Alive in Christ

Christ paid the penalty

Romans 4 to 7 As I read this, all I could think about was what Martin Luther must have thought when he read this letter. What freedom he now had, as I do as well, freedom in Christ, freedom from sin, freedom to serve Him, not to gain heaven but because this is our gift back for our salvation. No wonder he took the church to task! They were like the Pharisees of old, and they needed correcting. No wonder he, like Paul, was willing to step forth to proclaim the good news: you are saved by faith, not by works!

God grants righteousness on our faith and not of works, which is precisely what Martin Luther, proclaimed and for which the church rebelled. Yet, like Martin Luther, we can declare righteousness because of this truth.

Now, as to death, we shall be like Christ in His resurrection, We die physically, but we shall never die spiritually; God so loved us that even while a sinner, Christ died for us. [Rom 5:8]Therefore, we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness, and we prove that through our works which takes us back to James. Prove your faith by your works. [James 2:17 -19] Rom 6:14 we are no longer under the constraints of the Law, but we are under grace. Rom 6:19, we are now slaves of righteousness for holiness.

Life Lesson: If we say we are righteous, live as righteous because of what Christ did.

 

The Challenge for Today

Saved by faith

Romans 1 to 3 and Acts 20:1-3 

Over and over Paul emphasizes that truth. If we want to be justified we must believe by faith and that only. Paul also emphasizes that he is unashamedly a believer in Christ and the gospel message. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” [Rom 1:16] 

Are we proud to be a believer in the gospel; do we echo Paul’s words? How often do we excuse ourselves for not sharing the gospel message? How often do we not let unbelievers know that salvation is by no other way or name but by the gospel of the risen Christ? 

Truly this is true and we need to share it: Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Salvation is by faith not by works. Share this truth today!

Unbelievers vs. Believers

This is our prayer request

2Cor 1 to 4 Unbelievers have a veil over their minds and their hearts. They cannot understand nor comprehend who Jesus is. But when the Holy Spirit reveals Him, the veil is removed, and they see, understand, and clearly see Jesus. Paul explains it this way: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2Cor 4:4] The god of this age is, of course, Satan, who diabolically wants to keep unbelievers in his kingdom of darkness. But God’s light is greater than Satan’s darkness ” For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.” [2 Cor 4:6].

Today pray for those whose hearts are blind to the gospel and Jesus.

Will you believe?

Jesus saves

Acts 4 “Salvation in No Other Name”

Satan is a master at deception and pride and the religious leaders fell into his trap. They thought they were done with this “Jesus thing” by crucifying him, but now a man stands before them healed by this same “dead” Jesus. They realized that they were unable to produce a body to use as evidence to refute his claims. They also noted that uneducated and unlearned Peter and John had been with this Jesus. They were living proof of what Jesus told them: “do not worry about how to speak or what to say.” [Mt 10:19] God provided the religious leaders’ evidence of a man healed by His power, and they could not deny it.  

Once again these leaders heard the truth that salvation takes place “not by works of righteousness … but on the basis of his mercy” [Tit 3:5] and “there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12] Yet, Satan blinds the minds of those who refuse to believe, so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel. [2Cor 4:4] Because of the evidence, they now stand without excuse. [Rom 1:20] They saw and chose to deny it. 

When the evidence is before you, will you believe it? 

“Good Friday & Beauty out Ashes”

Beauty out of ashes

Luke 23 Dr. Luke records for us the witnesses at the cross. Only by the Spirit of God could one chapter hold so much that it grabs our attention and cause us to fall upon our knees in humble adoration for the Messiah who gave all that we might worship Him alone.

Today, just as then, God desires that we draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience..” [Heb 10:22] 

There were two criminals crucified with Jesus. One recognized and submitted to the Son of God as he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In that one brief interchange, Dr. Luke transcends earth to heaven so that beauty may come from the ashes of sin, and we learn of the plan of salvation. First, one must revere God; secondly, one must recognize that they are a sinner who needs repentance. Like him, we are justly condemned for our sin. Therefore, we must seek His face and His forgiveness so we can hear his response: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

Note the promise: it happens today, not in the future. We will be with Him! We will be in paradise with Him. 

Questions about the afterlife

No matter what time it occurs, will you be ready to meet Jesus

Luke 12 Are you prepared to meet Jesus?

Some came to Jesus to inquire about those, the Galileans, who died by the hand of Pilate. Were they at the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place because it was “their time?” As Jesus listened, he noted that they had the wrong question. The right question is not whether it is the wrong place or the right place; or the wrong time or the right time. Instead, one should ask, were they, and are you prepared to meet Jesus? The Hebrews author reminds us that “ALL people are appointed to die once and then face judgment.” [Heb 9:27] Only God knows our “end date.” We should not be concerned about that but concerned whether or not one has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Know this promise: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us [that is you] from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Rom 8:38] if you know Him as Savior. So the real question today is, have you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior?

The Witnesses…

God reveals Himself in creation

Matt 12:22-50 and Luke 11 The Witness of the Spoken Word & Creation

There are many today that seek visible or tangible evidence to believe. I will believe when x,y,z happens, or when I can see God do a miracle before me. I will believe when I find the “real Bible.” I will believe when…and you can fill in the blank. Yet, as Jesus is looking about the corrupt leaders of the nation, He said to them, and He says today: neither Nineveh nor the Queen of Sheba had some miracle or some visible evidence. They believed because of the spoken word of Jonah and King Solomon, and they believed.

Paul told the Romans that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen in His creation. Again he says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Yet he reminded them that even when Isaiah preached and they heard, they hardened their hearts so they could not believe. Men’s hearts are no different today. That is why we must be the Jonah’s and the Solomon’s to share the good news. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” [Rom 10:15]

Are our feet bringing the good news?

“Who Does He Think He Is?”

If you want to know who Jesus is; pay attention

Mark 2 If you want to know who this Jesus is, pay close attention, for time is of the essence.

Join Jesus as he teaches and where pious religious leaders, who know the Torah backward and forwards, come to find out who this man is. Outwardly, they are polite, but their heart chastises Jesus with this question: “who can forgive sins but God alone?” Forgiveness followed by healing should have answered their question that Jesus is God in the flesh who can do both. 

Immediately, Jesus removes himself from the crowded home to the seaside where he could teach unencumbered by their stares. He encounters Levi, the tax collector whose heart is prepared, and he steps out of his comfort zone to “immediately” follow Jesus. He invites his tax collectors and sinners to a feast at which the Pharisees mingle so they can ask why Jesus doesn’t follow protocol about fasting.

The following Sabbath, these same outwardly religious leaders tag along through a grain field. They challenge his ideas about the Sabbath, to which Jesus replied, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” [Mark 2:27]

Jesus saw to the heart of the matter: The religious leaders wanted to justify their rules; Levi wanted righteousness.

Which do you want?

God’s Silence is Broken—a Message of Hope!

God so loved...

“Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” [2Tim 3:16, 17]

 Luke 1 and John 1:1-14 It has been 400 yrs. of silence since heaven spoke, yet in His perfect time; God spoke again that the people might know that His plan was still effectual and present, perfectly time just for you!

Years before Luke and John wrote, the prophet Zechariah had seen eight visions for a discouraged people to remind them that His love was everlasting and why He had been faithful to them. [Jer. 31:3] Fast forward 400 yrs., and God sends another message of love and plan to a discouraged people through a priest named (ironically) Zechariah as he ministered at the altar of incense. This Zechariah listens but questions, unlike the prophet Zechariah of 400 yrs. ago! Gabriel, the angelic messenger, says that you will be silent because you did not believe until God’s plan comes to pass. 

Do we question God’s plan when we hear His voice? Beloved, God loves so much that His plan is perfect, and His timing is perfect and He sends His message of love to you who may be discouraged today.   

The Cross ensured our “membership”

The Cross is where our membership changed

Today our guest poster is Shelly Stansfield.

Ezra 1-3 The Proof of Our “membership.”

Membership to a club costs. For the Jews, it cost them proof of their ancestry. For those without proof of their ancestry, they were not allowed the same privileges. Ezra says: 59 … they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: …62 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor told them they were not to partake of the holiest food until a priest consulted Urim and Thummim. (Ezra 2:59-63, ESV)

How do we prove our ancestry? Who is in our ancestry that qualifies us to partake of the holy food?

These people believed they were Jews, believed in the same God, worshipped the same way, but had no proof.

Who is our ancestry with? Are we in the right family?

If we are in a true, personal relationship with Christ as Lord of our lives, not someone we just know a lot about, then we may partake of the holiest food- heaven, eternity, the fruit of the Spirit, and all His promises.

How do we get adopted into His family? First, by asking Him to be Lord of our lives (heart, will/soul, Spirit); trusting His payment for our sins on the cross and resurrection from death, and that He’s coming back for us to take us to His home; and confessing our wrongs (sins).

Whose family are we living moment-by-moment with today?