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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Strong Finish, Strong Faith, Do You Have The Endurance To Win?

Jonathan Nelson wrote a song, “Finish Strong”. Here are the lyrics of the chorus ” I’m going to have a strong finish, strong faith, strong finish, strong faith,I’m going to have a strong finish, strong faith, strong finish, strong faith” , and here is the chant at the end “Strong finish, strong finish, strong finish, strong finish, strong finish, strong faith” . He starts by saying that this race of life that we are in is a marathon and you must have endurance to win.


To develop the endurance that we need we must have faith and our faith must become strong. If not
The Faith Marathon - Photograph by Martineric from Lillie France 
we will cross the finish line but barely, and in that group of stragglers at the tail end of the race. Yes they finish and will get a ribbon that says they finished but don’t you want to be one of the top finishers? I want you to be one of the top finishers because we know that while all believers will enjoy eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ some will receive greater rewards than others. Those receiving the greater rewards will be those with the strongest faith and having the strongest finish in the race. On my website I give promises of God that help us increase and strengthen our faith. (See Them Here!),  This post is about what it means to have that strong faith.

 In Romans 4:20 Paul says about Abraham;
Romans 4:20-21 (NKJV) 20  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21  and being fully convinced that what He had promised

Faith is the only way we can obtain blessings from God. 

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 

 So prayer won’t get the answers or result in blessings unless the prayer is made in faith.  Charles Spurgeon said in one of his Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening Devotions, that ” Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven-on which God’s messages of love fly so fast, that before we call He answers, and while we are yet speaking He hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we receive the promise?” We must make sure that our telegraphic wire of faith remains strong so that we can have the endurance to finish strong.

Six Benefits of Strong Faith

  1. Hope - Romans 5:2 “We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” 
  2. Joy – Acts 16:34 “He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had believed God with his entire household.” 1 Peter 1:8 “You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy,” 
  3. Peace – Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you
    The Winner by Faith - Image from Church Sports Outreach
    believe ⌊in Him⌋ so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 
  4. Confidence – Isaiah 28:16 “Therefore the Lord GOD said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable.” 1Peter 2:6 “For it is contained in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame!” 
  5. Boldness - Psalms 116:10 “I believed, even when I said, “I am severely afflicted.” . 2 Corinthians 4:13 “And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak.” 
  6. Christ is Precious - Ephesians 3:17 “and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. ⌊I pray⌋ that you, being rooted and firmly established in love,”, 
1 Peter 2:7 “So honor ⌊will come⌋to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the
builders rejected— this One has become the cornerstone,” 

*Scripture references from “The MacArthur Topical Bible”

Six Principles

Here are six principles in obtaining strong faith that Dr. Fred K.C. Price identifies in his book “How To Obtain Strong Faith: (Six Principles)”

  1. You must know the Reality of the Word of GOD. God’s word is Spirit; God’s Word is life. You must get into the Word; continue in the Word; devour it; get it down into your spirit, so that you may know the living reality of God’s Word. 
  2. You must know the Reality of your Redemption in Christ. You must know that you have been redeemed. You are not going to be redeemed. You are not in the process of being redeemed, but the Bible tells you that (if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior) you have been redeemed. 
  3. You must know the Reality of the New Creation. As a Christian, being born by the Spirit of God, you are a new creature in Christ Jesus. God views you as a brand new individual. 
  4. You must know the Reality of your Righteousness in Christ. You don’t have to do any thing to get righteous. You are righteous in Christ. 
  5. You must know the Reality of your Righteousness in Christ. You don’t have to do any thing to get righteous. You are righteous in Christ.
  6. You must know the Reality of the Authority of the Name of Jesus. You must know that there is authority in that name of Jesus. You must know it as a reality. You must know it, not as an idea, not as a philosophy, not as a hope , not as a dream, but you must know that name as an actual, living, vital reality. 

Faith links us with God

With faith we have access to the power of God. Faith puts God on your side in all the battles that you face. With faith you are able to wear the armor of God, and it fits 

Ephesians 6:11-17 (NKJV) 11  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16  above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;. 

 Strong faith gives you the endurance to win and causes you to finish strong. Hold fast to and guard your faith because without it you will become exhausted and lose the endurance you have to have to win and receive the rewards that God has for you. When a marathon course of life takes us up the steep hills, along the cliffs, or down the steep grades, do you have the strength to continue to press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus Philippians 3:14

Do you have the endurance to win?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

Matthew, and Luke record Jesus’ comments about the power of faith even as small as a mustard seed
can move a mountain or uproot a big tree.

Matthew 17:20 (HCSB)  “Because of your little faith,” He told them. “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

This was Jesus’ response to his disciples when they asked him why they had been unable to drive the demon out of a boy after Jesus, Peter, James, and John and come down from the mountain where Jesus had been transfigured.

Luke 17:6 (HCSB)  “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,” the Lord said, “you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
This was Jesus’ response to the apostles, this time, when they asked Him to increase their faith.

This is where we get the expression “faith as small as a mustard seed” to indicate that it doesn't take a whole lot of faith in God to do extraordinary things or to see extraordinary things happen. Let’s examine each of these cases where Jesus uses faith the size of a mustard seed to make His point about faith.

Why a mustard seed?

Let’s first look at why Jesus may have used the example of a mustard seed. Mustard seeds are the small round seeds of various mustard plants. The seeds are usually about 1 or 2 mm in diameter. Mustard seeds may be colored from yellowish white to black.  These are very small seeds. The mustard seed was the smallest of all the seeds known to the farmers of Palestine. That is why Jesus used the mustard seed to explain that it doesn't take a whole lot of faith.

Matthew 17:20

Let’s look at the Matthew scripture first. Jesus starts by saying that they actually did have little faith already.   In this case however, Jesus is talking about the disciples having doubts about the authorization He had given them earlier;

Matthew 10:8 (HCSB) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge.
Jesus’ point was that a basic belief and trust in God can accomplish much. I doesn’t take a whole lot. Just believe and act in the authority that He had already given them. If we take the statement figuratively, that this small amount of faith, or this basic belief in the word of God,  is symbolic of
any major difficulty rather than it being a real mountain,   then we see how powerful it was to say that faith the size of a mustard seed can move this mountain. Jesus may have even pointed to the Mount of Transfiguration when He made the statement which makes it even more powerful. Now we do know that God can move a real mountain.  After all He created them but let’s keep in mind that faith is trust in God and in His revealed word and will. So faith to move an actual mountain will happen only when God reveals it to be His will, but you get my point. 

Luke 17:6

In Luke Jesus’ reference to faith the size of a mustard seed came at a time when He was giving instructions to His disciples in how they should respond to offenses against them. 

Luke 17:1-4 (HCSB) 1  He said to His disciples, “Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! 2  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3  Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4  And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
After  telling them that they have to forgive and forgive and forgive, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith so that they can forgive someone that continues to offend.  He tells them that it’s not how much faith it’s the spirit and exuberance in which it’s exercised. 

Just as the example of the mustard seed in Jesus parable in Matthew 13:31-32 becomes a tree large enough for the birds to build nests the amount of faith, in God, that we need is very small. 

Matthew 13:31-32 (HCSB) 31  He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32  It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but
when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”

 Just as the few disciples of Jesus, after His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, exercised that “mustard seed faith” to start a movement that has spread the gospel of salvation throughout the world. Jesus was illustrating the power of God when unleashed in the lives of those with true faith.

Who are some of the people with mustard seed faith?

I was going to include the names of great people of faith who over the centuries have exercised “mustard seed faith” but the list is inexhaustible. You can find some of them in these following books:

The people in these books are just as much heroes of the faith as those in Hebrews Chapter 11. They all started with faith the size of a mustard seed just like you and me. In our own ways we can become heroes of the faith to somebody who needs to know how Jesus can change and bless their lives through using the measure of faith  that God gives everybody, that mustard seed faith. Maybe just maybe our mustard seed faith can move the on to “saving faith“. 

Romans 12:3 (HCSB) For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

Who are your heroes of faith?  Not those listed in Hebrews 11 but the people that you know personally, or have heard about that have become your heroes of faith.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Worry Ends Where Faith Begins

This is for me too

This post is as much for me as it is for you.  I am going through a stressful situation right now but I know that worry ends where stress begins so I’m writing this for me too.

Stress, anxiety and worry are something we all struggle with at some point in our lives.  We are bombarded with advertisements, enticing us with things that we don’t really need or can afford,  and left with the feeling that if we don’t get or don’t have those things that we are
losers, or we’ll never achieve any significance.  So given that jolt we can easily become overwhelmed with worry,  fear of failure and fear of the unknown.  

But God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love and power and a sound mind.  Yes a spirit of courage not fear.   The ultimate end to worry  is to put your trust in God.  Worry ends where faith begins.

What is worry?

Here are some definitions for worry;
  1. give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles; 
  2. a state of anxiety and uncertainty of actual or potential problems;  
  3. to think about problems or fears : to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen.

Worry is to give way or give in to anxiety or unease, to ponder or consider intently about things that may or may not happen.  If what you are worrying about has already happened then you may need to do something about it.  Worrying about it without doing anything doesn't solve or change anything.  

If what you’re worrying about is a hasn't happened we may be giving in to something that may not happen all.  So we spent time worrying about nothing.  We may need to do some things to prevent what it is we are worrying about but if it hasn't happened yet why give in in advance?  Remember worry ends where faith begins and if our faith is in God then we need to give in to Him and His promises, not to the problems, difficulty or trouble.   In a blog not too long ago I gave you a list of who God is (Lord I Believe; Help My Unbelief).  Look at that list when you start to worry and become overwhelmed.  When you consider who God is then the problem becomes nothing.  

Worry robs us

 Worry robs us of time that we will never get back and,  if we look back at our past most, if not all of the things we worried about never happened or were solved and the worry wasn't the solution.  The scriptures encourage us to keep our minds on Jesus and the peace He brings. 

John 14:27 (HCSB)  “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

John 16:33 (HCSB) I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” 

Isaiah says that our faith will be expressed as complete trust in the sufficiency of God and the perfection of his will.

Isaiah 26:3 (HCSB) You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.

The Hebrew word for perfect peace here is shalom shalom or peace peace.  This is “a peace that really is peace”  the kind that only God can give not the temporary peace that man gives.

4 Things about worry

Worry doesn’t accomplish anything 

Matthew 6:25-29 (HCSB) “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body
more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!”

Worry can be destructive and can even make you ill

Proverbs 12:25 (HCSB) “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up. “

If we worry we are not trusting God

Philippians 4:6-7 (HCSB) “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Direct your attention on God not the problem 

1 Peter 5:6-7 (HCSB) “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.”

9 more Scriptures to strengthen you

When you start to have anxiety, stress and worry use them to strengthen your faith in God.  Worry is just that,  it’s not the real thing.

  1. Matthew 11:28-30 (HCSB) “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
  2. Colossians 3:15 (HCSB) “And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.”
  3. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (HCSB) May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
  4. Psalm 55:22 (HCSB)  “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
  5. Psalm 23:4 (HCSB) “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me. “
  6. Hebrews 13:5 (HCSB) “Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. “
  7. Psalm 56:3 (HCSB) “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
  8. Proverbs 3:5-6 (HCSB) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart,and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”
  9. Romans 8:38 (HCSB) “For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come,hostile powers, “

If you are worried, anxious, or stressed give it to God.  Remember worry ends where faith begins.
I would love to talk to you about those things that are stressing you out, causing you sleepless nights, and affecting your health.  I’ve been there and I found the answer in trusting God.   In fact I am fighting stress and anxiety over some stuff that is going on in my life right now so like I said before, this post is for me as much as it is for you.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Justification - Under the Gospel

This is the fifth, and final post, in my series on justification.  The first four, “All That Believe Are Justified Through Faith - Or Is It By Faith", "Justification - Promised In Christ", "Justification Is The Act Of God", and "Justification - Under the Law - Is That Possible?", have been leading up to this one.

Before you get excited and say that I'm saying we are justified some other way than through and by faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross let me give you a biblical definition of the gospel.  The dictionary defines the gospel as; 
1) the teachings of Jesus and the apostles; the Christian revelation 
2) the story of Christ's life and teachings, especially as contained in the first four books of the new testament, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  
3) ( usually initial capital letter ) any of these four books. 
4) something regarded as true and implicitly believed: to take his report for gospel. 
5) a doctrine regarded as of prime importance: political gospel. 

 Here’s the apostle Paul's clarification;

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (HCSB) 1  Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2  You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. 3  For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4  that He
was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

Paul also wrote;

 Romans 10:9-13 (HCSB) 9  If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10  One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11  Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12  for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him.  13  For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. – I’ll proceed with my opinion the justification is in fact under the gospel.

Justification Is not of works

Justification is under the gospel it is definitely not of works.  In the very first blog we quoted Acts 13:39 (HCSB) and everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses. 

Here' further proof;

Romans 8:3 (HCSB) 3  What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering,
Galatians 2:16 (HCSB) 16  know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.

Galatians 3:11 (HCSB) 11  Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.

Is not of faith and works together

Stay with me here I know that in James it says that faith without works is dead but this blog is about justification not the results of our faith in Jesus which is a requirement of justification.  Here is scripture that proves that justification is not by a combination or unity of faith and works:

Romans 3:28 (HCSB) 28  For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Romans 11:6 (HCSB) 6  Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.

Galatians 5:4 (HCSB) 4  You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace.

Justification Is by faith alone

John 5:24 (HCSB)  “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

Acts 13:39 (HCSB)  and everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses.

Romans 3:30 (HCSB) since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Romans 5:1 (HCSB)  Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:16 (HCSB)  know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.

Justification Is of grace

Here is a definition of grace from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology;  

The word "grace" in biblical parlance can, like forgiveness, repentance, regeneration, and salvation, mean something as broad as describing the whole of God's activity toward man or as narrow as describing one segment of that activity. An accurate, common definition describes grace as the unmerited favor of God toward man. In the Old Testament, the term that most often is translated "grace, " is hen [ej]; in the New Testament, it is charis [cavri"].

In short justification under the gospel is through God’s grace which is undeserved and unmerited, nevertheless He has granted it because we believe as it says in Romans 10:9-10.  Here is some scriptural proof:

Romans 3:24 (HCSB) 24  They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 4:16 (HCSB) 16  This is why the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the descendants—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of Abraham’s faith. He is the father of us all

Romans 5:17-21 (HCSB) 17  Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18  So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone.
19  For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20  The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more 21  so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Justification In the name of Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 6:11 (HCSB) 11  And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
By imputation of Christ’s righteousness (credited to us)

Here is the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of impute with regard to theology;  

Ascribe (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to someone by virtue of a similar quality in another:
Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us.  

Imputed righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian, enabling the Christian to be justified. Double imputation refers to the imputation of believers' sin to Christ and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to believers.  Want proof from the scripture here it is:

Romans 3:22 (HCSB) 22  —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction.

Romans 5:18 (HCSB) 18  So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (HCSB) 30  But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,

2 Corinthians 5:21 (HCSB) 21  He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

By  the Blood of Christ

Romans 5:9 (HCSB) 9  Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.

By the Resurrection of Christ

Romans 4:25 (HCSB) 25  He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Justification Frees from Condemnation

Once we are justified we have direct access to God Almighty the Creator of the universe because of the completed work of Christ as described in all of the scriptures quoted above.  This is why I say that we are justified under the gospel as defined in the second paragraph of this blog and because we are justified we are free from condemnation.  I will end with what the Bible says about our justification freeing us of condemnation.
Found on Pinterest 

 Isaiah 50:8-9 (HCSB) 8  The One who vindicates Me is near; who will contend with Me? Let us confront each other. Who has a case against Me? Let him come near Me!
9  In truth, the Lord GOD will help Me; who will condemn Me? Indeed, all of them will wear out like a garment; a moth will devour them.

Isaiah 54:17 (HCSB) 17  No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. This is the heritage of the LORD’s servants, and their righteousness is from Me.” This is the LORD’s declaration.

Romans 8:33-34 (HCSB) 33  Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. 34  Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

Because we are now justified we are entitled to an inheritance;

Titus 3:7 (HCSB) 7  so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life, and our justification ensures our glorification.  

 Romans 8:30 (HCSB) 30  And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

Have you been justified?

If you've never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior none of what you just read applies to you but God loves you and has provided a way for your justification, pardon and acceptance but it must be your decision.  The way to pardon and acceptance is simple I have referred to it a couple of times in this post.

Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) 9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If you're ready just repeat this prayer.

"Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin.  I am willing to turn from sin.  I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.

If you just prayed this prayer the call, text, email, tweet, change your Facebook status and tell somebody.  Please leave me a comment or email me at this LINK.  Welcome to the family of God.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

You Can Overcome the Challenge of Stress, Anxiety, and Worry - A Sermon Given November 30, 2014

These are my notes from a sermon given at the Church of Divine Guidance in Los Angeles where I am the Associate Pastor.  It's long but it will bless you and help you deal with the things in this sinful world that cause stress, anxiety, worry, and fear.  You can't get away from them because there is sin in this world and it will be here until the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ but the key is how you deal with them.

We just celebrated Thanksgiving Day on Thursday. Most of us were with family and friends, had a great meal (at which a lot of us ate too much), great fellowship, and thanked God for all He has done
for us. How He’s brought us out of very difficult situations, healed us, gave us peace, and much much more.

Then we went home or said goodbye to our guests and started thinking about how much we missed our mother, father, sister, brother, friend, and worrying about how we are going to buy all the Christmas gifts that we want to buy, or how we were going to pay our utilities, or our mortgage, or our car note, or why am I still sick, and on and on. Even during this season in which there should be joy we start or continue to be stressed, worried, and anxious.

We feel guilty about feeling this way because we remember the scripture that pastor gave us last Sunday;

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

We try what he suggested; not giving thanks for bad situations but finding something good in them (things could have been worse, at least this or that didn’t happen, I’m still in good health, etc). That makes us feel better for a while but we are still overwhelmed stressed and worried.

We also remember and quote the scripture that he gave us from Psalms where David asks the Lord make haste to help him.

 Psalm 141:1 (NKJV) A Psalm of David. LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.

Well let me give you another scripture today for you to remember;

Romans 8:28 (HCSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Those in my Sunday school class will remember it from a study that we did a few months ago and so will those who read my blog, Faith The Evidence - Bible Studies.   In fact those people will remember much of what I’m going to talk about today but because I know that many of us, including me, go through stressful situations from time to time, or may be going through something right now and we need to be reminded that we can overcome stress and anxiety and win the war over worry.

It's good to be reminded of some things especially those things that the Holy Spirit reminds us of because those things are for our benefit. 

 Peter in 2 Peter 1:12 said;  "For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth."

The thing that he was reminding them of was is in verse 3 where he told them of their great spiritual wealth. He had said in verse 3 God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

Here's the scripture that I want to give you today.  It's one that we quote all the time.

 Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

But between financial struggles, marital issues, health scares, and the run-of-the-mill problems of everyday life, it’s easy to feel weighed down and trapped by your circumstances. In times like these, it’s tempting to just throw in the towel and quit. With all the bad things that are happening and will happen, things like what's going on in Ferguson, the Ebola epidemic, terrorism you name it.  There are lots of bad things going on. How about when a police officer on duty or a young girl or boy is killed by a drunk driver, or in a fit of rage and man kills his whole family or to make it more personal when we lose a loved one or lose a job or lose our home and all these things happen in succession.

We struggle with that verse when these kinds of things happen because we try to reconcile it with what Paul writes earlier in that same chapter,

Romans 8:1-2 says 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

After all, we have been told that we supposed to experience the blessings in Deuteronomy 28 if we obey God, things like:

Deuteronomy 28:3-6 (NKJV) 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out., etc.

Why then are these things happening and how could Paul write this. How is that possible?

Here’s what it means. 

It is the destiny of those who love the Lord to be like Jesus. God is committed to produce in us all the love, all the joy, all the patience, all the long-suffering, all the goodness, and all the gentleness of Jesus. But until that happens we are still subject to the realities of sin and death. It is God's love in Christ that sustains us and empowers us—even in the midst of our experiences of sin and death—"to be conformed to the likeness of his Son". Just look at the next verse

Romans 8:29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

God works in all things toward that purpose,  to conform us to the image of His son Jesus.

To be free from the realities of sin and death does not mean that we can live our lives unaffected by the continuing presence of sin and death in this world. 

So now let’s talk about how the Holy Spirit helps us to deal with stress, anxiety, and worry.

Stress of all kinds is a natural part of life

Job 5:7 But mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.

Job 14:1 Man born of woman is short of days and full of trouble.

1 Peter 4:12  Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.).

Jesus even said that we would have difficulties.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

So then if stress is a part of life the key for the believer is realizing that Jesus provided his peace so how we deal with it is up to us. If we choose to try to do it on our own, we face a long, uphill battle that will not end well. The only way we can deal with stress is with Jesus Christ, first by believing in Him. 

Without believing in Him we are on our own, and success in coping with stress is almost impossible. 

Second, we need to trust Him and obey Him.

Here’s what Rick Warren says about stress;

"Stress is a choice. We get stressed out when we choose to focus on our own limited resources instead of focusing on the unlimited resources available through our heavenly Father."

In life, struggle, pain, suffering, worry and anxiety, creates a conflict between what we experience and what we believe. They can give us a badly distorted perspective on life- and on God. In those times, we need God to provide us with new perspective to help us see clearly again.

Psalm 141:8 But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord; In You I take refuge; Do not leave my soul destitute.

Seeing God clearly can help us see life's experiences more clearly.

As we turn our eyes to the Lord in times of pain and struggle, we will experience His comfort and hope in our daily lives. He will help us to see everything clearly again.

10 of the most common things that can cause stress. These aren’t the only things that can cause stress but these are big ones.

1. The belief that I am in control of my life rather than knowing that HE is in control of EVERYTHING (including my life)!

2. When I do not trust people and actually begin to believe the lie that, “If I want something done right then I must do it myself.”

3. When I know without a doubt what God has told me to do but I begin to listen to the “experts” who tell me that the very thing God has told me to do is impossible.

4. When I try to explain myself to those who don’t really want an explanation; they just want to argue.

5. When I refuse to take some time to disconnect and rest, claiming that the devil never takes a day off while not understanding that the devil isn't supposed to be my example.

Not taking time to relax and disconnect is a big one. God shows us how important it is to Him. In the Ten Commandments that had the most written about it was the one to take a day off.

Exodus 20:8-11 )8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work,10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11 For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.

According to this, not resting is a sin. Now it doesn't matter if your day of rest is Saturday or Sunday or any other day. The Hebrew word shabbāt, translated as Sabbath means intermission. It is from a root word, shābat, that means, to repose, i.e. desist from exertion; cease, celebrate, cause; rest, rid, still, take away.

The Bible calls those who will not work lazy, Proverbs is full of sayings about being lazy and the circumstances from it, but it calls those who will not rest disobedient.
6. When I begin to take on the “Messiah complex” and begin to think about how much I need to do and how Jesus needs me rather than how much I actually NEED HIM!

7. When I worry about results more than obedience!!!

8. When I focus on the size of the problem rather than the size of God!

9. When I fail to share my worries and concerns and admit my mistakes to others for fear that it may make me seem weak and stupid. (The opposite is actually the case. Those around me actually love and respect me more when I ask for help!)

10. When I become unaware of HIS presence every single minute of my life!

So How Do We Overcome and Win The War Over Worry?

The starting point for dealing with stress is Jesus Christ. Jesus offers us great
encouragement in

John 14:1: "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

We desperately need Him in our lives. We need Him because He is the only one who can give us the strength to cope with the troubles in our lives. Believing in Him does not mean that we will have a trouble-free life or that we will not succumb to stress in our lives. 

It simply means that a life without Jesus Christ makes coping with stress is impossible.  
Believing leads to trusting.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Leaning on “our own understanding” often means adopting the world’s ways of relieving stress—things like alcohol or drugs or mindless entertainment. Instead, we are to trust His Word as our ultimate guide to a stress-reduced life.

David says, ” (Psalm 34:4) “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Perhaps no passage in Scripture better captures how to handle stress than

Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Here are a couple more;

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

He will sustain us and never fail us.

Jesus Christ offers peace if we come to Him with our worries and concerns.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

There are two foundational beliefs that we must have in order to go through overwhelming situations. One is God is holy and God is good, and the other one is to believe in His promises.
We can’t let our circumstances dictate and shape what we believe about God. If we do then we will always walk in fear. Remember we have no control over the circumstances. But if we can remember that God is good and we can remember what it says in

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

God is in control and when we realize that we can walk in freedom from stress and anxiety and worry, which often causes fear.

God is faithful.

Turn to Lamentations 3:19-27  19 Remember my affliction and my homelessness, the wormwood and the poison. 20 I continually remember ⌊them⌋ and have become depressed. 21 Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24 I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. 26 It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the LORD. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is ⌊still⌋ young.

We can all remember times that things were difficult or we needed to make critical decisions in our lives or we were launching out on something new that God directed and He was faithful then He doesn't change so He is faithful now.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

God IS faithful! Your circumstances do not dictate His character!!! You can always trust Him and know that He is in complete control.

Don’t look at what's wrong look at who God is and his character!

Let's look at 2 scriptures

Romans 5:8  But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Instead of the word "for" let’s replace it with "for the benefit of", "on behalf of," and "instead of." then the full significance of Christ's death "for" us hits home.

Now let’s look at Philippians 1:6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

You can count on it because of the faithfulness of God who, having begun a good work, would most certainly bring it to completion.

So at the most stressful moments in your life, at the times when you feel most overwhelmed go back and read and meditate on these verses and stop and focus on God and remember these things about God:


SOVEREIGN — He reigns over everyone and everything and has never been stressed out.

UNSTOPPABLE and so are those who follow Him.

HOLY— God is perfect, which means everything He wants/desires for my life is far greater than anything I could have thought of.

CONSISTENT — I don’t have to worry about Him being in a bad mood.

GREATER than any temptation the enemy throws my way.

BETTER than anything the world has to offer.

• BIGGER than any sin or failure in my life.

GRACIOUS — He knows every stupid, foolish, sinful thing I’ve ever done (or will do), and yet He loves me anyway!

ALWAYS here with me — God has NEVER walked away from me. He doesn’t always deliver me from the fire, but He has ALWAYS walked with me through it!

FAITHFUL — If I fail to see His faithfulness in my past, I will probably not recognize the fruitfulness of my future.

THE ONE WHO PURSUES ME — He pursues me even on the days I tend to walk away from Him.

RELENTLESS — He has NEVER given up on me!

PASSIONATE — His passion and zeal that the scriptures reveal cause me to be in AWE. I could go on and on, but what I want you to see is that when stress comes into our lives it is an awesome opportunity to KNOW GOD. 

So, if you are stressed out, freaked out and feel like you are about to give out, then “check out” for 10 minutes from your busy life, sit down with a piece of paper, make a list of who the scriptures say GOD IS, and focus on that rather than your circumstances.

Let’s finish with this Charles Spurgeon devotional that I read some time ago, but it fits with our winning the war over worry and stress.

1 Chronicles 5:22 22 Many of the Hagrites were killed because it was God’s battle. And they lived there in the Hagrites’ place until the exile.

Warrior, fighting under the banner of the Lord Jesus, observe this verse with holy joy, for as it was in the days of old so is it now, if the war be of God the victory is sure. The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh could barely muster five and forty thousand fighting men, and yet in their war with the Hagarites, they slew "men, an hundred thousand," "for they cried to God in the battle, and He was entreated of them, because they put their trust in Him." The Lord saveth not by many nor by few; it is ours to go forth in Jehovah's name if we be but a handful of men, for the Lord of Hosts is with us for our Captain. They did not neglect buckler, and sword, and bow, neither did they place their trust in these weapons; we must use all fitting means, but our confidence must rest in the Lord alone, for He is the sword and the shield of His people. The great reason of their extraordinary success lay in the fact that "the war was of God." Beloved, in fighting with sin without and within, with error doctrinal or practical, with spiritual wickedness in high places or low places, with devils and the devil's allies, you are waging Jehovah's war, and unless He himself can be worsted, you need not fear defeat. Quail not before superior numbers, shrink not from difficulties or impossibilities, flinch not at wounds or death, smite with the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and the slain shall lie in heaps. The battle is the Lord's and He will deliver His enemies into our hands. With steadfast foot, strong hand, dauntless heart, and flaming zeal, rush to the conflict, and the hosts of evil shall fly like chaff before the gale.

Stand up! stand up for Jesus!
The strife will not be long;
One day the noise of battle,
The next the victor's song:
To him that overcometh,
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of glory
Shall reign eternally.

I highly recommend this book

Monday, November 24, 2014

Justification Under the Law - Is that Possible?

To be justified is; to be shown or proved to be right or reasonable; to be declared or made righteous in the sight of God.  To justify is  the act of pronouncing righteous, justification, or acquittal

Romans 10:4 (HCSB)  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The Law Requires Complete and Total Obedience

The Scriptures say that God requires complete and total obedience to His law. The law is the commandments, and regulations that God gave to Moses for the Hebrews during their exodus from Egypt on the way to the Promised Land, Canaan.  The law, referred to in scripture as the Law of Moses is contained in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament.  They include much more than the 10 Commandments of Exodus chapter 20.  

 Let’s look at a few verses of scripture that address complete obedience to the law. 

  •   Leviticus 18:5 (HCSB) Keep My statutes and ordinances; a person will live if he does them. I am Yahweh.
  • Romans 2:13 (HCSB) For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous.
  • Romans 10:5 (HCSB)  For Moses writes about the righteousness that is from the law: The one who does these things will live by them.
  •  James 2:10 (HCSB) For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.

Does God really mean that?  

Yes He does!   

Adam and Eve were banished from the garden of Eden, condemned and cursed for just one act of disobedience (read Genesis chapter 3).  God Himself prepared the sacrifice to temporarily atone for this sin when he killed an animal and covered them with the animal’s skin. 

Genesis 3:21 (HCSB) 2 The LORD God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.  That was the first sacrifice for disobedience, or sin, so to speak.

So it may look like God doesn’t really demand complete obedience because He's provided a way out. He established a sacrificial system through Moses for the nation of Israel,  a means of way of making amends or atoning for sin.  On a closer look however the system itself points to the requirement of complete obedience.  There was a constant need for sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice for the nation, the priests, and the people.  If obedience was only required for, what we think are the worst sins, like taking the name of the Lord in vain, worshiping other gods, murder, theft, adultery, covertness, in other words the Ten Commandments, then the people who didn’t do these things would be exempt from the requirement.  But nothing in scripture gives that impression.  In fact scripture says the exact opposite.  Every Israelite, every one of them, had to offer sacrifices for his or her sins whatever they were, and there are long lists in the books between Genesis and Joshua.  So the sacrificial system itself shows the requirement for complete obedience.

Man Can’t Do Complete Obedience

Man can’t do it even under a sacrificial system.  The Bible in a number of places says that all sin and that nobody is right with God. 

  • Romans 3:23 (HCSB) ” For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”;  but the Old
    Testament also says that  sinned
  • 1 Kings 8:46 (HCSB) When they sin against You— for there is no one who does not sin— and You are angry with them and hand them over to the enemy, and their captors deport them to the enemy’s country— whether distant or nearby—
  • Proverbs 20:9 (HCSB) Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;I am cleansed from my sin”?
  •  Ecclesiastes 7:20 (HCSB) There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does good and never sins.

Job was really aware of man’s inability to attain perfect obedience read what he says;
  •  Job 9:2-3 (HCSB) Yes, I know what you’ve said is true, but how can a person be justified before God? 3  If one wanted to take Him to court, he could not answer God once in a thousand times.
  • Job 9:20 (HCSB) Even if I were in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, my mouth would declare me guilty.
  • Job 25:4 (HCSB) How can a person be justified before God? How can one born of woman be pure?

Here’s what the Psalmist said:

  •  Psalm 130:3 (HCSB) Yahweh, if You considered sins, Lord, who could stand?
  • Psalm 143:2 (HCSB) Do not bring Your servant into judgment, for no one alive is righteous in Your sight.

And of course Paul:

  •  Romans 3:20 (HCSB) For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.
  •  Romans 9:31-32 (HCSB) 31 But Israel, pursuing the law for righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. 32  Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

How Can Anybody Become Justified Then?

The answer is found in Romans 3:30 (HCSB)  since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Isaiah 53:11 (HCSB) He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities.

Isaiah 49:3 (NKJV) “And He said to me, ‘You are My servant, O Israel, In whom I will be
Not Guilty!

As shown in my post, "Justification - Promised inChrist",  the servant in this verse as Jesus.

This is prophetic scripture in which the nation of Israel is the shadow of Jesus and describes the fact that God the Father is near His Servant during the time of his humiliation. He was never alone so he was able to withstand all of the attacks of his enemies, the charges brought against him, and also all of the sins of the people that were place on him. God knew that he was innocent and righteous and He justified him declaring it by the resurrection. Who could then accuse him through whom we are justified?

Romans 8:28-33 (NKJV) 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Jesus the Perfect Sacrifice for All Mankind

God declared that all who sin will die, both physically and spiritually. This is the fate of us all because we all sin.  But God provided a solution.  The sacrifice and the shed blood of the only man who ever walked this earth without sin Jesus Christ.  God declared that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22), but through the shedding of blood, redemption is provided. The Law of Moses provided a way for the people to be considered “sinless” or “right” in God’s eyes—the offering of animals sacrificed for every sin they committed. These sacrifices were only temporary, though, and were really a foreshadowing of the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross. gotQuestions?org

Hebrews 10:10 (HCSB) By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.

Have You Been Justified?

If you've never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior you have not been justified, pardoned, or accepted.  God loves you and has provided a way for your pardon and acceptance but it must be your decision.  The way to pardon and acceptance is simple, as simple as "TNT" (Romans 10:9-10).

Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) 9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If you're ready just repeat this prayer.

"Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin.  I am willing to turn from sin.  I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.

If you just prayed this prayer the call, text, email, tweet, change your Facebook status and tell somebody.  Please leave me a comment or email me at this Link.  Welcome to the family of God.

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving and be sure that in addition to telling the Lord thank you for all things make your life one of constant thanksgiving.

Here are some good books on justification: