2 Corinthians 5:21 For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  

Mourning Christian! why weepest thou? Art thou mourning over thine own corruptions? Look to thy perfect Lord, and remember, thou art complete in Him; thou art in God’s sight as perfect as if thou hadst never sinned; nay, more than that, the Lord our Righteousness hath put a divine garment upon thee, so that thou hast more than the righteousness of man-thou hast the righteousness of God. O Thou who art mourning by reason of inbred sin and depravity, remember, none of thy sins can condemn thee. Thou hast learned to hate sin; but thou hast learned also to know that sin is not thine-it was laid upon Christ’s head. Thy standing is not in thyself-it is in Christ; thine acceptance is not in thyself, but in thy Lord; thou art as much accepted of God to-day, with all thy sinfulness, as thou wilt be when thou standest before His throne, free from all corruption. O, I beseech thee, lay hold on this precious thought, perfection in Christ! For thou art “complete in Him.” With thy Saviour’s garment on, thou art holy as the Holy one. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Christian, let thy heart rejoice, for thou art “accepted in the beloved”-what hast thou to fear? Let thy face ever wear a smile; live near thy Master; live in the suburbs of the Celestial City; for soon, when thy time has come, thou shalt rise up where thy Jesus sits, and reign at His right hand; and all this because the divine Lord “was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Isaiah 63:1 Mighty to save.

By the words “to save” we understand the whole of the great work of salvation, from the first holy desire onward to complete sanctification. The words are multum in parro: indeed, here is all mercy in one word. Christ is not only “mighty to save” those who repent, but He is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but He is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of His name to bend the knee before Him. Nay, this is not all the meaning, for the divine power is equally seen in the after-work. The life of a believer is a series of miracles wrought by “the Mighty God.” The bush burns, but is not consumed. He is mighty to keep His people holy after He has made them so, and to preserve them in his fear and love until he consummates their spiritual existence in heaven. Christ’s might doth not lie in making a believer and then leaving him to shift for himself; but He who begins the good work carries it on; He who imparts the first germ of life in the dead soul, prolongs the divine existence, and strengthens it until it bursts asunder every bond of sin, and the soul leaps from earth, perfected in glory. Believer, here is encouragement. Art thou praying for some beloved one? Oh, give not up thy prayers, for Christ is “mighty to save.” You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty. Lay hold on that mighty arm, and rouse it to put forth its strength. Does your own case trouble you? Fear not, for His strength is sufficient for you. Whether to begin with others, or to carry on the work in you, Jesus is “mighty to save;” the best proof of which lies in the fact that He has saved you. What a thousand mercies that you have not found Him mighty to destroy!

YIELD! by Linda Hull

We got stuck at a stop sign not too long ago.  How?  No one could figure out who was next.  We were all in yield, but couldn’t move ahead.  Funny!  Have you ever been in a yield situation where you keep yielding and everyone gets a turn, but you?  Me too.  Yield only works when everyone understands the concept and applies it.

My experience with yielding on the road made me think of the Biblical concept of yielding. This is when our preferences are yielded so that God’s preferences can be followed.  Submission is another term we use when we talk about giving way to God.

We humans don’t particularly like giving up our freedom to do as we wish.  We don’t like being submissive at all.  We are typically blind to the freedom Biblical submission brings to our lives.

The Bible explains submission in James 4:6-7 (KJV):

“But He giveth more grace, wherefore He said, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Yielding requires humility.  Submission is impossible without humility.  The devil would love us to puff ourselves up, putting ourselves into the role of God.  That’s what he did when he rebelled against God, thinking he would be like God.  Here’s the verse that records his arrogance:

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:  I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”  Isaiah 14:13-14

Submission to God says we recognize His supremacy over us.  He is the Almighty God, the Creator of all things.  Who are we to put ourselves into a position of equality?  We are not equal, nor can we ever be.

It is our role as His created beings to humble ourselves, recognizing our lowliness before Him.  It is always a constant battle to yield to God’s will rather than our own.  When we accept our position under the authority of our Lord, we will find happiness.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.”  James 4:10

Submission means yielding control of our will, and allowing Him and His will to reign over us.  This is the Lordship we accept when we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord.

Our Lord is not a harsh taskmaster to the obedient.  He is full of mercy and grace and is willing to extend His love to all who will come unto Him.  Do not be double-minded in your allegiance and submission to Him.  Settle it in your hearts and minds to day.

“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts:  for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”  James 5:8

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Our Gifts by Patricia Day

Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! NKJV

We all have gifts. Some we are aware of and use prolifically, while others lay hidden deep within us – dormant.

We live our lives, staying within our comfort zone. The thought of taking a new step and learning a new hobby or venture, stay rigidly in STOP mode.

I once read a story about a man arriving in heaven, being asked about his life and how he had lived it.

“God, I’ve been kind and generous towards others all my life. and I’ve been the best person that I could be”.

“Could I ask you a question, God?” “Go ahead” he was instructed.

“Well, I know it isn’t Christmas, but beside You is a Christmas tree laden with gifts. How come”?

“Well” God replies. “It is the tree of life and blessings”. “The gifts represent the many talents I bestowed upon you. A few you used. Those on the tree remain unopened, because you refused to consider yourself capable of doing more”.

We are all guilty of similar behavior. I can stay in one spot thinking myself incapable of attempting more or living life differently; knowing full well that all I need to do is try, to discover that maybe I can do it.

Our tendency is to give up too easily. I am so glad that God does not give up on us. He pursues us and guides us. He forgives us and chides us. He bestows great and wonderful gifts upon us, then waits for us to use them.

I don’t want to reach the end of my days to find out how many unopened gifts I have left.  I want to have the determination to try something new (legal, ethical, edifying), whenever the opportunity arises.

Prayer: God, we ask for the strength to do more; to try more. We ask that You grant us discernment in using the gifts You have given us. May we become conscious of those we have, that remain unopened. May we grow them and use them for Your glory. Amen.

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Don’t Be Like Jonah! by Patricia Day

Early in the day, I can be heard asking God to reveal His will for me.  Many times, I am quickly aware of a direction I should take.  Sometimes, though I am not so sure.

At times, such as these, I continue on with my day by being productive and only doing those things that I feel God would be pleased with.  I prefer to please God, not annoy Him.

Not so, Jonah.  He was given a clear directive from God. He was to travel to Nineveh and confront the people living there, of their wickedness.  They were guilty of pride, greed, brutality and adultery.  God was not pleased with them.

Jonah, did not agree with God’s calling for him. He wanted “out”.  Instead, of fulfilling God’s Will, he chose, instead, to attempt to hide.  He wanted to get as far away from God as he could.  No way, did he want to confront the inhabitants of Nineveh.  So he stole away on a ship to Tarshish; thinking it would solve his predicament.  Instead, it only made things worse.  The ship succumbed to a mighty storm at sea and Jonah found himself, not only overboard, but swallowed alive by a leviathon of the ocean.

Read Jonah 1 – 4

We might say, he went from the frying pan, into the fire!  Realizing what he had done, he beseeched God to forgive him.

Jonah’s story contains a strong warning to all godly people.  We can easily miss the blessing of God’s grace, when extended beyond our comfort zone.  In our human-ness, we only have enough vision to see our circumstances where we are at.  God, on the other hand, sees the whole picture.  He has planned our lives, and He will fulfill all His plans if we trust Him.

Jeremiah 29:10-13  “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord.  “They are plans to give you hope and a future.  When you call upon Me, and pray to Me with all your heart, I will be found by you and I will bring you to a place, that I kept exclusively for you”.

I’m not sure I am getting to the point – – but, what I am trying to say is, I would prefer to do God’s bidding, rather than go against His leading for me.  So, each day I pray that I will hear His directive and I will not just agree, I will obey.

Abba:  We are such wimps, at times.  Thinking more about our own condition rather than trusting You to lead us.  Help us to, not only hear your voice, but give us the strength to obey Your calling for our lives.  Amen

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FOR LOVE’S SAKE by Linda Hull

People may ask you what motivates you to do the things you do?  Why would you put yourself out?  The universal answer is love or money, isn’t it?  So how is love expressed most convincingly?  For love’s sake, what would you be willing to do?

Most folks think love is best expressed by doing something nice like giving a gift of flowers and chocolates, or maybe sharing a nice evening out.  Making people happy by doing an unexpected deed is so pleasant and fun.  It’s always easy to do something for someone you care about.  Even people not in love can do something nice for another.

For Christians, the answer is love for our Lord Jesus Christ.  The kind of love Jesus demonstrated by dying on a cross to pay for sin was a sacrificial love.  If we are to love as Jesus loves, then we must understand true love requires sacrifice; time, money, effort etc.

The Bible provides wonderful insight about how to demonstrate love.  The Apostle Paul teaches us a good description of love in the well-known love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13.  Here’s the list:

Love is longsuffering.

Love is kind.

Love is not envious.

Love is not boastful or prideful.

Love does not behave inappropriately.

Love is not self-serving.

Love is not easily provoked.

Love believes the best in others.

Love does not enjoy sin, i.e. one’s own or others’.

Love rejoices in the truth.

Love bears all things.

Love believes and hopes in all things.

Love endures.

No one fulfills this description of love perfectly.  The love Paul talks about is completely foreign to our nature.  We have a sin nature that always seeks its own way.  To exhibit love God’s way, we have to crucify self.  Others must take the preeminence over ourselves.  That means we have to love others more than we love ourselves.

Paul told the Romans to “be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another”  (Romans 12:10, KJV). Putting others ahead of self sometimes requires a personal sacrifice.  However, it is not necessarily always denying oneself, but sometimes merely delaying to meet our own needs.

The greatest love mankind can experience is the love from God.  When He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross to pay the penalty for sin, God was exhibiting a great love for sinful people.  He sought to extend forgiveness and reconciliation to all those who would believe and accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Paul tells us in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Mankind sinned against God, but He made a way for us to have peace between us.  Then He made a way for us to keep the peace between us when He sent the Holy Spirit to live in the heart of each Believer.  The Holy Spirit is the assurance of God’s love, and actively works in men’s hearts to bring about change so that we may begin to exhibit Godly love.

“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:5-6

We demonstrate our love for Jesus by keeping His commandments.  Jesus explained, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you:  continue ye in my love.  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”  (John 15:9-10)

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can actively love others just as Paul described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love constrains us to do many things.  Let us choose to love our Lord with whole hearts, thankful for His mercy and grace.  Then let us extend our love to others, helping them also to be forgiven and reconciled with God through Jesus.

 

Copyright 2013 by Linda Hull, Words of Encouragement

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God is All by Patricia Day

Hearts can easily be broken, as life deals out blows and challenges.  We feel lost, empty and hopeless, as we battle to overcome adversity and take a new direction.

God is all we need – spiritually.  He can strengthen us and bring us hope, as we trust him more and more, in our daily lives.

Psalm 103 gives us strong reassurance of what He willingly does for each one of us, as we bring Him into our lives.

1. He forgives all our sins.  2.  He heals all our diseases.  3. He redeems our lives from destruction.  4.  He crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies.  5.  He satisfies our mouths with good things, so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  6.  He executes righteousness and judgment for us against oppression.  He sets us free.  7. He makes known His ways to us.  8.  He gives us His grace and mercy in times of need.

All these things can be available to us, but we have to claim them through accepting Him through Jesus Christ.

God is all-powerful and all-knowing.  He is everything we need and we can tap into His unending power, any time, by taking a different direction in life, and including Him in all we think, say and do.  His promises can be trusted.

Ephesians 21-10  And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  (NKJV)

–dead in trespasses, means, spiritually dead and lost. –you once walked, it could be a path of moral carelessness or a dark alley of evil, believers should no longer live according to their past evil ways. –prince of power, namely the adversarial spirit Satan. To continue to disobey God’s way of living, is to support the devil. –we were dead, because of Adam’s sin, the entire human race is spiritually dead.  Only God can grant new life and save us from our wrong choices.  His mercy and kindness prevail forever through Jesus Christ, His Son. –the gift of God, is something we cannot earn by any good works.  We cannot earn our salvation.  Everything is received from our merciful and gracious Father, once we have faith enough to trust Him and believe in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, for us.

All that God is, we need.  First we have to invite Him into our lives and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

“Dear Lord, I want to know you personally.  I know that I have done wrong and I am sorry.  I am willing, with your help, to turn away from my sins and turn to You. I believe, Jesus, that You died and rose again for me.  Please come into my life.  I welcome you as my Saviour and Lord, as best as I know how.  Right Now”.

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