building up, it is tearing down.

All the assertions of “I won’t give up” are no good if there is not an active “I will build up” attached to it. They are connected. Are you?


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Redeeming or Dreaming? (Radio / Podcast)

…to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…
(1 Corinthians 1:2 – NIV)

We are called to holiness, or wholly otherness, so that our lives will match our testimony. We are called out individually, but also corporately. Individually, when the chips are down, our lives will be different than others, and our testimony will bear weight. We are saints in position, but we need to act like saints in condition.

Corporately, we will see the power of God demonstrated when we lean on Him instead of the arm of the flesh through partnering with the world. We are not only to proclaim, but also to live out the truth of the gospel, not complain, and live out our pitiful use of the gospel. The gospel has the power we need individually, and corporately. We need holy gladness and holy boldness. We need courage and conviction that God is enough.

We are to bring the message, to speak and to live the message out (Philippians 2:15), not have unbelievers come in with their message so that we can then give them ours. Our credibility is in godly living, not worldly appeal. We seem to have this feeling in the Church today that we need to beg them to come and do everything like the world, we have to entertain them to get them to come in, and now the church looks just like the world, only with baptized “Christian” terminology, like so-called “Christian yoga”.

The truth is that so-called Christians today will do anything and just put the tag of “for God”, or “for Jesus”, on it and somehow this is supposed to baptize it into sanctity. The problem is that we are alienated from the life of God by the hardness of our hearts (Ephesians 4:17-18). We are not broken by our sin, and we feel like it is our right and amazingly we call darkness light and say it is our responsibility to redeem the culture by becoming like it. Blasphemy! Titus 1:16 and 2:11-12 apply here.

This is exactly what we are seeing these days. The truth is that the worldly fascination proves that they have not been BROKEN by their sin, they are self-ish, and what they want is a Jesus who will let them cling to Him while still clinging to their old man and his ways. "Christian homosexuals", "Christian Goth", “Christian nudist camps”, “Christian raves” etc; it is all about "redeeming it for Christ", they say. If the tree is bad, so will the fruit be.

What we need is new life, not our best life now, including all those goodies we won't leave behind. They defiantly will not listen, and claim that they belong to Christ because they are not broken, again I say. The true gospel offends people, and makes them count the cost. This reminds me of what goes on in Hindu countries, where you evangelize; they say that they want Jesus, but only to add Him to their pantheon of gods. Here in Laodicea, we want Jesus plus our entertainment...The gospel cannot be partnered with the world (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

God's Guarantee (Radio / Podcast)

…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 – ESV)

Paul was thanking the church at Philippi, and he was letting them know he had prayed for them, was praying for them, and would be praying for them. Looking at these first few verses in this chapter, we see that Paul’s thankful, he’s praying, he’s joyful, things are happening and God is guaranteeing results. This is what had been happening, now Paul turns to what he is praying for and because of God’s guarantee it is what would be happening.

He’s got them fervently on his heart; they are partaking in the abundant grace Paul was receiving and vice versa. They were together growing in persecution and the proclamation and power of God and Paul had loved them as Christ loved them. He was growing in that love, and they were helping their Apostle grow in that grace by what was happening to them. And so Paul is praying for an increase in love, knowledge and discernment so that they could do and know and have excellent things and be pure and holy and full of righteousness. God was doing it and would continue to do it to the praise of His glory.

This was a church that had done well, and had come on some hard times, but one that Paul was praying for, and it was a church that had a guarantee, and so do we. We are not yet perfected but we are becoming perfected (Hebrews 5:8-11). We learn to obey more completely. Let me give some individual as well as corporate application for you right now.

Our Christianity is mirrored buy our relationships in this way. Most think only about starting out great, but then there is the inevitable slide, but if they knew the process they would see it as the stairs not the slide. You don’t start at the top you climb up, and Jesus gives you the power, do you believe it or not? Most think it is about starting out on top and trying hard to stay there, but that isn’t the way God works.

Most think the stairs are the slide, and then when they slide down too far they leave. Instead we should be becoming more and more dynamic, able to survive, but more than that, to thrive as we get better and not have to avoid but endure and secure through and because of problems. This is a totally different mindset and that I say is the mind of Christ, Paul says let this mind also be in you.

The church at Philippi was under heavy persecution from without and from within. It is not about never having issues or problems, otherwise you could never grow at all. That would simply be the avoidance of real issues. We are to act in accordance not in avoidance. No one, no relationship, no earthly thing starts or ever is perfect, but mature things will work their way through things. It isn’t that it is always okay, it is whenever it isn’t it ends up okay anyway, and we see each other as stronger, we grow together as individuals and as a union. These things are not stumbling blocks they are stepping-stones.

They are growing this is what Paul is describing as what was happening to them what he was praying for them and what God has guaranteed them. Jesus said, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. God always finishes what He starts.

His guarantee doesn’t mean we will always get things the way we want them, it but it does mean we will get things the way we truly need them.

His guarantee doesn’t mean that we will never hurt, but it does mean that He will ultimately heal.

His guarantee doesn’t mean that we won’t ever lose any members, but it does mean that we will press on and God will add to us such as are being saved.

His guarantee doesn’t mean that we will have no struggles, but it does mean that we will be more than conquerors.

His guarantee doesn’t mean that we will win every battle, but it does mean that He will cause us always to triumph.

His guarantee doesn’t mean that you will never feel lonely, but it does mean that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

His guarantee doesn’t mean that we will never stray, but it does mean that we will always find the way home.

In the most important sense, you cannot ultimately fail if you know Jesus Christ and trust your eternal soul to Him. If you call on Christ today you will succeed, you will survive, you will be sanctified, and you will be saved: guaranteed.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To the Letter (Radio / Podcast)

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?
(Luke 10:29)

The parable of the Good Samaritan has been taught on countless times, and it has much to show us with regards to the presumption of faith. There are several things that we need to point out here. First, the lawyer obviously had the wrong motive for asking Jesus this question anyway, as it says he tempted him and that he wished to justify himself.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss yourself from this aspect of the passage, however. Many times we presume upon what God means by the law, pouring our own righteousness into it. We also may at times question the rightness of what God seems to be saying, or twist the text to mean something it doesn’t by trying to read into it, like this lawyer was doing. This lawyer, in trying to justify himself, sought an exact meaning of “neighbor”, so as to have a formula for righteousness.

Imagine him at the judgment: “But I loved my neighbor, just like you said to; I followed your commands to the letter”. Of course, this shows that what he was really trying to do was get a license to be able to love only those he must in order to inherit eternal life, and to necessarily exclude all others, at his personal discretion. Again, we see the results of trying to develop an exact method using the scriptures in an overly literal, all encompassing way.

Think about the child whose mother tells her that she cannot ride her bike to the park; she goes anyway, and when her mother scolds her, she cries, “I didn’t ride my bike, I walked”. Can you see how childish and utterly ridiculous this lawyer is being in this passage now?

Still, we see that today many have not taken this lesson from Jesus. They will take one or a few verses, and then dogmatically assert that this is the prescription for righteousness, instead of comparing these verses with others, using the clear, overall teaching of the Bible as a guide. All this is doing is the same thing the lawyer (and all religions apart from true Christianity) was attempting: to bring a measure of works to the kingdom of God. Christians have been deceived into jumping through spiritual hoops. Place your faith in Christ alone as your hope, not only of salvation, but also of sanctification. Only a justified sinner can battle effectively against sin. Overcoming sin comes from a relationship not for a relationship.

Salvation is not a process, where we do this, then achieve that type of deal. There is no must do order of salvation, it is of grace alone. This does not mean that we will not do these things that are evident in a true Christian life. Yes, we repent, get baptized in water, read our Bibles, pray, and pursue sanctification. But these are measures of obedience, not means of saving grace. These things are a result of salvation, not a requirement for it.

This fact points beautifully to the next aspect of Christ’s teaching here in this parable: the idea of duty. By showing us the priest and the Levite specifically, Christ was definitely trying to convey something even more than the fact that being a neighbor means more than your own kind.

Imagine the priest; he was on his way to the service; he had no time to help; he was already going to go help his parishioners, and there were hundreds of them, not just one man. Besides, how can he be expected to care for everyone he came across that needed help, he had his own flock to care for, and God put him in charge of these people, so God would want him to take care of his own? He had a prior commitment: there will always be people that need help; his job was to help those already entrusted into his care. Christ is putting his second commandment above prior duty. Those parishioners will still be there; this man may have died, and he needed help immediately.

Imagine the Levite; he was heading to the temple; no way could he touch this man, he had consecrated himself. The temple service he was going to happened only once a year; God would be furious if he defiled his hands just to help one soul, he was sacrificing for the sins of a whole community. Again, obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22), and Jesus destroys the self-righteous lawyer’s, and many believers’ attitude.

Never are we to presume that we have the right way; we must continue to seek God, not trust in our own inventions, justified by our own pathetic knowledge of God gained by scripture twisting. Duty and prior commitment, even about church matters, can be no excuse to ignore the calling by God to demonstrate Christ-likeness.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Worldwide Ministry (Radio / Podcast)

…among all the nations…
(Romans 1:5 – ESV)

The Gospel is for all people (1 John 2:2 / Revelation 7:9), not just Jews but Gentiles as well, not just men but women and children, not just whites, but blacks, browns, yellows, reds and anyone and everyone else who calls on Jesus to save them (Galatians 3:26-28 / Colossians 3:11).

In context this is also Paul telling us that he had received an apostleship that was to be world wide, he knew his mission was to be obedient to the vision no matter what (Acts 20:22-21:14). Paul was to show the crucified with Christ life in all the nations of the known world.

We apply this by saying that through Jesus Christ and only through Him we receive grace for everything we need to be obedient to the faith anywhere and everywhere we go. Our mission is also “world-wide”, we are to live the gospel throughout our world to all the people we encounter or whom see us in action.

Your ministry, no matter how big it gets, will ever have a chance to be as effective, in terms of percentage of people reached, as it is right now. Think about it. If you were on television throughout the whole world, and were able to reach a billion people, how many would actually be tuning in? Even if half of those people watched, which is a near impossibility, this would only represent 50% of the people you could reach being reached with the gospel. However, in your little world, right now, you can live and speak out the gospel to every single person you ever come across – in other words 100% of the people you could reach, you can. There is a lot to be said for that sort of spiritual economy.

People want a big ministry, one that is world wide, but it must start with your own world now. If you are faithful in this world, perhaps God will expand your borders, but how can He trust you with more if you will not be faithful in a little? You must live prophetically, as if your ministry is worldwide right now, because in truth, it is; you never know the reach of God through what you do right here in your little arena.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Use All the Tools (Radio / Podcast)

…but I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue.
(Exodus 4:10)

Play to your strengths, says the world, and by “the world” we mean not only the secular world, but the church world as well. We try and make up for our lack of tools, not ones that we think we don’t have, but ones we think aren’t good enough to use. Instead of learning to use them more effectively and maximizing their use, we relegate them to the bottom of the toolbox, hoping no one will have to see them. We overcompensate and underestimate what God is trying to do with us as preacher, leader, layman, husband, wife, employee, and so on.

Lets put this in the context of the preacher first. It is like the preacher who may have the right message but delivers it with no passion at all, because he is “just not into that sort of thing”. Or like the preacher who can rev up the engine, but who spends no time in the study. Content and delivery, you can have both, it is much harder, but a preacher with no passion in his voice is patently ridiculous in this day and age. Yes, it makes a difference today, and it should. It might not have back then, but today it does, and yes, it really bothers and bores people to hear someone read the bible in a choppy, no inflection, monotone, metronome way.

The passion rises up out of the preacher when he is most passionate about God. When the preacher prizes God most, the passion about it comes out. The great preachers of today wouldn't hold my interest as much as they do if they had a passionless voice and staid delivery, no matter how good the words were. You can and you must have both content and delivery power.

Of course we must realize that God's Spirit can and will work through non-passionate, monotone preaching. Meaning, IF (not that a preacher should) a preacher/missionary was NOT a great non-monotone teacher, God's Spirit could work through his words regardless. The Spirit can and often does, but it is in spite of not because of their style, and vice versa, of course.

This is simply a matter of preference, mostly, but for many, they ought to give heed to their delivery. We often have this tool in the box but fail to sharpen it because, sinfully, we compare our gift to someone else's, and think it less, and so being prideful we don't share what we have. I may never have the exegetical prowess of John Calvin, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't do exegesis (God forbid!)...

Moses said his voice wasn’t good enough, but God asked him just who did he think made that mouth of his? You may not have the voice of a great singer, but God made your voice, so sing out loud the praises of His name. No matter what it sounds like to others, it sounds wonderful to Him, exactly as He designed it to be. You may not be able to do something as well as the next guy, but work at it, strive to be excellent for the glory of God and He will reward your diligence.

Using all the tools is being as God would have you to be, like Him. Think about it. God uses all the tools; some are more gifted speakers but God uses less gifted ones, some are more gifted in this or that area but God uses less gifted ones as well. How many times have you heard or seen someone with all their sophisticated argumentation, sincere pleading, and scriptural knowledge try and get someone to come to Christ, and then some supposed half wit talks to them once and they immediately fall to their knees in submission to Jesus?

God uses all the tools. So should you.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Pleading, Pouring & Power (Radio / Podcast)

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
(Philippians 2:17 – ESV)

The people that pray with passion are the people that stay in His presence. Not a false, worked up energy or showy emotionalism, but a heartfelt knowledge of His will and a willingness to lay out the case before Him in passionate prayer, in faith. It isn’t simply the volume or the amount of tears but if we are truly pouring out our heart it will often be accompanied by increased emotion. This isn’t faith in our fervor, but faith in our God. It isn’t a demonstration of a lack of faith; it is a demonstration of the power of it.

Sometimes it isn’t pouring out what you have extra, it is pouring out from what you need. Not like some seed faith thing, that is still selfish thinking, but something you have and you need. You have it and you are willing to lose it, and go without, to give to someone else, but in the name of God and knowing Him, not to look good, and not making a deal with God, not “I’ll do this if you do that”. If you want to get poured upon you must be poured out.

A man came from a town that was in severe drought and people were dying. He went to look for water, got lost and was near death. He would need to drink just to make it back to town, let alone get any water for anyone else. He pleaded to God for water. Soon he came across a pump with a canteen hung on the handle and a note. The note read: “This pump is routed directly to the neighboring towns, and below is a supply of all the fresh water they could ever need.” He was elated, and went to take a drink of the canteen when he read the rest of the note. “The canteen contains exactly enough water to prime the pump.” It takes great faith to pour out the whole contents of the canteen for a promise of unlimited water. Will you use the water to fill yourself or to prime the pump? Will you take the risk?

In Philippians 2 we see that Jesus Christ had enough but He gave up the comforts of heaven and gave His life to the cause. The Bible says therefore God has exalted Him. You may not be recognized, you may receive no earthly blessing, and you may actually be ridiculed, but will you pour yourself out then? Would you, will you, pour yourself out to someone who will hate you? Jesus Christ did, He died for us when we still hated Him, and God has poured out His love, that same love, by the Holy Spirit in us (Romans 5:5-8).


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Risky Prayer (Radio / Podcast)

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
(Philippians 2:17 – ESV)

Paul took a risk; he didn’t want to labor in vain (vs.16). Timothy risked it all on serving Jesus single-mindedly. Epaphroditus risked his health for their wealth, his life to fulfill the ministry (he agonized for people in prayer – Colossians 4:12).

The even if is in the present tense, not talking about his death so much as his life right then, he was even now being poured out, in other words, since I am being poured out. It wasn’t his death he was speaking of, it was his life, he was a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2), and his death was only the culmination of that. It wasn’t that he was saying that his martyrdom was the drink offering, but his life was. It wasn’t just that he was willing to die for the cause, but that he was willing to live for it. The sacrificial death was only the end of a sacrificial life. Paul is saying since I am being poured out, and it is upon your faith, I rejoice. He rejoices because his labor isn’t in vain, they have faith and are sacrificing and serving God themselves, and his being poured out is the “cherry on top”, as it were. The Philippians were making the greater sacrifice, says Paul, because their sufferings were multiplied. This shows Paul’s true humility. He considers it all as a sacrifice, unity, everyone playing his or her part.

It is not joy in spite of; it is joy because of, counting it joy to be counted as worthy to be poured out. Do you consider what God has poured in you worthy to be poured out? Paul’s greatest joy came when giving the greatest sacrifice. Now only God can make us to be like that. Paul says I am rejoicing, you are also being sacrificed, so also joy, let us all joy together for one another. We love one another, and our joy is made full. Obedience is greater than sacrifice, but if you are obedient you will sacrifice, it is the sacrifice of obedience. Ultimate sacrifice produces ultimate joy. What have you said no to in order to say yes to God, to His will, to His kingdom, to His Church?

Paul was fully poured out, now to the point of his very life. His heart was spent on them in service to Christ. People talk about pouring in to someone’s life but you cannot pour in unless you pour out, and you can only pour out what has been poured in. I am not talking just about giving advice and mentoring someone, I am talking about taking risk; giving up things you need for what they need, like a parent does for a child (1 Thessalonians 2:8), doing it as if something of yours was at stake. When someone pours themselves out like that you know it, you know them in a way that resonates with your own soul. This is why I call Martin Luther my friend, good and bad, he poured out himself in his life and it shows in his writing, and in those things written about him. He didn’t leave anything in; he poured it all out. Sure he made mistakes but he took risks and he left a legacy still felt to this day.

The great heroes of the faith have the heart of a humble servant, selfless, one who was willing to give himself up in the simplest task not for his own fulfillment or his own gain, but for the sake of the Lord he loves. God is the end not the means to an end. That would be just pouring to get something, not to give something.

One key way we pour ourselves out is in and through prayer. We need to pray like it means something, like we have a stake in it, like we are taking a risk. That is how you seek God; that is the place where He works. If it doesn’t cost you anything it doesn’t benefit anybody.

F.B. Meyer – "It was because Moses was prepared to be blotted from the book of God for his people that he carried them for forty years through the desert and deposited them on the very borders of the Promised Land. It was because Jesus wept over Jerusalem that He was able to send a Pentecost on that guilty city. It was because Paul was prepared to be accursed for his brethren according to the flesh that he was able to turn so many from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God." "No heart pangs, no spiritual seed."


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Poured Out (Radio / Podcast)

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
(Philippians 2:17 – ESV)

In chapter two of this epistle Paul exhorts the Philippians to pour themselves out to one another. You live out the faith, you pour out what God has poured in with humility and without complaint. He says Christ was poured out, Paul himself was being poured out, Timothy was being poured out, and Epaphroditus was nearly all poured out.

I want to relate being poured out specifically to prayer. You are pouring out yourself to something every day already, time, money, effort, thoughts, deeds, words, every minute of every day your life is being poured out. If you pour it out in prayer and service to God He will keep pouring His Spirit within you and upon your sacrifice of faith.

Being poured out is the path to joy. Paul was poured out as wine upon their sacrifice. The wine was to symbolize joy indicating that the sacrifice was done with a joyful heart and with the intent to bring joy to the Lord. Paul is saying, “Even if I have to die it is a small thing, a little sacrifice compared to the far greater sacrifice and service coming from your faith. I am going to die but it will make the sacrifice complete.” He rejoices that he was counted worthy to make a sacrifice and that they were also. His tireless effort helped lead to their true faith.

You can be poured out the wrong way. The world speaks of pouring yourself out as well, but it is in the sense of pouring your life into what you do. A recent country singer captures this idea in his song, “Live Like You Were Dying”. Now the song is a nice sounding sentiment, to pour it all out, to live with intention, but all he talks about is thrill seeking and actually selfish things for the most part. It is a humanistic motivational idea. The video looks like it is supposed to be all spiritual or whatever, but it isn’t giving glory to God, it isn’t what being poured out means in the biblical sense. When compared to what Christ would have us do, we see that the sentiment to live with passion and intention can be perverted into getting the most for us out of this life instead of giving to God's glory as much as we can in this life. Indeed we ought to live like we were dying, dying to self, that is.

Christians want to be poured on or poured in but they haven’t yet poured out. We should be poured out, but people don’t want to take the risk of being poured out. People only want to serve the way they want to serve; they want to choose their altar of service. They need to realize that if they cannot pour themselves out in prayer then how could they ever in practice.

God takes a person who is truly filled with the Spirit and uses tough situations to spill them over, so that His power and presence can flood onto others’ lives, and then He fills the vessel once again. He doesn’t fill us with His Sprit just so that we can feel full. If you try and hold it all in you will get nothing but a spiritual stomachache. No, it is not about the fullness in our bellies but the overflow of His life out from our bellies. Christ promised rivers of living water to come forth from our hearts (John 7:38), but how can we expect to see this power if we won’t allow ourselves to be poured out?


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Living the Beautiful Life (Radio / Podcast)

that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
(Philippians 2:15 – ESV)

Living the beautiful life, from a Biblical, Christian perspective, means living as a light of Christ (Matthew 5:16 / Galatians 2:20). Living the beauty of Christ means that no matter what this world can do to me I can still live for the glory of God, I can still live the beautiful life; I can still represent Christ to the world.

Paul is in jail when he writes this yet he can say these things. It was not that he didn’t want out but his first priority was not himself but God, and he was able to do the full ministry even from a jail cell. If you are full of the Spirit you are fulfilling your ministry wherever you go and wherever God leads you in His providence, even a jail cell. The Word is your life in any and every situation you find yourself in; He is there with you (Psalm 23). Paul tells us that even if he is going to die in that jail he will rejoice and so should they because he lived the beautiful life (Philippians 1:20-21).

Most people aren’t doing that, living to show others how beautiful Christ is, they are just satisfied with being saved or they have the material, social, and emotional things they want and think that this is the beautiful life, and they give God praise for that and think that they are living God’s best. They have seen passages such as Romans 3:25-26 with them as the starting point, but when we have our order right, when we see it really is about demonstrating God’s righteousness we will want to live for Him. In light of what we have seen about the value of God, how now shall we live? Real living in supernatural life through natural lives; people need to see Christ demonstrated in all sorts of situations. That is one reason why we are left in those sometimes desperate situations, so people can see Christ's light shining in a dark place.

We work out our salvation with fear and trembling because bad things will happen all around you all the time and you must carry on in the character of Christ. God is placing you in situations, and where He places you He graces you. Even if it is your fault that you are in the mess you are in God wants you to live His life on the way out of that place. God uses us even in our mess to bless others and to learn lessons and to live the beautiful life.

It is okay to want good things, but don’t be like the rest of the world and show doubt for God when things go bad. Then you will be a light in a dark place and your life will proclaim the power of God’s grace. Christianity is not the way to the beautiful life it is the beautiful life wherever it is found in truth. Jesus is beautiful so we can live the beautiful life in any circumstance.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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