Keeping Our Focus Heavenward

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Rom. 8:18 – 22. NASB

What Paul is pointing out, is that when Adam and Eve corrupted themselves through sin, God levied the consequential penalty upon the entire earth and its inhabitants – in addition to our progenitors. The perfection of the Garden of Eden is now denied to the human race until the children of God receive their reconciliation and resurrection at the end of time. And the remainder of God’s creations await that moment as well:

And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Rm. 8:23 ESV

The children of God already possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (the first fruit of our heavenly transformation), and they are assured of the consummation of that transfiguration. God has given us a hope that does not disappoint. But it does require our faith, which is bolstered by the love of the Spirit of God:

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Rm. 8:24, 25. NKJV

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rm. 8:26, 27. NASB

So, in addition to strengthening our faith, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us through a supernatural prayer language that we do not understand, but Christ does. He takes up those prayers and stands in intercession for us as well. Thus, we are well-equipped to be able to cling to our heavenly focus – to the salvation promise of God:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Rm. 8:28 – 30. NKJV

God has always had a plan for your total and absolute redemption. Your part in that redemptive process, is to accept His plan by placing your faith in who Jesus is, what He’s done, and to do your best to walk as He walked. Then, God has got you covered:

If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Rm. 8:31 – 35. NKJV

We are justified by God through Christ, who continually takes a stand for us in His Father’s presence. Yes, Jesus will condemn those who rejected Him at the throne of judgment, but that condemnation will not fall on God’s children. We get a free pass to heaven – guaranteed:

…neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rm. 8:38, 39. NKJV

We have a remarkable future ahead of us, which should motivate us to live a wonderful life now. We do that be marinating in the word of God so that we conduct ourselves as the blessed children of Jehovah that we are – living out our heavenly focus…

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Rm. 12:2 NKJV

Goodnight and God bless.

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What is the Gospel?

…the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among you also are the called of Jesus Christ… Rm. 1:1 – 6. NKJV

The gospel is the good news of God’s salvation through Christ Jesus, who is the living word of God, and thus, the living gospel. This introduction to the gospel above, declares that the Son of God was descended from King David (on His human side), and that Jesus has fulfilled all of the prophecies that the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to write. This all points to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah.

Furthermore, this scripture states that God resurrected His Son through the Holy Spirit, and in that moment, Christ came into His kingship. Finally, we see that we, like the original apostles, have been granted the grace of God through Christ, in order to be apostolic ourselves – equipped to advance the gospel throughout the world.

How powerful is the gospel?

…it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Rm. 1:16, 17. NKJV

It is our faith in, and obedience to, the gospel, that enables us to take on the righteousness of Christ as our own – opening the doors to our salvation. We are ‘justified’ (made innocent) by having faith in Jesus.

The gospel is God’s will for your future; and He made it available for all to see. Thus, those who reject the salvation message will be without excuse:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. Rm. 1:18, 19. ESV

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Rm. 1:20 NASB

God is saying that He left identifiable and irrefutable aspects of Himself within everything that He has created, in addition to the ‘knowing’ of that truth that He has placed in everyone’s heart, which calls to each of us to seek Him out through His Son.

Unfortunately, most people deny that call, and follow the invitations from the world and the god of it (Satan):

Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God…They were filed with all manners of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.

They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them. Rm. 1:24 – 32. ESV

This is a description of the dark potential that is awaiting everyone who does not embrace the gospel: i.e. addictions to perverse transgressions, as well as worshiping others who practice them.

Yet our loving and merciful God keeps an open invitation for the transgressors to change their hearts and seek His salvation. However, if they persist in rebellion, God steps aside and lets them sow the seeds of their own destruction. He will not violate their free will.

So, this is how it all ends up:

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish on every soul of man who does evil… Rm. 2:5 – 9. NKJV

The latter is not a place where we want to be. This is serious stuff. The gospel message is a life-or-death matter. Again, how important is the gospel and what is its core message? God tells us:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifest apart from the law, although the Law and the prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rm. 3:21 – 26. ESV

That’s the gospel in a crystal-clear nutshell.

The Mosaic Law showed us what perfect behavior would look like. In so doing, it also demonstrated the impossibility of perfectly meeting all of its dictates, due to our weaknesses. Thus, it pointed the way to our need for a righteous Messiah to remove that burden – one who possessed the ability to cleanse us of our sins. It is the cleansing that facilitates unification with God for all who place their faith in the blood of Jesus.

Our behavior is made perfect vicariously, through Christ’s righteousness. We cannot earn our salvation. It’s a gift of God’s grace; and if a gift, there can be no exchange. Salvation is not something we do; it’s what God does. Faith is the vehicle in which we receive the gift of salvation.

Faith is not a doing; it’s a being and a having. It’s not even something that we can produce. Faith is a gift that we receive from Jesus when we accept Him as the living Son of God:

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. NKJV

Christ gifts us with faith, in order to nurture our eternal relationship with Him. God uses our acceptance and faith to justify us in His eyes through the ‘propitiate’ (from the Greek hilasterion, which means ‘an atoning victim’) act of His Son on the cross:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Rm. 5:1, 2. NKJV

…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Rm. 5:8, 9. NKJV

God is love. He is merciful. Even when we are enemies of God, (enslaved to the ways of the world), He opens His arms through the those of His Son and scoops up everyone who is willing to receive His love.

In His limitless mercy, God sacrificed His Son so that we could be transformed – cleansed of those enslavements, by His grace, to become the children of God who will spend eternity with Him in complete love.

Through God’s clemency and grace, He struck down your Adam-derived death sentence with the free gift of Christ’s salvation; and the suspension of your sentence is eternal.

Jesus died for all of our sins for all time; and those who receive Him obtain the transformation of righteousness, becoming new men and women in Christ:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Rm. 8:1, 2. NASB

What a God! What a Son! See the word ‘now’ in that scripture? It means that God has already freed those who have received Christ from the condemnation of sin.

That is the Gospel! Doesn’t that make you want to go out and tell somebody?

Goodnight and God bless.

Sex Education According to God

If you are a practicing follower of Christ, you’ve surely noticed that God’s ways are quite unpopular with those who’d rather wade in the ways of the world. This is especially evident in the arena of sexual relations.

God’s parameters are crystal clear:

…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Gn. 2:24 NKJV

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Heb. 13:4 NASB

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body. 1 Cor. 6:13 ESV

So, what is God saying? Marriage is between a man and a woman; and godly sex is that which only takes place within a marital environment. There is no gray area of confusion. And if we want to walk accordingly in God’s word, we’re going to take a lot of flak from the world:

“And you will be hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name, but it is the one who has patiently preserved and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

God never sows confusion; the choice between right or wrong is always black and white:

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father [but He is not], you would love and recognize Me, for I came from God [out of HIs very presence]…Why do you misunderstand what I am saying? It is because [your spiritual ears are deaf and] you are unable to hear [the truth of] My word. You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He…does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.” Jn. 8:42 – 44. AMP

We are either following Christ, and thus His Father, or we are living under the sway of the angel-gone-bad, who oversees this world.

The world hates us because when we do our best to walk in a godly fashion, because it convicts them. So, their tactic is to persecute you, in the hope that you will break down and swim in the muck with them. The Killers recorded a song called When You Were Young, that really exemplifies the world’s message:

‘…the devil’s water it ain’t so sweet, you don’t have to drink right now – but you can dip your feet every once in a little while…’

We are held to be ‘contrary’ in the world’s eyes. Heterosexual relationships? Not good in the world’s eyes. Look at the websites that are dedicated to homosexual hookups; e.g. Manhunt.com or PinkSofa.com.

Fidelity within marriage? Check out AshleyMadison.com, whose motto is ‘Life is short, have an affair;’ or Cupid.com, who advertises ‘Cheaters of the world choose Cupid.com’

Have you heard of the ‘North America Man Boy Love’ (NAMBLA) group that openly promotes pedophilia?

And then there are all the genetic science deniers in the very vociferous alphabet soup groups.

If we truly want to walk as God would have us to, we must love all of these people, and be ready to sit down and share God’s promise through Christ; but we cannot condone their behavior just so that we can ‘go-along-to-get-along’:

We must stand up for God’s word:

“So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust].” Rv. 3:16 AMP

That’s not a Jesus that I want to have to answer to…

So, let’s go back to God’s Sex Education 101:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple or the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God, and you are not  your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s. ! Cor. 6:15 – 20. NKJV

Thus, our body is to be dedicated to sacredly serving God; but if we add immorality to our union with Christ, we desecrate God and Jesus and our holy merger with them.

Paul thought that celibacy was the ultimate answer to victory over sexual immorality, but he realized that the majority of the people could not win that fight; so, he gave us the framework for sexual relations that comply with our Father’s intent:

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body but the wife does.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer, but then come again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Cor. 7:2 – 5. ESV

So wise this God of ours. He knows of the strong pull for sexual union between a man and a woman. (He put it there!) God is saying that the place for that to be expressed is in a monogamous marital relationship. We can also see that we are to give over the control of our flesh to our spouse and vice versa, so that we can achieve a mutually rewarding intimacy. Finally, we can understand that the commission of that union is of such paramount importance, we should not withdraw that right from our spouse as a means of control – or the devil will leverage that ‘withholding’ to try to turn the eyes and heart of our spouse elsewhere.

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so, destroys his own soul. Pr. 6:32 NKJV

And let us not forget that the perpetrator of sexual infidelity is often caught, which many times leads to divorce – the devil’s greatest tool:

A wife is not to depart from her husband. But if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 1 Cor. 7:10, 11. NKJV

“For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong and violence,” say the LORD of hosts. “Therefore keep watch on your spirit, so that you do not deal treacherously [with your wife].” Mal. 2:16 AMP

Divorce should never be an option unless one of the spouses is an unrelenting, unrepentant adulterer, abuser or one who abandons the other.

Sexual union in a marriage, is a gift from God; it’s a good thing. Not to mention that there are other benefits:

But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks Godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. Mal. 2:15 NKJV

Well, there’s only one way I know of to make offspring. Receive and cherish your gift, and keep it in the home…

Goodnight and God bless.

Is Your Focus on Jesus?

Why focus on Jesus? It’s because of what He does for you when you do:

…the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, is all speech and knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:4 – 9. NASB

When you accept Christ as your Savior, He fills you with the Holy Spirit, so that you will receive an enriched plethora of revelation with regards to who He is, what He did, and why He came. The Spirit then fills you with the spiritual gifts that you need to walk by faith, and to spread the gospel message, advancing the kingdom of God.

From this oneness that you were called into with the Father and the Son, you are cleansed of sins, so as to be prepared for your date with eternity.

As a child of God, you have all the tools to stand in unison with the body the church of Christ. The last thing in the world that God wants, is for His children to be divided in purpose:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Cor. 1:10 NKJV

The church of Christ was supposed to be as one – required to have Jesus as its focus. Jesus can only be saddened by the advent of a Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Calvinist, Lutheran, Unitarian, or Jehovah Witness church to name a few – churches focused on man’s interpretation of the scripture as well as the interpreter.

The church of Christ has unfortunately been fractionated almost since its inception:

What I mean is that each of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephus,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or where you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Cor. 1:12, 13. ESV

‘Cephus’ was another name for the apostle Peter. Apollos was a highly skilled Christian orator. What the apostle Paul is trying to convey here, is that it is the message of salvation from God through Christ that is paramount, not the messenger.

When you have God in your heart, through Christ Jesus, (not by something man has done or thought), the Holy Spirit will open your eyes and the scriptures will come alive for you:

Where is the wise man (philosopher)? Where is the scribe (scholar)? Where is the debtor (logician, orator) of this age? Has God not exposed the foolishness of this world’s wisdom? 1 Cor. 1:20 AMP

…your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:5. NKJV

…no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Cor. 2:11, 12. ESV

So, it is by embracing our spirit, which is connected to God’s Spirit, that the revelation of His word is given to us. Unbelievers don’t get it, because they deny their spiritual side, and thus they cannot connect to the Spirit of God or to His Son.

We can and should appreciate our pastors, priests, etc., but we always want to have our focus on the Source:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants no he who waters is anything, but only God gives the growth. 1 Cor. 3:5 – 7 ESV

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 3:10, 11. NKJV

So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death of things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. 1 Cor. 3:21 – 23. NASB

I am not a big fan of church denominations, because I feel that they invite division, strife, judgment and one-upmanship. None of these things belong in the house of God. Yet, I do not bring fault upon anyone who chooses that route.

Just as long as you take what you hear and bring it under the scrutiny of the word of God, and most of all, keep Jesus your focus…

Goodnight and God bless.