If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed —John 8:36
If there is even a trace of individual self-satisfaction left in us, it always says, “I can’t surrender,” or “I can’t be free.” But the spiritual part of our being never says “I can’t”; it simply soaks up everything around it. Our spirit hungers for more and more. It is the way we are built. We are designed with a great capacity for God, but sin, our own individuality, and wrong thinking keep us from getting to Him. God delivers us from sin— we have to deliver ourselves from our individuality. This means offering our natural life to God and sacrificing it to Him, so He may transform it into spiritual life through our obedience.
God pays no attention to our natural individuality in the development of our spiritual life. His plan runs right through our natural life. We must see to it that we aid and assist God, and not stand against Him by saying, “I can’t do that.” God will not discipline us; we must discipline ourselves. We have to do it. Don’t say, “Oh, Lord, I suffer from wandering thoughts.” Don’t suffer from wandering thoughts. Stop listening to the tyranny of your individual natural life and win freedom into the spiritual life.
“If the Son makes you free . . . .” Do not substitute Savior for Son in this passage. The Savior has set us free from sin, but this is the freedom that comes from being set free from myself by the Son. It is what Paul meant in Galatians 2:20 when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ . . . .” His individuality had been broken and his spirit had been united with his Lord; not just merged into Him, but made one with Him. “. . . you shall be free indeed”— free to the very core of your being; free from the inside to the outside. We tend to rely on our own energy, instead of being energized by the power that comes from identification with Jesus.
Oswald Chambers - Winning Freedom from Tyranny of Individual
Over the last several weeks, the two words “Born Again” keeps coming up. What does it mean to be BORN AGAIN? The phrase “Born Again” literally means “born from above”. The classic passage from the Bible that answers this question is John 3: 1-21. Nicodemus had a real need. He needed a “Change of Heart” or a “Spiritual Transformation”.
Many of us, including myself, were saved as young children typically on a church retreat. We “accepted” God into our heart, asked him for forgiveness of our sins and then typically we were baptized showing a public claim of our new faith in Jesus Christ. Life was great! Were you “Born Again”? Maybe...maybe not?
At some point in our lives, whether it was high school, college or our adult life we fell away from Jesus. We were not as close to Jesus as that day we prayed the sinners prayer. I am certainly guilty of this! Oh, I was still a believer! I was just living MY life.
I like to say that God sometimes whispers in your ear...you don’t hear him...he then holds out his hand...you don’t see him...then he has to do something drastic in your life to gain your attention. For me, it was the last of these. As sinners, we are spiritually “dead”; when we receive spiritual life through faith in Christ, the Bible likens it to a rebirth.
Why does a person need to be “Born Again”? The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (NKJV). To the Romans he wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
We don’t “accept” Jesus into our life...We need to “surrender” our lives to Jesus. The word repent means to turn from sin. The key word is a verb causing action to “turn”. When you are “Born Again”, you turn your life around. Sometimes the change happens immediately and sometimes is happens over time, but others will recognize a difference in you!
Hmm...what do you mean people can see a difference in me? Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17) Changes could be as simple as not telling dirty jokes to your buddies or it can be as dramatic as no longer using drugs. These are just two examples of a million, but when you are “Born Again” there will be no question in your mind that you are a changed person. You will “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk”.
Are you “Born Again”?
What do you risk in witnessing?
by: Vince Schmidt
Rejection…persecution? Not often will sharing the gospel send us to jail as it did Peter and John (Acts 4:2-3). We maybe willing to spend a night in jail if it would bring 5,000 people to Christ. Whatever the risks, realize that nothing done for God is ever wasted.
The council asked Peter and John by what power they had healed the man (Acts 3:6-7) and by what authority they preached (Acts 3:12-26). Peter spoke boldly before the council, actually putting the council on trial by showing them that the One they crucified had risen again. Peter said that the Jews rejected Jesus, but now Christ has become the capstone of the church. Without him there would be no church, because it would not stand.
Knowing that Peter and John were unschooled, the council was amazed at what being with Jesus had done for them (Acts 4:13). A changed life convinces people of Christ's power. One of your greatest testimonies is the difference others see in your life and attitudes since you have believed in Christ.
Don't be surprised if some people reject you and your positive witness for Christ. When minds are closed, even the clearest presentation of the facts can't open them. Don't give up! Pray for those people and continue to spread the gospel. If your courage to witness for God has weakened, pray that your boldness may increase. Jesus promised, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:32).
How do you gain boldness?
Information for this post was gathered from the Life Application Study Bible (NIV)
By: Finish Strong Endurance Teammate - Chris Dean
One of the most important things you can do as a new believer right now is establish what you believe. Your core convictions will determine your results in life.
Here are 7 beliefs from the Word of God (Bible) that if acted on by(faith) will change your future for good. Mt 7:24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." (NKJV)
1. I believe I am God’s child and He is my Father.
- 1Jo 3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
- Joh 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
2. I believe the Holy Spirit leads me in all decisions as I yield to God my Father.
- Ro 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
- Pr 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
- 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
3. I believe I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus no matter what life brings.
- Rom 8:28 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.
- 34 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.
- 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
- 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
- 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
- Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
4. I believe God is the author of my promotion in every area of my life.
- De 8:18 "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
- Pr 10:22 The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.
- Php 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
- Mt 23;12 "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
- Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.
- 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
- 25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.
- 26 He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed.
- 27 Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore.
- 28 For the LORD loves justice, And does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
- 29 The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever.
- 30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, And his tongue talks of justice.
- 31 The law of his God is in his heart; None of his steps shall slide.
- 32 The wicked watches the righteous, And seeks to slay him.
- 33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand, Nor condemn him when he is judged.
- 34 Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
5. I believe when I pray God answers me.
- Mr 11:24 "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
- Mt 6:6 "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
- Mt7: 7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
- 8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
- 9 "Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
- 10 "Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
- 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
- 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
- 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
- 16 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--
- 17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
- 18 "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
- 21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
6. I believe that as I meditate on Gods word, He makes my way prosperous.
- Jos 1:8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
- 9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
- Ps 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
- 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
- 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
- 4 The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
- 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
- 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
7. I believe nothing is impossible because I believe.
- Heb 11:6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
- Mr 9:23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."
- Mr 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God.
- 23 "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
- 24 "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
- 25 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
- 26 "But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Why do we need the righteousness of Christ? Aren't I good enough? (Self righteousness vs. His righteousness)
by: Chris Dean - Finish Strong Endurance athlete
Parable of the Great Feast (Matt 22:1-14)
1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!
4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.
7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Wow! What a powerful illustration of the Kingdom of Heaven. Many are called to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God unto salvation (Rom1:16) Yet many find it foolish and feel they are good enough on their own so they reject the righteousness of Christ and rely on their own good nature or works and will be rejected. Why is this not enough? Notice only the King (God) saw the man didn't have on the required garment (imputed righteousness of Christ). In those days Wedding garments, which were provided to the guests from the host, were required to participate. If you didn't accept the hosts garments you were not allowed into the banquet. Many do not realize their need for the imputed righteousness of Christ Jesus, a free provided garment needed to enter Heaven. Find out why we need His righteousness in this article from ebible.com.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uttered these words: "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). This comes at the end of the section of the sermon where Jesus corrects His listeners' misunderstanding of the law. In Matthew 5:20, Jesus says that if His hearers want to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, their righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees who were the experts in the law.
Then in Matthew 5:21-48, He proceeds to radically redefine the law from mere outward conformity which characterized the 'righteousness' of the Pharisees, to an obedience of both outward and inward conformity. He uses the phrase, "You have heard it said, but I say unto you…" to differentiate between the way people heard the law taught from how Jesus is reinterpreting it. Obeying the law is more than simply abstaining from killing, committing adultery and breaking oaths. It's also not getting angry with your brother, not lusting in your heart, and not making insincere oaths. At the end of all this, we learn that we must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees, and that comes from being perfect.
At this point, the natural response is: "But I can't be perfect" which is absolutely true. In another place in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus summarizes the law of God down to two commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). This is certainly an admirable goal, but has anyone ever loved the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves? Everything we do, say and think has to be done, said and thought from love for God and love for neighbor. If we are completely honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we have never achieved this level of spirituality.
The truth of the matter is that on our own and by our own efforts, we can't possibly be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. We don't love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We don't love our neighbors as ourselves. We have a problem, and it's called sin. We are born with it and we cannot overcome the effects of it on our own. Sin radically affects us to our core. Sin affects what we do, say and think. In other words, it taints everything about us. Therefore, no matter how good we try to be, we will never meet God's standard of perfection. The Bible says that all of our righteous deeds are like a "polluted garment" (Isaiah 64:6). Our own righteousness is simply not good enough and never will be, no matter how hard we try.
That's why Jesus lived a perfect life in full obedience to the law of God in thought, word and deed. Jesus' mission wasn't simply to die on the cross for our sins, but also to live a life of perfect righteousness. Theologians refer to this as the "active and passive obedience of Christ." Active obedience refers to Christ's life of sinless perfection. Everything He did was perfect. Passive obedience refers to Christ's submission to the crucifixion. He went willingly to the cross and allowed Himself to be crucified without resisting (Isaiah 53:7). His passive obedience pays our sin debt before God, but it is the active obedience that really saves us and gives us the perfection God requires.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans, "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested 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" (Romans 3:21-22). Through our faith in Christ, the righteousness of God is given to us. This is called "imputed" righteousness. To impute something is to ascribe or attribute something to someone. When we place our faith in Christ, God ascribes the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. "For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Not only is Christ's righteousness imputed to us through faith, but our sin is imputed to Christ. That is how Christ paid our sin debt to God. He had no sin in Himself, but our sin is imputed to him, so as He suffers on the cross, He is suffering the just penalty that our sin deserves. That is why Paul can say, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
By having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, we can be perfect, as God is perfect. It is not, therefore, our perfection, but His. When God looks at the Christian, He sees the holiness, perfection, and righteousness of Christ. Therefore, we can say with confidence "I am perfect, as God is perfect."
By Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries
Today, let’s look more closely at Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV). The prophet’s wisdom offers timeless practical advice on how to handle burdens.
1. “Stand at the crossroads and look.” In a time of turmoil, our minds race ahead to think of all that could happen in the future. We ask ourselves lots of “what if” questions and frequently fall victim to unfounded worry. To “stand” means to turn our mind from its troubling thoughts of the future and to focus on God. It’s similar to being at an intersection with signs pointing many different ways. We wait, not moving until we know in which direction to head.
2. “Ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is.” The road of trouble has been well traveled by the saints of the faith, and their footsteps have made it into a path of glory to God. Meditate on the cries of King David in the Psalms or on the prayers of others in the Bible. Ponder their responses as well as the way they reveal their faith and trust in God, even while suffering greatly. Accept the Spirit’s revelation of the ancient path of faith and the good way of trust. Then pray for courage to walk those paths as Jesus did.
3. “Walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.” With eyes firmly fixed on our Jesus Christ, resolve to walk down this road of suffering in a way that is honoring to Him. Draw deeply on the Holy Spirit’s strength for the next step, and seek to be obedient in thought, word, and deed. You will discover that as you follow Him, sweet, soul-satisfying rest will be found.
**I wanted to share Dr. Charles Stanley's message, as I reflected on it today, as a great reminder on how to handle our burdens. I wanted to add some scripture to help also in our walk, so I added below. When you walk with God and He walks with you, He will work it out for your good and His glory only when you seek HIS will Rom 8:28. Blessings...
1. Prov3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
2. Read Ps 32 and note verse 8; Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.; Matt 6:33 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else (notice this above all), and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
3.Matt11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (to take His yoke means to pair up with, go along with, as you pair up horses pulling a cart the two make it easy, walk WITH Him)
by: Chris Dean - Finish Strong Endurance Teammate
Col 2:6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
The Christian life is supposed to be a life lived by faith. It is by faith that we enter into the Christian life, and it is by faith that we live it out. When we begin the Christian life by coming to Christ for forgiveness of sin, we understand that what we seek cannot be obtained by any other means than by faith. We cannot work our way to heaven, because nothing we could ever do would be sufficient. Those who believe they can attain eternal life by keeping rules and regulations-a list of do's and don'ts-deny what the Bible clearly teaches. "But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Galatians 3:11). The Pharisees of Jesus' day rejected Christ because He told them this very truth, that all their righteous deeds were worthless and that only faith in their Messiah would save them.
In Romans 1; Paul says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that saves us, the gospel being the good news that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. When we enter into the Christian life by faith in this good news, we see our faith grow as we come to know more and more about the God who saved us. The gospel of Christ actually reveals God to us as we live to grow closer to Him each day. Romans 1:17 says, "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'" So part of the Christian life is diligent reading and study of the Word, accompanied by prayer for understanding and wisdom and for a closer, more intimate relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.
The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). Being crucified with Christ means that our old nature has been nailed to the cross and has been replaced by a new nature which is Christ's (1 Corinthians 5:17). He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. It means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.
The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39 addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habukkuk: "Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." God is not pleased with one who "draws back" from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end (Ephesians 1:13-14). The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: "But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." The true believer is one who believes to the end.
So the Christian life is one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own.