Archive for July, 2013

Grace to Abstain

Posted in Short Stories on July 30, 2013 by Stephen Hare

This is a very good handling of this topic, which I think does great justice to an accurate, biblical interpretation of the grace of God. Seems to be greatly lacking in the church of today. Praising the Lord for this post.

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In 1 Peter 2:11-12 Peter encourages believers, “to  abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (v. 11). Sometimes the commands New Testament authors give are easy to agree with, but difficult to follow. How do we successfully resist the strongly felt temptations that come our way?

 

It is important to note that feeling a fleshly passion is not sinful. It is sinful if you entertain the passion and give into it. But feeling the passion for fleshly fulfillment only signifies that you are in a battle. As long as you fight against it you are on the right side of the battle.  But Peter’s advice is not to suppress the desire. neither does he tell us to fight against it. His instruction is simple: abstain.

 

Paul teaches us that we have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness…

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Return to Innocence

Posted in Devotional Corner with tags , , , on July 29, 2013 by Stephen Hare

“For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” Romans 16:19

Are we innocent with regard to what is evil? God’s word tells us that we can be blameless and innocent children of God in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Phillipians 2:15

Now, certainly we all know what we have come from. We know the depths of the corruption of the human heart and the atrocities it is capable of. But where do we stand today?

Have we understood that we have been thoroughly washed and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb – that we are no longer what we once were?

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (my italic) 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

I believe that all of us can pick some sinful way of life from the above list that would accurately describe the way we lived (what we practiced) before we were made clean, but have we continued to walk in our innocence, or have we become guilty before God again?

“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes. I hate the work of those who fall away. It shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me. I will not know wickedness.” Psalm 101:2-4

“I will not know wickedness.” This is a decision of the will. Whatever it is; that is, whatever form wickedness may take, I will not know it, because I will avoid it at any cost. I will not have any intimate knowledge of it.

Similarly, “I will know God”because I will shun, I will avoid even the appearance of evil and will behave wisely in a perfect way. I will become intimately acquainted with the God who hates evil, and because of my relationship with Him, will learn to hate evil as He does.

“Oh when will you come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”

“A perverse heart shall depart from me.” How can David declare this with such confidence?

Because a perverse heart is in conflict with the heart that is set on pleasing God. Jesus said, “A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things.”Luke 6:45

We hear much talk among believers today about the heart being “deceitful and wicked above all things”, but we don’t hear near as much about the heart of the new creation, even though in Colossians 3:10 we are instructed to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

But really, what does it mean to “put on” the new self? Is is as easy as putting on a shirt or a pair of pants?

Is it not humbling our fleshly minds and hearts before the word of God, and believing in faith that what His word says of us is the truth?

Is it not casting ourselves on His infinite mercy that we might be born anew?

Can we really proclaim in faith that His sacrifice wasn’t enough to change us from within? “…having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God that lives and abides forever.” 1 Pet 1:23

If God says that I am holy – then I am! We must agree with God not only about our sin, but about our transformation; “He died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

How are we to make the shift from living for ourselves and our own selfish desires?

There is a principle set forth from God which none of us can get around or “side-step”, and that is this; “God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7 “If we sow seeds to the flesh, we will of the flesh reap corruption, but if we sow seeds to the Spirit, we will of the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:8

I don’t currently know of anyone who hasn’t sinned since having become a believer in Christ. But God has clearly called us back to a position of innocence before Him, because He has removed our guilt and shame by what He did for us on the cross.

That being said, He now empowers us to live holy and godly before Him by the power of the Holy Spirit who now lives in us. He does not provide us with a ticket or license to continue in the sinful lifestyles that characterized our lives before we knew Him.

Will you return to innocence?

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

Now go tell others what you once were, and what you have now become because of the grace of God.

Have You Turned From Your Wicked Way?

Posted in Devotional Corner with tags , , on July 8, 2013 by Stephen Hare

“Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life.” Ezekiel 13:22″

It is clear from the above verse, that “the wicked”, whoever they might be, must “turn from his wicked way to save his life.”

Now, most of us really don’t think of ourselves as wicked, right? The bible even says “All a man’s ways are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord tests the motives.” Proverbs 16:2

So, what we need is a proper context in which to rightly view ourselves, because if we measure according to our own standards that we have set for ourselves, we’ll always come up looking pretty good.

However, if we look at ourselves in the light of God’s standards, then we all come up way short.

Proverbs 30:12 says this; “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their own filthiness.” (ASV)

As much as we might like to think so, none of us can make ourselves clean or approach God by our own merit. If He does not cleanse us, then we are not cleansed. Salvation is only from the God, and then only by the way that He has determined, and that is by His only Son.

He is the author and finisher of salvation, but we still have the responsibility to choose to accept or reject the salvation He offers.

If I’m about to go over a waterfall and some offers me a life-preserver attached to a rope, I’d be extremely foolish to choose to hold on to the piece of wood I’m clinging to… but it is my choice.

It is absurd to suggest that our choosing is “works”, when it is actually simple wisdom by which we make the right choices with regard to life and eternity, and that is of itself a gift from God.

Ezekiel 14:13 refers to sinning “by persistent unfaithfulness.”

“Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it.”

~ “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes…” ~

Does this sound anything like our country today? Notice in the verse above, that God does not name a specific land, but “a land”, meaning “any” or “every” land that sins against Him in a persistently unfaithful way will at some time experience His judgments.

When you make an honest assessment of your life, what would you say is true? Have you by your actions and words turned people away from their sinful lifestyles, or have you encouraged them in it and even joined them?

Is there anything that distinguishes your life from theirs?

Have you personally made decisions against sinful practices in your life that have resulted in a different lifestyle and different associations that would encourage others to turn to God and “save their life” (By choosing the salvation that is being offered to them by God)?

Is your life characterized by consistent faithfulness to God, or persistent unfaithfulness?

If you’ve never been in a church, read a bible, or been raised in a Christian or even a “religious” environment, then some of the ideas presented here in these brief few paragraphs may be entirely foreign to you.

But know this – there is surely a God in heaven who cares for your soul. He is absolutely holy, pure, righteous and just; and therefore He must judge sin.

There is not one human being who ever lived apart from sin, for “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”, and that is why God sent His own Son to be born of a virgin, in the likeness of sinful flesh, but utterly without sin. He lived a sinless life and suffered God’s punishment for your sin on a Roman cross over 2,000 years ago and was raised from the dead by the power of God.

All this so that you might believe in Him, and that in believing can place your faith and hope in God who raises the dead, and receive the forgiveness for your sin that was purchased by the blood of His Son, Jesus the Messiah.

If you believe this, and ask God to forgive your sin and cleanse you of all unrighteousness, you will be saved from the wrath to come according to the promise of God who does not and cannot lie. (ref 1 John 1:9).

If you do not yet believe (that fact will not change the reality of the truth), but would like to see if these things are so, I encourage you to get a bible and read the book of John and find out for yourself. Ask God yourself to tell you if these things are so.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. May the God who created all things be with you in all your seeking, that in all your seeking that you will find Him who is true.

“CRAFTING FORGIVENESS” – July 4

Posted in Short Stories on July 7, 2013 by Stephen Hare

So very insightful. Thankful for this post and hope that all my readers will appreciate the wisdom of this as much as I.

A DEVOTED LIFE

“For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.”  2 Corinthians 2:6-8

Motivation can be as difficult to discover as any buried treasure.  It lays buried deep within, tainting all of the actions flowing through it.  This filtering effect of motivation can sour all the right activity or it can sweeten the most misguided.

Therefore, an action’s quality is dependent upon the actor’s inspiration.

The treasure of our inspiration should be a hunt that never ends.  It should be a quest that commences every time I am moved into action or inaction.  This becomes even more important when reconciliation becomes necessary.

I wish it were possible for us not to hurt each other.  I wish that we all could live in a big…

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