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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 3:23’

History and Destiny

September 25th, 2015

“For by grace you have been saved through faith . . the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 NKJV.

Your identity is not found in the debris of your past failures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “history and destiny.”

Everyone has a history; everyone has a destiny. History is who you have been; destiny is who you are in Christ. History traces the path to where you are; destiny promises who you can become. “God Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us . . for by grace you have been saved through faith.” Read Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV.

It seems we are more easily preoccupied with our own or others’ past record of struggles and failures than with the possibilities and opportunities still ahead. Possibilities for you are limitless in Christ. “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT. In redemption, God replaces your history with destiny.

In the beginning, it was wonderfully simple. God said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26-27 NKJV. Sin is common to us all, but sin cannot change your origin. You came from God’s heart and hands. But life – your faults and failures as well as the hurts and misunderstandings from the fallen humanity of others – clouded the image with which you were created and your understanding of the Father’s purpose for you. Subsequent inability to reconcile the way things are with the way things should have been produces inner tension and confusion.

Identity is the core of everything about a confident and successful life, but many people struggle with a confused identity. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Read Romans 8:29-30 NIV. I recognize three challenges that confront your assurance of identity.

(1) The brokenness of our own self-knowledge. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV. History is rehearsed in your memory with excruciating detail. You have to discover anew your identity in Jesus before all the stuff happened that you allowed to shape who you now believe yourself to be. Your identity is not found in the debris of your failures or the failures of others toward you. Believe God and His Word.

(2) The ill-founded evaluation of others. Your sense of self is wrongly shaped by others’ opinions, criticisms, and judgments of you. Leave all judgment to Him who judges righteously. The judgments of anyone, including your own, mean little until the Righteous Judge, who knows even the thoughts and intent of the heart, examines one’s life. The Apostle Paul foresaw that day, “At that time, each will receive his praise from God.” Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NIV.

(3) The lengthy process of rebuilding broken lives. Never assume the difficulty, delay, or slow progress mean success is not yours. Recovery takes a lot of grace, patience, obedience, perseverance, hope, and faith. “Being confident of this . . that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 NKJV.

God rebuilds what self and sin have damaged or destroyed, through daily application of the Word of God, the work of Christ, the fellowship of His Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit to restore His “image and likeness” anew. God replaces your history with destiny. Your Identity in Christ is assured and secure. Read Colossians 1:21-23 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to live confidently, eternally secure in Christ Jesus.

To be continued . . .

Last Sunday, I taught on “Identity Theft” at Freedom Fellowship, New Braunfels, TX. The teaching is also available at their website, freedomnb.org. Then scroll down to the sermon title to listen or download the teaching. Please respond if you listen so I will know if audio teachings would be helpful in the future on EveryDay Life . . .

EDL PIX Identity images

 

 

Christian Communications 654

 

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Prayer and God’s Forgiveness

March 7th, 2014

“Our Father . . forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive . .” Matthew 6:12 TEV.

For good or bad, you get what you give, but in multiplied measure.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s forgiveness.”

Thus far in our study of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we have examined, “The Pattern and Practice of Prayer,” “Prayer and God’s Sovereignty,” “Prayer and God’s Kingdom,” and “Prayer and God’s Providence.” Prayer also involves the practice of receiving and extending forgiveness.

Living without forgiveness results in soul-damaging condemnation, a heavy burden you were never meant to bear. Who has not needed to be forgiven by God and man? The Bible is clear; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” See Romans 3:23-26 NKJV. This truth offers bad news and good. We all need to be forgiven; we all need to forgive. See Mark 11:25 NIV.

Here’s how the process works: conviction of sin, confession of sin, cleansing from sin, or condemnation due to sin. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” See 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV. Be warned. If confession is not made, the Accuser imposes condemnation which worsens as confession is delayed. David suffered greatly when he failed to deal with his sin. His testimony is: “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable . . Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me . . Create in me a pure heart, O God.”  Psalm 32:1-5/51:1-4/10-12 NIV.

In Jesus’ model prayer, He taught, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father . . forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.’” Matthew 6:12 TEV. The word, “wrongs,” is correctly and variously translated as, “debts or sins.” Elaborating further on His words, Jesus said specifically, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matt 6:14-15 NIV. Whether described as debts, sins, or wrongdoing, they come large and small.

Forgiving is neither optional nor easy, but is essential for spiritual health and growth. The measure and nature of your treatment of others determine what comes back to you – from others and from God. “Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. If you give, you will receive. [What you give] will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:37-38 NLT. Let me simplify Jesus’ words, “For good or bad, you get what you give, but in multiplied measure.” Unforgiveness of others is an unkindness you impose on yourself. Read Matthew 18:22-35 NIV.

The ability to forgive others flows from your experience of lavish, unmerited forgiveness from God. “In Him we have . . the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 1:7-8/4:32 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will embrace and extend God’s forgiveness.

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Condemnation and Conviction

December 19th, 2013

Whenever our hearts condemn us . . God is greater than our hearts.1 John 3:20 NIV.

Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “condemnation and conviction.”

There are times when you will behave badly. A sadness of heart results, maybe even degrees of shame. You try to ignore it, but an internal uneasiness makes that difficult. The real issue is not that you failed to measure up to others’ criteria; the sadness or shame you feel is rooted in a diminished expectation of yourself.

That recognition is a good sign of a healthy, God-given sensitivity, “[demonstrating] that God’s law is written within their hearts, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right.” Romans 2:14-15 NLT/NKJV. What is more important than to know right from wrong? God does not leave such to personal interpretation. Read James 4:17 NIV.

The Holy Spirit, who is within you, is grieved when you violate your innate knowledge of right and wrong. Yet that is an experience common to all. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NKJV. The Spirit is God’s gift, and arbiter of the Word of God as well as the Law of God, written on your heart and expressed in your conscience. See also Acts 24:16 NKJV.

Paul admonished the Christ-followers at Ephesus, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 NKJV. Those who continually disregard the pleadings of the Holy Spirit risk what the Bible describes as, “having their conscience seared [as] with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV. To a stubborn heart wrong appears right and right seems wrong. Believe me; that is not a place you want to find yourself. John 3:19-20 NKJV.

Ignoring the discomfort within yourself or refusing the pleadings of the gentle Holy Spirit who comes to “convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness” (See John 16:8 NKJV),you will feel guilt and its resultant shame. Be advised of the distinction you must understand between condemnation and conviction.

The Bible is clear, “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.” Romans 8:1-2 NKJV. God convicts; the devil condemns. They can feel similar, almost indistinguishable, though they are not alike at all. The difference is in their intent and result, not in the regret or emotions you feel.

(10) Examine the intent. Without equivocation, I assure you God did not send His Son to condemn you; He came to save you! The Bible declares, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17 NKJV. Whereas, the devil is described as, “the accuser.” Revelation 12:10 NKJV. He wishes only your harm. See John 10:10 NIV.

(2) Consider the results. “Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the One who died for us and was raised to life for us . .nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God . .” Romans 8:33-39 NLT. Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation. “This then is how we . . set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20 NIV. Conviction creates repentance; condemnation only produces impotent regret . . but “God is greater than our hearts . .”

My prayer for you today is that you heart remains at rest before God.

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Choices Have Consequence

March 13th, 2012

“Don’t be misled . . you will always reap what you sow.” Galatians 6:7 NLT

“Choose well and wisely what you want to reap before you sow, not after.”

My thoughts and comments today are that “choices have consequence.”

Life presents you with choices; choices have consequence. Your choices determine either reward or loss; they always affect you and sometimes include others, whether intentionally or not. It is this simple. Do what is right and wise and reward comes your way, as well as blessing upon others. Choices from selfish insistence can have collateral damage beyond what you anticipate. The moral of this principle is: choose carefully and prayerfully, making corrections quickly when needed.

Wrong choices will be made, some out of ignorance and some of stubborn self-will. When you make a wrong decision and recognize it as such, correct your decision as quickly and honestly as you can. Doing so minimizes the effect and reduces the reach of an unwise choice.

The Bible teaches a “law of reaping and sowing” that is as old as creation. When God created the world, He established a principle that “seeds will produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came. And so it was . .their seeds produced plants and trees of like kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:11-12 NLT. An apple seed will produce an apple, which reliably will reproduce apple seeds! Choose well and wisely what you want to reap before you sow, not after. All the hope or regret in the world will not change the result from the seed you choose to plant. Seeds when sown can only produce what is their nature to produce, nothing more, nothing less!

Wrong choices result in negative consequences; Godly choices create positive results. “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing good.” Galatians 6:8-9 NLT. God as faithfully rewards righteousness for “those who live to please the Spirit,” as He punishes unrighteousness justly for “those who live to satisfy sinful desires.”

The Bible warns, “Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow . . don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” Galatians 6:7/9-10 NLT. This principle is not only with negative effect; it will work powerfully for you with positive force.

When I was young, I was warned about the foolishness of “sowing wild oats,” and the folly of then “praying for a crop failure.” Have you ever done that? You knew you shouldn’t, but you did anyway. In doing so, some folk, both young and old, have had to learn the hard way. Justice delayed is never wrong indulged nor right forgotten. Solomon learned from the pain of such an experience, writing, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 8:11 NKJV. When the inevitable occurs, every person hopes to avert the reality.

Be encouraged; sin and wrong do not have to be fatal unless you allow them to become final. Sometimes people are too late smart, as was Esau who “found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” Read Hebrews 12:14-17 NKJV. However, there is grace and forgiveness, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard . . The Lord is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Read Romans 3:23-26 NLT/2 Peter 3:9-14 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you remedy wrongs by sincere repentance, confession, and real change.

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Never Too Late

December 13th, 2010

“As . . Peter was standing by the fire.” John18:25 NLT

There’s only one right thing to do about a wrong thing.”

My thoughts today are, “never too late.”

You know when you let someone down; you know when you fail to meet your own standard, as well as others’ expectations of you. It’s not a good feeling. You know when you don’t do what you should do. The question is not whether or not you will do so. The only question is: when will you do that and what you will do when you fail? We all fail. The Bible says, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 NLT. Don’t let failure be final, or it will become fatal!

Simon Peter knew exactly how that felt. Once, he had pledged his allegiance to Jesus, swearing to give his life if required. Earlier that day, Peter had taken a sword to defend Jesus against soldiers who had come to arrest Him in Gethsemane. And now, Peter again swears an oath – but this time, he is denying that he even knew Jesus! Jesus had warned Peter that he would be tempted to do so, “before the rooster crows, you will deny Me twice!” Read Matthew 26:69-75 NLT.

Sadly and too late, Peter realized how vulnerable he had become with the pressures of recent circumstances. He found himself in the wrong situation, and at the wrong place, and doing the wrong thing. Then the rooster crowed and “Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind . . and he went away, crying bitterly.” Don’t make the same mistake. Doing wrong never turns out right.

You will feel pressure. When you feel that pressure to do what you shouldn’t do – maybe pressure for your own temporary pleasure or personal gain, or maybe from peer pressure that conforms to a sinful culture – you can fail to do what you know you should. Your difficult decision at such moments reveals who you are most willing to please or displease; will you satisfy yourself, please your friends, or obey God? “Don’t copy the customs and behavior of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:2 NLT. It’s simple really: don’t conform; be transformed!

It is tempting to excuse your wrongdoing, or to blame someone else for what you’ve chosen to do. The wrong is on you. There’s only one right thing to do about a wrong thing. Don’t be sorry; be forgiven. Confess to God in repentance and accept His grace and forgiveness. Here’s what God says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NKJV. Get rid of sin quickly before it corrupts your future. Denying sin doesn’t change you; confessing does! Confessing is not about telling God what you’ve done; He already knows that. Confessing is telling God that you know you were wrong and asking forgiveness; that releases forgiveness and cleansing, and restores relationship. Ever wonder why they say, “Confession is good for the soul?” Because it is!

Hours before the crucifixion, Peter warmed himself beside a fire where he denied knowing Jesus. Days after the resurrection, he stood beside a far different fire to affirm his love for Jesus. Read John 21:15-17 NIV. I read this marvelous quote, “When your tears of repentance meet Christ’s forgiveness, you lose guilt and find new joy!”

The accuser of your soul will tell you that your sin is too bad or it’s too late, but he is lying to you and your guilt makes you believe his lie. It’s never too late for God’s forgiveness, unless you believe it’s too late.

My prayer for you today is: do not be willing to live a moment apart from God’s grace.

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